Latest posts by Ian Scott McCormick (see all)
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My daddy caught me smoking those cigarettes this year. And he made me smoke the whole pack in front of him and everybody, until I’d vomited and forgotten how to feel the sensation.
This is all a melodramatic metaphor, of course. But what does it mean?
It means that it’s baseball season for fucks sake.
This might sound hypocritical, when you think about it. Come football season, the common refrain from the older generation was the reiteration that “It’s baseball season.” They’d say it with disgust, implying that you were a real lousy fella for choosing to care about week 1 of something new when the World Series was still a month away. Maybe they felt as though the zeitgeist was moving past the National Past time (which it was), but even if it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have blamed them for checking out. Some will tell you the playoffs or the run up to the post season is the best part of the year, but for me, for my money, it’s that first taste of the season that lights up the ol dopamine receptors. Whatever sport it is, baseball, football, basketball. It’s all something I’d once grown sick of, but had been put away for a season. I’d spend months not really checking out of sports altogether, but rolling from one to another, and now something that had been gone has come back. We haven’t done this in forever. That’s the high. And for the rest of the season, through the joy and the clenching nightmare losses, and the stretches where you have to walk away from the game and forget it exists as a disco nap before the churning stretch to the end of the season and beyond, it never gets as good as that first day. You spend the whole season chasing that dragon, and believe me, I’ve been there and watched my teams with the title. It’s great. But it’s over. Opening Day, for whatever sport you like, promises that win or lose, there’s going to be more season to go, with plenty of time to alternate between taking a nap on the couch, and screaming profanity into the ether. It’s why I only watch the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and bail by the round of 16, with next to no interest in the Final Four. It’s why I’ll devour each and every NFL game you can give me in Week 1, and managed to “miss”* the first quarter of the Su- of the Big Game.
Which brings me to this Nets season. I think I’m getting dizzy.
I’m sick of basketball. I’m sick of watching them lose, and I feel like they’re probably going to miss the playoffs. I shouldn’t complain. They’ve given me an enjoyable product. Their energetic mediocrity got me through the winter, and it has been fun watching the people in my small bubble realize that they’re actually not a bad team. But I’ve watched too much basketball, and that’s not who I am. And while I hadn’t factored this in when I’d pitched the idea to myself, I don’t have as much time anymore. We’ve moved five miles down the road, which means the commute is 40 minutes longer every day. That’s an hour and twenty minutes, gone. I go to bed earlier. I work the same job, with the same relatively light schedule, but that’s two hours of my time that’s spent on a train, every day. 10 in a workweek. My pop culture tastes have atrophied. I don’t know what shows I want to watch, because I’ve got about 15 minutes in between when my daughter goes to bed and when I do. I’d hoped that What We Do In The Shadows might have been something that I could look forward to, but nope. It’s not very good. Brockmire is coming back. Is this a Brockmire house? You should watch Brockmire. It was a show that I had been made aware of before this season, so it is something that I could possibly know about. And by the way, I don’t even get to enjoy the damn Nets games. My daughter is usually awake for most of that. My wife is buzzing about. Hey, it’s their house too, so I can’t complain. But it makes for a tough viewing experience. I am not a professional here. I take pride in my amateur limitations.
And it’s not as if I am put in a position to succeed in this endeavor. I am not hermetically sealed off from the world of distractions. The games start at 7. My daughter goes to bed at 9:30 (Don’t @ me about my parenting, bro). She doesn’t just stop being a two year old for that two and a half hour gap. She runs over and asks for my attention. She smiles and sings, and compounds my misery with the guilt that I might have ignored these moments that I will never get back, and will pine over in 11 years, when she’s 13 years old and shitty. Much of the time with my wife still on her way home from work, when I have to cook dinner, or when her mother is burned out from a full day of watching the little one run circles around her Septuagenarian ass.
I watch the games, but the moments don’t resonate. I’ve watched all of the Nets and 76ers game, and I understand that the Nets lost, but I don’t remember any of it. Embiid couldn’t be stopped and I think I remember him hitting some 3’s early, which was strange. D’Angelo couldn’t score. For whatever reason it seemed like they’d alternated 9-0 runs all night long, only with the 76ers always in front. They’d given me enough examples for why I couldn’t turn the game off, but I never believed they’d put it together to get over the hump and win, and they didn’t. And it doesn’t feel as though they’re going to win any more games this year. But then again, maybe they will.
I’m almost through that 81 sample pack of cigarettes. I’d chucked a few out the window when Daddy’s back was turned, but even still, I’ve consumed enough of the vice to live a life on the straight and narrow. Maybe next year I’ll vow to only watch the Nets when I’m out drinking.
They won. It wasn’t close, and it was good. They had finally returned home, and with that long road trip in their rear view, maybe they can soak in the much needed home court manna. I’ve got five more smokes to suck down. Milwaukee, Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana, Miami. Cloves dipped in formaldehyde. But we don’t learn nothing if we don’t suffer, so we’re going to a countdown. I’m going to force myself to be present. To experience the full range of emotions. I’m going to believe that they’ll make the playoffs after all, that they might have a chance at taking the series when they get there. I’m going to let my guard down, so that I can either take the punch at full force or for once in my life, really, truly experience something good without feeling as though I was somehow ruining the ride.
Five smokes to go. I’m gonna get through this.
The Brooklyn Nets are 39-38 and up a game in the win column for 7th place in the Eastern Conference.