Monday, April 03, 2006

Ode to George Mason

For fans of sport, the recent ascent of George Mason to the NCAA Final Four highlights the wonder that is college athletics. These young men, none of whom were vested with the fanfare of a J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison, came from virtual obscurity against the elite of the collegiate world to make their mark. And it was awesome to behold.

What was most incredible about it was their attitude about the tournament. On the whole, they were just happy to be there. What a stark contrast to the world that is professional sports.

I grew up as an avid Yankees fan. This may mean nothing to those of you familiar only with the Yankees of old (i.e., Babe, Mantle, etc.) and the new Yankees (Jeter and Co.). But I grew up watching them get pummeled year after year yearning for the glory days of old. My heros were Dave Righetti, Mike Pagliarulo, Jesse Barfield, and Eric Plunk (mostly because as a kid, it was fun to chant, whenever he came to pitch, "KER - PLUNK!!!" Oh yeah, and he threw a 98 m.p.h. fastball with absolutely no control).

But I really have to force myself to watch professional sports games anymore, and even more so, Yankees games. It solidified when the Yankees traded for Roger Clemens (lifetime Yankee nemesis), Wade Boggs, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and now, Johnny Damon. I like Damon. But I like him more as a Red Sock. He seemed authentic. Now he's just another star donning the pinstripes, and it doesn't feel right.

Additionally, any baseball fan grew up worshipping statistics. Any day of the year I could have told you Don Mattingly's batting average, his OBP, his slugging percentage, how many hits he had, RBIs, etc. And they mattered. But that was before the horrible mess that was Sosa, McGuire, and Bonds. The three of them quadrupled in size in a couple of years, under a guise of "enhancing drugs," and the game of statistics was ruined forever.

It can be pretty depressing. And sometimes, you feel like you don't want to watch these games anymore. Well, until the George Mason game, when the world felt right again. For a brief period of time.


At 7:20 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

It can be depressing.

I can't believe we've reached a point in our society where some people actually argue that steroids are probably inevitable.

It saddens me.

I watched the Mason game on Saturday, and the entire bar was on Mason's side. We were cheering, yelling (and drinking too heavily). Not because we care about George Mason (or had heard of it), but because they mattered - in a way that Barry Bonds now does not.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...



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