Russell Wilson

Up Against It

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

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

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

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

Last night, I paid attention to every single play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Smells Like Green Spirit

My husband and I get around.  We are sports fans and we LOVE to travel, therefore, we are traveling SPORTS FANS.

In the middle of all this comes the advent of social media, and we have friends in most of the states we visit.

Two baseball seasons ago, we visited Arlington, Texas, and we met some Mets fans from the San Antonio area.  When I told them we wanted to make it to a San Antonio Missions game simply to meet Ballapeño, their pepper-inspired mascot, they made it a point to mail us a stuffed critter replica.

Since then, Ballapeño Pepe Sanchez Gomez has taken a life of his own.

You won’t meet a bigger Jets fan than him.  He’s not only green but their quarterback is a Sanchez, a fellow Mexican-American.

Speaking of being a Jets fan, I often say that out of all the sports, I like football the least.  It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a game every now and then.  It’s just that I prefer baseball and hockey, and well, with hockey not being played any time soon…football is going to have to suffice.  Of course, the New York Rangers were my closest team winning a championship anytime in the near future.  But my football Jets…uh…yeah.  The furthest thing from it.  And it doesn’t seem like they’re interested in winning anything, let alone a stupid game, at all.  Just to, you know, torture me.

My husband, though, is a rare one.  He’s a Bronx boy who roots for the Mets, and his other two teams – basketball and football – have nothing to do with one another and have to do with serendipitous circumstances.  He happened to like John Stockton and Karl Malone, and roots for the Utah Jazz today as a result.  (True story, is that I also used to root for the Jazz, since they were the only team to play the Bulls it seemed when I really wanted Chicago to lose).

He happened to catch a playoff game in 1983 featuring the Seattle Seahawks.  It turns out it was their first.  He’s rooted for them ever since.

He also celebrated a milestone birthday this year.  Coupled with the Jets visiting Seattle to face his Seahawks this year, which like never ever happens, his birthday and me completing the marathon a week before (which did not go down, obviously), we figured a quick getaway to Seattle was in order.

I told Gal for All Seasons podcast regular “WHOOMP!” ThereItIs Jake that I wouldn’t mind if the Jets lost the game we were going to — I mean, a team HAS to lose right? (no one told that to San Francisco this weekend though) — but that the Jets would probably win just to fuck with me.

Well they didn’t, and even the TD they scored was completely by accident.  In fact, good friend Wooooo was nice enough to send this picture to remind me of how annoying this game was for a visiting Jets fan.

I digress.

When I was in high school, a music movement called “grunge” infiltrated our vocabulary and our ears.  This movement was based in the Pacific Northwest region, and most importantly, Seattle.  Being a huge music fan, I always made it a point to want to travel to Seattle, I just never had a reason to go.  I guess that it’s unfortunate that there will be a few states in the Union that I’ll never visit, simply because there is no baseball or the Mets won’t be visiting that year.

I’m weird.

But Seattle has baseball…so that I haven’t made it to Safeco Field at least just once yet surprises even me.  But I had no reason not to go this time.

I had never followed my football team on the road.  I had never been to Seattle.  My husband will only turn 40 once.  Therefore, it was on.

On Friday, our first full day in the caffeinated city (where I had a hard time finding a place that was non-Starbucks), we decided to do stadium tours of both Safeco and CenturyLink.  On the light rail over to the stadiums area (they are little spitting distance from one another), we met some other Jets fans in from out of town.  Though they lived on the west coast now (California), they were from Long Island.  And up to see the Jets play.

On the CenturyLink tour, we met another couple from New York where the wife was a Jets fan and the husband was a Seahawks fan.

I thought…it was nice to see others traveling to see their teams play.  No matter what side of the fence they were on.

But people were still surprised we traveled that far.  Especially with the chance of one of our teams losing.  Here’s my thoughts on that: one will have to lose.  I travel all over to see my teams play, and there’s a 50/50 chance they may lose.  I make my peace with it before I travel.  There’s more to it than just my team winning at that point.  It’s not like the Jets are going to the playoffs or anything that this game was a must-win.

So I got a drink out of it.  A few, actually.

Jets fans are known to be a little bit on the uncouth side,  a tad rowdy, and lots of fun.  I know there’s also a bit of a reputation of us being douchebags (it’s true, but let’s be fair – ALL fan bases have them), so I was curious to see how we’d be on the road.

One of the things I noticed first off, though the stadiums are in an industrial and underdeveloped area of what is known as “SoDo” in Seattle (technically borders the area), there is not a lot of parking available.  I remember reading a few years ago that Seattle is the worst state for traffic in the 50…I didn’t drive, but I can attest that it didn’t look pretty to drive around in some areas.  Kind of reminded me of Boston, essentially one highway in and out of the city.  Anyway, the next time New York fans complain about how expensive it is to park for baseball games will get smacked upside the head by me.  Parking — not even in PRIME LOTS — can cost upwards of $40-50 for events.  Talk about price gauging, hubby noticed that any other days (since we were there two days before the game), it’s like EIGHT BUCKS.  Plus, much of the prime location parking lots are covered.  Therefore, that means not lots of tailgating.

Part of the charm of going to a football game is the tailgating.  In fact, when the city talked about moving the Jets to the West Side Stadium (that was never built) a few years ago, I was dead set against it.  The traffic for game days would be abominable but also, where would we tailgate?  It would be a travesty, really, because even if the team loses, the tailgates really are a lot of fun.  Losing that is like losing the green in our team colors.

But on game days, they do make accommodations for tailgating…they actually OPEN Safeco Field on the Center Field side to the Left Field concourse and have concessions open and sell beer for “happy hour prices.”  The admission is free, but of course you pay for food.  Keep in mind this is also west coast time.  By the time this game started, many of the east coast games had finished or were finishing.  There were TVs on the games around the horn.   It was a great atmosphere.  We were disappointed we were not aware of this soiree, as we would have LOVED to show up earlier to experience some of the charm.

Jets fans were there.  We were politely heckled, but mostly, everyone kept their cool.  I can’t say it would be like that in New York/East Rutherford.  I remember seeing the Jets play the Vikings in 2002, I think, and some dude wore Helga braids and Viking horns.  I thought he was cool, but the rowdy drunk Jets fans heckled him mercilessly, to the point where I thought the dude was going to punch someone.

   

For the most part, the fans were very chill here.  On both sides.  I introduced myself to other Jets fans, and got some pics as evidenced above.  It was like we survived a war or something, traveling to follow our teams even though there was a good chance they’d lose.

Of course, they did.  Which leads me to Mark Sanchez.  I have made no bones that I am a Sanchez chick.  He’s my guy, and I don’t get why the blame gets solely put on him.  Yes, there was that funny pic of the interception which in essence changed the game dynamic.  Yes, they scored on defense, and it was a complete accident.

He’s kind of like the David Wright of the Jets, if you think about it.  The kid with talent who is completely misused, but is a complimentary player, not necessarily the “star QB.”  That’s the difference between a Sanchez and say, a Tom Brady.  Brady can carry a team, even with shitty defense.  He’s that talented.  Sanchez is talented, but if you remember two years in a row, he helped bring the team the conference championship game two years in a row.  To paraphrase President Obama, he didn’t build that.  He didn’t do it on his own.  As quickly as the Jets rose to stardom, ownership was just as quick in dismantling it by letting key players leave and injuries.

Being a Mets fan, I guess I am a little sensitive to dismantling after a successful run with no reason or rhyme

Once the game was started, we sat in a section called the Hawks’ Nest.  This was in the end zone, and I guess I was expecting a bit of a louder more rowdy crowd.  You see, CenturyLink is called the “loudest stadium,” and holy shit, when the “12th Man Flag” was raised prior to kickoff, it was deafening.  I don’t know if the blowout was the reason or just maybe I got used to it.  But while passionate, the fans were also very laidback.  There were two Jets fans sitting in front of us — we were dining our guts, meanwhile Seahawks fans were talking us down from the ledge.  It was pretty comical.

 

The first pic of the Hawks Nest is from our tour.  On game day, our weather karma ran out and it misted most of the first half, to rain-rain-rain the second half.  When we left, we walked in the rain to Chinatown, the next neighborhood over.  It didn’t let up, even as we left that evening.

Another thing I learned on the tour was that being that CenturyLink is considered the loudest stadium, and trust me, it was, some players complain about playing there.

As I got on the elevator with some other fans (Jets fans also took the tour), I was like, “I’m sorry, but aren’t these guys professionals?  ‘WAH! It’s too loud! WAH!’ What a bunch of pussies.”  That got a good laugh.  But it’s true!  Don’t go into pro sports if you can’t take a few loud fans.  /RANT

So there’s not much else to tell.  The Jets lost, and looked awful in the process.  The Seahawks won, and the Jets fans around me all talked about how their defense was sick.  Which is funny – wasn’t that supposed to be the Jets’ MO?

 

We had hoped that after the game there would still be tailgates open, but I guess like most stadiums, they close down concessions after a certain time.  Most importantly, stop serving beer.  So we hung out in Chinatown for a few hours, had some food, had some beer, and then went home.

Experiencing a road football game was something different for me.  I’ve only gone to see my baseball team on the road, and even have gone to games for the hell of it, even if my team wasn’t there.  It never occurred to me to go to a football game.  Hell, even my hockey team I didn’t follow around all that often.  Just across the river to Jersey.

In any event, I’d definitely do a trip like this again.  I’ve heard great things about M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play, and I’ve wanted to check out Heinz Field.

All I can say is CenturyLink was a great place to watch a game – very spirited, fun stuff to do pregame.  Doubt I’ll be going back to Seattle anytime soon though.

I was disappointed though in the coffee and the music.  I didn’t find a good cup of coffee nor did I see any places to review local bands.   However, I was one of those late bloomers who didn’t appreciate Nirvana till it was too late, but I still love me some Pearl Jam.  We were also greeted by the voice of Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains at SeaTac Airport.

I came as I was, but forgot my flannels at home.