Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow

dol·drums [dohl-druh mz]
–noun (used with a plural verb )
1. a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art: August is a time of doldrums for many enterprises.
2. the doldrums, a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
3. a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.
—Synonyms 3. depression, gloom, melancholy, dejection.


Today’s awash in doldrummery, the worst single day in the American sporting calendar falling on the eve of the 15th Annual Outer Banks Fishing Trip to create a stultifying cocktail of ennui. In an attempt to break out of that boredom/anticipation-inspired funk and elicit comments from people who undoubtedly have better entries in this category, I give you the 5 most memorable (not greatest, mind you) sporting moments I’ve witnessed live and in person. Some are historic, some far more personal and quirkily original:

Carl Yastrzemski hit the 400th home run of his Hall of Fame career on July 24, 1979, and I was sitting 30 feet away from where it landed in the visitors’ bullpen at Fenway Park. Dennis Eckersley pitched a complete game to beat Oakland, 7-3, but all I remember from the game is the majestic arc of Yaz’s milestone bomb as it seemed to come directly at me.

The historically awful William and Mary men’s basketball squad was actually slightly better than dreadful in the 1992-93 season (finishing with a 14-13 overall record), but they sure didn’t play that way during the first half of their game against the 15th-ranked University of Virginia Cavaliers on January 25, 1993. UVA eventually built a 23-point second-half lead on the Tribe, but even as the William and Mary Hall crowd filed out in silent approbation, the trio of (Kurt) Small, (David) Cox, and (Derrick) Peters helped the home team scrap back. Small’s fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer capped the frantic comeback, sending the game into overtime and the remainder of the crowd into delirium. And the Tribe got blitzed in the extra session. Natch.

In September 1991, the Tidewater Tides took on the Richmond Braves in the final week of the season. G:TBer Whitney, our friend Chris and I made the short trip down I-64 to meet Whit’s mother and stepfather for a leisurely afternoon at the ballyard. Normally, a late season minor league ballgame wouldn’t hold much allure, but two events made this one noteworthy. First, by the 3rd inning of the game we realized that the Tides’ Tim Bogar was switching positions every inning. He took the mound in the 9th having played everywhere on the field, and then proceeded to strike out the leadoff man before hitting the next batter in the head. At which point the entire stunt took on a decidedly less whimsical bent. Far more amusing than Bogar’s misadventure was the action that took place in the stands.

The aforementioned Chris stands roughly 6’6” with a wingspan to match. Midway through the contest, lefty Kelvin Torve lofted a lazy foul ball towards our bleacher seats midway down the third base line. Were we not there, the ball would have landed in Chris’ seat. The big fellow stood to his full height, spread his legs in a textbook block out of Whitney’s mom, and clapped his hands together while talking a full menu of shit – and he’s an accomplished shitriloquist. The ball descended gracefully, landed in his waiting (and freakishly large) mitts…and bounded 15 rows forward into the waiting hands of an 8 year-old boy. Whitney’s mom led the parade of grief givers for the rest of the game, and when we returned to campus to share our story, the local sportscasters beat us to it, showing footage of our friend’s ignominious moment at 6 and 10.

I was in attendance on April 14, 2005 at the first home game in Washington Nationals history, and the first professional baseball game in Washington, DC in over 30 years. George W. Bush threw a seed to the plate in what is arguably the greatest accomplishment in his 8 years in office, nine old-time Washington Senators took the field before being replaced by their Nationals counterparts during the pregame ceremonies, and RFK Stadium positively glowed with a ‘Field of Dreams’ vibe. My most vivid memory of the evening was unrelated to anything that happened on the diamond, though. The seats immediately in front of mine were occupied by three 50-something men in old, old Senators jackets. Their unmitigated glee at returning to the scene of their youthful sporting rites of passage was contagious and a reminder of baseball’s unique ability to connect generations.

On August 1, 1996, I sat in the front row of Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium, precisely at the turn for the 200 meter final, as Michael Johnson blazed to the gold medal in 19.32, a time that remains the world record today. My friend Jay and I slapped five with him as he did a victory lap while carrying the American flag. I’ve never been closer to an elite athlete performing at the peak of his powers, except for that time TJ got really hot in horseshoes after 11 beers. It gives me chills to think about even today. The Michael Johnson thing, that is.

32 comments:

TJ said...

I sat in the Uecker seats for that Nats game...I seriously had the seat right in front of the concrete wall in the uppppppper deck. Electric atmosphere nonetheless.

Greg said...

Those are all great memories and all, but I want to hear about TJ getting hot in horseshoes after 11 beers. Let's see Michael Johnson do that.

Whitney said...

That Tides game was an all-timer. Chris heard about it all night, then suffered exponentially more humiliation as soon as we got back to the house. We walked through that door, and moments later local Norfolk sportscaster Bruce Rader -- the very worst in the business, mind you -- takes time out of his error-filled recap to show Buck dropping the ball. Rader nasally droned, "Don't give THAT fan a contract."

Jerome said...

Another reason to hate the '72 fins and Mercury Morris...The Miami Herald reports that Mercury Morris, believes the '72 Dolphins should make some money by releasing a '72 Dolphins rap video that he wrote. It even includes a lame faux political ad introduction by Don Shula who states ''I'm coach Don Shula and I approve this message''. The video and a booklet can be yours for $19.72.

TJ said...

rob, pop quiz - who do you hate more, Mercury Morris or Brett Favrah?

rob said...

sweet jesus on toast. maybe they could sell a brett favre lonely heart ballad as a companion piece.

rob said...

hey, look, comedic timing.

TJ said...

Great minds...

TJ said...

BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE BRETT FAVRE

rob said...

i've always liked favre, too - this drama is such a bullshit cry for attention.

Greg said...

I bet Morris thought of the price first and then had to come up with a "product" to attach it to.

TJ said...

Worst. Driver. Ever.

http://tiny.cc/EqDZP

Rhymenocerous said...

I was at the Tribe-UVA game as a Freshman. I remember feeling actual Tribe Pride for our hoops squad. It was a fleeting moment...

Jerry said...

-- 2004 Tribe Football comeback against Delaware in the playoff quarterfinals

-- LeBron dropping 52 in a high school game against Trevor Ariza

-- Geoff being strangled by the tie by some mentally challenged folks behind us looking for a free t-shirt

-- South Brunswick Viking Basketball team beating #6 in NJ Perth Amboy in the GMC semi-finals at the RAC

-- Gilbert Arenas draining a 30 foot shot against the Cavs at the end of game 6 (only to be on the losing end of a Damon Jones buzzer-beater)

-- Giants 41 Vikings 0

Geoff said...

I was at Jerry's 1, 2, 3 and 5. I'll add:

Seeing a Jack Nicklaus hole in one at the 2001 Senior US Open, standing about 8 feet away from him.

Redskins knocking off the Lions in the NFC championship.

Ummm...and about 40 or so Redskins losses at FedEx...

mayhugh said...

I'll add Portis' first run from scrimmage as a Redskin - I believe it was a 64 yard TD against the Bucs. The rest of the Skins season... didn't go as swimmingly.

Whitney said...

In no order...

- 1998, Skins-Lions playoffs from the cold of the upper upper upper deck. You can still find the old school Skins fans up there.

- 1990, Tribe rugby comes from down 15-0 late in the match to notch an 18-15 Ed Lee 1st Round win over VMI as the last kick sails through just before the final whistle.

- 1991, Pi Lam enters into the intramural softball finals as underdogs, facing the purported "team to beat." After the Lammies plate 17 in the first, the jokes about the "team to beat... senseless" commence. 33-5 after 4 innings, the other guys raise the white flag.

- 2000, Six Nations Rugby, Wales vs. France in Cardiff. Seated next to two old Welshman in the upper reaches of the retractable dome. They share their flask with me and ask what, as an American wearing a Team Wales scarf, my affinity for the Welsh might be. "I have no overwhelming affinity for the Welsh," I say with a smile, "but you are playing the French." Big, tooth-deprived grins and knowing nods from the old-timers. (France blows out Wales, not so fun.)

- 1990, RFK Stadium, All Access Passes for Skins-Giants. After standing a few feet from Art Monk as he warmed up, Rob and our host park it down the row from Sonny & Sam. Cliff and I go field-side, most memorable when Jeff Hostetler got tackled directly at our feet and got the wind knocked out of him. My smart-assed "Bummer, dude," was not appreciated.


And the greatest...

- November 8, 1995. Landover, MD. Washington Bullets/Charlotte Hornets. I sit in our season seats as Romanian sensation Gheorghe Muresan (you mighta heard of him) dumps a career-high 31 points on Larry Johnson and Charlotte. My father has had some recent accolades, but I'm pretty sure he will still say his claim to fame is being in the house the night Gheorghe went for 31. ("Whit . . . who is that big guy???")

TJ said...

And it all comes full circle...

TJ said...

When an NBA team thinks Anthony Roberson is a better alternative, well, that's a pretty good sign you're not wanted:

The Knicks will sign guard Anthony Roberson later Wednesday, which further indicates that Stephon Marbury might be a goner with New York.

Rhymenocerous said...

The Roberson signing really pisses me off because it means the Knicks have a bias against bald point guards with tattoos on their head.

Of course, they may cut Jerome James instead. D'Antoni and Walsh tried to call him, but Jerome accidentally ate his cell phone while on a Shoney's buffet line.

Geoff said...

Whit, I was at that 98/99 Lions playoff game...six rows from the top. Good times...

Rhymenocerous said...

Whit/Rob/others:

I need some new music for the iPod. I've been re-treading the same stuff for a while now. Any recommendations?

The only new stuff I've bought recently are the new My Morning Jacket and The Hold Steady. Both are pretty good.

Mark said...

I watched Roberson during a summer league game yesterday and he's still the same player he was a Florida. He may not be a surly and divisive as Marbury but I wouldn't expect him to pass more often. Oh yeah, he also plays ole' defense about as well.

Mark said...

ow, a few of my top moments:

- Game 5, 1985 NLCS: Ozzie hits a walkoff homer off Tom Niedenfuer. Its quite possible my life peaked then and there.

- UF vs. FSU 1997: Florida uspets undefeated and #1 ranked FSU on a Doug Johnson to Quez Green bomb (and subsequent Fred Taylor TD run) in the final minute.

- Sitting in the stands at Space Coast Stadium as a rehabbing Carl Everett gets on the staff radios and starts discussing the merits of classic video games like Burger Time and Donkey Kong.

- Bucs final home game (1997) as they clinch the teams first playoff berth in 15 years.

- Alex Brown's 5 sack game that led to Florida's victory over defending National Champ and #2 ranked Tennessee

rob said...

timmy, i need some time to think. i did just stumble across this 2003/4 release by a seattle band called 'visqueen'. can't remember the album's name, but it's got a single called 'manhattan' that'll rock your world. also, they've got a chick singer, which is nice.

KQ said...

2006. I was in the hizzle for the Gheorghe Mason victories over the Wichita State Shockers and UConn en route to their improbable, historic, and sadly short lived trip to the final four. Greatest sporting event in the history of EVER (to quote some men I know).

TJ said...

Shining Path intramural game. Brain cells dead, so let's sau 1997. Dennis involved. TJ involved. Darren Sharper 360 dunk. Greates game in the history of ever.

Well, that's what Mitch Albom tells me.

Mark said...

One of my best personal moments was when me and my fellow pale teammates beat Omega Psi Phi for the UF Intramural Basketball title. The fraternity team and the mass of barking, camouflaged brothers they brought with them never knew what hit them. We won by 20 and had their brethren cursing up a storm by the game's end.

Of course, this was no fluke. My team won 3 straight intramural titles at UF (this being the 2nd), but sometimes racism can be awfully blinding.

Jerry said...

Let's not forget the time when me and Geoff played BD and Broka in beer pong....not to 6....but to 69. We were very much in form and it didn't even take that long.

That George Mason comment reminds me of one of my great moments in sports planning (an often overlooked category). I had to be in San Francisco that Monday for a conference. The game was on Sunday. Knowing all of this, I scheduled a 6:30 AM flight out of BWI on Sunday and I was comfortably in my hotel room to see Mason's truly unbelievable upset of UConn.

Greg said...

Speaking of blinding racism what about when Satellite AAU shocked Pahokee in the 1992 Florida Something-or-other basketball tournament in the Ft. Lauderdale ghetto.

Dave said...

i was at that fateful tides game as well-- thanks for remembering it for me. quickest crowd silencer ever-- when that guy got beaned.

Mark said...

That Pahokee upset was an all timer. To take 3rd in state no less. I'm pretty sure I still have the VHS of it lying around somewhere. I also remember the distinct sound of laughter when our lilly white team (excluding Ernie, of course) walked into that gym in Ft. Lauderdale. Good times.