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?

89 Days to Kickoff: Vernon Hills

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89 Days to Kickoff: Vernon Hills

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Vernon Hills

Head coach: Bill Bellecomo

Assistant coaches: Corey Atwell, Greg Stilling, Tim Dydo, Jason Czarnecki, Avelino Cortez, Brian Palmer, Mike Larsen, Dave Schroetter

How they fared in 2016: 10-4 (3-2 Central Suburban North), lost to Peoria in the IHSA Class 5A state title game.

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Morris]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – Grayslake North

Sept. 1 – @ Zion-Benton

Sept. 8 – Rolling Meadows

Sept. 15 - @ Hoffman Estates

Sept. 22 - Highland Park

Sept. 28 – @ Deerfield

Oct. 6 - Maine West

Oct. 13 - @ Maine East

Oct. 20 - Glenbrook North

Biggest storyline: Can the Cougars make another deep run in Class 5A?

Names to watch this season: Senior WR/DB Max Lyle, senior OL/DL Danny Lester and senior LB Kyle Fasbinder

Biggest holes to fill: The Cougars will need to reload in particular on the offensive side of the football with just three starters back from a season ago.

EDGY's early take: The Cougars had a great run in 2016 and while several key starters have graduated, Vernon Hills still has some gas left in the tank. Getting off to a strong early start could be a big key in 2017 as the Cougars schedule is tough especially early on in 2017.

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs drafted and developed Ian Happ with the idea of turning him into a Ben Zobrist-type player who would move quickly through the farm system and surface as a versatile big-league contributor and/or legitimate trade chip.

With Zobrist sidelined because of a sore left wrist, the Cubs got their first look at Happ playing second base in The Show during Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Dodger Stadium. That kind of depth – plugging in a 2015 first-round pick while a World Series MVP rests – should ultimately propel the Cubs over the course of a 162-game season.

Even as the Cubs stutter-step through a 25-23 start, there are enough choices for the best defensive second baseman on the team and a National League Championship Series co-MVP (Javier Baez) to sit on the bench.

“We know that the talent’s there,” Zobrist said. “It’s not like having any one or two guys out of the lineup is a big drop-off for us because of the talent that’s there. And we know that just because we have a lot of young players doesn’t mean that they’re not extremely capable of doing the job as well.”

Zobrist – who’s reached base in 23 straight games and emerged as a new leadoff option with Kyle Schwarber struggling – felt something on an awkward swing in the first inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. Zobrist played through it that night and called it a “day-to-day thing” that didn’t require an MRI.

[MORE: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Facing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday after back-to-back shutouts will be a game-time decision.

“It’s tough,” Zobrist said. “We just haven’t strung together enough quality at-bats to score runs the last two games. It’s not just because of us. They’ve pitched well. Their pitchers are pretty hot right now. They’ve spotted up. They’ve gotten early strikes where they needed to and then gone to work pretty well on us.

“The task doesn’t get any easier tomorrow with Kershaw. We just got to keep trying to chip away.”