Seven From Heaven

nyclightning

As many of you know by now, the Tampa Bay Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals last night, besting New York’s Rangers 2-0 in the seventh and deciding game of their Eastern Conference series. They await either Anaheim or Chicago, who play their Game 7 tonight.

It’s also a big moment for the Lightning in terms of where they stand against the other area franchises, the Bucs and the Rays. The Lightning become the first of the “big three” to play in multiple championships of their respective sport. Only the old Tampa Bay Rowdies played in multiple championship games, winning the 1975 Soccer Bowl (as an expansion team), then appearing in the NASL’s big game again in 1978 and 1979, losing to the New York Cosmos and Vancouver Whitecaps, respectively.

I like the Lightning’s chances to go all the way and hoist the Cup a second time regardless of who they play, but I am a little biased on the subject.

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The Old Ball Game

I had an ever changing view of the Rays-Mariners game, May 27, 2015.
I had an ever changing view of the Rays-Mariners game, May 27, 2015.

I didn’t know when I woke up yesterday that I’d be making another pilgrimage to Tropicana Field, about seven miles to my south. I like it that way, really. Nothing to lose sleep over, nothing to get excited about. But with the game not televised locally, I joined 10,000 or so other fellow Rays (and a few Mariner) fans at the old dome near downtown St. Petersburg.

Going with my mother and her boyfriend (a former semi-pro ballplayer), I made my way to the left field party deck just in time for Chris Archer to deal the first pitch in what would turn out to be a classic pitchers duel. (won by Seattle 3-0 on a 9th inning Nelson Cruz homer) I make it to my seat, eat the two soft tacos I got from the Taco Bus vendors, drank my all-you-can-drink Pepsi (I don’t like drinking beer at the ballpark, as I might be needed for directions after the game off of Google Maps, always seem to get lost getting out of the park…), and I’m sitting up there all alone for the first three innings.

I call my mother while the fourth inning is going on, and of course she’s mad at me because I was where I was supposed to be at, and they weren’t. The boyfriend had corrupted her into getting seats behind third base at ground level, and they wanted me to join them. I wrestled with the ethics of getting a seat that I didn’t pay for, but with such a small crowd, I went ahead.

Laying low to avoid being busted by the ushers, I sat there and got a close-up view of the game, but the boyfriend wasn’t done. He wanted my mom to get a seat right up close to the Seattle dugout, which she did. Inside, I’m cringing. What if we get busted? Do I employ a Twinkie defense? Plead temporary insanity?

The game ends, with the Seattle fans at the Trop wanting to mob Felix Hernandez for the complete game shutout he pitched, a rarity in today’s brand of baseball. Despite the petty larceny of grabbing seats that weren’t ours, I enjoyed the afternoon. I just wonder with so few going to the ball game how long the Rays will be here in Tampa Bay without a new ballpark and a secured future.

By the way, what’s wrong with the current park?

When A Must Win Game Goes Unwon

If the Tampa Bay Lightning fail to make it to the Stanley Cup after Friday night, they will rue the opportunity they had last night at the Amaile Arena.

They trailed 2-1 going into the third 20 minute period, but left being cannonaded by Ranger goals, suffering a 7-3 loss that evens the best-of-seven series at three games each. The Rangers, who have won six straight seventh games in a playoff series, never having lost a game seven at home, now have that seventh game at Madison Square Garden.

While the fans, media, and players know that these respective streaks are on the line, the pucks, sticks, and other hockey equipment that will be used do not.  Remember that each game, as they say in gambling, is an independent trial. If you go out to Las Vegas and hit ten straight sevens on the craps tables, the dice don’t care about you hitting an eleventh seven in a row.

Lightning fans: keep your chins up, and remember that they can still win Friday and set local sports history.  None of the “big three” franchises (Bucs, Rays, or Lightning) have made it to two championships in their respective histories. It can still happen. Don’t look at Friday night with dread, look at it instead as opportunity.

Remember Those Who Served Everyday

I’m not the most conservative man in the world, nor am I the most liberal. But as I get older, it dawns on me that people my age or younger don’t seem to respect history as much as the older (or as Tom Brokaw would say, the greater) generations.

Memorial Day just passed as I type this, the 25th such holiday since my father passed in early 1991. It will be the first of many 25th’s without my dad around over the course of the next year.

When he was 18, he served in the Army in a ski patrol unit in Colorado. While we won the second World War (otherwise, I’d be speaking to you in German or Japanese now if I had existed), our country didn’t fare well in snowy conditions. Thus the formation of this particular part of the service as an effort to make the country more able to be more mobile in future wars.  He was also photographed for Life magazine while he served, though I’ve never seen the particular photo in question. If anyone has a collection of those mags laying around during the post WW2 40’s, I’d love to see if I could find it. Fortunately, he never served in battle as he was still not of age when WW2 drew to a close.

My dad always loved watching skiing when it was on TV, particularly the tour events or Olympic events ABC used to have. One day when I was a kid I asked him about why he liked skiing, and he told me about his Army service. A kid from Florida like me had a hard time wrapping my head around something like that.

It is a good thing that we remember those who served on Memorial Day and the weekend that surrounds it. I just think they should be remembered more, and given better wisdom by their governmental leaders.

The Wrong Priorities

One of my former classmates was pointing out this week the futility of this “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

During the holiday weekends of summer, the various state and federal highway patrols and “keepers of the highways” remind everyone it’s mandatory to buckle up when you drive. Unless you crash in a way where your body becomes a projectile, the only person harmed by this transgression is yourself, maybe the people you’re in the car with. It used to be you could only be cited if you violated another rule, but they changed that to where not wearing a seat belt is the only thing a cop needs to see to pull you over.

What my former classmate pointed out is that texting while driving is a much more clear and present danger, but where are the laws and the penalties for doing that? Where are the commercials promising harsh penalties if you’re caught texting and driving?

I know that texting is something that can easily be covered up by the driver involved in a crash, but come on. If we’re going to legislate against stupidity, then legislate all the stupidity, and not pick and choose the stupid.