Clinton, South Carolina, December 16, 2015, 7:31 a.m.
The national anthem is tough, man. (Cue the Jon Gruden.)
I once sang it before a minor league baseball game. Twice, come to think of it. As a matter of fact, I’ve always sung along before athletic events if it was practical, partly because it’s a longtime superstition, dating back to my inglorious athletic career of antiquity.
I can sing it in D. “The Star Spangled Banner” requires star spangled pipes. The trick is not to drag in the “and the rocket’s red glare” doldrums so that one can triumphantly make it to “and the home of the brave.”
The anthem provides some amusing moments. Last night at a high school game, I got that feeling of dread that comes from listening to a voice that isn’t going to make it to the end. When a singer strains horribly at “what so proudly we hailed,” then “and the home of the brave” is just not going to happen.
I thought it was kind of heartwarming because when the singer couldn’t make it to the end, when her voice ground to halt in a manner that evoked an engine seizing, the crowd picked her up with a sudden, necessary, almost chanted, ending. “… And the HOME … of THE … BRAVE!”
Chanted ending. Not enchanted evening.
In spite of the save from the bullpen, the singer slumped and leaned over the scorers’ table, where friends attempted in vain to comfort her.
Laurens had already won the girls’ game, and the Raiders went on to win the boys’ contest, too, so I reckon it didn’t do any harm.
High school gymnasiums are generally run by kids. Not high school kids. Little kids. Sons and daughters of coaches. They rule with cute, little, pudgy hands. Sometimes, at junior varsity games, they stand up in chairs at the table, as if they expect to get to play all night with the scoreboard. When Mom’s or Dad’s team is in warmups, the little kids chase after the basketballs that bounce away. Sometimes they decide not to retrieve them and, instead, kick them down a hall and around a corner. Then, when Daddy or Mommy shows up, trying to figure out why a ball and a golden child are missing, the kid flashes that adorable smile, nothing happens to him, and he keeps right on getting into mischief until it’s time to have a Happy Meal on the way home.
Ballgames are events for the students who don’t play, too. They don’t show up in letter sweaters anymore. When the Raiders visited Clinton last week, many LDHS students came in pajamas. The Clinton kids were decked out a different way.
It had something to do with a Twitter war, I’m told. I’m not sure who won that. Laurens won the ballgames.
It’s amazing how many people don’t know the team’s record. The better it is, the better the memory.
Winning or losing is often a simple matter of playing “our game.” As a general rule of thumb, the winners do it and the losers don’t. For some reason, every time I hear a coach say “our game,” I think of Our Gang, and the Little Rascals’ theme dances through my head, which is distracting if it’s not my last question.
Wah-WAH-wuh-WAH-wuh-wah-wuh-wah-wuh-WAH! Or, as Astro in The Jetsons would exclaim, uh, ruh-ROH.
Depicting music without notes is the adult equivalent of baby talk. It could also be the first sign of dementia, but I hope not.
At the last two games I covered, a referee walked up to chat while I was standing at the end of the court taking pictures. This never happens when I write about college games. Sometimes it would require the public-address system. Referees are not often cheered. They operate in hostile environments. I guess a guy with a camera is someone he feels he can trust. It’s a tough job. The ref never gets to play to the crowd. Showman refs — the late Lou Bello comes to mind — are now rustic memories. These guys would prefer to be invisible, but it’s just not possible.
When I’m taking notes and tweeting the score during timeouts, the forest is often difficult to separate from the trees.
A little clarity occasionally slips through.
Here’s what I wrote about Tuesday night’s games: http://www.golaurens.com/sports/item/22470-raiders-roll-past-woodmont
I’m moving along. Crazy of Natural Causes is on sale now. Forgive Us Our Trespasses will be out early next year. I’m, oh, two thirds of the way through a first draft of Cowboys Come Home, a modern western set in Texas after the end of World War II. The first two novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope, are also available, along with the relics of my non-fiction years.
Examine my books here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1