If you're lucky enough to live in Upstate New York, nothing more delights you than the annual race for the Golden Snowball. It's like the Stanley Cup, the World Wrestling Federation Championship Belt and the Oscar for Best Special Effects - all rolled into one.
Five Utopian cities - Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and Albany (Sorry, Utica, mwa-hahaha...) - scramble to see which will tally the most winter snow.
As of Thursday, here are the standings.
As you can see, Buffalo has claimed an early lead. (Note: These totals reflect the National Weather Service official measurements, taken at each city's airport. Buffalonians commonly whine that their numbers are under-reported, but the fact is, most of that "five-feet of snow" you heard about this week fell outside the city, in towns like "Cheektowaga" and "Gowanda," with names full of sexual innuendos.) But Syracuse remains the New York Yankees of snow. We in "the Salt City" have won the Golden Snowball 10 out of the last 11 years. (Rochester took it 2011-12.)
Frankly, nothing more delights the Syracuse city fathers - as they seek lure to town a new dioxin plant or prison for the criminally insane - than our well deserved national reputation for whiteout blizzards.
Which brings me to a looming scandal.
This year, Buffalo has cheated. It has jumped the starter's pistol. It's not even December 1, yet they have established a foot-long lead. A foot-long lead.
This is wrong.
Baseball doesn't count spring training victories toward the pennant race. This recent storm - the one they're ludicrously calling "Knife" - is the equivalent of Jim Boeheim's Syracuse basketball team beating Adrian College last week. The score was 84 to 35. But it was an exhibition game. It doesn't count toward the Final Four.
When December arrives, and the games matter, you better believe that we Syracusans will lace up our cleats, get out there and start shoveling ourselves into heart attacks. Until then, this whole thing is a sham.
If cities start winter earlier every year, it'll soon become like Presidential campaigns - which never even end. It's time to hold the line, Golden Snowball. I don't care how grumpy those Buffalonians are. If exhibition scores counted, Zolio Almonte would be the star Yankee outfielder. Opening day is still a week away. Call back the racers, and let's start over. There's yardage to record.