About this time every year I’m settling in for the long haul of summer. Those who know me know I’m not a fan of heat, bare feet, sweat and antarctic air-conditioning. There’s also the span of time between the end of basketball season and the beginning of football that usually finds me catching a Cubs game here and there and spending a lot of time sitting on the deck reading or writing. This is about the only time I enjoy the summer days of Kansas, when the day is fading, the wind has lessened from its 35 mph hot air gusts and the temperature has cooled to a bearable 80-90 degrees, and I’m able to lounge with a book or notepad in my lap, possibly a chilled mug of beer, and only the Orioles, Cardinals, and Jays to keep me company. Oh, and those are actual birds, not teams.
My sports season ended well with a true team winning the NBA championship, proving the words spoken by my godfather, “a team is always better than a bunch of all-stars,” as well as my own belief you can’t “whore yourself out” for a ring. Dallas and its time-tested veterans played well and deserved the glory. As for the Heat, they need to spend the off-season understanding the definition of entitlement-based ethics and how this doesn’t fit with a team environment or any environment for that matter.
The Bruins have always had a place in my heart since the infamous shoe incident with Mike Milbury in 1979. This was part of my introduction to the NHL, with the 1980 USA hockey team sealing the deal. Needless to say, after the Blackhawks were eliminated I backed the black and gold all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
But by the time the U.S. Open is underway, I’ve usually selected a book or two to get me through the endless summer days in land-locked Kansas and anticipated watching the wheat harvest from my kitchen window. So this year, I figured my participation in my first fantasy baseball league would hinder time spent lounging, reading, and waving at the farmer, yet I’m finding the hour in the morning it takes me to check stats, preview the days games and set my roster is enough. I’m not glued to the MLB network as I was in the beginning, nor checking live stats on my phone as often. I will still try to catch the occasional Cubs game and if the Giants are televised locally, I’ll definitely make time to watch, but I’ve found I miss my sports reprieve. Those months not spent checking a teams schedule and arranging a calendar according to game time is what keeps me from becoming a complete armchair quarterback, and I’m good with that.
Yes, my competitive nature will keep me in the Lingerie by Laloosh pennant race, but I’m thinking my need for a little soul-mending while the evening air is heavy with the wheat-dust of a days work in the fields is stronger than my need to spend three hours in front of a television, eyes glancing between the game on the field and the stat-loaded ticker at the bottom of the screen.
I’m thinking what I once considered the “long haul” has become not long enough. And if this makes me lesser than the average sports junkie, so be it. I never thought of myself as a professional in the field of sports obsession, although many would say I’m close, so I’m glad to recognize my soul still needs its fill of another almost forgotten American past time.