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Things We Miss Most in Sports

April 13, 2014
Now that the Olympics have come and gone, we wait two years for the next cycle to sweep the world for a few weeks. Honestly, I won’t miss the Olympics. I enjoy them when they are here but am content to send them on their merry way when the time is right. There are several things in sports that I do miss…
When Home Runs Mattered…There was something remarkably romantic about the 1998 home run race between McGwire and Sosa, but those moments merely punctuate one of baseball’s most exciting eras. Home runs used to be special. When a player belted a ball beyond the wall, fans celebrated with pure joy or watched with sheer amazement. Turning around a 97 mph fastball into a laser to souvenir city? Hanging back on a nasty curveball and depositing it into the second deck? Humans just can’t do that sort of thing. No no…but Major League Baseball players can. Now, while we celebrate home runs, we leave room for doubt, too. And, even if you don’t, someone else does so the ability to bask in amazement with your friends is lost–they just shoot you down and blame it on the alco–scratch that, the steroids. Record chases? Stale or unreachable. The Hall of Fame? In shambles. Statistical information? Scrambled…forever.
Theme Music…Nothing will ever top NBC’s NBA Theme Song. Sunday afternoons…1:59…almost here…2:00…bam! It plays. Marv Albert gives his intro and his tease. Highlights encompass the screen. It takes me back to some of my earliest and most cherished basketball memories. And for everyone’s sake, the Knicks were good and not some circus of a franchise (then again, Sportscenter overkill wasn’t nearly as prevalent then, either). The Olympics brings it back every four years, but not nearly enough…Unfortunately, ESPN’s NHL Theme Song doesn’t make its way around at all. Nothing like the game preview on Sportscenter with the song providing the energy as the anchor dabbled in hockey talk by acknowledging the picture of each team’s marquee player on the screen. And then for games, the song’s slow pacing resembled a crowd slowly rising to their feet in wonderment and appreciation of the game before them. I miss a great Gary Thorne goal-call montage with the beat in the background.
Sportscenter…I still enjoy the show and the current crop of anchors, but I miss the crew from the show’s glory days. Unceasing in its popularity, Sportscenter remains the world’s most popular sports program so this isn’t a knock on how they do things, as unpopular as their decisions tend to be. However, I miss Kenny Mayne, Charlie Steiner, Dan Patrick, Keith Olberman, and Stuart Scott when they ran the rodeo. Their personalities added so much to common highlight, all the while maintaining a high level of effectiveness in relaying the news, both heavy and light.
I also miss the traditional highlight. If you’re team isn’t very good or in a major market, good luck getting any love on the show. Even in rapid fire mode like days of old, Sportscenter fails to cover a lot of games because…well…they just don’t matter. From a business side, I get it. From a nostalgic side, I resent it. And now that hockey is no longer married to ESPN, neither is Sportscenter. That’s on the NHL, though, not on “The Worldwide Leader.”
Ken Griffey Jr….For my money, no one was better than “The Kid.” He played the game with such supremacy and force, yet, hidden by his elegance and grace. Dubbing someone as a “Five-Tool Player” became more common than a Taylor Swift breakup song, but Junior was truly fit the bill. Along with Derek Jeter, Griffey is one of the few superstars of his era who appear free of steroid assistance. He had tremendous hype…and he exceeded it. His injuries typically came from hustling. His comeback reminded us how special he was. Despite those, he still hit 600+ home runs, but would have topped Hank with health. The smile, the backwards hat, and the home runs that traveled overseas…the defense, the speed, the slide versus the Yankees…All that was great about baseball.
When Tiger was Tiger…Whether you loved Tiger, hated Tiger, or were indifferent, golf was better before he became damaged goods. Even if he wins another major or two or three, the narrative has angled so far South with his troubles off of the course. He’s no longer some invincible figure whose mystique is equal parts built on his dominance as it is his path to getting there. But to think these revered athletes are all model citizens is just setting up for failure, however, Tiger’s bullet train towards Jack Nicklaus’ major record has been derailed and its now, at times, sad to see his individual major tournament efforts get derailed by poor performances.
Red Wings vs. Avalanche vs. Stars (NHL)…That’s the league I grew up watching: Bloody faces, remarkable saves, shock-rearing slap shots, and, the aforementioned Gary Thorne. I’m convinced the talent on these three teams was enough to take on the rest of the league…or the world. The intensity when these two teams met made us forget about the “It’s just game 36 out of 82” axiom. And when they met in the playoffs, which they did often, the intensity exploded from out of their respective venues. Seahawks games might be loud, but they did they really top a playoff hockey game those very seconds after a goal was scored? No way. And there’s no way a North American sporting event matches the tautness that exists in a tie game late in the third–or, better yet, in overtime–as a slap shot is blasted towards the net, screaming with the intensity and potential to create ecstasy or outrage. Or, the slow-motion intensity as a loose puck caroms to a stick with an open net beckoning his attention as defensemen scramble to obstruct his clear path for the kill, and the goalie scrambles to cover his exposed real estate. Will the puck find the red light district or will its efforts be stymied?
Exclusivity of Being There…I love the evolution of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, among other platforms. And there is a depth to that favorable taste, too. But, even though I like Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” it doesn’t mean that I can’t temporarily resent how its popularity lessens its appeal, for a period of time. No longer is the era when you can go to a game and then share great stories of what happened that the camera didn’t capture, because social media has become that all-inclusive camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love that it helps connect those who can’t afford to attend the increasingly expensive sporting events, but I do miss the value of being there.
Being a Kid Who Loves Sports…As much as I can, I try and replicate this feeling. But as I have gotten older and my work helps me dig deeper and deeper into the sports world, this task becomes near impossible. I’m referring to, more than anything, the excitement behind going to a game. Most of my trips were made with my dad–making it all the more special, by the way, and for that I am thankful–and the anticipation and excitement often made even activities of enjoyment pass by with the pace of a tortoise. Finally stepping into the venue and breathing the breath of a sports fan–feeling the concourse fill up with chants and music and opinions and quiet fervor. However, no matter how tough it is to replicate the freshness of those youthful emotions, I vow to never take my unwavering passion for sports for granted. There just isn’t anything greater…
WITH THAT SAID
One thing I don’t miss is finding the ability to put on a great shirt that makes people laugh because I can’t miss something I haven’t lost. Thanks to Awesome Sports Logos, there are plenty of options that fill those criteria. For instance, get ready for your summer concert experiences with an Austin Weirdos t-shirt. It is a perfect shirt that provides subtle humor while still fitting the part of that of someone ready to either rock out or just relax.
And get ready for baseball season in a Bob Uecker-esque way with a Middleton Fingers awesome t-shirt, designed in the model of the Milwaukee Brewers’ logo. You can tell your friends how you really feel about them pawning the bill off on you because they “forgot their wallet”…
That’s it for now, thanks as always for your support of Awesome Sports Logos!
Jared Sandler
Awesome Sports Logos Columnist
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