I learned my lesson some time ago. Back in 2011, when the USWNT shrugged off Marta’s oscar-worthy flopping and celebrated a Wambach-header after 121 excruciating minutes of play, I was too busy celebrating to realize what I actually should’ve been doing. Not even an hour later, I opened a text from a buddy that simply read: "Man, that’s going to make for a great column."
When the Red Sox blew their nine-game division lead, going into the final night of the regular season tied with the Rays, I merely sat around a bar and watched as Tampa simultaneously came roaring back from a seven-run deficit and Papelbon botched a save against Baltimore. Needless to say, in the bottom of the 12th, when Longoria sealed the Rays fate with a line drive over the wall in left field, I once again squandered a perfect opportunity, dropping my jaw instead of reaching for a pen and paper (though I’m still waiting for the 30 for 30 covering everything that took place that night). (I’ve even done all the work and created a catchy title: 163. "What if I told you Red Sox nation had a near double-digit lead in the division, only to blow it two weeks later? ESPN Films presents 163, directed by Derek Jeter.")
So, as you can imagine, once ESPN decided to make Friday night one giant mistake by stacking four games onto two networks, I stocked up on paper and surrounded myself with at least 57 pens. Diary moments only come so often, and I’ll be damned if I was going to miss this one.
However, one particular game ended up stealing the show.
Admittedly, my notes for both Eastern Conference games went directly into the trash. Sure, I appreciate the Celts late 20-0 run as much as the next guy, but in the end, they were a team that stopped performing like they somehow had been.
In fact, allow me to skim over the first few diary-sessions by summarizing three of last night’s four games with a single moment.
Last night, the Notorious VDN displayed a mesmerizing performance of epic proportions. That’s really the only sentence I can use to describe it. In actuality, of course, many things went wrong. But, if we’re highlighting a silver lining, Vinny did his best to help us out.
It can be dubbed numerous things. The Pulp Fiction of coaching decisions. The 5thSymphony of efforts. I’d even go as far to call it the Woodstock of our time. Either way, Vinnie’s last hurrah (the working title of my next book) was one for the ages, and it deserved it’s own diary. Let’s get to it…
(For those keeping tabs, we’re only at the halfway point and Vinny has now rolled out 13 different combinations, no one lineup repeating itself at any given point. Not only that, but Bledsoe, who quite possibly could’ve had his face imprinted on an American coin after game one, is being completely misused. Like I said, a masterpiece!)
3rd Quarter 12:00 – Paul-Billups-Jordan-Butler-Odom (Our first repeat!!)
7:42 – Paul-Billups-Griffin-Butler-Odom
6:45 – Paul-Billups-Griffin-Barnes-Odom
5:49 – Paul-Green-Griffin-Barnes-Hill
3:31 – Paul-Green-Odom-Barnes-Hill
(One quarter left and only one repeated lineup in the books. Vinny’s sitting at the end of the dugout, taking his no-no to the ninth. And we haven’t even seen Turiaf or Hollins! Have they stopped selling beer yet?)
2:29 – Bledsoe-Billups-Butler-Barnes-Hill (Paul ejection, but no repeat?!?!)
And scene. Just in case you weren’t counting, that’s 20 (not a mistype) different combinations used in last night’s losing effort. The starting lineup of Paul-Billups-Jordan-Butler-Odom actually ended up logging the most minutes of the night (7:46), just barely inching out the Paul-Billups-Butler-Barnes-Hill combo. And though he miraculously failed to mimic a previous lineup once Paul was ejected, I can’t help but feel like we’re leaving the stadium having witnessed a one-hitter.
Somewhere, Tarantino and Beethoven are still applauding.
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