Edition No. 6
March 8, 2013
With our Draft Day for the 2013 HSL season a mere two weeks away, I thought I would share with you all a few tidbits from my recent trip with Will to Duke in Durham, North Carolina, to take some of the intense pressure off from Draft preparations.
I had already booked our trip to Durham when I learned that the Duke basketball team was hosting the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday evening last at 6 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium. When I recognized this window of opportunity, Ichecked on StubHub to see if tickets were available, and found that the cheapest ducats for sale were going for $750 a pop. As such, I warned Will that we would probably end up watching the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings or some other sports bar, but recommended that we still make our way over to the campus to see if any cheaper tickets might be available.
We arrived at the Duke campus at about 5:30 p.m., found a parking spot, and began walking toward the basketball arena.
Cameron Indoor Stadium
We didn’t see a single person advertising tickets for sale, but found ourselves among a host of desperados looking for one or two tickets, and assumed that we would be watching the game on television. After waiting around at the arena entrance for about 30 minutes and not seeing a single entrepreneur in sight, we began walking toward the rental car to make our way over to a sports bar to watch the game. Just then, as fate would have it, a young entrepreneur approached me and asked me how much we would be willing to pay for two tickets. When I told him that I didn’t even know what the market was, he informed me he had just sold a single ticket for $600 right next to the pair that he was offering me. I told him that this figure was not within our budget. He then asked me how much I would pay, and I shot him a low-ball offer. Much to my surprise, he countered at a much less-unreasonable figure, and with only a few minutes to spare before tip-off, we were able to conclude the transaction, and found ourselves inside the Cameron Indoor Stadium. We pinched ourselves, and were still there, goose bumps and all.
Feeling like a couple of wildcatters who had just struck black gold, Will and I made our way to Section 4, Row M, Seats 23 and 25, and discovered that there isn’t a bad seat in the house at Cameron. We then settled in to watch what will undoubtedly be the most exciting basketball contest that either of us will ever attend.
As some of you may know, when Duke played at Miami earlier in the year, they were spanked by something on the order of 30 points. However, for the home game against the Hurricanes, the Dukies had back in the lineup Ryan Kelly, a 6-foot-10, 3-point shooting star who had been out of the lineup since early January with a foot injury. As Coach K put it in his press conference after the game, Kelly put on a performance that was “one for the ages,” and “Probably as good of performance as any Duke player has had in Cameron,” scoring 36 points on 10 field goals in 14 chances, including 7 treys. After giving up a 10-point lead in the last two minutes, the Blue Devils regained the advantage and survived when the Hurricanes missed two open threes in the last 10 seconds, including one by Barry Larkin’s son, who is the fastest, quickest college basketball player I have ever seen. In the end, Duke bested Miami by the score of 79-76, giving Coach K career win number 952 (879 at Duke).
After the game, Will and I agreed that we had just witnessed a game that neither of us will ever forget. At the time, Duke had a #3 National ranking and Miami was ranked 5th, with the #1 seed for the NCAA tournament on the line. After a bit of mental cogitation, I placed the contest (easily) in my top 10 list of all spectator sports events attended.
The following night, Will and I were having a steak at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse adjacent to our hotel. As we were sitting at the bar digging into our filets, a tall young man with a thin face and blond hair walked past and gave a big hug to a woman seated at the same bar. Will turned to me and commented that this young man looked an awful lot like Mason Plumlee, the 6-foot-11 senior center on the Duke team. While acknowledging to Will the facial resemblance of this young man to Master Plumlee, I reminded my son that the Duke center stands 6-foot-11, and that this young man in our midst was plainly not 6-foot-11. After my definitive rebuffing of Will’s observation, our bartender meandered over and said, “That is Mason Plumlee.” Wrong again, Dad.
“Hey, Coach, I’m gonna grab a steak over at Ruth’s
Chris—boosters are buying again—wanna come?”
The bartender then asked us if we saw Ryan Kelly sitting at the table right next to us, but we both had to admit that we did not. Unfortunately, Mr. Kelly had already left the restaurant by the time the bartender told us this, so we did not get a chance to congratulate him on his tour de force evening and to get an autograph for Will. Still.
On Sunday afternoon, we made our way over to the Durham Athletic Park to watch the Duke nine take on the Towson University (formerly Towson State) Tigers. On a 50-degree temperature day, we were fortunate that the sun was out, and we watched the Blue Devil baseball squad come back from a 2-run deficit and defeat the visitors from Maryland by a score of 8-6. In the midst of a number of pitching changes for both teams, Will wondered aloud how he would do if he had been called upon at that moment to take the mound in relief. Seriously deluded, no doubt, I responded to Will that if that had in fact happened, my money would be on him.
As to the green cathedral, I absolutely loved the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. It is smack dab in the middle of downtown Durham, right next door to a tobacco company and surrounded by a number of new office and apartment buildings. If I’m not mistaken, this ballpark has been located in the same place for many, many years, but has been recently refurbished.
There is a giant bull located way up high over the left field fence, and I believe that if a Bulls player hits a home run, it emits smoke out of its nostrils. There is a sign that says if you hit the bull, you win a steak. Right below that, there is a sign that says if you hit the grass that the bull is standing on, you win a salad.
There is an advertisement for Burt’s Bees (Balm) on the outfield wall in left center, and it says if you hit Burt, you win balm. There are a couple of similar signs in right field as well.
Because it was a 1 p.m. college game in the early part of the season, there were only about 75 to 100 fans in attendance, and the park did not have nearly the same ambiance that you would expect for a summer Bulls game in June or July. Not content to merely speculate about this, I am putting just such a visit on my Baseball Bucket List.
Our official visit to the Duke campus on Monday afternoon was outstanding. Located in a secluded area of Durham on land donated by the family of Washington Duke, it is surrounded by thousands and thousands of 30 to 60-foot high pine trees. The buildings are uniformly of the gothic style of architecture. If one were to draw on paper what an ideal southern college campus should look like, it would look just like Duke.
During our orientation session, we learned that Duke has just shy of 7,000 undergraduate students, and more than 9,000 graduate students, including the Duke Law School and the Duke College of Medicine. I am actually working on a case currently in which I have a Duke University orthopedic surgeon as my expert witness, and last fall went to the Duke campus for his deposition, but on this visit to Duke he was over in India teaching and so he was not available to visit with Will and me.
We learned some great fun facts about Duke during this trip, as follows:
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And finally, for your viewing pleasure, a photograph of Itchie’s basketball-playing Madge in action against young Mike(ayla) McGee.
In a game reminiscent of the 1976 debacle, Mikayla McGee prepares
to dump two (of many) on Bender’s offspring.
And now, signing off,
Our 506th edition