Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You know you're a fan when you're still there and your team sucks

The die-hard Ateneo Blue Eagle fans can appreciate this -- watching a bad team during terrible seasons and believing that the bad days will soon be behind them.

I was in grade school when the New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup. My classmates thought it was odd that I loved ice hockey when football was king and we all dreamed of flying through the air like Dr. J.

Even when in New York later on, people would give me that questioning look when they saw me wear an Islanders beanie. Why not the Rangers, ya know? The Isles are losing and they haven't won since Ronald Reagan was US President. When I hear that question, the one thing that pops in my mind is The Eagles hit song from their album The Long Run. It's that only hit song of their sung by bassist Timothy B. Schmidt... "I Can't Tell You Why" which I still love to this day and features that sentimental guitar solo that would make Eric "Slowhand" Clapton proud. Yes, I really can't tell you why I'm an Islanders fan.

I would normally take the trip from via the LIRR at Penn Station to Long Island on the Hempstead Turnpike then transfer buses (N70 or N71 bus at a terminal a block away). It's not exactly a long ways but it does give me time to think.

I'd oft go alone to watch at Nassau because it was no fun bringing my friends along (who were all Rangers fans or didn't like hockey). And the venue, well, is like watching at Rizal Memorial Coliseum only Veterans Memorial is bigger. But it has that dusky look and feel. There are bad seats and it smells like a wino alley. I was never around for their glory days but they sell a DVD of it and milk the veterans on those teams for all they've got.

I loved the ambiance and could only imagine if the Cobo Hall and Joe Louis Arena were like these too. It had that feel of watching a technicolor film that really dates the place. I'd look up at the championship banners and retired numbers of the players who won them and for a brief time made New York a two-team hockey town.

It was tough watching the Isles because they would often lose and it made the trip back to Manhattan even longer and difficult. When I get off at Penn Station, the ticket guy would always look at my pouting face and say, "Hey, kid. It's never too late to be a Rangers fan."

You see I wore an Isles jersey that was big for my frame to the games and I wore as proudly as I did with my Yankee pinstripes or Ateneo blues. I'd ignore him but there were times I wanted to flip him the bird. But generally, I manage to smile and when I'd get home, I plop onto the couch and watch sportscenter or put in that DVD of the Isles winning four straight Stanley Cups.

The Islanders are second to the last in their division. Wracked by injuries, they're in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and if this continues, they can kiss their play-off hopes goodbye. The only thing they can celebrate is honoring their Mandarin Chinese broadcaster Alex Peng for his long service to the team! And that's the highlight this year. Things kinda went sour when Rick Di Pietro went down. Now it seems that everybody has been injured at one point or another.

Kinda tough again to swallow. But I'd like to paraphrase Charles Barkley when I say that I hope the light at the end of the tunnel isn't the LIRR heading towards you.

Boy, that would suck.

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