Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hockey versus Baseball

I went to the Caps game last night after much ado about tickets (brought back bad memories of my U2 experience at the arena). The cheap seats were sold out (they were playing the Rangers). People like hockey? Who knew? The cheapest they had left were $90, an amount I wouldn't even pay for a baseball game, unless it was in October or a really special day. We crossed the street and had a Guinness and then went back after the game had already started and found some reasonably priced single tickets from a scalper. Entering the arena with 8 minutes to go in the first period, we found two empty seats together, but soon the seats' ticket holders arrived and we moved. At the end of the first period, we had to move again, and aside from a shift over one seat, we were fine for the rest of the game.

It's strange going to another sporting event - it's like being in a foreign country or something. The hockey culture certainly is different from that of baseball. The heroes are different, the clothes are different, the songs are different, heck, even the language is different.

I was such a girl in my lack of knowledge about the game. Sure, I know the rules and all - at least the rules that haven't changed like the NHL is prone to do - but I had absolutely no idea who any of the players were except Ovechkin and Kolzig for the Caps and Jagr for the Rangers. The names hanging from the ceiling of past heroes? Never heard of any of them. Such a contrast from knowing nearly every utility infielder, long middle reliever, and minor league prospect of every team and getting all misty eyed when I look at the retired numbers hanging in a baseball stadium.

Unlike baseball, where you can have an outfield full of nooks and crannies, balls getting lost in ivy, scoreboards on outfield fences, or mounds in centerfield, the boards at a hockey game are smooth except at the Arena Formerly Known as MCI Center. The Caps' two goals hit the exact same place on the boards last night - a one inch gap just below the GEICO sign - bounced in front of the goal, and were pretty much gifts, according to the Rangers coach Tom Renney, who said, "The National Hockey League should be all over that. It should be looked at by the league and corrected." Wah.

The best part of the night actually had to do with baseball, as Cal Ripken was in the house, and when the Capitals saluted him, the whole arena went wild. The other baseball connection of the game, aside from the plethora of Nats curly W caps, was the Nat's sponsorship of the Capitals "Hit of the Game." Strange that one sports team would sponsor another.

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