This is just a spectacular time of year for those of us afflicted with a complete addiction to sports viewing.
The NCAA basketball tournament is now in motion, professional golfers are preparing for the major tournaments, NHL and NBA teams are jockeying for position in the playoffs, NFL teams are stocking their rosters with free agents and my favorite poker tournament of the year — the Bay 101 Shooting Star Tournament in San Jose, Calif. — is in full gear.
But for one dashing bald editor, they all take a back seat to the dawn of a new Major League Baseball season.
I love baseball, and I’m not sure that even expresses how much I care for it. I love the actual game itself — the geometric beauty of the diamond, the 90-foot basepaths that are the perfect distance for a routine grounder to be a routine out, the rotation of defenders during a bunt, the mental war going on between batter and pitcher ... everything. I honestly believe it’s the best game ever invented.
And I enjoy the atmosphere of going to a game — sunny skies, players warming up with a long toss before the game, the crack of the bat, etc. And I love my Baltimore Orioles.
Yes, for the greater part of the past decade, my beloved Orioles have stunk on ice. It’s the same thing every year. The Orioles start off by winning some games nobody thought they’d win, get surprising performances from unheralded players and race out to a fast start. But, like Old Faithful, they consistently hit their “June Swoon” and drift back into irrelevance for the rest of the year.
It’s not like football, where a bad team can make a person suffer for 16 games. No, no, no. Baseball is more of a marathon, where you feel like you’ve been kicked in the belly for 162 games, and you start looking forward to the season coming to a merciful end — just so you can build up your optimism for next year all over again.
Cubs fans know this pain. It has been a century since the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series, and their fans have taken up the flag of blame for their futility — particularly, in the form of curses. They blame the Fred Merkle curse of 1908, the billy-goat curse of 1945 and, most recently, the Steve Bartman incident in 2003.
To put an end to the team’s “curses,” fans have organized a “Cremating the Curse” event on April 5, where fans bring memorabilia from those famous “cursed” incidents, and they are cremated and put in a Cubs-themed urn, according to a UPI story on Tuesday.
WARNING. MASSIVE DIGRESSION AHEAD.
See, I have a hard time reading one story online and moving along with my day. Another headline might grab my attention, and that story might reference something, which might reference something else, and before you know it — I’ve read 794 different stories.
And about two of them are related whatsoever to the first one I was reading.
For instance, I stumbled on a story that took place in Milan. I’ll just give you the opening line of the UPI story.
“An Italian porn star made an appearance at the Milan stock exchange in her skivvies to accuse financiers of ‘stripping Italians.’”
Let me tell you a little personal antecdote here. When I lived in Connecticut, a bunch of us from the newspaper I worked at went to the New York Stock Exchange just to enjoy the experience. Some extremely old guy from a non-profit organization took about two hours to stand up out of his chair and ring the closing bell, and he was greeted by a warm ovation.
Old guy. Italian porn star. Yeah, I made out pretty well there, huh? Actually, now that I think of it, I should be kind of happy the old guy didn’t peel away a long sweater to expose...
But I digress.
My next little find on the World Wide Web was an Associated Press story that ran in the Bismarck Tribune. Apparently, police cracked a real head-scratcher last weekend when they were able to piece together evidence to make an arrest.
Police said that a 27-year-old man was arrested after police found him passed out in the driver’s seat of his car. Actually, the car was in the drive-through of a restaurant, it was still running and his 4-year-old daughter was in the back.
Just for kicks, let’s throw in that he was also driving under a suspended license.
Sometimes you just want to smack people in the head, don’t you? Oh, forget it. Play ball!