Or in this case, go into the Stanley Cup Playoffs without having to worry—or really care—which team wins. This season, I discovered the true joys of “teamlessness.”
[Definition: (adjective) state of having no professional home team. No team to pin your hopes on. No team to disappoint you. No team to pack up and move away to Canada (twice).]
Not to sound bitter, but what a relief it was to go through an entire NHL season, game-to-game, picking and choosing which team to follow or cheer for on any given night. So much better than working hard to will your team into the play-offs, living and dying with each slap slot or save, only to see your team go 0-for-four-and-gone… and that just once in 11 years.
No, much better to be a Freelance Fan. Follow a team for a few games, then pick another based purely on the television schedule. What a great opportunity to gain a new perspective and appreciation for teams and players you only viewed as the opponents in the past.
Take the Philadelphia Flyers. This team (along with all teams from that city) ranks just below New York on the Teams I would Never Ever Support list. Fans obnoxious. Announcers biased and obnoxious. Philadelphia teams have a long history with Atlanta fans. You only have to mention the name “Dave Schultz” to realize just how long the city has held that grudge. So when the Flyers were matched up against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, I did not expect to be cheering for those Flyers come Game Six.
Instead, let’s just say I’m glad I’m not a Pens’ fan. Not only did they appear to discard the game plan in the clubhouse… I don’t know, they just seemed…well, whiny. Definitely whiny. Philly’s Claude Giroux put the exclamation point on the series in Game Six’s first few seconds—a hard check on Crosby followed by a quick goal. Still can’t believe I jumped up and cheered. The Philadelphia Flyers? Seriously? However, I will not be cheering for them in the next round. Guaranteed. Don’t care who they may face.
As the Quarterfinals grind on in the East, a couple of teams threaten to pierce the “I-don’t-care-who-wins” attitude. Not to the point of making any of them my team, but I find myself consulting the schedule, planning my week’s events, making sure there’s a TV nearby whenever either of these teams take the ice.
At the risk of imposing a curse worse than the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, these teams will remain nameless. Just don’t have a very good track record when picking favorite teams or players. Think Dale Jr. Think Duke in the 2012 Big Dance. Think Atlanta Braves* in every recent World Series except 1995. Enough. We won’t even mention the Chicago Cubs, because that jinx transcends generations.
Three Game Sevens in two days. The anticipation could not be higher. And I fear my blissful state of teamlessness is definitely on thin ice. This Freelance Fan’s days are numbered.
*Disclaimer: Just for the record, Greg Maddux, all-time favorite Atlanta Brave, escaped this curse… except for this one game we attended when he gave up two grand slams in just one inning. Still feel bad about the damage done to his ERA that day.