An early spring? A rise in temperature also brings about new sports season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2019

Spring has sprung … or at least it seemed that way over the weekend and into the first part of the new week.

With lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and even tipping into the low 70s, it was a welcome change from the recent stretch of frigid conditions.

People were out and about all over the place walking, playing and enjoying being outdoors both Saturday and Sunday.

Perhaps we can give Punxsutawney Phil credit as he emerged from his burrow in the tiny little Pennsylvania town last Saturday morning with temperatures in the single digits and didn’t see his shadow — signaling an early spring. If the world’s most famous groundhog sees his shadow, that means six more weeks of winter, or so the legend goes.

I wish I could buy into the prediction, but some research shows Phil doesn’t have the greatest track record despite this tradition that now spans more than 130 years. In fact, in the past decade, where he has only called for an early spring three times, Phil has only been right 40 percent of the time.

That’s not the best of odds, but weather forecasts — even if it’s tomorrow or a week from now — are far from an exact science. Then consider this poor groundhog is attempting to predict weather for an entire country — with all kinds of variations in climate and topography — over a period of a month and a half.

As one meteorologist stated, you’re just about as well off just flipping a coin.

So be it, but it was great to have a nice stretch of much warmer than usual temperatures this time of year.

We realize winter really isn’t really over, despite Phil’s prediction, but as the calendar flips to February we know the coldest month of January is behind us. Warmer days are ahead … hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Speaking of warmer weather, I saw that the Wake Forest men’s tennis team, which was ranked No. 1 in the country all of last year and won the 2018 NCAA Championship right in its own backyard as the host school for the event, was playing at home on Sunday afternoon.

They are ranked No. 1 again this year, and I knew that although it was still the indoor season for collegiate tennis, I was hoping the Deacons might be playing outside on a beautiful day like Sunday.

It wasn’t meant to be, but it was still worth the trip to the Wake Forest Tennis Complex to slip inside to watch Wake roll past Oklahoma State, which was a Top 20 opponent. The outdoor season actually starts in March as the Deacons defend their title with a good chance to repeat.

I’ve said it before, but if you’re a tennis fan, we are so fortunate to have the nation’s best collegiate team playing right here and then have the Winston-Salem Open, an ATP professional tournament with some of the world’s best players, coming to the same venue in August.

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The Patriots. Again. Ugh.

The good news is that the end of football means baseball season is right around the corner with Spring Training starting next week.

That means the four magical words for any baseball fan: Pitchers and catchers report — just another sign of spring approaching.

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While looking at one of my favorite small-town papers — it’s called “That Little Big Paper” and calls itself “Ronda, Jonesville & Elkin’s Leading Newspaper” — I always look for a few funnies they include in each issue.

Here are a couple that made me chuckle:

“I told my wife that she should embrace her mistakes. She hugged me.”

And then, there was this one:

“It’s all a matter of viewpoint. 250 lbs. here on Earth is 94.5 lbs. on Mercury. Fat? No. I’m just not on the right planet.

I’ve mentioned in this space recently that I’m trying to lose a few pounds. Maybe Mercury is the place for me.