Monday, July 5, 2010

Archives. October 18, 2001. Tight Ends

I posted a blog during the last basketball season called The Agony of Defeat not remembering that I'd written a column with the same headline (subtitled "Now That's what I call a Tight End") about a decade ago. This was one in a long series of columns about Mr. Impressive, most of which weren't recoverable in the  wreckage. It was this particular game -- and heartbreaking loss -- that became the inspiration for the Lucky Halftime Ritual.

October 2001

Tight Ends

"'s just a game of inches. And so is football."
-Any Given Sunday

It's the rare week that our sports columnist calls in sick but I told him I had it covered.
I could sense him cringing on the other end of the line, but I assured him I had actually attended this weekend's football game and had, in fact, already planned to write about it. He remains dubious. (As well he should.)

I have had many heated exchanges since then, relating to the absolute state of fury I've been experiencing, ever since the fourth quarter.

As my friend Lee noted, somebody, "audibled a pass play on the line because he thought there were eight in the box when in reality they were just in their standard 4-3," but he insists that it was good to be IN the game.
And in response to my complaint that we should never have tried to run the clock out (and shut down our offense) with eight ETERNAL minutes to go, I received this insightful response: "the 3rd down you are referring to came with about 3:45 in the final quarter, when we needed one yard for a first down (which likely would have sealed the game - or come close). We passed, instead of running the ball."

But really, who am I kidding?

Acknowledging the fact that I'm not qualified to cover last weekend's activities from an athletic perspective - I can really only judge it on its merits as a date.

First off, there's "tailgating." (OK...Turns out he had something entirely different in mind than I thought he did, but don't get me wrong, his menu was superb.)

Wardrobe was the next challenge. I do have excellent running shoes, but since I was not planning to A. run, or B. wear sweats (though I've since discovered that "track suits" are the outfit of choice at many stadiums), I thought (misguidedly) that they'd be out of place.

The hike to the stadium in my inappropriate shoes was blessedly brief, followed by a moderate climb to our seats. Most of the time, I had my fellow sports fan's hand in a death grip, because I knew if we got separated and my cellphone died, I would still be there. Irreparably lost.

The problem is, he's roughly twice my size (and in perfect shape), so this was no romantic stroll in the moonlight that I'm describing.

I'd say it's more like hopping onto a skateboard and grabbing the back of a semi until you're dragged to your inevitable, yet merciful, death.

At the top of the stairs, he solicitously stopped to ask, "can I get you anything?"

To which, I could barely gasp out, "fast-acting inhaler."

I was trying to catch my breath and walk off a charley horse, but other than that, I was fine.

Then we get to our seats. If you could call them that.

They are actually numeric decals glued to an aluminum bench.

They are glued there with absolutely ZERO regard for this country's national epidemic of obesity, so thanks to our oversize neighbors, I had to spend most of the game practically in his lap (not a hardship... for me).
The first half was, by anybody's standards, a yawn - affording me some much needed spare time to text.

It also gave me time to contemplate a phenomenon I vaguely remember from psych class about "identification" and how impotency goes up (so to speak - because nothing else does) in towns with losing sports teams.

Apparently, when the team wilts, so does the citizenry.

It was around this point that I became suddenly interested in a victory.

By the beginning of the second quarter, I was in abject fear that nobody was gonna be dialin' zero on the pink telephone that night.

By halftime, I was all but sobbing openly.

Against all odds, we stayed.

I prayed... I grew increasingly impatient with the flaccid offense.

Then, miraculously, we rallied.

I grew hopeful. I was on my feet, screaming at the officials, like the rest of the real fans (with admittedly more selfish motivation).

Then we choked.

I was despondent.

Fortunately, Mr. Impressive remained remarkably... sanguine about our defeat. And I do mean remarkably. Over and over.

I'm not getting cocky though. I never thought I'd say this, but, Thank GOD for basketball season, where we have a better shot.

I just have to see if Prada makes a blue track suit (to match the paw I plan to paint on my face).

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