Aug 11,2014(ISN) – When my very determined bride to be dragged me kicking and screaming across the threshold from sexual to serious, I realized that this relationship would never survive the long haul if she couldn’t deal with my addiction to watching sports.
Fortunately, early on in the dating stage she developed a passion for baseball, thanks to a certain Texas Ranger named Jose Canseco. She was completely smitten the first time she saw him on my 17 inch black and white screen, a 20-year-old pass me down I gratefully accepted from a friend while starving me way through journalism school. My son, 13 at the time, quickly came up with a keeper of a nickname for Jose, the Cuban Missile, which still elicits a faraway look in my wife’s eyes to this day. I rode the wave of the spell Canseco cast over her whenever he stepped up to the plate until I moved in with her and her 14-inch Zenith. Just before the World Series started that year, we upgraded a 27-inch Magnavox machine that still ticks along without skipping a beat 20 years later. It literally paid for itself the first time an Adonis named Darren Dalton who played catcher for the Phillies made the long slow walk back from the mound into our living room and right to the top of my bride’s Fantasy League to do list.
It helped that she had played a little ball growing up and understood the game, but football would be a much tougher sell. After plying her with a little wine one Monday night, I got her to actually watch a game with me, hoping her focus on the tighter uniforms and a couple of dredlocked warriors would be enough to seal the deal. It didn’t work at first, however, because she didn’t know what the hell was going on, and her questions after each whistle were starting to whittle away at what little patience I possess. In desperation, I drew out the field on a large piece of cardboard, grabbed 22 pennies for players, explaining why they were running with the ball, throwing the ball and kicking the ball during commercials, and a new fan was born. That first shirtless interview with Rod Smith in the locker room after a Broncos game also helped with her conversion to the gridiron big time.
Oh, it was fun at first, and I thoroughly enjoyed basking in the envy of friends when I told them that my wife actually enjoys watching football with me, and understands the difference between a fade pattern and a skinny post. That changed in a hurry, however, when after much one-sided debate, mostly on my part, she joined the same NFL pool I was in with a bunch of buddies and workmates. It was harmless at first, and I even cheered for her when she picked up a couple of weekly wins based on her system of generally ignoring the experts and going with her gut. But that changed one dark and dreadful evening in November when we had tied for wins on Sunday and went into the Monday nighter up against each other for first place. I saw a side of her I had never seen before, more blind side than sexy. Nine months later, she still accuses fellow poolster and mutual friend Naked Mole Rat of conspiracy because we talked her into changed her Monday night pick that wound up costing her the cash and bragging rights that week. And don’t get me started about what it was like to have to listen to my colleagues at the work the next day day after she went 14 and 0 while I limped home at 9 and 7. She followed that up by grabbing all of the winnings in the first round of the playoffs, the only one in our group to take the Broncos over the Steelers. That cut much deeper because even though I’m a big time Broncos fan, I didn’t give them a snowball’s chance in Denver against Pittsburgh.
In hindsight – something I excel at by the way – most of those wounds have healed with time, and I wouldn’t trade talking football with my superior half for anything less than three weekly wins, unless we’re talking playoffs.
After 20 years of marital bliss and blisters, however, hockey has proven to be a much tougher sell, and those playoff beards aren’t helping her buy that particular product any time soon. There is at least finally a glimmer of hope for hockey on the horizon, though, so there is at least some progress on that front. She watched most of the Habs/Bruins first round seven gamer with me this year, even got visibly excited at times, and now now hates Chara, Lucic and Marchand almost as much as I do. And in the end, isn’t a little progress what any good marriage is all about? Especially if you have one of the other key ingredients essential to long-term marital stability, that being of course having at least two televisions of similar screen size.
The content in this column are not the opinions, beliefs or comments of Independent Sports News, and should not be construed as such.
Watch for Left Field twice a month in this space, a column by a semi-award winning journalist whose work has appeared in major publications and community newspapers in British Columbia for the past 22 years.
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