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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: The sports desk curse

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The sports desk curse

Move over Sports Illustrated and Madden Football, The Saratogian sports department has just upended you as the king of curses, at least on a local level.
The Golden Rule has always been that there is no rooting in the press box. That withstanding, it didn't deter my peers from rooting for our local coverage teams for strictly planning purposes.

Just last week the brain trust of Paul Gangarossa and Ben Meyers were cooking up unprecedented plans for a Saratoga County Class AA football super bowl showdown. Heading into the Oct. 27 semifinals, Saratoga faced Colonie in a rematch of their season opener and Ballston Spa took on CBA. If both Saratoga County squads advanced the sports section was prepared for an epic preview section with an unprecedented coronation package for the winning team.
All the stars were in alignment, both looked good and we were ready. Then the sky came crashing down on our Saratoga County hopefuls and our plans.
Saratoga was upended for the second time this year by Colonie, 27-13, ruining the hometown squad’s season and Ballston Spa suffered an even worse fate at the hands of CBA, routed 55-20 on its home field.
There we plenty of tears shed on the playing fields, the sidelines and the stands that Friday night and I'm sure some on the inside of our stalwart sports staff.
But, fear not, reader, the brain trust within the sports department was not going to let two upsets derail our plans.
On Monday afternoon, the Saratoga boys soccer squad dropped Shaker High, 3-1, in an afternoon tilt. The Blue Streaks were headed for a showdown with No. 1 seeded Shenendehowa who just had to get past No. 6 Guilderland under the lights at Shen.
The sports desk was ready to spin on a dime, set up a showdown piece that night and follow it up with rivalry-jarring advances.
Paul called from the night desk called for an update, things looked good, Shen was up 1-0 in the first half…I could see him starting layout a banner screaming “Showdown”, “Next” or “Final Conflict”…fate must have been looking over his shoulder…a Guilderland player sent a weak-ass ball strolling along the goal line and it was left there, rolling, unmolested, until a Dutchmen player simply tapped it in to tie the game at one apiece.
From there it was just hell…not history…just plain hell.
Players running up and down the field, players missing the entire goal frame, no one hit the crossbar, the damn balls sailed over it, around it and next to it…for another 40 minutes of regulation, then 10 minutes of overtime, then another 10 minutes of overtimes, then five minutes of “sudden victory” overtime (another queer title I’ll write about later) and then one more 300 second period of overtime.
110 minutes, players cramping, crying and dying on the field and a winner wasn’t determined…yet.
Enter god’s gift to determine a winner and a goalkeeper’s worst nightmare…the shootout. One goalie would be a hero, one shooter would be crowned savior and the other goalkeeper would have a lifetime full of nightmares.
It wasn’t decided quickly, goal, goal, goal, goal, miss, miss, goal, etc. It would come down to one last Shenendehowa shot on goal, make it and we get to do it over again…a miss.

The Shenendehowa boys soccer season was over, the defending New York State Champions in Class AA were upended and we were part of the reason for it. They felt bad and I felt worse.
We’ve stopped rooting for outcomes, instead just resigned ourselves in dealing with potential match-ups as they come about, beginning with the outcome of the game first…
So far it worked, the Shenendehowa girls squad were up 2-0 against Guilderland before the Lady Dutchmen scored two goals to knot the contest at two apiece. (I was threatened to be removed from the field if Guilderland went ahead), luckily they didn’t and the Plainsmen advanced to the Class AA semifinal. They should do well, I’m at the swimming sectionals so hopefully no one will drown while I’m there.
Also, I might be bringing good luck, after becoming the harbinger of defeat to the Shenendehowa field hockey team, the Plainsmen advanced to the Class A final and I was there. For the past several years, I have been the witness to some early round playoff losses, including Shen’s No. 1 seeded upset at the hands of Columbia. The only bad news is that I pulled the championship game assignment…cross your fingers.


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