Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jabari Parker Thrills Them All!

Who knew?  I have grown accustomed to really disliking, if not despising, the Duke Blue Devils.  Ever since UConn lost to them more 20 years ago in the Elite 8 on a little runner, Duke has been on my bad list.  I have spent less time, though, on the hate ever since UConn took Duke Down in the Final Four on the way to the National Championship in 2011, but when I heard that the boys' favorite player in the NCAA was Jabari Parker, I was flabbergasted.  Did they know he played for the evil empire?  And when I obtained tickets for Duke's tilt against the Boston College Eagles, both boys went a little nuts.  Did they not know that Coach K is evil incarnate?

All this for Jabari Parker?  I doubt they had heard of him prior to November 2013.  But now all of Boston was looking to see this absolute beast from Duke.  It really had nothing to do with the two 1st round draft picks we have in the 2014 Amateur draft.

6pm.  Boston, MA.  We were lucky enough to be just feet away from Duke as they warmed up.  It was disconcerting to see that no one was sitting in the 3 rows ahead of us.  What was the problem?  But we still were excited to see Parker warm up before us, with only a couple of sad BC fans standing between us and the Blue Devils.

And when we got to these seats just a couple of rows up from where Duke was warming up, I had to admit that I didn't know who Jabari Parker was either.  But that didn't matter to the boys as they leaned over the railing to the visitor's tunnel, trying to get a high five from Parker and even the stiff dictator, Coach K himself.  They were so excited that the old, crotchety couple behind us told them to sit down, that those weren't our seats.  The game hadn't even started yet!  I guess it was a good thing that crotchety old folks were sitting in those three rows ahead of us either.  Jesus!

The game started quietly enough.  The Eagles and the Blue Devils traded punches as the lead flopped back and forth.  Parker was especially impressive as he would run some plays in the corner spotting up for a 3 pointer, but he looked most comfortable taking a pass down in the low post and taking it up strong against the weaker Eagles' defenders.  He was scoring baskets in transition to, running down the court ahead of everyone and throwing down thunderous dunks.  BC battled on though only trailing Duke by 4 after the first half, led by some dude named Olivier and another guy who looked like Kris Humphries.  Let's give BC 0% chance of winning this game.

The real highlight of the boys night, though, was at half time as they both were able to high five Parker as he walked into the tunnel.  Sweaty handshakes form complete strangers?  Count me in too.  Even LC tried to get some skin from Coach K who stiffened up as he came closer to the 40-ish fangirl.  (I would too.)

The Second Half was a different story.  Shortly after the half began, Duke went on an 18-0 run to start pulling away.  Duke was up by 20 for most of the second half cruising to an easy 21 point win.  Those kids in front of us left with 10 minutes left, figuring that parties in the middle of Winter in Boston had to be better than here.  Fly away, fly away.

But the boys were both ecstatic walking back to the car.  They both got to touch hands with Parker.  Maybe he'll end up with the Celtics and we'll see him a lot more 'round these parts.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Squares Can Save a Poor Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is an intriguing spectacle.  It is the one American adventure that really has more to do with the journey than the destination.  Unless your favorite team is actually PLAYING in the big game, the vast, vast majority of spectators are either looking on to (i) party at some one's place or a bar, (ii) watch the half time show, (iii) watch the commercials or (iv) to gamble.  Hardly anyone is there to actually WATCH the game.

Ah, gambling.  One of the bastions of the JMR household, as we have taken the March Madness Pool and Fantasy Football to new gambling levels.  I'm teaching my children the right way.  The right way to run these pools themselves when they get older (I guess).  One of the many ways we could have gambled on the Super Bowl was the old mainstay - the Super Bowl Squares.  We felt like we had to make this game more interesting since the Patriots were knocked out int he AFC Championship.  You know how Super Bowl Squares works.  You pay short money to put your name in a grid of 100 boxes.  Some magical process happens and your square is matched to the last digit of the AFC Champion's score and the last digit of the NFC Champion's score.  We play it the standard way.  We keep our numbers through out the game and each quarter crowns a new winner.  People want 0, 1, 3, 4 and 7 as their numbers.  No one wants 2, 5 or 8.

Rudimentary grid
How to get the kids interested, though?  Promise them an iTunes gift card if they win.  Now mind you, this isn't gambling per se since all the kids can do is win something, but they still can live the excitement. 

The best thing about these squares was evident almost immediately in the recent match up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.  Even if one team is getting blown out, the Squares keep everyone interested.  The Squares do not care what the overall score is.  They only care about touchdowns, field goals and two point conversions.  Let the games begin!

First Quarter.  Oh man! A safety on one of the first plays of the game puts all of the crappy numbers into play.  All of a sudden, 2, 5 and 8 are looking like the real good numbers.  Seattle leads at the end of one quarter 8-0.  Cue the baseball score jokes!  More importantly, Dad wins the First Quarter.  No iTunes Gift card for you suckas!

Second Quarter.  Now the kids are getting excited.  They've seen how it works and Clash of Clans add ons are dancing around in their heads.  These gift cards must be theirs!  I'm bummed for all those sorry folks who thought Denver was going to wing the game.  Two more touchdowns for a 22-0 lead at half time.  C wins his first gift card.  Good luck collecting from me, son!

Third Quarter.  That Bruno Mars guy seems kind of over matched, am I right?  Never mind.  Denver get on the board with a touchdown and 2 point conversion.  Now 8 is on the board for the other side too!  But alas, Seattle scores two touchdowns itself to make the score 36-8.  Mom wins this quarter and all of a sudden the money outlay I'm going to have is quite small.

Fourth Quarter.  A lot of advertisers are bummed out that the game has gotten out of hand.  Including the big time spots that ran at the 2 minute warning.  Or maybe they thought to themselves that people are still interested in the garbage time when any score can change the winner.  Unfortunately for the kids, Dad wins the Fourth Quarter after Seattle gets the garbage time touch down.  Denver can't even match with a late game, meaningless touch down itself, so the game ends 43-8. 

In conclusion, Dad wins 2 quarters and Mom wins 1 quarter.  C does win one quarter and will eventually get his gift card.  Pity Denver.  And celebrate Seattle.  But more importantly celebrate that the 5 of us could actually watch a game together.