Sunday, October 14, 2012

On Hockey and New York Sports Teams

It's Sunday October 14 and normally hockey season would be underway.  However, for the third time in about 20 years, the NHL owners and players are at odds - the owners have locked out the players - and there is no NHL.  The NHL has already canceled games through the end of this month.

I have at least one friend who, after the last strike (which canceled the entire season), stayed away from hockey for about five years.  She has said she might be done altogether this time.

Today I fully expected to tune in to watch the first game of the NLCS with the Washington Nationals taking on the San Francisco Giants.  Unfortunately, Friday night was a soul-crushing, mind-boggling defeat of the Nationals by the St. Louis Cardinals.  I still can't go into it without getting depressed, angry, upset.  But I still have my Natitude and we'll be back next year.

There is baseball still to watch, I suppose, although the Orioles were also defeated by the New York Yankees, though I was more prepared for that outcome.  The Yankees are now facing the Detroit Tigers and lost game 1 AND their captain, Derek Jeter, who broke his ankle in the 12th inning last night.

This leads me to a commentary on New York sports teams.

As most everyone knows, I was born and raised in New York.  I am a fan of the New York Rangers in hockey and the New York Yankees in baseball.  I have never been a huge football fan and I would usually tell people when asked to pick a team - it would be the Giants.

Since moving to Washington, I have been more involved with the teams that live and play here, obviously.  I fell hard for the Nationals and root for them religiously and will continue to do so.  My New York friends questioned how I could do that as a Yankees fan - I quickly responded that I could have a National League affiliation and an American League affiliation.  I presumed the two teams wouldn't meet in a World Series for a few more years (despite the possibility that existed this year, which vanished on Friday night).

I have been moving in the direction of rooting for the Washington Capitals more than the Rangers in recent years - as I explained to a friend, who is a lifelong Caps fan - I knew more about that team than the current Rangers.  The Rangers I knew and loved were the ones of my youth.  But of course, now with hockey iced for the foreseeable future - I am not sure what to do. 

I have been teased about my allegiance to the Yankees - the devil incarnate to some, well, many.  But I really believe in team loyalty, which is why I may be a half-hearted Yankee fan - I am an ardent fan of Derek Jeter, who has only ever worn pinstripes and will always wear pinstripes.  That other guy, who they paid all that money to and plays third base?  Not a Yankee (and probably won't be next year).  Players that have come to the Yankees for money (and sometimes fame) are not truly loyal to the team, like Jeter, DiMaggio, Maris, Gehrig.

I will continue to follow the Yankees and cheer their successes (which I don't think they will have this season, BTW).  But I will be a bigger fan of the Nationals going forward.  I may start to root for the Orioles a little more passionately - but that may take a change in ownership before that can really happen.

As to hockey - it appears I don't have a decision to make right now.  But if and when the season comes back - I will figure it out.  I will root for the Caps, because they're here and I will cheer their successes as well.  They're due for something great and it will be a fun ride to be a part of.  Those Rangers of my younger days have been at the top - and they may get there again someday.  My mother will haunt me if I turn my back on them altogether - so I'll keep an eye on the sports pages to see how they're doing.

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