NFL

The New York Sports Lines of Demarcation

A few weeks ago, my New York Rangers twitter friend (joining us from Norway! And no, don’t ask him about A-Ha…I learned my lesson awhile ago), posed this question about who roots for what in New York sports.

It’s an interesting question, one that I have often wondered myself.  Because while I live in New York City now, I am a full-blooded Jersey girl, and I’m very proud of my roots.  Yet, I loathe the New Jersey Devils with every ounce of my being.  But then again, I am a New York Mets fan in baseball.  And people often ask why, because of where I grew up in New Jersey, I’d probably be geographically closer to Philadelphia and should be a Phillies fan.  But I would also say that Phillies fans are almost an anomaly in my town in NJ, and the lines of demarcation there are distinctly Mets vs Yankees.

Which begs the question…how does one pick a team to root for?

I guess there’s no easy way to answer it, but I will say this: it’s not like being from New England or the Pacific Northwest or friggin Denver where you basically have one team to choose from for each major sport.  And even sometimes that is not as cut-and-dry as you’d think.  Even take my husband for example, who is a notoriously born-and-bred Bronx boy who loathes the Yankees, and is a huge Mets fan with other geopolitical sports leanings towards the Seattle Seahawks and Utah Jazz (He can also thank me for making him a Rangers fan).

I guess there are six major categories that should determine your rooting interests, there may be more, but off the top of my head, that’s what I’ve come up with: Geography; Family Influence; History; Media; “Collars;” and Marrying Into It.  I would also say that many of these are not set in stone (e.g. being from the Bronx and not being a Yankees fan, being from New Jersey and being a Rangers fan).  Some are just flipping annoying (don’t get me started on “Giants AND Jets fans.”  Mostly, they know there’s a better chance of the Giants winning anything and rooting for the Jets is an exercise in futility).

Also, bear in mind that much of rooting interests in sports are not contingent upon where one is “from” anymore.  I have a friend who grew up in New England area, yet is a huge Minnesota Vikings fan (but a Red Sox fan in baseball, that will never change, according to him).  Media has changed the rooting landscape, but I would say in New York, it’s pretty simple: you’re either a Mets or Yankees fan (never both, don’t care what anyone says about “I want to see New York win,” you’re just a Yankee fan who wants to say they never gave up on the Mets – just go away already); you’re either a Knicks or Nets fan; you’re either a Rangers or Isles or Devils fan – it’s a WRITTEN rule that you love one team and hate the other two; you’re either a Giants or Jets fan.  It’s funny because when I still identified myself as a Jets fan (mostly because – ta da! my dad said he was one), I never hated or disliked the Giants.  I just didn’t root for them, despite how successful they may be (I think most Jets fans are blase about it too – but true Giants fans HATE the Jets – go figure).

Geography

This one is pretty easy.  Basically, wherever you are from, there you are.  I live and breathe New Jersey with every fiber of my being.  However, you could not pay me enough money to root for the Devils, unless of course I could use that money to move the team to Mars and never hear about them again.  I digress.  There are exceptions to every rule.

If you’re from Queens, you better be a friggin Mets fan.  If you’re from Long Island, you better be a Mets and Islanders fan.  If you’re from Queens and/or Long Island (even Brooklyn) remember when the Jets played at Shea Stadium, you better be a Jets fan too.

If your family is from old school Brooklyn and you have a grandparent or great uncle or whoever who went to games at Ebbets Field, chances are you will be a Mets fan now.  I know most of this story is elementary to most Baseball 101 fans (this is mostly for my Norwegian friend), but back in 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York (baseball) Giants picked up and left for the West Coast for who is now the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.  If you rooted for either of those teams and have your roots in New York or the tri-state area at least, you could never in good conscience root for the Yankees.

If you’re from Westchester/South Bronx/Upper Manhattan, chances are that you are also a Yankees fan.  Proximity to games has a lot to do with team loyalties.  And if it’s easier for you to take the D train than the 7, you’ll probably be a Yankees fan.

Football is weird.  Both teams have a New York title but reside in New Jersey (go figure), but the Jets used to play in Queens, and therefore have a lot of leanings in that area and also in Long Island.  Some folks would rather drop dead from that area than root for the Jets as well.  Those people may be transplanted from somewhere else.  But then again when I’ve assumed things like someone being from Long Island or grew up in Flushing is automatically a Mets fan, I’ve been wrong.  Just like someone guessing that being from New Jersey automatically qualified you as a Devils fan.

Lastly, Connecticut is kind of funny.  New Jersey is kind of a free-for-all with Yankees, Mets, Phillies, even some Red Sox thrown in there.  Half of CT is geographically closer to the traditional “New England” states, therefore Red Sox territory.  But I know plenty of Mets fans in Connecticut too.

As I’m sure you can tell, geography doesn’t dictate all of it.  But if you are a Yankee fan living in Queens, there will be some ball busting for sure.

Family Influence

My Pop Pop (Dad’s dad) was a National League baseball fan.  No one bothered to ask him while he was still living where his loyalty was (but it was most certainly not the Yankees).  I would guess though, he was probably a New York Giants fan, since he took my dad as a young ‘un to the old Polo Grounds.  My dad’s been a Mets fan, and in 1983, I had to write what my likes/dislikes were and what my parents liked and disliked.  My mom said, “Be sure to write ‘the Mets’ as something Daddy likes.”  I asked him about the Mets as he watched a game with a popped open Budweiser can.  I started watching. In 1984, I went to my first game.  Doc Gooden started.  It, as they say, was history.  Dad was also a New York Rangers fan from the Broadway Blues era in the 70s.  Dad is also a Jets fan.  I don’t hold that against him anymore since I left Gang Green.

My point is, if your parents, grandparents, favorite uncle, cousin, former roommate liked a team and had a passion about it, chances are, you will too.  I have a friend who said that even though he lived just minutes from Shea Stadium, he is a die hard Yankee fan because of his family influence.

Sometimes if there’s a Mets/Islanders fan, chances are they’re from the Island.  If you meet a Mets/Rangers fan, chances are a family member made that choice for them.

History

Some people are sports geeks.  Others are history geeks.  Sometimes, you have both.  While I am a Mets fan, I would never be a Yankees fan.  Not just BECAUSE I am a Mets fan, but because I love the really unique history of National League baseball in New York.  There were two teams, they started the expansion out west.  If you rooted for either of those teams, you were already an underdog rooter, because they could never beat those stinkin Yankees!

But then history can work the other way.  We can say “New York Rangers are O6,” therefore, superior (and that’s actually true).  Or “27 RingZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.” Or Broadway Joe Namath.  I mean, if you know your shit about a team, salut and root for whoever you fuckin want to.  Chances are, if you’re passionate about a team, you’re gonna know their background inside and out.  And that’s what makes you a fan.

Media 

This doesn’t so much apply to today as yesteryear.  As I know several people who grew up in New York or the tri-state area and do not have team affiliations from their region.  There may be a Columbus Blue Jackets fan in say, Connecticut, because the Whalers left for Carolina and hockey died in their heart.  Or they may have caught a game on TV and decided to make them “their” team.  But 30 years ago, media was a lot different than it is now where you were beholden as a consumer to watch whatever sports team your local affiliates made you.  As I mentioned earlier, I had friends and family in South Jersey who started root for Phillies/Eagles/Flyers or some variation thereof because they got those channels and had no choice.  I know some folks who became Mets fans because of the old WOR-9 and where they were able to get a signal (no kidding).  Nowadays we got these kids and their goddamn rock n’ roll rooting for the Texas Rangers because they started following that Adrian Beltre guy and do you think he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, and oh I’m getting off topic.

I have two friends who started watching the Rangers in NJ because MSG Network was free and Sportschannel (where the Devils games were televised) was a pay channel.  Who would’ve paid to watch the Devils back then???  (And before you get started, I do know the Mets were on SC back then…but they were actually watchable and you wanted to buy the channel).

“Collars”

In the New York metropolitan region, you have the white collar executives who wear suits and ties and have a two-martini lunch on a corporate card.  Then there are the blue collar types who wear their hard hats and toil in the sub and bring their lunch in a pail.

Yankees are given the nickname “Pinstripes” or rather, wear uniforms with distinct pinstripes to cater to the moneyed-executive (yes, even though the stadium itself is in a shitty-ass area in the Bronx).  Yes, Mets also have uniform choices with “stripes” on them, but no self-respecting Mets fan would EVER call them “pinstripes.”  We know better.  The Mets are geographically closer to Long Island and in the heart of Queens, where many of these blue collars reside.  And the Yankees with all that money, how could they EVER root for them?

And yes, there is the whole “corporate America is ruining sports BLAHHHH!” people.  The white collars who show up, stare at their phone, and cause it to be quiet in the arenas and stadiums.  That’s not to say that you can’t be a true fan if you’re a banker or lawyer or sales person.  It’s just the guys getting the tickets sometimes could give a rat’s ass about sports or the teams.

You Marry Into It

I was lucky that I married another passionate Mets fan.  It was important that my future spouse knew sports.  Otherwise, I’d be spending a lot of time by myself going to games.  Someone could go through life not having a sports affiliation, but if your spouse or partner is into it, chances are you’re gonna get into it too.  This is certainly not geographically based.  If you are from Texas and you marry a native New Yorker, they’ll probably get you into New York sports if you couldn’t care less about the Texas Rangers or Dallas Cowboys.  This category is self-explanatory.

I posted a question on Facebook to see about other categories, but I think I have it covered.  I’d be interested in getting other feedback as well.  And go Mets, Rangers and Seahawks (huh?).

Happiness Is An Option

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 1.59.57 PMI wanted to give myself a few days before fully addressing how I felt about the New York Rangers’ 2014-15 season.  I’ve gone through the emotions of of sadness to anger and being pissed off and near tears at the same time.  I saw a guy wearing a BLUESHIRTS playoff tee in the supermarket, and I got all choked up.  A friend of mine told me (not a Rangers fan, to say the least) that this is the most upset he’s seen me as a Ranger fan yet.  And it’s true.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about this team, and it’s not even disappointment, though that’s part of it.

It’s not even my wanting the Stanley Cup – damn, how I wanted that fucking trophy this year – it’s more of a squandering an opportunity kind of thing.

This is the year I realized that it’s getting close to the later years of Henrik Lundqvist.  Glen Sather and James Dolan have dicked around to the extent that they could have possibly wasted his best years as a top flight goalie.  Guys like Henke don’t grow on trees.  He’s a one of a kind player and goalie, someone we’ll be rare to see in our history of Rangers greats.  And believe me, there are more players who were *great* but never got the championship than special players who actually did win a championship.  But I also think of losing guys like Darren Turcotte and Tony Amonte in 1994, great role players who were traded away for a “win now” attitude that did “win now,” yet ultimately set the team back decades.

Yes, I do realize that they won their only championship that year those two guys were gone.  They could’ve forfeited years of multiple titles had they held onto them too.  We’ll never know.

So my tears after the last horn sounded, signaling the end of the season, was not because of a loss of a game or a series.  It’s almost something of a loss I felt, like it’s the end of an era.  I don’t think things will be as storylike as they were this season.  When they lost in OT to the hated Devils in the ECF in 2012, I was optimistic.  Sure, I hated losing, especially to that team, but I was future thinking.  They had the goods, finally, it seemed.  Then 2013 rolled around and the abbreviated season just seemed like a wash and the team knew it.  Last year, that was a special year.  Though I was disappointed in their performance in the Stanley Cup Final, I knew they could hold their head high by being so close to elimination and never gave up till they ran out of gas.

See, THIS was supposed to be the year they had the axe to grind.  Losing this game and series, in my opinion, was nothing to be proud.  The same old, “Blah blah just to play there is an honor.”  Anyone who says they are “just proud to be nominated” is a lying BITCH.  My friend Will says that he hates losing more than he likes winning.  I could see on the faces of some of the players that the loss got to them.  So they could get that emotion, hated losing more than loving to win.  That loss last year was supposed to make them hungry for this year.  Then backs against the wall and turning it on against the Capitals this year.  Every fan I knew was confident that this was the motivation they needed (not, you know, the motivation of accolades and a championship and being beloved by the best city in the world).

And this was just more than how I felt after, say, the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl earlier this year.  It was more than a loss of the season or a championship, especially they way they lost.  A Seahawks blogger by the name of Ramona over at Dave Krieg’s Strike Beard summed it up eloquently after SB 49: “The sadness I’m feeling isn’t just from the defeat in XLIX, but also from the sudden absence of this wonderful team in my life.”

I felt exactly the same for that Seahawks team.  But the absence of the Rangers team from this season…yeah, not one I’m particularly endeared to right now.

I know it’s incredibly difficult to “blow the fucker up,” with salary caps and being able to move guys easily, but if there’s anything close that can be done for the New York Rangers to get Hank some players who aren’t treating GAME FUCKING SEVEN of the ECF like it’s a Tuesday night game in December, or as Will likes to say, “Get Hank some real bitches who can play.”  Because the lack of killer instinct or wanting to win or PLAYING NOT TO LOSE (I am a Mets fan…I have enough to deal with regarding that shit), that’s what gets to me.

We live in a world where Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman or Brad Richards all have a chance for that crowning glory.  And we live in a world where Henrik Lundqvist may join the pantheon of great players who may never have an opportunity like this year to win it all.  And that just sucks.

If that doesn’t anger you as a fan, I hate to play the “you are not a real fan” card, because that shit pisses me off when it’s said to me…but it should make you upset at the very least.  Or as another Twitter buddy Cristina likes to say, it should make you feel as though a part of you has died.  Because I know that’s how I felt this year.

I’ve been through a lot of things, being a sports fan.  I got over the 2000 World Series pretty quickly.  The funny thing was, I felt like that Mets team was on the precipice of something great, then they did a complete 180 and by the way, fuck Steve Phillips and Mike Bordick (hey, my blog, my rules).  Yet, most fans would tell you that the 1999 team was the one that fell short and was disappointing. And I will always maintain that losing John Olerud was the hit the Mets should not have taken.  And I’m about to get all worked up about what an idiot asshole dickface Steve Phillips was, so I’ll just stop while I’m ahead.

So back to this year.  LAST Year was the “rah rah feel good get-em-next-year” year.  THIS was the take no prisoners, winner takes all year.  I almost threw a shoe at my computer when I read that Martin St. Louis said something to the effect of being proud and waiting till next year.  OH FUCK NEXT YEAR.  NEXT YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THIS YEAR.  My goodness, I am so angry right now.  I could probably throw something else in addition to my shoe.

And the regular season was a feat in and of itself.  They lost Henrik for a spell, and the team really stepped up their game to give Cam Talbot, who really has endeared himself to most Rangers fans for his performance in Hank’s absence.  It was really a lot of fun to watch them in the regular season.  No one seemed to pass the memo onto the team that the President’s Trophy means dick if you can’t bring home the real trophy.

My friend for over 20 years, NotGlen Sather handled it all in stride.  Like many, though, I want it to be just more than the 1994 Rangers.  But he takes comfort in it, saying that it’s something many generations of Rangers fans ONLY have too.  I was also kind of hoping that the year he expects his first child to coincide with a championship for his favorite sport.

I can’t say it wasn’t meant to be.  It could’ve been.  And that’s what makes me still so angry, two days later.

This one is going to sting for awhile.

**********************************************************************

It is not easy
the war within us
but it gets easier
the more we learn
I don’t need to win
You don’t have to lose
We can choose
happiness is an option

I bought a small bottle of Prosecco for the Super Bowl this year.  Needless to say, I did not open it.  While I had entertained using it for mimosas on a lazy Sunday morning, I decided to hold it for what I felt to be a formality in getting to the Stanley Cup this year for the Rangers.  I will be moving in a few weeks, and it looks like the Prosecco will be making the move as well.

I’ve always used sports as a form of escapism, and this hockey season has left me void of something.  The Chicago Blackhawks won their game seven last night and will be advancing to play the Lightning as well.  But I will always believe in my heart of hearts that this could have been the Rangers’ season.  You can’t even say they got beat by the better team.  They got beat by themselves.

That’s the worst loss of all.

My dad said he’s been a fan for over 45 years and bleeds Ranger blue.  This one sucked, but he said losing games like that doesn’t get easier over time.  I could choose happiness as my option, but the reality is, I’m too angry to even consider being happy.  I guess come back to me when the season starts again.  But I’ve learned to not get my hopes up with this team, ever.  And that, my friends, really sucks.

Up Against It

News in this city
Breaks without pity
Long after the war has ended
We’re still in fatigues

I survived Cliff Floyd swinging away per Jerry Manuel’s suggestion.  I survived a Mets collapse in 2007, and a denouement in 2008 (suffering PTMD aftereffects today).  I had to face New Jersey Devils fans the day after losing a dramatic Game 6 overtime Eastern Conference Final.  I had to face the world after the Rangers lost the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings the next day because I didn’t have a choice.

It’s different this time because I am not only relatively new to being a 12th man, I’m relatively new to the whole football experience. Despite having an allegiance to the Jets really since the 2000s (simply because my dad told me as much), I’ve never been so invested in something as rooting for a city that I loved, that in turn turned me into a football fan.  It’s a part of my identity that I struggle with and alternatively makes perfect sense to me.  It’s only fitting that while I wouldn’t trade being a Mets fan and Ranger fan for anything in the world, despite the agony they bring me most of the time. I was also born to be a Seahawks fan. I just didn’t know it till three years ago.

Until last night, the Super Bowl was just a way for me to watch commercials and an excuse to eat bad carbs and to hate on a team like the Patriots (which was only solidified last night) and the half time shows.  When the game ended in the past, I would look forward that baseball season was literally right around the corner.  I know, I have my hockey team, but as you all know by now, baseball is my first true love.

Last night, I paid attention to every single play.

And like watching Henrik Lundqvist crestfallen after losing to the Devils and Kings, like seeing Carlos Beltran’s face in the Mets dugout on the last play at Shea in 2008, I saw the faces of my adopted home city team. And I felt *it* all right.

I am a 12.  For better or worse, I am a 12th Man.  And there’s nothing I can do about it but accept it.

Don’t want to discuss it
I think it’s time for a change
You may get disgusted
And think I’m strange
In that case I’ll go underground
Get some heavy rest
Never have to worry
About what is worst and what is best
Oh oh Domino

Ed_Coop_Safeco There were several different angles I could’ve taken for this post.  Had the Seahawks won last night, this post would’ve been called “The Hawking Dead.”  The premise of it was my Seattle trip in November, which was borne from ironically my baseball fandom.  I never had a chance to write about it, and I figured, it would be repetitive anyway.

Picture it: summer of 2014, Ed and I went to Seattle to follow the Mets.  We had another mission: to get as much Seahawks merchandise as we could.  When we tried to plan another baseball trip to Cincinnati, to see the Mets, we found the prices to be staggering.  To go to OHIO.  Driving wasn’t really an option.  And I started joking that, oh hey, we can probably get cheaper airfare to Seattle in November for your birthday to see the Hawks.

I opened the travel websites.  “OH LOOK HONEY! It IS cheaper!”  Then the snowball got bigger and bigger, till finally we couldn’t ignore the fact that we didn’t just want to go back to Seattle, we wanted to see the Seahawks at home the year they were still Champions.  The Cincy trip was scrapped till 2015.  The Seattle trip was on.

The Hawking Dead was the working title because I had likened my turn to the Seahawks side as turning into a zombie, something I couldn’t control, something I didn’t think I wanted till I got it. Well, maybe being a walker isn’t something we want, but whatever. When I went to the game this time, it was natural.  It felt right.  We get off the light rail, and walk to the stadiums (Safeco Field is open with beer and food specials, and highlights from the “morning” games).  Yet, we weren’t the only people.  It was like a march, people doing their rituals, but everyone (save the few New York Giants fans, who also made the trip) was dressed in their Hawks gear and chanting and doing their gameday rituals.

My husband and I have some game day rituals too.  Last year, the championship season, we made it a point when there was a nationally televised game, we’d order Domino’s.  I know, it’s sacrilegious, living in New York City, but during the Super Bowl in 2013, I saw a Domino’s delivery guy in our lobby.  I told Ed, “You know, I want their bread sticks.”  Ed doesn’t eat pizza, but he likes their pasta bread bowls.  That night, though, they had a modified menu, and he had to get chicken nuggets and plain bread sticks.  Last year, they did away with their bread sticks, only cheesy bread.  But the pasta bread bowl/cheesy bread thing worked for a good year.

This year, the juju stopped working.  Against the Cowboys, we did our thing, and it didn’t work.  So I said, we need to find something else, because it’s officially “weird.”  He said, well, maybe we need to get something else instead of our “usual”.  So I started to make my own pastas, and lo and behold, they were winning again.  OF COURSE our game day ritual had something to do with it.  And we even changed our bars for the non-televised games.  We stopped going to a place we really loved and started going to, ironically, a Patriots bar, but they always had the Seahawks game on for us.

Going to the games, you can’t describe the feeling.  If you’re not a football fan, and I will always maintain I never really cared for it, but I loved tailgating and live games, you can’t help but get caught up in the 12-ness of it all.

Not to mention, I love Seattle, can see all my favorite sights from the stadium, and love to take walks after the game.  It’s not like you can do anything else.  Try jam packing nearly 70,000 people in one area, and have them all go to the train at the same time!  Just writing about it, I can visual it, and FEEL the area.  I miss it right now.  I really wish I was there right now.

We figured, maybe there was a glitch in the matrix, and that’s why they lost that game.  Also, we did have to take into consideration that, well, our superstitions don’t mean jack, and they only make US feel better.

Till then, we kept the ritual.  And on Super Bowl Sunday, we had breakfast at the same place we did last year, and I grabbed coffee with a friend like I did last year.  Then we watched Law & Order: SVU until time for the pregame show.

Our rituals may give us comfort.  But in reality, that’s the only thing.  It’s a defense mechanism, just like my stupid hashtag, #GivingUpSportsForKnitting.

Because I was so invested in football this year, I started to muse if I wasn’t a sports fan, what would like be like?  Instead of, “It’s A Wonderful Life, Coop,” it was more of a thinking that, I need a new hobby that’s less stressful.  Like knitting.

So by now, I’m sure most of you know the risky call that blew up in the Seahawks faces and literally caused them to lose the game. The narrative shifted from, the Seahawks are the real deal and Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll et al have built a dynasty and blah blah blah. Yet it’s all about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and blah blah blah. I’ve always had an unhealthy hate for the Patriots. Now I have to hear about it from all their shit talking fans who don’t show up during the game and gloat only after they win.

By the same token, though, if the Seahawks use the Patriots “dynasty” as a model – in 13 years and winning four championships. I think most of us wouldn’t trade that for any of our teams.

Last night was different. Last year, Ed sat watching the game, even with a significant lead, late in the game, he wouldn’t let himself believe until the very last second. Last night, he was cool and collected. Me, I felt off. Even with a lead, I didn’t feel comfortable. So many things didn’t go the way of the team. And if you look at the rest of the game, you’ll realize that it’s not the last 30 seconds that made the game. Marshawn Lynch even said it was a team effort, and they win as a team, they lose as a team.

Even as a die hard Mets fan, I never blamed Tom Glavine for his shitty ass performance on the last day of 2007. It didn’t help, of course. Yet, when I look at the team performance in September, THAT was why they lost. It shouldn’t have come to that game. Last year, when the Rangers were in the Stanley Cup Final, they blew not one, not two, but THREE late leads that led to overtime wins for the Kings. THAT was the difference. Not that they lost game five. They were lucky there WAS a game five.

Instead, our Domino’s ritual became a punch line, since I threw a plate of breadsticks with hot sauce and blue cheese after the blown play, and well, I had some cleaning up to do.  Thank goodness for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  And paint.  And strategically placed artwork.

Yes, I realize now it wasn’t just about the last minute of the game.  Try rationalizing that while you’re watching.

I could never give up sports for knitting. I wouldn’t be able to keep it real with assholes like Shane Victorino (#BlameShaneVictorinosMothersUterus) or Cody Ross (you’re GARBAGE), and well, if I have one place to be an asshole fan, it’s CitiField.

As Mrs. Senor Solly said earlier, there she is.  Or rather there I am.  I’ve always been here.  I’m not going away.

The game ended, Post Seahawks Win at CenturyLinkand I start hearing about Super Bowl Champions The New England Patriots, and I told Ed, can we please watch some baseball or something.

So MLB Network was on, and I got to hear familiar strains of my favorite season of all.  Lo and behold, pitchers and catchers is right around the corner.

It’s 64 days till Opening Day, it will soon be spring, the Stanley Cup playoffs are right around the corner, and before we know it, we’ll be following the Seahawks to Baltimore for our first “road trip road trip” (since all our Seahawks games are road trips, technically, for us anyway).

I woke up this morning, and it was snowing.  Perhaps it would’ve been more appropriate if it was raining.  It rains every time we go to a sporting event in Seattle.  But, rain also means change, it means growth, it means renewal.

Win or lose, last night, it was the end of a fun fuckin’ year for football.  And it’s really the first time I’ve genuinely meant it.

In the great game of life, you win some, you lose some.  Being a 12 is a lot more than rooting for the Seattle Seahawks.  You have to genuinely understand the amount of pride this team brings to the city and the Pacific Northwest region.  It’s a state of mind, maybe not unlike being a “walker,” but a conscious and very much alive walker.

Like many of the losses I’ve witnessed with my teams, it’s tough but you rationalize it.  You accept it.  It gets better.  Well, it BETTER get better.  The feeling can’t get much worse than what we all felt last night.

This team will be motivated and not let the loss get to their heads.  They’ll learn from it, they’ll have a chip on their shoulder because of it.  And hopefully, put the finishing touches on another winning year next year.

Till then, baseball and hockey will be a place holder.  The celebratory champagne will wait in the fridge for another day. It’s okay to hurt.  We’ll be up against these feelings throughout the years, it goes with the territory of being a fan.

 

Women And Children “First?” No, Not Really

donald-reilly-women-and-children-first-i-mean-come-on-new-yorker-cartoonI was involved in an abusive relationship.  Two, actually.

Possibly more if you think about the emotional abuse I’ve endured being in a relationship with a person who is not so secure within themselves that they take it out on someone they allegedly “love” by using their words which can hurt just as much as open fists at times.

For arguments sake, let’s just say I can contribute a thing or two about the #WhyIStayed hashtag.  When it happened, though, there is a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, and defense mechanisms coming into play.  When I really think about #WhyIStayed, I think the defense mechanisms go back to possibly prehistoric caveman times.  Any moment of weakness would make you prey, would make you a target.  Telling people to mind their own business or push people away who truly care happen because you do start to believe the hype.  You start to believe the things you are told, that you are worthless, a pathetic little shit, ugly, fat, no one will believe you/want you/love you as much as I do.

Though you may see me on Twitter or social media forums making fun of my teams and taking out frustrations by using expletives; in general, I am a pretty happy person.  I have my moments, but a lot of it has to do a lot with limiting beliefs that we are conditioned to believe by our loved ones.  For better or for worse, we are taught to believe stuff for our “own good.”

Though I think every single person I know can add something of value to this discussion, the statistics show it is overwhelmingly women who are taught this.  Perhaps it’s because we are associated with more “emotion” in our rationale, our thinking with our hearts rather than our heads (which, by the way, is complete bullshit, there is something to be said about using your “female intuition.”  Which by the way, has only failed me because my survival defense mechanisms talk me out of what is normally always the right thing for myself).

Statistics also show that in an abusive relationship, it takes women especially seven attempts to either leave or ask for help before doing it for good.

Studies show that when women “recant,” it’s not because they’ve “lied” or are “looking for attention,” but rather they are sweet talked out of it by their significant others, because they do not want to see their loved one or children’s father or whomever to be in trouble.  How many times do we hear “He’ll never do it again,” or “it was just this once,” when it rarely ever is?

I suggest we give up this ignorant and arrogant thinking that all she has to do is leave.

It’s more complicated than that.

I’m sure by now, you’ve seen the articles, many opinions and the video of former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee/now-wife Janay in an elevator, knocking her unconscious.  We’ll hear the apologists who saw the video of the entire incident ask, “Well, she pushed him.” Or, “She might have **said** something to provoke him?”  “What did she DO to provoke him?”

The victim who was knocked unconscious and APOLOGIZED for “her role” in it has to also play defense for her very visible, beloved by many, public figure of a husband.  Who by all accounts is this super/wonderful/straight up good guy who would never ever do something like this, ever.

Well, guess what? He did.  And while we do not know what goes on behind closed doors, I can give you the story right here.  And it may or may not describe the tenure of their relationship, since I do not pretend to know what goes on behind their specific closed doors, but I can assure you of this.

(Mostly) Women (I do know that men can be abused too) involved in physically abusive relationships have nowhere to turn.  If you look at a public figure who seems to have everything going for then — fortune, fame, name recognition, respect for their contributions to society — you also have to believe that there are other factors involved.

I stayed in a seven year emotionally abusive and exhausting relationship because it was bigger than myself.  There were many other factors than myself.  I figured, if I could just “get through this one thing, then we can move on with our lives and be happy again,” seems misinformed and bullshit right now.  But I can tell you at the time, it made perfect sense.  It wasn’t about me.  There were other factors involved.  Luckily, I didn’t have children.  Oh and the second he was unhappy with how I looked or with how I was spending my time socially, he was the one who left.

But that was emotional.  And I found someone who adores me and doesn’t keep me isolated from my friends who bring out the best in me.  Believe me, no one appreciates having a healthy relationship that we actually enjoy each others company.

In situations like this, I can presume — and I could be very wrong — that Janay Rice probably is scared to leave, or fears her husband might do something to her or keep her away from her child.  Since he has the money and means to do so.  This is how abusers draw people in.  They control their money, they control their friends, but have an impact of being charming and drawing people in as well.  This is why we have a culture of abuse.  We are not supposed to talk about it, and people think that if they work with someone or see someone in a public setting or have an image they project, that this is the person they are being presented with.

It’s time to start talking about it.  And it’s time to start having a real discourse about it, and realize it’s not as simple as, “Well, it can’t be *that* bad if she hasn’t left him yet.”

Trust me.  Like life, it is hell of a lot more complicated than that.

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I grew up in an era where it was okay to spank your children.

I’m not sure if it was “okay,” per se.  Ask any child who grew up with one Italian parent, or an Italian grandparent, and they’ll talk about the “wooden spoon.”  Most of us chuckle and nod in agreement.  I was about 10 years old though, when my mother literally chased me into my bedroom to spank me for doing something, I told her to count to ten before laying a finger on me.  She never spanked me again.

I’m not gonna say, “Well I grew up just fine, and I was beaten.  There’s a sense of entitlement in this generatio and damned you whipper snappers and blah blah blah.”   But I’m gonna ask, with the news of Adrian Peterson using a switch to beat his two year old child…

On what planet does a child, at any age, let alone a TODDLER, deserves to get their pants taken down, and beaten on bare skin his private parts, backside and mostly his entire body?  None.  Absolutely not.

In fact, short of gutting an animal alive (which in that case, the child is a sociopath and needs to be institutionalized, immediately), no child deserves that.   Not only physical wounds but emotional trust issues to deal with his entire life.  The people who are supposed to be protecting him are doing this for his “own good.”

Yes, I grew up in an era where spanking your child for discipline was considered okay.  Adrian Peterson is nine years younger than I am.  How, exactly, was he raised that he has so much anger…towards a two year old?

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For years and years, the general public has turned a blind eye to child abuse and domestic violence either accusations or flat-out proof that it has occurred.  This is not a sports and entertainment specific thing.  It’s a cultural thing.  We are conditioned to never talk about it.  The victims are afraid to speak.  One writer I know through social media channels, Julie DiCaro, has written some definitive posts on domestic violence, in response to arrests and suspensions and public outcry when it happens with beloved and respected sports figures.  A few days ago, as a former lawyer dealing with domestic violence victims, she wrote a post targeting the NFL Commissioner and what she wanted him to know about domestic violence.  It’s an important topic to discuss.  But also to listen to.

I was in an abusive relationship.  And even after my high school sweetheart, who beat me with his hands and his words regularly, I could only extricate myself from when he decided to find a new girlfriend.  And even when I tried to move on from all that pain and anguish, he STILL managed to call me a slut and a whore and damage my reputation when I wanted to see other people.

Thank goodness I was able to go away to college and get out of that fishbowl of high school.

Amplify those feelings by about a million when you are dealing with being in a relationship with a person adored by millions.  A person, by the way, who has control over finances, has lawyers and agents and more backup than his significant other could even imagine.  Try getting out of that.  Especially if there is a money control factor.  Who is going to feed my child?  How am I going to make a living?

DiCaro’s post detailed what five things that one needs to consider in cases like this.  The most important part to consider in the post is that once abuse happens in a public setting, IT HAS ALREADY OCCURRED MULTIPLE TIMES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

Amplify that by the fact that probably she is protecting her child, and protecting herself.  How do we know he hasn’t told her that if she leaves, he’ll kill her or find her and take away her kids?  Again, I don’t know the intimate details of their relationship.

All we know is that in domestic violence cases, the victim is typically isolated, and charmed into making the situation go away with law enforcement officials.

It’s arrogant of us to think it’s just as simple as “just leaving.”  It’s not.

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My friend Rebecca has brought up an interesting talking point about what correlation is there between being in a “violent” sport and abuse situations.  This past week, we have had two incredibly public figures involved in legal situations where a woman or child has been abused with proof to back up the allegations.  This is not just a talking point in American sports, like football or baseball (Mets fans may remember when former Phillies pitcher Brett Myers punched his wife with a closed fist on the street in Boston).  This is a pervasive element of American culture that needs to be discussed.  We are no longer in caveman culture or prehistoric times that any sign of weakness meant a predator was going to take your food or shelter or eat your young.  We live in a civilized society that still brushes it away.

Perhaps figures like Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson or Brett Myers may cause us to point and laugh, say they are nothing but a piece of shit for beating a woman or child.  But what exactly is being done about the millions of other women and children or anyone being abused on a regular basis?  These incidences may bring up the discussion, but until we realize that domestic violence or child abuse is just NOT OKAY and it is NOT NORMAL AT ALL, this is still going on behind closed doors.

It is not as simple as “just leaving.” There is years of mind control, and just control in general over human interactions, financial.

Women like Janay Rice need our support.  I had a friend ask me, “How do YOU know she doesn’t have any one to turn to?”  Well, she has me there, I don’t know.  But based on what Julie DiCaro as a lawyer who represented domestic violence victims, and repeated behaviors, I’m going to guess that she’s trying to keep things together for the sake of other things.  Or perhaps, she has been conditioned to fear what she doesn’t know, that staying in what she DOES know is easier.

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I am not beating a feminist drum.  Yet, I am just so shocked that we live in a day and age where still women are portrayed to be stupid and dependent on men and treated with arrogance by other women.

This week, a story hit the wires (that I had talked about extensively on my podcast) about the Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales for the New York Mets, Leigh Castergine, has sued the Mets and most specifically Jeff Wilpon (part of the Sterling Equities group that owns the Mets, along with his father, Fred, and Uncle Saul Katz).  Why?  Well, it wasn’t for underperformance.  I can tell you right off that her team was almost literally selling ice to eskimos.  Mostly in part because the inept ownership built the team on false profits and lack of understanding Ponzi schemes.

The lawsuit alleges she was discriminated against because she was unmarried and pregnant.  Complete with Mr. Wilpon making comments about her not being married, and telling her with witnesses in the room that she could make more money if she was only married.

Someone told me, “Nobody is that dumb.”  Yet, people who have met Jeff Wilpon do say, he’s fucking clueless.

I guess I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, but goddamn it, when will it just be okay to live your fucking personal life and not have your superiors at work use it as an excuse to get rid of you?  No matter what Castergine did (and I can tell you – I never felt more valued as a season ticket holder than under her leadership, so thank you for that, Leigh), she was pissing in the wind.  Season ticket holders were being bled, people were downgrading their ticket plans, and in general weren’t going to Mets games.  Why?  BECAUSE THE OWNERS HAVE DONE SHIT TO IMPROVE THE TEAM.

So the fallguy is now a single mom who was targeted as such.  Give me a break.  What fucking year is this?

I worked in banking.  Women who have taken time off to attend to themselves and their children after giving birth, one of the most traumatic things a woman can do, are unfairly targeted and find that their jobs are divvied up and changed when they return in 90 days or so.

Legend had it at one bank I worked at, a woman was promoted to a senior facing role in a leadership team.  She apparently knew she was pregnant but hid it while she built a team.  It was evident though after a few months, and she was literally going into a C-Section surgery, while on a conference call, telling her team, “Okay, I will call back in a few hours.”

This is what women have to do.  Sacrifice one thing for another.  And before you tell me, “Well, isn’t it dedication to her craft? Maybe more women should be like her.”  Remember that if a dude was getting hernia surgery or ball surgery or a colonsocopy, I’m sure he’d milk that shit for what it’s worth.

The good news is that perhaps this law suit will force the Wilpons to sell the team.  All I want is for Leigh Castergine to have her job back.  Nothing but class acts under her leadership.  More than I can say for our fucking owners.

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When Titanic hit the fateful iceberg, the mantra was “Women and children first.”  John Jacob Astor, the richest man on the voyage, went down with the ship but his wife and unborn child were spared.  He offered to pay the hand to go with her.  He was denied.  Instead, he sacrificed himself for his wife and child to survive.

We’ve gone from men holding doors open for women, offering their seats on the train to being “good manners” and a proper way to handle themselves, to women declaring that they “don’t need feminism.”  Which is ironic because I realize that without feminism, I would not be able to share my views in an open forum.

Perhaps the first step in having this discussion is HAVING the discussion.  To have abuse and domestic violence not be taboo but ugly parts of real life.  To realize that life for victims is not as simple as “taking your shit and leaving,” but rather multiple layers that have to do with protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Yes we’ve gone from knowing domestic violence and abuse is wrong, but we still have women apologizing for their part in it.

That’s not “conditioning” to fear your attacker?

Give me a break.

It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work

walkers Do I have any Walking Dead fans in the house?

When someone gets “infected,” they are said to have “turned.”  They “turn” into walkers, the living dead.  They either have been dead by different causes or bitten by a walker themselves in order to turn.
I have turned myself, you know.  I can pinpoint exactly when this has happened.  It’s not a sickness, not a virus, nor is it a disease.

It was a turn for a life altering experience.

It happened in Seattle, Sunday, November 11, 2012.  I talked about it here.

When I travel to follow my teams around to other stadiums, I know there is a 50 / 50 shot they may lose.  This game was no different.  Except something changed in me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I was leaving that day, so I thought maybe I was just eager to get home, and therefore, antsy.  But I was changed, and there was definitely a point of no return for me.  I just didn’t know what it was.

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My husband is a creature of habit.  He wakes up at the same time every day, wears essentially the same “uniform” (t-shirt, black shorts, white socks, black sneakers).  He has a strict schedule and adheres to it.  He loves trains, only because they are on a strict time table.  Anything he can set a watch to, he’s all for.

To say he’s superstitious would be a gross understatement.  He won’t eat until the Mets take a lead, he acts much like Robert Deniro’s character in Silver Linings Playbook.  Everything has a place.  A place for everything.

However, his superstitions rival those in the Bud Light “It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work.”  We don’t listen to Paula Cole songs ad nauseum.  But this is what we do on Seahawks game days:

  • watch from home (abysmal record watching games at bars and such)
  • he sits on the couch, I sit on the bed
  • we talk to each other via Twitter
  • he shaves (seriously – it takes a lot for him to do that)
  • we have some sort of alcohol beverage of choice
  • we order from Domino’s

Yes, I know that last part is sacrilegious for a Jersey girl and current city dweller.  However, Ed does not eat pizza.  Ordering “real” pizza is a waste of time for me these days.  And I like their cheesy bread.  His food of choice is pasta in the bread bowl.  Because there are no such things as too many carbs.

The losses outside of the home were enough to give us pause to continue watching games from the couch.  Even so when presented with an opportunity to attend the Super Bowl right across the river with a once in a lifetime chance to see his lifelong team, we didn’t jump at it.

Because it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

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I was 10 years old when the Mets last won the World Series, in 1986.  Shortly after that, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl.  I remember earlier in 1986, when the Chicago Bears were all over the place, with their Super Bowl Shuffle.  A few months later, the Mets came out with their Lets Go Mets Go! song.  I guess I was used to dominance, but clearly I didn’t know as much about the Mets’ history as I do now, and having come to terms with the fact that the 1980s dominance was a once in a lifetime type of thing.

So when the Giants were all over the place then, I asked my dad (my touchstone for learning about what teams to root for) if he was a Giants fan.  He said no, he was a Jets fan.  So I went along with it because I did what Dad told me to do.

We weren’t the type of family that sat around and watched football on a Sunday afternoon.  In fact, I didn’t go to my first live football game till 2002, and my dad only went to his first Jets game in 2010.  When I asked if he ever went to a game at Shea Stadium, he told me, “No.  At least, I don’t think I have.”

I didn’t speak football.  I spoke baseball and hockey.  To me, those sports were fun, and I understood them.  I didn’t get much out of football, because I didn’t get it.  Baseball and hockey I understood.  Football to me was an ADD sport.  Meaning, it was for short attention spans.

Football is only 16 games of a regular season, less than a handful more in the playoffs.  Commitment phobes can enjoy with minimal risk.  Baseball is 162 games a year, hockey is 82.  Let’s not even go there with potential additions of postseason.  I could weave story lines from those sports.  Football, eh, whatever, not so much.  You didn’t need to pay a ton of attention at schedules.  You had one day a week to devote, maybe two if you followed rivals playing on Monday.  (And now, Thursdays too).

I think it was in 2008 though that I started to rebel.  The Giants had won their third championship in my lifetime.  I couldn’t care less about the Giants, though I have lots of friends who were fans.  I just felt nothing towards the team, as much as I hated the Patriots.  I could never understand how a person could claim to be a “Jets and Giants fan.”  To me, it was the ultimate cop out.  We all know the Jets are horribly mismanaged and put the fun in dysfunctional.  Rooting for the Giants as well as the Jets was a way to have your cake and eat it too (yes, I get it – what’s the fucking point of cake if you can’t eat it??  But you get the idea).  The Jets won’t ever win, but the Giants have won a bunch of championships in my lifetime.  I could only be happy that the Patriots lost the last two Super Bowl wins for the G-men.  But I could not in good conscience root for them, ever. Plus their fans cannot stand Jets fans. The reverse relationship reminds me of the people who are Mets fans but “root for the Yankees” too. There’s a lot of angst in that relationship. I’ve found it’s tenfold with Giants fans who actively dislike Jets fans.

Getting back to the rebelling part.  I started to get mad about the penance I’ve paid as a sports fan.  While I know many fans of the teams I root for cannot boast of remembering a championship year, I have those memories, even vivid and fond memories.  So in 2008, my dad and I went to see Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood.  It was a few days after the Giants beat the Patriots.

“Dad, it’s bad enough you made me a Mets and a Rangers fan.  But a Jets fan?????”

The only team I technically rebelled against was the Knicks.  I am not a huge basketball fan, but I did like John Stockton and coined myself a Utah Jazz fan.  Remember, in the ’90s, everyone and their cousin was a Chicago Bulls fan.  They were a one man team.  The Jazz seemed to be the only team that could have the potential to beat them.

It didn’t happen.  Yet, when I met Ed, I found out that he too became a Utah Jazz fan because of the Stockton and Karl Malone.  He still follows them; after Stockton retired, I lost interest.

I went to a live Knicks game in 2007.  I was so bored, I thought I was watching paint dry.

Basketball wasn’t my sport, after all.

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Don’t mind this stream of consciousness.  This is new territory for me.   Being a Mets fan, I was raised with the notion that you stick with your team.  The day I turn coat the Mets is the day you can officially check me into Bellevue for psychiatric observation.

I know personally several people who turncoated the Rangers by making them wait too long for a championship by becoming a Devils fan. To me, there’s nothing dirtier.  Would you believe I know someone who had broken his arm in a fight at the old Garden, defending the Rangers honor, only to become a Devils fan a decade later?

I gave up on hockey, once, but you’d never see me do that.  Give up on the Rangers.  They drive me crazy.  My teams do, at some base level.  They wouldn’t be my teams if they didn’t.

But that day in 2012, in Seattle, I had a life altering experience.  I was a visiting fan.  But I turned that day.  I turned into a 12th Man.  And it was the last thing I expected to ever happen to me.

mark_hey_markAnd that was the play that made it happen.

I was born to be a Mets fan, and I was made to be a Rangers fan.

And I never thought I’d leave a team.

It was more than just the win (and contrary to popular belief, the Seahawks started to turn that day – they were 5-4 prior to that game.  The Jets at least helped propel them to the playoffs that year).  It was the vibe.  It was fucking Seattle.  I can’t even pinpoint what it was about the city.  Perhaps it was the picturesque views.  I can’t pinpoint that we had a great time at any one place.  It was the Hawks nest, the 12th man that pushed me over the edge.

If you’ve never experienced the 12th Man, well, you just have to be there. It’s not just the Seahawks that make that city great, sports-wise.  The city has managed to put Major League Soccer on the map with their crazy Sounders fan base.

When I told people I had gone to CenturyLink amongst diehard football fans, it gave me automatic street cred.  What was more was that I found I wanted to be a part of it.

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So I went to the source, a 12th Man who might understand my plight.  Shortly after the Super Bowl last year, I had asked my husband how he felt about me becoming a 12th Man.  He’d feel less alone, I said.  Plus I really loved Seattle.  I wanted to root for a team there.

His answer was short, but sweet: No.

His reasoning was simple: my dad would be too mad at me if I jumped ship.  He said I could be happy for him if the Seahawks did well.  But I, myself, said I could never root for two teams.

This was different, I said.  I wasn’t meant to be a Jets fan.  Trust me, no one struggled with changing teams more than I did.

Then he went there.  Actually, he more alluded to the fact that I didn’t have great luck with my teams.

Waaaaaait a goddamn minute here.

This was coming from a guy who didn’t have more than me, sportswise.  We didn’t root for world beaters or dynasties. Shit, at least I had a good season with my hockey team.  Twenty years ago, but still.

So I proved to him that I could actively root for his team.  But something else happened.  I became a football fan.  I finally got it.  I finally understood it.  And I bought into the silly superstition that we had to watch the games at home. And order Domino’s.

I also found out I looked really cute in Seahawks colors.

DSCN8891  DSCN8900

Then they made it to the big game.  Then they won a championship.

Seahawks cupcakes

He offered me a Seahawks cupcake, and said, “I’d like to invite you to be a 12th man.”

I guess I paid my dues.  It was worth it.

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Those who know me know that outside of New York City, I’d live in San Francisco.  But after visiting Seattle, all I could talk about was Seattle this, Seattle that.  Can’t wait to go back to Seattle.  Et cetera, et cetera.

spaceneedle

I talk about San Francisco less and less.  I talk about Seattle more and more.

What’s more is that I will probably never see another city like Seattle in support of their sports teams.  I don’t see anything like it here when we have a team pulling for a championship.  Sure, we have our fans.  But really, there is a disconnect with so many people and so many teams.  I have a friend who moved out to Seattle, was a die hard New York everything, and got caught up in the 12.

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DSCN8879One theme you’ll hear me talk about is finding a place to belong.  Sure, we’re born to stand out, but all we want to do is find people like us.  To let us know that it is okay…to be different.  But like-minded.

I found that on places like Twitter and other forms of social media.  I met my husband as a result of it, and many of my best friends.

It was exciting to be a part of this, from beginning to end.  I want to thank the 12s who have welcomed me into their fold, and it’s nice to see that some of them will even send newspapers to this coast, like I would do when something good happened to the Mets!

Now in addition to going to baseball trips, we’ll now be traveling 12s, at least for one game a season.

coopedhawk  seahawkscelebrate

See, when we went to CenturyLink last time, the Seahawks won.  So my husband can allow that.

Remember folks, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

DSCN8909

And trust me, we know from weird.

When Did We Become Such Cold Weather Crybabies?

I think it started during the football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Green Bay is not exactly known for its balmy weather and tropical beaches. It’s the midwest.  It’s frickin cold out there.  Even fans of the Packers joke about how many layers they need to wear.  I wish I could find it, but the point has been moot for me, there was an article in the New York Times a few years back about a fan who wore several layers in preparation for late seasons and playoffs games.  It’s a ritual, and something accepted amongst football fans in cold weather climates.  Think: Buffalo, Green Bay, Chicago.

Prior to their playoff game on January 5th, everyone was beside themselves.  OOOOOH, it’s gonna be freezing…in Wisconsin…in January.

I was surprised.  I mean, isn’t it a given that it’s an occupational not to mention a spectator “hazard” that if you work or watch an outdoor sport, unless you are in a dome, you’re going to be exposed to the elements?  I mean, shit, football doesn’t even have postponements or delays related to rain (unless, of course, there is lightning).  You play through that shit.

The beginning of 2014 hasn’t exactly been boastful of an unseasonably warm climate, especially in the northeast, where we’ve had the phrase Polar Vortex become an essential part of our lexicon.  It’s snowed quite a few times, and I’ve even joked around with my friends about how the cold isn’t so bad, but factor in wind and snow elements, I’m over it.

We chat about the weather with total strangers.  We joke about not wanting to be outside in the elements.  People buy dog booties for their dog walks.  We get bundled up to walk to the corner store or even to drive somewhere.  It goes with the territory.

But I draw the line at people complaining about it being cold at a voluntary outdoor sporting event.  Really?  I mean, REALLY, guys?  It’s January, and it’s in the northeast.

IT’S GONNA BE COLD HERE.

I will give fans who attended the game credit: I didn’t see many people complaining on that end about the Stadium Series on Sunday.  Most of the folks there are die hard.  They do get the fact that one needs to bundle up to enjoy the game.  Yet, I see tweets like this that get my blood boiling.

Every single person in that stadium yesterday was there voluntarily.  Each person presumably bought a ticket, and attended on their own free will.

The players, however, get paid a very handsome salary to play these games.  The night before, a game was played in Los Angeles, not exactly a hotbed (pun not intended) of perfect outdoor ice hockey activity.  We didn’t hear one problem with the “ice.”  But in the Bronx in January by the goddamn Harlem River, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur blames the ice on his poor performance (The Rangers scored 6 goals against him before he was taken out of the game…mind you the Devils also scored 3 goals in the first period…no one had a problem with the ice before then??)

Oh, but there’s more.  This week, Super Bowl XLVIII will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.  Now, all the cold weather crybabies are reporting on the nonstory that “WAHHH! It’s gonna be COLD and elemental in New Jersey IN JANUARY. WAHHHHHHHHH!”

Bite me.

This time around, it’s not Uncle Daddy or any of the players crying about the weather or potential hazard of it.  It’s mostly the sportswriters who all of a sudden have a sympathy for the players who get paid millions of dollars to play on the big stage…in the snow, rain, or sleet.  Shit, I’ve seen frickin beautiful days here with low temps.  Has anyone considered that the Super Bowl could be played in something like THAT??!

The Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks kind of corner the market on playing in the elements.  Denver gets snow.  Seattle gets rain.  The only people I see “inconvenienced” with the weather are people who have to sit in the stands (who are paying around $2,000 for an upper bowl seat) and the writers who are subscribing to some of the laziest journalism I have ever borne witness.

Their headlines are akin to chatting about the weather.  Is this the state of sports writing today?

I just have a tough time believing that when New York/New Jersey was chosen as the Super Bowl venue, that no one considered weather factors.

It’s January in the Northeast.  Guess what?

It’s cold here.

Don’t Let Them Take Our Bags!!

no_bags_allowed I am a girl.

I am a woman.

I carry a handbag.  I have several of them.  I never understood how I could accumulate so much stuff, but hey, I’m like a Girl Scout: always prepared.  I have my wallet, sure.  I have keys, I carry around a sample of Advil (not for me, necessarily, but for other people. Because you just don’t know).  Tissues.  Gum, mints.  I have emergency supplies of feminine products.  Because trust me, no woman should be without access to that stuff.  I have a hairbrush, maybe some lip gloss.  My phone, charger (both car and traditional electrical outlet).  Diffferent types of passes, like my Metrocard or even a ZipCard in case I need a car.

When I go to a sporting event, I usually have a smaller bag with me, one that’s across my body, and not a shoulder bag in the traditional sense.  One that doesn’t weigh like 90 lbs, but one that is able to give me basic needs. Like a small wallet, my keys, my phone, a charger if it fits, and my tickets since of course you can never get into your section without a check or interrogation, depending on the section you are seated.

In case you were not aware (I am aware, I just didn’t give a shit enough to write about it at first), the NFL across the board prohibited traditional handbags or types of carry-alls that typically women (let’s be fair, some men do too) bring into stadiums.  I guess the people who implemented this fabulous idea (note: sarcasm) didn’t really think that up to four hours is a long enough time to go without certain items, like tampons or maxipads.  Oh, sure, people can bring in clear bags.  But who wants all their personal shit out in the open?  I mean, they are called “discrete” products for a reason.

I have not been to a football game this year, I plan to, but I am not sure how successful or unsuccessful this practice has been. But I’m guessing that if it does save the time, aggravation and “security” aspect of the games, perhaps this can be implemented across the board in all sports.

I say FUCK that.  It’s more than just “where will I put my tampons” issue. It’s for anyone who wants to be remotely comfortable at a sporting event for several hours.  I’m standing up for everyone who has ever brought a bag into a stadium setting.  And not just one to carry personal belongings.  There are bags that carry cameras and other items that are not banned in games.  Where do you plan to carry these items?

The rule is flawed for several reasons.  I’ll try to enumerate each of them, if I can.  But I’m sure I’ll forget some.

1.) It provides the bias that most fans are driving to games.  Football games, perhaps, since they are mostly held on Sundays.  In the New York City area, I can take public transit.  I can’t exactly leave things that I may need for a game (unless I have a friend there with a car that I can pitch my shit). But it’s routinely a bad idea to leave anything of potential value — even the teams say they cannot be personally responsible for any theft on their property).  Think about it.  This is New York, it gets cold here.  I have to carry blankets or layers.  Sometimes we get lucky, and we have mild winters.  But Green Bay, Chicago, where the second the calendars turn, it’s colder than a mofo. I’m sure relaxed bag restrictions would work in their favor.

2.) It provides the bias that most fans are coming straight from home. How many people do you know, in a major metropolitan area, are able to have enough time to go from work, to home, to a game, being able to safely put their items in a place before going?  Not many!  I carry a large city bag, as I call it, since I work for myself and go from meeting to meeting.  Sometimes, I don’t have time to go home before going to a game.  Someone like my husband travels somewhat of a distance via mass transit.  He certainly wouldn’t have enough time to drop his stuff off and change.  Like many folks, we carry stuff via bag to work.  Where the hell do we plan to leave these things if we don’t have a car and/or time to do that? You’ll have more people opting to go straight home, and staying there.

3.) Sure, this rule unfairly targets women, who usually carry some kind of handbag…but men carry bags too.  I’m not talking about “murses,” my husband, as an example, carries his lunch, reading materials, keys for work, and maybe some other preparatory stuff.  What’s he supposed to do with that stuff?  If there are restrictions on bags, then the things we are allowed to bring into the stadium, like water, snacks, soft drinks, aren’t too far behind.  Most people do not have lockers they can leave their stuff in overnight, either.  Some days I work, and have a big bag that I carry with me.  If I can’t lock it up anywhere, I have no choice but to bring it to a game with me.  I dont like it, but what else can I do?

4.) Cameras.  I have friends who have like professional looking cameras and like taking pics at sporting events with different lenses.  Sure, we’re just regular Joe Schmoes, but they’re called spectator sports for a reason.  I don’t see anything contrary, but if this rule applies to people with cameras, they’re screwed.

There seem to be looser restrictions on those who need to carry diaper bags, as an example, or even medications.  But I truly believe these rules, overall, serve one segment of the population: the glorified Paul Blarts who work one fucking day a week and don’t want to do their jobs.  Quicker lines, my big fat ass.  They’ll still manage to take their sweet ass time making sure fans get in for kickoff.  Here are two novel ideas: go in a little earlier, or have more people at the bag check (there are express and “local” lines at entrances…they were working fine).  I can’t tell you, even at a baseball game, when they have basically two people wanding people or patting down and one person doing bag checks.  PEOPLE DO BRING BAGS TO GAMES.  Stop being cheapskates and pay more personnel to do their jobs.

Lastly, look at the type of items I numbered that we typically use bags for.  Soft drinks, blankets, sweatshirts, snacks.  You know what I think?  It’s a profit thing. You can’t bring things into the stadium?  BUY THEM SUCKAS!!!!! They’ve been doing it for years at baseball games for water and drinks, why not extend it to basically anything else?  Seriously, where the fuck else you gonna go??  You can’t leave and get re-entry.  (I also find it very telling that they suggest logo bags for the clear bags. Really, guys?)

I know I may jump to conclusions, and perhaps if more people complain about the restrictions, they’ll knock it off.  Chances are, if successful, it could be implemented across the board for all sports.  That’s bad.  It unfairly penalizes people who HAVE LIVES, and often can’t make a handoff.  I feel like if more people aren’t talking about this, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, among others, could easily follow suit.  Problem here, is that they have more than 16 games per year.

And it unfairly penalizes the fan who wants to spend their discretionary income at sporting events.

Make Love, Not War

Mets 50th Anniversary CollectionI have what we deem as a “Christmas birthday.”  While everyone on planet Earth (okay, maybe just **here**) is prepping for the holidays and transition into the New Year, a day celebrating me is thrown in the mix there.

Being a sports fan, it’s never been out of the realm of possibility to get a sports-related gift to celebrate.  This year, the big “get” was the Mets 50th Anniversary DVD collection, which was kind of a family gift (my husband has had his eye on this sucker for a WHILE now).

I was super excited to see that in the collection, one of my favorite Mets videos, An Amazin’ Era (a chronicle of the first 25 seasons of the Mets), was available on the DVD set.  Super excited probably doesn’t get it – super-duper is more like it.  Of course, the DVD was extended to include the 1986 championship and the NL East run in 1988…something that was a “To Be Continued…” part of the original VHS.  And yes, I still have that thing somewhere.

I often take for granted that the Mets won a championship in my lifetime.  Sometimes though I imagine what life might be like if I didn’t have that year.  If watching the 1969 highlights is all we’d have for going all the way…but so many close calls, like the 1973, 1988 and even the late 90s.

Mark Messier 1994Then the night my husband and I watched the video, he fell asleep, and I was there in insomnia land.  Not only did I get to relive the Mets championship years, I got to see a retrospective on the New York Rangers 1993-94 Stanley Cup run.

I guess I’m a little more than fortunate when it comes to my teams.  Some fan bases have never seen a championship in their lifetime.  I’ve seen one for each of my teams.

I said last year that the team closest to a championship would have been the Rangers.  It’s only cruel and unusual punishment that they have not been able to drop the puck this year.

The Mets seem to be making some moves to ensure that in the future, championships will be dancing in our heads.

I suppose it is only fitting that when I look at the last time the Mets had “relevance,” it was 2006…life would be so much different if they were able to make it the World Series, let alone win it.  Yet, 2006 was a long time ago.

The same could be said for my third team, the Jets.  Two years in a row, they did not make it to the playoffs despite high expectations.  The two years PRIOR to that though, they made it as far as they could go without going the furthest, if that makes sense.

I’m trying to take the football victories where I can.   I can be happy for my friends and family who root for different teams.  My husband is a big Seahawks fan.  We even went to see them play the Jets in Seattle in November.  He was in Hawks Heaven…I’m typically found in Jets hell.

Today, though, I heard that while Mike Tannenbaum was let go, Rex Ryan is staying on  I really don’t know how to feel about it.  I know the buck stops there, but ultimately, how many times can changing the coaching staff really help?

My thought was…I was brought back so many good memories of having my teams winning in my lifetime.  This is a gift I not only cherish but also do not take for granted.

Yet, I don’t have the warm fuzzies with the Jets, except maybe the time from 2009 and 2010.  Some other years there, but I guess deep down I knew it just wasn’t their year.  I had such high expectations only to be dashed at the last moment.  I would then have higher hopes for the future, only to get pooped on later.

My point is wondering why I stick around.  Sometimes, especially after seasons like this, make me wonder why I just don’t go root for another team.  I wonder if things will ever change.  I doubt they will.  Yet, I don’t want to be that fan who gave up when it was so close.

I could only imagine what it was like for people like my dad, who stuck around with the Rangers though they didn’t win till he was a long-time fan and was even lecturing me on the prospect of the Rangers not making it past game six in the 1994 Eastern Conference final versus the Devils.  It became evident, watching the highlights, that the blueshirts were “going for it all” that year.  They wouldn’t have had a better chance after that season.

The Mets started to fall apart after 1986.  I sometimes wonder why I stick around with such inept management and even more inept finances.  Then I think there’s no way they can be that bad forever, right?

But I have the championships from those teams.

Then there’s the Jets.  There are certainly bigger Gang Green fans than I am, but we explain it all away when love a team, we make excuses but the reality is…we all want the same thing.

To survive the war together.

So when people ask me why I am a sports fan, it’s the prospect of winning it all…that’s one thing.  It’s the surviving of it together.  It’s the experience of it together.

I named my first Mets blog “My Summer Family,” after a line in the movie Fever Pitch, which is what Jimmy Fallon’s character says about his Red Sox family.  He later said that he wanted to be involved with something bigger than himself.  It’s why I’ve stuck around with the Mets, the Rangers and the Jets.  To experience that feeling again.  I’ve been fortunate to experience it with two of my teams.

I guess I have to believe there is some payoff at the end.  That during the wars, and the battles, we stick around for the love of the team.

The love of the team though trumps most of the wars and battles forged though.  It’s part of our life, it’s part of our culture.

It’s part of who we are.

Have a Little Faith…or Fear…There’s Mets Magic Tonight!

Mets' Poet Laureate...and Greg Prince ;)

Mets’ Poet Laureate…and Greg Prince ;) (kidding, they’re one and the same)

Looking for a break from the holiday hubbub?  Wanna dine your guts on some Mets talk?  Or do you just want to hear the WHOOMP! There it is, Jake football spot at the beginning of the show?

Please join me for the long-awaited and anticipated Gal For All Seasons podcast debut of Mets author, bloggerati and friends Greg Prince and Jason Fry — founders of Faith and Fear in Flushing — as we talk Happy Recaps, books, Mets minutiae, and of course, the lasting impression of R.A. Dickey and what his trade will mean for the future of the franchise.

It’s very rare that we are gifted with such Mets minds in one night…so join us at 7 pm ET on NDB Media Sports…log into the CHAT ROOM!!!!

The Passion of the Tebow

You all know me.

DSCN5633I am not a Tim Tebow aficionado.  I probably make more excuses for Mark Travis John Sanchez than his own mother (or worse, his coach Rex Ryan).  Yet, I’m pretty much done with him too.

But I have to say, I feel bad for Tebow.  He did not deserve to be a part of this green shit show this year, at all.

He has served as a pawn in a clueless management that seeks to win headlines over actual games.

He has served as an icon for a hype-driven market.

But most of all, it’s one that has been completely unfair to him.

Mark Sanchez clearly cannot handle whatever it is he can’t handle (the voices in his head telling him he sucks, or the “death threats” he received on Twitter after Monday night’s loss).

Tebow did not deserve what he’s gotten from the Jets, which is a big gigantic ZERO.  Nothin’.  A turd, if you will.  A big fat smelly turd.

Do I like Tebow?  Look, I’ll be the first to say he’s all hype and a self-promoting media marketing machine.  Does that mean I think he’s a bad person?  Quite the contrary.  I don’t believe he’s a bad guy at all.  And he’s certainly not the bad guy in this story.

What did he do to deserve the treatment that he’s gotten from the Jets?  I certainly think at age 25 it’s unfair to pigeonhole him as “finished,” as the Washington Post said today.

First, John Elway made his role obsolete by “going for it” with Peyton “I-Look-Like-A-Milwaukee-Racing-Sausage” Manning when Manning’s job was obsolete in Indianapolis.  This was AFTER Tebow had given the Denver Broncos the chutzpah to make it in the playoffs last year.

Second, what the frigg was Mike Tannenbaum thinking?  Whatever warts and all Rex Ryan has as head coach, clearly he is Mark Sanchez’s number one supporter.  I’m sure it was with a heavy heart he decided to go with Greg McElroy in this week’s game, rather than Sanchez or Tebow for that matter.

Which leads me to this.  I’m not a Tebow fan, but I was of the frame of mind that if he was capable, he should certainly be in there, at least when Sanchez was floundering.  Which is entirely possible, as we’ve seen.  Talk about mixed messages.  First, Sanchez was given an extension, THEN Tebow was traded to the Jets.  What the hell were they thinking?  I don’t even know if THEY know what they were thinking!

All at the expense of a man’s career.  Beautiful.

Look.  You all know I am a Mets fan, right?  (If not, whose blog have YOU been reading??)  It reminds me of the situation with Aaron Heilman (before you laugh, I happen to have some Stockholm Syndrome going on with him, deal with it).  Remember he was a starter?  Typical Mets story when they rush a prospect, only to see him fail, then not know what to do with him.  They brought him back for a start, and he rewards them with a shutout one-hitter.  How do they pay him back?  By putting him in the bullpen, a role he was NOT suited for, with the carrot dangle of “If you do well, you’ll be a starter again.”  Well, guess what?  He becomes too valuable in the ‘pen, which didn’t say much because the Mets notoriously NEVER have a good bullpen.  Then what happens?  Heilman ends up blowing some significant games, and cannot gain the confidence coming into a game.

Sure, I can call him a pussy, but the moral of the story is, just another one biting the dust of Mets mismanagement when they don’t know what the hell to do with a player.

I can adapt that story to the Jets.  Why ruin a team when you can ruin the career of a decent guy who is talented and can succeed and do so much more?

Look no further than Tim Tebow.

As I’ve said, I am no Tebow fan, but he does not deserve this smear of his young uprising profession this soon in his career.  Shame on the Jets for making him a pawn in this situation.