I live in California, and as such I really appreciate what Japers is able to provide me, because lets face it: I am anti-social, and the Caps have something to do with it, as does this wonderful blogosphere. I go to work early every day so I can come back in time to
get my crack watch our wonderfully talented heroes take on some other band of trifling hooligans. I certainly enjoyed bellowing with many of you in Heinz Field, giving the Pens and their fans just what they needed, and the Caps the support they deserved. This season has been a long journey for us fans, and now that we are on the precipice of its twilight (definitely not a euphemism whatsoever) I realized something. This is where it gets weird.
Ladies & Gentlemen, your
1995 2011 Washington Caps playoff failure metaphor!
I got this car in February, right around the time our Caps started to really get after it. Since then, I have driven it furiously [home to catch Caps games], trying to understand its nuances. The first 2 months were ecstasy. My subsequent first trip to the track was exciting, but ultimately I was not used to driving this car. Not used to executing with proper timing, not attacking turns and accelerating through them, not using the entire track. I learned quite a bit, but for all 3 of my sessions, I was left wanting (I think I see a metaphor coming). My instructor said I was ready to move up to the next run group, but I was getting passed by lesser machines, and I knew I, and this machine, was capable of much more.
Sometime during Game
1 2 3 I realized the Caps are the shiny, red, imported, purpose-built device that is not responding in nearly the manner that it is capable of. I can not tell if it is the driver (BB/OV) or if the brakes are too sloppy (D) and getting overwhelmed. It feels like it has decent power, but my butt-dyno tells me it should pull harder (The guys who used to be the 09-10 'event horizon' offense). Everything is off. That much is obvious. But the notable element here is that when something this shiny, this potentially dominant, this RED is under-performing, it is a terribly painful feeling, and reaches catastrophic levels of importance. So much maintenance was performed and aftermarket upgrades purchased to get ready for this day, and it feels like the creation is quitting on us at just the wrong time.
After Game 3 was done
being ridiculously annoying and generally F*cking $hitty, I went out for some wholesome comfort-food. As I was pumping gas, a man started circling my car and carefully examining it. I was thinking to myself "this evening has been bad enough, thank you"... but I got a pleasant surprise. This man, as it turns out, is a Honda mechanic, an NSXpert (I deserve to die for that one, but being down 3-0 makes me laugh at death) since the early 1990's and knows the ins and outs of the car like few can. He personally maintains over 50 of these cars in the vicinity. We spoke for a glorious 15 minutes, and as it turns out, he lives very close by. He said I can call him any time for advice and help.
Arriving at the crux, I will say that the Caps are a glorious, glorious entity that I pledge a great deal of time and money towards because all the pieces are there to be a truly rewarding experience. When this team, much like a sports car, is not performing as it should, the
bullshit excuses typical bounce-back emotional tricks do not have much effect. It compels one to lash out, often with a plethora of creative, vile syntax (sometimes in weird, tangential fanposts). But when all is said and done, you just have to keep driving the damn thing, filling it with gas, and trying not to crash it. Every day, something about the experience is enjoyable, but its not always noticeable. One of those jaunts, that you thought was just a waste of mileage, yields the greatest insight since the inception of the relationship, with great promise for the future. All of a sudden, that good feeling is there, tugging at you.
The Caps are that performance machine; we all know the engineering is there, a commitment to preparation by the designers that is rare even among its peers. A Team Owner that is committed to performance-oriented, sustainable organizational structure. The Driver, a veteran who needs to use the whole track. The car, a monocoque that needs to be in harmony between its parts and well-maintained to operate effectively. Both, working together, can cover for deficiencies in the other when they are engaged in a competition against another, similar ensemble. Together, we have seen it countless times from this bunch, though never at quite the right time, never in the big race, seemingly.
I am generally a cynic, but I love my car and my Caps because damnit those things are pucking awesome, shiny and red, and most of the time, bring great happiness. I hope in that locker room, with exhaustion and another car and driver now almost out of reach, the Caps know how much we pour out for them, as they pour for us. We owe each other great respect, and full confidence. We are still here, just as we were there in Pittsburgh, and better fans than I for the eons and eras all the way back. The Caps are on the track, still in the race, but with an almost impossible gap to close. They need us to suspend our doubts about that gap, to keep cheering. I hate being in this position, but here we are. Buck and/or Puck up.
Fuck it. Downshift, and let's see what this thing can do. The driver and machine are near their limits, and might give out spectacularly. But, no one has ever won shit from a DNF. Let's F this series... and F it strong, with pride. Because you never know what's around the next turn. And we, the hearty faithful, will keep cheering... because we still have drinks to finish and deep inside, we just can't get enough, can we?