Caps Fans Remain ... Unique?
Every time I go down this road, I get a few predictable responses. Some say I'm encouraging coarse fan behavior, and contributing to the increasing crassness of professional sporting arenas. Some say that any anti-Pittsburgh accessories reveal that Caps fans, and the D.C. media, are unnaturally obsessed with Western Pennsylvania. And some say that anyone who does any of these things, at a minimum, is wasting his or her money.
And here's what I say: for better or worse, if you have a cheap camera and a willingness to wander concourses and talk to strangers before games or during breaks in play, your time is best spent at a Caps game. I don't know why, but right now the most creative fandom energy in this region is being put to use creating strange and/or amusing Caps clothing.
Above, please observe Jeff Romeo. Why 78? Why, it's his favorite number, of course. And why "Pens Suck?"
"All the pain they caused us over the years, basically," he told me.
Jeff wore a black "Pens Suck" 78 jersey in the old color scheme for nearly a decade, before finally getting a red "Pens Suck" model last year. Though his venom didn't seem quite as pronounced as that of Mike Gregorio, pictured below.
Mike's jersey, pictured here, was a birthday gift from his wife, who "knows how much I hate Crosby." I asked how he responded to the gift.
"What did I say?" he repeated. "I love you."
They had talked about such a jersey in advance, with Mike choosing "00" to be more original than the 87 and 8 models bearing Crosby hatred. He gave the expected reasons for disliking Sid the Kid: he's not old-school enough, he talks too much, he's "just a crybaby," Mike said. I asked why he wouldn't rather express himself by wearing an actual Caps jersey; "already got 'em," he said.
"Do you mind if I say you have the most awesome jersey in the world?" asked a random fan, interrupting us. "Do you mind if I take a picture of the back of your jersey?"
"Don't make his head any bigger," pleaded Mike's friend, who has seen a lot of this in the month since Mike received the sweater. Mike owns four game-worn Caps jerseys, and several other shirts, but the "Suck It" model has become his every-day apparel.
"This is something that, if need be, I don't mind if I get some blood on it," he said. I'm not sure if he was joking. Actually, I'm pretty sure he wasn't. I don't endorse fan-on-fan violence. Blood makes me twitch.
Ok, how about something a bit lighter. Like Chelsey Kelly, who had dressed up for Shamrock Fest, and figured out an easy way to convert her costume into Caps apparel. Masking tape. No. 52. Get it?
Of course, the Festing thing made her miss Mike Green's goal, so she had another piece of masking tape that read "Shamrock Fest made me miss Mike Green's goal :("
I asked her to describe the get-up. "I'm a Green ray of sunshine," she said.
Then there was Scott Roebuck, whose jersey was supposed to pay tribute to all of the Young Guns: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green and Semin. The first two occupy the back, and the arms were supposed to have a "52" and a "28," to complete the quartet. But the company forgot, apparently, so the arms say "8" and "19." Oh well. Why this particular approach?
"I didn't want just an Ovechkin one," Scott told me. "Everyone and their mom has an Ovechkin one. So I wanted Backstrom, but I didn't want just Backstrom, either, because Ovechkin's our best player. So I figured I'd do both."
Who says you can't have it all? Anyhow, do the first two jerseys here cause snickers of delight, or worries about the decline of American civilization?
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