1. I hate to pick at this scab, but I have to mention the Caps. That sweep seemed to happen so fast. It was like ripping off a band-aid...if the band-aid was made of duct tape and planted on our collective loins. Wow...I guess we will all argue that the Capitals failed to play up to their potential, but at the end of the day, Tampa Bay played pretty damn well. They certainly played well enough to be credited with winning the series, as opposed to it being the Caps who lost the series. I know that Redskins fans are familiar with the distinction.
2. How much can you pile on a fan of the local sports scene? The NFL Lockout, the Caps bowing out in the second round of the NHL Playoffs, the Wizards...being the Wizards--and now you throw on the retirement of Gary Williams? And the hits just keep on coming. (I am not ignoring the Nats--I don't want to lump them in with the negative list here...they are actually competing pretty hard and hovering just around the .500 mark.)
3. As for Gary Williams, I am going to miss him immensely. He was the University of Maryland to many of us. I did not go there, but I was raised by my father (a UMD grad) to be a passionate fan of the Terps. The national championship in 2002 was so sweet for all of us who had grown up watching the Terps fight their way through the late 80's and throughout the 90's with the kind of lunch pail players Gary preferred to bring to College Park.
4. Random Gary Williams/UMD moment that kind of sums up the experience of rooting for this guy over the years for me: On January 26, 2005, we played Duke at 9 PM down at Cameron. It was a Wednesday night and the Terps were coming off a five game stretch that included three losses by at least 15 points each. Duke entered the game undefeated. I recall that my wife wondered aloud why I wasn't going to a bar and meeting up with the guys to watch yet another Duke/Maryland showdown. Our team--led by Caner-Medley, Ibekwe and Gilchrist--had kind of driven us to the point of watching these games in the darkness of our living rooms, with the volume low and expectations lower. This was the case on that Wednesday night. When we trailed at halftime by 4 points, I became incredibly optimistic--the trend for these two teams at the time was the leader at halftime usually lost. I finally popped my first beer of the night a little after 10 PM and made a few calls. "Are you watching this game?" I would ask as soon as my brother or buddy answered. We all were of course. The Terps kept the game close throughout the second half before foul trouble and turnovers doomed the Blue Devils. I recall being overcome with pride, joy, satisfaction and elation after that victory. We did it. Gary Williams took the floor on countless nights with teams that were a fraction as talented as his opponent's squad. Yet he always found ways to get wins against those teams. It was the reason why even though we might not have turned every game into a huge night out on the town, we never tuned out the Terps or gave up on our chances to see a signature Gary Williams win.
5. We beat Duke at home later that season (February 12, 2005) in an overtime thriller at Comcast Center. That was our third straight win against Coach K...I am 99% certain we have not done that since.
6. The Washington Redskins play in Seattle, Toronto and Miami next season. Of those three places--which would you most want to travel to watch the Skins play and why? I am not necessarily discounting the other cities we travel to, but this was the most recent Redskins-related debate at a bar that I participated in, so I wanted to get your thoughts (in the comments section below.)