Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Gift of Time

March is not the greatest month in Vermont. It is the beginning of what we call Mud Season. All of the snow melts and we're left first with the ice and then the goop underneath. Today was one of the gray, rainy days typical of this time of year. It's not the sort of weather that inspires you to get out and do much but around lunchtime we were talking about what we might do for the day. None of us was really inspired to do much of anything. My Wife usually spends Sunday afternoons cooking up a storm. She is quite the expert cook and does it as much as a hobby as for family sustenance. Our Girl usually plays quite happily by herself. I'm usually left to amuse myself which generally means a book or a game on the tube. Even in doing our own things, we're generally in close proximity and can still chat with each other over the course of the day.

For the most part, we're all pretty happy with the arrangement but we did discuss the possibility of getting out. I had to run an errand to a neighbor and on the way out I said, half-joking, that it was one of those days when I could happily spend all day watching sports as there was plenty on today. When I got back, my wonderful bride had set up a tray for me to take to the bedroom with a bowl of crackers, a glass of water, my notebooks, writing implements and a beer. She'd even set up pillows on the bed so I could sit and watch all I wanted. I love this woman. If I should ever express any doubt that she loves me, too, please remind me of today.

I didn't spend the whole afternoon on my own. They both came and hung out with me from time to time. Besides, our bedroom is just off of the living room so I wasn't really so far away. It was a very pleasant and very lazy day for all of us.

Checking in with the Capitals

It was truly amazing how much good stuff was on today and I managed to get glimpses of quite a lot. For me, it started with the Capitals-Blackhawks hockey game. The Caps are my team, of course, and the Blackhawks are My Wife's, in as much as she cares at all. Our Girl sat with me for a while rooting for Chicago because it's Mommy's team. She ran to the kitchen to tell Mom she was rooting for her team and then came back to say, "Mommy says your team sucks!" It was the first time I'd heard such a word from my darling child and I nearly fell on the floor laughing - good times.

Back to the game. The Caps are in an enviable position these days, having already wrapped up their division title before anyone else has even clinched a playoff spot. To my mind, they shouldn't be concerned about winning individual games right now but rather with preparing for the rigors of the playoffs. In effect, spread out the ice time so that the stars don't get worn out and so everyone else is battle-ready when the second season begins.

That said, this was a great win today. Chicago is sort of the Caps' Western Conference equivalent these days: a young team with a world of promise. It's no stretch to imagine this match-up in the Stanley Cup final this year and perhaps future years as well. The come-from-behind win was pretty exciting. To be honest, Backstrom's winning shot was so slick that I didn't even see the puck go into the net until about the third replay.

It was particularly impressive to see the Caps mount the comeback even after Ovechkin was kicked out of the game. He is an irreplaceable talent but it's great to see how well the team can play without him. It bodes well for the postseason.

Checking in with Barcelona

Yes, I do have a favorite Spanish soccer team. Through the magic of EA Sports video games, I also have favorite teams in Italy, Germany, France, Scotland, Belgium, Denmark and several other countries. I also have four other good reasons for liking Barca:

1. They're not Real Madrid, Spain's and indeed European soccer's equivalent to the Yankees.
2. Thierry Henry, my favorite player, currently plays for them.
3. They were featured favorably in an excellent book called How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer.
4. They've got great uniforms.

Their game against Valencia today was not so competitive. After a scoreless first half, Barca dominated the second to win 3-0. Henry did not start but was brilliant off the bench in the second half.

Once again, it is so wonderful to have live English and Spanish league games on ESPN2!

March Madness

The one game I was planning to watch even before My Wife started pampering me was the Big Ten conference final between Ohio State and Minnesota. I spent my first year after college in Minnesota and watched Clem Haskins's squad as a team on the rise. A year later, the team made it to the Final Four, though all of that would be stripped away later amidst an academic fraud scandal. Nonetheless, I still harbor a fondness for Minnesota basketball.

The game was not unlike the soccer game with a competitive first half and a lopsided second. Unfortunately, my team was on the losing end of this one. Minnesota qualified for the Big Dance anyway and might not have if not for their otherwise strong showing in the conference tournament.

The SEC and ACC games were much more exciting. I didn't catch any of the Atlantic 10 game but that was a close one, too.

All Part of My Fantasy: Indian Wells

I caught parts of matches here and there but got most of Murray/Seppi. I also watched enough to learn that I've lost a men's semifinalist, Davydenko, to injury. He's got a broken wrist: likely out for 1-3 months, a serious disappointment for a legitimate French Open contender. I also lost a finalist on the women's side today: Sharapova. I lost Hantuchova, one of my semifinalists, yesterday.

All Part of My Fantasy: NCAAs

Time to get to work on the brackets. But first, to bed. Losing an hour of sleep last night bothers me less than losing an hour of my weekend, though I can hardly complain about my afternoon today. I'll have to find a way to return the favor at some point.

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