[Business Day One] Agony and Truth
“So how was your weekend,” they would ask.
“I stood in the rain and watched my team die,” I would answer.
I hated to sound so morose, but there was nothing else I could say. Watching Boston College lose to Florida State on Saturday was the worst moment of my entire year, without a close second. I’m lucky to be able to say that. I have my health, I get a paycheck and my family loves me. It is wonderful to think that my lowlight of the past 10 months is a game played by teenagers. Still, it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
The men that represented my beloved alma mater were outplayed by men representing another alma mater. Their receivers were so much taller than our cornerbacks. Their defensive ends were faster than our offensive line could handle. Their secondary took away Matt Ryan‘s options. We couldn’t beat them that night. And it stung to see it. Watching a game like this is like spending three hours being dumped by your girlfriend. She is breaking up with you for all the right reasons and there’s nothing you can do but sit there and feel wrong.
Anyway, it’s two days later and my heart is on the mend. BC is still 8-1 (thankfully, the Florida State loss didn’t count twice or anything), ranked in the Top Ten and pulling in quality recruits for next year. The ACC Championship game is still in sight, as is the Orange Bowl. Not too bad for a first year head coach and a defense missing key guys. It’s not the end of the world for the Eagles, or me. A day of sunshine after your dream girl leaves you isn’t any less bright. We just need to walk into Maryland and beat the Terps and all will be right in the world.
I made some somewhat non-Boston College observations this weekend that I should probably mention:
-The New England Patriots offense isn’t magical. It’s just very, very good. They have an offensive line that is stout and provides great protection without having to sacrifice a running back to come up and “chip” a defender. They have a great speed guy (Stallworth), a shifty matchup-nightmare guy (Welker) and a physical freak that is big, fast and sure-handed (Moss). Match that with a quarterback (Handsome Tom Handsome) that can see the whole field and make all the throws and a pair of versatile running backs (Maroney and Faulk) and you have a complete offense. They can draw up plays specifically to counter a defense, and make adjustments at the line if those plays look like they’ll break down. What I saw on Sunday night was a very, very good offense in a struggle against a defense best suited to stop them. The Colts squad is quick and swarming and were able to get key stops that almost won them the game. As I saw this Saturday at Alumni Stadium and again in the Dome in Indy, the best way to slow a pass-first offense with a good offensive line is to out-speed them. FSU did it to BC and the Colts did it to the Patriots. Fast cornerbacks that can lock down a first choice wide receiver and defensive ends that can turn a corner and get to the quarterback force heady guys like Brady or Ryan to make some downright ill-advised throws. Sometimes, they can just barely squeeze the ball in to a Welker or a Rick Gunnell. But sometimes, a free safety or a CB can jump the route and make the pick. Speed is the greatest asset in the sport right now. I saw two games this weekend that showed why.
-The Yankees announced that they picked up Abreu’s contract on Friday and I was actually relieved. They’re spending 16 million dollars on a right fielder with marginal power and it elicited a “thank god” response from me when I read it. I think this is a warning sign, both for my mental health and the immediate future of the Bronx Bombers. Next year will be the first year or what will likely be two or three of “great young pitching/aging bats” 88-74 teams. It won’t be pretty to watch.
-The Celtics are 2-0 and the Bruins are not terrible this year. As such, both teams in the TD Banknorth Garden have met or exceeded expectations. The thing that most impresses me about this is not the victories themselves, but the fact that the influx of fair weather fans has not dramatically affected traffic conditions around my house (I live about a mile and a half away). The Garden has surprisingly ample parking and is built directly above a spacious train station. Go Celts, Go Bruins! Way to win without making my commute terrible! Red Sox… pay attention. You could learn something from these fine franchises.
-There exists a game called Chicago Style Softball. It’s like regular softball, except that the ball is bigger and a bit softer and no gloves are allowed. I played about 4 hours worth of it on Sunday and have never witnessed a more unexpectedly grueling activity in my life. Of the eighteen or so folks that took the field, at least 5 of them were injured (jammed finger, sprained finger, sprained ankle, broken hand, and strained abdomen) and most other folks woke up today with varying degrees of full body soreness. The game is very condusive to minor injuries. People overswing at the large, heavy ball (pulling muscles) and with no gloves, fielding it cleanly isn’t terribly easy (causing sprained and jammed fingers). That said, it’s worth playing at least once, so long as you’re not a hand model.
-My prediction – the week’s sports news will be dominated by this. You heard it here. It’s my lead pipe “ESPN Over Coverage” lock of the month!