Monday afternoon, 1:05 p.m., first pitch, Mark Buehrle on the bump. Oh, my God — it’s started. Baseball, Americana, the most important spring holiday of all – Opening Day. Sorry, Jesus, you may have risen from the dead and all, but Garrett Jones’ two home runs and Buehrle’s between-the-legs glove flip made the Resurrection look like some sleight-of-hand card trick your uncle might teach you at Easter. I wish I was kidding.
By 4:05 p.m., it was over. Buehrle mowed them down. J.J. Putz came on and looked good. His arm didn’t even fall off! And Matt Thornton, oh Matt Thornton, what a guy — can you believe the Mariners traded him for Joe Borchard? Yeah, that guy!
I hadn’t been so excited about Opening Day in years. In fact, let’s put a number on it: five years. It’s been five years since I was this excited. And what a day it was. Buehrle shut-out the Indians back in 2005 too. And, as you may remember, the White Sox won the World Series that year, too. Creepy, right? They must be going all the way this year too, right?
But no, something’s missing. I’m glossing over something. Oh, yeah, the NCAA Men’s National Championship. You devoted readers may have noticed a serious lack of bracketology in my columns, and for reasons aplenty. I’ll just name one: Georgetown, my predicted national champion, lost to Ohio in the first round. Yep, that Ohio: the Bobcats. Also, Illinois was snubbed from the tournament. I’ll leave it at that.
Back in 2005, I was jacked for the championship game. Illinois-North Carolina: a game for the ages. Multiple NBA players saw the floor, many lottery picks, a future all-star Olympic gold medalist. Yep, that was a game. And my Illini lost. It was terrible. It put a damper on the first Sox game that wouldn’t be corrected until that October.
As I watched Butler come heartbreakingly close to taking down the most annoying team in the history of history, I had similar feelings to 2005. Matt Howard was in constant foul trouble, much like Illinois center James Augustine. Some may note Howard’s trash-stache as the difference-maker between he and Augustine, but like I said, the feelings were “similar,” not identical.
So, as I was saying, there were similar feelings. Makeable shots for Butler didn’t fall, everything seemed to for Duke; Brian Zoubek did his best Sean May impression, throwing opposing players around like bottles of vodka in Boris Yeltsin’s, well, in whatever place Yeltsin drinks vodka. Give me a break, the anger Duke stirs in the pit of my soul renders me reference-less.
Still, they almost did it. Butler was so close; if Gordon Hayward’s half-court prayer hits the backboard an inch or two lower, national champions. No, no, not just that: national champions by way of the greatest shot of all-time. Oh, so close.
Yet, I’m no Butler fan. Nowhere near. I have, as readers may know, expressed my distaste for Indianapolis in the past. As far as American cities go, Indianapolis is on par with a Dan Brown novel: decidedly mediocre, unimpressive, full of vapid characters (Peyton Manning) and somewhere I will never venture. But I was pulling for them as hard as I could. Well, I was pulling against Duke. That counts, too.
I guess this is a roundabout way of saying the White Sox will win the World Series this year. And that I’ll forever hate Brian Zoubek and Jon Scheyer, too. I’m guessing those same folks dumb enough to like Scheyer will boo Tiger Woods this weekend.
I don’t care if Tiger wins, and I don’t expect him to. Still, how unbelievable would that be? Oh, the dirty things Jim Nantz could say when that final putt drops. Good thing Gary McCord isn’t allowed at Augusta.
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