PITTSBURGH, PA – 1/20/20
Ah, it sure was A Hockey Night ..uhh Afternoon, in Pittsburgh. And a very entertaining one at that. I for one celebrated with a few Stevewisers to celebrate the impressive come from behind Penguins victory.
But then I woke up to countless headlines that read something to the likes of “If You Booed Murray You’re A Typical Yinzer” or “If You Gave Murray A Bronx Cheer Then You’re Being A Disrespectful Jerk” or my favorite “If You Mock Cheered Matt Murray Then You’re A Bandwagon Fan”.
Let me start out by saying as a season ticket holder who was at the game, I didn’t hear any “boos” directed at the Penguins starting net-minder. Granted I hadn’t even gotten out of the beer line in time to get my Truly on before it was 2-0 bad guys, so maybe I missed it? But I’m here to let you all know that “Booing” and “Mock Cheering” are not the same thing. Because if they were then I would agree with all of the offended Pittsburgh media personnel and this article would cease to exist.
The frustration grew very early inside PPG Paints Arena at yesterday’s tilt between the Boston Bruins and your Pittsburgh Penguins, and rightfully so. It wasn’t solely because our two-time Stanley Cup Champion stud goalie let up 2 goals on 3 shots within the first two minutes of the contest. It’s a mixture of that and his lackluster, inconsistent play all season long. Sure he’s a two-time cup champion like I mentioned above, but why does that make him immune to criticism by hometown fans three years later? Yes, the man they call Muzz has earned a level of respect from this city for what he’s done in the past, but to an extent. I would be the first to agree that he shouldn’t be booed off the ice, or we shouldn’t be calling for his head trying to run him out of town. Those fans are dumb.
But Bronx Cheers? That’s what we’re mad about? This “despicable” act is why we are so OFFENDED? Why can’t a professional, millionaire athlete be subject to criticism by his loyal hometown fanbase without labeling them a “typical bandwagon yinzer” in this city? We all saw it with ex-pirate’s catcher Fransisco Cervelli, and more recently with the man, the myth, the legend himself, Devlin “Duck” Hodges. Now neither of those guys are even in the same stratosphere as Matt Murray when it comes to a who’s who of Pittsburgh Sports, but the idea is still the same. You couldn’t say Cervelli was a garbage baseball player because he had a fun-loving personality and interacted with the fans and made us smile. Couldn’t boo Duck off the field because he had a cool nickname and you could look like a loser in your cool new ducky hat blowing on your ducky-calls like it was the first day of hunting season. Can’t say James Conner is made of glass and can’t hold onto the football in a meaningful game because he beat cancer. And now you can’t criticize Matt Murray “BeCaUsE hE WoN twO cUpS!!!”?
Ever been to a Pirates game where the starting pitcher who probably doesn’t even belong in the majors threw 8 straight balls, then finally hits the strike zone? Bronx Cheers.
How about at Heinz Field not too long ago when we couldn’t rely on the 3 points off Chris Boswell’s toe, but when he finally nailed a chip-shot extra point down the middle of the uprights? Bronx Cheers.
I’ve never been to a basketball game, but I’d assume back in Jamie Dixon’s heyday with the Pitt Panthers there were guys who missed free throw after free throw, but then they finally made the easy wide open layup? Bronx cheers. Totally Hypothetical, but you get the picture.
Hell, sometimes you’ll even see the player being Jeered responding with a little smirk or chuckle letting the fans know “alright guys, you got me, now I’m back and we can kick some ass”.
My point is, like it or not, it is a part of the competitive sports nature. And if you ask me, it’s pretty light stuff. Aka not a big deal to write multiple articles about how we have a shitty bandwagon fanbase.
Is it the smartest thing in the world to potentially get inside the head of your team’s struggling goalie? Probably not, but I’m not arguing that fact. Just why are we even talking about this so emphatically? Local media and even Penguins players like future Hall Of Famer Evgeni Malkin bashing the fans that pay their salary, saying they don’t appreciate it? Boo Freakin’ Hoo man, maybe those fans didn’t appreciate a piss poor performance 2 minutes into a game before they were even done announcing the starting lineups. By the way, comparing us to Philly was an all-time low, Geno. Couple points deducted from my level of respect towards him for that one. If anything we should be writing how offended we were by that quote.
Kidding, calm down Yinzer Nation.
Let’s be real, nobody feels bad for me when I fuck up and forget to ring in table 12’s order in the middle of a Saturday night dinner rush with a line of hangry impatient people spewing out of the front door do they? No, they stiff me and call me a loser who doesn’t have a real job. So why does anybody feel bad in this situation?
At the end of the day, Murray stepped up his game big time with 35 saves on 38 shots, earning himself his 15th win on the year, inching closer to fellow All-Star goaltender Tristan Jarry’s 16 wins with a few extra starts under Muzz’s belt, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Speaking of conversations and arguments about hockey in this town. Why do most fans and certain sports writers feel the need to ALWAYS without fail bring the Steelers into the conversation when they have nothing to do with the argument at hand? Usually something along the lines of “STiCk To FoOtBalL” or “WHY DON’T YOU BOO JAMES CONNER OR JUJU!?” .. umm, I do, when they deserve the criticism, which was a lot this past season. That doesn’t make me less of a fan, or “bandwagon” as they’re calling it. I still want the team and those players to succeed.
Now if you leave the building or stop attending games because of how bad your team is performing, only to return when they’re back in the win column and say “I KNEW WE’D BE BACK!” “I LOVE MY TEAM” “DOWN SINCE DAY ONEISH” then yes THAT is being a bandwagon fair-weather YINZER to a T. And we don’t like those people.
Bottom line is this is a non-issue. Some of the masters of offending people are being pretty easily offended here.
Pittsburgh still Hearts Murray. Well at least I do.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be frustrated or even let your frustrations be heard. Who knows, maybe it’ll light a fire and he will play more minutes like yesterday’s 2nd and 3rd period instead of his overall play since those back to back cups that is ultimately leaning in the direction of him being this team’s back-up.