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4/11/2011
A CHICAGO SPORTS DAY TO REMEMBER

1-4

It was maddening. It was frustrating. It was sublime, glorious, and exciting.

I can’t ever recall spending a day glued to the TV watching 4 sporting events that were as riveting, satisfying, and just plain fun as Sunday’s incredible line up of Chicago sports teams - and the most mesmerizing Masters in years.

Beginning at 11:30 AM, the Blackhawks took to the ice at a raucous United Center, playing for their playoff lives in a do or die game. At noon, the Bulls began their quest for a 60th victory and their effort to keep hope alive for best record in the NBA. At 1:00 PM, Masters coverage began while at the same time, the White Sox took the field against the Devil Rays.

Forget the DVR. Even the White Sox, who are off to a decent start to the young season, deserved to be watched live. Besides, since the Masters was going to last until 6:00 pm, there wouldn’t be time to watch the other games (unless I wanted to pull an all-nighter).

So I set right down in my TV chair and my face assumed a TV stare. Goodbye world. Goodbye Zsu-Zsu. It was time to OD on sports.

I don’t watch cable news anymore. I don’t watch any of the silly, stupid sit coms, over wrought dramas, or reality shows on over the air TV. When I watch television these days, I will watch sports and the occasional movie (preferably a classic on TCM, FMC, or AMC). Television - the great, empty maw of a cultural wasteland and unnecessary information - is best seen as a portal to observe the “human drama of athletic competition” as ABC’s old Wide World of Sports used to put it.

It don’t hurt to watch those competitions on a Vizio 55 inch HD TV with Bose Cinemate Series II sound system neither.

At first, I tried to approach my problem scientifically. I thought I could allot 5 minutes of viewing time to each event, thus keeping track of what was happening.

1-11

The first hour and a half wasn’t very complicated with only the Bulls and Hawks to follow. The Hawks game was more important but I really like the Bulls so I would catch myself being entranced by D-Rose drives to the hoop rather than Patrick Kane’s wizardry with the puck. I was hoping for a Bulls blowout so I could devote most of my time to watching the Hawks.

Alas, it was not to be. The Bulls-Magic contest tightened considerably in the second quarter, just as the Hawks fell behind. Torn as I was at that point, I had no idea the enormous problems that were about to overwhelm me.

At 1:00 PM all hell broke loose. Tiger Woods began a charge at the Masters. The Magic were giving the Bulls all they could handle - despite being Dwight Howardless. The Blackhawks were falling further behind Detroit and watching as their playoff chances slipped away. And the conditions at US Cellular Park promised a home run derby with the wind blowing out and the Tampa pitcher hanging sliders as if they were Christmas ornaments. He gave up dingers to Gordon Beckam and Paul Konerko in the White Sox half of the first inning.

1-2

I don’t remember much from the next two hours. The Tiger narrative was most compelling to me but thankfully, there are several minutes between golf shots so I could track the Bulls, Sox, and Hawks, keeping mostly up to date with what was going on. But as the Hawks went into their death spiral with just a couple of minutes to go and down by a goal, I lingered on NBC watching as their season appeared to disappear. I was almost grateful that one event was over and I could concentrate on the other three.

I missed some of the 4th quarter of the Bulls game, but managed to catch Tiger’s birdies on 2 and 3. This was at the expense of the White Sox who were up 2-0 and Gavin Floyd already showing he was “on” by dropping the hammer on Tampa Bay hitters with regularity. It was then I made a painful choice; I would only watch the White Sox when they were at bat.

This move paid immediate dividends as I was able to catch the last few minutes of an exciting Bulls game. D-Rose slashed to the bucket time and time again, forcing the Magic to foul him or throwing up one of his impossible lay ups for scores carried the Bulls for the rest of the way. To their credit, the Magic almost pulled off a tie as time expired when Greer threw up a 3-pointer that swished through the basket, only to see time run out a heartbeat before the ball left his hand. The Bulls had their 60th victory - an improbable feat considering that most experts figured they’d have a tough time winning 50.

1-3

At 2:48 pm, Tiger dropped in that eagle on 8 that gave him a share of the lead. At 3:05 pm, Paulie hit his second homer of the game, giving the Sox a 6-0 lead. With only two events to follow, I was able to relax a little - the frenzy of the previous two hours a memory.

In the end, Floyd pitched a brilliant game and the Sox won 6-1. At 3:28: pm, I turned my full attention to the Masters - just in time to watch a dizzying array of players climb up and down the leaderboard with such rapidity that you had to feel sorry for the CBS director in the truck. Whose shots do we cover? Do we keep our focus on young Rory’s embarrassing collapse? Which of the 5 guys at -10 do we slight?

The last hour of the tournament was like that, with incredible drama playing on in the last 5 holes as group after group ground their way home. At the finish, it was refreshing to see someone actually step forward and take a major golf tournament rather than having it handed to them by someone else’s collapse. South African Charl Schwartzel birdied the last 4 holes and seized the day and the green jacket.

Later that night, the Stars lost to the Wild and the Hawks backed into the 8th and final playoff spot. A good end to a great day.

Thinking about it, I would prefer not going through another day like this one. But upon further review, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

By: Rick Moran at 12:03 pm

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