October 21, 2012 |
His face popped up on the screen and you were struck with this thought: Cap'n Andy is wearing his years. Out on the range, they would say he looks like he's been rode hard and put up wet. So whatever became of that apple-cheeked, roan-maned, walrus-mustached, naive NFL wannabe? Fourteen years, that's what. Fourteen years of family turmoil and unspeakable tragedy to endure with grace and courage. Fourteen years of palace intrigue and ruthless purging in the darkened hallways of Fortress NovaCare.
October 7, 2012 |
The camera caught him coming in low and aiming high, like a rolling ball of butcher knives, a middle linebacker steaming along on the base paths, his uniform pigsty filthy with a warrior's colors, telling you he's down and dirty, his face contorted with the effort, seeking out a collision, and you are struck with this thought: The prudent man steps aside. Mike Trout, coming through. Here is how he is introduced in the antiseptic world of cyberspace: Michael (Mike) Nelson Trout.
September 23, 2012 |
The spiral is perfect, the ball launched by a buggy-whip arm, and it arcs in majestic slow motion across a cobalt sky. Two are in lockstep pursuit of it, receiver and defender, each calculating where their thunderous intersection will be reached, and you see them rising and grasping as one, and it is all so real that you swear that you are, well, there. Right there! And Steve Sabol would smile a smile of modesty and satisfaction and lean back and thank you. On behalf of NFL Films and its gazillion Emmys, we thank you. To quote the song: Nobody does it better.
September 17, 2012 |
And comes now the bagpiper, with that music so mournful, so achingly familiar, so haunting in its melancholy beauty. Has any lyricist ever penned its equal? But come ye back when summer's in the meadow, Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow, Yes, I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow . . . - Danny Boy Comes now Rory Boy, freckled of face, curly of hair, determined of jaw, purposeful of stride, eyes set on the far horizon at a goal only he can see. He is, as they say, The Next Big Thing, at once precocious and poised.
August 27, 2012 |
And so there they were, nose-to-nose, chin-to-chin, veins popping, eyes bulging, F-bombs detonating, hot at it - Tom Brady, the Wonder Boy, and . . . and . . . help me out here, who is that other guy in Brady's grille, anyway? Bill O'Brien. Who? This was Dec. 11, as the New England Patriots were beating the Washington Redskins, and, much to the camera's delight there was a snarling sideline dustup between Brady and . . . and . . . Bill O'Brien - that Bill O'Brien, then the Patriots' offensive coordinator, who the next time the camera lingers on him will be as the new head football coach of Pennsylvania State University, which is kind of a big deal, seeing as how there hasn't been a new one for 46 years.
August 13, 2012 |
He had become, they say, a member of the Brotherhood of the Iron, those intrepid and devoted pumpers of weights in dogged search of the sculpted physique and, always, always, more tonnage to hoist. You wonder if Garrett Reid was searching for more than that. Searching for salvation, perhaps. Searching for release from the cruel hold the demons had on him. He was, by all accounts, a tortured soul, yet he managed to rise, again and again. His courage and fierce spirit were galvanizing, and celebrated in tribute by his father, who had the most wrenching duty that can be thrust upon a parent.
August 5, 2012 |
There is an unspoken covenant between the professional baseball team of Philadelphia and the raving lunatic loyalists who support it with what can only be described as impassioned, unconditional tough love. And that covenant is this: As long as you are trying, really, really, really trying to build a winner, we will support you. We will put up with those $20 beers (not yet but inevitable, along with the $30 parking, etc. etc. etc.). And we will continue to snap up those bobbleheads and those Hunter Pence tees (instant memorabilia)
July 30, 2012 |
So now what for Penn State? What rises now from the rubble and the ashes of the Valley Not-So-Happy? Now that the poachers and carrion eaters have had their fill picking through possible defectors . . . now that arrangements are being made for writing the first of $60 million worth of penal checks . . . now that the NCAA, in a shameful display of bullying arrogance, has seen fit to punish the innocents for the failures of the guilty . . . now that...
July 22, 2012 |
Sniffle . . . Sniffle . . . What's wrong? Nothing . . . Sniffle-sniffle . . . Are you sick? Just allergies, OK? Sniffle . . . Sniffle-sniffle . . . Hey, wait a minute. Are you crying? No! I told you. Allergies. Just leave it alone! OK? Take it easy. Geez. Sixteen years gone by, and still I can summon it, the tears, the American wrestler, the heavyweight Matt Ghaffari, standing there on the victory podium at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, standing one step below the top step, standing not where the gold medalist stands, but where the silver medalist stands, the runner-up, the second best.
July 16, 2012 |
They give you a round bat and they throw you a round ball and they tell you to hit it square. - Willie "Pops" Stargell He's been on my mind a lot of late, that Wilver Dornel Stargell, masher of monster home runs. He was a great grizzly bear of a man, but a teddy bear at heart. The franchise that he served so well has, without respite, fallen on hard times. If you're still a Pirates fan after all these years, then you, sir, get a medal for unshakable loyalty, with oak leaf cluster.