I am new to Mississippi.
Three days, in fact.
And, ha, I can already type out the correct spelling of the state in 0.6 seconds.
My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Logan, back in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, would be proud. And, believe me, Massachusetts was no easy state to spell. That was a three-day class.
Anyway, a new Mississippi resident was searching for a place to live Saturday. And the very nice saleswomen seemed to be shivering. Well, not shivering. But almost cold.
Cold in Massachusetts is 10 degrees with a wind of 40 miles an hour that knocks the wind-chill temperature well below zero.
It was nearly 60 degrees here Saturday. Shorts weather. Get the beach balls out. Or maybe the softballs for Zayley.
And so that’s what I’m looking forward to in Mississippi. Warm temperatures and great sports.
I’m told those hot temps will soon be here.
The great sports teams already are.
Mississippi State, or let me join in right here and just call them State, will have two basketball teams in March Madness by the time the selection shows get over Monday night. The State men will earn their first- and second-round destination tonight. The State women, we already know, will be listed as a home team when the NCAA Tournament field is announced Monday night.
And then an action-packed week begins Thursday. March Madness. The NCAA Dance. Whatever you want to call it. Best time of the year.
And at the same time all this is going on, State’s baseball team is just rolling through the competition and State’s football team is going through its spring football drills to prepare for another challenging season in the Southeastern Conference. By far, the best league in the land.
I can’t wait.
Oh, I am well acquainted with the south and its football. Covering Clemson or South Carolina on football Saturdays became a routine for me when I was in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where the high school teams draw 10,000 fans. When I was in Jacksonville, Florida, I was the pro football editor for the Florida Times Union overseeing the first year of the Jacksonville Jaguars and also the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
I have been in the Big House many times in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have been to Notre Dame Stadium, where the tradition just knocks you over as soon as you pull into town. I’ve been to Clemson and North Carolina and Virginia Tech and every other venue in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Duke vs. North Carolina basketball games are inspiring.
But I felt a lump in my throat when I drove past Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday. I simply envisioned a Saturday in September when the place is packed and, you know, State knocks off Alabama or somebody like that and the ESPN boys came busting into town.
This is all an adventure.
And I’m ready to share the ride with you.
State. The high schools. Auto racing. Golf. You name it.
I’m here for you, and I want to listen.
I began my career as an official scorer in the Cape Cod Baseball League years ago. I saw many of the baseball stars who played at State and then went on to Major League Baseball. I was a batboy there before I became an official scorer and writer.
I served in the U.S. Army, and won a commendation medal.
I went to school at Kansas University. So, um, yes, I do wear my Jayhawk blue proudly.
I watched the Red Sox lose the 1986 World Series in a dramatic way to the New York Mets.
I coached my daughter’s soccer teams and also a junior high basketball team. I am a certified soccer official. Got games?
So let’s start this new adventure. It’s go time.
Anybody need a winter coat?
Paul Bowker is sports editor of the Commercial Dispatch. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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