Monday, July 13, 2009

SoSG, The Mistress

A Wall Street Journal piece by Allen Barra on "The Legacy of Steve McNair," which ran on Tuesday last week, led with the following graphs:

One of my mentors, Jerry Izenberg, who recently retired after more than half a century of sportswriting for the Newark Star-Ledger, offered me a nugget of wisdom: "If you're in this business long enough," he said, "you learn that if you're a sportswriter -- a serious, dedicated full-time newspaperman -- then you don't have a job. What you've got is a mistress.

"And mistresses make demands. You'll pay for her one way or another. I paid her price in tons of coffee gulped on the run from plastic cups and in holidays spent away from my family while I was on the road. Mostly, though, I paid her price in loss of innocence through exposure to the evil side of sports in America."

I do not feel like Sons of Steve Garvey, a blog I am proud to say I co-founded, is a demanding mistress. I still really enjoy the time I am able to sneak here and there writing posts, especially long posts, opining about the Dodgers or skewering Bill Plaschke or complaining about Frank McCourt's disappearing acts. There is endless material; the writing part is easy.

The time part, on the other hand, is hard.

I wish I had more time. I'm at one of these junctures in life where my control over my personal balance has slipped out of whack, and I'm not happy. The slippage is subtle, so subtle that I feel like that frog boiling in a pot of water in which the temperature has been so measured in its increase that I haven't noticed the rolling boil until now, when the blisters have started to appear. There's just not enough time to handle the myriad fires at work. There's not enough time as I'd like to spend with my family. There's not as much time to go to Dodger games.

There's not enough time.

I used to play video games and get swallowed up in them whole like Jonah, wholly and totally lost inside the virtual world until, after a couple of weeks, I was able to disengage my mind and go back to other pursuits. I remember daydreaming about a Tomb Raider "dungeon" one time during a business meeting, and suddenly realizing where I might be stuck, and then anxiously awaiting the time when I could rush home and turn the console on again. I remember unlocking all the levels and songs in the first couple of days. I rememember replaying RPGs just to improve my efficiency.

I used to spend evenings getting home early enough to enjoy sunlight hours with my family in the backyard, grilling some burgers, sipping a beer, throwing the ball around on the lawn, regaining peace of mind.

I used to watch movies on airplanes.

Heck, I used to watch more movies.

I used to write long handwritten letters to my close friends and family members, sealing them with a sense of pride and accomplishment and knowing that when they received the letter in a couple of days, it might be thought of as a pleasant surprise, and unexpected treat.

I used to watch the Food Network. And occasionally, HGTV.

I used to read the whole paper, cover to cover. Which is even more pathetic now that newspapers have thinned their pages. I can't even keep up with my weekly magazines, which stack up until the current event magazines' cover stories seem to mock me with their lack of relevance in an ever-accelerating world.

I used to read books.

I used to drink a cup of tea before going to bed, instead of a fifth of scotch.

I used to work out a lot more often. And it shows.

I used to take weekend drives to nowhere in particular, being able to enjoy the journey, instead of trying to map out the most efficient path linking disparate errands together like a wicked multivariable equation.

I used to spend time with good friends hanging out by a pool sipping a cocktail, reading books while partially submerged in the water, or engaging in stupid relay races with unwieldy inflatables. Or walking through quaint little towns looking at baubles and unnecessary items in antique shops. Or having dinner parties with infinite amounts of great wine, which would start with appetizers on the patio and continue with amazing three-course dinners and end with desserts and rounds of scotch, stretching into the wee hours of the night, since you didn't have to wake up too early the next day.

I used to watch multiple broadcasts of SportsCenter.

I used to do sudokus and kenkens and jumbles.

I used to sketch in my spare time.

But even with all the enjoyable distractions I've lost, I still have time for the Dodgers. Not as much time, but still time. It's easier, now with and and iPhone apps and scoreboard tickers across the bottoms of every channel I ever watch on TV, to follow the Dodgers wherever you are. And I've got a wellspring of ideas that would make good posts. I just haven't been able to get the time to write them.

So now that we're at the All-Star break, now is as good a time as any to recalibrate my life and try to go back to doing more of the things I like to do, and less of the things I think I need to do.

And SoSG continues to be a hell of a lot of fun for me, just not on as frequent a basis as I'd like. Maybe I'm in the honeymoon phase of the whole mistress analogy, and it only gets worse from here and I will get embittered. But for now, SoSG continues to be something I enjoy and want to enjoy more. So hopefully, you'll see more of me in the second half of this season, which has already been more exciting and promising than I'd even dare to imagine.

Win or lose in this second half, I want to be back there in the front row, on the edge of my seat, blogging away on the team I love so much.

Bring on the coffee in plastic cups. I'm ready for the second half.


Mr. Customer said...

Between you guys and Erin, I'm sensing a bit of a Leitmotif in the last week.

Fred's Brim said...

well said, Saxy. I feel very much the same way these days, but I still make the time to follow the boys, whether it's or texting google for score updates when out on a Saturday night. it helps that the missus likes them too (and that they are doing so well!).

And I really like your long posts. I look forward to more of them. I don't think there is enough written about the emotional side of the game and I am glad that we get some of that here.

karina said...

Awwww, Steve. I feel guilty to love your posts.

rbnlaw said...

I just know there's an analogy or a parable in there somewhere.

Time: No matter what, there's always time. Someone once told me that. I think it means that most of our limits and expectations are put on us by ourselves. If we look at any situation, no matter how rushed, there's always time.

Unless you're down to your last out in the bottom of the 9th and your team is down by 5 with the pitcher's spot due up.

Then it may be too late.

Jon Weisman said...

Hey, I know this lament :)

Dusty Baker said...

I find myself feeling the same way in terms of there just not being enough time in the day or week or month to get through all I want to do. A lot of this has come as a result of increasing responsibilities at work. There are many hobbies and activities I've had to shirk over the last few years, but I always find time for following the Dodgers. It's probably because they're my medicine, my therapy. Hard day at work? Bleh...come home, order a pizza, open a beer(s), and watch a game that is timeless. Throw open the patio door, let the LA summer night spill into the house, and Vinny provides the soundtrack. Yeah, I'll always find time for that. The 800-page historical novel that's been on my nightstand for a year now? Maybe not.

But I'm okay with that. Life will go on...

Neeebs said...

Sax, one word for you...KIDS