Saturday, May 30, 2009

Phoenix Comes Home

Nearly four weeks have passed since I dropped the silver phoenix off at IAG for the ESP work. Last night, after a two-and-a-half-hour marathon session of ride-height adjustment, alignment, a CAI search, and Cobb AP installation, I brought it home.

JJ spent a good 6-8 hours on the fender rolling and flares to cover the massive 295/30R18 Hoosier A6s (which, yes, I drove home on).

The ERZ exhaust has been replaced with an Invidia G200, mated to a catted downpipe. Gabe should be happy, since the Invidia is quieter than the ERZ (even though it looks like it will be louder. The stock intercooler has been superceded with an STi intercooler, and right now, there is an AEM cold air intake on the car; this is only because the Cobb CAI was out of stock (to JJ's surprise).

I need to go out and change the oil and wash the car now. WDCR autocross tomorrow!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Memorial Day 2009.

The WRX was supposed to be ready to go for a NASA-X event down at Virginia Motorsports Park today, but IAG was too swamped with work to get it done. So, it looks like the debut of the WRX in ESP will be next weekend at the local WDCR event. I signed up to run XP with it, so that we can do some test-and-tune -- me in the morning, Gabe in the afternoon (if he gets his butt in gear and signs up for ESP, that is).

Pat found the ARP studs on Friday while going through some junk in the garage; evidently, they were buried along with the rest of the missing stuff (FRS radios, some Subaru stickers, etc.) under some of his SE-R tires. Go figure. I took them over to IAG on Saturday, so that they can be put on the car with the rest of the stuff this coming week. I took a couple of pictures of the beast-in-progress too.

The primary problem right now is that the struts and the rear tires have less than a quarter of an inch clearance. I can't get my tiny pinky finger between the edge of the rim and the strut body. I hope a spacer will help with the problem.

It looks like Greg McCance is using 295s on his WRX too; I don't know if he's got the 17s or the 18s or not. Frankly, I consider him my stiffest WRX competition, and I know he's not sparing any expense on build either. He's a great driver as well (STX National Champion in 2008), so I'm really climbing a mountain here.

I'm not sure what he's using for suspension; if I recall what Billy Brooks told me, it's Ohlins coilovers. In lieu of zzyzx stuff, I know that Ohlins is top notch, and I'm hoping that the AST suspension I sprung for (through Vorshlag) is up to the challenge.

I wish I'd been able to go to the NASA-X today. The flares, intake, intercooler and strut tower bars should be done for next weekend though, so it will debut at the local DC region event instead.

On an interesting side note, Pat and I went to Lowe's today to pick up a new light fixture and a couple of window A/C units. He was wearing a Capitals t-shirt with Varlamov's name and number on the back. The guy who helped us with the air conditioners was remarking how game seven was so uncharacteristic of the rest of the series and he thought the "young goaltender was left out to dry." The cashier also remarked on the Capitals season, saying it was a shame they couldn't hold on to the series lead.

Since when have Capitals fans been in Glen Burnie, to the point where they are still talking about hockey even though the Capitals season ended a week and a half ago?! I knew the Nationals and the Orioles were having a tough time of it so far this MLB season, but... wow. If people in the Baltimore area have been hooked, maybe DC really has become a hockey town!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Losing Bets

Gambling is bad, mmmmkay? I say that as I stand here in front of a room of 20+ students who are snickering at a person who they know is a staunch supporter of the Washington Capitals... and she's wearing a very over-sized CCM Pittsburgh Penguins jersey, adorned with the despised #87.

Yep, I made an ill-advised wager on the outcome of game seven. At least it's only my pride that's damaged, and not my wallet.

In the meantime, I'm starting to get psyched for the WRX build. I saw the AST 5200 coilovers in person on Saturday; they are gorgeous. I hope they work as nice as they look. External reservoirs and crazy adjustments... I'm gonna be clueless with shock setup when I take the car out for the first time. Hopefully, that "first time" will be next weekend at the NASA-X autocross at Virginia Motorsports Park.

Pictures forthcoming -- of the shocks, and hopefully not of me in the black and gold! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Going Out With A Whimper

What a terrible way to end one of the most hyped series ever in the NHL.

What a depressing way to finish off an epic season.

Welcome to Caps hockey. Some things never seem to change. :(

Until September comes around again...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cinco de la Serie (or Игра пять)

When playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, game five has never been kind to the Capitals. Never. Nada. Not once have the Capitals won a game five against the black and gold.

But then again, not once had a team in the NHL been DFL in the league at Thanksgiving, yet come back to win their division. Never had an NHL defenseman scored a goal in eight straight games. The number of Capitals teams in franchise history to score 108 points? Nada, until this year.

Under Bruce Boudreau, the impossible always seems possible with this group of mostly young men. Yes, they screw up at times -- sometimes the screw up is more like "epic fail" -- but overall, this is most certainly the best Capitals team the NHL has ever seen.

Yet, at times, it seems as if they are playing against more than just the opposing team. Even Washington GM George McPhee commented on the officiating this past week after game three's 7-2 power play disparity, even while the players themselves kept their comments fairly neutral.

The emotions are running high, especially in light of the abuse rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov has been taking in both the series against the Rangers and so far against the Penguins. It's understandable if it's difficult to keep retaliation off the mind, but frustration against constant penalty killing and lack of attack time shouldn't play into the game as much as it has. Game four was a bit more even in terms of calls, but still a lot of clutching and grabbing of the interference variety was ignored.

Game five starts in just about 200 minutes. Here's to overcoming obstacles and doing the impossible.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What the Hell is Wrong With People?

Some people take their sports a little too seriously. It's one thing to be riled up over the Capitals versus Penguins series, but to go so far as to actually claim that you are going to kill a rival team's player? And to say that you "know [you] will be arrested, but [you] don't care?"

Did this seventeen-year-old brainiac ever consider the impact of his words for just one second?

The worst part about this is the fact that, since he is a minor, this child will not even be properly punished for his actions, and therefore likely won't learn anything from it. Had the Pennsylvania troopers taken the Internet tough guy into custody and let him sit in jail until his parents arrived, maybe he would have learned an important lesson. But, having been around snark-tastic teenagers for the last fourteen years, I am fairly confident that the "talking to" he was given by the police is just fodder for the boy's Facebook status right now.

Hell, he is probably proud of the fact that he "scared" Ovechkin and the hockey world enough that the police were brought in. If, may the gods have mercy on us, the Penguins actually win tomorrow night, this child is going to believe that he helped by making the Capitals look over their shoulders instead of being focused on the game.

What ever happened to good old trash-talk between rival fans? When did watching hockey -- being a spectator -- become a life-or-death thing?

Seriously, when I first suggested that we go to Philadelphia for a Capitals game earlier this year, Pat was horrified by the idea. "We'll get killed!" he said to me. I bought tickets anyway, and he reluctantly joined me. He was even more loathe to wear his Brashear jersey; I all but forced him to don it. He really thought it would incite violence against us. I told him that I'd been to Philly by myself for games in the past (granted, in the early '90s), and emerged unscathed, so he shouldn't worry. And, in fact, we engaged in some trash talk with the Flyers fans around us, and we stood and cheered loudly when Brooks Laich scored the lone Capitals goal (yeah, we went on 12/20), and afterwards, the Flyers fans around us said we were cool, and that our team had played better than the score indicated.

In other words, everyone was an adult about the game.

Yet, when I was discussing my latest Flyers experience with one of the Capitals marketing guys at the ESPNZone viewing party in Baltimore during the Rangers series, he told me a different story about Flyers fans. Last year, during the first round of the playoffs, Ted Leonsis secured a suite for the Capitals' office staff and rented a bus to make the trip. During the game, there wasn't "friendly banter," or even mild "trash talking," but outright nasty discourse. Additionally, when the marketing guy was in line for food on the concourse, he said he was literally kicked in the shin by a child who was rooting for the Flyers.

What kind of parent allows their children to run wild at Wachovia Center, and more so, encourages that kind of behavior? Talk about someone the police need to visit...

At the first game of this second round series, after David Steckel scored to tie the game at 1, the man seated directly behind me got up to use the restroom. As he scooted past three Penguins fans seated towards the aisle, he said, "Penguins suck," in a conversational tone.

The response? One of the Pens fans elbowed him in the face, while another threw beer on him. This resulted in a fight, obviously, with one of the Penguins fans being escorted away by security.

What is wrong with a modicum of maturity these days? Sure, you might say the Capitals fan caused his own situation by what he said, but it wasn't an "in your face" comment, it was just stated, not yelled, and not to any of the Penguins fans, but just directly towards the aisle. Those fans decided to escalate things to violence instead of verbal banter.

On the ice on Wednesday night, the Capitals could have been like these immature, childish fans, and been out for blood in response to Chris Kunitz's hit on Simeon Varlamov. Judging from comments by Alex Ovechkin and Bruce Boudreau, I would not have been surprised to see a lot of excessive hitting and bodies encroaching on Marc-Andre Fleury's crease. Yet, that was not the case, not to the extent one would expect for retaliation.

Seems that the players have better sense than those who are cheering them on. Maybe the fans need to take more away from the game than a simple win or a loss.