Author: Coop

About Coop

I am a business information consultant, using social media as a means to expand businesses. I am also a huge sports fan, being a fan blogger who travels to different cities to get the authentic local sports experience.

When Is The Future?

Stranger in a crowd
Treading fire after dark
Lost in a city
Pulsing to the sound
Of the spirit and soul

How do you survive after the worst that has happened?

When studying literature and post-modern works in college, we were often asked that question. This was typically in response to some of the more traumatic events of the 20th century. The Great War. Pearl Harbor. World War II. The horrors that only humans can inflict upon other humans.

How individuals respond to trauma can set forth a lifetime of either depression or understanding, and it can be the driver for how collectively populations react.

The grief doesn’t leave you. At least, I don’t think it does. It becomes a ghost, something that you carry around with you. But it also shows resilience and fortitude. Whether one survives isn’t a factor in what makes one strong. You were likely already strong; tragedy reveals who you were.

A city that is breathing
Living through the cables
Alive across the wires
Faces without names

I didn’t cry that day.

Sure, I grieved. I mourned. I was very sad. I didn’t know anyone who was directly affected that day. I knew of people who knew someone who KNEW “someone,” so I felt spared.

I didn’t cry.

It felt odd. Like an out of body experience, it’s the only way I can describe it. For months leading up to September 11, 2001, I had walked around Lower Manhattan every day to go to work. I had started a job in that area just under a year prior to the attacks.

As contrived as it sounds now, there was a very ominous feeling hovering over New York City. I don’t know if anyone else felt it. I remember walking down Broadway in the financial district with just an overwhelmingly negative feeling. I don’t like to think back to that time, not just because of everything that happened, but also of how disconnected I felt from everything at that time. It was very personal. I was in a relationship, but there was a lot of uncertainty. I worked at a job where I was not happy. I had an odd schedule, which ironically spared me the worst of that day.

It was a weird feeling that I could not put my finger on. It’s easy to chalk it up to being a lot of negative people in Manhattan. When the planes hit and the towers fell, I wasn’t surprised nor shocked. I was just numb. The negative energy I had felt all those months was gone, and it was replaced by fear, anxiety and grief.

But still, I did not cry.

It’s a beautiful dream
It’s a beautiful life
It’s just a reflection
A world I must survive
We’re children of the past
Who look beyond today

At the time, I buried myself in my work. My relationship suffered. Unlike me, he had been in the city that day. We were never quite the same after that. Perhaps the negativity I felt prior to the attacks was an extension of knowing that my relationship had a clay bottom. But we were truly never the same after that day.

Lots of things I enjoyed, I simply did not anymore. Baseball, hockey, sports in general became secondary. Joy took a lot out of me. I stopped writing. I didn’t even watch the Mets game on September 21st. See, the ex wasn’t a big baseball fan. Plus, I’m not sure I had the capacity to watch it. I did see the news stories and papers the next day about Piazza’s dramatic home run.

In the years after, I compartmentalized. A lot. It was survival. I didn’t cry, noooo, I didn’t do that. But I distinctly remember walking around the area close to “Ground Zero,” that seemed like a hollowed-out abandoned post-war village. I remember, vividly, thinking to myself, “Why are all these shops closed and windows boarded up?” To think that I had forgotten momentarily about the horrific morning just two years before, thick black and grey smoke, contrasted with beautiful blue sky. I walked past the abandoned market I had first bought lunch when I started working downtown. I couldn’t imagine the horrors outside while they served breakfast unknowingly for the last time.

Before that day, I used to walk the downtown area, resentful and angry that I had to work evenings for a job that I didn’t agree to do. Everyone else got to go home and enjoy their nights…but at least I had the Financial District to myself after hours. Once the Towers fell, I didn’t even have that. It was no longer MY city; it had lost a big part of its identity let alone the overall feeling of loss that permeated the atmosphere.

We live in a dream
Keeping visions alive
It’s just a reflection
A world that never dies

I don’t think I had a “Survivor’s Guilt” per se, as I was not in the city that day. I didn’t know anyone in the Towers. I didn’t know anyone, personally, who was lost. When I worked mornings, I used to grab coffee at a cart across the street from the buildings; she called me the next day and recounted how she had to run for her life.

My guilt was surrounded by how I had never cared for the buildings. I was there every day simply for necessity; I had to walk through the transit center to get to work. I had basic reasons for not liking them: I am afraid of heights.

About five years ago, the 9/11 Memorial Instagram page had a post with signage for the World Trade Center PATH train that had been damaged in the collapse, but it was preserved for the museum. It brought back a lot of feelings I didn’t even know I had. I had walked past those signs many times in those preceding months. Had I not noticed them? Or did I and had I just blocked them out?

Three years ago, the MTA train station that ran underneath the towers reopened (the PATH train I had taken from New Jersey had been reopened for several years at that point). It was also that day that I had gone to see the exhibit of Sports and September 11th. I know the power that a shared moment of sports can have. I had attended the Rangers home opener a few weeks afterwards, where Mark Messier had worn a firefighter’s helmet. I had never known the back story to it.

I had some slight panic attacks going back to the area. Never when I worked there, post-tragedy. Only when I returned after I had left.

The ghost of grief was rearing its ugly head then, I surmised.

But still, I did not cry.

The image we create
Now image we designed
It’s a beautiful life
So when is the future
?

When Is The Future, VNV Nation

It’s been 20 years since that fateful day. My life has changed in many ways, not worse or better, just different. I’ve been paying attention to the past, how it impacts the future, but live in the now. Because if 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we are all here one day and gone the next.

I’ve been watching some documentaries, which has made me go down sort of a 9/11 rabbit hole. Spike Lee has pointed out parallels between the attacks that day and the pandemic. In terms of people lost and unnecessarily so. Both tragedies that leveled this fair city.

Do you know what made me cry?

A few months after the attacks, People magazine ran a cover story on widowed mothers who gave birth shortly after that day. People went back every few years and did features on them. They are now about to turn 20, they’re in college, and of course have no memories of the dads who were lost that day, but are a symbol of hope when they are just being themselves.

Art wasn’t able to address 9/11 on its own terms. It was either “too soon” or “too close to home” or inappropriately profiting off the death of others. But how else to grieve without a collective creativeness to help us move forward from such unspeakable tragedy?

What made me cry?

I read an article about how 9/11 families had started to work and volunteer at the site to help themselves grieve. Several generations. Sisters. Brothers. Children.

“Trust me, it will get better.” One of the bereaved said this in the article. I think for a long time, I didn’t believe that. I certainly didn’t THINK that. My attitude had nothing to do with 9/11, but just how the world is just tough to comprehend sometimes, humans are shit, and the pandemic did its best to drive us apart, only because we simply cannot be together. Unless outdoors, spaced apart and wearing masks. Don’t forget to wash your fucking hands either.

One of the stories stood out for me though. The daughter of one of the victims said her father would sign off correspondence with Peace.

Peace.

She asked her tour groups to think of conducting an act of peace in her father’s memory and in making their communities better.

And THAT, my friends, is what made me cry. Even recounting it now as I write, I’m a blubbering hot mess. I made the mistake of reading this on the bus, and I got all welled up. In short, I sobbed.

Peace.

I realized that in the past 20 years, and especially in the last goddamn how long has it been? Well basically since March 2020, I have not felt that. Peace.

I had a huge disconnect after the attacks on September 11th that had a ripple effect of negativity that probably impacted me in ways I didn’t know. I hadn’t found peace. Even when I went to the reflecting pools that stand in the footprints of those towers that frightened me. Even when I went to the museum and saw the beautiful shade of blue that represented the sky that day. I still cannot believe what perfect weather we had that day, that served merely as a backdrop for the worst that could happen.

We were together for a short period. Now we value the individual over the collective. “Fuck you, I got mine.” And shit, it has been so fucking long since I have felt any peace, and I know that many of you have too.

Yet look at us. We have survived after the worst that’s happened. We are still handling shit that the universe throws at us, and we still make plans for future.

When is the future? It was 20 years ago, but it’s also right now.

Peace be with all of you.

The Theatre

It’s another world here
The streets are gleaming
I was even dreaming
That they’re paved with gold

Seventeen, at half past ten
All the crowds are surging past
An electric display

New York City has many colloquialisms. The Big Apple. Gotham. The City That Never Sleeps.

New York, New York.

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Or something like that.

There is a lot of pressure to perform in New York City. There is a Canyon of Heroes that celebrates those who succeed. But there are far far too many who have not. Bodies have almost literally littered the roads leading out of the city, trying to get out of the pressure cooker.

Once you are here, though. You are never the same.

I first visited New York City as a 10 year old. My grandmother hated watching the New York based news where we lived in New Jersey, only because she always had some comment about how “dirty” it was there in that city. When I visited here though, I knew one day I’d live here.

I’ve fallen short in my years in the city. I’m not where I thought I would be, or even close to where I’d thought I needed to be. But it is okay. In my years as a Mets fan, I’ve watched many underdogs perform at a high level to surprise us all.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed some greatness, and I’ve seen legit stars. Major mega super duper stars. Some, I’ve narrowly missed ever watched play (damn, being born at the wrong time). All I have are stories, and shared memories. Grainy old videos. And sometimes my own waning memory.

Many of them transplants. They are not native New Yorkers. You see, there are those born here. Some stay, some go.

Those who strive to be the best, to reach the top of their proverbial game. They come here.

They become legends.

***********

There’s another world here
Below shop windows
Upon the pavement
Where you wave goodbye

Boys and girls
Come too roost
From Northern parts
And Scottish towns
Will we catch your eye?

It’s been a rough week for New York Rangers fans. We lost two legends. One is moving to a new chapter in this life. The other is transitioning to be a star in the sky.

Last year, around this time, I had written about how Henrik Lundqvist was One In A Million. A once in a million player, once in a million competitor.

One in a million New York City transplant who became this city.

It’s not easy to do what Henrik did. Compete at a very high level each and every time he went in between the goal posts. Be acknowledged as the top of his position. Generate exciting playoff runs multiple years. Carry a team on his back when it seemed like nothing could go right.

Seeing him on the bench last year as the Rangers exciting season (cut short by COVID) was more than I could bear. I knew it was the last time we’d see him as a Ranger. What I didn’t know, is it was the last time we’d see him play at all.

Lundqvist had open heart surgery last year, and it was too risky for him to return.

Fans were cheated of doing a farewell tour. Henke was cheated out of retiring on his own terms.

All of us were cheated of seeing him win a championship. We won’t be cheated out of him being a Forever Ranger, however, the way it should have been all along.

Many New York sports legends have never won a championship. Some players, they get lucky. Right place, right time.

It’s not easy being a New York Ranger. You could have easily asked that of Rodrigue Gabriel Gilbert, who played at a high level his entire career, but also never won a championship or was celebrated in the Canyon of Heroes.

Well, I guess you could say that of a lot of Rangers, but I digress.

Without Rod Gilbert, you wouldn’t have a Henrik Lundqvist. I know, one was a goal scorer; the other one prevented them. But I mean, in the essence of being a New York Ranger. You have to have “it.” The desire to succeed is just one part of it; you have to perform.

I never had the honor of watching Gilbert play. I do know, he put on a performance every night, like they do on Broadway. A goal-a-game, that was what you could guarantee when Gilbert was on the ice. He just made the team better.

He didn’t call those of us who were fortunate enough to watch him “fans.” He called them “friends.” In a way, we are all connected. Friends have a connective fiber. The fiber here is the Garden, the biggest stage in the world. Whether a musician or entertainer or sports. You make it there, you literally can make it anywhere.

Rod Gilbert passed away at the age of 80 yesterday.

He was Mr. Ranger, the first player to have his number officially retired by the New York Rangers. Over 40 years after his retirement from the sport, his records with the team are still significant.

And I cannot be the only one who sees the irony that the very first number retired by the Rangers won’t be around for the most current one. After Henrik, who do you think gets that honor next? Is it someone on this team?

In the end, you pretend
‘Cause it’s so much easier
We’re the bums you step over
As you leave the Theatre

  • Theatre, Pet Shop Boys

In a regular non-pandemic shortened season, a hockey team will play over 40 games on their home ice.

Is there an arena more significant in the NHL than Madison Square Garden? Maybe I’m a homer, but I don’t care.

Just mere blocks from the Theater District, the Broadway Blues play on a square block between 7th & 8th Avenues, stretching between 31st & 33rd Streets.

I’d challenge anyone to pit the raw emotion and performances on the ice in this circular arena above Pennsylvania Station every night the Rangers play to the singers and dancers and actors on Broadway.

The Rangers were lucky enough to have two of their best of their position ever wear their sweater. And they were proud to do it.

Many have failed. A Canadian dude and some Swedish kid came here and did it, and did it well.

And it gives me hope that my North Star is out there. Perhaps it will shine a bit brighter now that Rod Gilbert is no longer with us; and we’ll see it shine when Henrik is honored one last time at the Garden.

What I wouldn’t do to see him in the crease just one last time, though. Damn.

It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a woman or a girl
He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness, he’s lost lost

~ It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, James Brown

I couldn’t help but think of a few things when I heard about Mickey Callaway’s reported inappropriate behavior with women baseball reporters during not just his time as my beloved New York Mets’ manager, but his time as coach with the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organizations.

One was…this was the second time in the course of a month…in this short year…that the Mets had a current and former team lead type be exposed for humiliating not just themselves, but specifically female reporters who are simply doing their jobs in following and writing about the teams they are tasked with. (Though, Jared Porter’s behavior was documented as a Chicago Cubs executive…still doesn’t make it any BETTER).

The second was…my role as a “girl who likes baseball.” Even at age 45, living and breathing and eating baseball since I was seven years old…I **STILL** get the backhanded compliment about “you sure know a lot about baseball…for a GIRL.” (Anyone who knows me knows how ridiculous that is…I can talk circles around people with baseball…but that’s besides the point).

In my fandom, I started a little blog called “My Summer Family,” and I think I had a pretty decent following that I parlayed into finding a niche within a little literary community of Mets fan groups. I branched off and started my loudmouth sports fan Twitter account, wrote for several fan sites, and was even part of a successful podcast team.

Despite all that, the Mets never recognized me as a valuable blogger. Despite many people who had a seat at the table going to bat for me. I suspect it had to do with my “potty mouth.” Yet, there were far more vile bloggers out there who were not only recognized, but had carte blanche at Mets events that quite frankly disappointed and pissed me off. I was held to a much higher standard when it came to my writing than others. When I knew I was just as good as most of the people invited to the party.

Yet, I’m 45 years old. I’ve been a fan nearly 40 years, and I still get that whole knowing baseball for a girl…or my personal favorite, “YOUR a girl, and couldn’t possibly know about baseball.” Okay, pal. (PS The typo was the guy’s, not mine).

I’m the same age as Mickey Callaway. Though he was in a position of power, and though he probably doesn’t interact with women all that often due to the nature of his job (besides maybe those he is related to or married to), he has grown up in the same world I have. He has grown up in the same generation, where women are told they be anything they want to be, that women can do anything a man can do, and do it better.

Just so long as they look pretty, take a good joke in the form of a dick pic and don’t try to be equal at all.

That’s just a start.

We already know that baseball is a staunchly conservative sport, and lacks the diversity seen in the NBA and NFL. (I’m really just focusing on the players here). I’d say most of the men on these teams have been around other men who think and act and talk like them. They’ve had similar experiences in their lives and making their way through the big leagues.

They’ve also never had anyone call them out on their BS.

I do appreciate a free thinker in sports. When Russell Wilson was about to marry Ciara, they had planned to marry in his beloved state of North Carolina. They changed their venue to a castle in London because of the states’ controversial bathroom mandate.

In 2020, prior to the start of the football season, Drew Brees claimed he didn’t quite understand the peaceful protests during the National Anthem. After receiving criticism, he reversed his course and actually APOLOGIZED for missing an opportunity to understand and speak in support of his teammates who were protesting.

Many players in the NFL use their religion to explain away their talents and awards earned along the way. Yet, I don’t see a lot of players there using their religious beliefs as a platform to justify hateful thoughts and behavior.

I’m not saying it NEVER happens; I’m just saying that in the NBA or NFL, I see a lot more coming around on societal issues. In fact, the NBA has a B grade in gender hiring practices; the NFL has a C+ grade. MLB has a C rating. While middle of the road, it’s clear that they are not exploiting these hires to the best of their abilities to make MLB operate BETTER.

However, I keep coming back to Mickey Callaway. He’s the same age as me. Our generation has been sold a bill of goods since we were young that “once the old racists die and go away, racism will go away.” We see that has not come to fruition in the year of our lord 2021.

The old misogynists are not dying off either, it seems.

We were told we would be better. We were told we deserved better and could become better.

It’s not better.

Kim Ng recently became the first female GM in MLB. This was after YEARS of paying her dues — several years of several dues — and dealing with racist and misogynist comments throughout the years. One small step for woman, but womankind is still held back from having meaningful roles in baseball without their being some kind of “question” about how it was earned.

(Meanwhile, no one said shit when lucky sperm club winner Jeff Wilpon was insulting single moms in his organization…a woman who, by the way, made me feel so valued as a ticket holder in my years of being one).

During Sandy Alderson’s press conference following the termination of Porter as Mets GM, Hannah Keyser had Alderson admit to the fact that no one on his team had consulted any women to attest to his character prior to his hire. (This also seemed to be an “open secret” among the Cubs in 2016, but I guess winning championships was more important than sexual harassment. Same goes for Callaway, who no one guessed that other teams didn’t want him to be “their problem.”)

We know people are going to behave badly. That is just going to happen no matter how upstanding we all try to conduct ourselves in a given day.

However, there are miles and miles of runway in front baseball to not only make things better for women, but to get them a goddamn seat at the table without a penis being put in their faces.

Even within the diversity and inclusion efforts of sports, the old boys club mentality seems to overrule. With that, bad behavior still persists, since men will always protect other men. Which is how the Mickey Callaways and Jared Porters of the world go through life never being held accountable (well, maybe now they are…but they always seem to “fail up”), or rather rest on the idea that they’re simply “joking” or using a stock penis pic from Google photos. While they may make a concerted effort to hire more women, they are still being kept away from having a meaningful seat at the table.

I’d say for the most part, you shouldn’t shun loudmouthed women like me — or even quieter women who simply want to follow their passions — from being involved in baseball operational decisions since it can only make teams better.

And isn’t that the point of teams…to make them better? Once talent flows, you can weed out the assholes and those gaming the system.

James Brown once sang about it being a man’s world. But it’s nothing without a woman. And it’s just too damn bad that in a world where we’ve grown up with women sitting at the same table, men can’t fucking appreciate that. Perhaps that can change. I won’t hold my breath, though.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, yeah
And I said…

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to cry

Andrew Cuomo’s office had to send regular reminders about what day it was.

The last live sporting event I attended was on March 4th of 2020. A few short day later, our city went into lockdown.

The world ended. And I needed sports. At a time when I needed a distraction from what was going on <gestures wildly> out there, I didn’t have one for several months.

Shit, Governor Cuomo at one point had to post pictures at his press conferences reminding us of the day of the week.

So slowly but surely things returned. It wasn’t normal – far from it – since we couldn’t attend live games. But baseball started in July. Basketball restarted and ended not too long ago (only to restart just a few weeks ago). Hockey finished up their season. We are just a few days away from the 2021 season starting.

According to Rob Manfred, the baseball season is expected to start on time.

As for me? I still think it’s fucking June.

And I was walking down the street one day
A pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
And I said…

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to cry

When you’ve carved out a lot of your life around sports, 2020 was a year that was just all sorts of fucked up.

I spend a lot of my summers traveling to baseball stadiums, and originally, I had planned to visit four stadiums in total. None of it happened. I did get to Cooperstown, spiritual home of baseball. Even if I do have ulterior motives in getting to the nearby cider mill for goodies when I visit.

My last live sporting event was a sport where I don’t even have a team I really follow. I say I am a Jazz fan, only because I used to love John Stockton, and my husband is also a big fan (simply a coincidence, along with the other sports teams we follow). (Bring the Sonics back, and we’ll talk about my team loyalties)

Weird shit happened along the way. The Marlins were the team to beat in the NL East (well one of them anyway…certainly not 2019 World Champs Washington Nationals, as we thought they might be).

The Seahawks let Russ cook until apparently Brian Schottenheimer got food poisoning. At least nobody got COVID-19.

Two Los Angeles based teams won championships in their respective sports.

And my teams kept disappointing me one way or another.

Things were weird, but they were also strangely familiar.

And I was walking down the street one day (people runnin’ everywhere)
Being pushed and shoved by people (don’t know where to go)
Trying to beat the clock, oh, no I just don’t know (don’t know where I am)
I don’t know, I don’t know, oh (don’t have time to think past the last mile)
(Have no time to look around) And I said, yes I said (run around and think why)

It’s tough to be a sports fan now. Sure, we have social media that ties us, but it’s tough to believe that it’s only been a year since the last time we watched a Seahawks game at Carlow East. It seems much longer than that.

We are still in a holding pattern regarding attending actual games.

The hockey season started on Wednesday, and the Rangers play their first game tonight. There is still no Captain on the team, but alternate Mika Zibanejad is uncertain for the opener.

Now we are about to start yet another sport with COVID still being an issue, when we hear about New Zealand having concerts and shit. We do not know when and if we can attend live sporting events anytime soon. The vaccine is rolling out now, for a disease that didn’t exist 16 months ago. Shit is weird.

We are stuck in a perpetual Pandemic Groundhog’s Day, which apparently we can only get out of if we better ourselves. We are making incremental moves at making ourselves better to get out of this vicious cycle…if only to hold out for another week where we might be able to see some progress, finally.

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to die

In the meantime, the team that always sets me up for disappointment is shockingly not doing that. The same day many of us danced in the streets to a more modern tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the Mets were sold to a new ownership group. I’d say the ownership group is headed up by Steven Cohen…but honestly, I think we are just happy, again, because the owner no longer is related to, whether by blood or marriage, to Fred Wilpon. Drink up!

For the first time in my Mets fandom, we have an owner who takes an active interest in what the fans are looking for, what the fans want. Because he IS a fan; not some nostalgic for the Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and the Mets are a fine substitute.

He asks about what kind of things we’d want to see at the stadium. But it’s not fluff: the Mets also just pulled off a blockbuster trade to bring some of the most exciting players in baseball to Queens.

It’s funny what love for a sport and money can do. Happy Days Are Here Again, indeed.

Everybody’s working (I don’t care)
I don’t care (about time)
About time (no, no)
I don’t care

As I write this, MSG Network is replaying one of the best games I have watched in my lifetime: the Zibanejad five goal game on March 5, 2020. The world ended shortly after that. I held onto hope after that game; that the Rangers would be viable players in a play-in for the playoffs that occurred over the summer. Not only did they lose, they also lost Henrik Lundqvist.

Henrik Lundqvist shortly after that signed with the Capitals; only to be diagnosed with a heart issue that required surgery. His return is uncertain; more championship hopes dashed as well. Yes, I know; his health is more important.

In the middle of death, we still realize that life is truly fleeting.

Which is why we need sports as a distraction; now, more than ever. I may still think it’s still June, even though the weather suggests otherwise, and the date on the calendar says January 14th. It’s the 32nd anniversary of my first ever Rangers game. It’s also Opening Night for the 2021 season.

I may get my dates and years mixed up; but I’ll know the time is 7pm when the puck drops.

One In A Million

Why…
This uncertainty?
It’s not clear to me
Would you rather be independent?
Have I lost your love?
Have you had enough?
Do you feel too much resentment?
How can I make you see
When you disagree
That you just can’t leave?

My arc as a New York Ranger fan is pretty simple.  My dad took me to a hockey game, I was 13 years old, some dude name Brian Leetch was a rookie.

They won the first game I went to at the Garden in 1989.  Even without a win, I was hooked.  I loved New York City, even as a child.  It was so different and interesting and going right to midtown for a sporting event was just mind blowing.  I was used to going out to the boondocks in Queens for Mets games at that point.

What got me was the crowd.  They were INSANE.  Forget the 1986 Mets fans, which was also a crazy time.  Rangers fans were gritty, foul, drunken, loud, crude, obnoxious.  Everything that I loved about a fanbase.  They had every reason to be.  My dad told me about the Broadway Blues and Broad Street Bullies.  He told me stories about the rivalries of the ’70s, how his best friend got in a fight and broke his arm.  How he listened to the Rangers being eliminated on the radio in 1975, in the parking lot of Tom’s Tavern in Farmingdale, New Jersey (If you know, you know).

Within a few years, our hockey team that we pledged allegiance to made it to the top of the mountain: the Stanley Cup.  Lord Stanley placed his hand over the Garden, and we celebrated this victory like it was 1999 (though, it was only five years before…in 1994).

That summer made such an impression on my then-young life (ha, keep your comments to yourself), that I still think about that run with such shock and awe.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.  Even the Mets making it to the playoffs or the World Series, that electricity I felt with the Rangers is second to none.

If you’ve followed Gal For All Seasons since the beginning, and especially my posts about the New York Rangers, you’ll also know that I associated that fateful run to the Cup with one of my “desert island” albums: Pet Shop Boys’ VERY.

Whenever the Rangers made it to the playoffs, I always made it a point to listen to the album, if not in its entirety, then at least the first five songs.  That was part of my juju that year.  And the opening chords of “Can You Forgive Her?” can just bring me back to my car and driving to my dad’s to watch the games.  Then on the way to the train station when we brought our juju to the city.

What also made an impression were goaltenders.  I fell in love with Mike Richter that summer of 1994, and he remained my favorite New York Ranger, almost uncontested.  Sure, I loved Leetch, and Messier and Graves and all those guys.  But Richter was something else.  He was the first jersey I ever bought.  I broke it out when they retired his number in 2004.

That’s why after the strike that canceled hockey for a while, I gave up on it.  Richter was retired.  The Rangers had traded Leetch away (whyyyyyyy?).  Messier was old and done.  They were a shadow of themselves, not making the playoffs for years and years and years on end.  When you think about how many teams DON’T make the playoffs, it just made me think that they were never serious about winning.

Then my dad told me I should consider coming back.  “You gotta see these new guys, T.  Their new goalie?  Lundqvist?  …

His number will be hanging from the rafters someday.”

I…
Won’t stand in your way
I can’t make you stay
Though, of course, I feel rejected
You’re a part of me
You’re the family
I can’t bear to leave

So I went back.  Picture it: winter 2007.  The Rangers didn’t score at all, until overtime and won the game 1-0.  Allegedly, I also wrote about this for a Mets site that is now-defunct.

Almost singlehandedly, Henrik Lundqvist not only changed the Ranger dynamic, he brought ME from the dead, a person who said she no longer needed hockey, that it no longer served her well, and she was just fine without it.

With his coiffed look, suave and sophisticated manner, yet aggressive style of playing, no one defined being a Ranger better.  And who realized that he’d not only change the team, he changed the fucking FRANCHISE.

Sure, we had Eddie Giacomin.  And we ALL KNOW about the “ED-DIE! ED-DIE!” return to the Garden.  Sure, Giacomin was a legend to Ranger fans.

Henrik took it next level: He’s a Viking fucking WARRIOR.

I don’t know if the Rangers will ever see a competitor or a player like him again.  I don’t know if New York sports will see one like him either.

I keep talking about Henrik Lundqvist in the past tense.

I think I gotta go back to 2014 to full capture that I felt the beginning of the end of Henrik’s time in hockey.  He was 32.  He wasn’t getting younger.  And the Rangers made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final that year.  They didn’t win.  But they made the Eastern Conference Final three times in his tenure with the Rangers.  But after 2015, they sort of fell off the cliff.  I blame Alain Vigneault.  But I think the Rangers just did a terrible job of building around Henrik.  Even guys like Martin Brodeur had Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens in front of his net.  Who has Lundqvist had?! Can’t tell you how many times we scream about Marc Staal or Tony DeAngelo just fucking everything up in front of him.

I just knew that something was…ending.  It’s now the year 2020.  Everything is ALL fucked up.  Henrik Lundqvist is now 38 years old.  He has many individual accolades under his belt.  He is still missing a Cup.  I look back at 2014 and realize that was the chance.  The chance we let slip away, and acted like it was so cavalier.

Right before the world ended, Mika Zibanejad scored five goals in a game, that I still think about, and it gives me chills.  I could live to be 100 years old and not see another game like that.  Now, if I wasn’t hooked on hockey, then, I would’ve been after that.

What stood out was when the world ended, it meant endings for so much else.  No full baseball season.  No fans in attendance.  Basketball season stitched together.  But without a full season of hockey, we would have no idea how the Rangers fate would have been settled.  In a year that was long touted as “part of the rebuild,” Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad were having monster seasons.

Henrik was mostly watching games from the bench this season.

I have no idea if this was by design.  If he and young coach David Quinn with his new philosophy had come to an understanding of some sorts.  The team was going with youth, and that also meant in the crease.

I knew, no matter what, before COVID-19 changed all of our lives, before Zibanejad scored five goals and before we knew Panarin was a Hart Trophy finalist, one thing was for certain:

It looked like we would be preparing for a future Rangers without Henrik Lundqvist.

And as long as hockey and sports didn’t restart, we didn’t have to deal with that reality.

Feel…
Free…
To leave…
If you think you’re trapped, but
Please…
Believe…
I’ll always want you back

 

The fairest way that the NHL could look at 2019-20 was to have a “play-in” of sorts, and the Rangers were a team that made the cut.

They were swept by the Hurricanes promptly.

And goddamn COVID for not only uprooting our lives, but for denying us the chance to see what this team was actually TRULY made of.  For making them perform lukewarm and not in a home ice situation.

And for having us see possibly our last vision of Henrik Lundqvist as a New York Ranger, sitting on the bench, and not in his rightful throne: on the ice, in front of the net.

That is goddamn tragic.

I was prepared for a sweep, I was prepared for the Rangers not doing much.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how I felt about seeing Henrik like that.

It was almost more than I could bear.  I joked about crying myself to sleep, but it wasn’t far from the truth.

One in a million men
Could change the way you feel
One in a million men
Baby it’s up to me

One In A Million, Pet Shop Boys

When people don’t go to work or make their coffee run or stop at a newsstand to have some sense of normalcy around these parts, they might pick up a New York Post in the morning.  They may see the backpage as clear as day.

HANKS for the Memories.”

Larry Brooks makes sense of what Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers could do for their mutual futures.  But the writing was on the wall for a long time, at least as long as the “regular” regular season was, and much like the youth movement that made Henrik Lundqvist a star and legend for the Rangers, he would no longer be part of their future.

They’d come full circle.

In 2014, I made it a point to incorporate Pet Shop Boys’ song titles in my posts.  They may not mean much to my two readers, but they have a special place for me. So my blog, my rules, all right?

I never was able to incorporate the song “One In A Million.”  But it appeared I was saving it for Henrik Lundqvist all along.

I wasn’t around for Rod Gilbert.  Eddie Giacomin was long gone by the time I ended up a Rangers fan.  I was able to see Brian Leetch, a home grown Ranger, in his prime, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I got to see Mark Messier, widely regarded as an all-time hockey great, wear a Rangers jersey and bring a Cup to this long suffering fanbase.

But Henrik Lundqvist, man.  I’ll never see another player like him in any sport across any city in my lifetime.

He truly is one a kind.  One in a million, if you will.

I hope that whatever happens, he gets what he deserves: a chance to skate around the rink with the Cup of Lord Stanley.

Until the End of the World

Haven’t seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold just passing time

Remember the anticipation for Christmas morning when you were a kid?  The excitement leading up to the day, making your wish list, going to see Santa, even going to bed on Christmas eve…all with the knowledge that when you wake up, it’s the most exciting day of your childhood.  Till next year of course.

Then when you are an adult…life just kind of flies past you, ya know?

I often say that as an adult, my year officially begins on baseball’s Opening Day.  Each year, I’d wake up with anticipation every day leading up to whatever that arbitrary date would be.  From the last out of the World Series, it really didn’t matter if my “winter sports” teams were doing well.  Baseball took the prize, hands down.

Contrary to what TS Eliot claimed about April, March seemed to be the cruelest month to me, at least.  Hockey would be gearing up for the playoffs, but baseball was also starting.  It didn’t matter how the Rangers were doing: it always took a back seat to baseball season.

This year, Mets’ opening day was to be Thursday, March 26th.  I knew once the season started, and I did my baseball trips, before I knew it…October would be here.

Last September, on closing day, opening day didn’t seem too far away.

Now, the start of baseball is a continuum.  Ergo, there is no start.

And if you feel anything like me, you feel lost, in more ways than one.

I took the money
I spiked your drink
You miss too much these days if you stop to think
You lead me on with those innocent eyes
You know I love the element of surprise

I won’t lie: 2020 has been a weird fuckin year, sports-wise.  As if January wasn’t the longest month EVER, as Sunday, January 26th unfolded, the sports (and the entire) world learned we lost Kobe Bryant, plus his daughter Gianna.  While I can’t say I was the biggest Bryant fan, I certainly respected him and what he did for the sport.  That said, I was glued to the TV and my phone that day, to learn about what happened.  It was other worldly.  I thought, no way does any news top this one.  It was sad.  It was tragic.  I really don’t know if anything was going to top feeling what we felt when we found out Kobe Bryant ceased to exist.  Once his and Gianna’s life celebration happened on February 24th…I thought, maybe we can move on.  Seemed unbelievable, but we’ve done that before.

The universe had other plans, however.

For those of you just getting acquainted with Gal For All Seasons, you will know that I am a big New York Rangers fan.  While I didn’t expect much of the team this season, I attended their opening night in October (another growing tradition in my household), and I expected…I don’t know…something special this year.  Maybe the team wasn’t going to make the playoffs, but they were going to make things fun.

Boy.  Did I get more than I bargained for.

Mika Fucking Zibanejad.  Along with Artemi Panarin, we were getting an exciting scoring opportunity each time they took the ice.  I could live to be 100 years old, and not see another game like the one Mika Zibanejad had on March 5th.  The biggest drama we thought we had this year was wondering if Henrik Lundqvist would ever play again…and that Igor Shesterkin was making a quick name for himself in the few games he played before doing the Duaner Sanchez special (most Post-Traumatic Mets Disorder folks know getting into a car after a successful run is never a good thing).

Hard to believe that shit wasn’t even a month ago.

In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You

You were acting like it was the end of the world

The last live sporting event I attended in 2020 was when the Utah Jazz played the New York Knicks on Wednesday, March 4th.  The weirdest thing of the evening, to me anyway, was to attend a non-Rangers sporting event at Madison Square Garden.

Yet, the weirdest shit happened after that night, something that was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  The weirdest shit was my connection to the Utah Jazz, and the last sporting event congregated…before the end of the world.

A week later, Jazz star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus that is wreaking so much havoc not only at home, personally and professionally for me at least…but worldwide.  Shortly after this diagnosis, NBA pulled the plug on the season, for now at least.  We found out a teammate, and fellow Mets fan, Donovan Mitchell, tested positive.  Along with several other players, even fans.  That same day, the WHO had declared COVID 19 a pandemic.

Then, the shoe continued to drop.  NHL paused its season.  MLB pulled out of spring training and doesn’t appear to have games on the docket till at least May (and at this point…that seems too soon, with California and New York state going under stay-at-home order immediately).

It seems like a hundred years ago when I was at that basketball game (the second professional hoops game I’d ever attended, believe it or not).  I convinced the husbo to go to that game because “We never see your team, the Jazz, play when they come to New York.” (And full disclosure: I was a huge Jazz fan in the 90s, when John Stockton and Karl Malone were kicking ass together).

March 4th feels like it was forever ago.  But it was just over two weeks.

Now will baseball season start in May?  Possibly beyond?  When I want time to go as quickly as possible, because that means these end times will be dissipating, this last week took forever.  And seems to not want to end.  With only more and more bad and unpleasant news to hit the wires.

All of this is too painful to imagine, awful to fathom.  I realize the world is much bigger than me.  But when my world is all about the sports that help me escape the trivialities of life, a deadly virus has to have me not ignore reality in a big way.

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You, you said you’d wait
‘Til the end of the world
Kobe Bryant’s death seems like a million years ago at this time.  I was telling a friend the other day that I thought the weirdest story in basketball this year would be his death.  However, leave it to the Utah Jazz to not only beat that, but cause a domino effect of response…we saw the ripple effects of one person testing positive for COVID 19.  Now this is a big metaphor for what the pandemic looks like world over now.
I sit home because I have to, longing for a sense of normalcy.  I sit home, because it’s the safest and right thing to do right now.  I watch my millionth episode of Man Vs Food.  I see the same episode of SVU…again.  But what I wish for is to go outside.  Longing for the Rangers to take the ice again.  Rushing home from work to take the train to Queens for a baseball game.  Anticipating next Thursday’s would-be opening day tailgate.  Leaving for our first baseball road trip.  I’ll take ANY trip, really, at this point, besides the walks to the grocery stores.
I normally sit home most evenings anyway, as this day and age provides us with a way to stay together, even if there is a separation to it.  We watch and talk about games while on our phones and social media apps.  We don’t have sports to bring us together right now.  But we are all together now, even if we are uniting separately, in our own homes.
I’ll wait till the end of the world, as Bono sang on my favorite song on my favorite album, for baseball season to start and perhaps the rest of the sports seasons to end.
But I hope the end of the world doesn’t come before I can do those things that I have taken for granted.

Dumb

I’m not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I’m having fun
I think I’m dumb
Or maybe just happy
Think I’m just happy

For the first time since 2013, I didn’t attend a live football game, where the Seahawks were one of the teams playing.  This season, each city we were eager to see a football game in (Charlotte, Chicago, Denver) were out of the question due to timing conflicts.  The other games  played in Seattle, which has become an even year visiting phenomenon for us, just didn’t work.  Sure, there were tons of cities we wanted to visit, and the home city of our preferred football team was always open.  Not to mention, a fun-ass time that would be hosted by the booster club in London by the UK Seahawkers.

In 2014, we went to Seattle.  Baltimore was our 2015 trip.  We went to MetLife across the river AND CenturyLink in 2016.  Another MetLife trip in 2017.  But nothing in 2018.

So, we sat it out this year.  We sat out traveling for football season for the first time since 2014, and we embraced our role as out-of-market fans.  Instead of going on a cross country flight and eating great food over at Pike Place Market and drinking some fancy cocktails over in Belltown, or hitting up Bush Garden for some beers post-CenturyLink, we instead shared our Sundays with our friends at Carlow East on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  (Although I think having a Seahawks bar in Manhattan would make more sense on the Upper WEST Side…after all, the Pacific Northwest is the UWS of the United States.)

Carlow East and the NYCeahawks are nothing to shake a stick at, though.  In fact, I think no one from the Pacific Northwest can challenge the authenticity of the 12-ing that occurs there.  The chants, the coordinated claps, the high-fives from total strangers who become your best friends and family for a 60 minute duration.  They are all so very real.  Visitors from out of town are always amazed by how loud we can be.  It’s like CenturyLink II.  And whether its #BlueFriday or #VictoryMonday, wearing a Hawks shirt or hat or hoodie, as I am wont to do while working outdoors, elicits a random “Go Hawks!” or fist pump from a stranger.  Hell, in 2017, someone even STOPPED me on the street after shouting in solidarity after a particularly dramatic Hawks win, to show me a video from the game as he had BEEN there the day before.  In Seattle.

It’s a special thing, being a NYCHawk.

But I wonder, if maybe, I’m just a bit stupid for getting emotionally involved in sports.  Like, what is my life worth that I get involved so intimately with the teams in my life…be it Rangers, or Mets, or Seahawks, even St John’s these days (which is mostly for my husband, who is a Johnnie).  That all I do is get my hopes up and dashed with disappointment?

It’s different, being a disappointed football fan.  You only get 16 times a year to have your highs and low, and potentially more if you are lucky enough to root for a team that makes the playoffs.

My heart is broke
But I have some glue
Help me inhale
And mend it with you

We’ll float around
And hang out on clouds
Then we’ll come down
And have a hangover, have a hangover

This year had highs and lows as is wont to happen in the context of a football season.  Starting 0-2, nearly every “expert” lamented the death of the LOB, and eulogies were written for the PCJS Seattle Seahawks era.  QPD.  The “Dynasty that Never Was.”  Yeah.  I called bullshit.

And I mean, it was very easy to think this. The LOB was pretty much DOA this year.  Richard Sherman was goneEarl Thomas was holding outKam Chancellor retired due to injuries.  The bad assery vibe had changed in a way.  I wasn’t too concerned, though.  Yeah, the defense wasn’t the same.  Defensive players don’t age well, and all three of those guys were out for extended periods of time to injury in previous seasons.  Sure, they helped, but not essential to the team’s overall success I felt.  We can argue about their Cantonesque stats, but the one sure lock for the HOF was still our middle linebacker – Bobby Wagner.  (Who is quite easily my favorite Seahawks player right now.)

Yet what was NOT said was that the team was shifting away from being a defense oriented team to building around the offense, mostly around the franchise quarterback, Russell Wilson.  What on earth is wrong that THAT?  I would get so frustrated watching him scramble around with virtually no protection from his offensive team.  And let’s not go there that last year was a field goal here or extra point there from being a completely different ending.

So sure.  Defense may “win championships,” as the old adage says.  But you can’t win if you don’t score.  You don’t score without offense.  Or until you score.  Or something.

I didn’t buy into the rebuild.  But what I saw after a few games was a bit…disheartening.  After the 0-2 start, they pulled themselves out of that hole.  Yet I truly believe they could have won a lot more had they not played to the level of their competition each game.  How many games were decided on a last second “walk off” field goal by Sebastian Janikowski?  Or a close call loss against the LA teams (Rams and Chargers), that in my opinion could have easily gone the other way and been W’s in the column.  Playing to the level of their competition made me feel as though the team believed in the rebuild.  And that got me angry.   It’s okay to play over your heads or to your full potential and win decisively.  No really.  It’s a thing, and it’s all right.

Rebuilds are not a bad thing, though.  Acknowledge it, we’re adults, we can handle them.  Ask me how I feel about a rebuild in Flushing.  And I’m going through one now with my hockey team.  Rebuilds can be fun too, especially seeing the results come to fruition.  I never bought into the Seattle rebuild, though.  This Seattle football team was meant to be a playoff team this year.  What kills me is that they could have been MORE, instead of a one-and-done wild card team against a Cowboys team that quite frankly was not a superior team to the Seahawks.  Cowboys won.  Seahawks lost.  And somewhere, Richard Sherman laughs.  My hockey team sucks.  It’s how many days till pitchers and catchers?  It’s winter, and I’m fucking BORED with it already.

Skin the sun
Fall asleep
Wish away
The soul is cheap
Lesson learned
Wish me luck
Soothe the burn
Wake me up

The fact that I can actually feel real feelings for a football team, which was unheard of not too long ago…that I can be disappointed when one of my teams underachieves or I can truly feel that in my heart….this is what is truly remarkable in my eyes.

Some days I want to give up sports for knitting.

And then I say, well that’s a dumb idea.  So I put my jerseys away for another year.  I go back to eating bad carbs and junk food during the Super Bowl.  Maybe have a hangover the next day.  Mostly, I’ll be happy because it means baseball is right around the corner.

Can You Stand The Rain?

Sunny days, everybody loves them
Tell me baby, can you stand the rain?
Storms will come
This we know for sure (This we know for sure)
Can you stand the rain?  ~ New Edition, “Can You Stand The Rain?”

We are in the middle of winter.  There was snow last night; there was sunny weather today.

The weekend of the Super Bowl, it rained.  It rained so much, I joked that I needed a canoe to get around.  Pretty sure I saw one floating down Broadway.  Of course, I needed to be outside, taking care of pets and not hunkering down, eating bad carbs and watching a game where I had a healthy hate for both teams.

Being a dog walker can be fun and on bad days, when you love your pets, it can make them not so bad.  On a rainy day though, that separates the true believers from the poseurs.

And since my last post, which celebrated the life of my beloved furry baby, Cassie, I spent some time not only mourning her loss, but also mourning the loss of my sports teams.  Which was very palatable.  At least in the past, I’ve had sports as escapism.  With the Seahawks puttering out at the end of the season, the Rangers basically in back-up-the-truck mode now, and the Mets being not so cautiously optimistic for 2018, these teams haven’t done much to make me forget my pain.

This also marked the first year I haven’t seen the Seahawks in a postseason since I started following them in earnest.  Someone told me, though, early in the hockey season, that I better hope the Seahawks do something because the Rangers were looking maddeningly frustrating.

Well, I seem to not be able to exist without my teams frustrating me, so I figured bring it on.  Plus, out of all my teams, the Seahawks always leave me pleasantly surprised.  And the Rangers, well, we can find a way for them to make it to the playoffs.  Right?

It seems like Ray Ramirez’ golden shit touch has infiltrated my teams.  Well, the Seahawks since nearly everyone was injured, and it was tough to come out of that hole.

The last day of the season, they were officially eliminated from making it to the postseason, before they even officially lost a nail-biting heartbreaker of a game.  I suppose it was fitting.  2017 was a shitty year for me personally, it was motherfucking cold that day, and it was New Years’ Eve.  2018 had to be better by definition.

Then New Years’ Day, the Rangers played a Winter Classic game at my baseball summer home, CitiField.  If it was fucking freezing here, on Manhattan Island, it was probably polar vortex meets Antarctica gusts in Queens.

The Rangers won.  It was ice cold, but they played red hot that day.  If I felt concerned and not at all hopeful of their play, I felt like despite the unnerving weather, they had given us hope.

Turns out, it was the last time I felt any hope about this team’s performance.  Everything has gone downhill since.  As of February 18th, they lost 15 games out of their last 21.  Oof.  And the worst part is that letter to the fans, talking about a rebuild? It was sent on February 8th! 10 fucking days ago.   As we like to say on Twitter, back up the fucking truck, and they made it official in writing.  But it just seemed to have gotten worse and worse as time goes on.

So let’s talk about AV for a second, who had the understatement of the year above.  I notoriously defended and called myself a Terry Collins apologist while he was with the Mets.   It wasn’t his fault he was given mostly shit to work with in his years as Mets manager.  AV though, I’m sure Sonny from A Bronx Tale would have a word with him about “wasted talent.”  For a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14, and all the way to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final in 2014-15, he has managed to not get the best of his team in his time as head coach.  Even in those years when they seemed destined for something big.  That’s a problem.  Especially with an aging Henrik Lundqvist.

Above all, Henke does not deserve this shit.

The first one on the flat bed truck is AV.  But Henrik must go too, for the betterment of himself and the team.  Unfortunately I cannot see the team being a success without sending him someplace else to potentially win.  And talk about squandering a talent while he was there.

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about what went into building a team, any team, be it baseball or football, even hockey.  I remember my dad making a rationalization about a player saying “You could build around him, though.”  The way I taught myself about sports is the way I relate to it, and I could relate to building around a player. I guess it’s apropos that an MLB Network documentary on Field Of Dreams, where the saying “if you build it, they will come” was coined, is playing in the background now.  Because if you build it, they will come.  And by “they,” it means talent and by “they will come,” means making the team attractive enough for players to want to be there.

I hate to see Henrik Lundqvist be the sacrificial lamb here.  And I know his contract terms might be a bit onerous right now.  It leaves basically everyone else to go elsewhere.  Yet, when it comes to the Rangers, how many times have we seen our all-stars go elsewhere and win?  Marian Gaborik.  The centerpieces that brought Rick Nash to New York.  Shit, even Ryan Callahan played in a Stanley Cup Final after he was traded.   Why is this?  Do we become too impatient for a rebuild that we sacrifice the future for the immediate gratification?  And guess what?   We still don’t fucking win.  Because you have one guy, and you can’t even fucking build right around him…it’s gonna be a problem long-term.

So it’s painful to watch.  But you know what, I’m back to what feels right.  And by “right,” I mean all my teams disappoint me again.  I have incredibly low expectations now.  This is what I am used to.  Sigh.

As a dog walker, I spent a lot of time outdoors.  I’m exposed to many different elements, I battle bad sinus infections in cold weather, and I have to wrestle dog shit out of the jaws of pups unwilling to relinquish said shit.  When it rains, no one wants to go outside.  This separates the real people who love their work though from the babies.

Riding out a rain delay at a baseball game?  It sucks! If you don’t like rain in the Pacific Northwest, you probably are better off not living there or attending an outdoor sporting event there.

After rain, you may be lucky enough to see a rainbow.  You can have a beautiful sunset once the rain stops.  Weather can become bearably cool after a rainfall.  Flowers and grass and all kinds of vegetation grows after rain.

If you can stand the rain, somewhere over the proverbial rainbow, dreams of your team winning a championship can come true.  So you wait it out.  The storm will pass, eventually.

In My Life

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

  ~ In My Life, Beatles

Memories work in curious ways.  Some of us remember every detail of a certain moment.  The human mind will work in ways that may add or take away from either pleasant or painful memories.  Some of us remember things that happen to others in vivid picturesque quality.  Sometimes it’s an event we all remember and what we were doing at that time.

But I think what’s most curious is what a person’s first childhood memory is.  That tells a lot about what type of person they are, how old they are and even give insight to their personality as to how they reacted to it.

December 8th is a significant date for my memories.  It’s my godmother’s (Mom’s best friend) birthday, for one.  Several years ago, I went to a hockey game and found Gabby, the loudmouthed New York Ranger fan.  So each year not only do I think of my Aunt Pam (who is still a significant figure in my life), we often have Gabby’s preferred meal of fried chicken and some kind of potato.  Hey, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.

Yet, my oldest childhood memory surrounds one of the most memorable in just any kind of history, whether it’s popular culture or just general world events.  The day John Winston Ono Lennon was brutally murdered in front of his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

I was only four years old, but I was two weeks away from my fifth birthday at that point.  What I remember most was being in my mom’s car, listening to all the radio stations playing Beatles’ and John Lennon solo tunes.  I didn’t know much about the Beatles when I was four.  But I do know my parents loved them.  I also remember being at my grandparents that day, and every television show had some kind of John Lennon tribute.  I’m not sure I knew was a “tribute” actually was at almost five years old.  But I do remember it being a sad and solemn day.

But out of death comes life.  Sounds cliche, but it is true.  John Lennon was no longer with us, but his music and art lived on in many different forms.  I remember watching the Imagine documentary at 13 years old.  My dad buying Julian’s album several years after John’s death, and remarking on the son’s songwriting and singing ability.  The rumors that Paul, George and Ringo would tour with Julian.  I always thought it was a good thing that they let the Beatles go with John.  It wouldn’t be right to do things as “the Beatles,” making them a sideshow act.  It was always those four.

I moved not too far from where John lived and was subsequently murdered.  I try to every year make it over to Strawberry Fields on John’s birthday and life celebration on 12/8 to sing some Beatles’ and Lennon songs.  Knowing that maybe I won’t see total peace and love in my lifetime, but for a brief moment we can Imagine it to be true.    I hopped by Central Park to sing a few songs with the group the day I went to the Ranger game where Gabby was “born.”

I’ve often said that sports has been escapism for me.  Music has been a form of creativity and sometimes inspires me in ways sports simply cannot.  Sometimes, they intersect here on Gal For All Seasons.  And like knowing my first childhood memory was surrounded by a musician I deeply admire and whose artistry I loved, sports and music often give me comfort in my life.

Death is a part of life, but life does indeed move on.  Lennon was with us 40 years, and has been gone 37 years.  Even my sports teams who have lived and been born again — 1986 Mets, 1994 Rangers — have probably more significance now or as much as they did when they were current.  Though my first memory was entrenched in a very sad world event that shocked many, sports and music have brought me incredible joy and passion ever since.

In recent years, I’ve been able to follow another one of my passions: pet care.  When I was younger, I thought I might be a veterinarian, but being the empath I am, I don’t think I could bear to see any animal in pain.  As much as vets help them, I just didn’t think I could be a funeral director either.  But I got to work with dogs and cats in providing their care, and I still had my cats, Cassie and Napoleon Dynamite, at home to keep me company (and most often, on my toes).

Cassie’s been with me since 2002.  She was separated from her litter and was yowling for food and attention at two weeks old behind my old Jersey City apartment.  We found a nursing mother and litter, she stayed with them, she was weaned and became my cat and life mate at about eight weeks old.

She and I went through a lot together.  She lived with me for 15 years through six different apartments and in four different cities.  Napoleon Dynamite Kitty joined our family in 2005.  They didn’t always get along, but thank goodness for Jackson Galaxy in helping get them to at least coexist in our small space.  There was a bad break up somewhere in there, and then a fun and happy marriage to her Pawppy.

As I relate to my earliest childhood memory, I related her life to certain sports milestones.  She came into my life in the Mo Vaughn Mets era.  She was there for three postseason runs for the Mets, the late season collapse in 2007, with both cats wondering why I paced so much watching late season games, needing every game to be a win.

I made the decision to move to New York City in 2008 after spending lots of time in the city due to work and play related to sports social media.  I remember when she went hiding after I celebrated a Rangers postseason win a little too loudly during their 2012 run.  And I’m pretty sure both cats wondered why I threw a box of perfectly good Domino’s boneless Buffalo chicken nuggets after Russell Wilson threw an interception in the last moments of Super Bowl 49.

She was a nurse when husbo couldn’t go to an early season Mets game in 2011 due to an illness, so she stayed in bed with him while I was able to go.  She’d get annoyed when I wanted to sit on the same couch with her during a game, so I could, you know, watch said game.  Or when I was trying to write a blog post or even Tweet from my desktop, she’d be like, I’m sitting on *MY* computer chair, Meowmmy.  “I only let you sit on it when I say so,” her saucer-like eyes seemed to be telling me.

CassieI’d like to think she was happiest in my latest home on 84th Street, where I finally feel connected to the city, my life and maybe that every shitty decision I made since 2009 came to some kind of pass.  She had big windows and wide windowsills to lay on.  As she got older (and fatter…), she couldn’t jump as high or as much as she wanted to.  Earlier this year, we had an Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead Mets giveaway.  We kept the bobblehead AND the box.  Cassie decided the box was a perch in which she’d alternately lay her head to watch the birds who sometimes congregated outside our windows.  Or where I’d set her food dish, so that she’d eat her dinner before her greedy brother tried to say, “Yo, you gonna eat that?”

A. Bartlett Giamatti once said that baseball is designed to break your heart.  Being a pet parent does that too.  Along with bringing joy and if you’re lucky euphoria and laughter.  We have no control over game outcomes, only our teams can do that.  Sometimes as pet parents, we need to make difficult but necessary decisions to ensure that they are not in pain.

CCCAt 1:05 pm on Saturday, December 9th, we said goodbye to Cassiopeia Cat Cooper.  Cassie.  Poo Kitty.  CCC.  She was 15 years old.  She was a sweet but sassy girl who had strong opinions about everything.  She wasn’t always the friendliest cat, but she was a good cat and friend.  I like to think I gave her a good life, and that she was happy when she crossed.  In turn, as pet parents, we know we have the option to give them a peaceful and painless death.  Unfortunately, we had to exercise that option today.

I noticed on Wednesday, she seemed a little off.  Thursday, I was concerned.  By that evening, I had decided to take her to the emergency vet.  She wasn’t able to come home.

Death is an inevitable part of life.  And today is the kind of day we always dread as pet parents.  Yet it is a necessary evil.  I brought her to the hospital on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  Due to my life and memories I think of this event every year, even without the multiple tributes.  Now I have a very personal reason of pain and loss to memorialize it as well.

Music and sports have helped me get through a lot of pain and heartache in my life.  (And we all know sports have contributed to a lot of that heartache as well.)  Cassie has been a great companion.  Through the ups and downs in life and sports and art, I could come home knowing she’d be there (along with the boy cat).  Eventually, I know I will instinctively stop trying to look for where she is hiding in the house. So will Napoleon.

Until then, I’ll give Napoleon a few extra love scritches, watch the Sounders, Rangers and Seahawks, and know that one day I will wake up, and this pain won’t be the first thing I think of.  (And hey, if the Seahawks could win this weekend, that wouldn’t hurt either.)

Some pets leave an indelible paw print on your heart.  I had Cody when I was growing up.  And Cassie was my companion animal for my adult years.  I will miss her for the rest of my days.

pookitty

In my life, Cassie, I love you more.

Cassiopeia Cat “Cassie” Cooper
April 4, 2002 – December 9, 2017 

 

As Seasons Roll On By

Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
My mirror shows another face
Another place to hide it all
Another place to hide it all
Sunday, May 21, 2017.  We are well into the Eastern Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I’m sure most of you are well aware that my team, the New York Rangers, did not make it past the second round.  I wasn’t going to write about it, make it all “okay” or anything typical of what you are to see here on Gal For All Seasons.  I kind of did the Five Stages of Grief, but backwards.  I let everyone know that once the Rangers lost Game Five, after gutting out two wins on home ice to get the series against Ottawa 2-2, that I had made peace with the outcome.  And late into the game, it appeared as though that outcome was a loss.  And it was.
Then literally the next day, I had sadness, and anger came and went.  As I said, I did my five stages in my own unique way.
So once again, I see a team that is not mine playing for a trophy that each season that passes, seems more and more unlikely that I will see this generation win a Stanley Cup.  I don’t want to get peaceful about it and say it’s all good, because it’s not.  As I was saying to NotJeff and Will the night they were eliminated, we will be the same assholes next year who watch and don’t see another championship.  Because I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t do right by Henrik Lundqvist and won’t win while he is on the team.
That, my friends, is acceptance.
Sleeping with a full moon blanket
Sand and feathers for my head
Dreams have never been the answer
And dreams have never made my bed
Dreams have never made my bed
Yet, this time of the year, while baseball is in full swing, I get nostalgic.  If you have been following this site as long as I’ve had it up and running, you will know that the Pet Shop Boys hold a place near and dear to my heart when it comes to watching Rangers playoff hockey.  Which is odd because I highly doubt when they wrote and produced the album “Very,” they had an 18 year old hockey fan in mind.
But mostly, I get to thinking.  Not so much nostalgia, but what my life was like as a fan of a team that won a title.  Sure, the Seahawks won one not too long ago.  But I felt as though I was on the peripheral, that I hadn’t yet quite paid my dues.  And when the Mets won in 1986, I was 10 years old.  I had only been a fan three years at that point, sure.  But I certainly had no idea that to be a Mets fan, there is usually a lot of pain involved in the process.
With the Rangers though, it’s more an exercise in futility really.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 1994 lately, and it has nothing to do with the Rangers.  Certainly, that was a significant event in my life that year, including graduating from high school and going away to college.  A coming of age process for sure, and the Pet Shop Boys were a huge soundtrack in my life then.
Now I wanna fly above the storm
But you can’t grow feathers in the rain
And the naked floor is cold as hell
This naked floor reminds me
Oh the naked floor reminds me

And then there’s Soundgarden and the Seattle “sound” of the ’90s.  I disliked Nirvana, but I loved the other significant bands that grew out of that era.  That summer, Soundgarden’s Superunknown was a significant portion of my playlist (before I even knew it was a term).

Black Hole Sun.  Day I Tried To Live.  Fell On Black Days.  Some of it very dark, dreary (much like the weather that inspires the Seattle 1990s sound).  Heavy.  I’d belt that shit out as I drove like no one’s business.
I went through a lot that year, personally.  My high school sweetheart and I called it quits after being together since freshman year, I was going through some home turmoil because I was leaving to go to school,

I also had great joy.  The Rangers won a championship.  I had a new set of friends.  I dated a lot of cute boys.  I went to a lot of concerts. I borrowed my mom’s car (without permission) to go to Woodstock.  Now, that was a fun summer.  Two dark albums though got to the heart of my conflicting feelings, feelings in dealing with the inevitable changes that were happening in my life whether I liked it or not.  The Crow soundtrack still makes me sit and listen, which was a biggie that year.  And there was Superunknown, through several moves and maybe someone “borrowing” and never returning it, it’s been misplaced.  I haven’t listened to it in years, unfortunately.

But I loved Chris Cornell’s voice.  I still have a copy of Singles, the quintessential early ’90s movie soundtrack that was required listening of Generation X.
When I heard about the death of Chris Cornell last week, I thought of several things.  Of course, the first thought was loss, and my own regret of having never seen him or Soundgarden live when I had the chance.  (Note to self: your rock gods do indeed pass away at some point).
I thought about that summer when I really started to listen to different music and go to different shows.  And I realize I always tie in my love of sports and music together.

My next thought was sadness.  While it’s always sad to lose a rock icon, you can’t help but think due to his age, that he still had more to do and more to say in this lifetime.  His music catalog is what remains, his art will live on and blah blah blah.

I couldn’t help but feel connected to a song that die hard Cornell fans would know about, but also one that struck me at a very poignant time in my life.

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away?
Should I be beside myself
And not even stay

Three years ago, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since that fateful 1993-94 season.  I was at a weird spot in my life, professionally.  I was building a business, participating in the “sharing” economy, and not very sure of what my next steps were.  Huge difference from when I was 18 years old, ready to face the world and pretty much thought I knew everything.  (Spoiler alert: I didn’t).  Though they were down in the series 3-0, I had a chance to jump at discounted tickets (in the sense that they were nearly a grand less than they were before game three).  I went with my friend Joanne, and they won their only game, a home game.  Even though I had a lot of tumult in my professional life (and subsequent personal life), I just knew I had to go to that game.  Mostly because I was pushing 20 the last time they made it, and I was then pushing 40.  I didn’t want to be 60 the next time they made it, regretful I didn’t take my shot in 2014 to see them play live in a Stanley Cup Final.
In the hot late spring of ’94, I spent a lot of time traveling to the city to watch the Stanley Cup Final games with my dad.  On my way home, I’d listen to bands like Rage Against The Machine, Violent Femmes, Live, Pet Shop Boys, Mother Love Bone, Green Day.  Different styles, yet they totally made sense to me.
Each year, I think about the pain and agony that ultimately succumbed to absolute joy, only to have things change so dramatically by leaving home and starting school.  Basically, I went from comfort to not knowing shit.  But I’d get in the car, put on some Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, and I was ready to get introspective.
I think about that time, and wonder if I’ll ever have that payoff again with my team.  Any of my teams.  Which is why I turn to that year (1994) a lot in my writing.  Basically because it’s something I have.  But it was also a year that I grew, as a person, and the Rangers and music made me that way.
And I’m lost behind
Words I’ll never find
And I’m left behind
As seasons roll on by
Chris Cornell, Seasons
Another sports season has come and gone in the life of the Gal For All Seasons.  I spend 365 days a year obsessed about where and how I will watch my games, or figure out a way to get to find out what’s happening.  One of the struggles I had with being a blogger who followed sports was thinking about my angle for when I would write about it.  I spent a few days after the Rangers were eliminated wondering if I would ever want to talk about it.
I thought about how I can think about football season and when my next trip to Seattle will be.  While some people may wonder how it was easy to jump ship at a later age to a different team and city, it wasn’t difficult for me.  I often say I was born to be a Mets and Rangers fan.  But I was meant to be a Seattle Seahawks fan because of my ties to a city I didnt know I had.
A big part of that why is my association with music and sports is so closely intertwined.  One of my first thoughts on hearing Chris Cornell’s death was how my Seattle friends would feel, and what the city would do to honor one of their sons who put the city on the map, musically.
Seasons change, and people change and grow.  Chris Cornell’s “Seasons” changed me in ways I had no idea how, until today.  It was a song on the Singles soundtrack, and believe me, if you’ve made it this far, you can wonder how I can be “short on words and long on things to say.”
Every year that I am reflecting on a season that could’ve been, I will think of potential of years, time and people lost.  I’ll think of thought processes I’ve shed that make me evolve and not exist.  How my life has changed dramatically in ways in 10 years, let alone since I was 18 years old.  It’s not good or bad, just different from what I expected.  And that’s okay.
Music and sports though, that’s the one constant I can rely on.  Sure, each year I shake off losses, but as I get older, I realize how finite our time is here on Earth.  And wonder if I’ll get that euphoric feeling again of sharing in that moment of a great win.  And the seasons get harder to pass, and I’m not getting any younger.  But it makes me feel as though the journey will ultimately make it worthwhile.