(Full Disclosure - simultaneously published on my blog "Life with Spidey.")
It's now been a few days since the NHL's Washington Capitals' season ended without raising the Stanley Cup. This is the 36th season in a row that this has happened. In fact, it's happened every single year of the franchise's existence. As fans, we've come to expect that.
Unfortunately, for us fans, it's not just that the Caps have failed to win the Stanley Cup. It's how they've done it.
They've made the playoffs 22 of their 36 seasons. But, in those 22 playoff opportunities, they've lost to a lower seeded team 13 times and lost after leading in the series 16 times, include four losses when they were up three games to one in a seven game series. For more about the futility, you can read about it here at Japers' Rink.
Somehow, we fans keep coming back each year with eternal optimism and hope that "this season" is our year. We somehow sign up to suffer again.
Yes, it's just sports. "At least you have your health," my grandmother used to say. We've not lost our job, been hit by a tornado or lost our home to a flood. Being a Washington Capitals' fan is frustrating and disappointing.
Want to understand? Being a Caps' fan feels like:
- Drinking a delicious McDonald's egg nog or mint shake on the last day of their short Christmas and St. Patrick's Day availability, knowing you have to wait 11 months to get another.
- Getting a front row ticket for the last show of a limited run musical or play, only to have the understudies perform and ruin it.
- Driving from Miami to New York on I-95 at 10 mph over the speed limit and making the best time you've every made, but then getting a speeding ticket in New Jersey for going 56 in a 55 mph zone.
- Attending a mid-season baseball game and being stuck in a beer line while your team comes back from 10 runs down, but then returning to your seat just in time to watch them let the other team win by committing three errors in a row.
- Buying the latest DVR to record a show you've been dying to see and isn't on again for a few months, then returning home to learn a sudden thunderstorm ruined the satellite signal.
- Finally getting reservations at the best restaurant in town just before it closes for renovations, getting dressed up with your spouse, and then busting a fan belt on the way there.
- Buying an upper-deck seat to a concert, slowly moving towards the stage occupying empty seats, but then getting kicked out by security after the seatholder arrives 90 minutes after the concert starts.
- Waiting all summer with you group of best friends to visit your local amusement park on the last weekend of the season, then finding out that all of your favorite rides are closed for the season already.
- Watching a fantastic, suspenseful movie on DVD, having the DVD crap out 10 minutes before the end, and not having another copy when it's already too late to run back to the store.
- Getting hours or days deep into World of Warcraft or Portal 2 or Halo, only to have the Internet die and realize that none of your progress had been saved.
- Waiting four years of college to ask out the girl you first saw freshman year, having her say yes, planning out a spectacular date on the last night before you fly home, but then being forced to cancel because your mom needs you to take her to the doctor to get her boils lanced.
Now imagine if any of those things happened to you, not once, but over again in 22 of the last 36 years.
That, my friends, is what it's like to be Washington Capitals' fan.