by Thomas Gerbasi
The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers ain’t got nothin’ on the Bronx Gridlock and Queens of Pain. Sure, it’s impressive that either the Cavs and Warriors have won the last four NBA Finals, but from 2005 to 2010, Queens or the Bronx were the only members of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league to win the Golden Skate Trophy.
Now that’s really impressive.
On Saturday, one of these storied squads will reign once again, bringing a sense of nostalgia to the 2018 GGRD championship game at John Jay College in NYC, but also perhaps ringing in a new era for the league.
Since the Gridlock’s last title in 2010, parity has made GGRD one of the most competitive home team leagues in the world. With practically every bout played with title game intensity, it’s no surprise that the league’s All-Star team is consistently in the running for a WFTDA world championship. But in recent years, it’s been Brooklyn and Manhattan trading titles back and forth, with only a 2013 win by Queens breaking up this new monopoly.
On paper, it would make one assume that Queens and the Bronx have been bringing up the rear for the last seven years, and while that’s been the case for the bad luck Bronx, Queens has been a perennial powerhouse, with only a series of untimely defeats keeping them from winning the title year after year after year.
One could say that there is no better mix of bruising defense, high-powered offense and veteran experience than what the ladies in black bring to the track, and you would get few, if any, arguments. And with Suzy Hotrod, Ana Bollocks and Hyper Lynx reminding the younger players on the team what the glory years were like and what it takes to hoist the Golden Skate, it’s hard to see them as anything but a prohibitive favorite this weekend, especially after going 3-0 this season with a 182-147 win over the Gridlock in June.
But as the old saying goes, that’s why they play the games, and if any team has consistently upset the odds, it’s been the Gridlock. For years after 2010, the cabbies often had to battle injuries and roster turnover more than their fellow league mates. That can break a team’s spirit, but as the adversity piled up, the Bronx got tougher. And after snapping a three-year losing streak in 2017, they beat the defending champion Bombshells by 49 points in the 2018 opener, and then bounced back from the loss to Queens with a 51-point victory over Manhattan to clinch their return to the title game.
And now, the odds don’t matter. All that matters is what happens on the track over 60 minutes on Saturday. It’s the dream of every derby skater. Win, and you’re a champion. Lose, and it’s a look toward 2019 and thoughts of what might have been. Queens and the Bronx know what’s at stake.
So just blow the damn whistle.
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