Jersey's Playoff Team
Kevin and I have a habit of going to the 'season-on-the-line' games of our favorite sports teams. You may remember the Devils getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Rangers in 1997. Or the Mets completing the first of their recent late-season collapses by giving up 9,000 runs in the first inning of the 2008 season finale. Or Billy Wagner blowing a 9th inning four run lead against the Yankees by beaning in the winning run. (Oops.) We personally attended all of these games.
It should come as no surprise then that we watched the Devils give up Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in a stunning 80-second moment of time that ripped the hearts out of the citizens of the Garden State.
With the Nets considering jumping ship to NYC (the worst of betrayals) and the Jets and Giants insisting they are a New York team even as they build a new stadium in the swamps of the Meadowlands, the Devils have claimed the mantel "Jersey's Playoff Team."
So, at Game 7, in Newark, we were issued towels to wave emblazoned with an outline of the state. Jersey hero Kevin Smith urged real Jersey girls and boys to cheer on their team. Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi blared from the speakers. Animated zambonis raced on actual simulations of the streets of Newark eliciting shout-outs to the Newark Bears. Fans bought funnel cakes from the "Devils Boardwalk".
When the final score of the Rangers final game flashed on the board, it was official: Jersey had prevailed. For a glorious half hour, Jersey was in and New York was out. Then, in 80 seconds, we were out too, and it felt like the entire state had lost.
On the Newark Light Rail train home, a young African-American family decked out in new Reebok Devils jerseys urged the dejected fans riding the train all the way back to the suburbs not to lose hope.
"We'll be back in the playoffs next year guys! Don't worry! This is Newark's team now!"
If we are one thing in this state, it's resilient.