Lights

Standing in the middle of the field as a tepid breeze whistles in my ear, the sound of dirt and spit and discarded sunflower seeds crunching beneath my feet. The lights dancing off the chain link fence as 25-year old boys, mostly boys, run around playing like 5-year old boys with bloody knees and semi-inflated egos.

It’s my favorite place in the world to be. Not playing softball per se, but outside, under the stars with great friends and my wife watching and eternity on the horizon, just below the moon. How could it not be?

And as I marched around shortstop last night at our game, in between innings while girls speckled the air with their pitchy voices and those aforementioned boys loosened their muscles by waving bats over their heads I thought about how all of this is so very much like what I do every day with God.

See in softball, as is the case with most semi-sedentary sports, there are precious few seconds of live roll-the-cameras lace-up-your-spikes action. Most of time is filled with dirt being swept from side to side, gloves being smacked with balled up fists, and chalk dancing out of the straight line it was supposed to represent.

Most of the time you’re sitting there thinking, preparing for the 3-4 seconds of complete chaos that uncovers this truth about who you are as an athlete, as a ballplayer.

As extrapolations go, it’s a pretty good one, because I find my walk with God and my spiritual, if not actual, life to be much of the same. Hours of preparation and discipline equals success. But as is the case with both, one slip of the mind into something other than what is in front of me and poof, ballgame.

So how will it be? What is my priority? Can I focus on the day, on the moment? Do I have it in me to be humbled to the point that all I am is rigorously focused on that which is important?

The sound of metal on cork slices the air as my eardrums react negatively. The ball is rocketing up the middle of the field at a pace so frenetic I can’t even process it. I take one sharp step to my left, cross over with my right, and leave my feet…

I hope my mind was clear.

I hope I was focused.

Photo Attribution

Our Final Four Picks

Given the fact that Jen finished in the 99th percentile in our bowl picks contest I would probably pay closer attention to who she has than who I have…

Here are our Final Four picks with the reasoning behind each one. Happy March!

Kyle

Ohio St. – Best freshman duo in the country with Sullinger and Craft.
Kansas – Feeling it after storming through the Big 12 Tournament.
Duke – Their guards are ridiculously good and super-frosh Kyrie Irving is back.
Wisconsin – I changed this at the last second when I found out Kansas State’s star guard has the flu…

Jen

UConn – Because Connecticut is where Gilmore Girls took place.
Pittsburgh – Although she said she wouldn’t have picked them if she’d known people call them “Pitt.”
Kansas – Because I like Big 12 teams.
North Carolina – That’s where she wants to go on vacation this year…

So there are our picks, sure to fail on their own but probably pretty good when meshed together.

Enjoy the madness.

The New Seasons

Throughout my entire life I have encountered four seasons every year. Oklahoma isn’t crazy helpful for a lot of things, but it does have four pretty distinct seasons, and for that I have been grateful. Yet something happened when I chose to marry this man. Somehow the universe opened up and swallowed about nine other seasons whole. Enter: sports.

Sure you’ve got your main seasons- football in the fall, baskeball in the winter, baseball in the spring. And then, just as you think there’s a break in the clouds, summer intervenes. I initially (naively) believed that summer was a time off from organized sports. Everyone is out of school, no major sporting events happen to my knowledge, though the World Cup debacle from our honeymoon stands to prove me wrong. Alas, I have discovered that summer isn’t actually a time off from sports, but a season during which you can play any sport you want. Then there are seasons I haven’t quite figured out yet. When, for example, do tennis players stop playing tennis? Soccer seems to last all year. Then you’ve got golf, lacrosse, hockey, the Olympics… and probably things I don’t even realize my husband watches.

One of these seasons came to an end last night, and I must admit it hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I expected. It could be the fact that I’ve convinced him we don’t need a television (mostly because I don’t need a television) so that keeps our game watching (or at least our mindless game watching) to a minimum. For us, watching football this season usually meant being with friends at a tailgate or at their home. And from there, any sporting event looks a lot more enjoyable. I’ve learned the names of some players (three to be exact), learned some new phrases, and actually won money by picking bowl teams. I still haven’t figured out what a blitz is, though a girlfriend told me I should use the phrase during games to appear more knowledgable in football. I’m working on it.

So to these new seasons: I think I can live with you. But let’s keep the food and friends flowing- and may every game seem like merely a half.

[fb_like]

A Tale of Two Games

Last night we went to a Thunder/ Mavs game here in Dallas. We had a lot of fun and these were the highlights:

From Kyle:

I texted Jen at like 6:10 last night with something like, “hey, do you want to go to the Mavs Thunder game tonight?” I expected one of the following responses…

“Who are the Mavs?”
“No, tonight I’m introducing you to three new wines I discovered and we’re watching 7 Gilmore Girls episodes”
“I have better things to do than waste my time on sports events”
“?”

That’s it, that was my range of expectations.

Instead I got, “Yes, what time are we leaving.”

Whoa.

Not only was I going to get to see my man-crush of 5 years (Kevin Durant) but my wife was willingly subjecting herself to finding a parking spot, scalping tickets, and sitting through 150 minutes of basketball? As the kids these days like to say, boo-yah.

So we made the 6-minute drive to American Airlines Center, couldn’t find parking, and ended up driving around for 20+ minutes looking for a free spot. At this point we’re already 10 minutes late and still don’t have tickets. All I could think was “Durant is probably 7 buckets into a 50-point night and I’m going to miss it.” I was seething. We ended up parking illegally at a bank and I started borderline sprinting for the arena as Jen proceeded to grab my arm with her hand and walk at a pace that would make Betty White look like Usain Bolt. “My hands are cold!” she said, “Durant is playing!” I replied. Marriage! It’s awesome!

We finally arrived at the stadium (after I almost got smoked by an SUV) and Jen even helped me scalp a pair of terrible tickets. Much to my chagrin (and her delight) the game hadn’t even started when we walked through the doors. So we climbed Everest made our way to our seats and settled in for a fun night of hoops and chatting.

You have to understand, watching a sporting event with Jen is like playing Russian roulette with an encyclopedia — I never really know what she’s thinking or what she’s going to say. Seriously, I’ve heard everything from “that [running back] looks a lot like Zacchaeus” to “seriously Kyle, athletic departments are like the government — they collect all the money made by the football teams and redistribute it to the teams that don’t make any money.” A profound statement for sure, especially coming from someone who, 5 minutes after the game ended last night said, “did we win?”

From Jen:

1. The American Airlines Center is only 5 minutes from where we live. Major score here. It meant no late night driving for Kyle while I sleep in the passenger seat on the way home.

2. I had my first run-in with a scalper. I actually talked back to a guy with a mouth full of solid gold. I have no idea what got into me (the only people I’ve ever talked back to are my parents and my husband), but Kyle’s going to start wearing bulletproof gear when we venture out onto the city streets at night.

3. There were two mass exoduses; one during halftime and one with 5 minutes left. During the first, we looked around and noticed a half-eaten bag of peanuts under the seat above us. We started sneaking them out one at a time, but as time went on, I realized the peanut owner wasn’t coming back. So I snatched the whole bag. This was really fun until Kyle got nervous and started looking around for the police or a lightening bolt. He never does anything wrong. He’s like Tebow. He makes perfectly good peanuts taste like sin.

4. I really loved getting to hang out with my husband. He lets me make fake sports references and people watch all I want, and he even lets me buy cotton candy when I grovel and beg.

I know you’re picturing me twiddling my thumbs and eyeballing peanuts all night, but I really enjoyed watching the game. I even yelled out a “Get the rebound!!!” with 4:34 left in the 4th quarter and threw up a fist pump for a KD dunk.

Cheers and Thunder up!

[fb_like]

Football Season…as a Married Man

Well my perspective has changed, marriage and such. As a mid-20s single “adult” male the first week in September used to mean 18-weeks-too-soon in-depth Heisman analysis. It used to mean watching College Football Live so much I actually wanted Lou Holtz to have a medical “accident” debilitating enough for him to not be on the air anymore but not serious enough to threaten his life. It used to mean waking up at 9 AM, riding my bike with my friends to our tailgate, and not riding it home again until at least 9 PM. This year? Things are a little different…

The 5 reasons I’m fired up for my first college football season as a married man (in reverse order of course):

5. Waking up at 11 AM for the obligatory Wisconsin vs. Northwestern game on ESPN2. I’m excited for this because I can’t wait to watch two unathletic Big 10 teams that have a 293:4 run to pass ratio “battle” to a 9-6 “thriller.” I’m also excited for this because I know my new wife of 3 months will faithfully cook and serve me smoked Brazilian sausage and freshly imported Norwegian eggs for breakfast as I turn my body into a corpse and stare at games for 19 straight hours.

4. Road trips to Stillwater to watch OSU go 7-5 for the 29th year in a row (I just erased the Bob Simmons years). I can’t wait to hear things like the following:
“Ugh, Weeden’s eyes just aren’t as pretty as Zac’s were, do we HAVE to go to this game?” “Jen, he has 29,302 passing yards through 4 games…let’s cut him some slack.”
“Wait, why are there eleven teams in the big twelve next year?” “Um, because Nebraska hates the forward pass and wants to run the ball a hundred times a game with the likes of those Big 10 teams I mentioned in #4.”
“Is there going to be food this time?” “Yes Jen, there’s always food.”
“How old is Gundy this year? He has such weird hair.” “I know he does, and he’s 43, let’s get over the “I’m a man”  thing, please.

3. Because we’ll undoubtedly have the “will you choose your love for me and take me to Canton for antique searching or your love for this barbaric event of sport and stay home and be numb all day?” conversation. And I’ll probably feel bad and give in and while I’m gone Ryan Mallett will throw for 900 yards as Arkansas beats Georgia in 9 OT in the greatest college game of all time and Jen and I won’t talk for 2 days. The part I’m looking forward to is 10 years from now when we look back and laugh about it (although mine will be one of those nervous “nobody knows if I’m a lunatic or not” laughs because I’ll still be a little bitter about it).

2. Conversations like this:

Jen: “Why are you holding a magnifying glass up to the computer screen so you can illegally watch Villanova and Miami (OH) play a meaningless game in September?”
Me: “Because I’m in a fantasy football keeper league and there’s a guy ‘Nova has that I might want to draft next year. I’m checking him out, is that a problem?”
Jen: “I thought you had your draft for that yesterday”
Me: “I did but my team stinks so I’m already looking forward to next year.”
Jen: “You’re already giving up, that’s awesome. Didn’t that cost us $40?”
Me: “Yeah…sorry…except that I’m not since you DON’T HAVE A JOB!”
Jen: “That’s mature, that was my CRAFTING MONEY FOR THIS MONTH!!!”

I promise we’ll have that conversation at some point this season. Promise.

1. We live 10 minutes from the Cotton Bowl. You can bet your fried stick of butter we’ll be killing the Texas State Fair that weekend. I’d rather stab myself in the forearm than go to that game and cheer from either team but we’ll probably eat our weight in fried foods. Can’t wait.

My Picks:

Title Game: Florida over Boise St. (that pick is about to get real on Saturday when Boise plays VT…oh and John Brantley is a better QB than Tebow…yeah, I said it)

Heisman: Jake Locker, Washington

[fb_like]
Photo Attribution

Why Girls Look Forward to Football Season

We’ll be doing a little 2-part college football “preview” today and tomorrow on the blog. I say “preview” because it’s basically nothing more than a snapshot into both of our (sometimes disturbing, usually entertaining) perspectives of sports. Without further adieu, 5 reasons I (as a girl) am looking forward to college football:

1. Looking Cute – As a twenty-six-year-old married woman, I’m a little bit past this stage, though some would debate if I ever actually took part. But I’ve seen other girls do it, so here goes. Football season means dressing up in your school colors with as many cute accessories as your earlobes, neck, and wrists can handle. For those from the south it means cute dresses with cowboy boots, big curly hair, and anything you can find in direct contrast to the game of football itself. It means sitting with your girlfriends and talking about anything but sports, or sitting by the cute boy you have a crush on and pretending (or not having to pretend) that you need him to teach you everything he knows.

2. Cookouts – Otherwise known as “tailgates,” this tradition finds many a girl cooking up her favorite meal for the boys or, again, talking with her girlfriends about anything but sports. It marks the beginning of a new season (I’m talking autumn, not football) and enjoying the out of doors and the clean, crisp air. It means new possibilities (no, not for the Heisman- don’t kid yourself) and a time where friends and family trump everything else. The holidays are approaching, and with them, another new year full of opportunity and blessings. Fall is great indeed.

3. Perfect Weather – There’s the old saying about the “fair weather fan,” but I, my friends, am truly a fair weather fan. My body can only enjoy football when the temperature finds itself between the degrees of 65 and 75. Anything beyond that on either end of the spectrum and I’d rather watch indoors. Or sometimes I’d be okay with not watching at all. This leaves me with about two games per season that I can enjoy without complaining. Which means two games that Kyle can enjoy. Period.

4. Boys Being Boys – Yes, we roll our eyes when you try and throw the football further than your friends and get it stuck on top of a campus building, but we secretly find it kind of cute. We make you behave in public every other day of the year, and this is the one time we can let you be yourselves. It’s actually pretty fun to watch you run around like children and rattle off sports stats, even though we tune them out. So enjoy it. Because as soon as we get in the car, the fun is over.

5. Football Players – Yes, we notice them. Usually only the quarterbacks because they’re on T.V. the most and they get the ball every play. And because they’re the cutest. We may pretend we don’t care about football, but sometimes the quarterback is the only thing that gets us through the game.

My picks: (I just looked at Kyle and said, “What am I picking?)

Title Game: Alabama and LSU. I have no reasoning for this. But LSU will win.

Heisman: Brandon Weeden. Because he’s literally the only football player I know this season. And I probably would have misspelled his name if I hadn’t looked it up. See #2. I’m my own worst nightmare.

[fb_like]

Photo Attribution