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I Am a Bad Sports Fan, and You Probably are Too

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Let me be clear about something before we get into the meat of this post. I like talking sports with people and have been lucky enough to know and follow some of the smartest and funniest people that follow the sports I enjoy. That said, for the fun ones to talk to and follow, the majority of sports fans are a very fickle and a general pain in the ass to read either on Twitter or the comment section of your favorite blog.

Except this one. No one comments on my posts because they’re too busy agreeing with me apparently.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine not long ago and the topic of fandom was brought up. I was asked if it was acceptable to have more than one favorite team. My response was a simple one; absolutely not. I was satisfied with my response until I was reminded of my slight cheering interest for the Kansas City Royals despite being a Cubs fan. In other words, I live in baseball hell.

I tried to rationalize given where I was born and that the two teams are in separate leagues. My friend was not buying the excuse and dropped maybe the best piece of advice for fans of any team.

“I believe in the concept of if you love your team the way you’re supposed to, you don’t have time for another one. If you have two, both aren’t getting the love they deserve. So you’re a bad fan. Treat your team like you would your significant other and love them unconditionally. Times might be tough over the years, but you get out of it what you put in. If you have a brain, you should know what you love. Your team is special and you want them with you forever. Having a second favorite team is like kissing  your hot, faithful sweet girlfriend and walking out the door to go to a dirty motel and snort coke off the ass of a filthy hooker. Real fans don’t do this.”

I hadn’t ever thought about it that way and I immediately wanted to burn everything I owned that didn’t involve my favorite teams, my alma mater or my place of employment. Granted, that would never happen because that’s a shit-ton of money going up in smoke, but it makes you think, yes?

It’s not difficult. Pick a team, stick with them and wish for every other team in your favorite league to lose every single game. Nothing destroys your credibility as a fan of a sport than telling someone you have a second/third/fourth favorite team. If you have a reason to like a second team, it better be because you have a family member in the organization or your old team re-located. I have been guilty of this offense before and still am to an extent. I’m working on fixing that.

Want to cheer for players? Go right ahead. The players I cheer for in hockey can do great things and provide me with hours of entertainment. As long as they put up bagels when they play the Sharks.

If you’re new to a sport, there’s nothing that says you have to cheer for the team located closest to you. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re a grown ass adult so you can cheer for whoever your little heart desires. But if you flip-flop because the team you picked sucks, you should be strapped to a rocket and fired into the sun.

And hey, if you’re in the group that picks one team in a sport and tells everyone else to piss off, I raise my challis to you.

There is no science to being a perfect fan. Lord knows I’m not. But having four favorite teams to cheer for in the same sport is a criminal offense.

There are plenty other areas of shitty fandoms I could hit on, but I’m lazy and there’s hockey to watch. So I leave you with this:

Go Sharks.
Go Cubs.
Go Hawkeyes.
Go Chiefs.
Go Bulls.
Go ‘Necks

To all the other teams, I hate you.

RT, out

If you disagree, follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, and try to reason with me. Good luck.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm
Who would want Martin Havlat on their team after a hit like this? Oh wait...

Who would want Martin Havlat on their team after a hit like this? Oh wait…

Just like old times, the Blackhawks and Red Wings are matched up against each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But just their last meeting in the 2009 West Finals, this particular post-season match up is going to be a special one as it could be the final playoff series for the Wings as members of the Western Conference.

Chicago did nothing to give anyone a reason to believe they aren’t the favorites to win the Stanley Cup in the first round, squashing the young Minnesota Wild in five games. While that isn’t a shock, what is a shock is that superstars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews didn’t score one goal during the series. That’s a testament to just how good and how deep the Hawks are. Expect Chicago to keep rolling out four lines to give the Red Wings fits.

After his rough first round series against the Coyotes last year, Corey Crawford looked a lot like the guy that nearly backstopped the Hawks to a comeback against Vancouver in 2011, surrendering a mere 7 goals in those five games. He’s going to be tested much more in this series than he was against a Minnesota team that was offensively challenged all year. To keep this series short, Crawford needs to stay sharp from the opening whistle of game one.

In a year in which lots of people (myself included) left the Red Wings for dead, Detroit responded by not only making the playoffs, but downing a team that represented the Pacific Division worse than Phoenix did as champion. It would have been easy to say the Wings would have been done quickly against the Ducks, but we got to see an old school Detroit playoff performance in games 6 & 7 as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Jimmy Howard put the team on their backs.

To keep their success going, the Wings are going to need those three to elevate their games to an even higher level. Yes, the Red Wings depth players contributed to the upset. But those two horses, as well as the defensive pairing of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson, can’t be on the ice for 60 minutes. Detroit’s bottom six is going to have to elevate their game and Jimmy Howard needs to stand on his head every single night if Detroit wants to win.

Chicago Will Win If…
They carry over their play from round one. If it worked against an 8-seed, then it should work against a 7-seed. The addition of Dave Bolland to the lineup gives the Blackhawks someone to irritate either Datsyuk or Zetterberg all series. There’s no way that Toews and Kane go another series without scoring a goal. Keep in mind that Chicago also won the season series 4-0. So yeah, you could say the Hawks are heavy favorites.

Detroit Will Win If…
Jimmy Howard goes Jonathan Quick. A goalie can make or break how well their team does in the playoffs, and Howard is going to have his hands full against a very talented roster. Howard hasn’t exactly been a closer in the playoffs, but he looked very good against a dangerous offensive team in the Ducks. For the Wings to win, Howard will probably need to steal three games. Good luck, young Jedi.

PredictionThis series won’t be a blowout like the Chicago-Minnesota series. Detroit has had a great run but they’re going to be sent away to the East by a team that they dominated for the good part of two decades. Chicago in 6.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m terrible about getting these done in a timely fashion. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22  to yell at me for this half-assed preview.

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview, #2 St. Louis Blues vs. #7 San Jose Sharks

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Before I write this, I’m taking my homer cap off. It’s only fair to Blues readers (if there are any of you) that I do so. But this one could run longer than the other previews, so buckle up.

Yes, I’m well aware the Blues handled the Sharks with ease in the regular season, but the two teams were not playing the way they are right now, and you can expect this to be one hell of a series.

Starting with the Blues, who put together maybe the most consistent season of hockey out of all 30 NHL teams. Clearly, defense was the story, as St. Louis was absolutely suffocating all year long, allowing the fewest goals in the league and sitting near the top in shots allowed per game. That’s not entertaining hockey, but it is winning hockey and Ken Hitchcock deserves a ton of credit for his work in making the Blues a contender.

Offensively, they were somewhat challenged and their leading scorer, David Backes, only had 54 points. But they make up for that with plenty of balance with David Perron, T.J. Oshie, Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald chipping in on the team’s top two lines. Why am I worried about this unit? Because Backes is an absolute beast that plays hard every shift and his teammates feed off that. The chances of Backes fighting Ryane Clowe in this series are easily higher than anyone else.

On defense, the team has one of the league’s best defenseman that no one talks about in Alex Pietrangelo. He was the reason Erik Johnson became expendable and he should get some love for the Norris Trophy this year. Kevin Shattenkirk was the steal in the Johnson deal and he’s come into his own this season with the Blues as a serious offensive threat. While those two draw much of the attention, Roman Polak, Carlo Colaiaccovo, Barrett Jackman and Kent Huskins take care of business in their own end, blocking shots and making thing tough on the opposition.

In net is where the Blues hold a clear advantage. While they have used both goalies this season, each has been stellar and there’s no bad choice for Hitch to pick. In game one, he’s going with Jaroslav Halak, who has lots of postseason magic on his side, thanks to his heroics in 2010 with Montreal. It was the right call for Hitchcock to give Halak the start. However, if Halak falters, Brian Elliott is more than capable of taking over. He did only set the record for season GAA this year, which is nice. Regardless of who is in net, they will be very tough for the Sharks’ shooters to deal with.

Yes, this season was as painful for me as a Sharks fan since the collapse of 2002-03. The great news is that it makes no difference now, and the team is finally healthy coming in to the series. On top of that, they were basically playing playoff hockey in their last four games against Dallas and LA. They didn’t make it easy, but won all four games. That alone is what is encouraging to me. It’s also encouraging that they don’t open as a top-two seed, so the pressure goes straight to the opponent.

It also doesn’t hurt that this squad has been together for two deep playoff runs and they know what it takes to win these game. Joe Thornton was a beast in last year’s playoffs and I expect that to continue. Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Clowe, Logan Couture and Martin Havlat give the Sharks two equally dangerous scoring lines, one that is guaranteed not to see Pietrangelo and Polak against them.

The bottom six forwards have steadily improved as the season has drawn to a close and the penalty kill has shown some improvement with the additions of Dominic Moore, Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi, as well as the elevated play of Tommy Wingles.

What this group of forwards CAN NOT DO against the Blues is come out slow. Scottrade Center is going to be rocking and if the Blues take an early lead, they can play their system and win games 1-0 or 2-1.

Defensively, the Sharks need to up the physicality against the Blues. Make them work for space. Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will most likely see the Backes line, so that means Brent Burns, Jason Demers, Justin Braun and Douglas Murray have to keep the second and third lines in check. One thing to keep an eye on is if Murray will play. He sat out the last four games of the regular season and the Sharks went unbeaten. I love the physical game he brings, but with Murray in the press box, the defense is quicker. I don’t expect him to sit out because he’s just as tested as the rest of the core players, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Antti Niemi, it’s time to show what kind of goalie you are. You were shelled by LA, brilliant against Detroit, and hammered by Vancouver last year. You’re going up against a team that doesn’t give up a lot of shots or goals, so you need to make the stops when they come to you. I love the way Nemo fights for each save, but he can’t have games where he implodes or the Sharks are going to go home very early.

Players to Watch

Alex Pietrangelo, Blues D – I’ve already touched on the big guy, but he’s got the tough responsibility of handling the Joe Thornton line, as well as running the show on the Blues’ power play. This could be Pietrangelo’s coming out party to the hockey world, and this is as good of a stage as any.

Antti Niemi, Sharks G – See above. Many of these games could be a ‘First to Three’ scenario. So if Niemi blows up, the Sharks essentially lose the game.

St. Louis Will Win If…

They handle the moment. This team is mostly youngsters with only three Cup winners skating (McDonald, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott) and a Cup winning coach. The younger players have only had a taste of the playoffs and they folded against Vancouver. Don’t let the stage get the better of you, play the system that got you here and the rest will take care of itself.

San Jose Will Win If…

They can win on the road. The Sharks were atrocious at times away from HP Pavilion this year, and Scottrade is not an easy barn to play in, since the Blues only lost six times at home. The good news is the Sharks showed late they can win those important road games, one coming against a team that’s just as good defensively in LA.

Prediction

I am in no way about to take this series lightly like I did last year’s first round series. These two teams are going to be physical and I don’t expect a ton of goals to be scored. But there’s just something about the grit and moxie the Sharks have shown late in the season that is showing up at the right time. It’s not going to be easy and every game could go to OT. I like the team that’s been there more than once as a unit. Keep in mind, this is not a homer pick and I will not be surprised if the Blues win. Sharks in seven.