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Why The Tower? October 23, 2007

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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I’ve deliberately been keeping my counsel to myself the past few days.  The temptation would have been to fire off some massive missive first thing Sunday morning, excoriating the Caps for not doing this right or just doing that wrong, and so on.  However, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and I’m not going to help by playing pile-on.
Not to say I enjoyed seeing the Caps lose to the Pens Saturday night–that one was, indeed, a painful one.  Thing is, a couple of lucky breaks and we would have won that one.  And 2-1 to the Pens is a whole heck of a lot better than 7-3 to the Sabres.  As I’ve said before, some games you’re just destined to lose.  I know I’ve previously said elsewhere that Saturday’s game was indeed winable, an assertion I will stand by.  However, having seen the action unfold Saturday night, it seems Miss Fortune had other ideas, and no pregame assertion can stand up to a game that seems, by all measures, to have been star-crossed.
The parade to the sin bin obviously didn’t help.  Excuse my sarcasm, but it seems that looking at Sidney Crosby cross-eyed is an automatic double minor these days.  That, or the referee just found himself a girlfriend in Steeltown.  Regardless, put the short-handed scoring unit out there too many times, and sooner or later it will prove less than perfect.  On the scoresheet, that was the difference.
My mind keeps coming back to the Tower tarot card.  I don’t think this completely qualifies as a Tower type of situation, but that’s the impression I’m getting, and I’m going to run with it.
For those unfamiliar with a Tarot deck, there are two parts to it: the Major Arcana, and the Minor Arcana.  The Minor Arcana is almost identical to a deck of playing cards, except that there is a fourth face card for a total of 56 cards (14 of each rank).  Suits are different, too, with Swords, Wands, Cups, and Coins replacing hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades (although not in that order).  The Major Arcana is a series of (traditionally) 22 trump cards, numbered 0-21.  Laid out from lowest to highest, they tell the story of a life’s journey, from The Fool at 0 (which represents new beginnings and foolhardy optimism) to The World at 21 (which represents completion and, usually, victory). 
Along the way, there are some not-so-pleasant cards: 13 is Death, which represents something in life coming to an end; 15 is The Devil, representing temptation; and, the one you don’t want to see in a reading, 16, The Tower.  The inside joke among Tarot readers is that a person getting the reading will panic when they see Death, but they’ll see The Tower as no big deal; the person doing the reading is thinking the exact opposite way. 
So that I don’t get hammered for an explanation, here’s why: Death usually has NOTHING to do with the demise of the physical body.  Drawing Death in a reading doesn’t by itself mean that you’re going to die: it means that something in your life is going to come to and end.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Nothing sinister.  Because maybe that something that’s ending for you is an unpleasant thing.  Also, from death comes rebirth.  Like the songwriter said, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
What’s with The Devil?  He represents temptation–the urge to do something you know you shouldn’t.  He represents evil, but a seductive evil–the kind that can draw you in of your own free will unless you take care to guard the way of your life.  If you see this in a reading, it usually means you’re going to be tempted to do the wrong thing: be careful.  (Wear white socks, you could say.)
Giving in to The Devil at 15 leads straight in to The Tower at 16.  The Tower is usually pure, unadulterated bad news–it represents destruction.  (Its original name is The Blasted Tower.)  It represents something big being destroyed by very powerful forces.  In some decks, the destroying agent is something otherworldly: a lightning bolt or a meteorite.  The impression, then, is one of divine justice.  You got too big for your britches, you listened to the devil, and this is what you get in return.  This huge, fancy tower that you built is coming down.  Remember the Tower of Babel in Genesis?  Similar idea.
For the curious, the rest of the Major Arcana goes, in order: The Star; The Moon; The Sun; Judgement (sometimes called The Last Judgement); and The World.  After all the destruction, the traveller looks to the heavens in hope, is judged, and completes their journey.  That’s a very gross oversimplification, but it’s enough to get you through this post.
So how does The Tower relate to the Capitals?  As I said, I don’t think a 4-game losing streak in October quite fits as an act of divine retribution.  Actually, hold that thought.
I’m reminded of a song by VNV Nation called “Nemesis.”  It would do well as Donald Brashear’s theme song.  The line that keeps getting repeated in the refrain is “Because Judgement Day’s not coming, Judgement Day’s not coming, Judgement Day’s not coming, soon enough.”  For whatever it’s worth.
A four-game losing streak isn’t quite an act of divine retribution against the boys in red.  I DO think, however, that it is a bit of a trial, an obstacle, a challenge to be profitably overcome.  Obviously, the power play has to get better.  Obviously, we need more offense, and not just from Russians named Alexander.  We started the season 3-0, and have since been weighed and found wanting the past four.  Should the requisite lessons be learned from this little skid, I see no reason why we can’t use it as a teaching point, a building point, a way to more fully integrate the team we now have.  And frankly, I’d much rather that we have a four-game skid in October than in March.
Consider the past few seasons here in Washington, and my earlier thoughts regarding delayed gratification.  What we have here, I think, can be thought of as a mini-build: getting the new team properly put together for a sustained run through the season.  This isn’t the practically open tryouts that we saw two seasons ago: we know who’s going to be on this team, health permitting.  It’s just a matter of figuring out, in game conditions, which star best skates with which other star.
The one mystery remains–that Tower.  Why am I getting the sense that this is a time of destruction?
Perhaps the answer lies not so much with The Tower itself as with the rest of the cards: Star, Moon, Sun, Judgement, World.  Perhaps what’s going on–or should be going on–is a bit of soul-searching by the Caps, a bit of looking to the heavens, either literally or metaphorically.  In hockey terms, I would equate Judgement to the playoffs, and The World to the Stanley Cup, but that’s just my interpretation and I could be wrong.  But if that’s right, and if the Caps are currently at The Tower, that leaves the rest of the season to be Star, Moon, Sun.  We would still have to go through a bit of a dark night of the soul (Star, Moon), to reach the light (Sun) on the other side.  If we assume the journey is of three equal lengths, that would mean, with 75 games to go, that we’re currently looking at a nice round 25 games for each card.  Hmm.  Intriguing.
I’m admittedly less than certain what to make of that.  But if that does indeed play out, and the last 25 games of the season are as sunny as all that, we might indeed be making a very hard push starting around President’s Day.  It’s a thought.
Look, I know there are a lot of Caps fans out there who are EXTREMELY disappointed with Saturday night’s loss.  I’ll admit, I’m one of them.  And you should have seen my weekend warrior: I swear it must have taken me half an hour to scrape the poor thing off the upper concourse, she was crying so hard.
And yet, we all know we can’t lose like this all year.  Not with the line-up we’ve got.  I believe that given enough time to adjust to their lines, these are players that will win a lot more games than they will lose when the chips are down.
Folks, we’re less than 10% of the way in.  If the regular season were a drive from Washington to New York City, we’d have barely hit Jessup.  Perhaps another Tarot card, Temperance, might be in order for such a dispirited fan base.


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