Friday, May 14, 2004

Call 'em as I see 'em

I cannot play sports, as I have said a number of times, because of my eyesight. But I have been following sports since I was a little kid back in the early 60s. As a result, I have seen a number of amazing plays over the years, and can relate current situations and plays with what I have seen and heard. It often makes me look smarter than I really am. A couple of cases:

Dodgers and Cubs

Baseball was my first love, but all the tens of millions of dollars in contracts has turned me off to pro baseball and I find myself embracing college sports all the more. So you'll excuse me for not knowing Dodger second baseman, Alex Cora. But I do know baseball. I was flipping the channels on Wednesday night--when I should have been grading--and paused to see the Dogers playing the Cubs on ESPN. The announcer said that Cora had fouled off 11 consecutive pitches.

"Eleven? Wow, that's pretty amazing," I said to M, as Cora fouled off number 12.

The other players in the Dodger dugout were laughing as Matt Clement, a solid pitcher, struggled with the number eight batter in the lineup. Number 13 beyond third base, foul. Then number 14, down the first base line, just foul. You know, Roberto Clemente would foul off pitches like this too. He would make the pitcher struggle, then get a hit, I was gonna tell her, but didn't, because she wouldn't know who Clemente was anyway. Too much effort for too little appreciation.

Instead, I told her, "After so many pitches, the pitcher gets fed up 'cuz he just can't find the pitch to get the batter out. After a while, he'll just challenge the batter, effectively telling him, 'I dare you to hit it fair.' But the pitcher is always the loser in this scenario." Thinking of Clemente, I finish by saying, "One guy would hit homeruns."

And no sooner did the words come out of my mouth when Cora hits a two run homerun. M is speechless. But I don't say anything. I shouldn't have to. I just look at her, and raise my eyebrows, clamping my mouth shut. I'm not aobut to gloat, because I know full well that it was sheer coincidence.

Lakers beat San Antonio with less that a second left...

Then last night... Folks! I almost fainted. Lakers played a sloppy second half offense. Or maybe San Antonio played good defense. Probably both. I see Tim Duncan shoot a ball off the backboard for two, but the amazing thing is that he on his way to the basket for a possible rebound in case it doesn't go in. Why don't the Lakers do that? Watch them. If Kobe shoots a 3, or if Shaq moves in for a layup, virtually everyone becomes a spectator. Why? It looks like they don't hussle, these guys. But man, do they have talent...

With 10 ticks to go, San Antonio, down 72-71, takes the ball in. Parker tries to drive around the corner and is fouled by Derek Fisher. Good play. Lakers had a foul to give and now San Antonio has to devise a 5 second play. They throw it in to Duncan, who tries to dribble, back to the basket, cant' go anywhere, 3 seconds, 2 seconds, he turns around at the top the key and shoots off balance, falling, Shaq in his face... Douche (note: Please excuse the spelling, but its pronounced exactly the same way and I don't even know if there's actually a way to spell this sound effect), two points. 73-72, San Antonio with 0.4 seconds left. Shaq is shaking his head in disbelief. He was all over Duncan, and he made it. Kobe simply looks exhausted.

Phil Jackson calls time, after which the Lakers setup to inbound the pass on their side of the court. Gary Payton looks to throw the ball in when San Antonio calls time.

"There's only 0.4 seconds left. Why did they call time-out?" M asks impatiently.

"San Antonio wanted to see how the Lakers were going to set up, so they can come up with a plan to defend it." M doesn't pepper me with questions questioning the logic, like she usually does, not after last night.

Payton again tries to get the ball in to Kobe. But, no go. Not surprisingly, San Antonio's got Kobe double-teamed and Shaq is stuck with Duncan in his face. Another time out, Lakers.

At this point, M is going, "A third time out? There's only 0.4 seconds. Shouldn't they just give up?"

I don't share my thoughts regarding the difference between men and women and sports. I treasure our marriage. But I do tell her, "Everyone is expecting the ball to go to Shaq or Kobe. Kobe's being double-teamed, and Shaq can't shoot a jump shot, so they shouldn't force it; they should pass it to whoever's open, probalby the guy who used to wear the headband." M doesn't know the role-players by name, so I have to identify Derek Fisher by dress... or former dress.

While M smiles, believing that any scenario would be impossible, Payton tries to inbound the pass. As expected, Kobe is double-teamed and Shaq is at the free-throw line. Fisher breaks toward Payton, catches the inbound pass, turns, falls away as he shoots... SCORE. Lakers win 74-73.

M's mouth is hanging to the floor. I struggle mightily to keep from looking smug. And Shaq--as only Shaq can--says, "One lucky shot deserves another." What a game..

Mind you, this has nothing to do with my sports acuity. I am not some sports wiz. I cannot coach and cannot do color commentary. But, I think anyone who has followed sports for forty years can make similar comments and seem insightful. I just won't tell M....

No comments: