I love Boston College. More specifically, I love how BC gives me an excuse to do what I did yesterday – make a day-long jaunt to the Madison Square Garden for the sole purpose of watching one essentially insignificant college basketball game – and make it seem normal and socially acceptable. [Compared to some of my previous BC trips, and some other trips I have planned, it’s actually about as normal as taking the T to the TD Banknorth Garden for the Beanpot.]
Despite a tumult-filled eight hour (!) bus ride from Boston to New York, a long wait at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and a tough loss that included the classic BC Tease ™ where it looked like they were going to pull it out only to rip your heart out with a minute to go, the trip was a blast. I traveled with my whalepants-wearing, old-fart compatriot, Pat Lane (BC alum from the long-ago class of ’08), got to see Madison Square Garden, and sat in the second row courtside for $10. And at the end of the day, I left feeling a lot better about BC basketball than I did at the start, when I was predicting doom-and-gloom the entire trip down.
First, the trip: we booked the Peter Pan bus for 11 AM, figuring we’d get into town at around 4 PM, giving time to enjoy a nice pre-game meal, walk around a little bit, then head to the Garden. All was going according to plan, as we crossed the CT-NY border at 3:30 PM, but thanks to New York traffic, it took us from 3:30 PM to 6:55 PM to travel from the NY border to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. We were held up even further by the fact that our bus driver apparently sideswiped a taxi cab in the traffic jam, forcing us to wait an additional fifteen minutes for the police to show up and file a report. It was, as the driver said over the PA system, the ‘longest four-hour trip of all time.’
Instead of dinner, we quickly shifted to plan B – ‘miss as little of the game as possible’ – and we got into the Garden about 5 minutes into the game with BC down by 4 points. Our NY culinary experience was reduced to MSG hot dogs of questionable origin and ridiculous price.
MSG was initially very surreal and unenjoyable to me – the color scheme is offensive to the eyes, the stage lighting takes some time to get used to, and the bowl arrangement just feels very, very odd. [The stage lighting is especially rough on me – I have a weird eye condition and my view was definitely impacted by the stage-style lighting - I can see a lot better when all things are illuminated more equally.)
While there’s certainly not a bad seat in the Garden, our instant-upgrade to courtside made the experience much more enjoyable; we then moved into the oh-so-packed “student” section when our pal Claver2010 scored us two second-row seats next to him near the BC bench.
The game itself was actually very entertaining. BC held their own and played with authority and aggression in the first half, but turnovers, poor shot selection, and a baffling lack of shooting by Tyrese Rice let Purdue drift out to a double-digit lead as the second half went on. BC kept showing flash after flash of a potential comeback, and I remarked that the 5 minute mark was the right time for the BC Tease ™, at which point, It Happened – BC went on a really nice run, sparked by some good play by Southern and Trapani, and cut the lead down to 4; an awful offensive foul call on Trapani – one in a sequence of shady calls against BC at critical situations – stemmed the BC tide with about one minute to go and the rally tapered out.
Still, Tyrese Rice only scored 15 and never looked dominant, but BC hung in there with one of the top ten teams in the country; I can’t really complain about that. I like the development of Southern, Jackson looks like a player, and JOE TRAPANI is going to be the steal of the year. We just really need Tyrese Rice to play like an All-American; if that happens, this team will win its share of basketball games.
A nightmarish hour in the Port Authority Terminal listening to an endless loop of Christmas music plagued the return trip, but it was an otherwise smooth journey, and I got back into Boston safe and sound at 5 AM.
One of the things I love about traveling anywhere, but particularly to NY – I absolutely love returning to Boston, walking around the city I love, and noticing and further appreciating its great qualities. For all its flaws, Boston is home.
My trips to New York always follow a predictable emotional pattern.
1- 1. I’m very excited for my trip.
2- 2. Getting into the city is a pain in the ass, and I get mildly annoyed.
3- 3. I get out of the bus/train and realize why I always end up hating New York the first six times I get bumped into or almost gunned down by a renegade taxi driver.
4- 4. I have a great time doing whatever I’m doing. This is invariably part of the equation: I always have fun.
5- 5. I come down with some sort of cough or stomach bug.
6- 6. I get to the bus/train station and anxiously await the return home
7- 7. I return to Boston, and as I step on to the street, angelic music plays in my head and I remember how much I hate New York
8- 8. I get excited for my next trip to NYC.
No offense is intended to New Yorkers here, who make up some of the best people and best sports fans at BC; also, New York has the only four things I really need to enjoy a city – 1) an educated population, 2) good sports, 3) good food, and 4) ample public transportation – but every day, I thank God (who I technically don’t even think exists) that I went to Boston College and didn’t go to school in New York, like I considered for a good amount of time; again, it’s not that I don’t enjoy my trips to New York, it’s just that when I walk out of South Station and into downtown Boston, it gives a nice, comforting sensation – it’s a vibrant, lively, historic city, yes, but I enjoy the fact that being a pedestrian is not round-the-clock hand-to-hand combat, a Darwinesque struggle for survival; and I like how drivers aren’t involved in a NASCAR-style 24 hour contact sport. I also enjoy how every third person I come across isn’t a) on crack, b) mumbling loudly to himself, c) asking me for change [especially since I’m a sucker and always give change to anyone who asks, as long as I have some]. Boston is a kooky city with some insane drivers, rude people, and oddly-laid-out streets, but warts and all, I’ll take it any day and often feel compelled to kiss the ground when I walk out of South Station.
All in all, I’d rate this as one of my top BC road trip experiences, despite the loss; it made me regret for 2.2 seconds the fact that I’ll never see a BC Big East Tournament at MSG [then I snapped out of it and realized that if we were still in the Big Least, we’d have our big tilt against Rutgers football to look forward to this weekend].
I took many photos, and expect to have them up later in the day, but for now I must get some sleep, then enjoy the holiday with family.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and GO EAGLES!