“Would you like to go see the Flyers play the Caps?”
This question was asked to me by my friends Blinky and the Kansas City Kid. Since I consider myself to be somewhat of a sports fan, I took them up on their offer.
I haven’t been to a hockey game since 2007, and back then the Washington Capitals had not yet become the CAPITALS. (See what I did there? I spelled Capitals in capital letters. Clever, no?)
In 2007, people liked the team, but there wasn’t the civic obsession like there is now. Back then, tickets to a Washington Capitals-PhiladelphiaFlyers game could be easily obtained. These days, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town.
So when offered a free ticket thanks to KCK’s boss, I was in. I put on my Flyers jersey, threw my black and white scarf around my neck, and I was off to the Verizon Center.
A few of my thoughts:
It’s the National Anthem, Not a Team Cheer
If there’s one thing Baltimore-Washington sports fans love doing, it’s making the Star-Spangled Banner into a cheer for their team.
First, Baltimore Orioles fans began to scream “O” when the word “Oh” was sung. Get it? The word Oriole starts with O. So they shout “O” to show their support for the team.
I suppose Orioles fans don’t get too many opportunities to cheer, so they have to take advantage when they can. But can anyone explain to me why some people shout the “O” at Nationals games?
The best explanation I’ve heard is “I’m an Orioles fan, so I want to show my support for them.”
Well, I’m sure the Orioles organization is very touched by that gesture. Following that logic, as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I guess I should start cheering “E-A-G-L-E-S–Eagles!!” during the anthem. Or perhaps I should start screaming about the virtues of the Democratic party, since I am fond of some of their policies.
Here’s an idea for fans of the TV show Community: Let’s pick a spot during the national anthem when we can all shout “Community rules!” Because the national anthem seems like the perfect medium for us to convey our message. After witnessing that kind of fan support, there’s no way NBC would get rid of it, right?
Anyway, not wanting to be left out of the anthem fun, Caps fans have begun to scream “Red” when that word is sung.
I’ll grant that the “O” thing was at least slightly original and clever. The “red?” Not so much. I mean, it’s not like the Caps are the only sports team that wears red. And red wasn’t even the team’s primary color just a few years ago!
And since one cheer is for a Baltimore team and one is for a Washington team, you shouldn’t do both.
Well actually, you shouldn’t do either. Once again, it’s the national anthem.
“But its tradition!” some may argue.
There were other things that used to be tradition in America. Things like women not being able to vote, child labor, and slavery. And these traditions were all ended for good reason. (Although you could convince me that the women voting thing was a mistake.)
Slight disclaimer: There’s the possibility that if the Philadelphia Phillies had a similar tradition, I might be shouting words during the anthem, too. But I tend to reject hokey stuff like that, so probably not.
First Goal Wins?
The game itself went well. At least if you were a Flyers fan.
The Capitals seemed to control most of the action in the first period. But thanks to missed shots and strong play by Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, they couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
I mentioned to my friend that considering how they’d been outplayed, if the Flyers could somehow score the first goal, it would be quite disheartening to the Caps and might set the tone for the rest of the game.
I was correct. The Flyers managed a goal late in the first, and you could just feel the energy drain out of the building.
The Verizon Center
I’m no stranger to the Verizon Center as I’ve been there for many events. It’s a nice, clean place to watch a game, although there’s nothing that distinguishes it from other arenas around the country. Aside from the Wizards and Capitals logos, you’d have a tough time of knowing what city you were in.
They provide all the usual sideshow entertainment: Inspirational videos, fan trivia, vapid looking cheerleaders, a mascot, and intermission contests where guys dressed in giant puck outfits try race around the rink and shoot balls into the goal.
Actually, that was pretty awesome. The competitors were running on the ice in street shoes, and naturally they kept falling down. One of them ended up falling into the goal, effectively preventing any of the others from shooting the ball into the goal.
In the end, they declared one of them to be the winner, but I think it might have just been a random selection.
I wasn’t able to eat dinner at home, so I had to purchase my meal there. I opted for the barbecue stand where I got the chicken platter. This included pulled chicken, mac and cheese, cole slaw, and a muffin. For stadium food, it was pretty good, and at $11 it wasn’t even that horribly overpriced.
Plus, I got some amusement out of the deal when the cashier yelled at the woman in front of me for not paying attention when she told her where the napkins were.
I decided to top it off with a bag of popcorn to be shared amongst our group. For $6, you get unlimited refills of the popcorn, but I’m guessing not too many people take them up on that offer. That was a lot of popcorn, even for three people.
The Flyers Dominate
There was some concern that a recent run of injuries might derail the Flyers. Both their captain (Chris Pronger) and the league’s leading scorer (Claude Giroux) were out with concussions. That’s a lot of talent on the bench.
As the season progresses, the injuries might indeed catch up with them. But for right now, the team is rolling.
With last night’s victory, the Flyers are on a six game winning streak, and you certainly wouldn’t have known they were shorthanded by the way they played.
Fueled by the first period goal, the Flyers completely dominated the second period. They controlled the action, and thanks to some shaky play by Caps’ goalie Tomas Vokoun, the goals soon followed.
The Despair of the Hometown Fans
Midway through the third period, the Flyers had taken a 5-0 lead. With each goal, the crowd grew more and more despondent.
There were a few ”Flyers suck!” cheers directed at both the team and their fans, but considering how lopsided the game was, the taunts were rather lackluster. And besides, all we had to do in response was point to the scoreboard.
KCK said she received her fair share of comments when she was on the concourse. But when a woman wears an Eric Lindros jersey in the Verizon Center, she should expect to receive some abuse.
After an opponent’s goal, the announcer reads off the details, and Caps fans shout out “Who cares?” But you could tell that after the fifth goal, their hearts weren’t really in it.
In any sport, it’s always a bit awkward when the home team is losing by a large margin, and then has a late, meaningless score.
The stadium crew feels obligated to go through the usual routine: Flash the lights, play some loud music, and show cool looking computer graphics on the scoreboard. But it just feels forced.
Some people in the crowd made a token effort to celebrate the goal. But then they looked back up at the scoreboard and were reminded that their team was still trailing by four goals.
The Ride Home
Because of the lopsided score, a decent amount of people departed early. I thought the Metro might be a little less crowded than usual.
I was wrong. There was still quite a crowd on the platform, but fortunately, we were able to squeeze our way on. One stop later, we even managed to snag a seat.
So in the end, everyone got to go home happy. Well, everyone except the Capitals fans. They all looked kind of mad for some reason.
I guess they’re just haters.
Originally published on my blog: The Cutter Rambles