On the Matt: when you know its over

Published 4:00 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

Recently, I watched the Stanley Cup Finals game that decided who would become champions of the National Hockey League.

Although I’d been rooting for the Colorado Avalanche, and was very excited that they won, I couldn’t help but feel some sorrow for the defeated Tampa Bay Lightning players after the final buzzer sounded.

It made me think back to the New York Yankee baseball teams of the late 90s to early 2000s.

Email newsletter signup

The Yankees formed a dynasty – one of many in franchise history – as they won a championship in 1996, and then won a three-peat from 1998 – 2000. They also made it to the 2001 World Series which, though they’d won the last three championships, felt a bit improbable as it was easily their toughest road to the postseason.

After battling through a classic seven-game series, the Yankees came up just short- losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks in one of the most memorable baseball games in postseason history.

In many ways, watching the reaction of players afterward – several of whom would not return to the team and others who knew their roster would change due to salary cap and other issues – was like watching a group of guys who knew their time together had come to an end.

In some ways, I got the same reaction from watching Lightning players the other night.

Not to ignore the obvious, part of the reaction is general sadness over having lost in the finals – a tough pill to swallow for any competitive individual.

However, despite the success of multiple championships, every player knows that – eventually – things change.

This is especially true in the ever evolving world of professional sports, where free agency and midseason dealings are as common as they’ve ever been.

Yet it can be just as easily common in the non-professional sports world.

I very much look forward to meeting up with old school friends, especially if we have an athletic connection.

There’s a brotherly bond present from growing up together and battling on the field with one another that’s very hard to replace or explain.

However, I can remember vividly the moment when it became clear that our playing days were through.

Eventually, it also became evident that our school days were through, followed by our young adulthood, until we realized, “We’re adults!”

Near my mid 30s, it still doesn’t quite feel real today.

While I had the joy of winning some individual accolades, I regret to say that our team never took home that special trophy that would’ve provided us all with a ring.

Life most certainly goes on, and I wouldn’t have rather played with anyone anywhere else.

Yet still, the older I get, the more I realize that time passes quickly.

Take advantage of championship opportunities, and moments you spend with teammates.

At some point, you’ll know it’s over.