I’m not a sportswriter
I sent this email to a friend the other day, and think it’s worth reposting here. In response to some random sports comment I made, he had asked me if I sit and read espn.com all day. I replied:
No, not at all, in fact. The calling which I ignored in life–because all sports reporters are, at the end of the day, douchebags to one degree or another–was to be a sportswriter. I’ve been told that I have a gift for it, which I try not to take as an insult. Makes it sound like I watch or read sports news all day, when in fact what I do is turn the visual experience of watching sports into prose. Oh, and it is also my curse never, ever to forget any sports factoid or statistic. It’s painful sometimes. If you took a series of glasses filled with varying amounts of water and whacked them gently with a knife, I could actually tell you which one sounds exactly–exactly–like the sound of Keith Primeau’s goal hitting the post in the fifth overtime of the fourth game of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals versus the Pens. I can tell you which goalie let it in (Ron Tugnutt), whether he resigned with the Pens (no), which defenseman got caught a bit off-balance to open the shooting lane (Kasparaitis), and what the puck was doing (rolling, which is why the shot tailed down rather than rising into the glass). That’s a particularly lucid example, but I have, oh, tens of thousands of such things in my head, for example, the person who scored the last goal when the Pens beat the North Stars 8-0 in game six in 1991, where he was born, where he played minors, etc. God, it’s such a curse. What could I do with those synapses if I could free them?
While telling J about this tonight, I was debating whether the puck went over Tugnutt’s left shoulder (short side) or right shoulder. I interpret it as a positive sign that I can’t remember exactly, although I seem to think that part of the agony of the goal was that it even went short side. One could say that I remember these particular examples because I’m a diehard Pens fans, and to some degree that’s true. But this type of near-photographic sports memory applies whether it’s the Pens or not; I do tend to see more Pens than other hockey teams, so I simply have more of it stored up. Word to the wise: do not challenge me in a game of sports trivia for money or anything else you value.
I still hate Keith Primeau.