Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Odds ands Ends on Politics, Hockey & Baseball

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
June 2002

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…


  1. I sometimes watch racing for the wrecks and hockey for the fights. I haven't found a reason to watch baseball... maybe for the drugs.

  2. I have issues...with their being hockey teams in the south. As for your Red Wings comment, some of us are blue because our Toronto Maple Leafs aren't nearly as hot. I'm blue in a red state. Go figure.

  3. Long ago, we had a college hockey team. Heck, it snows and freezes here (we get more average snowfall than most northern states). Then it went away. And it came back.

    It is weird to me, though, that Phoenix has the Coyotes. The desert has a hockey team? It's so weird.

    I wrote about Bush's speech. I couldn't help it. It made me laugh.

    Have a great time at your conference!

  4. Well, what can I say that will sound *humble* when I'm here in Michigan and we are 'gearing' up for not only our Red Wing hockey team playoffs, but also our Deee-troit Pistons basketball team playoffs, both teams finished the regular season in first place with the most points and records broken.

    My poor hubby, he will suffer, I tell you, suffer 'cause I'm a "freak" when the playoffs start (which is this Friday with the Wings and can last for two months if my teams prevail).

    It was bad nuff last year when we just had the Pistons (hockey was on strike the entire year) and I freaked through every game only to be let down the very last game when the Pistons lost to the Spurs.

    So, I'm hopin' hubby and I survive the playoffs... 'k rant over. Hope I didn't go too overboard on your site, Sage! {grin}

  5. Just really wanted to say hello

    Was thinking last night that baseball--and basketball are the only two team sports I fully understand

  6. Ed, I got a chuckle out of the drug comment...

    Murf, as a lifelong Michiganer, why do you pull for the Maple Leafs?

    Dawn, the idea of a coyote on ice... that's a funny image, them sliding around. I laughed at your take of Georgie's speech.

    Karen, I knew you would be excited, but then, with your blog I don't have to read the sports page (except to see how bad the Pirates are playing)

    Pia, Thanks for saying hello!

  7. Good question, Sage. I'm not sure. I've always had a fondness for Toronto even before I ever visited. While I don't like the NBA, I even prefer the Blue Jays over the Tigers.