hockey

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.
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March Madness

Most of you probably think of college hoops when you think of the term “March Madness.”  The reality is, I don’t have a horse in that race.  My husband is a St. John’s fan, but if it’s any indication I went to an all-women’s school for my undergrad.  Nuff said.  Although truth be told, I used to really be into hoops in general.  I followed John Stockton and Karl Malone on those great Utah Jazz teams (and ironically, married a Jazz fan, as he actively follows them to this day), but since they retired, I haven’t had much use for the sport professionally. My dad used to live down the street from Monmouth University and those basketball games were always fun.

I guess it was the survival of the fittest, in my life anyway.  Being a gal for all seasons, I don’t have a “break” per se in my sports world.  If you were to look at things from a calendar perspective, I’m booked pretty much from Jan 1 to Dec 31.  I may not have games every day for my team but I may have vested interests in other games to follow.  Basketball kind of fell by the wayside because since that season overlaps with hockey, a sport I like a great deal more than hoops, and ends well into baseball, my number one love, hoops took a hike.

Yet, March is a bit maddening, as a hockey fan and a baseball fan.  I’m looking at the Rangers schedule for the next few weeks and it is JAM PACKED.  We’re in the home stretch of the playoff push, and it’s pretty certain they will get a high ranking in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  I’ve often told my dad that hockey season ends when the Rangers are out of the playoffs and baseball season starts that same day.  In the fall, hockey season starts when the Mets are no longer playing (but I have to admit, I’ve watched most of the baseball playoffs in the last few years, just to torture myself I suppose since the Mets are almost certainly never a factor).  Somewhere, football comes in, but as you know, it’s not that much of a commitment.  So for me, the biggies are hockey and baseball due to the time commitments of being a fan.

So herein lies the problem.  It’s March.  My hockey team is doing extraordinarily well.  It seems like they’re playing every other damn day in the month of March.  Yet, my husband, whose baseball love trumps everything else, accepts my love of hockey, but there may be some games conflicting.  Hey, it’s baseball.  Baseball makes everything right.

Except when the Rangers are doing so well.  They had a great game against the Boston Bruins over the weekend, and it seems like this is the start of a new rivalry judging by how the game ended.  In speaking to my Ranger blogosphere buddies Nick Montemagno and Kevin DeLury on last week’s podcast, the general consensus is that the hot team gets hot at the right time and ultimately, rest is for the non-weary in hockey. Unlike baseball when you try to rest your regulars, the playoff push expects more of them.  And more of the fans who support them.

This leaves me with not a lot of free time going into the spring.

I never miss baseball Opening Day.  It’s like my High Holiday.  After that, it’s fair game till the Rangers are done.  But March will be a true test for me, given that the spring training broadcasts are so few and far between and that I have Ranger games many nights.  Should lead to an interesting household to say the least here.

Baseball Bacons

Baseball Broads Sitting in Shea Seats Together

It’s the holiday season.

We’re smack dab in the heart of football season, with playoffs upon us and must-win games with the Jets and the Giants next weekend (oh, did I mention that they’re facing EACH OTHER?? Yes, I’ll need to stay off Twitter for fear of feeding the trolls).

Yet this week, I have a “59 Days Still Pitchers and Catchers” Party to attend.  Over the weekend, it was also a celebration of my birthday and Dee’s birthday, officially, at Strawberry’s Grill in Douglaston, NY.  Of course, this is Darryl Strawberry’s namesake restaurant, run by him and his family, with Mets and Yankees themes throughout the restaurant (he did play for the Evil Empire after all).

Baseball is the Kevin Bacon of life: we are all just six degrees of separation from it all.

I detailed in my post from last week, The Decemberists, about Dee and I going to a football game for our birthdays.  For years, we always hated that we had to be relegated to staying indoors for our birthdays because it’s so cold.  That we always wanted to celebrate our birthdays at a baseball game but while we could say “It’s our birthday” any other day, it’s not truly the same.

When life gives you lemons, we make lemonade.  Look on the bright side.  There’s Christmas in July.  Life is full of these hokey little cliches that infiltrate our lives.  We may celebrate birthdays or Christmas or whatever denominational holiday you observe, but why does baseball get shafted?  No, seriously.  If we need a little Christmas right this very minute, why can’t baseball be alive and well in the winter time?

I’m not talking about winter ball.  For those of us who don’t celebrate holidays or maybe just observe whatever for the sake of observing, most of us can subscribe to celebrating baseball 24/7/265.

Poet Laureate of Flushing, Greg Prince, attended the Second Annual Coop Dee Ville Birthday Spectacular and was also in attendance for the inaugural party in 2010.  He once said that “Every poseur wants to be at Opening Day. Closing Day is a rite for the secret society of baseball fanatics.”  While “Closing Day” allows us to reflect on the season at hand and think about the what-might-have-beens, Closing Day has an aura of sadness around it.  Opening Day has all the hope of a New Year, a new rotation around the sun.  Yet, conversely, it provides hope, Closing Day that is.  It provides us with the idea that our team can get better, and we can become better fans as well, subsequently better people.  Is that true? Is that hokey?  Who knows?  All I know is that I don’t believe in Santa Claus…but I do believe in baseball.

My birthday happens to coincide with the winter solstice.  The days start getting shorter right before, then start getting longer and longer.  Pessimists dwell on the lack of daylight.  I like to dwell on the fact that the days will only get brighter from here on in.

And isn’t that what our problems have been with our birthdays before we met, Dee??  We focused on the fact that our birthdays get overshadowed by the larger and all-encompassing holiday season.  Not on what we do have: lasting and fulfilling relationships, mostly from being sports fans.  I met my husband by being a Mets fan.  And most of the attendees at the soiree on Saturday night were less than Six Degrees of Separation from my being a Mets fan.

There’s my dad, who was there.  As legend had it, I was in the womb rocking out to Rosalita while my mom attended a Bruce Springsteen concert.  When I was out of the womb, my dad sat crying in front of the television on June 15, 1977.  I used to mock him for it, but now I understand.  I haven’t had that moment as a Mets fan, but I have been betrayed by my ownership team like Dad once was.  But he made me a Mets fan, for better or for worse.

As a Mets fan, I liked to write about baseball.  I started following blogs in 2004, and started my own in 2007.  As a result, I became part of the Mets-erati, the “Lost Generation” or “Jazz Age” versions of baseball writers.  Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing introduced me to the Chapmans, who have enriched my life to the extent that they are my family, not just my “summer” family.  The Chapmans introduced me to friend Phil, another Mets fan who introduces me to several adult beverages and road races.  I guess they’re like my Yin and Yang.  Bad influences too, but bad-in-a-good way.

 

My associations with the Chapmans and Greg also gained me a friend in DyHrdMet from Remembering Shea, a collective of Mets memories, honoring the past and making sense of the present.  We may be told to get over the past, but DyHrdMet appreciates the balance of what history and romanticism means to a Mets fan.

From blogging made me part of a die-hard crew of Mets fans who act like we survived a war or something.  There’s always some kind of tie that binds us, and DyHrdMet does that, but it also gained me a friend from the Twitterverse in Richie S from Random Mets Thoughts.  We are Mets fans, we are music fans…but most of all, he is a dad who made his daughter a Mets fan.  I’m sure she sometimes feels the same way about that fact like the way I do with my dad and the Mets: we equally love and hate them both at times (the team and our dads for introducing us to this life of sometimes-Jobian-existence).  Richie fits right in with the rest of us, obsessing about the Mets in a mid-winter board meeting as he called our soiree.

 

From Twitter and blogging, I met Nik Kolidas, who is a damn fine musician, but also a knowledgeable Mets fan and blogger.  From these ties, I started writing at KinersKorner.com, and we started our own podcast The Kult of Mets Personalities.  It’s a roundtable of fun and funny people who understand the bigger picture of Mets fandom and baseball fanaticism.

Social media added another layer of Mets fandom to the next level.  While blogging may have exposed our thoughts, Facebook and Twitter among others have provided our hearts as well.  Alvin and Anne Marie are both Mets and New York Rangers fans.  Jason is another friend who is a hockey fan (Devils – boo! but Mets fan too).  So I have not only gained new Mets fans in the mix, I have people I can watch and go to hockey games with.  Sweet.

Lastly, I invited a friend I’ve known for years, Martin, to my shindig.  He had hurt his ankle early in the week and didn’t know if he’d be able to make it.  He said after a few days of rest, he had cabin fever and wanted to come.  As he came, everyone wanted to know his baseball affiliation.  He said, “I’m a Mets fan too.  But that’s because Coop tells me to be one.”  Another one bites the dust, kids.

I met Ed through outlets like Metsmerized Online and Facebook subsequently.  We got married.  Good for us.  But as a result, I met other people through the Metsmerized community.  I met my soul sister Dee through those channels, but I also gained two other people as a result of knowing her:  mother Arlene, whom I refer to affectionately as “Aunt Arl” but also her best friend from childhood, Angie.  They often say that life is full of happy accidents.  Seriously, how much of it can be truly planned if it’s so unpredictable?  But I never knew that being a baseball fan would get me a husband, a best friend and de facto sister, someone I look on as a mother, and a new friend to boot.  Happy accidents, indeed.

   

Then bring that back ’round to my dad, Mr. E or Mr. Coop or Eddy or Alan Eddy Cooper Jug Band leader.  My dad knows everyone.  I can’t tell you how many times as a kid we’d walk into a store, and he’d spend 20 minutes chatting someone up about something.  He’s not one of those “weirdos” you want to look the other way on the train.  But if he can find that connecting quality with someone, you’ll have a friend for life.  Dad was amazed looking around at the cast of characters at Strawberry’s on Saturday night.  If you think about it, Darryl Strawberry played for the Mets, and we all loved Straw.  As a result, he opens a sports bar in Queens, home of the Mets.  A bunch of Mets fans meet in a roundabout yet seemingly so simple we wonder why it took so long to begin with.  As a result, we act like army buddies.  Dad said, “This is different than in the ’70s and ’80s.  We didn’t have cell phones or Facebook.  But we did have bars.”

During the night, another guest who should have been there but was 3000 miles away, brother from another mother and concerned Mets fan Senor Solly, kept jumping into conversations.  He’s never met my dad, but he helped me serenade my dad for his birthday this year.  Senor Solly has not met the majority of us, physically (my dad was amazed my husband and I were the only people, actually), but he’s touched our lives in numerous ways.  Simply by being a Mets fan.  And by Sharon telling him to go fuck himself.

Baseball is an amazing sport.  It brings people together, whether or not you’re affiliated with the same team.  I got overwhelmed at one point thinking about how my life has changed so dramatically in the past decade or so simply by the baseball team I root for.  They drive us nuts sometimes, but I often say that the best times to be a Mets fan is during the down years because that gives you character and introduces you to characters.  No one can ever say we’re not devoted.  At the same time, it’s the middle of winter, there are football playoff implications, there is hockey to be watched (and even watched Bradley Richards score a dramatic .01 of a second left in the game winning goal against Phoenix on Saturday), we had birthdays to celebrate and holidays to worry about.  We talked baseball.

Maybe world peace is a distant phenomenon that can’t ever be attained due to the natural aggression of human nature.  Eh, that’s a bit overdramatic.  Maybe if baseball were the universal language, it could get us to that point.

Kevin Bacon may own the whole six degrees thing in cinema.  But baseball owns the six degrees of life.  Therefore, baseball is the Kevin Bacon of life.

And we all love bacon. AmIRite?

Bears and Bacon on a Stick

Remain Calm! ALL IS WELL! The motto of Mets fans.