Good: Marist Women's Basketball. Bad: Cafe 31
So last night I was at the Rangers game with Rich and the text messages were coming in fast and furious about the Marist College women's basketball team winning their second round game in the NCAA Tournament vs. Middle Tennessee St. While this may not seem like a big deal, Marist is a #13 seed (or heavy underdog to those who don't follow college basketball). They had just defeated heavy favorite Ohio St. with their star player Jessica Davenport who many project to be the first pick in the WNBA draft. Anyway, the Rangers game ended with a last second goal for a big win for the Blueshirts (now in 7th position in the playoffs...maybe the Isles can overtake the hurricanes for the last spot). So on our way out I figured I'd run to a bar to catch the last seconds of the women's game if it was still on.
We exit the garden and the closest bar is Cafe 31 (on W. 31st btw 7th and 8th). We walk into the place which we had never been too before and it resembles more of a fancy restaurant than it does a sports bar. You can tell the place definitely had a complex since the white tableclothed seating mismatched with the winding sports bar with plasma tvs. Anyway there was only about 7 people in the place when I asked the bartendress if she could change the channel to ESPN2 so I could catch the end of the game. Most of the TVs were on Versus network with the Rangers postgame...other tvs were on the local news or something like that. So its not like I was asking the bar to switch out of a game. Plus the 7 people there looked like they had plenty to drink and couldn't even lift their heads off the bar.
Of course the bartendress barely speaks any english and goes over to the owner. The owner is this large greasy portly looking man with graying slicked back hair. He's talking to a few Rangers fans at the end of the bar when the bartendress tells him a customer is asking to change the channel. He throws an attitude that she bothered him so I yell over do you mind throwing on ESPN 2 for 30 seconds, I'll even buy a beer. After talking to his buddies he finally bends over (must have been a chore for him) and puts on ESPN (which was on commercial). I wait the 3 minutes of commercial time thinking something is wrong. When the game resumes, its NIT men's basketball. Rich walks over to him and tells him he put on the wrong channel (I was too infuriated at the scumbag at this point) and he says he put on ESPN2. Rich tells him he didn't and the owner says he did. I walk over and say no, you didn't. He bends back over (again a chore) and now puts on ESPN2. On the screen is the last seconds of the post game interview with Marist's point guard and they cut away to the next game. I tell him thanks alot asshole you missed the 30 seconds I was looking for.
Basically all I wanted to see was the last 30 seconds of the game. With the joy on the players faces as they celebrated going to the sweet 16. I know no one gives two shits about women's basketball, but having been around our women's program for all four years at Marist and knowing the head coach when he used to coach at Our Lady of Loudes HS in Poughkeepsie, as an alumni it was a great moment to see. A program that had gotten crushed in the tournament in their last 2 appearance was now miracously headed to the sweet 16 with 2 major upsets (Middle Tenn St had won 28 straight games coming into the game last night). If the bar was crowded or a game was on I could see him not switching over. But no one was in the fucking joint. And the fact that this asshole basically told us we were wrong, with an attitude no less, basically pissed us off.
The kicker was this fat ass was wearing suspenders. And not only suspenders, but suspenders with a printing of Heineken bottle caps on it. Rich and I got a few good laughs out of that. It's like dude...go out and buy your own $1 suspenders off the street. And he walked around like he was god's gift to the world (probably has enough people kiss his ass being so close to the garden).
I grew up hanging out in the Good Old Days, which was a bar on the corner of 8th and 32nd (where Bar Local now stands). They were the epitomy of a sports bar. Every famous athlete that had played the Garden had stopped in their for a drink or a bite to eat (to this day they still have the biggest burgers I've ever seen. They served them on Italian bread and you basically needed to sit on them to fit them in your mouth). Joe Louis had autographed boxing gloves. Same with Ali. Hulk Hogan autographed his wrestling trunks. Knicks...DeBuechere, Frazier, you name them autographed jerseys. Pennants from every team hung from the walls. Autographed pictures of every athlete. The place was the mecca of sports memorabilia as far as I was concerned. It was THE sports bar of the garden. Then when the Garden was undergoing renovations, the bar had dwindling business (plus you didn't really venture around Penn Station in the 1980s unless you were talking the train out of town). With no events for 6 months due to renovations and the fact that the Queen of Mean herself, Leona Helmsley owns that property - instead of giving the bar relief, she forced them into Chapter 11 and eventually a shutdown. She helped open some Chinese place called the Beema Grill which I refused to step foot in. Now I refuse to step foot in Bar Local out of everlasting protest since the property is still owned by the evil witch Helmsley herself.
Anyway, point being, I have a special affinity for bars around the garden. I spent every weekend at the garden thanks to my dad scoring tickets to whatever event was in town (Knicks, Rangers, the circus, wrestling, etc) in exchange for him servicing the bar's refrigerators and airconditioners over the weekend. So the place has meaning to me. I graduated H.S. at the garden. Watched Hulk Hogan defeat Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff and Sgt. Slaughter defeat the Iron Sheik. Watched the Knicks futilly attempt to defeat the Spurs in the NBA finals. It has history to me in the 26+ years I've been visiting the garden. So I take anything around the garden as sacred ground. So the fact that this scumbag basically runs this pisspoor business and can't do me the one simple favor of changing the fucking channel for 30 seconds pretty much breaks my heart. Because bars around the garden are supposed to cater to the fans. You're a sports bar, Cafe 31? Then why the white linened tables with fancy silverwear? Sports bar around the garden means lots of tvs, beer on the floor, drunken patrons arguing about who was the better old time Knick or Ranger. It means jerseys on the walls and old mementos of days yore. It means putting the local team on TV (in this case Marist is local enough) when their game is on. Not giving patrons an attitude when they "bother" him to change the channel or then lying to them about what channel is on.
As we were leaving this other guy was like "Thanks guys, see you soon". My response, "See you never". Fuckin asshole. So I'm asking all of you to boycott Cafe 31. There's other bars in the area. Molly Wee pub on 30th and 8th. Or Jake's on 31st and 8th. Hell go to the Blarney Stone for all I care. Just don't give this scumbag the satisfication of going to his bar because "its the closest" to the Garden. Hell, it's next to a parking garage, so you know the place has rats. Perhaps they take after their owner?
Anyway, the good news, the Women's team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Women's NCAA Tournament. The local news covered the story on the 11pm news, although Len Berman couldn't pronounce Poughkeepsie (kept saying Pro-crip-see) much to Sue Simmons' delight. When they announced the victory at ABC there was applause in the studio (some Marist grads are running around there for sure). Over on ESPN News an elated JW Stewart interviewed Marist coach Brian Giorgis over the phone (JW is a Marist grad and used to be the sports writer for the Poughkeepsie Journal. I know JW, he's a great guy. I used to stand next to him when he interviewed Giorgis when Giorgis team played their big games at Marist. If you've missed the story, here's a link to get you caught up and some video of the highlights:
Also here's an article that ran in the New York Times after Marist defeated Ohio St. on Saturday night:
Next up is the winner of the Tennessee vs Pittsburgh game tonight. We can hope that the Panthers pull the upset, but most likely Marist will face Tennessee and their season will end. But at least Cinderella is getting her story told for the week. After all those losing seasons in the late 90s with solid teams that underperformed, redemption for the Red Foxes is spelled: G-I-O-R-G-I-S.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Good: Marist Women's Basketball. Bad: Cafe 31