I’m in my office, feet propped up on the desk, typing to the sounds of NPR and a little fan behind me.  I was the first to office for the second day in a row.  That’s rare. 

I used to be more of a morning person.  Actually, I still consider myself to be a morning person.  I’m just a bit frustrated.

You see, in Florence, it was easy to go to bed by nine or ten in the evening.  Our TV room wasn’t that big and it wasn’t really all that comfortable.  I don’t think anyone ever really preferred to hang out in our TV room.  That all changed when we moved to the ‘boro.

Now, the TV room is the bonus room (a completely stupid title for a room–a bonus is something you either get or don’t get based on knowledge or choice; it wasn’t like we weren’t going to get the room if we didn’t want it–I hate the way marketing preys on our intellect).  The bonus room is really comfortable.  It has a long, posh, leather-and-cloth sectional.  The lighting is low and yellow.  The chair I sit in is long, gold, and soft.

It’s like the room is a warm, soft bosom you don’t want to take your head off of.  It’s so hard to go to bed!

That’s only part of it.

When I was but a lad, it could hardly be said that I was sporty.  I wasn’t athletic, I didn’t like to play outside much.  Pathetic, I know.  I did, however, have a secret love for a few sporty things, though.

I was a Celtics fan.  My parents are from Indiana, I spent my high school days in Indiana, and who in their right mind couldn’t love Larry Bird and Danny Ainge.  It was a small obsession.

We watched playoffs and finals.  Every time the ball dropped it was like I was being validated.  I wasn’t sporty enough to play, but I was smart enough to like the right team.

So here we are several years later and I get to taste a bit of childhood when I see Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett (I met him once in Indianpolis when he played for the Timberwolves.  We were in a hotel gift shop.  He’s huge.), and Ray Allen pick up the torch and run like the fourth leg. 

I loved Celtics and Pacers NBA basketball, I loved Tennessee NCAA football, I loved Kentucky mNCAA basketball, and I loved Colts NFL football.

All of them pale. 

They all fall short of the glory of God in comparison to the real obsession. 

The diamond, the bags, the ball, the bat, the peanuts, the 7th-inning stretch, the no-hitters, the long balls, the tobacco filled cheeks, the manager/umpire shouting matches . . . I loved it all.  I love baseball.

As best I can tell, the first team I loved was the Braves.  My lifelong friend, Ashley, intrduced me to the incomparable (on and off the field) Dale Murphy.  Seven All-Star appearances and all sorts of leads in RBIs, ABs, runs, hits, EBH, etc.  He was a parent’s dream come true as far as sports role models.

Outside of the Braves, there are a few pictures of me in Reds gear. 

My first baseball game ever was a Louisville Cardinals game.  They’re not in Louisville anymore.  They moved to Memphis.  At the time, the Cards were the biggest thing in the Minors.  They once drew over 1,000,000 fans in a single season.  They played at Cardinal Stadium, the old one for U of L, before they built Papa Johns. 

I was addicted.  The lights, the noise, the loud beer man.  The colors were perfect.  I’d never seen such pure shades and well-lit uniforms.  I could feel the crunch of peanuts beneath my sneakers as I found my seat and I could smell the leather gloves on hands awaiting foul balls, and leather balls in the hands of children waiting for autographs of men who’ll probably never make it to the bigs.

Since then I’ve only been to a few more, but I think about one everyday.  While I’m watching SportsCenter or Baseball tonight I’m jealous of the people filling Wrigley, Turner, Great American, Pacific Bell, Camden, PNC, and the beloved Cathedral–may she soon rest in peace beside her much younger sister, Shea.

Now that baseball season is in full swing, now that the bonus room is as soft and inviting as a chesty woman, now that all these great childhood obsessions keep me awake at night watching All-Stars knock 28 homers in the first round of the Derby (Josh Hamilton, you’re truly epic!), it’s hard for me to be a morning person.  I’m late a lot.

Maybe I should switch to a morning SportsCenter.

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