This happens every summer. It’s a recurring football-less pain made worse this year by the 70-21 drubbing, last year. The silver lining to that humiliation was that this loss, in our house no less, accelerated the onset of Alamo Bowl amnesia.
Of course, I’m referring to the Dawg Daze of Summer, when Duckland is either in a euphoric daze (12 straight years doing the drubbing), a form of therapeutic denial, or in a schizoid daze depressed and agonizing over the year that wasn’t, and hopeful that Willie Taggart has, indeed, righted the Duckmobile and the beer will soon taste good again.
Word has it that this dark mark on the calendar has nothing at all to do with dawgs. Slight relief, eh? According to very, very old records, these particularly troublesome days stretch each year from July 3 – August 11. Uncanny, isn’t it, that in their zeal to honor Helios, long-dead Greeks anticipated the beginning of fall practices heralding the shift from past to present and future, several thousand years ahead?
Relief, however, is at hand. The first day of fall practice is July 31. That’s just 19 days and uncounting. Before the end of the Dawg Daze, the Ducks will already be making preparations for reparations which will begin with Southern Utah at Autzen a month later.
Go Ducks! Do Something!
Speaking of whiners, thinking back into the painful, not-distant-enough Duckball past, there has been plenty of whining going around. And, as aforementioned, for good reason. We’ve been justifiably out of our minds.
And then, just like a Justin Herbert to Darren Carrington toe-in fade, the goddess herself gifted us with a miraculous turn of events. A mostly younger, who’s-who of out-of-towners with excellent pedigrees moved in and, in an instant, everything green and yellow flipped from whining to winning - or so the song goes. And it worked. Now, the singing coming out of Duckland is about the almost certain beginning of the next winning streak.
Dawg Daze, meet Hope.
The beer IS starting to taste good again.
There are so many interesting new faces and intriguing recruits that it will be a challenge for the FishDuck.com team to effectively assimilate the newness so as to articulate our collective recovery. Even returning players have new auras.
Fortunately, the treatment will be helped along by a covey of dedicated seers and healers perched in the northeast corner of the Pacific Northwest, far enough away for immunity to “the trashy music when the other team has a third down (Merrell)” - which should free us to be unusually objective in the face of the season of who knows what.
Sandpoint’s Mike Merrell is a seasoned FishDuck.com contributor whose preference for cheap, easy-to-get-to Dr Pepper rather than waiting in line for expensive Pepsi (“Yuck,” said Mike) is all the explanation we need to understand why it is important that, on our behalf, he observes the constantly-unfolding Duck phenomena through the lens of his widescreen that is only 20 steps away from, and not 530 miles (8.5 hours driving) to, the back of the long line to the pisser.
Just north of the Palouse and WSU’s domain, Darren Perkins continues to struggle with early onset Duck dementia in Spokane where there are less Os than WSUs, but way more Os than UWs. His disease, brought on by an incurable case of withdrawal that set in when he graduated from UO and moved away from Autzen to Lalaland to make up stories and tell dirty jokes for a living. That didn’t work out so he has been, as you can see by his FishDuck.com offerings, torn between telling the truth and making things up to get us to feel good about something.
Perkins’ objectivity is not suspect. He doesn’t have any. He has not yet been anointed, but it is possible that he is the Duck Jester, plying his stand-up comedic humor under cover of good thinking.
Objectivity is also not in doubt with Walla Walla’s Will Evans and me. Neither of us has ever been to a Ducks game, Autzen or otherwise - so we haven’t been sullied by the rabid in-your-face fanaticism of home-field Quack. Instead, like Merrill, we very professionally cast our enthusiasms at our screens, which remain aloof.
Evans’ addiction to Quack was by way of an infection picked up from a Ducks alum who sought Will’s real estate advice. Apparently, the advice was good, because thanks to that early relationship, Will has been all Ducks football since then, which is to say when he is not fawning over anything San Diego, the source of his shape-shifting sporting self. There are no visible Ducklanders in the heart of Washington’s wine country, so Will does suffer the “Duck Island” effect.
On most days, when Natalie Liebhaber is out and about in Bozeman, she is greeted by at least a couple Os. She actually became a Montanan just before the town was askew with talk that Dakota Prukop was becoming a Duck. More importantly, Liebhaber rewrote the book on objectivity when she covered the Buckeyes while rooting for those tree nuts and Marcus Mariota’s Ducks in the first Nattie. To her credit she is quick to point out it was all wrong that Mariota’s career ended with one of his rare interceptions.
As for me, I am parked in a verdant valley of meat-eaters at the base of the majestic Wallowa Mountains where, oddly, in the third least populated county in the state, there is more evidence of O than OSU. I didn’t expect that, and in ensuing FishDuck.com offerings I hope to unravel that mystery. But, for now, the temperature is flirting with high double digits (a far cry from minus 25 in December) and the Dawg Daze have settled in like a thick haze.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline
A native Left Coaster with roots in Caveman land, Michael grew up in the East Bay Area before highschooling in the Tahoe-Reno area. He was an alpine racer, soccer defenseman, small, slow running back, and curve-challenged hitter at Southern Oregon College where he became a Ducks fan, began writing and survived the 60s with a liberal arts degree.
Among his many career credits: freelance sports reporting, stringing for a regional daily, and eventually full-time reportijng for a small town weekly in northwestern Washington, all before beginning a 6-year career as a recreation programmer. He coached junior high track, basketball, softball and football before focusing entirely on high school basketball for five years.
Since midlife he has been all over the place, recently landing in Enterprise, Oregon, where he is retired and writes short fiction in full view of the majestic Wallowa Mountains.
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