LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – This is definitely a Rick Bozich Bucket List thing, but I’ve imagined investing a healthy chunk of my summer in visiting all 30 Major League Baseball parks.

Rent an RV and hit the road – maybe 30 parks in, say, 31 days.

I’d better wait ‘til next year on that ambitious quest. But here are some events that should have been on my 2015 spring and summer calendar:

American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown at Belmont Park. The University of Louisville baseball team trying to battle its way to the College World Series. The NBA Draft stacked with dazzling local talent. The MLB All-Star game making Cincinnati the center of the sports universe.

I missed it. I missed all of it.

Missed Pharoah, after covering all those Smarty Jones and Big Brown Belmont bellyaches. SMH.

Missed the disputed and decisive Cal-State Fullerton home run against U of L, which I thought was fair. Sorry.

Missed Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns going Number One to the Timberwolves, which did not surprise me.

Missed another American League victory, which was business as usual.

Instead of 30 ballparks in 31 days, I saw 30 (or more) nurses, doctors and X-ray techs during a 31-day hospital stay.

Started May 27. Ended July 1. Subtract four days in early June for good behavior.

Somebody help me. Did Golden State win the NBA title? I watched the Finals on a non-HD hospital TV that only had room on the screen for the score of one team.

That’s a long-winded way of sharing How I Spent My Summer Vacation – and begin to fill in the blanks about why I have not appeared on WDRB’s Sports Page or written for WDRB.com since late May.

I was on the DL.

“Was,” is the key word there. Pardon the interruption, but this column serves as my return – and an encouragement to my inexorable co-worker and friend Eric Crawford that he can begin to catch his breath.

Routine colonoscopies achieved what they’re intended to achieve – they uncovered tissue my doctors needed to remove. (Friendly public service reminder to talk to your doctor about a colonoscopy. End of lecture.)

One surgery became two surgeries.

An initial hospital stay that (best-case) could have been three days became five days – followed by another 26-day visit to get my uncooperative digestive system working like Todd Frazier’s home run bat.

Some unexpected journey, a journey that has finally transitioned to plugging back into the working world this week.

Hello, everybody.

Remember me? The guy who did not pick American Pharoah to win the Kentucky Derby but also the guy who predicted Towns would overtake Jahlil Okafor as the first pick in the NBA Draft in February?

There are many people to thank – doctors, nurses, hospital workers, family, friends, co-workers, readers, all determined to make certain I didn’t lose my determination to improve.

Sincere and prolonged thanks to everybody for that.

You report to the hospital convinced you’ll be back as soon as possible because that’s the way it has always been. This time life calls an audible. Better change your outlook. Humbling? You bet.

You’ve tried to tell people that sports, including covering sports, is mostly fun and games. Now you have you to repeat that message to yourself – even though your journalist DNA doesn’t want to hear that when news is percolating.

If it was a lesson that good health is a fragile gift, it was also reminder of the amazing passion and decency of sports fans in this area.

Nothing was as uplifting as being rolled down a hospital hallway toward the X-ray unit and being stopped by a viewer who said he missed watching me on WDRB – and then asked how high I thought University of Louisville guard Terry Rozier would be taken in the NBA Draft. I felt appreciated.

(Turns out Rozier was taken much higher than I suspected. Best of luck with the Celtics, sir.)

There was the passionate UK fan who delighted in sharing her story about how she and her daughter baked cookies for former Wildcat Patrick Patterson – while she was inserting a PICC line deep into a vein in my right arm. I felt no pain.

Yes, Indiana was also represented. A nurse advised me Bob Knight was still the coach he wanted to see coaching the Hoosiers. I felt no desire to debate.

Until now – sorry, but it was time for Coach Knight to move on.

That’s my job. Debate. Inform. Entertain. Question. Analyze. Predict. Praise. Criticize.

And I’m thrilled to be back doing it.

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