The most wonderful time of the year

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here!

Anyone who, like me, has small children probably just flashed to Christmas morning. But that’s not, contrary to popular opinion, “The most wonderful time of the year.”

Not for me, anyway.

As a sports fan, it doesn’t get much better on the sports calendar than October. There’s so much hope, intrigue, upsets and outstanding performances it’s hard to believe just one month can contain it all.

I would be remiss if I didn’t start with our national pastime. The MLB playoffs run through almost the entire month (and then some if the World Series goes to Game 7). While baseball generally seems to be taking a hit with the casual fan thanks to the length of some of these games, both Wild Card games this year took nearly four hours to complete, there’s just something about October baseball that captures the imagination. Think about the most memorable baseball images, scenes and highlights from the last 30 years. Almost all of them are from the playoffs. Kirk Gibson’s fist pump as he rounds first, Sid Bream sliding safely across the plate, Joe Carter, Luis Gonzalez and Edgar Renteria walking it off, Bartman, Boston’s comeback from 3-0, the bloody sock, ending 108 years of futility, etc. Forget all the complaints about the current state of the game, once October rolls around moments and heroes are made.

As one season wraps, two more begin. Both the NBA and NHL seasons begin this month. Fans of nearly every team in both leagues start the season hopeful their team has made all the right moves to win a championship, or repeat as champions for the Warriors and Penguins. While not a big NBA follower, I’ve been a longtime hockey fan and would like nothing better than to see my team return from relative obscurity, for them at least, and knock off the Pens in the Eastern Conference. I think they’re still a year away, but a fast start to the season for the first time in forever (thanks Princess Anna) has me dreaming about parades down Broad Street. Which is exactly what this part of the season is all about.

October is also the first full month of fall. And around these parts, fall means football. Both the NFL and college seasons are in full swing. The NFL just wrapped week six and it’s usually at this point in the season when teams begin to separate themselves. We see if the surprising hot starts can continue (looking at you Kansas City and Philly) and wonder whether any struggling preseason contender(s) can turn things around.

In the college game, October matchups often have lasting ramifications. Take last week for example. Three undefeated, top 10 teams, all expected to win handily, took surprising upsets. A fourth was narrowly edged out on the road. Chances are more unbeatens will fall in the coming weeks, which will make for some interesting debates as to who should be ranked where by the playoff committee when the first rankings are released Oct. 31.

Additionally this year, for me, is a return to covering local high school teams. Already this month I’ve seen a volleyball team comeback from 19-9 to win a set, a soccer team clinch a region title and a phenomenal golfer punch her ticket to states. And there’s still more to come.

What could be more wonderful than all that?