One In A Million

Why…
This uncertainty?
It’s not clear to me
Would you rather be independent?
Have I lost your love?
Have you had enough?
Do you feel too much resentment?
How can I make you see
When you disagree
That you just can’t leave?

My arc as a New York Ranger fan is pretty simple.  My dad took me to a hockey game, I was 13 years old, some dude name Brian Leetch was a rookie.

They won the first game I went to at the Garden in 1989.  Even without a win, I was hooked.  I loved New York City, even as a child.  It was so different and interesting and going right to midtown for a sporting event was just mind blowing.  I was used to going out to the boondocks in Queens for Mets games at that point.

What got me was the crowd.  They were INSANE.  Forget the 1986 Mets fans, which was also a crazy time.  Rangers fans were gritty, foul, drunken, loud, crude, obnoxious.  Everything that I loved about a fanbase.  They had every reason to be.  My dad told me about the Broadway Blues and Broad Street Bullies.  He told me stories about the rivalries of the ’70s, how his best friend got in a fight and broke his arm.  How he listened to the Rangers being eliminated on the radio in 1975, in the parking lot of Tom’s Tavern in Farmingdale, New Jersey (If you know, you know).

Within a few years, our hockey team that we pledged allegiance to made it to the top of the mountain: the Stanley Cup.  Lord Stanley placed his hand over the Garden, and we celebrated this victory like it was 1999 (though, it was only five years before…in 1994).

That summer made such an impression on my then-young life (ha, keep your comments to yourself), that I still think about that run with such shock and awe.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.  Even the Mets making it to the playoffs or the World Series, that electricity I felt with the Rangers is second to none.

If you’ve followed Gal For All Seasons since the beginning, and especially my posts about the New York Rangers, you’ll also know that I associated that fateful run to the Cup with one of my “desert island” albums: Pet Shop Boys’ VERY.

Whenever the Rangers made it to the playoffs, I always made it a point to listen to the album, if not in its entirety, then at least the first five songs.  That was part of my juju that year.  And the opening chords of “Can You Forgive Her?” can just bring me back to my car and driving to my dad’s to watch the games.  Then on the way to the train station when we brought our juju to the city.

What also made an impression were goaltenders.  I fell in love with Mike Richter that summer of 1994, and he remained my favorite New York Ranger, almost uncontested.  Sure, I loved Leetch, and Messier and Graves and all those guys.  But Richter was something else.  He was the first jersey I ever bought.  I broke it out when they retired his number in 2004.

That’s why after the strike that canceled hockey for a while, I gave up on it.  Richter was retired.  The Rangers had traded Leetch away (whyyyyyyy?).  Messier was old and done.  They were a shadow of themselves, not making the playoffs for years and years and years on end.  When you think about how many teams DON’T make the playoffs, it just made me think that they were never serious about winning.

Then my dad told me I should consider coming back.  “You gotta see these new guys, T.  Their new goalie?  Lundqvist?  …

His number will be hanging from the rafters someday.”

I…
Won’t stand in your way
I can’t make you stay
Though, of course, I feel rejected
You’re a part of me
You’re the family
I can’t bear to leave

So I went back.  Picture it: winter 2007.  The Rangers didn’t score at all, until overtime and won the game 1-0.  Allegedly, I also wrote about this for a Mets site that is now-defunct.

Almost singlehandedly, Henrik Lundqvist not only changed the Ranger dynamic, he brought ME from the dead, a person who said she no longer needed hockey, that it no longer served her well, and she was just fine without it.

With his coiffed look, suave and sophisticated manner, yet aggressive style of playing, no one defined being a Ranger better.  And who realized that he’d not only change the team, he changed the fucking FRANCHISE.

Sure, we had Eddie Giacomin.  And we ALL KNOW about the “ED-DIE! ED-DIE!” return to the Garden.  Sure, Giacomin was a legend to Ranger fans.

Henrik took it next level: He’s a Viking fucking WARRIOR.

I don’t know if the Rangers will ever see a competitor or a player like him again.  I don’t know if New York sports will see one like him either.

I keep talking about Henrik Lundqvist in the past tense.

I think I gotta go back to 2014 to full capture that I felt the beginning of the end of Henrik’s time in hockey.  He was 32.  He wasn’t getting younger.  And the Rangers made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final that year.  They didn’t win.  But they made the Eastern Conference Final three times in his tenure with the Rangers.  But after 2015, they sort of fell off the cliff.  I blame Alain Vigneault.  But I think the Rangers just did a terrible job of building around Henrik.  Even guys like Martin Brodeur had Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens in front of his net.  Who has Lundqvist had?! Can’t tell you how many times we scream about Marc Staal or Tony DeAngelo just fucking everything up in front of him.

I just knew that something was…ending.  It’s now the year 2020.  Everything is ALL fucked up.  Henrik Lundqvist is now 38 years old.  He has many individual accolades under his belt.  He is still missing a Cup.  I look back at 2014 and realize that was the chance.  The chance we let slip away, and acted like it was so cavalier.

Right before the world ended, Mika Zibanejad scored five goals in a game, that I still think about, and it gives me chills.  I could live to be 100 years old and not see another game like that.  Now, if I wasn’t hooked on hockey, then, I would’ve been after that.

What stood out was when the world ended, it meant endings for so much else.  No full baseball season.  No fans in attendance.  Basketball season stitched together.  But without a full season of hockey, we would have no idea how the Rangers fate would have been settled.  In a year that was long touted as “part of the rebuild,” Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad were having monster seasons.

Henrik was mostly watching games from the bench this season.

I have no idea if this was by design.  If he and young coach David Quinn with his new philosophy had come to an understanding of some sorts.  The team was going with youth, and that also meant in the crease.

I knew, no matter what, before COVID-19 changed all of our lives, before Zibanejad scored five goals and before we knew Panarin was a Hart Trophy finalist, one thing was for certain:

It looked like we would be preparing for a future Rangers without Henrik Lundqvist.

And as long as hockey and sports didn’t restart, we didn’t have to deal with that reality.

Feel…
Free…
To leave…
If you think you’re trapped, but
Please…
Believe…
I’ll always want you back

 

The fairest way that the NHL could look at 2019-20 was to have a “play-in” of sorts, and the Rangers were a team that made the cut.

They were swept by the Hurricanes promptly.

And goddamn COVID for not only uprooting our lives, but for denying us the chance to see what this team was actually TRULY made of.  For making them perform lukewarm and not in a home ice situation.

And for having us see possibly our last vision of Henrik Lundqvist as a New York Ranger, sitting on the bench, and not in his rightful throne: on the ice, in front of the net.

That is goddamn tragic.

I was prepared for a sweep, I was prepared for the Rangers not doing much.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how I felt about seeing Henrik like that.

It was almost more than I could bear.  I joked about crying myself to sleep, but it wasn’t far from the truth.

One in a million men
Could change the way you feel
One in a million men
Baby it’s up to me

One In A Million, Pet Shop Boys

When people don’t go to work or make their coffee run or stop at a newsstand to have some sense of normalcy around these parts, they might pick up a New York Post in the morning.  They may see the backpage as clear as day.

HANKS for the Memories.”

Larry Brooks makes sense of what Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers could do for their mutual futures.  But the writing was on the wall for a long time, at least as long as the “regular” regular season was, and much like the youth movement that made Henrik Lundqvist a star and legend for the Rangers, he would no longer be part of their future.

They’d come full circle.

In 2014, I made it a point to incorporate Pet Shop Boys’ song titles in my posts.  They may not mean much to my two readers, but they have a special place for me. So my blog, my rules, all right?

I never was able to incorporate the song “One In A Million.”  But it appeared I was saving it for Henrik Lundqvist all along.

I wasn’t around for Rod Gilbert.  Eddie Giacomin was long gone by the time I ended up a Rangers fan.  I was able to see Brian Leetch, a home grown Ranger, in his prime, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I got to see Mark Messier, widely regarded as an all-time hockey great, wear a Rangers jersey and bring a Cup to this long suffering fanbase.

But Henrik Lundqvist, man.  I’ll never see another player like him in any sport across any city in my lifetime.

He truly is one a kind.  One in a million, if you will.

I hope that whatever happens, he gets what he deserves: a chance to skate around the rink with the Cup of Lord Stanley.

Until the End of the World

Haven’t seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold just passing time

Remember the anticipation for Christmas morning when you were a kid?  The excitement leading up to the day, making your wish list, going to see Santa, even going to bed on Christmas eve…all with the knowledge that when you wake up, it’s the most exciting day of your childhood.  Till next year of course.

Then when you are an adult…life just kind of flies past you, ya know?

I often say that as an adult, my year officially begins on baseball’s Opening Day.  Each year, I’d wake up with anticipation every day leading up to whatever that arbitrary date would be.  From the last out of the World Series, it really didn’t matter if my “winter sports” teams were doing well.  Baseball took the prize, hands down.

Contrary to what TS Eliot claimed about April, March seemed to be the cruelest month to me, at least.  Hockey would be gearing up for the playoffs, but baseball was also starting.  It didn’t matter how the Rangers were doing: it always took a back seat to baseball season.

This year, Mets’ opening day was to be Thursday, March 26th.  I knew once the season started, and I did my baseball trips, before I knew it…October would be here.

Last September, on closing day, opening day didn’t seem too far away.

Now, the start of baseball is a continuum.  Ergo, there is no start.

And if you feel anything like me, you feel lost, in more ways than one.

I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise

I won’t lie: 2020 has been a weird fuckin year, sports-wise.  As if January wasn’t the longest month EVER, as Sunday, January 26th unfolded, the sports (and the entire) world learned we lost Kobe Bryant, plus his daughter Gianna.  While I can’t say I was the biggest Bryant fan, I certainly respected him and what he did for the sport.  That said, I was glued to the TV and my phone that day, to learn about what happened.  It was other worldly.  I thought, no way does any news top this one.  It was sad.  It was tragic.  I really don’t know if anything was going to top feeling what we felt when we found out Kobe Bryant ceased to exist.  Once his and Gianna’s life celebration happened on February 24th…I thought, maybe we can move on.  Seemed unbelievable, but we’ve done that before.

The universe had other plans, however.

For those of you just getting acquainted with Gal For All Seasons, you will know that I am a big New York Rangers fan.  While I didn’t expect much of the team this season, I attended their opening night in October (another growing tradition in my household), and I expected…I don’t know…something special this year.  Maybe the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs, but they were going to make things fun.

Boy.  Did I get more than I bargained for.

Mika Fucking Zibanejad.  Along with Artemi Panarin, we were getting an exciting scoring opportunity each time they took the ice.  I could live to be 100 years old, and not see another game like the one Mika Zibanejad had on March 5th.  The biggest drama we thought we had this year was wondering if Henrik Lundqvist would ever play again…and that Igor Shesterkin was making a quick name for himself in the few games he played before doing the Duaner Sanchez special (most Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder folks know getting into a car after a successful run is never a good thing).

Hard to believe that shit wasn’t even a month ago.

In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You

You were acting like it was the end of the world

The last live sporting event I attended in 2020 was when the Utah Jazz played the New York Knicks on Wednesday, March 4th.  The weirdest thing of the evening, to me anyway, was to attend a non-Rangers sporting event at Madison Square Garden.

Yet, the weirdest shit happened after that night, something that was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  The weirdest shit was my connection to the Utah Jazz, and the last sporting event congregated…before the end of the world.

A week later, Jazz star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus that is wreaking so much havoc not only at home, personally and professionally for me at least…but worldwide.  Shortly after this diagnosis, NBA pulled the plug on the season, for now at least.  We found out a teammate, and fellow Mets fan, Donovan Mitchell, tested positive.  Along with several other players, even fans.  That same day, the WHO had declared COVID 19 a pandemic.

Then, the shoe continued to drop.  NHL paused its season.  MLB pulled out of spring training and doesn’t appear to have games on the docket till at least May (and at this point…that seems too soon, with California and New York state going under stay-at-home order immediately).

It seems like a hundred years ago when I was at that basketball game (the second professional hoops game I’d ever attended, believe it or not).  I convinced the husbo to go to that game because “We never see your team, the Jazz, play when they come to New York.” (And full disclosure: I was a huge Jazz fan in the 90s, when John Stockton and Karl Malone were kicking ass together).

March 4th feels like it was forever ago.  But it was just over two weeks.

Now will baseball season start in May?  Possibly beyond?  When I want time to go as quickly as possible, because that means these end times will be dissipating, this last week took forever.  And seems to not want to end.  With only more and more bad and unpleasant news to hit the wires.

All of this is too painful to imagine, awful to fathom.  I realize the world is much bigger than me.  But when my world is all about the sports that help me escape the trivialities of life, a deadly virus has to have me not ignore reality in a big way.

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you’d wait
‘Til the end of the world
Kobe Bryant’s death seems like a million years ago at this time.  I was telling a friend the other day that I thought the weirdest story in basketball this year would be his death.  However, leave it to the Utah Jazz to not only beat that, but cause a domino effect of response…we saw the ripple effects of one person testing positive for COVID 19.  Now this is a big metaphor for what the pandemic looks like world over now.
I sit home because I have to, longing for a sense of normalcy.  I sit home, because it’s the safest and right thing to do right now.  I watch my millionth episode of Man Vs Food.  I see the same episode of SVU…again.  But what I wish for is to go outside.  Longing for the Rangers to take the ice again.  Rushing home from work to take the train to Queens for a baseball game.  Anticipating next Thursday’s would-be opening day tailgate.  Leaving for our first baseball road trip.  I’ll take ANY trip, really, at this point, besides the walks to the grocery stores.
I normally sit home most evenings anyway, as this day and age provides us with a way to stay together, even if there is a separation to it.  We watch and talk about games while on our phones and social media apps.  We don’t have sports to bring us together right now.  But we are all together now, even if we are uniting separately, in our own homes.
I’ll wait till the end of the world, as Bono sang on my favorite song on my favorite album, for baseball season to start and perhaps the rest of the sports seasons to end.
But I hope the end of the world doesn’t come before I can do those things that I have taken for granted.

Dumb

I’m not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I’m having fun
I think I’m dumb
Or maybe just happy
Think I’m just happy

For the first time since 2013, I didn’t attend a live football game, where the Seahawks were one of the teams playing.  This season, each city we were eager to see a football game in (Charlotte, Chicago, Denver) were out of the question due to timing conflicts.  The other games  played in Seattle, which has become an even year visiting phenomenon for us, just didn’t work.  Sure, there were tons of cities we wanted to visit, and the home city of our preferred football team was always open.  Not to mention, a fun-ass time that would be hosted by the booster club in London by the UK Seahawkers.

In 2014, we went to Seattle.  Baltimore was our 2015 trip.  We went to MetLife across the river AND CenturyLink in 2016.  Another MetLife trip in 2017.  But nothing in 2018.

So, we sat it out this year.  We sat out traveling for football season for the first time since 2014, and we embraced our role as out-of-market fans.  Instead of going on a cross country flight and eating great food over at Pike Place Market and drinking some fancy cocktails over in Belltown, or hitting up Bush Garden for some beers post-CenturyLink, we instead shared our Sundays with our friends at Carlow East on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  (Although I think having a Seahawks bar in Manhattan would make more sense on the Upper WEST Side…after all, the Pacific Northwest is the UWS of the United States.)

Carlow East and the NYCeahawks are nothing to shake a stick at, though.  In fact, I think no one from the Pacific Northwest can challenge the authenticity of the 12-ing that occurs there.  The chants, the coordinated claps, the high-fives from total strangers who become your best friends and family for a 60 minute duration.  They are all so very real.  Visitors from out of town are always amazed by how loud we can be.  It’s like CenturyLink II.  And whether its #BlueFriday or #VictoryMonday, wearing a Hawks shirt or hat or hoodie, as I am wont to do while working outdoors, elicits a random “Go Hawks!” or fist pump from a stranger.  Hell, in 2017, someone even STOPPED me on the street after shouting in solidarity after a particularly dramatic Hawks win, to show me a video from the game as he had BEEN there the day before.  In Seattle.

It’s a special thing, being a NYCHawk.

But I wonder, if maybe, I’m just a bit stupid for getting emotionally involved in sports.  Like, what is my life worth that I get involved so intimately with the teams in my life…be it Rangers, or Mets, or Seahawks, even St John’s these days (which is mostly for my husband, who is a Johnnie).  That all I do is get my hopes up and dashed with disappointment?

It’s different, being a disappointed football fan.  You only get 16 times a year to have your highs and low, and potentially more if you are lucky enough to root for a team that makes the playoffs.

My heart is broke
But I have some glue
Help me inhale
And mend it with you

We’ll float around
And hang out on clouds
Then we’ll come down
And have a hangover, have a hangover

This year had highs and lows as is wont to happen in the context of a football season.  Starting 0-2, nearly every “expert” lamented the death of the LOB, and eulogies were written for the PCJS Seattle Seahawks era.  QPD.  The “Dynasty that Never Was.”  Yeah.  I called bullshit.

And I mean, it was very easy to think this. The LOB was pretty much DOA this year.  Richard Sherman was goneEarl Thomas was holding outKam Chancellor retired due to injuries.  The bad assery vibe had changed in a way.  I wasn’t too concerned, though.  Yeah, the defense wasn’t the same.  Defensive players don’t age well, and all three of those guys were out for extended periods of time to injury in previous seasons.  Sure, they helped, but not essential to the team’s overall success I felt.  We can argue about their Cantonesque stats, but the one sure lock for the HOF was still our middle linebacker – Bobby Wagner.  (Who is quite easily my favorite Seahawks player right now.)

Yet what was NOT said was that the team was shifting away from being a defense oriented team to building around the offense, mostly around the franchise quarterback, Russell Wilson.  What on earth is wrong that THAT?  I would get so frustrated watching him scramble around with virtually no protection from his offensive team.  And let’s not go there that last year was a field goal here or extra point there from being a completely different ending.

So sure.  Defense may “win championships,” as the old adage says.  But you can’t win if you don’t score.  You don’t score without offense.  Or until you score.  Or something.

I didn’t buy into the rebuild.  But what I saw after a few games was a bit…disheartening.  After the 0-2 start, they pulled themselves out of that hole.  Yet I truly believe they could have won a lot more had they not played to the level of their competition each game.  How many games were decided on a last second “walk off” field goal by Sebastian Janikowski?  Or a close call loss against the LA teams (Rams and Chargers), that in my opinion could have easily gone the other way and been W’s in the column.  Playing to the level of their competition made me feel as though the team believed in the rebuild.  And that got me angry.   It’s okay to play over your heads or to your full potential and win decisively.  No really.  It’s a thing, and it’s all right.

Rebuilds are not a bad thing, though.  Acknowledge it, we’re adults, we can handle them.  Ask me how I feel about a rebuild in Flushing.  And I’m going through one now with my hockey team.  Rebuilds can be fun too, especially seeing the results come to fruition.  I never bought into the Seattle rebuild, though.  This Seattle football team was meant to be a playoff team this year.  What kills me is that they could have been MORE, instead of a one-and-done wild card team against a Cowboys team that quite frankly was not a superior team to the Seahawks.  Cowboys won.  Seahawks lost.  And somewhere, Richard Sherman laughs.  My hockey team sucks.  It’s how many days till pitchers and catchers?  It’s winter, and I’m fucking BORED with it already.

Skin the sun
Fall asleep
Wish away
The soul is cheap
Lesson learned
Wish me luck
Soothe the burn
Wake me up

The fact that I can actually feel real feelings for a football team, which was unheard of not too long ago…that I can be disappointed when one of my teams underachieves or I can truly feel that in my heart….this is what is truly remarkable in my eyes.

Some days I want to give up sports for knitting.

And then I say, well that’s a dumb idea.  So I put my jerseys away for another year.  I go back to eating bad carbs and junk food during the Super Bowl.  Maybe have a hangover the next day.  Mostly, I’ll be happy because it means baseball is right around the corner.

Can You Stand The Rain?

Sunny days, everybody loves them
Tell me baby, can you stand the rain?
Storms will come
This we know for sure (This we know for sure)
Can you stand the rain?  ~ New Edition, “Can You Stand The Rain?”

We are in the middle of winter.  There was snow last night; there was sunny weather today.

The weekend of the Super Bowl, it rained.  It rained so much, I joked that I needed a canoe to get around.  Pretty sure I saw one floating down Broadway.  Of course, I needed to be outside, taking care of pets and not hunkering down, eating bad carbs and watching a game where I had a healthy hate for both teams.

Being a dog walker can be fun and on bad days, when you love your pets, it can make them not so bad.  On a rainy day though, that separates the true believers from the poseurs.

And since my last post, which celebrated the life of my beloved furry baby, Cassie, I spent some time not only mourning her loss, but also mourning the loss of my sports teams.  Which was very palatable.  At least in the past, I’ve had sports as escapism.  With the Seahawks puttering out at the end of the season, the Rangers basically in back-up-the-truck mode now, and the Mets being not so cautiously optimistic for 2018, these teams haven’t done much to make me forget my pain.

This also marked the first year I haven’t seen the Seahawks in a postseason since I started following them in earnest.  Someone told me, though, early in the hockey season, that I better hope the Seahawks do something because the Rangers were looking maddeningly frustrating.

Well, I seem to not be able to exist without my teams frustrating me, so I figured bring it on.  Plus, out of all my teams, the Seahawks always leave me pleasantly surprised.  And the Rangers, well, we can find a way for them to make it to the playoffs.  Right?

It seems like Ray Ramirez’ golden shit touch has infiltrated my teams.  Well, the Seahawks since nearly everyone was injured, and it was tough to come out of that hole.

The last day of the season, they were officially eliminated from making it to the postseason, before they even officially lost a nail-biting heartbreaker of a game.  I suppose it was fitting.  2017 was a shitty year for me personally, it was motherfucking cold that day, and it was New Years’ Eve.  2018 had to be better by definition.

Then New Years’ Day, the Rangers played a Winter Classic game at my baseball summer home, CitiField.  If it was fucking freezing here, on Manhattan Island, it was probably polar vortex meets Antarctica gusts in Queens.

The Rangers won.  It was ice cold, but they played red hot that day.  If I felt concerned and not at all hopeful of their play, I felt like despite the unnerving weather, they had given us hope.

Turns out, it was the last time I felt any hope about this team’s performance.  Everything has gone downhill since.  As of February 18th, they lost 15 games out of their last 21.  Oof.  And the worst part is that letter to the fans, talking about a rebuild? It was sent on February 8th! 10 fucking days ago.   As we like to say on Twitter, back up the fucking truck, and they made it official in writing.  But it just seemed to have gotten worse and worse as time goes on.

So let’s talk about AV for a second, who had the understatement of the year above.  I notoriously defended and called myself a Terry Collins apologist while he was with the Mets.   It wasn’t his fault he was given mostly shit to work with in his years as Mets manager.  AV though, I’m sure Sonny from A Bronx Tale would have a word with him about “wasted talent.”  For a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14, and all the way to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final in 2014-15, he has managed to not get the best of his team in his time as head coach.  Even in those years when they seemed destined for something big.  That’s a problem.  Especially with an aging Henrik Lundqvist.

Above all, Henke does not deserve this shit.

The first one on the flat bed truck is AV.  But Henrik must go too, for the betterment of himself and the team.  Unfortunately I cannot see the team being a success without sending him someplace else to potentially win.  And talk about squandering a talent while he was there.

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about what went into building a team, any team, be it baseball or football, even hockey.  I remember my dad making a rationalization about a player saying “You could build around him, though.”  The way I taught myself about sports is the way I relate to it, and I could relate to building around a player. I guess it’s apropos that an MLB Network documentary on Field Of Dreams, where the saying “if you build it, they will come” was coined, is playing in the background now.  Because if you build it, they will come.  And by “they,” it means talent and by “they will come,” means making the team attractive enough for players to want to be there.

I hate to see Henrik Lundqvist be the sacrificial lamb here.  And I know his contract terms might be a bit onerous right now.  It leaves basically everyone else to go elsewhere.  Yet, when it comes to the Rangers, how many times have we seen our all-stars go elsewhere and win?  Marian Gaborik.  The centerpieces that brought Rick Nash to New York.  Shit, even Ryan Callahan played in a Stanley Cup Final after he was traded.   Why is this?  Do we become too impatient for a rebuild that we sacrifice the future for the immediate gratification?  And guess what?   We still don’t fucking win.  Because you have one guy, and you can’t even fucking build right around him…it’s gonna be a problem long-term.

So it’s painful to watch.  But you know what, I’m back to what feels right.  And by “right,” I mean all my teams disappoint me again.  I have incredibly low expectations now.  This is what I am used to.  Sigh.

As a dog walker, I spent a lot of time outdoors.  I’m exposed to many different elements, I battle bad sinus infections in cold weather, and I have to wrestle dog shit out of the jaws of pups unwilling to relinquish said shit.  When it rains, no one wants to go outside.  This separates the real people who love their work though from the babies.

Riding out a rain delay at a baseball game?  It sucks! If you don’t like rain in the Pacific Northwest, you probably are better off not living there or attending an outdoor sporting event there.

After rain, you may be lucky enough to see a rainbow.  You can have a beautiful sunset once the rain stops.  Weather can become bearably cool after a rainfall.  Flowers and grass and all kinds of vegetation grows after rain.

If you can stand the rain, somewhere over the proverbial rainbow, dreams of your team winning a championship can come true.  So you wait it out.  The storm will pass, eventually.

In My Life

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

  ~ In My Life, Beatles

Memories work in curious ways.  Some of us remember every detail of a certain moment.  The human mind will work in ways that may add or take away from either pleasant or painful memories.  Some of us remember things that happen to others in vivid picturesque quality.  Sometimes it’s an event we all remember and what we were doing at that time.

But I think what’s most curious is what a person’s first childhood memory is.  That tells a lot about what type of person they are, how old they are and even give insight to their personality as to how they reacted to it.

December 8th is a significant date for my memories.  It’s my godmother’s (Mom’s best friend) birthday, for one.  Several years ago, I went to a hockey game and found Gabby, the loudmouthed New York Ranger fan.  So each year not only do I think of my Aunt Pam (who is still a significant figure in my life), we often have Gabby’s preferred meal of fried chicken and some kind of potato.  Hey, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

Yet, my oldest childhood memory surrounds one of the most memorable in just any kind of history, whether it’s popular culture or just general world events.  The day John Winston Ono Lennon was brutally murdered in front of his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

I was only four years old, but I was two weeks away from my fifth birthday at that point.  What I remember most was being in my mom’s car, listening to all the radio stations playing Beatles’ and John Lennon solo tunes.  I didn’t know much about the Beatles when I was four.  But I do know my parents loved them.  I also remember being at my grandparents that day, and every television show had some kind of John Lennon tribute.  I’m not sure I knew was a “tribute” actually was at almost five years old.  But I do remember it being a sad and solemn day.

But out of death comes life.  Sounds cliche, but it is true.  John Lennon was no longer with us, but his music and art lived on in many different forms.  I remember watching the Imagine documentary at 13 years old.  My dad buying Julian’s album several years after John’s death, and remarking on the son’s songwriting and singing ability.  The rumors that Paul, George and Ringo would tour with Julian.  I always thought it was a good thing that they let the Beatles go with John.  It wouldn’t be right to do things as “the Beatles,” making them a sideshow act.  It was always those four.

I moved not too far from where John lived and was subsequently murdered.  I try to every year make it over to Strawberry Fields on John’s birthday and life celebration on 12/8 to sing some Beatles’ and Lennon songs.  Knowing that maybe I won’t see total peace and love in my lifetime, but for a brief moment we can Imagine it to be true.    I hopped by Central Park to sing a few songs with the group the day I went to the Ranger game where Gabby was “born.”

I’ve often said that sports has been escapism for me.  Music has been a form of creativity and sometimes inspires me in ways sports simply cannot.  Sometimes, they intersect here on Gal For All Seasons.  And like knowing my first childhood memory was surrounded by a musician I deeply admire and whose artistry I loved, sports and music often give me comfort in my life.

Death is a part of life, but life does indeed move on.  Lennon was with us 40 years, and has been gone 37 years.  Even my sports teams who have lived and been born again — 1986 Mets, 1994 Rangers — have probably more significance now or as much as they did when they were current.  Though my first memory was entrenched in a very sad world event that shocked many, sports and music have brought me incredible joy and passion ever since.

In recent years, I’ve been able to follow another one of my passions: pet care.  When I was younger, I thought I might be a veterinarian, but being the empath I am, I don’t think I could bear to see any animal in pain.  As much as vets help them, I just didn’t think I could be a funeral director either.  But I got to work with dogs and cats in providing their care, and I still had my cats, Cassie and Napoleon Dynamite, at home to keep me company (and most often, on my toes).

Cassie’s been with me since 2002.  She was separated from her litter and was yowling for food and attention at two weeks old behind my old Jersey City apartment.  We found a nursing mother and litter, she stayed with them, she was weaned and became my cat and life mate at about eight weeks old.

She and I went through a lot together.  She lived with me for 15 years through six different apartments and in four different cities.  Napoleon Dynamite Kitty joined our family in 2005.  They didn’t always get along, but thank goodness for Jackson Galaxy in helping get them to at least coexist in our small space.  There was a bad break up somewhere in there, and then a fun and happy marriage to her Pawppy.

As I relate to my earliest childhood memory, I related her life to certain sports milestones.  She came into my life in the Mo Vaughn Mets era.  She was there for three postseason runs for the Mets, the late season collapse in 2007, with both cats wondering why I paced so much watching late season games, needing every game to be a win.

I made the decision to move to New York City in 2008 after spending lots of time in the city due to work and play related to sports social media.  I remember when she went hiding after I celebrated a Rangers postseason win a little too loudly during their 2012 run.  And I’m pretty sure both cats wondered why I threw a box of perfectly good Domino’s boneless Buffalo chicken nuggets after Russell Wilson threw an interception in the last moments of Super Bowl 49.

She was a nurse when husbo couldn’t go to an early season Mets game in 2011 due to an illness, so she stayed in bed with him while I was able to go.  She’d get annoyed when I wanted to sit on the same couch with her during a game, so I could, you know, watch said game.  Or when I was trying to write a blog post or even Tweet from my desktop, she’d be like, I’m sitting on *MY* computer chair, Meowmmy.  “I only let you sit on it when I say so,” her saucer-like eyes seemed to be telling me.

CassieI’d like to think she was happiest in my latest home on 84th Street, where I finally feel connected to the city, my life and maybe that every shitty decision I made since 2009 came to some kind of pass.  She had big windows and wide windowsills to lay on.  As she got older (and fatter…), she couldn’t jump as high or as much as she wanted to.  Earlier this year, we had an Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead Mets giveaway.  We kept the bobblehead AND the box.  Cassie decided the box was a perch in which she’d alternately lay her head to watch the birds who sometimes congregated outside our windows.  Or where I’d set her food dish, so that she’d eat her dinner before her greedy brother tried to say, “Yo, you gonna eat that?”

A. Bartlett Giamatti once said that baseball is designed to break your heart.  Being a pet parent does that too.  Along with bringing joy and if you’re lucky euphoria and laughter.  We have no control over game outcomes, only our teams can do that.  Sometimes as pet parents, we need to make difficult but necessary decisions to ensure that they are not in pain.

CCCAt 1:05 pm on Saturday, December 9th, we said goodbye to Cassiopeia Cat Cooper.  Cassie.  Poo Kitty.  CCC.  She was 15 years old.  She was a sweet but sassy girl who had strong opinions about everything.  She wasn’t always the friendliest cat, but she was a good cat and friend.  I like to think I gave her a good life, and that she was happy when she crossed.  In turn, as pet parents, we know we have the option to give them a peaceful and painless death.  Unfortunately, we had to exercise that option today.

I noticed on Wednesday, she seemed a little off.  Thursday, I was concerned.  By that evening, I had decided to take her to the emergency vet.  She wasn’t able to come home.

Death is an inevitable part of life.  And today is the kind of day we always dread as pet parents.  Yet it is a necessary evil.  I brought her to the hospital on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  Due to my life and memories I think of this event every year, even without the multiple tributes.  Now I have a very personal reason of pain and loss to memorialize it as well.

Music and sports have helped me get through a lot of pain and heartache in my life.  (And we all know sports have contributed to a lot of that heartache as well.)  Cassie has been a great companion.  Through the ups and downs in life and sports and art, I could come home knowing she’d be there (along with the boy cat).  Eventually, I know I will instinctively stop trying to look for where she is hiding in the house. So will Napoleon.

Until then, I’ll give Napoleon a few extra love scritches, watch the Sounders, Rangers and Seahawks, and know that one day I will wake up, and this pain won’t be the first thing I think of.  (And hey, if the Seahawks could win this weekend, that wouldn’t hurt either.)

Some pets leave an indelible paw print on your heart.  I had Cody when I was growing up.  And Cassie was my companion animal for my adult years.  I will miss her for the rest of my days.

pookitty

In my life, Cassie, I love you more.

Cassiopeia Cat “Cassie” Cooper
April 4, 2002 – December 9, 2017 

 

As Seasons Roll On By

Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
My mirror shows another face
Another place to hide it all
Another place to hide it all
Sunday, May 21, 2017.  We are well into the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I’m sure most of you are well aware that my team, the New York Rangers, did not make it past the second round.  I wasn’t going to write about it, make it all “okay” or anything typical of what you are to see here on Gal For All Seasons.  I kind of did the Five Stages of Grief, but backwards.  I let everyone know that once the Rangers lost Game Five, after gutting out two wins on home ice to get the series against Ottawa 2-2, that I had made peace with the outcome.  And late into the game, it appeared as though that outcome was a loss.  And it was.
Then literally the next day, I had sadness, and anger came and went.  As I said, I did my five stages in my own unique way.
So once again, I see a team that is not mine playing for a trophy that each season that passes, seems more and more unlikely that I will see this generation win a Stanley Cup.  I don’t want to get peaceful about it and say it’s all good, because it’s not.  As I was saying to NotJeff and Will the night they were eliminated, we will be the same assholes next year who watch and don’t see another championship.  Because I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t do right by Henrik Lundqvist and won’t win while he is on the team.
That, my friends, is acceptance.
Sleeping with a full moon blanket
Sand and feathers for my head
Dreams have never been the answer
And dreams have never made my bed
Dreams have never made my bed
Yet, this time of the year, while baseball is in full swing, I get nostalgic.  If you have been following this site as long as I’ve had it up and running, you will know that the Pet Shop Boys hold a place near and dear to my heart when it comes to watching Rangers playoff hockey.  Which is odd because I highly doubt when they wrote and produced the album “Very,” they had an 18 year old hockey fan in mind.
But mostly, I get to thinking.  Not so much nostalgia, but what my life was like as a fan of a team that won a title.  Sure, the Seahawks won one not too long ago.  But I felt as though I was on the peripheral, that I hadn’t yet quite paid my dues.  And when the Mets won in 1986, I was 10 years old.  I had only been a fan three years at that point, sure.  But I certainly had no idea that to be a Mets fan, there is usually a lot of pain involved in the process.
With the Rangers though, it’s more an exercise in futility really.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 1994 lately, and it has nothing to do with the Rangers.  Certainly, that was a significant event in my life that year, including graduating from high school and going away to college.  A coming of age process for sure, and the Pet Shop Boys were a huge soundtrack in my life then.
Now I wanna fly above the storm
But you can’t grow feathers in the rain
And the naked floor is cold as hell
This naked floor reminds me
Oh the naked floor reminds me

And then there’s Soundgarden and the Seattle “sound” of the ’90s.  I disliked Nirvana, but I loved the other significant bands that grew out of that era.  That summer, Soundgarden’s Superunknown was a significant portion of my playlist (before I even knew it was a term).

Black Hole Sun.  Day I Tried To Live.  Fell On Black Days.  Some of it very dark, dreary (much like the weather that inspires the Seattle 1990s sound).  Heavy.  I’d belt that shit out as I drove like no one’s business.
I went through a lot that year, personally.  My high school sweetheart and I called it quits after being together since freshman year, I was going through some home turmoil because I was leaving to go to school,

I also had great joy.  The Rangers won a championship.  I had a new set of friends.  I dated a lot of cute boys.  I went to a lot of concerts. I borrowed my mom’s car (without permission) to go to Woodstock.  Now, that was a fun summer.  Two dark albums though got to the heart of my conflicting feelings, feelings in dealing with the inevitable changes that were happening in my life whether I liked it or not.  The Crow soundtrack still makes me sit and listen, which was a biggie that year.  And there was Superunknown, through several moves and maybe someone “borrowing” and never returning it, it’s been misplaced.  I haven’t listened to it in years, unfortunately.

But I loved Chris Cornell’s voice.  I still have a copy of Singles, the quintessential early ’90s movie soundtrack that was required listening of Generation X.
When I heard about the death of Chris Cornell last week, I thought of several things.  Of course, the first thought was loss, and my own regret of having never seen him or Soundgarden live when I had the chance.  (Note to self: your rock gods do indeed pass away at some point).
I thought about that summer when I really started to listen to different music and go to different shows.  And I realize I always tie in my love of sports and music together.

My next thought was sadness.  While it’s always sad to lose a rock icon, you can’t help but think due to his age, that he still had more to do and more to say in this lifetime.  His music catalog is what remains, his art will live on and blah blah blah.

I couldn’t help but feel connected to a song that die hard Cornell fans would know about, but also one that struck me at a very poignant time in my life.

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away?
Should I be beside myself
And not even stay

Three years ago, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since that fateful 1993-94 season.  I was at a weird spot in my life, professionally.  I was building a business, participating in the “sharing” economy, and not very sure of what my next steps were.  Huge difference from when I was 18 years old, ready to face the world and pretty much thought I knew everything.  (Spoiler alert: I didn’t).  Though they were down in the series 3-0, I had a chance to jump at discounted tickets (in the sense that they were nearly a grand less than they were before game three).  I went with my friend Joanne, and they won their only game, a home game.  Even though I had a lot of tumult in my professional life (and subsequent personal life), I just knew I had to go to that game.  Mostly because I was pushing 20 the last time they made it, and I was then pushing 40.  I didn’t want to be 60 the next time they made it, regretful I didn’t take my shot in 2014 to see them play live in a Stanley Cup Final.
In the hot late spring of ’94, I spent a lot of time traveling to the city to watch the Stanley Cup Final games with my dad.  On my way home, I’d listen to bands like Rage Against The Machine, Violent Femmes, Live, Pet Shop Boys, Mother Love Bone, Green Day.  Different styles, yet they totally made sense to me.
Each year, I think about the pain and agony that ultimately succumbed to absolute joy, only to have things change so dramatically by leaving home and starting school.  Basically, I went from comfort to not knowing shit.  But I’d get in the car, put on some Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, and I was ready to get introspective.
I think about that time, and wonder if I’ll ever have that payoff again with my team.  Any of my teams.  Which is why I turn to that year (1994) a lot in my writing.  Basically because it’s something I have.  But it was also a year that I grew, as a person, and the Rangers and music made me that way.
And I’m lost behind
Words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by
Chris Cornell, Seasons
Another sports season has come and gone in the life of the Gal For All Seasons.  I spend 365 days a year obsessed about where and how I will watch my games, or figure out a way to get to find out what’s happening.  One of the struggles I had with being a blogger who followed sports was thinking about my angle for when I would write about it.  I spent a few days after the Rangers were eliminated wondering if I would ever want to talk about it.
I thought about how I can think about football season and when my next trip to Seattle will be.  While some people may wonder how it was easy to jump ship at a later age to a different team and city, it wasn’t difficult for me.  I often say I was born to be a Mets and Rangers fan.  But I was meant to be a Seattle Seahawks fan because of my ties to a city I didnt know I had.
A big part of that why is my association with music and sports is so closely intertwined.  One of my first thoughts on hearing Chris Cornell’s death was how my Seattle friends would feel, and what the city would do to honor one of their sons who put the city on the map, musically.
Seasons change, and people change and grow.  Chris Cornell’s “Seasons” changed me in ways I had no idea how, until today.  It was a song on the Singles soundtrack, and believe me, if you’ve made it this far, you can wonder how I can be “short on words and long on things to say.”
Every year that I am reflecting on a season that could’ve been, I will think of potential of years, time and people lost.  I’ll think of thought processes I’ve shed that make me evolve and not exist.  How my life has changed dramatically in ways in 10 years, let alone since I was 18 years old.  It’s not good or bad, just different from what I expected.  And that’s okay.
Music and sports though, that’s the one constant I can rely on.  Sure, each year I shake off losses, but as I get older, I realize how finite our time is here on Earth.  And wonder if I’ll get that euphoric feeling again of sharing in that moment of a great win.  And the seasons get harder to pass, and I’m not getting any younger.  But it makes me feel as though the journey will ultimately make it worthwhile.

Yesterday When I Was Mad

‘Darling, you were wonderful, you really were quite good
I enjoyed it, though, of course, no one understood
a word of what was going on, they didn’t have a clue
They couldn’t understand your sense of humour like I do’

You’re much too kind
I smiled with murder on my mind

There’s something to be said about when things click on all cylinders for a team.  Especially teams of mine, when I’m so used to disappointment and ennui.  I’ve been fortunate for the last few seasons with the Mets, that I don’t feel too down when they got off to a not-so-hot start this season.  And the Seahawks. well, I almost feel bad that I haven’t suffered for years like most of their fans have.  But I know dips and valleys happen in sports.  It’s cyclical.

By clicking on all cylinders, all aspects have to operate soundly.  Teams are a “sum of its parts,” as we like to say.  Sure, you can have an outstanding individual, but it’s not everything.  Depth is an aspect to consider.  Having proper backups.  Regulars need to operate at a high level.  Injuries happen, but one should not be enough to bring the entire team down.  All the way up to the coaching.  No excuses!  Blah blah blah.

The anger that usually comes about for me while watching my teams doesn’t usually come out until the spring.  I equate this time of the year to when the Rangers are in the playoffs.  Last year, I knew they weren’t going to make it far.  So I didn’t get too angry.  I reserved that for the Mets and their shitty handling of injuries in 2016.

Yet, my husband pointed out that while the Rangers have had an unusually successful regular season, and they’ve made the playoffs every year since after we got married (I don’t count 2010, the year we actually got married, because we got married after they didn’t make the playoffs), I’m still mad at everyone.

I consider myself a very happy person.  Sports fandom can make a person crazy.  I’ve often maintained that all I want is for my teams to do is be competitive, and then making the postseason will ultimately be a reward for said competitiveness.  Out of all the teams I root for, I’ve said that the Rangers would’ve been my first guess on winning a championship in the near term.  (Note: I said that five years ago).

Yet, every year my frustrations of not winning it all gets the best of me.  Though, on the surface, they are having a very well-maintained successful stretch.  And every year, I walk away disappointed, even though I’ve gotten what I’ve wanted, technically.

Why am I so angry?

‘You have a certain quality which really is unique
Expressionless, such irony, although your voice is weak
It doesn’t really matter ’cause the music is so loud
Of course it’s all on tape but no one will find out’

You hated me too
but not as much as I hated you

Well, to be fair, it’s games like yesterday’s that get to me.

YOU DON’T SCORE FIVE FUCKING GOALS AND LOSE THE FUCKING GAME IN OVERTIME THAT YOU WERE WINNING IN THE THIRD, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES.

So yeah.  Because it’s all I fucking deal with in rooting for this goddamn team.  Being good, but not great.  Getting to the dance, only to not show up when it counts.

Remember this gem from 2015, when the Rangers tied up a 2nd round playoff game late in the 3rd period only to have the Capitals surprise score a goal, not sending the game to OT anyway?! It was the one fucking time I was actually rooting for a playoff OT game.

And when the Rangers allowed Ottawa to tie it up late in the 3rd, with an extra skater (not to mention the shit show that barely allowed them to keep a two-goal lead intact), I joked about that game in 2015.

But did the Rangers come back?  No.  As my dad later texted me, it was about as worse of a loss as he can remember for a long time.  Me too.  Momentum typically doesn’t carry over in hockey like it does in say, baseball.  But if playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, and that means Ottawa is now on a hot streak, are they now the team “who gets the hottest?”

If so, then fuck us all.

And who knew that of my teams playing at this point of the year, it’s the Mets who would be my darlings?? (NOTE: I started writing this post before the shitshow of a game started on Sunday).

Then we posed for pictures with the competition winners
and argued about the hotel rooms and where to go for dinner
and someone said: ‘It’s fabulous you’re still around today
You’ve both made such a little go a very long way’

I also told my dad in that same text that I’ve just about had it with Alain Vigneault.  He has no clue how to get the most out of this team at ALL.

The only reason the Rangers made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 was guys like Martin St. Louis and the heart of other players.  They overachieved that ONE year.  Though they have had relative success in his years as head coach, they have consistently underachieved after that.  And if they don’t make this series interesting and at the very least win, it will be another squandered year.

I have maintained that the Rangers have squandered away Henrik Lundqvist’s talents and his best years.  He turned 35 earlier this year.  He is not getting any younger.

By squandering his best years, the coaches and front office have squandered OUR chances of seeing a Rangers’ Stanley Cup championship and subsequent parade.

If you want to know why I get so angry and curse up a storm on Twitter, THAT is why.  As a fan, yeah, it fucking sucks that I’m used to seeing my teams fall short every goddamn fucking year.  But what I really hate is wasted talent. Squandering away Hank’s best years doesn’t do him or the team or the people who support them any good.  And they’ve certainly failed him.

By failing him, we have also been failed.  That is why I am the way I am, as a sports fan.

Yesterday, when I was mad
and quite prepared to give up everything
admitting I don’t believe
in anyone’s sincerity, and that’s what’s really got to me

Then when I was lonely
I thought again and changed my mind

The Pet Shop Boys saved my sanity in 2015, and they saved me yesterday.

While walking home from that game against the Capitals, I purposely didn’t want to listen to Pet Shop Boys (my go-to album during the hockey playoffs is Very, explained here).  Yet, my iPod knew how I was feeling and put up another song of theirs, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”  It inspired me to write again, and try to reconcile how I felt about the ending of that game.

The Rangers ended up winning the series.  Momentum didn’t of the Capitals at the end of that game didn’t change the narrative of the series.

And outside of sports, I typically reserve my anger to go towards the MTA here in New York City.

Yet, I went to go pick up dinner after the game and took a much needed moment to myself.  Listening to my music, what comes on?  Oh, my iPod knew once again what I needed to hear.  It was a song off my favorite Pet Shop Boys album.  And thankfully, one that didn’t inspire a title for a post on this site.

I guess my parable in life is this.  I don’t get too jacked up about small stuff.  Like waiting in line.  Have you ever been standing in a line, and the person in front of you starts complaining about the line.  I mean, what the fuck are you gonna do about it, am I right?  I remember once a woman was complaining about a line at a bank (back in the day, when we actually stood in line to transact in banks).  She asked why I was so calm.  I said, “Look, when I walk out of here, I’m never going to remember waiting an extra five minutes at this bank.  In fact, I’ll be in my car going to my next destination.”  She told me that she liked that philosophy and got quiet.  I mean, I’m certain I never saw that woman again.  So I wonder how she took it to heart.  But think about it.  Is it something you can control?  No.  Let it go.

(My husband would disagree, as he thinks I’m very impatient.  That’s not entirely true.  I have my moments.  And usually in my defense, he sees me upset about losing time with the shitty transit system here which is where he gets this).

I purposely wrote this post the day after the loss, because now Saturday is “Yesterday.”  And yesterday, I was “mad.”  I figure at this point a Rangers’ devastating loss in the playoffs is my penance, and something I just need to deal with because I didn’t think they’d sweep the Senators or any team, for that matter.  But I mean, I was pretty pissed off.

Admitting I don’t believe in this team is tough, because I do believe in them.  Russell Wilson once said, “Why Not Us?”  And I often think that about my teams when they have a chance to win something.

But I would be really sad if they blew their chance.  If they blew Henrik’s chance.  And anyone else.  Even if AV wins something, that’s fine.  I can handle a coach I can’t stand getting a ring.

I got lonely without sports to watch and realizing we have to wait till Tuesday to see another hockey game.

I thought again, then changed my mind.

Brothers In Arms

dscn2411

These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Someday you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn to be
Brothers in arms

~ Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

Prior to the multiple hats I wear now in my professional life, back in the dizzay, I worked in financial services.  One of my old bosses was an Brit via Australia, and we used to talk about music a lot.  We liked a lot of the same bands.  We talked about the “best shows” we’ve ever been to, and he told me that hands down, the best show he ever saw was in Sydney and it was Dire Straits.

And his passion really came through when he talked about the show.  Plus I loved the way he said it.  “Di-uh Straits.”  But Dire Straits…the “Money For Nothing, chicks for free” band?

To this day, whenever I hear a Dire Straits song, I think of my former boss and his description of the show.  So imagine my surprise when I was on a flight to Seattle to not only celebrate the husband’s birthday but to see the Seahawks play a Monday Night Football game, the media and entertainment system in my seat had the Brothers in Arms album on demand to listen to while we flew cross-country.  I guess I forgot how good their songs were.  Very 80s.  “You play the guitar on the MTV.”  But I had it on as background music, which of course leads me to think.  Think about my past, my future.  Even on my present time, as I was heading to my spiritual home in the Pacific North-left.

I left the comfort of my home with a very certain and hopeful present and left Seattle on a vibe that had a very uncertain and shaky future.  As our trip overlapped with an election that rocked my very core, but started with an amazing nail-biting and dramatic Seahawks win.  Sure…we are still feeling the after-effects.  Nothing has changed, but everything has.  Have you ever felt that before?

Seeing the “Brothers in Arms” the Seattle Seahawks, it made me think.   About the importance of being a team, being around people you love, having each other, focusing on the desirable end-result, and most of all, what linking arms can do to provide one with a hopeful future.

Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the M.T.V.
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it

Lemme tell ya, them guys ain’t dumb

~ Dire Straits, Money For Nothing

There are many tired narratives with watching the Seahawks and most noticeably reading about them.  Many experts count them out.  Oh and the whole playing bad against east coast teams, especially on the east coast and early Pacific hours.  But this was a home game against the Buffalo Bills…a decent team that beat a Tom Brady-less New England Patriots earlier this season…but most of all, has one of my all-time faves, Rex Ryan, along with twin brother Rob, happens to be running the show there.

There wasn’t a conflict per se, for me.  But I did remark at one point that I felt like my weird-ass crush on Rex would somehow torture me during the game (only a little, but it did).  I never cared for the Bills.

We also had a conflict between the marrieds.  See, we’ve never seen the Seahawks lose while watching them live and in person.  Going to Seattle against the Bills, a team that “beat the Patriots,” as hubby liked to point out, was going to not be easy.  I didn’t think it would be easy either.  But I did think the Hawks would win.

It was Ed’s birthday.  They HAD to win.

He got the action, he got the motion
Yeah the boy can play
Dedication devotion
Turning all the night time into the day

~ Dire Straits, Walk of Life

I turned into a Seahawks supporter sitting in a totally different uniform and actually supporting a team that Rex Ryan was coach of back in 2012.  I’ve had friends that lived in Seattle not caring about football or thinking they also liked a team that had no idea that a fan base could be like the 12s.  I don’t think I can put it into words, which is unfortunate, you know, being someone who blogs about the goddamn team.  You just have to go to a game to see it yourself.

You’re forever changed.

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I mean, look at those faces above.  So youthful and hopeful…and then after the 12s and the loudest stadium EVAR gets to you, you kind of lose your fucking mind.

Prior to becoming a 12, I didn’t care much for football.  I didn’t have a family of fanatics.  Football was NEVER a Sunday thing in my household growing up.  I couldn’t relate to it.  If you know me, baseball was always my one true passion and love.  In my adult years, I worked on Sundays, and then just up till a few years ago, I worked during the east coast games.  So it’s easier for me to follow a west coast team, go figure.

Now, I’m enjoying the game, learning about the history of the game, and mostly how teams come together.

There is something very special going on in the Emerald City.  I was just remarking a few days ago that there will be SEVERAL Ring of Honor candidates from this team in the future.  During the game against Arizona earlier on, I said that “This is almost like Largent’s game against Miami in 1983.”  I’ve paid my dues in such a short amount of time.  It’s a passion that’s different and like no other.

Surprise that a team that caused a “controversy” by openly discussing taking a knee, like rival Colin Kaepernick did, but deciding against it, linking arms instead.  Well, linking arms is a parable for this team.

The boys who can play are Doug and Jimmy and Richard and Bobby and Tyler, and most of all Russell, and everyone who is supposed to contribute is contributing.

In this game against Buffalo, we had tremendous showings by Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham, two guys we need to play well in order to win.  The chemistry with the team is just sick.

There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

~ Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
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On paper, the Seahawks won.  But the events on the field while watching it,  it was probably a lot more dramatic than it had to be.  I mean, it literally went right to the very last second.  Ed kept trying to get video of how loud the 12s can be on 4th down, yet Bills kept converting.  He did get the video successfully…on the very last play of the game.  I said..are you KIDDING ME?! PUT THE FUCKING CAMERA AWAY!!!

But he was right, I was wrong and most of all, despite having less than TWENTY MINUTES OF TOTAL POSSESSION TIME in the game (seriously: the numbers don’t lie above), the Hawks won.

It was Ed’s birthday and our fifth live game, and we are 5-0 and the Seahawks are mowing down their competition.

It was a win, but it felt hollow.

But a win is a win, and we take it.

Tuesday was Election Day.  The nastiness and stress that had preceded it and what lingers has made me even have to take a break from Facebook just because it’s been so bad.  I went to Seattle thinking the worst that could happen would be a Seahawks loss.  I went to bed Tuesday night drunk on Seahawks margaritas (seriously, the double margarita was in a Seahawks glass) and woke up Wednesday in my spiritual home, not wanting to face the day.

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It rained in New York on that Wednesday.  It stopped raining long enough to give us a very beautiful dusk and sunset in Seattle.

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But besides the beacon of the Space Needle that still beckons me, I saw that like baseball did in my youth, the Seattle Seahawks can provide me with enough escapism from the real life that I desperately want to escape.

On a non-game day, the area by CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field is pretty dead.  Stark contrast from the craziness we experience on our marches to the stadium.  Fans are probably just as focused as the team is.  We are able to get some unobstructed photos of the players outside the stadium.  Seeing Bobby and Doug and Jimmy make my heart soar.  There is hope, there is fantasy.  Life can get better and we can expect better of ourselves.  Just ask Doug, whom I personally believe is the heart and soul of this team, what he thinks of his Brothers in Arms.

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I may have been leaving the next day to approach a New York that was changing.  At least I am saying goodbye to my Seahawks, and I don’t know when I’ll see them again in person.

Unfortunately a trip that we would have liked to take this weekend to Tampa was kibboshed because of my job that keeps me in town on holiday weekends.

Here I am again in this mean old town
And you’re so far away from me
And where are you when the sun goes down
You’re so far away from me

~ Dire Straits, So Far Away

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I landed to chaos in New York.  My phone had about a million text messages, all work-related.  What was supposed to be a relatively slow Veteran’s Day blew up, and I had to hit the ground running.  My first thought was…and I’m serious…”What would Russell Wilson do?”

I knew he’d say, “There’s no time to sleep, Coop.”

So Ed and I have another successful and not to mention fun Seattle trip in the books.  It’s our fourth time in the city, and third game at CenturyLink (two of our all time wins took place in road stadiums).

Yet, I see the real work needs to be done in the real world.  Whether it’s with my work, or in the country or societal changes, this Seahawks team has taught me that despite any difference, despite any disagreements, we can enact positive change, starting from within.

Now the sun’s gone to hell and
The moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We are fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

 ~ Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms

In a time that I can see becoming tumultuous, rough and even getting worse before getting better, I can hear Richard Sherman telling us we can be better as the team rallies around him and jumps up and down.

If people tell Jimmy Graham that his injury from last year is supposed to impact his game negatively this year, I’m going to be like Jimmy…and against all odds, catch that fucking ball with one goddamn finger.

And in this topsy-turvy world, if I can see Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin switching up their comfort zones and still managing to lift each other up…we can too.

Dire Straits, man.  Who knew my fucking former boss’ favorite show would be an inspiration to a painful blog post that took me nearly three fucking weeks to write?

In this crazy-ass time, I choose to be a 12.  I choose to be like a Seahawk.

#WeAre12.  Go Hawks.

Break It Down Again

I think I might take Russell Wilson for granted.

There.  I said it.

It’s not because he’s positioning himself to be an elite QB.  It’s not because he won a Super Bowl title in his very second year of playing professional football.

It’s because since I follow him so closely, it’s not a “rare treat” to see him in person as much as, say, someone who follows the local teams here in New York.

Prior to last Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, many Jets and local pundits were pooh-poohing Wilson’s not only effectiveness, but that of the Legion of Boom and much-glowed about defense of Seattle was not all *that*.

I thought they were all crazy.  I mean, roll my eyes kind of crazy.  Certainly if you watched this team as closely as Ed and I do, you’d see there is nothing overrated about Wilson or Richard Sherman or Doug Baldwin or Jimmy Graham…and that Seattle gets help even from role players, like Tanner McEvoy.

Plus…Did they seriously believe the Jets were a superior team?  The last time I seriously followed the Jets, Rex Ryan was the head coach, Mark Sanchez was the starting QB, Tim Tebow was the BACKUP, and I literally turned into a Seattle fan at CenturyLink as we saw them play there.

Lastly, this was the first time back at MetLife Stadium since, well, Super Bowl XLVIII.  So there’s that.

Why am I going through all this back story?  Basically because prior to the Seahawks visiting New York for the first time since winning SB48, a few notable “hot takes” said in not so many words that the Seahawks were overrated and especially that quarterback of theirs.  Seeing only his weekly highlights, of course, focus on his amazing footwork and his running game…stuff that quarterbacks aren’t supposed to rely on.

According to Mehta, prior to week four, “Wilson isn’t nearly as awesome as his Puget Sound loyalists believe, so it’s ludicrous to think that he’ll be able to hobble into MetLife Stadium on a gimpy left knee and right ankle on Sunday and have his way with the Jets.”

There is also this “narrative” that the Hawks don’t seem to do well not just on the road…but on the east coast or “10 am PST” start times.  (And touching on Russell’s leg and knee issues, which were legit concerns going into the week…yet when no backup QB was called to replace him…I knew we were in biz and we’d be seeing him on Sunday).

Pete Prisco felt the wrath of 12s with his lazy journalism on these narratives prior to week four.

This is a long trip for the Seahawks, and Russell Wilson is battling a knee injury. How healthy will he be against a good Jets front? The interesting battle will be to see if Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can battle back against a good Seattle defense. I think he does. Jets take it,” Prisco wrote.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that the so-called “experts” in New York and Seattle haters were wrong, dead wrong.

Hawks won 27-17.  I was surprised it was that close, but considering the Jets gave up towards the end (even after scoring an accidental touchdown at one point!), maybe they just took it easy? Why blow them out when they have a week off? (And you know, not kill our ELITE QB AMIRITE?!)

During the game, we had a lot of fun.  New York fans are known as being tough as nails.  But you don’t fuck with a 12.

You’d think after 48, the legend of Russell Wilson might have grown.  Yet, people are looking at him in the Northeast like they’ve finally SAW him.  Now, watch out.

Let’s recap what an awesome display we’ve seen, not just on Sunday, but going into the Bye week in week five.

Some words from a friend…

In case you didn’t get it the first time…DangeRuss got the last laugh.

I can’t say it’s anything surprising to Seahawks fans.  We know what we have in Russell.  It was also refreshing to see Jimmy Graham being utilized to his fullest potential.  Also…12s travel well.  I’m fortunate I live so close.  We were well-represented.  SEA! HAWKS!

What I wasn’t expecting was the defeatist attitude coming from Gang Green.  It was shocking since I know so many Jets fans, and they are die hard to say the least.

I can’t believe what a sad state of affairs it’s been since I crossed enemy lines.  Michael Bennett even said something to the effect that 12s would have never left when the Jets fans were leaving in droves.  I remember at one point thinking the Jets were still in the game (and I was more positive about going into the game than my copilot on the NJ Transit).  There’s no way I would have left if the shoe were on the other foot.

Play to the crowd with your big hit sound
And they won’t simmer won’t simmer, won’t simmer down
Play to the crowd
Play to the crowd
Play yeah yeah
It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light
Fast off to heaven just like Moses on a motorbike
No revolution maybe someone somewhere else
Could show you something new to help you
With the ups and downs
I want to break it down
Break it down again

In fear of jinxing things, I’ve been to four Seahawks games in person.  They’ve won all four.  I’m very fortunate, but I do know once the odds are raised, I have a better chance of seeing them lose.  I realize how fortunate I am to root for this team.  Thank you all for accepting me into the fold.

(Good 12s Twitter follows include: @DaynaOG, @DKSB17, @hipeegrl…also @Studi_metsimus if you can get over the geeky baseball stuff he posts).

Yet, going out on a high note on such a big stage has made people not only shut up, but now realize, hey!  The Pacific Northwest has got a machine here, and they show no intentions of slowing down.

Is it Week Six yet?!

Smile On Your Brother

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

~  The Youngbloods, Get Together

I usually approach the last home game of the regular baseball season with sadness but joy.   But as I related here, this season was very different.  In fact, it was quite possibly one of the saddest and weirdest weeks of baseball if I can ever remember.

I described what went on with my team, and the perspective I had with watching them after they closed their regular home season.

We anticipated some sad news that was about to happen: Vin Scully, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was retiring.  His last home game we knew would be Sunday, September 25.

What we didn’t know was that we would awake that day to some horrific news that crushed Major League Baseball, and that was the death of young phenom, former Rookie of the Year and All-Star pitcher, Jose Fernandez, who died in a tragic boating accident early Sunday morning.  The story could end right there, and it would be tragic.  Yet, it was more so not just because of his age and the potential he had to be one of the all-time greats, but because we also knew his back story. How he attempted to defect from Cuba four times, and the last time when he was successful he dove into the rough waters to save his own mother, who had fallen overboard.  And the news that he had just announced mere days before his death that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby girl.

I don’t think my generation can even come close to thinking or feeling any loss like this that hit so close to home.  I guess maybe when Clemente died in 1972.  Yet, that was in the offseason.  I’m sure that it didn’t make the fact he was gone any less tragic.  Two others passed during the season, Thurman Munson and Darryl Kile, that all sent shockwaves.

Nick Adenhart was killed in a drunk driving accident after his very first start as an Angel in 2009.  The Adenhart happened early in the season, and yet the pain was still so very raw when I happened to visit Angel Stadium late that same season.

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But also I couldn’t help but be reminded of Bobby Ojeda, who was the lone survivor in a boating accident that took two of his teammates in 1993, Steve Olin and Tim Crews of the Cleveland Indians.  Mets fan favorite Ojeda rarely talks about the incident, has endured flashbacks since and describes the feelings he’s had since as a “black pit.”

Baseball is a family that we can feel as spectators, but the close knit communities really hit close to home.

We saw Keith Hernandez break down on the air, talking about how the time to talk to your loved ones is now, mentioning his good friend Bobby O.  Gary Cohen cracked after the memorial service on Monday at Marlins Park.  Dee Gordon visibly cried as he ran the bases after hitting a home run off of Bartolo Colon on Monday night.  Many teams around baseball had ways of honoring Fernandez, whether it was creating jerseys in his honor, writing his initials on their caps…there was something special about Jose.

And now he’s gone.

I think I only saw him pitch once at CitiField.  He did have one year that he was out due to injury.  We saw him on the parade route for the All-Star Game in 2013, which was held here in New York.  The time was short, sweet and oh so memorable.  There wasn’t a person in baseball he didn’t touch and namely, his Cuban compadres (like Yoenis Cespedes, who apparently didn’t even know him all that well, but had a fellow Cuban bond automatically).

Sadly, I have to say I don’t think I appreciated him enough when he played.  Some of it had to do with the fact that he played for our enemy but also he was out for an entire season of his short career.  I didn’t make it a point to see any games against the Mets when he started.  Sadly, that was all my loss.  I’ve had this sort of regret cast a pall over several instances in my life.  I said earlier this year that I always regretted never seeing the Ramones when I had a chance.  After Glenn Frey died, I lamented the fact that I had never seen the Eagles.  I had plenty of chances to do either.  I just didn’t.

Seems silly to think this way.  It just never occurred to me that they might be gone one day.  I said as much early this year, when Frey passed away.

And especially in the case of Jose Fernandez, it is the idea of wasted talent like Sonny talked about in Bronx Tale that will probably haunt me as I get older.

What added another level of sadness was that we were losing Vin Scully, who we knew was retiring.  When I was in college, someone told me that when her mother was a little girl, she said that she had no idea that anyone else besides Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have been President, since he had been all of her life (till he passed).  It didn’t occur to me that Scully would ever want to retire.  I guess there comes a time for everything though.

Luckily, for me, I’ve had the opportunity to hear Scully.  As a Mets fan, you can’t help but think about the 1986 World Series that he called.  Famously said after the Game Six heroics, after allowing the fans’ reaction do the talking for him, he said…if a picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million! 

If you are reading this because you follow me for the Mets…tell me the thought of that quote in Scully’s voice did not put a big smile on your face.  I know it always does for me.

I had a tough time getting through Sunday.  It was supposed to be a happy time for us fans, celebrating our team and their accomplishments.  Yet, the moment was so much bigger than any shellacking of the Phillies could be for me.

Not one person had a harsh word for Fernandez, and later we celebrated Vin.

I had felt sick to my stomach most of the day.  Then we got home and finished watching the Dodger game, which ended on a walk off.  Because Vin Scully’s last game had to have additional baseball at no extra cost.

Of course it did.

I smiled.  As the Dodgers not only celebrated their walkoff win, but their NL West championship clinching, they took a moment to honor Vin.  As he addressed the crowd, he should have warned me, thatt I was about to cry as audio of him serenading the crowd with the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” played in the background.

I can’t actually believe that after the horrific way Sunday had started for baseball fans everywhere, I finally broke down and cried during Vin Scully’s last stand.

Baseball has brought generations of fans and families together.  Families we choose.  Families by blood.  Yet, the biggest family in baseball are the actual teams, and how each player feels loss.  We seem to think that these guys are robots.  They are not.  This was evident by how everyone came together and lifted one another up to get through this difficult time.

While our hearts broke for the loss of Jose Fernandez, baseball players lost a friend, a brother, a teammate or fellow countryman.  We said so long to Vin Scully, but his voice will be alive I’m sure in many Dodger classics.

I have to say, it was such an odd day of loss and feelings I won’t forget for quite some time.

What I will most remember is how we all came together as a family to say some sad goodbyes and saw just how healing and good that baseball could do.