Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Morning: Weekend Awesomeness Scale, FULL WEEK EDITION!

Belated hellos to you all, and apologies for this and for that. I've just spent a week on a barnstorming tour of the American south. Over five days, I stayed at:

-A historical home in Chapel Hill.
-The luxurious Carolina Inn.
-A shitty Comfort Inn by the airport in Atlanta.
-A Hilton just outside the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Lots of fun, lots of action, not a lot of sleep. I came in bleary-eyed yesterday, hoping for a bit of solace, only to be bombarded by a deferred workload. And oh, the blog suffered. It's especially unfortunate that I was absentee for such an amazing week of sports. Later today, I'll be writing about tonight's Duke-Maryland game, which is, for all intents and purposes, the ACC Championship. And it's now March, which puts madness in the mind and a hop in the step. But for the morning, I'll be living in the past for another...Weekend Awesomeness Scale.*

*This one comprises the whole week.

1 - As Awesome as Missing Your Connecting Flight to New Orleans, and Finding Out the Next Option is at 8:30 the next morning.

Sid the Kid. Vomit.

Did it have to be him?? Was that necessary, sporting gods? It's bad enough that we beat Canada in 60 minutes the first time, tied them in sixty minutes the second time, and still didn't win gold. (Seriously, shouldn't that game have ended in a tie, and the US won based on their earlier 5-3 win? No? Not how the Olympics, or anything, works?) But did it have to be Crosby, who the US shut down all game, getting the opportunistic sudden death goal to become a national hero for eternity? Or at least as long as Canada's around? I'm sorry, but that's a bit much. Not believable.

By the way, here's the pro-America, Fox News angle on this year's Olympic Hockey: US defeats Canada 7-6 on aggregate goals, loses gold on technicality.

I'll probably sound like a complete whiner now, but couldn't there at least be a system where the championship pits two teams who haven't seen each other yet? GOD.

2 - As Awesome as Getting Five Hours of Sleep in the Most Depressing Hotel in Atlanta, Knowing You Have to Return to the Airport in the Morning

Apolo Ohno gets dq'ed (see: screwed) in the 500m final. I didn't get to see this race, but I read about it later, and apparently his bump on the Canadian skater was very minor and not worthy of the DQ. Instead of investigating for myself, I'm going to take Ohno's word that it was hometown bias ("you know, it's the head Canadian referee out there and there were two Canadians in the race...").

Let's face it: the Canadians suck at running an Olympics. This is something we know. But there was also a sinister element at play. They wouldn't let anyone train on the luge/bobsled track with the usual frequency beforehand in order to give their athletes an edge. This may or may not have resulted in the Georgian luger's death. And during that 500m short-track final, the eventual winner Hamelin (a Canadian) made several of the same light touches that Ohno made on Tremblay, who fell over. The head ref turned out to have been a Canadian, and the decision resulted in two Canadians medaling.

What am I implying? I don't know. The Olympics were generally a blast, but only because they were the Olympics and it's impossible for them not to be awesome. The point is, Vancouver did everything possible to screw things up.

3 - As Awesome as Dealing with Delta Airlines for Anything at All

Worst airline in the history of the world. They suck so bad. They suck so bad that it cost $50 to cancel a $100 flight just so they wouldn't cancel a separate flight reservation. Come on, Delta. This isn't the fucking Soviet Bloc. Bureaucracy doesn't have to be a total nightmare. Life is not an absurdist play by Ionesco. Grow up.

Anyway, this goes to team's losing star players before March Madness. Sucks every year when it happens. This year, Robbie Hummel for Purdue and Luke Harangody for Notre Dame both appear to be done for the season. Not fun for anyone involved, even if I don't particularly those two schools.

4 - As Awesome as a Laptop Battery that Lasts Ten Minutes

Macbook, I understand that you're three years old, but cut me some slack. I'd like to watch more than five minutes of Friday Night Lights before you relegate me to an entire flight of staring out at the clouds. We'll dedicate this one to NBC, who cut out right in the middle of the closing ceremonies to show 'The Marriage Ref,' the program they'd been pimping for two weeks. They told their viewers to come back later if they wanted to see the conclusion.

Did anyone notice that in the previews for that show, Jerry Seinfeld and Kelly Ripa never made a joke? It was Alec Baldwin every time, and then they just showed the other two cracking up. And I think I saw about seven different previews, all with a different Baldwin gag. WHAT'S THE DEAL with Alec Baldwin?

5 - As Awesome as your Plane Landing

Not that awesome, because you have to sit on the runway until they can hand-pump (wild guess) the concourse to the door, and then you have to deal with baggage claim and ground transportation, but at least you didn't die. We'll throw this one to Kansas, Kentucky, and Purdue all losing over the weekend.

Kansas is still good, and has nothing to worry about. But they've played a lot of close games, and it finally caught up with them. This loss was a long time coming.

Kentucky, I've long asserted, is not as good as advertised. Hopefully this is the start of that prophecy's realization. I expect them to lose at least one more game, and fall out of the #1 seed discussion by Selection Sunday.

Purdue, without Hummel, is screwed. They'll lose at least two more games, and may finish the season outside the top ten. Sad story for the Boilermakers. But then again, if you're located in Indiana and name your team after factory workers, you're pretty much setting yourself up for a sad story. Have some imagination, guys; you're allowed to look further than the employment pages for your mascot.

So who does that leave for #1 seeds? Kansas is basically a lock. Even if they lose in the first round of the Big-12 Tourney, they've probably already done enough. Kentucky will be there if they win out. Syracuse is in. And Duke will take the 4th spot if they have a clean slate the rest of the way. Kansas State and Ohio State are the lurkers, and both can earn a #1 with conference tourney wins.

6 - As Awesome as a Hotel that Has Bathrobes and Doesn't Have Those Weird Hangers that You Can't Steal

When an Inn doesn't give a fuck about their hangers, you know you're in decent digs. This goes to the rise of the Orange. Syracuse dominated Villanova at home on Saturday, and asserted themselves as the best team in the nation's best conference. With the losses mentioned above, they're now the national #1, and the prohibitive favorite to win a national title. I can't remember a time when the Orange were better suited to go all the way. Knowing their history, this probably means they'll lose second round. But still, it's exciting. I'm already having visions (graphic wet dreams) of a Syracuse-Duke championship game.

7 - As Awesome as Being Done with Airports for a Long Time

To the USA, winners of the Winter Olympic medal count for the first time since 1932. Best anti-German moment since V-E Day, if you ask me. Not if you ask the veterans, though. They. Do. Not. Agree.


Who you got?

8 - As Awesome as the UNC Arboretum in February

Pretty great, but you can't help wishing you were in the same place in March. Sorta like my Dukies, who look like worldbeaters at the moment. They crushed UVA, a decentish ACC club, in Charlottesville, and they're primed to win the ACC regular season title and finish with a perfect home record. Above all, they're finally starting to get some respect in the rankings, breaking through to #4 in the latest poll. Could this be the first time in a while that a Blue Devils squad is peaking at the right moment? Things look good, but I'd love to still be here in March.

9 - As Awesome as New Orleans' French Quarter

Beautiful place with beautiful architecture. It was a total pleasure walking around that neighborhood, and I could have stayed 2 weeks without getting tired of it. This goes to Zach Parise's goal with 24 seconds left against the Canadians. I've never gone more apeshit over hockey in my life, and I'm sure I never will again. It was one of those situations where my girlfriend was actually alarmed at how loud I was screaming. I ran around our hotel room, pounded the walls, and kept shouting 'YOU CAN'T HOLD US!' It was glorious. I watched Parise's leap into the boards over and over, and kept looking at the reaction of the Canadian faces in the crowd. If the US had won that game, it would be one of the greatest American Olympic moments ever. Probably #2, after the Miracle.

Unfortunately, both the French Quarter and that hockey game have something awful and tacky about them that sticks in the forefront of everyone's mind: Bourbon Street and Sidney Crosby's OT goal. Those two elements may keep them from being perfect 10s, but the heart is undeniable.

10 - As Awesome as Winning the NAIL Bowl

What's the NAIL Bowl, you ask? Oh, only the North American Independent Football League championship! And my team, Brooklyn White, won! LEGENDARY.

Even more legendary? Billy Demong. The Saranac Lake, New York native won our country's first ever gold medal in Nordic Combined on Thursday, becoming a pioneer, a champion, and an icon. I knew the result before I watched the event, thanks to a slew of text messages from my friends, but it didn't diminish the viewing one iota. When he took off like a cannon shot toward the end of the race, pulling away from his teammate Johnny Spillane on the uphill, I got goosebumps. What it means to watch someone claim such a brilliant moment for themselves, after adversity beyond what most of us experience, is pretty indescribable. Congratulations, Billy, and thank you. In a world with a lot of false heroes, you're an inspiration.

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