By: Max Wolpoff
The First Round of the Patriot League Men’s basketball tournament came to Boston Tuesday night. For what might be the final time, I came to the microphone with co-Sports director Matt Doherty for what should have been a glorious night for two seniors to ride out of Case Gym with good memories.
My first-ever play-by-play stint came with him as my analyst downstairs in the same complex, broadcasting BU Women’s hockey and their 4-2 win over Merrimack College. We were freshmen, calling the game on BU’s Internet stream. Doherty admitted to me that he was not that familiar with hockey – basketball was his sport. In short, we have both come a long way from that day at Walter Brown Arena.
It was a Tuesday like any other and, for the first 12 minutes, a game like any other. There was absolutely no indication to suggest that anything traumatic or life-changing would happen in the course of a 40-minute basketball game. On a fluky play, exactly that happened.
Before I go any further, I do not put any personal blame on Max Mahoney for doing this. He has a job to do when the Terriers take the court: use his talent to help the team win the game. When he dove out of bounds and on top of my broadcast set-up, he was trying to do just that. However, I feel that the story that follows is funny and interesting enough to warrant a further telling.
I will pick the story up right where the chain of events gets set into motion. Mahoney dives on top of our set-up and saves the ball. Under his weight, my laptop closes. The mixer is plugged into my laptop which allows us to broadcast our games via the Internet. This is not a big deal; all I really need to do is power-up my laptop again, reconfigure the audio, re-start the broadcast, and we are right back on the air with a few seconds lost.
Doherty keeps calling the action as Javante McCoy went for a layup to net his sixth of an eventual 30-point night, but I cannot hear him. Uh oh, that must mean the power is out to the mixer. I jiggle the switches in the back to see if Mahoney’s hands may have incidentally flicked the power from “on” to “off.” No, the switches were fine; but what was the problem? A quick glance confirms my worst fear.
My mixer uses an outdated power cord to connect to electricity. The mixers offered for rent from Production Services have long moved away from using the type of cord I have, but that is what I get for buying the mixer for $50, used, on Amazon. The connecting piece was still plugged into the board, but the rubber-encased wire that allows electricity to flow was nowehre to be seen. It was on the floor, ripped clean off the connection by some miracle of physics and instance of horrible luck.
I am now staring at the frayed end in utter disbelief. I had this mixer for all four years of my time at BU, buying it about this point my first year here so I had my own equipment and would not need to rely on the school for my broadcasts. This is the mixer I use for every recording of “Scarlet and White,” every hockey game I work, every basketball game, and every single thing I do in my recording life. All that is gone with the swipe of a hand that somehow ripped the cord clean out of the socket.
Frantically, my brain goes into panic mode. What do I do now? Is this how my broadcasting career ends? How am I going to explain this to anybody? Does Amazon deliver overnight on stuff like this? Can I find just the power cord? I promised the board to the team covering the Women’s Hockey East tournament in Providence this weekend; can I get a new cord in time? Hey, how late is Guitar Center open and how far away is it?
Bingo, an idea! I madly stuffed the mixer and the useless power cord into my backpack, told Doherty my mission, and left for the icy outside to find an Uber. The first half just ended when I got into the car.
The men working and shopping at the Guitar Center on Boylston Street were not expecting someone to hurridley walk in with a busted power cord, a mixer, and a suit not fit to be worn in this weather. I was easily the best dressed person in the store.
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden blasted on the speakers upstairs when I spotted three men standing around the register, two of them showcasing to the other the last song on their iconic “Number of the Beast” album. I plead with them, just looking for a new power cord so I can get back to Case Gym and finish the game on time. Sadly, this store does not carry this type of power cord on its own for sale – I would have to buy a new mixer to get that power cord.
One of the men leads me to where the mixers are orderly stacked on shelves and shows me the model that I brought in. He claims that one of the competitors is better than what I have, calling it an “upgrade.” The “upgrade” was also nearly $400 and not equipped to work with my headsets.
I recounted the tale of why I walked into a Guitar Center with fancy shoes and a pocket square while shelling out $200 for the new mixer and a 4-year insurance plan in case anything similar to tonight happens to the new mixer. The three men all seemed amused by the comedy of the story. I was still hopping mad that I was missing the game. While trying to text Doherty that I was coming back, I forgot that I was not coordinated enough to text and walk down a flight of stairs at the same time and fell backward on to my butt. I finished the text from a seated position before braving the cold to wait for another Uber to take me back to Case Gym to complete the journey.
The second half had just begun when I got into the car, and was halfway done by the time I made it up the stairs and back into the arena. It took a few minutes to reconfigure the hardware and audio settings on Mixlr, but we managed to return to air for the final 10 minutes of action.
Out of breath and at a loss for sanity, I probably sounded bad tonight. To the people who listened live, thank you for putting up with this unplanned delay. BU ended up winning and will now travel to Hamilton, New York for the next round of the Patriot League torunament. The result of the game is inconsequential to my memory of tonight.
Easily, this was the craziest non-game related story to happen during a broadcast. I have worked nearly 300 games in my time both in Boston and home in Maryland. To Max Mahoney, I hold no personal grudge. You were doing your job and, in the course of doing that job, you broke my power cord. When I finally settle down from the adrenaline rush of facing a time crisis like this, I may be able to laugh at the absurdity of tonight’s story.