Sunday, January 28, 2007

Are You There, Bob? It's Us, Pens Fans.

The following is the Pensblog letter to Bob Smizik and his editor, Jerry Micco, in regards to this horrifying column in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Maybe he wrote it just to continue engaging in his media feud with Mark Madden.
Or maybe he wrote it just to get Pens fans worked up.
Personally, we think he wrote it just to get one last jab in at Mark Madden before the Arena deal goes through.
(Note: If you want people to gradually start hating you, start every one of your sentences with "I/we think...")

But just remember that Bob Smizik is nothing.

He's worked long and hard to get where he is. Good job on his part.

But another writer who has worked just as hard and is in the same position as him could easily have a different opinion on this matter.
Four guys that run some website will have a different opinion.
An anonymous commenter will have a different opinion.
A sports radio talk-show host will have a different opinion.

Smizik's not delivering news to us. He's giving us his opinion.
Just 'cause it's in a paper doesn't mean it's important or deserves any attention.

We're just wondering why he felt the need to write this column and deliberately put it in the Sunday edition of the Post-Gazette.
The column is contradicting, and there really is no validation as to why it was written.

We suggest buying up a few copies of the January 28th Post-Gazette and using all the copies of his column to assist you the next time you have to house-break a dog.


Dear Bob,

We hope this e-mail finds you and finds you well.

Now, Bob, obviously you know what this e-mail is about.
We aren't going to attack you with sarcastic barbs and insults because it would serve no purpose.
We want you to read this.

Beginning with your opening statement, we must say that you do show knowledge of the subject at hand.
It appears that even during Steeler season and the Pirates off-season, you still found time to check on the Pens.

"Leverage is with the Penguins, and, although they're not likely to make Gov. Ed Rendell, who is brokering the deal, buckle, they'll get more concessions than first believed."

A lot of people will wholeheartedly agree that the Pens have the upper hand in this situation.

"By most indications, the Penguins soon will come to an agreement with the various governmental bodies with which they are negotiating for a new arena, and that will keep them in Pittsburgh for some 30 years, if not longer."

What's the point of taking the time to write a column about how Pittsburgh would be without the Penguins, while making numerous allusions in said column to the fact that the Pens' arena deal is pretty much imminent?
It's kind of contradicting.

This column is two months late, at the least.

"...this is a point about which the MFOM (Media Friends of Mario) never fail to remind us. Their wail is this: "He's been waiting since 1999.''

No one has really warmed up to your home-made moniker "Media Friends of Mario".
Isn't that a little bit childish? (And that's coming from guys who try to work flatulence jokes into their daily writings.)

Are you aware that Steeler season ended about a month ago (well, realistically, like two and a half months ago), and there's an article appearing today in the paper you write for titled "Dan Rooney: Born to be a Steeler"?

Where's the Media Friends of Dan Rooney facebook group?

The point is that the MFOM thing makes no sense.
You shouldn't alienate yourself from your media cohorts.

You continue on about MFOM:

"They say this almost as though 9/11 never happened and the world did not radically change on that day. There was a long period after Sept. 11, 2001, when building any kind of sports facility was out of the question."

I fell out of my chair when I read that.
Forgive us, Mr. Smizik, but that first sentence houses some childish sentence structure.

We understand that you are trying to make a point.
But teetering with the notion that people are denying 9/11? That's crazy.

Moving on...

"Incredibly, the MFOM continued to say the fix was in. If that is the case, please name which public officials were bribed and who bribed them so we can get on with prosecutions. Otherwise, shut up!"

See? Your entire article wasn't mud. Everyone who has a pulse could easily agree with you.

However, the rest of your column, Bob, is bizarre.

"As stated, the Penguins likely will not leave Pittsburgh. If they do, it will be a sad day. But Pittsburgh would not become a Green Bay or a Syracuse. It would remain Pittsburgh, a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. Anyone who judges a region by the number of its professional sports franchises has a distinctly warped view of life."

Bob, you are a sports writer, not Dear Abby.

Pittsburgh is a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Hey, we agree.
If we didn't, we'd be operating BlueJacketBlog in Columbus, Ohio.

But if there is any city anywhere that identifies itself (and is identified) by its sports franchises, it would be Pittsburgh.
Hell, our football team is the Steelers. Steel Town. Blue Collar. Take your lunch pail to work and talk about coal-mining and beer and chewin' tobacco and women.
We live in the only sports city that has a uniform color scheme among its sports franchises.

Outsiders see Pittsburgh as The Little City That Could.
But mention Pittsburgh to anyone, and the first thing they think about is the Steelers and maybe Mario Lemieux and/or Sidney Crosby.

We have no idea what your intentions were with this column, but come on, Bob.
You know that sports has a huge effect on this region. Don't get preachy.

The stats would also indicate that people in Pittsburgh are leaving; especially young people.

Losing the Penguins may not be crippling for old jobbers who don't care.
But for young people who are contemplating staying put or leaving town, Pittsburgh not managing to keep this franchise here will show how disinterested the city is.

Does the increasing number of Pittsburgh fans showing up at away games in hockey and football suggest that people that have had to leave Pittsburgh to find work are scattered across the United States?

In case you haven't noticed, the atmosphere at Pens games this year is better than any year in recent memory.
Does it have anything to do with young superstars and the droves of young fans coming out to support this team on even weekday evenings?

The young fan base has turned Pittsburgh hockey into, essentially, a college sport.

Oh, what a segue...

"Two [franchises] is good, but three is better. And Pittsburgh will have three major sports franchises if the Penguins leave. The University of Pittsburgh might not fall under the category of professional, but it is a major sports franchise. The Pitt football and basketball teams are every bit as important to this town as the Penguins. They attract as much attention and drive similar revenue."

Are you serious?

Pitt is a great draw, but please.
Let's not think it has the same effect.
Drawing comparisons between collegiate basketball and football teams and a professional hockey team is flawed and unsubstantiated.

We have no loyalties to Penn State or Pitt, but people usually root for their favorite respective college because they went to school there or a member of their family went there.
People also root for them just because they want to, which is fine.
But please do not compare fan bases.

Pitt basketball tickets for students are, what, $5?

And don't even talk about Pitt football. Football is slowly becoming a religion in the United States. It's ridiculous and nauseating.

"It's hard to figure the exact amount of revenue that would be lost if the Penguins left town, but it's not nearly as much as the MFOM would have us believe. If the Penguins sold out every game, their attendance would be close to 700,000. At roughly $50 a ticket, that's a lot of money -- about $35 million. But if the Penguins leave, it's not like the people spending that money are going to bury it in their back yard. They're going to spend it somewhere else."

Simply put, there is no way people will come to the city on a cold winter night just to walk around.
Restaurant and bar profits in the surrounding area would fall.

The only place people will be putting their money is into moving vans.

We don't have a sweet rebuttal for that paragraph simply because you pounded us with figures.
People see numbers and don't want to do math and probably skipped that paragraph anyway.

"There would be a shortfall in terms of revenue from the parking tax and the amusement tax, and that would hurt. But, if the Penguins leave, the NHL would not let the new arena remain vacant for long. Pittsburgh would be a prime candidate for an expansion team or as the new home for some of the league's struggling franchises."

All of a sudden, the suffering NHL will be looking at expansion options?

Instead of telling us that the arena would be filled by a struggling, re-located franchise, why not lift some hearts by saying that it would be stupid to lose the storied Penguin franchise because we were three months late in finalizing a deal?

In closing, Bob, we hope you become a little more positive.
Do you think people like to be depressed?
We got tired of reading the negative spin put on Penguins hockey by Pittsburgh sports writers, and that's why we started our own little internet newspaper to lift some spirits.

Saturday night, the Pens won 7-2. They are looking great.
And then we have to turn to your column.
What is the point of bringing everyone down?
Why make Pens fans miserable?
It is not right, Bob.
We hope you respond to this email with some insight on our opinions.
Hopefully, you've actually read this far.


The Pensblog staff and perhaps Pens fans everywhere.


Remember, Bob, hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.


Will said...

please tell me you added the pictures, because that would make the email so much more hilarious!

Adam said...

hahahaha no, we didnt.

andyrichie said...

you guys rock

Scott said...

well said guys

Anonymous said...

articulate stuff, Pensblog.

makes me proud to be a reader.

Teej said...

Great response. You guys always know how to express the opinions of yourselves and fellow Pens fans in a constructive, intelligent way, and not just mouthing off with random pointless cursing.

Hopefully we hear back from Bob either via emailing you guys, or as a comment on here... looking forward to what will transpire.

Pens fan forever,

Elly said...

Nicely thought out reply. Just using the recent Leafs game as an example...there were tons of Leafs fans there, not to mention the out of town Pens fans, and all of them stayed in hotels, drank beer, ate food, bought tickets and merchandise...that's a lot of revenue to lose.

Antonette said...

I'm so pumped to read a blog that writes like this. Keep it up, guys. Plus, the phrase "jobber" and all variations (to job, jobing, etc.) has permanently entered my vocabulary.

Ellie said...

love you guys

Adam said...

Thanks, guys.

Everyone who contributed in the comments about Smizik inspired us to do it.

And nothing is better than making Shawshank references.

Tyler said...

can't wait for a reply

test said...

if i counted on the calendar right...

44 home games with approximately 17,000 attendance = 748,000 tickets...and at avg. $50 dollars a ticket = $37.4 million

thanks for rounding down, bob.

Anonymous said...

much much more thought out than the last letter...good job guys

kate said...

amazing, guys. you never fail to come through :)

loralei said...

Great job guys!

Pens Insider said...

Great letter...Def. some interesting points and I think most fans agree. Bettman said today no expansion so Idk what he is smoking but I can't wait to hear what response you get (my vote - - - none). I will deff. be discussing this on my blog tomm.

Keep up the good work..

Washington85 said...

amazing just amazing just hope he doesnt send back a pre-written responce like jay wheatly/mark henrey...great job

Joshua said...

Proof that Pgh fans are the greatest in hockey:

While Wednesday's game (All Star Game) was the most-watched cable show that night in Buffalo and Pittsburgh, it did not place among the top 20 cable shows in NHL markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington and Miami.

Christina said...

nice work guys. i couldn't agree more.

Masayuki said...

Nice response, loosing the Pens would be devastating no matter how you look at it. I travel from New York City to take in a couple of Penguin games a year, I can't imagine the Penguins not being there. Cheers guys.


Gavin said...

Morphing Bob Smizik's face into the Waylon Smithers picture might be the funniest thing I've ever seen on this website, and that's saying something with some of your recent work. Fantastic.

Arlow said...

I get sick of these self-righteous, arrogant sports writers (and I use the term writer loosely) that believe everyone cares to hear every last one of their opinions turned to print. This is one of the most ridiculous articles that I've read to date. Kudos to sticking it to him. However, cowards like Smizik only specialize in stirring the pot up, they generally never have to stand up and defend whatever garbage comes out of their mouths. I'd love to see a response, but I doubt you get one. However, us Pens fans should keep this in mind the next time he's on "Nightly Sports Call". I'd love to see a barrage of people calling him out on his article.

Rory said...

I'd be interested in knowing how he responds. If its anything like the responses I get from Smizik it will be in Bold 40 point font, and will only respond to one of the points you make, then he will try to discredit you somehow.

Jas said...

Waylon Smithers is good, but I think Smizik looks more like a baby bird wearing an over-sized pair of eyeglasses...

Anonymous said...

bozo the clown comes to mind


Shanna said...

Thank you guys for representing the "Penguin Nation." You guys are the best. John Steigerwald had a nice break down of what it would be like if the Pens did leave town on the Nightly Sports Call last night. I hope that little fool(Smizik) was watching.

Go Pens!!

Will said...

the "personal" response from Bob...

I didn't say the Penguins were not a part of Pittsburgh. I said it would be a sad day if they left. I did not say they don't have strong fan base. They do and I have written as much.

There are worse things than losing a sports franchise. Baltimore and Cleveland, which lost NFL franchises, have survived.

My column was not an attack on the Penguins, it was a discussion about what would happen if they left. -- Bob Smizik

we'll see if Pensblog gets the same response.

seth said...

i like what arlow had to say.. keep tabs on guests for the nightly sports call and we should pepper him with questions

Mike said...

Hi Guys,
I don't know if you get many out of town fans but I am from Long Island and I am a huge die hard Islanders fan. I do enjoy this blog as I was bored at work one day and came upon it. I just wanted to say that all Islanders fans are pulling for the city of Pittsburgh and Lemieux in the hopes that your team is going no where. You have the best yound talent in the league which sucks for us. Of the many fans I have met and have become friendly with Penguin fans are the classiest in the league. We are pulling for you guys and are happy to join you in telling these moron sport writes to "Fuck themselves". The city of Pittsburgh without the Pens would never be the same.

seth said...

mike, you are a class act

Arlow said...

On second thought, we might have to wait a few months until spring training before Bob shows his face on T.V. again, since the only subjects that he can say anything positive about are the Pirates and the Steelers. I truly believe that he says the negative things about the Pens because he knows jack shit about hockey. I guess it's better as a sports writer to be ignorant than to be insightful.

Staff said...

Adam here on the Staff name.

Will from Butler comes through and gets a hearty response from B-Smiz.
Great work.

As of 5:09 on Monday, we have yet to receive a response.

If anyone wants to help us out, please copy and paste ONLY THE LETTER part (not our intro) of the post and send it to Smizik's e-mail.

Just so Smizik isn't deterred, please leave the pictures (haha) out of the e-mail.

Also, if you do send the e-mail, tell him to "respond to these e-mails at" or something to that effect.

It's not that we don't want our readers to get the responses, but he'll want to do a wholesale response, and it being sent our way will make it easier for us to handle.

Thank you to Pens fans far and wide for your comments.

A warm welcome goes to Mike from Long Island.

We hate when we have to give ourselves accolades, but you can't imagine how ecstatic we are that our blog is appealing to non-Pens fans.

Hopefully, Mike, you aren't rubbed the wrong way when we throw some smack the Islanders' way.
1993 lives in Pens fans' hearts forever, and it still hurts.
I think about it every morning.

B-Smiz better respond to our post.
We feel it was well-crafted and to the point.
It'd be a shame if he didn't reply.

PensDCExile said...

You buried it in Bob's five-hole!!

Doug said...

Did anyone happen to hear Madden's response to the whole thing? I only heard the beginning of the show today.

Adrienne said...

Football is slowly becoming a religion in the United States. It's ridiculous and nauseating. this is my official marriage proposal to whoever wrote this comment. Please? I will work hard and provide you a good home as long as I have dinner on the table every night when I get home from work.

Wonderful response letter guys, I'll be sure to send my share when it's not midnight.

Dennis said...

He's usually a guest on the "Nightly Sports Call" on Mondays but will not be one tonight. Maybe ducking the heat he might be about to take?

Staff said...

did Madden talk about it today?

Adam said...

Adrienne, it was me.

Wait like 3 more years and i'll be ready.

Anonymous said...

Here is my e-mail to Bob. Hopefully I get some sort of response:

Mr. Smizik,
I respect your opinion, but I strongly disagree with your opinion in your column on 1/28/07. I am not here to debate numbers that you cited in the article, I only want to share a few observations. On Saturday, January 20th, the Maple Leafs were in town to play the Pens. Driving back from work, I saw several Leaf fans standing outside the Holiday Inn Express on the South Side getting ready to go to the game. After the game, my friends and I saw several Leaf fans at a South Side bar. I'm sure this scene was repeated outside many hotels and inside of many bars throughout the city that night. The point is, these people would have no reason to come to downtown Pittsburgh in the middle of winter if the Penguins leave. These people are here to watch a game, and I'm sure that many Penguin fans would also have no reason to go downtown at this time of year. This is money that the city can not afford to lose at this point in time. Ask the bar and hotel owners how their businesses was affected during the lockout. The Penguins are more than just a bragging point for people in the area, they bring revenue to the city at a time of year that tourism would be minimal.

I did take some of the stuff I read on here, hopefully noone is too offended by that.

Staff said...

we're flattered.

Anonymous said...

Very well written.

The comparison to Mr. Smithers is perfection.

Adrienne said...

Adam, in 3 years I'll be 25 and far too old to worry about it. :P Ah well.

Staff said...

haha i'l be 25 in 3 years too.

it's never too late


We are in no way affiliated with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League.

In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Pensblog uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey our criticism and inform the public.

Photos on The Pensblog are used without permission but do not interfere with said owner's profit.

If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail us ( and we will be happy to oblige.