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SPORTS GUY: The big 4-0

“Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
— Dylan Thomas


Forty.

There, I said it. The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging that it exists, and in this case the problem is that yours truly is about to get trampled by the inevitable march of time.

Where's a lawyer when you need one? Somebody darn sure should have shouted “Stampede!” to warn me that it was time to break out the black balloons and pour myself a shot of prune juice.

Nevertheless, here we are. In the wee hours of Friday morning, The Sports Guy will slam through that invisible barrier and land smack-dab in the center of — shhh — middle age.

How on earth did I get here, faithful reader? It isn't that I intended to spend the first four decades of my life idly waiting for the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series title. It just … happened … and suddenly that life-long dream of running like a screaming banshee through the streets of Wrigleyville with throngs of kindred souls seems very much in doubt. Not onlydo I have to acknowledge that Cubs management might really be that inept, but, even if it isn't, I now must ask if I'll be spry enough to run.

Forty years. Do you understand the significance, faithful reader? There are only nine professional baseball teams that feature players older than I am on their roster.

The golfers I idolized growing up and fantasized playing alongside as a collegiate player are all part of the Seniors' Tour, if not outright retired. Statistically speaking, my ambition of someday becoming a chess grandmaster is long gone.

I remember college basketball when players actually stayed in school for four years and there was no 3-point shot. I remember when the ‘National' in National Hockey League arguably could have stood for Canada. I know the Big Red Machine is a nickname for both mid-1970s Cincinnati baseball and Soviet hockey. Heck, I even remember when it was actually legal to hit the quarterback in professional football.

Can an invitation from the AARP be very far behind?

Forty. This may not be one of those skydiving, hang gliding, 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu moments, but darn does it feel like it from my vantage. Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are, but a collision with that oncoming 18-wheeler in my front windshield looks pretty imminent.

This is what happens when you can harken back to the days when programming on ESPN didn't include six hours of pokerevery singlenight.

Once upon a time, I would have sat here in Powell, gazing across the Big Horn Basin in almost any direction to choosea mountain on which to test my youthful legs. Now if I look at a mountain, it's probably because I'm trying to select which one I'll go sit atop to grow my white beard and dispense wisdom from. One of those pitcher's mounds at Homesteader Park looks just about right.

It used to be that if Iunleashed sarcasmwithin a column to question the wisdom of the powers that be, folks would laugh and attribute it to the acerbic wit of an up-and-coming writer. Now I'll have to grow accustomed to it being blamed on the fact that I'm a crusty curmudgeon.

We're talking 40, faithful reader. The big four-oh-no, and don't you dare try to give me that schtick about age only being a number. My ZIP code is a only a number. My ageis now the qualifying standard to bea Smithsonian exhibit.

I'm simply not ready for this. I can't handle going to a classic car show and seeing my high school ride staring back at me.I'm making my stand right here, right now. I'm not turning 40.

I'm converting my age to Celsius. We can revisit this matter in 2074. Until then, let my second childhood begin.

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