Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Lost Weekend

While there were lots of games going on this weekend, I really just wanted to see my local teams and perhaps Tony Bennett’s Washington State team. But while my desire to see all of those games was reasonable, forces of the universe conspired against me to keep me from being able to see all but the Wisconsin game. Here’s what happened with each.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern: I DVR’d it and watched it on Sunday morning, due to non-basketball-related plans on Saturday night. The biggest highlight here, other than Northwestern defending the heck out of Wisconsin in the first half, was an interview with former coach Dick Bennett, in town for the 10th anniversary celebration of the Kohl Center. When the topic of Bennett’s taking the Badgers to the Final Four in 2000 was brought up, Bennett cemented his title as “most pained man alive” by declaring that much of that 2000 tournament run had been blown out of proportion by people. This now ranks as my third favorite painful Dick Bennett moment, just behind his heartfelt apology and promise of fun to students in line for 1999-2000 season tickets (following the team scoring only 32 points in the previous year’s NCAA tournament first-round loss), and his proclamation at a press conference during the midst of a particularly rough season that “we’re just not very good.”

UWM vs. UWGB: Inexplicably, an intrastate battle between two Wisconsin teams, both competitive within their conference, was not televised anywhere. Because after all, who in Milwaukee, Green Bay, or any other Wisconsin city would want to see two decent teams packed with local talent? The Horizon League does stream conference games online for free, and I suppose I could have watched that way had I been home on Saturday night. But actively seeking to watch a game on my home computer makes me sort of feel like a raging alcoholic who can’t find any booze and is eyeing up a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Streaming games to a computer in my office when I’m working late may be great, but sitting in front of my laptop at home watching a game would just make me feel sad.

Washington State vs. Oregon: Washington State is, after all, my adopted west coast team, and Oregon is a team that could give the Cougars a good test. But it was on at the same time as the Green Bay Packer NFC championship game, which all Wisconsinites were required by law to watch (I think). Of course, the scheduling conflict probably bothered Cougar coach Tony Bennett more than me, since one would assume with his Green Bay roots that he’d have liked to have been watching some football on Sunday. At least his basketball team won the tightly contested game, which had to take some of the sting off of missing out on the televised version of Wisconsin’s biggest cultural event of the year.

Marquette vs. Connecticut: Didn’t see it, but given the outcome, that might be a positive thing. This was actually the first significant game that I’ve missed due to a handful of Marquette and UWM games airing locally on the Time Warner Sports Channel, a channel offered only by the cable giant of the same name. So far this season, I’ve been generally smiling that I made a totally random decision a year and a half ago to try out Directv when I moved into my new place, since it affords me access to the Big Ten Network, which few in the Milwaukee area enjoy. But on rare occasions like Sunday, I’m out of luck. Worse, I was taunted by my on-screen channel guide, which gave me hope when I saw that one of the eastern sports networks that I receive was showing the game. But alas, the game was blacked out in my area. Later in the day a replay of the game was being shown, but by that point, I knew the outcome and the aforementioned Packer and Washington State-Oregon games were on. To add a final insult to the mix, as I was going to bed, I consulted my channel guide again and saw that a 60-minute condensed version of the game was being shown on one of the regional sports networks. “Excellent,” I thought, as I figured I would finally be able to take in what I had missed earlier, and do it in a highly concentrated way. But inexplicably, this cut up version of a game that had taken place 10 hours earlier was blacked out. So I think it’s pretty clear–God didn’t want me to see the Marquette game on Saturday.

This is the point where I should be primed to talk about issues of cable vs. satellite television in my home and elsewhere, and why I’m giving some thought to ditching my dish when my contract is up. But I’ll save that for another day. For now, I’m just happy to have lots of great basketball keeping me glued to my couch tonight. Not that ESPN didn’t show two wildly entertaining games last night, but tonight I may actually have time to sit through two games, which I haven’t done in ages. Thoughts to follow tomorrow...


At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Green Bay station (I believe WGBA/NBC 26) had that great men's UWM-UWGB basketball game on live on Jan. 19, and it was then available via the web on the Panthers web site, http://uwmpanthers.cstv.com/


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