Up Against It

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

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

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

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

Last night, I paid attention to every single play.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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