Tuesday, February 9, 2016

If this blog were my baby, I would be in prison for neglect

And rightfully so. I should know, having recently visited my newest nephew in London, that infants can't really take care of themselves. That might be the only way in which infants and blogs are similar, but they certainly don't write themselves on their own, and in that respect I have failed, well, this blog. I don't think the rest of you were really waiting on pins and needles for my next entry, even if I took worse care of this space than Cam Newton took of the football on Sunday night.

But, you see, it's been a busy five and a half weeks or so since I most recently graced this space with my ramblings. Typically I'm pretty active here in the month of January because the NFL playoffs are happening and, man, I usually have way too much to say about the NFL playoffs. In this particular case, I totally dropped the ball in terms of giving you my thoughts and predictions, which is probably a good thing since I would have taken the Panthers to win Super Bowl 50 and the Cardinals prior to that.

Oops.

This January though, I was a tad busy. My life has undergone some significant changes, which unfortunately left me too busy to blog most days. I'm sure this impacted your time, well, not at all, but there are some big topics I intended to write on that impact me both in terms of this blog and in terms of my life that I should probably get you all up to speed on. Brace yourself.

Big News: The Rams are moving to Los Angeles
Yes, I know I don't live in St. Louis or Los Angeles, but this still matters to me for a few reasons. I have never had a team that I have already seen in person move to a new city. This does not change that, as I had not yet seen the Rams in St. Louis. In fact, a visit to the Rams, Blues and Cardinals' "new" stadium was still on the docket. However, this gums up those works in a few ways.

I don't like seeing cities lose teams both for the logistical issues involved and because it must be difficult for the fans losing their franchise, particularly if it won a championship in its brief stay there. There is a history there that I find difficult to ignore. However, of the three teams that were vying to move to Los Angeles, which was almost certainly set to get a franchise, the Rams were the one that made the most financial and historic sense considering they called L.A. home for five decades before moving to St. Louis. I am fine with the move on those grounds, even if it does make my mail from the Los Angeles Rams in 1995 less novel. It also makes my friend Tania happy, so that's cool.



The bigger issue, though, is that now I have to go back to Los Angeles, a place I was more than happy to be done with when I saw the Angels just under two years ago. All of that, now, is moot. I have to make a return trip to L.A. to see the Rams, and possibly twice because it might behoove me to see them in the Coliseum, which I've never been to, in addition to their eventual new home in Inglewood. To a certain degree, I'll be getting an early start on this. I am seeing the Rams play a home game this coming season, albeit not where I might have anticipated. That's because...

The Giants are going to London, and so am I
This comes courtesy of the Giants' season-ending loss to the Eagles, which not only netted them a higher draft pick, but also now has the Giants playing on a neutral field against an opponent that is flying nine time zones to get there, instead of traveling to Seattle to face the Seahawks and their vaunted home field advantage. It's pretty much a win-win situation.

As I detailed ahead of New York's week-17 clash with Philadelphia, I told my London-dwelling sister long ago that I would visit her on the off chance that the Giants ever played in England while she was there. Lucky us, the Giants crapped their way to an all-important defeat, punching my ticket to the UK for an Oct. 23rd date with the newly-rechristened L.A. Rams. My brother-in-law has already snagged us a pair of tickets, and I'm rather looking forward to what will probably be my in-person sports highlight of the year. By the time I get there I should actually be pretty familiar with the city because...

I was busy for a few days because I was in London last week
Those of you who know me know that I became an uncle for a second time this past October, and after much waiting due to reasons beyond my control, I finally got to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and my new nephew Charlie. He doesn't do much yet since he's only about four months old, but he's pretty awesome. We took many matching photos together of us in Mets gear, because of course, and the day I arrived he was wearing the Southampton onesie I had bought for him that proudly declared him the "Saints newest dribbler."

...Get it?

I was particularly fond of his outfit as he matched the Saints jersey I had on that night, a jersey I was wearing because...

For just the third time ever, I got to see Southampton play in person
One of the great joys of talking Premier League "football" with real Brits is that they're always impressed when you're an American who roots for Southampton. This is because no American in their right mind would choose the British equivalent of the Tampa Bay Rays, but my 15 years of fandom are starting to bear fruit. For one, I saw the Saints earn their fourth clean sheet in a row last Tuesday when I had a pretty spiffy view at Emirates Stadium to watch Southampton visit Arsenal for a more-entertaining-than-it-sounds nil-nil draw. In many regards, I still feel like a novice when I watch the Saints in person and I'm surrounded by people who live and breathe the sport as I do with those I grew up watching stateside.

That said, there is still something novel and exciting about getting to watch the Saints in person. It's almost surreal in a way, particularly since for so many years most of my watching was done over faint YouTube clips or on play-by-play score trackers for BBC.co.uk.

This night was also a blast because for the second year in a row I got to attend a game with my friend Mike, a Southampton resident I can only describe as, "A guy I met on the internet and first saw face-to-face at an English gay cabaret bar." Awkward description? Possibly. Totally accurate? Yes.

We had a blast at the game even if we did get lost for an hour in north London after it ended trying to find an Underground station that wasn't totally clogged with soccer fans making their very slow way home. When we finally did find an Underground station that was open, we sat on the train with an authentic drunk hooligan, who gave me credit for, I think, wearing a Southampton shirt when Southampton and Pompey fans kill each other? Given his inebriation and accent it was kind of hard to tell what he was saying.

The best part is that Mike, being a pretty good guy, arrived in London for the Southampton-Arsenal match with a brand new Southampton shirt for me that was unexpected and greatly appreciated. It will fit in nicely with my collection of Saints jerseys that I've been displaying online all of the past month or so because...

It's the Year of Living Jersey
In a pointless venture that will entertain no one other than myself -- and will perhaps irritate everyone I'm facebook friends with -- I have decided to see if I can wear each of the 75-plus jerseys I own over the course of 2016. This is tougher than it sounds when one accounts for work, weddings and the jerseys that don't fit particularly well at my current weight (gulp). Still, you can keep track of my sports progress in a Facebook gallery I've made which is going to be nothing but dozens of awkward bathroom mirror selfies, a type of photograph I've described to friends as "the lowest form of art known to man."

This might be the only thing in my life I've actually had the time to keep up on because...

For the first time in eight years, I've got a new job
Yes, after nearly a decade working with the NHL, I moved on to a new gig in mid-January. I don't think it's particularly appropriate to publicize the details of where or why, so I'll keep it quiet for now, but let's just say I'm excited about the new adventure that lies ahead, even if it is something of a mystery and my new gig has been extremely busy. As I've learned over the past few years busy is better than bored.

I think all the next steps to come, professionally are going to be good for me and I look forward to finding out where it takes my career. January was a complex few weeks of balancing anticipation with nostalgia, sorting out personal affairs and discovering that I'm apparently the only person who thinks I've aged over the eight years I worked for the NHL. We'll see what happens.

In many ways, this transition feels like it's happening at an appropriate time as both my career and my personal life are undergoing some fairly significant changes. At least it certainly feels that way because...

I've got a new girlfriend
Sorry, ladies.

All of those things have conspired to keep me away from my blog, which I hope all of you will let slide, particularly since if you don't, it will likely have no major impact on me. That's all on you. Let's just say it's been a busy few weeks personally and sports-wise. I haven't even gotten the chance to talk about attending a real live rodeo last month or my impending nostalgia crisis this evening when the New Jersey Devils retire Martin Brodeur's number. This has evoked a number of the same emotions I'll feel when the Mets do the same for soon-to-be-Hall-of-Fame catcher Mike Piazza this summer.

Then again, maybe some things are better left unsaid.

Either way, not everything is meant to be left unsaid. As a result, while you may not be able to expect something new every day on here, I almost certainly won't go five weeks without writing again. You're welcome. Or your funeral. It's got to be one of the two. I'll let you decide which.

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