Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back in the Saddle

I must've poked a hole in the time-space continuum, because that Colorado trip feels like it was years ago. Yeeears. I'll have some more goodies and pho-tos from the excellent excursion out West a little later in the day, but first I must find my bearings back at the office.

My apologies for the sporadic posting ("I hope not sporadically"), but some unfortunate and tragic circumstances brought themselves upon my house immediately after I touched down in New York, and I've been out of commission for a little while. The story is too personal to chronicle here, but needless to say, it's been a trying few days.

Between the TLG junket and the post-trip strangeness, I haven't watched television in a week, missing all the January premieres and much more. Thanks to my roommate Dorsey I've got 'em all on TiVo, though, so please don't ruin anything.

I came home last night exhausted and drained, and I realized what kind of night it was on the tube: The second two-hour 24 in two nights, an all-new episode of The Bachelor (don't watch this show but I know people love it) and the Golden Globes. I'm very sad about missing Mary-Louise Parker win her award, but she knows I love her.

Talk about your tough choices. With all that television had to offer last night, if I find out that anyone, and I mean anyone, watched last night's Two and a Half Men, first I'll strangle them with a phone cord, then I'll defile their rotting corpse on videotape and patch it in to the scoreboard at Ford Field during the Super Bowl. I'm for serious (hot damn, I really love that expression).

I opted instead to TiVo everything and watch the Mark Messier tribute that took place in the Garden last week. I needed a pick-me-up, and this certainly did the trick. If you've never read my rants about the 1994 Rangers and what that team meant to me, you can check out my previous feelings here. I loved this team, my first real championship as an active fan.

And nobody meant more to me than The Captain, Mark Messier. How I let this game come and go without being in the crowd is a travesty, and I personally blame Chuck B for not pushing me to go (we went to Richter's jersey retirement together). I had chills the entire ceremony that night, and my love for Richter is about one-one-hundredth of what I feel for the Messiah.


Think about a simpler time in sports, when money meant something but not everything. That's when Mess reigned. I mean, who hears they've been traded to New York and immediately promises to bring home a Cup while wearing the 'C' on his chest? Who turns his linemates into over-achieving All-Stars? Who pushes all of his teammates to be model citizens in the city, off the ice? Who sees his team backed against a wall in a championship series and guarantees they'll win the game and the series, then goes out and backs up his words with a performance for the ages? Mess, that's who.

So the Rangers paid tribute to its best captain and only Captain, raising his #11 to the rafters in a 75-minute ceremony against his old Oilers last Thursday. MSG Network couldn't have done a better job, broadcasting the event with cameras everywhere, in HD no less. And it was clearly the best coverage of anything like this I've ever seen. At one point, the HD cameras were in on Mess so tight and so clear you could eat the streaming tears off his face.

And, boy, did he cry. The Garden showed a great video highlight package, and then when they introduced him, he came out bawling like a kid whose ice cream just fell on the floor. He's widely considered one of the toughest SOBs that ever played the game great, and yet he cried all night long, through the speeches, through the gifts, through the hoisting of his jersey. Unbelievable.

Messier's introduction was God-like. He came out to one of the longest and loudest ovations I've ever witnessed, and he bowed to the crowd like Hulk Hogan doing his patented ear wave. I couldn't get over his reception, it was as if Jesus returned to the Earth and laced up his Christ skates again. Dorsey and I couldn't think of anyone in the world who would receive such an applause, until he said: "This is what it's gonna be like for Derek Jeter." Google Maps, Double true.

The real highlight of the night were the speeches, because hockey players are dumb as shit and have taken way too many blows to the head. And it's always fun to hear Canadians speak in public to American audiences ("This guy is the heart of our organ-I-zation" and "He knew how to play inside the rules and oootside the rules" and "He shows what being a Ranger is all abooot"). But the speeches from his favorite teammates, even though they were all piss poorly delivered, all shook me up.

Mikey Richter gave some great personal anecdotes about his generosity towards everyone on the team, even the call-ups. Adam Graves delivered his speech with such venom, it looked like if someone had shot Mess from the stands he'd jump in and take the bullet gladly. And Brian Leetch...well, Leetchy might have been dead or comatose. I was checking to see whether Andrew McCarthey and Jonathan Silverman were behind him.

Mess, I love ya man, congrats on the rafters and thanks for the incredible memories. I can always close my eyes and picture you accepting the Cup from Commissioner Bettman with that ridiculous smile and laughter. I can always close 'em and picture you skating to the bench after the Game 6 hat trick against the Devils, or you handing the Cup to the fans, or you skating down the wing and one-legging a wrister passed the goalie just inside the post.

To my first genuine sports hero, I thank you and commend you.

Slack Videos of the Day: While we're talkin' hockey, check out this ludicrous goal from 20-year-old rookie phenom Alex Ovechkin last night -- wow, seriously, wow. And I guess we'll follow that up with this awesome hockey fight from the 1987 World Juniors between the junior Canucks and the junior Ruskies.

Slack Song of the Day: I've received a handful of requests for more bluegrass, so here's the entire Yonder Mountain String Band show from New Year's 2001. And there's a wicked bluegrassy cover of the T-Heads' Girlfriend is Better.

9 Comments:

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Alex Fritz said...

Welcome back, Ace.

Hope things get better for ya.

 
At 12:19 PM, Blogger Momentary Academic said...

Sorry to hear (or not hear) about the troublesome week. Best of luck to you. But it is nice to read your prose again.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Thanks guys, much appreciated. I'll get back to regular posting as soon as I can...

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger MDS said...

I know I can speak for many when I say you've been missed. Hope all is well.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger offpeak34 said...

hey man, i hope everything's ok! i look forward to reading about your trip as soon as everything is sorted out, but until then, best of luck making things ok!

 
At 3:41 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Ahhhh.

(That was a sigh)

It's good to have you back, I've been forced to read actual books in your absence. The horror...

May your problems go the way of the Dodo in short order.

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Everything's gonna be okay eventually...thanks for all your kind words.

Good to be back and distracted.

 
At 5:21 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Welcome back! I hope you are okay.

I'm glad you are back to writing. I have both online freelance work and a graduate level class to procrastinate from. And since I've given up eating and smoking that only leaves blogs.

 
At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Greg said...

Gravy probably would take a bullet for Mess actually. Hell, I haven't seen him up close or talked to him in 13 or 14 years (old friend from hockey camp) and I'm not convinced he wouldn't take a bullet for me....

 

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