Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

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Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

La vita è bella …

The trade is no longer an issue, not for fans of either team. Although I’m only a fan of the game a few years now, and had started as a Rangers fan, I can’t even remember rooting for them anymore. No knock on the players, although I’ve come to hate a few of them since the infamous captain-for-captain trade, bottom line: I’ll never respect the organization ... EVER again. Now, this could have to do with my more liberal worldview, a worldview that puts workers first and corporate interests last, but what it really has to do with is the idea of trading someone so near and dear to what the organization has defined itself by (a work ethic and self-sacrifice) ... I'll just never understand betraying that level of dedication (what Ryan Callahan gave to New York).
The Rangers organization made the trade, probably based on Alain Vigneault’s belief in a speed game, or maybe he saw the opportunity to grab a future hall of famer, Marty St. Louis. Whatever they thought, they let their "heart and soul" player leave over an alleged salary dispute. No matter here, not to me. Glen Sather fell for a line of shit that came back to bite him and his organization in the ass this past week.

It almost worked. Almost, that is, if one is willing to ignore the fact that both Ben Bishop and Carey Price, both premier goalies in the league last season, were injured during last year’s playoffs, allowing the Rangers to escape the best the team’s they’d face offered; Bishop’s missing the playoffs affected the Bolts series vs. Montreal, and then Price’s injury affected the Canadians series with the Rangers. And if you want to quote statistics, you don't want to look at Bishop's head to head matchups with either Price or Lundqvist (last season or this season).

Then again, injuries are part of the game. The Rangers missing Mats Zuccarello, at least to me, was a killer in their series vs. the Bolts. To my mind, Zuccarello has been the Rangers’ Callahan replacement, as much as is possible, and his absence only reinforces what former coach of both teams, John Tortorella, said about “heart and soul” players like Callahan and Zuccarello: “You don’t win championships without guys like Ryan Callahan.”

The same article goes on to describe the new coach (Alain Vigneault)’s change in philosophy, and how it would require a less defensive oriented mindset. I'll bet he wishes he had Tampa Bay's speed now.

Probably it's defense too.

Interesting how it all worked out. The Rangers made it to the Finals last year, but went down in 5 games to the L.A. Kings, a team that featured their own version of a heart and soul player (also a captain), Dustin Brown, suggesting that such players, especially captains, matter.

Today I’ve been listening to ESPN’s New York Sports Radio and to hear some (certainly not all) of the comments by Ranger fans … well, just dumb.

Trade Henrik Lundqvist? Seriously? Complaints about him letting in “two soft goals” are mind numbing. Last night’s game could easily have been 5-0 or 6-0. To my mind, the King was brilliant in goal last night. Equally brilliant, however frustrating it was to Ranger fans, was the defensive game the Lightning played all night. We completely stalled the Ranger attack. And Henrik was extra classy in the post-game interview giving credit to the victors and acknowledging the pain of finally losing a game 7. He also had to field some of the dumbest questions in the world (“How do you feel about losing to Tampa Bay at home again?”) … I can only admire his restraint. At the least, I would’ve suggested the person asking that question shove the microphone somewhere really, really dark … and smelly.

And in case Ranger fans didn’t notice, the 3 ex-Rangers (Callahan, Stralman and Boyle) were at the core of the victory, with one standing out. Between periods, both Mike Milbury and Keith Jones suggested moving Callahan back on the same line as Stamkos and Killorn because of the “obvious jump in his game” … “he’s playing his best game tonight” … “Callahan is doing everything right” … by game’s end, Milbury put it this way: “Ryan Callahan was the best player on the ice tonight. He willed his team to victory.”
Callahan’s final stats: 7 shots, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot.

But there aren’t stats for pinning the puck against the boards to ride out a Ranger surge, and/or power play. There aren’t stats for winning a match against the boards and passing the puck to a teammate to get it out of the defensive zone. There isn't a stat for taking a shot that requires the goalie to hold onto the puck and force an offensive zone faceoff. And not to take any credit away from the valiant effort made by Ryan McDonough last night (playing with a broken foot), but there’s no statistic for the “heart and soul” mentality and effort of a worker bee the Rangers very sorely missed last night. Cally inspires, end of story.  Cally had appendectomy surgery less than two weeks ago.

This crazy game of hockey has now cost me about a deuce on the insurance lifespan chart. I was smoking my dopey pipe so hard and fast during this past series, again today my mouth is completely scorched--to the point I can’t even think about lighting up. Like every obsessive compulsive fan, I have my own superstitions most people (Doc for one) might find slightly on the “out to lunch” chart.
For instance: my starting matchbook lay closest to my right leg, which I have to drape over the corner of our end table, on which are 3 reserve matchbooks (in the shape of a lightning bolt) … there’s both the selection and placement of the paper towels, the tobacco container placement (label to the back), and the ashtray (which is actually a flat dish) and the ashtray (which is a finger bowl) … the Chivas bottles remain on the table during the pre-pregame, but are removed once the pregame begins. The chivas glass (which says Chivas on it) is on a 3 layer paper napkin (the Bounty Picker-upper?) and can never go dry. The backup water bottle must never touch the Chivas glass, nor can any of the paper towels touch each other (or the matchbooks). The pipe must remain lit during play, can only be refilled during a faceoff, and can never leave my hand, (except when it’s in my big mouth) no matter how hot it gets (and it gets really hot). When the opposing team brings the puck across the redline heading for our zone, I have to say, “Let’s go Bolts, Let’s go Bolts, Let’s go Bolts” and then “Get it out of there, guys. Don’t let them breathe. No shots. No shots.”

And when we score … well, it’s a thing of beauty (I’m sure) to see a 288 pound man come up off his chair, hands over his head (and no cops around), yelling at the top of his lungs. “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah, Baby!”

We’re on our way to Coney Island now … and tomorrow it’s Atlantic City … I’m still riding the high that Cally and the Bolts delivered last night.

Life is good, amici.

Life is very good.