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There are new beginnings all around. A new school year approaches on the University of Oregon campus, bringing with it an increased workload in the catering kitchen and college football to inflame the passions on Saturdays. My wife and I have moved into a new residence here in Eugene, atop one of the roads leading into the south hills. Daily travels to and from work afford the opportunity to bomb a hill at forty-plus miles an hour in the morning only to churn the cranks in the granny gear in the afternoon. The masochistic cyclist within weeps with joy. Yet even as the travails of packing up to a new home kept me introspectively attuned to my own changes, things continue to shift outside that immediate realm of reference...

 

FanNation has itself taken on a new appearance, with Sports Illustrated bringing the design of the site into greater synergy with the rest of the SI family of websites. Some have taken umbrage to the move, either blasting off in a plethora of disgruntled blogs or simply taking their sports fanaticism elsewhere. But despite the fact that the powers that control FanNation have seen fit to alter some features, abridge others, add yet others still, and have chosen to use the front page as the blog home of the paid stable of lesser-known SI "talent", there is still much to like about the new-look home. Some decry the cleaner, whiter look, but remember -- it isn't only the Perloffs and Grahams who benefit from the move toward FanNation looking more like Sports Illustrated. Fans, too, have the potential to have their writing appear as though they are publishing for SI. With that in mind -- and because the new-look site lacks the functionality to tell people just who is posting articles within a group -- we unveil the new header which will accompany all of my future features. Change is omnipresent, unavoidable and inevitable... and it will continue to be so, whether in politics or in sports or even on the internet... so perhaps, instead of griping, we can use it to our advantage...

 

Certainly that is what the Milwaukee Brewers were hoping to do when they fired manager Ned Yost earlier today with only twelve games left to go in the Major League Baseball regular season. Having blown their five-plus cushion over Philadelphia by laughing away a four-game series heads-up against the Phillies this weekend, the two teams now sit tied for the NL wild-card spot. Milwaukee consistently, throughout the season, has failed to take advantage of Chicago slumps to gain any ground. While Zambrano throws no-hitters, the Brewers urinate all over their best shot in... well, in my lifetime, I guess, to do something loud in the playoffs. You see, I was born in Wisconsin two months too late to be swept up in the delirium of the Brewers only Yost looked, in the end, as to when his time to change careers would come...march to the World Series, where they represented the American League in a losing effort against now-division rival St. Louis. Ignominy and despondency have followed for team and fan respectively. This year was to be different after the promise of the past several seasons...

 

But alas, that change was not meant to be... at least not with Ned Yost. This lineup has sublime talent which has been supplemented throughout the season in formidable fashion (see: Sabathia, C.C.) yet has never been meaningfully brought together. Yost simply seemed incapable of pulling the disparate parts together to make the whole greater than the sum of their salaries to form a TEAM which would win consistently. Can Dale Sveum, he of the enigmatic Brewers career through the late-eighties and early-nineties, right the ship? He knows tenacity, and he knows Brewers baseball. Here's to hoping, as a long-suffering Wisconsin expatriate who never did get to see that 1982 World Series team, that something can be done. But then, something has already been done... there's those changes popping up yet again...

 

And the catalyst of change rocks across all sports. As some find themselves suddenly out of employment, others suddenly are struck with the epiphany that they wish to reclaim their former role. Take Lance Armstrong... after racing to an admirable second-place finish in the Leadville 100, bested only by former mountain-bike pro Dave Wiens on the mountain-bike course in his first hundred-mile race since claiming his last maillot jaune in Paris in July 2005, he wants it all back. He has told VeloNews that he is going to be lining up in the start gate for the prologue in Monaco to contest the 2009 Tour de France. Most pundits see him reuniting with Johan Bruyneel, his director through all seven Tour victories, at his new base at Astana. So sometimes even as things change they stay the same...

 

And I fear that this might not be the best thing for cycling. Should Armstrong come back? Is he doing the right thing -- not just for himself but for the sport? We continually see athletes returning from retirement. I remember staying up to watch Mario Lemieux return against the Toronto Maple Leafs; I chuckled at Jordan in a Wizards jersey; and I've had to cope with seeing boyhood idol Brett Favre don the Jets jersey -- though the change to Aaron Rodgers has been a fairly comfortable one so far, though next week poses much stiffer tests than the first two have... but now we're off tangent. Or are we? We change yet again...

 

And as we change our own situations, sometimes we miss that change which at its face appears to be merely more of the same. I missed the boat on covering what shockingly amounted to change for this odd 2008 tennis season as Roger Federer --Oddly, this has been an odd site this year... and it still feels weird to embolden this -- ACTUALLY WON a Grand Slam this season by defeating Andy Murray in straight sets at Flushing Meadows. I rightly predicted after the Australian Open, where Federer looked out of fitness while suffering from what we later learned was a bout of mononucleosis, that he would lose his number-one ranking before the season was up... and boy, is THAT a change from my usual failed prognostications! After epic battles against his perennial nemesis Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard took the top spot from Federer. But Nadal, also the Olympic champion in this dazzling year for Spanish sporting fortunes, could not find his game through to the final on the hard courts and must content himself with two Grand Slams to Federer's one this season, with number-three Novak Djokovic having taken the first title of the year at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne back in January...

 

So change has crept into tennis in the plummet and resurrection of Federer, first taking the tumble from grace as he lost more than he has in the past four years and then, later, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of his infirm mediocrity. It has arisen in the revelation of several young up-and-comers as is the case every season. And just think... Melbourne's only four short months away from now again...

 

Change keeps us going, everyone. From the debates which rage across the United States about which candidate to choose to become the fourty-fourth president as we near Election Day to a fresh start in a new home or even, yes, an initially-painful change from a familiar friend of a website to a confusing version 2.0, we are changing all the time. Don't fear the change... go with it and change right alongside it, so that the changes can be steered toward more favorable conclusions for yourself... you only lose when you stop fighting...

 

 

 

Bigalke is a freelance journalist who has been writing for FanNation since December 2007. An archive of Bigalke's writing for FanNation can be found here. He is also is a contributing writer at Helium. Got something to say to Bigalke -- questions, comments, suggestions, derision to sling, vengeance to exact, commendations to render, or contracts to offer? You can reach Bigalke through FanMail, the comments box below or here...

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