Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

In New York for the Sweet Sixteen.  Last week in Buffalo for the first round.  Still frozen from the walk from my hotel to the arena in downtown Buffalo. It is raining here in New York.  If I don't develop pneumonia, next week I'll be in Dallas for the final four.

There is an Irish dancing contest going on all day today and tomorrow at the hotel where I am at, directly across from Madison Square Garden.  The dancing contest is on the 18th floor. I am on the 17th. Kids are practicing their kick dancing in the area outside the elevators. Parents are coaching. Quite a scene. If I look up from outside my room windows--which last were cleaned during the Hoover administration--I can see kids all done up in costumes waiting to Irish dance their way to a trophy.

A different scene out on the street. I arrived last night around an hour before the Iowa State//UCONN, Michigan State--UVA doubleheader.  The scalpers were dancing happily like the kids on the 18th floor.  The scalpers, however, were doing the shekel dance.  Tickets were going for over 500 dollars a seat.  Bobby and I decided that even for research, that was too steep.  Instead we scouted out bars where the supporters of teams would be congregating.

There are enough Iowa State supporters, we discovered, for a place called Foleys to be a dedicated watering hole. While I waited on the Boston runway for my flight to take off--after having switched my 3 o'clock flight for a 2 o'clock flight, then hearing that the 2 was postponed, so switching back to the 3, and then getting on the 3, to hear that there was a delay on the runway till 4, and then enduring predictable Friday evening rush hour traffic from LaGuardia to Manhattan--Bobby had ample time to scout it out.  At 6, he could not get in to Foleys.  Place was too jammed over an hour before tip off with Iowa State rooters. He then went to the Michigan State tavern, a place called the Mercury Bar where he grabbed a table and waited for me to arrive.

I got to the hotel, dumped my bags and headed for the Mercury Bar.  As I walked away from the Garden I saw an army of Iowa State, UCONN, Michigan State, and UVA fans walking in the opposite direction. I knew they were fans because they all were adorned in their school colors.  Troops and troops of them were going to the Garden for the Sweet Sixteen. (Last week in Buffalo the joint was similarly packed with fanatics. I will blog again about my experience there subsequently).

Michigan State was not playing last night until about 10, but it was all my brother could do to save a table for my arrival.  What a joint. The band playing so loudly that we could not hear a word the other was saying.  It was packed at 7, and then inexplicably, it got more packed before tip off.  It was so crowded with MSU supporters (and never let it be said that MSU supporters do not like to knock them back) that we could barely see the screen.  The place felt like it was literally hopping with semi-inebriated fanatics who, in some cases, did not seem to be looking at the screen as much as hugging their fellow alums.  The two of us, not wearing any MSU garb, periodically were getting high fives from strangers apropos not of what was transpiring on the screen, but because the quaffers were just greeting those they assumed to be their comrades.  One woman, clearly not able to determine the score--leaned over and told me, then my brother, then people at adjoining tables, that she had decided to divorce her husband. At least two men came by to whisper advice about who knows what since I could barely hear them.  In each case I nodded agreeably.

We left the Mercury Bar at half time because my ears were ready to split open and we could no longer see the screen what with the numbers of people breaking all fire laws for occupancy.  We went to Foleys where Iowa State fans were still imbibing two hours after their team had played ignominiously losing to UConn earlier. However, the place had emptied sufficiently so we could get in.  A ruckus surfaced in Foleys when, at about 1130 pm, two blockheads from the University of Connecticut came in to rub it in and shout the praises of UConn to the assembled Iowa State fans.  For the first time in my life I saw a bouncer, literally, bounce two guys in UConn sweatshirts outside the bar.

Today, elite eight begins.  Tomorrow across the street UConn will be playing Michigan State for the right to go to Dallas.  The tickets ought to be more reasonable. I will go to Foleys later and see if some Iowa State supporters who optimistically bought tickets for the final will sell a ducat or two.

1 comment:

  1. New York is always full, especially around holidays and big concerts or games. It's normal for the prices of the tickets to be so high, everything in NYC is outrageously expensive, like hotels (for example,, even the best deals are unaffordable). So yeah, nothing new for somebody, who has been there.