Monday, April 26, 2010

This Is Not the Way to Teach Sports Terminology

"Hey guys!" I yell up to the boys excitedly yesterday afternoon.  "Come down here. The Celtics and the Red Sox are both going for sweeps."  They hurdle themselves down the stairs as if I told them that they could have ice cream for breakfast - not that I know what they do when they have ice cream for breakfast.

My five year old is particularly excited.  "What did you say about the Celtics?" He asks. 

"The Celtics are trying to beat the Miami Heat 4-0 so they can go on to the next round of the playoffs.  It's called a sweep."  Before they groan about having to clean up their rooms or the toy room, I start to explain the concept of the "sweeps."  I then explain that the Red Sox are also going for the sweep against the hapless Baltimore Orioles.  Although the season just started for the Red Sox.

My seven year old looks at me slightly amused and completely confused.  "They're still playing the Miami Heat?  Didn't they just kill them a couple of days ago?"  This might be a little tougher to explain than I thought.  Maybe I should go outside and mow the lawn.  "Who do they play if they beat Miami?"  He continues. 

"They will probably play the Cavaliers."  A collective groan emanates from the boys's direction, as if we should just annoint the Cavaliers the NBA Champions.

My 5 year old still doesn't get it even after the Cavs explanation.  "So if the Celtics and Red Sox both win, will they play each other?  Or are they both winners?"  I shake my head.  Undeterred, he then explains how he "swept" me in a couple of games of Around the World a couple of days earlier.  I let him win, by the way.  "What happens if they don't win?  Will they go home?" 

It's difficult for me to continue to explain this type of terminology.  Concepts like "sweeping" a team in a playoff series or a three game series in baseball gets lost when regular season or playoff structures are only understood on the most basic, rudimentary levels.  I do happen to convince them to sit down with me to watch the games with me, after their Mother agreed to let them come inside for a breather.  My seven year old agrees only so long as we don't watch the NFL Draft.  I'm about to tell him that I just wanted to see if the Patriots would select Tim Tebow when I instead offered not to watch any more of the draft.

Game 4, Celtics-Heat.  We pick up the game at the end of the First Half.  The Celtics were plagued in the First Quarter by turnovers (losing by as much as 17 points) but begin to turn things around in the Second Quarter to draw within 6 points at halftime.  The Celtics even pull ahead by 6 points as the 4th Quarter starts.  However, 46 points by Dwyane Wade - including 30 in the second half - was too much for Boston to ultimately overcome.  Heat 101 Celtics 92.  "Why is #3 talking to his hand?  That is so stupid!"  That was the one highlight from an otherwise excruciating game - Dwyane Wade screaming at his hand after making a couple of run-of-the-mill three pointers.  Oh, that and our five minute conversation about why Glenn Davis doesn't want to be called "Big Baby" anymore.  Count the three of us on the side of "Big Baby" versus "Glenn."

Game 3, Red Sox-Orioles.  As the Celtics game mercifully ends, I switch the Red Sox back on.  At 2-19, I'm thinking that the Orioles will be much easier to sweep than the Heat.  As I explain that to the boys, I'm reminded that I shouldn't jinx them.  So they understand jinxing a team or a player, but they think that the Celtics and the Red Sox will PLAY EACH OTHER if they both sweep their series?

This isn't going much better though as the Red Sox blow a 4-1 lead in the Seventh Inning, highlighted by a Miguel Tejada home run off Hideki Okajima to tie the game.  I would make a joke about Tejada's use of PEDs to muscle the ball over the Green Monster, but people in glass houses and all....  The Orioles then take the lead off in the 10th inning off the back of the Red Sox bullpen, 7-4.  A valiant rally by the Sox in the bottom of the 10th Inning falls short as the Orioles win just their third game of the season.  Orioles 7 Red Sox 6. 

It was an unsuccessful Sunday in these parts, as neither team could complete their sweep.  It's not the end of the world of course and my five year old summed it up perfectly.  "The Celtics are going to sweep Miami on tomorrow!"  Sounds good to me.

photograph courtesy of Getty images

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