My 5-year-old's greeting to me as I boarded the team bus to come home from Quebec City -- "What up, dog?" -- prompted a Frost Heaves fan to write with a trump card of a tale.
This fan -- a Vermont resident now, but a former scoreboard operator at Candlestick Park -- told of an incident in which former San Francisco Giants catcher Bob Brenly was squiring his daughter Lacey, scarcely 3 years old, through the dugout. Another Giant chucked her playfully on the chin and said, "How ya doin', Lacey-girl?"
Whereupon Lacey replied, "Grab some pine, meat!"
MONDAY, NOV. 6, 2006 -- We're back in Vermont with two wins in tow -- a good feeling, even if both engagements with the Quebec City Kebekwa will mean very little when we play "les Kebs" two more times for real, in both our season and home openers, over the next 11 days. The two W's mirrored each other. On Friday night we held a reasonably comfortable six-to-12-point lead for most of the game, only to watch our hosts press to take advantage of the ABA's 3-D Rule, which grants an extra point to a team that forces a turnover in the backcourt. By the time the buzzer sounded, we had barely held on, 91-90.
The next night we stumbled through the first half and wound up down nine at the intermission.
What accounted for the players' desultory first half? Perhaps it was their having seen one of their teammates suffer a seizure in the hotel elevator that morning.
From the moment those elevator doors opened, the guys had watched the drama unfold from where they stood in the lobby. We were distraught and baffled as the paramedics came to stretcher him off. Hours passed. Only updates from Coach Voigt at the hospital kept us apprised of his status.
None of us had any clue about the medical history of this Frost Heave, who shall remain nameless until we've had a chance to discuss with him how public he'd like to be about his condition. It turns out he's an epileptic. We didn't know because he didn't tell us -- but then we never asked pointed, insistent questions of him either.
Of all the mileposts along the pro sports ownership learning curve, for me it's been this -- the in loco parentis factor -- that's caught me most by surprise. But in the process of realizing the full implications of taking these guys in, there's been a creeping emotional attachment that has been quite wonderful.
By sifting through his gym bag and doing an Internet search about the prescription drugs we found there, we finally riddled out what had happened. It had been three years since his last episode, and his meds apparently needed adjustment.
I settled him back in his room around 9 p.m., then made it to the gym at CEGEP-Ste. Foy in time to spread the good word along the bench. Whereupon a relieved band of Heaves sank eight of 12 3-point attempts in the second half to win 85-73.
Yesterday morning, detained for 10 minutes to settle our hotel bill, I was the last guy to board the bus. By then 5-year old Frank, tutored in basic pro b-ball bus badinage, was ready to floor his father. "What up, dog?" he asked me.
The bus broke up.
When we finally got home to our cat, Alice, and chocolate lab, Peter, Frank tried out his new lingo once more.