Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Once again, my friends, my Internet Service has been cut, this time though with good reason. I'm moving into a new building in the New Year, and therefore my ISP has decided to shut off my service until January 7th, then simply flip the switch and turn it back on. Ain't technology grand?

Anyway, I'm at a relative's house using the 'net, so as to put out yet another quality post for my loyal readers, who now total about 10. Or at least, that's how many subscriptions I have. So if you are among the unsubscribed readers, I ask again that you get with the program and subscribe. Not only that, but tell other people to do the same. I like to see big numbers in my subscriptions log. Besides, Who knows when I'll get picked up by a real newspaper or online site and you'll have to PAY to read my stuff... Get it while it's hot (and free)...

That aside, I've been asked by a few people to recount my worst sports moment in this column. Well, before Game 7 back in October, I had a very specific worst moment, ironically also including the Red Sox and Yankees. For those of you who know the story, now you can just direct other people to this site when you want a funny anecdote to show how much I live and die by the Sox....

So, back in freshman year of college, I was living in Warren Towers at Boston University. Warren Towers is a single dorm that houses around 2000 kids. It is also about 3 blocks from Fenway Park. After game 5 of the Red Sox - Indians series (you know the one, Troy O'Leary hits two monster home runs, one a 3-run, the other a slam, after the Indians intentionally walk Nomar twice to get to him; Pedro comes in for 6 no-hit innings of relief, and slams the door; essentially the best Red Sox postseason game, before Game 7 of '03,) I decided to run over to Fenway Park to get in line for tickets for the Sox/Yanks ALCS. I also dragged a friend of mine out of bed to go with me, even though he was a Mets fan. Nobody's perfect...

So we get to Fenway and get in line with a bunch of scalpers (strangest guys on the planet, hands down), only to have the Boston PD disperse us because the Sox weren't selling any tickets that night. I was #5 in line, and got shafted. Ah well. I decided I'd just have to come back when there were tickets available.

And on the Day before Game 3 (Pedro v. Clemens I), I got my chance. Tow of my friends and I packed a football, a thermos full of coffee, and enough cash to get some nice seats and headed for Fenway. We got there at about 8PM the night before the game and got in line. After a few hours, we decided to toss the ball around in order to stay warm (and sane). That lasted a little while, until we were all too tired to throw.

Then we played cards. Then we waited. And waited. And waited..... We found out that the box office would open at 9AM to sell the only remaining tickets, maximum of 2 per person. Right then, I made a snap decision. We were about 150 people back in a line of over 500. But I wasn't about to take any chances with so few available tickets. At about 8AM, I told one of my friends to go long and I'd throw the ball over his head. Then he could pick it up, get in line, and we could casually move up and "bump into him", thereby greatly improving our chances of getting tickets. Worked perfectly.

About 8:30, all the sports media showed up. Got to meet Peter Gammons, who stayed outside and talked baseball with the rabid fans all around me. Alright, I'll admit, I was one of them. The police had long since fenced us in on the sidewalk.

9AM, doors opened, and there was a mad push to the front. First time I was really glad that I'm as big as I am, because I was able to withstand the push and not fall over, which also allowed me to advance a few spots in line. Take every advantage...

Finally got into the box office and got two rooftop seats right over home plate. Obstructed View or not, these were primo seats. I bought two because I was sure someone else would want to go to the game.

I went home to the dorm to find my roommates parents on my bed. Forgot it was parent's weekend. Oh well. So I told the friends that I had gone to Fenway with to bang on my door before they left for the game, because I hadn't slept in two days, and I needed a nap. It was about 10AM, and the game was at 4PM. I told my roommate that I was setting my alarm, and that if I didn't hear it, he needed to throw stuff at me until I woke up.

My phone rang; it was my mom.

"How was the game?!"

"Game?!? What time is it?"

"It's 7 o'clock. Oh no, don't tell me you missed the..."

I had already hung-up. I had slept through the game, and missed the best pitching performance in MLB history up until that day. Pedro had 12K's, Clemens never saw the fourth inning, Sox won 12-1, and I had missed it all.

I ended up in the hospital after breaking my hand by punching the wall in anger. I later found out that my roommate (or someone else) had turned off my alarm because it was too loud. And the people who were supposed to bang on my door until I opened it? They went to lunch near Fenway, then straight to the game.


There, I feel better.

I still have the untorn tickets, as well as a newspaper from that day with Pedro and Rocket on the cover. My hope is I can get the pitchers to one day autographs the tickets and the paper so I can have it all framed.

Now, football. 10-6 last week to make me 65-55-3 for the regular season "on-the-record" picks. Now, the slate is clean. It's the Playoffs baby!

Here's how things stack up. I missed the Vikings, putting Seattle in the playoffs. Only one I missed. So now, in the NFC, the seedings are Philly and St Louis have byes. Panthers are 3rd, Packers 4th, Seahawks are 5th, and Cowboys 6th.

In the AFC, Pats (oh yeah) and Chiefs are 1-2 and have byes. Colts, Ravens, Titans, and Broncos round it out. So, here's how this week will go

Titans (-1) over RAVENS: I think the whole "Will Jamal break Dickerson's mark" may have worn this team down. I mean, how many other times will you see the first team players on the field in a totally meaningless game in the fourth quarter or overtime? On the other hand, the Titans rested many players, including McNair. And it's only a 1-pt spread, so I've gotta take Tennessee.

PANTHERS (-3) over Cowboys: Parcells will eventually make this team into a true contender. But this season, they benefited from a very easy early-season schedule. Has anyone seen how they kinda limped into the playoffs? No star QB, no star RB, no real stars on Defense, although Roy Williams and Terrence Newman are coming along nicely. The Panthers have one of the best RB's in the game, and a Defense that should be able to contain Dallas. If this game were in Big-D though, I'd have to take that home-field into account. Talk about a region that's been starved for winning...

COLTS (-3) over Broncos: This is the year Peyton wins a postseason game. I just hope it's this one, and only this one. I think Tony Dungy will be able to diagnose exactly how the Broncos destroyed Indy the first time around, two weeks ago. Think about it; if the Pats were still fired up from a blowout loss from 16-weeks back, how intense do you think Indy's gonna be...

PACKERS (-7.5) over Seahawks: The Seahawks cannot possibly win two games in a row on the road. Plus, I've learned my lesson about betting against Brett Favre at home in the winter. He's got a reason to be inspired this postseason, and I think that the Packers might make a serious run at the NFC title.

So to recap, PACKERS (-7.5) / COLTS (-3) / PANTHERS (-3) / Titans (-1). Wow, all favorites, and 3 of 4 home teams. Goes to show how important home-field is in the playoffs, and look who's got it, N.E and Philly. See y'all in Houston....


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