Friday, August 14, 2009

100 Posts


Okay, enough of that. For now. But thank you to the 33,249 "page loads" (of which probably 3,000 are me, either editing or obsessively checking for errors or admiring my work in a private demonstration of swirling egomania), the 24,151 "unique visitors" (at least 3 of these are me, on different computers), the 20,744 "first time visitors," and the 3,407 of you who saw fit to come back at one time or another to qualify as "returning visitors." The process has been a thing I can loosely identify as fun. Oh, and thank you to this post for accounting for, no joke, probably 10,000 of the total hits. Finally, kudos to myself for actually posting a blog entry every single day that I came into work. Considering my steady track record of laziness, I did not expect this outcome.

But this is a sports blog, and there are some things happening, so let's get to the bullet points.

*Hey, my younger brother started a blog! The basic things you should know about him are:

1) He's 14.

2) He's really good at sports, to the point that he's like really, annoyingly close to being able to beat me 1-on-1 in basketball. I give it about 5-7 months.

3) If I had his writing skills when I was 14, I'd probably have a Pulitzer Prize by now.

Here's his blog: I've Given Up All Hope On Duke and Other Memoirs

*Tiger devoured Hazeltine on Thursday, posting a 5-under 67 and grabbing the outright lead after the first round. I'm getting the feeling that the repressed energy of his 2009 major failures will be henceforth erumpent, bursting out in a typhonic whirlwind that siphons up the competition and displaces them many miles away. A Woods-Harrington Sunday duel would be excellent, but I'm predicting El Tigre wins by 5 strokes.

*As if I needed another reason to despise the Philadelphia Eagles or the raging scumbag named Michael Vick, they've now forged a filthy union.

*Old CC is absolutely dealing these days. He gave the Yanks a fast start last night against Seattle, allowing 1 run on just 3 hits over 8 innings to earn his 13th win. And an emphatic decision it was. If we could somehow sweep this series, or even take 3 of 4, it would be a perfect launching pad for the rest of the ungodly trip. I want to be up at least 8.5 games going into Fenway next weekend. Anyway, the big man's ERA is down to 3.64, and he's now a (very) long shot for the AL Cy Young. He'll need Beckett to get hurt, or start pitching really, really bad, but if that transpires there's a chance he could end up with 20-21 wins and enough strikeouts to outpace someone like Halladay or Greinke with a lower ERA but fewer wins.

Actually, that probably isn't happening. But it's nice to dream. I'll be satisfied with his nasty performances against Boston this year. The man is a locomotive.

Okay, now. What is a milestone without a little (more) self-indulgence? I saw my friend Whitney on the street last night, and he reminded me of one of my most memorable personal athletic moments: a (outcome erased for the sake of dramatic tension) result in the 2009 Prospect Cup. Consider the following Part 1 of the story, to be continued as I see fit over the course of next week.

2009 Prospect Cup (or PCI): The Teams

The Grand Army (Prospect Bowl League) vs. The IBFL

We the Prospect Bowlers, operating under the nom de guerre Grand Army, were apt to consider ourselves somewhat more extreme than our opponents, the long-standing IBFL (I wish I knew what this stood for, but here's my best guess: Inter-Brooklyn Football League). Though we'd only been around two years, starting in the winter of 2008, there existed a grizzled something in our countenance, bearing, and behavior that we felt our enemies lacked. That, and we just thought we were better at football.

(Note: I play with both leagues, though my identity is strongest with the Prospect Bowlers, and can therefore make certain comparative assertions.)

So why this superiority complex?

We only play in the winter. The seasonal nature of our style echoes how real football is played, in harsh, chilly weather. The IBFL plays all year.

B) We do battle on a disgusting, hilly field. 80% of our games are wet, muddy affairs that leave everyone cold and dirty. The IBFL plays on flat ground, with generally better conditions.

C) We only allow one girl to play, and she's hardcore. The IBFL has three to four girls playing on any given weekend. But actually, they're all quite good too. Moot point, except for the fact that our ugly masculine sides make us feel a bit more legitimate in a shallow, possibly sad way. (This is also a moot point because in the Prospect Cup, it was 6 vs. 6, and no girls played.)

D) There are tensions among us. The IBFLers are a generally fun, friendly crowd, defined by sportsmanlike play and gentle demeanors. Weekly Prospect Bowls, on the other hand, always have at least two moments of hostility, and often devolve into verbal fights. Our average age is probably three years younger than our IBFL counterparts, so maybe this accounts for our fiery dispositions. Actually, though, I think the real reason is that we're a collection of competitive people who can sometimes, on extreme occasions (by which I mean 'any occasion involving competition'), become assholes. So when the six of us came together for Prospect Cup 2009, it was more like an actual team coming together. On a real team, you don't get to choose your teammates. If things go well, you have a grudging respect for each other's talent, and your skills coagulate into something effective and meaningful during the game. In contrast, the IBFL is better defined as a 'collection of friends.'

E) We are fast. I am not fast, mind you. But we have two people, Whitney and Kyle, who can really burn. And then there's Geoff and Noah, who have deceptive speed, and the former happens to be ridiculously good on defense. And then there's Nate, who isn't as fast but who might be the best receiver because he has a preternatural ability to catch any object falling within a fifteen yard radius. This can become very frustrating if you're playing otherwise solid defense against him. As for me, I can throw the ball very, very far with weird accuracy. Way more accuracy, in fact, than I'm able to employ on short passes. The basketball equivalent of my quarterbacking skills is someone who can make 80% of their half-court shots but struggles with lay-ups.

F) Our style is geared toward offense. I've played games with the IBFL where the final score is something like 3-1 (each touchdown being worth one point). This is especially frequent in the winter. In Prospect Bowl, though, at least 12 touchdowns are scored by the winning team. This disparity is somewhat contingent on rule differences (IBFL gives you 5 downs to score a TD, while Prospect Bowl allows 4 downs to just reach the halfway mark, and then 4 more to score), but going into PCI, we also held the firm belief that we played a bolder style, with deeper passes and more skill and speed in the receiver positions.

Prospect Cup Eve

The night before the game (April 17, 2009), the six of us went and got pretty drunk, with most of our time being spent at a bar that I can't exactly remember because I didn't live in Park Slope at the time, but which I think is called "The Gate." The game was set to begin at 10am the next day, but so confident of victory were our stolid ranks that we thought nothing of the potential hangover that might visit us in the morning. Actually, not strictly true: in some perverse way, we actively sought it out. One of the cornerstones of Prospect Bowl is that most of the players show up beaten down by alcohol. It's a big reason why we start at 1pm instead of 10am like the IBFL. They, older, more mature, wiser, and with families and wives, are better able to function at such early weekend hours. We are not so blessed.

The Name

The best moment of the night (for me) came when we tried to decide on a special team name for the Prospect Cup. The debate raged on for about 20 minutes, with no irresistible suggestions. I leaned over to Kyle, my roommate at the time, and asked him this: "is there any one answer that people will agree on? I mean that seriously: does the right name exist? Is there one thing I could say that would be embraced without question?" He laughed and ventured that no, there was not.

Then I thought of Grand Army Plaza, the open green with the great arch at the north end of Prospect Park, and the entrance to our field. "What about 'The Grand Army,'" I said. After a pregnant pause, the idea was embraced without hesitation, to the extent that Nate's excitement compelled him to bounce back and forth like an upside-down pendulum, impacting Geoff and Noah alternately, and repeating "Grand Army" in a really loud voice. I gave Kyle an extended, satisfied look that was somewhat like a smug pat on my own back.

And the self-anointed future victors imbibed long into the night.

End Part 1. Happy Weekend. Happy 100.

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