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FROM MY SEAT: Married With Sportssss

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BY FRANK MURTAUGH | JUNE 11, 2007

I’m celebrating my 13th wedding anniversary this week, and at the risk of mixing institutions many would say are mutually exclusive, I’d like to offer 13 sound reasons being a married sports fan beats cheering from the single seats.

  • A true sports fan never ages. No man brought to tears by a missed field goal has ever qualified for social security. Keep your marriage young (if not vibrant), by default.

  • You have a partner to play catch with, every day, all year. The saddest sight in any park is a person -- alone -- with a baseball mitt and ball. (Precisely, you NEVER see such. It’s that sad.) The first step my beloved took toward becoming a Murtaugh was stinging my left hand with her fastball.

  • The true measure of a wedding vow. Real commitment has nothing to do with sickness or health, wealth or poverty. Commitment is seeing the woman you love in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium on a Saturday night in November when the wind chill hits 25 degrees. Bundled as best she can, surrounded by Hog fans in camouflage, there only so you can see Peyton Manning throw one more college pass . . . she told you “this is for life.”

  • Breakfast in bed . . . at Wimbledon. There are rare cases when sports allow you to go above and beyond, to show that, yes, you care . . . even with a championship on the line. Every July, men in the central time zone get up early on a Sunday morning to watch the men’s final of the greatest tennis championship in the world. Perfect opportunity, gents, to heat up a bagel, cut some strawberries, pour some OJ, and deliver a tasty surprise. Just get the tray delivered before the end of the first set.

  • There is ALWAYS something you can get right. “What do you mean, the checkbook isn’t balanced this month? Laundry not in the hamper? No gas in the tank? Well, well . . . I know the infield fly rule!”

  • Analogies are easy. “Honey, you cannot have the first slice of cake you cut. That’s like an onside kick!” “Mary Jane Baby-sitter isn’t available? We gotta find a pinch-hitter, darling.” “That is a total exaggeration! Sweetheart, if you were on a basketball court, you’d be guilty of flopping.”

    Or try this one: “I know I didn’t help get the kids ready for bed tonight. But you have to remember, I’m this team’s ace. And an ace gets four nights off for every night of action.” (Be careful, though. This one can come back and bite you.)

  • When the in-laws call, you can always be “watching the game.” With my wife’s family, it could be 11:00 Tuesday morning, and this would work. If you have sports fans for in-laws, be sure and pick your “distraction” carefully. (There’s always the backup, too: a game you recorded earlier.)

  • The breakthroughs -- while rare -- are golden. I told myself I’d never marry a woman who couldn’t define a sacrifice fly. When my beloved actually broke sports news to me -- it was Darryl Strawberry signing with the Dodgers in 1990 -- I was hers, for life.

  • You develop your own language, devoid of sweet-nothings. My wife has a quaint, quick way of ending a conversation before I get into ERA, field-goal percentage, or third-down efficiency: “sportssss.” She hangs on that last “s” like Sir Hiss from Disney’s “Robin Hood.” Sportsssss. I get it.

  • Stuck in a press box, the home team down by three touchdowns before halftime, you develop an acute appreciation for what really matters in life. Yep, rub that ring finger.

  • It can be hard as a sports fan these days to retain faith in the American family. Children out of wedlock has become the norm among the NBA set. Domestic abuse is an annual item on the NFL rap sheet. So be an example, both to yourself and to the code of decency so many of our millionaire heroes have forsaken.

  • The hugs are Hall of Fame material. Last October 27th, when Adam Wainwright struck out Detroit’s Brandon Inge to win the World Series for St. Louis, Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina enjoyed the SECOND biggest hug in North America that night.

  • You think losing that final playoff game hurts? Imagine life without that teammate at the dinner table. You may love sports. But she, for some magical, mysterious reason, loves YOU.

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