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Taco Time In The Salt City

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Aaron Goldfarb attended the Syracuse Orange's victory over the Connecticut Huskies this weekend and had some free time on his greasy, taco sauce-stained hands afterward.

We live in a stats geek era, and though I don’t ever see it being adapted into a movie that scores Jonah Hill an Oscar nod*, there’s no more important Syracuse basketball stat than Taco Time. That 75th point of a home game that nets game ticket holders a free taco from local participating Taco Bells--and which I’ve never heard of any one redeeming.

We’ve had 17 home games this year so far, 11 of which have hit Taco Time. So, with a little help from my accomplice King Otto, we calculated the pertinent Taco Time statistics, including player shooting percentages with a chance to secure the starving, white-turtlenecked, CNY masses some Grade D ground beef carelessly dumped inside a federally-subsidized corn shell.

Player 2 pt shooting 3 pt shooting Total FT shooting Taco Times
Melo, Fab 0-0 0-0 0-0 2-2 2
Waiters, Dion 2-2 0-0 2-2 0-0 2
Fair, Carl, Jr. 0-1 1-1 1-2 2-2 2
Christmas, Rakeem 2-3 0-0 2-3 0-0 2
Keita, Baye 0-0 0-0 0-0 3-4 1
Triche, Brandon 1-1 0-0 1-1 0-0 1
Tomaszewski, Matt 0-0 1-1 1-1 0-0 1
Carter-Williams, Michael 0-0 0-1 0-1 0-0 0
Southerland, James 0-0 0-1 0-1 0-0 0
Mookie! 0-0 0-2 0-2 0-0 0

Besides the fact that the Taco Time crown is still up for grabs with two home games to go, perhaps the biggest surprise is that neither Kris Joseph nor Scoop Jardine have even attempted a Taco Time shot. Then again, we know that Scoop is a Chipotle man and though he is unquestionably not a point shaver, perhaps he’s taco shaving?

A final point: as previously mentioned, I’ve never once met someone who has redeemed a free Taco Time taco. Then again, I was stunned by two sights at this Saturday’s game that may offer some evidence to the contrary.

I had the privilege of sitting in the high-end Orange Pack seats. These seats come with special "backstage" access to a VIP-only area which offers a free smorgasbord of food and drink (if a traditional Swedish smorgasbord consisted only of chips, popcorn, and enough Labatt Blue to kill a small Quebecois). Now this is, again, a special section that one has to spend a lot of money on donations and/or tickets to gain access to. These are the hoity toity of Onondaga County. Yet, every single time a Carrier Dome employee put out a new pile of complimentary Doritos fun-packs and concession stand popcorn boxes, these frothing masses sprinted to the tables and grabbed as much junk food as they could possibly carry, stuffing purses, bags, and jacket pockets, clearly hoarding the food for future meals. Is Syracuse, NY still being subjected to Eastern Bloc communist food shortages? Do we need to re-institute the Marshall (Street) Plan?

The second sight I was stunned by were how many people left the Dome before the game was over. Numerous people in my section--again, high-end ticket owners, many of whom were behaving like die-hard fans during game action--left at the under-4:00 timeout when the Orange lead was still single digits.

Thus, my point, quod erat demonstrandum: all these yahoos are leaving basketball games early to beat the rush to Erie Boulevard for free 89 cent tacos.

*Scratch that. I could totally see a Taco Bell-funded "Taco Time" movie ala the McDonald’s-funded "Mac and Me."

Aaron Goldfarb is the author of How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide and The Cheat Sheet. Follow him on Twitter @aarongoldfarb.