As I prepare to spend a few hours resting up for another whirlwind trip to Chicago, I think about the concept of “turning the page.”
Earlier today, I played the role of scorekeeper and announcer (and DJ) for two 2017 USA Hockey National Championship Semifinal games: the 14u Tier I semifinal between Chicago Mission and the Syracuse Nationals and the 15-only Tier I semifinal between the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and the Colorado Evolution. These were two fantastic, competitive youth hockey games featuring four of the top teams in the country. I was honored by being asked to scorekeep and announce these games (and even being asked if I was sure I couldn’t cover one of the National Championship games tomorrow afternoon), but as the sun set and I prepared for tomorrow’s adventure, it dawned on me: at 2:20pm this afternoon, I officially turned the page–my final season intricately involved in youth hockey had come to an end.
With the conclusion of the USA Hockey National Championship Tournaments tomorrow, the 2016-17 youth hockey season is complete. As I had other plans for my day tomorrow, my season ended with the final announcement of the 15-only Tier I semifinal game I worked this afternoon. My hockey plans for next season? Announcing Tucson Roadrunners games, working with the Arizona Cactus Cup youth hockey tournament committee, and–that’s about it. Perhaps I do some light scorekeeping here and there. Maybe I sell myself as a Championship Sunday specialist for local hockey tournaments. Either way, my free time now looks a lot more–well–free.
Tomorrow, I make my pilgrimage to my holy sports shrine: the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. I will put hockey behind me, and make the full transition into the Chicago Cubs baseball fanatic that many of you know and love. The hockey jerseys go into storage (actually, into a packing box for our upcoming move), and the Chicago Cubs jerseys emerge. The hockey caps go up on the shelf and the Cubby Blue caps start going into rotation on cold or windy (mostly windy) days. My computer, phone, tablet and televisions become portals for MLB Advanced Media’s MLB.tv app. My blog posts will turn from philosophical hockey thoughts to mental meanderings on Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, “The Professor” Kyle Hendricks, and the rest of the 2017 Defending World Champion Chicago Cubs.
There is no feeling like walking into Wrigley Field. There is no energy like being part of the crowd singing, “Go Cubs Go! Go Cubs Go! Hey Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are going to win today!” I fully expect to lose emotional control sometime during the 6pm hour when the 2016 World Series Championship Banner is hoisted alongside the historic Wrigley Field scoreboard in centerfield, when I realize–again–what a magical tale was last season. As I stood next to the player tunnel at Tucson Arena listening to the final outs of 10th inning, I experienced a feeling, a euphoria, like nothing I had ever felt before. I had to watch the post-game coverage and celebration. I had to listen to whatever coverage I could find on my drive home that night–and for the next two hours after I arrived home. The feeling has still just barely receded…
Tomorrow night, I will meet my good friend David outside the ballpark, check out the new Park at Wrigley area along Clark Street, grab some Wrigley Field treats, and take an incredible photo journal of my experience that night–from the packed ballpark to the classic scoreboard to the fans around me. From the players on the field to the banner raised in the outfield, I want to capture it all. I want pictures that I can print on canvas to fill my new home office walls with. I want to be able to look at those pictures and feel the energy again and again and again.
I want to see Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant go deep into the night sky. I want to watch Addison Russell line an RBI double to the right-center field gap. I want to see Javy Baez put on a clinic at second base. I want to see Jon Lester handcuff the Dodgers tomorrow night, just as he did last October. I want to see new closer Wade Davis come in “just for some work” because the Cubs have a six or seven run lead late, preventing Davis from qualifying for the save.
Really, I want to enter my baseball Utopia for a few hours tomorrow night with both friends known (like David) and 40,000 friends unknown. Will I be able to relax? Oh, not really–as I live and breathe with every pitch Lester makes, and every swing Schwarber takes.
No matter. It’s time to turn my page and start my new chapter.