Note: This column appears in the 2/7 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/8 issue of the Peoria Times
Of the many reasons why I moved to Arizona -- the weather, better cost of living, an adventurous new time zone -- none may be greater than this very moment right here, right now. As a sports fan, this is why I moved here.
As the rest of the nation recovers from its Super Bowl hangover, Arizona, ironically, being the Super Bowl host and all, moves right along. My favorite part about living here is that, from a sports perspective, everything simply segways into the next thing.
Let me be more specific. If I were back east right now, though still high off a Giants’ victory, I would eventually settle into a state of depression. Not only would I be brutally cold, chipping away at the frost and ice on my car’s windshield at 5:30 on a Monday morning, but I’d be miserable because February is traditionally the worst sports month. Football is over, baseball seems like a world away, the NBA and NHL are droning on in the merciless monotony of their regular seasons, the pinnacle of the college basketball season is more than a month away, and even the Masters can barely be seen on the horizon. Weekends would be spent looking for deals at Old Navy (buying a discounted bathing suit was always an instant pick-me-up) and attending various family functions that have specifically been scheduled so as not to coincide with major sporting events. (At which point my cousins, brothers-in-law and I attempt to revive the dead sports scene by making fun of the fantasy baseball draft picks we have yet to make.)
Not anymore. Take last weekend for example. On the eve of the big game, I found myself soaking in the sun, overlooking the seventeenth green at the FBR Open. On Sunday, we got together with friends to watch a Super Bowl that was being played just minutes away. And on a Monday morning that had typically involved three aspirin, a call-out of work, and the realization that the shortest month felt like the longest, I instead skipped and whistled my way to the office (not really -- I drove -- but still), looking forward to the next thing, which in this case, happens to be a celebrity baseball game we were able to score tickets for in Scottsdale this Sunday.
Ah, baseball. Back home, no term greater lifted the moods of those caught in winter’s wrath than “pitchers and catchers.” It represented a dream of greatness to come, and when pitchers and catchers did report, die-hard baseball fans like myself read about it, talked about it, and were happy. It’s a baseball fan’s Groundhog Day, and serves as a more gratifying example that spring is close. I even recall getting so excited about Spring Training itself, and then wondering why, as my own involvement in it was limited to brief and uninformative television highlights.
Here? Pitchers and catchers are a reality. Spring Training is a reality. They’re reporting here, to Peoria. To Surprise. To Mesa. (And next year, to Glendale.) Pitchers and catchers are reporting next Thursday, the concrete date of February 14th, Valentine’s Day. In fact, I may even express my love for my wife by taking her over to the Peoria Sports Complex to watch a handful of professional athletes stretch, and then throw a ball around for a few hours. I think she’d like that.
And then maybe we’ll head over to Old Navy. Just for old time’s sake.