Tako Tuesdays: The Doldrums

The Spring Game is behind us, summer practices are off in the distance, and the LSU game is practically a lifetime away. We have entered into the time in a football fan's life when that itch for the gridiron can not be scratched. Baseball? Feh! If I wanted to watch people stand around and do nothing in a field for three hours, I'd go to Bill Musgrave's Eighth Annual Daquiris and Bikinis Party. NBA Playoffs? No thank you. We get it, Ray Allen's mom is at every game and looks exactly like Ray Allen. Craig Sager, do your job and answer me this: does she do laundry three times a week, or does she have multiple jewel-encrusted jerseys? These are the things sideline reporters should be focusing on. Hockey? Please. It's Canadian soccer, and Canadian NASCAR, all at the same time. And I find it pretty sad that there is exactly one Canadian team left in the playoffs, along with teams from San Jose, CA and Tampa Bay, FL, where no pond has naturally frozen over since the Miocene Epoch. Step your game up, Canada, or we will invade you. Our flag could use some more stars, and British Columbia is just itching to join us as a Pacific Northwest state. 

To best explain this exceedingly frustrating time of the year, I give you a quote from my all-time favorite children's book, Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth.

Things began to change as soon as he left the main highway. The sky became quite gray and, along with it, the whole countryside seemed to lose its color and assume the same monotonous tone. Everything was quiet, and even the air hung heavily. The birds sang only gray songs and the road wound back and forth in an endless series of climbing curves. 
Mile after
mile after
mile after 
mile he drove, and now, gradually the car went slower and slower, until it was hardly moving at all...

"I wonder where I am," said Milo in a very worried tone.

"You're...in...the...Dol...drums," wailed a voice that sounded far away

"WHAT ARE THE DOLDRUMS?" he cried loudly, and tried very hard to see who would answer this time.

"The Doldrums, my young friend, are where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes."

We have entered the Doldrums of the college football season. We have seen our team play a spring scrimmage filled with questions, questions that will not be answered until late summer at the earliest. Therefore, it becomes very easy to get bogged down by speculation, petty argument, and the urge to say the same thing over and over again until it becomes true. And this is how we end up with 200 comment threads about whether or not Kiko Alonso needs an intervention. His place on the football team, and his role in society, will be dealt with personally. Rampant speculation will do nothing. 

So how does Milo get out of the Doldrums?

"I suppose you know why you got stuck."

I guess I just wasn't thinking," said Milo.

"PRECISELY," shouted the dog as his alarm went off again. "Now you know what you must do."

"I'm afraid I don't," admitted Milo, feeling quite stupid.

"Well," continued the watchdog impatiently, "since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking."

Milo began to think as hard as he could (which was very difficult, since he wasn't used to it). He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly. He thought of yesterday's lunch and tommorow's dinner. He though of words that begin with J and numbers that end in 3. And, as he thought, the wheels began to turn.

And so, to give you something to think about today, I pose this question: who is your all-time favorite Oregon team? 

The 2006-7 basketball season was my favorite single season as an Oregon fan. I was a sophomore in college, and this hoops team came along at the perfect time. The football team had just limped to the finish of a once-promising season, losing their last four games including getting blown out in the Las Vegas Bowl, and Eugene needed a pick-me-up. Aaron Brooks and the Ducks delivered. They won their first 13 games, and after dropping their first against USC, beat the #1 ranked UCLA Bruins at Mac Court. They finished 11-7 in Pac-10 play, beating Arizona in Tuscon and Washington State in Pullman, beating the Cougs in OT after Maarty Leunen sank two free throws to tie the game at the end of regulation and gave birth to the phrase, "What's cooler than being cool? Maarty Luenen." The Ducks put on a clinic at the Staples Center in the Pac-10 tournament, winning every game by at least 18 points and absolutely embarrassing USC in the championship game. USC was the only team to sweep the Ducks in Pac-10 play, and Oregon avenged those losses by running the Trojans out of the gym, leading by as much as 39 points and putting the walk-ons in with eleven minutes to go in the game. Bryce Taylor finished the game a perfect 11-11 from the field, including 7-7 from three point range. The Ducks would make a run all the way to the Elite Eight, only to be stopped by eventual champion Florida. That season was special for me because I was with the team the whole way through as part of the band. I was at the Pac-10 tournament and both weekends of the Big Dance, and I lived and experienced all those games live. There may be statistically better seasons, but it won't get better than, after the whole thing was over and we had flown back to Eugene, Coach Kent standing by the door of the airplane and shaking everyone's hand as they left. The respect he showed for everyone involved is something I will never forget.

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