NYR Playoffs

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).***

I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing

Senior Pics 

Ask me why, I’ll say it’s most unusual
How can I even try to explain…
why today I feel like dancing
singing like lovers sing
when I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing?
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

To say the spring of 1994 was chaotic for me would be an understatement.

I was weeks away from graduating from high school, but I hadn’t yet decided on a college. (That came in the first week of June)

I was having a public humiliating breakdown with the guy who was my high school sweetheart, but that was neither here nor there.

My mother and I weren’t getting along, and to add on top of all that, I didn’t feel like I had anyone else in my corner but my dad and my cat.  Maybe a handful of friends.

At age 18, this was as close to the end of the world as possible.

But the Rangers for the first time in my tenure as a fan were in the Eastern Conference Final.  Their opponent was the hated Devils.  But it was the first time I ever felt the word loathe for any other team.

The Mets had won the World Series just eight years prior.  But I was 10 years old.  What did I know about “rivalry” or “hatred?”  I had no idea of a Boston/New York rivalry at that age, let alone had any real deep-seated geographical rival except for the fact that as a National League fan, I had to hate the Yankees.  It was in my blood.

So each game of that series, I’d meet my dad in Neptune (where he was living at the time), we’d take a ride over to Kelly’s Tavern (ye of the infamous reuben) and watch playoff hockey.
Ask me when
I’ll say it started when I met you
and ever since then I knew that the past couldn’t last
For right now I think I’m running
a race I know I’m gonna win
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

Dad and I had a pretty decent run at Kelly’s.  We had caught a few games in the first two series, from what I can remember.  I mean, this is 20 years of faded memories, and my age is catching up to me in some respects.

But I do remember drowning myself in music, in my drive to Neptune each of those games.  On the way there, I listened to my newest find, Very, by the Pet Shop Boys.  They were simply not a one hit wonder for me.  One of the most underrated bands of its generation, in my opinion.  On the way home, win or lose, I’d listen to Erasure’s Greatest Hits (I believe the album was titled “Pop!”).

As I contemplated my next chapter in life, I really took in the music.  Very was lyrically intelligent and really hit close to home with so much of the messages of the song.  It started off with “Can You Forgive Her?” and ended with “Go West,” the cover of the Village People song.  Though the ride to Neptune usually brought me to either “Dreaming of the Queen” or  “Yesterday When I Was Mad,” the fifth or sixth song on the album.

If I wasn’t arguing or butting heads with my mother, my high school boyfriend and I were falling apart.  Music had always been an outlet.

And as I’ve said before, along with music, came sports.  But this was the first time I had a horse in the race, a first time in a long time.   From the dramatic entrance of song number one, to the moodiness of every other song to the anger and empowerment, it succinctly said EVERYTHING that I had been thinking, feeling or wanting to say myself.  About breaking free from the norm, and following my heart.  Something, by the way, that I am doing right now, and trying to come to grips with.  Adulthood may be overrated sometimes, but following your passion is always something that needs to be done.

If people say I’m crazy
I tell them that it’s true
Let them watch with amazement
say it won’t last beyond breakfast
it’s a phase he’s going through
denigrate or speculate
on what I’m going through
because it isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally do

To this day, I listen to Very, and it still gets me everytime.  It’s what I deem one of my “desert island albums.”  When my car was stolen in 2000, this was one of the CDs that was in there.  They could take the car; Very needed to be replaced.

It not only gets me…I get IT.  And when I listen to it, it brings me back to one of the most treasured times in my sports-loving life, and that’s when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.  The album empowered me to drive up to a school and make a decision on the spot.  It made me make amends with my mother.  It made me move on from my high school boyfriend.  And it made me a hockey fan.  I have given up on the sport in the past.  But I’ve been back long enough to say this is special, and as a fan, I’ve earned that shit.

Ask me what
I’ll say I think it’s good for you
Believe it or not I know where it’s all leading to
I feel like taking all my clothes off
dancing to The Rite of Spring
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of
this kind of thing

In recent years, before each game when the Rangers are in the postseason, I try to get in at least one song from this album.  It’s just one of those things I never get sick of hearing.  If I’m lucky, I will try to listen to the first five or six songs, like I used to when I’d go watch the games with Dad.

The 1993-94 Rangers are not just special in my heart because they won a championship.  It was because, as corny as it sounds, it gave me strength to move forward with my life.  That my world wasn’t crashing down around me…that things could and would be all right.  That like a caterpillar, I’d be a butterfly, floating off to my next chapter.

The spring of 1994 launched into what became the summer of my life.  The New York Rangers were a big part of that.  I did things that I normally wouldn’t do.  Like travel into the city with my friends to go dancing.  Like travel into the city to watch the Rangers on television close to the Garden, so we could be there for the celebration.

It’s very rare that I talk about alternatively being grateful or being pissed off at being a sports fan.  But last night’s win and subsequent playoff series victory made me so grateful for the Rangers. For my dad.  And for that spring of ’94.

This one is for Henrik and for McD.  For DStep and for Staal.  For Martin St. Louis.  For Grumpy Damus. For Chuck.  For NotGlen.  For Aimee.  For Katie.  For Anne Marie.  For Alvin and Kelly.  For Justine.  For DMan.  For Ciel Seidel.  And for everyone else in between (including my cousin, who came in later in life to love the Rangers).

And for especially the Pet Shop Boys, though I’m sure a British electronica band really would never see why they’d be forever linked with a U.S. hockey team.  They helped me get through a rough patch in my life, and so did the Rangers.  And they still do to this day.

Sam Rosen said in 1994, this one will last a lifetime.  I hope that he is wrong, that 1994 was it.  Thank goodness that I am getting to see another “very” amazing postseason run.

This is something we normally wouldn’t see.

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.

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.

 

Gung Ho

And away we go, away we go to Game Seven.

And the Rangers are fuckin lucky they’re there.

But as my friend Glenn says above, better to play 7 than be out in 6. (And he speaks from experience, being an Isles fan).

I guess.

We didn’t just go through a full 82 games last year, but I went through two seven game series PLUS a disastrous ECF.  The way the Rangers played in the first two games, I didn’t think we’d see a game five, let alone seven.

Forgive me for sounding like the hockey version of the fan played by Randy Quaid in Major League II, but I do not have a good feeling about this game.

But that could work to my advantage.  It must mean that I don’t give a shit about the outcome.

Here’s the deal:  The Rangers have scored less than one goal in four of their games played.  Three of those games were losses (especially the game they scored zero, haha).  This leads me to believe that Henrik Lundqvist is otherworldly…but also that he cannot do it all on his own, contrary to popular belief.

We need to have some guys remember they were brought in to come through with the offense (see: Richards, Bradley; Nash, Rick).

We need to remember that having a man advantage is generally a GOOD thing for most teams.

But most of all, game seven need to be a regulation game, a regulation victory.  There needs to be no bullshit allowed.  And even if there is, who gives a shit, because I don’t have a good feeling about it anyway.  So there.

Perhaps I need to bring back this video from last year.

Perhaps my friend Metstradamus said it best today:
“While I hope for a few more weeks of this, I’m prepared for whatever happens.”

That about says it.

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.

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.

It Gets Better

It really makes me angry when I hear people compare the New York Rangers 2011-12 team to the Mets of 2006.  Two teams I have a kinship with…two teams that have absolutely nothing to do with one another besides the fact that I root hard for them.

This Ranger team has the makings of a dynasty to come, and each year go far into the playoffs, and perhaps win it all.  This is nothing like 2006, for me, since I (like many other Mets fans) were waiting for the other shoe to drop…turns out, it was Bigfoot’s boot that dropped then.

But seriously — one year wonder versus the making of a strong unit.  Big difference.

But I’m here to say…it gets better, Ranger fans.  We had a lot of fun, and I don’t want to focus on the fact that we’re rooting for a meteor now…I want to focus on what we’re doing to move ahead and what we’re looking forward to, and what our best memories were for 2012.

Yes.  It gets better Ranger fans, and I’ll be talking about it with numerous fans tomorrow night on my dial-in show for Gal For All Seasons.  Be to sure listen or dial-in!

The Only Constant Is Change

Gabby the Ranger bear held this sign as a I ran the NYC Half in March. They both had a good run, but the sign is now retired!

I lost my job last September. I’ve not had a lot of luck finding a new one.

My lease is up next month. My management company hasn’t been cooperative in negotiating a new one (or rather one that’s not the cost of an elevator doorman building) so I may have to move.

Last weekend, I took a road trip to Toronto where my bus 5:45 am bus didn’t show up, and then to add injury to insult, I literally fell out of the shuttle van when I did return to Buffalo, and sprained my ankle.  Not good when you’re training for the NYC Marathon.  (I’ll be fine soon enough but HEY UNIVERSE LAY OFF THE FUN STUFF FOR A WHILE.)

I came back from the trip to watch the hockey playoffs at a sports bar, where I proceeded to drink so much in violent reaction that I had a violent reaction…right in front of the bar on the sidewalk. (I’m also swearing off drinking too…until the Mets give me good reason to).

My husband then announces he’s passing a kidney stone, but hey, he’s done it before and he’s prepared for the discomfort.

Perhaps it’s fitting that as I sit with an Ace bandage wrapped on my ankle, and my husband literally passes his stone during the Rangers game last night.

This also happened during the same week that my blender sputtered and sparked, shorting out my entire wall, while I made my morning smoothie this week, then my ear buds shorted and only one side works (#FirstWorldProblems).

Perhaps you can tell that it hasn’t exactly been my year (week or month, really, either).

To recap, I’m unemployed, I’m losing my apartment lease, I can’t run when I’m officially training for the NYC Marathon because of a freak accident in a fucked up road trip, and then the Rangers lose a hard fought and gritty playoffs to the Devils.

If there is a hockey god, I hope there’s a punch line to this cruel, cruel joke.

Someone once told me that “the point of sports is to WIN.” That’s not true. It’s to “entertain.”  You can only ROOT for your team to win. And hope they do. Some fans aren’t as lucky. Some are.

And yes, I believe a Yankee fan once told me that thing above.

One of the bright spots or distractions for my shitty ass life this year has been the Rangers. This has been odd for a few reasons. I freely admit that I gave up on hockey a few years ago. Then ironically, the Mets brought me back…in 2007.

The first game I attended was Rangers vs Devils as the Garden in December 2007. If I remember correctly, Brendan Shanahan scored an OT goal for the winner. I’d forgotten how much fun hockey could be.

I was, as they say, “back.”

But it hasn’t been an easy time. While the Rangers have been consistently growing, the Mets continued to insist they could pull my heart out of my ass, the Jets came within one game of the Super Bowl two years in a row only to miss the playoffs entirely last year, and even the Rangers didn’t make the playoffs one year in that span.

They say the only constant in life is change. Well, the only constant in my life is sports heartbreak.

But I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I started Gal For All Seasons this year as a distraction. I wanted to write about more than just baseball and Mets. I figured one of my teams might give me something positive to write about, and boy did it ever. I don’t remember exactly *when* I started to feel like this would be a fun time for the Rangers but I do know that I felt it.

I even said on a podcast that I felt like anything less than an Eastern Conference Final visit would be a failure.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

And there were a few miracles along the way.

When MSG and Time Warner weren’t playing nice, I changed my cable provider. SO I COULD WATCH HOCKEY. Five, six years ago that shit wasn’t happening.  I just dealt with not watching.

I started a podcast based on this blog, but my hockey shows were one of the highest rated on my channel (**shameless plug**). I met a lot of new wonderful people. I started to embrace MSG as my second or third home, depending on what time of the season it was.

I even had a newfound respect for Martin Brodeur, whom I’m relentless in abusing, but in that he gets it, he gets the rivalry. Kind of like Larry Jones, who once thanked New York sports fans for reminding him of his name.

My friend Solly told me he didn’t want me to be sad (funny, how Devils fans were the people talking me down from the ledge). But I’m not. Well, not anymore.

I’m so excited about the years to come.

The only constant in life may be change. But Ranger fans take note: what’s going on here is something to be excited about, to be happy about. A young core to ride for a few years, who are the heart and soul of the team. A tough as nails coach. A legend in the making goalie.

Yes, this team may kill me someday. But I feel like real soon, I may die a happy woman.

Let’s not forget how much fun this ride was this year and let’s move forward to the next chapter!

STICK SALUTE!

I AM A RANGER!!!!