Week four of Graybeards ’99 saw a total of five games played between Thursday night and Saturday morning. Judging by the number of no-shows on Saturday morning some Graybeards need alarm clocks---or more likely, there are bunch of scaredy cats afraid of heat and humidity---which was in disgusting abundance.
Thursday night’s action pitted the Men from Maroon against the Green Menace and the Gray Ghosts took on the Carolina Blues.
Maroon topped Green 64-52 and Gray bested Light Blue 65-52. Not only were the final scores close but the teams took nearly identical roads to the final buzzer. A free video: "If you want to win don’t play dumb down the stretch" was distributed to fans and losers on the way out of the gym. Each winning squad treated the ball like gold for the final five minutes of play. As time ran down, and the defense turned desperate, the winners got good looks for easy hoops time and again.
In each instance, games that were only a hoop or two from being tied wound up looking (on the scoreboard, anyway) like blowouts.
Maroon received a bravura performance from Greg "Black Socks aka B.S." Raphael. B.S. finally lived up to the hype being dispensed by his dad/agent who’d been touting the SFDS grad for weeks. Raphael banked and bulled his way to 22 hard-earned points.
Sitting in his locker Raphael raised his hands until the media horde grew quiet and then spoke in a steady, serious tone, "It’s not the color of the sock on the man; it’s the size of the foot in the shoe that matters."
After a long silence his teammates, standing shoulder to shoulder, began to chant, "B.S.!! B.S.!!"
This kind o f unity suggests the Maroon Marauders might be rounding into championship form. As Sunny Edwards says, "I like a team that sings together. Makes ‘em tough."
As for Green, what’s to say? Gunner Bob Geary and Machine Gun Kelly only scored 11 between them despite launching early and often. Jimmy Roberts tried to inspire his squad by showing up with a Marcus Camby-type tattoo of Oriental lettering on his biceps. Camby’s says something like "be all you can be." Roberts, apparently got his lettering done at the Oriental House on Beach 116 street because his tattoo said, "Double order of pork lo mein and an egg roll." Which has been this team’s only problem. Once they realize the difference between a pick and roll and an egg roll they’ll be true contenders. Until then, we must view them as Clyde Frazier does. He says, "That Green team does too much masticating when they should be elevating."
In the other Thursday clash, the Gray Ghosts showed an utterly insensitive side as they sent Light Blue to its third straight defeat.
Blue’s Kevin "Here Comes Da" Judge exercised the right of free speech guaranteed under the Constitution. The referee, however, thought he was in a theater---not a gym----and he thought Judge yelled "fire" which even free speech advocates agree is a no-no. The ensuing whistle, of course, was for a technical foul against Judge. Though not particularly popular with the ref at that moment Judge was instantly voted most popular guy in the gym.
While the crowd enjoyed Judge’s rare outburst the buzz centered around the news that Vice President Al Gore has contacted Gray’s Sean "The Mummy" O’Leary to give his sagging campaign a boost. The plan is for the photogenic O’Leary to appear in TV ads alongside Gore. The VP’s handlers think their man will look positively animated and smooth contrasted with The Mummy. O’Leary is keeping his fingers crossed (ok, somebody helped him cross them) that the opportunity will lead to a guest spot on Jerry Springer. (Critics are saying Sean is more likely to be in the movie The Mummy Who Would Be Rorked.")
League organizers are still catching heat after scheduling a triple header on Saturday when nothing but heat was talked about. How hot was it? So hot Mr. Bogard (who has replaced Helen Brady as Superfan) didn’t bother to show.
But it actually was worth the bother. Light Blue proved to be the heavy in a match against a Green Envy squad, slightly weakened by the absence of Dan Leary.
Blue rolled to a 17 point second half lead. But if ever a team was unaccustomed to success it was this bunch. They couldn’t handle the truth--- about staying with what got you where you are. Within no time at all, the Blues were clinging to a lousy 3 point edge.
With Leary on Cape Cod with Bill and Hil, John "Robert Duvall aka Great Santini" Cosgrove and Egg roll Roberts picked up the scoring and fueled a serious comeback. And it wasn’t just this dynamic duo. With the 17 point lead looking like San Juan Hill the Green team found its Teddy Roosevelt in Harry "Keep the Change" Werner. His vim and vigor, and most important---his mid-range jumper---suddenly made a battle of this game.
Harry, reaching back to his Transcendental Meditation days willed away the pain that comes from two games played within 36 hours. The quick turnaround had some skeptics speculating, wondering if Harry had found a new over-the-counter cure. The mustachioed maestro shot down such talk. "Do you know anything about the power of the mind, man? I’ll bet you can’t even spell T.M."
(Editor’s note: Mickey Rivers couldn’t spell I.Q. but that didn’t make him a bad guy.)
Anyway, Kevin Lunny, one of the non-believers, immediately consulted with Ken "Chin" Brady and after several minutes yelled back at Harry that they could, indeed, spell T.M.
Harry could only roll his eyes and reach into his bag for a wedge of brie and some red wine. Ever the host, he invited everyone to take off their shoes and picnic with him on the grass outside the gym
Tom McCann, a former hippie himself, dubbed the occasion a "Harry Happening," something that he says was a weekly event growing up in Brooklyn. "Harry was the pied piper of peace and love back then. Man, I hope the old Harry is back---we need the 60s now more than ever." And this from a white-haired guy who plays golf all the time. Say it: Harry’s Happenings are back!
The remaining two games fell into a psychedelic swirl of anti-war slogans and T.M. chants. The Red Devils, playing shorthanded, borrowed Jughead McCormack for the game. Jughead complained about "the freakin’ hippies" but the Sergeant Carter look-alike still looked comfortable in red. So did, Large Load, Jim McCool who dumped in a career high 17.
The Big Man’s performance went for naught however as the Dark Blue Bruise Crew prevailed, handing Red its first defeat.
Nobody was talking about the game after the game. They were just talking about that *#&#@ Richie Ryan. And how he scared the bejeezus out of everybody when he hit the deck with just minutes to play. Everyone thought the worst---heart attack, myocardial infarction (M.I.). No goofing around, this looked serious. Dan "Medicine Man" Murphy, the only legit doctor in the league, was also the only guy not to rush out to the fallen Ryan. (This was not an insurance issue). Dr. Dan’s keen eyes had picked up on something nobody else’s did: Ryan was within three feet of McCool when he went down.
Murphy’s immediate diagnosis? "It was an M.I., all right. M.I. as in McCool Induced. Chest pain due to well-placed elbow. I have to tell you that McCool could keep my emergency room humming all by himself." Richie recovered well enough to join the Harry Happening in progress. He joined Tom Pinky McVeigh in a rendition of "Ohio."
In game three the Men from Maroon played the Gray Ghosts in a gym filled with air as thick as a wet diaper. Somehow the Marooners overcame a 37 point outburst by Kevin Kelleher to nab an overtime win.
Suffice to say this game gets short-shrift because at this point in the column I’m as shot as the players in this hot mud bath were.
: Helen Brady stopped by the Harry Happening and gave it a real 90’s interruption. She says she hopes to have her web page up and running before season’s end and she promises live chats, video feeds, tips on dressing and cooking---the works. Look foe www.superfandammit.com in the near future.
*Picking up on an Austin Power’s reference last week, it’s been suggested that on-the-court psycho, Sybil, be renamed Dr. Evil.
*The league is not the same without Danny Conlon.
*Happy Jack Meade, unable to play again this year because of injuries--- real or imagined--- is making the most of his extra time. Word is that Jack has joined a quilter’s group (I’m the best f’n quilter in Rockaway) and is looking to start a 4-H club here in Rockaway. Players say they’ll be behind Jack in whatever he chooses.
*J.D. Donovan, the white Tim Duncan, got hold of this reporter and pleaded to put in something that the lovely Mrs. J.D. would like to read. Ok, have it your way. Hey, Mrs. J.D. did you know he keeps a $50 bill in his wallet behind your wedding picture? Enjoy.
"I’m not a stiff"