June 18, 2004

The Thrill of Victory

Today's Musical Selection: "We Are The Champions" by Queen

Hey there, everybody! Last night I had one of those glorious evenings that weekend warriors everywhere dream of. I returned to the office volleyball game for the first time since my ankle injury. And my team emerged victorious, which was quite an upset. The other side featured my boss and the company president, the Shaq and Kobe of our office. My boss is deadly on the spike, and the president has a wicked serve. Skill-wise, our team couldn't compete. But we had chemistry.

Bill Simmons wrote an article about the Pistons' victory in which he quoted Isiah Thomas discussing the old Bad Boy Pistons and what made them special. Looking back on tapes of the Pistons' old victory, Thomas said: ""Seeing that, and feeling that, and going through all that emotion, I mean, as a player, that's what you play for. That's the feeling you want to have. When 12 men come together like that, you know, it's ... it's ... you wouldn't understand." Well, last night, I got to understand, however briefly, what Thomas was talking about.

Our team had no one who could serve like our president, and no one who could spike like my boss. What we had was excellent team communication -- we complemented each other perfectly, knew where and how to set up without talking about it, kept a positive vibe up all game, and radiated a quiet confidence.

In one game, we were down 9-5. I ripped off nine straight points on my serve to bring us to game point, but a wicked spike by my boss shut us down there. The company president had service next, and he immediately began shouting, "It's f***ing over! It's f***ing over!" As if to prove it, he shot a vicious serve right into the gap in our formation for an ace. He chants again, "It's f***ing over! It's f***ing over!" So I shouted back, "Yeah, but you don't have enough hair on your ass to serve that to me!" Perhaps sensing the presence of a fellow samurai, he didn't serve it to me. We stopped the rally cold, got the ball back and won. And as we walked off the court, I turned to the president and shouting, "Now, it's officially f***ing over!" (As Papa Shaft pointed out when I recounted this episode to him, "It's always good when you can shout obscenities at the company president and not get fired.")

In the second-to-last game of the night, I started getting sore, and I went to the bench for the last game. I wound up sitting next to a bigwig from New York, who had come to meet with our president and wound up being a spectator for our game. I chatted with him while keeping one eye on the game, which wasn't going well. With me out, our side had too many gaps to cover, and no one to shut down the president's serves.

With our side down 11-8, I limped back into the game. Upon my return, we ripped off seven unanswered points to win the game. I felt a little like Willis Reed or Kirk Gibson. And it's not as though my personal heroics were winning it for us... the whole team was better when we were all there. The New York bigwig was quite impressed, saying to me, "Well, looks like you were the winning ingredient out there!" It was a glorious ride home.

It's always grreat when you can play the hero for an evening. But it's even greater to be surrounded by a great team, one that gives everything it has, "leaves it all on the floor" as the saying goes. And we did. We gave it everything we had, and we came out the winners. It's that feeling that meant so much to Isiah Thomas, and I understand it, in a small way. That night, we just refused to give up. We refused to go home as losers. And right now I'm stiff all over, I can barely bend my wrists, the skin on my feet is blistered and raw, I have scrapes and strawberries up and down my legs... and I feel great. Isiah understands why.

In the much-anticipated Brewers-Mariners clash, it's now Mediocre Fred 2, Frinklin 0 after last night's 4-1 win. Frinklin, however, has not lost hope:

I'll have you know, while the real Beloved Mariners were losing yet again to the Brewers, my Mariners were taking both games in MVP Baseball 2004 on the XBOX.

Congratulations, Frinklin. I'll be content to stick with the results that count in the actual standings.

Frinklin also responded to my suggestion that Jim Bouton throw out the first pitch on Pilots Retro Night:

Oh, and Bouton did do an appearance a couple years ago, but it wasn't anything special. The Mariners, since becoming a Big Deal in Seattle in 1995 kind of refuse to admit baseball was ever in the city previously.

This doesn't really surprise me... most Seattle fans probably couldn't care less about the Pilots, if they remember the team was even there. And I doubt MLB wants to remember that spectacular expansion failure (a team moving after only one season?), so they're more than happy to let the Mariners ignore that particular chapter of Seattle's baseball history.

(Fun fact: The Pilots, despite playing in a substandard facility, did not actually have the worst attendance in MLB that year. They actually outdrew the Indians, White Sox, Padres and Phillies, all of whom are still in their original cities.)

That's all for today. Mush tomorrow! (Though I promise it will be less self-celebating.)

Posted by Fred at June 18, 2004 06:37 PM
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