A COVID-19 sports miss list

By Joshua R. Smith

STRANGE as it is to say, there’s nothing happening but we’re missing a lot, particularly for sports fans.

Several years ago, I was inspired to write about the feeling of nostalgia for being a kid whose life revolved around playing, watching and thinking about sports. That column was headlined “The miss list.”

It seems like a good time to write another one — not for the sake of childhood longing, but because of a very real adult dreariness.

Here we are, smack in the middle (or hopefully it’s closer to the end?) of the coronavirus sports stoppage, where watching professional athletes battle each other in video games — racial slurs apparently included — is the closest we can get to a live sporting event.

So, in an unfortunate nod to COVID, here are the 19 (or so) things I find myself missing about sports.

I miss the subtle baseball noises picked up by those amazing Fox microphones, which make it feel like that base runner is sliding right into your living room — or that you’re sitting in the dugout right next to that Astro as he bangs the trash can for his teammate who’s at the plate.

I miss watching one of those Fox broadcasts and hating everything about Joe Buck.

I miss the hope represented by a surprising 2-for-5 performance from Baltimore “slugger” Chris Davis.

I miss knowing with certainty that those foolish hopes will be dashed the following day when Davis begins his next 0-for-40, 29-strikeout slump.

I miss checking Twitter before I leave work around 12:30 a.m. to see the latest jaw-dropping Mike Trout highlight from the Los Angeles Angels feed. Without those, after all, I’d never know what the best player in history is up to, since he plays on the other coast and Major League Baseball is so pathetic at promoting its own stars.

I miss turning on a mid-week Orioles broadcast and wondering just how much more empty that beautiful ballpark could get during a game contested, purportedly, by two Major League teams.

I miss reading a baseball story and having to Google one of the peculiar advanced analytics that are referenced more and more often even though a relatively smart baseball fan like me has no idea what they mean.

I miss a lot from 1980s baseball, a realization that has struck me while watching classic games on MLB Network during this sports-less quarantine. For example: I miss the incredible mustaches. I miss how the players were seldom buff and strangely skinny looking. I miss the positively Little Leaguer-ish wind-ups that some pitchers used. I miss players not talking into their gloves during mound visits, which hardly occurred at all. I miss Tim McCarver, and I don’t care if you disliked him because you’re wrong — he was incredible. I miss ground balls. I miss Nolan Ryan. I miss leadoff hitters who stole 80 bases. I miss Pete Rose.

I miss laughing at stories by national golf writers who are blatantly rooting for Tiger Woods — because, ya know, if Tiger wins, it’s good for golf. As if any of us should care about the overall health of a sport that is largely supported by rich people.

I miss my neighbor regularly telling me dramatic stories about his sports gambling near-misses. I’ve never met someone who has almost struck it rich on sports bets more times than him.

I miss turning on the Lakers game and noticing how LeBron James is still the best basketball player on the planet.

I miss reporters asking for LeBron’s opinion on things like Tom Brady signing with the Bucs, even though his opinion means absolutely nothing.

I miss reading sports stories written for my section by some of my all-time favorite colleagues.