Month: May 2015

Happiness Is An Option

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 1.59.57 PMI wanted to give myself a few days before fully addressing how I felt about the New York Rangers’ 2014-15 season.  I’ve gone through the emotions of of sadness to anger and being pissed off and near tears at the same time.  I saw a guy wearing a BLUESHIRTS playoff tee in the supermarket, and I got all choked up.  A friend of mine told me (not a Rangers fan, to say the least) that this is the most upset he’s seen me as a Ranger fan yet.  And it’s true.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about this team, and it’s not even disappointment, though that’s part of it.

It’s not even my wanting the Stanley Cup – damn, how I wanted that fucking trophy this year – it’s more of a squandering an opportunity kind of thing.

This is the year I realized that it’s getting close to the later years of Henrik Lundqvist.  Glen Sather and James Dolan have dicked around to the extent that they could have possibly wasted his best years as a top flight goalie.  Guys like Henke don’t grow on trees.  He’s a one of a kind player and goalie, someone we’ll be rare to see in our history of Rangers greats.  And believe me, there are more players who were *great* but never got the championship than special players who actually did win a championship.  But I also think of losing guys like Darren Turcotte and Tony Amonte in 1994, great role players who were traded away for a “win now” attitude that did “win now,” yet ultimately set the team back decades.

Yes, I do realize that they won their only championship that year those two guys were gone.  They could’ve forfeited years of multiple titles had they held onto them too.  We’ll never know.

So my tears after the last horn sounded, signaling the end of the season, was not because of a loss of a game or a series.  It’s almost something of a loss I felt, like it’s the end of an era.  I don’t think things will be as storylike as they were this season.  When they lost in OT to the hated Devils in the ECF in 2012, I was optimistic.  Sure, I hated losing, especially to that team, but I was future thinking.  They had the goods, finally, it seemed.  Then 2013 rolled around and the abbreviated season just seemed like a wash and the team knew it.  Last year, that was a special year.  Though I was disappointed in their performance in the Stanley Cup Final, I knew they could hold their head high by being so close to elimination and never gave up till they ran out of gas.

See, THIS was supposed to be the year they had the axe to grind.  Losing this game and series, in my opinion, was nothing to be proud.  The same old, “Blah blah just to play there is an honor.”  Anyone who says they are “just proud to be nominated” is a lying BITCH.  My friend Will says that he hates losing more than he likes winning.  I could see on the faces of some of the players that the loss got to them.  So they could get that emotion, hated losing more than loving to win.  That loss last year was supposed to make them hungry for this year.  Then backs against the wall and turning it on against the Capitals this year.  Every fan I knew was confident that this was the motivation they needed (not, you know, the motivation of accolades and a championship and being beloved by the best city in the world).

And this was just more than how I felt after, say, the Seahawks lost the Super Bowl earlier this year.  It was more than a loss of the season or a championship, especially they way they lost.  A Seahawks blogger by the name of Ramona over at Dave Krieg’s Strike Beard summed it up eloquently after SB 49: “The sadness I’m feeling isn’t just from the defeat in XLIX, but also from the sudden absence of this wonderful team in my life.”

I felt exactly the same for that Seahawks team.  But the absence of the Rangers team from this season…yeah, not one I’m particularly endeared to right now.

I know it’s incredibly difficult to “blow the fucker up,” with salary caps and being able to move guys easily, but if there’s anything close that can be done for the New York Rangers to get Hank some players who aren’t treating GAME FUCKING SEVEN of the ECF like it’s a Tuesday night game in December, or as Will likes to say, “Get Hank some real bitches who can play.”  Because the lack of killer instinct or wanting to win or PLAYING NOT TO LOSE (I am a Mets fan…I have enough to deal with regarding that shit), that’s what gets to me.

We live in a world where Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman or Brad Richards all have a chance for that crowning glory.  And we live in a world where Henrik Lundqvist may join the pantheon of great players who may never have an opportunity like this year to win it all.  And that just sucks.

If that doesn’t anger you as a fan, I hate to play the “you are not a real fan” card, because that shit pisses me off when it’s said to me…but it should make you upset at the very least.  Or as another Twitter buddy Cristina likes to say, it should make you feel as though a part of you has died.  Because I know that’s how I felt this year.

I’ve been through a lot of things, being a sports fan.  I got over the 2000 World Series pretty quickly.  The funny thing was, I felt like that Mets team was on the precipice of something great, then they did a complete 180 and by the way, fuck Steve Phillips and Mike Bordick (hey, my blog, my rules).  Yet, most fans would tell you that the 1999 team was the one that fell short and was disappointing. And I will always maintain that losing John Olerud was the hit the Mets should not have taken.  And I’m about to get all worked up about what an idiot asshole dickface Steve Phillips was, so I’ll just stop while I’m ahead.

So back to this year.  LAST Year was the “rah rah feel good get-em-next-year” year.  THIS was the take no prisoners, winner takes all year.  I almost threw a shoe at my computer when I read that Martin St. Louis said something to the effect of being proud and waiting till next year.  OH FUCK NEXT YEAR.  NEXT YEAR WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THIS YEAR.  My goodness, I am so angry right now.  I could probably throw something else in addition to my shoe.

And the regular season was a feat in and of itself.  They lost Henrik for a spell, and the team really stepped up their game to give Cam Talbot, who really has endeared himself to most Rangers fans for his performance in Hank’s absence.  It was really a lot of fun to watch them in the regular season.  No one seemed to pass the memo onto the team that the President’s Trophy means dick if you can’t bring home the real trophy.

My friend for over 20 years, NotGlen Sather handled it all in stride.  Like many, though, I want it to be just more than the 1994 Rangers.  But he takes comfort in it, saying that it’s something many generations of Rangers fans ONLY have too.  I was also kind of hoping that the year he expects his first child to coincide with a championship for his favorite sport.

I can’t say it wasn’t meant to be.  It could’ve been.  And that’s what makes me still so angry, two days later.

This one is going to sting for awhile.

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It is not easy
the war within us
but it gets easier
the more we learn
I don’t need to win
You don’t have to lose
We can choose
happiness is an option

I bought a small bottle of Prosecco for the Super Bowl this year.  Needless to say, I did not open it.  While I had entertained using it for mimosas on a lazy Sunday morning, I decided to hold it for what I felt to be a formality in getting to the Stanley Cup this year for the Rangers.  I will be moving in a few weeks, and it looks like the Prosecco will be making the move as well.

I’ve always used sports as a form of escapism, and this hockey season has left me void of something.  The Chicago Blackhawks won their game seven last night and will be advancing to play the Lightning as well.  But I will always believe in my heart of hearts that this could have been the Rangers’ season.  You can’t even say they got beat by the better team.  They got beat by themselves.

That’s the worst loss of all.

My dad said he’s been a fan for over 45 years and bleeds Ranger blue.  This one sucked, but he said losing games like that doesn’t get easier over time.  I could choose happiness as my option, but the reality is, I’m too angry to even consider being happy.  I guess come back to me when the season starts again.  But I’ve learned to not get my hopes up with this team, ever.  And that, my friends, really sucks.

A Red Letter Day

All I want is what you want
I’m always waiting for a red letter day
Like Christmas morning when you’re a kid
Admit you love me and you always did
Baby, I’m hoping for that red letter day today

A red letter day is any day of special significance.  Of course, I was alerted to its meaning by a Pet Shop Boys song.  I can’t ever really say I used the term just for shits and giggles before now, however.

For the Rangers and specifically Henrik Lundqvist, May 13th has held special significance in their history.  According to some folks on Twitter and the Rangers forums I follow (I’d like to attribute this stat to someone, so if you can get me a link, it would be greatly appreciated), this is something interesting:

5/13/13: Henrik 35 saves, Rangers win Game 7
5/13/14: Henrik 35 saves, Rangers win Game 7
5/13/15: Henrik 35 saves, Rangers win Game 7

Two things stand out: 35 saves.  Game 7s.

If I had known that this was a series that Rangers like to extend to Game 7 if only to give us all agita, maybe I could’ve  handled a 3-1 deficit a little bit better.  But it seems like when a few of us were about to give up (namely, myself and Ranger buddy KB – we were just disgusted, and she was about to start hanging up her Ranger skates and follow the Lightning more closely, I was just pissed off they didn’t LOSE), the Rangers score.  And they score again.  And they win.  They win again.

They win again.

And the number 35 is significant or a “red letter” number if you will for the Rangers: our last Stanley Cup winning goalie WORE the number 35.

11231096_10206842438684770_2496654098570330887_n  Other red letter days in Rangers history took place that Stanley Cup winning year as well.  A team they owned in the regular season fought back, and clawed their way to a seven game series.  Only to have the Rangers win in OT in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Kind of funny how that works.  See, in that round, a player by the name of Stephane Matteau scored that game winner in a very stressful series.

In this series, a player by the name of Derek Stepan scored the game winner.

Stephane? Stepan? Stepan! Matteau!

Backs against the wall, Captain Mark Messier makes a declaration, and backs it up with a champion’s performance.

Backs against the wall, Captain Ryan McDonagh scores a definitive goal to keep his Rangers team alive.

Back in 1994, when the Rangers were down 2-0 in what could have potentially been an elimination game against the Devils, I guess I was naive enough to think that somehow the Rangers would pull it off.  My dad on the other hand gave me the “talk” about what it’s like to be a Rangers fan.  Then they win, and I’ll never forget the Dad-man singing, “Happy days are here again.”

This year, I’m on Twitter just SKEWERING the team for not showing up in the playoffs.  I told someone in a forum that I guess he hasn’t been watching the series because this team hasn’t been demonstrative at all.  Then they score a tying goal.  Then a winning goal in OT.  And then they shut me up by winning the goddamn thing.

So I guess my point is, we have days of special significance in our lives, they stand for something important and meaningful.  For me, that day proved that I can’t ever doubt this team, ever.  Someone is going to come through, someone is going to carry the team on their back, someone is going to stand up and say, “We’re not going to take this.”

Oh, and remember that whole thing about a team owning another in the 1994 Eastern Conference playoffs?  The Rangers had a phenomenal record against New Jersey that year, yet a Game 7 was forced.

This year, Tampa Bay basically annihilated the Rangers in the regular season.  By the way, the Rangers also were Regular Season “Champs.”

What does that say?

This series is about to get really interesting.

What, you thought it ended last series??? You thought this would be easy?

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Coop is officially too old for this shit.

Coop is officially too old for this shit.

My life is an open book.  My sports fandom, especially if you follow me on Twitter, is worn on my sleeve.  I live and breathe (and sometimes, have a mild heart attack) with every win or loss.

Over the years, baseball has gotten easier for me to handle, mostly because I’m not expecting much from the Mets.  My reactions good or bad is usually of the, “My, what a lovely surprise” variety.

I never gave a crap about football until recently.  Even so, the stakes are a little bit higher because there are fewer games.  Even the playoffs are a one-and-done type of deal.  Don’t let the door hit ya on your way out either.

Hockey has always been a different animal for me.  The game is so fast paced, and because of that, I can be very reactionary.  My reactions are incredibly visceral.  You go crazy and cheer a goal.  You goad two goons fighting.  You boo the opposing team’s star center.

Every so often (okay, more like, every day of my life being a sports fan), I want to give it all up.  You know what? Just FUCK IT ALL, and I’ll take up a hobby that’s boring and doesn’t leave me feeling all empty inside.  Like knitting.

Last night’s shit sandwich of a game against the Washington Capitals was one of those nights that knitting really seems like a good hobby for me to take up now.  I am getting way too old for this shit.

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It’s that time of the year, folks.  It’s the time of the year where two of my favorite sports collide and overlap.  Prioritizing hockey games over baseball games now, because it’s the Cup.  Rather, because…playoffs.  These games are clearly not of the One-and-Done variety like football, but the high stakes of elimination are evident in every game.  Lose one game, I am a big sour puss.  If the Rangers can firm up a victorious round before the seven games…AWESOME!  Go to seven, I will hate everything and everybody.  No offense.  I just take this time of the year very seriously.

Don't Keep Calm

This is usually every other word that comes out of my word. Actually, just “fuck.”

I’ve mentioned previously that in the playoffs, not only have the Rangers faced the Washington Capitals an extraordinary amount in the playoffs, I’ve seen them play the Caps an extraordinary amount.  I saw a game in 2011 that the Rangers lost in OT.  A game, I will point out, they should have won in regulation.

I saw another game in 2012.  A year, by the way, the Rangers made it all the way to the Eastern Conference series.  They lost THAT game.

When NotGlen Sather invited me to the 2013 playoffs, I initially told him no.  Not that I could not or did not want to go.  I absolutely won’t turn down a ticket that he graciously paid for (but had a cancellation, I believe).  I told him, I couldn’t bear the burden of a loss.  The Rangers were down 2-0 in the series.  That game was a “must win.”  He said, he’d take his chances with me.  And they won.  They ended up taking the series too.

So I thought, maybe that dragon was slayed.  I dislike the Capitals a lot because of this playoff history.  But as I said last night in a tweet, I’d have straight up died before Game Two had this series been against the Islanders.  Don’t get me wrong: I’d have enjoyed it.  I preferred it, actually.  But I don’t think I would last long.

Anyway, I was telling my dad how positive I felt going into this series.  If you know me and follow me, you know that is the LAST thing I think about with this team.  Even though they won the President’s Trophy, it is simply not enough.  It’s #CupOrBust for me in 2015.  Otherwise, this year will be an ultimate disappointment.  There, I said it.

But I told my dad, I felt as though the playoffs were just a formality.  (I also said that about the Seahawks this year.  They did make it to the Super Bowl.  The ending wasn’t what I wanted…but I digress.)

Then I made the cardinal mistake of mentioning that I felt like the Rangers would be a little “rusty” having had no hockey for almost an entire week.

The game was interesting from the get-go.  The Rangers certainly had their opportunities early on in the game.  When Ovechkin gets a “surprise” goal (meaning: no one really believed it went in), I found it hard to believe that would be the only goal scored until late third period.

What’s more: the Rangers did not bring their A-game.  AT ALL.  Missed set ups and passes, futile breakaways.  Of course, there’s the inevitable save here and there by Braden Holtby.  But still, there were plenty opportunities, hardly any were fruitful.

The crowd was in rare form.  For all the renovations have done regarding the fan experience, some people have complained that the fans don’t do *enough*, they are too quiet, etc.  I beg to differ.  Before opening face off, the crowd was raucous and fun.  It reminded me of the old days.

The guys sitting behind me, though, they had a difference of opinion. An alcohol-induced opinion, for sure, but opinions nonetheless about how bad the fans were. In fact, one of them generated a laugh from me when he said in so many words that all the fans were doing amounted to “playing with their dicks.” If you follow me on Twitter, you know those words have come out of my own mouth from time to time. When they started picking fights with other Rangers fans (Seriously…YOUSE ARE ROOTING FOR THE SAME TEAM), it was time for the bros to go.

Right after they were tossed from the game though, a miracle happened…The Rangers finally scored! Who cares they tied up the game late in regulation…they scored!

But looking back at the entire evening, the fact that the Capitals scored the go ahead goal with less than 2 seconds left in the game, it was pure poetry.

Whether it’s the week off, missing Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis taking a dump, I’m not sure.  Something was certainly off this entire game.

Anyone who says the Rangers should have won that game clearly knows nothing about hockey nor watched the game.  They had no business winning that game.  Even if they did, sure I’d be in a better mood than I have been all day, it certainly would have been in spite of their previous play.

Seriously, they lost significant leads in the Stanley Cup fucking Final last year, and this year, they let their guard down in Round Two.  I may have felt at the beginning of the game that it was merely a formality to play these games.  I mean, that’s how confident I felt as a fan in this series.  Now, not so much.  I hope Alain Vigneault threw the book at these assholes.

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

I bought you drinks, I brought you flowers
I read your books and talked for hours
Every day so many drinks
such pretty flowers, so tell me
What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?
What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

Every year around this time, I get a little nostalgic.  The summer of my 18th year, I discovered the Pet Shop Boys, and one my “desert island albums” is an album that come out the year before, Very.  I wrote about this at length last year during their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

When I was in California a few weeks ago, I was on a train from Sacramento to Oakland while the Rangers played in game two against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  It was the only game the Rangers lost in the first round.  I was joking around that on my playlist, a song from Very came on shuffle.  We had this one.

For some reason, I have not felt like listening to the album this time around.  Which surprises me because as sure as death and taxes and the Rangers being in the playoffs on the road to the Stanley Cup, I listen to Pet Shop Boys Very.

Last night, though, after walking a zombie march essentially from the Garden to the Port Authority Bus Station (where my dad had taken the bus from New Jersey several hours before), I felt like listening to some music on the train ride home.

A Pet Shop Boys oldie came on.

“What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?,” the familiar refrain repeated.

Yeah, I thought, what the fuck exactly have I done to deserve being in sports futility????

Seriously, I had great luck, rooting for teams that hadn’t won championships in a long time, and being a fan for like five minutes in the grand scheme of things, they win championships.  The Mets and Rangers won in short periods of time in relation to my becoming a fan.

And yet, each year, something happens that raises my disappointment to an art form.

While I don’t believe the point of sports is to win but rather to entertain (and Flying Spaghetti Monster knows, I’ve been entertained more often than not with these bar raising disappointments), I’d still like a bone thrown my way.

And I can only surmise that after last night’s shit show, things can only go UP from here.

So please, get out of the bathroom, stop taking a shit, and just fucking PLAY BETTER.

You assholes.