Mehno: Flyer fans love to hate Crosby

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PITTSBURGH — If you root, root, root for the home team, does that mean you have to hate the guys on the other team?

That question is relevant as the Penguins’ Stanley Cup playoff series against the Flyers returns to Philadelphia this afternoon for a sixth game.

They don’t think much of Sidney Crosby in Philly.

They’ve been chanting about him for years, and making up signs that identify him as “Cindy” Crosby. It started right from the beginning, when Crosby had his facial features rearranged by a Flyers’ high stick.

When he used his bloody mouth to complain to the referees about the treatment, he picked up the reputation as a whiner.

It’s more than that, of course. Crosby has inflicted more than a decade’s worth of damage on the Flyers and visibly enjoyed every moment of that.

So the fans chant and they carry signs that suggest the Penguins’ franchise player is a whining little girl.

The latest is that someone put photographs of Crosby in the urinals at the Wells Fargo Center in advance of one of last week’s games.

The Flyers said the prank was not sanctioned by the team. That raises a different question: In this age of pat downs and bag inspections at the gates, someone can enter the building and plant things in the restrooms? Yikes.

Plus you’d think the team would have them removed before the gates were opened.

The idea was apparently borrowed from a tactic used by Washington Capitals during a previous playoff series against the Penguins. It didn’t work then either.

What exactly is the idea? Is Crosby supposed to get so spooked that he’ll play poorly? If the chants and signs don’t bother him, why would that?

Disclaimer: Philadelphia doesn’t have an exclusive on knuckleheads among its fan base. The Steelers-Browns rivalry doesn’t amount to much these days, but there’s still a brisk business in obscene t-shirts about Cleveland outside Heinz Field on game days.

Philadelphia does have a reputation for an excess level of rowdiness, which is almost always characterized by the 1968 incident when Eagles fans booed Santa Claus and threw snowballs at him.

Win or lose, the Penguins are playing their last game in Philadelphia today.

Maybe that will be a relief for Crosby. It certainly will be for the janitorial staff at the Wells Fargo Center.

Ups and downs

So which is the real Pirates team — the one that started the season 11-4, or the one that has lost five of its last six games?

Trick question! They both are.

If anything is encouraging about this past week’s slide, it’s that the culprit has been the offense and not the suspect starting pitching. The Pirates got only one really bad outing from a starter. That came from Jameson Taillon, the starter who provides the least concern.

The problem has been the offense, and it’s been an illustration of how important Gregory Polanco is to the daily lineup. Things go much more smoothly when Polanco provides a productive bat and power threat in the middle of the lineup.

This is a pivotal season for him and will go a long way toward determining whether the long-term contract he signed was a smart investment or a more expensive Jose Tabata-like misfire.

Whatever happens, remember this. It’s April 22. It’s far too early to reach any conclusions, positive or negative.

Ho hum

If AT&T Sports Net’s goal was to bore everybody with tutorials on advanced stats, they’ve hit a home run. (The hit probability on that was 99 percent, by the way).

Sports are supposed to be fun, not math class. There’s a place for the information, but it shouldn’t be presented in lecture form.

Baseball is played by real humans. How about some stories about them instead of reducing what they do to a bunch of actuary tables?

Jumping the gun

Late the other night, a radio talk show guy was projecting the Steelers’ record based on the announcement of their schedule.

Wouldn’t it be wise to wait until after the draft for that, just to see who might actually be on the team?

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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