TERRE HAUTE —
A few weeks ago, I turned 39. Ugh.
I shouldn’t imply that I’m in some neurotic existential crisis about it. I’ve never been hung up too much on age for myself or anyone else. Still, it’s mid-life and along with it, those mid-life questions creep into your mind more and more. Resistance is futile.
It’s not about whether I should get a Ferrari (moot point … I can’t afford it), a motorcycle (see Ferrari, can’t afford, etc.) or a tattoo (Ha! I’m so pale, you’d be able to see them from space), I’m talking about the ones that keep you up at night.
Is the world I’m leaving my kids as good as it should be? Is the world going to be a better place for them? What am I doing to make sure better things do happen? I’ll admit, I don’t always like my answers to some of those questions.
So maybe I do have a little bit of mid-life angst. But there’s one thing about being 39 that can’t be topped.
It’s the perfect age to be a baseball geek.
I should know. I am an inveterate baseball geek.
I will lay my baseball geek credentials on the table against anyone. I will out-geek you all.
I think 39 is perfect, because when you’re 39, you’re young enough to remember most of the minutiae of your youth. You also have the perspective to look back on your baseball past — as well as the baseball geeky happenings of the present — with a trained eye. You can separate the geek wheat from the geek chaff.
Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Another theory is that as the seasons pile up it just gives you more years to lose yourself in it.
To wit, my favorite Red Sox caps were the red ones they wore in the 1970s. In the 1970s? Whoa, that’s not specific enough for a baseball geek, the Bosox wore them from 1975-78. Only a true baseball geek knows that.
It’s about arguing with like-minded geeky friends about whether Wayne Krenchicki or Biff Pocoroba had a better utility player’s name. It’s about being anal-retentive to the nth degree about baseball’s history. It’s about spending quality time browsing old box scores on baseballreference.com.
Not all of it grabs me. I’ve never been into the autograph-seeking thing, but I “get” why some people do. Somehow, I’ve avoided fantasy baseball over the years, which is probably a good thing for the home life and my work ethic.
Then again, I just channel those passions in a different direction, such as editing my favorite baseball video game to put historical players in. Just recently, I made all-1980s rosters for each team without repeating any players on any clubs. If that means Floyd Rayford starts at third base for the 1980s Baltimore Orioles, well, sue me.
See … I told you I was a geek.
There’s only one thing better than being a 39-year-old baseball geek. It’s being a 39-year-old baseball geek dad.
The other day I walked by my daughter’s room and she had her small collection of baseball cards out. She had all of her cards spread out over her bed and was organizing them into their respective teams … just like I used to do.
I had a gleam in my eye. It goes without saying that baseball cards are the alpha, beta and omega of the baseball geek universe. It was also at that point that I realized I had some unorganized cards of my own sitting in a box in my basement.
The cards — nearly all of them 1981 and 1982 Topps — had been lost to history for nearly a quarter-century.
Back then, I used to climb on top of our 1973 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon — yes, it had royal blue paint and wood paneling … accept no substitutes — and I would organize my cards in the perfectly proportioned luggage rack on the roof.
One day, they disappeared. I always presumed I left the cards on the roof and they lay forever rotting in a Topps tomb in some roadside ditch. However, when my grandma died in 2005, it turned out I had left them there on a visit and she had kept them for 23 years. When they came to light, it was as if I had rediscovered my personal Lost City of Gold.
They had been sitting in that same box in the five years since. Seeing a potential daddy-daughter baseball geek moment, I asked her if she’d help me organize my cards and she gladly accepted.
It was then that I gave her a primer on the world of baseball cards. She learned all about “doubles,” the stats on the backs of the cards, that each card has its own number, that baseball packs used to have gum in them back when her old man was a lad. That woe be to the unfortunate soul who got a checklist card in his pack. I gave her my doubles of any Hall of Famers I came across.
She gobbled it all up and she wanted a few packs of her own. So I indulged. I even got her one of those packs that includes the nuevo gum, though Topps wraps it in an hyper-protective plastic layer so as to avoid any sugar smudge on potential rookie cards. Value, schmalue, what a ripoff!
As she opened her cards, she got a few doubles and she gave them to me. She said since I had all older cards, that maybe I wanted some newer ones.
Maybe the world will be a better place after all. As long as it’s safe for baseball geeks.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Golden’s blog at blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley.
TERRE HAUTE —
A few weeks ago, I turned 39. Ugh.
- From the Press Box
Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best
It’s hard to run with Secretariat. Secretariat, for the uninitiated, won horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973 and famously stormed to victory in the Belmont Stakes by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest thoroughbred of all time, and his Belmont performance is one of sports’ all-time greatest moments. In Missouri Valley Conference terms, Wichita State is Secretariat.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge
When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.
From The Press Box: The nuts and bolts of compiling a Mock Selection for the NCAA Tournament
Before March Madness comes the March mystery of the run-up to Selection Sunday.
From the Press Box: Loss couldn’t ruin great day for ISU, Terre Haute
When I write, and when I can, I like to give myself a bit of time to soak in what I’m going to write about. After Indiana State’s 65-58 loss to No. 4 Wichita State on Wednesday, I went home, had a bite to eat and pondered what I thought the night was all about.
I knew ISU’s disappointment cut deep. Really deep. A cruel reality of sports is that losses linger on in the memory with greater resonance than wins often do. Given the shots that rattled out, fell short and missed the mark in the final five minutes, this is a defeat that will, sadly, dog the Sycamores tonight, tomorrow and 20 years from now.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Little to lose, a lot to gain for Indiana State
It’s hard not to get excited about today’s Missouri Valley Conference summit meeting between co-leaders Indiana State and Wichita State. Who wouldn’t be?
From the Press Box: I’ve seen the enemy … and it’s the double bonus
I’ve seen the enemy.
I’ve seen it turn the game of basketball from one of exciting flow into a nonstop parade of tedium. I’ve seen it morph hundreds of what would-be thrilling, last-minute, end-to-end conclusions into foul shooting exhibitions that suck the life out of a gym or arena near you.
It’s the double bonus. It’s a scourge, one that is often overlooked when ideas on how to make the game more entertaining or to speed the game up are put forth.
From The Press Box: If ISU figures out defense, look out
The Great Alaska Shootout is not going to provide the Great RPI Bump that Indiana State’s participation in last year’s Diamond Head Classic provided.
From the Press Box: Damage is done for ISU football
As a parent and a professional, there’s a bit of advice I’ve tried to pass along that I’ve found to be true.
No matter what you happen to be doing — whether it be job performance or just your own personal behavior — you can do the right thing for a period of time, even the vast majority of the time, but all it takes is one slip and the goodwill you’ve built up can be gone in one fell swoop.
TODD GOLDEN: Munn, Odum want to make paper accomplishment a real one
When it comes to Missouri Valley Conference Media Day, it has historically been a kick in the gut for Indiana State's basketball teams.
But not this year. For the first time since formal MVC preseason polls began in the mid-1980s, the Sycamores rule the MVC roost.
TODD GOLDEN: Colts fans paid Manning ultimate tribute
Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis was many things — the return of a beloved prodigal son, a battle of Colts’ No. 1-draft-pick quarterbacks and last, but not least, the visit from one of the AFC’s last reminaing undefeated teams — but most of all, it could have been a battle for the Colts’ fans soul.
From The Press Box: ISU in top 2 of top-heavy MVC
Change doesn’t often come to Missouri Valley Conference basketball. Until this season, it had endured with the same 10 members since the mid-1990s. But the reality of conference realignment finally hit the MVC where it lived last spring as Creighton departed for the new Big East Conference. The MVC responded by adding Loyola University.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sycamores shocked by 1-5 start to season
It was a play that not only symbolized Indiana State’s 17-14 loss at South Dakota on Saturday, but perhaps the Sycamores’ entire season.
Down three with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, ISU faced third-and-9 from its own 39. ISU ran Shakir Bell to the left and the senior standout had daylight.
From The Press Box: An avoidable loss
It couldn’t last forever.
From The Press Box: Colts dodge bullets ... it's what they do
Just a few minutes into the second quarter, it seemed Colts fans could kick back and enjoy a Sunday on Easy Street.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Indiana State proves plenty in 20-14 loss at Purdue
No moral victories?
Bull. Its always been bull and it will always be bull. The Sycamores proved again that moral victories are very real, and can be very rewarding.
All they needed to do to prove it was to look at the stunned faces of the Purdue faithful at Ross-Ade Stadium in the Sycamores’ near-miss 20-14 loss to Purdue.
From the Press Box: Stipends? No. Off-field income? Oh yeah, bring it on
The war flags have been raised. The trumpets have sounded.
With the Johnny Manziel autograph hullabaloo and the ongoing Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA for using his likeness as background, many have rallied to the battle standard of stipends as a means of compensating NCAA athletes who are allegedly being exploited for income by their universities.
This rally cry has a particular resonance among those in my profession, many of whom dislike the current system, and who detest the NCAA with a virulent passion.
TODD GOLDEN: Golf ... the beast within?
Like many sports fans, my interest in professional golf is confined to the four major tournaments. Many prefer the Masters, some like the back-to-roots British Open, but I’ve always liked the U.S. Open the best.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13
When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Content McKenna has enjoyed seeing ISU's progress
It all happened so fast in June 2010.
One minute, Kevin McKenna was head coach of the Indiana State men’s basketball program. Then — poof! — he was gone.
McKenna resigned from his head coaching position at ISU on June 13, 2010 to take an assistant coach position on Dana Altman’s then-burgeoning University of Oregon staff.
MVC can't wait on Crieghton to move forward
Will they go or not? That’s been the question that the Missouri Valley Conference and Creighton have been faced with since rumors of the Bluejays’ potential exit went public in December.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Can Sycamores reverse fortunes heading into MVC Tournament?
Mastery of a basketball season comes in many forms. Mostly, it comes in forms that involve avoidance of turnovers, anemic scoring and poor defense.
The mechanics of X-and-O success in basketball are obvious, but what’s often overlooked in building a successful campaign is managing the rhythm of the season, which is the hardest thing of all.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Accountability isn't Lansing's alone in ISU's recent struggles
Taking ownership has always been one of Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing’s strengths.
When ISU has lost games in his three seasons at the helm that it was expected to win, Lansing has always been willing to fall on the sword and take blame for it.
TODD GOLDEN: Indiana State has far more occasions to rise to
Rejoice, Indiana State basketball fans. The Sycamores’ 68-55 victory at No. 15 Wichita State on Tuesday is worthy of celebration.
TODD GOLDEN: Big plays in last 10 minutes story of the season for Indiana State
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
It’s 20 games into Indiana State’s men’s basketball season and I still expect the Sycamores’ offense operate like a well-oiled machine from the opening tip.
Sycamores blossom on Hawaii trip
Quick quiz … what’s the state flower of Hawaii?
Don’t worry. I can’t just rattle state flowers off the top of my head. I had to look it up too, even though I’ve seen them all over the place in Honolulu.
I didn’t even know that Indiana’s state flower is the peony, which replaced the apparently unloved zinnia in the 1950s.
Hawaii’s flower, and they’re ubiquitous in Waikiki tourist shops and in actual flora on Oahu, is the yellow hibiscus.
The yellow hibiscus is big, bold and bright. I’ve never seen one blossom, but I imagine it has to be a beautiful sight.
What I have seen blossom — and it’s the only reason flowers would be brought up in my column — is the Indiana State basketball team at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU needs to have its realignment head on a swivel
Have you ever driven past a cow pasture during a severe thunderstorm? If it’s really bad, the cows will congregate in a herd to protect themselves from the tumult.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU AD Prettyman keeps it close to the vest
Do you want to know who’s on the short list to become Indiana State's next football coach?
TODD GOLDEN: Trent Miles leaves Sycamores with giant legacy
To glean perspective on Trent Miles’ time as Indiana State’s football coach, I went back into the Tribune-Star’s archives to remind myself of what the football program was like when Miles arrived to rebuild it.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Scoreboard watching and the threat matrix for ISU
Indiana State football coach Trent Miles reaffirmed his belief Tuesday that a victory over Youngstown State on Saturday will propel the Sycamores into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time since 1984.
- More From the Press Box Headlines
- Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best