Monday, May 24, 2010

Yeah, That Was A Pretty Good Day

A few years ago, I started obnoxiously coining the phrase "Hat Trick Day" while scanning the sporting events around the office TVs. No, I'm probably not the first person to develop this concept, but I may be the most irritating at bandying it about. Essentially, a Hat Trick Day is when three different teams you follow all win in the same day, and yesterday was a Hat Trick Day of momentous proportions.

Let's start with exhibit A: the one none of you probably know, or almost certainly care the least about, which involved Northwestern's Women's Lacrosse team trouncing Duke to the tune of 18-8 in the National Quarterfinals. Some of you may understand why I think this is noteworthy, but women's lacrosse is big business in my collegiate hamlet of Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern hadn't won a National Championship in any sport in more than six decades before the WoLaxers took the title in 2005 -- in only the fourth year of the program's existence. Not only was the campus taken by storm at the time, but it continues to be taken by storm as the program now sits just two wins away from its sixth consecutive National Title.

This one of course came fairly early in the day and with minimal stress. For one, I wasn't watching it, just following it on an online scoretracker. But perhaps more notably, Northwestern pounced early, taking a sizeable 11-point lead by halftime, making the Wildcats coast to victory fairly easy.

Now if only all things could be that easy.

The Cats now move on to the National Semifinals, which will be played this coming weekend in Towson, Maryland where they'll face North Carolina, the only team to beat them this season before possibly reaching the final on Sunday afternoon. If they get that far, I just may be tempted to make the trip down south if someone else will be crazy enough to go with me.

Of course, that particular event paled in comparison to the next big win of the afternoon, which was easily the biggest, and probably the most angst inducing. The Chicago Blackhawks, I've noted on more than one occasion, hold a special place in my heart after I worked for them in college. They're not the Devils, who hold the pre-eminent place in my hockey heart, but they're also not the Devils in that while I grew up watching the Devils win three championships in nine years, the Hawks were stumbling through the obscurity of mediocre, decades removed from the franchise's traditional grandeur.

The Hawks spent most of the late 90s wallowing outside of the playoff picture, and enduring a seven year stretch without a postseason berth this decade before finally returning to spring last year. Yesterday the team with possibly the greatest jersey in sports, and almost certainly one of the best fight songs, rallied from two goals down to polish off a sweep of San Jose and reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 18 years.

If that seems like a long drought, the last time Chicago hoisted the Cup was in 1961.

With the Hawks to be pitted against Montreal or, at this point, more likely Philadelphia, they're just four wins away from ending the longest current Championship drought in the League, with 49 years of shortfalls in their rear view mirror. If they pull it off, it'll be an awfully nice spring in Chicago, and that longest title-drought mantel will get shifted north to the Maple Leafs, who haven't won the Cup since 1967.

Last on the day's docket, beyond that TV Show everyone was so excited about, was the conclusion to the first round of the 2010 Subway Series, where my utterly hapless Mets actually stood a chance at taking the rubber match at Citi Field against the Yankees. While the game was billed as a pitcher's duel between aces Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia, Sabathia didn't keep up his end of the bargain, as the Mets jumped on him for four runs early, which including an awfully surprising two home runs by Jason Bay.

Of course, the bullpen did its effort to make it interesting before K-Rod finally struck out A-Rod in an epic battle where the latter had come to the plate as the potential go-ahead run. It never does come easy for the Amazins. But either way, taking the subway series' first round and conquering the Empire State Building was a fitting capper on the day. Particularly since I hadn't had a Hat Trick Night in a while.

So yeah. It was a pretty good day. They can't all be like this, of course, but I'll hold out hope that the next one isn't so far away. If the Hawks can seal up a Championship, well, I may not have to wait too long.

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