I was having a great holiday weekend.  It was early morning on the second day of a three day weekend.  The temperature was still comfortable (later in the day it would break 100 – AGAIN).  I poured myself a cup of java and was ready to get comfortable in the first phase of a relaxing day. 

Then I made a big mistake.  Having no bird cages that needed lining today, I decided to do something out of the ordinary.  I was actually going to read the paper! 

I know, I know, I was taking a huge risk.  After all, the local bundle of recycled trees that is dropped at the end of my driveway each day (remember the good old days when a kid would ride his bike and strategically land the paper right at your doorstep?) usually contains (in order of importance) the movie listings, a Sudoku puzzle and a bunch of one-sided stories told from the opposite side of the spectrum from which I enjoy life. 

But I was already within two steps of the comfortable chair and this was the only readable item within grasp.  That’s when the headline caught my eye — “Valley fans have some growing up to do”.  Since this particular column was written by one of the more popular local sports writers – Dan Bickley – I decided to see what he had to say. 

That’s when my relaxing day went to the wayside!  I couldn’t believe the levels this man was stooping to in order to come up with a story worthy of page one of the sports section.  I actually had to read it twice to make sure I hadn’t completely misunderstood what he was saying.  I wasn’t!

You can read the story for yourself and see if I’m out of line here, but the intent of the story was to chastise us poor common folk that live in the old western town of Phoenix (and surrounding areas).  You know the town I’m talking about.  The one where there’s a saguaro cactus at every street corner (just watch the next NBC sports telecast – you’ll see it), gun fights in the street over some poker game in the local saloon and horses causing all kinds of lovely aromas along the dirt streets of Main Street. 

You see, we are just backwards folks here and we don’t know how to behave at big time sporting events.  We need to start acting like the big market cities and learn to react, celebrate or voice our complaints in a civilized manner.  Otherwise no one in the big cities (the ones with paved streets and horseless carriages) will ever take us seriously. 

After the smoke quit pouring out of my ears, I sat down and started making a list of “big city” celebrations of recent years that I could remember off the top of my head.  The list was of pretty good size, but I wanted to make sure I had my memories correct.  So I googled “riots after championship games”.  I only needed to sift through the first fifty or sixty hits (of the 1.5 million hits) to make my point. 

This took about thirty minutes total, including clearing the room of smoke and compiling the list.  Isn’t it a shame Mr. Bickley didn’t bother doing the same?  I guess he had a deadline to meet before hitting the road for the holiday. 

Let’s begin with his major complaints about our wild western city’s recent actions.  His first citation was about a Diamondbacks game against the Colorado Rockies in October 2007 that had to be halted for ten minutes because a couple of idiots from the upper deck threw some water bottles on to the field after a call that they didn’t like. 

Okay, I’ll give you that one.  Those couple of jerks (or lunatics, as Dan labeled them) should have been (and most likely were) escorted out in handcuffs and never allowed back. 

The next issue, in July 2011, a couple of fans “reportedly” threw water at the car that Prince Fiedler and his family were in because Mr. Fiedler had not included hometown slugger Justin Upton in the home run derby during all-star weekend that was being held in Phoenix.  This makes me wonder – how did such a backwards town like Phoenix ever get awarded the all-star game?  Hmmm. 

The final outlandish act came at the end of game five between the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings.  After the Kings scored the winning goal in overtime of a game in which the referees turned a blind eye to everything that was going on during the game (and I mean for both teams, not just the home team), the fans reacted by throwing all kinds of debris on to the ice to show their disgust. 

Let me first say, I don’t condone this type of behavior at all.  Example one was the result of a couple of idiots.  Example two was “possibly” one idiot doing something so ridiculous, it can’t possibly be considered aggressive (throwing water at a moving vehicle???)  Example three, where the aggression was completely understandable, was absolutely bush league and the participants should be ashamed of themselves. 

My next question – is that all you’ve got to back up your storyline?  Really?  Talk about bush league! 

Maybe if Mr. Bickley had spent half the time I did this morning looking up the facts, he would have chosen a different topic.  Like how the big city venues could take a lesson from the Wild West. 

Don’t believe me?  Let’s take a quick look at just a handful of fan’s behaviors over recent years. 

Let’s start with the NBA, that epitome of class. 

In 1990 the Detroit Pistons won the NBA championship.  While their “big city” fans were celebrating the next day, seven people died, and hundreds were injured from gunfire and stabbings, all before the police arrived in riot gear to put an end to the ‘celebration’. 

In 2008, the fans of Boston took to the streets to celebrate the Celtics’ NBA championship by turning over cars and lighting fires in the streets. 

Los Angeles, not to be outdone by the other big cities, rioted in the streets in 2000, 2009 and 2010 after the Lakers took home the championships.  Well at least they are consistent.  That’s a sign of a champion, isn’t it? 

Major league baseball has had it’s moments for more than a century, but we’ll just look at a few recent ones. 

In 1984 the Detroit Tigers won the world series.  Of course, the fans took to the streets in true ‘big city’ fashion to celebrate.  The standard overturning of cars and fires in the streets took place, forcing the police to show up in riot gear to join the party. 

Philadelphia had much of the same in 2008, when they took home the world series.  No deaths, but plenty of damaged vehicles lined the streets. 

Boston celebrated in fine fashion in 2004 twice.  Once after coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the their series against the hated Yankees to win the series in seven games, then once again after they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the world series.  In 2007, after winning the world series again, they took to the streets again.  Even back in 1912, when they won their last world series before 2004, riots in the streets took place, although I’m not sure any cars were overturned! 

The NFL has had their share of “celebrations”, too. Denver in 1998 and New England in 2002 are the first ones to come to mind. 

The NHL hasn’t been immune to this big city behavior either, although most of them have been in Canada, so I don’t know how Mr. Bickley feels about that.  They might be considered the great white north where it snows twelve months a year and everyone lives in igloos, so perhaps they don’t count. 

I can go on and on, delving into college basketball celebrations, college football, even soccer (oh wait, that usually takes place in South America, Africa or Europe, so I imagine Danny wouldn’t count them either). 

The bottom line is this…the three examples Mr. Bickley gave to depict Phoenix as a backwards, big city wannabe town are pathetic and pale in comparison to the actions of the actual ‘big cities’ that Mr. Bickley would like us to act like. 

Perhaps Danny should go back to Chicago and take a good hard look at his big city and decide for himself if they truly are what he would like to see Phoenix become.  If so, send us a post card once in awhile to let us know you’re alright.  We’d hate think you were injured in a big city celebration!!



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