12:19 p.m. - August 18, 2005
Why I haven’t written about sports in this here space.
The Smed they know is the Smed that used to be the multi-media event: Some sporting event on the tube, muted; book or magazine in hand, reading; stereo on, blasting righteous tunes. When asked, I knew the score of the game. Moose was always bemused and probably encouraged such behavior. Other visitors that came by our place were shocked and awed by the spectacle.
I stopped being such a multi-tasker out of deference to Liz. She really couldn’t handle the media overload and at times actually wanted to hear the announcers. However, thanks to the iPod I now can recapture the title of multi-media event, but the tunes are just in my head.
I am passionate and fervent about sports. I have been since I was a kid. One of my first memories was seeing Indiana beat Kentucky in basketball, 90-89, in 1971 (if I recall correctly – it was Bob Knight’s first year as coach). I remember receiving baseball cards in first grade, and was mesmerized not by the players, but by the statistics on the back.
I can recall watching the Summer Olympics in 1972 – not quite understanding the tragedy (but remember seeing Jim McKay) but avidly watching the competition. I vividly recall Frank Shorter, Mark Spitz, Olga Korbut, the US – Soviet basketball team, and this guy named Dave Wottle, who was a long distance runner that wore a funky hat and always came from way behind to win his races. And of course I remember Howard Cosell describing all of the boxing action. That man, right there, with a hard left hook.
I went to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 1973, and since then I have been a die-hard open wheel racing fan. Those of you may remember this piece on the Formula One Race that wasn’t: Debacle
And then there’s football, and hockey, and we can go on and on and on. Yes, even bowling. When I watch bowling Liz flees the room, shaking her head and muttering.
My first love has always been statistics. I devoured box scores of all the sports. I made up my own teams and players for the sole purpose of creating box scores for the games they played. I learned how to keep scorebooks by fifth grade and would always keep a book for any baseball or basketball game I was watching on TV.
Nature was not kind to me, though. I was born slow. Deathly slow. You time me with a sundial. And I make up for that lack of quickness by being of average height, and when I was a kid, I was very skinny. No speed, no size, no strength: You know, a real athlete!
I loved to play baseball and basketball, though. In baseball up until age 12 I was a good contact hitter. At age 13 they decided that curveballs would be thrown, and that was the end of that. In basketball I had a good outside shot (what Hoosier boy doesn’t) but I was too slow to be a guard and too skinny to play forward, especially in my high school class. But I soon found my own niche. Team manager. Actually, team statistician. So I did that in high school, got my letter jacket, and had a great time.
I often think that they modeled Oglivie from the Bad News Bears after me. I wonder if I can sue for residuals?
In college and afterwards, I stayed connected to sports teams. I did some announcing at the local radio station (and still do when the college station needs help), and was a stringer for the local newspaper for about 10 years. I joined the stats crew for the Indianapolis Ice (a minor-league hockey team) and later was the official scorer and head stats guy for them. (I gave that up when we became parents, though. Priorities).
I love almost all sports. I’m married to baseball – the pastoral game with all of its nuances and strategy (and stats…lots and lots of pretty numbers all in a cacophony that makes sweet music once you sort them out….mmmm…yeah..OH! OH! Sorry.). At times this summer I’ve flipped between three different games on the TV. Sadly, though, the Cubs (my team) have stunk like goatwater this year so there’s not much joy here. So I’m rooting for Oakland and City Mouse’s Red Sox and, in tribute to Rain Man, the San Diego Padres…Padres…San Diego Padres.
(You should have heard the lamentations at our house in 2003 during the NLCS. If I ever see Alex Gonzalez on the street – I’m going to slap him about the head and chest for booting that easy DP grounder. Even I could have made that play! Argh!)
I love college sports as well. Working at a college (my alma mater) – I bleed the Scarlet of the Little Giants. (Yes, it’s our nickname. A proud tradition – dating back to the aughts). I am the PA announcer for our football team (and have my own catch phrase that everyone says with me. “It’s another Wabash College…..FIRST DOWN!” and do the a lot of the stat work as well, helping out Sid. I’m taking Katie to a lot of the basketball games. (I stopped doing PA for the basketball team to take her to the games, but normally she just runs around with the other kids).
My geekdom totally manifests itself around college football and basketball. I personally have my own power ranking system (devised in my secret lab), so I know who the best and worst college basketball team or football team in the land is. If that’s not sad enough, I do this for both Division 1 and Division 3. So I know how bad Hiram College is in football and basketball, and I can pass that information along to you. I know you want to know that – I know you NEED to know that.
Coming up around March I’ll be issuing my supreme proclamations regarding the NCAA Basketball tournament, so all of those with bracket sheets you don’t want to miss those entries in this here space. I could make you rich – or poor. (I tend to pick with my heart, though…sigh…)
Liz is kind enough to let me indulge myself in sports watching each weekend (and on Monday Nights for the National….Football….League. Do-do-do-do!!!). Last weekend alone I watched parts or all of four auto races (since the NASCAR boys were on a road course, I watched them as well – I love me some road racing), three baseball games and a pre-season football contest. (Hey, I was bored). However, this means that during the week I’m a good husband – and besides sneaking peeks of some games I give into the power of Law & Order and other shows.
So there, I’ve written about sports. And I’ll write about sports some more, in the future. Let’s just hope the Colts don’t drink the same goatwater as the Cubs, otherwise I’m going to lose some cash to City Mouse this year. Damn Patriots! Stop winning, you!