Hagler-Leonard, Yanks-Phils and My Beloved DVR

Erik Linask : Sports Technology
Erik Linask

Hagler-Leonard, Yanks-Phils and My Beloved DVR

sugar ray.pngPuberty, a futile attempt at Rogaine, 150 pounds and three cavities ago - when I was 12 - my inability to awaken from a deep sleep led to one of the most traumatic events of my life.
It was Monday, April 6, 1987, and at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler were preparing to enter the ring for the World Middleweight Championship.
You remember the backstory: the beloved Leonard had been retired for a few years, and the shaved-headed Hagler was at the top of his game - a killer in boxing trunks.
At the Dinan household in New Canaan, Conn., the fight warranted a rare expenditure on Pay-Per-View - itself a technological marvel at the time. My father boxed as a middleweight in the Marines, and one of the early sporting lessons he taught my brother and me (also a traumatic event) came one summer afternoon out in the yard when he refereed a three-round bout between us. 

My mom had bought the boxing gloves at Schatzo's store in her hometown of Belmar, N.J., where we were all visiting her parents. Her own father was a boxer, a middleweight and champion of his barracks in the U.S. Army.
The fight with my brother was a draw. I took Round One, Terry took Round Two, and Round Three was even. I learned to move my feet, to jab and to keep my hands up. (My training that day came in handy in the fifth grade, when I gave Josh Carter a bloody nose on the East School playground. Sorry Josh.)
But I never woke up that night of the fight - and I've never forgiven my family for that, not my mother, father, brother or sister, who watched that classic unfold in our family room, together. My sister would claim that they "tried everything" to wake me up, but that I shouted at them from my sleep and turned over.
Days later, "Sports Illustrated" photos of the fight were released and they tormented me for days. Since then, of course, I've seen the fight replayed on TV, and realized what a sham it was to give it to Leonard. Back then, I'm pretty sure we were all rooting for Leonard in our house. My father, who is from the Parkchester neighborhood in the Bronx, inherited his mother's soft spot for "clean" underdogs (my grandmother apparently was disgusted by Jake LaMotta three decades before "The Raging Bull," based on his reputation alone).
Since then, I've become a greater fan of Hagler than Leonard, as I think any healthy American male should.
But my failure to wake up that day always reminds me how important it is, sometimes, to stay awake.
Which brings me to tonight, when the Yankees will host the Phillies for Game One of the 2009 World Series. These days, I'm getting to bed before 9 p.m. and waking up at about 5:45 a.m. Like my dad, I like to steal a pre-dawn hour for myself, my coffee - maybe a book or some stationery for letter-writing. The problem is: If I turn in at 9 p.m., I'll catch about three innings of baseball and no more.
That's not acceptable during the first World Series the Yankees have entered since 2003, the same weekend that my brother got married (to a woman who, like my wife, is a good sparring partner and could put his own boxing experience that long-ago afternoon to use). It's also not acceptable because, no matter what the score is after three innings - 10-1 or 1-10 - the Yanks and Phils have demonstrated the ability all through this postseason to come from behind late and dramatically.
Enter my precious DVR.
I know it's not a "sports technology" device, strictly speaking. My wife would probably describe it as a "Mad Men"-"Grey's Anatomy"-"True Blood"-"Brothers & Sisters" device. But in an age where East Coasters like me generally have to wait until 8 or 9 p.m. for any major U.S. sporting event to unfold, the digital TV recording is a trauma-saver - a way to control time itself.
I'm pretty sure that by the time C.C. Sabathia (hopefully) takes the mound for the fourth inning tonight, I'll be sleeping like a baby. But at 5:45 a.m. tomorrow, having avoided the radio, my cell phone and the Internet, I will slip quietly downstairs for my dark hour, upload Game One of the 2009 World Series and fast-forward through the commercials.
Here's to hoping Leonard doesn't beat Hagler again ...

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1 Comment

Great article Mike!