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Soup of This Day #361: Just Like Fire Would

February 13, 2014

Supernova remnants
This is either, a. The aftermath of a supernova, SNR 0519, that occurred in the constellation of Dorado around 150,000 years ago or, b. The aftermath of a supernova, SNR Perth, that occurred in the constellation of Longworth72 around 6 nights ago – Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA, 2013. ESA/Hubble & NASA are not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72, who has mastery over the universe, or at least some images of it.

It was hot in the world of Longworth72 this Friday night just past. Damn hot – The kind of night that gives rise to a sizzling shimmer, dancing across the sky.

It wasn’t meteorological – The day’s top temperature in my home town of Perth, Western Australia, had been a balmy 30 C – Not cool but by no means a physical trial. Instead the warmth I was feeling had come from a series of events around this city, each adding degrees until it appeared to me as if the whole metropolis had reached an agreeable searing – Like the 1st swallow of a fine whisky going down in front of a crackling fire.

The 1st log on that fire came from the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) Ground where the finals of the Australian domestic T20 competitions were held. The early game was the women’s final and it saw the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Meteors bat 1st. That outfit had already gained a significant triumph by making the final – They hadn’t been favoured by many pundits. Yet here they were, taking to the crease against the Queensland Fire.

Generally meteors don’t do well with fire.

Which is how it played out for the ACT women, who never managed to light up enough with the bat and then failed to crash through some atmospheric Queensland batting, losing by 7 wickets.

If that got the Fire started, then the next game cranked up the radiant temperature a further notch. The men’s T20 final featured the visiting Hobart Hurricanes taking on the home-town heroes, Perth, in front of a capacity and parochial crowd. The Perth T20 outfit were in their 3rd consecutive final – They’d lost the 1st 2 and were looking to make amends at the 3rd time of asking.

In spite of that hot streak of finals appearances, the Perth men had only been coolly fancied when the season started. This was pretty much as it had been before the start of the previous 2 seasons – Each time though, they have defied the pundits and forged a mostly successful season out of a fusion of disparate but noble elements. For this term those included an aged spinner and a relatively obscure slogger who’s day job involved being an electrician.

Electricians are sometimes known as ‘sparkies’ down here, which is fitting because the sparks from Craig Simmons lit the fuse for a decent 1st innings in this final. And it was a fuse that had Shaun Marsh on the end of it ready to explode and drive Perth to a formidable 192.

It was to be a total that never seemed to be under Hobart’s control – The visitors started slow and lost wickets as the required run-rate climbed ever more out of reach. Of particular note was veteran Perth spinner, Bradley ‘George’ Hogg – The 43 year-old turner bagged 2 wickets and gave up just 17 runs from his 4 overs. With bowling like that, by the time the final over had rolled around, Hobart required an insurmountable 48 runs to win and they went on to lose by 39, sending a capacity WACA crowd into warm celebrations.

Maybe they were more than warm – After all, the Perth side are known as the Scorchers and the celebratory flames that rocketed into the air to acclaim the triumphant locals would have fired up a few post-game parties.

So by now it was cooking in Perth, but in the suburb of Thornlie, in the southern part of the metropolitan area, there was a danger of the heat being quenched – For there, the Australian Baseball League (ABL) Championship Series was getting under way, with the visiting Canberra Cavalry (Another ACT team) taking on the local outfit, the Perth Heat.

The Heat were not unfancied by anybody – They almost never are, having won 4 of the previous 5 national titles. Adding to this hot record was a season that left a fiery trail of carbonised baseballs across Australia – The Heat went 32 and 14 across the regular season for a sweltering 0.696. The next best record belonged to the Sydney Blue Sox, who had an off-the-boil 23 and 23 (.500). Canberra, who finished 3rd couldn’t even register a winning season – A barely tepid 22 and 24 (.478) enough to get them into the play-offs.

Still, for all of that, the Cavalry looked to have warmed up nicely early in Friday night’s Game 1. They had disposed of the Blue Sox so had some form and they parleyed this into a 3-0 lead by the middle of the 6th. By the middle of the 8th they still lead 3-2 and an upset to open the 3-game series was brewing.

It was a hot night in Perth though and just when it looked like Canberra would cool off the town, the Heat got turned back on – The home side levelled things up in the bottom of the 8th and then smoked a decisive line drive in the 14th for a walk-off.

All of this made the town sizzle – There was 1 final event though that got some of us walking on hot coals – Dancing across them even.

Yeah, it’s not really sport but I reckon there’s some lessons in this for any aspiring champions – For Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band owned the Perth Arena – Dominating in any kind of statistic you’d care to measure and throwing in something extra beside.

I’ve previously written about my fancy football boots theorem and I’ve always figured that nobody really ever gets the right to wear those boots.

I was wrong.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band can wear whatever kind of boots they damn well want.

Because they have game. The game.

It’s not just that there are highlights (there are) it’s more that there is an absence of lowlights or even averagelights. Every song, no matter how much you’ve expected it to be performed well, is a surprise that leads to a re-interpretation of what constitutes ‘awesome’.

I now really get the new single ‘High Hopes’ – I see what they did there.

Stuff that I thought would be tired and hackneyed, like the Courtney Cox moment that goes with ‘Dancing in the Dark’, felt like it was fresh and never seen before. And the banter and interplay between this tight group came across as spontaneous and improvised, even when you know that Bruce, Max, Nils, Gary, Stevie and Roy have done this so many times in the past.

For all that, I can pull out some moments that stoked the flames above others: The cover of The Saints ‘Just Like Fire Would’ was so brassily polished and heartfelt that you’d swear that it was originally written for Bruce and Company, rather than an Aussie band from Brisbane. ‘The Girls in Their Summer Clothes’ was pared back to a solo acoustic rendition that fit the hot night to a perfect degree, while the re-worked ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’ featured some Tom Morello guitar work, that if it didn’t quite outshine Bruce, at least was able to hold up a candle to him.

2 more moments – The catchy refrain from ‘Pay Me My Money Down’ delivered in a raucous New Orleans style, complete with a ramble through the crowd by the horn and backing sections, and then the final act of the night – The house lights up and the band having made their farewells, Bruce was left alone on the stage with his guitar. After 3 hours of non-stop rock, the evergreen Boss still had a couple of numbers left in him, the 2nd of which was the stunning ‘Thunder Road’. When it was done the man turned alone and wandered off stage and on this hottest of Longworth72 nights, that was about the coolest end you could imagine.

Epilogue: The radiant warmth stretched through Saturday as the Perth Heat won the decisive Game 2 of the ABL Championship Series, earning them their 5th Claxton Shield in the past 6 seasons. Not quite as successful but just as entertaining were the Perth Glory Women, who finished off a disappointing term in some style that night – In front of a decent home crowd, the women in purple played with an abandon not seen all season, creating the kind of open entertainment that fans of all teams appreciate. For a bonus they won that entertainment too – Rallying from 0-1 down at the half to snatch a late 2-1 triumph over the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Longworth72’s fine whisky had surely runneth over.

Just Like Fire Would

  1. It sounds as though the Aussie baseball season is significantly shorter than the American one. I have long been interested in shorting the MLB season here as well as contracting a handful of teams. I think it would be a good thing but, of course, it will never happen. Which is why my interest in baseball starts off strong in April and early May…and then picks up again early in September and becomes intense again come October.

    • The Aussie season suffers from there being just 6 teams, so it is a little brief. My occasional frustration with the 162-game MBL season is that you can play all of that and yet get eliminated from the play-offs in 1 more game. Still I would happily watch 162 games a year if my work and wife allowed it.

  2. A fellow blogger at just posted some thoughts regarding cricket. I thought you might be interested in visiting his site and seeing another viewpoint. I also suggested he visit your site. I’m still in training mode but he compared it to baseball so I thought that might be of interest also.

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