Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Surreal Sports Day

When Marian Gaborik arrived in New York, he brought with him a mixed history. He brought a history of scoring with the Minnesota Wild in the regular season. He brought a history of injury, having never completed a full season in Minnesota. He showed the Rangers personally how much of an impact he can make when he scored five goals in one game against Henrik Lundqvist and the Blueshirts. He also showed everyone that he had a history of being quiet in the postseason.

That history continued in his first playoff series as a Ranger, including knocking a Hank clearance behind him to Jason Chimera. He scored in the first game against the Ottawa Senators, but held scoreless since. Until tonight's winner in triple overtime.

When you watch hockey games that go through multiple overtimes, you start getting nervous. That feeling is multiplied by 1000 when your team's involved. I never lived through a Rangers game that went 3 OT's (last time that happened was in 1971, every other time was in the 1930s). This game saw heroic performances by Hank (45 saves), Ryan Callahan (scored the 1st goal and blocked every shot possible), Dan Girardi (sets up the GW goal, after gashing his face on Hank's stick and bleeding on his sweater), and Ryan McDonagh (plays a whopping 53:17 after getting crushed in the first OT by Matt Hendricks; oh and thank you Bob Gainey). It seems right though that Gaborik scores the goal since he was beginning to turn his game around as this series started and was a post away from winning it a few minutes earlier.

If Rangers/Caps was the tortuous and stressful event of the day, then Junior Seau's death was the most heartbreaking. Now, to be fair, I was at work for most of the stressful parts of this (it was pretty sad when Seau's mother spoke), but watching a first-ballot Hall of Famer commit suicide is just a tragedy, it's alarming for a sport that has seen others commit suicide after retirement. This is also the eighth Charger to have died from the 1994 team that reached the Super Bowl. Very wrestling-like as far as I'm concerned.

This sort of ties into Roger Goodell handing down suspensions to Saints players involved in the bounty scandal, including banning Jonathan Vilma for all of 2012. Now, it's a little irresponsible to say that Junior Seau's football career is the reason he killed himself, but it's also fair to say that this has happened to others and in those instances, concussions were a reason for suicide. And now the NFL faces a world that continues to struggle with how to maintain the hard, physical game that it's known for (a problem the NHL also faces), while also making sure that there aren't more players who will either kill themselves, or become a vegetable at age 50.

The historic achievement of the night is Jered Weaver's no-hitter. which happened minutes after the Rangers win. A game which shows us that sports can be surprising in a good way as a random regular season game becomes one that lives forever. Only baseball can ever do this as a no-hitter, perfect game or a four-HR game are the events that are so rare, but easy to understand and something to be celebrated. No matter what happens to Jered Weaver in the rest of his career, this day will be something that Angels fans will remember.

Finally, as death show up in Southern California, across the continent was a symbol of life. Fabrice Muamba made his first appearance on the pitch at Reebok Stadium during today's Bolton-Tottenham fixture six and a half weeks after collapsing from a heart attack at White Hart Lane. The fact he survived was remarkable and seeing him on his home pitch didn't leave a dry eye in the house.

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