By Flint Wheeler

Can we all take a step back for a second and thank the world of sports. Under the heading of, ‘Something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy’ I spent the better part of the morning at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Taking in the sights, I realized that there really aren’t any attractive people at the DMV. No one gets ready to go there, it’s never happening, and I’m safe in guessing everyone would rather be somewhere else. I noticed eyes down, body language slumping, lots of shuffling and mumbling. Reading people’s body language suggested they had just seen a box of kittens explode in the parking lot and were in their own way trying to make sense of it all. Then I realized, “Hey, I’m at the DMV. I can’t look like these people, I’m not miserable or unattractive and besides, I don’t really particularly care for cats.”

Searching for why I hopefully cannot be lumped in with what looks like the extra cast from “Beyond the Dead”. It was then it dawned on me, I had spent almost an hour on my phone going over strategies for my fantasy team, looking up odds on this week’s college and NFL games, reading about Lane Kiffin’s unceremonious firing from USC (what were they thinking in the first place). I was busy, engaged, in my own little world and in fact happy with the “down time” my trip to the DMV had given. Things were great. I realized I had the world of athletics to save me. I have the trials and tribulations of athletes and teams to break me away from the monotony that is the daily routine.

A quick look back gives pause for appreciation and re-enforces why we love the world of athletics.

-Mariano Rivera; in an era of the ME athlete, Mariano for 19 years has been nothing but a class act. It’s hard enough to do anything for 2 decades. Now be great at it and NOT give into the glamour and access to excess that is New York City. No off the field drama no cut throat contract negotiations. Rivera’s postseason records include most games pitched (96, Jeff Nelson is second with 55), most saves (42, Brad Lidge is second with 18) and lowest ERA (0.70, minimum 30 innings pitched). Rivera has appeared in 16 postseasons and has only been charged with multiple runs in two of them: 2000 and 2001. More people have walked on the moon then have hit home runs in the postseason off Rivera, in 19 years! Case closed. Mariano’s career very much exemplifies greatness. It’s gone now. Hope you paid attention.

-Tiger Woods; Okay, I hear you. He’s no Mariano Rivera off the field. And some would say his antics on the course have lots of room for improvement (see Tom Watson) but you can’t deny the fact that with Tiger winning this year’s player of the year award is like a warm blanket for golf. Golf isn’t the same in many respects with Woods not being one of the greats out there on tour every week. Woods captured five tour titles, and despite another season without a major, he managed to finish first in the all-around ranking and second in scoring average, and also stays ranked #1 in the world. He is the lightning rod for golf and crosses over as being an incredible athlete in the air of LeBron, Jeter, Manning and Kobe, what other golfer can do that?

-MLB regular season finally being over! The Major League Baseball season consists of 2430 games played for each of the two leagues, over approximately 180 days, with 162 games played per team. I’m tired of baseball from just typing that. Baseball to me makes NASCAR look interesting. If games were perhaps 2 hours it wouldn’t be so bad. Suggestions to make games go faster; Create a rule where every pitcher has to face at least 3 batters or even 2. Wait how about a minimum of 15 pitches, come on give me something! These specialty pitchers coming in to throw sometimes 2 or 3 pitches then being yanked for the next middle reliever, set up guy, closer, whatever. What happened to the days when pitchers were just pitchers? Oh and my favorite, Stop singing in the middle of the game! Really Major League Baseball, we’re to take you serious when at the start of every 7th inning you feel the need to break out into song like Gene Kelly from ‘52 classic “Singin in the Rain”? P.S. that was 1952, get with the times MLB.

There are so many other reasons to celebrate the sporting world, NFL is back in full swing, and Alabama is atop the NCAA Mountain as usual. We haven’t heard about Tim Tebow in at least (checking my watch) 72 hours. These are all fabulous reasons why life is good. So when you’re at the grocery store, in traffic, at the DMV, or doing anything that has to deal with in-laws, relax, exhale and thank the sporting world for creating balance and giving us all a reason to smile and enjoy life.

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