Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Hate

I flew to Pittsburgh from New York City on Sunday, September 23, the morning of Week 3.  As it turns out, the 2012 edition of the Steelers vs. Raiders saga is one we'd prefer to forget, but let me draw your memory back to that morning so you can put yourself in my shoes for a moment...

Boarding a plane to Pittsburgh is always fun, especially on game day!  I arrived at the airport early, refreshed, and feeling happy and optimistic, as I had received some faith-restoring, superlative reviews for my customer service at the store where I work the day prior, and decided to return that energy to the universe in the form of in-kind compliments and active kindness toward people working similar, under appreciated service jobs.

With this in mind, I approached the first TSA person (the one who checks your ID and your ticket with a lazer before you enter security) with a smile and asked him how he was doing today.  He thanked me while reading my ticket and then looked me in the eye and said, "You aren't really gonna go to Pittsburgh, are you?"

I assured him I was. He said, "You don't live there, do you?"

I said no I do not.  He said, "You aren't from Pittsburgh, are you?"

I said yes I am.  With growing disgust he said, "You aren't a Steelers fan, are you?"

I said yes I am.  He said, "I hate that."

I thought, geeze, hate?  Intuitively, I sensed that he was from Baltimore, and that this was an a priori, clinical form of hatred.

TSA guy continued:  "I hate the Steelers and I hate Pittsburgh.  I hate that you're from Pittsburgh.  Right now, what I can do for you is I can change your ticket to Buffalo, Baltimore, anywhere you want to go other than Pittsburgh.  Cause you don't want to go there."

I assured him, "I do want to go to Pittsburgh today", and he interjected, "Cause I'm from Baltimore and I hate Pittsburgh."

I just made a baffled look and said, "Ok, have a nice day!", and proceeded to security.  I thought about how I had consciously approached him in a positive way, and in return had received blatantly hateful, unprofessional service.  For being so hateful, I was struck by how unemotional the whole exchange had felt.

After passing through security, I had an hour to kill, so I logged on to FB to see all the good news and the first thing that came up was this post by Hines Ward:

I could NOT BELIEVE what I was reading!  A sort of simultaneous, shared experience with Hines Ward.  I couldn't believe that anyone would bother hating on me for merely traveling to Pittsburgh, when there was Hines Ward in the flesh in Baltimore out there to hate.  

There was unprecedented response to Hines' post...people were really galvanizing on both sides over his experience--59K "likes" and over 13K comments.

Thinking back, the interaction with TSA guy still baffles me.  When do TSA guys or ladies ever talk personally to anyone at a busy airport, let alone tell you they hate you?

I think Baltimore is pretty awesome, and although I only visited for a day or two during my 6th grade class trip, I usually recommend it to people as a down-to-earth, working class town, not dissimilar from Pittsburgh.  It has the world's most fantastic manta ray aquarium exhibit, I am certain.  We all benefit from the Steelers/Ravens rivalry, don't we?Wouldn't the AFC North be a snooze fest without the Steelers/Ravens?

Is hate the same as love?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

AFC Championship Game: the Greater Evil Prevails

Today's AFC Championship matchup between the US Department of Defen...ahem...excuse me...between the New England Patriots of the Ravens of Baltimore proved to be an entertaining game.

I was so thrilled to see that with 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter and a modest, 3-point lead, the Patriots decided to throw a bomb to the end zone--into double coverage--on 1st down.  This showing of greed and false bravado on part of Belichick and Brady bore chilling resemblance to one of our nation's most embarrassing media/foreign relations/war stunts.  Announcing victory before completing the job!

Q: Why not just hold onto the ball and run the clock?

A: Cuz that just ain't the American way!!!  We gotta show 'em it wasn't a contest to begin with!

Luckily however, it was a very close and substantial battle.  In fact, the Ravens should have won the game!  Dropping balls in the end zone and missing field goals are Steeler-esque mistakes and I share in the sudden shock that the Ravens and their fans are surely feeling.

If you're still reading this after my military-sports complex metaphors, congratulations! You are about to be handsomely rewarded.  I've always suspected that you may be able judge the quality of a team's leadership by the superfluous entertainment company they keep in their luxury boxes and on the victory platform.  Who's that on the left-hand side of the frame?

And creepin up on Belichick?

Eww gross!  I could tell Steven Tyler's hair had ambitions!

How embarrassing!

Good thing our unofficial team mascot is this guy:

Monday, January 9, 2012



Damn, that is intense.  How long have I been saying this guy needs a stylist?  Wife does not equal stylist.  Please Ben Roethlisberger's wife, keep it up!  You're blowing my mind...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I feel a little sentimental about the end of the 2011 regular season, mostly because I can't imagine football--no, Steelers Football--without Hines Ward.  Over the last 14 years I've gradually become a woman and come of age as a sports thinker parallel to his incremental accrual of hall of fame accolades.  So in a sense I feel I've grown up with him.  And that's right, I just likened womanhood to hall-of-famedom.

2011 challenged me to watch him on the sidelines and in the press conferences with less swagger, less bling, and greater humility.  Maybe that's what becoming a man is all about.

I cried when he got that 1000th catch cause I realized I had seen almost all of them, and it all sort of flashed before me, my life and his, spanning the 1st and 1000th catch.  Its overwhelming if you really think about it.  I realized that this sort of affiliation/identification of regular people with public figures is no longer a behavior that I observe with incredulity of my elders but something that has been slowly becoming part of me.

As soon as it was announced that the Steelers' Wild Card game this Sunday would be at Denver, all I could think about was how Ryan Clark would be ineligible for play, and how bummed that made me feel.  GD sickle-cell!  Imagine how strange it must feel for him to have to sit out because he might bleed!  #25 has been at the top of his game and really coming into his own as the exact sort of safety to compliment the cosmic safety style of Troy P..  Hopefully we make it to Baltimore so Clark can shine!

What adds insult is that we have to haul it to Denver and play without Clark because they won the AFC West with a paltry 8-8 record.

Does anyone else out there object to the term 'Wild Card'?  It implies that you only got with the luck of the draw and that you're the joker or jester to the court of the other teams that 'deserve' to be in the playoffs.  Well sometimes the joker makes it all the way to the top!!!

GO STEELERS!!!!  and please leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you