Big Lead Sports Bar

6/24/2008

WHAT'S A REAL FAN?

I've been taking it on the chin from several readers in the comments section of Sunday's All You Can Eat article, mostly along the lines of "fair weather fan" and "too tough on the Pirates". I was also accused of never criticizing the Steelers or Penguins: "If the Pens and Steelers fall on hard times, the site would never get updated."
There were lots of accusations thrown around. So let's address them.
#1- I'm not a Pirate fan.
I guess those people missed the article in March of 2007 that led off with this line: "I love the Pittsburgh Pirates. They were my boyhood team, they were my inspiration for playing 14 years of baseball, and they’re still my favorite team to this day."
That article was entitled, "79 Reasons Why It's Hard to be a Pirate Fan". The point of the article was to show how hard the team has made it to hang in there after all these years of losing. And that was written BEFORE they went 68-94 in '07.
Let me reiterate this for those who missed the message: The Pirates are my favorite team. There is no other team I would like to win more than the Pirates. To see an entire generation of kids grow up without knowing what a winning season of Pittsburgh baseball looks like is a true injustice. In my eyes, a person who's not a fan is apathetic, a much more serious offense against fandom. Criticism shows that you do care about the team, because you want them to get better. Do you ever see anyone calling talk shows discussing the struggles of the Pittsburgh XPlosion? Of course not, because few people care.
#2- "If the Pens and Steelers fall on hard times, the site would never get updated."
That's a comment obviously made by someone unfamiliar with the site. I guessed you missed the painful weekly recaps of the 2006 team that started off 2-6 after winning the championship and looked like they were in a fog. Check the archives.
If anything, a case can be made that REAL fans want to discuss the team more when the team is struggling. Mark Madden would always say that a struggling Steelers team was great for ratings. Why? Because they have passionate fans who want to figure out what's wrong.
As for the Penguins, it's hard to be critical of a team that made what looked to me like all the right moves for an entire season, on the ice and off. From delivering season tickets in-person to the Marian Hossa trade to letting fans watch playoff games outside the arena, this organization has had the Midas Touch. Sure, there were a few times where I disagreed with Michael Therrien's decisions, but it's hard to argue with the results. There was very little to be critical of.
So with that as the background, I wanted to ask: What do you think is a real fan? Is it someone who rubber-stamps their approval on every move, or is it someone who actually voices their opinion when a team makes a move you disagree with?
If you want blind cheerleading, this is probably not the site for you. To use the cliche, "It is what it is."
I have my style and my opinions. There's no one forcing you to keep coming back if you don't agree with what I say. If I bother you so much, why are you still reading? Do you also sit through movies that you dislike?
With the Pirates, we're talking about a team that's on the verge of setting a Major League record for ineptitude next year. Tell me all the positive storylines I should be covering. Tell me the crowd on Sunday was not near-comatose.
Of course, according to some of you, I'm out to get the Pirates. I criticize everything they do. You know, like how I bashed them for taking Pedro Alvarez. Oh, wait...I didn't.:
For as many shots as we all take at the Pirates, it's time to pat them on the back when they do the right thing. And from most perspectives, this looks like the right thing. Although much of this season has played out like the previous 15, right down to the last-place standing that we see today, hats off to the Pirates on a good pick. Now sign the guy!
I love the Pirates, I love the Steelers, I love the Penguins, and I love Pitt. My methods may not be the same as yours, but we all have the same championship aspirations. I talk about their ups and their downs, not just their ups. If anything, all losing does is make winning that much sweeter. Ask the many Penguin fans who were around during the couple of years preceding Sidney Crosby. Pirate fans' expectations have dissolved down to a .500 season. A championship? I think the city's collective heads would explode. And win or lose, I'll be talking about it.

19 comments:

Mosh Pitt said...

My money is on the fact that most of the complaints were from Pirate interns. The marketing team had them bitching to Don during their breaks from voting for Nady and McClouth for the all-star team.

the nigerian nightmare said...

I actually got angered reading this. It blows me away that morons would actually email and complain that you're too hard on the Pirates. A true fan is someone who will follow their team through thick and thin, but that doesn't mean turning a blind eye at the negatives. Constructively criticizing a team is part of being a true fan. If you don't see and comment on the things that are wrong with your team, then you're riding the thin line between true fan and idiot 'yinzer'. Obviously if you're a Pirate 'fan' and refuse to acknowledge their horrendous ownership, management, or on-field performance, then you truly are the biggest idiot 'yinzers' that you can possibly be. I personally don't follow the Pirates. I was 8 years old the last time they had a winning season. There were a few years I tried, I really tried to get behind them, but when they consistently piss in the face of their fans with the decisions they make, there's no reason. I give you credit for being such a huge Pirate fan. I've been the same way with the Pens for many years, and it was great this season to see it pay off. Unfortunately, I'd be willing to bet every penny I have that without MAJOR ownership changes or changing the entire economic structure of the MLB, it will NEVER pay off to be a Buccos fan (at least in terms of successful seasons).

P Niddy said...

hand out some mondesi's house bobbleheads to your detractors and they'll shut up

The Chosen Rob said...

As a Clevelander, I hate your sports teams and city in general. But as a fellow diehard sports fan of his own hometown tams, I commend you on this post, as you're spot-on. With a little bit of patience, Huntington will get your ship on the right path back to the glory days of 20 years ago.

Get Fresh Designs said...

Wow, you had to defend yourself and did it quite well. I am a Steelers fan, I do not follow baseball or hockey but will still read your blog even if it's about the pens or pirates. I'm not here to criticize your posts, I come to this site by choice, as I am sure most people do.

To come here and call you out on saying you're not a pirates fan is absurd, from just a few short reads early on, I got it that this was a blog about pittsburgh sports from a fan of those teams, not just some random sports writer. Some people are just too thick headed I suppose.

Keep up the good work.

jtp2106 said...

The people complaining about that post are idiots. Sometimes you just have to ignore them. I know it's hard, because the world is full of them. Pittsburgh is full of them, which is why I got the hell out of town when I went to college. I prefer to enjoy my hometown from a distance. Keep up the good work, Mondesi.

matt the cal u grad in tampa said...

We are all tired of the losing and all of the bullshit. Raul just uses the blog as a forum of how sick of it he is.

It all comes down to if you don't like it, don't read it.

The post and all of the previous comments before mine are right on.

gorzoin08 said...

I must admit, I am a somewhat new reader to the site. I started reading it daily about a year ago so I wasn't around during the '06 Steeler season. And looking back on some of the archives, I see that there was some crictism of the Steelers last year.

I agree that you can be a fan of a team and criticize them, you will get no argument from me out of that. BUT, to ignore some of the good things of a team isn't good either. I have heard very little(if any) praise for the good things: such as McClouth and Nady's good starts, Duke pitching well again, Bay hitting the ball well again, and Doumit emerging into a good major league catcher.

I know that gets overshadowed by the bad things: Snell, Gorzo, LaRoche, etc.

And to be honest, I get a kick out of some of the criticism you give towards the Pirates because most of it is true, but in my opinion yesterday's article was over the top. You complained about everything possible and most of it wasn't even about baseball, and the remark about Sanchez was out of line. He is over a .300 lifetime hitter.

I'm also not going to stop reading this site just because I disagree with one post. When this many people read your website, there is always going to be someone that disagrees with an article here and there, but I wouldn't discourage them from coming back and reading again.

Cecil from Cecil Twp. said...

Mondesi - well put. Keep ripping the Buccos. They've certainly earned it.

P Niddy - great analogy. If only bobbleheads and fireworks could cure all the world's problems....(and the occasion performance by the GIMME GIMME'S).

The Chosen Rob - Go back to JoseMesasHouse.com

Gorzoin08 - You're a sucker for followiing the Buccos like you do. They are not worthy of your time, passion, or money.

Face it, the Buccos died on 10/14/92.

John said...

I say come to the dark side. Take the plunge and disown the team. Thats what I did. A fair weather fan gives up on the team after 3 consecutive losing seasons. But giving up on a team after 15 consecutive losing seasons is not a fair weather fan. Thats a smart ex fan.

As humans, we can only focus on a few topics, better to focus them on topics worthy of our interest.

Erik said...

I agree with John. This team gave up on us..not the other way around. Why bother with a team that just doesn't care? F' em.

Jopesak said...

As a candidate for World's Biggest Pirates fan (Joe Doprak, yeah the drunk guy in the slovakia flag) I have to agree that a fan that doesn't get p*ssed off about what the Pirates are doing is not a fan at all. Especially for fans that have PLAYED the game of baseball, you know that often the person with the most heart on the team was the one that beat himself up most when he dropped a ball. It makes it difficult for fans to relate to a team that rarely seems like they are effected by the game, and more over, that they are rarely punished for poor performance.

In addition to this, I personally find it hard to sit through the closing innings of a 12-3 loss against the Cubs when the grand majority of seats are still filled... because they're waiting for fireworks. What's even worse fandom than apathy is their continuous attraction to the promotions instead of the struggling on-field horror show. Here's the short list of distractions I witness every game of the season... for those of you that have been to a different ball park, try comparing just the numbers of distractions, even minus the quality: daily giveaway, Sugardale hotdog "meat catching," Bucco trivia, PNC Idol, picture text messaging, each Pirate with a different intro every game (painting, photobooth, former numbers, etc), all you can eat seats and of course the Great Pittsburgh Perogie Race.

I used to think a true fan was one that went to games regardless of how they were doing, stayed to the last inning and cheered to the last out. I am even coming to the point where I'm starting to wonder when this is going to start becoming a two way street.

HotDog_Zanzabar said...

Cecil has been spot on with his last couple comments.

I wish Lou Lipps Is My Homeboy would make a token appearance to say how much he likes Hines Ward and how he's disappointed when he gets trashed on this site. His hiatus hasn't gone unnoticed.

Katie said...

Every "fan" is unique. None are the right or wrong kind of fan. No one has the right to judge anyone's reasons for expressing their fandom for their team(s). Like religion and politics, it's personal to each individual. I personally am a huge Pirates' fan. I get frustrated with ownership, the players, the media, etc... at times, but for me, there's no going back and I enjoy watching and going to games. That's my choice and I wouldn't dare to impose my way of being a fan on anyone. People need to chill and mind their own beeswax.

AJ said...

Ronnie Florian finds your detest of the ice cream sandwiches both sickening and journalistically unsound.

Adam said...

I love Penn State.

godohoky said...

Mondesi you are da man. Since you wrote your piece about AYCE I have been waiting for answer to the diehard Pirate fans that ripped you for no reason. I must say you did an excellent job. I am still not sure what they are mad about you did not say anything that was not true. I agree with almost everything you have wrote here and truly appreciate the outlet you give us here.

Sean said...

You don't love Penn State? If that's the case, I'm never coming back here again.

Sincerely,
Adam


P.S. Congrats on your 2-year anniversary!

Adam said...

I love Penn State