From the time I was 9 until about 16, I was a walking sports encyclopedia. My dad, who imparted much of my sports knowledge, used to quiz me. As my siblings grew, life thickened, and the golf course beckoned, my dad stopped “following” non-local sports and began “enjoying” them casually. I found it inexplicable when he didn’t know the backup running backs of the NFL teams we watched. I took great delight when I was old and “wise” enough to turn the tables on him, stumping him with my spurious facts about Mike Bordick and Thurman Thomas. I was such a little nerd.
As you get older, it becomes difficult to separate sections of time. This problem manifests itself mostly in things like knowing what events happened in what year. When I was in high school, I could tell you everything that happened in 7th grade, and how it was so vastly different than 8th grade. Now, at 27, those two years of mine and my friends lives seem like one long year of awkwardness. This isn’t a groundbreaking theory. It’s further in the past, more stuff has happened since then, it’s no surprise my brain is less interested in holding onto those details. I also believe technology is at fault, at least in part. I used to know my 30 closest friends’ home phone numbers by heart (before cell phones). Now, I barely know my wife’s cell and hers is the ONLY one I can remember. In the same way, I feel I need to remember less about sports, because I know someone is keeping track of everything somewhere on the Internet.
I’ve realized that this is happening a lot sooner for me, especially in sports. I was talking with someone about the Los Angeles Lakers recently (I often get unwillingly drawn into NBA arguments, for some reason). I caught myself referring to “The Glen Rice Year,” and “The Karl Malone Year.” What year was that? I have no idea. The point is, it becomes harder to remember the details of Pedro Martinez’s dominant 1999, but you remember the existence of “That Insane Pedro Year Where His ERA Was Under 2.00.”
In Baltimore area sports, it’s getting tougher and tougher to distinguish years from one another. There was a period where the Ravens were so new, that you could recall every single regular season GAME they played. Other than the Super Bowl season and whatever the most recent season was, I have a hard time distinguishing the years and the cast of characters. I remember the Ravens having two pretty subpar years since the championship season, but I have no idea when those were [Note: I looked these up and it’s 2005 and 2007.] When was Boulware’s last season? What was Boller’s first year? Which year did Ray miss all those games? It’s all so fuzzy.
The same thing is starting to happen to my beloved Capitals. While the good memories are still relatively fresh, 2008-09 and 2009-10 are running together. Statistically off the charts, virtually identical lineups with some tinkering and a captaincy change mid-2010. Other than that, it feels like one long season with the same themes cropping up again and again. Right now in my mind I separate them by the changes in the role players between the two years. I’m certain that the fact that Bryan Helmer was on the team in ‘09 but not in ‘10 will not stick in my brain forever. In 2020, will I even be able to tell the difference between the two seasons?
This phenomenon of not remembering good teams is bad, but remembering crappy teams is nearly impossible. I know, you can’t think crappy Baltimore team without the Orioles. I recall the entire lineup AND batting order of the 1996 Yankees, but if I had to take a test to compile Oriole lineups in the post-Ripken era, I would fail miserably. What year did we have Eric Byrnes? Which years was Rodrigo Lopez the opening day starter? Was Charles Johnson our catcher at one point, or did I imagine that?
College sports is nearly impossible in this area. I won’t even delve into it, but i have the hardest time remembering the Maryland point guard lineage and cannot for the life of me remember which Terp offensive linemen played in the same unit.
Maybe this is a sign that sports has less of a hold on my life than it did 10 years ago. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m just getting older. Maybe it’s a sign I’m becoming more like my dad.
You know what? I’m totally okay with that.
Dave Gilmore covers the Capitals for Baltimore Sports Report and is trying to play hockey before he turns 30.