San Diego Celebrates After Philly Gets the Win

Gritty 2020

I phone banked for Biden and Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign the weekend before the election, and on through election day. For those four days I spent my shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas. The majority of my calls were made to West Philly.

Most of us spent the better part of the next five days watching Philadelphia on TV, waiting to see if Joe Biden would complete an impressive comeback. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country as tens of thousands of mail in ballots stood by, waiting to be counted. In the wee hours of election night, early Wednesday morning, Biden trailed by more than 700,000 votes statewide. Then he didn’t.  

Saturday morning, after Pennsylvania was called and Biden was named President elect, my wife and I went out in San Diego. We live in North Park, a hip neighborhood where Black Lives Matter posters and Biden/Harris supporters are prevalent. We could hear shouting and honking horns in the streets.

It reminded me of the tunnels in D.C. after a Capitals home win, full of horns blaring in a rhythmic call and response. We went down to the car and drove out to join them, which turned out to be a great decision.

We found groups on every street corner, and pedestrians walking in between, waving flags, chanting, and cheering. Others shouted and saluted from al fresco dining areas as we drove by. We thought it only made sense to follow the honking cars down University Avenue to Hillcrest.

For those unfamiliar with San Diego, Hillcrest is a beautiful, vibrant, and hip community which is home to San Diego’s Pride Parade and fondly referred to as “the gay-borhood.” The drive was an expedition through an eruption of pure joy.

We passed continuous groups of revelers on the sidewalks and we soon found ourselves in the heart of an impromptu motorcade parade. We drove from 30th Street down to 4th Street, immersed in a cacophony of unadulterated joy and syncopated horns. 

The outpouring of happiness, love, and relief was palpable and energizing. There was very little hostility, and none towards un elected Republican citizens. People were just overjoyed and needed to share their happiness with others. It was beautiful.

In honor of Pennsylvania, my Pittsburgh Steelers fan of a wife tucked her Terrible Towel in to fly from the closed rear window. In honor of Philadelphia, and the enormous role which the City of Brotherly Love played in securing the election and ending the Trump administration, she brought her Gritty t-shirt. It featured the googly eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot’s large face with a word bubble stating, “Fuck Trump,” and it was very popular.

Gritty, the mascot of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers

Every time we stopped, and at multiple traffic slow downs in between, people would shout, cheer, and run over to take pictures with the heroic monster she waved out the window. As a Washington sports fan, I have always viewed Philadelphia as villains. The Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers have all ruined numerous days and may screw directly off–and that’s not even mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Pennsylvania came through in the clutch.

Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties sealed the win and the entire world broke into rapturous applause. Philadelphia was our hero and the people on the street in San Diego knew it. Everyone appreciated Philly, and everyone loved Gritty. Biden should invite Gritty to the White House.

Philadelphia Comes Through in the Clutch

Gritty 2020

There was a fairly consequential election last week. Wanting to do something, over the weekend and through Tuesday I phone banked for Biden and the Democrats’ Get Out the Vote campaign. For those four days I spent shifts calling voters in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas, encouraging supporters to vote and offering to help them find their polling place or make a voting plan. Most of my calls were to West Philly.

The majority of the people I talked to had already voted or were ready to do so. Quite a few people were frustrated and even angry about all of the calls. A few people were republicans, one of whom was not a real prick. Many of the people I spoke to, however, were friendly, grateful, and hopeful.

A lot of the people I reached were excited about the big day and happy to share their enthusiasm, including a campaign manager in Philadelphia. Some were a little more apprehensive and wanted to talk about how much the election meant to them. A dozen or so even needed my help, and I was thrilled to help them find their polling location and any other information they needed. But my very favorite interaction was with Lois.

Lois is 90-years-old, lives in West Philadelphia, and was my second to last call Monday evening, around 8:50 p.m. for her on the east coast. She quickly informed me that she did not need my help, but she was excited to share her plan.

“My neighbors are going to drive me right down the street, first thing in the morning,” she told me proudly. “I’ve got my ballot, I’ve got my bag packed, I’ve got my roller, and I have my folding chair, in case we have to wait in a long line.”

“I’ve been voting since the 1950s and I’ve never missed an election,” she said. “I’m ready to go vote him out of our house.”

I told her that she was an inspiration and must have seen some significant elections in her time. She replied that she remembered voting for Kennedy, and remembered her parents voting for FDR when she was growing up in the Catskills, “across the Hudson River from his home.”

Lois informed me that her church had linked up with other their denomination across seven states, and that day they had spent something like 6 hours joined in prayer. Together they asked that people would find kindness, let go of their anger, and vote to heal the country. She told me that it was important that America elect leaders who were good people again.

Lois thanked me for my efforts and I thanked her for her example, before she said goodbye and hung up to go to bed. She had big plans in the morning.

If you have ever wanted to do something easy to support a candidate or cause, beyond donating $15, I endorse phone banking. The bad interactions were brief, and you still get to help everyone by removing them from the list. The good interactions were longer and heartwarming, and you even get to help some people take action. That’s a bunch of wins.

Early Tuesday morning I saw a video going around of a 90 year old lady in southwest Philly dancing her way to the polls. I hoped it was Lois, it sure fit the picture in my mind; I later learned her name was Ms. Mildred, so perhaps not. If not, West Philly is apparently full of cool older ladies.

I spent the better part of the next 5 days watching Philadelphia on TV and often thought of Lois. West Philadelphia ended up being perhaps the most important community in the country this week, and they sure came through. Lois is awesome and she did it; they did it.

Saturday morning, after Pennsylvania was called and Biden was named President elect, my wife and I went out in San Diego. We live in North Park, where Black Lives Matter posters and Biden/Harris supporters are prevalent, we could hear shouting and honking horns out in the streets.

It reminded me of the tunnels in D.C. after a Capitals home win, full of horns blaring in a rhythmic call and response. We got in the car and drove out to join them, which turned out to be a great decision.

We found groups on every street corner, and pedestrians walking in between, waving flags and signs, and cheering. Others shouted and raised their hands or firsts in approval from al fresco dining areas as we drove by. We were enthralled and thought it only made sense to follow the calling cars down University to Hillcrest.

For those unfamiliar with San Diego, Hillcrest is a beautiful, vibrant, and hip community in San Diego, which is home to San Diego’s Pride Parade and fondly referred to as “the gay-borhood.” On the drive we witnessed an eruption of pure joy.

Hillcrest in Jubilation, San Diego, CA – Nov. 7, 2020

Not only did we pass continuous groups of revelers on the streets, we soon found ourselves in the heart of an impromptu motorcade parade. We drove from 30th Street down to 4th Street, immersed in a cacophony of joy and syncopated horns. The outpouring of happiness, love, and relief was palpable, energizing, and cathartic.

In honor of Pennsylvania, my Pittsburgh Steelers fan of a wife tucked her Terrible Towel to fly from the closed rear window. In honor of Philadelphia, and the enormous role which the City of Brotherly Love played in the securing the election and ending the Trump administration, she brought her Gritty t-shirt held it aloft like a banner. It featured the googly eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot stating, “Fuck Trump,” and it was very popular.

Gritty of the Philadelphia Flyers

Every time we stopped and at multiple slow downs in between people would shout, cheer, and run over to take pictures with the heroic monster she waved out the window. As a Washington sports fan, I have always viewed Philadelphia as the bad guys. The Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, and Flyers have all ruined numerous days and can go directly to hell–and that’s not even mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins. But there’s no denying it: Pennsylvania came through in the clutch.

Philadelphia and Alleghany County sealed the win and the entire world broke into rapturous applause. Philadelphia most of all was our hero, perhaps not the hero we wanted, but the hero we desperately need right now. The people on the street in San Diego knew it and many of them recognized and adored Gritty. And everyone loved Philadelphia. I hope Lois feels proud and I hope she’s dancing.

Capitals Face Yet Another Game 7 After Slow Starts and Flawed Finishes

The New York Rangers brought ferocity early and the Capitals could not fight their way out of the hole in which they found themselves after the first 20 minutes of Sunday’s Game 6.

Chris Kreider put NY on the board in a flash as he rushed to the net and put a surprising puck past a sleepy Braden Holtby in the first minute. Just over 19 minutes later, after numerous chances by both teams failed to beat this postseasons’ two best net-minders, Kreider made it 2-0.

With just over three seconds remaining in the first period, after an amazing series of PK face-off wins, short-handed pressure, and even earning a power play for the Boys in Red, Troy Brauwer earned a spell in time-out for himself. Three seconds later, shortly after a Rangers face off win, one of the eight successful offensive zone face-offs the Rangers secured in their first nine attempts, and directly after Braden Holtby stopped the ensuing shot, John Carlson accidently kicked the unsecured puck through the legs of his goaltender, where Kreider converted the easy layup with 00.3 seconds remaining on the clock.

The Capitals came out for the second period undaunted and cut the deficit in half just over thirty seconds in when Jason “New York” Chimera crashed the net and slapped a rebound past King Henrik.

Over the next 25 minutes the Capitals out attempted the Rangers by about twenty, but nonetheless found themselves down three goals after Dan Boyle made it 4-1 when he put a long shot past a Braden Holtby.

Washington’s net minder did not stand a chance as his view was completely obscured by a screen from teammate Jay Beagle, who did such a good job of  camouflaging the shot that it was hard not be reminded of Joel Ward’s legendary behind, just on the wrong end of the ice.

Though the game appeared to have become a laugher, the Washington Capitals did not cower or surrender to the President’s Trophy winning Rangers, they continued to pile on the pressure.

Kuzy brings Caps within 2

Kuzy brings Caps within 2

Three minutes after Boyle scored his second of the series, Evgeny Kuznetsov matched the feet, bringing the Capitals within two goals with shot on Lunkqvist’s short side, the beneficiary of a Joel Ward forced turnover. Another three minutes later Joel Ward crashed the crease and deposited a Jason Chimera rebound into the Ranger’s net, pulling the home team within a goal with nine and a half minutes to play.

The remainder of the game was filled with great sound and fury, Washington out attempted the boys from the Big Apple 35-9 over the final frame and held them without a shot on goal after the Boyle marker. Wave after wave the Capitals sent raging into the offensive zone, stymied as the King offered up save after save, until finally, with two and a half minutes left, a bad call actually went the Caps way, as the refs incorrectly found the Rangers guilty of delaying the game, giving the NHL’s best regular season power play a chance to find the equalizer.

But it was all for naught. As has been the case all postseason, Washington’s power play squad was inept, unable to get pucks to the net, even after pulling Holtby and going up 6 men to 4. It has become clear that John Carlson cannot get the puck to Ovechkin in a position to put dangerous shots on goal, and without the most dangerous scoring threat in the league, the unit looks confused and indecisive.

The power play failed and the 6 on 5 squad fared no better, the clock struck twelve and the Capitals’ 3-1 series lead turned into a pumpkin. Game 7 has been announced for Wednesday afternoon. It will be the third Game 7 for these two teams in the last four years, and the fourth since the 2009 playoffs, the Caps are 1-2 in those match-ups. Washington defeated the Rangers in 5 games in the spring of 2011.

Caps Fans Can be a Sensitive Lot, Time to Think Brave Thoughts

The Capitals have a chance to do something special today, they have a chance to take this series by the throat, with their screaming faithful there to root them on.

They will be back in the friendly confines of the Verizon Center, in an even series, holding home ice advantage. They are yet to play a complete game and have not gotten their offense or their power play going. And here they are, tied and ready to drop the puck in front of their own fans. If they can finally come out with urgency, and put a few goals on the board, they have a chance to push the New York Islanders to the brink.

I have rarely written about the Boys in Red because I am weary of writing like a homer and to be certain, there have been glaring weaknesses and there are obvious possibilities for things to go wrong.

The Islanders have come out stronger every game so far, attacking with energy and speed that Washington has not yet been able to match early. In the last game, one in which we scored first and won, Holtby still had to stop five shots in the first five minutes, and watching it felt worse than that.

They race to kill icing calls when we should have the angle, they fight harder for 50/50 pucks with a desperation we have not seemed to possess, they have made clearing the defensive zone a helacious endeavor and they have applied more pressure more often to start each contest.

Can we match that speed and intensity? Can we bring the desperation to match their hustle without giving up risky chances the other way, it’s not like we’ve done a stellar job of preventing their opportunities off the rush as is.

But Capitals fans know all that. I know that I can envision things going to crap as they have in the past, I think most Caps fans have every bit the cynicism and fear of a terrible reality to balance any optimistic hopes. Capital’s fans are well aware of the ways this could all end poorly, but this could be different and yesterday’s defeats do not dictate today’s outcome any more than hopeful star gazing. Some of us need to remember that one day things can end differently, as they do for only 1 of 30 NHL teams every year.

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Washington Capitals Need to Clean Up Their Play or it’s Game Over For D.C.

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The Boys from Chinatown have played a lot of poor hockey so far this postseason, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.
The New York Islanders came out Sunday morning with the same kind of fire the Capitals used to even the series on Friday, and they left the ice with similar results.
This is not unusual in strong playoff match ups, and fans rocking the red will be well accustomed to these nauseating roller coasters after no less than three straight seven game entanglements as their immediate playoff history. Game after game sees the previous tilt’s loser hit the ice with focus and desperation their opponent just cannot match.
The Caps certainly could not meet the intensity of the rebounding Islanders Sunday morning, instead they were complacent, as if waiting for the match to slow down and become manageable.
But manage it they did, finishing the second period down only a goal, no larger a deficit than that which stood before them with 20 minutes remaining in Game 2.

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