As I write this, Al is getting dressed for his hockey game tonight at the Class of 1923 Ice Arena on the Penn Campus. I'm not there mainly because (a) I'm extremely pregnant, and therefore extremely tired of lugging this belly around, and (b) I learned last Saturday night that the Penn ice rink is COLD COLD COLD, and I have no coats that cover enough of my swollen body to keep me warm. This will be the first Galaxy game that Al has played in that I've missed; at all of the others I not only watched, but took notes. So, why haven't I written anything about the games here?
Basically, I'm finding that writing about Al's games (for public consumption, anyway) is not the same as writing about my own. I feel judgemental, and as anyone who's been following this chronicle since the beginning knows, I'm in no position to judge. I've improved over three years, but I'm barely an advanced beginner. I know Al finds my observations about his games useful, but I'm afraid that his teammates would just think they're bitchy or rude (not that all—or even most—of the notes I make are negative, but sometimes the exasperation comes out in an excess of exclamation points :).
It's easier to talk about other players when I'm also talking about myself, when it's clear from the context that I don't consider myself any better (and sometimes considerably worse) than my linemates and teammates. That isn't possible now because I'm not playing at all, sadly. I've spent virtually every non-notetaking moment of Al's games wishing I could be on the ice, and I spent much of last week's warm-up time thinking about how soon after giving birth I could go to a public skate to get my ice legs back. I also regretted not taking advantage of the lunchtime public skates last winter, when I didn't have a baby. I wonder if my mom will watch the baby for an hour during the two weeks she's here after the birth so I can go skating?
Anyway, back to Al and his team. I think at first he was happy to find that he hadn't been placed at too high a level, but after watching/playing with this team for a few weeks, it's clear that they're not as strong either individually or as a team (especially as a team) as the Gang Green squad we played with in San Jose last summer (2003). Al kind of likes that when he dogs it he doesn't stand out as a total lazybones, but personally I'd rather play with people who were better (and a bit faster) than I was. I feel like it makes me better, makes me try harder and improve faster. I know it does that for Al, too, whether he realizes it or not; when he played on a line with Jim Lund, who was excellent at both making and receiving passes (not to mention shooting), Al was a faster, more confident player, and he certainly scored more goals.
One other observation I feel comfortable making in this post: Al's been playing Right Wing for several seasons now, but in a recent Galaxy game he played D, and I thought it really gave him a chance to shine. Al switched to forward when he started playing on better teams and felt like he couldn't defend effectively against faster players anymore, but his D skills are still pretty good, and they were certainly effective against the opponents his team played a couple weeks ago. I would have liked to see him continue to play D, but apparently it was only a temporary thing while the team was a bit short. He was back at RW the next week.