Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 2 - Wipe Out

Baltimore, MD -- 9/16/07.

I was thirsty.

Jeff and I had just crossed the 2-mile mark on his wrist pedometer, which we’re using to track how far we run along the sidelines this season, and after following Derrick Mason around all day, I was seriously lacking in electrolytes. I’m just guessing I’d sweat purple if Gatorade had its way, although despite Syracuse being called quite possibly the worst football team in Division 1-A, I still bleed orange.

Well in order to quench said thirst, I ventured over to the hydration center on the field. Each week, two tables are set up between the benches and both are consistently covered in cups, some with water, some with the yellow. Bobby Boucher would certainly approve as the tabletop is rarely seen through the sea of green and orange. Therefore, it would stand to reason that there would be more than enough fluid for the camera crews to stay cool. But when I grabbed a cup from the back of the assembly line I was immediately told to return to sender, the cup in question belonged to Mr. Heap.

Now I could understand if number 86 was hovering nearby and waiting for a drink. But Heap was nowhere to be found. What I found out next were not only fascinating facts for the blog, but a few finds that may have actually factored into the outcome of the game. Seriously.

I’ll start at the end, or at least with the end result, since I had a front row seat. As I alluded to earlier, we had Mason wired on Sunday and he ran us ragged in the first half as Jeff and I sprinted up and down the sidelines while the offense drove up and down the field. We finally got a chance to catch our breath in the end zone just before halftime as the Ravens faced third and goal. Now Mason had been a primary target throughout the first two quarters, which was good news for this fantasy GM as D-Mase was holding down the spot left open by Greg Jennings and his apparent disappearance from fantasy relevance. And even though my fellow team managers would have you believe that somehow the wire worked both ways on Sunday, allowing me to give some extra incentive for #85 to rack up the receptions, he seriously just decided to have a good game. Thank you Kyle Boller and thank you Red Bull as Derrick routinely referenced the taurine tornado for the extra pep in his step. It might not give you wings, but it does seem to help with the hands.

As I was saying, Jeff and I were squatting in the corner of the end zone and on third and goal, Kyle threw a fade route to me, or so it seemed, until Todd Heap came to the rescue to reel in the catch. Now the referees called him out of bounds initially and I have to say, in real time, watching his hand and toes simultaneously is nearly impossible. And I apologize, because when Heap spun back and asked the ref to take another look, I had flashbacks of Monday night, when no replay would reverse the touchdown taken away from Todd.

Upon further review, not only was the pass intended for Heap the whole time, he managed to make a one handed catch and tip toe two toes in the end zone for the touchdown. “They tried to take that one away from me.” Said Heap on the reversal of fortunate. “I tried to get my feet in as best I could. I really didn’t know, or couldn’t see. I thought I was in.”

The focus on his feet, however, managed to curtail the comments about the catch itself, which happens to be much more relevant to my Waterworld theme. Dick Enberg did touch on it during the CBS broadcast as he commented, “Talk about talent. One handed catch and having the presence to get both the feet in bounds.”

So what does an acrobatic catch have to do with my attempt to swipe some high quality H2O? Well the scoring strike would prove to be the game winner against the Jets and the hands that hauled in the pass had to be dry to avoid a drop. But what’s a tight end to do when he needs a drink on the bench and all the cups are covered in condensation? Well, you ask the water warden to prepare a few pints just the way you like it: half-full and wiped down. That way, you wont get any water on your hands when you pick up the cup and you wont get wet while you’re holding the cup either. It seems simple enough, yet according to the man in charge, that was the first time Heap had made such a hydration request. I’m not saying it was the reason he was able to make the one-handed grab, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say its harder to handle a pigskin with your palms greased.

Now its no surprise that Heap played an important role in the Ravens first victory of the season, but the wipe down may have been foreshadowed earlier in the day as the beats leaking out from under the locker room door before the game included the latest from Lil Boosie.

The title of the song is appropriately, “Wipe Me Down”, although that’s about the only clean verse of the song. Luckily for all my Ravens Rookies reading this, the YouTube link above is the censored version.

Lil Boosie may not have the motivational firepower of, say, a former Gladiator - Russell Crowe had a previous engagement with the Michigan Wolverines - but his lyrical stylings did mange to set the tone for the day as Baltimore was able to…wait for it…wipe the slate clean after the mess on Monday Night Football. They earned their first win of the season. Willis McGahee caught the first receiving touchdown of his career, which also happened to be his first points in purple. And Ed Reed and Ray Lewis wiped out any chances the Jets had at a comeback with a mutual interception in the end zone to seal the game.

I’ll admit, I pumped the fist Kirk Gibson style after the play, and I even entertained the possibility of performing an aerial version, but I thought Coach Billick got enough air for all of us after the Heap TD. The legs were also a little tired at that point in the game, and not just because of Mason. The real quad burner came on Ed Reed’s punt return in the fourth quarter as I raced the length of the field after an apparent runback to near the fifty. As I started to set up the tripod, the ref announced that there had been an illegal block in the back and the drive would start back inside the twenty. So I popped up and sprinted sixty yards to the other side of the field. Upon my arrival, Jeff wondered if we should get the shot from the previous spot. I stalled for a moment and then thankfully action resumed and we were able to set up shop where we stood. After all, we logged a total of 2.2 miles Sunday afternoon and combined with the heartbeats skipped while watching the final plays unfold, when the game came to an end, I was…wait for it…wiped out.

1 comment:

Jarrett said...

Oh my Lord, you said 'palms greased.'