Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Thrill Of (Watching) Victory

The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I'm not sure who gets credit for that: Wikipedia gives the nod to the ancient Chinese, although I tend to believe it was a paparazzi artist beefing up his resume years ago. In my case, however, it was the lack of pictures that led to a volume of words. A thousand? No. But certainly more than I'm used to. The weather that hit the valley on Saturday prevented me from taking photos, which in turn allowed me to write a more detailed account than normal.

See for yourself. This story, submitted from a corner table at the Starbuck's on March Lane in Stockton, is considerably longer than my usual game recap:

First of all, it helps that the game was exciting. Pacific scored three straight in the third then UC Davis followed suit in the fourth. The two teams played to four ties. Finally, Aggie super-senior Dakotah Mohr popped in the winner on a sweet backhanded shot with eight seconds left. So I had plenty to write about no matter what.

But here's the thing: when the Aggies play at home, I'm busy keeping the official scoresheet for the game. When the team goes on the road, I'm at the mercy of the information provided from the host. Or if I'm there, I'm so busy taking photos that I miss the gory details of the game itself. In fact, there have been times when I've sat down to write my story and had to check the results to remember the score. (Yeah, those details.)

In this case, I gambled on whether or not to come down, knowing that the weather might prevent me from breaking out thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment. When I arrived, the wind and rain indeed forced me to leave the gear in the car (which, in Stockton, is a different kind of gamble). So with no camera and no scorer duties, I actually got to watch a game like most of you -- as a spectator.


Standing behind our bench with a pad and pen, I jotted little notes of the game, in case the blow-by-blow account of the game would play into the recap. Sometimes it doesn't: if a game is quite lopsided from the start, often a player's individual statistical totals will form the lead. But if the game is close, as it was here, then the incremental moments determine the ebb and flow of the contest. These don't always show up in the official scoresheet.

For example, here are a few lines quoted verbatim from my fourth-quarter notes:

645 B7 at 1, turns & fires, cross cage (6-4)
541 Dunn stl, CA goal (6-5)
457 B6 shot, Riane SV! Feeney CA, pass from Riane (6-6)
436 Feeney stl
421 Began draws GK out, Eggert 4M lob as GK retreats (6-7), 3-0 run Aggies
326 Eggert wide left
307 PAC off. foul
254 Sutt. bar out, gets rebound, Ags TO

Later in the game, it reads like this:
108 Sutterley BIG stl @ 2M
057 PAC 5 stl entry pass
033 B7 shot SV!
008 Faber to Mohr backhand! (7-8)
000 B7 shot @buzz fell short

Most of it reads like gibberish, even to water polo enthusiasts who would understand some of the terminology coded in there. I put the score in parentheses to tell me where the actual goals were, throw in exclamation points and other editorial hints to remind me of some key non-scoring play. For example, here is a favorite from earlier in the game: 
117 Eggert draws excl., Aggie 6-on-5... Feeney off GK hands BOOM (4-4)

This stuff is just enough for me to piece together a story that provides the detail of an eyewitness account rather than of a guy reading through the official boxscore. My handwriting, normally legible, looks more like a doctor's signature -- both because I'm writing quickly and because my hands were cold. In a few cases, I have no idea what I meant by my note (e.g. "425 Sutt/Mohr/Feen trip" is now beyond decipherable).

Although I do scribble a few notes at home games, my job as official scorer takes precedence. When the team plays nearby, I go into photographer mode, which means I'm more interested in framing a moment in the lens then knowing what actually happened. But today, I had neither job and I got to watch a game.

And I've gotta say, it was pretty enjoyable. So hopefully the recap does it justice.

Mark Honbo, assistant athletics communications director, will not make the trip down to Irvine and Long Beach next weekend. So while all humanity will be stripped from those recaps, hopefully the result -- i.e. a UC Davis win -- remains.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, I loved reading this!! Thanks so much for coming down today in the pouring rain! -Alicia and UCDWWP team