September 17, 2008
Our love for the Chicago Blackhawks' classic hockey sweater is well-established and unwavering. So it's almost unfair that the Blackhawks' special "baseball-style" jerseys they've worn during events at Chicago White Sox games this season are, quite frankly, better looking than half of the NHL's current sweaters.
Pimp, right? Chicago Blackhawks Night at U.S. Cellular Field (H/T to Icethetics) was held last week, featuring Patrick Sharp's rather remarkable ceremonial first pitch in which he shot the baseball with his stick into Mark Buehrle's glove. This came after Brian Campbell's earlier first-pitch attempt at Wrigley Field; "attempt" being the operative word, as his throw had the pinpoint accuracy of Rick Ankiel on meth.
The night was yet another successful community relations moment for the Blackhawks, who announced they've actually sold out at least eight games this season already. The team has entered into a relationship with the White Sox that's rather unprecedented on the major league level: Intense cross-promotion between the teams during each of their seasons. As White Sox Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Brooks Boyer told the Blackhawks' Web site:
"I think when you look at Blackhawks fans and White Sox fans, they're very similar fan bases -- two very hard-core fan bases that match up really well. When [Blackhawks Senior Vice President of Business Operations] Jay Blunk and I started talking about it, that's one of the first thing we noticed - all of the crossover. They seem to fit together well."
Perhaps some of the Chicago fans who read Puck Daddy can enlighten us, but is there an inherent risk in the Blackhawks choosing to align themselves with the Sox rather than the Cubs?
Sure, the Winter Classic is going to be played at Wrigley, and the team hasn't exactly ignored the Cubbies in its off-season promotions (even if they did steal their team president last year). But the Cubs/White Sox differentiation is one not only of baseball fandom but of cultural identity. Will it matter to casual hockey fans/die-hard Cubs fans that the Blackhawks are in the tank for the Pale Hose? Or would getting back to the Stanley Cup playoffs trump any diamond loyalty?