It happens every spring/The Red Line

Back in the day, Ernie Harwell devoted a chapter in one of his books to the things that happen every spring, most of them mundane occurences like foreign relievers having visa problems.

I’ve had a lot of time to think the last couple days, and I realized that one need not be in Lakeland to observe the mileposts of the season.

For example, I can’t think of a year in which the Copper Country Oldtimers hockey tournament championship Sunday wasn’t on a brilliantly sunny day.

Granted, this year, it was sunny and about 18 degrees at the Houghton County Arena, but with the direct sunlight, there was still snow melting very slowly in the lot between the haphazardly parked cars.

It provides a gateway effect from winter to spring more telling than even that of the calendar, which says today is the vernal equinox (first day of spring), but is almost certainly full of it.

When the winter season ends, I can predict with relative certainty that my immune system will go from red alert to full vacation and I will get a cold. This year, it didn’t even wait until Lake Linden-Hubbell lost in the Class D boys’ regionals, as my upper respiratory system was messy for a day and a half early last week.

Awards season begins and as I go to compile things, I inevitably mess something up. I wish I could blame it on my immune system, or at least I wish inhaling citrus punch bolstered my editing skills the way it does my body.

Every spring, given the opportunity to watch Red Wings games largely on my schedule, I will sit down and see how they’re doing, they’ll start a disastrous stretch (before their move to the Eastern Conference, this would always involve a Western Canada road trip) and I’ll watch the next three or four games through an opening in my fingers as I hold them in front of my face.

Starting Brendan Smith at forward against Toronto Tuesday did nothing to prevent this, nor did hearing that stupid “Chelsea Dagger” song in Chicago on Sunday night.

Every spring, the Major League Soccer season starts and I make a good-faith effort to care about the results. Lest you think this is a soccer hating column in development, know that I’ve been watching Aston Villa in the Premier League as much as possible all season and that I’m almost at peace with the brutal draw the U.S. National team got for this summer’s World Cup.

It’s just that with no MLS team closer than Chicago or Columbus, both cities whose other sports teams I’ve developed a rather difficult relationship (see the previous paragraph), I just can’t. I did wear my Chicago Fire scarf quite a bit this winter – for warmth – so maybe that’s a good sign.

Major League Baseball is once again staging regular season games in a faraway land – this year it’s Sydney, Australia, and even though it’s the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks involved, I will drag my rear end out of bed (or at least set the DVR) for a game at a bizarre hour that comprises an infinitesimal portion of the MLB season – because it’s on. Quick – name three Diamondbacks and manager Kirk Gibson doesn’t count.

I will try really hard to get into my fantasy baseball team this year. With Jim Leyland retired, I will probably have to retire one of my team names this year – Leyland’s Marlboros – and am hoping that the rebranding effort will pay off with a renewed sense of excitement. In my college buddies league, I even drafted CC Sabathia (late), breaking my No Yankees rule once held with the same reverence as the Ten Commandments themselves.

Every spring, there will be a wet, sloppy system that will drop three inches of wet snow on the local terrain, but due to our overall fatigue for such events, it will feel like two feet. It will melt, as will all the snow below it, even if we wish it would do so faster. If you don’t believe me, remember we had at least two weeks of summer last year.

And every spring, against my better judgement, I look up the first dates for spring sports.

In case you were wondering, the Michigan Tech Indoor meet at the Student Development Complex is April 10. The first attempted outdoor event is a track meet in Houghton with Hancock and Calumet on the 17th or Houghton and several small schools on the 22nd. The Michigan Tech spring football game is scheduled for April 19.

It is also likely that the weather for one or all of those early-spring meets will be terrible.

Every spring, you will read a schedule or this column noting the first outdoor spring events and scoff somewhere inside your head. Don’t worry, I’ve done that quite a bit myself.

However, one final rite of spring is that no matter the timing, spring always triumphs. There will be NCAA Tournament games and Opening Day and Easter dinners and yes, even green grass (and resulting tired jokes about the believability of green grass.)

There will be spring, but until then, just look for the signs.

Brandon Veale can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at