Monday, June 15, 2009

What the WSJ said about the Pens' victory

I loved this article in the Wall Street Journal today. We did not get much coverage out here on the West Coast and to see the Journal do neat piece on the Pens was satisfying.


The greatest song ever, "My Sharona," became a hit single. Cineastes everywhere flocked to see "The Jerk" and "Meatballs." "The Facts of Life" debuted on TV, provoking a national scourge of roller-skating private-school girls. Veteran Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer, at 82 years of age currently the oldest player in the major leagues, turned a sprightly 52.

These were things that happened in 1979, the last time a visiting team won a Finals Game 7 in one of America's marquee sports -- baseball, basketball, hockey and professional parakeet racing. That team was the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates, who beat the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore with help from Willie Stargell and one of the Couch's personal heroes, the submariner relief pitcher Kent Tekulve (we spent much of the summer of '79 destroying the backyard imitating Mr. Tekulve's crazy-armed motion.)

Now another Pittsburgh team has snapped the drought: the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit on Friday night 2-1 to hoist the NHL's Stanley Cup. If you missed this contest, choosing to spend quality time with family, all we can say is, big mistake. It was a turbulent, fast-paced, anxiety-producing evening. Yes, that's exactly like a Friday night with family, but still, you missed a classic.

No matter which side you were on, you spent the last five minutes of this game yelling at the TV. Hockey gets a bad rap as a TV sport -- whiners moan they can't see the puck, and critics complain its ratings place somewhere between "Last Call with Carson Daly" and a board of assessors' meeting on public access. But NBC's coverage was enthusiastic (we've grown to love sideline -- sideice? -- reporter Pierre McGuire) and its camerawork was spectacular.

The behind-the-net video of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury flopping around, holding off a furious last-minute Detroit charge made us feel like we were right there on the ice. Of course, if we were there, we would have let the goal in, cried, and surely blown the game in overtime.

When it was over and the Penguins tossed their gloves in the air, the good citizens of Pittsburgh got to do the two things they really wanted to do: celebrate their first Cup victory since 1992, and rub it in the faceshield of the traitorous Marian Hossa, who left the Penguins for Detroit over the off-season. It will be another long winter for Mr. Hossa, who is considering signing next year with the Atlanta Braves.

What made Game 7 especially stylish was that both Pittsburgh goals were scored by Maxime Talbot, the proud possessor of one of the all-time great playoff beards. Playoff beards were a personal matter for the Penguins: playoff MVP Evgeni Malkin shaved his off early in the postseason, and 21-year-old Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby isn't really old enough to go full-on lumberjack. Mr. Crosby began these playoffs resembling a Jonas Brother and ended it looking like a deejay on Ibiza.

Now Sid the Kid must decide if he wants to move out of the house of Penguin owner Mario Lemieux, where he resides during the season. "He can stay as long as he wants," Mr. Lemieux said to Mr. McGuire after the game. "He's 21 years old -- what is he going to do by himself?" Clearly, it's been a long time since Super Mario was 21 -- we can think of plenty of things Mr. Crosby could do -- but we're opposed to the young hockey hero moving out. In fact, we'd like him to freeload in Mr. Lemieux's house his entire career and hopefully play longer than Gordie Howe. How great would it be to have a creaky Crosby rumbling around Mr. Lemieux's house in padded slippers, demanding oatmeal and BenGay rubdowns?

So congratulations to Pittsburgh, America's latest Titletown, though that honor requires a small amount of latitude, since the city is also home to the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates, who are spunky but as close to a title as Denise Richards is to an Oscar. Still, winning two big ones -- the Cup and the Super Bowl, won by the Steelers -- is worthy of civic pride. We'd suggest growing "Pirate Beards" with a vow not to shave until the Bucs win a World Series, but by then, all of Pittsburgh could wind up looking like ZZ Top.

1 comment:

Jeff Lutz said...

I like the part about spending it with family. That's what I was doing since we had only one tv and the little ones were watching Spongebob or something.