For an admittedly immature teen, wise-beyond-my-years ideas were very few and far between.
So I was pleasantly surprised when the notion struck to record a Mike Tyson fight for posterity.
At the time, my videotape library featured an extensive collection of UCLA football games, “Moonlighting” episodes and blockbuster movies, courtesy of my mom’s HBO subscribtion.
Why not take advantage of the free pay-cable, I thought, to stow away a couple rounds’ worth of boxing’s ferocious champ, who was maybe the most menacing of my (or any other) lifetime?
I figured I could one day show the tape to the kids I wasn’t certain I’d ever have. Maybe educate a Little League team that needed to grasp the concept of a killer instinct. Or I could just watch it myself from time to time, not knowing ESPN Classic would someday show it ad nauseum.
To paraphrase the infomerical, I set the VCR well in advance of the Tokyo bout and forgot it.
I woke up that Sunday morning and hours passed before I learned Buster Douglas had shocked the world. Many minutes — not moments — later, I realized the event was preserved in my living room.
Suddenly, the tape was infinitely more valuable to me.
I didn’t get the expected second-round KO.
By sheer dumb luck, I had history.
Wanting to show off, er, share my good fortune, I arranged a private viewing of the fight for the men in my family — my dad and both grandfathers. As a child of divorce, my Pop and Pap were rarely together in the same building, and the two had never been in my living room.
While I don’t remember any of the conversation or reactions, save my Pop (himself a former boxer and friend of 1950s middleweight champ Carmen Basilio) instinctively shifting in his seat, I fondly recall the special feeling of that cross-generation gettogether.
I was reminded of it Tuesday night.
* * *
A year ago, during the offline draft for my longest-running fantasy baseball league, I made the bold selection of San Diego State junior Stephen Strasburg.
The pseudo-dynasty league, which adds one keeper every season, is rife with the cherry-picking of top prospects.
First it was hot rookies (once upon a time, Sean Burroughs was traded for Nomar Garciaparra); then expected mid-season call-ups were all the rage; then it was franchise saviors-in-waiting who had a few sips of a cup of coffee in the bigs (here’s looking at you, Carlos Carrasco).
So last year, after Daniel Bard was picked without ever logging an inning above the Double-A level, I decided to pull the trigger on Strasburg and let the chips fall where they may.
At worst, I figured, I’d have to forfeit the kid’s rights, re-pick and watch helplessly as someone else plucked him off the waiver wire in September.
At best, the pick would be approved and I’d get a roster placeholder such as Jeff Fulchino until Strasburg was drafted, signed, marinated in the minors and eventually promoted to The Show.
The pick was met with some controversy (“C’mon! Now we’re drafting college players!?”), even more shrugs (“Stras-who?”), and ultimately our commissioner’s approval, along with the hastily added Strasburg Rule that only professional ballplayers were draft-eligible.
A UCLA baseball fan, I knew some things about the kid: That he was the lone college player on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. That he fanned 23 in a game as a sophomore. That he was the probable No. 1 pick in the 2009 MLB draft.
I looked at it this way: There was no harm in trying, and I wouldn’t ever stop kicking myself if someone else drafted Strasburg and was allowed to keep him.
Another league member confided to me that he had Strasburg loaded and cocked for an end-game flier.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
* * *
Strasburg made his long-awaited debut Tuesday, of course.
I TiVo’ed the game because those kids I wasn’t sure I’d ever have won’t stand for anything other than “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!” or “Yo Gabba Gabba” on the TV.
He was in my lineup, and clearly worth the wait.
Fourteen Ks in 7 innings? No walks?
Pirates or no, he proved he’s a must-start in every format.
He’ll give up a homer or two a game, I’m sure, and often it will be to a head-scratcher like Delwyn “16 career jacks” Young who runs into a heater or guesses right on a change-up.
Think back to last year’s NCAA Tournament, when light-hitting Virginia second baseman Phil Gosselin turned around 97 mph gas for a first-inning homer. That was Strasburg’s last collegiate start, and it was his only loss of the season.
Oh, yeah. He struck out 15 Cavaliers.
I can’t bore you with my impressions of Tuesday’s 94-pitch effort because I haven’t had time to watch it. But I’ve read everything I could on the debut, from Gammons to Stark to Nats blogs, and it’s only heightened my anticipation to see it.
I’ll get to it soon enough.
Think I’ll call my dad. See if he’s interested.
Editor’s note — Arkham wrote this last week before Strasburg struck out eight despite being a little wild in his second career win.