As a former sports guy, I get asked quite a bit what my favorite team is.

It probably wouldn’t be the one you’d expect it to be.

Granted, I’m a baseball fan. I grew up rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals since my mom was born and raised in St. Louis, my former home state of Colorado didn’t have a Major League Baseball team yet and, on a clear night, we could pick up radio broadcasts of games on KMOX out of St. Louis.

I’m also a big Denver Broncos fan. I almost had and anxiety attack when someone here once told me they’d never heard of “The Drive.” That, by the way, was the 98-yard game-tying drive John Elway led against the Cleveland Browns in 1986 that helped send the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI.

And I’ll admit, as far as my adoption of sports teams here, I’ve leaned more toward Oregon State than Oregon. Simply put, we had more stories with local angles coming out of Oregon State than Oregon when I was a sports writer here from 2002-08, so that plays a big part in it.

There’s also the Rockies, the Nuggets and Avalanche ... though I can’t get myself to follow the Trail Blazers yet.

But those all pale in comparison to how hard I root for another team, especially now.

It’s the firefighters.

Right now, that’s my favorite team — and I’m probably not the only one who feels that way.

We’re obviously following the Milepost 97 Fire near Canyonville pretty closely now, and we probably weren’t the only ones whose eyebrow raised when it went from being a 15-acre blaze Thursday morning to around 9,000 as of early Saturday. You could almost draw a comparison to sports in this instance knowing we're all keeping track of numbers, though it’s pretty easy to pick which side you’re rooting for.

And think about how lucky we are to have them all in the same spot.

Kyle Reed, spokesman for the Douglas Forest Protective Association, said Thursday that so many firefighters — close to 100, to be precise — were available because no other major fires were going on. The sheer numbers were an attempt to knock the fire out as soon as possible, knowing all too well the next big blowup blaze could be right around the corner.

As of Saturday, 900 firefighters, 15 helicopters and multiple tankers were assigned to the fire.

And think of how lucky we are this is the year’s first big fire. Temperatures throughout late June and through the middle of July had rarely gone over 90 degrees. One local retailer my wife and I spoke with the other day said to us: “It’s like we haven’t had a summer yet.”

Does this big fire mean summer is here?

Ironically, the season for the local baseball boys of summer is pretty much over except for the Legion A State Tournament, which began Saturday at Legion Field in Roseburg. Meanwhile, it appears the fire season is in full swing for Douglas County’s boys of summer with the DFPA and other nearby fire-protection agencies.

They’ll be putting their lives on the line, saving property, forestland and, most importantly, lives.

It goes without saying we’ll all be rooting for them.

Jon Mitchell is a page designer, photographer and writer for The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4214, or at jmitchell@nrtoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJonMitchell.

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