Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Steelers Nation

And so it is that this week, once again, I fall deeply, passionately, absurdly in love with this little town, my home. Not since my high school football game went to the state championship have I seen such an outpouring, and there, of course, the level of intensity was diminished by its being limited to one suburban bedroom community in a state that doesn't share western Pennsylvania's passion for high school football. This is a city, and really the better portion of an entire state.

[I have tried to upload photos of yesterday's Steelers rally downtown, but I can't make Blogger comply. If you'd like to see how people have been spending their workdays for the past, oh, say, three weeks, here's a taste.]

Granted, growing up in the New York metroplex, with all of its prosperous major league teams, I was no stranger to championships. My teams were (and remain) the Mets, the Devils, the Nets, and, yes, the Giants. And each of these teams, save the Nets, won at least one championship during my childhood, and all four of those teams are legitimate contenders, or are well on their way, in their current or upcoming seasons. But their best seasons pale in the interest and dedication they garnered by comparison to the outpouring these Steelers have induced with their improblable and historic run to the Super Bowl.

Adding to the flavor of the occasion, I am only now learning what it is to be around a team and its fans that have been tapped by the national media as the darlings of the big game, the sentimental favorites. The 1986 Mets were galvanizing, but that rowdy team had far more detractors than it had adherents. The Stanely Cup champion Devils of 1995, 2000, and 2003, were largely abhorred for the phenomonal defense, which played such dry, trapping hockey that they almost single-handedly forced the NHL to adopt more offense-friendly rules this season.* Of course, New York area teams are more or less always villified for the fiscal advantages they enjoy in virtue of their massive market and gaudy TV local contracts, with the football teams being the one exception given the NFL's relatively flat revenue sharing arrangement.

I won't dirty this post with links to the many articles I have read this week that serve to reaffirm my enthusiasm for this little city and its immeasurable city pride. Rather, I'll just say that you really have to be hear to understand it.

I would love to predict a blowout, mostly because I don't know if I or my friends can handle a really close game. I imagine, however, that I'm going to find out. Although I don't think the Seahawks are as good as their numbers, for many of the reasons Skip Bayless identifies (and out of a deep resentment for the fashion in which the Giants snapped defeat from the jaws of victory in their meeting with Seattle), their victory over Carolina left little doubt that they have come to play, and that a few too many missteps by the Steelers will cost them the game against an able an opportunistic opponent. Fortunately, in the past few weeks the Steelers have been stingy with their mistakes and brutal in their exploitation of their opponents' lapses.

Moons pick: Steelers, 30-24.

* Yes, more recently it was teams other than the Devils that were most merciless on defense, but it was only when many NHL teams started adopting the "neutral zone trap" that the Devils's Jacques Lemaire all but invented that the league realized something had to change if it was to make the game higher scoring and thus, evidently, more exciting to the masses (I never had a problem with it; a close game is a fun game for people who appreciate what's happening on the ice, and the Devils played very few games that weren't decided by one- and two-goal differentials).


Anonymous rachel said...

this is lovely, and calcifies my deep wish to be home this weekend. we'll be thinking of you, and hopefully you of us, in Steelers Nation, ATL chapter.

9:42 PM  

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