Alain Vigneault

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.

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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.