Saturday, March 27, 2010

March Madness Diary

Over a six day stretch, I lived the dream of any college basketball fan. 8 NCAA tournament games, in a 6 day stretch, 3 days total. Sure, I didn’t see the buzzer beaters or close games that this tournament has been known for. I did however encounter some Madness. So here is the sequence of events on all days of my in person tournament viewing.

Friday, March 19
11:15 A.M. - I make my arrival at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena. Prior to this, I took my first Subway ride. Amazing that the first time I ride a Subway I’m 18 years old. I went into my ride anticipating that the Subway would be a gathering place for pee-smelling homeless people, luckily my initial thoughts were incorrect. Maybe it’s just because I was in Buffalo and not New York City.

11:40 A.M. – After scoping out the place, Collin and I decide that it’s a good idea to try to meet Gus Johnson. We move from our seats in the 300 level, to slightly better ones in the 100 level. We move down to row 3, right across from Huggy Bear himself.

11:55 A.M. – The man himself, Gus Johnson makes his arrival courtside. The crowd erupts louder than it does for the entrances of West Virginia or Morgan St. He makes his entrance carrying a bottle of Listerine Mouth Wash, which explains why he has such a beautiful smile. As he nears his seat, he sees me standing there, approximately 15 feet away, holding my sign that reads “Gus Johnson + College Basketball = March Madness”. He points at me and smiles, and this enters my top 5 favorite moments of my life of all time.

12:10 P.M. – Opening tip, and we are still in our newly adopted row 3 seats. Anytime a person comes down the stairs in our section, an attack of paranoia comes over me. I feel like I’m shoplifting from a store by sitting in these seats, but its such a great feeling I now feel compelled to go into Tops and steal some bubble gum.

12:20 P.M. – First commercial timeout, and West Virginia is scoreless. Huggy Bear has already taken 4 shots of Whiskey, and the following discussion occurs between Collin and I…
Collin- “You think Morgan St. can hold West Virginia scoreless?”
Me- “It will never happen.”
Collin- “What do you wanna bet?”
Me- “I’ll cut off my (male genitalia), if they do.”
Collin- “Wow!”
Luckily for me, West Virginia scores soon after and my (male genitalia) are safe.

1:20 P.M. – After viewing 3/4ths of the game, our section finally fills up and we exit our luxury seats and have to go back up to 327. We gave it a good run.

2:40 P.M. – As we are waiting for the Missouri vs. Clemson game, we decided we aren’t settling for 300 level seats. Collin, his friend Joe, and myself make our way to the West Virginia cheering section, and find some quality seats about 10 rows behind the Missouri bench. As we are climbing over other seats to get to our desired ones, Collin nearly breaks his ankle, he takes out a mans soda and he crushes a baby. Quality work right there, that’s like killing 3 birds with 1 stone. Naturally, I laugh at Collin as he is doing all of this. Then as I try to climb over the seats, I actually do damage to my ankle as I fall through a seat (I had the swelling on my ankle to prove it). It turns out I’m not too nimble either.

5:00 P.M. – At the completion of a very exciting game, we leave HSBC arena. We eat at Jim’s Steak Out, and I take down one of the top 5 best Cheeseburger Subs I’ve ever had.

6:30 P.M. – Me, Collin and Joe make our return to the Arena for the 2nd slate of games. We take a seat in the future Vermont fan section, hoping that no fans show up since they are in line for a severe beating.

7:15 P.M. – We are once again in 3rd row seats that we are not supposed to be in watching the game. These are the seats where I first encounter the 2nd most annoying type of fan to sit by: The Old Lady who doesn’t know anything about basketball, and doesn’t hide it… For those of you who are lucky enough to be able to say you have never encountered someone like this at a game, let me give you some insight on how the mind works for an individual like this. And remember, this lady always has a voice that sounds like the voice of Whitey Duvall’s sister Eleanore in the movie Eight Crazy Nights. The category for this voice is Very Annoying.

Old Vermont Fan Lady: “Where is the score to this game? I don’t see the score. It has to be somewhere. Where is it?”
Me: (Thinking to myself) All over the place, literally. ALL OVER!
Old Vermont Fan Lady: “Who are these two teams playing? I’ve never seen either of these teams.”
Me: (Again thinking to myself) How about you look at there jerseys, or any scoreboard in the place… Oh that’s right, you can’t identify where one is.
Old Vermont Fan Lady: “Wow! This arena is huge. It must be bigger than Madison Square Garden.”
Me: (Still thinking to myself) No… It… Is… NOT!

8:15 P.M. – My favorite sports moment ever. As Gus Johnson comes back out to the announce table after halftime, I yell to him “Hey, Gus you’re the Man!!!” He looks at me, waves and smiles. I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But it doesn’t end there. He takes 3 steps after this, turns back and yells to me, pointing to my Cavs hat, “LeBron is going to the Knicks!”… Wait, what just happened? Gus Johnson, initiated conversation with me. He talked to me, when he didn’t need to. My life is now complete.

8:30 P.M. – Maybe it’s a good thing that we got moved from our seats, I’m not sure how much longer I could’ve taken that non sense. The place fills up with Syracuse fans, which Collin and I affectionately referred to as simply, “The Bandwagon”.

For the rest of the night, Collin, Joe and I watched the games from the 300 level, and Collin and I try to provoke a number of Bandwagon fans by rooting hard for Vermont, despite the fact that they never stood a chance. Like something like that would stop Collin and Me from making fools of ourselves.

Sunday, March 21
12:00 P.M. – Day 2 of the festivities in Buffalo, we start with Syracuse vs. Gonzaga, and finish up with West Virginia vs. Missouri. Collin and I take our seats in 327 among the Bandwagon, hoping that this game would be a little closer than the last one (no such luck).

12:05 P.M. – Perfect example of a Bandwagon fan: sitting to the right of us, is a man with a Blue and Gray striped long sleeve shirt, with an Arinze Onuaku jersey over it. Seriously bandwagon? Blue and Gray shirt, with the Orange Syracuse jersey on. Get it right dude!
12:45 P.M. – The Bandwagon is in their glory, as Syracuse takes a huge lead near the end of the half. So annoying. Hate is a strong word, I hate the Bandwagon.

1:50 P.M. – A real Syracuse fan, and a Bandwagon fan nearly go at it behind us due to a dispute that a bandwagon fan spit on the real fan while cheering. Like mature adults, Collin and I are hollering, “The Bandwagon is crumbling! Ahhh, it’s derailing!”

2:15 P.M. – We establish that its very annoying when teams fans yell for players to be put in when they aren’t good and their team is down by a lot. Something which the Gonzaga fans are doing. Two quick notes on Gonzaga:
1. They travel extremely well. After Syracuse, they were probably the most well represented team in Buffalo. I raise a hand to those who traveled from Spokane to Buffalo.
2. They had the best male cheerleaders of any team I saw. Some of you probably think this is insignificant, however it is not. As a person who does not feel that Cheerleading should be considered a sport, I was very impressed by the teams cheerleading performances during timeouts. This was due to the male cheerleaders. They were the backbone of all of the cheerleading squads.

3:00 P.M. – Unable to find our way to lower level seats, we are forced to watch the West Virginia vs. Missouri game from our crap seats. I walked passed Jim Kelly when we were looking for lower level seats, and I couldn’t have cared less.

And that is where the Madness started for me. No memorable upsets or fantastic finishes. Just pure Madness. Like I said, this was just the start of the Madness.

Thursday, March 25
6:30 P.M. – My dad and I make our way into the Carrier Dome after sitting in traffic forever. Seats couldn’t be better. We were DIRECTLY at midcourt in the 200 Level, perfection. Or as Gus Johnson would say, “BAM!”

6:45 P.M. – Out to pee, and I pass a Dustin Diamond look alike. The later years one where he was on Celebrity Fit Club and did his own porn videos.

7:00 P.M. – We come back to our seats, and behind us is the most annoying type of fan ever created: “The old lady who doesn’t know anything about basketball, but thinks she does, has an annoying voice and is really loud and rude and has pom poms to go along with all of that.” That’s like a sports fans nightmare.

7:20 P.M. – Every time Isaiah Thomas touches the ball, we have an unidentified male West Virginia fan in our section yelling, “SHOOT IT!” It was hilarious. And as this happens, the aforementioned lady has the nerve to say, “He’s so silly, he thinks they can hear him.” Oh the nerve!

7:30 P.M. – The first talking appearance of her husband. It turns out he sounds like Elmer Fudd. No wonder he can put up with her.

8:15 P.M. – Solid 1st half, Washington leads WVU by 2 at the break. The most entertaining half of basketball i've seen in the last 7 games.

8:40 P.M. – The defining sequence of the night: West Virginia is starting to gain momentum, and Washington has an offensive possession where they miss about 20 tip ins/lay-ups. I’m not talking about the sequence in the game, I’m talking about how this is the sequence where I almost slapped an annoying old lady.
Her exact words (Keep in mind, she was about 6 inches away from my ear, hitting me with her stupid pom poms): “Oh Yay! Oh no he missed it! Get in there! Yes! No! Oh my god how can’t they make it?! Yay! Oh gosh No! Get In! AHHHHH! Get it in there baby! Ahhh! Oh Shit!”
At this point I was on the verge of going on an 8 state killing spree. To get a fair comparison of what this is like, download one of those annoying emo screaming songs, turn your volume as high as you can, put the speaker near your ear and play the song for about 15 seconds. And imagine that the screaming voice is the voice of The Nanny instead of a man’s voice. BRUTAL!

8:45 P.M. – The two most powerful words you can combine are said by the same man who is constantly yelling “SHOOT IT”. As Lorenzo Romar is getting his technical foul, he aggressively takes off his jacket, just as any pissed off coach would. The man yells, “You won’t throw your jacket at the ref… You Won’t”. As Gus Johnson would say, “BAM!”, right there I realized that no two words are more powerful when put together than You and Won’t. It’s an instant dare, and a slap in the face to the person you are saying it to. Come to think of it, “I’m Pregnant” might carry a more powerful punch.

9:15 P.M. – The Bandwagon’s ride is over. It’s announced that Syracuse lost, and there is collective sigh in the Carrier Dome (so sad). To my delight, one other man who happens to be 3 seats away gives a “YES!” as we hear Syracuse lost. In front of us, a die hard Bandwagon member turns to him and yells, “Shut the F*** up!” Yes! We have a possible fight, this is terrific. They are standing up, screaming vulgar words to eachother as everyone around us is yelling things like “Grow up”, “Quit it guys!”, “Be Mature”. Apparently we have a bunch of Mother Teresa’s in our section. My one comment was “You Won’t Punch Him.” Classic.

9:30 P.M. – I go out to get a shirt, and see another Dustin Diamond. This time it’s the one from Saved By The Bell.

9:35 P.M. – I get back to my section, and for reasons unknown there is an old man on a stretcher… That’s all I got on that.

10:00 P.M. - Yummm, Nachos and Cheese.

10:15 P.M. – Kentucky vs. Cornell is about to start, and there is no question that Kentucky is going to win. A sign in our section reads, “In Kentucky, We Love our Cousins.” True, in more than 1 way.

It was interesting to say the least. As I said, it was every college basketball fans dream. I encountered first-hand what March Madness is like. Well, maybe it was just madness.