Column: Line Drives — It’s hard to simply enjoy a game

[This is my column in the June 11 issue of The Commercial Review.]

I can’t do it anymore.

Sports are meant to entertain.

I can no longer watch sports for the entertainment value.

My job is to thank for that.

On his radio show Monday, Dan Patrick had Bob Costas as a guest and they chatted about a wide array of things, from American Pharoah to Caitlyn Jenner to being a sports fan. Patrick and Costas are two of my favorite sports media figures.

Patrick offered a comment that perfectly sums up what it’s like for me to watch sports.

“Instead of just sitting back, taking a deep breath and having a beer, I’m always sort of looking at what the storylines are,” he said.

He hit the nail on the head with that one.

For example, last summer I went to Major League Baseball games at Miller Park in Milwaukee and at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Both times I was fully engulfed in the games, keeping score and noticing trends.

I also had to explain to the lady next to me at Wrigley Field what was happening. As the afternoon progressed, she became more and more inebriated, and less and less aware of the flow of the game.

The Atlanta Braves scored seven runs in the first three innings before leading 10-2 after the seventh-inning stretch. The Cubs responded by scoring twice in the seventh and three times in the eighth, but the rally ended there as Atlanta won 10-7.

I went to Victory Field in Indianapolis on May 31 with my friend Eric, his girlfriend and their toddler. Eric and I are both Detroit Tigers fans, and Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander was making his first rehab start for the Toledo Mud Hens against the Indianapolis Indians.

We jumped at the opportunity to see him pitch so close to home — Eric and his family live in Carmel.

But throughout the game, it was difficult for me to be a fan.

Sure, I sat back, took some deep breaths and had a beer, but I wasn’t able to just let the game happen and watch. I had to analyze it and think of the storylines.

Verlander got torched. He had a difficult time finding the strike zone and failed to make it out of the third inning. He gave up three earned runs on six hits while walking a pair. He also struck out three and only recorded eight outs.

I want to sit back and be a fan. I can’t do it anymore.

Tuesday, I started watching game three of the NBA Finals midway through the third quarter. As I got caught up to speed, again, I couldn’t help but look at the storylines up to that point.

Matthew Dellavedova was playing the best defense I have seen in a long time from a professional basketball player. He was shutting down Steph Curry, who only had three points at halftime.

LeBron James was being his normal, freak-of-an-athlete self.

And as the Cleveland Cavaliers built a 20-point lead in the third, I couldn’t help but ask myself a few questions.

Can the Cavaliers sustain their dominance? Will Curry go the entire game shooting so poorly? Can LeBron truly carry this team to an NBA championship, proving all of his doubters wrong?

The answers to the first two questions proved to be a resounding “no.”

Golden State trailed by as little as one point in the fourth quarter before eventually losing by five, 96-91.

Curry scored 17 of his team-high 27 points in the fourth, making some of his signature 3-pointers from either deep beyond the arc or with little space in the corners.

That last question is yet to be answered.

Sometimes I find it difficult to separate work and pleasure.

But it’s a good thing, right?

It must mean “work” has no longer become “work.”

From time to time, though, I’d like to simply attend a game or watch sports on television.

I just can’t do it anymore.


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