Wednesday, October 19, 2005

the other shoe

There was a good column by The Sports Guy yesterday. He sympathized with Astros fans while expounding on his "levels of losing" in sports fandom. Being a New York sports fan and not rooting for the Yankees, I can empathize. I'm sure the Sports Guy would disagree with my "frustrated fan" status, as I imagine he sees all New York sports fans - Yankees fans or not - as the neighborhood saw Danny Aiello's Sal in Do the Right Thing. Which is fine, I guess; all I really want is for my teams to do well, and I don't really care how some New Englandah sees harried Mets fans like myself.

Despite the Rangers and Giants' good starts, despite the Mets' winning record in 2005 and despite a potential season of promise awaiting the Knicks, I know in my heart that none of these teams will ever make (let alone succeed in) the playoffs ever again. It's hard to explain - the law of averages says it's not even true, given enough time - but I'm so used to rooting for adrift franchises that I'm conditioned now. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, always. Within entire seasons, within individual games, within offseason moves - I just know that things will never, ever work out for the best.

Case in point - the Rangers, who last made the playoffs in 1997 and were everybody's preseason pick to finish next to last in the entire Eastern Conference, are pleasantly surprising; i.e., they're kicking the shit out of people. They have exciting young talent at the Garden and up in Hartford, and they've got a young kid in nets who has the potential to be a star. They're flying high and tonight they play their hated rivals - the Islanders - from whom they swept the 2003-2004 season series.

All of this can only mean two things. First, the Islanders are guaranteed to win tonight. You can put money down on that. Second, given that these are the Islanders, an organization that defines itself only by 1) four Stanley Cups won 800 years ago and 2) its hatred of the big bad Rangers (who haven't been big and bad since Bill Clinton was getting sworn in for a second term), means tonight's loss might be the one that sends the Blueshirts tumbling back to their proper station in NHL life. I know this because such a turn of events would be exceptionally sweet for the Islanders fan base, which takes delight in Rangers misery (especially when their team causes it), and would be just the type of insult-to-injury the sports gods seem to enjoy heaping upon the Mets, Giants, Knicks and Rangers. And even if tonight's isn't that loss, the inevitable turning point and the ensuing regression towards the mean fast approaches.

OK, "whiny" mode off. Go Rangers.

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