Derby Day has come and gone, California Chrome is off to the Preakness a week from Saturday to continue his bid for the Triple Crown, and I’m left to thinking about a couple of things:
** A Twitter exchange with my friend David Downer; Sunday he was in the rain at the Sandringham Zebras game trying to follow his Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of their NBA playoff series (they won), and simultaneously on my late Saturday night in Louisville I was finishing up at work, and to keep awake (after a long Derby Day) I was watching Gold Coast mop up the Kangaroos. Each with one foot on two continents.
** The comments about how the Kentucky Derby should be on every punter’s bucket list. Because it’s also high on mine. In perhaps the ultimate irony, I’ve never attended a Derby in person though I have directed some part of its coverage at our newspaper for the past 24 years. I suppose when I retire I will finally get to go. Crazy.
Oh, I’ve been to plenty of big-time sports events — the World Series, NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup final, major golf and tennis tournaments, state high school and national college tournaments and the world-renowned Lake Decatur Memorial Day Hydroplane Water Festival.
But so much still to see, and thus my Australian sports bucket list:
** A Saints Grand Final. If they ever return and I’m not in need of a walker, oxygen or a 24/7 assisting nurse, we’re hopping a plane and spending Grand Final week in Melbourne. I’d rather attend a Grand Final than a Super Bowl (I have not been), though I am a die-hard NFL Indianapolis Colts season ticketholder who drives two hours each way eight or more times a year to attend games. They are a crucial part of my mental health in the autumn, when newspaper pressures ramp up. But to me, a Super Bowl is just another football game, with a bit more pomp and circumstance, a less engaged crowd, and a much pricier ticket. A Grand Final (ideally plus a three-day runup) would be an incredible experience.
** A cricket or footy match at Adelaide Oval. Ideally, an Ashes test, but anything will do. Dave is going to Saints-Power later this year; I’d be quite happy with that. To me, that’s the must-see iconic ground in Australia. Maybe it’s because I’m a Boston Red Sox baseball fan. I see Adelaide Oval as your Fenway Park, steeped with history and character, and maybe the MCG is your Yankee Stadium, history on a grander scale. (I’ve been on the MCG tour but never for a sporting event.)
** A Melbourne Cup. Just to compare the atmosphere. (Yes, I said I’ve never been to the Derby, so how would I know? But I’m quite familiar with Churchill Downs, and did attend a Breeders’ Cup). A year ago, we did spend a blazing-hot day at Flemington watching a Black Caviar win and were enchanted.
** A race day at a smaller track. Romance is not dead. Or maybe it is. Love to find out.
** An AFL match at every major venue – MCG, Adelaide Oval, Patersons, the Gabba, the SCG and Spotless, Metricon, Simonds. Each seems to have its own character, much like American baseball stadiums. And I’ve been to Etihad; “functional” might be my one-word description, though I did like the plaza-like walk from Southern Cross to the stadium gates.
** A country footy match. Matt Zurbo and “Footy Town”. Enough said.
And now it’s your turn. Have you got an international or American sports bucket list? I’m really curious. (And Dave, if it’s indeed Clippers-Pacers, we really need to try to do Game 4 or 5 at Staples Center. Time to start checking those airline schedules.)