The late, great Dodger announcer Vin Scully, when asked why he continued to do his job after 50 years, said, "You can watch a baseball game and see a number of routine plays, the likes of which you have seen 1,000 times. But then, you will see something new, something you've never seen before." I loved Vin Scully, but I don't know if I would agree with that. I've seen a whole lot of baseball games that looked EXACTLY like other games I had seen in the past. But every now and then, you will see something you've never seen before and it's cool.
Someone recently asked me why I continue to so what I do with the League. There are several simple answers. I have never quit anything in my life and I'm not going to start now. I love basketball and I still enjoy being in the gym on Sundays. I ref because it helps keep down costs. And, every now and then...
So, Relentless and Ham were squared off in an evening contest last night. Ham had won its Division championship last season and Relentless has a powerful squad (and also a squad large in numbers). It was a back-and-forth affair. Relentless pulled out to a 26-17 lead at the half, but Ham's Adam Gonzales hit three quick threes to start the second half to tie the game. From there, the two teams traded the lead multiple times. (It was fascinating watching members of Relentless--several of whom are hearing-impaired--communicate through signing.) Relentless committed a blunder midway through the second half when they had six men on the floor. The automatic technical foul game Ham two free throws and the ball. Brandon Dickerson hit both free throw to give Ham the lead. I remember thinking about how much it would suck if Ham were to win by one or two points because of that technical.
The game went down to the wire. Ham held a two-point lead and had two free throws that could have iced the game. They missed them both. Relentless hurried the ball down the floor and got off two shots that would have tied the game, but both missed. There was a wild scramble for the rebound after the second miss. A Ham player grabbed it but then fell to the floor. I called traveling, mostly because it was traveling. There were at least six guys fighting for the rebound and I probably could have called a foul on any one of them or all of them, but what with the TBL being a men's league and all, rebounding is not for the faint of heart.
Relentless got the ball on the sidelines with one second left on the clock and no timeouts. They threw the ball into a guy standing in the backcourt, about five feet behind the midcourt line. He caught it, let if fly, and watched as it settled into the basket some 60 feet away as the buzzer sounded. The place went crazy. (I won't mention the guy's name because he acted like a total jackass during the celebration. I told him that if he ever taunted an opponent again, he would be banned from the league. He apologized.)
Then it got unpleasant. One guy from Ham said, "All the money we pay for this league, we should have two refs." I suppose it's possible another ref would have made a different call, but it just as easily could have been a foul on the rebounder, which would have set up the same endgame scenario. The vast majority of games yesterday had two refs. I had to ref by myself because one of the guys who refs also works for the Roadrunners hockey team that had a game at the TCC yesterday. Another person who was supposed to work suffered the loss of a close relative yesterday morning. Plus, it wasn't like they lost the NCAA Championship game or a Game 7. It was a regular-season game early in the year. And the dude made a great shot.
I'm thinking that the next time somebody starts a sentence with "All the money we pay...," they can get their money back and go play outdoors. We're doing our best.
After the Relentless-Ham game, there were still two more games to be played on the court. Both also went down to the final buzzer. Mustangs #2, one of the teams from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, broke a 54-all tie with a clutch three from Jaquan Robinson and held on for a 59-54 win. Then, Sikhos scored late to edge Heat Check, 56-54.
In other news, our favorite team, Side Loaders, is back, and they are back to breaking our hearts. There is no way to sugar-coat it, so we'll just state that the Side Loaders, now in their third season in the TBL, have never won a game. They've come close a couple times. Last season, they held an eight-point lead at the half, only to struggle in the second half. Yesterday, they opened the new season on fire! They were busting threes, getting steals, grabbing the tough rebounds. They opened up a 10-point lead in the first half, only to see their opponents--the guys from Brick City--cut the lead down to 25-22 at the half. But the Side Loaders didn't wilt. They hung in, trading the lead back and forth throughout the second half. A long three tied the game at 40-40 with just over two minutes left.
Brick City then scored the final nine points of the game.
In other games:
--Blue Coconuts outscored Redmen 6-2 in overtime to win, 83-79.
--Icy Hots hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to get past Fleet, 57-50.
--Da Wolves beat The Vets, 38-33, in one of the lowest-scoring top-level games in recent memory.
GAMES FOR FEBRUARY 5TH
5:00 Way Past Our Prime - Below The Rim
6:00 Free The Kids - Punishers
7:00 Fade 'Em Up - Rocket Dawgs
8:00 Prestige Worldwide - The Fam
5:00 Running Rebels 2.0 - Outlawz
6:00 Mi Familia - Brick City
7:00 Trojans - Los Chivos
8:00 Bombs Squad - Above Average