The last few weeks have been pretty eventful, and I'm really looking forward to the four-day weekend that the Thanksgiving holiday affords most of us. Also, though I do love the fall sports season, I'm looking forward to winter athletics beginning, mostly because I'm tired of standing on the sideline of football and soccer fields slapping my hands together when they go numb. Good old basketball, on the other hand, is always played in a gym, some of which are so warm that condensation forms on the inside of the gym's windows, and you can't wear a jacket inside it without sweating.
So, here's is an installment of fun-with-numbers for the Thanksgiving holiday. By the time you read this in print, hopefully you'll be sweating off all the food you stuffed down your throats the previous day.
.571: That would be my batting average, or completion average, or shooting average, or whatever you like, if the object of the game were to get sick at some point over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Four times in the previous seven years (2004 to 2011), I've managed to catch some kind of bug and spend at least two days in bed feeling awful. I'm willing to bet that it's not just plain bad luck in my case, but a mixture of being around large groups of people, lack of sleep and prolonged overindulgence in beer and rich foods. In preparation for this year's Thanksgiving I've been doing a lot of treadmill work and core strengthening exercises, and eating vitamin C supplements. Hopefully with a few weeks of not-so-rigorous training under my belt, I can get my average down to .500. Wish me luck.
10-15: I lost count, but that would be the approximate number of times I asked, "are they seriously going to do this?" on Saturday afternoon when the St. Paul's football squad, needing only an extra-point kick to tie John Carroll in overtime at the MIAA B Conference title game, came out onto the field to try for a game-winning two-point conversion. I've seen that decision made in regular-season contests (Dave Cesky over at Fallston has done it twice during games that I've covered, and has come out with a win and a loss), but I have never, ever witnessed a team make that kind of gamble in a playoff matchup, much less a title game. The Crusaders, who had a chance to go up by one point with two minutes left in regulation, but failed to do so because of a botched snap on an extra-point attempt, marched out and set up in a three-back formation, similar to the one that Joppatowne used to such great success in the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and came through with the game-winning points on a superbly executed play-action pass to the back of the end zone.
I love it when teams go for the gusto, whether they're from Harford County or not, and St. Paul's did just that. In case it seems like I'm rubbing salt in the wounds of the John Carroll squad, that's not my intention. The Patriots stared down an undefeated team with double the manpower, and pushed it to the limit. Watching the John Carroll players collapse on the field after the Crusaders converted the two-point attempt was a very clear reminder that for every triumphant, game-winning play, there is a team that has to ride the bus back home thinking it gave everything away. Patriots, you didn't give anything away, trust me.
58: That would be the number of years that Perryville, the last UCBAC school with a fall sports team left alive at this point, has gone without a state title. Today (Friday), the Perryville football team will play New Town in the 1A state semifinals, and a victory will earn the Panthers a spot their second straight Maryland championship game. Should they win the semifinal contest, the Panthers, whose last state title of any kind came in 1954, when the basketball team won the Class C crown, will likely square off with Dunbar in a rematch of last year's 1A final, which Perryville lost, 36-11. I'm not making any predictions, but I'm sure snapping a title drought of nearly six decades would be cathartic.