Friday, September 25, 2015

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

The other night I was thinking about the things I didn’t like about fall and I realized that last fall was possibly the greatest overall sports season of my life.  Almost all my teams did something amazing, it could scarcely have been more fun for me in the sports I played and there were so many moments which just made me proud to be a fan of sports in general.
                I don’t think I can talk about when things started getting better w/o adding how my signing on with Reading Corps and having something to go to every day, as well as a legit source of income, made me feel better overall.  But there were also a couple other endeavors which probably contributed equally to that feeling.  When Tom L. asked me to sub for his Fall League team.  And even though I hadn’t been invited to a team since high school, I just went out and had fun, not worrying about results.  Why would you when you’re a sub, anyway?  Then they made me part of the team and it was one of the most fun seasons I’ve had in anything for a while.  On top of this, I played a little pickup soccer, another thing I wasn’t afraid to throw myself into, given how the last year had gone.
                And once again The Big Hrbowski was in the Monday night RanHam League, which despite my continued improvement, I think, could probably be characterized as a disappointment.  As I’ve pointed out so much, one of the great things about being on a bowling team is all the things you can tinker with to get your team playing well.  The names, the music, the order, the balls, the amount of beverages. The problem last fall was that we were usually the only ones bowling on any given week, and rarely even saw the appearance of an opponent in another lane.  A couple times they had overbooked the alley as well, which pushed us back to where we just said Screw It and left.  But this year they’ve got new pin setters and we’re gonna do it right![i]
                Fall is when the best sports happens, IMO, and even beginning with the sports I wasn’t as invested in, it was amazing.  Being able to watch the Royals for so long was pretty amazing.  Yost is a terrible manager, so every time they advanced, it was all the more incomprehensible.  I loved the Wild Card game, and I would say I was rooting for them in that game, and in the playoffs after that.  But Game 7 couldn’t have been a more perfect cap.  The Royals and Yost did Royalsy, Yost-y things (bunting with one out, head-first slides into first) and made me kinda hope they lost. But then Gordon hits it and starts running at the very end and there were then always going to be what-ifs.  And even though the Twins weren’t in it, we got to watch former Twins be heroes, such as Josh Willingham and “Boom Goes the Delmon-ite” Young. [ii] This year, we’ve still got the Twins in the playoff chase and it’s now going to be really fun!
                Meanwhile, my Sounders, in the first season I really got to watch all their games, had one of the most excited final stretches of the season and came home with the Supporters’ Shield, aka Regular Season Championship.  Between that run and the playoffs, which ended against the hated Galaxy, I finally felt what it was to have a winning soccer team.  Meanwhile, closer to home, the Loons were doing even cooler things!  And losing in even more heartbreaking ways.
                John and Steve and I went to probably the coldest soccer game I ever hope to go to[iii] at the National Sports Center in November for the semifinal of the NASL against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.  It ended up having the most controversial ending I’ve seen, when the Strikers got a goal originally ruled offsides allowed in the final minutes to send it to extra time and eventually beat the Loons on penalties.  We ran into one of the leaders of the Dark Clouds, Raj, at the Riv later that winter and commiserated that abomination with him a little bit.
                And yet, having a good time at a cold, outdoor football game was still in the cards.  There have been a lot of good decisions my family made regarding Packers tickets in the past couple years. My mom trading tickets so we can have Gold Package games in the newly sheltered south end zone has worked out very well.  So has getting canvas bleacher-attaching folding seats. Both those helped Mike and ‘Eye even further enjoy the Packers’ trouncing of the Eagles later in November on their way to getting a first-round bye.
                And around that time, another out-of-state football team started their own improbable run.  When Ohio State’s QB went down the game before the B1G ‘ship, they didn’t think they had a chance.  But Then Cardale Jones turned out to be the best QB they have.  As in, they had potentially the three best QBs in the B1G.  That’s when even Katie got really interested in the new Playoff.  Which became absolutely the right move for the FBS. S-E-C! S-E-C!  Already ESPN’s getting excited about who every one of the conference teams won (because that’s difficult in the outta-conference week), and they have 10 teams in the top 25.[iv]  All I know is, as long as the Buckeyes play in Ohio and Urban Meyer is their head-coach, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.

[i] Update: TBH is not going to happen this year at this point, unless we can get at least one more person who can commit full-time- Any takers?
[ii] Story: we’re watching the deciding game of the Orioles’ Division Series at Ol’ Pickety when Delmon comes to the plate, bases-loaded, down 1. Bebop says what we’re all thinking- “Don’t throw him a first-pitch mistake”- and he immediately hits a double.
[iii] Besides maybe the Snow Game.
[iv] Though, again, they still have to play each other, so I’m pretty sure it’s just not going to stay that way. And I also feel like coaches are notoriously power-conference-biased.