Did you ever feel a certain way about something/someone only to have an epiphany about it later and realize that you were dead wrong this whole time?
Maybe it’s just the overthinking anxiety-stricken person in me, but I do that all of the stinkin’ time.
Especially when it comes to my childhood and sports.
I feel like I missed so much from my time as a kid because of my biases and passions for teams and players, which clouded my judgments.
I’m older now (too old) and more unbiased (sometimes), so I think I can admit some of the mistakes of my past.
Here are some of my biggest whiffs from my childhood — things I didn’t realize then, but that I do now.
1. I didn’t realize … how good Larry Bird was:
My dad was a huge Lakers fan growing up, so I was taught to dislike the Celtics at birth. As I grew into sports, all I caught was the tail-end of Bird’s career when he was oft-injured and could never stay on the floor. Because of that, I always sort of had this idea that Larry Bird was somewhat of an overrated NBA legend — a guy who couldn’t cut the mustard if in today’s NBA. Boy, was I stupid. I’ve taken the time to watch some old clips of Larry Legend and that dude was a freakin’ maniac on the floor. He could shoot (obviously), but what I didn’t realize was his playmaking. He routinely averaged 6-7 assists per game to go along with his 25-26 points and 10-11 rebounds. I whiffed on this one — badly.
2. I didn’t realize … how special the 1990s Braves were:
I’m a huge Atlanta Braves fan. Admittedly, I took them for granted. They just were always good. They always won the National League East. I guess somewhere between age 8 and age 15, I just assumed the team would always be a power because that’s all I’d ever seen. Well, obviously, the team’s run came to an end … pretty hard — so much so that I’d sworn off the sport altogether. Well, Atlanta is back now and there’s no way I will let the Albies/Acuna Era go unappreciated. Those guys are amazing.
3. I didn’t realize … how bad LSU football used to stink:
LSU fans are among the most spoiled fans in the world. If LSU goes three and out once in a game, fans are calling for the head coach, offensive coordinator and athletic director to all be dragged through the streets before being fired. I love the passion, but I don’t understand the entitlement, given how far the Tigers have come. I wasn’t a huge college football fan as a kid, so I forgot how horrible LSU used to be. From 1989-1999, LSU finished below .500 eight times, fielding just three winning seasons in 11 years. And those winning seasons were mostly 7-4 or 9-3-type seasons — the stuff fans today would riot over. Remember our past, folks. We have it pretty damned good right now.
4. I didn’t realize … how hot wrestling was when I was a kid:
I’ve been a wrestling fan my whole life — through the good times (the early 1990s and the late 1990s) and the bad times (the middle 1990s). I never paid attention to TV ratings or anything like that because it didn’t matter to me. I knew I was watching and entertained, so that’s all that mattered to me. I didn’t realize how hot sports entertainment was in the “Attitude Era.” WWF’s Monday Night Raw and WCW’s Monday Nitro were literally the two highest-rated TV programs on TV at the time. We will likely never see a “fad” like that one again ever again in the history of television, and definitely not in professional wrestling.
5. I didn’t realize … the dominance of Barry Bonds:
I have no clue how I missed on Barry Bonds, because I spent an entire summer of my life watching every, single Cubs and Cardinals game in the 1998 season. I’d follow every, last home run being hit by both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — en route to McGwire breaking the single-season home run record. But Bonds’ dominance just never had the same fizzle for me. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because he played on the West Coast. Maybe I was fatigued by the whole steroid scandal in baseball. Whatever it was, the joke is on me, because Bonds was one of the best players of all-time. Forget the steroids conversation. That man deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He hit 73 home runs in a season, had a career 1.051 OPS, and almost stroked 3,000 hits. In 2007, long after the sport started testing for steroids, Bonds hit .276 with 28 home runs and 66 RBI in 126 games. He was 42 years old. The guy had a big career wart, but was still absolutely amazing.