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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Monday, February 16, 2004

Go Hard Or Go Home

If you've ever competed against me in anything, you know that I'll try to win, every time. I give it my best shot, or I won't compete at all.

"But Alex," you say, "what about that time I was playing you in __________ and you weren't trying too hard?"

Ha! Sucker. If I wasn't trying hard, the occasion fell under one of two categories. One, I was actually trying hard and just acting like I wasn't because I didn't want to seem like a dork for going all out in a meaningless competition, or two, I was trailing by so much that I just stopped trying in order to make it seem like I didn't care in the first place.

I will take all comers in bubble hockey. My brother and my high school hockey coach are the only ones I've ever played whom I'd bet on to beat me. I say this to set up a little anecdote for you.

Last spring, I was fortunate enough to be in Buffalo to see the Cornell hockey team compete in the Frozen Four. Part of the festivities involved a fanfest sort of thing, except it was kind of lame. But they did have bubble hockey, which of course prompted me to go to the table and invite all challengers.

My friends clearly knew better than to mess with the machine that is Alex's Bubble Hockey Skillz. Unfortunately, a kid who was probably about 10 years old naively thought he wanted a piece of this.

To that kid, I say, "Sorry for the smackdown."

I knew it was wrong, but I just scored goal after goal. You know why? Because if I'm going to play, it's going to be to win.

Another example (also from bubble hockey). If I'm beating you badly, I won't take it easy, I'll just handicap myself, like playing with only one hand, or playing left-handed. But I'll still try hard with that one hand.

That brings me to the hockey game (ice, not bubble) I played last night. Let me set the stage here. The team I play for is not bad, but compared to the rest of the league we're in, we're just not up to the level of play. We're 1-5, and that win came on a forfeit. Nevertheless, we still manage to hang with teams for most of the game.

Take tonight, for example. We're down 4-3 in the third, and the other team picks up a goal with about six minutes to go. That's far from being out of reach. But a lot of guys are just out there skating really half-assed, and I know it's not because they're tired, because when the puck comes near them, then they decide to move their legs.

I know it's only a rec league, but come on, if you're going to put on the equipment and the jersey, put out some freakin' effort. We're only down two goals and you're just coasting through the neutral zone. How about a little forecheck?

It got to the point where we went to line up for a faceoff, and we were a player short on the ice. Eight forwards are sitting on the bench, and nobody's jumping up to take the faceoff. Even though I had played D all game, I couldn't take it anymore and I just played the last two minutes of the game at center. Not like anyone was noticing, but I felt like I owed it to something - maybe just the game of hockey - to finish strong. Maybe it's because I saw Miracle recently.

***

As I've mentioned before, I get all kinds of stories coming across the wire at ESPN, not just sports stories. Sometimes some of them are really hysterical, and I was hoping that would be the case when an item crossed the wire today with the slug "Fuel Fight."

If you've seen Zoolander, you know exactly what I thought this was going to be about. Even better, this came across as the Daytona 500 was getting underway, so I had visions of a couple rival pit crews just going all at it, dousing each other with gasoline as the crowd went nuts.

Pause here to think about that mental image.

Unfortunately, it was about some environmental flap dealing with some gasoline additive. Surprise, surprise, the Bush administration killed some legislation that would take an additive which contaminates water out of gasoline. Too bad the prez, who was in attendance at the Daytona 500, didn't get himself involved in a real fuel fight.

Remember: Just because someone's really, really, really good-looking doesn't mean they too can't not die in a freak gasoline fight accident.

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