Getting off the couch and seeing local sports in person

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It’s easy to sit around and complain now that the “meat” of the sports season is over. When the NFL leaves my life, there’s this giant vacuum and emptiness that fills me, especially on the weekends. And the wait until September feels like forever right around now.

While in my youth, I previously occupied my nights with the NHL, NBA and college basketball. Over the past decade, however, my focus seems to fall apart right after the Lombardi Trophy is presented and the NFL stars head to Hawaii for the most meaningless game of the year.

During the 1990’s, when I first started doing radio, the shift was seamless. You got two weeks of downtime after the Super Bowl and it was time to hit Fort Lauderdale and get ready for another season of Orioles baseball at Camden Yards. Watching starting pitchers run wind sprints in the outfield in the 5th inning of grapefruit games was somehow appealing to me, just because the “hope” for baseball and an exciting season was just days away.

But the Orioles don’t give us the warm fuzzies these days, even when pitchers and catchers have reported and exhibition games are a week away. They’re going to lose a lot of baseball games this summer, so hope for a pennant is not realistic.

But instead of waiting for September and the next time the Ravens play a meaningful game to experience sports, this weekend I decided to get active, go out and try to get my sports fix fulfilled in other ways. (We could all agree that the 2007 Ravens left our thirst unquenched!)

I started Saturday night at the First Mariner Arena. It was Blast Hall of Fame Night, with two guys I watched play a lot of soccer – Keith Van Eron and Domenic Mobilio – get honored for their accomplishments.

I went to the game with Drew Forrester, and had the privilege of sitting with Jim Pollihan, Dave MacWilliams, Cris Vaccaro, Bruce Savage and Heintz Wirtz. It’s kinda weird, because to a kid from Dundalk in 1984, Wirtz was a BIG deal. Those late night games from San Diego with Ron Newmann, Branko Segota, Julie Vee, Steve Zungel – man, those were some GOOD times as a Baltimore sports fan.

I had never met Wirtz until Saturday night, and to see Drew being old buddies with them is just kinda weird/frightening/bizarre to be honest with you.

But we had a Blast! (No pun intended…) We shot a lot of cool stuff for wnsTV that will be coming soon.

The Blast HOF ceremony was touching, with Mobilio’s parents accepting the honor on behalf of their late son, Domenic. Van Eron spoke at length but from the heart and was clearly emotional about this overdue honor. And best of all, the Blast beat New Jersey with a couple of late scores in what was a pretty tight defensive matchup.

Yesterday, I made it down to RAC Arena for a full house and a WNST promotion game with Boston University. Once again, the Hounds from the Pound BRING IT down in Catonsville! Their home student section is rowdy and fun to watch. Randy Monroe’s kids play really smart basketball, and if you don’t like watching little Jay Greene play ball you’re not alive. Ray Barbosa was hitting from all over the gym and the Retrievers beat the game Terriers, 76-73.

The game was fun. The crowd was awesome. The cheerleaders, dance squad, pep band and families were all super into the game. Boston’s coach is nutso, so that was fun to watch, too. Baltimore Sun columnist Rick Maese showed up, and made the game more fun.

But the best part of the whole day – with all due respect to the Hounds – was this sensational “jump rope” squad of kids from Columbia who performed at halftime. They’re called the “Kangaroo Kids.” They did amazing group tricks with the ropes and were full of energy and passion.

These kids were FABULOUS and VERY fit! They should be doing halftime all over town!

And I know MANY of you still LOVE the NBA, and watched the festivities from New Orleans. For some, it’s the NHL (and the Washington Capitals are doing a major Baltimore promotion this week). And there’s always college hoops on ESPN. And for those of you gearheads, I know the Daytona 500 was spectacular yesterday. Even Drew was following Phil Mickelson yesterday on the links via his PDA.

Loyola hoops also got in on the act, winning a big one at Siena over the weekend. They are home tonight against Rider (Reitz Arena is a GREAT place to watch a game as well!).

Lacrosse is coming. And baseball might even make its way into our consciousness somewhere other than a Federal hearing in Washington, D.C., over the next few weeks.

Spring training is here, I’m headed to the NFL Combine this weekend in Indianapolis with Casey Willett to shoot for wnsTV, and March Madness, Opening Day and the NFL Draft are all in the headlights.

But I learned a valuable lesson over the past two weekends. You can’t get the true “live” experience watching the games in HD.

Sometimes, you gotta get your butt off the couch and go to a game!

Last weekend it was a Caps game.

This weekend is was the Blast and the Hounds.

I’ve done a few Loyola and Towson games already this year.

If you haven’t been out to see ANY of these teams play – and you save all of your love ONLY for the Ravens – you’re missing out on some great value and you’re missing out on a lot of fun!

Call a friend, take the kids, go to a local game and have some fun.

Sports are always more fun with friends and there’s no beating being at the event!

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Nestor Aparicio
Baltimore Positive is the vision and the creative extension of four decades of sharing the love of local sports for this Dundalk native and University of Baltimore grad, who began his career as a sportswriter and music critic at The News American and The Baltimore Sun in the mid-1980s. Launched radio career in December 1991 with Kenny Albert after covering the AHL Skipjacks. Bought WNST-AM 1570 in July 1998, created in 2007 and began diversifying conversations on radio, podcast and social media as Baltimore Positive in 2016.