Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010
By Frankie O
One of the frequent conversations that I will get into at the bar will involve who has the best fans. Since Im from Philadelphia, this conversation will usually start when one of my customers will tell me how horrible Philly fans are. Now I wont deny that some of my Philly brethren are knuckleheads, embarrassing actually, I just dont that think they should represent all of us thoughtful, handsome ones!
On-field tasings could happen anywhere, and for my money, should. (Wouldnt it have been great if the fatherson duo on the Southside had been dropped on the spot when they attacked the Kansas City 1st base coach? And before I hear too much crowing from the other side of town about Sox fans, let us remember that these morons spent their afternoon at Wrigley.)
My point is that ANY fan base has its issues. I just dont think that a group should be identified by a misguided few, no matter how entertaining it makes a verbal beat-down at the bar. The talk at the bar these days, seems to be a lot about baseball fans. In this town there has always been the argument about Cubs fans, and how loyal and devoted (read: better) they are because they always fill up Wrigley Field. My point has been that they might be just the opposite, although with all of the empty seats there this month, maybe not.
This is the only way that a fan has to show their displeasure, but not showing up. Now all empty seats are not created equal and should not be viewed that way. Atlanta Braves fans not showing up for playoff games has long been a joke and bringing it up is an easy way to tick one of them off! The view of outsiders, especially from the Northside, being that after 14 consecutive playoff appearances, Braves fans are jaded, and dont appreciate what they have. How about ticket prices for playoff games are jacked up, and for those 14 appearances, the Braves only have one title to show for it? Thats a lot of disappointing traffic jams on the way home. (Have you ever driven in or around Atlanta? Ouch!)
This year, there are two fan bases on opposite sides of the spectrum. Philly fans are being lauded for selling out (45,310!) Citizens Bank Park a record 122 in a row to watch their Fightins and in Tampa Bay, they cant get over 8,000 to watch the most exciting young team in baseball clinch a playoff berth, prompting star 3rd baseman Evan Longoria to publicly call it embarrassing. As far as what Longoria says, I agree. But that being said, what do you expect? Tampa is not a major market, there are many other options there for one to entertain themselves, and oh by the way, they play in the worst ballpark ever built. EVER! This is not the first time that the Rays are being thought of as a joke franchise and wont be the last, off the field that is. On the field, for right now, theyre about as good as it gets. Until, that is, they cant afford to pay all of their great young talent, and they all leave to play for real teams. In Philly is where one of the great National League teams of any generation performs and the locals have suffered through so much, (In EVERY sport!) that they cant get enough. But, speaking as a Phillies fan, just because the stadium is full every night doesnt mean that the fans are better, theyre just enjoying it more. Its the chicken-egg thing. If a team is good, they will come, if it is bad, they will not.
I think the fact of whether fans go to the ballpark, most times, is a measure of a product on the field. As consumers, we all have choices. My choice is that I can afford to spend the 500 it takes to take my family of 5 to a ballgame maybe once a year. Something that would sway my decision to go more, or less, would be the value I get for that expenditure. Everything is more fun, or can be rationalized to the Boss, when you win. Does that make me less of a fan? I read about the team every day. I watch EVERY game on TV. The games outcome, sometimes, can affect my mood. Im a die-hard! But, just because I would make a monetary decision, based on several factors, like say the convenience of only having to wait in line for the bathroom at my house for 10 minutes, doesnt mean I dont care. There are many ways to judge how much a person cares for something or how much that thing means to them. In todays electronic age of being a fan, I dont think attendance is the only one. Having a team become very good and then be adored by the local populace, doesnt mean that the fans are all front-runners. It could mean that the following of that team is just, finally, getting some reward for their investment. And I dont see anything wrong with that. Am I right Blackhawk fans?