Not really. Here are some more interesting things:
*Last night, my toilet became a cliche the only possible way a toilet can become a cliche: now, in order to quiet its querulous babbles and gurgles, you have to jiggle the handle. Nice, toilet. Real original.
*I came across a website about twenty minutes ago that started off my day with peals of real laughter. It's called "No One Will Ever Believe You," and is full of eyewitness accounts of supposed encounters with the actor Bill Murray. Each one starts with something like "Guys, I swear this is true," or "This one's for the books!" Then there's a story of Bill Murray doing something weird and crazy, and at the end he looks at the person, says "no one will ever believe you," and leaves. That's the entire formula. So what does it say about me that I read at least thirty posts and was so tickled as to be approaching a state of breathlessness the entire time? Possibly that I'm stupid.
No One Will Ever Believe You
*Yankees won, offensive mini-slump over, hoorah! CC looking awesome, tied for the league lead in wins, and he duels Beckett on Sunday, the other league-leader. The next four games will be the difference between steamrolling the division and entering a dog fight, albeit entrenched on high ground.
The Prospect Cup, Part 3!
Despite our hangovers, we the Prospect Bowlers took the field with a good amount of zeal. Part of the point and appeal of the Prospect Cup was for our group to approach an athletic contest with serious intent, and in this respect we didn't disappoint. In hindsight, one of the great things about the game was that there was almost no downplaying of the event by either team, by which I mean to say all twelve of us began the contest fully bent on winning, and self-consciousness about our relative stations on the athletic pecking order (low) didn't detract from that very real desire.
Was there an element of trying to re-live high school days, when the idea of a game would insinuate itself deep into your gut as early as two days before, and become your sole fixation over the final hours? Or at least a sort of envy of actual professional athletes, an attempt to re-create the stakes they live with on game day? Probably, yes, but I would argue that a little bit of that is a good thing, not measurably different from escaping into an artistic mindset or getting lost in a daydream. The game took on significance, and though it was imparted by the players rather than the country, media, or even a small community, it still infused the action with that epic feeling everyone secretly craves. And the process of manufacturing that feeling is something I consider a worthy undertaking if done in moderation, e.g. once a year in April or maybe slightly more often but not enough to become an AAC (amateur athletic cretin).
And so the kickoff sailed down the field, or rather skittered like a Bouncing Betty across the grass, and the IBFL advanced it to the fifty yard line. I watched from the sideline. The teams were 5x5, with one player per team always on the bench. On defense, that player was usually me, since I'm kind of a disaster in man-to-man coverage. The format of the game was a confluence of the two leagues' rules. Briefly: five downs to score (IBFL rule), kickoffs (IBFL rule), no timing (something I had to fight absurdly hard for even though neither league uses a clock), game to 10, win by 1 (Prospect Bowlish), offensive team chooses which ball to use (huge advantage for Prospect Bowl, as we use a smaller ball that travels farther), no mandatory QB rotation (Prospect Bowl rule), etc.
What you need to know about the IBFL:
1) They play an incredibly organized game. They have specific plays that involve semi-complex routes, and are generally effective.
2) They play a cautious game. We knew going in that if we were to lose, it'd be because we took too many chances, and they played steady and took us down by pieces. You won't catch the IBFL making stupid turnovers or rash decisions. Short passes, safe defense, and punting-when-necessary are their trademarks.
3) Their quarterback, Tim, is ridiculously fast. And quick. When I play in their games, and have to guard him (rare enough but not, sadly, hypothetical), it becomes a classic comedy of errors on my part and a display of prowess on his. All he needs is three feet of space, and he will dart around me on a short pass. Of course, if I deny him this space, he'll burn by me for a bomb. It's not a good match-up. He's an accurate passer, too, and over the course of the game we had to commit one of our best defenders, usually Whitney, to the rush.
So, the kickoff sailed or skittered or whatever, they returned it to mid-field, and Tim marched them down the field with short roll-out passes for an easy score. We answered quickly, which was a relief for the first drive. After our decent return, we discovered that they were so fixated on preventing the deep ball that we could run extremely long come-back routes. I found my roommate Kyle on a crossing pattern in the endzone for the first score. 1-1.
Then they scored again. And then, on the next kickoff, my teammate Noah started the return, and out of nowhere, probably because he was gripping the ball too tight, he bobbled it, tried to recover, and batted it directly into the arms of Chris, a friend of mine and an IBFLer, who was on the wrong side of everyone and ran unimpeded into the endzone. 3-1 IBFL, and on the sideline it occurred to me, somewhat in a haze, that "oh, fuck...we could lose."
And so everyone got a little nervous, and tense. We answered more or less easily for the next few drives (on one of them, I threw a deep pass to Geoff that was, I have to admit, somewhat of a "duck," and that he pulled down with great aplomb above an IBFL defender, and we used this as the opportunity for our pre-planned theatrical eruption, which needless to say had the life sort of sucked out of it by how the game was going), but we could not stop their offense. By the time the IBFL was halfway to victory, at 5-3, we realized a key thing: holding them on defense was wholly dependent on field position after the kickoff. If they advanced it to the fifty, their conservative, west-coast offense was perfectly suited to scoring. But buried deeper in their own end, the inability to go deep would make it difficult for them to advance the full length in only five downs.
On the next drive, I decided to go deep the first two plays. On the first, Kyle dropped a pass in the endzone, and on the second I overthrew somebody else by about ten feet. Pinned deep in our endzone, I found Whitney on a long comeback, and we managed to score on fifth down. 5-4, and everyone agreed on halftime.
Our team discussion centered on defense, and I happened to make the mistake of saying something like "just get two stops. The offense will keep scoring." Nate and Noah took particular offense to this, with Noah pointing out that we'd been really lucky to score on the previous drive. Nate made some comments of his own, regarding the ugly pass to Geoff, and it dawned on me that they didn't think I was doing a good job. (Which talking point, by the way, is still brought up to this day by Nate in ways that I'd describe in bitter detail except it would give the outcome away.) This, of course, choked me up with prideful indignation and led me to insist even more dismissively that we would keep scoring, easily, which in turn probably pissed them off right to the hilt.
But anyway. The IBFL continued to not be able to cover our receivers, Whitney and Kyle in particular. And we continued to flail about on D. But with the score 7-6 IBFL, as Tim led his charges and things got very desperate, the long-sought turning point arrived. Nate's absurd ability to catch anything in range finally reared its beautiful head, and he snatched a tipped pass out of the air for a divine interception. We mobbed him, and then tied the game, and then at 8-8 we got our next stop. We took the 9-8 lead on a short field, which guaranteed us one drive to win the game (again, a race to 10, win by 1). The IBFL gamely put up the the tying score, and then we had possession, 9-9, with a chance for the Cup.
But for the first time all game, we didn't score. Nate stumbled on a streak route that would've ended the affair, and then in my nervousness I took unnecessary risks and threw two poor deep balls. We were forced to do the unthinkable (punt), and the IBFL had their chance to triumph. Except we pinned them deep, and Noah shut down their best receiver, like he'd been doing all game, and they too had to punt. So we came back again, and on fourth down I found Nate across the middle, but he dropped the pass in the endzone (which event is never mentioned, mind you, when he makes his periodic quips about my supposed poor play, followed inevitably by a very hollow "just kidding, bud!"), and I fucked up somehow on fifth down at the goal line.
So the IBFL had another chance, but by this time our defense had adjusted. There was one play, though, a halfback option, where Nick threw a deep pass to Tim that just, so slightly, eluded his fingertips. And that would've been the game. But again, their lack of big-play ability forced a punt.
On our third chance, we again reached the goal line by fifth down. I faked a pass to the left-middle and found Geoff in the front corner, and he made a great catch on a ball thrown very hard over a short distance. I screamed "Vamonos!" which means "let's go!" and is pretty inappropriate after you've just ended the game, but luckily the shout was swallowed up in our general joy as we jumped on the receiver and celebrated our narrow, strange, difficult win.
Post-Scripts: The IBFL, good sports to the end, chose Noah as the MVP for his super-solid defense on Nick, one of their best receivers. The bronze medal was draped around his neck, and we all drank Pabst Blue Ribbon out of the small Prospect Cup and made promises about next year.
Our plans for easy glory, the night before, had not come to pass, and the path to victory ended up being roundabout and strewn with interpersonal obstacles most of us would have liked to leave behind, at least for the morning, and which would reappear as spring stretched into summer. But as we packed our things and took last sips from the Cup, I had a warm, expansive, magnanimous feeling that included and absorbed my teammates, and roughly approximated camaraderie. Which, all else aside, is better than a kick in the balls.