Seeing the future is a heavy burden.

I don’t have cable or satellite TV. Normally, this isn’t something I mourn, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs leave me at the mercy of the whims of NBC. Unfortunately, even playoff hockey doesn’t rate network prime time slots. For some reason, there’s a lot more money to be made in airing such exciting shows as Dateline and lousy fundraising for, admittedly, worthy causes – and a re-run. That’s the one that burns me. Couldn’t they show the end of the game instead of a re-run? I’d tune in.

The result of this deprivation that I suffer for not buying television I don’t need or want for the tiny portion that I do is that I listen to the radio. Thank the internets for internet radio! I can hear the play-by-play, the roar of the crowd and the taunts – I love the taunts. I love when the crowd starts chanting swear words, such as “bullshit” for a call against the home team. I wonder if the FCC gives out penalties for such incidental crowd-swearing?

But the problem with radio is that I don’t have the score in sight at all times, and I’m anal enough to want to know the score, the stats, as much as I can while I’m listening. I even get a bit irritated that the shots on goal aren’t constantly displayed on most of the broadcasts (the Canadian broadcasts sometimes do, bless their hockey-loving hearts). This leads me to keep open’s Ice Tracker. And the problem with that is that it allows me to see into the future.

Not far into the future, just about 90 seconds, sometimes a little more or less. The Ice Tracker has a tendency to get caught in loops where it repeats sets of 20 or so seconds for minutes at a time, especially near the end of a game (suspicious, no?). This future sight can be awful. The announcers start the crescendo, excitement mounting and all I have to do is glance up to know that the drive will fail. On the other side, when they get those nervous tones about a rush from the opposing team, I can glance up and confirm that my Blackhawks will stand firm.

Still, there’s a part of me that really wishes the radio were ahead of the Ice Tracker. Some of the teams’ radio stations are like that. Pittsburgh Penguins radio, for example, is usually ahead of the Ice Tracker. And I’ve never heard a broadcaster with a wider range of hilarious phrases (“up top, where mama keeps the cookies,” “a little more pepper in the pot”).

Even when I can glance up and see that good news is about to arrive, I still don’t like it. I want to be surprised, to live the excitement of the game along with the voices calling it, since I can’t see it. And seeing that opposing team’s goal count go up before I hear it always sinks my heart.

Still, it’s a burden I’ll gladly bear for as long as my team stays alive in the playoffs. Go Blackhawks!

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