About Those Sidney Crosby Pacifiers
The last time the Penguins came to town, I highlighted some of the anti-Crosby pranking carried on in the stands. That, though, was before Crosby and Ovechkin had their run-in and mild verbal scuffle, which caused Caps fans to take things to a whole 'nother level. Crosby has zoomed way past LeBron James as Washington's No. 1 sporting villain. (Interesting how similar the themes are, though; remember the "Crybaby" t-shirts and the posters of LeBron holding a baby bottle?)
I think this is a good thing, by and large. Sports need villains, and I'd rather fans pour out their creative energies into making t-shirts and signs than in getting drunk and breaking car windows. As expertly chronicled by Puck Daddy yesterday, there were massive pacifiers and smaller pacifiers, no-diving signs and no-diving t-shirts, great Photoshops and less-than-great Photoshops, plus at least one babydoll in Crosby attire.
The highlight, though, had to be the two young women passing out 500 pacifiers to Caps fans. Lindsay Czarniak got one (read more on that from Homer McFanboy). Lisa Hillary got one. Al Koken ended up restraining himself. Ted Leonsis laughed, but said he couldn't take one. So, what was the story?
Well, as you might have guessed, Margaret McGuire is a diehard Caps fan and journalism student at Anchorage-Alaska, who, before her trip home to Arlington for Spring Break, recently stumbled upon an Alaskan baby/toddler store that was going out of business and was selling bibs and bottles and pacifiers in bulk. How long did it take her to connect an Alaskan sale on baby stuff with Sidney Crosby?
"A split second, really," she said. "As soon as I saw the pacifiers, I wanted to get as many as I could. It pretty much was instantaneous for me."
She got 100. Then she talked to her friend and fellow Caps fan Molly Feldman, who loved the concept. She promised to help. Margaret went back to the store. They cut her a deal and said they'd find more. She wound up with 500 pacifiers, stuffed into a garbage bag, filling her entire suitcase during the trip home. You don't want to know the cost.
"It's kind of embarrassing," Margaret told me. "Let's just say it wasn't cheap. It's not something I would suggest someone go out and do unless they're willing to shell out a significant amount of money."
So why do this? Why would a college student in Alaska spend hundreds of dollars and fill a suitcase with pacifiers for a cross-continental flight toward heated hockey rivalry?
"Everyone knows the fan base's consensus on Sidney Crosby," Margaret said.
"We all know how much of a whiner Crosby can be," Molly added. "I just had a feeling a lot of fans would enjoy it. I definitely wanted to be on board and help her out any way she wanted, because I thought it was brilliant, honestly."
"I think what really solidified it in my mind was the last game," Margaret continued. "He just always seems to be talking to the refs, even when nothing's going on."
"He just needs to lighten up," Molly recommended. "You could pretty much ask anybody and they'd all pretty much say the same thing."
So, on with Operation Pacifier. Some of the pacifiers said "Daddy's Little Girl." Others read "I Love Mommy." Some had stripes or polka dots, hearts or stars. All were marked up with Crosby's name and number, and tied with a string for easy in-game accessorizing. There was some minimal pre-game promotion, via Facebook, a blog or two and a trip to Caps practice.
And the results? Well, without much effort, Margaret and Molly got rid of 499 Crosby pacifiers. (The 500th, of course, is bound for my desk.) Pens fans wanted them. Caps fans lined up, sometimes offering to pay money. Pens writers riffed off the theme, telling Caps fans to "suck on that" after Crosby won the game. The pacifiers were clearly visible on the TV broadcast, and Margaret and Molly made the big screen. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury even referenced the pacifiers in his post-game interviews.
"I just loved the feeling I got handing them out, and people were so excited about getting them," Margaret told me. "I got to meet a lot of new fans tonight. I loved it. I thought it was great."
"It was amazing," Molly added. "I mean, we were mobbed, by everyone. Everyone wanted one."
Here's something else everyone should want: Caps-Pens in the playoffs. This isn't about bad sportsmanship; this is about electricity. This is about SportsCenter being forced to use a "Caps Penguins" item on the right-hand scroll this morning, in addition to "A-Rod Surgery" and "Yankees Reaction" and "Reaction to Yankees Reaction." This is about Margaret and Molly having been fans their whole lives, but never having been motivated to bring 500 props to a game before this season. This is about Crosby saying the Verizon Center is becoming one of the toughest places for him to play, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review calling him "Washington's Sports Villain-in-Chief." You can't be a villain unless people care.
Problem is, of course, that the dude won the game. So I asked Margaret and Molly whether they were worried about providing him with some extra motivation.
"I'm very superstitious when it comes to hockey, so I'm sure it was there in the back of my mind--he's gonna have a good game and they're gonna win, which both happened," Molly added. "But it was for the fans, so I wasn't really worried about what he was gonna think or how he was gonna react to to it."
"I'm not worried about motivating him," Margaret said. Caps fans haven't really had much to be excited with over the past couple years, and this is more just to motivate fans....If it motivates him, then I guess it's our fault. But it's fun to do."
Indeed. Here's to some sort of sequel in the playoffs. Margaret said she might have a few ideas floating around.
(Oh, and apparently I haven't improved any in the maturity department over the past two weeks. From a Pens fan this morning: "With all due respect, I think your blogs about Sid are very childish, immature and show very little writing talent....I just think you're encouraging childish Caps fans to make derogatory shirts, etc is not very classy. Don't you think??"
Needless to say, no, I don't think.)
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