A WOW For The Ages

October31/ 2011

If you didn’t see ALL of it, you’re already tired of all the over-the-top hyperbole about it.   If you did watch it all in real time, I bet you think you have read/heard all there is to say about it.   Not quite all there is to say.  I’ll take care of that here and now.

It’s that time again.  The Triangle version of Lehigh vs Lafayette looms this coming Saturday in The Carter At The Fairgrounds.   UNC vs NCSU matters a lot to the people it matters a lot to; but not very much to anyone else.  That’s OK.

I have totally come to accept that I do not represent a demographic faction that sports marketers give a hoot about attracting in 2011.  As a Caucasian Male Baby Boomer the consumer impact of “people like me” is no longer sufficient for any sports marketer to tweak their product or service to appeal to.

I am at liberty to watch whatever I please and if I enjoy it, that’s OK; but it will be by accident not by design.   It was under such reality that I watched the recent World Series and, in particular, what will simply be forever referred to as “Game Six”.

Saturday I was with a roomful of accomplished athletes who were, to a man, High School Heroes …. and who went on to earn coveted college football “grant-in-aids” and, for many, become BMOCs.  A handful went beyond that to be professional athletes.  To a man – they were effusive in describing their emotions in watching “Game Six”.  If I coulda collected a nickel every time I heard “incredible”, “remarkable”, “unbelievable”, “wow” I coulda walked out of Kenan Stadium’s Choo Choo Lounge with a fresh sawbuck in my pocket.

I have also had Game Six discussions with non-athletes with much the same results.  Every boy who ever played Wiffle Ball in his backyard was “a David Freese”.  If girls played Wiffle Ball (not in MY neighborhood!) I suppose they might understand too.  We were all running those bases with St Louis homeboy David Freese.

Imagine being 28 and knowing you will NEVER have to pay for a meal in your hometown the rest of your life.  Very cool!

Am I the only one who noticed there was no “Look At Me” histrionics – no chest-pumping crap – no end zone dance – no rooster struttin’?  Yeah, I’m probably the only one who noticed; but I did notice.

I’ll avoid prolonged prose attempting to explain why “I watched all of Game Six in 2011” will be in my personal Bucket List of sports memories.   It may even move above “I saw, in-person, Darryl Dawkins shatter his first NBA backboard vs the Kansas City Kings, with Phil Ford, in 1979”.   Does it outrank “I watched every pitch of Game Seven in 1960” aka The Mazeroski Walk-off?   An irrelevant matter of degrees.

I’ve been privileged to accumulate a nice list of such “I saws” that I can rummage thru in moments of personal reflection.  My list is “my list”.  Frequent BLSays commentor CPR has The Guiness World Record for “personal sports memories”.  CPR’s record is safer than Cy Young’s all-time Wins.   CPR and I will add to both our lists later this month as we stand side-by-side in Kyle Field for, likely, the last aTm vs Texas football game.  But I digress.

Game Six fulfilled every baseball cliché and baseball has A LOT of clichés.

Baseball (and maybe tennis) is the rare sport, without a clock, where the game literally is not over until it’s over.  It’s not by accident that Yogi saw Life in baseball terms.   Regardless of how many runs you are behind, you CAN comeback so long as there is at least one strike / one out remaining.  ….. “til the last man’s out”.

That poetic “hope that springs eternal from within the human breast” was springing eternal in Mudville as Casey came to bat.   It was not at a Notre Dame football game or even a Dean Dome basketball game.  As unbelievable as “that comeback against Duke” was; had it been another 2-3 points differential there would have been no chance for Walter Davis’ heroics.   Game Six had Double Match Point which is the quintessential one last hope.  Game Six was three innings of Hail Marys.

As with the 1960 Mazeroski Classic ….. there were so many other “golden nuggets” prior to the Freese walk-off.   In 1960 it was “the Kubek pebble” and “Rocky Nelson line drive catch” and “Hal Smith’s homer” and, of course, Bobby Richardson being The MVP.   My fave trivia from 1960 was “who was the Yankee leftfielder when Maz hit the homer”.   It was St Louis’ Dago Hill native – Lawrence Berra.

With last week’s Game Six it was “Napoli picks off Holliday” ….. “Freese’s triple” …. “Josh’s homer” …. “Berkman’s hit”.

Perhaps the most endearing memory for me from Game Six is that it was TIMELESS.  That game was pure vintage baseball.  Other than the players not wearing stirrup socks, that game could have taken place just like it did at any point in baseball history.  BECAUSE …. being played in a National League park – there was no designated hitter.  How LaRussa had to manipulate his pitchers in the batting order was integral to the late-inning strategy. ….. it was “A WOW For The Ages”

Kid lives in St Louis as you know.  One of her parttime jobs has connected her to the lady who conducts a weekly Bible study for Cardinal players wives.  The lady has said it would be “a piece of cake” to introduce Kid to David Freese.   So Kid texts me last week – “Dad, who is David Freese?”.   Bless her heart.    She does know who Chris Carpenter is as Carpenter’s wife shops in her toy store. She is “very nice but has tattoos on one arm”.


Lehigh vs Lafayette – NC-style:
As the rest of America fixates on a football game in Tuscaloosa this coming Saturday – The latest Game Of The Century – two hardy bands of rabid partisans will have their attention glued to The Carter.    UNC’s much maligned band of Butch survivors, sans their patron saint, will try to avoid “The Dreaded Low Five” – losing five straight to their backfence rivals.

Yes, UNC board monkeys, we all know you “don’t care” because “State isn’t our rival”.   And “Butch didn’t do nuthin’”.  And “Coach K is a warlock”.  And “The NCAA is just jealous of UNC because we have a neat Old Well”.  And blah blah blah ….

Butch is not around for TO’B to whup up on any more.  0-4 was it for Butch in this bitter “not-a-rivalry”.  TO’B has found the rest of The ACC much more difficult to whup up on than Butch and that sustained mediocrity has become “an issue” for Wuff faithful.   Is TO’B at risk of gaining the “interim” tag if he can’t claim “but I beat Carolina again”? 

Without Russell as QB and without Butch to match coaching wits with, can The Marine continue his dominance over the local liberal arts institution?

Did Interim Ev impress Bubba with that surprising dominance ‘oer the Deacons?  Would avoiding The Dreaded Low Five give Ev a chance to stay?   Only Bubba knows and Bubba ain’t sayin’.

….. Should we add Clyde Christensen to Bubba’s secret “short list”?  Yes, we should.  Howabout Urban Meyer, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcell, Bill Cowher, and, of course, that Boise State guy?  No, we should not.

There’s A New Rimshots Too.

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