Month: September 2012

Wild Deuces

Friday night, Twitter was abuzz with the memory of Game 162 from the year before.  Remember that?  I called them the “Greatest Games Ever Played.”

The Mets were done with their season earlier that day, and I was still attached to the television.  I couldn’t keep my eyes off the games.  Thank goodness for MLB Network that night.  I was able to see the Curse of the Andino take place, the Rays beat the Yankees (where even Yankee fans were rooting for the Rays), Cardinals won (and went on to win the World Series) and the Braves lost.

It was the best of times.

Then Uncle Bud Selig decided that we needed a longer playoff season, so he instituted the second Wild Card.  Most of us lamented the loss of Game 162 ever happening again.  That maybe the playoff set up would make things a little more cut-and-dry.  That we wouldn’t see anything as amazing in baseball as watching every single pitch of several games again.

Yeah.  We might need to rethink that philosophy.

In my 20+ years of being a baseball fan, the second wild card has added an element that I find significantly more interesting that just watching the divisional races.  It also, in my most humble opinion, almost eliminates the idea of “predictions.”  Because if that was the case, we were all DEAD FUCKING WRONG on the Baltimore Orioles (seriously, didn’t we pick them to finish dead last pretty much in the AL East?).

But now, along with seeing the locks for the playoffs, the Reds, the Nats, the Braves, the Giants.  But the rest is up in the air.  Even the Nats and the Braves are making things interesting, whichever of those teams doesn’t win the NL East will get the wild card.  Insanity times infinity.

The American League provides us with a little bit of interest.  Baltimore, Oakland, even the Angels still have a fighting chance.  Texas Rangers have been in first most of the year and would you look at that?  They had a rain out (IN TEXAS! WHERE IT NEVER FRIGGIN RAINS!!) against the Angels, and may need to play a doubleheader on a Sunday, with three games left in the season basically.

No team has clinched a spot in the AL and it just gets more and more interesting by the day — to the extent that I feel like there’s almost a playoff vibe going on now.  As I write, the Orioles won tonight and have tied the Yankees who lost earlier in the day.  We go back to last year where team’s fan bases are rooting against their own teams — as my friend Sully said, the Red Sox season is meaningless now, and they’re just trying to finish it out.  Why not play spoiler, and make Red Sox fans MORE happy by making the Yankee country squirm a bit?  (And let’s be fair – it’s probably just easier for the Red Sox to lose down the stretch).

A few weeks ago, I went to Chicago to see the White Sox play the Tigers…the game ended up getting rained out (boo!), but the reality is, one of those teams is going to win the AL Central.  The other will just go home.

I used to kind of get bored during the September wrap ups, when it was almost a given that the Yankees make the playoffs, the Red Sox make the Wild Card and the rest of the league duke it out.  Of course, it didn’t help that the Mets never did that well and I was basically treading water as a fan.

I thought the second Wild Card would make things less interesting and that teams that probably didn’t deserve playing in the postseason would merely be doing so.  In watching these stories unfold, I have to say that whatever teams make truly deserve it.  They worked hard to get there.

I don’t agree much with what Bud Selig does.  I do have to say that with the second Wild Card implementation, I could very much get behind that for the future.

And with that, maybe what the Mayans predicted IS true.

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I’m Listening

There’s a Facebook meme going around that says “LIKE if you think 10 years ago were the 1990s.”  I’ve never “LIKED” it, but it is hard to believe that 2002 was an entire decade ago.  See, in 2002, that was the hey-day of being a Mets fan.  At least in my eyes.  The team sucked, but usually in those years, the **true** fan comes out, and not the Johnny Come Lately (that you see all the time in October in the Bronx).

It was then that I met Frank, Brian, Tommy, Kim and the rest of the Woodside crew.  Those were the days of Section 22 in the Mezzanine which was absolute mayhem on the weekends.  There was Roger and his crew from Bensonhurst, and there was Richie and his “YEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAWWWWS” at inappropriate times.

It was then that I knew I had a gift.  I had a gift of attracting the outside element, the misfits, the people who made being a Mets fan not only worth it, but the very iota of BEING a Mets fan.

I also knew that I had a gift of listening.  Like Frasier Crane would tell his callers, I listened all right.  I listened to when Richie said, “Hey! We’re down 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th to the Pirates…we got ’em RIGHT WHERE WE WANT ‘EM.”  Or when Tommy said, ” Hey look at this Mike Piazza ‘jersey’.  I might go home dry my dishes with it.”

It was also the last Saturday home game, when I had my Saturday plan with Pop in Section 22.   It was a chilly night, and it was the Mets winter cap night, so it was appropriate that most of us put the hats on.  When I suggested we wear them to the Jets games we planned on attending, Frank said, “Yeah the wint-uh Mets caps for our wint-uh Mets games.”  (Wint-uh Mets meaning the Jets).

I don’t remember who the Mets played that game, and not sure I remember much of the game.  I do know it was boring and by the 6th inning, we were talking about going to Donovan’s, a pub off the 7 train in Woodside (where the crew was from).  When the game just got unbearable to watch, Frank stood up and said, “FUCK THESE GUYS!  I’m going to Donovan’s.  Who’s comin’?”

Thus spawning a decade of me saying, “Fuck these guys, I’m going to Donovan’s.”

Perhaps it’s appropriate that I consider myself the Frasier Crane of the Mets fans, in that I listen.  I listen to what’s being said, I listen to the folks around me, I listen to what the fans think, whether I agree or not.

Perhaps it was fitting that it was the last home game of the 2012 season yesterday at CitiField, and I took it upon myself to call it “group therapy” (you know, us sadomasochists of Mets fans…we like to be tortured which I’m sure is some kind of psychological ailment…all I know is that most of us suffer from some form of post-traumatic Mets disorder).

Perhaps it’s more appropriate that after the last game of the year, my husband asked, “So…feel like going to Donovan’s?”

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  But 2012 differs in so many ways from previous years of futility.

**********************************************************************

The last two seasons, the Mets regular season ended at home.  In 2010, the year was just beyond awful but I won a game-used David Wright jersey after the game, so all was forgiven…well, almost all, since I had to witness the Oliver Perez white flag waving when they brought him into a tie game in the 14th inning.

Last year was a weekday day game, but most of the people in the house were there to give Jose Reyes a boost.  If you got caught in traffic (like many people did yesterday), if you were standing in the Shake Shack line, if you were walking to your seats, chances are…you could have missed Reyes’ last at-bat.  He rewarded our ovation by deciding to leave.

More often than not, I am sad to see a season end.  That’s not to say I didn’t feel that way this year, but it’s just different.  We had another weekday day game this year, but the Mets still have games to finish.  Last year, it was mostly bloggers in the stands.  I pretty much knew everyone who was there in 2011.  This year, I knew many people who were there, but as Steve Keane said today at Kranepool Society, “Closing day is where you separate the posers from the die hards.”

I took it upon myself to realize that what we needed was catharsis, a group therapy session to talk about the season and to share how we felt.  I jinxed myself because the other day, I mentioned that whenever I wear my Rangers colors, I get many comments.  But when I wear my baseball or football teams, no one says a word.  Yesterday, everyone was asking my opinion on David Wright or RA Dickey (should they stay? should they go?).  I guess because I wore that game-used jersey that I won two years ago to the game that someone might have considered me some kind of authority.  Honestly, I didn’t want to think about it.  I sat with Kerel from On The Black and Ed Marcus from Real Dirty Mets at the Apple tailgate (well, the pre-tailgate since most people showed up late due to an accident on the Hutchinson Parkway), before realizing I was drinking beer out of a bottle, no brown bag or any attempt to cover it up.  I said, “Wow, I’m talking to you guys like I’m sitting on my living room couch.”

Group therapy.  We don’t know how to process our feelings so we just go to the games to deal with them.  Anger.  Sadness.  Denial.  Most stages of grief, you name it, Mets fans have been there.

 

Sure we had some acceptance going on with the picture above, including new and old Twitter friends (that I really met for the first time) including Terence and THE Sean Kenny, a fellow writer from Metsmerized Online, whom we actually grabbed breakfast with before heading to the game (turns out we live in the same neighborhood).  And some old, like Kerel and Mediagoon and Metstradamus and Steve and Enzo.   And yes, there was some denial going on, as the Daily Stache was going to say goodbye to a big part of their site identity…uh…the “stache,” Keith Hernandez’s infamous one that has been as synonymous as the Mets are with 1986.

The energy going in was a celebration.  A celebration of a year that probably raised our expectations at some points but for the most part, met what most of us thought the team was capable of.  We were there to celebrate our future — David Wright will be the reigning hits leader in Mets history starting 2013 — and the present — R.A. Dickey and his amazeballs season.

Throughout the game, there were more to meet.  There was Sharon and Kevin and Judi and PAC Lady and Greg from Faith and Fear.  There was Damus and Stache and Kranepool Society and so many of The 7 Line army representatives.   And most of all, we said fare the well to our Richie till next season, who was always good to buy us a beer or two at the games this season (this game was no exception).

I tried to remember everyone I saw.  So apologies if I forgot about our interaction.

But mostly, we were there to see the Mets first 20-game winner in 22 seasons.  Many of the topics discussed in our group therapy were centered around keeping Wright or Dickey around.  Honestly, I didn’t want to talk about the future.  It’s scary enough being a Mets fan.  The future is sometimes too hard to contemplate.  Why not enjoy the energy of now, the energy surrounding R.A. Dickey’s massive 2012 season?

In a year that was an overall underachievement, there were so many stories to feel good about.  The legend of R.A. Dickey is one that is part Dickey, but all Mets.  Anyone could have been a 20-game winner (well, okay, maybe NOT anyone, but you get my point.  I hope).  Robert Allen Dickey, journeyman pitcher he may have been, is one of us.  He’s a guy riddled with quirks, is cerebral and probably is the most critical thinking of the athletes we know.

Even the bombastic Mets fans…tend to know their shit.  And those all showed up for closing day 2012.

 

I won’t go into specifics.  We all know how the game started and ended, even with some late inning hiccups by Jon Rauch (whom I actually really liked in the ‘pen this year!), but mostly, Robert Allen Parnell came in and saved the day for Robert Allen Dickey.  Robert Allen Dickey, 20-game winner for 2012 (and hopefully 21 game winner by next week). Cy Young Award candidate.  Mets fan favorite.

Don’t be fooled: Mets fans were there to bid farewell to the 2012 season.  They were also there to celebrate the guy we can all rally around, and that’s R.A. Dickey.

Kranepool Society turned to me at one point and said, “This team adds years to my life.”  It’s true.  We age in dog years too.

Yet, at the end of the day, when the game was over and we all walked out on a high from the outing…one thing hit us then.

The realization that the season was no more.  At home, at least.  Sure, the Mets are on the road and we can at least watch them on television.  But we won’t be seeing them at home till 2013.

In a way that’s good.  End on the high note.  See the good game, the game every single one of us deserved to see this year at home.

And even as I joked around earlier this year, Johan Santana’s no-hitter wasn’t even really the highlight of the year.  I’m sure to some, it was.  To us though, the season has been all about Dickey.

**********************************************************************

 

When we got out of the park, we headed to Woodside to have our celebratory meal.  Usually, I opt for the “best burger in New York City,” Donovan’s Pub’s specialty.  But they did a menu change a few months ago…they eliminated some of my favorites including their crab cake platter.

Sigh.  I really love them there.

That was also the last meal I had there post-2002 Saturday’s game.

Crab cakes with potatoes and mixed veggies.

I went in with the burger in mind…but when I saw that crab cakes were on the specialty menu…

That was all she wrote.

In the past 10 years as a Mets fan, I’ve come full circle.  Shea Stadium is no longer with us, but the true die-hards, the real fans are still coming to CitiField.  We may miss Shea every day, but we’re moving onto the acceptance phase.

The 2002 season was littered with disappointment with many more lows than highs.  As for 2012, sure the season could have been better team wise but we go for the defining moments that make being a Mets fan a METS fan.

And by listening to the fans, I’ve caught more catch-phrases or understand what makes a Mets fan tick.  And who knows — if I didn’t listen to Woodside Frank all those  years ago, I’d have never heard of Donovan’s Pub.  And to me, that’s the greatest travesty.

So thank you, fans.  Thank you for giving me material all these years, and when the team doesn’t give me much reason to cheer, you give me reason to keep coming back and related to this band of merry misfits.

Go ahead, Mets fans.  I’m listening!!

Autumn In New York

Like many business people in New York City, I work for myself and I’m able to make my own hours.  In that vain I’m able to attend to real life issues such as declaring whether the Whole Foods Market salad bar is better than Westside Market’s, or to make my Trader Joe’s shopping list (which being able to go in the afternoon rather than after traditional working hours is a godsend, since everyone and their uncle goes after work).

And like many people in New York, I’m often running errands boasting my team colors.  Today, I was bumming around in my New York Rangers shirsey, bearing the number and name of one Bradley Glenn Richards.

So it’s autumn in New York.  It’s not just a one sport town, but a multiple sport town.  There is not one but several phenomena occurring this time of year. Typically, you can count on Yankee fans getting ready for the postseason, and Mets fans get ready to root for whomever plays against them.

Football season is a few weeks old.  Jets fans typically change their mind on the team more than the weather.

Yet there’s a gaping hole this fall, and it’s not the fact that I left the Giants out of the equation (come on, no one fucking talks about them until the playoffs)…and that’s hockey.

I’m a Mets and Jets fan, yet when I wear their attire, not much gets said to me when I’m walking down the street (unless I’m with my husband, and we get the “Hey, going to the game today?” comments).  I would gather that Yankee and/or Giants fans might feel the same when they sport their team colors.

Today, as I’m walking in Trader Joe’s, not one, not two, but THREE people (each from different walks of life — one an employee, one guy who looked like he just came in from the gym and someone who was probably working in an office setting still in their business casual clothes) made a comment about the team.  Whether it was, “Man, what do you think about the lockout?”  Or “We got Nash, and now we’re not playing?”  Or “Brad Richards, huh?”  (I get that a lot, but sue me, I was excited to have him on the team last year).

Come to now with the threat of no hockey this seasons I would be willing to argue that the true heart of a New York sports fan lies in their hockey allegiance.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there are super passionate Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, hell even Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans.  They certainly exist.  Hockey fans are from a different cloth.  There’s a deep rooted passion, and it’s almost as if being in a room with 18,000 like minded people, indoors mostly, makes it seem like we’ve survived a war.  Perhaps we’ve survived several different battles, each game a mini battle in and of itself.

The battles these days aren’t being drawn out in the ice, but rather in board rooms, with Gary Butthead, the owners and players.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s probably not the best sign that players are going back to their homeland (Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic) to play in those leagues.  It dictates that they expect this to be drawn out for a long time.

Do I need to break out the world’s smallest violin, again, for the millionaires who are arguing over pennies while the diamonds are being passed over.  Diamonds in the form of long-term relationships with the fans who support and buy into the product.

What’s most nauseating being here in New York is that I know it’s not James Dolan’s fault.  He’s a money guy, sure, but he knows that the only way he’s gonna MAKE money is if his team gets out there and plays and his fans are happy.  Fans are not happy.

But what’s more.  I am a Mets, Jets and Rangers fans.  These three teams have brought me more sorrow than joy, but there are glimpses of hope as to why I stick around long term even though they are destined to break my heart more often than not.  Two years ago, and two years in a row, the Jets made the conference championships.  The Mets…well…let’s not go there.  But let’s just say that I do remember ’86 and think that sometimes those feelings are what keep me around.

The Rangers though.  For a fan with the teams I have, this is the closest I’ve had to a championship for a long time and a team I looked forward to the last few months to watch.  A team that could take me away from the drama of Rex Ryan land and the Wilpon Follies.  As someone else pointed out to me, we get Rick Nash, and pieces are falling into place, and now these people are just agreeing to disagree and getting absolutely nowhere.

Today would have marked the first preseason game for 2012-13 season.  Yet the only thing we are marking is time.

It’s autumn in New York.  And before we know it, it will be winter in New York.

As the seasons change, one constant may not be there.  And that’s not a pleasant thought.

A New Era

Something about the chill in the air in September that gets me wistful.  I think about baseball season coming to an end which is always sad.  I think about when I was a kid and school would start, which meant that leaves would change, plant life would die, and birds go south for winter.  Growing up at the shore it meant the bennies would all go home and make it enjoyable again.

Now that I’m older it reminds me not only of that piece of information (that I’m not getting any younger that’s for sure), but as sure as death and taxes, the Mets leave me wishing for more.

What’s more: I was also reminded of better days.  I remember watching Mets games in October as a child.  I remember watching Mets in the playoffs as an adult in October.

But ultimately, I was reminded of Chipper Jones not only in my youth but in his youth.  And though I rode him mercilessly, it brings me back.  To the simpler days.  To when I watched Mets postseason games at Uncle Gene and Aunt Melissa’s house.  How when my dad told me when we were leaving San Francisco one year that Chipper Jones won the MVP award, I muttered, “Larry Fine.”

Some things will remind me that I’m getting older.  Like the fact that when I drink a milkshake my ass jiggles for a week. Like that I’m training for the marathon, and I’m not recovering from harsh workouts like I used to.  That I might need to invest in plastic surgery because gravity is taking toll.

But mostly that something weird is that I was sad to see Chipper Jones leave us at Not Shea for the last time.  Not that I’ll miss him kick our ass.  That part I won’t miss.

It means I’m no longer young.  The retirement of Chipper Jones means part of my youth is also gone.  Gone are the days of watching the Mets and Braves in the playoffs.  Yes, I know those were long gone.  But those memories I hold near and dear to my heart. The Mets will always be around, testing the very limits of futility.

I first learned about him in my 20s during the Braves hey-day in the late 1990s.  I got to know him intimately during the late season runs with those lovable black jersey wearing Mets in those years.  As sure as death and taxes, like the Mets leaving me to wish for something more, Chipper was going to stick it to us no matter what.

And yesterday we got to show some respect to the man who probably played the game the right way.  His name was never tarnished with PEDs.  His team was always in the thick of things late in the season.

As the pre-autumn chill hit the air, and the first football games were played for the 2012 season…I saw Chipper Jones take his last at-bat in Flushing.

And I was actually sad about it.

Like I said, it’s mostly for selfish reasons.  Most people know my slight obsession with Cal Ripken from the Baltimore Orioles.  When he retired, I was in my 20s still.  I drove down to Baltimore to see him play at home one last time for this retirement game.  I was sad to see him go but in a different way.  I never saw him intimately involved with killing my team personally.  I was sad for baseball that a great was leaving.

This time around is different.  It’s really the end of an era, for me as a Mets fan.

A generation has passed.  A generation of futility.  The one person to remind us of it was Larry Wayne Jones.  Now he’s no longer around to do it.

The only person reminding us of our futility is ourselves.

That’s no fun.

Let’s face it.  For years and year, Larry Jones made it a habit to kick our ass when it counted.  Now we just kick our own ass when we’re down and it doesn’t even count.  That’s no fun.  At least there was an element of collaboration there.  Now it’s simply self-defeatist.

A wise man once sang that “Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes,” and it’s time for goodbye again.  This time it means something.

It means we’re getting older.  It means another fall is going to pass, and turn into winter.  It also means that spring and summer will be around the corner once again.

It means that we’ll never see Chipper Jones play against the Mets anymore.  Some people are happy about it, but I’m sad.

It means that I have to acknowledge that I, too, am getting older.  And that’s no fun at all.

Soooooo Not Ready

Every year it’s the “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???” question that’s thrown around.

And I am SO not ready.

But I’m getting there.

Hubby and I were planning to go to the Mets game all along, on Gameday one for the NFL (though technically it DID start last Wednesday).

I had planned on writing this prior to going to the game today, but wasn’t in the mood to start up the computer (it was the Sunday morning after doing a 15 mile training run).  This is how lazy I am getting.

So we go to the baseball game.  But for good measure, I wore my Jets shirt.  You know, to be a good football fan.  Maybe THAT would get me in the mood to deal with things.

But then I managed to get bits and pieces of the game throughout the baseball game.  Funny, the stadium was practically empty, and the only time the crowd got roused up was when they posted updates on the Jets game.

Then when it was over, I was happy.  The Mets outcome was almost secondary.

My husband is a Seahawks fan.  We decided to head to a local bar to watch the game.

Our first stop was a local British pub that is a Mets-friendly bar, and the bartender told us that every Sunday the NHL package shows all games.  Till we realized that it was a Panthers bar.  Moving right along, we find another bar that has only ONE television on the Seahawks/Cardinals game.

That about did it.

So if I wasn’t ready for football yet, I am now.  All in all, the sports day could have been better for me.  The Mets could have won, and my husband could have gone home happy instead of disappointed that the Seahawks couldn’t win.

But it was good to see that I could turn it on in a flash.   I mean, it’s one game a week.  I can handle that.  I think.

Perspective

  I was at a baseball game a few weeks ago with my husband, and we met up with two of our friends, BlondeBombKels and ItsThat1Guy (aka Alvin).  Not only do we share the same baseball allegiances, we have the same hockey allegiance (my husband only by osmosis, since he wasn’t into hockey before he met me).  My ticket rep with the Mets is also a Rangers fan.  We talked about the season, and preseason, and I guess I was in denial with the fact that there was still a slight possibility of a lockout.

See, last year, Alvin got a bunch of us tickets for a Rangers/Devils preseason game at the Pebble.  It was fun, it was raucous.  We had a good time.

Alvin shook his head when we chatted about the preseason game, which the same crew was still interested in doing this year, and said, “It’s not looking good.”  At first, I thought it was the possibility of us all getting together to see the game.  Then I realized, he was referring to the lack of an agreement.

It then became a distinct possibility that in a year where I’m expecting my team to rebound from a great run yet disappointing end to last season that I might not see hockey for awhile.  I mean, keep in mind that during the last time this shit happened, I had all but given up on hockey for good.  Thank goodness, I suppose, for Mets late season collapses in September, when I needed an outlet besides a once a week fill for football.

So I was back, and I had a lot to look forward to as a Ranger fan.  The emergence of Captain Callahan and King Henrik becoming one of the best goalies in hockey, let alone Ranger history.  Looking forward to the passionate fan bases and going deep into the playoff season.  I was right last year, that anything less than a visit to the Eastern Conference finals would be a failure, it was just too goddamn bad they lost to the Devils.

Barring all that, most Ranger fans were optimistic and eager to get their team returned to the ice.

What’s more though, outside of being a Ranger fan is that another large market team, the Los Angeles Kings, finally went all the way and won the Cup.  This was a feat for themselves, their fans, and even the passionate hockey fans who followed certain players on the team.  Yes, 2011-12 was a fun season for most fans.  Even for Phoenix Coyotes fans, who saw their team actually go deep into the playoffs.  Even for Devils fans, who may have seen a last hoo-rah for Fat Uncle Daddy Marty.

So I say to the NHLPA, the NHL, the owners, Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, the hockey gods…while you’re nickel and diming each other (and hey, I’m a supporter of Unions, but these asses are just arguing about pennies while they’re letting diamonds go away in the form of fans), remember to take some perspective.

One year ago today, the hockey world was rocked with news of the Lokomotiv Yaraslavl plane crash that took the lives of the entire Kontinental Hockey League team.  Scott Burnside writes on ESPN today: “Friday, Sept. 7, marks the first anniversary of the crash and marks an opportunity to reflect on the men whose collective impact on the hockey world cannot easily be summed up.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a bunch of horses’ asses are arguing about MONEY.

I don’t know what the deal is with the KHL, if there were collective bargaining agreements or unions or ability to get paid the way they do in here where the NHL exists.  What I do know is that several players, including a former 1994 Ranger Alexander Karpovtsev, died while traveling to play a game they loved.

A game I’m sure most players would have said back when they were kids, they love it so much they’d play for free.

But they’re not playing for free.  They’re playing for real money, and real dollars, and owners and players and the league are arguing about who gets more.

It’s a shame really.

Like I said, I’m all for unions, I’m all for collective bargaining tools.  I’m all for what makes workers’ unions strong and beneficial.

But being a fan of a sport that is about to embark on its third lockout in 18 years, the first one took half a season, the next one took out an entire season…what’s next?  Take out TWO seasons?

I’m not saying I’m most fans.  I remember when hockey came back after the last lockout, a few of my friends were pumped it was returning.  By then, I had checked out.  Some of it was devoting more time to my baseball fandom (even became a season ticket holder during that time).  A lot of it had to do with my team at the time.  I was not happy with the directions of the Rangers at the time, and thought devoting time and energy to having Glen Sather as the General Manager was nuts.  But sticking with him turned out to be a good thing, I’m rooting for a hard working, blue collar type of playing team that makes Rangers fans proud.

The same blue collar types that made Unions strong.

But my question to everyone involved in…what the FUCK is taking so long?

My answer is to put things into perspective.  Count your blessings that you live in a society that you can bargain for this and take your sweet damn time with it.

Then look at the past year, of losing fellow hockey players in a tragic crash, and saying, what the fuck are we arguing about now?

I’m not saying one side is more at fault that the others.  But what are CBAs for anyway.  TO COLLECTIVELY BARGAIN.

Get your shit together, both sides, and figure this out already.

Bargaining over lost dollars won’t matter when you alienate another generation of hockey fans once again.

House of the Rising (Baltimore) Sun

The Number Eight is more than just Gary Carter to the Coop. It’s also for Cal Ripken, who is honored at Camden Yards.

I’ve been a fan of Baltimore for years. No, not the teams, but Charm City itself.

I was introduced to the Inner Harbor while it was undergoing its renaissance, and I loved the functionality of it instantly. A big part of its revitalization was the construction of Camden Yards, where the Orioles play. Way back when, the Orioles played in no-man’s land at a place called Memorial Stadium. The O’s moved and thus began a string of new retro-fitted stadiums in MLB.

I also had a big love affair with Cal Ripken since the 1980s, and even drove all the way down to Baltimore for his retirement game.

I kind of a have a **thing** for Baltimore.

Over the years, like most of the country though, Baltimore has been hit with some real estate drama. Many empty store fronts, ghost towns of shopping centers, and closed restaurants. I just read the other day that a restaurant I’ve known since I started going there, closed after 80 years of operation.

But Camden Yards has been a boon for better or worse. But not for the Orioles…usually the visiting teams. I remember so many Yankee fans asking me for advice on where to stay, what to do in the area. See, I always (still do) talk Charm City up, as a place for a quick getaway for the weekend. It’s cheap, easy, and you can get good food and drinks.

Yet, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the turn around for a team that has a piece of my heart for reasons outside of my other team. When they got off to a rollicking start this year, I didn’t think much of it. And even as they still held strong after the All-Star Break.

Now they’ve taken two out of three from the Yankees. And with a win today and a loss by the Yankees, they are only one game out.

But that’s not why I’m writing about a team not my own. No, I want to ask where the HELL are the fans? The passionate and fun Baltimore Orioles’ fans?

I guess they’ve fallen by the wayside like many other fan bases that have been betrayed by the ownership or management.

But like most of Baltimore or the surrounding areas of Maryland, I would say it’s just art imitating life. And to me, that’s sad.

Today, the O’s are two games out of first in the AL East. Sure the Rays are breathing down their neck. Sure, the Yankees can easily turn things on. And certainly there’s a lot of competition in the whole Wild Card business.

According to Dan Duquette, television ratings are higher than they have been – that could mean more people are staying at home rather than going to the games themselves, though according to the same article, attendance is at a five-year high. When I saw the attendance at a weekday day game this week at Camden Yards, though, I have to say that B-More fans should be ashamed of themselves. Next weekend will be a crucial series against the Yankees, and I can pretty much guess that a majority of the fans making the trip will be Yankees fans (business as usual, it’s generally like that since it’s a close trip).

Yes, Baltimore may be a downtrodden area, but like Camden Yards did 20 years ago when it first opened can once again help the Charm City rise from the ashes. With the help of a stronger Orioles’ team and the support of their fans going and pumping dollars into their economy.

Today, the O’s are one game out of first in the AL East. Sure the Rays are breathing down their neck. Sure, the Yankees can easily turn things on. And certainly there’s a lot of competition in the whole Wild Card business.

This whole season could be a very special one, and they’re all missing it. A shame, really.