Game 069:at Harvard 80, Brown 68 Saturday, February 26, 2005 Lavietes Pavilion - Cambridge, MA
Last Saturday evening, I was scheduled to meet a fellow blogger and college basketball enthusiast for a game. We've been blog-buddies for several years now, but this would have had been my first in-person opportunity to hear about how much better at ESPN College Hoops 2K5 he is than me, and what a superior and more accomplished writer he is. I wouldn't have had a convincing comeback for either claim, I never have.
But sadly, circumstances intervened. Both our families attended the game in separate sections, invisible to each other - so the next morning's e-mail exchange was, well, a little awkward. But he graciously agreed to provide the first guest recap in the history of The Mid-Majority, and I'm honored to have him grace this site with his presence. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Christopher Monks.
In the lobby of Lavietes Pavilion many faces passed me by: some old, some young; some pretty, some less pretty. Oddly enough, there weren't nearly as many pretty faces as I had expected. Perhaps they were attending something more festive than a basketball game between Brown (10-14, 3-7 Ivy) and Harvard (11-13, 6-5 Ivy), like a symposium on eco-terrorism at the Kennedy School of Government, or bowling. But there was one face in particular that I was waiting to see: that of the beloved and prolific host of this site, Kyle Whelliston, for it was on this night that we had arranged to meet in person for the very first time. Needless to say, I was as anxious as a little buccaneer on his first day of pirate practice.
Although we've never met, Kyle has filled in for me on my blog a few times, and he also redesigned it and helped make it the outstanding fair-to-middling blog it is today. I was looking forward to meeting him for many reasons: I wanted to meet him to see the face of the man behind The Mid-Majority; I wanted to see if his physical features matched those of my fantasies (Was he burly? Did he have a cleft lip?); I wanted to learn how he's able to write paragraph after paragraph about marginal Division I basketball programs without feeling depressed and/or impotent; and most of all, I wanted to meet Kyle to prove to him that despite how I may come off on my blog, I really am a very cool and hip person.
At my side in the lobby were my four-year-old son and my father. A part of me worried that their presence might lessen my cool and hip index, but none of my friends wanted to come to the game and I didn't want to show up alone and risk having Kyle think that I was nothing but a lonely dull blogger who dressed better than average. So my son and father it was. Unfortunately, neither of them was dressed particularly cool or hip. Dad wore one of his nine green sweaters, and my son demanded he sport his "basketball pants." There's nothing really wrong with the pants, they're blue nylon with yellow racing stripes down the sides, but when combined with a bright red winter coat and a brown knit cap it gave the appearance that he lived in a cardboard box behind a thrift shop. As for me, I was wearing my signature cool jean/cool shirt combo that makes all the ladies scream in my ever hopeful daydreams. I also wore my black winter hat with orange stripes, for that was what I told Kyle to look for so he could spot me in the crowd among all the old and pretty and young and ugly people.
It's a very awesome and cool hat.
So there we were, waiting. As each new person entered through the lobby doors I scanned their face to see if it could be Kyle's. Could that be Kyle? No, no - too old. Maybe that's him? No, no - too young. Wait, perhaps Kyle is that guy over there? No, no - that is a woman from Latvia. One after the other, people entered and made their way into the arena, but none offered the slightest glance at me and my black winter hat with orange stripes. After twenty minutes had passed, I feared the worst. I feared a car crash or kidnapping, or worse yet that Kyle had stood me up because I was a lonely dull blogger who dressed better than average.
So I decided to leave his tickets at the door. Perhaps he was just running late. Yes, that was it; he was just caught in traffic, probably. Kyle would want me to go in, I told myself. He wouldn't want me to miss any of the pre-game introductions. Nope, of course he wouldn't. That's what makes him a great guy and bronze medal-winning biathlete. So with my guilt fully in check, we handed a young co-ed our tickets and made our way into the arena.
Taking our seats, we discovered, to our pleasant surprise, that it was Senior Night. The Crimson's four seniors, Jason Norman, Kevin Rogus, Graham Beatty, and David Giovacchini stood on the court with their loudly dressed parents while the not-even-close-to-capacity crowd applauded them. Seeing the festivities made me think back to when I was in college and the Senior Night I never had at the University of Wisconsin. Although I was 26, I had all fours years of my eligibility left, and I would have been the best fifteenth man of all-time. But alas, I was never asked to join the team. (Damn you, Dick Bennent.) Sorry, I digress; I don't want my bitterness over my nonexistent college basketball career to take attention away from Harvard's four honorable seniors. No, that would just make me look shallow and self-centered.
Anyway, I think now is as good a time as any to put up a link to my blog: Utter Wonder. It's updated every weekday and recently the famous writer Jonathan Ames said it looked "very cool." I take particular pride in that given that it's not every day that a famous writer goes out his way to mention how cool he thinks a blog looks. Plus he's right: it is a cool looking blog. Honest!
So where was I? Ah, yes, of course: my awesome black winter hat with the orange stripes. Well, let me tell you, it's a wicked awesome hat. So wicked awesome in fact thatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦oh, wait, right: the game. That's what the five of you still bothering to read this far have been waiting for: the game. This is after all the "game recap." Sorry. My bad.
Okay then. Well, the game itself was more entertaining than a shirts/skins scrimmage between the Washington Generals and their practice squad, but less entertaining than the actual halftime show which featured nine-year-olds from Brighton, Massachusetts running up and down the court hurling basketballs into the air for five delightful and glorious minutes. Harvard led throughout the contest. Kevin Rogus started things off with a three pointer and the Crimson never looked back. It was clear that Harvard's seniors weren't going to let themselves get beat on Senior Night by a team that featured nine freshman and four sophomores. Their frat brothers would never let them hear they end of it if they did! (Harvard doesn't allow fraternities, of course, but if they did the above statement would be very true.)
Jason Forte, Brown's sole senior and 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year, did all he could to try and keep his team in the game. He wiggled, he jiggled, he slashed, he mashed - he basically threw every move in the Dance Dance Revolution instruction manual at Harvard. While most of the time it seemed as if Forte could break down the Crimson defense at will, there were instances when he appeared distracted by his adorable freshman teammates as they bounced the silly "baketbawl" off their cute chubby fingers and knees. Of the youngsters, sophomore Sam Manhanga had the most solid game, delivering sixteen points and seven rebounds. His efforts, however, were not enough to thwart Harvard's frontline duo of center Brian Cusworth (19 lean and lanky points) and forward Matt Stehle (4 assists shy of a triple-double).
With the game being less than thrilling, it gave my son time to focus on the Harvard cheerleading and dance squads, while troubling me with statements like "I like the dancing, Daddy!" and "I want to dance like that one day, Daddy!" It also allowed my father and me to ponder age-old questions, like "Why is Brown named 'Brown'?" (answer: it's named after Nicholas Brown! and "Why is the color brown named 'brown'?" (answer: I don't really care, I was just making conversation!) While contemplating those puzzles and trying to redirect my son's attention to the sweaty, manly fun on the court, I removed my black winter hat with orange stripes to scratch my head as I'm often wont to do when trying to solve a problem or when my head feels itchy. Unfortunately, this innocuous act destroyed any chance I had of connecting with Kyle, for unbeknownst to me he had arrived at the arena and was busily surveying the crowd for a lonely dull blogger wearing a black winter hat with orange stripes.
(I'd find out that later via email that Kyle had indeed gotten stuck in traffic and was late to the game. Unfortunatelty, he neglected to check if tickets were left for him at the door. Instead he bought his own tickets and sat somewhere out of view of me and my non-hat wearing head. Upon hearing about our tragic non-rendezvous, both our wives told us that it would have made sense to have exchanged cell phone numbers beforehand. Ha! Silly women and their "ideas.")
Leaving Lavietes Pavilion I scanned the crowd one last time: Old and young and pretty and less pretty faces headed to the doors, all of them satisfied with Harvard's 80-68 victory. I myself was not. For me, this was not a night of Crimson triumph over Bear, but one of missed opportunity. All I could do was think of Kyle and wonder what could have been. What would have resulted from the meeting of two of the best fair-to-middling bloggers of all-time? Would we have become best friends? Drinking buddies? Knitting pals? Would he have asked me where I bought my cool and hip clothes?
We'll never know - at least not for a while. For now the blogosphere will just have to sit tight and wait and hope. And visit my blog many, many times a day. Please? It's cool looking. A famous writer said so. Honest!