New York Rangers

It’s Weird

Now I sit with different faces/In rented rooms and foreign places/All the people I was kissing/Some are here and some are missing/In the nineteen-nineties
I never dreamt that I would get to be/The creature that I always meant to be/But I thought in spite of dreams/You’d be sitting somewhere here with me

‘Cause we were never being boring/We had too much time to find for ourselves/And we were never being boring/We dressed up and fought, then thought: “Make amends”
And we were never holding back or worried that/Time would come to an end/We were always hoping that, looking back/You could always rely on a friend

No one can accuse my husband and me of being boring.  And even what others might not find interesting, we keep ourselves entertained with some pretty stupid shit.

Take for instance, our pop culture games.  There’s a diner in Manhattan called Big Daddy’s, that is basically an homage to popular culture of the ’60s/’70s/’80s/’90s.  There’s never a dull moment.  Usually a song or a picture in there sets us off on some of our trivia contests, like “Name as many ’80s songs that serve as euphemisms for masturbation” or the backing performers or a band known mostly for its lead singer, like Bruce Hornsby.  “Whatever happened to ‘The Range’ anyway?”

Like I said, some really stupid shit.

So why did it not surprise me when he told me I was banished from my own apartment during the Stanley Cup Final?

In case you missed it, we live, breathe and eat the philosophy of “It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work.” It worked during the Seahawks and their amazing run to the Super Bowl championship.

I came up with a weird rule during the hockey playoffs this year.  It was totally by accident.  I missed the deciding game of the Rangers/Flyers first round series because I had fallen asleep, and forgot to set my alarm for the game.  By the time I had gotten up, the Rangers were winning.  I didn’t want to mess with the juju.  They advanced.

During the semifinals against the Penguins, I was so drained.  I missed a game because I was at a networking event.  They won.  So guess what? I thought, it was me, and I need to not watch a potential elimination game.  So…

I missed the last three games of the series against the Penguins.  They won.

So the superstition reset itself each series.  And now, I was able to see the entire Eastern Conference Final games.  And I felt like the jinx had worked.  I was holding up my end of the bargain, as was @NotGlenSather and @Metstradamus. NotGlen had his McDonagh jersey on his couch; Metstradamus had to take the bus.

This changed though. Metstradamus was in international waters, negating all principles of the superstition. NotGlen decided to watch an away game at a place other than his house.

“It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work” got us all the way to Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final this year. Sadly, it didn’t go further.

Home is a boot camp/you gotta escape/Wanna go and wander/in the ticker-tape /
You feel the deal is real/You’re a New York City boy/So young, so run/into New York City/
New York City boy/you’ll never have a bored day/
’cause you’re a New York City boy/where Seventh Avenue meets Broadway”

I love New York City.  It’s the city of my dreams.  As hokey as that sounds, I was 10 years old when I first visited Manhattan (though I had been to the surrounding areas numerous times, going to Mets games most Sundays as a child, I’d at least see it).  The New York City I fell in love with was not a Disneyified version you see of Times Square today.  No, it was drug dealers on one corner, prostitutes on the next, fake IDs and homeless people…I knew I needed to be there. I’d go into the city when friends or family from out of town came to visit.  I’d walk everyone around, carefully mapping out what and where we needed to go.  I’d always try to take a walking route through Times Square, no matter where we were going.

I didn’t go to my first Rangers game till 1989.  It was a January game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  These were the young days of Mario Lemieux.  I had been what I considered a sports fan, but I could never get with hockey on television.  It was only when I went to my first game at the Garden that I was hooked.

The term “1940” meant absolutely nothing to me.  I was young and unaware, unfettered by the whole idea of no championships.  Two years later, Mark Messier came to the team.

Now, I knew who HE was.  I had carefully followed other teams in the Hockey Digest I now purchased as a teenager.   He played for the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky’s old team.  Gretzky was then a Los Angeles King.  Messier had something else to prove, though his team had won a championship without Gretzky (and surprisingly, Gretzky never won a championship without Messier on his team).

I had an aversion to the Kings even back then, actually.  See, my first ever favorite player on the Rangers was Tony Granato, who was one of the young rookie upstarts along with some dude named Brian Leetch (ever heard of him???).  Granato was later traded to LA for Bernie Nicholls.  Nicholls, was in turn, sent to Edmonton for one Mark Messier. Yes, that trade chain ultimately brought the team a championship, the first one in 54 years.  My first ever Stanley Cup experience as a fan.  The only one I had so far, and the only Final appearance I’d seen in my 25 years of being a Rangers fan.

When I became a Mets fan at age seven, I only had to wait a little over three years before I saw a return on my investment.  The Rangers had won a championship with Messier leading the charge five years after I had become a fan.  Detect a theme here? One thing I hadn’t yet seen as a fan of those teams: a ticker tape parade.  Hell, I was AT game seven in 1986, and my dad wanted to stay for the parade the next day.  However, my mom’s car got broken into and the windshield was smashed, presumably from a celebrating fan.  We just went home.  Being 10 years old, I wasn’t all that disappointed. Besides…back then…WHO KNEW THAT THE METS DYNASTY WOULD BE QUASHED BY 1990????

When the Rangers last won the Cup, I was a senior in high school.  The parade coincided with finals.  I found out some other diehards skipped out and went to the parade.  I didn’t though, mostly because I was a goody two shoes.  Plus, I didn’t have any friends.  At least, the few I did have didn’t really give a crap about hockey.  That spring and subsequent summer solidified my determination to getting to the city, eventually.  The Rangers played a big part in that, especially when I saw Madison Square Garden.  It was now the home of legends.  But I had not yet been to a ticker tape parade.  There have been a few here on the Canyon of Heroes.  But none for my teams.

You’ve got a clever way of haunting me/I’m never scared, but you’re still daunting me ’cause I know what you’re likely to say/and I know that you’ll get your own way And all I wanted to say was that I love you/but you’re telling me now you don’t believe it’s true You got a different, a different/a different point of view/You got a different point of view

Someone asked me how I felt going into game one.  I said, “If they lose, it’s not the end of the world.”  And I still talked many Rangers fans off the ledge after the game one loss.  I understood the distress of giving up a two goal lead, then losing in overtime.  That was a huge momentum shift.  But it was GAME ONE.  It didn’t have to dictate the entire run of the series. Till it did.

I was adamant that the Rangers had a fighting chance against the Kings, that while the Kings won just two years ago, things had changed.  The Rangers had their snipers Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis, two players whom already won championships.  The Kings for the most part were also two years older.  They hadn’t faced any true “tough” competition, like Henrik Lundqvist.  Hell, I even refused to pick a rooting interest in the Western Conference because I knew whomever I did pick would have a chance to beat my team.  Careful what I wish for, is what I thought.

I work for myself, and there is a saying in my business that you can use a setback as motivation or an excuse.  I’ve really been living that because you don’t want to lose out on opportunity because you feel bad for yourself.  You don’t want to wonder “What If?”

I was surprised more fans didn’t feel the way I did.  Yes, I know a few bad calls were made at the Rangers’ expense.  Fact was, in that non-call for goalie interference in game two, the Rangers STILL had the lead. You shake that shit off.  Put your big boy pants on and deal with it.  Instead, they give up the lead, go to OT and… That was the series right there.  They were in the Stanley Cup fuckin Final, and they’re being little bitches.  That game infuriated me and kept me up at night more so than other loss in the series.  They win that game, they’re still playing today.  Game one didn’t change the dynamic of the series.  Game two definitely did.

We’ll stand around forever/regardless of time or weather/ordering drinks at the bar Looking for love and getting/nothing that’s worth regretting/but wondering why we travelled so far To speak is a sin/You look first, then stare/and once in a while/a smile, if you dare To speak is a sin/You’d better beware/but once in a while/a smile, if you dare

In 1995, I bummed a cigarette off a young gentleman at the Rutgers University infamous grease trucks.  He and his friend invited my friend and myself to a party.  I found out this young man was a Rangers fan.  That sealed it, and launched a friendship lasting nearly two decades. This gentleman is @NotGlenSather.  He’s someone who I value not only as a person, but someone whose humor I get when I need it, and whose humor I will never turn down to get me through some rough spots.  Especially when dealing with the Rangers and playoffs.  He brought me to a Rangers playoff game last year where I held my breath and hid behind him for the last full minute of play of the game.  He also helped me when I realized I was hyperventilating.

The night we met, I remember him telling me stupid rules, like “no laughing in the house,” or “no talking in the car” as went to the diner.  Of course saying stuff like that made me want to laugh or to talk.

Of course, we both broke rules for the Stanley Cup Final.  He didn’t park his McDonagh jersey on the couch.  I knew that in the event of an elimination game, I wouldn’t NOT watch.  So swoops in my husband to tell me that he couldn’t watch the game.  This was something he discovered.  The link was that he couldn’t watch.  I had demonstrated that I could be at a game, watching elsewhere.  Just not at home.

You can’t defy the nonsensical reasons.  Because it’s sometimes all you have.

go_time  big_three

Two decades have gone by quickly.  I sometimes can’t believe that in a few short years, I’ll be 40.  Before I know it, another 20 years will have passed.

I went to that game on Wednesday so that it wouldn’t be when I was 60 the next time they made it.  I’d at least have the experience now.  The best case was that the Rangers would win and force a game five (they did).  The worst case was that I’d see another team celebrating their championship on my home ice.  I guess it was a win-win, that outcome.

I woke up in a sweat/desolate/For there were no more lovers left alive/No one had survived
so there were no more lovers left alive/and that’s why love had died/Yes, it’s true/Look, it’s happened to me and you
Twenty years has changed me from a fun loving night owl who was up for anything unpredictable into a cranky old fart who prefers staying at home and drinking in my sweats and fuzzy bunny slippers.  I live in New York City.  The daytime has taken its toll on me in the city never sleeps.  Yes, a city that doesn’t sleep, and I manage to find eight hours a night.  Not having children can give me that luxury.

Since I had to find someplace else in public to watch the game, I knew I had to pick the right place.  Only problem was my choices.  I had Blondie’s, a famous sports bar, but I knew that I would be competing with bros and World Cup elitists.  Couldn’t deal.

There were a couple other bars that have a reputation of filling up, one of which I ended up choosing.  Not before making a quick pit stop to Uno on 81st and Columbus, where the creepy bartender guy who looked a serial killing rapist on Law & Order SVU, ignored me until other men came into the bar.  When I brought to his attention that I had been sitting at a mostly empty bar for nearly 30 minutes and he hadn’t once asked me what I’d be having, he turned it on ME, the customer, for not bringing it to his attention.  Yes, stopping him from his CLEARLY busy activity of chopping lemons, refilling the maraschino cherries bin and making like he was SO busy so he wouldn’t have to serve me.

I ended up choosing St. Games Gate, on 81st and Amsterdam.  But not before telling both the host AND the manager at Uno that “I had planned on spending a lot of money in here to watch the game, and your douchebag of a bartender ignored me for thirty minutes when NO ONE else was there.  Oh and he blamed it on me.”  The host said, “Who?” I point to the bartender and said, “I won’t set foot in this joint that I typically frequent if this DICKHEAD is behind the bar again!”  (I like their chicken spinoccoli.  Sue me).

Within 15 minutes, a bartender tried to locate me a summer shandy that they didn’t even HAVE as an option, but set me with a dark and stormy instead.  By this time, the Rangers had fallen 1-0 in the game.  In due time, it was 2-1 Rangers. I thought, wow, this is working.  So it’s totally NOT weird that my husband kicked me out and I had to bring my Rangers bear out with me to watch the game.

game_four  gabby_game_five

Till of course another questionable call happens.  And I just knew, then, it wasn’t the Rangers year.  Sure, it took almost two full overtimes to determine that.  Despite all best efforts of the superstitious ones, despite the rally towels and the playoff beards and everything else, 2014 would just be oh-so-close.  But just another year where the Rangers fell just short of a glory they had deservedly earned.

Cross a windy bridge/one winter night/Past Embankment Gardens/enter warmth and light
Face the music (it’s never easy)/Forget the chill
Face the future (it’s never easy) /Find the will

If life is worth living/it’s got to be done
One might be forgiven/for thinking/it’s a life on the run
Many roads will cross through many lives/but somehow you survive

You know what, Rangers fans.  We’ve been through a lot together.  Whether it was years of futility in the early aughts, whether it was the “real” Glen Sather making questionable moves like trading Brian Leetch, that rocked us to the core of our being.  Whether it was getting beat by the Devils in a sudden death overtime in 2012.  The truth is, I know most of us wouldn’t trade being a Rangers fan for anything in the world.

I sometimes curse my pop for getting me into the teams that have done nothing else but break my heart.  I defied him by being adopted by the 12th Man in Seattle.  But I’ll never stop being a Rangers fan.  I was a fan of destiny.

I can go on and say that it was an amazing ride, and it was just simply an honor to be at the big show.  But as RuPaul says, whoever says “it’s an honor just to be there,” is a lying BITCH.

I went to bed sad, woke up sad, had a few tears even.

The Pet Shop Boys are mostly known as a “one hit wonder” here in the United States, due to their big top 40 hit, West End Girls.  That song is almost 30 years old.  Yet, I know them as a band that has quite literally changed my life, and alternatively saved it.  As an angsty teenager, I had listened to their Discography and Very, and they empowered me.  I realized West End Girls SUCKED compared to what they could really do.

I could look at the bright side of things.  Henrik Lundqvist still has a lot of good years left in him.  They’re being led by another young upstart defenseman named Ryan McDonagh.  Like it or not, Rick Nash is on the team for awhile.  We wanted him, we got him.  Now we have to deal with him.  At the beginning of this season, we didn’t think they’d go anywhere, much less the Stanley Cup Final.  This was a special team that banded together during the worst that could happen when a teammate lost his parent and STILL played his heart out.  They seemed to adjust well (albeit on the slower side) to a new head coach, who seemed to get the most out of his players despite his quiet and subdued demeanor.

And hey, the Rangers losing wasn’t so bad.  I did say that I would eat my own socks if they won a Cup in the first year under Alain Vigneault.  It wouldn’t be SO terrible if they won in 2014-15.  My socks and my digestive system would get a reprieve at least.

Yes, I woke up sad, but like that saying that you can be happy that it happened, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.  The city became electric, like nothing I had seen before.  All for a sport that most would think was a second or third choice behind baseball and football.  Some teams just endear themselves to your hearts.

This was one of them.

We can take the spring of 2014 and put it in our back pocket.  Cherish the memory, but know that something great is literally right around the corner.  I felt it this year.  It will be back before we know it.  Whether it’s in 12 months or two decades.

Let’s hope it’s the latter.  But in the meantime, I am going to hold onto my ticket stub from game five of the Stanley Cup Final, and hope that all the superstitions in the world bring it back here sooner rather than later.

Come outside and see/a brand new day
The troubles in your mind/will blow away
It’s easy to believe/they’re here to stay
but you won’t find them/standing in your way

Se a vida é I love you/Come outside and feel the morning sun
Se a vida é I love you/Life is much more simple when you’re young
Come on, essa vida é/That’s the way life is
That’s the way life is

***Many, many thanks to the New York Rangers for giving me something to complain about or be hopeful about, all at the same time, and the Pet Shop Boys for providing the soundtrack of my life (though I doubt when they wrote and composed their music, they had National Hockey League playoff games in mind).***

The Theatre

It’s another world here
The streets are gleaming
I was even dreaming
that they’re paved with gold
Seventeen at half past ten
All the crowds are surging past
An electric display

I worked in the New York City Financial District (right by the Canyon of Heroes) in 2000.  I was waiting for some electricity to spark, so to speak, but I never felt it.  It could have also been that at that point in my life, I had been going through some transition, and I wasn’t fully available to take it in anyway.

A few months ago, the Super Bowl was set on the main stage of the New York City metropolis (Okay, fine, it was in New Jersey).  Walking down Super Bowl Boulevard was fun.  But it certainly wasn’t hair raising.

It was different this time.  Just a few days ago, the Rangers opened the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles.  You’d never know it though, with all the blueshirts on Broadway, the Rangerstown logos and basically the taking over of Bryant Park by Rangers fans, young and old, and Rangers alumni, some older, some more recent.

If I wanted fireworks.  Well, this was it.

I was in high school, just weeks away from graduating when the Rangers last visited the SCF.  We all know how that ended.

It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago that I graduated from high school.  That September, I entered college.  But I was still riding high from that Stanley Cup win.  I had visited the city a lot, which was still somewhat pre-Disneyified, with piss on the corner, coupled with drug dealers and summer heat.  And every time I visited, I made sure to swing by Madison Square Garden.  I didn’t get to go to a live game in that series.  But my dad and I made sure we watched every single game.  The Garden had opened up during the road games to watch the games from Vancouver.  I got to see the Pavel Bure penalty shot from the Garden, though it occurred in Vancouver.  The feed apparently showed the reaction of the fans in the Garden.  My friends told me that they saw me celebrating on TV.

It was some of the most cherished memories of my life.  And this is coming from someone who was at the last World Series championship winning game of her baseball team.

Yet, the last time the Mets were in the playoffs in 2006, it was the 20th anniversary of their last championship.  When Carlos Beltran looked at strike three, thus began the next eight years (and counting) of futility.  But the 2006 team was special.  It was fun going to games, even when the likes of Jose Lima pitched.

This season was strange, as a Ranger fan.  I didn’t opt for my mini plan that I usually purchase from my friend.  I mused that because of this, losing my playoff option, they were SURE to get to the Stanley Cup Final.  Of course they did.

But after game two, I saw something on the main stage.  I didn’t like it.  I saw that the team had given up.  They were making excuses. This saddened me, because shit happens in the span of a best-of-seven series.  And if I know this team, they have fight and spark and have surprised us every step of the way.  But it looks like they might have ridden this moxie as far as they could take it.

Whether they get swept or lose in five, or somehow manage to bring the series to seven games…I have a feeling about this team like I did in Game two in the 2006 NLCS.

I just don’t think it’s their year.

This saddens me, as a fan.  Obviously, I have a rooting interest here, and I want them to win.  I want that parade.  I’ve tentatively cleared my calendar for the days it could potentially be.   But it’s okay for me to say this, because I’ve made peace with the scenario.  I’d hate for the Kings to hoist the Lord Stanley at the Garden.  When I know in my heart of hearts that a few timely bounces here and there, this would have been the Rangers.

Even so, while we were watching the game on Saturday, I was saying that I felt like Jake Blues, when he was leaving Bob’s Country Bunker. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Or better yet, the Rangers probably wished they were leaving the town Jake and Elwood were headed towards.

In the meantime, that whole thing about me not going to the Stanley Cup Final…I’ve been monitoring the ticket prices for Game Four.  They are no longer astronomical, and have what I feel to be a reasonable mark up.  So…win or lose, do or die.  I might be there for what could potentially be not only the last Ranger game of the year…but the last hockey game, period, of the year.

I’ve made peace with the outcome, but it still makes me very sad.

Things don’t have to end badly.  You can be sad that it ended, but you can thankful that it happened.

And if the Rangers lose on Wednesday, I’ll be proud of how far they come.

If they win, well, when there’s light, there’s hope I suppose.  I am not banking on it though.  It is a nice thought, however.

I’ll just know that as a resident of New York City, I’ll always carry fond thoughts of this year’s Ranger team, as they took over the lights on Broadway for a brief time.

Can You Forgive Her?

I can’t say I’m a superstitious one.  I did adopt some superstitions, which in reality probably had less than zero impact on the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl, but that was because I could look forward to eating my cheesy bread each week during the football playoffs.

This year was kind of an accidental superstition in hockey.  I adopted the #ItsOnlyWeirdIfItDoesntWork philosophy because I had a migraine during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals.  If you remember, the night of Game 7 against the Flyers, it rained like a mofo all day.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows, every type of farm animal.  I had a bad migraine.  I even cancelled my podcast at the last moment, though I had stuff I wanted to talk about.  Originally, I thought I’d be watching the playoffs, and be either really happy during the show, or really pissed off.  Either way, I didn’t know.  Because I ended up not watching.

I had laid down a bit, since I cancelled the show, and waited for my husband to return home.  Only problem?  He didn’t get home till after the puck dropped.  So I didn’t even have the television on.  And he was following the game on his radio.

Before I knew it, it was the second period.  I was going to turn the game on, but much like Keith Hernandez did in Game 6, he stayed in his chair because, “There were hits in that seat,” as he cracked open a Bud with coach Darrell Johnson in Davey Johnson’s office.

onlyweirdSo in the history of Keith Hernandez before me, I know I was not the only superstitious one during the hockey playoffs.  If you follow hockey, you know the tradition of hockey beards.  There are some weird fuckin rituals in hockey.  But cool rituals too, like the handshake line, handing the Cup to the captain.
The second round, I got desperate.  I was convinced that outside of the Pittsburgh metro area (and the five Devils fans), mostly everyone in America was rooting for the Rangers.  I know, it’s an oddity, because there is a New York superiority complex that other cities try to knock down.  But I’m pretty sure that if you are a) not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, 2) not from Pittsburgh or D) just a fan of hockey not falling under A) or 2), chances are, you hate Sidney Crosby and it’s your civic duty to not want that team to win.
So there’s that.  I had to go for some gusto.  After Game 4, I became desperate.  One game from elimination, plus with the Rangers’ habit of winning one, losing one…this shit wasn’t going to fly.  Even if they did win Game 5…EVEN if they managed to pull to a Game 7…how would they win?
And yet they did.
And somehow, we were all part of it, by participating in our stupid game rituals that we are convinced helped them win.
For @NotGlenSather, he kept his McDonagh jersey on his couch (only during road games though…it wouldn’t work at home for obvious reasons…reasons, none of us know, of course).

For Metstradamus, he had to take the bus for at LEAST one period (he was lucky that was it…the first time, he was going to pick up an air conditioner).

So my superstitions became the stuff of legend.  When I opted out of Game 5, I figured the worst that could happen was that the Rangers lose.  If they won, I’d play by ear to watch Game 6.  Then they won Game 6.

The irony is, Game 7 wasn’t tough for me not to watch…because I wasn’t home at the beginning.  I had a weekly networking meeting, and I knew I wouldn’t be home till the second period, at the very earliest.

Even so, my husband forbade me from watching the game at all.  I was DYING.  It was absolute torture.  But Twitter did a good job of keeping me updated.  So I got the feel of watching the game.  Then…the unthinkable happened.  They WON. Holy shit, did it WORK???

Truth is, this little superstition I worked up…was only for elimination games.  So I’ll be back for the Eastern Conference Finals.  It feels different this time.  I stress out each series, until this moment.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say…I can pretty much guarantee a Stanley Cup appearance or win, at the very most.  Why is that?

I didn’t get my Rangers seat option this year.  I backed out of it.  It didn’t feel right this year.  I knew I should have held onto it.  But whatever.  I felt like, what were the chances they’d get to the ECF AGAIN?

Yup.

So now there’s a chance they’ll win the Cup.  And I won’t be able to go to any of the stupid games.  I guess somehow I deserve NOT watching the games nor going to them at all.

Bad, bad fan.

So I’ll test the waters by watching the first few games…but of course, I’m traveling during the first game.  So that means I won’t be able to watch the whole thing anyway.

If they win, is it proof that my silly ritual worked?  Or merely coincidence?

Thank goodness for game ones…and game sevens.

Why Not Us?

This meme always cracks me up.

This meme always cracks me up.

I’m relatively new to the whole Seattle Seahawks #12thMan thing, but I did happen to note that Russell Wilson had become America’s sweetheart within a few short weeks late last year and early this year.  His guts and positivity got the Hawks to the big game, and subsequently won it.

See, I’m not used to that shit.  I’m so used to my teams getting my hopes up to the very last possible point, then the shoe dropping and that’s it.  #WipesHands

This year was strange.  A team I adopted, and genuinely *liked* (trust me – I’ve hated MANY of my teams a lot of the time…a little too much, actually) went the distance.  But it was the big heart of the small quarterback Russell Carrington Wilson who said, “Why not us?”

It was no secret that Wilson’s dad passed away several years ago.  And it was his dad’s advice that he claims got him to go to the distance, by asking his team, “Why not us?”

Why not you, Russ?

So it got me thinking – why not us?

And by “us,” I mean my other teams, the Mets and New York Rangers.

Let’s take a look at April.

Sandy Alderson — and not facetiously, mind you —  said that there was a chance the Mets could win 90 games this year.

Once we all stopped rolling our eyes and chuckling — and we did, don’t be that fan that is all self-righteous about loving your team more and supporting them through or think other fans suck if they don’t 100% believe in the team — the Mets started the season 0-3.  And lost their closer on Opening Day.  And didn’t have their star young stud pitcher at all.  Seemed like more of the same.   When they won a game, myself and many others joked and said, “89 more to go!”  (That was facetious, by the way)

Till they started to win.  And started to get good and quality starts from their pitchers.  Except for the guy they kinda expected to be consistent.  But whatever.  The ways they won, and how many games they won (15) in April made us sit up and pay attention.  To the tune of tweets like this.

Why not us?

If you look at that pace, it could theoretically be a 90 win season, if they continue on average winning 15 games a month.

We’ve seen weirder.  Of course, that might not be enough to win the NL East.

And trust me, I don’t like getting ahead of myself.  I even told my husband the other night the famous, “It’s only APRIL” excuse.  Doesn’t mean anything.  The only April or the averaging 15 wins a month to get to a 90 total win season.

Why not us, Russ?

As I sit here writing, I’m watching the Rangers play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.  It’s very rare that I actually have a good feeling with ANYTHING remotely regarding the Rangers in the playoffs.  I spend most of my time tweeting about how much the team tortures me, makes me want to poop on MSG center ice or how much I hate them.

But I love them.  I really don’t know what I’d do without the Rangers.  Or if they weren’t in the playoffs.

Two years ago, I was having a rough year, and the one thing that kept me riding high was the fact that the Rangers were playing so well. Then they lost, but the Los Angeles Kings brought me out of hell, and I got over that Quick (see what I did there?).

I said that unless you live in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, or are a bitter Devils fan, chances are most of America is rooting for the Rangers in this series.  NO ONE likes the Penguins.  They’re almost as dirty as Philly, and there are more crybabies than the Capitals.

So it’s good to like to good guys for once…but play better, for fuck’s sake.

It’s been a weird year, what with teams I’ve wanted to win are actually, you know, WINNING.  Or have won.  Whatever.

The Rangers beat the Penguins in OT, 3-2.  We know that OT isn’t exactly ideal, and especially in Pittsburgh.

So why not them?  Or us?

Those who say, “Wait Till Next Year,” will ultimately say, “It IS next year?”

And that’s probably going to be the first and last remotely positive thing you’ll EVER see me posting on this site.

Shhhh…don’t tell anyone.

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.

The Prom

“My girlfriend always has that feeling that something’s missing. She checks her pockets, checks her purse, counts her kids, but nothing’s gone. She decided it was side effects from not going to her prom.” – Iona, Pretty In Pink

iona2I stayed up till 1 a.m. on Wednesday night to finish the triple overtime thriller Stanley Cup Final game with the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.

Did I mention that it was still just Game One?

True story.

Truth be told though, it was truly the first night that I realized…that the Rangers weren’t coming back this year.  I know that sounds pathetic.  But for a good two weeks after the blueshirts were eliminated, I kept feeling like I was missing something.  I’d checked my keys, they were still there.  I made sure I paid my bills on time. I double and even triple-checked my calendar.

But no, it was true.  The Rangers weren’t playing anymore in the 2013 season.

I had all but given up on hockey after the lockout that got rid of 2004-05.  I didn’t want to come back.  Plus, the Mets were good, and I had more than enough attention bestowed upon them, even in the offseason.  The Rangers didn’t deserve my attention, and neither did the rest of hockey.

So fuck ‘em.

Till of course, the Mets collapsed in 2007.  Then what was I to do?  I needed another outlet.  I had gone from not feeling anything, to suddenly wanting to go to games again.  I went to three games that season.  I was back.

Last year was the first year I felt like this could be it, this could be OUR year.

Then there was another lockout, and a shortened season.  I tried to convince myself that this season, despite what happened, didn’t matter.  The Rangers could win, but now there would be ammo for that whole “half a cup” business we’ve been saying for years about the 1995 season.

And then…it mattered.

As opposed to the 2007-08 season when I returned to the Rangers, the Mets were still a competitive team.  A good team, even.  In the year 2013, I have no respite.  The Mets are simply awful, hard to watch and the games are ennui.  Yet, you’d think I’d be used to it, being a Mets fan for 30 years, since good years are few and far between.  I don’t feel the excitement I used to, going to games.

So I stay up and watch three OTs of playoff hockey, for two teams I don’t care much about.

Like Iona’s friend in Pretty In Pink, I didn’t go to my prom.  Yet, I never exhibited an absent-minded professor side effects that her friend did, in skipping mine. The only time I do that these days is when I was looking for a Ranger game that didn’t exist.

The closest thing I had to a prom was the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in the summer of 1994, the year I graduated high school.  The amount of celebrating I did in honor that team lasted me a looooong time.  I was 18.  I was headed to college in the fall.  I would be on my own for the first time.  I didn’t give a shit about my prom.  I gave a shit about that Cup.

So I stay up till 1 a.m. (EST, 12 a.m. in Chicago, 10 p.m. in California) to watch a game that I wish my team was playing.  Guess I gave a shit after all about this year.

I do now know that the Rangers aren’t playing anymore this season, and that another year has gone by that my team is not in the big show, the Prom.

Once this series is over though, I’ll be able to watch the Rangers again in just a short few months.  Baseball season will be ending at that point, and I’ll probably be thankful that the Mets season is mercifully ending.

Till then, I’ll be searching for the keys, counting my kitties, and wondering if I’ve misplaced my phone.  But I do know that I didn’t go to my prom, and I chose hockey instead.

I’d still do it, almost 20 years later.

The Lido Shuffle

“He said one more job ought to get it/One last shot ‘fore we quit it/One more for the road”
– Boz Scaggs

Chris Kreider As usual, I found myself ready to hang up my skates, hang up my Ranger jersey until the start of the 2013-14 season. I found it difficult to believe that a team that has seriously looked overmatched and borderline unprofessional would ever come back to tie a 3-game deficit, let alone come back at all.

I only had one wish: that the Garden Faithful would give the boys in blue a send off in a loss.

I had a discussion with a friend about it.  He had mixed feelings about the idea (and he’s not a Ranger fan at all).  He wasn’t sure if he could take another team celebrating on his team’s home ice. I guess I could understand that one.  But it’s not a Cup game.  It’s not like the Bruins would have paraded the cup up and down the ice.

I felt cheated last year because we couldn’t give the Rangers a send off in their season last year.

So last night, I had a few posts in my head, mostly about what went wrong, about Brad Richards’ healthy scratch, about how Rick Nash was “supposed” to be the difference maker (clearly there is an operative term in there), etc etc.  But I also wanted to talk about how the shortened season was doomed from the get go.  Nobody on the team seemed to get in a groove.  And how Henrik Lundqvist managed to nab a Vezina nomination, because I didn’t think he had as close to a dominating season as usual.

Just found themselves behind the 8-ball quite a bit.

I’ve been saying all along that I was comfortable with how this series ended. Win or lose, I had an eerie calm that the chips may fall where they will, and I’d be okay with it.  I don’t have an emotional dislike of Boston, after what they’ve been through this year as a city, it might be nice to see the Bruins give them a feel-good story.  But as far as a rivalry, Original Six or no, I continue to be fine with however the series goes.

Yet, like another Boston/New York series, oh about nine years ago in the fall, when a certain team came from three games down, and managed to win a game in extra innings when the odds were against them.  Then went on a roll to win the ultimate championship.

Of course that was baseball, and Boston Red Sox coming from behind, but it was against the Yankees, so it was all good in my book (apologies to any Yankee fans reading this right now).

The Rangers could very well be ousted in the next game.  Yet, the fact they went out with a fight, and not a whimper, is what the fans needed.  Not some kind of moral victory, that “Well, they made it this far with a shitty ass power play, and with Brad Richards sucking and Rick Nash underperforming and Henrik not having some of his best moments, let’s cheer! YAY!”

No.  I was sorely mistaken.  That crowd needed a home game win.  Something to give them hope that this team was everything they thought last year, and more.

I’ll say that an overtime win was something that I needed to see.  For once, I got to see an overtime work in MY team’s favor.

The New York Rangers gave us something last night, they gave us one more for the road.

 

Family Ties

I went to my first ever Ranger game in 1989.  It was a Sunday afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I went with my dad.

Five years later, the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

The year after that, I met my friend Rob, who posts as @NotGlenSather on Twitter.  Sometimes, it seems like yesterday that I bummed a cigarette off him at the grease trucks at Rutgers.  But it was 18 friggin years ago.

We lost touch for a few years.  But it was only telling that when we did reconnect, it was at Rangers Opening Night in 2000.

We managed, since 2000, to go to a game or run into each at a game once a year.  Then after 2011, I sat in his seats, but didn’t see him.  We also never attended a playoff game together.

That changed Monday.

I get a message from him this morning: I have an extra ticket to the game tonight.

I was hesitant.  In fact, when he did his playoff “lottery” for his tickets (where those of us who buy tickets from him during the season get playoff “rights” in a sense), I was secretly glad that I missed the first round.

Not because I don’t appreciate the first round.  It’s just that I have a HELLACIOUS record against the Capitals.  Not just any games, but specifically playoff games.  I’ve been two Rangers playoff games in my lifetime prior to Monday night – both losses to the team from our nation’s capitol.

I was apprehensive.  I don’t consider myself the most superstitious person, but when it comes to playoff hockey, I’ll do what I have to do in order to ensure a win.  If that means I have to sit in the bathroom and follow the game on Twitter, I’ll do it.  And NotGlen and I usually have a ritual to meet at Cafe 31 before every game we attend together.  But even NotGlen wanted to change things up.

Anything, I suppose, to ensure a win.

He asked me to pick the meeting place.  Foley’s on 33rd St was my first guess.  After splitting some nachos and beers, we headed to the Garden.

Funny thing was, NotGlen started to number what he did differently that day.  Instead of Cafe 31, he went to Foley’s.  Instead of carrying his jersey with him, he had it on when we met.  He even admitted to taking a different set of stairs at the train station.  I don’t have a ritual for games.  I just go.

So off we went.

The playoffs are really a night for star sighting.  It was also high comedy from two friends who have known each other forever.

NotGlen and I met after I bummed a cigarette off him.  I was a teenager.  I’m a firm believer in the family we choose.  We’re children of the ’80s.  We’re like brother and sister.

We grew up with ’80s icons like Michael J Fox, John McEnroe and even Tom Hanks.  They were all in attendance at the game.  Matt Harvey from the Mets was born in 1989.  I guess that technically makes him a child of the ’80s.

I don’t remember a lot of the game.  That’s because it was mostly a blur.  I also probably screamed some obscenities, but I also hid for the last 1:40 or so of the game.

I guess the superstitions started in the ’80s, when I became a Rangers fan.  Back then I was only going to about one game a year.  I would do things on game days, wear certain shirts or clothes.  I would always be disappointed if the Rangers lost.

The stakes are higher.  They went into Monday’s game down 2-0 in the series.  They are now tied 2-2, winning two critical home games.  Both not without its hiccups.

Since I had attended two losses in the playoffs, I didn’t want to see what would happen if I went.  NotGlen, well, his superstitions certainly surpass mine.  And I guess he wanted to throw caution to the wind, getting some good karma in the Garden once again.

And I’m so glad I went.

Every now and then, say, what the fuck. What the fuck brings you freedom. Opportunity makes your future.

The Rangers need a little bit of “what the fuck” on their team right now. Maybe, just maybe, our familial tie got us to that point.

Here We Go Again

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the cusp of playoff time, as NotGlen Sather calls it, “The Second Season.”  Again. Heck, wasn’t it just like three days ago that the L.A. Kings were celebrating their Cup victory?  Okay, fine, it was almost 10 months ago, but still.  Is it me, or does time go by way too quickly?  Yes, I’m old.  Deal with it.

Yet this hockey season was curious.  The Flyers and Devils are out (and let me take this time to remind you that every single Devils fan I know gave us SHIT about the Rangers losing the first three of four games this shortened season…hope you’re all enjoying your tee times), and as death, taxes and the power play sucking, the Rangers are facing the Washington Capitals in the postseason.  (See my video from the first round last year below)

And I’m not sure how to feel about this.  It was tough for me to get excited about this season, be the prolonged start, and abbreviated season it was.  Talking to fellow Ranger fan, KB, the other day, she was kind of nonplussed about the team making the playoffs.  I can see that, but I can basically say one thing.  That once they start to win, or advance out of the first round, we’ll start to get the bug, the itch that it may OUR year.  Even if we have given SOME OTHER teams grief over winning “half a cup.”

(And yeah, if it comes to that this year, I’m not sure how to resolve my feelings either on that one.)

Of course, this means another sport will be neglected, and that will be baseball.  With good reason too.  To say the Mets have been lackluster is an understatement.  I keep telling my husband, “IT’S ONLY APRIL.”  Yet, by their effort this month, it’s evident that it will be a LONG ASS season.  Until, of course, Zack Wheeler is called up.  And who knows, his start has been below par too out in Vegas.

But it makes me happy that I can shy away from baseball, though it is my favorite sport, I don’t feel bad about not giving it as much attention as I do the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now, if you want a good laugh or be entertained while watching hockey, be sure to follow my sports tweets @Coopz22.  I have a heart attack with every pass, every shot on goal, every Henrik save or close call, and every goal scored by the Rangers is the BEST GOAL EVAR.   Or I threaten myself with bodily harm.  Just myself.  You don’t have to worry about yourselves.

It’s a do or die situation.  Whether we’ll be invincible or not, remains to be seen.

Trust me, I operate on a different plane during this time of the year.  Apologies in advance.

Let’s Play Two

Opening Week  Rangers Win!

The last time I had a day like this was in April 2011.  I had been invited to an afternoon Rangers/Devils game, and had a Mets game that night at 7:10 pm. The night game was critical, as it was the night Scott Hairston ended up on my ass’ Wikipedia page.

The day game was also a good one where the Rangers beat the Devils, in what I believed was the last home game of the regular season, if my memory serves me correctly.  All I know is a few weeks later, I went to a brutal playoff loss.  And the night game stood out as well, not because of the ass situation, but my husband couldn’t go with me since he got really sick.  Then he ended up giving it to ME, and I was really pissed off the Rangers lost that game…otherwise I should have just sold my playoff tickets since I was miserable sick AND the Rangers lost in a brutal fashion.

I digress.  Everything that could have gone right DID go right on Monday, April 1st, and that is no April Fool’s joke.  The Mets won, the Rangers won, and everyone was happy.  Well, I was happy.  My husband was happy.  Our various bears were happy, since they were well-fed and their teams won.

Joey & Iggy  Joey and Gabby

I could end it there, but I won’t.  I’ll start from the beginning.

I’ve often said that Opening Day is mostly fun, but stressful.  Friends make the trip especially, and we have pressure to see everyone. It’s the one game a year there is a sell out, and a cell phone signal is usually a rarity.  There’s excitement, but we are grumpy cats with long lines and poseurs who come to their only game a year.  It’s also the one day a year that every single person I know is tailgating.  The good news was that two of my friends who have notable tailgates combined their efforts and had a megamerger of tailgating.  So it saved me a lot of running around, and I could sit and drink and eat at my leisure, without worrying about offending anyone by not showing up to their party.

Plus I could sit and enjoy the two plus hours before the opening ceremonies without running all over the parking lot.

More Cowgill  Real Housewives of CitiField Coop, Alvin, Kelly Section 22 Mezzanine

I’ve found that at CitiField, it’s easy to keep track of the game without sitting in your seat.  I guess in a way that’s good because I can get a little antsy sitting around the entire time. So prior to the game, I was able to see friends and visit people, and during the game it’s the same.  On Opening Day, it’s become sort of a ritual to have a Shea Bridge meetup in the 5th inning.  Yet, in the midst of celebrating the present of the Mets, and talking about the future, a big part of my past hit close to home.

As I was waiting for various folks to join us on the bridge, I saw a familiar looking black Mets jersey, with the name and number “WOODSIDE 7″ embroidered on the back.  Oh, holy sheepshit and balls.  This was the old Woodside crew from Shea Mezzanine Section 22, Saturday plans!!!  The Woodside 7 was worn by Kim, who hadn’t aged a day in a decade (which HOLY SHIT IT HAD BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE I SAW THEM LAST), and there was Tommy, her husband, and the ringleader, Frank, who was still the same.  I nearly cried.  These people gave me some of the best memories outside of the Mets themselves at Shea, including terms that I use to this day, like, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s.”  In fact, I was introduced to Donovan’s by this same crew.  Also, a podcast that has been recruiting me to be a guest, Mets Bhoys, turns out that Frank is a regular on the show too.

This world has just gotten smaller.  But to me, a little bit of home was brought to me on Opening Day.  Besides seeing the Mets, I saw a big part of my past. It was great.  My past and present collided for sure on that bridge.

And just like old times, the Mets won on Opening Day.  My boy Jonathon Joseph Niese won the game, and then I was able to see both of our favorite hockey team, and my boy there Henrik Lundqvist, get the win that night.

Jon Niese  Henke

Everyone contributed to the Mets victory, from the ball boy on up.  The same could be said for the Rangers win. We got to see a grand slam from Collin Cowgill, and we got to see the Rangers score 4 goals themselves. We saw a shorthanded goal by Captain Cally, and we saw efforts from Brad Richards and Rick Nash, and a solid effort from Henrik Lundqvist.

The Mets are going through changes, and we look to their future a lot rather than the present.  The Rangers are living for the present, as Wednesday rolled around, and they parted ways with Marian Gaborik.  I had a happy Gabby bear on Monday, but a disappointed one come Wednesday…until they played that night.

On Monday night, I saw a team that gelled together, and even had a contribution from Brad Richards who hadn’t been consistent at all this season.  One nonperforming entity was Marian Gaborik, and as I like to say, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  A deal had to be made, and Gabby was collateral damage.

Yet, the Rangers idea of playing two is a world of difference in two nights. They played a very tough — albeit Crosby-less — Penguins team, and won definitively with contributions from everyone new and old.  This was the type of win that we need to see going forward, and the type of play to see going forward.

I’ve seen two Ranger games since Monday, and three Mets games. Contributions are made from the littlest person on up, but that’s how a team is built.

For the next few weeks, at the very least, I’ll be in the mood to play two, to follow my teams till they no longer overlap.