|Barry owes it all to my burrito|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
Philosophical question: If an epic sports event happens, and you're not present at the yard/stadium/arena/ice rink to see it ... did it really happen?
This is the query I grappled with, Cooler-dwellers, on Friday night in my hometown.
And I was at the yard, see, on Wednesday night, in the season seats.
And I was at the yard, see, on Thursday afternoon, on assignment for the mothership, the San Francisco Chronicle, in the press box.
And I got bupkes.
So as Thursday's matinee ended, and as thousands of fair-weather Pac Bell fans streamed for the exits after Barry's eighth-inning at-bat, as if their hair was on fire -- not even stopping to think that the black-and-orange, down 9-3, could hang a seven-run rally on the Cubby bullpen -- I packed up my laptop and thought:
Way to go, Mr. Black Cat.
You want to see a great event live?
Don't have me anywhere near you.
I'll make a confession. I'm 34 years old, and my Epic Sports Events Seen In Person must rank waaaaay low on the Alltimer Scale.
Especially considering I've been plying my trade as a cliché-ridden hack since 1989, the year UCLA deigned to offer me a diploma. You'd think the gig would have taken me to many Musbergerian "You are Looking Live" moments at great sports moments.
A roll call, admittedly heavy on the NorCal scene:
Moving on, to the L.A. college days:
And that comes from a Laker-hater, dwellers.
But there are exceptions, naturally. There have been rare moments where I've been present, and I wonder: Does it get any better?
(Side note: I received a passionate e-mail from a reader reminding me that the actor who produced that epic tear was no more an Indian than Milton Berle was an Indian; in fact, the weeping Indian was a character actor of either Italian or Jewish descent, hilariously far removed from the Native American plight. This, of course, reminded me of the fact that the Hekawe tribe from "F Troop" was made up mostly of old Jewish vaudeville actors, adding to the many layers of comedy that Hollywood produces without intention.)
But I digress.
My girl and I watched Friday night's Giants-Pirates tilt on the TV. We felt the need for burritos in the fifth inning. We cruised to our local burrito joint at that time. We stopped off in our corner mart for a bottle of wine on the way home.
And that's when my Jordanian corner mart guy -- we'll call him "T" -- told me:
"Seeks hundred, man!"
"Say what?" I said, craning my neck past the cash register that had rung up so many of my alcohol purchases, to his behind-counter TV.
"Bonds," T said. "Seeks hundred!"
On the TV, I saw the gushing celebration. Bonds had gone yard.
I turned to my girl.
"I go to as many games as I can," I moaned. "I stay. I root. I watch. And he hits 600 when we go get burritos!"
She cast a sympathetic glance my way.
"Hey," she said, "at least the burritos will be good."
This is what we are left with:
If you miss an epic sports event in person, make sure, at the very least, your burrito will be good.
On to the Weekend List of Five:
1. And then there's Sammy
Sammy Sosa is a 33-year-old stud -- if his Dominican birth records are to be believed -- with about 500 home runs left in his bat.
Why are we so consumed with Barry chasing Hank Aaron? Bonds, bless his maple bat, is lucky if he passes the great Willie Mays at 660.
Sammy isn't looking at 755.
He's looking at 1,755.
Sammy's putting on a freaking show. He hit two bombs Thursday at Pac Bell, which totalled roughly 2,000 feet, and then hit three more Saturday at Coors, and topped it with another one Sunday at Coors, and sits on a cool 489 as we gather 'round The Cooler on a Monday.
Say what you want about our Big Four: Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Bonds. Americans, all. God bless us, we rule, et cetera, et cetera.
But here comes the true Dominican Dandy. My money's on him to blow past Aaron, and set his sights on Sadaharu Oh!
2. Get your money down now: Oakland, baby
Get to Vegas. Now.
3. A quick word on summer movies, circa 2002
But here's my thing:
People and cell phones ... in movie theatres.
You must stop. Now.
When we went to catch "Perdition," we were early.
I suggested we duck into another theatre in the multiplex, for giggles. For max giggles, we checked out "Mr. Deeds." A bigger waste of celluloid since "Ishtar," I can't imagine. But that's not the point. Point is, some cat's cell phone rang during the wreckage that was "Mr. Deeds."
And he answered it.
More to the point ...
He struck up a conversation, and continued it, until its natural conclusion.
During the flick.
This is America, 2002.
I'm not sure I like it.
And that goes more for "Mr. Deeds" than it does for the guy on his cell phone, chatting away.
4. The AP Top 25: Mount Olympus hath spoken
And what do they have to say?
It's taken me about 20 years, since Howard Schnellenberger worked a pipe like Castro, to come to grips with this, but I finally have:
In college football, the state of Florida is to the nation as Rome was to Europe in the time of Christ.
You have to look at the few breakthroughs -- Oklahoma in '00, your occasional Nebraska -- as the rebels, as Hannibal, or the Vandals. The rest of the time? The state of Florida ruleth.
Whether it's the 'Canes or the 'Noles or the Gators, Florida has a pull on college football somewhat akin to the state's pull on the 2000 presidential election.
I will let that frightening thought sit in while you search for the next Waffle House on a Florida interstate.
5. The answer to the philosophical question
I don't know the answer. I do know this: When T, the Jordanian corner-mart guy, told me about "seeks hundred!" I turned to my girl and said the following words, simple, yet profound:
"How sweet is TiVo, honey?"
Up to the living room, then. On with the TiVo. Out with Bonds' 600th. Replays galore. Moment soaked in.
And the burritos?
They were damn good.
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.