I grew up loving watching sports on television. Not just baseball and football, either. I grew up with the Wide World of Sports. Not so much in 2021.
Oh, I caught some innings of a few baseball games, but almost nothing from beginning to end. Yet I would READ the box scores and stories about the previous night’s games. I was particularly fascinated with Shohei Ohtani, who GQ profiled. “Not since the days of Babe Ruth has one of baseball’s greatest hitters also been one of its finest pitchers.”
Maybe it was the fate of the New York Mets, who looked as though they might get to the World Series but ended up not even getting to the playoffs. Or the New York Yankees who were streakily great, followed by being terrible and were eliminated after one playoff game.
Perhaps it’s my antipathy for some of the teams. Both the 2017 Houston Astros and the 2018 Boston Red Sox were nicked by a cheating scandal. The Astros also yanked their team affiliation from our local Tri-City Valley Cats. More parochially, the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1963 World Series; I hold a long grudge.
As usual, I didn’t watch the NFL before Thanksgiving. I saw bits of one of those Turkey Day games, then nothing else in 2021 unless the CBS game ran late, delaying 60 Minutes.
But then there was week 18. Week 18? There used to be 17 weeks in which the teams each played 16 games, with one week off. Now there is a 17th game. And, perhaps related to the expansion of the eligible playoff teams to 14, it seemed that almost every team that didn’t play their home games in New Jersey still had a chance.
Such as the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chuck Miller described what happened. But that Raiders-Chargers game that ended in the final minute of overtime was edge-of-my-seat exciting. The following week there were a couple of close games which I saw. However, I will acknowledge that I watched almost the entire Buffalo Bills beating of the New England Patriots, 47-17. Seven touchdowns in seven possessions!
Only one of the annoying things about COVID is that sports figures who you felt neutral or mildly positive about managed to act in a disappointing manner. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers spread some malarkey about his vaccine status.
More irritating, though, was Novak Djokovic, the tennis star who got booted out of the Australian Open because that country actually wants to take the disease seriously. Then the Serbian president blasted Australia. Now, Djokovic may not be able to play in the French Open in May if he isn’t vaccinated. I had no strong opinion about Novak, beyond admiring his considerable talent, but now he’s rather ticked me off.