Gather 'round children and let Pappy Mason tell ye a story.
First, though, I should mention that I thought of several ways of covering tonight's game and deleted them all. My typical coverage just didn't do this outcome justice considering how much was at stake.
But how about some context and insight into the inner workings of Hitting the Post? As all of our two devout readers/listeners know (who, clearly, are Mike Russo and Mike Yeo) Stranger, NiNY, and I conduct our weekly podcast, The Dump In, every Sunday night. After which when the recording ends we do telephonic high-fives all around for another flawless, sexy show. Then we divvy up the upcoming week's games for post-game content responsibilities (which reminds me: welcome, Jill, to the fold!).
Typically, I do my best to be flexible, as le Strange and NiNY have beautiful children to prioritize and I just have two butt-licking cats (like, who lick their own butts AND each other’s butts and are super cool with it). So I'm happy to defer to Mike and Nick’s schedules and cover what's left. When tonight's game was last to be claimed, I said, “NBD. I'm your huckleberry.”
This good eve I set ye ol' trusty DVR to record tonight's Wild must-win, and despite the annoying complication of dealing with WhateverTF a Fox Sports Network Plus is, I managed to successfully arranged for a nice DVR'd experience later on. My abhorrence for watching live sporting television was satiated, and DVR’ing allowed me a nice buffer of time doing something far more enjoyable than watching Kia Hamster commercials and Gorg anal assis.
"So," I asked of my indifferent cats, "why don't I burn my typical hour or so of waiting to start a DVR'd hockey game by biking to my favorite local watering hole, Steel Toe Brewing, to meet up with good time buddies?"
My cats often serve as my conscience, and neither they nor my conscience had a logical counter argument. The cats just wanted to be fed and my conscience, which is typically a monumental push-over anyway, was briefly busy thinking about boobs. So, to the trail I pedaled.
Couldn't've asked for a more perfect night for a three-mile sprint on the first TRUE day of this MN spring and a couple-few pints of craft.
Lo... at 7pm, the only TV in the smallish taproom blinked on and hark, there be images of the fiend LaPanta, heralding tonight's intro.
Surveying my surroundings, I realized that I was in a rather favorable arrangement for avoiding the visuals. The awful sound of The Panta's play-by-play was not being amplified through the room's PA, and the TV was far enough away and at an obtuse enough angle that as long as I was weary of my sightlines, spoilers could be entirely avoidable.
In addition to my strategic geography, my good time buddies are good time buddies for a reason. Those in the room, even the ones who were paying scant attention to the game, know me well enough to know that I'm avoiding the game in order to pay full attention to it later. Even those e-good time buddies who were texting/FB’ing/PM’ing me about the game know not to hint—for which I'm superbly grateful. I was in full-on spoiler avoidance: I put the phone away to avoid the FB and the Twittering. Good to go, right?
8pm or so comes around and I got to thinkin', "Perfect. Time to pay up, hit the asphalt, and breeze through this must-and-should win. Write some giggly haiku about narwhals or some shit and we're in the 2nd season." My downfall was not the following event. My downfall was that brief comfort in a sure-win. I can’t blame myself, though, after what had amounted to the perfect setup what with the glorious ride and righteous brews at STB.
I was feeling good—and sociable. I saw a fella I've seen around MaPoLiS at STB, Harriet, 612 Brew, Dangerous Man, and Indeed nearly one million times over the last couple years—yet I'd never made the effort to introduce myself.
So I did.
Don't get me wrong; I don't regret it—not one awful second of Wild hockey.
I forget the exact words due to blacking out in about one minute, but it went something like a-so:
"Hey, bro," I said, "I see ya everywhere and I figure I might as well know your name. Mine’s Jared."
And he says, "Yeah, man, I totes recognize ya. I'm Mike."
Awesome. We share some words about the beer scene and the connectivity of the City's bike trails, and he launches into a super eloquent monologue that went something like a-so:
"Yeah, bro. TODAY is what MN is all about. That shitty winter is finally over, people go crazy over the first nice day of the season, they work a long day at some Fn job, or they don't got any job at all, it's FRIDAY, and they come out to have a good time with good people at good places like this on the trail. It's just perfect."
And I'm like, "Cheers, dude."
And then he says, "The ONLY thing that would make it better..."
And this when I knew what was coming, as he gestured towards the obscured TV...
"Is if the Wild weren't losing 5 to 0 right now."
We both looked at the TV, at which point—no shit—Edmonton scored their sixth goal.
No this not a "fuck me cuz I shoulda known" story. Nor do I regret being sociable, even if being so is completely against my typical misanthropic stance on the human race, so it's also not a "fuck that guy" story. Ya know what kind of story this is? It's a "fuck THOSE guys" story, meaning the Wild. And, honestly, I was fine with it.
Sure, I'd be happy to explain. But there's a bear with me so it might take a while.
Many moons ago when the Wild came to be there was a ho lotta shitty baseball being played by the Twins. Despite being the only successful MN pro team ever, there was still the shadow of a threat that the Twins could easily be sold and moved far away. I hadn't paid attention to the Twinks since the glory days, and I was avidly anti-baseball. Furthermore, I had a full-on boner for hating football, and the Vikings never had anything even remotely close to the Twins' success. But... I was fascinated by THE STORY.
The Twins and especially the Vikings had created an astounding relationship with MN sports fans. Sure there were fair weather fans and the worse end of the spectrum: fans who only follow a team because it gives them something to complain about. Fuck both of those special types of asshole.
The people I was most intrigued by were those with longevity and an understanding—nay, a symbiotic relationship with the tree rings--not the seasonal branch. I knew that that's what I wanted out of me and the Wild.
So that inaugural year, I made a not-so-silent declaration that I was in it for the long haul; I'm in it for the story.
Nowadays, people who find out about me and hockey ask, "Oh, so you're a Wild fan?"
To which I retort, "GFYS. 'Fans' riot. I'm a scholar of the game, MFer. Get me a Whopper."
Or something like that.
This is what I'm getting at—“Finally!" Both readers, Russo and Yeo, are saying. Early on and mid-way through the Wild's existence a Wild loss would ruin my night and, frankly, my mood would make people uncomfortable. I decided that that was BS, and that since I'd promised I was in it for the long haul, I couldn't act like some dooshbag watching one game (even though I'm a dooshbag who's watched EVERY game).
Over time I think I've changed that. I think—and please tell me if I haven't—I think I've finally established an integrity within myself for caring about the Story, even though the story doesn't necessarily end well every chapter. That's the problem: Disney taught us that all stories must have a happy ending. Fuck, my favorite story evar is Tolkien's "the Children of Hurin" and that shit is depressing as fuck. Then again, the Hurin story is a tragic precursor in the First Age of Middle-Earth which MUST happen for the epic triumph of the War of the Ring two ages later. Trust me, bro. If thou doubtest, we'll get 'faced and discuss the proof in another post, K?
But let's not get too Fn ridiculous.
What I mean to say is this: the Wild have been playing like complete assholes for the last double-digits games. Even the wins are evidential of assholesomeness. Who handily thwarts the Cup Champs one game and follows it with THIS against the lowly Oilers? Blame injuries all you want for this year (just like last year, right?--do you see the longevity clause here?), the fact is this: you win if you win, and typically you have to deserve to win. "Deserve," however, is not a stat—not even a tie-breaker.
If I've failed to lead you to my moral, here it is in plain Engrish:
I am perfectly content with the Wild failing to make the playoffs if they do not play like they deserve to make the playoffs.
Because fuck them.
I'm here to be the Watcher. If Those Assholes subject me to this slop, if they subject me to winning the Cup, I'll be subjectively watching. For the story of it.