The Watering Hole: A Valentine's Day list of love and hate

By Michael Waterloo
Of The Spirit

Oh, February.

It's that time of year where we officially get sick and tired of the snow, and when we just wait to see the blades of grass poke through.

But mid-February brings a lot of mixed emotions, depending on your relationship status.

Yes, I'm a sports writer talking about Valentine's Day.

It's the "holiday" that people in a relationship love, but single people despise.

So, whether you have plans to take your significant other out to The Melting Pot, or you're going to watch your favorite Nicholas Sparks-based movie while consuming your weight in Håagen-Dazs, just try to enjoy it.

Being that I've been on both ends of the spectrum, even though I'm not an ice cream fan, I can relate.

And since this is a sports column, let's stick with the Valentine's Day theme and look at some of the things and people I love and hate in the sports world.

Michael Sam

I love the courage that Sam showed by announcing that he was gay.

What's more, I love the fact that his teammates at Missouri stood by him and didn't judge him on it.

I hope a team takes a chance on Sam during the 2014 NFL Draft, but I hope they do so because of his skill, not his sexuality.

I mean really, is it any of our business?

Sam is the latest in what seems like a trend of athletes "coming out," if you will.

Pretty soon, I don't think it will make news, because it will be seen as a commonality.

The Cleveland Browns

I don't hate the Cleveland Browns at all.

To be honest, I'm pulling for them just so they aren't the joke of the league anymore.

Their fans deserve more than what they are giving them.

Pretty soon, you're going to have lifelong Browns fans jump ship to the
Steelers because they are tired of pulling for a loser.

After taking forever to hire a head coach, the Jimmy Haslam regime fired its general manager.

Gee, what a boost of confidence that must be for new coach Mike Pettine.

In what may be the most telling sign, as pointed out by ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Steelers have had three coaches in 45 years.

The Browns have had three in 407 days.


Pokey Reese

No, he wasn't the best player in the world, but Pokey Reese will go down with Bo Jackson as one of my two favorite athletes of all time.

He had an incredible glove, a nice head of hair and when I got to meet him when I was younger, he couldn't have been nicer.

I still have his autographs on my dresser to this day.

The Designated Hitter

The one thing I cannot wrap my head around is why a sport has two different leagues, who play the same exact game, but one gets to have an extra hitter.

There's a reason that no DH has made it into the Hall of Fame.

It's looked at as a joke.

Sure, it's fun to watch because of the offensive output, but isn't a baseball player supposed to hit and field his respective positions?

The Senior Circuit (the National League) is full of strategy and better baseball.

Call me a purist, and it's probably accurate due to the fact that I hate replay, I like batting average and I don't fully buy into WAR, but I'd rather watch a pitcher look at three pitches instead of a guy like David
Ortiz hit a home run.

Cheering Sections

The Oakland Zoo and the Cameron Crazies are excellent at what they do.

They are on top of the visiting teams, and they get their team pumped up.

I'll admit it, when I covered the Punxsy-DCC game on Wednesday night, I had to remain focused on the game at hand because "The Birdcage"
cheering section that the Cardinals had was incredible.

Organized chants; dancing; the "Seven Nation Army" chant; it was all there.

Cheering sections are great, and Punxsy will experience one of the best around as they travel to "The Black Hole" at Bradford today.

National Signing Day

Maybe it's just me, but watching a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds sign on the dotted line as to which college they're going to attend doesn't do it for me.

Do you realize how far off these projections often are?

If not, go back and check where Johnny Manziel and Aaron Donald were ranked heading into their freshmen years of college.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

The Feel-Good Moment

I don't like ESPN.

I've made that obvious over the past year or so.

The one time I'll tune in, other than when a game is on, is when they run the "My Wish" segments.

I love seeing athletes spending time with fans, especially those who are going through the unimaginable.

Also, at the end of basketball or football games, to see a player get in the game — special needs or not — and score a basket or touchdown is one of the greatest moments in sports.

Seeing their eyes light up and knowing you just made their day, month or life, is something truly special.

All-Star Games

I like high school All-Star games, but anything after that, no thanks.

The NFL and NBA have botched theirs to the point where they shouldn't even be played anymore.

Baseball at least has a competitive game to watch, but having home-field on the line for the World Series is ludicrous.