Monday, May 19, 2008

and so the penguins eliminate the flyers...

I'm going to be careful in how I write this, if only because a number of my friends are good, knowledgeable and respectful Philly fans with a clue. But to be honest, this series exposed a few simple truths about Philadelphia and many of its sports fans:

1. Much of the talk about how good and knowledgeable Philadelphia fans are is a bald-faced lie. Fact is, folks in this town are probably the most provincial in the country -- completely and utterly clueless about the reality beyond Broad and Pattison. Before the series began, a lot of commentary had focused on the falsehood that the Penguins had "tanked" their final regular season game against the Flyers so as to avoid playing them in the first round. The thinking was, the Pens were afraid of a physical team like the Flyers, as if this were 1975 and Bob Clarke was going to be punching someone in the face and frightening him into playing poorly from the moment the puck dropped. What it ignored was that the Pens wanted to rest Sidney Crosby for what was essentially a meaningless game because he was still feeling the effects of his high ankle sprain. Anyway, now, after a series in which the Pens won four games against just one for the Flyers, after the 6-0 whitewash that that took place in Sunday's series-clinching game at The Igloo, how does that analysis hold up?

2. Another misconception that made the rounds these last two weeks is that Pens fans are johnny-come-latelys to the sport of hockey. Even Rich Hofmann's column in today's Philadelphia Daily News has generated some comments from folks who continue to argue a) the Pens are in this place because they were so bad for so long, thereby allowing them to draft good players (which is true), and b) unlike in Philly, where everyone is supposedly loyal, no one cared about hockey in Pittsburgh until now. Now, while the life of kings pleads guilty to being on the bandwagon (and shamelessly so), many others in Pittsburgh have indeed been loyal since at least the mid-to-late 1980s, when the team began its first real run of success. But the Pens eventually got to be so bad again because their ownership group had literally run them into the ground. A perceived lack of fan support, as a simple read of Mario Lemieux's Wikipedia page makes clear, had nothing to do with why the team nearly folded or left town before Lemieux rescued it. Besides, as we've already demonstrated, Philly has also failed the loyalty test in recent years. But few in this town will tell you that, and fewer still will want to accept it.

3. If it wasn't already known, this series made it demonstrably clear: Philadelphia fans are the most boorish and obnoxious anywhere. It's funny to me that some will point to incidents in other cities as evidence that it's not just a Philly thing. But in Game 4, both times the Penguins scored goals and began to celebrate in the corner, several Flyers fans stood against the glass above the boards and raised their middle fingers -- some even reaching above the heads of children to do so. Real classy. After all, as we all know, a true tough guy does such a thing from the safety of his front-row seat. Losers.

4. Passion and knowledge are not to be confused with loutish behavior. But a lot of people in Philly will never understand this.

5. The back page of today's Philadelphia Daily News. Just 'cause:


Rich P. said...

Who's afraid of the big bad Flyers now?

Miraculously, the Penguins finally overcame the "Fear of the Flyers" by totally blowing them out, 6-0, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Igloo in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Those not familiar with the "Fear" need only look back before the start of the playoffs when a few (orange chests fully expanded) insinuated the Penguins lost to them on purpose in the regular-season finale to avoid a first-round matchup against the Bullies from Broad Street.

This was further explained by the absence of Pittsburgh's captain Sidney Crosby, who in the Flyers' minds was cowering in a corner of the locker room, and not nursing a groin injury that had kept him out of about 20 of the last 30 games.

But facts be damned!!!, right Philly?

But the real fact is simple: The next time the Flyers finish dead last in the NHL standings, only to admirably reach the playoffs the very next season, they should not Poke the Bear (or in this case the Penguin) who reached the playoffs last season and finished second overall in the East this year.

(Not too smart. … but neither was the "Vengeance Now" campaign, but who is counting.)

Honestly, being a Western Pa. transplant, I have tried to adopt some of the local sports teams (the Steelers being the only non-negotiable item, the love affair runs too deep).

The Sixers … well, Pittsburgh has no basketball team, so that's easy.

The Phillies fight (but in an admirable way) and seem likable enough.

But the Flyers and their fans must make an effort to crawl out from under the rocks and make an effort to see hockey as more than the WWF on Ice. The league (and a majority of its fans) are tiring of their caveman act and would like to see hockey skate out of the ice age.

The potential is growing.

The talent is unmistakable.

The excitement is there.

But thankfully, for one proud ex-Pittsburgher, the Flyers are not.


Diaz said...

Penguins fans are ugly