Month: November 2011

A Series Teaser

I’ve been pretty quiet about the Mets this offseason.  Mostly because they, themselves, have been quiet.  As my friend Richie S over at Random Mets Thoughts says, wake us when there’s news.

The last thing I want to do though, is become complacent in my Mets writing.  I mean, when something does happen, it’s easy to be reactionary.  Which I realize has been part of my problem in the last few years: too reactionary, not enough creativity.  Even when I’m reactionary though, I can be creative.  Yet I started A Gal For All Seasons to be proactive and come up with original content.  It can be stifling at times, but it forces me to think out of the box.  Sometimes, though, forcing yourself to do something can be counterproductive.  But I keep plotzing on.

In the middle of the 2011 season, over at sister site Kiners Korner, I did a series on the Most Notorious Mets.  It was fun and lively and generated a lot of dialogue.  Then someone approached me about writing a book.  Granted, it wasn’t anyone in the publishing industry, but when I was tapped to add a piece about our friend Dana Brand in his memorial book last summer, I knew I could probably do it if I had a better focus.

So I’m using this platform as a vehicle to help me refine my craft.  It may not be the Great American Novel I swore to my English professors that I would write someday…but it could be a fun lively story that is appreciated by the Mets community.  Which is all I really need is to write something to connect with the community.

Despite whatever negative, positive, or somewhere in between there will be in Mets news this offseason, I will try to keep things light and original and try to post a new synopsis weekly about my ideas.  Stay tuned!

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**Gratuitous Eye Candy Photo For The Ladies**

Ladies (and gentlemen, since I know there are many men who follow this site)…I introduce to you…the Classics FOUR!!! (Also known as Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Henrik Lundqvist and Brandon Dubinsky)

The Winter Classics Four (photo credit to MSG Sports)

The ladies now have my permission to swoon (also, the men might too, but over the sweet jerseys).  Oh, and this picture was taken at the unveiling of the jersey ceremony at Wollman Rink at Central Park on Monday.  Oh, did I mention I ran right past that rink doing a three-miler yesterday and had no idea?  Yeah, some fan *I* am.  /sarcasm

Now, I have a bit of a dilemma here.  Actually, it’s more of a command.

I NEED TO GO TO THE WINTER CLASSIC.  It’s not a want.  It’s a necessity.  I need to be there.

Now, my husband chides me, because it’s not an exhibition, it’s just a “regular game.”  But outdoors.  In the cold.  In Philadelphia.  Nearby.  It’s a special event.  And my team is playing in it.

I NEED TO BE THERE.

So I am whoring myself out to whomever would like to offer their ticket to me.  Now, I will pay for it.  Problem is, I won’t pay $900 to sit in the 400 level for one goddamn seat.  See, I’ll try to appeal to your sense and sensibility by saying…I am funemployed.  Well, I may not be by then.  But I am right now.  I know tons of people going.  But they are all committed to going with someone else.  Bastards.

So I will need a nice person who would like to offer their ticket at face value (charge me 10% over if you want to *make* money off it), and I’ll be responsible for buying beer.  Oh, and if you’re driving and don’t wish to drink, I’ll buy food…or your parking fees.  Whatever.  I want to go.  Scratch that.  I NEED TO GO.

So I can see these fine-ass men skating around in the cold and my nipples will be hard for reasons other than the cold.

Erm, was that too much?

I need to be there.  Period.  Someone help me make it happen.  Kthxbye.

Funny About Blue

For a sports nut who likes to write about being one, I haven’t had much to say about the Rangers lately.  I’ve been doing most of my writing about the Jets and football, which to me is my weakness because I haven’t found my true “football voice” yet (unless you can count angry neurotic and pissed-off Jets fan…which yes, then I have it down pat).  The Mets have been quiet this offseason, therefore, I’m very pleased that I don’t have to focus 100% of my efforts on writing about them.

But the Rangers.  It’s a funny thing, my story with the Broadway Blues.  I guess they’re not pissing me off yet this year.  I guess that’s a good thing too.  But I mean, give ’em time, they’re the Rangers for crying out loud.

I’ve often said that baseball is not for the feint of heart.  It takes an incredible commitment to be a fan, and not a short attention span.  Football is for those who like to devote themselves to sports once a week.  It’s for commitment-phobes, really, ADD ridden (with shades of hyperactivity), and they’re pretty much in and out by winter time.  Then there’s hockey, which falls somewhere in between. It’s an 82-game schedule,  there aren’t games seven days a week for your team.  And you’re only forced to watch multiple games if you choose.

I’ve been following the Rangers since I was 13 years old, but our relationship is a little weird right now.  My next game is December 8th, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that I attend more games.  Since MSG was still under construction earlier (and still is, I think it’s scheduled to be “done” sometime in December), the Rangers haven’t had a tremendous amount of home games.  At least, none that I’ve been invited to which is a rarity.  But then, I have a feeling come the winter time, it will pick up.

I don’t necessarily like watching hockey on TV, but I made a conscious effort to try to do it more often.  I suppose it’s easier that my husband is not a big hockey fan.  When the Mets are playing, as an example, we have to rush home or be near a radio or find out where we can watch the game if we are not close to home.  Not to mention, we’re season ticket holders, go on road trips and manage to see the Mets all the time.  So I do become a bit complacent watching or lack thereof during the hockey season.  My husband doesn’t rush me home or make me watch or listen to it.  Couple that with my not-liking-to-watch-hockey-on-TV thing, and I am fine following reactions on Twitter or following on my GameCast.

I’ve watched the last two games.  What I think is funny is at the beginning of the season, I was all concerned that even with the big shit signing of Brad Richards, that they would not get their act together.  Even better, they have and seem to be clicking.  When they went on a 5-2 tear in their last seven games, I wasn’t actually all that concerned with their losses.  I know, it was only two…but I’m a Ranger fan.  We flip out about everything.  But I found myself enjoying the games on television too.  Funny, huh.   I remember when I was in grade school and high school, my mother would be working late, and me, the quintessential “latchkey” kid, would sit and watch my sports on TV (I lived in the suburbs…there was no “walking around” unless someone’s mom came to pick me up to go to the mall).

Though I’ve seen this team win a championship in my lifetime, I always have to sit and wonder…is this our year?  At current, if the playoffs were to be decided today, they’d be scraping for a position, but they’d be in it.  Tonight, the Rangers face the number one team in the conference, the Penguins and the hates Cindy Crosby, erm, SIDNEY.

And the funny thing is when I watch them these days, I don’t think they can lose.  I don’t know if that’s a fan’s hopeful optimism or just that I might see a different team this year.  Sure, I still see the dancing skating Smurfs on ice, but I see less of a dependence on Henrik Lundqvist, which is never the worst thing in the world, but it’s good that every win is not just on him every night.

They seem to be coming together, much like the rug in The Big Lebowski, sans pee stains of course.

Build It Up (Tear It Down)

There’s that old saying that you build things up to tear them down.  Kind of like celebrities.  Entertainment media spends a lot of time bringing people up to a certain standard, and when they can’t live up to it, people seem to relish in the fall.  It’s almost, like, humanizing I suppose.  Look at Kim Kardashian and her 90-day marriage or however long it was and the backlash from having a ginormous glitzy wedding televised (though in my opinion, she had it coming).

The same could be said about sports and sports figures.  Remember at the beginning of the football season, the Buffalo Bills were the toast of the town, man.  They won their first three games, and prior to their bye week in Week Seven, were 4-2.  Their losses were even razor thin, and could have easily been won.  Pretty soon, they were 5-5 along with the Jets.  Now they’re writing about how this could be their worst “collapse” ever (As a Mets fan, I know a thing or two about collapses).

The Jets, however, were the boners.  The Bills were overplaying to everyone’s expectations, which is always a good thing.  The Jets behind Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez along with Darrelle Revis et al had made it all the way to the Conference Championship game in two seasons…they hadn’t “earned” the right to successfully gloat.  Which I mean, come on, Rex is a blowhard sometimes but he’s funny and always owns up to his mistakes.  If the shit was on the other foot, i.e. I was not a Jets fan, it may piss me off too.  The Jets are boners, apparently, to the masses.  Possibly because of my eclectic sports affiliations and interactions, I find a lot of haters.  Haters don’t piss me off…my philosophy behind them is that you’re doing something right if people dislike you to the point of bashing.

Yet, a few weeks ago, the Bills were the toast of the league, and now the Jets beat them (it was ugly Sunday, that’s for sure) and it’s all, “Well, it’s not that big of a win…it was the Bills.”  Well, fuck that bullshit.  I’m sick of the double-standard.  If the Bills had held on to a lead, I’m sure it would have been about how the Jets suck and they’re horrible and Rex Ryan likes his wife’s feet and blah blah blah.

I was supposed to attend today’s shit show live.  I had a shit show of my own that needed attending to when I was at home and didn’t think it to be a good idea to go a game.  I was sad, I was mad…nothing I hate more than wasting those tickets.  So I just sat home with my green tea, my yogurt and upped my probiotic intake.  And I didn’t drink though for most Jets games, it should be mandatory that I’m stinking fucking drunk.  Period.  End of story.

I know the Jets are flawed.  If ANYONE knows that it’s me.  But back to the haters thing, why not give credit where it’s due.  The Jets and Bills are battling for a playoff spot — if they’re LUCKY — and it’s the JETS who won and who are getting the shit of the end stick regardless.

And what’s worse?  I love taking to Twitter to bitch about them. Yet I was called out for saying “Just forfeit” in jest to someone I follow…a saying, by the way, I’ve been saying for 14 years.  People who aren’t even Jets fans RELISHING in each misplay, misfire, miscue.  Look, I know they half bring it on themselves.  But it’s like they’re the Rodney Dangerfield of football: they get no respect.  Stevie Williams mimes shooting himself in the leg scoring a touchdown, and people defend it.  Plax got the last laugh there, so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.  Tweeters calling a Jets loss before they even finish.  Do I need to remind them that a few years ago they were all but out and “backed in” only to go almost all the way…and that was a year they weren’t expected to do much!

It reminds me of when the Yankees are in the playoffs.  ALL the haters come out of the woodwork.  Now, I’m not a Yankees fan, but I can respect them and their fans (especially since I’m friendly with many of them).  On the flip side though I understand where the hate for the Highlanders come from.  They’ve at least earned the right to haters, if that makes sense.

So the Jets are a quirky team with a quirky head coach who likes to talk a lot and their QB is a pretty boy with some neurosis (hey, he’s a QB for a NY team that I like…I take the blame for that).  Sit down and shut the fuck up.  I’d like just for once to hear about how it’s the BILLS who dropped the proverbial ball (twice, mind you, against the Jets) and not how the Jets won the game because the Bills decided to lose it.  Fuck that noise.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to sit on the toilet again.

Kinky Kelly and The Sexy Stud

You fucked up! You trusted us!

Such is life for a Jets fan.  After the horrific loss to Denver on Thursday, I was basically in the acceptance part of my grief process.  I was detailing how I would be able to start my detox earlier this year, not to be interrupted by going to bars or drinking and eating poorly during football playoff games. Till then…I have two games that I am attending live.  I’d hate to think there is nothing to play for.  Then again, in previous years, many things have fallen into place, with the Jets quote-unquote backing into the playoffs, or perhaps the schedule will bear out.  Oh, and there will no margin for error.  Something, at which, the Jets have been acutely inept at this season, that whole low-margin-of-error thing.

My advice to you is to start drinking heavily

“My advice to you is to start drinking heavily,” said my friend, whom I refer to as WOOOOOOO, over on Twitter the other day. This was mostly in response to me bitching there about the games I am attending live in the future, money spent, hopes dashed, disappointments met, and about cleansing myself of this sports hex I have put on myself.

In my life, there have been a few constants.  One is my sports fandom and its affiliations: Mets.  Jets.  Rangers.  The other are my love for John Landis films.  Blues Brothers.  Trading Places.  Coming to America.  Animal House.  Besides sports, perhaps music and film draws people together in the same way. Sometimes, they collide and I can quote movies and enjoy sports at the same time.

When I was on the West Coast last week watching the Jets play the Patriots, I had to speak my tweets because my phone was charging.  Meanwhile, the other three folks I was watching the game had no vested interest in the game conclusion (though they seemed to want to the Jets to win, since I was rooting for that conclusion).  So they started talking about movies, like Kevin Smith films.  Clerks.  Jay and Silent Bob.  Mallrats.  Understanding these movies is cult-like.  We throw around quotes like it’s Shakespeare.

When the conversation turned to Clerks II, I started going nuts.  I HATED that movie, and thought it was better off not made.  My husband and our friends disagreed. They loved it, especially the part about “ass-to-mouth.”

I guess you have to watch the movie to understand the context.

Meanwhile, when I say, “Jets 2011: Ass to Mouth,” you can get the drift.  It’s roots are in a Kevin Smith movie, but the ramifications are far spread.

Think about it.  The context of it in the movie was just for gross-out humor.  Not that I’m not up for that.  But this is what the Jets have been doing all season.  This highly unsanitary and unorthodox of way of conducting themselves, when it should be easy.  YOU NEVER GO ASS TO MOUTH.  AND YOU DON’T DO STUPID SHIT AGAINST TEAMS LIKE THE BRONCOS.

See, I almost wished they lost that game I went to against the Dolphins.  Maybe they would have snapped out of it.  Then again, they are doing all the wrong things.  They’re entitled to lose games, but they games they lose to are even messed up.  Like losing to AFC teams that could potentially be a “tie-breaker” when it comes to playoff time (though, I just have to wonder if this is just not the year).  Special teams being atrocious.  Brian Schottenheimer convinced that as offensive coordinator his job is to fit the QB to the offense, not the other way around (as @metsjetsnets88 and @robzloto discussed on Twitter, this isn’t anything new…he’s done this was THREE QBs). I don’t think Schotty is the only problem (like, where is the backlash against Westhoff, as an example), but it’s clear that it’s PART of the problem.   The problem being consistency.

And yet at the end of the day, the people taking it up the ass with the mouths of the media are Mark Sanchez, the “pretty-boy quarterback,” and Rex Ryan, the only man documented to have a foot fetish, because they are visible.  Because they are the quarterback and the head coach.  Hey, I’m not saying Sanchez is completely blameless.  It seems like he almost has to trust himself to get the job done because of the way things are going.  It’s not good.

Like when I watched the Mets faltering in 2007, I said losing games to the likes of the Washington Nationals in August (that they could have easily won) leaves no margin of error. Good teams find a way to beat the teams they are supposed to beat.  The Jets of 2011 are making me feel the same way.  Ass-to-mouth might have been funny in the context when my friends and I were discussing quotes from Clerks II.  When talking about the Jets 2011 play, it’s certainly one that’s as unsanitary and undesirable in the short- and long-term.

Mission: Accomplished

See this?  That picture was taken in July, in celebration of our friend and brother in the Mets community, Dana Brand.  Dana passed away earlier this year.  He was a real hero and champion to the Mets community, especially the Meterati, who fancied themselves as sort of writers with feeling and emotion, and tying in our love for the Mets with our daily zest for life.

Mets fans are a quirky bunch, and hey, it takes one to know one.  Or several.  Back in 2007, I was invited to a reading by Dana Brand for his then newly-released Mets Fan book.  The Mets literati was a club I desperately wanted to pledge.  When I walked in that day, Dana looked at me, recognized me right away, and motioned for me to join in on the fun.  I’ll never forget that.  If you want a real-life example, if you ever saw the movie Independence Day, when Judd Hirsch’s character is forming the prayer circle, and tells everyone to join hands, THAT was Dana Brand.

 

If you noticed in the first photo I posted, I was speaking in front of a sign that said, “Bring Back Banner Day.”  Perhaps it was done a little tongue in cheek, perhaps it was a little wistful.  Yet, the idea of banner day is very Metsian in its roots, and perhaps defines the very essence of being a Mets fan.

I attended my first Banner Day in 1986, which used to be in between a scheduled doubleheader (try getting that done anymore).  At the time, I didn’t understand the history and roots behind it, but it does remain one of my fondest memories.  After all, how could I forget the one sign that has been a Cooper family punchline ever since: “Shea’s Bathrooms Are Worse Than Chernobyl.”

Things are different now.  Mets fans can be snarky and wise-asses, but we’re a little more educated now and attuned to the inner-workings of the team.  I didn’t think Banner Day would fly again.  Sure, I am a fan who certainly wanted it to return.  For a stadium that has a strict banner and sign policy (and CitiField is hardly the ONLY place that does this), I didn’t think Banner Day would ever be again.

Till the 50th anniversary festivities were announced and Banner Day IS returning for 2012!!!

Can I get a WOOOOO?? WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Of course, no good deed can go without wondering what it’s ulterior motives are, perhaps Bitter Bill asked with are Mets pulling the sheets over our eyes?  What, covering a crap cake, as I like to call things nowadays?  This, I feel, is a step towards making us fans happy.  We wanted something like this for years.  Wanna hear my theory on questions like that?  Mets fans are afraid to allow themselves to be happy about anything.  I’m not afraid.  I’m really thinking about what kind of Banner Day I want to make.  The 50th anniversary is bringing the fun back.

Fun is something that has been missing for quite some time, especially since CitiField opened up.  When the Mets were the Loveable Losers in the ’60s, Banner Day was something for everyone to enjoy and to forget how bad the team was, it was for the fans and BY the fans.  If you think about it, blogs and podcasts and videos are done as a way of expressing our love and even our frustrations with the team, and how they impact our lives.  I guess that it’s like with any relationship, you give, you take, you love, you hate.

I said when I heard of Dana Brand’s passing this year, that I was sure he would be one of the first people some of us would think of when the Mets won a championship.  His name was the first person who popped into my head for this announcement about Banner Day, that he would have loved to see it.  Along with many of us who fought the good fight to get Banner Day back where it belonged: in CitiField, with the Mets, once again.

Stand By Your Man

“So…who wants to watch Blues Brothers?” I said in the fourth quarter last Sunday, when it just seemed painfully obvious that this was clearly not the Jets day.  Nor was it their night. (Operative word there was “painfully”).

A few things to go on that background.  First, I was on the West Coast, with a Seahawks fan (my husband), a Giants fan (Solly) and a 49ers fan (Mrs. Senor Solly).  I was still on East Coast time, since I was basically there for what amounted to a long weekend.  I was in bed most nights around 10 pm PST.  Yeah, I’m lame. But also since the game was on East Coast time, we were done around 8 pm watching the game.

Oh and I had done a Petco Park tour in San Diego earlier in the day, and while walking out of the stadium, I ran into two Jets fans, presumably on their way to watch football somewhere.

Jets fans meet in downtown San Diego

They admitted they were both Yankee fans, but I let them get away with it…Nobody is truly perfect after all.

My phone had died out at one point.  So I made a conscious decision to not live-tweet during the game.  So I did the second-best thing: I talked to the TV as if, you know, the team could hear me (they can, can’t they?), and said some pretty Coop-tastic things.  Such as “Fuck you and your mothers.”  “Kiss my ass.”  You can see where I can pull some of my most primal thoughts on Twitter.  My thoughts were being tweeted anyway, even though I wasn’t doing it myself (Be sure to follow @Fsolomon75 for more info on that).  Love modern technologies. And the power of outing your friends on Twitter.

To say I was giddy with anticipation for the week’s game would be an understatement.  I was ready for payback, especially when it comes to the New England Patriots, or as I like to call them, the “HATEtriots.”  The first game really left a bad taste in my mouth, but I figured this team has faced Tom Brady and his crew a gajillion times, we can take ’em.

Anyway, I make no bones about whom I love on the Jets this year.  And the constants of course.  Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Plaxico Burress, Mark Sanchez are my big four this year.  The obvious choices.  I don’t care if Burress shoost himself in the foot, uh, literally.  If he wants to audition for the Darwin Awards on his time, far be it for me to stop him.

Moving right along, people get on Mark Sanchez for not being an “elite quarterback.”  Well, let’s take a step back and think about what an elite QB is.  Look at the Colts, as an example.  Their “elite” QB, Peyton Manning (the human Milwaukee Brewer Sausage Race Sausage) has been injured this season…guess what?  His team is probably going to get the first-round draft pick this year.  Right?  Then there’s Tom Brady, the *barf* “elite” QB.  Look I can give credit where it is due, but I don’t like Brady because he’s the enemy.  But yet when he was hurt a few years ago, the Patriots were hardly the vaunted threat they usually are, and didn’t make the playoffs.

So to say “Mark Sanchez isn’t an elite quarterback” is a very loaded accusation.  For one, the Jets are seriously not a one-man team, like say the Colts are constructed to be or were.  Now, I don’t pay close attention to Colts games, just basically follow them on game trackers or whatever, so if there’s something else going on there feel free to clue me in.  The Jets are constructed to have a heavy D (RIP…wait, wrong D), so when that fails, Sanchez’s errors are more glaring.

That’s not to say, on the other side of the coin, Sanchez’s idiotic move (what Rex Ryan coined as being one of the dumbest moves in the history of football) of calling a timeout too soon during the first half wasn’t to blame.  Yet, the defense can’t keep giving opportunities to a seasoned team like the Patriots.

I feel like Sanchez doesn’t make “rookie mistakes” per se, but I feel like his own hype can get in the way at times.  Meaning, I could tell he was getting rattled during the game.  That might seem like rookie nerves, but who knows what happened in the locker room during the half…Ryan could have put his fist down his throat, and made his asshole into a pinky ring.  I could see that rattling someone.  Yet, they are still professionals and should know better.  So play better, you tools.

Lastly, at the root of it, is a team effort.  I saw just overall the team making mistakes that could be construed as “rookie,” but since Sanchez is the “face” for better or worse (I mean, it can’t get better…he’s seriously cute), but this was a team loss.

Is it the end of the world?  No.  Yes, as a fan I would prefer beating the Patriots on any day of the week, let alone on a football Sunday.  I still have faith, as blind as it may be.  I believe in my heart of hearts that the Jets are going to come up huge this season.  Just unfortunately, it didn’t happen on a national platform, against the hated Patriots.  The schedule bears out for the Jets for the rest of the season…so just man up and play better.

After all, they’re just a team…

Stand by your men

And if you love them…Oh be proud of them…’Cause after all, they’re just your men…

Stand by your green men…

Giving Thanks

This might have been a phone conversation I had with my dad the other night.

Me: “So I’ll be seeing my friends Fred and Jenn this weekend.”

Dad: “Fred Solomon??? Man, I feel like I know that guy.”

Funny, because “Solly,” as we like to call him, has never met my dad (neither has his wife, Jenn).  Yet, because of this wonderful thing called social media and Facebook, it’s introduced me to a universe of friends that I probably would not have known otherwise.

And at the root of it?  It’s our shared fandom of certain teams.

Fans at a Jets game (From L to R): Kevin, Coop, Mr. E and Kace

When I was a kid, my dad would take me Mets games at Shea Stadium.  Mr. E, as we call him, has a natural approachable and friendly personality.  Anyone who meets him loves him.  He’s just the right mixture of lovably wacky and heart-of-gold.  This weekend, he turns 60. He’s showed me what it’s like to be a die-hard fan of sports and what it takes to be a friend.

I’ve probably loved him and hated him equally for making me a Mets, Jets and Rangers fan though.

Yet, when we used to go to these games, he’d go with his best friend, affectionately known as “Uncle Gene,” and I’d tag along.  They’d keep me occupied with Cracker Jacks, fountain sodas and ice cream (did I mention how hyper I’d be at these games too?).  They used to sit in a section with these guys Dominic, Rob and Mike.  You’d never know it, but they just met and socialized at the games.  They always seemed like they knew each forever.  But it was sports.  Sports is what drew them together, and what was an initial common bond.

Sadly, they lost touch over the years, but I can’t tell you how many times Dominic, Rob and Mike popped into a conversation with Mr. E or Uncle Gene while we talked about going to Mets games.  I always remembered though that I loved the in-the-trenches humor that Mets fans have, and it kept me around, even in down times because it was always a common thread we have.

My dad also got me going to Rangers hockey games and into the Jets a long time ago.  After the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008, I said, “It’s bad enough that you made me a Mets and a Rangers fan…but a JETS FAN???”  Pops took me to my first Mets baseball game and Rangers hockey game…but I took him to his first Jets game last year.  So I guess one good turn deserves another.

Mets Fans at AT&T Park (From L to R): Ed, Coop, Senor Solly and Mrs. Senor Solly

So this brings me back to Fred and Jenn, or Senor Solly and Mrs. Senor Solly.  I don’t know if I’d know them outside of sports.  I’d like to think somehow our paths would have crossed but outside of our mutual fandom, sadly I don’t think that would be the case.  So even when my teams are horrible and they suck and they piss me off, I have the relationships and bonds I’ve formed as a result of them.  Yet, because my dad has been “introduced” to them as a result of tools like Facebook or even about me bringing them up in conversation, they are kind of like my versions of Dominic, Rob and Mike.  Though maybe if Facebook existed back in the ’80s, we wouldn’t be wondering “What happened to those guys??” and maybe seeing them at games more regularly.  Last we heard, Dominic got married and was living in Greenwich, Connecticut, and had two kids.  That was back in 1994.  His kids might have graduated college by now.

This is the time of the year we are supposed to give thanks to what we have and friend we have met and for our family, but most of all I am thankful that my dad got me into sports.  I may get mad at him for rooting in exercises in futility sometimes…yet, I also know the thrill of winning, which is why I stick around and it makes the bad times worth it.

But most of all, it got me to meet some lovely people over the years.  If you are not a sports fan, then perhaps this is a bit out of the realm of your comfort zone.  There may be common bonds you form with different groups of people.  For us, we get together, and bitch about our teams, and reminisce about the good ol’ days, and then we find we have more in common than we ever thought.

Saturday Night’s All Right For Fightin’

There’s an old saying…probably from French Canada or aboots…that goes along the lines of, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”

Such is the case for Saturday’s “Original Six” matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.  These games are always intense.  I have to say the fans are second to none, really.  Well, most of them anyway (I’ll get to that in a second).  A good Original Six matchup is always appreciated by both fan bases (I’m hoping to get to Boston this year for a Bruins/Rangers game at the I’m-Calling-It-Boston Garden), and it’s evident by the amount of French-speaking folk in attendance that they are just as passionate about their team as we are here in this region.  The probably 2% of the fans who showed up from Quebec who weren’t cool didn’t “get” that they needed to take their caps off during OUR National Anthem too (and one of the few times I get to hear “O Canada” at a sporting event) were part of the not-second-to-none part of their fanbase.

I hadn’t been to a Saturday night hockey game in a long time…or a hockey game at all, period, since the playoffs in the first round last year.  And even so, I did attend the last regular season Saturday afternoon game with my friend @sfmerkakis.  By the way, he won’t know what you’re talking about if you ask him if he’s @NotGlenSather.  Moving right along, Saturday night games are interesting. You don’t have to worry about going to work the next day (or in my case, at all), and the night is still pretty early once the game is done.

Two of my world’s collided this night.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I attended the game with @Stefmara, and I love attending hockey games with people who are just as passionate about the team as I am.  When I go to games with my husband, as an example, he’s not as into hockey as I am, and I usually have to bribe him in order to attend.  No bribes in this case, just beer for us chicks.

When I last left the Garden earlier this year, there was construction going on.  I was annoyed because there was little ventilation in the concourses, making for a very hot arena and uncomfortable situation.  I didn’t know how they were planning to do the renovations, and they are still taking place.  But I can tell you this: the Garden will be AMAZING once it’s completed.

The concourses, though many of the stands were not operational yet, are less restrictive as they’ve seemed in the past.  The choices seem phenomenal: sushi, pizza, of course the standard chicken fingers and hot dogs.  They have a 16 Handles stand (if you do not know what that is, it’s a frozen yogurt place that is the shizzle…).  In the 400s, they’ve made these seats less working-class and gave us bars with a great view of the entire arena (even the ceiling).

The fact that most of the stands were not operational, though, left us with a not-so-pleasant experience of the evening.  There was not a lot of information telling us what was available and where to go.  I understand that this is still a work-in-progress, but this is a Saturday night, in New York City, with many visitors in from out of town.  More information is better, please.  (We couldn’t even really get beer, that’s how bad it was).

Back to the game.  I was talking about the naming of Ryan Callahan as captain of the team early in the evening.

Stef and I were both in agreement that it was a tenure thing, not that it wasn’t well-deserved however.  Also, that Chris Drury was not going to be on the team anymore, it just had to be Cally.  I wondered, to myself though, if he would be just a Brian Leetch-type: the guy who was a lead-by-example kind of guy, but not a vocal or take-charge kind of leader on the ice…something the team desperately needed.  (Don’t get me wrong: I love Brian Leetch…just always questioned his leadership abilities).

Any questions I had about Callahan were solved less than 10 minutes into the game by standing up for his teammate and having the first brawl of the season.  YEE HA!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.  It’s bad enough that Henrik Lundqvist is the guy who has to save this team’s collective ass most nights.  Now Cally is showing once again what’s he made of, and that no one on his team won’t have someone going to bat for him.  Exactly what we need in a captain.

It was also the much-heralded return of one Sean Avery.  I make no bones about it: I like Avery.  Do I think he’s the team’s solution to all their issues? Noooooo.  But I always like him on our side.  I really would like to see Marc Staal return, but I know from my experience with head injuries on my baseball team that I’d rather he take his time getting well…but I still miss him.

I get a little concerned these days, about the team. Seems like no matter who they get (like Brad Richards, who scored a goal when we were there), there is always some kind of hole to fill.  You all know how much I love Henrik Lundqvist, yet he can’t do it all on his own (and of course, there’s the whole complacency thing I see when the team scores a lot of goals to back him up).  This game had it all and makes me truly believe they are the real-deal-holy-feel this year.  There was a fight, a lot of them actually, great goals scored by guys you expect, and even an empty-netter at the end.

I love Saturday night games, and this one tied many things in my life together being a sports nut.  Good friends, good conversation, good heckling of the other team’s fans, and a Rangers win.  What more could I ask for?

Shadows of the Seasons

Spending a bunch of time at baseball games during the year would have maybe tired out one person, but not this chick.  Baseball is the very heart of my being, but during the cold winter months, I need something else to spice up my life.  Football is for the short-of-attention spans…hockey is for those who like hulking men beating the crap out of each other.  There’s not as much commitment in these sports as 162 games a year hold…but there’s a commitment of its own respect and a deep passion attached to each of them.

Of course, some of my worlds interconnect or go off the beaten path during the non-baseball months.  I know that Mets, Jets and Rangers fans exist, but most of the time, they coexist. I find that I get along with most Mets fans but if they are not Jets nor Rangers fans, I’m okay with that.  I know a few Mets fans who are also Giants and Devils fans.  Or Mets fans and Islanders fans.  Hey, nobody’s perfect.  Lately, though, I’ve been intermingling with Jets or Rangers fans who are not necessarily Mets fans.

Take Saturday night…I went to my first Rangers game of the season.  I got to see my friend Conor at the Blarney Rock (one of the bartenders who never forgets a face or a…face), and I got to meet up with @Stefmara from Twitter, a die-hard Yankees and Rangers fan.

  

I used to have a problem with Yankees fans, but not fans like she is. She is knowledgeable, passionate and not a Johnny-Come-Lately (or Lifelong Fan*… *Since 1996).  I had a good friend of mine, Paulee Vee, who was also a big Yankees fan.  We’d argue a lot, but he said that we had similar passions.  So the passion is there, we can agree upon that…to a Mets fan though, it’s always tough to identify with 27 championships, but we’re our own little quirky universe.  I’m comfortable with that, and there’s never a reason to be ashamed.

Anyway, it turns out that besides the Rangers, we had much in common, such as people.  We were officially introduced in @AmandaRykoff‘s espnW piece on intense female fans in the New York area.  Turns out she knew a bunch of people I knew in person, and it would have only been a matter of time before we were introduced anyway.

It was easy to see how hard core Stef is.  She was raised in a hockey family, understands the nuances of it like any professional player…and even is such a Wisconsin fan, she has a Derek Stepan jersey from his days at Wisco.  I always say that baseball is my first love, but I always appreciate a dyed-in-the-wool hockey fan.

I’ll comment on the Rangers/Canadiens game I actually went to in a later post, but I will say that I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.

The first Sunday in November is always a big day in New York City: Marathon Sunday.  It’s a day that drivers curse, and especially those who live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan can’t get around because the race route goes right up 1st Ave and down 5th Ave for several blocks.  I considered myself lucky because I’m on the West Side…except that the high-profile finish line is right by where I live.  My Mets friend Dee (the artist formerly known as Mets Writer) came in because we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, but also wanted to catch a Jets game on TV together.  When she arrived, around 11 am, the crowds from the Marathon hadn’t quite reached their apex, but once we got out of brunch it seemed like every single finisher was showing up right in my neighborhood.

The Marathon is a great part of New York City culture…just get the Hell out of the neighborhood.  Ah, I simply joke.  Because next year I will be one of those finishers…I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about it, being that I will be running for charity next year.

 

The Marathon is something I probably would have thought “I’d love to do it someday but…” and find a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t/couldn’t do it.  Yet, one of my dear Mets friends ran it last year, and it inspired me to figure out why I was holding myself back. So 2012…here I come!

Getting back to my day with Dee, she and I are both Jets fans too. We have December birthdays, and decided that we are going to treat ourselves to a Jets game in December (her first ever…it will be my third game of the season at this point).  So we took in the Jets/Bills game at Dallas BBQ.

All I know is that: the Jets won, they beat the highly-considered Bills, and that no one in the mainstream media is discounting the win. Funny, I was ready to queue up my cheeks so the naysayers could kiss my ass.  It didn’t happen though.

Yet the weekend was framed by two birthday parties…one for @laurmkor (a friend of mine who happens to be a Yankees fan) and Amanda’s, which is always going to be surrounded by sports- and beer-loving folks.

All my seasons came together this weekend, and it made me realize how fortunate I am to know these people.  Love may make the world go ’round, but sports is what keeps your relationships interesting for sure.