Little things

Incident #1: Had lunch yesterday at one of our current favorites, a hole-in-the-wall Colombian joint here in downtown Nashua that makes the most kickass empenadas I’ve had in a long time. Anyway, I was in the mood for a coffee with lunch, so I ordered one—but really without thinking, I ordered it as a “café“. The gleeful reaction by the lady who took our order (and who also runs the place) was worth going there for lunch by itself.

Incident #2: Stopped at a local Russian deli/grocery on the way home (after said kickass empenadas). Picked up some dumpling and biscuits, and as we were checking out, my wife tells the young cashier “thank you”—or rather, she tells her spasibo. And again, the way the young girl’s eyes lit up upon hearing that was worth the trip by itself.

See a pattern? Yes, it’s the good ol’ U. S. of A., but when you go into an a local ethnic market or restaurant, you’re voluntarily entering a little piece of someone else’s country. I’m not saying that you have to carry on a conversation in their native tongue with them, but would it kill you to learn how to say “thank you”, especially if you go there often enough? (And yes, my Korean sucks, but even so, I still attempt a passable kamsa hamnida at the local Korean grocery when we go in.) Americans, especially of late, have done a fine job of telling people to piss off; I figure every little bit—no matter how little—the other way can’t hurt, right?

There’s no justice

Inside of 30 seconds left in the game… score tied 55-all after a late 7-0 run by the Aggies… Acie Law pulls up, shoots—GOOD! Texas A&M leads, 57-55, with 22 seconds remaining in the game. 22 seconds until a miracle berth in the Sweet Sixteen.

LSU brings the ball up the court… Aggie defense extends well, no good looks for the Tigers… 6… 5… 4… LSU’s Darrel Mitchell pulls up for an NBA three-pointer with a hand in his face—followed by the sickening sound of nylon popping as the heave hits nothing but net. LSU leads, 58-57, with 3.9 seconds remaining.

Aggies come out of the timeout… uh-oh, having trouble inbounding the ball… OK, good, ball is inbounded to Josh Carter, Carter turns up court… and slips making the turn. Ball is loose… there’s a scramble… and the clock hits 00:00.

Never even got a shot up.

Game over.

No Sweet Sixteen.

Aggies lose by one. One. On a prayer to boot.

And my life shortens by another couple of years.

F*ck. I’d rather have lost in a blowout.

It’s been awhile

The last time Texas A&M men’s basketball team won an NCAA tournament game was in 1980, where they beat North Carolina and their vaunted “Four Corners” defense in double OT. That year ended with a loss to eventual national champion Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen.

No, wait. The last time Texas A&M men’s basketball team won an NCAA tournament game was last night, where the #12 seed Aggies upset #5 seed (and 2003 national champion) Syracuse, 66-58. Sure, the second half got a little hairy, especially when the Ags—after opening up an 11-point lead—went about five minutes without scoring a bucket to let Syracuse back into the game. And sure, the game didn’t end til after midnight on the east coast, meaning getting up for work this morning sucked just a little more than usual. But it’s been almost 20 years since A&M has played a meaningful game this late in March, so ask me if I care.

Next up is #4 seed LSU for a shot at another Sweet Sixteen berth. After that (assuming there is an “after that”)—who knows? But it’ll be fun finding out.

Put on your dancing shoes

Once upon a time…

  • 1951
    1st round: A&M – 40, #15 Washington – 62
  • 1964
    1st round: A&M – 62, Texas Western – 68
  • 1969
    1st round: A&M – 81, Trinity – 66
    Regional semis: A&M – 63, #11 Drake – 81
    Regional consolation: A&M – 82, #18 Colorado – 97
  • 1975
    1st round: A&M – 79, #17 Cincinnati – 87
  • 1980
    1st round: A&M – 55, Bradley – 53
    2nd round: A&M – 78, #15 North Carolina – 61 (OT)
    Regional semis: A&M – 55, #2 Louisville – 66 (OT)
  • 1987
    1st round: A&M – 51, #17 Duke – 58

And now, the next chapter: Texas A&M earned an at-large bid to the 2006 NCAA men’s basketball tournament as the 12th seed in the Atlanta bracket, the Aggies’ first NCAA berth since my freshman year in college, when I skipped my afternoon classes on the opening day of the first round to watch us eventually lose to Duke in a closer-than-expected game.

The bad news: The Aggies’ first round matchup on Thursday is against #5 seed Syracuse, who just completed a miraculous run to the Big East conference tourney title.

The good news: Pretty much every year, there’s a 5-12 upset in the first round—so why not A&M? Just two seasons ago, the Aggies finished 7-21 (including 0-16 in Big 12 play). Then came last year’s remarkable turnaround and NIT bid. And now, the Big Dance. So why not A&M?

Now the question becomes whether or not a sudden “illness” will befall me come Thursday and force me to call in sick to work…

Follow-up (Mar 13, 2006): It’s turning into a banner year for Aggie hoops: Today, the A&M women’s basketball team also received an invitation to the NCAA tournament as the #6 seed in the Cleveland regional. They open against #11 seed TCU on Sunday. Gig ’em, Aggies!