Archive for January, 2012

Feeling the burn

Posted: January 28, 2012 in Racing

“The fire inside, the fire inside / You can’t run from what’s in your blood and you can’t hide / The fire inside” – Bon Jovi

I was trying to do a write-up on how it has been both very easy and yet very hard to be away from racing.  It is all summed up by the lyrics above.  Racing can’t be described as anything less than being in my blood.

I was a handful of paragraphs into trying to explain that I still wish like hell every day that I was involved with the sport; that my PR days weren’t limited to just one, too short of a season.  But I couldn’t do it.  Reading back over each paragraph I realized I was failing horribly at leaving my “political stance” out of the picture.  I was failing to speak of the present tense with a positive light.  I care too much about the sport.

While those negativities made it so easy to walk away, they also have made it very difficult.  It always sucks when you can’t step away from what you love on your own terms.  Yes, I admit that I chose to walk away.  However, I felt that I had the decision made for me because it was too damn painful to watch the sport (and the way of life for that matter) that I love so much put itself through such disarray.  As far as the local level of racing, things are in the toilet.  I’m not just talking about here in the Northwest – every corner of the country is in the same situation.

However, it’s days like this that make me want to get back involved.  To flip on the TV (and these days the various social media outlets online) to follow such an amazing race as the 24 Hours of Daytona, it really gets the racing infused blood going.  There’s no denying that there is still real racing out there: endurance (which has always been my favorite form of car racing), Formula 1, NHRA (though I still frown mightily upon their shortening of the track a few years ago) and World Rally to name a few.  Outside of cars, dirt bikes (off-road, Supercross, Motocross) will forever be my preferred genre of the sport.

Some major organizations here in North America have gotten way too far away from their foundation.   Others such as the ones listed above are still on the right path.  Those are the ones that everyone needs to make note of.  Those are the ones that give me hope that one day things will get back to the way they use to be; the ones that make me want to pick up my pen again and do what I love to do best – promote and live the sport that I love.  Yet, I realize those days are either too far into the future or are never going to come at all.  That’s the realization that makes me satisfied in my decision to walk away.

But, there’s no denying that “The Fire Inside” will always be burning to ink a blank page with my blood, full of the sport I will forever love.

— JRD

What has it all been for?  What is there to look forward to?  What again is the concept behind rebuilding?  According to the Western Hockey League’s trade deadline on Tuesday, none of us apparently really know.

The Everett Silvertips spent all of the 2011 summer prepping their fan base for an upcoming season of going green, so-to-speak.  Green with inexperience as the team found itself the closest to square-one that it has been since their inaugural season back in 2003-2004.  Youth.  Inexperience.  Growing pains.  Big payoff in the future.  All of these were elements of the blueprints being laid out: producing the balance of having just enough veterans in the line-up to shoulder the load with their experience and skills, and plenty of fresh faces to grow into successful talents for the finish of this season and the seasons to come.  Well, all of the loyalists are still waiting to see it.

The season began as everyone had hoped.  The team was very competitive despite filling up tallies in the losing columns as the new faces were too young to give a crap about “being out of it” and the vets used their abilities to give the newbies the chance to make things interesting.  However, as the season wore along, the rookies began to show signs of frustration and tiring; the guys who have been around showed signs of conceding any chances of success.  The results were and have been evident.  The “green” kids are showing us declines in glimpses of improvement and the “grey beards” are the ones making the biggest mistakes.  Is it a combined conundrum of wondering if they have what it takes and limping to the finish line in their careers, respectively?

Well, that’s where yesterday’s events (or in this case non-events) come in to play.  If you really are building for the future and the veterans aren’t performing or don’t care or a combination of both, then why not get rid of them?  As the worst team in the league, there are 21 other organizations out there that those guys would rather be playing for.  Well, a lot of them anyway.  Some of them are organization devotees who wear the silver and green with dignity and pride regardless of the scoreboard or standings.  But, the others want to win no matter who it’s with or where it’s at.  Those are the ones holding this team back and the ones who need to go.  Well, I guess I need to rephrase that: they’re the ones who needed to go.

The Tips missed good opportunities to get rid of the assets that are no longer beneficial to the team.  Their value would have been toward other teams who gladly would have given up youth and draft picks in exchange, thus contributing to the supposed glorious future that the Tips have in mind.  General Manager Doug Soetaert is on record talking about how disappointing majority of those veterans have been.  He spoke of their inconsistencies and the lack of positive attitudes that some (but certainly not all) have displayed.  He also, though, made it very clear that the team would not be looking to make moves, but would certainly answer the phone if it rang.  Wait, what?

Basically the team makes it public that they aren’t happy with the veterans’ underwhelming performance during a rebuilding year and yet they don’t look to rectify that?  Get rid of them.  Bus them off.  Get us some kids who want to play, who are happy to be in the WHL.  The new faces that have been called up throughout the season to make a couple of appearances have been extremely refreshing.  They all have the attitude that is needed for this team: I’m going to be a game changer.  When a team is in a normal mindset in terms of its personnel, the main goal of rookies and call-ups is to just be solid – don’t try to set the world on fire, just be smooth, consistent, play your role the right way.  In the state that the Silvertips find themselves the philosophy of those same new players has to be the opposite.

When the team is the worst in the league there is nowhere to go but up.  The only way to do that is by changing the way you’re playing.  Therefore, anyone on the ice needs to have the ability to make themselves believe on any given shift they will turn the game around.  That’s the only way to create the much needed spark to inspire the guys on the bench, the organization and almost more importantly the fans.  The fan base has to see something to get excited about, something to look forward to each time they head to the local barn.

That’s where the Tips went wrong.  As far as I’m concerned, they botched the rebuilding process.  At least for this season, anyway.  We’ll see what happens come Bantam Draft and Import Draft time.  We’ll see what happens come the off-season and potential moves.  We’ll see what happens come year two of this phase.  As for the right here and right now, however, the constant battle for us loyalists to not get too frustrated has now become agony.  Why must we continue to watch the underperformances of those who don’t want to be out there?  We want to see the supposed future.  We want to see the players we get excited over.

We want to be reassured that we know what this has all been for.

 

– JRD