Right before Christmas, I flew down to North Carolina to visit Duke, something IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d previously done five times since I graduated in 2001. Though a lot remains unchanged in my life since my last trip three years ago Ã¢â‚¬â€œ same job, same apartment, same obsessive sneaker collection Ã¢â‚¬â€œ IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve since met my future wife, which qualifies as a very significant positive change.
When we stopped for a snack at the general store adjacent to my freshman year dorm, a couple of wide-eyed freshmen, still shell-shocked from their first final exams, asked me what had changed about Duke in the thousand years since IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been a student, and it got me to thinking.
As I explained last week, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve expanded my weekly football thoughts to include some non-football stuff, primarily since I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have an enormous breadth of knowledge about the sport and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always get to watch games. That wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop me from offering up some picks, but if you place bets based on them, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be forced to characterize you as foolhardy.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made no secret of the fact that football doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rank particularly high on my sports hierarchy, placing behind pretty much every other major sport besides hockey, which I never got into. That said? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s good to have football back, primarily because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s woven into what I believe to be the best time of year.
I think the best way to ponder our own inevitable passage into physical decline is to watch it happen to those who would seem invincible to such mortal constraints Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and observe how they handle it.
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been coming here for a while, you already know that the only holiday I truly love is Halloween. But New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always at the very least liked. I realize itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s technically just another day, but it represents to me a time to reflect and measure growth.
A clean start. A fresh slate. Another chance to turn it all around. (Word to Vanilla Sky)
It was an eventful weekend for SportsAngleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Esoteric and Epstein, who headed south down the GSP Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not Georges St. Pierre, the Garden State Parkway Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for a birthday celebration. (I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say how many years, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rounder than IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like) The highlight of the trip was a visit to Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night for the Phillies-Marlins game with Cole Hamels on the hill.
PHILADELPHIA Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Though IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve long heard its virtues extolled, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to like Citizens Bank Ã¢â‚¬â€œ mainly because I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the Phillies Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but at the end of my first trip to the park, I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but admit that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great place to take in a ballgame.
A big reason the park is such a success is that the atmosphere is fantastic. It makes an enormous difference that the Phillies won the World Series last year and look to be a strong contender again this year Ã¢â‚¬â€œ fans gravitate to winners. The guest services booth told me the game was a sellout, as most games have been since May, and it creates a special environment when the seats are completely filled.
Mets fans probably wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like to hear this, but though Citi Field was an attempt to mimic the vibe of Citizens Bank, the MetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lack of success and inability to develop stars have left them far behind their neighbors to the south. Even when Reyes, Delgado and Beltran are healthy, they simply donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t generate the trust that Utley, Howard, Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Ibanez do.