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The Zak Zone

April 11, 2012

This time of year may just be the perfect time of year, as far as I'm concerned: Especially as far as the sports calendar goes.

Combining the budding of new life growing from the warm weather — though we've been mistreated with some colder-than-we-would-like type of weather over the past few days — with the sports calendar unfolding before us in early April does something to warm my heart.

After the rush of March Madness, the sports calendar quiets down a bit, though it is revving up for perhaps its busiest season of them all.

Last Sunday was Easter, which means the inaugural street hockey game on my parents' driveway surface between the family members on my mother's side.

This year, I crowned myself the Most Valuable Player of the opening holiday classic after scoring 12 goals — although the stats are skewed by the fact that my Canadian family, known for their hockey expertise, didn't make the trip this year.

They will visit later in the year, and they'll be a welcome intrusion on my run at another self-proclaimed MVP award. But the game was a fun one — albeit a windy one — for those of us who were able to attend.

The thing I enjoy most about our Easter game is the fact that it means we're in the midst of spring.

Baseball season has usually just recently started, and this year, we were able to watch Pirates' baseball Easter Sunday: A time of year when there's still hope in the Steel City that their Buccos may just develop into the team for which we all see the potential.

Just the day before Easter, the Penguins had wrapped up their season, and Sunday, it was announced officially when they would open their series against the Flyers.

Early in the hockey playoffs — which I consider to be the most exciting among the major sports — all 16 teams still have a chance, and while there are certainly favorites, any given team is just one hot goalie away from a run at the Stanley Cup.

Even the sports that a lot of folks hate to watch, but I enjoy thoroughly — golf and tennis among them — are gearing up for their summer seasons right about now.

And who can't fall in love with a story like the one that unfolded Easter Sunday at the Masters, where your everyday guy, Bubba Watson, won his first green jacket, breaking down into tears right after sinking the winning putt on the second playoff hole.

Oh, and racing season is just around the corner!

If I could have it my way, the magic that comes with spring sports would stay with us all year.

It's not that I don't love the other sports.

Anyone who knows me well knows I love a good football game just about as much as anything. But I despise the wicked winter weather which approaches in football season.

Standing outside with more layers on than an onion has is not my idea of a good time. It's the game that makes it bearable.

And being cooped up inside all winter is no fun either. Again, a good basketball game or wrestling match kept me good company over many cold winter nights this year, but with the fresh spring air comes the excitement of being outside and being warm.

Sure, hockey and basketball playoffs, which hit full stride in April, take place inside, but I can sit on my front porch and listen to Mike Lange sift through his index cards of catchy sayings while I sip some lemonade in early June if I'd like — and I'd certainly like to still be listening to him in early June, as that means the Penguins are nearing another Cup.

So, on the days that it's nice enough to do so, I say get out there and enjoy the nice weather! Maybe you can even dust off your old hockey stick or baseball bat or tennis racket and take a few swings.

Then, while we're at it, there are some PAHS teams well worth watching which are participating in their spring sports schedule right now — with lots of promising signs coming from the early portion of the season.

But on the days similar to Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, when the cold weather snaps back upon us here in Punxsy, at least there's plenty of sports action going on outside our little town, as well.

Enjoy the weather; enjoy the show; and let's go Buccos and Pens.

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