This Just In – It’s great to be #1, but WHEN you’re on top does matter a little.
Coach Davis would probably tell you straight up that he might have preferred that Carolina be ranked somewhere in the top 10, but not the very top in the pre-season. Being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated …okay, that’s a nice recognition, but for the expectations for the season and all the hype that goes with being in the top spot, maybe number three would be better. There’s room to grow when you’re number three.
This comes to my mind because (along with bleeding Carolina Blue) I’m a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. To put it mildly, this has been a difficult year for the Sox. There have been some glory years recently and we know that it can’t be that way every year, but this year has gone from “We’ll get ‘em next year” to “Let’s get a new team next year.”
All the while, we have watched with our teeth grinding as the Yankees compiled this epic year of winning, winning, winning, including Aaron Judge breaking Roger Maris’s home run record, right at the end of the regular season. Through most of the year, the Yankees have been just unstoppable – a winning machine.
Except when playing my Red Sox, who have blown leads, fumbled routine plays and taken everyone down a memory lane mashup of the worst fielding and disappointing plays in anyone’s experience.
But they beat the Yankees. Not every time, but several times. They beat them in Boston. They beat them in New York. With a no good, terrible, discombobulated team, they beat the best team in baseball (at the time). Pure heart.
The Yankees have, for most of this season, looked like a juggernaut. Nobody at my house likes this, but the win-loss record has been hard to escape. Likewise, I have relatives in California who have been bursting with pride about their LA Dodgers. What a year! What a record! The Yankees won 99 games and the Dodgers won 111. Unbelievable.
And all those players who did all that winning will be on their couches tomorrow night watching the first game of the World Series, coming to us live from Houston, Texas. The Astros will take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the Fall Classic.
Both teams were in third place in their divisions on May 1, 2022. After a couple of dozen games, the Red Sox showed every sign that 2022 would not be a year for championship banners. The Yankees jumped out to a division lead and hung out there most of the year.
In August, things started slowing down and when they got swept in the payoffs it wasn’t even surprising. But hey, they were #1!
These pre-season rankings are the opinion of someone, not the reflection of wins and losses. When I saw that Coach Davis and four of his starters were on Sports Illustrated, I commented to some friends that UNC must be really great this year … we only need four players to start!
Preseason AP #1 for the tenth time. Most ever 🙌
🔗: https://t.co/xugS4GfHnv pic.twitter.com/Ev0o5jqxLF
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) October 17, 2022
The fact is: Coach Davis can be on the cover of whatever he wants as far as I’m concerned. He’s got nothing to prove to me. The defeats of Duke at the end of the regular season and, most spectacularly, in the Final Four, are going to have Hubert Davis in my personal Hall of Fame for a very long time, both for the result and how it was accomplished.
The old song goes “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” The baseball season has demonstrated that you really do have to play all the games and see how it turns out. Enjoy the World Series. I’ve gotta go make some popcorn.
Jean Bolduc is a freelance writer and the host of the Weekend Watercooler on 97.9 The Hill. She is the author of “African Americans of Durham & Orange Counties: An Oral History” (History Press, 2016) and has served on Orange County’s Human Relations Commission, The Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina, the Orange County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, and the Orange County Schools’ Equity Task Force. She was a featured columnist and reporter for the Chapel Hill Herald and the News & Observer.
Readers can reach Jean via email – firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @JeanBolduc
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