Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

Do you hate Sidney Crosby or not?

(I ask because this was the topic on the sports talk show I listen to on the way home from work the other day. The hosts were generally baffled as to why there is so much apparent hatred of Sidney Crosby around these parts. Now, I'm a very casual hockey fan -- I couldn't name the entire Sabres roster, and I could probably name only a handful of players on other rosters, league-wide -- but I hang out with lots of hockey lovers who are really knowledgeable, and the most negative thing I've heard in my social circle is a good friend of mine saying: "He's a freakishly great player, but jeez, I'm sick of him!"

And I got the point. I wasn't hatred, but in two years Crosby has scored the winning goal against the Sabres at the Ice Bowl (an outdoor game played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008), played in two Stanley Cup finals, won one Cup, and scored the winning goal against the US in the Olympic Gold Medal game. So I can see being sick of the guy! It's the old "Geez, doesn't that guy ever lose!" thing, coupled with the fact that he's always beating us, whoever us happens to be.

Apart from simple jealousy, if there is hatred of Crosby right now (and I suppose there probably is, after another friend chastised folks on Facebook about calling him "Cindy Crosby"), I don't much get it. Buffalo and Pittsburgh don't have a big hockey rivalry that I know about. I mean, the Penguins are a big deal because they're good, but I don't notice fans here getting up for Penguins games in the same way they get up for Toronto Maple Leafs games. So why the hatred?

I suspect it's just continual frustration; the natural reaction to not getting the girl, multiplied by dozens of girls over dozens of years. It's not just the frustration of Buffalo's sports teams being 0-for-forever in bringing home championships. I think it's just the unarticulated knowledge that despite pro sports having been big in Buffalo for fifty-plus years, at no point has the clearly dominant player in any of the pro sports we have actually been here. The closest we came was probably Dominik Hasek, and I'm not even sure he was the dominant hockey player in his era. (I could be wrong -- as I said, I'm not the most knowledgeable hockey fan out there.)

But you'd think that just by sheer law of averages, sooner or later a Buffalo team would happen upon a Joe Montana or a Jerry Rice or a Wayne Gretzky or a Sidney Crosby. Is that it? Are we in Buffalo just wired to hate the best person around at any given moment, because the best we've ever managed to date is being the punching bag for the best person around?


Call me Paul said...

I think it's somehow different with Crosby. I'm sure Wayne Gretzky scored many game winning goals versus the Sabres during his career. Do Buffalonians hate him? I doubt it. How about Mario Lemieux? He certainly leaned a few Buffalo/Pittsburgh tilts away from the home side over the years. Do Buffalonians hate him? Probably not.

In fact, it isn't just Buffalonians. Crosby is critisized league wide. I think it has to do with a sense of let-down. People were looking for him to be "the next one," and he doesn't seem to fulfill that role. Yeah, he's a great player, but he just doesn't have the stature of a Gretzky or Lemieux. Even when he impacts a game or a series, he doesn't seem to dominate the game the way those other players did.

And we want him to, damnit!

Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

The Sabres already had a Montana or Rice. His name was Dominik Hasek, who Gretzsky once declared the best player in the game.

Roger Owen Green said...

Think of the Yankee centerfielder AFTER Mickey Mantle or the Notre Dame football coach after Rockne (or any number of other examples). Nothing wrong with them; they're just not the "real" thing. Whatever that means.

Call me Paul said...

The other weird thing I've found is that people seem to criticize Crosby for unfounded reasons. A guy I work with said to me, "he did nothing all series!"

But when you look at the numbers, he was tied for second place in team scoring over the course of the Olympics. Only Toews had more points. But this co-worker of mine insisted that Crosby was virtually invisible all series.

redsneakz said...

Dare I compare him to Jeff Gordon, about whom any number of outrageously unkind things have been said over the years. All the guy does is win.

That said, I hate him because there IS a real rivalry between the Pens and the Caps.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Sydney has the same problem that Gretzky did. He is too good. His style of play changed/changes the game. If he is on your team you love him. If he is not you hate him. None of us know the pressure of being the next 'great one'. I think he handles everything with grace and maturity.

American fans act like he took something away from them by playing for his home team's country instead of celebrating the whole thing in the 'spirit' of what the Olympics represent. That attitude is shown in the unbelievable crappy pro USA coverage you are forced to watch each time the Olympics roll around.

I say this with great love for my 'merican brothers and sisters but this is the one thing I really hate about America. No one can ever be better than them. They cannot just take the defeat and learn from it and just be a good sport about it. You see if from kid's sports all the way up to the top professionals. You see it in war and global affairs. Grow up you cry babies. The sun doesn't shine only on your part of the planet.