I don’t follow professional sports as closely as I once did. Maybe there’s just not as much time or maybe it’s less exciting to watch the teams I’ve rooted for all my life struggle year after year.
When I was a kid, I would root for my favorite baseball team with everything I had, even if they were 30 games out of first in September. That just doesn’t work for me any more.
But even now, I get excited when one of my teams gets into the playoffs. Even if one of my favorites start to play well early in the season, I begin to get interested. But, as has been so often the case in my lifetime, my teams are well out of any championship hopes early in the season. But not lately.
For the record, my favorite teams are the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Mets (MLB) and the Miami Dolphins (NFL). Like most people, my favorite teams are what they are to me because I grew up watching them as a boy. I grew up in Long Island, N.Y. Incredibly enough, even the Mets are playing well now.
I’m a little more tired this morning than I expected to be. I knew I had a busy day Wednesday with three of the schools in our coverage area battling in the Class D district track meet in Morrill. This morning I have to be off early to Ogallala as Sidney takes on the competition at its district meet.
When I got home last night, I had to sort through all the photos I had taken and write about the results in Morrill. There were other duties, including filling this space, to be done. But there was also a big distraction. The Rangers were playing in the seventh game of the NHL conference semifinals. Just a few days ago they were down three games to one.
In my lifetime, the Rangers have won only one championship. They won the Stanley Cup in 1994 for the first time since before World War II. Last season they were dropped in the finals by the Los Angeles Kings.
But this isn’t about hockey. I know few around these parts could give a hoot about the NHL and especially the Rangers. But the Rangers make me think of my father. He was the one who turned me on to hockey when I was a little kid. I have been a Rangers fan longer than I have been for any other of my favorite teams because of him.
At one point or another, my Dad took all of his seven children to Rye Playland north of New York City to watch the Rangers practice. I still remember him lifting me up over the glass to get a glimpse of Andy Bathgate, Jean Ratelle or Rod Gilbert.
“Hey, do you know who that is?,” my Dad would say as he lifted me up.
Many a time too, we were treated to an excursion into Manhattan to see the Rangers play at Madison Square Garden. Fortunately, the Garden sits atop Pennsylvania Station which makes the commute from the island a breeze. It was actually much easier to get to Manhattan than it was to go to the Nassau Coliseum where the Islanders play – or played that is. They’re moving to Brooklyn next season.
My Dad grew up poor in Brooklyn during the depression but somehow learned to skate extremely well. He glided over the ice with seemingly no effort at all. He taught us how to skate too. My dad enjoyed hockey and skating in general. He always wanted to watch hockey and figure skating on the tube whenever the winter olympics rolled around.
I’m sure my Dad would be enjoying the Rangers run of the past couple of years. Last night might have given him a heart attack though. The Rangers went to overtime before knocking out the Washington Capitals 2-1. It’s the 12th straight one-goal game the Blueshirts have played this season in the playoffs. I think the streak is 15 or 16 going back to last year’s Stanley Cup finals.
So now it’s on to the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. I’d like to see a blowout or two. I can’t take much more of these intense, one-goal games.
When that distraction was behind me, I could then get back to work. I hope my stories on the Creek Valley, Leyton and Potter-Dix high battles at districts aren’t as confusing as the words in this piece. They all fought hard and deserve their due. But hopefully, these distractions continue right through June and the Stanley Cup finals. I’ll try to do my best here even if that is the case.
By the way, you all know hockey is played with a puck and not a ball right?