After a year of isolation, I slowly entered the health club with a gym bag around my shoulder and a mask upon my face.  Regardless of the Peloton bike, exercise ball, and weight bench gathering dust in my living room, I was fully vaccinated, and it was time to get out.

It felt like a Saturday, but in the aftermath of quarantine naming days, months, or even years remained a challenge.  The gym was quiet as I reintroduced myself to the various machines, worked out for about an hour, then headed to the jacuzzi to ease a few aches.

The confusion began once exiting the locker room as a high school kid walked by sporting short shorts with hair styled via the mullet.  What was this, 1983?

But that was not all.

I noticed members walking around without masks like it was 2019, the song Put Your Records On (2006) was playing overhead, and on the televisions situated above Phil Mickelson was leading the PGA Championship, which he last won in 2005.  There was only one explanation.

The jacuzzi must have been a Hot Tub Time Machine, and the sports world was soaking it in.

  • Stopping at the Liquor store on the way home, a man in front of me was wearing a Peter Forsberg jersey, the Swedish edition, and I thought it was 2001. For those too young to know, the last time the Colorado Avalanche had the best record in hockey before this year was back in 2000-01 when Forsberg, Joe Sakic, and Patrick Roy accomplished the feat.  Now, twenty years later, Nate McKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Philipp Grubauer look like the trio that eventually won the Stanley Cup that same year.
  • At the Nuggets playoff game, a vocal crowd watched Carmelo Anthony put on a show scoring 18 points in leading his team to victory. But this was not 2004 or any of the years in which Melo was a Denver Nugget. This was last week when the 36-year-old Portland Trailblazer came off the bench to help blow out the Nuggets in the Playoff opener.
  • And when I saw 5’9 Facundo Campazzo of the Denver Nuggets trying to guard Damian Lillard, I thought it was 1954 and Campazzo was playing the role of Ollie from Hoosiers.

  • The NBA offered a week of flashbacks. Lebron James took on Steph Curry in the Play-In Game and I thought it was the 2016 Finals.  Kevin Durant teamed up with James Harden and it felt like the 2011 Oklahoma City Thunder.  Old Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns looked like young Chris Paul from 2005.  And the last time both the Knicks and Hawks made the playoffs was 2012-13.
  • The Time Machine was in full bubble mode when 50-year-old Phil Mickelson became the oldest player to ever win a major on Sunday at the PGA Championship. Mickelson’s last Major Championship was in 2013 at the US Open, while his first appearance in a major was all the way back in 1990.  Awfully impressive to have both a PGA Tour Card and an AARP card.
  • In baseball it feels like 2018 again as Nolan Arenado is hitting close to .300 with 10 HRs and 32 RBIs as the team sits in first place. Wait, Arenado plays for the Cardinals now.  For the last place Colorado Rockies it still feels 2020.
  • You could understand my confusion when I heard that the best-selling jersey in the NFL currently belonged to Tim Tebow, the 34-year-old former Denver quarterback who was recently signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars and converted to play tight end. Tebow jerseys sold like hot cakes back in 2010, but inevitably the quarterback lacked the skillset to be Denver’s long-term answer.  Sound familiar?

  • And finally, I thought the Hot Tub Time Machine landed me in the future when I heard that the Denver Broncos made news by hiring Kelly Kleine as the Executive Director of Football Operations and Special Advisor to the General Manager. But thankfully it was not the future, but rather the present. A hiring such as this should have been done years ago but it did make Kleine one of the highest-ranking females in the NFL.

It must have been the heat of the water or the fumes of chlorine.  It is not like Tony LaRussa is still coaching baseball, or Manny Pacquiao is preparing for his next fight.  I realize that It is 2021.

But next time I am using the sauna.


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Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship