NHL Playoffs

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.

Advertisements

It’s Weird

Now I sit with different faces/In rented rooms and foreign places/All the people I was kissing/Some are here and some are missing/In the nineteen-nineties
I never dreamt that I would get to be/The creature that I always meant to be/But I thought in spite of dreams/You’d be sitting somewhere here with me

‘Cause we were never being boring/We had too much time to find for ourselves/And we were never being boring/We dressed up and fought, then thought: “Make amends”
And we were never holding back or worried that/Time would come to an end/We were always hoping that, looking back/You could always rely on a friend

No one can accuse my husband and me of being boring.  And even what others might not find interesting, we keep ourselves entertained with some pretty stupid shit.

Take for instance, our pop culture games.  There’s a diner in Manhattan called Big Daddy’s, that is basically an homage to popular culture of the ’60s/’70s/’80s/’90s.  There’s never a dull moment.  Usually a song or a picture in there sets us off on some of our trivia contests, like “Name as many ’80s songs that serve as euphemisms for masturbation” or the backing performers or a band known mostly for its lead singer, like Bruce Hornsby.  “Whatever happened to ‘The Range’ anyway?”

Like I said, some really stupid shit.

So why did it not surprise me when he told me I was banished from my own apartment during the Stanley Cup Final?

In case you missed it, we live, breathe and eat the philosophy of “It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work.” It worked during the Seahawks and their amazing run to the Super Bowl championship.

I came up with a weird rule during the hockey playoffs this year.  It was totally by accident.  I missed the deciding game of the Rangers/Flyers first round series because I had fallen asleep, and forgot to set my alarm for the game.  By the time I had gotten up, the Rangers were winning.  I didn’t want to mess with the juju.  They advanced.

During the semifinals against the Penguins, I was so drained.  I missed a game because I was at a networking event.  They won.  So guess what? I thought, it was me, and I need to not watch a potential elimination game.  So…

I missed the last three games of the series against the Penguins.  They won.

So the superstition reset itself each series.  And now, I was able to see the entire Eastern Conference Final games.  And I felt like the jinx had worked.  I was holding up my end of the bargain, as was @NotGlenSather and @Metstradamus. NotGlen had his McDonagh jersey on his couch; Metstradamus had to take the bus.

This changed though. Metstradamus was in international waters, negating all principles of the superstition. NotGlen decided to watch an away game at a place other than his house.

“It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work” got us all the way to Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final this year. Sadly, it didn’t go further.

Home is a boot camp/you gotta escape/Wanna go and wander/in the ticker-tape /
You feel the deal is real/You’re a New York City boy/So young, so run/into New York City/
New York City boy/you’ll never have a bored day/
’cause you’re a New York City boy/where Seventh Avenue meets Broadway”

I love New York City.  It’s the city of my dreams.  As hokey as that sounds, I was 10 years old when I first visited Manhattan (though I had been to the surrounding areas numerous times, going to Mets games most Sundays as a child, I’d at least see it).  The New York City I fell in love with was not a Disneyified version you see of Times Square today.  No, it was drug dealers on one corner, prostitutes on the next, fake IDs and homeless people…I knew I needed to be there. I’d go into the city when friends or family from out of town came to visit.  I’d walk everyone around, carefully mapping out what and where we needed to go.  I’d always try to take a walking route through Times Square, no matter where we were going.

I didn’t go to my first Rangers game till 1989.  It was a January game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  These were the young days of Mario Lemieux.  I had been what I considered a sports fan, but I could never get with hockey on television.  It was only when I went to my first game at the Garden that I was hooked.

The term “1940” meant absolutely nothing to me.  I was young and unaware, unfettered by the whole idea of no championships.  Two years later, Mark Messier came to the team.

Now, I knew who HE was.  I had carefully followed other teams in the Hockey Digest I now purchased as a teenager.   He played for the Edmonton Oilers, Wayne Gretzky’s old team.  Gretzky was then a Los Angeles King.  Messier had something else to prove, though his team had won a championship without Gretzky (and surprisingly, Gretzky never won a championship without Messier on his team).

I had an aversion to the Kings even back then, actually.  See, my first ever favorite player on the Rangers was Tony Granato, who was one of the young rookie upstarts along with some dude named Brian Leetch (ever heard of him???).  Granato was later traded to LA for Bernie Nicholls.  Nicholls, was in turn, sent to Edmonton for one Mark Messier. Yes, that trade chain ultimately brought the team a championship, the first one in 54 years.  My first ever Stanley Cup experience as a fan.  The only one I had so far, and the only Final appearance I’d seen in my 25 years of being a Rangers fan.

When I became a Mets fan at age seven, I only had to wait a little over three years before I saw a return on my investment.  The Rangers had won a championship with Messier leading the charge five years after I had become a fan.  Detect a theme here? One thing I hadn’t yet seen as a fan of those teams: a ticker tape parade.  Hell, I was AT game seven in 1986, and my dad wanted to stay for the parade the next day.  However, my mom’s car got broken into and the windshield was smashed, presumably from a celebrating fan.  We just went home.  Being 10 years old, I wasn’t all that disappointed. Besides…back then…WHO KNEW THAT THE METS DYNASTY WOULD BE QUASHED BY 1990????

When the Rangers last won the Cup, I was a senior in high school.  The parade coincided with finals.  I found out some other diehards skipped out and went to the parade.  I didn’t though, mostly because I was a goody two shoes.  Plus, I didn’t have any friends.  At least, the few I did have didn’t really give a crap about hockey.  That spring and subsequent summer solidified my determination to getting to the city, eventually.  The Rangers played a big part in that, especially when I saw Madison Square Garden.  It was now the home of legends.  But I had not yet been to a ticker tape parade.  There have been a few here on the Canyon of Heroes.  But none for my teams.

You’ve got a clever way of haunting me/I’m never scared, but you’re still daunting me ’cause I know what you’re likely to say/and I know that you’ll get your own way And all I wanted to say was that I love you/but you’re telling me now you don’t believe it’s true You got a different, a different/a different point of view/You got a different point of view

Someone asked me how I felt going into game one.  I said, “If they lose, it’s not the end of the world.”  And I still talked many Rangers fans off the ledge after the game one loss.  I understood the distress of giving up a two goal lead, then losing in overtime.  That was a huge momentum shift.  But it was GAME ONE.  It didn’t have to dictate the entire run of the series. Till it did.

I was adamant that the Rangers had a fighting chance against the Kings, that while the Kings won just two years ago, things had changed.  The Rangers had their snipers Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis, two players whom already won championships.  The Kings for the most part were also two years older.  They hadn’t faced any true “tough” competition, like Henrik Lundqvist.  Hell, I even refused to pick a rooting interest in the Western Conference because I knew whomever I did pick would have a chance to beat my team.  Careful what I wish for, is what I thought.

I work for myself, and there is a saying in my business that you can use a setback as motivation or an excuse.  I’ve really been living that because you don’t want to lose out on opportunity because you feel bad for yourself.  You don’t want to wonder “What If?”

I was surprised more fans didn’t feel the way I did.  Yes, I know a few bad calls were made at the Rangers’ expense.  Fact was, in that non-call for goalie interference in game two, the Rangers STILL had the lead. You shake that shit off.  Put your big boy pants on and deal with it.  Instead, they give up the lead, go to OT and… That was the series right there.  They were in the Stanley Cup fuckin Final, and they’re being little bitches.  That game infuriated me and kept me up at night more so than other loss in the series.  They win that game, they’re still playing today.  Game one didn’t change the dynamic of the series.  Game two definitely did.

We’ll stand around forever/regardless of time or weather/ordering drinks at the bar Looking for love and getting/nothing that’s worth regretting/but wondering why we travelled so far To speak is a sin/You look first, then stare/and once in a while/a smile, if you dare To speak is a sin/You’d better beware/but once in a while/a smile, if you dare

In 1995, I bummed a cigarette off a young gentleman at the Rutgers University infamous grease trucks.  He and his friend invited my friend and myself to a party.  I found out this young man was a Rangers fan.  That sealed it, and launched a friendship lasting nearly two decades. This gentleman is @NotGlenSather.  He’s someone who I value not only as a person, but someone whose humor I get when I need it, and whose humor I will never turn down to get me through some rough spots.  Especially when dealing with the Rangers and playoffs.  He brought me to a Rangers playoff game last year where I held my breath and hid behind him for the last full minute of play of the game.  He also helped me when I realized I was hyperventilating.

The night we met, I remember him telling me stupid rules, like “no laughing in the house,” or “no talking in the car” as went to the diner.  Of course saying stuff like that made me want to laugh or to talk.

Of course, we both broke rules for the Stanley Cup Final.  He didn’t park his McDonagh jersey on the couch.  I knew that in the event of an elimination game, I wouldn’t NOT watch.  So swoops in my husband to tell me that he couldn’t watch the game.  This was something he discovered.  The link was that he couldn’t watch.  I had demonstrated that I could be at a game, watching elsewhere.  Just not at home.

You can’t defy the nonsensical reasons.  Because it’s sometimes all you have.

go_time  big_three

Two decades have gone by quickly.  I sometimes can’t believe that in a few short years, I’ll be 40.  Before I know it, another 20 years will have passed.

I went to that game on Wednesday so that it wouldn’t be when I was 60 the next time they made it.  I’d at least have the experience now.  The best case was that the Rangers would win and force a game five (they did).  The worst case was that I’d see another team celebrating their championship on my home ice.  I guess it was a win-win, that outcome.

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
Twenty years has changed me from a fun loving night owl who was up for anything unpredictable into a cranky old fart who prefers staying at home and drinking in my sweats and fuzzy bunny slippers.  I live in New York City.  The daytime has taken its toll on me in the city never sleeps.  Yes, a city that doesn’t sleep, and I manage to find eight hours a night.  Not having children can give me that luxury.

Since I had to find someplace else in public to watch the game, I knew I had to pick the right place.  Only problem was my choices.  I had Blondie’s, a famous sports bar, but I knew that I would be competing with bros and World Cup elitists.  Couldn’t deal.

There were a couple other bars that have a reputation of filling up, one of which I ended up choosing.  Not before making a quick pit stop to Uno on 81st and Columbus, where the creepy bartender guy who looked a serial killing rapist on Law & Order SVU, ignored me until other men came into the bar.  When I brought to his attention that I had been sitting at a mostly empty bar for nearly 30 minutes and he hadn’t once asked me what I’d be having, he turned it on ME, the customer, for not bringing it to his attention.  Yes, stopping him from his CLEARLY busy activity of chopping lemons, refilling the maraschino cherries bin and making like he was SO busy so he wouldn’t have to serve me.

I ended up choosing St. Games Gate, on 81st and Amsterdam.  But not before telling both the host AND the manager at Uno that “I had planned on spending a lot of money in here to watch the game, and your douchebag of a bartender ignored me for thirty minutes when NO ONE else was there.  Oh and he blamed it on me.”  The host said, “Who?” I point to the bartender and said, “I won’t set foot in this joint that I typically frequent if this DICKHEAD is behind the bar again!”  (I like their chicken spinoccoli.  Sue me).

Within 15 minutes, a bartender tried to locate me a summer shandy that they didn’t even HAVE as an option, but set me with a dark and stormy instead.  By this time, the Rangers had fallen 1-0 in the game.  In due time, it was 2-1 Rangers. I thought, wow, this is working.  So it’s totally NOT weird that my husband kicked me out and I had to bring my Rangers bear out with me to watch the game.

game_four  gabby_game_five

Till of course another questionable call happens.  And I just knew, then, it wasn’t the Rangers year.  Sure, it took almost two full overtimes to determine that.  Despite all best efforts of the superstitious ones, despite the rally towels and the playoff beards and everything else, 2014 would just be oh-so-close.  But just another year where the Rangers fell just short of a glory they had deservedly earned.

Cross a windy bridge/one winter night/Past Embankment Gardens/enter warmth and light
Face the music (it’s never easy)/Forget the chill
Face the future (it’s never easy) /Find the will

If life is worth living/it’s got to be done
One might be forgiven/for thinking/it’s a life on the run
Many roads will cross through many lives/but somehow you survive

You know what, Rangers fans.  We’ve been through a lot together.  Whether it was years of futility in the early aughts, whether it was the “real” Glen Sather making questionable moves like trading Brian Leetch, that rocked us to the core of our being.  Whether it was getting beat by the Devils in a sudden death overtime in 2012.  The truth is, I know most of us wouldn’t trade being a Rangers fan for anything in the world.

I sometimes curse my pop for getting me into the teams that have done nothing else but break my heart.  I defied him by being adopted by the 12th Man in Seattle.  But I’ll never stop being a Rangers fan.  I was a fan of destiny.

I can go on and say that it was an amazing ride, and it was just simply an honor to be at the big show.  But as RuPaul says, whoever says “it’s an honor just to be there,” is a lying BITCH.

I went to bed sad, woke up sad, had a few tears even.

The Pet Shop Boys are mostly known as a “one hit wonder” here in the United States, due to their big top 40 hit, West End Girls.  That song is almost 30 years old.  Yet, I know them as a band that has quite literally changed my life, and alternatively saved it.  As an angsty teenager, I had listened to their Discography and Very, and they empowered me.  I realized West End Girls SUCKED compared to what they could really do.

I could look at the bright side of things.  Henrik Lundqvist still has a lot of good years left in him.  They’re being led by another young upstart defenseman named Ryan McDonagh.  Like it or not, Rick Nash is on the team for awhile.  We wanted him, we got him.  Now we have to deal with him.  At the beginning of this season, we didn’t think they’d go anywhere, much less the Stanley Cup Final.  This was a special team that banded together during the worst that could happen when a teammate lost his parent and STILL played his heart out.  They seemed to adjust well (albeit on the slower side) to a new head coach, who seemed to get the most out of his players despite his quiet and subdued demeanor.

And hey, the Rangers losing wasn’t so bad.  I did say that I would eat my own socks if they won a Cup in the first year under Alain Vigneault.  It wouldn’t be SO terrible if they won in 2014-15.  My socks and my digestive system would get a reprieve at least.

Yes, I woke up sad, but like that saying that you can be happy that it happened, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.  The city became electric, like nothing I had seen before.  All for a sport that most would think was a second or third choice behind baseball and football.  Some teams just endear themselves to your hearts.

This was one of them.

We can take the spring of 2014 and put it in our back pocket.  Cherish the memory, but know that something great is literally right around the corner.  I felt it this year.  It will be back before we know it.  Whether it’s in 12 months or two decades.

Let’s hope it’s the latter.  But in the meantime, I am going to hold onto my ticket stub from game five of the Stanley Cup Final, and hope that all the superstitions in the world bring it back here sooner rather than later.

Come outside and see/a brand new day
The troubles in your mind/will blow away
It’s easy to believe/they’re here to stay
but you won’t find them/standing in your way

Se a vida é I love you/Come outside and feel the morning sun
Se a vida é I love you/Life is much more simple when you’re young
Come on, essa vida é/That’s the way life is
That’s the way life is

***Many, many thanks to the New York Rangers for giving me something to complain about or be hopeful about, all at the same time, and the Pet Shop Boys for providing the soundtrack of my life (though I doubt when they wrote and composed their music, they had National Hockey League playoff games in mind).***

The Theatre

It’s another world here
The streets are gleaming
I was even dreaming
that they’re paved with gold
Seventeen at half past ten
All the crowds are surging past
An electric display

I worked in the New York City Financial District (right by the Canyon of Heroes) in 2000.  I was waiting for some electricity to spark, so to speak, but I never felt it.  It could have also been that at that point in my life, I had been going through some transition, and I wasn’t fully available to take it in anyway.

A few months ago, the Super Bowl was set on the main stage of the New York City metropolis (Okay, fine, it was in New Jersey).  Walking down Super Bowl Boulevard was fun.  But it certainly wasn’t hair raising.

It was different this time.  Just a few days ago, the Rangers opened the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles.  You’d never know it though, with all the blueshirts on Broadway, the Rangerstown logos and basically the taking over of Bryant Park by Rangers fans, young and old, and Rangers alumni, some older, some more recent.

If I wanted fireworks.  Well, this was it.

I was in high school, just weeks away from graduating when the Rangers last visited the SCF.  We all know how that ended.

It’s hard to believe it was 20 years ago that I graduated from high school.  That September, I entered college.  But I was still riding high from that Stanley Cup win.  I had visited the city a lot, which was still somewhat pre-Disneyified, with piss on the corner, coupled with drug dealers and summer heat.  And every time I visited, I made sure to swing by Madison Square Garden.  I didn’t get to go to a live game in that series.  But my dad and I made sure we watched every single game.  The Garden had opened up during the road games to watch the games from Vancouver.  I got to see the Pavel Bure penalty shot from the Garden, though it occurred in Vancouver.  The feed apparently showed the reaction of the fans in the Garden.  My friends told me that they saw me celebrating on TV.

It was some of the most cherished memories of my life.  And this is coming from someone who was at the last World Series championship winning game of her baseball team.

Yet, the last time the Mets were in the playoffs in 2006, it was the 20th anniversary of their last championship.  When Carlos Beltran looked at strike three, thus began the next eight years (and counting) of futility.  But the 2006 team was special.  It was fun going to games, even when the likes of Jose Lima pitched.

This season was strange, as a Ranger fan.  I didn’t opt for my mini plan that I usually purchase from my friend.  I mused that because of this, losing my playoff option, they were SURE to get to the Stanley Cup Final.  Of course they did.

But after game two, I saw something on the main stage.  I didn’t like it.  I saw that the team had given up.  They were making excuses. This saddened me, because shit happens in the span of a best-of-seven series.  And if I know this team, they have fight and spark and have surprised us every step of the way.  But it looks like they might have ridden this moxie as far as they could take it.

Whether they get swept or lose in five, or somehow manage to bring the series to seven games…I have a feeling about this team like I did in Game two in the 2006 NLCS.

I just don’t think it’s their year.

This saddens me, as a fan.  Obviously, I have a rooting interest here, and I want them to win.  I want that parade.  I’ve tentatively cleared my calendar for the days it could potentially be.   But it’s okay for me to say this, because I’ve made peace with the scenario.  I’d hate for the Kings to hoist the Lord Stanley at the Garden.  When I know in my heart of hearts that a few timely bounces here and there, this would have been the Rangers.

Even so, while we were watching the game on Saturday, I was saying that I felt like Jake Blues, when he was leaving Bob’s Country Bunker. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Or better yet, the Rangers probably wished they were leaving the town Jake and Elwood were headed towards.

In the meantime, that whole thing about me not going to the Stanley Cup Final…I’ve been monitoring the ticket prices for Game Four.  They are no longer astronomical, and have what I feel to be a reasonable mark up.  So…win or lose, do or die.  I might be there for what could potentially be not only the last Ranger game of the year…but the last hockey game, period, of the year.

I’ve made peace with the outcome, but it still makes me very sad.

Things don’t have to end badly.  You can be sad that it ended, but you can thankful that it happened.

And if the Rangers lose on Wednesday, I’ll be proud of how far they come.

If they win, well, when there’s light, there’s hope I suppose.  I am not banking on it though.  It is a nice thought, however.

I’ll just know that as a resident of New York City, I’ll always carry fond thoughts of this year’s Ranger team, as they took over the lights on Broadway for a brief time.

I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing

Senior Pics 

Ask me why, I’ll say it’s most unusual
How can I even try to explain…
why today I feel like dancing
singing like lovers sing
when I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing?
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

To say the spring of 1994 was chaotic for me would be an understatement.

I was weeks away from graduating from high school, but I hadn’t yet decided on a college. (That came in the first week of June)

I was having a public humiliating breakdown with the guy who was my high school sweetheart, but that was neither here nor there.

My mother and I weren’t getting along, and to add on top of all that, I didn’t feel like I had anyone else in my corner but my dad and my cat.  Maybe a handful of friends.

At age 18, this was as close to the end of the world as possible.

But the Rangers for the first time in my tenure as a fan were in the Eastern Conference Final.  Their opponent was the hated Devils.  But it was the first time I ever felt the word loathe for any other team.

The Mets had won the World Series just eight years prior.  But I was 10 years old.  What did I know about “rivalry” or “hatred?”  I had no idea of a Boston/New York rivalry at that age, let alone had any real deep-seated geographical rival except for the fact that as a National League fan, I had to hate the Yankees.  It was in my blood.

So each game of that series, I’d meet my dad in Neptune (where he was living at the time), we’d take a ride over to Kelly’s Tavern (ye of the infamous reuben) and watch playoff hockey.
Ask me when
I’ll say it started when I met you
and ever since then I knew that the past couldn’t last
For right now I think I’m running
a race I know I’m gonna win
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

Dad and I had a pretty decent run at Kelly’s.  We had caught a few games in the first two series, from what I can remember.  I mean, this is 20 years of faded memories, and my age is catching up to me in some respects.

But I do remember drowning myself in music, in my drive to Neptune each of those games.  On the way there, I listened to my newest find, Very, by the Pet Shop Boys.  They were simply not a one hit wonder for me.  One of the most underrated bands of its generation, in my opinion.  On the way home, win or lose, I’d listen to Erasure’s Greatest Hits (I believe the album was titled “Pop!”).

As I contemplated my next chapter in life, I really took in the music.  Very was lyrically intelligent and really hit close to home with so much of the messages of the song.  It started off with “Can You Forgive Her?” and ended with “Go West,” the cover of the Village People song.  Though the ride to Neptune usually brought me to either “Dreaming of the Queen” or  “Yesterday When I Was Mad,” the fifth or sixth song on the album.

If I wasn’t arguing or butting heads with my mother, my high school boyfriend and I were falling apart.  Music had always been an outlet.

And as I’ve said before, along with music, came sports.  But this was the first time I had a horse in the race, a first time in a long time.   From the dramatic entrance of song number one, to the moodiness of every other song to the anger and empowerment, it succinctly said EVERYTHING that I had been thinking, feeling or wanting to say myself.  About breaking free from the norm, and following my heart.  Something, by the way, that I am doing right now, and trying to come to grips with.  Adulthood may be overrated sometimes, but following your passion is always something that needs to be done.

If people say I’m crazy
I tell them that it’s true
Let them watch with amazement
say it won’t last beyond breakfast
it’s a phase he’s going through
denigrate or speculate
on what I’m going through
because it isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally do

To this day, I listen to Very, and it still gets me everytime.  It’s what I deem one of my “desert island albums.”  When my car was stolen in 2000, this was one of the CDs that was in there.  They could take the car; Very needed to be replaced.

It not only gets me…I get IT.  And when I listen to it, it brings me back to one of the most treasured times in my sports-loving life, and that’s when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.  The album empowered me to drive up to a school and make a decision on the spot.  It made me make amends with my mother.  It made me move on from my high school boyfriend.  And it made me a hockey fan.  I have given up on the sport in the past.  But I’ve been back long enough to say this is special, and as a fan, I’ve earned that shit.

Ask me what
I’ll say I think it’s good for you
Believe it or not I know where it’s all leading to
I feel like taking all my clothes off
dancing to The Rite of Spring
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of
this kind of thing

In recent years, before each game when the Rangers are in the postseason, I try to get in at least one song from this album.  It’s just one of those things I never get sick of hearing.  If I’m lucky, I will try to listen to the first five or six songs, like I used to when I’d go watch the games with Dad.

The 1993-94 Rangers are not just special in my heart because they won a championship.  It was because, as corny as it sounds, it gave me strength to move forward with my life.  That my world wasn’t crashing down around me…that things could and would be all right.  That like a caterpillar, I’d be a butterfly, floating off to my next chapter.

The spring of 1994 launched into what became the summer of my life.  The New York Rangers were a big part of that.  I did things that I normally wouldn’t do.  Like travel into the city with my friends to go dancing.  Like travel into the city to watch the Rangers on television close to the Garden, so we could be there for the celebration.

It’s very rare that I talk about alternatively being grateful or being pissed off at being a sports fan.  But last night’s win and subsequent playoff series victory made me so grateful for the Rangers. For my dad.  And for that spring of ’94.

This one is for Henrik and for McD.  For DStep and for Staal.  For Martin St. Louis.  For Grumpy Damus. For Chuck.  For NotGlen.  For Aimee.  For Katie.  For Anne Marie.  For Alvin and Kelly.  For Justine.  For DMan.  For Ciel Seidel.  And for everyone else in between (including my cousin, who came in later in life to love the Rangers).

And for especially the Pet Shop Boys, though I’m sure a British electronica band really would never see why they’d be forever linked with a U.S. hockey team.  They helped me get through a rough patch in my life, and so did the Rangers.  And they still do to this day.

Sam Rosen said in 1994, this one will last a lifetime.  I hope that he is wrong, that 1994 was it.  Thank goodness that I am getting to see another “very” amazing postseason run.

This is something we normally wouldn’t see.

Not To Worry

I say, I got nothing to worry about…

Because the Rangers play Thursday.  And they will win on Thursday.

They will win because I’ve felt in my bones all along this would go to six games.

I’ve felt all along that they will win.

It’s game like last night they need to have that proverbial glitch in the matrix.  It’s something that’s off but it will rectify itself.

In 1994, I had one guy telling me, “No doubts, no doubts” in game 5 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

In 1994, I had a guy telling me during Game 6 of 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, “Not.  To. WORRY!”

The Rangers lost both those games.  But they won the games that mattered, of course, and went on to win the Cup.

But just because there was a fucked up game in Montreal last night doesn’t mean that there is a momentum “shift” or any of that crap.

Let’s talk about Momentum Shifts with this video.

Yes, I know I’m looking at shit that happened 20 years ago. But like that year, we cannot deny that this is a special time to be a Ranger fan. It’s a special time for the Rangers. This is a special team.

They’ll have motivation in the form of Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled just before a game-tying rally, only to have his replacement give up three more goals in a blow out.  But when Rene Bourque says that Lundqvist hasn’t been “much better” than Dustin Tokarski…well, to say that shots have been fired would be an understatement.  This has been a dirty series, a hard fought series.

I just can’t help but think…

The Rangers play Thursday.

They’ll win Thursday.

Finish the damn thing.

Go Rainjuzz.

 

Can You Forgive Her?

I can’t say I’m a superstitious one.  I did adopt some superstitions, which in reality probably had less than zero impact on the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl, but that was because I could look forward to eating my cheesy bread each week during the football playoffs.

This year was kind of an accidental superstition in hockey.  I adopted the #ItsOnlyWeirdIfItDoesntWork philosophy because I had a migraine during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals.  If you remember, the night of Game 7 against the Flyers, it rained like a mofo all day.  Cats, dogs, horses, cows, every type of farm animal.  I had a bad migraine.  I even cancelled my podcast at the last moment, though I had stuff I wanted to talk about.  Originally, I thought I’d be watching the playoffs, and be either really happy during the show, or really pissed off.  Either way, I didn’t know.  Because I ended up not watching.

I had laid down a bit, since I cancelled the show, and waited for my husband to return home.  Only problem?  He didn’t get home till after the puck dropped.  So I didn’t even have the television on.  And he was following the game on his radio.

Before I knew it, it was the second period.  I was going to turn the game on, but much like Keith Hernandez did in Game 6, he stayed in his chair because, “There were hits in that seat,” as he cracked open a Bud with coach Darrell Johnson in Davey Johnson’s office.

onlyweirdSo in the history of Keith Hernandez before me, I know I was not the only superstitious one during the hockey playoffs.  If you follow hockey, you know the tradition of hockey beards.  There are some weird fuckin rituals in hockey.  But cool rituals too, like the handshake line, handing the Cup to the captain.
The second round, I got desperate.  I was convinced that outside of the Pittsburgh metro area (and the five Devils fans), mostly everyone in America was rooting for the Rangers.  I know, it’s an oddity, because there is a New York superiority complex that other cities try to knock down.  But I’m pretty sure that if you are a) not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, 2) not from Pittsburgh or D) just a fan of hockey not falling under A) or 2), chances are, you hate Sidney Crosby and it’s your civic duty to not want that team to win.
So there’s that.  I had to go for some gusto.  After Game 4, I became desperate.  One game from elimination, plus with the Rangers’ habit of winning one, losing one…this shit wasn’t going to fly.  Even if they did win Game 5…EVEN if they managed to pull to a Game 7…how would they win?
And yet they did.
And somehow, we were all part of it, by participating in our stupid game rituals that we are convinced helped them win.
For @NotGlenSather, he kept his McDonagh jersey on his couch (only during road games though…it wouldn’t work at home for obvious reasons…reasons, none of us know, of course).

For Metstradamus, he had to take the bus for at LEAST one period (he was lucky that was it…the first time, he was going to pick up an air conditioner).

So my superstitions became the stuff of legend.  When I opted out of Game 5, I figured the worst that could happen was that the Rangers lose.  If they won, I’d play by ear to watch Game 6.  Then they won Game 6.

The irony is, Game 7 wasn’t tough for me not to watch…because I wasn’t home at the beginning.  I had a weekly networking meeting, and I knew I wouldn’t be home till the second period, at the very earliest.

Even so, my husband forbade me from watching the game at all.  I was DYING.  It was absolute torture.  But Twitter did a good job of keeping me updated.  So I got the feel of watching the game.  Then…the unthinkable happened.  They WON. Holy shit, did it WORK???

Truth is, this little superstition I worked up…was only for elimination games.  So I’ll be back for the Eastern Conference Finals.  It feels different this time.  I stress out each series, until this moment.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say…I can pretty much guarantee a Stanley Cup appearance or win, at the very most.  Why is that?

I didn’t get my Rangers seat option this year.  I backed out of it.  It didn’t feel right this year.  I knew I should have held onto it.  But whatever.  I felt like, what were the chances they’d get to the ECF AGAIN?

Yup.

So now there’s a chance they’ll win the Cup.  And I won’t be able to go to any of the stupid games.  I guess somehow I deserve NOT watching the games nor going to them at all.

Bad, bad fan.

So I’ll test the waters by watching the first few games…but of course, I’m traveling during the first game.  So that means I won’t be able to watch the whole thing anyway.

If they win, is it proof that my silly ritual worked?  Or merely coincidence?

Thank goodness for game ones…and game sevens.

Why Not Us?

This meme always cracks me up.

This meme always cracks me up.

I’m relatively new to the whole Seattle Seahawks #12thMan thing, but I did happen to note that Russell Wilson had become America’s sweetheart within a few short weeks late last year and early this year.  His guts and positivity got the Hawks to the big game, and subsequently won it.

See, I’m not used to that shit.  I’m so used to my teams getting my hopes up to the very last possible point, then the shoe dropping and that’s it.  #WipesHands

This year was strange.  A team I adopted, and genuinely *liked* (trust me – I’ve hated MANY of my teams a lot of the time…a little too much, actually) went the distance.  But it was the big heart of the small quarterback Russell Carrington Wilson who said, “Why not us?”

It was no secret that Wilson’s dad passed away several years ago.  And it was his dad’s advice that he claims got him to go to the distance, by asking his team, “Why not us?”

Why not you, Russ?

So it got me thinking – why not us?

And by “us,” I mean my other teams, the Mets and New York Rangers.

Let’s take a look at April.

Sandy Alderson — and not facetiously, mind you —  said that there was a chance the Mets could win 90 games this year.

Once we all stopped rolling our eyes and chuckling — and we did, don’t be that fan that is all self-righteous about loving your team more and supporting them through or think other fans suck if they don’t 100% believe in the team — the Mets started the season 0-3.  And lost their closer on Opening Day.  And didn’t have their star young stud pitcher at all.  Seemed like more of the same.   When they won a game, myself and many others joked and said, “89 more to go!”  (That was facetious, by the way)

Till they started to win.  And started to get good and quality starts from their pitchers.  Except for the guy they kinda expected to be consistent.  But whatever.  The ways they won, and how many games they won (15) in April made us sit up and pay attention.  To the tune of tweets like this.

Why not us?

If you look at that pace, it could theoretically be a 90 win season, if they continue on average winning 15 games a month.

We’ve seen weirder.  Of course, that might not be enough to win the NL East.

And trust me, I don’t like getting ahead of myself.  I even told my husband the other night the famous, “It’s only APRIL” excuse.  Doesn’t mean anything.  The only April or the averaging 15 wins a month to get to a 90 total win season.

Why not us, Russ?

As I sit here writing, I’m watching the Rangers play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.  It’s very rare that I actually have a good feeling with ANYTHING remotely regarding the Rangers in the playoffs.  I spend most of my time tweeting about how much the team tortures me, makes me want to poop on MSG center ice or how much I hate them.

But I love them.  I really don’t know what I’d do without the Rangers.  Or if they weren’t in the playoffs.

Two years ago, I was having a rough year, and the one thing that kept me riding high was the fact that the Rangers were playing so well. Then they lost, but the Los Angeles Kings brought me out of hell, and I got over that Quick (see what I did there?).

I said that unless you live in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, or are a bitter Devils fan, chances are most of America is rooting for the Rangers in this series.  NO ONE likes the Penguins.  They’re almost as dirty as Philly, and there are more crybabies than the Capitals.

So it’s good to like to good guys for once…but play better, for fuck’s sake.

It’s been a weird year, what with teams I’ve wanted to win are actually, you know, WINNING.  Or have won.  Whatever.

The Rangers beat the Penguins in OT, 3-2.  We know that OT isn’t exactly ideal, and especially in Pittsburgh.

So why not them?  Or us?

Those who say, “Wait Till Next Year,” will ultimately say, “It IS next year?”

And that’s probably going to be the first and last remotely positive thing you’ll EVER see me posting on this site.

Shhhh…don’t tell anyone.

WHAT ARE YOU, A BUNCH OF FUCKING CRYBABIES?

Once upon a time, a few months ago, someone asked me why I made fun of Sidney Crosby.  A Penguins fan, he claimed it was “sour grapes,” and that “any one of us would love to have him on our team(s).”

walter_sobchekThere may be an element of truth there.  I mean, for years and years, as a Mets fan, we taunted and made fun of Larry Jones…but I don’t think there is any one of us that wouldn’t have loved him on our team or didn’t respect the shit out of him.

But Crosby is different.  He gets the benefit of the doubt with EVERY call.  Anytime something happens to him, legal or not, the league goes RUSHING to his defense.  Mario Lemieux, a player I always loved and respected and would have never ever called “soft,” has become a total pussy when it comes to defending the crown jewel of his organization.

Yeah Sidney Crosby is a good player, a perennial Hart Trophy candidate as long as he is healthy.  But he’s a crybaby.  And in a paraphrase of Walter Sobchek, what kind of hockey player are you if you’re gonna be a fuckin crybaby?

But this isn’t about Sid, entirely.  No, the Rangers, in case you didn’t remember, eliminated the Washington Capitals on their own home ice in a 5-0 blow out Game Seven.  The game, which should have been all about Henrik Lundqvist not giving up a goal for 120 minutes straight, should have been about role players coming through in the clutch, and Captain Cally remembering that he honors a legacy of Mark Messier and tough guys.

But no.  Alex Ovechkin, yet another Hart Trophy candidate, has cemented his legacy as a crybaby official questioner.

“Not saying there was a phone call, but they wanted Game 7,” Ovechkin reportedly said in Russian, translated and tweeted by Slava Malamud, a senior writer for Russian sports daily Sports-Express. “For ratings. You know, lockout, escrow, league must make profit.”

I take it he doesn’t remember this call from Game Three, that worked to HIS benefit.

Or basically any other call that has worked to his benefit.  In you know his entire CAREER.

I don’t get it.  Hockey guys get enough shit for skating around.  I’ve even been known to make fun of them for “figure skating” at times.  But these are big tough guys.  They are hulking beasts.  They hit.  They carry around a shit load of equipment as they skate.  Someone like Henrik Lundqvist needs to wear a shitload of equipment AND make moves to save his team.

And two of the best players in the league whine that nothing has gone their way.

WAH!

Sorry to drag Sidney Crosby into this…because this diatribe really has nothing to do with him, but more so the culture that encourages players like he and Ovechkin to openly bitch about shit that happens EVERY DAY in hockey.

Instead of looking at a dominating performance by one of the best (at least Ovechkin gave Lundqvist his due), and his team not showing up for an elimination game on THEIR HOME ICE, I think the Eagles might have a thing or two to say about that.