It's Raining Roses

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January 1st 2018
Published: January 3rd 2018
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We won the freaking Rose Bowl, y’all! And we play for a national championship next Monday. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I thought I would divide this post into two parts: the good, and then the bad. So here we go.

The good: We Won the Rose Bowl! I can’t say that enough. It’s still like a dream, but the fact that there’s still another game to play keeps me sobered.

I got to see my Dawgs at the Rose Bowl Stadium, the home of UCLA, which is in the Art Deco style. So this was really the trifecta of my travel aspirations. That’s pretty amazing. I also got one of those little lapel pins that I collect from every bowl game I’ve ever attended, but this time it was free! Before the game, we parked in the closest lot to the stadium and made our way toward the entrance. The MGM Resort people had set up a tent with a good bit of free stuff: shade from the sun, all three bowl games currently airing on multiple big screens, free photos, games, phone charging stations, and those pins. And those pins were MUCH nicer than the ones being sold for $10, if you could find them. The official two-team pin looked exactly like my pins from the Texas and Sun Bowls, just with different teams on them. And when I had gone to the Merch table earlier, they said they had already sold out of all the pins with Georgia on them: single team and two team. But if I’d like to buy one with just Oklahoma, sure.

Dad was able to charge his “dumb” phone at the charging stations; this was good news, since he either left the charger at home or, more likely, left it in the first hotel room in Louisiana, a week ago. It’s a good thing that those batteries last forever. We got a free picture and those free pins. And the walk to the stadium was pretty easy.

The second half of the football game was also incredibly good. I’m sure the commentators had given up on the Dawgs when they were down 31-14 near the end of the first half. But that second half was what we live for. Taking a lead over what looked like a dominant team, and then forcing overtime, and then blocking that kick, and Sony Michel running into the end zone in 2 OT to clinch all the marbles for the day. Whew. It was spectacular.

And what about the bad? Here ya go: The biggest gut punch of the day was going into the ticket check and being told that my ticket was no good. It’s the nightmare everyone has when buying tickets from the secondary ticket market. I should’ve known something was up when the seller didn’t even ship the tickets until after everyone else I knew had already received them. The ticket takers made it sound like there wasn’t really a big deal; most likely a technical glitch. “Go to the customer service people at gate B and they’ll get it sorted." Long story short: I went to the customer service people, they told me that my tickets had been reported stolen, and that they needed to confiscate my ticket. Anything I could do? “Go buy yourself a ticket at the next counter.” Talk about heartless.

The ticket scanners had let dad in, and I’m still not sure if that wasn’t just out of sympathy or a rush or whatever. The customer service people said that they shouldn’t have let him in, since both tickets had been reported stolen. But they did advise me to keep him in the stadium, since they wouldn’t be letting him back in. Duh. But I’m not sure how to feel about that—their integrity seems to be rather ambiguous in this regard. Confiscating my ticket due to no fault of my own, but because they didn’t want fake tickets out there; but then not demanding that dad come back out because he had been wrongly admitted. Whatever. They also told me I should expect that the true owners of the tickets would be sitting in those seats. Inside the stadium, we awaited this possibility, but it never materialized.

So I spent $275 on a ticket at the window. This was about $50 more than what I paid, so I think next time I’ll just wait and get them at the box office for a big game like this.

To top all this off, I tried to get in touch with the people at TicketsNow, the secondary marketplace where I had bought the ticket, but my mobile network was not cooperating. I tried to pull up the email with all the information, but I couldn’t. So I ended up buying the ticket and going into the stadium to meet dad, who was also nonplussed. I finally got ahold of the ticket people on the phone, inside the stadium, which seemed counterintuitive to me. But they were equally concerned and said I would get a full refund of what I paid them, and that they would be launching an investigation. And I needed to keep my receipt for the new ticket so I could get reimbursed for that. So it seems that I just got PAID to go to the Rose Bowl, if all of these things happen.

Because my ticket was in a different section that dad’s, they let him in our section but not me. Again, some uppity section guards for no reason. The lady chastised me for trying to “sneak” past her and told me to find my real section. Instead of telling her the whole story you’ve just read, I decided to go to my “real” section and then just work my way over to dad. My section was on the exact opposite side of the stadium from dad, in Oklahoma territory. But once I got into the section, I found a concourse running around the stadium with no one checking tickets at all. So you know what I did? I walked halfway around the stadium on that concourse and then headed up to sit with dad. Really, if that’s the way it works, then why does it matter which gate you enter? Plebs.

I managed to get the obligatory souvenir cup while waiting for the ticket people to give me the good news about a refund, but because of all the hassle, and then the excitement of the game, I never managed to eat. I had breakfast at the hotel (more than I normally would, but it’s a good thing I did), and then the next time I ate was on the road to Las Vegas, around 9 PM.

There was also a Fan Fest, on the opposite side of the stadium from our parking spot. But there were no signs or announcements about that. We didn’t hear about it until we were trying to find the gate to enter the stadium, and I said we should see what they had. But it was a winding road, and entry to the Fan Fest looked to be about as difficult as entry to the game itself: metal detectors and guards. Really? And the line to get in was so long. We didn’t find all this out until 11:20, and the stadium opened at 11:30. So I have no idea if there was anything worth seeing at the Fan Fest. But I got everything I really wanted from a Fan Fest at the MGM tent on the other side of the stadium.

And then there’s the parking after the game. We got to the car, no problem. But getting out of the lot? That took almost an hour. And most of that was sitting still, waiting for people in front of us to go. That was a sour way to cap off what was a phenomenal day.

But it WAS a phenomenal day. I got to see so much that was new to me, and the outcome of the game was everything that we hoped it would be. I’ve got to say that I must be pretty lucky to have attended what I think are the two most entertaining games this bowl season: the Alamo Bowl (Go Frogs) and the Rose Bowl (Go Dawgs). Now, I haven’t watched all the games, but if somebody can tell me a better pair of games to have attended, I’d be willing to listen.

And being there all season to watch the Dawgs perform beyond any (realistic) expectations has been a privilege. I won’t be able to attend the National Championship game next week because, as usual, people are gouging any game that Georgia is involved in. So this Rose Bowl was as much as I could’ve hoped for. The dramatic fashion of the victory, and being there in an electric atmosphere with all my fellow Dawg fans. Lastly, I was so glad to shut up that Showboat kid Baker Mayfield. Most of his good plays were a result of a good offensive line, not so much of what he was good at. And that’s why he was mostly shut down in the 2nd half: the Georgia defense took a different tack, trying to get to him directly instead of stopping any plays for other people to get the ball.

The Oklahoma fans near us weren’t obnoxious, but at times they acted as if they were channeling that Showboat Mayfield: cocky and patronizing to us. So it was even nicer to shut them up and watch Baker Mayfield cry. Schadenfreude? You bet.

We’ve made it to Las Vegas for the evening, and we are exhausted. Normally, I would want to explore the strip at night. We are, after all, at Harrah’s on the strip. But it’ll just have to wait until tomorrow. It’ll be a lazier day, for sure. Only 4-ish hours to drive to our next hotel in Arizona, and no major stops along the way. It’ll be a nice lazy morning for a change.

Some of the people reading this, who like me, may want to stop reading at this moment. Because I’ve got a few words to say about social media and sports. Before I rant, though, I do want to say that all of Dawg Nation can justifiably be proud and should celebrate the season and this win in particular. But there’s a few things that grind my gears. To begin with, why are you posting pictures of the television, or of yourself watching television? If you’re not AT the game, I don’t see the point of posting pictures. You wanna be cute and everything, but really. You weren’t there. Post a cleverly-worded status, share a picture/video from someone who WAS there, or from the official athletic people, and then celebrate. I don’t want to see a picture of you celebrating back in Tennille, Georgia.

And all these people who have absolutely NO ties to the University? I do thank you for your support and devotion, but I truly believe that you can’t feel the same about the wins and losses as the people who actually attended/graduated from/taught at the school. No matter which school it is. Be proud, of course, but let’s keep it real.

Rant Over.

Thanks to all of you who have read this far and not unfriended me or cursed me in some way. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see any more of my friends at the Rose Bowl. I had hoped to do so, but circumstances were against me. We’re starting our drive back east now; indeed, we’ve already gone a decent amount here in Las Vegas. It’s been over 2500 miles, and we’re on the downhill trajectory now. But we’ve still got the Grand Canyon left (Wednesday) and another visit to my alma mater, TCU (Friday). I’ve been to both before, but it’ll be the first time for dad. That’s one of the main reasons I invited him in the first place. I hope it all lives up to expectations.


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