Let’s Call it a Comeback Part I

Shit. I promised an expanded sports coverage and then it looks like I took the red-eye to Club Neglect. Place is over-rated, actually. Bad move on my part. Forgive me.

Been busy as a bee, yet the sports news cycle has been busier than me!

The “comeback” has been in-play for a few weeks, at least, yet if we stay with our tennis-oriented theme here: we’ve seen nothing but comebacks, especially since 2017, with Fedal and of course more recently with the return of the Djoker.

We’ll get to the tennis in a minute: the return of clay — where the inferior athlete has a better chance — ah, the inferiority of clay.  Indeed, I have made this argument: do I need to reiterate at the advent of the 2019 dirtball derby?

As for a couple of big comebacks we just witnessed in the wider world of sports, let’s start with the University of Virginia, of Thomas Jefferson fame.  This institution of higher learning recently won the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship.

Remember my tease on that? I won that betting pool that I was in, had Virginia winning the damn thing. If you saw any of that — I watched a bit, especially down-the-stretch, much like I (and you should) do with most sporting events: watch the critical moments/stretches (you have to determine which are truly critical, part of the terribly underrated importance of one’s ability to read this shit!); that’s all you need to do. The direction toward which I have this blog pointed now will continue to help you find those important (critical) moments. 🙂

And what did I win in said betting pool? A couple of beers from the other participants, to be had a local watering hole, raising a few glasses to good times and smart sporting minds. 😀

College basketball is a treat to watch, especially given the dynamics of that 64 team bracket. Aside from all of the shoe company corruption and the rest of what is typical for top programs to do: pay their players (hence maintaining the power/blue-chip status quo), the game also involves many players that play for the love of the sport, who will not see action at the next level (NBA). As we watch and live through the tournament, what amounts to a second season that is this final 64 team bracket, we fall in (love) with some of these different narratives. Keep in mind that this is becoming much less of a phenomenon, our attachment to teams, to players at the collegiate level.

The one-and-done has much to say about that, as did the prevalence of players who skipped college entirely to go straight to the NBA from their high school dominance. Fortunately, this skipping college route is dead; the Kevin Garnett, Kobe, Lebron types are, as well, a thing of the past.

Still, we used to be able to watch players develop on their college team for at least a couple of years, perhaps even compete in the tournament a couple of times. You really got to know these players and the ones who did eventually leave for the NBA, who had this developmental advantage, might have even turned into better NBA players, more mature on and off the court.

But let’s get to this comeback story. If you don’t follow the tournament, year-in-and-year-out, you will not exactly catch the meaning of this two-year journey of this 2019 University of Virginia championship team.

university-virginia-uva-basketball-cavaliers-white-house-visit-ncca-victory

There are four regions in the 64-team NCAA tournament bracket: East, West, South and Midwest. That means there are 16 teams in each region. The match-ups are logical, unlike some of the tennis tournament match-ups we see from draw to draw. In the NCAAs, in each region, round one is 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, 3 vs 14, etc., etc. Historically, going-into the 2018 tournament (last year), a #1 had NEVER lost to a #16. There had been some close-calls through the years, a #2 had lost to a #15, but a 1-seed, up through 2018, had escaped such humiliation.

In the 2018 NCAA tournament, the South Region’s 1-seed, the University of Virginia, lost to the 16-seeded University of Maryland, Baltimore County 74-54. The UMBC Retrievers, not to be mistaken for a much better Maryland basketball program, the University of Maryland, College Park Terrapins (or just “Maryland” because of its academic and sports history and legacy — winner of the 2002 Basketball National Championship) spanked the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia lost to, practically, a University of Maryland satellite campus.

The 2019 championship is such an incredible turn-around, from such massive humiliation (even though the Cavaliers are not a true blue blood program) to surviving the tournament, in some very dramatic (close-call) fashion. If you didn’t see the games, you have just that truly historic turn-around, almost Biblical in the deeper and more learned sporting minds. From such historic affliction in 2019, to wandering through 2019 desert, only to mount a run full of poise, icy veins and classical competitive kairos.

This was a great comeback story. Having a stake in their success made this even more of an experience.

But the next comeback story is even richer, more news-worthy, and even more relatable to our favorite sport that involves a little fuzzy green ball.

We’ll do that next and then get to the Monte Carlo draw.

No worries, early rounds. And Djokovic survived his Kohly revenge match. We’re good.

To be continued. . .

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