Break out the sunflower seeds

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 5, 2000

Sports Editor

Don’t tell anyone, but I have an addiction. It always seems to catch up with me around this time of year.

With basketball all but over in the area (I’m still pulling for the Lady Trojans in the TAAC Tournament), I have this uncontrollable bird-like craving for sunflower seeds and it’s all baseball’s fault.

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It’s no secret to those who know me that basketball season is my favorite time of year, but as a fan of all sports I’ll be just as crazy about the battles on the diamond as I have been on the hardcourt… just give me a second to adjust okay?

It’s really hard to make that kind of transition. Going from the speed and non-stop action of basketball to the patience needed to not only play, but watch baseball takes time.

The way I deal is becoming a sunflower-seed addict. Over the coming weeks my desk will begin to resemble a bird’s nest with empty hulls everywhere.

Maybe it’s all that down time between innings or simply between key plays in a two-and-a-half hour baseball game that makes me look for something to pass the time. Whatever it is, the meticulous process it takes to de-hull those seeds seems to sooth my nerves.

Not that I think that baseball or softball is necessarily boring, but to be truthful it isn’t the most active two hours a fan can spend at a sporting event. Still, maybe that works to baseball and softball’s favor.

In sports like basketball and football ­ especially basketball ­ besides the breaks between quarters or timeouts there is always something going on. In some cases it is impossible to turn away for fear of missing a key play.

Turn to baseball and you could go any number of full innings without even seeing a hit. Of course you have defensive plays and lots of duels between batters and pitchers, but there just isn’t the activity there is on a football field or a basketball court.

What baseball does have, however is the all-important build up. That build-up gives the sport the opportunity to overshadow any last second shot or touchdown pass in pure intensity and meaning.

Just sit through nine full innings of baseball to see a no-hitter broken up on a home run to win a scoreless game and you’ll know what I mean.

I guess those ninth inning (or seventh inning in high school) heroics are the key to baseball and its fans. It doesn’t always happen, but you just never know when a team or a certain player is going to make that play that will last in your memory for a lifetime.

It will take me a little while to really get into baseball. While March Madness is going on and college basketball still holds my attention I’m sure I’ll be a little nervous. But once the sunflower seeds start flowing and the sun starts beating down I’ll be ready for some lazy days at the park… with a game-winning homer thrown in every once in a while just to spice things up a little bit!