An Observation Concerning… The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals.

“There’s no compromise, No second prize.”
-Airbourne, “Rivalry”

I was born in Washington, DC and have devotedly supported the area’s professional sports franchises for the last few decades. I do lean more toward the Orioles because the Nationals weren’t around when I was born, and they just can’t enter my life like some arrogant stepfather. It’s a relationship that has taken time, but I already have a dad (I mean, team) in my life.

As a Capitals’ fan, I would like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that being said, I don’t believe a Penguins’ fan would offer such a gesture if the Capitals were to ever win the Stanley Cup. I know a handful of Penguins fans – sadly, I’ve been to Pittsburgh more times than they have combined – and they just aren’t that type of person. There’s nothing wrong with that; it just makes it easier not to like the team or players.

Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: You’re just saying that because they’re rivals.
Me: Perhaps, but why?
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: You’re just jealous.
Me: I’m asking you why we’re rivals?
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Because we’re bad ass and you suck!
Me: Why won’t you actually answer the question?
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Woo! Go Penguins!

I’m coming to grips with the fact that it’s actually not a rivalry. A rivalry usually includes two teams or individuals that are evenly matched and equally decorated like the Celtics-Lakers in the 80’s or Federer-Nadal in the 21st Century. The Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry is completely one-sided and predictable. It’s similar to Ohio State and Michigan; a rivalry that has completely lost its luster because since 2001 the Wolverines have only one twice. Of course, they have a more storied history, but my point is that rivalries can become very bland and uninteresting.

Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: You’re just jealous.
Me: You already said that.
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Fine, you’re bitter.
Me: That’s the same thing.
Imaginary Penguins’ Fan: Woo! Go Penguins!
Me: Hmm…

I am bitter, I will admit it. However, Pittsburgh fans can’t say anything about it because they don’t know what it’s like. They’re spoiled brats when it comes to sports. Not in like an inherited classy New York way, or rags to riches Boston way, but more like a trailer trash wins the lottery kind of way (it’s a joke, not a stereotype, calm down, everybody). Let’s look at the Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry if it were between the two cities as a whole:

Super Bowls: Pittsburgh 6, Washington 3.
Stanley Cups: Pittsburgh 5, Washington 0.
World Series: Pittsburgh 5, Washington 0.
NBA Championships: Washington 1, Pittsburgh 0 (because they don’t have a basketball team).

16-4 overall. How pathetic. Rivalries aren’t supposed to be pathetic; they are supposed to move us, keep us enthralled, make us anxious, and make supporters from other teams tune into the matchup just because it’s an amazing unpredictable game. The Penguins-Capitals has become hardly that.

I always thought the window was closing for the Capitals the last few years, but I believe it’s now shut. The hope of just a shred of glory has drifted away; especially with the emergence of the Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, and Sabres (you’ll see) in the East and the Predators and Oilers in the West. Las Vegas has once again given Washington high odds to win the Cup in 2018. Sadly, I wouldn’t take that bet. In my disgruntled eyes, the Golden Knights have just as good of a chance.

I will always support you, Capitals, but when the hell are you going to return the favor to the fan base? Forget about Pittsburgh and just rock the red.



“Where I was a contender now none of that matters, The kids have new heroes and new dreams to get shattered, I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it went down.”
-Butch Walker, “Day Drunk”

A fight for third became another emotional blowout, and the two best teams squared off for the championship in what was one of the greatest World Cups in the modern era. The end provided joy, but it’s sad for teams to say goodbye to dreams; yet time to accept new sporting heroes.

July 12th, 2014

Netherlands 3 Brazil 0: What a disappointing end to the host’s World Cup dreams. The game started off as if it was going to be very similar to their match a few days before, but it also proved that even if Brazil had Silva on the field against Germany, it still wouldn’t have mattered. Robben drew a foul on Silva “in the box” (surprise surprise) that should have been a red card and Van Persie buried the penalty in the 3rd minute. Blind scored the second Dutch goal in the 17th minute and the tears started flowing from the children in the stands once again. The Netherlands added a late goal by Wijnaldum, and a late goalkeeper sub giving Vorm two minutes of World Cup experience, a somewhat classy move by their coach in his last game at the helm. As for the host, they just weren’t as good as the teams that demolished them into a fourth place finish. Their spirits were down, there was too much pressure, and their hair was way too out of control. However, don’t ignore the most famed country that soccer knows in Russia during the 2018 tournament. Can you imagine how big Luiz’s hair will be by then? Probably Carlos Valderrama status. Wish Neymar a speedy recovery, and thank the Brazilians for hosting a wonderful World Cup.

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July 13th, 2014

Germany 1 Argentina 0 (ET): The two best teams of the tournament played the final match. No matter the upsets, no matter the unfortunate bounces or bad luck, the best teams always seem to find a way into their rightful and respective positions. The championship provided fans with masterful skill, great chances, and rarely a mistake (besides Kroos’ almost devastating back header). Towards the end of regulation it seemed that a defensive breakdown would have been the only way a goal could have been manufactured, but it ultimately was a beautiful play and finish late in extra time that gave the Germans their fourth World Cup title, their first since 1990 when they also defeated Argentina. The young Goetze became the hero in the 113th minute and his goal will forever go down in German and World Cup history as one of the greatest. The Argentines played their hearts out and the tears that followed the final whistle only solidified their effort. Messi was awarded the “Golden Ball” trophy, but his expression showed that the award wasn’t a valid consolation. The South American nation should be very proud of what they accomplished, but now they take the short trip home to their southern country and think about how great they will be in four more years. As for the Germans, it’s time to grill up the bratwursts and let the beer flow because the soccer glory and pride stays in Germany for the next four years before they must defend their title in Russia.

Germany v Argentina
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Every four years this tournament proves why soccer is the World’s sport. It not only represents the game in all its glory, it has immense cultural influence for other countries to experience. Fans from across the world gathered on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to cheer for their team. Beautiful women proudly representing their countries in bikini top form, raucous men waving flags they would use as a cape as well, and children with their nation’s colors painted across their face infested the streets of Brazil. We saw societal protests, labor disputes, and uncertain construction outside the stadium. In the stands, joy could turn to heartbreak in a matter of minutes, excitement was constantly apparent, and even “the wave” became popular again. On the pitch we witnessed blood, sweat, and tears of the men that represented 32 countries fighting for one goal (no pun): A small trophy and the greatest example of pride in the world of sports. We saw balloons on the field, heart-shaped celebrations, upsets, biting, physical play, horrible acting, goals galore, scoreless anxiety, penalty shootouts, stars prove why they’re the best at what they do, stars in the making right before our eyes, incredible feats of athleticism, slow-motion replays that really made people look unattractive and ridiculous, a rivalry renewed, goal line technology, and unnecessary foam. We saw history; countries that had made it further than teams before them had ever ventured, continents proving their growth in the sport, goal differential that hasn’t been so great in almost a century, a home winning streak snapped, the all-time leading goal scorer in World Cup history, and of course, the most tweeted single game in all of sports since social media became popular and ruined everyone’s life.

The United States provided our whole nation with something to root for; something worth believing in on an international soccer level. The sport still remains hard to grasp in America even if it’s the most popular children’s organized activity. After high school, there’s no development, all athletic money goes towards football and basketball which raises the question, will the US ever reach the quality of play the rest of the world exhibits? People that don’t understand the game don’t want to take the time to learn about it. It’s hard to break routine from common sports in America, so hard that some can’t even take one month every four years to follow a tournament that stops wars and brings nations together in one location. It’s not just about soccer, it’s not just about America, it’s about everyone hoping that the ultimate sporting pride will be theirs to hold for almost half a decade.

For one month we fit in with the rest of the world, for one month we were all futbol fans.

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