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Phoenix Fan X Columns

Friday, December 28, 2012 @ 7:40am

In the year 2013...

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for ArizonaSports.com
In the year 2013...

Kevin Towers will make a trade that, like an M. Night Shyamalan movie, will confuse us then excite us and ultimately leave us unsatisfied with its results. Thus is life with "The Gambler."

In the year 2013...

ASU's Men's Basketball team will answer the age-old question "if a team plays well but nobody is there to see it does it really count?" They'll discover it doesn't as they win 19 games and miss the NCAA Tournament.

In the year 2013...

Greg Jamison will buy the Coyotes and promptly change the name from Phoenix to Arizona. Like the Cardinals after they made the same change in 1994, they'll finish .500. Unfortunately for Coyotes fans, their record will be 0-0 thanks to the lockout.

In the year 2013...

The Cardinals will fire a key member of their staff, mess up their high first round draft pick and find an inadequate starting quarterback who will play behind a sub-par offensive line. Once again fans will say "same ol' Cardinals."

(Editors Note: This is the same prediction used for 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2007.)

In the year 2013...

Larry Fitzgerald will sit courtside at a Suns game in hopes of catching a pass from Goran Dragic just to remember what it feels like. Dragic will throw it to Andre Roberts who is sitting in the second row instead.

In the year 2013...

In a "Finkle is Einhorn, Einhorn is Finkle" type twist, it's revealed that Phoenix Fan X is really a woman who is a recovering FOX Sports Arizona Girl just looking for a place to show her true self.

Monday, December 3, 2012 @ 11:35am

Whiz may be Bane of Cardinals fans existence

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for ArizonaSports.com
"When the Cardinals are ashes, then you have my permission to cry."

That isn't really what Bane said in the film The Dark Knight Rises, but it sure seems to be how Cardinals fans feel head coach Ken Whisenhunt is treating them. That, or I just saw way too many commercials for the movie's Blu Ray release during the Cards game Sunday.

It's not to say Whisenhunt is a bad guy, because he's not. By all accounts he has done plenty to help the community during his time in the Valley. But like Batman's main foil in the latest film, he's very stubborn and set in his ways.

That attitude has caused much success including two division titles -- their first since coming to Arizona -- a Super Bowl appearance -- the first in franchise history -- and the emergence of one of the most prolific quarterback and wide receiver combos in franchise and league history in Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald.

That same attitude, however, has led to a former Heisman winner and first round pick losing his mojo and becoming no more effective than Stoney Case (look it up if you aren't old enough to remember him, Cards fans). He took the same receiver he helped make a star and turned him into a guy with really cool dreads and very few touchdowns. He's the reason we wondered what was so funny to Derek Anderson, how moxy qualified Max Hall to be anything other than a short guy with a good attitude, made John Skelton a bigger joke than Red Skelton ever had in his act (maybe that was what Anderson was laughing about) and proved to be "Lindsane" thinking a sixth-round rookie could be the answer under center.

He's provided the one thing that Cardinals fans have longed for over the years, hope, and has taken it away just as fast. A theme the Gotham City villain had thoughts on as well.

"I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope... I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to 'stay in the sun.'"

Whisenhunt obviously isn't doing this consciously. As a matter of fact, it has been an unfortunate byproduct of his inability to adapt to certain situations and make necessary changes. But the bottom line is, for fans, the effect is the same.

Franchise-record winning streaks followed by franchise-defining losing streaks give fans hope and then teach them great despair in the span of a calendar year. (Although, thanks to many Sundays spent at Sun Devil Stadium, they fight to stay out of the sun now.)

While the answer in the film was to rid the city of the man causing this phenomenon, for the Cardinals franchise, there seems to be a few different paths to salvation.

The first would be to set up a structure in which Whisenhunt can change his ways. One where his "guys" on the coaching staff (Russ Grimm and Mike Miller to name a couple) are asked to leave. Replacing them with experienced or creative coaches (paging Kurt Warner) more capable of shaping and molding the positions they oversee.

One where Ray Horton is handsomely rewarded for turning the team's defense, once a joke, into its strength. And finally one where deciding on who the team's quarterback of the future will be is more than a gut feeling that changes every four weeks. It would also require focusing on an offensive line that has been more neglected than the city of Detroit in the draft and free agency and finding an offensive identity.

The other option is starting completely over with a new staff and vision. Something that could be just as difficult as the first option.

What it comes down to is if the franchise and its fans don't want to see their beloved Cardinals who had finally found a way to be successful in Arizona reduced to ashes, something has to change.

The question is, what will it be?

Friday, November 2, 2012 @ 2:36pm

If you don't like Phoenix sports, then leave

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for ArizonaSports.com
"I can make fun of my family all I want, but you can't."

That's the attitude many people take. I'm no different. I can make fun of anyone in the X-clan and they can make fun of me but the second an outsider does it, I'll defend them to the death. That's just the way it is, right or wrong.

It's how I view sports as well. As someone who is a lifelong Phoenix sports fan -- or is that doing a life sentence as a Phoenix sports fan -- I'll take my fair share of shots at our teams, but when someone else does it, it's time to take a stand. And since I don't have a network television broadcast to use as a platform but rather a humble -- and most likely poorly read -- blog, I'll say it here.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! And you should feel the same way.

Sure, calling Phoenix a sports utopia is the equivalent of calling Megan Fox one of the all-time great actresses of our generation. Both are fun to watch, but neither are true greats. That doesn't mean we should have to put up with people degrading our city's fans and venues. Especially those people who constantly opine about how Phoenix is no Chicago. You know who you are.

For a city that has more people pass through it than Grand Central station on their way to and from other homes and who has only had professional sports for a combined 99 years, we're doing pretty well. Sure our venues are more Kate Upton than Sophia Loren -- some say the latter is iconic, I just say old -- there is nothing wrong with them. US Airways Center holds the history and memories of all the great Suns teams to call Phoenix home. Chase Field played home to our lone championship and the demise of one of the greatest sports dynasties ever. Jobing.com Arena, despite the goofy name, is one of the most beautiful venues in the NHL and University of Phoenix Stadium is a modern marvel (don't take my word for it, it was actually featured on the show Modern Marvels).

While certain people were watching the 1985 Bears winning a Super Bowl championship, Phoenix sports fans were showing their dedication by trekking to Sun Devil Stadium to watch the USFL's Arizona Outlaws. In 1993 when they were celebrating John Paxson's three, we were drying our tears and packing the streets to the tune of 250,000 strong to celebrate our second place team. At a time when their baseball teams hadn't won anything in decades, we celebrated as ours became the fastest to ever win a championship by ending the Yankees' reign in one of the greatest World Series of all-time. During a period when they lacked real star power after Michael and Ditka were long gone, we boasted Cy Young winners, NBA MVPs and a magical one-gloved QB named Warner.

It's true, Phoenix is not New York, Philadelphia, Boston or even Chicago. That's alright though. For the desert, we're far from having a drought when it comes to passion about our teams and city.

Things may seem like they're in a lull right now, but that's part of being a sports fan. The ups and the downs are what make it fun. Don't like it? Solution: Head back to the midwest. Although, that would require trading snow for sunshine and beautiful temperatures. But at least you'll have iconic buildings and "stars" to keep you warm.

Friday, August 31, 2012 @ 3:32pm

It's time to fully support John Skelton

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for Arizona Sports
It's official, Skolb is no more. The power -- or is that lack of power couple -- will no longer share their time together as the No. 1 quarterback for the Cardinals. That's because head coach Ken Whisenhunt finally ended the national nightmare that was the Cards quarterback controversy by naming John Skelton the starter over Kevin Kolb.

Alright, let's be honest, no one, except maybe the Bidwill's accountants, are treating this situation like the R-Patz/K-Stew (that's Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart) breakup and crying over the decision. Neither guy shocked the world with their play and neither inspired much confidence. It was a decision that had to be made now, but one that wasn't made any easier by their play or circumstances.

Kolb, his potential, poor decisions and bloated contract were the favorite to win the job. Skelton, his size and inaccuracy were the underdog. Everyone -- fans and media alike -- had a strong opinion on who should get the job. For the better part of a year Team Kolb and Team Skelton argued like teenage girls over who deserved to take the reins. As the team alternated starters more than Lady Gaga changes outfits, neither side was proven right. Just because a decision was made, doesn't mean that has changed at this point.

Whether you like it or not, you have to applaud Whisenhunt for making the decision to go with Skelton even though it went against financial common sense -- something many didn't expect. And whether you like it or not, its time as fans to put aside petty arguments, stop gloating and support Skelton.

Whether you were a Kolb or Skelton supporter, the bottom line is we're all Cardinals fans and all we want is for the team to win. That can't happen with continued booing and bickering. For better and hopefully not for worse, Skelton is the Week 1 starter.

Skolb has broken up and let's hope they don't get back together. Another year on the emotional quarterback rollercoster will do nothing other than make us all sick -- that and lead to yet another losing season in the desert.

Thursday, August 30, 2012 @ 8:37am

Is it time for Glendale to let the Coyotes go?

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for Arizona Sports
A wise man once told me if you love somebody but they're unwilling to help themselves, sometimes the best course of action is to just leave. It's something that is easier said than done. Emotions have a funny way of complicating things.

In the long run, it comes down to whether you want to be with the person for the long run or you're just in it until something better comes along.

It is a situation City of Glendale and the Phoenix Coyotes know all too well.

As a another chapter of this three-year-long ridiculous saga unfolds, it's becoming abundantly clear that the City of Glendale doesn't know whether it wants to stay with the Coyotes or pull a Kristen Stewart and get in bed with someone else. With the city dragging their feet on yet another lease, it looks like there is no real end in sight. The problem is that indecisiveness isn't fair to anyone involved.

With Greg Jamison stating he has the money and the willingness to purchase the team, now there is no real reason to wait other than political posturing. We've seen it before on more than a few occasions.

The City of Glendale is proving to be the ‘runaway bride.' Every time they get close to the altar, they get cold feet and run faster than Usain Bolt in the Olympics to the open arms of another suitor to do it all over again. Unfortunately the fans get to play the role of the family and friends left there to sit awkwardly trying to make sense of the confusion.

This mentality has done more harm than good. It's hurt the players who aren't sure if they're signing a long-term deal to stay in Phoenix or to be uprooted at any moment and move anywhere from Las Vegas to Canada. It's also hurt their families, who can't get comfortable in a city. It's a horrible situation for employees who don't know whether they'll come to work only to find out the locks have been changed. It's hurt the fans who don't know whether they're rooting for a team that'll leave them faster than Kim Kardashian left Kris Humphries or one that'll be around for the rest of their lives. And most of all, it's hurt the City of Glendale, its taxpayers and its image worldwide.

While there are a lot of issues to argue about in this situation the one certainty is, this entire thing has been completely mishandled from the second Jerry Moyes dropped the puck to start the bankruptcy proceedings. The City of Glendale has been unwilling to truly help themselves. Emotions, whether they're political aspirations or outlandish activist groups' own egomaniacal actions, have gotten in the way at each step. The question is: is it the best thing for everyone to just let the Coyotes go?

It's time for the city to realize that sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same. It's time for them to either commit to Jamison and the Coyotes long-term or let them go. It's not the easiest thing for fans but it's the right thing. Running away again only to prolong this situation that has caused nothing but turmoil.

It's time to end this.

Friday, August 24, 2012 @ 7:52am

Cardinals can't waste Larry Fitzgerald's prime

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for Arizona Sports
If you owned a classic Ferrari that was "choice", you wouldn't drive it backwards off a cliff (Ferris Bueller's Day Off taught us that).

If you had a brain that would make Stephen Hawking jealous and instantly make you a Mensa member, you wouldn't work as a janitor at Harvard, you'd go to school there (Good Will Hunting taught us that).

And if you had an all-time great at wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald, you wouldn't have Kevin Kolb or John Skelton throwing to him (the 2012 NFL Preseason has taught us that).

Let's be honest, entering training camp every Cards' fan, your humble Phoenix Fan X included, had high hopes that one of the two quarterbacks would emerge as a realistic option to lead the team back to the playoffs. Like every year prior, we drank the Cardinal Red Kool-Aid and believed this was the year it all turned around. If things don't change in terms of signal callers, that dream will turn into a nightmare faster than you can click your heels and say, ‘there's no place like home.'

The biggest travesty in life and relationships is wasting someone's prime. Like Lyle Lovett being married to Julia Roberts, having Kolb or Skelton throwing to Fitz is wasting almost two years of one of the hottest things going. At almost 29, the wideout from Pitt has been one of the fastest players to reach several milestones. He's the youngest player to reach 950 receptions, he has the fourth-most touchdowns for a receiver under 29 years of age and he's already the all-time franchise leader in receptions. Do you really take the best years of a player like that's athletic prowess and flush it down the toilet like the family goldfish who passed away?

The simple answer is no. The complex answer is, as Will Smith would say, ‘awww hell naw.'

That leaves Ken Whisenhunt and crew in quite the conundrum. Do you roll the dice that either Kolb or Skelton finally plug into the Matrix and prove they're the chosen one (highly unlikely) or find another QB in the two weeks remaining before they take the field for real against the Seahawks. I'll take what's behind curtain No. 2, please.

It's not ideal, but nothing in this situation is. With quarterbacks like Colt McCoy, Matt Moore and (gulp) Tarvaris Jackson out there to be had for a song, it's time to find Mr. Right Now rather than Mr. Right. No longer can the Cardinals be in search of the future, they just have to find someone that can handle the present. It's becoming painfully obvious -- almost as painful as Chris Berman doing play-by-play -- that neither Kolb nor Skelton are ready to be that and may never be.

For years Cardinals fans have believed that things would work out regardless what the situation looked like. If things don't change before the start of the season, those fans may finally learn a lesson no movie could ever teach you. The lesson that, unless you have a top flight quarterback, you're just going to waste your players' talent and your fans' time.

Sunday, August 12, 2012 @ 7:27am

Fan X Blog: The campaign to be Cards QB a losing battle

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for Arizona Sport
Imagine two less-than-impressive candidates battling it out for one of the most coveted and toughest positions in America to obtain. One candidate looks the part and has the record (even if it's a mirage) and the other has the money. Both candidates spend time trading off who's in the lead with neither one deserving to win the competition.

No, it's not the plot of the new Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign, it's actually the storyline for the Cardinals' quarterback situation.

While the movie is funny, the Cards' position has been more of a comedy of errors. Neither John Skelton, the QB who looks the part and has the winning record, nor Kevin Kolb, the one with the big money contract, have impressed in the team's first two preseason games. Both have failed to move the offense down the field and have shown the kind of accuracy usually reserved for a public men's room after a few too many drinks.

Yes, it's only been two preseason games and a combined 21 passes have been thrown by the two players, but has either signal caller instilled enough confidence in you to believe the Cardinals can win this season? (If you answer yes, you're either watching a different team or you're more of a basketball fan because you enjoy lob and bounce passes more than completions.)

It's a situation that feels oddly familiar like déjà vu or a glitch in the Matrix. While the names may be different (and not for our protection), the competition is beginning to feel an awful lot like the battle between Derek "I take this serious" Anderson and Matt "check down" Leinart. Two quarterbacks trying to straighten out their career in the middle of a chaotic Ken Whisenhunt training camp, trading off starts with fans just looking for someone to take the reins. That competition in 2010 led to the Max Hall era (or was that error?) and a 5-11 record. At the rate things are going, we could easily be heading for the Ryan Lindley show and a similarly disappointing season in 2012.

Could Kolb or Skelton turn it around prior to the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks? Of course. But if Cardinals‘ quarterback history has taught us anything, what you see is likely what you get.

So who should get the job? Don't believe anyone who tells you that it's Kolb's job strictly based on salary. The only currency in the NFL -- which prints more money than the U.S. Mint and has more wealth than Bruce Wayne -- that matters is wins and losses. At this point both seem like they'll be leading the team to more of the latter rather than the former.

In this campaign season the Cardinals hopes may rest on a third party candidate. Regardless of who becomes the quarterback, their best offense might have to be a good defense. That, or maybe Will Ferrell or Zach Galifanakis could come in and play the part of QB, it probably can't be much worse.

Monday, June 18, 2012 @ 7:20am

Booing is a fan's right

By: Phoenix Fan X/Special for Arizona Sports
Abraham Lincoln -- the President, not the vampire hunter - - once said you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. The saying originally described 1860's politics, but it also sums up the relationship between sports teams and their fans in the new millennium.

Let's be honest, as sports fans we are at best a fickle bunch. At worst we experience emotional swings that would make Lindsay Lohan embarrassed. We can go from thinking a player is the best to thinking he's a choker and back again faster than a Bugatti roadster goes from zero to 60 and it's all amplified by the instant gratification that is social media and the internet. That's not to say it's a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it's great. It makes the games and major events like trades and free agency more enjoyable.

These emotional outbursts should be about as surprising as finding out Nicolas Cage's hair isn't real in most movies. It's the reason for being a sports fan. It's also built into its definition. Fan is short for fanatic, as in obsessively and emotionally concerned with something. It's that obsession that leads us to strange and irrational behavior from time to time.

It's why over the years in Arizona we've turned Max Hall and Craig Counsell into cult heroes, rooted for Stoney Case and Ryan Roberts to be starters over more experienced players and thought that Josh McCown, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Marcel Shipp and Eric Byrnes were going to be Valley stars. (OK, I didn't think that, but I knew people who did.)

Our passion and desire to see our hometown -- or adopted hometown in many cases -- teams win makes us blind to how ridiculous or outlandish our actions as fans really are. Take the Cardinals Fan Fest for example. On the surface it looked like a meaningless practice three months before the season. But when you add in an audience of 15,000 football starved fans, things get a little strange. That's why when Kevin Kolb threw an interception and had a pass knocked down during the workout, the angry birds showed up.

Was booing the potential starting quarterback of your team, who was coming off a season in which he was under prepared due to a lockout and cut short due to concussions, the right thing to do? Of course not. Was it a complete overreaction to what amounted to a bad decision or two in an early summer practice? Yes. But that's the business we're in as fans.

Remember, we're the same group that thought a young quarterback from USC was a better starting option than a handsomely-stubbled former Super Bowl MVP. That is until one atrocious preseason start against Oakland a few days later helped swing the pendulum, and the opinion of most fans, the other way.

It's our right as fans to boo and criticise when we want to. Without that, sports wouldn't have drama, athletes wouldn't sign multi-million dollar contracts and when we talked about people with great closing skills we'd be talking about guys selling insurance for a chance to win a Cadillac or a set of steak knives from someone who looked like Alec Baldwin.

As fans, we're emotional and passionate. That's why we're in the stands and not sitting behind the desk of a sports team's front office. It's why we boo, cheer and question every little move teams make. It's also why we have to be ready to admit we're wrong because even though our favorite teams and athletes can't please us all of the time, that doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing.

Hopefully Kevin Kolb will prove that this fall.

Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 11:28am

Phoenix: Always a bridesmaid, never a bride

By: Phoenix Fan X
While the Los Angeles Kings skated around with Lord Stanley's Cup at the Staples Center on Monday night, something became abundantly clear. Although the movie Bridesmaids is funny, it's not a funny position for Arizona's professional sports teams to keep finding themselves in.

The Kings' win made the old cliche ‘always the bridesmaid and never the bride' the perfect slogan for Valley sports teams. For the 17th time since professional sports first called the state home in 1968, a local team lost in the playoffs to the eventual champions.

It's becoming an all too familiar occurrence in Arizona. A team has a good or great regular season and an impressive postseason run only to see all championship aspirations snuffed out like a Don Draper cigarette by a team that would eventually reach the pinnacle of their sport.

It's these moments that haunt the souls of the local sports fans. The ghosts of a John Paxson three, a Santonio Holmes one-footed -- and yes I still contest his second food still hasn't touched the ground -- touchdown, a Saints bountied dirty hit on Kurt Warner, a Robert Horry hip check (remember, that's basketball, not hockey) and this year's penalty-riddled Western Conference Final for the Coyotes, are forever trapped in fans' minds like some sort of cruel instant replay.

As the great American philosopher Ferris Bueller would say, "how's that for being born under a bad sign?"

Now, I won't go as far as claiming there is some kind of curse on the city. I'll leave that for Chicagoans and Clevelanders to say about their city. Maybe Valley teams are unlucky or have never truly constructed rosters better than their opponents. Whatever the reasoning, something has to change, because our beloved franchises are becoming the sports version of Katherine Heigl's character in 27 Dresses.

While we've been to the holy altar of sports once with the 2001 Diamondbacks, the question is: will we get there again anytime soon? The Suns are in full rebuilding mode, the D- backs are an enigma right now (or at least their star player is, according to team owner Ken Kendrick) and the Cardinals can't even think about the playoffs until they decide if they're going with Kevin "Concussion Test" Kolb or John "Better Lucky Than Good" Skelton at starting quarterback. The Coyotes are probably the closest to the holy grail but they just got out of the first round for the first time in team history and could just as easily be signing their name to a lease in a new city -- if the cartoonishly evil Goldwater Institute gets its way -- than putting it on Lord Stanley's Cup.

The eternal bridesmaid is waiting for that ring, so are three out of four major sports teams in town. The question is, just how long will they continue to be part of someone else's road to happiness rather than embarking on their own? Unfortunately for fans, if the last 45 years have been any indication, it'll probably be awhile.

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