I have become, in my advancing age, somewhat of a jaded sports fan, which is the inevitable occupational hazard for those of us who write about sports for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I have my teams — Mets, Jets, UNH hockey, Indiana Hoosiers basketball (that’s a long story) — but more often than not, it’s difficult to separate your personal interest in sports from your professional ones.
I mention this because, yes, I’m happy the Yankees lost last night, not only because I’ve been programmed to dislike them from a young age (blame my dad), but also because the elimination of both New York baseball teams opens the door for greater exposure for hockey. Like I said, it’s a warped way of thinking, but it’s true. As long as the Yankees were making a run in the postseason, the greater the likelihood that hockey would be relegated to agate type in your sports pages.
Granted, it’s still a long way to go until hockey truly becomes relevant in this town, especially with the Giants showing signs of life, and of course with Joe Torre’s days “as a manager apparently coming to an end”:http://yankees.lohudblogs.com. The playoffs are what truly matters to the casual fan, and by all expectations, the Rangers figure to make some noise once they’re there.
But at least now we can soon avoid situations like a couple of weeks back, when I met one of my buddies outside the Garden before the Rangers-Islanders exhibition game just to catch up, and he said this:
“By the way, what are you doing in town?”
“The Rangers,” I said bluntly. “They have a game tonight.”
My buddy looked shocked.
“Really?” he said. “Hockey already?”
And so it went. You get my point. One of the reasons I love hockey is that it does exist in its own universe a lot of the time. It’s not for everyone, but those of us who do follow it do so with unrivaled passion. Whether the game leads the sportscast or is on the front page every day has little bearing on my interest, or how I do my job. But I’m also of the belief that the game we love deserves better than to dwell in anonymity.