Each week, during college football season DPB’s Kyle Magin and Andrew J. Pridgen pour on the prose with Pints and Picks™. Who to wager and (sometimes) what to drink while doing it. This week: #thatdidntreallyhappendidit?
As you and many of our readers know, I lost my best friend growing up during the attacks of 9/11. Like any group of friends we speak in our own code and tell the same jokes and stories over and over and over again. Paul is usually the centerpiece of all of that in death as he was in life.
The term “glue guy” is as overused in sports parlance as “white supremacists” is in today’s politics, but it applies wholly to him (the prior not the latter). He was the guy who made sure everyone was on the same flight, who booked the hotels and the poolside cabana, who calculated the tip and collected the money after putting it on his card. If you were too drunk to drive home, he would walk out of the party with you and let you crash in his parent’s basement, glass of water and two Advil waiting for you when you woke up.
Every group, as you know, has one, and when they are gone, they are irreplaceable. When I get to hang with my buddies, which, admittedly, is an annual or semi-annual thing at best now, I basically can count on cracking up the entire time, but the specter of Paul’s absence has always haunted the festivities and there is a certain emptiness for me that comes, especially as our time together nears its end.
So it would stand to reason and in fact was true that the meat in our stew was the commissioner of our fantasy football league. The last email I got from him just before the plane hit his building, was, in fact, about his team’s week 1 performance. As luck would have it, I was set to play him week 2. But Wednesday through Saturday were a blur and I was in no place to set my lineup much less open the league page without bursting into crippling tears. So I had one of my coworkers bench my team and didn’t think about it after that.
A couple guys in the league took this as a sign of solidarity for Paul and followed suit. That season Paul’s team went undefeated. It was a shallow and silly gesture, if not an unintended one to be sure—but for whatever reason, I still think about it today and it still makes me smile.
As I wrote earlier this week, the election day results manifested into similar feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and outrage. Though I do not want to leave you or the audience with the impression that I am equating the worst attack on American soil ever to our democracy in action, the results of the latter in this case are so unbelievable, so horrific and so consequential that I cannot help but have a visceral reaction.
Maybe I’m taking it too personally. In the weeks leading up to the election along with writing about it, I volunteered for the Clinton campaign. I am not a Democrat, but the stakes were high enough that I felt a call to action. The campaign was not perfect, and neither was the candidate, but it was oh so necessary that we get her elected—and we failed. And to a certain extent, I believe that’s a failure on my part.
Along with working on other writing projects and trying to get my personal house in order, this political season in the run up to decision day was paramount in my life and now that the results are in and are, indeed, coming on a raft of questions and troubling signs, I have been reeling.
Which brings me to my picks.
Similarly to the wake of 9/11, I am going to bench my squad this week Kyle. And I hope readers know it is not out of laziness but out of respect for them. You and I both spend perhaps too many hours poring over factoid after factoid, snippet after snippet trying to divine some piece of hidden logic or discover an as yet unseen pattern that will move the line a point or two in our favor. We have fun with it and more often than not, we are right. But the past few weeks—mostly because of the aforementioned—my picks have not come through with the consistency that I, or our readers, are used to.
It might be one thing if this was an email back and forth between the two of us, but as our readership grows, I know for a fact some are, yes, for fun, wagering their hard-earned dollars on our prognostications. And it is with the heaviest of hearts and lightest of wallets that I can honestly say, I sat down to do my homework this week and simply could not complete it. So I will not put the reputation of this column or site on the line because of it.
However, a one-week respite will give me time to hold my little requiem for our democratic process and, most notably, get charged up for the last two weeks of college football action as well as the start of college hoops and all the winter baseball/hot stove talk you can put on simmer (<-that didn’t make sense but it sounded good in my head, so I’m leaving it.)
My lead pick next will be Cal Poly’s season finale to be played at home against Klawz the Bear and Northern Colorado. Parking, tickets and nachos for my son and I is all-in under $20 to watch real amateur student-athletes play for school pride. Their warm post-game embraces and sweaty headband trades will be reassuring enough to me that there are good people, lots of them, left in this country. You just need to know where to look.
OK Kyle, take it away.
I really don’t have much to add as you summed it up. It’s not fair to anyone to pretend that between the world and our 9-to-5s and families this week that this was a priority.
I will say that I had the great pleasure to hike into the Cleveland National Forest on Veteran’s Day, to take in big, tiered views of the Anza-Borrego desert and Salton Sea. It was healing to head out into the fresh air and get the mountains’ good tidings.
It also stiffened my spine. We’ve got something worth fighting for, and over, in this country of ours. From the spirit of small-time college football that you mentioned to big, green places for hawks to soar over and people to hike across, there’s so much to love here and so much that needs preserving.
Take the weekend and enjoy the games and the good land. We’ll get back to work on Monday.