Thursday, December 8, 2011

Love is in the air....

It was brought to my attention by some people that my last blog about the things I hate in sports was not only harsh, but depressing to some. I don't want people to think that I'm only about the here are some things that I love about sports, playing and watching them.....

My favorite baseball player of all time is Willie Stargell. Bigger than life (I was nine when the Pirates won the World Series, so he was even bigger) a leader and an all around nice guy. I was only two when Roberto Clemente died, so I never saw him play, but both of them have been an inspiration.

Blake Griffin - From the first shot he made as a pro, he is a joy to watch. And he seems like a stand up guy. The Clippers are lucky to have him and better do whatever they can to keep him.

Troy Polamalu - Yeah, he went to USC, but being a Steeler trumps that. Gives 100% and is a quiet, well manner thoughtful person off the field. I like Hines Ward too because he has always been a fighter, but I can see where people dislike him for dirty play.

...there is no sweeter feeling than making solid contact when swinging a bat (with a baseball or softball, not a body part). When you make that type of contact, it's like a surge goes all the way up your arms as the ball rockets off deep into the night. Also, making a three point shot or a perfect pass when playing basketball thrilled me as much as an adult as it did when I was 10.

I consider myself lucky I got to see the following players play live: Magic Johnson, Mario Lemieux, Ken Griffey, Jr., Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Elway (in college), Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Jr., Hakeem Olajuwon (college and pro), Frank Thomas, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, Larry Bird, Kevin Mchale, Jaromir Jagr, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Fernando Valenzuela, Dave Parker, Andrew McCutchen, Junior Seau, Ladainian Tomlinson, Charles Barkley, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Elton Brand and Sam Cassell (yeah, he doesn't really belong on the list, but he was so fun to watch off the court as well as on it).

Players I didn't get to see live but wish I did: Clemente (of course), Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Jack Lambert, (basically a lot of Steelers, who I would see at training camp, but I've never been to an actual Steeler game), Joe Montana, Dell Curry (he was my favorite player for a long time wow he could shoot), A lot of boxers (never been to a live boxing match), Macho Man Randy Savage (although I did see Polish Power Ivan Putski, which would make Jason Hoffman happy), Sidney Crosby, Pedro Martinez (although he gave me a piece of gum at an Angels game) and Earl Anthony (man that guy could bowl).

I've read a ton about sports When I was a kid, I would to to the library one block away from the house and get any sports books on the shelves (basketball, baseball and football basically). Some of my favorite sports books (fiction and non fiction) are:

The Breaks of the Game - David Halberstam
A Season on the Brink - John Feinstein
North Dallas Forty - Peter Gent
Ball Four - Jim Bouton
Semi Tough - Dan Jenkins
Instant Replay -Jerry Kramer
The Bronx Zoo - Sparky Lyle
Heaven is a Playground - Rick Telander
Loose Balls - Terry Pluto

And I got to read Jim Murray in the LA Times growing up. And now I get to read J.A. Adande.... :)

Sports movies - Caddyshack, Bull Durham, Raging Bull, The Natural, North Dallas Forty (again), Hoosiers, Rocky 1-3 and I'm sure a bunch more....

I got to play some sports with famous people, not often athletes, but a lot of TV and movie stars, which may be a good idea for a blog sometime, there are some good stories involved there.

I love talking about sports with my friends. Back in the day, it was a constant conversation, but thankfully, we've evolved and talk about a bunch of subjects, but we used to sit in a restaurant and talk for hours about all kinds of sports. A little sad, but fun.

I don't play any sports anymore. I stopped playing basketball about 4 years ago and softball shortly after that. I sometimes feel a twinge of regret and want to drive down to Lincoln JHS and play a couple games, but I wouldn't make it a couple trips down their much shorter court. I keep saying someday though and until then, I'll watch, and read and talk about sports until I'm old and gray, which shouldn't be too long from now.