Fever Dreams, Or the Past Week in Sports


June 19, 2009

There are few great equalizers like the flu. The fever, the chills, the sore throat and coughing, not to mention the deep, deep desire for sweet sleep can reduce even the most strong-willed among us to whimpering infants.

I speak, of course, of myself.

After attending the middle game of last week?s Yankees-Red Sox series, I came down with an especially nasty case of the flu that I?ve yet to shake fully. The result of bad vibes in the air, perhaps?

In my fevered state, I kept half an eye on the goings on of the sports world and concentrated the rest of my energy on determining when the next shot of NyQuil could be administered. But I now realize that perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention to things in the athletic spectrum as, upon review, I?m led to wonder if some of the events that took place were actual happenings or imaginings of a fevered mind. You be the judge.

Sox sweep Yankees ? again
After witnessing last Wednesday?s close shave, I began to succumb fully to this devil flu and spent most of Thursday night wrapped in a blanket, cursing every aching muscle in my body and watching Brad Penny and his merry band of Red Stockings go down 3-1 to the Yankees in the 8th inning. Figuring that the Sox could spot them one game out of eight, I resigned myself to a Yankee victory and heaved myself off the couch and into the tub, hoping to break the fever. ?Down 3-1 in the 8th,? I figured. ?I guess you really can?t win ?em all.?

When I emerged from the bath 20 minutes later, I had to blink through the steam to see the score. ?Hmph? HJ said, pointing at the screen where the game was now tied at 3. ?So that happened.?

?How ? what?? I asked, not entirely believing this wasn?t all just happening in my head.

?Alfredo Aceves,? HJ replied by way of explanation.

So I want to know. Did that really happen? Are the mighty Yankees really winless against the Red Sox so far this season?

Penguins win the Stanley Cup
I would not want to trade places with Marian Hossa.

Coming from as hockey-centric a family as I do, I was tuned in to the Stanley Cup Finals, despite the Bruins? untimely elimination by the bothersome Hurricanes.

But when Game 7 went down last Friday, I was curled in a ball, flipping channels between the game, a Billy Mays infomercial and a Food Network challenge involving Shrek cakes. With about seven minutes remaining and the Penguins up by two goals, I drifted off to sleep. I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night because I was convinced Billy Mays was shouting a recap of the game at me, declaring the Penguins the victors.

?Wow,? I remember thinking, ?does Hossa have the worst timing in the world or what?? Hossa, who played for Pittsburgh last year, lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Detroit Red Wings and shortly thereafter fled Pittsburgh for Detroit. This season, he underwent a repeat of history in reverse as his Red Wings lost to Pittsburgh, thereby relegating Hossa to Stanley Cup runner-up for the second year in a row. Since that seems like the workings of an especially sick and sadistic mind, I ask you, does Hossa have the most unlucky timing or what? And is that not at least sort of amusing to Bruins fans?

Luis Castillo makes old Mets habits new again
Then there are the Mets. It seems that if anyone can find a way to lose a game in horrific, embarrassing, Shakespearean-tragedy fashion, it?s the Mets (unless the year is 1986, in which case it?s reversed).

With a win literally within reach last Friday against the Yankees, the Mets once again managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when Luis Castillo dropped Alex Rodriguez?s easy infield pop-up, allowing two Yankee runs to score with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

The Mets, it seems, have become a self-fulfilling prophecy of late in the way they keep collapsing. They?re certainly a running punch line in the Big Apple. So I have to wonder, are the Mets cursed? Are they just providing us all with a handy drinking game? What?s next, batting out of order? Or is that just the NyQuil talking again?

Kobe Bryant is ?vindicated?
Basketball being the sport I pay the least attention to, I was at least semi-interested in this year?s playoffs despite the ousting of the Celtics. Heaven help me, but I really like LeBron James. He?s like the anti A-Rod: extremely talented and fun to watch but with a seemingly healthy sense of humor about himself and his position as basketball?s ?Chosen One.? So when LeBron?s Cavaliers lost to the Magic in the semifinals, I had no choice but to root for the Magic against the Lakers.

See, I know one thing for certain about professional basketball, and that is that I do not like Kobe Bryant. I do not want him to win. I do not want him to do well and I certainly don?t want to see Spike Lee documentaries about him on ESPN. And I most certainly don?t want his image ?rejuvenated? or ?made over? by winning another championship. I don?t like the guy and I never will. At the very least, he?s a questionable character. Plus, he?s a Laker. Girls from Boston just don?t like the Lakers.

So when Kobe finally did win his much-lusted-for championship without Shaq on Sunday night, I decided to chalk it up to fevered flu nightmares.

Brett Favre is returning. Or not. Or maybe. Or not
Then there is, as there seemingly always must be, a Brett Favre story. It?s progressed to the point where Favre is given his own ticker spot on ESPN?s Bottom Line. Will he join the Vikings or won?t he? Is he really retired or not? What does Green Bay have to say about all of this?

As a football fan I can say only one thing: uncle. Enough already. Flu or not, don?t torture a girl with this nonsense. This story line was old at this point last year and Favre is endangering all of the goodwill he?s built up over a Hall of Fame career by turning into the NFL?s Roger Clemens. That way lies madness.

Let?s hope I?m fully rested and healthy for next week?s dose of sports happenings. Otherwise I might hallucinate a crazed fan charging Roger Federer at the French Open or Kyle Farnsworth being bitten by his own dog!

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