Loran Smith: Looking at the Calendar

loran This time of the year, the calendar is always messin’ with your mind.

Think about this salient fact:  It is only two months until Masters week.   We are still building fires, bundling up when we walk and keeping an eye on the weather daily.

We still have the Super Bowl to play, basketball tournaments to thrill us and spring planting to take care off.   Before you know it, March Madness will have passed, somebody will be getting sized for that ultimate football ring while others cry in their beer—and, we will be thinking about the Masters.

We’ve got all that sports action to get in before we dress down into our cardigans and short sleeves.   I look forward to enjoying the next two months before the Masters.   In addition to the various competitions to enjoy at Stegeman Coliseum and on TV, I will enjoy those inspirational times by the fire with a good book.

Like the one I am occupied with now—a novel about the “Gunfight at OK Corral.”   That gunfight has become legend and is regarded as the most famous gunfight in history of the Old West when it became keenly important for Americans to have the right to bear arms.   Guns meant that you could put meat on the table for your family, but most importantly, guns meant that you could defend yourself and your property.

I have always been intrigued by the “Gunfight at OK Corral.”   I always liked Wyatt Earp, but when there was that discovery that Doc Holliday was a native Georgian, interest in this piece of Western lore zoomed through the roof.

The famous gunfight only lasted 30 seconds.

That is just one play in a football game, one possession in a basketball contest and a fifth of the time it takes Tiger Woods to line up and putt and stroke the ball in the direction of the hole.

In a gunfight, wherever it is, the thing that we all appreciate most is that when the good guys—those in the white hats—win.   History tells us that is the way it was in Toombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881.   Virgil and Morgan Earp were wounded, Doc Holliday was grazed, but three of the bad guys bit the dust—Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton were killed in the shootout.

This is a game in which coming in second is not good for your health.   It is a contest in which you lose, you might lose your life.   The stakes might be high in the Super Bowl, but nothing like the “Gunfight at OK Corral.”

As we segue from winter to spring, we get to enjoy baseball spring training which is only a few weeks from startup.  For years, I have been taking in spring training in Florida and find that to be one of the most enjoyable experiences there is.    Talk to the players and officials of baseball and you learn that over the long 162 game season, it gets to be a grind–but in the spring it is a time when spirits are uplifted and there is a renewal of energy, hopes and optimism.

For years, the objective of spring training was to get the players in shape.  Dating back, it has been said that the biggest thing was to let the players dry out, sober up from the off season of drinking and partying.

With all the money that has come to be part of the baseball scene, the players come to spring training in shape.   They work to hone their skills to excel during the long season with the hopes of getting into the playoffs and winning a ring.

For the team, spring training is now a profit center.  They market tickets aggressively with the goal of leaving for their home quarters in April with having turned a profit.

Spring training games in the cozy baseball parks with fans basking in the sun in short sleeves is one of the most enjoyable features to baseball’s long season.  About the only thing that is better than spring training is having your favorite team win the World Series.




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