Free Advice is a periodic feature in which I answer anonymous letters sent to markbialczak.com. Today’s reader asks for my opinion on Super Bowl Sunday.
I know you had mentioned you once wrote about sports and you had once lived on Long Island. I too grew up on Long Island.
I’ve hit a low point this weekend. I am rooting for the hated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. I dislike the Seahawks and their big mouths along with that jerk, a reporter’s worst interview, Marshawn Lynch, that much.
My problem is much deeper.
While growing up I rooted for the Mets. They now suck. The Jets. They suck. The Knicks. They really suck. And the Islanders. They’ve sucked for a long time but are now my glimmer of hope. The championship winnings look like this. The Mets haven’t won a world Series in 29 years. The Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl in 46 years. The Knicks haven’t won an NBA Championship in 42 years. And the Islanders haven’t won in 35 years. Being a Cubs fan almost seems joyful at this point in time.
Will I ever see one of these teams hoist the trophy in my lifetime? I’m 57 years old and father time is snuggling up next to me.
Rooting for the Patriots this weekend has made me realize I’ve hit bottom. What’s a Long Island sports fan to do?
My dear wife Karen and I are planning on medium wings, pizza and an antipasto delivered from Twin Trees Too, a locally owned joint a couple miles up the road from our beloved Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood. I pick the place because even though they cut their slices into rectangles instead of triangles — no shoot, and I’ve not only gotten used to this foreign method of pizza pie slice-ature, I actually scramble for the inside, crustless pieces — it tastes very close to downstate pizza, good crispy brown crust, enough olive oil to drip off the the top and run slightly down your wrist. If you get in your car now and head north, you are certainly welcome to join us for the game and feast.
But I digress.
You and are sure would have been buddies growing up on the Island. Same age, same squads in our hearts. Wasn’t that quite the year of our youth when the Jets won the Super Bowl by beating the Colts in January of 1969, defying the world when the AFL was still a nobody, the Mets came out of nowhere to beat the Orioles of the same city in the World Series come October when people still thought they were stinkeroo, and the Knicks carried the magic through in the 69-70 season with an 18-game winning streak, and then beating the Lakers and Wilt the Stilt in the finals when captain Willis Reed dragged himself out there on his injured leg for game seven …
I’m getting misty-eyed thinking about all three titles so close together, and when you’re 12, 13 years old, you’re convinced that’s the way it’s going to be forever. Our real hometown squad, the New York Islanders winning those four Stanley Cups in a row from 1980 to 1983 made me feel like Potvin and Bossy and Chico and Billy would last forever. Al Arbour is a genius. The Rangers? Who were they? Nineteen-forty! We had a dynasty in the Nassau Coliseum!
Then, crickets until our brash-ass Mets of 1986 broke Beantown’s hearts. (Thank you, Mr. Bill Buckner.) And, unbelievably, crickets since. The Jets’ sneaking into the AFC title games those four times, mostly thanks to Giants’ coach Bill Parcells and super flash Rex Ryan is all we even had to make the heart beat faster.
So what to do? My long paragraphs above was my clue. Cherish that glorious past. People can razz us about the present, but they can’t take the history away from us. I reminisce about those glory years and clutch them to my heart. When I was leaving Long Island to attend college as a freshman at SUNY Morrisville here in upstate New York, my sister Fran crocheted me a blanket to take with me. It was a brilliant blue and orange, the team colors of the Mets, Islanders and Knickerbockers. It covered my single bed in Stewart Hall in the fall of 1975 and the two years thereafter, declaring that hell, no, I was no Yankees fan. It went with me as I transfered to the University of Maryland, and came up here to Syracuse in 1983, where the hometeam is the Syracuse Orange and the other predominant squad color is blue. But as that blanket sits there on the porch as you see it above today, it means Mets and Islanders to me. I’ve let go of NBA basketball, pretty much, but if pressed, yes, it’s still Knicks (and a bit of Brooklyn Nets, too).
And we can scheme about the future. Hope springs eternal, as they say, and everybody’s undefeated on opening day.
So, I say to you, Phil, we watch the game today and hate the Patriots and dream of the time when our new Jets coach Todd Boles has our squad ready for us to be in the Super Bowl, and when Matt Harvey and the rest of our young pitchers carry the Mets to the World Series title. And yes, this final season in the Nassau Coliseum, when the Islanders skate around the ice hoisting Lord Stanley’s trophy with these players’ names etched onto it levels removed from Nystrom and Gillies. The Knicks? Phil Jackson, teammate to Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Bill Bradley back in the day, has schemed for all that cap room …
Here’s the link for the source for the photo of Joe Namath.
Free Advice is a periodic feature. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity is assured.
My qualifications: 57 years of open eyes and ears but no stalking charges. One dear wife Karen, one terrific daughter Elisabeth and her wonderful boyfriend George, one sensational stepson Daryl, one pet Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle and various other family members of scattered location and adjectives. Four decades of writing in public about people, places and things.
Satisfaction is the goal, but is by no means guaranteed.