Even Sports Fans Must Accept Lot on Old-Timers Day

You know you're not getting old. It just feels like it when:

You go to a ballgame and don't even try to sneak down to better seats.

You remember that athletes once wore shoes with no prominent brand markings on the sides, and you wonder who the genius was who realized that every athlete was wearing two blank billboards.

You thought you finally knew everything, then they came up with the nickel defense, the annuity and arthroscopic surgery.

You don't mind spending a couple of bucks for a seat cushion.

You hear that Wayne Carlander is about to pass John Rudometkin and become USC's career scoring champion, and you remember listening to Trojan games on the radio when Rudo was the rage, and being amazed at the fluid, fire-and-brimstone delivery of the play-by-play guy--a newcomer to town named Chick Hearn.

Ronald Reagan turns on to Bruce Springsteen before you do.

You explain to someone that box seats were once actually encircled by a wooden fence, thereby forming--that's right--a box.

You find yourself using the phrase "I remember . . . " too often.

You get all worked up when someone brings up modern gimmicks such as artificial turf, aluminum bats and domed stadiums.

You notice that the person bringing up those topics is often you.

The scribes in the press box start looking like kid brothers and sisters of the real sportswriters.

You still think of John Hadl and Jack Kemp as quarterbacks.

You see Chris Mullin and Pat Ewing wearing T-shirts under their jerseys and you remember who started that fad--Bob Cousy, at Holy Cross.

You find yourself trying to pick up some of the latest inside sports phrases so your writing won't be embarrassingly dated. You know that a fastball pitcher used be "throwing aspirin tablets," then he was "throwing smoke," then he was "bringing gas." What the devil is it now?

You wonder when menus at ballpark hot dog stands started getting cluttered up with sissy items like pizza, nachos and bon-bons.

You wonder if blood-doping would improve your bowling.

You remember when a 7-foot high jump was a big deal--for men jumpers.

You realize that free base once meant a stroll to first.

You roll your eyes as the TV announcer talks about the velocity of a pitch instead of speed, the transition game instead of the fast break, and says a player has good foot speed.

The boot-camp haircut your coach made you wear in high school is back in style, only in decorator colors.

You're glad Kareem Abdul-Jabbar decided to stay around for another season, because he got out of college the same year you did, and as long as he's still a force in the NBA, you're not old.

You think Purple Rain is something caused by industrial air pollution.

You're glad the ugly two-hand set shot became extinct long ago, but you wonder why only a few guys still shoot the deadly hook.

You're glad ballplayers make tons of money now, because you remember that owners once had the upper hand in salary wars, and were often cold and tyrannical fellows.

The vendor tries to sell you a $5 program that is fatter than a Sears catalogue and you wonder why you can't just buy a scorecard for a quarter. Or a nickel.

You wonder what Ted Williams would have hit if he'd had Nautilus, hypnosis, yoga, yogurt, sweat bands and batting gloves.

In the gyms where you play your rec-league basketball, the hardwood floors seem to get deader every year. Evidently wood tends to lose its springiness with age.

You remember how you hated but respected Red Auerbach, and it seems like only yesterday. In fact, it was only yesterday.

You hate all the new sports uniforms, and truly believe that baseball will be a better sport now that the Padres have junked their brown-and-gold clown suits.

You also believe in your heart that white baseball shoes go well only with pastel leisure suits.

You wish we could go back to the days when the stadium PA announcer didn't introduce the team as your Los Angeles Lakers, or Dodgers. You figure if they were yours, you'd make some changes, pronto.

Snagging a foul ball while sitting in the stands no longer makes your day. Unless it's a particularly acrobatic catch.

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