Sports Magazine

Kipper : Pittsburgh Sports Fans Have A Blaming Problem

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
After the Pittsburgh Penguins surrendered an early 3 goal lead to an inferior team talent wise, only to lose in Over Time, the blame game settled in. The fingers started pointing, Social Media was abuzz with who to blame and who to defend. It's moments like this that you can easily distinguish who the "Fan Boys" and "Fan Girls" are and who has a particular bias against particular player(s).
This isn't just a Pittsburgh Penguins fan issue either, this is an issue the stretches across the board to all 3 sports teams. I've witnessed them for years. The pure number of people out there who absolutely refuse to blame Ben Roethlisberger for a bad game that costs the Steelers is alarming and ridiculous. If he has a bad game, it's the Defenses fault for not shutting out the other team. It's the Offensive Line's fault. The Wide Receivers didn't create enough separation to get open...
It wasn't, "The Steelers could've won Super Bowl 45 if Ben Roethlisberger had played as well as Aaron Rogers",
It was "The Steelers Defense didn't do enough to help out Ben".
The truth is always somewhere in the middle?
Everyone is largely 50% correct.
In the case of that last example, the Steelers Defense didn't do enough to stop the Packers and help out their struggling QB and their Franchise QB, was outplayed by his counterpart on the field.
Placing blame in multiple places however, appears to be a task that eludes the sports fan and at times the media itself.
Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins stopped playing after they scored their 3rd goal in the 1st Period. This was evident to anyone watching the game. At one point the Columbus Blue Jackets had a 28-8 Shots On Goal advantage after the Pens scored their 3rd goal. When that happens, the entire team is to blame. Marc-Andre Fleury was peppered with shots from everywhere. When you are allowing as many Shots On Goals as the Pens were, you aren't play the game enough in the other teams zone.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were largely and have been largely invisible offensively this series. There's been times like last night where Malkin was giving up his body to block shots and backcheck, but other than that, the Pens top stars haven't made a dent in this series. There's simply not enough blame being place on Evegni Malkin and Sidney Crosby and Crosby should get far more blame because he's the Captain and Leader of a team that is playing without any heart. He's the Captain and Leader of a team that just ignored the game plan and schemes of the coaching staff and does what they want at half the speed and energy. It's his job to keep the team in it, to keep the energy at 120% with a lead. It's his job as a Leader to pick up the heads and morale of his teammates.
The question isn't where is Sidney Crosby the Art Ross winner, the question should be :
Where is Sidney Crosby the leader?
Since Billy Guerin exited, that leadership role on this team has lacked but you won't hear or see anyone question whether Sidney Crosby has what it takes as a leader, because he's Sidney Crosby. He's untouchable. We'll blame the Head Coach instead.
Why? Why is one person void of proper accountability? Why is it so difficult to find blame with multiple players and perhaps the coaching staff? It shouldn't be, but it is. That's how it is in Pittsburgh, and most likely other cities too.
While the leadership was lacking badly last night, the Pens were 22 seconds away from winning. Despite playing for only 15 minutes out of 60, they were going to exit Nationwide Arena with a victory. A 3 goal lead in the playoffs should be safe for an "elite" team. It should be safe against a team like Columbus.
Then Marc-Andre Fleury happens.
Here's guy who gets more blame and gets more defense than just about any player I've seen in Pittsburgh. His fans will defend him to no end. He doesn't give up bad goals, his defense does. His biggest detractors won't give him a single ounce of credit for doing something good but are ready to pounce on him for a mistake.
Pittsburgh Sports Fans!
Marc-Andre Fleury played a really strong game until the last 4 minutes and then, it's not even debatable, he lost the game for the Penguins with bad mental mistakes, something he's been very prone to in the Playoffs during his career. Don't tell that to a Marc-Andre Fleury fan, because they will want to know where Rob Scuderi was on Defense. Why the Pens couldn't score a 4th goal. They will find anything to ignore the fact that the Franchise goalie who is paid elite money, didn't come through when an elite goalie is supposed to.
Stop making excuses for him.
... but that's what Pittsburgh Sports Fans do.
They will come up with countless excuses to defend a particular player they like, but when it's someone that they don't like? Well... those excuses don't apply against them.
It's often a double standard, bordering on good ol' hypocrisy and that is the standard of "excellence" for Pittsburgh sports fans.
It doesn't stop at players either. When the Pittsburgh Penguins get bounced from the Playoffs early this year, all of the Fire Dan Byslma Cheerleaders will be out in full force. Should he be fired? Absolutely. The team needs a change. However, that is where it the conversation usually starts and ends. How many people will blame GM Ray Shero? There's nobody in Pittsburgh that is as untouchable as Ray Shero. This is a guy who is absolved of any and every sort of blame, but the bottom line is that these are the teams he has constructed. He has 2 of the worlds greatest players on his roster. He was handed those players. All he's had to do was construct a team around those players to win some Stanley Cups and he's won 1 Cup in 7, going on 8 years. Meanwhile in Chicago, GM Stan Bowman has won 2 Stanley Cups in the last 4 years without a player winning some sort of scoring award..
Will GM Ray Shero feel the heat?
Pittsburgh Sports Fans are often incapable of holding more than one person accountable. It's all or nothing. They will place all of the accountability on one person and defend someone else to death. The sheer thought of multitasking blame, appears to be a bit much. While this doesn't apply to every fan out there, there are a great number of fans who do have the ability to be subjective and place the blame where it is appropriate. Even these fans know exactly what fans I'm describing in this Blog Article.
As these NHL Playoffs move along and the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to perform poorly, just remember.. It's not ever Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Ray Shero or Marc-Andre Fleury's fault.. except when it is is, then you can only blame one at a time.
The Pittsburgh Sports Fan.
I think this is not just a Pittsburgh problem, its just a sports fan problem in general.
As for my blame of last night? Why we played terrible, I blame it on our stars for not stepping up. Really everyone stopped playing after the 1st period. We played bad because of everyone. The only player I thought honestly looked good was Brooks Orpik.
As for why we lost? Marc Andre Fleury had a mind****. Why the hell would he do that? The Pens were going to leave Nationwide Arena victorious, as would I, and be leading the series 3-1, even if it was ugly. But no. He thinks it would be wise to just drop behind the net with our defense playing 5 on 6.
As for Bylsma I agree. As for Shero I do not. He has built a team that anybody should have been able to win a cup with multiple times. Especially last years team. Shero is still untouchable for me, except for resigning Kris Letang.
Good write up Kipper. Kipper : Pittsburgh Sports Fans Have A Blaming Problem
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