(Note: This blog post was written for a different site and is being posted here instead due to timing issues.)
This past Saturday, three friends and I went to watch Game 2 of the UNC-Stanford super regional here in Chapel Hill. We sat in right field under the direct, awful heat of the sun, where it was 117 degrees* by first pitch.
*This is an estimate - stadium security confiscated our thermometers.
The tough thing about sweltering heat is that it dominates your thoughts and emotions. In the bar beforehand, we were focused on Tar Heel baseball. By the time we finished the long walk to Boshamer Stadium, though, the only thing that registered was the very miserable hotness of our existence.
While the drama on the field played out, I tried not to discuss the weather. It's something I usually reserve for dead-end conversations with neighbor types, and only then as a last ditch effort. I can persist for up to ten minutes on meaningless formulations like, "hooo...man" before I'll resort to weather talk. It's one of my few principles- that, plus never fighting with the priest in church.
But when the weather is so extreme that it invades your personal space, you can't stay mum. Deep tragedy renders us mute, but a mere inconvenience? That spawns endless protest. During one of the lulls in action, I finally broke:
"Guys, it is really hot!"
Their reactions were some form of "we know, shut up." But they broke too, inevitably. To keep it interesting, we approached the topic in different ways. We treated the heat like a parent who keeps showing up drunk to PTA meetings:
"What is with this weather?!"
We sprinkled in profanity:
"Son of a bi*** it's hot!"
We reacted like it was a long line at the DMV:
"Come on, this is getting ridiculous!"
By the sixth inning, we were like punch drunk boxers, slack-jawed and swaying. But there's a weird kind of satisfaction in outlasting extreme weather. We didn't actually do anything besides sit in place and occasionally buy a snow cone, but it felt like we were persevering through something meaningful. It's the same way marathoners feel, if they're lazy and don't run marathons.
Carolina took a 6-1 lead, and it was all building to the glorious end when they would clinch a College World Series berth. By the top of the ninth, things had cooled down and we were in good spirits. The game mattered again.
Then the sky darkened and the unthinkable happened: lightning struck
Call me selfish, but I was hoping the teams would risk their lives and play through the storm, metal bats and all. I couldn't leave without a resolution, even if that meant death. The bureaucrats on the field didn't agree, though, and the game was postponed. We were long gone by the time UNC won. I saw "Super 8" with my friend Justin, which was great until we got to the important alien part and an earthquake destroyed our theater.
The weekend in sports was a bit more satisfying.
-The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title with a 105-95 win against Miami in Game 6. A jubilant Jason Terry, pointing to his bicep tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy, said, "when you do something as crazy as I did, you gotta back it up!" In the Miami locker room, meanwhile, a distraught Chris Bosh pointed to his Eastern Conference Trophy tattoo and said, "I should have been more ambitious!"
-Dirk Nowitzki won the Bill Russell Finals MVP award, averaging over 20 points per game in the series and leading three separate fourth quarter comebacks. In a related story, LeBron James finished 9-7 as the Chicago Bears in the Tecmo Bowl season he played during timeouts.
-Francisco Liriano was perfect through six innings Sunday before an error by third baseman Luke Hughes spoiled the effort. He lost the no-hitter in the 8th, but the Twins beat the Rangers 6-1 to win the series. Afterward, Liriano said he was slightly distracted when he received a fifth inning phone call from the entire Miami Heat team congratulating him on his perfect game.
-The Yankees won Sunday to sweep the Cleveland Indians, who, despite an impressive 34-29 record, continue to be a terrible baseball team.
-The Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals Saturday to take a 3-2 edge in the series. The two teams play a sport called "ice hockey," a Canadian invention featuring 12 men in bladed shoes racing back and forth on a sheet of manicured ice while attempting to hit a vulcanized rubber disk with wooden stick implements. The game ends when somebody dies.
-Phil Humber pitched 7 strong innings and Adam Dunn hit a three-run homer to lead the White Sox over the Oakland Athletics Sunday. After the game, the two men finalized the marketing strategy for their latest clothing product- the "Humber-Dunn Cumberbund."
-The Seattle Mariners hit three home runs to give staff ace Felix Hernandez plenty of support in a 7-3 win over Detroit. After the game, local villagers wept and erected a shrine at the scene of the miracle. A mariachi band led a spontaneous parade, and the Virgin Mary's face was spotted in a tattered photograph of Miguel Olivo.
-The city of Dallas went into a state of shock Sunday night as the Dallas Baptist Patriots' dream of reaching the College World series fell short in the NCAA super regional. They were swept by the California Bears- or, as the Baptists call them, "The University of Gomorrah." Or, as the really old Baptists call them, "gold country!"
-Along with Cal, UNC, Vanderbilt, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina all punched their ticket to the College World Series. The winner of that tournament will presumably play the champion from the northern half of America.
That's all for now. Enjoy Bruins-Canucks tonight.