Monday, July 06, 2015


My hockey team – the Washington Capitals – recently signed former LA Kings rightwinger Justin Williams as a free agent. Williams is an impressive 7-0 all time playing in game 7 of a playoff series.

He better bring all his mojo because the Capitals are 4-10 all time as a franchise in game 7s after this year’s postseason. Which is bad, but that is not terrible stat the Caps are most famous for.

28 times in NHL history a team has led a playoff series 3-1 after four games and gone on to lose the next three games and the series. 5 – yes FIVE – of those teams have been various renditions of the Caps. That is right: the Caps have almost a FIFTH of all the blow 3-1 series leads in NHL history.
Keep in mind there are only 30 FUCKING teams in the league. More remarkably the Caps have managed to NOT blow a 3-1 lead just TWO TIMES in their history. 2-5 is pretty horrendous.

Now is the point where you would expect me to say “why do I root for this team!?!” But I won’t be doing that today. I will start by readily establishing that professional team sports fandom is not particularly rational . I did not know Justin Williams that well at all before he signed in DC – all I am really doing at this point is rooting for the mercenaries who happen to be wearing the right colors at this moment in time.

But here is the reality: sports is ENTERTAINMENT - that is it. The Caps #1 rival is the Pittsburgh Penguins.* And you know what? I have a friend who is a Pens fan. Fans might yell at each other, but unless you a Raider fan or obscene amounts of alcohol are involved, fans allegiances aren’t taken overly seriously.

I can’t imagine what a girl could do as a sports fan to make me avoid a relationship (caveat – if she liked Michael Vick), but I can easily see not spending much time with one who had very different political values that me (although I do have friends with whom I disagree strongly and take pride in being able to be friends with them).

I may spend a considerable amounts of time with sports, but I get plenty of pleasure from them.

People may like to joke about me being an irrational male, but I am spending my time and money doing something I enjoy. Is that any different than catching a flick? Plus I have seen my teams (in football – lord knows not the Caps) win 5 titles in my life – once in person – and those are some great memories, much more than a reading a Harry Potter book.

[Incidentally this is a very similar argument to why I gamble. It is entertainment – if I play poker for three hours or I go to a broadway show I am getting the same amount of entertainment for a roughly comparable price – and I might come out with MORE money if I gamble].

I will also say for many years I debate with friends if was worse to root for a team that perennially stank out the joint or broke your heart with repeatedly playoff losses. After watching the San Francisco Forty-Niners of the aughts and then the tremulous Harbaugh era I can definitely say it is the later (although I do wish we had not gone to a Super Bowl over losing it and our 5-0 record). So thank you Washington Capitals – knowing about those SIX times you haven’t TOTALLY failed in your 32 year existence has given me plenty of good times.


Incidentally it is apparently grand to be from the land of 10,000 lakes. There are just team teams that have never lost a game 7 in the NBA and NHL**: the T-Wolves (1-0) and Wild (3-0). More historically: the Boston Celtics have the next best record at 21-8. Or to put it another way they are 43% more likely to win a game 7 than my guys on ice.

*Funny side note – the “rivalry” is so lopsided that the Pens would call the Philadelphia Flyers their rival.

**I could not find any MLB stats, butI did find that USC has most College World Series which I did not know so will pass on. The Trojans have rung the bell 12 times– twice as many as the second best UT Longhorns and LSU Tigers - and are 12-9 all time. Texas has the most appearances –but a Capsesque 6-29 record. Oh wait, that means they actually WON 6 titles – that is in no ways similar to my Caps. Sorry Texas, my bad.

Also I would like to once against remind Yankees fans that only one team has EVER blown a 3-0 series lead in baseball. You’re welcome – all the best!


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