Tuesday, March 08, 2005

SPORTS: A Cheeky Treasure

In between dental procedures, I've finally found time to listen to some radio and get back here to record a few thoughts.

Saturday was a programming day with the usual cacaphony of sounds and images playing around me as I tried to get a handle on product reduction for this project I am working on. The TV was showing CBS's triple-header of what turned out to be great college basketball games. But I wasn't paying too much attention, since I was anticipating a big Illinois win over Ohio State. Not much to my credit there.

No, the main source of distraction was the Toronto Blue Jays' game on the radio. And, much to my happy surprise, the voice I heard was Tom Cheek's. The timbre and sound of his voice has been more than the occasional companion for more than half my life. His consecutive game streak came to an end last year as he lost his father and then his good health in one horrible fortnight. But until then, the tall, ex-Vermonter had been a constant for every game the Jays played until then. Every game, save some Spring Training exercises in exercise. He was a man who's style and grace made comparisons to Vin Scully legitimate. For that, he should have won the Ford Frick Award and entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame. With apologies to Jerry Coleman, a fine man and announcer, I believe Cheek should have won the award.

I say all of this so that folks out there make sure to catch Tom Cheek this season in the home broadcasts that he has signed up for. His continuing treatment for a brain tumour have me worried that the end of career is nigh. He had a rough time Saturday, but that could just be a case of getting out the winter rust. But even at a sub-par level, Tom Cheek made me feel like it was warm and sunny out and the Jays were once again the coming sign of summer.

A couple of innings in, I noticed the supposed to be one-sided basketball game wasn't. The programming was put aside and I wandered over to the lounge where the radio is set up near my left ear and the tv's straight ahead. I'm a basketball junkie, so I could have been pardoned if I shut the radio off. It was, afterall, a meaningless game. But I didn't. I kept the TV sound down low and let the sounds of coming summer cast their spell over me.

I didn't want to miss one more Cheeky performance. Make sure you don't pass up the opportunity to turn in every now and then to Blue Jay home games this summer. Mute the TV sound and let Tom and Jerry (Howarth) remind you of when you were younger, a lot younger, and loved pro sports a whole lot more than you do today.

Appreciate Tom Cheek while we still have him.

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