The Sports Equinox: Too Much Of A Good Thing?
I don’t follow sports as seriously or passionately the way I did from the time I was able to read the backs of baseball cards through my late 20’s.
A LinkedIn post from on the “Sports Equinox,” offers part of the explanation. This piece pointed out that all major professional sports leagues had games on the same day last week. Major League Baseball was in the middle of the world series while there were also games in the NBA, NHL and NFL.
I lived for sports, baseball, and the New York Yankees in particular when I was a kid growing up on Long Island. They were always in the World Series! We had Mickey Mantle! Yogi Berra! Whitey Ford! Not to mention Bill “Moose” Skowron, with whom I felt a special connection because we shared the same birthday.
There were eight teams each in the American and National Leagues in 1960. The first expansion teams were the New York Metropolitans and the Houston Colt ‘45s in the National League, and the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins in the American League. Actually, the Twins were the old Washington Senators who moved to their new home in Bloomington, Minnesota, because it was lily white. The team owner, Calvin Griffith, didn’t like all those black people in Washington, D.C., but that’s another story for another time. The new Washington Senators were the expansion team.
There were no playoffs unless two teams tied for first place, in which case a best of three game playoff would decide who advanced to the World Series. Before expansion, each team played 154 games, always within their respective league. The World Series always started on or around October 1, and was over a week later. The Autumn Classic was closer to the equinox than the winter solstice.
Now we have 30 teams, 15 in both the American and National Leagues, subdivided into East, Central and West Divisions. With a 26-man roster, that means there are 14 additional teams and 364 additional players to keep track of!
Like so many other Boomer boys, I collected nearly complete sets of baseball cards every year. I could name every player on every team. I knew their positions and stats. No doubt there are fantasy baseball players and sports nerds who can still name all the players in baseball and other sports, but I just couldn’t keep up.
Same with the other pro sports. I also loved football, basketball, and hockey, watching on TV or listening on the radio to the New York (Football) Giants, Knickerbockers, and Rangers. As those sports expanded I felt entirely overwhelmed.
At the same time, I also happened to be growing up and developing other interests. By the time I was in my late 20’s, I had found things that I’d rather do than watch games on TV every night.
While there was always some overlap to the sports seasons, it was nothing like we see now. It was straightforward: Baseball in the summer (the best!), football in the fall and basketball and hockey in the winter. There was no possibility of a Sports Equinox in those days.
I’m truly happy for all the Midwest and Western cities that welcomed professional sports for the first time. But I wonder if it’s too much of a good thing.