In this installment we check in with the master of FIGs and power tablature, ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles, who has graciously written up his story. For the second week in a row it's another reformed Short Island Smurf fan. Considering that there was a 10-year difference between the birth of the Mets and the Islanders, I wonder if young NYC baseball fans of the '60s and '70s have the same experiences.
Well if one thing's for sure, the Islanders are definitely hockey Pepsi in NYC compared to the Rangers tried and true Classic Coca-Cola. Of course there was that brief flirtation with New Coke in the mid 90s (also known as rebranded Edmonton RC Cola) but now they are sticking with what works. In keeping with that theme, the Islanders have re-branded themselves for the ten millionth time, much like Pepsi changes the logo every other year.
ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles' story is after the jump. As always feel free to leave your own story, or just reminisce about different times and eras. I started this with the thought that sometimes we forget why we love our team, especially when the loses pile up and the guys are doing snow angels on the ice. So let's take a post to mellow out and enjoy the good vibes.
How did I become an Isles fan? Wow, this is going waaaaay back. I was a mere six years old when they won their first Cup. But I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.
You see, when I was a kid, I rooted for whatever team my Dad liked. He liked the Giants. I liked the Giants. He liked the Yankees. I liked the Yankees. He liked the Rangers. I liked.... I liked.... the Rrrrrr.... the Rrrraaaa.... I'm not so sure I can even bring myself to say it. But it's true. I've mentioned it once or twice before on LHH. I was a Rags fan for the first few years of my life. [swallows vomit... swigs a little rum.... continues]
That being said, I really don't remember much of that. I grew up on Long Island, a mere 5 minute drive from Nassau Coliseum. I started to really become aware of sports at the time that the Isles rose to dominance. Before that, I would just jump up and down when my dad did. And I'd be angry when he was angry, although I had no idea why anyone was yelling at the TV. The time when I went from Ranger fan to Islander fan was coincidentally when I went from just doing whatever dad did to actually understanding sports and what made some players and teams better than the rest.
My dad was a cop. My mom was (and still is) a hair stylist. Every Friday and Saturday, they'd drop me off at my grandma's house in Queens, while they both went off to work. I sat in my grandma's kitchen and watched the Islanders win their first Cup. I saw the wild celebrations both in the stands and on the ice. I still didn't quite understand what made a great team yet, but one thing ran through my head for sure: That's so frickin' cool!!!! Well, I didn't use the word "frickin'," as that word hadn't been invented yet. But you catch my drift.
Anyway, just about everyone in my family and all of my friends in the neighborhood seemed pretty happy that our local team won. So I was happy, too. Dad? Not so much. I didn't quite understand why until the following season. I mean, there's two New York teams, right? So if either won, New York won, right? My dad rooted for the Mets whenever the Yankees were horrible (oh, yes... that actually did happen, once upon a time), so why would this be any different?
I had a cousin who used to spend a lot of time at my parents' place. He was a few years older than me, and a big Isles fan. I remember watching an Isles-Rangers game with him, his dad (another Ranger fan) and my dad. The Isles beat them, and I watched my cousin give our elders the business. And that, my friends, is when I became an Isles fan. Every time we'd play wiffle ball in the back yard, it was always my cousin and I against our dads. It seemed only natural to have that sports competition follow through to the ones we watched on TV. Yeah, there are two New York teams, but the old guys liked that one, and we liked this one.
My dad wasn't entirely supportive of my switch, calling me a turncoat until the mid-to-late 90s, when even he had to admit that it takes a lot of determination to follow the Isles nowadays.
It was around the time that I switched allegiances that I started to actually pay attention to individual players. My first jersey had #22 sewn onto the back. By the fourth Cup, I really understood just how good that team was. Just long enough for me to appreciate - and more importantly remember - all those players we still talk about today.
So really, in a "gets it" kinda way, I became a true Islander fan in 1982-1983. Just enough to witness and comprehend true greatness in my own backyard. The next year, my dad took me to my first live hockey game. Final score: Isles 8, Oilers 8. People complain about tie games, but that one felt rather fulfilling, by the way. Anyway, both Bossy and some guy named Gretzky got hattricks. Not that it mattered. I watched the Isles sweep his team in the Finals just a few months ago. They'll never be a threat, right?