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.