Hmm.

Let’s see if I rmlr..remeb..remember Oops…V&Tlzj$4$!!!

…whoa!

“First press ‘log on’ button.”

Oh yeah….

Well now. Back to work. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Of course, they also say college gets you a good job.

I can tell you this much: Sitting on the sidelines all summer has made me a much smarter sports columnist.

I have been right about everything.

It’s incredible. I go away on leave, and I have never been so accurate in my analysis.

Take, for example, this whole Lomas Brown contract story. When Lomas threatened to miss the Lions’ opener, I was inclined, like most journalists, to grab my typewriter and bang out an angry column.

But since I was on leave and, therefore, busy sleeping most of the day, I said nothing.

And Lomas returned.

And I looked smart.

“Boy, that Free Press fellow,” you could hear them say, “he kept his cool. Didn’t overreact. He really knows what’s going on.”

Same thing happened with the Tigers. When they won all those games early in the summer, I was moved to grab a pen and write, “Look out! They’re going to win the pennant!”

Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten how to use a pen, since it doesn’t have a
“log on” button. Besides, as I mentioned, I was on leave. So I wrote nothing.

And I looked smart. Because the Tigers proceeded to go down the toilet, which made me really want to write — as many scribes did — “Aha! Just as we predicted! We should cover them with a blanket and pretend they’re a futon!”

Except I was busy, looking for clean socks.

And the Tigers rebounded.

And I was right again.

“You know, that Free Press guy, he pegged it,” you could hear them say. “He didn’t jump on their bandwagon, and he didn’t bury ’em. He really knows what’s going on.”

My reputation was improving. Aussie choke artist?

Of course, it took a whole summer of sitting to become this intelligent. But by locking myself away in a little room — ostensibly to write a book — I reached the higher plane of sports journalism, where you look at things through wiser eyes, think deeper thoughts, and finally, after many, many visits to the refrigerator, you begin to see the light.

Which enables you to find the milk.

Golf! Let’s talk golf. I was never that brilliant about golf (my boss, who sleeps with his putter, will attest to this). But, goodness, what a summer I had on the links!

Take, for example, the day before Greg Norman won the British Open. My inclination, naturally, was to write the old reliable “Greg Norman Will Choke Again” column.

Fortunately, I was looking for a can opener.

Norman shocked the world and won.

“That Free Press guy! He was the only one who didn’t think Norman would choke . . .”

And then, a month later, here’s Greg again, at the PGA, and he’s in the lead. Like many others, I would have been tempted to show off my newfound gold knowledge by stating, assuredly, that “The New Greg Norman Will Win For Sure.”

But he choked.

I was taking a shower at the time.

“That Free Press guy! He’s uncanny! The only one who didn’t jump on Norman’s bandwagon . . .” European vacation?

It’s really something how accurate I was. I could go on and on.

And I will:
* The Lions Quarterback Situation: At the start of the summer, Wayne Fontes said Rodney Peete would be his starter. In the weeks that followed, 27,863 pages of debate were written. And at the end of the summer, Wayne Fontes said Rodney Peete would be his starter.

I wrote nothing.

How much more accurate can you get?
* Wimbledon: I wrote nothing. Nothing happened.
* Tour de France: I wrote rien. Rien happened.

Never in my life have I been this sharp, this insightful. “He’s unbelievable, that Free Press guy!” they said, as I rolled over on my left side.

So now I have returned, full time, but with a new perspective. True, it is possible to slap out a column the minute something happens, and take your chances. Or you can wait a few days and be smarter. Or you can wait a few weeks and be truly brilliant.

But I am thinking of going beyond that. I am thinking of becoming a new voice of reason. I am thinking of thinking, for long periods of time.

I am thinking of asking my boss for another leave of absence.

How about it, big fella?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY

All right, all right. God. Nobody can take a joke in this place.

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