Migrated from ESPN.com blog February 2, 2011
Originally published May 19, 2008
I usually try to keep this blog tied to current events in sports, but this may stray from that a bit. Yesterday the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-0 (ouch) to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals. I’m reading the local free paper on the Washington D.C. Metro this morning and see a picture of an elated Pascal Dupuis celebrating after his second goal of the evening. I can barely sit still. It’s the same maddening feeling I had two years ago when I realized that the Steelers were going to Super Bowl XL.
I was living in Boston and had to have had the most beaming smile on my face for the whole week before (and then after!) the Super Bowl. What’s so maddening about this feeling? Well, there’s no one to share it with when you live in a different city. In Pittsburgh, I know they must be bubbling over with nervous excitement. That is when I suddenly feel nostalgic and long for home.
In the Spring of 1992, I was almost seven years old. Every day my dad would get the paper and after he read it, I would take the sports section and clip out the latest article about the dominating Penguins. I had a binder full of those, along with trading cards for all of my favorite players. Like most Pittsburghers, I was a die-hard Lemieux fan. At such a young age, I didn’t completely understand all of the terminology, but I knew enough to understand that Lemieux was the best player I’d ever seen on skates and that the Pens had a chance to be back to back champions. I understood that the games the Pens were playing at that time were really important. I knew that they had to win them or get eliminated from having a chance to be the champions.
Looking back on it now, I can barely remember specifics about those final games sweeping the Blackhawks. The only thing that remains crystal clear is the image of Super Mario hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head to the sounds of deafening cheers.
…Then suddenly, I’m back on the D.C. Metro, wishing I could wear the Lemieux jersey I’ve loved since I was nine to work. (I’m ever grateful to my parents who bought it in an adult size that I can still wear at age 22!) I’m wishing I could be in Pittsburgh, hearing the Strip District buzzing with excitement, eating over-filled sandwiches at Primanti’s over game highlights, and home in that town full of black and gold.
Two stops later, a gentleman gets on the train wearing a Penguins ball cap. Shortly before I get off at my stop, I tell him that I like his hat and ask if he is excited for the upcoming finals. He answers with an elated “yes!” Not surprisingly, we are both transplants to the area from fairly close parts of Pittsburgh. As I exit the train and begin walking toward the escalator, I catch a glance of him through the train window. His smile is beaming, and I wonder if he’s back home for a moment too…