Tag Archives: sports (watching)

2015

I’m not a resolution-maker (any resolve I have in one moment can easily be undone by counter-resolve in the next), but if I were, I’d try to commit to posting more here. Anyway, here’s where things stand.

Work: A decade at the mag come March. Regular features, health column, etc. etc. No longer allowed to throw things at Tiny Red. Chugging along.

Health: Hoping to address weight gain at doc appointment on Monday with some prescription adjustments. Knees and fingers, wrists and toes (wrists and toes) have not sustained any setbacks of late. No word on when the head will heal. Third nipple going strong. Third nostril has been taken care of. Spackle works wonders.

Apartment: Aside from mold in the shower (FOR SHAME), staying on the landlady’s good side for the most part. String of lights by the fence makes for kickass nighttime cornhole. The hill are alive with the sounds of gunfire and ghetto birds.

CJ: Eats the mattress. Has only fallen off the loft once thus far. Still takes the stairs down one at a time. Somehow found a new lizard dealer in the neighborhood. Bitch has a problem.

Sports (playing): Between being out of shape and younger/calmer than most people out there, didn’t really catch on with the 7-v-7 soccer league. All-new hockey team of strangers (due to a league draft rather than the standard put-your-own-team-together format) has more promise than I would’ve expected—thanks in part to a knuckleball goal in game 1 that helped put me in the teammates’ good graces. Very much looking forward to a women’s tournament in Ellenton next weekend. Considering headis.

Sports (watching): Aside from the occasional lapses in defense, Bolts have been fun to watch. Bucs were very much not (hoping for Mariotta instead of Winston). We’ll see if the Maddon-less Rays can hold my attention come spring.

Eating: Lettuce, but only as a vehicle for Ma’s blender Caesar salad dressing.

Drinking: Beer. Bourbon. Purell.

Social life: See above.

Love life: Tiny glass animals. Blaming the blue roses.

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That Time of Year

Last night I pulled out all of my Christmas movies…and then I watched Dead Man Walking. It wasn’t intended as a comment on the holiday season, but feel free to interpret it that way.

It’s 71 and cloudy here in sunshiny Florida. I’ve already eaten all of my Thanksgiving leftovers—turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, cranberry “salad” (the Southern use of the word, i.e. jello and whipped cream) and cranberry sauce. I expected all that to last longer than 24 hours.

Yesterday I spent a blissful few hours on the beach, barefoot in a hoodie and shorts, reading a prison memoir.

Today I watch variations on a theme: people hitting each other. Which is a good complement to trying to do a Jackson Pollock puzzle.

Tomorrow is NPR and football, PJs all day. My favorite.

Feels like the roller coaster is cresting the hill.

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How I Make the Team Win

When people ask me if I’m superstitious, I answer assuredly, “Nope!”

I played NCAA Division I soccer, and a lot of competitive soccer to get there. (And no, I’m not going to get tired of bringing that up.) Throughout my career, if I didn’t have the right shirt, the right bra, stepped on the sideline or not, whatever, I was ok; I never thought about what order I put my gear on, which shoes I tied first.

And yet, as a fan? I get so idiotic following my temporary, impulsive, newly imagined superstitions. They’re not even legit, consistent game-to-game superstitions; they’re just what occurs to me during the course of a single game. I compulsively follow whatever idea suddenly pops into my had as good luck—and those impulses must be having an effect, otherwise I would’ve learned from logic and stopped trying right?

I think I’m going to call it Helpless Fan Syndrome: You can’t be on the field, so you invent ways to be proactive.

Is anyone else so…Mormon with their superstitions? Just top-of-the-head, “It came to mind, therefore it must be God’s law”? I make fun of it, and then my brain goes all, “For the Bolts to win, you have to wear the same underwear that you wore while eating that really great sandwich you had last Wednesday, and take out your left earring, ’cause it’s an away game,” and I’m like, “OH, SHIT, DUH.” […* dutifully changes underwear, removes earring.]

While it’s obvious that my techniques are still being developed (as of the Bolts/Rays results in the last 24 hours, and the Bucs…well, pretty much all the time), here are some things I did right to cause the Rays to win Wednesday: (And it’s not at all a coincidence, then, that I did none of these things today–hence the blowout.)

  1. Drank out of the same glass I used during Monday’s win. (Unwashed. Duh.)
  2. Refused to let that glass go empty.
  3. Did not wear any of my Rays gear. (One of my longer-standing superstitions deems that wearing team gear—or even using team-branded items like cozies and whatnot—is bad luck.)
  4. Nor did I wear anything blue or yellow or green.
  5. Answered only “yes yes” and “woo” to any IMs I got in support of the Rays during the final two innings.
  6. Kept my phone plugged in throughout the ninth inning, even though it was fully charged midway through.
  7. Knocked twice on my head, wooden TV tray and wooden coffee table (in a random order) with my right hand, then on my head and coffee table (random order) with my left hand every time an announcer said something jinxy.
  8. Made this list eight items long, ‘cause eight is a good number.

When in doubt and your team is down, you can always go to the time-tested and proven “rally shot.” In the best circumstances, this involves the cheapest tequila available at the bar (see: El Toro, Pepe Lopez)*. Among many success stories, this shot’s greatest achievement? The USWNT comeback win over Brazil, during which CCB, the Deelios and I, in an unparalleled moment of patriotism, took one (apiece) for the team. And then this happened:

 

 

In a pinch, you can use whatever somehow detestable shot you have on-hand that you can suffer through without ruining your experience for the rest of the game.

But lastly, a few words of warning for wielding the power of the rally shot:

  1. Never take a rally shot when your team is up or tied. (That means it’s rallying for the other team.)
  2. Be very, very careful taking a second rally shot—you never know if the first one is still working, and you may counteract it and/or die.
  3. And speaking of: Never take a rally shot after midnight. I dunno if it’s bad luck, but I’m pretty sure it’s just straight-up a bad idea.

 

*Holy god with those websites. Now I see where they get their power…

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A Better Long Day than Usual

The backside of the sunset.

The backside of the sunset.

Sunday morning. I dreamt I was taking Thing 2 to some Main Street bar/restaurant, that I knew (or thought I knew) was nifty, but it wasn’t really living up—I had trouble finding it; it didn’t seem the same; the bartender/owner wasn’t very helpful. We somehow wound up, unfed, in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

That being said, it was a decent night’s sleep.

I would’ve lingered in bed, but when I got the wherewithal to look at the clock: 10:05. Motivation enough to haul myself up and turn on the radio for Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. (This week’s guest? Comedienne Tig Notaro, whom I’d conveniently read about just 12 hours earlier, catching up on TIME back issues.)

After that, Radio Lab—an especially unsettling hour of stories about parasites. Animals eating other animals alive. Intestinal worms.

I like to while away my weekend-morning radio time mixing puzzles and Wii golf, but since yesterday’s “productivity” involved finishing my latest puzzle—an elongated rectangle of Harley-Davidson memorabilia—I kept my arms and eyes busy for most of today’s two hour-long radio shows playing Wii golf and Wii Frisbee and Wii three-point contest.

Then killed time till 2 watching baseball and putting away laundry. Then off to the rink, a 45-minute drive of radio baseball—game-tying HR from Longoria. Go Rays. Go radio.

Not a great hockey game, but at least against a team not prone to confrontation and ugliness. I recently heard a snippet—a preview for some other show?—from some kind of cognitive scientist about his detest for the word “consciousness.” He felt it mislabeled something; it was a misleading catch-all. He cited the mind of a pianist performing—that the fingers moved without thought, and to think of their movement—to be aware, to be conscious—would screw it all up.

And someone else (oh, I’m excellent at citing my sources) recently mentioned physical activity among a list of meditative actions. I guess I’d known that, but I sort’ve thought maybe “sports-induced meditation” wasn’t considered legit among those who performed meditation as an activity in and of itself.

But for all that I dive into conscious descriptions of things in writing—or maybe because of trying to put everything to words—I’ve long appreciated sports for giving me some lovely moments of Zen: relaxed, focused autopilot. It’s amazing to me, to relax and let things happen, to see what I can do without trying to do anything in particular.

My brain is sharp but diseased; left alone, my body has always done pretty well for itself.

Anyway, today’s game was but a fitful bit of Zen. Sometimes—the best times—a whole game can go by without the urge to grab the wheel. Today I had some nice moments on the ice, but nothing that lasted. Like one of those nights where you get a bit of sleep, here and there, but nothing you can maintain.

And then I drove home. This past season marks the first time since my first months playing hockey, nearly a decade ago, that I regularly arrive at the rink, skate, and then go home. Years and years of post-game social pursuits; it’s weird to drive home in the daylight.

Weirder still after a 3:15 p.m. game—generally the earliest available. I’m at Publix before 5 and home before 5:30. It’s July. It may as well be noon. I fix dinner; I rarely feel like taking the time to cook on a Sunday. I eat dinner (stroganoff). I watch two hour-long episodes of Slings and Arrows, the last two of the first season: Hamlet. The story of Geoffrey’s mental breakdown.

It was still bright as hell outside. I’m fed, but I stink.

I went to the beach.

I’ve played hockey and then gone swimming before. (Hell, I’ve played hockey, gone to the beach, and then played hockey again, same day, but god only knows where that stamina went.) Still, so much recreation today, it seemed special to have the memory of cold toes fresh in my brain as I kicked off my flip-flops and walked through the sand, threw down my shit, took off my shirt and dove into the waves in the same sports bra I’d worn (god, how many hours ago?) under a pile of pads, trying to stickhandle around guys twice my size. From looking at ice through a cage to lying back in water over my ears and staring at the bright blue sky.

So that’s one way to get the stink off.

Later, while I sat in my wee little sand chair and read Gone Girl (about a journalist who kills his wife), a couple came between me and the waves—about 15 feet away—and proceeded to take pictures of each other. I swear to god, the nearest humans were 50 yards in front of me, and none to be seen down the other way on the beach (which, by the way, is about ¾ of a mile long). Why the fuck these two parked their asses right in front of me to take pictures, and then turned around and walked back in the direction they’d come is like…I dunno, it was that scene in the movie where the universe fucks with the main character.

But it was a lovely sunset.

I walked home with a phrase stuck in my head: “You can explain yourself all you want, but you are who you are.”

Anyway, here I am. I had to take a shower almost immediately—oddly enough, I can sit in hockey stink all day, but beach sticky-salty skin is nigh onto intolerable for me.

Now I’ve written a blog, one that’s pushing short-feature length.

And it’s…9:30 p.m.

I haven’t even been up for 12 hours. Technically speaking, my bedtime is two hours away. And it’s not a bedtime I necessarily adhere to.

Time to start the next season of Slings and Arrows, I think—the Scottish play, this time. Not sure what that says about my Monday. Maybe Mackers just needed a trip to the beach.

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Fantasy Tuesday: A Day with the Cup

stanley-cup.gray

A lot of times, thinking about the things you don’t have (and likely never will) can be depressing. But I recently discovered that taking a somewhat “realistic” approach to a fantasy can bring a little bit of lightness to your day. Like, go from “Wouldn’t that be nice” to almost planning for the opportunity—whatever it may be. Sure, it sucks that it’s not going to happen, but maybe this is like when they tell you to smile even if you feel like ass—that there’s still something physiologically beneficial to the act. And nothing says “Tuesday” like a forced smile.

(P.S. Please don’t ever tell me to smile when I feel like ass, or I will give myself a reason to smile, and it will involve violence.)

Anyway, here is the first of three fantasies that I will try to play through to their logical outcomes.

A Day with the Cup

Interestingly, I never really thought about what I’d do if I, like someone on the winning team, got to spend 24 hours doing whatever with the Stanley Cup.

Seems right to take it to your hometown, as many folks do. So I guess my day would involve a trip to Bradenton Beach, where the Cup would be the mold for the top of a sandcastle before being filled with ice to keep my beers cold.

It’d also have to take a moment on the Asolo stage, and then I’d do a soccer-themed photo shoot with it at GT Bray.

It’s also logical to take the Cup back to where you first started playing—for real Cup winners, this invokes memories of mite-ish beginnings and that oh-how-far-I’ve-come kind of vibe. My hockey roots are decidedly more shallow.

But I could see it do just as well around a table at the rink’s Beef O’Brady’s (back before it was a preschool, a church, an OK bar, a bad bar, and then a horrible steakhouse). No, Beef’s: a few tables pushed together, with all the old crew, and the crew that have come since. And select favored opponents. And every single soul who ever showed up just to watch us play and then hang out afterward. With a pile of wings, keep the pitchers coming.

And, while we’re fantasizing, make it on a Sunday night before a Monday holiday—so nobody has to worry about going to work in the morning.

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My Sad Sorkin Moment

Bob Costas, during the halftime break of Sunday Night Football, the day after this incident in Kansas City.

“Well, you knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: ‘Something like this really puts it all in perspective.’ Well if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life, since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games.

“Please. Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective. You want some actual perspective on this? Well, a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree, but who today said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article: ‘Our current gun culture,’ Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions, and their possible connection to football, will be analyzed. Who knows. But here,’ wrote Jason Whitlock, ‘Is what I believe: If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive today.’

“The second half is next, from Dallas.”

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Winning (Except for the Losing)

I don’t generally have a problem with going to a bar by myself–so long as I already know the spot well enough. Then, it’s like the bar itself is a friend, and that gives me all the confidence I need to meander in and plop down for a while.

Unfortunately, I’m not very familiar at all with the bars in my new neck of the woods, and when it comes time to watch a blacked-out Bucs game, the choices are a tad limited. The one down the road might carry the game, though not likely, and it’s got a six-seat bar. So I turn to the next island over.

The best option is a fantastic idea–what was a ground-floor parking garage in the center of a cool little island shopping district was converted to an open-air, multi-TV, giant-bar restaurant just over a year ago. The problem is A) any place carrying a blacked-out Bucs game has the potential to be overrun, and being by yourself and not finding a place at the bar is awkward; and B) given the central location in a touristy spot, it has a good potential for being a massive douchecanoe marina.

But, what the heck, I ventured forth.

Found a spot at the bar, albeit on the opposite end of the room from the Bucs game TV, but it was still a decent view.

I really never know in these situations how long I can feel comfortable before getting fidgety; usually midway through the second drink at an unfamiliar spot I want to escape. So I ordered a Bud Light bottle and held my breath. Bartender told me buckets of five bottles were on special.

“I’m going to pretend I’m not going to drink five beers myself,” I told him.

Then, after some nervous moments wondering what degenerate might claim the empty seat near me, a 60something guy asked if it was taken, and settled in. Awesome: He was by himself, also watching the game, and he showed virtually no interest in talking to me.

Only every once in a while did he make a chummy comment about something happening with the game, but other than that, he totally left me alone. I managed to find an occasional signal in what is kind of a black hole for internet, too. Hell, I figured. Maybe this isn’t so bad.

I was on my third beer come halftime, and I had a decision to make: Bail now, because I needed food, or ask for a menu and commit to another chunk of time. Hell, it was a good game.

Bonus: Their coconut shrimp are .awesome.–big shrimp and breaded in coconut as well as sliced almonds. Brilliant.

Enter the fourth quarter, I order my fifth beer. “Not gonna drink a bucket, huh?” the bartender joked. I laughed and said they would’ve been warm by now. He said he’d give me the discount anyway. Good man.

Well, the game was worth the watch through to the end–Bucs down only a point, with the ball and 13 seconds left to play. Neighbor and I had a few more frequent exchanges regarding the Bucs’ secondary and Josh Freeman’s last-minute comeback ability. He was knowledgeable enough to give me an opportunity to show my knowledge, too–nary an expression of surprise from him that a girl might know the ins and outs of the Tampa 2. And even though the Bucs weren’t able to pull off the win, I was happy I stayed to watch the whole thing.

In fact, the worst part of the afternoon was 15 minutes after I returned from the bathroom, when I realized my fly was gaping. Eh, whatever.

I got the check, gave the bartender a good tip, and told my neighbor to have a good one. Never even got his name. It was the perfect bit of socializing for someone as antisocial as me. Not an out-and-out win, but hey, they covered the spread.

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