September 9, 2004

The Ultimate Trip

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This is a first of firsts. The first of numerous rants, accusations, condemnations, confirmations and expletive-laden tirades for which the sports world will have no conceivable defense against. The first in a series of glittering truths, shining lies and downright slander that will all run together and become completely indistinguishable as time progresses. This is the first time people will be exposed to the moniker “The Ultimate Trip” — only to later find their lives consumed by the unknown meaning of such a phrase, or more accurately, consumed with the desire to experience said “trip.” This is a very special time, particularly in comparison with my otherwise failure-riddled existence. This is my first sports column.

It’s as if the sun has dawned on a new day — opportunity abounds, hope is in the air and the world is simmering with hushed expectation. What new ideas will come forth? Which borders will be smashed, which perspectives fundamentally altered; where and when is the revolution going to begin? So many invigorating prospects … juxtaposed, of course, with the utter exposure to public ridicule, defamation and the implosion of what was once my self-respect. Ah, the glory of opinion writing.

Nonetheless, this truly is a momentous event. Explosive, in fact — right up there with the Big Bang, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the premiere of The O.C. An event of staggering importance, yet one that dances perilously on the tight rope between success and failure with absolutely none of the gracefulness of an Olympic athlete. An event that, 250 words in, has had nothing to do with sports whatsoever.

For that, let’s go back to a much happier time in my life: summer.

June 2, 2004: Dodger Stadium The Milwaukee Brewers were in town to take on Los Angeles in a meaningless, early-season match-up that featured the exquisite pitching talents of the Dodger’s Edwin Jackson (who?) and the Beermaker’s Ben Hendrickson (um … where is Milwaukee again?). Yet this particular game was not about a premier rivalry, star power or a home run display — it was about the moment. Picture a cloudless blue sky with the sun (remember that thing? It was here for a few days. It won’t be back until mid-April) illuminating the freshly cut grass. The Dodger Dogs were fresh, Gagne was on the mound, and the fans were … wait, where are the fans? Dodger fans are notorious for arriving at home games mid-way through the third inning and departing right after the seventh inning stretch. Those not in the know assume we’re just bad fans — we claim it’s because of traffic — but the reality of the matter is that in Los Angeles, you have to be seen, and you can’t spend too much time in just one location. Check out Sunset Strip or the Santa Monica pier late night after the Dodgers are in town and you’ll find plenty of people talking about how great the game was — just no one who knows the final score. Whatever, if it were me, I would rather hang out with Paris and Ashton too.

July 19, 2004: Angel Stadium I ventured down to enemy territory (actually the Dodgers and Angels have no rivalry at all, contrary to what you may have heard … wait, you’re from Long Island, you’ve never even heard of Anaheim. Never mind.) at the family’s behest to see the Cleveland Indians take on the Angels. I expected a power display — seeing as how new Anaheim owner Arte Moreno is doing his best to become the Steinbrenner of the West — however it turned out we were in for an even more extraordinary treat: Tribe pitcher Kazuhito Tadano was on the mound. While that name might not ring a bell immediately, the obsessive SportsCenter viewer may recall an interesting news factoid earlier in the year featuring Tadano admitting he starred in a Japanese homosexual pornography movie — but denying he was actually gay. And here he was, having shaken off the controversy and the unapologetic brutality of the Commissioner’s Office, striking out Garrett Anderson twice and leading the Indians to an 8-5 victory. It was an historical moment and a night to be remembered. And to think the only thing I thought of to look forward to was that guy whose name is also a brand of cereal.

July 24, 2004: Ryan’s House One would have thought that with all of my brushes with history this summer, I could not have hoped for any other precedent-smashing occurrences. Alas, ’04 was not an ordinary summer. Here I was, wasted beyond belief, about to clinch my 11th Beirut game in a row. Eleven! Can you imagine winning 11 games consecutively? I know what you’re saying, and believe me, the president of my fraternity has won more than 11 games in a row as well. That’s why he’s the president. Yet for me, it was obvious that this run was blessed by the cosmos. Ah, and to the naysayers who ridicule Beirut as a non-sport, or bemoan the glorification of drinking, let me remind you that no leisure activity (and isn’t that the real definition of sport?) on this campus is practiced more often or with more determination than Beirut. And if it helps to tie this occasion in to the accepted world of sports, I did wake up alone on a golf course the next morning. Indeed, neither my Beirut shot nor my drive have been the same since.

August 20, 2004: Busch Stadium In the midst of a ludicrous cross-country journey from Los Angeles to Ithaca, I had the good fortune to catch the Redbirds play at home in St. Louis against the hated Pittsburgh Pirates. An otherwise predictable victory for the Cards was severely punctuated by the uninspiring food served at the stadium. Easily the most enjoyable moments of any baseball game are those spent with a hot dog and nachos, and the culinary efforts at Busch were disappointingly lackluster. Perhaps if the franchise did not feel the need to mop up the free agent market with such late-season acquisitions as Larry Walker, they could afford to bring in decent food for the dedicated fans. Like Dodger Dogs, for people like me.

There are so many more memories to mention — like witnessing David Wells pitch after chugging three 40’s at PETCO Park, seeing LeBron James and Kobe Bryant with the most intimidating entourage (and the hottest chicks) at the White Lotus club in Hollywood, or conducting random interviews with MILF’s on Venice Beach to find out if they have any idea what lacrosse is (one thought it was the name of Ashlee Simpson’s new single) — but those will have to wait for another column. For now, keep your eyes on USC football, the NL Wild Card race, and the new season of Real World: Philadelphia. And thanks for reading.

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen