Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Purest Moment in Sports

This may surprise some of you, but I don't watch sports like I used to.  I didn't watch much of the baseball playoffs, nor the World Series.  Of the teams that I follow, only the Washington Capitals are contenders for the league championship, but I'm only a casual hockey fan with a very rudimentary understanding of the game.  Of the rest of the teams teams that I follow, only Maryland basketball has contended for a championship in recent years (Final Four in 2001, winning the National Championship in 2002).  For the rest of my teams, the last time they contended was the last time they won it: Redskins in 1991, Orioles in 1983, Bullets/Wizards in 1978, Baylor football and basketball--well, the men have never won the championship in either sport, though the men's basketball team went deep into the tournament last year, and the Baylor women's basketball team won the championship in 2005 and played in the championship game last year, losing (like everyone else in the world) to Connecticut.

What I'm saying is that I don't watch much anymore unless I have a dog in the hunt, and my dogs haven't been hunting much lately.

But I always try to tune in when a team wins it all.  There is nothing fake or commercial in the reaction of an athlete in the moments after their team has won a championship.  It's very pure.  It is what they work for all their lives, and some never achieve it, through no fault of their own.

Last night the Giants won the World Series.  I was rooting for the Rangers, but didn't really care one way or the other.  But it was fun to watch the Giants celebrate.  Fox T.V. has done a great job the last few years by having a different camera on each player in the field to record their reaction immediately after the final out, and then showing them one-by-one.  That's just good, compelling T.V. right there.

One moment they are ballplayers, intent on making the next play just like they have done all their lives.  Look at their faces, and you can't tell if it's the World Series game or the 9th inning of a game in April.  The are ballplayers; this is what they do.

The next moment, when the third out is recorded, they are kids again.

Probably my favorite celebration picture is after the Orioles swept the favored Dodgers in 1966 to win their first World Series.  I'd like to think this would still be my favorite picture even if I weren't an Oriole fan.  In October 1966 I was seven years old, and we had just moved to Maryland from Alabama.  I wasn't a baseball fan, and certainly not an Oriole fan.  I was unaware of what was going on in baseball back then.

But look at the look on Brooks Robinson's face, and, good grief, he's got Michael Jordan hops.  Brooksie probably had never jumped that high in his life, and probably never did again, even when they won the series again in 1970 when he had an unparalleled series in the field and at bat and won the Most Valuable Player award.

Pure, unbridled joy.

Very cool.

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