A great week for us sports fans

Let’s be honest. Life’s tough.

Regardless your economic standing, gender, race, religion or favorite breakfast cereal, there is always something in your life at any moment that requires deep thought, immediate action or a comfortable corner to hide in while you suck your thumb and hope the bad things just go away.

We love to look at other people and fantasize about how much better their lives are than ours, but guess what? They’ve got issues, too. President Barrack Obama has his bad days. Bill Gates has things on his plate. Tiger Woods has ... well, it’s not all champagne and caviar for him right now, either.

But, that’s life. It’s a constant struggle filled with conflict, concerns and stresses, and we just do what we do to get through. We find those small things that give us joy and provide shelter from the bad, and we embrace them close to our hearts. We turn to family, or hobbies or, in a bad scenario, alcohol or drugs. We search for an escape.

When things get stressful for me, I turn to family, or a game of poker or just pack away all my problems and play with my dogs. And, in good times or bad, I always have the joy of following sports.

And in my little world of sports fanatasicsm, this week might go down as one of my personal favorites.

The Masters is going on right now, and if you can get past the collective voyeurism aimed at Tiger, it’s a pretty exciting tournament. Granted, “exciting” and “golf” might not be two words that are often linked together, but it is one of the golf events that grabs firm hold of my attention for any period of time. There’s something that just feels right about watching golf at Augusta on a Sunday, particularly on HD.

We also saw the close of one of the most exciting NCAA men’s basketball tournaments in history on Monday night. Perennial powerhouse Duke nipped upstart Butler at the end to claim the national championship, but numerous memories were made throughout the tournament by upsets, buzzer-beaters and overall great competition. The NCAA is now talking about expanding the field of teams in the tournament from 64 to 96, essentially opening the field up to reward mediocrity, collecting more cash for its coffers and popping one little question into my mind: If the NCAA refuses to install a tournament for the football championship because it feels it would keep athletes out of the classrooms for an extended period of time, how do they justify adding more rounds to the basketball tournament?

This screams of a cash grab that would make Sussex County Council proud. More teams in the basketball tournament means more games on television, which means more money from the television network that bids for the rights to televise games. Whereas a football tournament would lessen the values of the smaller bowl games, meaning less money from the networks to televise those games. Meanwhile, the players and fans get spit on yet aga...

But I digress.

My favorite part of this week, however, is the start of baseball season. The first chapter of a 162-game marathon that begins with such optimism and hope for all the teams in the league is like a fresh canvas, void of any character or definition, waiting for a direction or description.

For as long as I can remember, I have been an Orioles fan. I remember cheering for Jim Palmer, Al Bumbry, Rich Dauer, Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton and, of course, Cal Ripken Jr. — my favorite athlete in any sport.

Of course, things have been rough for my Orioles for some time now, but there’s always hope that good times are right around the corner, right? The Orioles kicked off their season Tuesday night against the strong Tampa Bay Rays, and when I turned on my television, the good guys were winning 3-2 in the 9th inning. Perhaps I was a jinx, though, as the Rays rallied to win the game before my eyes.

It was gut-wrenching, and made me upset that there were still 161 more games in the season. I began to question many things at that point, such as why do I turn to sports as an outlet to escape life’s many obstacles? I grabbed the nearest dog. You can always count on that.