Looking for the payoffs of so much time spent worrying about sport [Commentary]

There is a fantastic documentary out there about the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, "Message to Love," which, if you haven't seen and you're a music person, I would highly recommend checking out. My favorite scene in this documentary shows Joni Mitchell, who is trying to get through a song that features just her voice and piano accompaniment upbraid a bunch of rude audience members who are whistling at some unseen distraction (whistling, if you weren't aware, is a European variant of the American "boo.") Mitchell stops the song and, in telling the jeering fans why it's so difficult to get up and sing in front of a crowd, says, "You got your whole life wrapped up in it."

I think about that scene all the time, because I find myself questioning what's important to me, and, as Joni said, about those things that I've got wrapped up in my life. On the base, intrinsic level, sports is about the same as music. They're both forms of entertainment that people take very seriously. I certainly wouldn't want to live in a world where I couldn't listen to music or go to watch the Orioles play a Sunday afternoon home game. But, looking at it professionally, sports plays a pretty big role in my day-to-day existence. I spend a great deal of my time thinking and writing about it. I have bad dreams about getting scores mixed up and reporting the wrong results for important playoff games. Every week I have to come up with a new and exciting thing to write about in this column, whether I'm sick, or uninspired, or completely fried from standing out in the cold and rain to watch a field hockey state final. I'm not complaining, mind you, because I know I'm lucky to have a job that allows me to write on topics about which I'm knowledgeable, but, to bring this full circle, sports is wrapped into my life pretty well at this point.

When you have something so thoroughly integrated into your life, when you watch a 14-year-old kid with a lot of talent turn into an 18-year-old athlete over the course of four seasons, when you've vicariously lived through the agony and ecstasy of a team's season over and over, you want some kind of reward for it, big or small. You want something to say, "Hey, that was worth it." One of the better ways of having that happen, for a sportswriter anyway, is to see the players you've covered go on to bigger and better things, and there's been a few Harford County athletes who've been proving themselves on a much bigger stage lately.

Brad Markey, the MVP of the C. Milton Wright baseball team's 2010 campaign, which saw the Mustangs go 23-0 and capture a Class 3A state title, and now a starting pitcher at Virginia Tech, has had a great start to his junior year with the Hokies, winning his first two starts with an ERA of 2.08 over 13 innings. If you remember, Markey was drafted last year by the Mets, but opted to stay put and finish up his college education before moving on to pro ball. Seeing him toss a five-hitter against Huntingtown in the 2010 state title game was one of the highlights of my time at The Aegis, and I hope he keeps right on moving.

And, heading North up the coast a little bit to the University of Maryland, you've got Markey's former teammate, Bobby Ruse, and North Harford ace Kevin Mooney both pitching for the Terps. Ruse, and sophomore now, leads the UMD pitching staff with a 2-0 record, having earned two wins in relief, and having not allowed an earned run in 4.2 innings. The game in which Ruse earned his first win, a Feb. 22 victory over Oakland, marked Mooney's first post-high school starting assignment. Mooney hasn't recorded a decision yet in his three appearances, but that he's earning starts as a freshman bodes well for him.

So, three pitchers, Harford Countians all, doing well at the Division I level. That's a nice payoff, even if I had nothing to do with them getting there. Well done, fellas.

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