NHL

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.

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.

Yesterday When I Was Mad

‘Darling, you were wonderful, you really were quite good
I enjoyed it, though, of course, no one understood
a word of what was going on, they didn’t have a clue
They couldn’t understand your sense of humour like I do’

You’re much too kind
I smiled with murder on my mind

There’s something to be said about when things click on all cylinders for a team.  Especially teams of mine, when I’m so used to disappointment and ennui.  I’ve been fortunate for the last few seasons with the Mets, that I don’t feel too down when they got off to a not-so-hot start this season.  And the Seahawks. well, I almost feel bad that I haven’t suffered for years like most of their fans have.  But I know dips and valleys happen in sports.  It’s cyclical.

By clicking on all cylinders, all aspects have to operate soundly.  Teams are a “sum of its parts,” as we like to say.  Sure, you can have an outstanding individual, but it’s not everything.  Depth is an aspect to consider.  Having proper backups.  Regulars need to operate at a high level.  Injuries happen, but one should not be enough to bring the entire team down.  All the way up to the coaching.  No excuses!  Blah blah blah.

The anger that usually comes about for me while watching my teams doesn’t usually come out until the spring.  I equate this time of the year to when the Rangers are in the playoffs.  Last year, I knew they weren’t going to make it far.  So I didn’t get too angry.  I reserved that for the Mets and their shitty handling of injuries in 2016.

Yet, my husband pointed out that while the Rangers have had an unusually successful regular season, and they’ve made the playoffs every year since after we got married (I don’t count 2010, the year we actually got married, because we got married after they didn’t make the playoffs), I’m still mad at everyone.

I consider myself a very happy person.  Sports fandom can make a person crazy.  I’ve often maintained that all I want is for my teams to do is be competitive, and then making the postseason will ultimately be a reward for said competitiveness.  Out of all the teams I root for, I’ve said that the Rangers would’ve been my first guess on winning a championship in the near term.  (Note: I said that five years ago).

Yet, every year my frustrations of not winning it all gets the best of me.  Though, on the surface, they are having a very well-maintained successful stretch.  And every year, I walk away disappointed, even though I’ve gotten what I’ve wanted, technically.

Why am I so angry?

‘You have a certain quality which really is unique
Expressionless, such irony, although your voice is weak
It doesn’t really matter ’cause the music is so loud
Of course it’s all on tape but no one will find out’

You hated me too
but not as much as I hated you

Well, to be fair, it’s games like yesterday’s that get to me.

YOU DON’T SCORE FIVE FUCKING GOALS AND LOSE THE FUCKING GAME IN OVERTIME THAT YOU WERE WINNING IN THE THIRD, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES.

So yeah.  Because it’s all I fucking deal with in rooting for this goddamn team.  Being good, but not great.  Getting to the dance, only to not show up when it counts.

Remember this gem from 2015, when the Rangers tied up a 2nd round playoff game late in the 3rd period only to have the Capitals surprise score a goal, not sending the game to OT anyway?! It was the one fucking time I was actually rooting for a playoff OT game.

And when the Rangers allowed Ottawa to tie it up late in the 3rd, with an extra skater (not to mention the shit show that barely allowed them to keep a two-goal lead intact), I joked about that game in 2015.

But did the Rangers come back?  No.  As my dad later texted me, it was about as worse of a loss as he can remember for a long time.  Me too.  Momentum typically doesn’t carry over in hockey like it does in say, baseball.  But if playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, and that means Ottawa is now on a hot streak, are they now the team “who gets the hottest?”

If so, then fuck us all.

And who knew that of my teams playing at this point of the year, it’s the Mets who would be my darlings?? (NOTE: I started writing this post before the shitshow of a game started on Sunday).

Then we posed for pictures with the competition winners
and argued about the hotel rooms and where to go for dinner
and someone said: ‘It’s fabulous you’re still around today
You’ve both made such a little go a very long way’

I also told my dad in that same text that I’ve just about had it with Alain Vigneault.  He has no clue how to get the most out of this team at ALL.

The only reason the Rangers made it as far as the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 was guys like Martin St. Louis and the heart of other players.  They overachieved that ONE year.  Though they have had relative success in his years as head coach, they have consistently underachieved after that.  And if they don’t make this series interesting and at the very least win, it will be another squandered year.

I have maintained that the Rangers have squandered away Henrik Lundqvist’s talents and his best years.  He turned 35 earlier this year.  He is not getting any younger.

By squandering his best years, the coaches and front office have squandered OUR chances of seeing a Rangers’ Stanley Cup championship and subsequent parade.

If you want to know why I get so angry and curse up a storm on Twitter, THAT is why.  As a fan, yeah, it fucking sucks that I’m used to seeing my teams fall short every goddamn fucking year.  But what I really hate is wasted talent. Squandering away Hank’s best years doesn’t do him or the team or the people who support them any good.  And they’ve certainly failed him.

By failing him, we have also been failed.  That is why I am the way I am, as a sports fan.

Yesterday, when I was mad
and quite prepared to give up everything
admitting I don’t believe
in anyone’s sincerity, and that’s what’s really got to me

Then when I was lonely
I thought again and changed my mind

The Pet Shop Boys saved my sanity in 2015, and they saved me yesterday.

While walking home from that game against the Capitals, I purposely didn’t want to listen to Pet Shop Boys (my go-to album during the hockey playoffs is Very, explained here).  Yet, my iPod knew how I was feeling and put up another song of theirs, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”  It inspired me to write again, and try to reconcile how I felt about the ending of that game.

The Rangers ended up winning the series.  Momentum didn’t of the Capitals at the end of that game didn’t change the narrative of the series.

And outside of sports, I typically reserve my anger to go towards the MTA here in New York City.

Yet, I went to go pick up dinner after the game and took a much needed moment to myself.  Listening to my music, what comes on?  Oh, my iPod knew once again what I needed to hear.  It was a song off my favorite Pet Shop Boys album.  And thankfully, one that didn’t inspire a title for a post on this site.

I guess my parable in life is this.  I don’t get too jacked up about small stuff.  Like waiting in line.  Have you ever been standing in a line, and the person in front of you starts complaining about the line.  I mean, what the fuck are you gonna do about it, am I right?  I remember once a woman was complaining about a line at a bank (back in the day, when we actually stood in line to transact in banks).  She asked why I was so calm.  I said, “Look, when I walk out of here, I’m never going to remember waiting an extra five minutes at this bank.  In fact, I’ll be in my car going to my next destination.”  She told me that she liked that philosophy and got quiet.  I mean, I’m certain I never saw that woman again.  So I wonder how she took it to heart.  But think about it.  Is it something you can control?  No.  Let it go.

(My husband would disagree, as he thinks I’m very impatient.  That’s not entirely true.  I have my moments.  And usually in my defense, he sees me upset about losing time with the shitty transit system here which is where he gets this).

I purposely wrote this post the day after the loss, because now Saturday is “Yesterday.”  And yesterday, I was “mad.”  I figure at this point a Rangers’ devastating loss in the playoffs is my penance, and something I just need to deal with because I didn’t think they’d sweep the Senators or any team, for that matter.  But I mean, I was pretty pissed off.

Admitting I don’t believe in this team is tough, because I do believe in them.  Russell Wilson once said, “Why Not Us?”  And I often think that about my teams when they have a chance to win something.

But I would be really sad if they blew their chance.  If they blew Henrik’s chance.  And anyone else.  Even if AV wins something, that’s fine.  I can handle a coach I can’t stand getting a ring.

I got lonely without sports to watch and realizing we have to wait till Tuesday to see another hockey game.

I thought again, then changed my mind.

Dreaming Of The Queen

Dreaming of the Queen
visiting for tea
You and her and I
and Lady Di

The Queen said: ‘I’m aghast
Love never seems to last
however hard you try’
And Di replied that

‘There are no more lovers left alive
No one has survived
so there are no more lovers left alive
and that’s why love has died
Yes, it’s true
Look, it’s happened to me and you

If you’re into reading your dreams, a dream about a queen or meeting someone in power (royalty) can take on certain meaning.  One of the encapsulating summaries I read on the topic was this:

If you’re a queen in your dream, it’s likely that you have an as-yet unrealized desire for power, influence, and increased social standing or status. If you’re present in the dream but someone else is queen, especially someone you know, you may be expressing repressed envy for that person, or more specifically, qualities that this person embodies that make them fit and right to be a queen. (Your Dream Interpretation)

The Pet Shop Boys on their Very album had a song called “Dreaming of the Queen.”  I realize now that the title and most of the lyrics were intentional, that they had used the parable of meeting both Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, using dream sequences like being in the nude (I thought it might have been an Emperor’s New Clothes reference, but we’ve all had dreams about being naked in situations that didn’t warrant such an outfit).  Even the song itself was about waking up from a dream, inconsolable that love had died.

This song was written over 23 years ago.  The album made a huge impact on me, personally, in the spring and summer of 1994.

This was the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup.

The album framed my first year of college, and was rounded out by Princess Diana’s tragic death as I was about to start my senior year.

Both the Rangers and Diana had an enormous impact on my life, and two events that I often intertwine with those life events.  (Think of when Kennedy was shot, or where you were on 9-11).

As it all ended yesterday…I was at a bachelorette party, for one of my best college girl friends.

Fitting, as though one chapter of life was beginning, another one was ending for the New York Rangers.  And it all started when I was in college.

It was appropriate, in my opinion, given how the year would pan out.

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

Then carriages arrived
We stood and said good-bye
Diana dried her eyes
and looked surprised

For I was in the nude
The old Queen disapproved
but people laughed and asked
for autographs

I’ve been prepared for several months that they would not be out of the first round alive this year.  While I felt I was mostly being facetious and at best, putting up a defense mechanism for the team performance, I didn’t think they would go without at least the most minimal of a fight.

Even we saw signs back in November, when my gal pal, Tracey, and I went to a Rangers game.  I buy a few tickets from NotJeffGorton each year, and this was my first game of the year.

It was a few weeks after the Mets had lost the World Series.  I was still feeling the sting, but the Rangers and Seahawks were doing well.  It was a bunch of good distractions, to say the least.

The Rangers were actually doing pretty well at the time.  There were weird things going on in this specific game.  Rangers were hardly taking any shots.  Refs were calling penalties on imaginary fouls.  Tracey and I were having fun being snarky bitches, making comments a la Statler and Waldorf in the stands.

The Rangers ended up winning, definitively that game.  However, a Rangers blogger made a comment, basically about how the Rangers didn’t win enough for his liking.  That somehow, a 3-0 win in a game where they were getting called left and right on penalties wasn’t enough.

I started laughing.  Like come on, dude.

I do remember that same person in February commenting during a Rangers struggle stretch, saying that “he knew they were *this* bad back in November.”  To which another smart ass hockey fan responded about him being a hockey hipster, “I knew they were bad before anyone else did.”

It was funny.  But maybe, just maybe, the hockey hipster was onto something.  Usually, those hipsters, even if it’s not popular opinion, can see things the rest of us cannot.

No one likes being naked in public.  We try to wear clothes, even in the hottest of situations, but the Rangers’ uniforms were exposing a some very weak links.  And they were slowly but surely being exposed.

I remember this was also around the time I started to say, they’d be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Just because I was prepared for it didn’t mean I was ready.  It still stung.

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

I woke up in a sweat
Desolate
For there were no more lovers left alive
No one had survived
So there were no more lovers left alive
And that’s why love had died
Yes, it’s true
Look, it’s happened to me and you
I noticed that the Pet Shop Boys write a lot about “surviving.”  They note that no lovers had survived in their song.  There was also a song on a later album called “The Survivors.”
There was no doubt in my mind last season that the Rangers wouldn’t go to the Stanley Cup Final again.  That burned.  That stung.
Mostly, the sting part was about Henrik Lundqvist.  Here we are, we are 11 seasons into his tenure with the Rangers.  The whole not properly building around him.  Eleven seasons where Jim Dolan to Glen Sather to Jeff Gorton have not improved the team the way they should.  If anything, we did it.  We were happy with just making playoffs at first, since that was the team needed to do to compete.  Rick Nash? Bust.  Keith Yandle?  Bust.  Alain Vigneault?  A guy who caught lightning in a bottle his first year as coach.  (Lightning that, by the way, if it was fully contained, we’d have been very happy about).
It was weird this year.  There was less banter between me and my Rangers twitter peeps like NotJeff or Will, because we sort of knew already.  They were facing a very hot team at a very bad time.  Henrik’s 11 years have exposed him as well.  They had plenty of opportunities to not squander his talents and give him a worthy team.  Now we’re looking at an exit strategy.
So here we are.  It’s another year.  Another year where it is not our fucking year.  Another year where there is uncertainty for the future.
I’m sure along with Henrik, we can drift to sleep, and dream of the crowning achievement that we all believe is possible at the beginning of the season.  Only to see how reality decides to treat us in the end.

Waiting For That Day

Now everybody’s talking about this new decade…Like you say the magic number…Then just say goodbye to the stupid mistakes you made…Oh, my memory serves me far too well…

I noticed George Michael sings a lot about “waiting.” He teamed up with the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin to claim he knew *you* we’re waiting for *him*. 

While he wanted to heal your pain, he waited for the day to make you his.

But the song that got me as I listened to my George Michael / Wham! mix was a song entitled “Waiting For That Day.”

I listened to this mix on Sunday as I got ready for game five of the World Series that my beloved Mets were playing. Like many of my teams in recent memory, they were on the brink of elimination that night. And since the last out was recorded on Sunday, and the Kansas City Royals were named World Champs, I’ve been waiting myself…waiting for the right words to post here in response to the crazy and zany ride that 2015 was for the New York Mets.

I started to write this post on Monday, as a stream of consciousness.  And with the zaniness of this year (and that’s how I described this year a lot: ZANY.  If you’ve been a Mets fan for several decades like I have, 2015 would have stood out for several other reasons besides the improbable run to the World Series), I’ve had a hard time putting this into words.  Which is difficult for someone who fancies herself as a sports content blogatrix.  I don’t think it got any easier over time, either.
Don’t you know that the years will come and go…Some of us will change our lives, some of us still have nothing to show…Nothing, baby, but memories

Okay, so if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I struggled with this World Series, like, a lot.  Please don’t misinterpret that as I was ungrateful or unhappy that my team made it.  Make no mistake: I was THRILLED that my team was in it.  I know this shit does not happen every day. But as I discussed in my post-traumatic Mets disorder post (which transcended just Mets, since I noticed similarities with my other teams), I went from wanting to scream if someone made a mention of 1986 or wanting to deck someone if they even claimed it was over.  Such is life as a Mets fan.  Believing up to the very end is in our DNA.  But sometimes, reality does like to bite you in ass on your way out.

Why was I so upset about the 1986 references?  For starters, the teams were totally different.  Yes, I do realize people were using it as an example to say, hey, even good teams go down two games to none and can still win the World Series.  But it completely ignored other historical standpoints.  For example, that shit rarely happens.  And I had seen this unfold in front of me not too long ago.  As a Rangers fan, when they lost the first game in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, I thought, whatever.  They’ll bounce back.  I was upset that the team had the lead and relinquished it at the end.  But I said to myself, meh, the 1994 team lost the first game.  It’s not critical.  Till they repeated that same shit over and over again.

So I rarely like to use past performance as a dictation of future events.  Because towards the end, we really were grasping at straws.  See, the 1986 team was made to dominate.  They had a bunch of boozing and brawling guys who would go to war for one another.  They didn’t have the pitching staff we have today.  For all the emphasis on home grown players, the 1986 team was led by a couple of mercenaries.  They had a break out “career year” by one of their starters whom they traded for in that offseason.  They were not shrinking violets at all.  But if I were to make a comparison of this 2015 Mets team specifically in the World Series, look no further than the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Rangers vs Kings.  My dad even pointed it out, mostly just how aggravating the losses were.  Because they were all winnable games.

This series though I was pretty pleased with how it was set up.  I knew the Kansas City Royals would be a tough team to beat.  I really had no beef with the way they play the game or any of their players.  It’s not like I was out for blood for a scumbag like Chase Utley or something.  Plus, I was really happy that the Mets played in a series where they wouldn’t be overshadowed by their cross town rivals.  It was nice to just be able to root for the home team, and not have to worry about bragging rights.  Also, I really like KC fans.  They seem like pretty all right people.  I started to follow a few after last year’s run.  A few even congratulated ME on the Mets and said they were not “chumps” at all.  Their fans are not outright jerk offs, like, say, San Francisco (sorry, Tina).

Here’s what gets me.  At the end of the day, we are trained to just say, “Well the better team won and blah blah blah and you just sometimes have to tip your cap.”  But I’ll always be plagued with some ongoing post-traumatic Mets disorder about this one.  As the sayeth goes, this one will sting for awhile.  Because it didn’t have to be that way.  Good teams do find a way to win, and certainly the Royals did just that.

So what now?  My mother even called to check up on me, to see how I was after game five.  To say she doesn’t pay attention to sports is an understatement.  This time, though, I was impressed with the questions she asked me, she asked me about David Wright and his back injury, and how I felt about Daniel Murphy.  I told her that if you put 25 Mets fans in a room, and asked a generic question about Daniel Murphy, you’d probably get 25 different answers.  But mostly, you have the Murphy lovers and the Murphy loathers.  You all know me, as a Murphy lover.

Then my mom asked me how I felt about sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series…well, first, I was massively impressed that she even paid that much attention.  But also, she seemed to also know that the Cubs had the Mets’ number in the regular season.  I said, “You know what, Mom?  That’s baseball.”

That’s baseball.  A. Bartlett Giamatti said the game is designed to break your heart.  I said right before game five of the NLDS, that no matter what happened that night, I knew they left everything on the field.  And when they won, I was pleasantly surprised.

And when they swept the Cubs, I was again pleasantly surprised.  Mostly because as I told my mom, the Cubs “kicked our ass” in the regular season.  I also knew (rather, thought) they’d be a tough team to beat.  Guess what?  The Mets fucking swept them.

When they won, I didn’t want a fucking participation trophy anymore.  The National League pennant, sure it’s nice.  I’m glad the Mets are the National League Champs of 2015.  But it was then, and only then, that I had allowed myself to truly believe that this could happen.  How could it not?

And I will never stop believing that 2015 was our year.  It should’ve been.  And as the above “tweetster” said, Mets gift-wrapping something to the Royals made them the fucking World Champions.  That’s what was disappointing to me.  This one is going to sting for awhile, I’m sure.

I can’t complain about how good teams take advantage of other team’s mistakes.  That’s what happened here.  I’m sure if that shit had happened to the Mets, I wouldn’t mind.

Here’s the thing.  It’s never our fucking year.  It’s never our fucking time.  And it was then I had asked myself, is getting a pat on the back for making it there when no one believed they would make it all “okay?”

The only thing making it “okay” for me right now is the future.  The Mets’ arms…have me giddy for the future.  These guys embrace the spotlight.  They understand that baseball is show-biz.

So in a way, the good parts of the ’80s that had melted away due to the excesses of the time are finally arising from those ashes.  That’s a good thing.

But once again, we find ourselves at a crossroads.  Today, the Mets had extended a qualifying offer for Daniel Murphy.  While I don’t necessarily think that if he walks, that would be a bad thing.  I would be incredibly sad.  But if he stays, I can cheer on one of my all-time favorite Mets for at least another year.

Without committed ownership to improving the team, we may be back at square one in April.  Meaning, potential squandering of opportunities of the young studly pitching staff.

And I came around to this conclusion about how I felt about 2015:  this is my fear.  This is why I didn’t want to piss away chances in the World Series.  The 2016 Mets could very well be the 2015 Royals.  I wouldn’t complain.  Let the idea of staying hungry and having unfinished business keep them feisty.  Or they could fade away and waste opportunities like the ’80s teams.

Because I have seen this story unfold several times with my teams.

The Mets have brought me a lot of heartache over the years, but they've also brought me such great happiness, along with my partner in crime

The Mets have brought me a lot of heartache over the years, but they’ve also brought me such great happiness, along with my partner in crime.

Seems to me the peace I search to find ain’t gonna be mine until you say you will…Don’t you keep me waiting for that day
I know, you hear these words that I say
I know, you can’t always get what you want…

I haven’t worn any Mets gear since.  That’s how much this has affected me.  I just don’t feel like talking about it, let alone having total strangers comment on them.  I’m sure when the smoke clears, I will be active on Twitter again.  I’ll threaten to give up sports for knitting during the football playoffs.  I’ll curse up a storm watching the Rangers this year. And before I know it, pitchers and catchers will report.

At the end of that song “Waiting For That Day,” George Michael repeats a familiar refrain.  “You can’t always get what you want….You can’t always get what you want…”

It’s another year of waiting.  It’s another year to think about what ifs and how to get that elusive hardware.  Sometimes, we can’t always get what we want.  I’m pretty sure though, we got what we needed this year with a successful Mets team that went far into the playoffs and went neck and neck with the best and gave us some of the fondest memories we’ve had in years.

Until that day, whenever it will be, we will wait.  Wait, because we have no other choice.  Wait, because we know nothing else.  Wait, because we will stare out that window and look for spring to come.

The New York Sports Lines of Demarcation

A few weeks ago, my New York Rangers twitter friend (joining us from Norway! And no, don’t ask him about A-Ha…I learned my lesson awhile ago), posed this question about who roots for what in New York sports.

It’s an interesting question, one that I have often wondered myself.  Because while I live in New York City now, I am a full-blooded Jersey girl, and I’m very proud of my roots.  Yet, I loathe the New Jersey Devils with every ounce of my being.  But then again, I am a New York Mets fan in baseball.  And people often ask why, because of where I grew up in New Jersey, I’d probably be geographically closer to Philadelphia and should be a Phillies fan.  But I would also say that Phillies fans are almost an anomaly in my town in NJ, and the lines of demarcation there are distinctly Mets vs Yankees.

Which begs the question…how does one pick a team to root for?

I guess there’s no easy way to answer it, but I will say this: it’s not like being from New England or the Pacific Northwest or friggin Denver where you basically have one team to choose from for each major sport.  And even sometimes that is not as cut-and-dry as you’d think.  Even take my husband for example, who is a notoriously born-and-bred Bronx boy who loathes the Yankees, and is a huge Mets fan with other geopolitical sports leanings towards the Seattle Seahawks and Utah Jazz (He can also thank me for making him a Rangers fan).

I guess there are six major categories that should determine your rooting interests, there may be more, but off the top of my head, that’s what I’ve come up with: Geography; Family Influence; History; Media; “Collars;” and Marrying Into It.  I would also say that many of these are not set in stone (e.g. being from the Bronx and not being a Yankees fan, being from New Jersey and being a Rangers fan).  Some are just flipping annoying (don’t get me started on “Giants AND Jets fans.”  Mostly, they know there’s a better chance of the Giants winning anything and rooting for the Jets is an exercise in futility).

Also, bear in mind that much of rooting interests in sports are not contingent upon where one is “from” anymore.  I have a friend who grew up in New England area, yet is a huge Minnesota Vikings fan (but a Red Sox fan in baseball, that will never change, according to him).  Media has changed the rooting landscape, but I would say in New York, it’s pretty simple: you’re either a Mets or Yankees fan (never both, don’t care what anyone says about “I want to see New York win,” you’re just a Yankee fan who wants to say they never gave up on the Mets – just go away already); you’re either a Knicks or Nets fan; you’re either a Rangers or Isles or Devils fan – it’s a WRITTEN rule that you love one team and hate the other two; you’re either a Giants or Jets fan.  It’s funny because when I still identified myself as a Jets fan (mostly because – ta da! my dad said he was one), I never hated or disliked the Giants.  I just didn’t root for them, despite how successful they may be (I think most Jets fans are blase about it too – but true Giants fans HATE the Jets – go figure).

Geography

This one is pretty easy.  Basically, wherever you are from, there you are.  I live and breathe New Jersey with every fiber of my being.  However, you could not pay me enough money to root for the Devils, unless of course I could use that money to move the team to Mars and never hear about them again.  I digress.  There are exceptions to every rule.

If you’re from Queens, you better be a friggin Mets fan.  If you’re from Long Island, you better be a Mets and Islanders fan.  If you’re from Queens and/or Long Island (even Brooklyn) remember when the Jets played at Shea Stadium, you better be a Jets fan too.

If your family is from old school Brooklyn and you have a grandparent or great uncle or whoever who went to games at Ebbets Field, chances are you will be a Mets fan now.  I know most of this story is elementary to most Baseball 101 fans (this is mostly for my Norwegian friend), but back in 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York (baseball) Giants picked up and left for the West Coast for who is now the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.  If you rooted for either of those teams and have your roots in New York or the tri-state area at least, you could never in good conscience root for the Yankees.

If you’re from Westchester/South Bronx/Upper Manhattan, chances are that you are also a Yankees fan.  Proximity to games has a lot to do with team loyalties.  And if it’s easier for you to take the D train than the 7, you’ll probably be a Yankees fan.

Football is weird.  Both teams have a New York title but reside in New Jersey (go figure), but the Jets used to play in Queens, and therefore have a lot of leanings in that area and also in Long Island.  Some folks would rather drop dead from that area than root for the Jets as well.  Those people may be transplanted from somewhere else.  But then again when I’ve assumed things like someone being from Long Island or grew up in Flushing is automatically a Mets fan, I’ve been wrong.  Just like someone guessing that being from New Jersey automatically qualified you as a Devils fan.

Lastly, Connecticut is kind of funny.  New Jersey is kind of a free-for-all with Yankees, Mets, Phillies, even some Red Sox thrown in there.  Half of CT is geographically closer to the traditional “New England” states, therefore Red Sox territory.  But I know plenty of Mets fans in Connecticut too.

As I’m sure you can tell, geography doesn’t dictate all of it.  But if you are a Yankee fan living in Queens, there will be some ball busting for sure.

Family Influence

My Pop Pop (Dad’s dad) was a National League baseball fan.  No one bothered to ask him while he was still living where his loyalty was (but it was most certainly not the Yankees).  I would guess though, he was probably a New York Giants fan, since he took my dad as a young ‘un to the old Polo Grounds.  My dad’s been a Mets fan, and in 1983, I had to write what my likes/dislikes were and what my parents liked and disliked.  My mom said, “Be sure to write ‘the Mets’ as something Daddy likes.”  I asked him about the Mets as he watched a game with a popped open Budweiser can.  I started watching. In 1984, I went to my first game.  Doc Gooden started.  It, as they say, was history.  Dad was also a New York Rangers fan from the Broadway Blues era in the 70s.  Dad is also a Jets fan.  I don’t hold that against him anymore since I left Gang Green.

My point is, if your parents, grandparents, favorite uncle, cousin, former roommate liked a team and had a passion about it, chances are, you will too.  I have a friend who said that even though he lived just minutes from Shea Stadium, he is a die hard Yankee fan because of his family influence.

Sometimes if there’s a Mets/Islanders fan, chances are they’re from the Island.  If you meet a Mets/Rangers fan, chances are a family member made that choice for them.

History

Some people are sports geeks.  Others are history geeks.  Sometimes, you have both.  While I am a Mets fan, I would never be a Yankees fan.  Not just BECAUSE I am a Mets fan, but because I love the really unique history of National League baseball in New York.  There were two teams, they started the expansion out west.  If you rooted for either of those teams, you were already an underdog rooter, because they could never beat those stinkin Yankees!

But then history can work the other way.  We can say “New York Rangers are O6,” therefore, superior (and that’s actually true).  Or “27 RingZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.” Or Broadway Joe Namath.  I mean, if you know your shit about a team, salut and root for whoever you fuckin want to.  Chances are, if you’re passionate about a team, you’re gonna know their background inside and out.  And that’s what makes you a fan.

Media 

This doesn’t so much apply to today as yesteryear.  As I know several people who grew up in New York or the tri-state area and do not have team affiliations from their region.  There may be a Columbus Blue Jackets fan in say, Connecticut, because the Whalers left for Carolina and hockey died in their heart.  Or they may have caught a game on TV and decided to make them “their” team.  But 30 years ago, media was a lot different than it is now where you were beholden as a consumer to watch whatever sports team your local affiliates made you.  As I mentioned earlier, I had friends and family in South Jersey who started root for Phillies/Eagles/Flyers or some variation thereof because they got those channels and had no choice.  I know some folks who became Mets fans because of the old WOR-9 and where they were able to get a signal (no kidding).  Nowadays we got these kids and their goddamn rock n’ roll rooting for the Texas Rangers because they started following that Adrian Beltre guy and do you think he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, and oh I’m getting off topic.

I have two friends who started watching the Rangers in NJ because MSG Network was free and Sportschannel (where the Devils games were televised) was a pay channel.  Who would’ve paid to watch the Devils back then???  (And before you get started, I do know the Mets were on SC back then…but they were actually watchable and you wanted to buy the channel).

“Collars”

In the New York metropolitan region, you have the white collar executives who wear suits and ties and have a two-martini lunch on a corporate card.  Then there are the blue collar types who wear their hard hats and toil in the sub and bring their lunch in a pail.

Yankees are given the nickname “Pinstripes” or rather, wear uniforms with distinct pinstripes to cater to the moneyed-executive (yes, even though the stadium itself is in a shitty-ass area in the Bronx).  Yes, Mets also have uniform choices with “stripes” on them, but no self-respecting Mets fan would EVER call them “pinstripes.”  We know better.  The Mets are geographically closer to Long Island and in the heart of Queens, where many of these blue collars reside.  And the Yankees with all that money, how could they EVER root for them?

And yes, there is the whole “corporate America is ruining sports BLAHHHH!” people.  The white collars who show up, stare at their phone, and cause it to be quiet in the arenas and stadiums.  That’s not to say that you can’t be a true fan if you’re a banker or lawyer or sales person.  It’s just the guys getting the tickets sometimes could give a rat’s ass about sports or the teams.

You Marry Into It

I was lucky that I married another passionate Mets fan.  It was important that my future spouse knew sports.  Otherwise, I’d be spending a lot of time by myself going to games.  Someone could go through life not having a sports affiliation, but if your spouse or partner is into it, chances are you’re gonna get into it too.  This is certainly not geographically based.  If you are from Texas and you marry a native New Yorker, they’ll probably get you into New York sports if you couldn’t care less about the Texas Rangers or Dallas Cowboys.  This category is self-explanatory.

I posted a question on Facebook to see about other categories, but I think I have it covered.  I’d be interested in getting other feedback as well.  And go Mets, Rangers and Seahawks (huh?).

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.

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

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.