Perfect, just perfect

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Masha

Perfect. An impossible achievement, to be perfect. It’s something we all dream about; perfectionists can destroy their lives trying to be perfect. But we all try for it, working at being mistake-free and, as the dictionary says “entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings.” The perfect woman/man – doesn’t exist. The perfect career – doesn’t exist. The perfect trip – we’ve come close a couple of times, but there’s always something weird that happens to destroy it – mostly at airports. The perfect car – doesn’t exist; there’s always those strange little gremlins that steal into the machinery and do something goofy.

So when you’re Geno Auriemma and your ladies basketball team comes to you at the beginning of the year and say they want to strive for a perfect season, you laugh. You marvel at the innocence of late teenagers/early twenty-somethings who believe that it’s a reasonable goal. You tell them it’s unreasonable. You might even give them a hard time about it – because sometimes that’s what coaches do – they give you a hard time to see if you can rise to the occasion. But you’re Geno – you shake your head and do what you’ve always done – you coach for perfection. You yell at them if they do something stupid – even if it’s at the end of a game where you’re ahead 20 points, you yell. Because that’s what you do.

Boy, did UConn respond last night. They responded to all the yelling. They responded to their coach. After an undefeated regular season, the UConn Huskies rolled through the ladies tournament like a house on fire. They were matched by Notre Dame, another undefeated team. And in one of the most compelling match-ups in the ladies tournament final, we had two undefeated teams meeting each other. Someone was going to lose. Someone was going to reach the peak of the mountain, the unachievable – they were going to have a perfect season.

Just to make sure they put an exclamation mark on the perfect season, UConn blew Notre Dame out of the water. It wasn’t that the Fighting Irish played badly, although much like Kentucky the night before, many of the shots that had been falling all tournament were bouncing off the rim, narrow misses by the narrowest of margins, but misses nonetheless. The Irish looked outmatched. They lost to perfection.

So congratulations to Geno Auriemma, who, with the win, passed Pat Summitt in total wins. Pretty good for 29 years of coaching. Oh, and the men’s UConn team won too – they just weren’t perfect.

 

Pawing through the Duffle Bag

 

Masha

As I watch the snow flakes float down to the six inches of snow already in the front yard (six inches that was supposed to be a “dusting”), I am reevaluating what I’m going to wear tomorrow to Opening Day in Denver. As a part of that, I’m not going to cover the topic I had picked for today’s blog – the Cardinal/Reds game – since it’s currently in a rain delay.

So I’ve decided to write about all the little, strange things that have happened in a variety of sports this week that usually aren’t enough to write a full blog  about. So they get tucked into the duffle bag of topics that may be a Facebook posting, but often they just lurk in the back of my mind doing nothing. Let’s do some nothing:

1) Tiger’s Back. And not in a good way. A ‘pinched nerve’ in sports parlance is a herniated disc in a neurosurgeon’s mind. Now I’m not a doctor (and I don’t even play one on T.V.), but I am a golfer. I know there are as many adaptions to the golf swing as there are golfers, but there is one consistent theme in the swing – shoulder turn, which is only possible if your back twists. If you have a herniated disc, that’s a big ouch. Trimming the disc may relieve the pain, but the disc may continue to break down, or other discs in the spinal column may join the party and that leads to more pain. I hope for Tiger’s sake that this works – I would love for him to break Jack’s record. But it’s looking less likely with every knee and back surgery he has.

2) Baseball Managers and shaving. I know, no one rates baseball managers on their personal grooming, including me. But I’m always amazed at how scraggly most Managers look on game day. This Opening Day’s broadcasts included some of the best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint) examples of usually unshaven Managers proving they do have a razor: Kirk Gibson, Don Mattingly, and Clint Hurdle – all clean shaven, all looking fabulous. Hey, guys – you’re the leaders of MLB teams; be the leader and pick one. Beard or clean shaven, either one. Just pick. The days of the 3-day growth went out with Miami Vice.

3) Andrew Wiggins declaring for the draft. Bad decision, Andrew. You need some seasoning and Kansas would have been a great place for you to develop into a world-class player – in a couple of years. Bill Self could have taught you how to play as a teammate, not a star. But you’re off to prove you’re the star everyone says you are. Best of luck – I believe you’re going to get crushed the first year by all the NBA guys who are looking to prove you’re not ready. Prove me wrong.

4) Vin Scully announcing during the LA earthquake. In only the way Vin can do, he calmly announced the 5.1 earthquake and then continued on with his play-by-play. I’ve attached the link for your enjoyment. Compare this with the LA T.V. announcer…. Vin’s been in LA a long time and it’s going to take more than a 5.1 earthquake to break his stride. I love Vin Scully…

Vin Scully Earthquake announcement – unshaken

Pat

1)  Tiger’s swing has always put a lot of stress on his body.  He’s had stress fractures in his leg and knee surgeries, sore elbows and now the the back surgery.  One thing I do know is that Tiger Woods works harder on his body and his golf game than any other golfer on the PGA tour.  Given his dedication to winning, I have to believe that Tiger still will figure out how to make his swing work to achieve many more wins and several more majors.

4)  I was raised in St. Louis listening to Jack Buck and Harry Cary doing Cardinal Baseball on the Radio.  It was wonderful.  But I must say that Vin Scully has to be one of the best ever and I love the way he pulls off broadcasting a ballgame all by himself.   It takes a lot of work and style to pull that off.

Hope Springs Eternal

Wrigley Field, June 2013

Wrigley Field, June 2013

Pat

I do very much love this time of year. We have the NCAA basketball tournaments wrapping up with the final four. Everybody’s brackets are busted, you know they always are. That’s what makes the tournament so great. It is always unpredictable and that is why we like to try to predict it. My wife is killing me on her brackets as usual. I am always all logical about my picks and that never works.

But the most wonderful thing about this time of year is the opening of Major League Baseball. Everybody is even and we start the long journey which is the MLB season. You can talk to fans of every team in baseball that can tell you why their team is going to do it this year. As they say, hope springs eternal. And it does for most baseball fans who, even if they may not pick the Cubs to win it all this year, are hoping for a much improved team moving towards a winning season so that sometime soon they can pick their team to win it all. The season is so long that you can probably name fifteen or more teams that you like to go to the World Series. That’s why the Cardinals eleven Championships since 1900 is the most in the National League. Once a decade average doesn’t sound that successful but it truly is.

I must admit there is one thing that has changed in April that I wish wouldn’t have and that is the NFL Draft. They have moved it about thirty days later into May. I guess I can wait but  I always looked forward to it just after the opening of Major League Baseball.

Masha

If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that Pat is a Cardinals fan and I am a Cub fan. Despite attempts at breaking away from the Cubs and embracing some other team (Rockies have been the most recent attempt), I still remain a Cub fan. And it’s a direct reflection of the title for today’s blog. Hope springs eternal. Much like walking away from a slot machine that hits big for the person right after you, walking away from the Cubs now seems like a bad idea. New owners, Theo Epstein’s magic, and a rebuilding farm system all contribute to a team on Opening Day that’s dramatically improved. Oh, I know, they still lost. But they looked better. Really, they did. Go Cubs. *sigh*