Late summer is an exciting time in sports
By Sylas WrightMid- to late-August, when reality sinks in that another summer is nearing its end, the blues are counteracted by excitement in the sports world.Like the return of a good friend who temporarily dropped out of touch, football reemerges, bringing with it the excitement of a clean-slate season for all. Baseball, after enduring the dog days of summer and a marathon of a season, begins shaping into pennant races for the winning and rookie call-up time for the not-so-winning.When the chill in the air overcomes the heat, the excitement has arrived.FootballPre-season football always seems to arrive early. Media analysis rouses fans with foresight of how their teams will fair. Hopes start high and optimism is strong. But it’s the games that determine the outcome of each anticipated season. Arguments have been made that college football is more exciting to watch than pro. This may be true to an extent. But either way, between the two, both days of the weekend are filled with great sports entertainment for all pigskin-loving couch-loungers.On the local scene, proud parents, socially active students and local high school supporters are treated to home prep games every other Friday evening. The 3A state champion Wolverines, who I have yet to see in action but have heard much about, should be a joy to cover for the first time. With Truckee losing a number of great athletes to graduation, and with the giant target that comes standard after a state championship, the season ought to be real interesting.Gary CookSpeaking of Wolverines football, Sierra Sun-reading Truckee residents should know by now about 22-year-old Truckee High graduate Gary Cook, who after punting his way to a full-ride scholarship at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is competing for a roster spot on the Oakland Raiders.Those who caught the second half of the Raiders’ first pre-season game of the year on Saturday night, against the 49ers, may have seen Cook’s three punts – all of which landed inside the 20 yard line, with a pair downed at the San Francisco 2 – as well as his successful extra point.Cook even got his mug on camera when he removed his helmet on the sidelines after his first well-placed, sky-high punt – which would not have been possible had he not leaped to catch the errant high snap. The rookie also received a round of high-fives for his precision boot.I may have been more enthused than the composed-looking Cook, who is about as classy and as nice a guy as they come. Call me a biased small-town sports editor, but I’ll surely be pulling for Cook. Baseball The divisional and wild-card races that begin taking shape in the late summer always make for exciting preludes to postseason play. And how ’bout those A’s? Maybe this is the year they’ll to go deep into the playoffs, possibly all the way to the World Series. Maybe those Angels of Anaheim will edge them in the American League West while the Yankees will do the same in the wild-card race. Nobody knows – and in that unknown is part of the excitement of late-summer baseball.The Giants, I don’t feel like talking about.Time keeps on flyingThe start of a great sport’s season coinciding with the end of another makes for great excitement – enough even to override the dispiriting realization of yet another summer come and gone.