Good-bye, Hello

We’re just finishing up the very best week of spring.

Best not because of the greening grass or the flowering forsythia or the potted purple pansies awakening from their winter hibernation.  Best not because the air is warmer and the sunlight stronger and the wind no longer cruel. I love the first week in April best because one of my favorite sports reaches its climax just as the other starts anew.

As all college basketball fans know, March Madness doesn’t end in March. It doesn’t even get started good until the end of the month when the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games are played. Six nail-biting days later, the Final Four do
battle. Those games were played yesterday. And– because my column deadline
came on Thursday–as I write this, I don’t know who won.  But I do know that I’ll be watching every minute as the two teams who came out on top vie for the National Championship tomorrow night.

In the meantime, the National Invitational Tournament reached its climax and the NCAA women’s tournament headed for the finish line.

As if trying to keep all those basketball dates and times and channels straight
wasn’t enough, the Major League Baseball season started.  My Atlanta Braves trotted out their players, few of whom I recognized, on a balmy April Fool’s Day evening and beat the Phillies 7-5.

Former third baseman Chipper Jones threw out the first pitch. With his retirement, none of the 1995 Braves—the team that won the World Series–are left. Fred McGriff and Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser with Chipper in the infield. Ryan Klesko and David Justice and Marquis Grissom and playing outfield. Javy Lopez, the cutest player to ever put on an Atlanta uniform, behind the plate. And the trio of pitchers Braves fans will never forget—Greg Maddux and Tom Glavin and John Smoltz. Not to mention longtime manager Bobby Cox, who retired a couple of years ago.

I will, no doubt, learn to love this brand new generation of Braves players, players who are young enough to be my sons or—in a couple of cases–my grandsons. Yikes!

During this first week in April, when I’m trying to learn the baseball players’ names and where they came from and what position they play and also keep a close eye on the basketball games, I keep a TV remote control in each hand. In the left is the thin black remote that turns the set on and off, controls the volume and lets me hit the mute button.

In my right hand is the chunky white Direct TV remote that allows me choose which channel I want. And it lets me do a whole lot more than that. Time travel, in a manner of speaking. I can record games and watch them whenever I want. Or I can pause them and watch just a little bit later, like when I finish eating supper or walking the dog or writing a newspaper column. Whenever I watch a game in anything other than real time, I lean a long piece of cardboard along the bottom of the TV screen so that I can’t see the scores from other games.

One of my favorite features on the satellite remote is the PREVIOUS button, which lets me quickly navigate back and forth between games. All without watching a single commercial.

Best of all, the first week in April is usually—and this was certainly true this
year—chilly enough to have a fire going in the woodstove after the sun goes
down. I pour myself a glass of dry red wine, wrap the polar fleece throw with
the running horses on in around my shoulders, and settle onto the couch. I
don’t pretend to read or iron or clean out my purse or any of the other things
I sometimes do while watching TV. Because the week when I say good-bye to
basketball and hello to baseball is special.

It’s the very best week of spring.

(April 7, 2013)

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