I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Cardinals’ Monday Night Football game against the 49ers and the Suns’ ESPN-televised showdown against the Rockets this week, and I came away impressed with one fan base and a little disappointed in the other.
Although I never would believed it three years ago when the Cardinals were essentially playing neutral-field games at Sun Devil Stadium, this week Suns fans didn’t measure up to their Cardinals counterparts.
I know this is still a Suns town without question, the sellout streak being Exhibit A in that argument, but there wasn’t the same buzz at US Airways Center as University of Phoenix Stadium.
Sure, some of that may have been due to the Monday Night factor, but those weren’t the same old Cardinals fans I was used to attending games with back when my grandpa had season tickets at Sun Devil Stadium. Not even close, almost like it’s a different franchise combined with the fact they’re actually winning for once.
What struck me most about the Cardinals fans is that a large percentage proudly donned jerseys. Young, old, male, female, Warner, Boldin and Fitzgerald jerseys were out in full force. A couple Leinarts, too.
Contrast that to US Airways Center where the first few rows of fans could have easily worn that attire to work (and I’m not talking about jobs that consist of staying at home and blogging about the Suns).
My dad wouldn’t even put on the Steve Nash jersey I gave him to wear, and he later told me he would have stood out if he were wearing a jersey like I was. Sadly, he was probably right.
I’m not sure when it became “uncool” to wear jerseys to a Suns game, but I think that’s ridiculous.
I hope the next time my dad goes to a game he feels weird if he doesn’t wear a jersey.
How the other side lives
Out of the press box and in the rich people seats, I felt about as comfortable as Steve Nash does in the new offense.
I’m used to:
- The press box where you have to act professional.
- College student sections where you paint up, chant, popcorn, yell profanities and stand the entire game. Seriously though, I know it never would happen, but how great would it be if a pro crowd acted like a college student section and did all those things? Talk about a home-court advantage.
- The cheap seats, where I like to think the “true fans” sit.
I learned I was out of place when my row was as empty as Dodger Stadium at first pitch when the Suns and Rockets tipped off.
Then when I returned to my seats a minute before the second half started I was sure I was in the wrong section because I didn’t recognize any of the few people around me.
Many of those fans retreat to the exclusive Toyota Club at halftime, and I can’t blame them with free food and drinks as a halftime treat. I’ve never seen rich people move quicker for cookies.
But apparently they stay there well into the third quarter, as little by little the fans trickled back to their seats right up until the time of the fight at the end of the third.
There were so many open seats most of the quarter that four kids played musical chairs in the section, every couple of minutes moving over to another empty seat when somebody returned.
Showing some fight for once
One more reflection on the little scrum between the Suns and the Rockets, I don’t think we’re going to have to worry about the Suns being labeled a “soft” team this season.
Not with Matt Barnes flattening point guards on screens, not with Raja “Horse Collar” Bell doing his dirty work, not with a 325-pound beast pushing everyone in his way, not with Amare’s instincts leading him out on the court when danger strikes against his better judgment and not with Nash unafraid to get his hands a little dirty himself.
You can call it a good thing or a bad thing, but this incident does not happen if Shawn Marion is the starting small forward instead of Barnes.
This Suns team will stand up for one another, and that’s about the only positive I take from Wednesday’s game.