Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Sports best time is now
If you grew up at a certain time, nothing beats April and May, when everything (but football) is happening
If Sooner or Cowboy football cancels everything out, fine, I get it. The rest of the sports world doesn’t really matter to you and that’s great.
Too bad, but great.
Yet, if that’s not you, if you like a lot of stuff, a smorgasbord, you’ve just now entered the best two months on the sports calendar.
Thursday, I’m pretty sure, two things fell on the same day for the first time ever and if they didn’t, it sounds better if they did so just go with it.
Thursday marked the first round of the Masters — if you missed it, Tiger Woods, on the way back from a car crash that should have killed him, fired off a 1-under 71 and for all of Augusta National’s tortured moral history, that it’s managed to remain a par 72 track is an underrated and nice touch and, oh, yeah, not bad for a guy who’s fortunate to be alive just 13 months after his wreck — and opening day of the Major League Baseball season.
In fact, at this very moment, 11:55 p.m., writing in real time late on a Thursday night, on the television above my head, the Padres lead the Diamondbacks 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, nobody out, as Padre reliever Robert Suarez is being lifted after walking two and hitting a batter in a game that began with six no-hit innings from San Diego starter Yu Darvish, who was, alas, removed after 92 pitches despite the no-no remaining intact.
Yes, it’s a convoluted paragraph, but how cool is that?
Live, real-time update: Arizona’s Seth Beer, on National Beer Day if you can believe it, just ended the game at straight up midnight with a walk-off three-run home run.
You can’t make it up.
Where were we?
Ah, yes, the best time of the sports year.
If you can get past the awful politics in our state, the rest of April and the length of May are bonkers wonderful.
Here’s what you’ve got:
• Baseball season beginning.
• The entire length of the NBA playoffs, beginning April 16.
• The Stanley Cup playoffs, beginning May 2.
• The Masters, going right now and the PGA Championship, taking place at Tulsa’s Southern Hills, beginning May 19.
• The Kentucky Derby on May 7 and The Preakness on May 21.
• The first two levels of the NCAA softball postseason, regionals beginning on May 20 and super regionals on May 26.
• The Indy 500 on May 29.
• Today, Saturday and Sunday, all in Stillwater, the Bedlam baseball series … and, oh, by the way, though the Pokes are ranked No. 7 at 21-8, 5-1 in the Big 12, while the Sooners are a healthy 17-10 and 3-3, one of those victories a 7-6 triumph over OSU in a non-conference affair played March 29 in Tulsa.
Good stuff, right?
• All that and Thursday and Saturday of next week, in Fort Worth, the Oklahoma women’s gymnastics program will try winning its fifth national championship since 2014, while the Sooner men, on Friday and Saturday of next week, in Norman, will try winning their 10th national championship since 2002.
Perhaps it’s generational.
The 35-and-under set probably thinks it’s all about football, because, in season, hardly a day goes by without it.
The NFL plays three days a week and one of those days, Sunday, it’s on in three different time slots.
There are weeks in the college football season games are being played every day but Sunday.
Also, baseball’s playoffs and the opening of the NBA and NHL seasons fall into place, too, during football season, so how on earth aren’t October and November tops on the sports calendar?
Well, if you’re north of 50, you grew up with college football on Saturday and only Saturday, and for a while only a couple of games, and the NFL on Sunday and Monday and only very rarely on Thursday.
You also grew up, until WGN and WTBS came along with the Cubs and Braves, with just two baseball games each week, Saturday afternoon and Monday night.
If you wanted to fill your week watching sports in the late ’70s and early ’80s, you had to watch many different sports and because nothing was better than sports, you learned to love them all.
It’s why sports nerds of a certain age can tell you all about golf, tennis and boxing, 1975 to 1984, as well as baseball, football and, for some of us, hockey, too, because it was the best thing ESPN aired; not to mention the Triple Crown races, the Indy 500, once or twice a year Evil Knievel almost killing himself and the Canadian Football League, too.
Before Warren Moon showed up in Houston, many of us saw him win a bunch of Grey Cups as an Edmonton Eskimo.
Imagine, Wayne Gretzky and Warren Moon were lighting it up in the same city at the same time.
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Wait, I missed something.
If Thursday wasn’t the first day the Masters and baseball opened on the same day, it had to be the first day the Masters, baseball and the the NCAA’s Frozen Four all began together.
Denver topped Michigan 3-2 in overtime and Minnesota State dropped Minnesota 5-1 Thursday night in Boston. Saturday, the Pioneers and the Mavericks play for the national championship.
Would you believe the Wolverine team that lost to Denver included four of the top five picks in the most recent NHL draft? It’s not like there’s only 10 or 15 Division I programs, either.
And you thought Nick Saban was hoarding talent in Tuscaloosa.
Today, more MLB squads opened up, among them the Yankees and Red Sox, in the Bronx, after being postponed Thursday, New York prevailing 6-5 in 11 innings, newly acquired Josh Donaldson walking it off with a single up the middle.
Among the last blast from the past voices, Bob Costas had the call on MLB Network.
You can’t beat it.
It’s a great time of year.