Mar 192002
Authors: Lee Miller

It’s 7 a.m. Saturday, roughly a week and two days ago, and I’m standing in line at DIA.

Pardon me, did I say line? I meant I am being herded with about two hundred other people through a 45-minute nightmare, just so a guy can wave a wand around me and check my flight schedule to make sure I “belong” here.

Ain’t it great how terrorism has completely enhanced our lives?

That was how my spring break began. And since I was stupid enough to stay up drinking until 4:30 a.m., I was in a rather tiresome mood and my demeanor was less than pleasant.

You’re probably asking right about now, What the hell does this have to do with sports? Well, settle down, I’m getting to that. I just have to mention how cool it was to beat all of the flight attendants to their “buh-byes” when exiting the airplanes (God bless “Saturday Night Live”).

I stayed in Sarasota, Fla. over break, and the weather was great down there.

Not only did I spend most of my time in the sun, making observations like “Gee, white sand kinda looks like snow, but it sure don’t feel like snow,” I also got to take in a relaxing preseason baseball contest between the Cincinnati Reds and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Spring training baseball is better than most regular season baseball because we haven’t been worn out by watching 10-20 games every day for the last three months.

And it’s just plain nice to go sit in the bleachers in the warm weather, after fighting through a miserable winter (to those of you who stayed here over break: I do not accept death threats, so don’t send them).

So there’s this dude starting for the Reds I have never heard of, but that’s OK because there are about 30 guys on the Devil Rays that I’ve never heard of either. It’s amazing how thinly the talent has been spread.

The only Devil Rays player with post season experience is Ben Grieve, a gangly outfielder who was once to be the savior of the struggling Oakland A’s, only to be traded mid-season last year to the cesspool that is Tampa Bay.

But forget about the Devil Rays. Their history is about as deep as the hangnail on my thumb.

The Reds still have cool players. Ken Griffey Jr. was at the ballpark, still getting a larger cheer than anyone else. Griffey went 0 for 3 with two fly-outs and a groundout, and never really got a chance to make a spectacular play in center field. People have been talking a lot of smack about how Griffey is washed up and that his paycheck is too big for his payoff.

I scoff at these people.

Griffey is simply going through a mid-career slump. It happened to McGwire, Clemens, Bonds and Cheech Marin, and they all came back. Believe me, Griffey will be back.

We also got to see Barry Larkin put a foul ball five feet from the pole in right field, a hit that would have blown the game wide open.

As Larkin left the field at the end of the sixth inning, he signed a few autographs, so we sent a cute girl down to get one for us. It works every time.

The game was about as entertaining as a baseball game can get.

This kid named Clark hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to win it for the Reds.

Everyone cheered, drank beer and ate hot dogs and overcooked pretzels. This experience was far more important than the wonderful array of basketball that was to begin three days later.

Now I am back in the wretched ice kingdom of Fort Collins. My feet are cold, and I am having coughing fits due to the drastic climate change.

But the warmth of the NCAA Tournament is all I need to get me to April and the beautiful disc golf links.

So without further ado, I bid you buh-bye.

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