- Former Louisville recruit about his visit: ‘It was like I was in a strip club’ – Sportscenter was moved up an hour this East Coast morning to break this story. If that doesn’t suggest that this is a big deal – college basketball moving ESPN programs in the heart of NFL season – then let me tell you its time to start paying attention. Katina Powell, no matter what you think of her credibility, has been vetted by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (Dick Cady). Even if you think she’s 90% full-of-it, then 10% of her allegations are true and wild at that. Her television appearance begins to name names (we love names, right? Russ Smith, Motrezl Harrell – players with championship rings). Alas, this isn’t about the players, it’s about those at the helm and the age old question: How much did he know? As in, which of these allegations – if true or even partially true – did Rick Pitino know about? Further, who was indeed propagating this? Andre McGee is the most named culprit, a graduate assistant at the time (now an assistant at UMKC). And maybe these aren’t the right questions at all? Sure we’re fascinated by college basketball and scandal in general, but what of a mother shopping her teenage daughters like this? That’s a sad reality amongst all of this as well. This isn’t a good story – for anyone – and its likely only to get worse.
- Things we think we know in the Pac-12 – Fellow Pac-12 blogger, Andrew Murawa, takes his first crack at 2015-16. In this post, Drew runs through some of the knowns and unknowns of the Pac-12 season. It’s a great composite of the innumerable questions begging to be answered about this odd Pac-12 season. It additionally begs the question: Don’t we know nothing? Is that why we like college basketball? Is that why other people hate it? I think about these things.
- What Baseball Taught Me – A lot of thoughts here but namely that the early-2000s A’s were the reason for the only piece of baseball paraphernalia that I own: A green Oakland A’s cap. Now this Player’s Tribune (a hit-or-miss publication) piece by Barry Zito takes a turn I didn’t expect but it’s thoughtful and bold. In there he writes, “At some point, even in the ethers of their mind, everyone has thought that they could maybe, just maybe, square up a 90 mph fastball.” I’m here to tell you: You cannot square up to a 90 mph fastball. Neither can you throw one.
Years ago, as the US hockey team skated out the clock en route to the greatest upset in sports history, Al Michaels jubilantly asked if we believed in miracles. It was a rhetorical question. One that he’d quickly and further jubilantly answer for himself. Subsequently, movies were made, legends born, and history written.
We’ve heard the stories of Eruzione, O’Callahan, Brooks and the other heroes. But it’s Michaels’ call, that iconic inquiry, that is perhaps most familiar, “Do you believe in miracles?”
A simple question but there’s a reason it serves as the springboard by which we tell this tremendously unfathomable story. Just a fistful of words from the mouth of a 36-year-old during a tape-delayed broadcast. That is what unceremoniously defines America’s greatest athletic achievement. Why?
It’s often confounded me as to what draws us to that hectic outburst. Why it’s revered and recognized, a staple in the lexicon of sport.
The game stands on it’s own merit – you know the story so no need to re-hash. And it’s easy to say that we love, for that brief moment, Michaels stepping out of his broadcaster role and into the seat of a fan. Utterly berserk was the accomplishment, berserk was the call. It no doubt fits the moment.
But something about the question is bigger – if that’s even possible – than the outcome on the ice.
You see, we want to believe. No matter the odds, hurdle, mountain, obstacle, or path, we need to believe. Michaels’ call sits so comfortably with us because he wasn’t asking if we believed in the miracle of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team. He was asking why we were even watching in the first place.
Because we want to sit in front of the television and believe that the Louisville Cardinals were able to flex their fortitude that much fiercer because Kevin Ware was with them while he wasn’t.
We want to believe that Spike Albrecht scored 43% of his season’s points – including 17 in the national championship game – during March Madness, because he, along with national POY, Trey Burke, refused to let the Wolverines return to Ann Arbor sans hardware.
We want to believe that Peyton Siva would perform on the biggest stage in the biggest moments because he’d endured four-long years, regular criticism, and some trying tournament losses. On that stage, Peyton scored 18-points (the most he’d scored in 2013). He grabbed six rebounds, assisted on five baskets, and swiped four Maize possessions.
We want to believe in competition like we saw last night. While so many of us didn’t have a dog in that fight, we were the fight. Our own miracles falling victim to Buckeyes or Illini or Gophers or any of an assortment of other mascots who endured on. Because the fight itself, and one of that caliber, allows us to further believe for one more night.
To believe that Chane Behanan can grab six of the game’s final eleven rebounds. That Luke Hancock can individually outscore the Wolverines 14-1 late in the first half to remind us just how sensitive the finality of this game is.
My dog wasn’t in Atlanta Monday night, but I got to see everything that it could be, should be, and that we want it to be.
No, the miracle Michaels was referencing didn’t necessarily center on the metaphoric defeat of a political philosophy. But somehow that perfect question embodied equal parts political demise, athletic triumph, and the beauty of competition that we embrace from the stands, as fans. Do we believe in miracles, Al? We better. It might be the best shot we got.
What transpired last night embodied it all. Because we didn’t know what was going to happen. We can’t predict the Albrechts or the Wares or the Hancocks. Poetic justice won’t always be served.
But on those rare and beautiful occasions when things do shake out poetically – the shot falls and the senior delivers – we believe a little more. We have to for that one victory we all want.
On a Monday night.
In a football stadium.
The previews have been written and the heads have spoken. The haters have hated and the contrarians have garnered their page views.
Today is game day.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ve taken casual Friday a sunrise early. You’ve tucked in your today-I-want-to-look-like-a-“friend of the program” polo and put on some decent shoes. You got to work early and explained, with remarkable clarity, the impact your opponent’s sixth man could have on the game should they manage to get out into transition. Cheryl, from accounting, was not impressed.
There is, of course, a phantom doctor’s appointment this afternoon. A joke that is only funny to you and that half the office actually believes is true. The other half rolls theirs eyes and mutters something about your general level of maturity. But you have your game day blinders on; your dual monitors adorning more of the aforementioned previews and voices you love or hate. More fuel for that fire.
And when that first meeting arrives, that Outlook reminder that you’re due in suite 205 in 15…then 10…then 5…Now… Yeah that meeting blows.
It’s this eager anticipation for a game in which we have no bearing that we love this. Maybe you’ve moved past superstition or explosive upset, but when push comes to shove, when the date of the game is some day in March (and even more anxiety-ridden if it’s April), there’s an undeniable excitement.
Your opponent may be better than you. And the national drone may dismiss your game as a cakewalk for your Goliath opponent. Their RPI, KenPom, Sagarin, AP, Coaches, and eyeball poll rating is higher than yours.
Again, there’s a brewing excitement.
Because today, it really doesn’t matter what you did in November or who you signed last June. It doesn’t matter that you dropped a pair to RPI >100s or that you edged a ranked team at home in early January.
Today is about one, March is about one, because we’re trying to get it all down to the one, last man standing.
May your Thursday be Sweet.
Cats fans…you remember it: