Being a fan is a difficult thing. You must devote incredible amounts of time to watching, reading, and stressing about a collection of people who could buy and sell you ten times over. You have to empty your wallet routinely for apparel designed to look striking on a world-class athlete, which inevitably will make you look positively doughy. And of course, you have to commit yourself to a 30 to 70 percent rate of complete and utter disappointment when your team inevitably loses.
These burdens considered, being a fan can be even tougher when you don’t live in the same municipality as your team. This is my conundrum with the Washington Capitals.
Let me start (or continue) by saying that I love the Caps. I evangelize DC hockey to every person willing to listen to me like some sort of weird Ovechkin’s Witness, riding door to door on my bicycle in a short-sleeved dress shirt.
However, every month, a nice guy named Harry from the Caps ticket sales department calls me and gives me the lowdown on partial ticket packages, special events, that sort of thing. And while Harry is always pleasant and we always hang up amicably, Harry will most likely never squeeze a sale out of me.
The reality is for most Caps fans in Baltimore, that supporting the team in person is no easy task. While you only need to allow an hour’s drive, if you’ve got a 7pm faceoff, for a working stiff like me that means hustling to get things done to leave the office on time. If you’re taking the MARC train, you need to navigate the stupid parking system at Penn Station. If you’re driving to the game, you need to fight I-95 traffic and find a place to park your ride in downtown DC. It’s a lot to process.
Thankfully, we can still rock the red from the comfort of our fair city by the bay. The first and most obvious way is from the glory that is Comcast SportsNet in HD. There are those who chastise the sport of hockey for “not being TV-ready,” but just as high definition has been detrimental to the careers of aging actresses, it has made hockey a primetime player. When I bit the bullet and got a flat screen with HD, I became “guy who only watches HD.” They could be showing a live reunion concert in standard definition featuring Paul, Ringo, and the Obi-Wan-like specters of John and George, and I would probably flip to Home and Garden HD. If you have not made the leap, I am telling you, the Caps look great in HD.
The second way that I have learned to support the Capitals without actually giving them my money directly is through the blogosophere. The Caps are a decidedly pro-blog team, considering that even their owner Ted Leonsis writes a daily blog called “Ted’s Take.” The gold standard for Caps blogging is “Japer’s Rink,” which has worked its way into my daily reads. Other great blogs include The Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir’s “Capitals Insider,” “The Peerless Prognosticator,” and “On Frozen Blog.” The content is substantial in quality and quantity, making sure that even 40 miles away, there is no shortage of info or chatter on the Caps.
The final step that needs to happen is Caps headquarters in Baltimore. We need a bar where photos of Dale Hunter and autographed Olaf Kolzig jerseys hang beside a neon Natty Boh sign. There need to be TVs where the NHL Network, Versus, and CSN trump whatever else might be on. I want to eat small bacon cheeseburgers called “Bacon Pucks” instead of “sliders.” I want to meet other people who know who Mike Ridley is. I want to watch the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in a bar with other fans so I can be drunk and loud in public instead of drunk and loud in my home. I want to live, damnit!