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Column

Lazy, hazy days of summer

Oh, those lazy, hazy days of summer.

At times I long for the days of my youth as I grew up on a farm in rural eastern Kansas. Small town life was slower but could be hectic with the activities of five siblings including recreational baseball and softball, swimming lessons, summer camps for 4-H, band, sports and other things along with taking care of a large garden and the county fair.

My brothers and sister and I spent a lot of time outside during the summer days. We didn’t have air conditioning and it was cooler sometimes under the shade of trees in the yard with a breeze. We had a spring-fed pond situated in the wooded area of our farm.

That pond is still there and my “happy place.”

Being an adult isn’t always easy is it? We work and most of you have families. For me it is my job as a community journalist covering sports that keeps me from kicking back like I dream of on a hot summer day now.

By this time in a “normal” summer, we’d know who did or didn’t win the Triple Crown and we’d have a good sense of which teams were contenders in the MLB races. As we all know, 2020 has turned life around and around because of the coronavirus health crisis.

MLB just started its 2020 regular season on Thursday with two games. My Kansas City Royals open the club’s 60-game season on Friday at Cleveland. The schedule has 40 divisional games — 20 home and 20 road — then 20 interleague games with 10 at home and 10 on the road.

I’m a big Triple Crown fan. I don’t ever remember not watching the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. During my working years, I might have missed a couple through the years because I wasn’t able to get back in time to see the races but I always followed the Thoroughbred races.

COVID-19 has the Triple Crown twisted around. We had Tiz The Law winning the Belmont Stakes on June 6. The Belmont Stakes has been the final leg of the Triple Crown for many years. We have to wait for until Sept. 5 for the Kentucky Derby then Oct. 3 for the Preakness.

I’m always cheering for a horse to be a Triple Crown winner. There have only been 13 with Justify being the latest in 2018. Right now, Tiz The Law is the one to cheer on.

I guess the good thing about this different Triple Crown season is it may not be as taxing on the horses. The Triple Crown races for the 3-year-olds are run in a five-week span. It’s been that way since 1969.

Since coming up to Iowa from Kansas, I’ve had plenty of work to do during the summer months with high school softball and baseball. And being here in Newton, we have had racing weekends to cover at Iowa Speedway.

For the first time in seven summers, I did not cover a race at Iowa Speedway. NASCAR canceled the two Xfinity Series and the Truck Series races because of the COVID-19 situation. That left only last weekend’s IndyCar doubleheader and ARCA races.

I did do telephone interviews with two IndyCar drivers — Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti — for a race preview story. Space limitations for the newspaper and the media restrictions because of COVID-19 affected our decision to staff the races this season. IndyCar has a media service for photos and stories so we utilized those while we covered high school playoff games.

We have one high school summer sports team still playing — Lynnville-Sully’s softball Hawks head to the 2020 Class 1A state tournament next week. I’ll be following the fourth-ranked Hawks to Fort Dodge as they make the program’s seventh appearance at the state tournament.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at jsheets@newtondailynews.com

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