by Brenna Solop
On this cold and wintry night, listening to my garbage cans take off down the street, I think I’ll travel back to warmer days.
It was last spring – chicks were hatching, baby bunnies were taking their first hops, and the aromas of hope and Shake Shack hung in the air, given that the Mets’ wretched season had not yet begun. There was my sister at the mall, shopping for a Reyes jersey for her hubby’s birthday. She spotted one hanging way up top and called a salesperson over for assistance. That’s when she had one of those ‘I thought salespeople were only that rude in the movies’ moments.
“Oh, that’s not what you’re looking for,” said the salesperson. “That’s an authentic jersey. It’s over $250. The replicas are over there.”
“Yeah, I’m well aware of that,” said my sister. “That’s the jersey I want. And believe it or not, I have the money to pay for it.”
What my sister really wanted to say was that exact sentence above, but with “, schmuck.” added to the end of it. And no, she wasn’t donning the hobo look that day. It was just the assumption that a girl had wandered into the sports store and didn’t know the difference.
Then as quickly as you can say runners left in scoring position, hockey season was almost upon us. My sister figured she had earned a nice Islander jersey from her hubby, especially given the sour experience she had buying his. She was extra excited because the Islanders had signed Marty Biron, who came complete with her favorite number in the whole, wide world…43.
Truth be told, it has nothing to do with the player behind the number. It could be Marty Biron or Marty Turco or Marty McSorley or Marty McFly. She’s just always wanted a decent enough player for a team she roots for to wear her lucky number. It’s been slim pickings, leaving her no choice but to get a nice Richard Petty collection going. Now she thought her ship had come in.
Wait, thought my brother-in-law. This 43 may not be sticking around long enough to invest in.
Well, while nothing has happened yet, I have a nagging suspicion that his apprehension will pay off. With the NHL trades heating up and Biron being sent down to Bridgeport, 43 may not be with the Isles much longer. Those in the know say he may yield a 3rd or 4th round draft pick…hey, those numbers put together and reversed make a 43! What? I’m stretching for my only sibling’s sake.
All this poor soul is looking for is a 43 she can believe in. But in sports, buying a player jersey will always be a risk. Yes, we have all convinced ourselves that we cause a trade to happen simply by buying a player’s jersey. Do we? No. It’s the guy who actually wears the jersey that wields that power. Or the guy that pays him. Or the guy that whispers in his ear and pulls the puppet strings. Or sometimes his wife. Could be his kids. Parents, possibly. Maybe sometimes even the Almighty Himself. But I’m definitely sure it ain’t me and my Modell’s gift card.
So if Marty is indeed on his way out, let me take this early opportunity to say goodbye; we hardly knew ya. As I heard Garth Snow mention recently when asked why the Islanders can’t beat the Flyers, “I don’t know. We stole their goalie. Maybe we need to steal their skates.”
Looks like the Search for 43 will have to continue.
How many years does Polamalu have left on his contract?
Final note: I want to offer my deepest condolences to the Burke family. Young Brendan was a brave young man – his father has every right to be proud of him.
About the Author: An Islander fan since first grade, Brenna is waiting for the glory days to return. God-forbid the Islanders move, she's praying they leave a casino in their wake, so that she can drown her sorrows at the Let It Ride table. And boy, is she a lousy gambler.