Life’s pretty busy right now. In my spare time, instead of writing, I’ve been working on an index of my blogging posts. Stay tuned. I really was hoping Nevada Jack was going to feel up to satirizing the “Daddy remarks” that our President made yesterday. He sounded like a frustrated Dad tired of answering his children’s questions. Responding to queries about Rummie and crowd, he admitted he reads the front page of the newspaper (is that the only page he reads?) and that things are the way there are because he’s the boss… He also appointed Portman, the guy who did such a good job as our trade representative that he’s a Chinese national hero, as his new budget director. Boy do I feel that we’re in Allstate's hands… We can double the deficit again.
Okay, I’ve gotten that off my chest. I’m going to be in a conference for the next couple of days and not sure how much time I’ll have to blog, so here’s a piece I wrote back in 2002, when I had a newspaper column. Since the RedWings are hotter than auto sales, some of my readers—especially those from Michigan—might get a kick out of it. As for the Pirates, I’m rather blue. Maybe I should take up hockey.
Baseball is the Best Teacher
The Carolina Hurricanes made it all the way to this year’s Stanley Cup finals. I don’t know which surprised me the most: playing hockey in June in a state where the only ice to be found is in tea, or playing the game that far south of Canada, the traditional home of the game. As a native North Carolinian, I didn’t know my home state had a team. But the Hurricanes lost and, as God intended, the oversized silver cup went to Detroit, a city north of both the frost line and a portion of Canada (look at a map).
Exposure to hockey wasn’t a part of the curriculum for growing up in the South. I had graduated from college before the game broke the Dixie TV barrier. The first game I remember televised was the 1980 Olympic finals, when our American team defeated our archrivals, the Soviets. Glued to the television set, we were at the mercy of the commentators. But we didn’t care as long as we heard our national anthem played during the medals ceremony.
It was another six years before I had an opportunity to watch hockey again. By then I had migrated across the Mason Dixon line and was living in Pittsburgh. In the mid 1980s, the only things less active than the steel mills were the Steelers and Pirates. So the town rallied around the Penguins and their star player, Canadian Mario Lemieux. Out of sympathy for someone obviously clueless, a number of hockey aficionados offered to tutor me in the sport. I wasn’t a good student and never became a fan. Instead, I was drawn to the baseball diamond and, even though they were terrible, became a loyal Pirate fan sitting in the cheap seats, high above right field in Three Rivers Stadium, amongst the stars marking Willie Stargell’s long balls.
The good book tells us that for everything under heaven there is a time and a season. To this I would add, there is also a place. The time and season for hockey is winter and its place is north of the 39th parallel.
I am concerned about the encroachment of hockey into our southern latitudes. The idea of hockey being played in Raleigh is almost but not quite as absurd as it being played in Anaheim and Tampa Bay, two other warm-weathered cities that have teams in the NHL. At least Raleigh occasionally experiences freezing temperatures.
Hockey is too fast paced for me and, in that, mirrors our society. Life is fast enough. I like a game that forces me to slow down, not one that gives me whiplash as I try to keep up with a puck skimming across ice. Contract negotiations aside, our national pastime provides us an opportunity to take a breather. We watch pitchers dueling, runners stealing bases, and coaches scheming up sophisticated strategies while awaiting the occasional long ball to sail over the outfield wall. In this hectic world of ours, we need to relax. Baseball is a good teacher. Now if the Pirates can just get back above 500…