Sunday, October 21, 2007

Don't Just Sit There

There's a disturbing trend I'm starting to see on a few of the blogs and among the message board posters around CapsNation, and I'm curious as to the thought process behind it. Maybe someone can enlighten me because I'm completely confused.

We all know that when the Penguins come to town, at least in the last two years, their fans take great pleasure in packing our arena. It's some sort of sick, twisted game to them - they jam the ticket outlets the first day tickets go on sale, scour eBay and Craig's List and Stub Hub, and organize bus tours from the Pitt to DC.

They nudge each other in the ribs with laughing smiles. Ha ha, they say; the Caps can't even sell out their own arena, they mock.

Never mind the fact that of course there are seats available when they first go on sale, or the fact that they're basically helping us to pay off the rest of Jagr's contract. Or the fact that no Caps fan in their right mind would claim that attendance has been good in the last decade. (Pens fans, we get it - DC is a town made up of about 50% expatriates from other places and 50% of people who like to see a winning sports team. It's just the way it is...time to find a new joke.)

But that's not the disturbing trend. What disturbs me is the note of defeat I'm hearing among Caps fans who have the time, money and ability to get to the game - and don't. There's a sense of there being no point. Why should we subject ourselves to the evil hordes of invading Pens fans when we can enjoy the game from the comfort of our recliners and couches? We're probably not going to win anyways, so why bother?

People. Please. You don't combat an invasion by staying home - you go out and fight it. If every person who decided not to go because the idea of sitting with Pens fans was too much had actually bought seats, that's a chunk of tickets not going into the hands of the yellow and black. See how that works?

One of the eternal jokes about our franchise is that there's no passion here, but I disagree. There's plenty of passion...the problem is it's tempered with a lot of broken hearts and defeatist attitudes that prevent us from being a truly great hockey city.

Last night there were probably about 4-5,000 Penguins fans in attendance and if you read Penguins blogs their loyal fans are convinced that the "Let's Go Pens" chant was louder than the "Let's Go Caps". I disagree - not that it would have been out of the ordinary in the past, but last night was not a Penguins game of the past.

Try yelling "Let's Go Caps" over that other horrible chant and see if you can hear the difference between 'Pens' and 'Caps' - you can't. It all becomes one big blur of sound. If Pens fans have some super secret hearing ability, great, but if not they heard what I did and they're all lying. There were far more Caps fans in the house last night than at any of the Penguins games last year and they were loud. Maybe not when the game ended, and maybe it wasn't even louder than the "Let's Go Pens" chants. All I know is from my vantage point it sounded very different than it has in recent years.

The point is this: if you're waiting for a game where the Pittsburgh influx is absent, you'll be waiting a long time. Along with the normal assorted jackasses they've also got a great deal of very devoted, passionate, intelligent fans who love their team, many of whom live in the area. But the Caps are getting better and are worth supporting regardless - annoyance with the flightless fowl is not a good enough reason, not if you're a true fan.

So all of you who don't have an excuse for not being at the game other than the fact that you just couldn't be bothered, shame on you. You want to bitch about the Penguins fans, fine - be my guest. I certainly do my fair share. But I was there and thousands of others were, too, lending our voices to the cheers that filled the arena for the first time in a long time. Where were you?

March 9. I expect to see you all there.


Tyler said...

That's why we were yelling "Let's Go Pen-Guins!!" to distinguish ourselves.

I'll be there on March 9th, don't worry!! :)

pepper said...

I was there, having travelled all the way from NYC to see the predictable result. (I actually grew up in DC and was transplanted elsewhere.)

The biggest problem is all the local hockey fans who love the Pens and not the Caps. Why? They can't all be from Pittsburgh. Probably latched onto them as frontrunners in the early 90's and never looked back. Beating the Caps 6 of 7 times in the playoffs helps too. And the Caps for their part have done so little in the last decade to draw anyone out of their comfy chairs to a game (if they still watch them at all).

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. Unfortunatly I waited too long to get seats and being a poor teacher couldn't afford 100$ tickets that were left. Yes its my fault that I procrastinated, but rest assured I will move heaven and earth to be at every game no matter who we are playing! You are right, no matter what the result is, you are either a fan or not.

Murshawursha said...

I was there...
The whole row behind me was Pens fans... That was tedious.

Shmee said...

Great post! And I am proud to announce that in our section, we crushed the Pens fans.

Elly said...

Bah! Pens fans rule! Whoooo!

Yes, I'm done now. ;)

I think you bring up a good point about any franchise that might be having attendance troubles, especially with the higher prices that some places charge. When your team isn't doing so hot, people get discouraged, especially when they play a team with a relationship like the Penguins have to the Caps. It's hard to get the mental umph, so to speak, to go a game that you don't have a good prognosis of.

That being said, it is especially important to get out and try to get over that, to support your team, and I think you make a great point of it (even if you had to use the Penguins as the other team ;). The Capitals are worth watching, and I hope that people in the DC area start doing just that.

Tyler said...

I agree that more people need to come out to Caps games. I am a hockey fan first and foremost, second a Pens fan. I will watch any 2 teams play because its a great sport. I go to more Caps games than just the 2 Pens games a year.