Lockout comes to end, and summer is great again

Ah, summer.

When I was 10, this was undeniably the most wonderful time of the year for me. Christmas was great — don’t get me wrong. But it was fleeting. There was a day of receiving presents, and then, well, a hurried rush to see family members and then a quick return to school.

But summer? Well, that was a different animal altogether. That was a time when the chore list grew exponentially, but so did the free time. There was an annual trip to Bethany Beach for a week each year.

There were hours spent trading baseball cards with friends, just hoping you would get a moment alone with the right kid so you could trade him four of your Buddy Biancalana cards for one Eddie Murray rookie card without other people stepping in to stop the slaughter. And there was my beloved Baltimore Orioles.

Back then, the Orioles were a great franchise, and we were used to 95 wins a season. They held our complete interest through October, and only then would my focus completely shift to football season. But now? Well, the Orioles of the past 14 years have been a collection of has-beens, never-weres and never-will-bes. They hold my attention until about seven minutes after the first pitch of the season or until the Baltimore Ravens start hitting mini-camps. Whichever comes first.

But this summer has been different.

Oh, the Orioles still stink on ice. There was a little whiff of optimism over the team before the season started, and then they kicked things off with a good start, but it’s been injuries, ineptitude and incompetence ever since. They kind of remind me of our leaders in Washington, in that they all show up to work every day, but nothing positive really gets accomplished. We might as well just give uniforms to Obama and Boehner and let them showcase their pathetic ...

But I digress.

This summer has been particularly rotten for the sports fan in me. The Orioles are the Orioles and the Ravens have been locked out until earlier this week when the owners and players showed that, unlike our leaders in Washington, two sides of grown adults can indeed work out their problems and reach a compromise.

I admit that I got jaded throughout this lockout. I got frustrated with both sides, and maybe more so with the constant media updates that there is nothing substantial to, well, update. I vowed to not write anything about the lockout until it was resolved, or until the Orioles won 12 games in a row.

Guess which happened first.

But this is not about my ongoing distaste for what’s happened with my Orioles. No, this is all about “Christmas in July,” as the NFL channel on Sirius has dubbed the end of the lockout.

No games will be missed. The Steelers and the Ravens will still knock heads in the season-opener. And the Redskins will replace the Orioles as the “local” team that stinks on ice.

Yes, there will be football this year, and all I can say is ...

Sorry, I’m still giggling about my little shot at the Redskins. I already know about 50 people I’m going to hear from for that line, including my sister and our news editor.

But that’s part of the joy of the NFL. There’s little I enjoy more than going back and forth with a fan of another team, or the smack-talking and dealing that envelops my fantasy football league every year. As opposed to the other major sports, football teams play once a week, which lends plenty of time to both dissect the last game played and talk garbage about the next game.

And I do love talking garbage.

So, my fellow football fans, let’s sit back and enjoy this frantic pace as teams try to fill their rosters, and get yourself ready for a full season of football. But don’t get too excited if you’re a fan of a team other than the Ravens. It’s their year to win the Super Bowl.

Well, them or the Redskins. Ha!