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Can You Hear Me, Major Tom?

18 November 2018

All told, this was not a great weekend for tUMD sports. On Friday, the volleyball team lost in the regional semi-finals, then women’s hockey lost to duhOSU, and then the men were shut out by Denver. Saturday, the football team lost their home playoff game, the women’s hockey team was swept, and the Wild blew a 2-0 lead, letting former Wild player Jason Pominville score the game winner with a minute and a half left – not a Bulldog game per se, but certainly a game that many Bulldogs fans watched and were disappointed by. (The good news for us here is that while Phil Housley may have won in Minnesota, his wife didn’t!)

So it’s understandable that most Bulldogs fans were in A Mood by the time the men’s hockey game began on Saturday evening. Obviously I was, since anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows that I am a glass case of emotion during hockey games. I imagine for some it’s a form of entertainment itself, watching my violent mood swings. tUMD hasn’t beaten Denver in awhile, they were shut out the night before despite reports that they were playing well, and with all the bad sporting news occurring over the weekend, I guess I started watching the game already in a black hole of despair. There’s really only one way to deal with that kind of attitude, and that’s with pessimistic, sarcastic, dark humor.

I’d like to point out that 4 of the 6 Yes votes came after tUMD had already scored a goal.

A couple things added to my general frustration/inability to enjoy the game that had nothing to do with the game itself. First, I was very hungry, which as we are all aware, leads to hanger. No, not like a coat hanger, that’s what Americans are going to need in order to exercise their right to reproductive freedom once the fascists in government fully execute their misogynistic plan. In this context, hanger = hunger + anger. And that shizz is real, people.

The second problem I was having was a technological problem. One of the serious downsides to moving away from Duluth was losing access to some of the various media forms I used to consume tUMD hockey. Specifically, local simulcasts and actual radio. There was no local simulcast this time, so I didn’t miss out on that, but the livestream I was forced to listen to started out several minutes behind the actual game. I understand there’s going to be a lag between the live game and any broadcast of the game – I often see a tweet about something happening in a Wild game many seconds before it is shown on the television. But there is at least a 2 minute delay between what happens in tUMD men’s hockey games live, and when it is broadcast on the internet stream. This is absurd.

Finally, there was a sub-problem to problem #2, one that I don’t normally experience but that cause a major issue last night. Multiple times during the broadcast, the game did not return from commercial break. The first time it happened, tUMD was already down 2-0, and Denver was going on the PP, because of course they are angels who never do anything wrong and simply sneezing near a DU player is going to result in a penalty. Never mind that the most egregious and destructive penalty I’ve ever seen live was committed by a Denver player… After enduring 8-9 minutes of commercials, the feed returned and went right into the intermission report. So I missed several minutes of actual game play. While I didn’t want the game to continue to lag farther and farther behind, I also didn’t like missing any of the action. There’s no point in staying off Twitter to avoid spoilers when I’m not going to get any of the action anyway. People had to suffer, deprived of my caustic wit, and for no earthly reason!

After it got to be 3-0, I decided to just give up and go all in on stupid jokes, GIFs, and mocking those less fortunate than me (Gopher football and their jejune head coach). Being unkind and snarky is endlessly enjoyable to me, because I am a small, sad person with a heart two sizes too small, and proud of it.

tv-christmas-specials-grinch-heart

It me.

Eventually things started to come back around for me. It was still 3-0, but there are certain points where I don’t care so much that an inflection point is reached, and I go from not caring to not not caring, which is not the same as caring. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ll illustrate with a tweet from last night:

What does this even mean? No one knows. I was actually looking for a gif of my fave, the Night King, because I was trolling Let’s Go DU, and I happened upon this one instead. There’s probably a German word for this feeling I experience from time to time, but the best I can say is it’s the feeling you get when you have absolutely nothing left to lose from supporting your team. I don’t know, some people feel like it’s a breach of fan etiquette to cheer for a team when they’re losing, like you’re supposed to file away quietly or switch to sheepishly complimenting the other team. If there’s one thing I do NOT like to do, it’s give credit to opposing teams when it is due. I will leave things like “sportspersonship” and “classiness” to the plebes.

Eventually Nick Swaney scored a goal, so I figured oh, tDogs got their requisite Goal In Denver, we can pack it in and go home satisfied. I suppose it helps that tUMD didn’t beat Denver in 5 tries last year on their way to winning a national championship. That puts things in perspective. Then Billy Exell scored and there was somehow still half a period to go!

The worst thing about the feed being behind during a game is the nagging feeling that in that gray area between the present and the moment in time the broadcast is in, the opponent has scored. This was intensified when Roehl took a penalty and I was sure Denver would score on the PP and dagger our hopes of a comeback. Of course it didn’t happen but it is a constant fear. Those readers from the early days of RWD, back before texting, recall that I used to have to work evenings during my career as a makeup counter jockey (a job I’m supposed to feel ashamed of, but do not, because it was a great job! and also because people shouldn’t be ashamed of their work unless it is unethical or illegal) and would have my father call me on the sales floor to give me score updates. So if tDogs were losing then, and the phone wasn’t ringing, that was basically torture – things have improved since then, but still. We Have The Technology. The feed doesn’t have to be so far behind.

This means that I didn’t get to celebrate the last second, game-tying goal from Scorin’ Scotty – partially because I was behind the internet celebration, and partially because I was spoiled on it by both Twitter and by my phone blowing up with texts from Dan of the Week. It was pretty exciting though! That’s part of what I like about this team so much – they may have off days, and their play may be frustrating to watch at times, but I never ever think it’s because they aren’t trying or doing their best (bests?). I don’t remember the last time I was ever annoyed with the level of effort being put out by members of the team. So it is really great to see that kind of character rewarded with crazy last minute shenanigan goals!

Then Bruce went to a commercial break, promising to come back in “90 seconds” with the overtime call.

And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Commercial after commercial after commercial after commercial.

I finally gave up and went back to Twitter to see what was going on, and the game was already over. Cole Koepke, hometown hero, had scored less than a minute in, and tDogs had completed a comeback that will go down in history. It was about as dramatic as they come for a regular season game against a non-heated rival. According to Bruce, the last time tDogs overcame a deficit was in the 03-04 season, against CC, but the comeback had started earlier (also they won 5-3 and not in OT).

I’m happy about the outcome, but annoyed with the technical difficulties. I didn’t even get to hear the goal call until the postgame show replay, because the feed never actually played the OT. When it finally stopped playing commercials, the postgame show was on. I get that this is “free” and I am lucky and privileged to have internet and such, but at the same time, as a listener, I’m a product being sold to advertisers. “We have x people tuning in online,” etc. And hey, the advertisers sure got their money’s worth! So good for them.

Still. WHAT A COMEBACK. WHAT A TEAM. I was grinning all night about the game. It took a LOT of the sting out of the other losses on the weekend, and now that it’s over, of course I’m excited about how it played out. It may be agony in real time (or slightly delayed time), but that payoff is sweet. I love low-stakes, high-drama entertainment!

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