Tonight the National Hockey League playoffs begin! Throughout the land, the sense of excitement and anticipation is palpable. But there is no joy in Mudville — er, Columbus — because the Blue Jackets have once again fallen short. They and their fans are sitting on the sidelines, watching as the ridiculously protracted NHL playoff process gets underway without them.
The Blue Jackets have been in existence for 10 years. During that time, they made the playoffs once, and were promptly bounced out. This record of futility is a kind of perverse accomplishment, because in the 30-team NHL 16 teams — that is, more than half — make the playoffs. To miss the playoffs year after year takes some doing. I don’t know anything about hockey and don’t follow the sport, so I can’t offer even the kind of banal second-guessing that is the stock in trade of most sports fans. It just seems like the Blue Jackets are snake bit, and once a team gets that kind of rep it is tough to dispel it.
As a Cleveland sports fan, I’m used to this kind of dismal performance, but I do feel badly for the Blue Jackets and their fans as they sit back, crack open a Molson’s lager, and wait until next year.
Yesterday a friend got me an Ohio State garden gnome as a present. Now I need to figure out where to put him.
The gnome cuts quite a dashing figure. He’s about a foot high, and his face is deftly painted. Clad in Ohio State team colors, he wears a gray shirt and pants, a scarlet “0” football jersey, and a crooked gnome hat covered with Buckeye leaves and the Ohio State insignia. He sports necklaces of buckeyes and OSU beads, and carries a football and what appears to be a Brutus doll. From the plaintive expression on his face, however, I would not be surprised if the Brutus doll actually turned out to be a disguised flask carrying the gnome’s favorite adult beverage. Obviously, this is a guy who knows his way around the ‘Shoe and tailgate parties.
I think this bite-sized Buckeye would be lost and lonely in the garden. Clearly, the gnome needs human companionship of the Buckeye variety. But, where to put this fine specimen of Buckeyehood? On the desk in our study, where the careful preseason analysis of the 2012 team and season already is underway? On the kitchen counter, where football game snacks and libations are prepared? By the TV, where games are viewed with appalling intensity? Or in my office, to inspire me to even greater heights of accomplishment during the humdrum workday?