My First NHL Trip

It was a long wait from introducing L.A.’s starting six until you found out who was starting for Chicago, with lots of gimmicky digital lighting tricks. What was cool was turning off most lights, but turning on lights to show off Blackhawks championship flags. But it was a long buildup.

A board told you what was going on in far stadiums, including Giants’ runs…but it wasn’t Giants vs. (mascots also), but Giants vs. (location). That mascot is also a mascot of a squad that was busy playing in a rink!

I didn’t know a lot of what was going on. It looks as if a Blackhawks star got hurt. Didn’t know that.

Play would stop, and folks would work on that rink. Folks without much clothing. Which is odd–it’s cold out on rinks. I don’t think that’s as fun as, say, a band playing music (or shouting insults).

It was loud, with lots of cussing from fans by my chair. It was a high chair, with just a row until it was as high as you could go. I thought it was an okay way to look down, though, not too far from action. But I wasn’t focusing so much as to know “oh, that was a goal” for all four goals. I saw L.A.’s puck fly in, though, and fly right back out almost as quickly. And I saw Chicago’s last goal, if not #2 too. Catchy goal song. Not many lyrics, but that’s okay.

Riding back, I saw a sign for “introducing a world famous billy goat t-shirt”. What? How is it world famous if its introduction is right now?

Substitution

It’s the eighty-eighth minute. One of D.C. United is lying on the pitch. This is not the first time.

Or the second.

The ref needed to run in reverse, before, running from someone giving his opinion on the decision. One of lots of someones–the supporters, too, yell their opinions. “Milk!” someone behind me suggests to the D.C. United person. “It gives you strong bones!”

Were the Fire better? Not score-wise; they were tied 0-0. Oh, the Fire kicked two shots into the net, but neither counted. Let’s put it like this; the supporters didn’t like these decisions, either.

Sorry. “The supporters?” There were some in the end where you stood most of the time, hopping, yelling, insulting. There were some on the other end, with drums. But we were there, too. In the midfield, good tickets, trying to pick out the yells. Cheering “Fire!” sometimes, echoing “McBride!” too, but not so…loud. Not so supportive of bookings to the Fire’s benefit, not so crushed by those helping out D.C. United.

Which is why I, trying to be sort of objective while still rooting, wondered whether the Fire were…well, whether D.C. United were being unscrupulous, first off. Secondly, if the Fire were. I didn’t know–the thing is, I’m not good with quickly interpreting people’s movements even in sports I like or know well. I’ve seen countless pitches thrown on TV or in person, but I couldn’t tell you “oh, those were sliders”. It’s just not my skill. So I definitely couldn’t tell you who dove or who truly got hurt, from either side…it looked like the Fire spent less time lying on the ground, but possibly they just hurt their opponents more. Or my rooting blinded me to the truth.

Though this suggests the extreme supporters, who surely see things with more insight, couldn’t know either.

So whoever it is is just lying there. Suddenly it’s McBride right behind him, gesturing. To who? The ref–“hey, injury over here”? The rest of the Fire–“stop, guys, he’s hurt”? I wished for him to be doing something nice. They’d been honoring him throughout with video clips. Little kids wore “We’ll Miss You, #20” t-shirts. I hoped for him to be the nice guy.

But I couldn’t tell.

Fire substitution. Fire substitution? It’s the other guy who’s…

Oh.

He exits slowly while we rise, cheering. He hugs one opponent, plus some of the Fire. Why substitute him out? I find out, once I’ve left, it occurred on purpose. Just so we–the yellers, drummers, one-sided, insulting, even those of us who weren’t those things–would get to recognize him.

I still don’t get this sport.

Four minutes more beyond the two which were left, but no scoring. They held some sort of tribute ceremony following the competition, but I left. When we were pulling out of the lot, there were loud noises.

Weird. Very extreme rooters?

There they were once more.

I turned to see fireworks rise over Bridgeview.

Football Fantasy

Spring 2005

“So how was your night?”

“Good! I had a vision.”

“A…vision?”

“It’s going to occur. Just as I saw it. I know.”

“O…kay?”

“It’s Monday Night Football, right? Vikings start it off against Giants’ crosstown rivals. Randy Moss drops back to pass.”

“Okay, what? No, Randy Moss isn’t with us now.”

“Right, but Moss will join us again.”

“Um…okay. And you said, drops back to pass?”

“Right.”

“But Moss isn’t a guy who throws footballs.”

“I know. But Moss throws it to anyway. To…oh, you know, that guy in shirt four.”

“No, I don’t know. No Viking is in shirt four.”

“That guy from Wisconsin. Who will at that point play for us, and want to win against his old squad.”

“But…wait, I thought you said it was…not against a squad from Wisconsin? Also, that guy–”

“–throws footballs, I know. Anyway, it fails, that play didn’t stand.”

“I should think not.”

Cincinnati: no runs, no hits

Normally, you don’t pull guys in inning two. If it’s just an opportunity out of 162, you can say, “Okay, you and I won’t win today, but throw on and work through this.” You can admit that today is not your day. In spring, you might think “possibly it’s still our month”, though fall a long way down and it will sink in that this campaign is probably not yours. You might find out which squad is probably going to win. And, probably, it will win.

This rationalizing is not okay in a playoff, though. You can’t say “not today, but how about Friday?” You must think that any day is, possibly, yours.

This is what Cincinnati did, saying, “You guys want to win this, point, but our guys do also.” 2010 is not, so far, anybody in particular’s; in a month, you could say “oh, this or that squad won”, but as of now you don’t know who will win.

But still, pundits want to slap summarizing tags on 2010. “It’s for mound guys! It’s for youth!” On such an important night, though, anybody up to bat blocks all that out. You can’t win it all in your NLDS’s first night, but you can hold your own, ignoring past triumphs from your rival. You should try to.

So Halladay’s win is particularly amazing.

His skin was half-blank-and-oozing, half-in-cap-bill’s-shadow. It was a quick win, not far into a triad of digits for pitch count. Which is good–you don’t want to say “oh, it’s going to go this way, it is 2010 you know” in a bad or good mood at such an assumption. Don’t go for a brilliant night just for a brilliant night; go for a win, and find glory too.

A month or so will still occur. But now, I too am (slowly) inching towards that claim that 2010 is truly outlandish.

Two guys named Sanchez

Without dreams of wins and pride a team will lose
Though they still play games, they can’t hope to go on.
Hot starts lead to playoff dreams, but face the facts;
Until you have clinched, you can’t really relax.
Have a team lose ten in a row. They won’t die
Right away. If they’re chased, they will survive.
Bring on the chance of extra games. They won’t cry.
Tiredness won’t ease the hunger in their minds.

Though they don’t belong to the same family
Teammates strive as one, against calamity.
Trying to hold a lead in the pennant race
The way it was going, they’d need a tight brace.

Give them five-plus shutout innings, they will thrive.
A triple and single keep them alive.
With the season in the balance, they’ll impress
With the winning run, from two guys named Sanchez.

Instrumental!

Rhyme scheme weirdness

So after all the game 163s
(And who’s to say there won’t be more of these?
Given the way the NL West goes
At the moment, we might need one. Who knows?)
I guess it shouldn’t be a big surprise
To see a walk-off in a strange disguise.
It might not be an out, but what it was
Seems like it should be called an out, because
It makes for drama. “Three outs don’t suffice!
There are more ways to come back!” And that’s nice.
Even a game with ways as much as this
Still stops at the last swing and the last miss.
But here’s to special ways it can amaze.
Here’s to comebacks, and here’s to walkoff Ks.