This is actually the 501st post, since I wasted (or sagaciously spent) the real #500 Saturday on one of the greatest photos ever. But like a school kid whose birthday falls on a weekend, we're celebrating on the wrong day.
So in honor of the milestone, I thought I should dig up some Seth Curry News. Luckily, Coach K and Nolan Smith obliged.
First, in Friday's "Countdown to Craziness," Nolan elbowed Seth Curry and gave him 8 stitches.
Second, Coach is pissed that Seth won't get a ring for last year's title team due to NCAA rules about game eligibility.
"One of the tragic things about our NCAA rules is what happened tonight where Seth Curry could not get a ring or watch," Krzyzewski said. "It's just totally, totally wrong that a kid who's on scholarship last year and participated in every practice [couldn't get a ring]."
I'm trying to get fired up about this. I really am. It makes sense for me to be angry. After all, he saved Duke, right? I SHOULD BE FUCKING PISSED!
(Slowly working myself into a lather...)
(Looking at pictures of Judah Friedlander...)
(Remembering how cocky Russians used to be...)
(Taking a break to sing 'The Rose' by Bette Midler...)
(Oh man I should not have taken that Bette Midler break...)
(Feeling seriously happy right now. "Some say love....")
(Trying to bang my elbow on a counter ledge, since that always seems to piss me off...)
Forget it, not happening. I'm not even sure I disagree with the NCAA rule. I love the Sethster, but the dude couldn't take the court. Facts are facts. The ball boys don't get rings. The fans don't get rings. I understand Seth's contributions were significantly more important, but still...he wasn't an eligible player. I get that Coach K has to defend his guy, and I'm sure that being with him all season increased his affection and makes this seem doubly unfair, but them's the breaks.
Anyway, the rings and the banner all went up Friday night at Countdown to Craziness. Early in the week I'd planned to go, but then the Yankees were on and it wasn't going to happen. Instead, I paid 10 bucks for the video at GoDuke.com. So far I've only watched the highlights, but I can already confirm this: Kyrie Irving is fucking amazing.
He is single-handedly going to blow minds this year. Ray Holloman from Fanhouse agrees, leading with this bit:
For a player with better advance billing than a Scorsese film, Kyrie Irving set his expectations for his first few moments as a player inside Cameron Indoor Stadium surprisingly low.
"I was thinking," Irving said, beaming like a kid that woke up in a candy store following the Blue Devils Countdown to Craziness season tipoff, "just don't fall."
Irving didn't disappoint.
How about "The Departed" for a nickname? Cuz every time you look for him...he gone! This year is going to be so great. And there's more:
Just seconds into Duke's intrasquad scrimmage, Irving stole the ball from Seth Curry near midcourt and dashed to the opposite end of the court for a layup.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski seemed pleased with the performance of the first player he's let wear the No. 1 jersey.
"He just told me, before we took the floor in the second half, just have my hands ready," said Hairston, who scored 18 of his team-high 20 while on Irving's squad.
Holy fucking jelly beans is this guy a bad ass. "Just have your hands ready." That's a seriously momentous thing to say to a dude. And he set the tone right away by stealing the ball from Seth Curry, and he had the audacity and the balls to be consecrated with the #1 jersey. Kyrie Irving is going to change the world, my friends. The world.
(By the way, the article I stole that photo from has this quote, from his dad: “He just took a liking to the game at a very, very young age,” Drederick said. “It may sound a little peculiar about the age that he started dibbling, but Kyrie was about 13 months, I have it documented on video....")
Time for the Yanks. After Friday night's miracle comeback, my pal Nick texted to ask if it was one of my top 5 moments as a Yankee fan. The answer: no. I've experienced 5 World Series titles in my lifetime, and those are the top 5 moments. Then there was the Aaron Boone home run, and the Jeter flip in Oakland, and games 4 and 5 in the 2001 World Series, and David Cone's perfect game, and Soriano's blast to beat the unbeatable Mariners, and so I guess it's not top 10 either. But it's definitely top 15.
Watching the glum faces of Nolan Ryan and (especially) Bush when things started to turn around was priceless. The silence in Arlington was great too, considering the highly presumptuous "Yankees suck!" chants emanating from the stands when the Rangers led.
Games like that give me goosebumps. They make me feel like the Yankees are somehow important, like they're destined to win. I'm eventually able to put it in perspective, but not for at least a day. Friday night, I couldn't stop watching post-game coverage and reading Yankee message boards, and even reading a Red Sox message boards to indulge my schadenfreude.
After the game, on the YES Network, Michael Kay said the following:
"After a loss like this for Texas, a totally disheartening loss...I said it after Game 1 against the Twins and I’m saying it again...this series is over."
Keep it mind that when I heard those words, I was already bubbling over with excitement. Even so, my thoughts were sequenced as follows:
1. Could that be true? That would be awesome if it were true.
2. No. Michael Kay is an idiot.
3. I hope that big-headed bastard doesn't jinx us.
It takes a lot for me to make fun of someone's big head, by the way, since that was my childhood curse as well. But the last time the Yanks made that big a comeback in the playoffs, it was in game 1 of the ALDS against Cleveland in 1997. They were up 6-1, and came back to win 8-6. Just like Friday night, it was glorious. And then Cleveland won the next three games, and the series was over, and the fucking Marlins won the title.
Here's the thing: a comeback win doesn't mean jack shit, other than the fact that a team won a game. Beyond that? Zippo. Believing in crushing blows to a team's morality, especially in baseball, is at least 90% a media construct. Texas wasn't going to roll over and die just because the Yanks stole a game. They didn't roll over and die when Tampa evened the series in Arlington, did they? Momentum in baseball, as they say, goes only as far as the next day's pitcher. Sometimes, that pitcher is Cliff Lee.
What the comeback really did was disguise some of this team's weaknesses. Namely:
1. Mediocre starting pitching by playoff standards. Sabathia was terrible. Hughes was terrible. This is exactly what worried me coming into the playoffs, but then Minnesota happened and I was fooled into thinking we might be fine. We're not fine. We're especially not fine if Cliff Lee does what I think he's going to do tonight. We just don't have the kinds of aces, or at least good pitchers peaking at the perfect time, that champions typically have. This is why Texas and Philadelphia make the most sense as World Series teams.
2. Poor situational hitting. There was no reason in Saturday's loss that we couldn't have had seven runs of our own. But we left 12 men on base. (To be fair, Texas left nine...they could have had more runs too.) That lack of production won't cut it in the playoffs. It worried me coming in, and it's worrying me now.
We're up against the wall tonight. I still believe we'll take this series, and if we can scrounge a win against Cliff Lee, then I might drift toward the Michael Kay school of utter certainties. If we lose tonight, we should still win Game 4 against Tommy Hunter (I assume CC will pitch if we're down 2-1), and then we'll have to beat 2 out of these 3 pitchers: Wilson, Lewis, Lee. Wilson was fantastic in Game 1, and I doubt Ron Washington will be serving up any more victories. Lewis was very, very hittable in Game 2, and I think we'll lambaste him next time. Lee? Well, we'll see Lee tonight. We'll see what that sick fuck has in store.
If the Yanks are going to repeat, we have to win games like tonight. Defy the odds, get lucky, take some pressure off. A scoreless first inning would be an excellent start. Anything shy of 3 runs, really, would be appreciated.
The big mystery of Game 3 is exactly what Andy Pettitte has sloshing around in his old rusty tank. As we saw with Hughes and Sabathia, the great Minnesota starts can now be viewed as red herrings and false dawns. There's a lot left to be seen and proved, and as nice as it would be to believe Michael Kay's cocksure proclamations, this one's a long, lonely way from over.