200 Miles From the Citi

December 5, 2010 1:10 AM

A Sports Experience I Won't Forget


Sunday Paper (Year 2, Volume XLIX)

I wrote recently about the unpleasant aspects of attending professional sporting events.

In the interest of equal time, I need to go back 17 years to the day to tell you about a day I will never forget - and it was all positive.

December 5, 1993.  A first-of-its-kind doubleheader.

Actually - let me backtrack.  It wasn't 100% positive.  Because this story does involve the 1993 Jets.

My dad and I saw those 1993 Jets with my best friend Steven and his dad - separate seats, but we both had tickets.  The day wasn't just about the Jets game, though - it was Steven's birthday, and after the Jets were done, we were going to the Rangers game.

But back to the Jets.  The Jets of the early 90's were tough to watch.  This game was kind of a microcosm of the teams of that era.  They were playing the Colts - a bad team in those days - and they always struggled against the Colts.  (Remember, too, that these were the days when the Jets and Colts were in the same division.)  It was a drizzly day, and pretty cold.  If I remember correctly, you couldn't quite shake a shivery feeling that whole game.

In short, the weather was crappy.  And so was the game.  Final score - 9-6 Colts, on a last-second Indianapolis field goal.  Our seats at Giants Stadium were in the upper deck in the corner of an end zone, and I remember the game-winning kick was through the uprights at our end of the stadium.  We were on our way down the stairs as they lined up the kick, and right down the tunnel as the game ended.

Disappointing for sure, but just the beginning of an exciting day.  The four of us met up and got in a car and drove into Manhattan.  We were having dinner together before the hockey game, and went to Rusty Staub's Restaurant.  As we were eating, who came in but Rusty Staub himself.  I was really excited, but remember Steven's dad saying, "He puts on his pants the same way we do."  Staub was awesome - he came straight to our table (we were just about the only youngsters in the restaurant - I was going to say kids, because I think of myself as young when this happened, but I was 15) and gave us pictures, which he autographed.

After dinner, we went to the hockey game, and the Rangers beat the Devils 2-1.

The bottom line here is that this was an awesome day.  Someone probably acted like a jerk at the Jets game or at the Rangers game (or both), but I don't remember that.  I remember the scores of both games.  I remember meeting Rusty Staub.  I remember it was so great my dad and I tried to re-create it a year or so later, and it wasn't as memorable.  (I feel like I remember watching the Dolphins at the bar/restaurant in between games and seeing Dave Krieg quarterbacking Miami, and his face mask breaking and cutting his face - against the Giants?  Maybe when Marino was out with the Achilles injury?  Or am I mixing memories?)  I remember nothing about either the football or hockey game the second time.

And that's why as I get older and the hassles involved in attending games start to outweigh the benefits in my mind, I need to remind myself of how awesome a day or night out at a game can be.

*Sad news about the death of Ron Santo on Thursday.  I knew about his battle with diabetes and the amputation of his legs. Tragic enough, but I had no idea about all the adversity he had faced in his life.  The fact that his mother and stepfather were killed in a car crash on their way to watch him play in spring training is a horrible story.

*Curtis Martin is an impressive man.  Another great article about him - this one about his life after football - appeared in Friday's New York Times.

*Long-time readers may remember that this is the time of year I need something to watch on TV between NFL games.  A while ago I DVRed "Men Of A Certain Age".  I finally got around to watching the shows, and I'm enjoying them.  I'm not done with the first season yet, but I'm looking forward to the next season, which begins Monday night at 10pm.  And that's just poor programming.  The target audience for "Men Of A Certain Age" would of a certain age. And Monday at 10pm men of a certain age will be watching the Jets-Patriots game.  Seems to me like with these off-season shows a December 6th start opposite Monday Night Football could have waited a couple of weeks, no?

*I watched 'Sound FX', the special one promoted all through the Jets-Bengals Thanksgiving Night game, and I came away with this impression - the Bengals are a bunch of losers.  I feel terrible for Marvin Lewis.  He is coaching the heck out of that team, at least the way it looked on that show, and he is getting absolutely nothing from his players.  He'll probably lose his job at the end of the year.  And if he does, someone somewhere is going to be lucky to get him.  Maybe he'll join the Jets in some capacity to reunite with Rex Ryan - they worked together in Baltimore.

*Most subtle joke that makes me at least smile each time I hear it: In the Michael Strahan Dr. Pepper commercial, with the tag line, "Trust me, I've sent people to the doctor", after Strahan sacks Donovan McNabb while delivering a pizza, McNabb's housekeeper sort of pats Strahan on the back and says, "You still got it."  I think it's funny that McNabb's own housekeeper roots for Strahan.

*NFC South betting line of the week - I'd go with the Falcons favored by three over the Buccaneers in Tampa.

*For live thoughts all Monday night during the Jets-Patriots game, I'll be on Twitter all night @200miles_citi.  I'd love to hear from you during the game.  And by some minor miracle I suddenly have the ability to comment on my own blog.  So if you comment here, I'll try to get back to you.  (But Monday we're all about Twitter...and I'll try to have a game preview out early in the day...or late Sunday.)

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