Lateralpalooza

Many of you have seen this great play already on YouTune, and on the various newscasts the past few days. For those of you who don’t follow football or are outside the United States or both, I thought I’d give a brief explanation.

Last week, the perennially contending New England Patriots were in South Florida playing the Miami Dolphins in a regular season game. With seven seconds left, the Patriots kept a 33-28 lead, so if the Dolphins were to win the game – they’d have to score within that time. Seven seconds was time enough for one play, maybe two with luck.

The Dolphins had two options. The most likely play would be to throw a long pass and hope for an unlikely reception. Instead, the Dolphins, knowing the Patriots were contemplating the same thing, thus defending the entire length of the field – threw a short pass. They hoped to use the space the Pats weren’t defending and pick up the 69 yards they needed to score with help of laterals and the speed of their receivers.

The Patriots, again thinking that the Dolphins would throw a deep pass – loaded their lineup with defensive backs – and even called upon tight end Rob Gronkowski to aid in their efforts. As it turned out, Gronkowski, ordinarily an offensive player, wound up being the last line of defense on the play.

These plays dependent on laterals very rarely work – when they do, it’s a total thing of beauty.

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A Big Change To The Fight Game

When HBO began televising fights 45 years ago, I don’t think anyone could have envisioned that the last prizefight they would televise in the year 2018 would be between two women. Let the record reflect that Cecilia Braekhus (sorry, I don’t know how to put the “a” and “e” together like the Germans do) won that last match.

It’s always a bit sad to see these eras end – though they always seem to do in the world of televised sports. Truth compels me to say that as the medical problems these fighters face have become more knowledgeable to the public (due to the exposure that football players are suffering the same fate), boxing’s interest significantly waned. The pay-per-view model prizefighting has applied for decades now should also be looked at as a significant contributing factor.

Professional wrestling, namely the WWE, found another way to extricate money from their fans per month in the creating of their own on-demand video network where fans could look at their vast archives waiting for the next pay-per-view card. Boxing has no such model and is now showing significant signs of decay.

The HBO fights didn’t air every weekend night, but when they did, especially in the ’80s and ’90s – it was must-see television. I have two favorite fights, both of them transpiring in early 1990 on back-to-back broadcasts a month and a half apart. One of the fights I’ve mentioned before: the Meldrick Taylor and Julio Cesar Chavez fight in Las Vegas on March 17th of that year. 

The other fight was the broadcast before it: Buster Douglas’s miracle win over the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson. I was in shock seeing Tyson’s spectacular demise, probably one of the solitary sporting events I’ve ever seen on TV where I kept wondering, “Is this real? Is this actually happening?!?”

I’m sure boxing will continue on – but younger fans seem more interested in MMA and it’s rougher edge than the sweet science. Maybe something happens in the future to change that, but for those who promote the sport – HBO getting out of the fight game should be a serious wake-up call.

Flashback: “Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty By Nature

A #8 hit on the Billboard charts for this hip-hop group back in 1993 – which somehow doesn’t seem all that long ago. I remember it from the NBA Live 2000 video game – a neat little song.

An Odd Time For A Perfect Game

It was one of those days in my life I recognize like it was yesterday – how is that for a frequently-used phrase? But in my story, it’s true. The date in question was January 31, 1991.

Three nights before, on January 28, 1991 – my father had died after a brief fight with cancer a few months shy of turning 63. I was 19, and I wasn’t quite ready for one of my parents to leave the scene forever – but then again, who is? I remember a lot of tears – a scene etched in my brain from that time  I can still remember of my mother weeping picking out a casket for her husband, and melancholy organ music droning on. Ever see the scene in Diamonds Are Forever where Sean Connery escapes being cremated alive and the eeriness of that music?

Kind of like what happened yesterday at the “Poppy” Bush where George W. Bush eulogizes his father, I play that role this January 31st day for my dad. The speech is composed, and those who see it love it. It’s a couple of hours before the funeral begins, so I want to unwind. I play a little NES game called Baseball Stars.

On that morning, something happens during this one game that I still remember to this day. Most of us play computer and video games like a drug addict needing a fix. I tend to believe that we don’t spend a long time reliving the results of these games – we just need the distraction. You either “win” these games or you never do.

I play the game, and the team I control is getting out after out after out in the field. I get a couple of runs eventually – but as the game goes on, the outs pile up. No hitter on the computer’s side is getting on base. The next thing I know, it’s the 9th inning, and my pitcher has a perfect game going. Three outs later, it’s a done deal.

It’s something I never accomplished before, or afterward, playing that particular video game. But it wound up happening the day my father was buried. Spooky stuff.

Random Sightings Of Shrubbery

I will warn you up front, this is a bit of a PG13-ish post. Do with that what thou wilt.

I’ve spoken in previous blog entries about Gary (no, not his real name) who was a neighbor of mine. Gary had an older brother, who I will call “Earl” here. Earl was three years older than our little peer group, and unlike Gary – was a decent dude. He was the trainer “apprentice” for the Largo High athletic clubs, especially those using the football stadium – which would include soccer, track, and so on.

We had a mutual friend who even as a freshman was one of the best players on the girls soccer team, and Earl knew I made a habit of going to the contests when I was an underclassman – so he gave me a lift back home one night, but some of the girls on the team had nagging injuries that needed care. Thus, he commissioned me to assist him.

One of the girls (who was older than I was) had an ankle or knee injury, something like that, so Earl asked me to hold her leg in place while he got something to treat the malady. (And by the way, the locker room showers in the locker rooms didn’t work at LHS when I went there- nor did the girls get changed there, so this wasn’t like some act of perversion was going on for me to be there.)

I’m holding up this girls leg – I don’t think I was acquainted with her, but I probably made some small talk, what have you. The blue shorts are a bit high up on her, where the fabric is only covering up the top of her thighs, but something is peeking out a bit. It takes me a few seconds to figure out I’ve accidentally seen some of her pubic hair – and this is the late 1980’s when “woman-scaping” wasn’t that much of a thing, so it’s dark in color, and somewhat abundant.

It’s one of those instants where time to seems to slow down. Do I tell her what I’m seeing, out of courtesy? I didn’t really see the upside of that – that leg could wind up emphatically in my crotch. So I try not to stare at it and ignore it – and think about football players or something like that. Earl comes back with whatever it was he went to find, and life goes on.

I wasn’t much of a chatterbox in my high school days – so that incident has stayed with me, that is – until now.

Feel The (Lack Of) Power

I was watching the end of the Titans-Texans game last night. The outcome had been decided a while back, the Texans were going to win being way ahead – but as I’ve remarked in previous blog entries, I’m a fan of statistical oddities when it comes to sports. I “mark out” (feel a tinge of excitement) when I look at the NFL scores and see a 2, a 5, or an 11 listed.

The Tennessee quarterback, Marcus Mariota, was having a unique game. Late in the fourth quarter, he had yet to throw an incomplete pass – or a pass that had intercepted (caught by the opposing team). I’m paying close attention to these last few minutes that would ordinarily be “garbage time” (inconsequential to the outcome of the game) – and the power goes out. I miss the end of the game and miss Mariota launching an incomplete pass with a mere 7 seconds to go. The power had gone out a few seconds, but it takes a few minutes for my cable box to reset – so I missed it.

That reminded me of Super Bowl XLII – the game where the New England Patriots attempted to become the second NFL team to go undefeated, playing the New York Giants. Right before the second half of that 2008 game was to start – the power goes out here in eastern Pinellas county on an evening where the weather wasn’t a factor. By the time the power came back that night, the fourth quarter was just starting, and the Giants pulled off quite the upset to stymie the Pats and their hopes for a 19-0 season, 17-14.

I’m not insinuating my power grid is substandard in any way – I just think it’s funny how random things happen, and how the randomness of things in life and sports often get entangled.