Blackhawks

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?

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”

Joe Maddon not expecting a shake-up of Cubs coaching staff

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon not expecting a shake-up of Cubs coaching staff

Unless Joe Maddon gets blindsided by top-down changes or a personal decision, it sounds like the Cubs manager expects his entire coaching staff to return for the 2018 season, keeping together the group that has made three consecutive trips to the National League Championship Series.

“Of course,” Maddon said Wednesday at Wrigley Field, where the defending World Series champs were facing an elimination game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, on the verge of getting swept out of the NLCS. “Listen, the staff’s done a great job. Our staff’s been awesome. It’s a tightly-knit group. Really, there’s a lot of synergy involved.

“Nobody knows everything. Everybody helps everybody. There’s a lot of cross-pollination. Nobody’s on their own little island. I really like that.”

Pitching coach Chris Bosio – who would be an in-demand candidate after helping develop Jake Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and turn Kyle Hendricks into last year’s major-league ERA leader – also told WSCR-AM 670 that he believes the staff will remain intact.

Maddon – who only brought bench coach Dave Martinez over from the Tampa Bay Rays after the 2014 season – is a hands-off boss and a baseball lifer who did a lot of grunt work before becoming rich and famous.

“I don’t think any of them ever withhold saying something to me that they have on their mind, which I really appreciate,” Maddon said. “They don’t feel like they can’t say it. That’s the one thing I always wanted to build, that kind of a method where: ‘If you got something, say it. Don’t hold it back. Just say it. You know you can.’

“There’s nothing held against you for doing it. I think in some places that isn’t the case, so there’s a lot of positive messaging going on.”

This would be a connect-the-dots scenario, but Maddon ruled out the idea of hiring Jim Hickey, the longtime pitching coach who has roots in Chicago and parted ways with the Rays this month. Hickey’s influence helped turn the Rays into a viable small-market contender, coaching up young pitchers like David Price and Chris Archer.

“I called him to console a friend,” Maddon said. “We have not discussed (anything else). I just wanted to know how he was doing, purely because it kind of surprised me, and it surprised a lot of us. So I did talk to ‘Hick,’ but we talk all the time.

“He sends me texts when he’s driving over the causeways down there, because he knows how much I love looking for dolphins driving over the Howard Franklin or the Gandy Bridge. So he (texts): ‘I saw a couple dolphins this morning.’ And I try to get him to come to our parties – he’s a funny guy.

“We had a great relationship and he’s going to turn out just fine. He’s going to be well-sought-after.”