The best thing about having a team-issued credential to cover the Lightning is that I'm a Lightning fan, and I like to believe that being a credentialed member of the media allows me to be an ambassador on behalf of fellow fans who will never get to experience the game of hockey that way. Through this weekly column, I'll be sharing peeks behind the magical media curtain with you. Today, we're going to talk about making friends with your competition.
”...It was the sort of sensible arrangement that many isolated agents, working in awkward conditions a long way from their superiors, reach with their opposite number when they realize that they have far more in common with their immediate opponents than their remote allies.” - from Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
With a small handful of notable exceptions, I’ve never met most of my colleagues at Raw Charge. [And his first meeting with me is a redacted column that will never see the light of day! - Acha] It’s a much larger handful of people from other outlets that I share space with up in the press box, that I can say I actually know.
Strictly speaking, we’re competitors in that we’re producing content for outlets that compete with each other. The prevailing attitude among most of those of us on the ground (or rather, up in the box) is that it is their problem, ‘they’ being the higher-ups who run those outlets. Sure, we care about that stuff too, but there’s a lot more to be gained from getting along with the people we see on a regular basis than there is from keeping them at arms length or worse.
If somebody asks, “Hey, how many games has Stamkos missed so far this season?”, it’s just courteous and reasonable to answer them instead of saying, “go ask your editor”.
For the last couple of years, it’s been my privilege and pleasure to sit next to Thomas Fernandez. He used to write for Sports Talk Florida and was up there almost every game, like me. Now he’s got a fancy Associate Managing Editor gig and doesn’t come up there nearly as often. We had a good time, forming an alliance that our own Allokago christened “The Bromance”. This was highlighted as much by tormenting one another at least as much as collaborating...
ME: It's Thunderbug, not The Thunderbug.
THOMAS: There's only one of him.
ME: You are making a mockery of the game.
THOMAS: I have a wheezy fat voice
ME: We can't all have pipes.
THOMAS: I hope to one day get pipes. Like Pinocchio.
ME (reacting to a penalty call): It's not fair, he didn't do anything.
THOMAS: Life isn’t fair.
ME: I hate unfairness.
THOMAS: So you hate life.
ME: Pretty much.
THOMAS: Look at us; we barely have enough hair to put on a Barbie doll.
ME: Our hair is not the reason that our fans love us.
THOMAS: The fact that we have fans is shocking to me.
ME: They're mostly my fans. You're swimming in my wake.
ME: Are you going to help me move or not?
THOMAS: I feel like if I'm going to help you move, you have a to sign an agreement with me and I have stipulations. Lots of stipulations
ME: The standard, time-honored agreement for helping someone move is payment rendered in pizza, maybe beer. Period.
THOMAS: This doesn't help me.
ME: It's good for the universe though.
THOMAS: I don't like chick peas.
ME: You like hummus. There's no reason to not like chick peas.
THOMAS: I'm an American. I don't need reasons.
THOMAS: You are very argumentative tonight.
ME: No, I am not.
THOMAS (After eating popcorn): I'm so full. I blame you.
ME: I don't feed and clothe you.
THOMAS: You talked me into it.
Don’t be confused; it’s not all screwing around and talking about stuff so trivial it makes ‘Seinfeld’ look like an abridged history of western civilization. But there’s lots of dead time, and well, something...or rather somebody...has to fill that void.