Column: "The Sports Trail": Are the current cold waves crazy this time of year -- or is it us?

Thursday, May 5, 2005

HOLY COW it's cold! What is going on? This is May, and I'm supposed to be riding to work on my motorcycle in a T-shirt. Instead, I'm still hooking up the electric vest Alice bought me for Christmas and wearing it underneath my winter coat.

How cold is it? Even my cats don't want to go out. You know, the two fuzzy fat boys who were lounging in the sun on our decks during those 70- and 80-degree days. Couldn't get them to come in, at all.

Now they lie down in front of our woodburning stove and meow pitifully as they look expectantly at the wood box. They haven't had to wait long, I can tell you.

Weathermen ramble on about highs and lows, odd cold fronts, and unusual warming of our oceans as causes for this kind of weather. But I know better. It's because it's baseball season!

I have friends who should know me better that invite me to go to Baum Stadium at the University of Arkansas to see the Razorbacks play. It is a great stadium and really quality baseball, but I'll wait until the high school All-Star games in late June. Then I can sweat a little bit.

I know the little fellows are playing games now, and can't imagine taking elementary-age students out in this cold after a long day at school. Wait until summer, I say.

Parents that work inside all day long either freeze to death at late evening games, or they use two sets of clothes, one indoor, one arctic.

Talk to them about it and they'll say, "Oh, we're baseball parents. We can take the cold."

Take the cold? We're talking baseball here, not polar plunges through ice-coated streams like a bear. What happened to the Boys of Summer?

Truth is, baseball isn't really a summer game any more. Even if a young person stays on a team that plays during June, July and August, they start practices in March, April or May.

I'm not so sure the weather has changed, or whether sports seasons have changed the most and we just haven't noticed. March, April and May in this area have always had cold days and nights this time of year.

Every baseball season I take pictures of parents huddled under blankets while wearing hooded winter coats. Then we get the 4th of July games, where people are melting like butter. Is it just my imagination or are the summers hotter now?

You know what I mean. When your car's air-conditioning will barely keep up, even when going full blast; when your every thought is focused on finding a shade tree to park your car; when frozen food and drinks at fast food businesses become your best friend.

What is going on with sports now?

Well friends, sports have become year-round in this modern time. Not so years ago, before air-conditioning, before endless games and schedules, before seasons blended together.

In the old days, it was football and such in the fall, and when it got cold we went inside for basketball. Track had some cold days in the spring, but baseball didn't start until school was out.

It also quit before the waves of heat in July and August. Makes you wonder if modern sports have really improved any, or if we're just not as smart about it any more -- or as tough.

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