UnitedHealthcare Health insurance that includes all Western PA hospitals
Sunday December 4 2016
Leave this field empty.

Are The Penguins Losing Their Cool?

PSR Logo
The jig is up. The news is out. And they’ve finally found the Penguins. Yeah, we all know that Tommy Shaw was actually singing about James Harrison.

After all, Styx’s “Renegade” has become the signature song of today’s Steelers, and Steeler Nation has embraced the tune as its own, relying on it at Heinz Field each game to prepare for a big defensive series.
But are the Steelers—and their fans—really “renegades”? Isn’t that tag better reserved for fans of a team that really wasn’t popular until it was finally too hard to ignore it? That describes Penguins fans to a tee, or perhaps more appropriately, to a one-timer in the slot.
Penguins fans: the group that, despite a championship legacy filled with some of hockey’s greatest players, has suddenly become the prettiest girl on the block.
The Penguins—pardon the tardiness here—have finally arrived, and Pittsburgh’s masses are more than on-board.
Yet, like everyone’s favorite rock band, does being popular on a mainstream level make what was once cool and unique to follow suddenly “lame”? Have the Penguins, the best-kept sports-nut secret in Pittsburgh, lost their “cool”?
“It is like a dying thing,” admits Derek Rocco—co-founder of The Pensblog, a self-started Penguins fan site that has evolved into the underground hub of Penguin Nation—and a diehard Penguins fan who followed the team through its most recent “Dark Ages” of missing the playoffs several times early in the 2000s. But, as co-founder Adam Caldwell points out, and Rocco agrees, “If it wasn’t for the fringe fans who aren’t as hardcore, the Penguins might not even be [in Pittsburgh] right now. The fringe fans helped get the new arena.
“There’s always going to be a division between the bandwagon fans and the ‘real’ fans, but they all helped keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, so we’re grateful for that.”
The Pensblog (or tPb for short) launched in 2006 and—almost entirely through word-of-mouth—has risen to the point where Rocco and Caldwell have gotten airtime on both the WDVE Morning Show and Penguins telecasts. Though, as the founders point out, a Pensblog character known simply as “Charlie” is the one who really gets the face time.
The history of Charlie—check outt thepensblog.com for more on that guy—and some occasional colorful language are what really set Rocco and Caldwell apart from regular Pittsburgh media. TPb guys are the kind of writers who keep hockey fans on the edge, or in other words, cool.
“In other words, they can swear… and I can’t,” says Jim Shearer, a more visible member of the media.
Shearer, a 1993 graduate of Shaler Area High School who wears his black-and-gold heart on his sleeve, is the host of VH1’s “Top 20 Video Countdown” and a former MTV veejay. He also runs two popular YouTube shows in Yinz Luv ’Da Stillers (YLDS) and Yinz Luv ’Da Guins (YLDG). You can search YouTube for episodes.
 “The Pensblog definitely has the ‘renegade factor,’” says Shearer. “They can get away with stuff that the big media companies in Pittsburgh can’t get away with, and because of that, they draw young people in because it’s exciting.
“You never know what those guys are gonna say.”
“We do have kind of a dark sense of humor,” says Rocco. “It’s not meant to be mainstream, and if it ever is mainstream, we’re all in trouble.”
But Shearer is no square either, despite his attempts to marry a love for both the Steelers and the Penguins, something that tPb guys say can often be conflicting worlds.
“Hockey fans seem to be a bit more knowledgeable [about their sport] than football fans,” says Rocco. “Hockey fans belong to more of a ‘club.’
“But [Caldwell and I] are both Steelers fans. We do rip on the Steelers [on tPb], but we do it in fun.”
“Some Steelers fans who aren’t Penguins fans can act arrogant at times,” says Caldwell. “It’s a small group, but they can make a larger group of Steelers fans look bad.”
Shearer, though, walks the line with absolute perfection, never shying away from many older Steelers fans’ love for “the way things were” nor young Pittsburghers’ appreciation for more offbeat and niche humor and content.
For example, in a recent YLDS episode, Shearer shows cardboard cutouts of Steelers legends like John Henry Johnson and Mike Wagner, yet he does it while wearing a Nirvana tee shirt and giving airtime to his pet cat.
Ignoring the need to serve any kind of a different audience, his YLDG episodes are as equally quirky and marry the past and present as well--”Yinz Luv”... Troy Loney”--giving credence to Shearer’s contention that Pittsburghers simply root for whichever team is wearing the black and gold that day, no matter the sport.
“For the most part, for the people that are raised in Pittsburgh,” says Shearer, “you’re a Steelers fan during football season, and you’re a Penguins fan during hockey season.”
“And if anybody’s that fragile about their likes and dislikes,” says Caldwell, “that they care if other people like it or dislike it, then I don’t wanna be their friend.
“Somebody that’s that vain—that lets outside people influence what they like and dislike—I hope I never meet one of those people in my life.”
Because, especially in Pittsburgh, that’s just not cool.

Share
Bob Prince was best known as the voice of the PIttsburgh Pirates for 28 years, but it was not the only job he had over his Hall of Fame career. “The Gunner” also called Steelers and Penguins games at different times during his career and was part of the NBC broadcast team for the 1965 All-Star Game.
Feature OneNorth Shore Notes
When the Penguins hired Jim Rutherford as their general manager in 2014, it seemed like a temporary move. The former Carolina Hurricanes GM would spend his two years in Pittsburgh, and then hand the keys to Jason Botterill; the man whom several people thought deserved the job in the first place.
Blue LineFeature Two
Aaron Gray is a familiar name for most Pittsburgh basketball fans. The 7’0”, 270-pound center led the '07 Panthers to an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance and was one of the most prolific big men to play for coach Jamie Dixon.
Feature ThreePitt BasketballSports Bites
Jeanne Marie Laskas is the New York Times best-selling author of Concussion and the 2009 GQ article “Game Brain,” which inspired the Golden Globe-nominated movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin.
Feature FourPure SteelSports Bites
PSR VIDEO
See video
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 1 Steelers TV Channel
See video
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 2Xfinity HS FootballHigh School TV Channel
See video
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 3Steelers TV Channel
The college basketball season is underway as local teams finish their non-conference games this month. Will Kevin Stallings re-ignite the Pitt program? Can Jim Ferry recover from losing three seniors at Duquesne? Will Penn State's freshmen class finally produce competitive basketball in State College?
Custom 1DuquesnePenn StatePitt BasketballRobert MorrisWVU
Exactly four months after the Pittsburgh Penguins raised the Stanley Cup in San Jose, the new NHL season got underway. While the Penguins will look to become the first team in nearly 20 years to repeat as champions, the season will be sure to deliver plenty of twists and surprises during the regular season.
Blue LineCustom 2
As much as 80 percent of the Pirates starting rotation could be different next season. Only Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are locks to return from the 2015 crew. With three spots potentially open, the Pirates could look to add veterans through waivers, free agency and trades. Here are some potential in-house solutions.
Custom 3North Shore Notes
For years, the accomplishments of the Penn State men’s basketball team have been few and far between. Head coach Patrick Chambers has posted a 23-67 overall conference record in his five seasons, one of the worst marks among Power 5 schools. Only TCU, Boston College, Texas Tech and Virginia Tech have a lower in-conference winning percentage than Penn State's .256 mark during that span.
Custom 4Penn State