Monday, March 30, 2015

This (Non) Sporting Life: On To the Final Four

This past weekend was good for fans of the Duke Blue Devils, among whom is included moi. On Friday, Duke defeated the Utes of Utah. (What exactly is a Ute and why should I be afraid of it?) My daughter Miranda was watching with me and she was perplexed by my concern about the outcome of the game with only 30 seconds to go and Duke up by 7. "There's no way Utah could get 8 points in the next 30 seconds to win the game," she said, foolishly challenging the fates as well as the gods of basketball. 

Now I'm the guy who does not understand sports writing about sports but I've seen enough college basketball to know that, yeah coming back with an 8 - 0 run in the last 30 seconds of a game is not likely but it is not impossible. So to counter my daughter's dangerous heresy, I said prayers to Jesus, Mohammed, Elijah, Buddha, Vishnu and, for good measure, "Ralph", the head of lettuce that Rerun's cult worshipped in an episode of What's Happening.  My full court spiritual press was sufficient to stave off any negative consequences of Miranda's misguided remarks and the Blue Devils won the game, sending the Utes heading back to...wherever Utes live. (Caves? Burrows? Time share condos?) 

Sunday I watched Duke take on the Bulldogs of Gonzaga with my father in law at his house. Since his wife passed away in January, I try to pop over once in a while to keep him company. 

Also he has a better TV than mine. 

As we watched the game, I became acutely aware of a certain phenomenon that has perplexed me for years: game announcers saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, usually to the detriment of whatever team I'm rooting for. 

It goes something like this: Duke is driving down the court to their basket as the announcer says, "Duke hasn't turned over the ball during this game." Immediately Duke commits a turnover*. 

*Hmmmm! Turnover. 

Or Quinn Cook goes to the foul line for a free throw. Announcer: "Cook hasn't missed a free throw in this half." And guess who misses their free throw? Go on, guess! 

I don't know what it is about watching a game where I actually care about the outcome that makes me so superstitious. But does anyone else besides me see this happening, the announcer jinx? Well, it's crystal clear to me, even if the rest of you are too blind to see it.

God, I'm paranoid about this. 

Anyway, Duke puts away 'Zag and the Blue Devils are off to the Final Four next weekend in Indianapolis. 

By the way, the commercial with the guys on a road trip to see the Final Four and wind up in Maryland because the driver thinks the games are "in the Annapolis"? Yeah, that's stupid but what can I say, I think it's funny. "You do know the Annapolis is in the Maryland, right?" 

On the other side of the Final Four is Kentucky. So far the Wildcats are still undefeated after beating all opponents including all four quidditch teams from Hogwarts. Everybody has these guys making it to ...and winning the NCAA Championship on April 6th. Even my fellow Duke fan at work, Tony, has Kentucky taking the whole thing. Assuming Kentucky gets past the Wisconsin Cheese Curds Badgers and Duke defeats the Michigan State Spartans (named after a ancient group of warriors who did not believe in interior decorating), then I might experience the least stressful NCAA Championship game I ever watched Duke play in. 

Why? Because if it's a done deal that Kentucky is going to win this thing, then there's no deflated expectations when Duke loses. If Duke does win, then that would be awesome beyond all things awesomey but, yeah, the Wildcats have probably got this so I can sit back and relax.  

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Oh, who am I kidding? I'll be saying Hail Marys while fingering my rosary beads and I'm not even Catholic! C'mon, Duke! The self-esteem of a person you don't know is counting on you!

Yeah, I'm so glad my suffering amuses you. 

Dave-El  

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