Now, I'm sure that nearly everyone who reads this blog would have been damn sure that today I'd be writing about the Los Angeles Lakers. And normally, yes, I would. But there are some things to take into consideration other than my normal world of basketball. And first and foremost, that means the Stanley Cup!
(Seriously, though, pretty much everyone has to agree, right? The Stanley Cup is the dopest trophy in all of sports. The way that it travels, there's only one trophy for all the winners in the entire NHL – when your year is done, if you didn't defend your title, you don't get to keep it. The way each player on the team gets to spend some personal time with it. The engraving, the constant re-polishing, the stories that we've heard. The Stanley Cup rules. It's the best trophy, bar none.)
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to time a trip into France to see Lance Armstrong win his seventh Tour de France. While this, honestly, pales in comparison, I do feel like I've lucked into another great event via my travels: The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup last Friday, and I was able to see the whole thing inside a very Pittsburgh-y bar: Gators. The crowd was great, cheering on the action, and the TVs were spectacular (is hockey the sport that benefits the most from HDTV?) but there were a couple things that made me nervous. Well, maybe not nervous, that might be the wrong word, but I was certainly taken aback.
In the second period, one of the Pittsburgh players ran into the goalie for the Detroit team (whom the crowd seemed to hate more than anyone else on his team) and there was a cheer. Someone in the back yelled, “Hell yeah, I hope he tears his ACL and has to retire!” while another person, probably emboldened by this, and thinking that he'd go ahead and take it a step farther, did so by shouting, “Get AIDS and die!” Wow. I mean, I come from a healthy hate of the Boston Celtics, which extends to really disliking pretty much all Boston sports (except, of course, when I think they'll win me some money) but that was ballsy, even to me. Fortunately, most of the people in the bar were drunk and truly seemed not to care, so the comment passed over without anyone having to pay for it.
This was not the case when many of the fans in the bar started booing the Red Wings fans, whom we saw on TV cheering their team on (because, you know...the game was in Detroit). Lots of bad insults were hurled their way, very little of which made sense to me (again, I'll contrast it with the term Masshole, which I throw around at Celtics fans - that's kind of an accepted epithet for the people from the Northeast, whereas this one guy in particular in the bar seemed to be psyched that people in Detroit were apparently unemployed) but I was content to simply sit back and observe.
When the final countdown started, many people were nervous, but I was filming, so I didn't get a good look at the game itself. It wasn't until I started reading the recaps of the game that I realized the Pens had narrowly averted a tie in the last second of the game. When that last second did tick off, though, the place exploded in joy, which promptly flooded out to the streets.
Here then, is my video of congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins. I know next to nothing about hockey, but I do know that the national media gave you very little chance to win this title, and I do know that watching a town win a championship in a major sporting event is a very revealing look at the people of that city; something that my fair city of Albuquerque will, unfortunately, never ever ever get a chance to experience. So I was psyched to get to take part in this while I'm here.
Edited to add: I'm apparently semi-ignorant when it comes to making videos, so I have no idea how to get them all together. I'll get mine up tomorrow, that's a promise.