As fate would have it, Valentine’s Day weekend — a day on which Karl Marx once called for the jilted people of the world to unite — turned out to be not so cruel to a selected group of recently lovelorn bridesmaids as lengthy dry spells mercifully and emotionally came to an end.
The mercurial John Daly ended a nine-year drought on the PGA Tour by pulling out a victory in a playoff at the Buick Invitational. A one-man sideshow whose life may as well be made into a “Behind the Music” right now seemed as likely to be a factor on the tour as Trumbull is annually in intramurals. Somehow, after alcoholism, public divorces, federal investigations and on-course antics that made Happy Gilmore look like Miss Manners, Daly got his life and his game back on track in time to rekindle his romance with his one-time flame.
The Yale women’s basketball team finally got into the win column in Ivy League play Valentine’s Day with a hard-fought win over two-time defending league champion Harvard. Inexplicably, this year’s Crimson, which returns almost all of its important players — including back-to-back Ivy Player of the Year Hana Peljto — from a team that went 14-0 last year has fallen off the map more rapidly than the Backstreet Boys; instead, the Cantabs have been relegated to playing spoiler down the stretch while Penn cruises to the league title. Nevertheless, the first victory is always the hardest to come by, so the Bulldogs should have some success to look forward to down the line.
The New York Yankees ended a shocking two-month All-Star acquisition drought, while Ben Affleck responded by making his most irrational public comments since declaring “Gigli” his piece de resistance. I’ve got very little to say on this topic. I’ll wait until October.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. overcame a lifelong drought at Daytona (yes, this is a stretch — like it) by winning NASCAR’s main event on the same track that took his father’s life on the last lap three years ago. Earnhardt Sr. actually did have a legendary drought in the Daytona 500 that mirrored the epic quests of John Elway to get his Super Bowl ring and Ray Bourque to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy. The Intimidator broke through on his 20th attempt in 1998 (in NASCAR’s most indelible moment, members from opposing pit crews lined up to congratulate the hard-fought victor as he drove to Victory Lane), while Dale Jr. broke through in only his fifth attempt.
Dale Jr. has now assumed the mantle as the sport’s most marketable star as well as its most popular — a young gun who can beat Jeff Gordon on the track and who has infinitely more cachet with the sport’s rabid fan base. Just no more asinine commercials that involve you driving your race car in moronic locations, Dale. Please? I’m only looking out for you here.
After two months of what must have been personal anguish, Alex Rodriguez finally found himself back where he deservedly belongs — knocking other deserving sporting events off the back pages in his valiant and admirable quest to fulfill every boy’s dream of winning a championship three years after he took the money and ran to Texas. Again, I’m waiting for October.
Saturday, the women’s squash team ended a rare drought of over 10 years without a regular season national championship and upwards of 20 without an Ivy title by blasting Harvard 7-2. On the other side of the coin, the men’s team was unable to snap its 14-year string of missing out on Ivy crowns by falling 7-2 to the underdog Cantabrigians. (Yes, I’m from Boston and I just figured out that ‘Cantabs’ is actually a short for a citizens of Cambridge. Did you know this? For a while there I felt like I was taking crazy pills or something.)
Watching the squash matches, I had a bona fide Ivy League moment. You know, one of those times when you think back to when you were 10 and you had a perception of what going to Harvard or Yale would be like and you thought about tweed jackets, sweater vests and perfectly pressed khakis. And squash. It fits right in there. Anyways, seeing the sea of blue and crimson competing in a sport at which both are genuinely renowned and respected (um, how did Trinity College invade the sport’s logical Holy H-Y-P Trinity?) for league and national championships made me have one of those moments. You know what I’m talking about. When people come hung over from a cappella jams and then pregame for squash matches, you don’t go to a state school. It seems normal here, but it’s just not.
Valentine’s Day — a time for romance, both sustained and rekindled. While thousands poured their hearts into YaleStation’s new dating service survey, others found love in the most familiar of places. And although they had been to the well many times before and had come up dry, the success of the maligned this weekend proved that love deferred is not love denied.