As the three or four of you know, Purdue beat Old Dominion University on Thursday night. That sets up a big matchup tonight between the Boilers and the defending national champions, Villanova. Purdue is a #3 seed and Villanova is a #6, so technically Purdue's favored, mostly because of the existence of Carson Edwards. But you know and I know the smart money's on Nova.
I knew there was some waiting on the horizon when I got in the shuttle bus after the game from the XL Center to the media hotel. An announcer for Villanova sat next to me.
"Purdue and Villanova play Saturday night at 8:40. Two days in Hartford."
My first reaction was, "Great. I've got a ton of studying to do and a presentation to make to my professor. I'll just study."
That didn't last. I worked like hell yesterday morning on my Search Engine Optimization audit. Then, I presented it to my Digital Marketing Professor, Matt Hanson.Then I was done, with whole day in Hartford ahead of me.
It turns out there's not much to do in Hartford except drink, which I did. I started at Vaughan's, an Irish bar on Pratt Street that's owned by an actual Irishman. Then it was the Tavern, which has a ton of TVs to watch the NCAA tournament. Every time you walk outside, with or without a buzz, you shield your face from the wind and rain. Welcome to the Region. Welcome to Hartford.
I met a guy from Alameda, California, not far from where I went to school in Berkeley. He was here to see his alma mater, St. Mary's, play Villanova. St. Mary's lost. He was sitting in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast trying to figure out what to do with his life.
"I was gonna stay and watch the next games, but the weather's so bad. Back home it's 70 and sunny. I think I'll go home."
By the time breakfast was over, he had booked a flight on his phone.
"I'm booking late on Southwest, so it'll be seven hours of squirming in the middle the seat."
"C-33. Hartford to Baltimore to San Francisco. A long day, but it beats hanging out in Hartford on a rainy day."
This guy from Alameda - "it's right next to Oakland separated by an estuary" - left Hartford in his St. Mary's sweatshirt, holding his hands to cover his face from the rain. I studied like hell for five hours and then drank like hell for more than five hours. I'm sitting here writing to the three or four of you with a vice on my temples. Please release it.
If you are a
poet, show it.
If you're a cook, cook it.
But if you're a shooter,
Stop. Please don't shoot.
Tonight, it's Murray State vs. Florida State at 6pm. Purdue vs. Villanova at 8:40pm. After the game, I'll get in the car and drive half the way to New York City, then get up early on Sunday and go from there.
Will I have a seat at the XL Center tonight?
On Thursday, I couldn't find a "WJOB Network" seat courtside. So I sat in an available seat. I sat there for the better part of two games, met several reporters with whom I exchanged contact info, and wrote a blog to you. It was a good night with good basketball and good sports conversation.
Near the end of the second game - the Purdue game - I pulled out my Sony mirrorless camera with the really long lens to take a few pictures. As soon as I did this, a guy came running at me - "You can't take pictures from press row. Whose seat is this anyway? Is this your seat?"
I did what I do best - I played stupid. "Oh, okay, I'll put the camera away. Thanks."
"Is this your seat?"
"Is this your seat?"
"Whatchoo say?" I cupped my hand to my ear.
Luckily, I was sitting on the end of press row, right in front of the Old Dominion band. They travel with a full drumset and a slew of horns and windpipes. It's loud. I spent most of the game wincing at the decibel level.
But while the camera police guy was shouting at me - "Is this your seat? Who are you? Why are you sitting here?" - the band burst into full brigade. You couldn't hear anything. After a minute or so of shouting the same question, the guy stomped away.
I put the camera into my bag and reached for my phone. That's when a second camera police guy came running. He must have been told by the first guy to keep an eye on me.
"And you can't take pictures with your phone, either," the second guy shouted and pointed. Since the music was playing, I reached for the old standby -
He yelled again and again. Finally, I put my phone down. Never mind that every guy on press row had snapped at least a hundred pictures. Some were even recording video. Still, I must accept responsibility. "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned-"
1. I sat in someone else's seat.
2. I pulled out a long lens.
I won't do #2 again. But I may sit in someone else's seat tonight at press row. That's because after the game I ran into one of the guys who sneered at me returned -
"You're not supposed to be sitting there. You're supposed to be in the media overflow section."
He pointed to the rafters of the XL Center. Literally, it was ten stories up. You could barely see the small, glass-enclosed bubble sticking out of the ceiling.
"I'm not sitting there."
"A lot of press people do - over a hundred."
Oh well. If it happens again, I'll saunter into the stands. I am not - repeat not - coming from Hammond, Indiana, to Hartford, Connecticut - where it's raining like hell - to sit in the rafters to watch Purdue play.
... By the way, as I'm sitting on the floor here, my phone dings. It's a photo from Dave from Gary - "Picture of BP from the Toll Road. It's 7:15am. Thought you might like it."