This is the greatest time of the year! Forget Christmas and New Years or any of that nonsense. This is it, right here! Football season is in full swing and baseball playoffs are kicking into gear; Football and Baseball, together at last! To the part of my brain that deals with sports (read: all of it), this is about as good as it gets.
The trouble is, I don't get much joy out of the "other" sports. I can smile during the Olympics, perhaps; I like anything to do with skiing because it affords me the opportunity to experience a several hundred foot vertical drop without risking my own life. And I will admit that I can't complain when any of the other hometown teams are doing well, such as the Bruins, Celtics and even, God help me, the Revolution. There is even a teeny bit of enthusiasm for golf when Tiger Woods is involved and is destroying the competition as a child burns ants with a magnifying glass. Nonetheless, all these other sports do not even come close to bringing the joy that baseball and football bring.
It all started with baseball. I have been a baseball player since I was a fetus (my poor mother), and thankfully so was my father. I was able to enjoy long hours in the yard playing catch and "pepper," which was basically catch with an increased risk of cranial damage. Soon, to my complete and utter shock, I discovered that there were actual people (real people, not super-heroes, like Batman) who got paid real money to play the game full-time. That would have been awesome enough, but I also discovered that they don't just get paid to play; they get paid zillions of dollars to play! Naturally, I immediately determined that this would be the line of work for me. Who could possibly pass up on the opportunity to get paid to play such an awesome game as baseball? All the other fools who had real jobs, such as human resources manager, postal worker, or President of the United States, were clearly (and I say this with the utmost respect for all those who are not the President of the United States) morons.
Of course, as I got older, I came to realize that pretty much every male that has ever lived since 1850, and a sizable number of the females, has wanted to play professional baseball at some point in their lives. The reason why most of these people did not accomplish that goal was because they came to the startling and soul-crushing realization that to become a professional baseball player you needed to be really, really, really good at baseball. If it were as easy to become a professional baseball player as it was to become the President of the United States, then there would be nothing for us to do in November except train for the next season and watch football.
And so I continued attending school despite my desire not to, just in case some terrible tragedy prevented me from making it into the "bigs," such as a career-ending knee injury or gainful employment. And I'm now nearly 25 years old. While I have yet to actually make the professionals in any capacity (even Rookie League), I am still holding out hope. I may have gone to "college" and now have a "job," but there is still a large part of my soul that yearns to play in Fenway Park. I gather that this is something that never goes away; I can imagine myself at the age of 85, throwing baseballs into a net (or, being 2068, some virtual-reality baseball simulation training device) at the frightening speed of 32 miles per hour. I will be risking serious and life-threatening injuries, completely ignoring the frustrated and angry shouts of my wife to stop being an idiot and come inside, all in the desperate hope that I will be ready should they change the allowable try-out age to include 85 year olds with an excellent change-up.
My interest in football came very differently. It started in my late pre-teen years. This was right around the same time that my male hormones kicked in and I started to develop an insatiable desire to hit things. Thankfully, proper rearing by my parents prevented me from ever unleashing my fury upon people and animals. And so the only outlet I had for my raging hormones that was direct, but entirely non-painful, was through watching football. Here was a sport entirely dedicated to having truck-sized men barrel into each other at the absolute fastest speeds they are capable of and it is completely socially acceptable! They try to pretend the sport is about something else by adding numbers and lines all over the field, and keeping "score," but we all know that the only real reason this sport exists is so that men can run around acting manly for a few hours each week.
I immediately fell in love with watching football. It was a glorious sport. I even played for one year in high school, and I was pretty good, except that I weighed about as much as a bag of popcorn and most of my teammates were the size of Buick's. I made up for the drastic difference in size by being completely insane. I would run into guys head first without even knowing if the guy had the ball. For all I knew I was hitting my own teammates, or the referee, or a cheerleader, or the school. It didn't matter; I got to hit something!
Tragically, during most of the year I can only enjoy one of these two sports at a time because they take place largely in different season. From November until February, I have only football. And from April until August, I have only baseball. It is only for the two glorious months of September and October that I get to enjoy both! Football pre-season and the first couple regular season games are suddenly fused together with the end of the baseball regular season and the post-season. It's heaven for a guy like me!
I am very thankful that I'm not the President. The world would be in a big heap of trouble every September and October if I were. I would probably let Iran invade all the way to Des Moine before I even noticed something might be wrong. Of course you have to remember that no other self-respecting male would notice, either. I can just picture all the women shrieking, "Honey, for the love of God, the Iranians are kicking down the door!" and all the men responding with "The Pats are on the forty with only two minutes to go, and the Sox game starts in fifteen minutes! I'll deal with it tonight."
It's important to remember that the current President is also a man. I suggest all the women be on the lookout for any tanks until the end of the World Series.
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