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Entry date: 4-3-2022 - Sports stuff (or "I don't care much anymore) - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

What a disappointing loss for the Suns on Friday night. It’s been bumming me out ever since. This would be a very unpopular opinion if I were to post it on some of the NBA message boards I follow, but I think the Suns have been figured out by the other good teams in the league. I hope the coaching staff can adjust their approach to how the team meets and, hopefully, dismantles a stifling defense like the Grizzlies showed.

To make matters worse, the Grizzlies were down four starters and the Suns were (almost) fully healthy. Uggh. This is why I’ve been slowly disengaging myself from being a sports fan. The stress is terrible. I think the Suns are the last team I’m still emotionally invested in anymore.

I grew up a big sports fan. There are pictures of me when I was just a tiny dude wearing a Suns shirt. I’ve loved that team as long as I can remember. When I was in grade school, my dad bought a share of some season tickets, and we went to a lot of games at the Madhouse on McDowell. My grandfather, Tom, would go with us a lot and I would alternate sitting with my dad in our seats and sitting with my papa in the wheelchair section.

We would often go down to the stadium early so I could collect autographs (all of which I still have). When the players were done with their shootaround, they would sometimes sign things for the kids who were there, and occasionally, they would even talk to us a bit. It was really thrilling. I was lucky enough to stand next to most of the great players of the mid-to-late 70s and early 80s and see all of them play in person.

As I got older, and the Suns started to suck in the mid-80s, I stopped going with my dad. I’m not sure how long he hung onto the season tickets. He may have even gotten rid of them before I moved out of his house. Now that I think of it, I’m certain he did. The Suns, though, have always just seemed like a part of my life.

Baseball was my other huge love as a kid. I could tell you all the stats and I bought baseball cards with my allowance or if my dad was feeling generous when we would stop at Circle K. We listened to the Dodger broadcasts on 620 KTAR on the AM dial as much as possible. I bled Dodger blue until the Diamondbacks came to town. I thought it would be hard to switch my allegiance, but it wasn’t. The Diamondbacks belonged to us.

But it was fun following the Dodgers when I was a kid. In those days, teams tended to keep their starting lineups intact for a while. Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, and Ron Cey were the Dodgers infield for eight seasons in a row. My favorite player was Dusty Baker, who is know the manager of the Astros, and he played left field. I got to meet him once and it was amazing. It feels like I’ve written about that already. I really need to spend a minute at some point and make a list of all the stories I’ve told so far.

At some point I’m going to tell you the story of the dice baseball game I invented as a kid. In many ways, it allowed me to have an even closer relationship to the game of baseball than anything else. All I will say now is that being an only child made me a lot more creative than many of my friends seemed to be when I was still under, say, fourteen.

I followed baseball for a long time, though, but I don’t really follow it anymore. I refuse to give money to Ken Kendrick, who owns the Diamondbacks. For one thing, they are one of the most boring professional sports teams in the world over the past five or so seasons. They won’t or can’t pay for the type of talent that Jerry Colangelo brought in here and won a World Series with in 1991. The other thing is that Kendrick supports people like Lauren Boebert, the congresswoman from Colorado, so I can’t support him.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Fenway Park in Boston a few times over the past decade, so I’ve switched my allegiance to the Red Sox. I don’t really follow them, though, other than in a cursory manner. I watch the occasional Sox game when we are in Maine, and I’ll always take an opportunity to go to Fenway. It really is a magical place. Even if you’re not really a baseball fan, I highly recommend visiting it if you get the chance.

I support the Arizona Cardinals football team to an extent and often watch their games, but I care less and less each year. I grew up an Oakland Raider fan, but similarly to when the Dbacks got to Phoenix, when the Cardinals got here in the 80s, I started following them and stopped following the Raiders. I’ve been a three or four Cardinals games over the 30+ years they’ve been here, so that shows you my level of interest. I think I’ve been to more Arizona Coyote games in that span and I could care less about hockey.

Like many of you, I just find it harder and harder to relate to the games and the athletes involved. I appreciate athletic talent, but it’s baffling to me that these folks are paid what they are paid. Good for them, I suppose, and I don’t think they should be denied the money they make if someone is willing to pay, but it is kind of ridiculous. I suppose football is the exception, in my opinion, to this because of the toll it takes on the player’s bodies.

Part of me hopes that sports will become inspiring to me again. Maybe when I’m even older than I am now and have a bit more time on my hands. We shall see. I may even write some sports stories at some point. That’s way more interesting right now than watching anything other than the Suns.

See you tomorrow.

Dusty Baker and I in the early 1980s. Photo by Tom Sr. This picture will come up again in other stories.

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