Loyal to a fault

Loyal to a fault

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010
3:19 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

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?

CSN's Dan Hayes meets the White Sox Dan Hayes

CSN's Dan Hayes meets the White Sox Dan Hayes

Is the White Sox clubhouse big enough for two Dan Hayeses?

We're about to find out this spring training as CSN White Sox Insider Dan Hayes covers the team, which includes first base prospect Danny Hayes.

The Sox prospect Hayes battled .250 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 55 games for Charlotte last season.

The big-league hopeful and White Sox beat reporter spoke with CSN's Chuck Garfien about the similarities the two (don't) have.

No word yet on whether they'll battle the two Rougned Odors and Geovani/Geovany Sotos to an Anchoman-style duel.

Check it all out in the hilarious video above.

Ryan Hartman defends teammate, but fight proves to be turning point in Blackhawks loss to Oilers

Ryan Hartman defends teammate, but fight proves to be turning point in Blackhawks loss to Oilers

The NHL implemented the bye week for the first time this season in an effort to give teams a five-day break before the stretch run of the regular season.

Entering Saturday's game, teams were 3-10-3 coming out of those games with many of those losses coming in convincing fashion.

Despite a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, the Blackhawks weren't one of those teams. They appeared to be reenergized more than rusty, and it showed in the opening 20 minutes of the game when they fired off 30 shot attempts (12 on goal) compared to the Oilers' 10 (four on goal).

But early in the second period, momentum shifted after Ryan Hartman came to the defense of teammate Tanner Kero, who was leveled by Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba in the neutral zone.

Hartman skated over to Gryba and dropped the gloves near the goal line, afterwards getting tagged with a two-minute penalty for instigating, five minutes for fighting and another 10 for a misconduct.

"It's kind of a no-brainer for me," Hartman said of sticking up for Kero. "I tried waiting long enough so it wasn't an instigator but it's kind of a judgment call I guess, some refs call it different ways. Unfortunately it ended up in a power play for them, but it's something you've got to do."

Hartman said he and the official had a discussion about the instigator penalty for clarity, which was handed to him due to the distance traveled after the hit.

Hartman said after the game that he respects the decision, but teammates and coaches didn't necessarily agree with the call.

"Thought they both had an agreement," Jonathan Toews said of the fight. "It looked like they were both going to go at it. Don’t think Hartsy jumped him by any means. But I guess just because there’s a previous hit immediately before that, then he got the instigator there."

Said Joel Quenneville: "I don't necessarily know that he was going to start the fight. I think he went over there to talk to the guy, so you lose Hartsy there."

And it proved to be the turning point.

Less than two minutes later, the Oilers capitalized on the power play after Matt Benning's shot ricocheted off Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk's skate and into the net, putting Edmonton out in front first.

They wouldn't look back, hanging on to beat the Blackhawks 3-1, and getting revenge on a team that beat them last week 5-1 in their first game out of the bye.

While it may not have been an opportune time to do it, the Blackhawks appreciate Hartman's game and know more times than not, his energy will result in a positive outcome.

"We haven’t seen a lot of fights this year so, no matter what, it always gets us going, especially in our own building," Toews said. "I think the fans love that sort of thing, too, and Hartsy’s been going after guys who are a lot bigger than him this year. We love that fearless play and definitely helps our guys feed off it."

"Hartsy's a competitive guy," Quenneville said. "We like him to have that a little bit of abrasiveness and unpredictably so there's nothing wrong with that. We like the way he competes and what he brings us."