Why watching a game on TV is a better call

Sorry folks, another sports post.

So DH indulged me with 2 tickets to the Canucks vs Phoenix game last Monday evening. It was some kind of a reward for his wife’s good behaviour, so instead of a hot fudge candy, I get to go to GM Place and watch the guys kick some a..

Oh man, was I excited! I WAS so anxious I couldn’t sleep the night before. It didn’t help that I was having a long day of different meetings, but I was so determined that nothing will stop me from watching my super spring chicken Mason Raymond live in action, get myself drowned in the thunderous singing of the national anthem O’Canada, and of course – watching and joining the thousands of back-bencher coaches shouting at professional athletes how to play hockey better.

At the last game we went to, I had embarassed DH by shouting “Oiii!!! Booddddoohh” to the rink whenever the players make a stupid pass, in a sea of Canadian fans. I realised that when it comes to your natural reflex, your native tongue takes precedence. Now in a given time, I am pretty sure my appropriate Malay vocab might just give way to something way more dangerous, those power-words in Hokkien. I was genuinely afraid of that moment. The moment the Hokkien apek crawls out of my brain and out through the mouth and splat onto the rink. By then, someone may just be shoving chilli onto my face to shut me up. There ARE kids watching hockey all around me. So I sticked to Malay, religiously. “Bodoh” is oh-so-mild.

We got really good seats, right at the centre-ice on the upper bowl where the real (read: non-corporate and beer-happy fans, urrrgh) are. I was surrounded by a spectrum of them. Above me was an annoying 17 year old who called EVERYONE in her entire universe on her cellphone, shouting and screaming how SHE is watching the game live and her friends are not. Her conversation goes something like this:

Annoying girl: Ohhhh myyyyy Gooooodddd!!! Do you know where I ammmmmm??? I am at the gammmmeee!!!!! Oh my Goooddddd!!! Did you see Taylor Pyatt???He is sooooo HOOOTTTTTTT!!!!

Friend on the other end: (because I can’t hear, I can only speculate). Repeat same dialogue as above. Replace “I am at the gammmmeee” with “You are????”

Annoying girl: Ohhhhh myyy Gooodddd!!!! I am so gonna call you at the first goal okaaayyyy??? He is sooo hooottttt!!! This is soooo coooolll!!!! Love youuuu!!!! XO!!!

Man, who has conversations saying ‘XO’ at the end? DH and I looked at each other and we both thought the same thing, it felt like we were reading transcripts of an MSN conversation. I figure that if I want to get into the groove, the next time I call my mum in SG I should also be spewing,“Maaaak. Mason Raymond sooo hoootttt maaakk!!!. Ok, Uja dah nak pergi goreng mee ni. XO!!!” Sigh.

Anyway, the annoying girl behind me was complimented by a pair of very veteran looking hockey fans on my left.They were at least 60 years of age, and was doing nothing but a running analysis of the entire game. I am talking abt BIG TIME analysis here. The kind where if you replace the hockey terms with financial ones, you will probably make some money in some dodgy hedge fund. They coulnd’t stop talking, albeit in hushed tones. With the annoying girl behind me, I didn’t mind them. I bet they were as much as in a mood of “aku nak lempang ajer budak belakang ni” mood as I am.

Then, on our right are the quintessential hockey dudes just out there for a good time. They were a riot. Half the time we were laughing our heads off with their jokes and banter, and boy – can they really talk to the rink!

But alas, no game is uneventful – especially when it is NOT a free ticket and you spent money on it. The last game I went to, there was no Mason Raymond and we arrived late, which means I missed the anthem. This time, we arrived really early so I won’t miss it (even when I don’t know how to sing it). And of all days…they HAD to choose some koyak hipster to sing the otherwise majestically beautiful song. It was so bad, the spectators couldn’t keep up. Watch for yourself and judge. Man, the Canucks looked pissed.

And oh, his Star Spangled Banner was much worse. Even Bush would have sung a much better rendition with his toy banjo on a one-legged donkey.

And then, as if that was not a bad start, my super spring chicken Raymond got a bad hit and end up not being able to play for the next 4 weeks. When that incident happened and I realised that he was not getting up, I was so panicky that my motherly instinct came through. “He is just a boyyyyy!!!! Don’t hurt him!!!!!” He is just a boyyyy!!!“, I shouted in an ocean of sounds. Like anyone cares. I was beginning to sound like the annoying 17 year old behind me. The only one who cared was DH. He was shaking his head.

But, hey we won 3-1 that night. I almost hopped and skipped back to our car. In fact, I did, but maybe because it was freaking 5 degrees outside and we had to walk for 10 mins to the parkade in the cold.

I am still sore about being shortchanged for a rousing, live anthem experience. I wanted to be moved, the way I always do when I watch it on TV. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, and that guy really should have been hit with a hockey stick the moment he went sooo off-key.

Disclaimer: I have not shifted loyalties. This is still my number one anthem. (Sung at the 2004 FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Japan)

If you can’t do sports, be a fan

Yes, I admit it. It has happened before, and it is happening again. I am (other than the now infamous tag ‘spa-addict’) …*hides face*….a seasonal sports fan. Spectator sports to be exact. Note the keyword ‘seasonal’.

During my *ahem* slimmer days, soccer – the Malaysia Cup to be exact, rules. I love watching a competitive sport which is team-based, and I enjoy thinking ahead for the players and see how they read the game.

Like everybody else, I followed the Singapore soccer team during the glorious 90’s closely, so close to the point that my friends and I eventually get to know some of the players personally. Yes – groupie is the name they (or rather other girls who did NOT get as close as we did) called us. I don’t like that word. It makes me feel like a female fish – be it the tiny guppy or the delicious garoupa. You choose.

Then, about 7 years or so ago, thanks to a close knit group of guy friends who swear they are F1 racers incarnate, I left soccerdom and plunged into F1. The speed…oh my God..the SPEED! Back then, you cannot beat my precise and comprehensive knowledge about F1 , even if you were an intern with the BMW-Williams team!

Which reminds me, I did, and yes I DID, applied for a job with the UK-based Williams team. I emailed them some long garbage about how I should be a part of their entourage, my media connection then (what connection? I was so damn young!) and many other forgettable reasons which I am sure made the Head of Personnel of Williams (whoever he is) forgets. When I get hooked to a sport, I dive in head-first. When F1 was the rage for me, I took matters into my own hands and pray for a media pass. God was generous with me (and I am not sure I deserved it, but I am thankful masya’allah!) and in 2002 I was somewhat sent down to Melbourne to cover Toyota’s first year at the F1 Grand Prix – complete with cocktails to attend, shoulders to rub with Mika Salo and a very insightful chat with Gustav Brunner. I was fascinated by Gustav’s engineering prowess. He, was fascinated by my hijab.

Yes, I was in heaven. In F1 heaven. I won’t even mention here about the pit-stop tours and the over abundant food that we were served at the Paddock Club. “That’s halal pastrami for you, mam,” a blonde waiter chips in politely. How thoughtful. Ahhh, I like this Paddock Club thing. If only I can afford the US$4,000 ticket to get in. Some of you, I am sure, will also remember my fascination with the oh-so-cute Alex Yoong, even when his pokak Minardi car stalled half the time on the circuit.

And then life happens, and I slowly entered an inexplicable F1 funk. I did miss the team-based energy that soccer offers, and I missed very much, the speed of F1. As the plot unfurled, Canada came by. And I was thrown, PMS included, into the world of brawl-and-brawn filled hockey.

Team-based sport + Speed = Hockey.
Hockey + Canada = Addiction.
Addiction + Propensity to like spectator sports irrationally = Mason Raymond.

Ahhh… Raymond. Everybody LURRVVES Raymond. Only 22, a fresh rookie with the Vancouver Canucks and skates oh so well *wide smile on my pathetic face*. He is almost too beautiful to watch when he skates pass his checkers and shoots an unresisting puck into the net *wideR smile on my pathetic face*. DH is very well aware of this new fixation, and he couldn’t care less. Why would he? He knows Raymond has everything he has too (or at least that’s what I told him…shhh!). Raymond is a calm, patient and focused player, much like the calm, patient and focused supergeek that DH is. But wait. Raymond likes Border Collies and DH likes Huskies. Raymond plays NHL hockey, and DH plays hockey on the PSP. Raymond is engaged, and I am married. Dang.

But Raymond aside (seriously, he is a spring chicken who has hundreds of girls going after his dimples!) hockey is the next best thing for me right now, almost a super-sport, and solid combination of things I love about soccer and F1. The thing is, seeing how fanatic I have become and how supportive DH is of my endless bohemian bungees, he has been pressing me about putting my name on the waiting list for the Canucks season tickets (which will probably take a year or two to secure, and an arm and a leg to pay for). I should be jumping at it, yes? But I didn’t.

They say age comes with wisdom, or the other way round. I figure at this rate, hockey will slowly enter its self-prophesised funk too in a couple of years. So by the time I get my round of season tickets, I am not soooo into the game anymore. Who knows what my ‘next’ supersport will be. As long as it is not, *LOUD cough* , a very-odd-sport called curling.

For that, pls God – let hockey stay.

1994 – Malaysia Cup : Singapore vs Kedah – Fandi Ahmad’s Magic

2002 – F1 Grand Prix: Melbourne’s Starter Crash

2008 – NHL Playoff Race: Canucks vs Oilers – Fight-filled match