Like millions and millions across the globe, I have had a difficult 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although I don’t have rhymes like the late MCA from the Beastie Boys, I have had more stressful situations than I’ve got grey hairs, and that’s a lot because I have my share.
This year I’ve watched as many of my friends have sadly lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. I’ve seen people get sick from the pandemic and I’ve been up close at protests to see the sadness and anger from many people due to unnecessary shootings.
I’ve seen many people go homeless just because somewhere along the line they couldn’t catch that one break they so desperately needed.
My own father got in a brutal car crash a few months back (he’s OK now) and I had to hold my breath for a few moments.
And although it’s nowhere near as important as what’s mentioned above, sports basically disappeared for a few months from mid-March to the end of July and hasn’t come back at all in California when it comes to high school. As a longtime sportswriter, this can be excruciating, especially for someone who loves sports as much as a librarian loves books or Robert De Niro loves acting.
But despite all these horrible things, I am still trying to keep my head on straight and be thankful. I’ve always been a person that considers the glass half full, not half empty.
This year I’ve also seen one of my best friends get married, another have his first kid, one travel and see the country in a van she helped built, and a few others fight hard, rebound and get new jobs.
Personally, a lot of what I have to be thankful for this year came recently via sports. For example, I’m thankful for October of this year. Although I never root for teams in the press box, my favorite pro sports teams at some point played in my hometown of Los Angeles (I know, boo! Boo! Boo that laundry!) and the Dodgers and Lakers won championships within a few weeks from each other. Even the Raiders have shown signs of life this season!
I’m thankful a little more for the Dodgers title, just because I enjoy baseball more and it had been a long 32 years since the last one when I was in the fifth grade. When the Dodgers won the title I was able to finally have that feeling that so many of my friends and fans of the San Francisco Giants experienced earlier last decade. That being said, this was my even year.
I’m thankful that Clayton Kershaw, one of the nicest people in sports, is now able to play Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” when his playoff critics show up. Although he is basically the best pitcher of this century so far, he had struggled at times in the postseason, especially after the sixth inning. So it was nice to see the lefty finally have his shining moment.
In baseball I’m also thankful to continue to watch at certain points the following — the triple up the gap, a pitcher throwing past the seventh inning, Matt Chapman’s glove, Tom Verducci’s writing and reporting, Mike Trout’s overall game, the stolen base, the bat flip (to a certain point), a bunt against the shift, the walkoff celebration (although different) and Vin Scully’s Twitter page. His voice is still awesome as well.
In basketball I’m thankful the Lakers were able to win, but they have more trophies than Spielberg and Streep combined so it doesn’t resonate as much with me anymore. That being said, whether it’s the pros or the high school level, I’m still thankful to see the great crossover dribble, the extra pass that leads to a better shot, the player that sacrifices his body to take a charge, and the referee that says, “Shut up” to the player that argues every single call. Yes, I realize that Laker LeBron James probably does this more than anyone.
I’m also thankful that in the past and hopefully again at some point I’m able to interview or just chat up solid basketball coaches and ex coaches such as Derek Walker, Dwayne Jones, Duke Brown, Bryan and Brendan Rooney, Matt Borchert, Scott Hayburn, Brett Wedding, and Allison and Jake Johnson III. They always take the time the give solid, thoughtful answers, no matter if they have just won or lost a game.
The same goes for other local coaches in other sports such as Danette Domecus, Lane Hawkins, Jeff Turner, Craig Holden, Matt Brown, Mike Wilson III, Josh Ramos, Nikki Gentile, Darla Williams, Stu Clary, John Montante, Rich Gigliotti, Kristin Grubbs, Anthony Kaluza, Javier Martinez, Roger Harris and many, many more.
I also am extremely thankful for when all these coaches put out a roster with first and last names on maxpreps.com. I’m thankful for when they actually spell their names correct too.
I am also thankful that when prep sports begins again I’ll be able to watch the lineman that creates a large hole for a running back, a huge spike from an outside hitter in volleyball that creates a large roar from a crowd, a long putt that gives some golfer an unexpected birdie, or the face of a runner after he or she realizes they just made a personal record time in their event.
I’m also thankful for press boxes on cold rainy nights, a public address announcer that’s knows how to add, the school that doesn’t play Gary Glitter at games (look him up to see why), as well as the coach that actually sends in results via email or phone when they not only win, but lose.
I’m very thankful to be able to watch Vallejo Admirals games at Wilson Park and watch players give autographs to young kids. You can never underestimate the impact an athlete has on a young child. Anyone like myself who has been lucky enough to cover a youth camp hosted by former pro athletes such as CC Sabathia and C.J. Anderson knows this.
I’m also thankful to see the wrestler have his or her hand held up after a victory they worked so hard to get. I’m thankful to the popular athlete that befriends someone not known as much on campus, which was so evident earlier this year by entire schools when Benicia and American Canyon highs held their Unified Basketball games.
Because in the end, it’s all about people. Like legendary Clash singer and guitarist Joe Strummer once said, “Without people, we’re nothing.” I’m thankful that despite all that’s gone on in 2020, I’m still able to watch many athletes play and then talk with a number of them after. I’m wishing that every single athlete and coach in the area is able to make out OK on the other side, so I can watch their games again in 2021.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and stay safe.