CLEARWATER, Fla. – Yes, I can finally use that dateline. We are down south for the weekend, as the Phillies wrap up Spring Training from Clearwater. All is fine and dandy as the laid back, tan Floridians drive their convertibles through the 75-degree sunny days.
There was never a trace of anything wrong when I boarded a platoon boat that would take the family and myself to a “Top 10” beach someplace in the middle of Tampa Bay.
But 600 miles south, on the campus of Villanova all hell was breaking loose as seconds continued to tick of the clock as the hometown No. 2 seed and heavy favorite trailed to St. Mary’s, a No. 10 seed.
The boat was just about leaving the dock when our captain, who looked as though he had spent a few too many hours in the sun, mentioned something about the Tournament. So, even though I was supposedly taking the day off, it was straight into the bathing suit pocket to see how Nova was doing.
It wasn’t pretty.
35 seconds remained, with the Wildcats trailing by five. I kind of got the same empty feeling I had when I saw that Temple lost to No. 12 Cornell, on my way to the airport yesterday. This just hasn’t been our year.
I think I should probably sit here and say something smart about why Villanova lost or why Temple got upset. But to be honest, I really have no idea.
There’s no easy answer. Look at Nova, they just didn’t shoot, only sinking 32% of their shots in the first half. I mean this past month has just been an ugly debacle.
They were a team that many said would win the tournament back in early February. Every expert just saw them as a flawless team – especially shooting wise. Even a lot of experts including Dick Vitale and President Obama (if you can call him an “expert”) had the team going to the Final Four. They just had too much talent and too much tournament success to fall apart.
Or so we thought.
After coming within seconds of getting embarrassed by No. 15 Robert Morris on Thurday, the Wildcats hoped they could build off a scary first game and use it as a wake-up call to get up and play for real, just as they did last year after nearly getting upset by American in front of a home crowd. I was there; let me tell you, I haven’t seen the Wachovia Center so quiet in my life (beside this year’s epic Sixers Knicks showdown, but I didn’t bother going to that, because I don’t really care, so I can’t say for sure which was quieter).
I can’t say I was shocked, but a certain piece of me just kept staring at that cell phone screen and asking it “are you serious?” which led to fellow platooners giving me the “that guy’s talking to his phone again” stare.
I don’t think any of us envisioned losing both our local teams on the opening weekend. I think a lot of us were giving our phones and TV’s the “are you serious” stare this afternoon. But like it or not, it’s all over… for Philly.
This sure is one crazy day in Clearwater. Especially since a good 50% of the population is formerly of Philadelphia. We all kind of gave each other that yeah, they lost look. But the cool thing is no one really cares.
Why, you may ask. Well because the Phillies are in town. The one winner in a city of losers. And even though it sucks that Nova lost, there are bigger things in sight, like the 2010 baseball season.
See you at Bright House Field tomorrow.