Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall Eases Pain

Fall might be the best sports season of the year. The air is crisp. Well actually its a little humid in Philly this weekend. There's excitement abounding for all the different sports that are starting and getting into the meat of their schedules. Summer is fading away and the its time to replace swimsuits with sweaters, beach weekends with tailgates and baseball with a myriad of other sports.

Baseball is winding down. And even though the playoffs will go into October, my Orioles won't be heading there. I can't say that I'm that upset. I'm actually pretty excited, they have already won 18 more games than I thought they would and since they play their last game today, it might be 19. And they kept me interested in baseball all the way until August, which is longer than most years. But still watching them fall apart in August is always hard. Its a pain that even though its completely expected, never really hurts less because you know its coming. And I'm ready to go from cautious to overly optimistic about my other sports teams and forget the pain the Orioles have inflicted on me once again. And now I'll have some time to forget about it so I can be excited for the heartbreak that will be next season. Though...if the O's could just get some healthy starting pitchers maybe we could be good, maybe even winning season good. See I'm already managing to forget this September.

Another thing about fall is that there's just some gut instinct that this is a time when things are supposed to happen. Yesterday was a prime example. It was just full of upsets in college football. It seemed like all the top 25 teams lost or when they played each other, the lower ranked team won. Even Maryland beat Clemson in an upset. It was completely unexpected and awesome. Maryland didn't really show up in the first half and it seemed like a lost cause. I'm pretty sure my head was in my hands every time Clemson had the ball, I really didn't want to watch them run all over my Terps. I mean, our best play of the first half came when a ball bounced of the shoulder of a Maryland player and being somehow caught by another Maryland receiver. It wasn't even a designed play that got us the most yardage. That's hard to watch. But in the second half something changed. The defense stepped up and suddenly Clemson was facing third downs (which they hadn't really had to deal with in the first half) and Clemson was punting. PUNTING!!! I don't think that happened in the whole first half. But I'm not entirely sure about that, like I said, I spent a lot of time staring at my hands. If you had told me after barely beating Delaware that Maryland would be 4-1 and have beaten two ranked teams at this time of year I would have looked at you quizzically and made some comment about you being overly optimistic. But hell, we could win the ACC, no one else seems to be rising to the challenge. Its a wide open race at this point. Now its completely possible that this team will also bring me pain. I mean just watching the first half against Clemson was excruciating, but we won in the end so its just a minor ache in hindsight.

Also helping me to forget the pain of baseball is the NFL. The Ravens are 2-0 and the defense is looking nasty. Pittsburgh's offensive line allowed Big Ben to get sacked 8 times last week. I'm thinking that he better get ready, because Baltimore loves nothing more than throwing the quarterback around. After two solid starts against terrible teams, the Ravens will finally have a chance to show they can be a contender against a solid Pittsburgh team. Tomorrow will truly be the time for Joe Flacco to step up. Despite the poor offensive line, the Steelers are still a team to be reckoned with, and playing them at Pittsburgh will be a tough challenge for Flaccos first away game. I'm hoping the Ravens bring their A-game and take control of the AFC North.

And as an added bonus hockey season has started. Well, its just preseason, but still. Now a few years ago, I couldn't have cared less about hockey. Then I moved to Philadelphia where people love their hockey. I have to give it to Philly, they love their sports teams, even if they do boo them mercilessly. But that wasn't enough to really sell me on the sport. I watched a couple games, learned a few terms and found out that Ovechkin is awesome, but didn't really pay that much attention. I mean that Caps were still pretty terrible and I can't really cheer for a Philly team and thereby be considered a Philadelphia fan. But then I met a guy who loved hockey. Wanting to be able to talk to him about the Caps and as a result impress him I started paying attention. Needless to say, things didn't really work out with the guy, but that's ok, because I developed a longer lasting and stronger relationship with hockey. It helped that the Caps turned the team around and made the playoffs. Now the season is starting up again and the Caps are 3-0. Hockey season is really long, but its always nice to start out winning. It'll probably be hard for me to watch a lot of Caps games up here in Philly but since hockey plays pretty much every night of the week, I'm sure I'll get a few games in eventually.

I'm even mildly interested in the NBA this year. Not that I'll ever go out of my way to watch a game. But Juan Dixon of the Maryland National Championship team was signed by the Wizards. And that is a move that makes me slightly interested and willing to pay at least a little attention to them.

Overall, I'm excited about the way things have been shaping up so far. And regardless of how all these seasons finish up, I'm happy to enjoy them now. It helps to ease the pain of the looming cold weather and the terrible September for the Orioles.