OK, then it’s time to move on. Sometimes, I think to myself that if there is a fan base with lower (at times, folks...only at times) self-esteem than those of the Washington Capitals, someone needs to point them out, because we’re not aware of them.
Your Ol’ Uncle Peerless is now going to give you folks in Caps Nation one of those lectures that you roll your eyes at, the one that starts, “now in my day…”
Now in my day, back when we had a hockey team in these parts that won a few games, but suffered the burden of no one in the media paying attention (those being the days before the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, message boards, texting, sports talk radio, and indoor plumbing), we just took comfort in the fact that sooner or later (usually sooner, because we had this thing called the “Patrick Division”), the Flyers, the Rangers, the Islanders, or the Penguins might be coming to town (the Devils being at the time, as Wayne Gretzky famously called them, a “Mickey Mouse operation”), and we Caps fans could take out our frustration at the lack of media attention by heaping grief on those teams and their fans in other sweaters who showed up at the Capital Centre.
We didn’t much care that the Washington Post had “only” the legendary Bob Fachet (and pretty much just Bob Fachet) writing about the Caps, that Dave Fay really wasn’t yet the legendary “Dave Fay” (the Times just getting started at the time), or that there was only the infrequent 45-second segment on a local TV news outlet. Hey, so what – just give us the damned hockey!
But now, Caps Nation gets all in a dither over whether local radio pays enough attention to the exploits of the warriors on ice, whether the local papers devote enough column inches to chronicling the Caps, whether this columnist or that is properly respectful of the game and those who follow it, whether TV has enough “film at 11” of the Caps.
To all that, your Ol’ Uncle Peerless has two words…
C’mon folks, really – does it matter to you that the Washington Post doesn’t have more writers, more columns, more stories devoted to the Caps? Does it matter to you that Andy Pollin or Steve Czaban or Chad Dukes doesn’t devote more of every broadcasting hour on local radio to Caps features? Does it matter to you that Channels 4, 5, 7, and 9 devote a grand total of two minutes of air time combined to Caps news a week on their late night news? Does it matter that Mike Wise or Mike Wilbon devote more column space to basketball players who don’t even play in this time zone than they do to Caps hockey players who play a few blocks from their office?
Folks, we have a hockey team. Las Vegas doesn’t. Kansas City doesn’t. Hamilton doesn’t. Hartford doesn’t. Raleigh doesn’t (ok, that was a cheap shot). In fact we have a fine hockey team, an elite team, a team that could very well have a parade in these parts come the middle of June. They are entertaining, too. We fill the arena every night, a sea of red. And it’s loud… good heavens, it’s loud. I walked out of that game against the Red Wings last night, and it wasn’t until I stepped off the train out in Virginia that the ringing had stopped in my ears. And you’re in a snit that so-and-so doesn’t pay enough attention to the Caps?
YOU are paying attention. YOU are enthralled. YOU are schlepping to the arena every night in red jerseys, red paint, red costumes, and astronaut outfits. YOU are blowing horns, ringing cowbells, chanting “LET’S GO CAPS.”
And I don’t think for a moment that this kind of devotion is lost on the coaches or players. It’s not like it was three or four years ago, when you could probably carry on a conversation with the person (and there might have been only one) across the rink from you in the balcony at Verizon Center while the game was in progress. And while the boys were working hard on the ice, it couldn’t have been terribly inspiring to them to see thousands of empty seats. YOU are that seventh man on the ice now. And you’re going to be insulted, frustrated, dispirited over TV sports segments devoting time to drag racing instead of the Caps?
You have hockey. You have a team that wins and looks good doing it. You get to spend 41 nights a year in a sold out, ear-splitting funhouse that other teams can’t look forward to playing in. Then, you get playoffs!
The folks who do the pound the beat doing the covering – the Tarik El-Bashir’s, the Lisa Hillary’s, the Corey Masisak’s, the folks who are lonely islands of Caps reporting – we don’t have any problem with these fine folks. They do great work (maybe they just don’t get to do enough of it, or they don’t get enough support doing it). But if the folks who decide where to have their reporters spend their time and attention in covering local teams don’t get it, then who cares? If those who write opinion columns (as opposed to fact reporting) choose to write about basketball or baseball or soccer or NASCAR or the most recent firearms expo on 7th Street or whether the Large Hadron Collider will ever work, instead of the Caps, then who cares?
WE GOT HOCKEY!!! And we have a lot of people -- bloggers, fans, even some of those media folks -- who do spend countless hours covering and chronicling the Caps because they want to. We have us, so to speak. While it’s hard to replace nuts-and-bolts reporting from journalism professionals who might not get all the opportunities they (or we) would want to cover the Caps, Caps fans really don’t lack for written, spoken, or visual reporting of the comings and goings of the Washington Capitals.
And that’s quite enough for your Ol’ Uncle Peerless.
Now…go eat your vegetables.