Squint and you just might see sports

Today is a good day. Quarantine is about to pay off. And sports are trending in the right direction for a return to the United States.

Major League Baseball is expected to give a return-to-play proposal to the MLBPA within a week and teams have encouraged players to gear up for a second dose of “spring” training that should commence in the middle of June.

The NBA is reportedly going to hold a call with its players tomorrow to discuss a potential return, the same day the same day the league has permitted teams to reopen practice facilities for voluntary, social-distanced workouts.

And the NFL will release it’s league schedule tonight, the day after the commissioner sent a league-wide memo that laid out the protocol for a potential phase 1 reopening of all 32 teams facilities as early as May 15.

Plus, there WILL be real, live sports this weekend when UFC 249 will take place at  VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

But here’s the catch. There won’t be moments like this when sports do return.

2016 ALDS: Texas Rangers vs Toronto Blue Jays

Or, perhaps even more important, moments like this I had in 2015 at a Houston Astros game with my grandmother.

2015: Minute Maid Park

You see, there are many layers as to why I love sports. The actual games, the competition, the stories of players and fans, but it’s also an opportunity to simply be with the people you love. I’ll never forget that day with my grandmother. I had driven to Houston from Dallas, where I was living at the time, and we had ourselves a nice night enjoying something we both love. But is greater than that. It’s also a communal experience shared with thousands of people that, to me, brings nothing but gratitude.

So, while there are still hurdles to be cleared, sports are nearing a return albeit without us fans in the stands. In the meantime, warm up your giant foam finger and favorite jersey because we can officially see light at the end of the tunnel.

Today is a good day.

Think Quarantine Is Tough? Think Again

Professional athletes are overpaid, cocky and have no care in the world except for themselves. Right? Many have those views, but this is a story how one of those athletes was selfless and without a doubt has inspired a little boy who faced the ultimate test…cancer.

55 days.

That’s how many days it’s been without sports and while it has been a struggle it’s not even close to what Levi Delimpo has endured. You see, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and through his love of sports, prayer and unbelievable medical treatment, survived.

But this all started a year prior, in Cincinnati before a Steelers vs Bengals game, where I stumbled upon this moment. I noticed Conner heading towards the stands where players typically sign autographs one last time before a game, but this was more than an autograph signing.

As the sign says, Levi had just finished his last round of chemotherapy and just HAD to come see his favorite player with who he shares an incredible bond. Surviving cancer. I thought it was pretty cool, tweeted it out, thinking this would be a memory the two strangers would cherish. Little did I know the impact.

If my memory serves me correctly, Levi’s mother Tami, reached out to me through social media to thank me and explain how her son was over the moon with the chance encounter. Fast forward a year later.

Mrs Delimpo reached out to me again and said their family were driving to Pittsburgh, from their home in Lexington, Kentucky to watch a Steelers game at Heinz Field. Levi’s first time in the ‘Steel City’ and of course to get another look at #30 do his thing. I reached out to the Steelers PR staff and, through a collaborative effort, was able to arrange the meeting between Levi and Conner where they were able to spend probably five minutes together just talking about their past and how a positive mindset and prayer have helped them both through recovery and beyond.

I’m happy to report after a successful surgery and more than a year later, Levi has “No Evidence of Disease” after the latest scans of his hip. Amazing.

I’ve told hundreds of stories over my career and this might be my favorite. Quarantine and these times are tough, but it’s nothing compared to what Levi has endured and he’s not even 12-years-old.

Sportscaster In Shorts

54 days.

That’s how long it’s been without sports. Sure, the trips down memory lane of various Finals and championships we’ve seen lately have been fun to reminisce. Or even last night’s Opening Day in the Korean Baseball Organization between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions which was a fantastic idea from ESPN to get involved with. Bat flips. A boy in a bubble? Awesome. Both were nice time consumers, but just not the same as Luka Doncic making his NBA Playoffs debut right now or the Pittsburgh Penguins trying to climb their way back on top of the NHL mountain. Don’t make me list all the events we’ve missed over the last 54 days.

So, settle in and grab a beer. Or two. And lets have some fun.

March 31st was the last time I worked and because of that I’ve had PLENTY of time on my hands. I’ve been introduced to Joe Exotic. Wow. Discovered that Love is blind. Tom Segura is the funniest dude in America. And I’m never going back to the Ozark. Ever. Yea, I’ve crushed Netflix. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my ability to grow a decent beard.

But while I’ve watched my fair share of TV and taken ALL the walks, I’ve realized, even more, how much I absolutely LOVE what I do for a living. I miss sports. I miss the stories that come with sports. I miss putting on a suit so I can go on TV and talk about sports. I miss my passion, however it’s given me opportunity.

I’ve always wanted to create my own website and apparently I don’t have lack of time as an excuse anymore.

So what will the site be about?

I’ll do my best to pull back the curtain on the winding road I call my career. Share stories of unforgettable events and players I’ve encountered over the years, but it won’t all sports. I’ll share stories of my life, what I find interesting outside of the sports world, make some fun videos and hope I can have a Zoom chat with Julia Roberts. Who knows what will come of the website! So, until we get sports back and I’m not reduced to a sportscaster in shorts any longer, grab a beer. Or two. And lets have some fun.