If there is one thing that unites the modern-day sports fan, it is the belief that modern-day coaches and managers aren’t tough enough on modern-day athletes.
Fans just love when gruff old guys with paunches or even gruff middle-aged guys with six-packs — but preferably all former hard-nosed players themselves — put the shoe to a player’s hind end, rip them in the press and really get after the lazy, overpaid good-for-nothings.
That is, unless, that particular tactic does not result directly in a world championship, preferably within 30 days.
Pressure, some genius coach or manager once said, comes from within.
So brilliant was this proclamation, that every other coach and manager alive picked up on it, unimaginative athletes followed and a cliché was born.
Clearly, none of the geniuses had the kind of day I had Sunday.
This is pressure, my friends.
Pressure is navigating O’Hare with your 13-year-old daughter, who you are about to release into the jaws of air travel, a world now so sinister that signs warning of flying with Swine Flu assault the senses and a simple clearing of your throat is grounds for arrest. When you no longer travel often, as I once did, you forget all the savvy traveler shortcuts.
I almost didn’t write about Derrick Rose tonight.
I don’t have to, after all. No editor is asking me to do it. No one is paying me to do it. I’d rather not do it. And here’s why.
I don’t know Derrick Rose.
What I do know, I like. I had to chase the 20-year-old Chicago Bulls rookie guard for over a month to interview him for an in-depth feature story this past winter for the Tribune, but I never blamed him for the runaround. There were always plans he did not know about and demands he seemingly could not control, and he always seemed sincerely sorry each time the interview would get postponed at the last minute.
Excuse me if I drift off occasionally. I [po[a
Sorry. You go away for seven weeks and the first day back is exhausting. Even if the first day back only lasts for about two hours. And I don’t even know if “back” is the right word. But I am going to start writing for ESPNChicago.com, I did venture into the White Sox clubhouse today with an actual working credential and I did experience once again the singular wonder of listening to Sox manager Ozzie Guillen up close and in person.
I never realized how much I missed that.
Yes, I am still browsing through the same issue of Sports Illustrated. Sorry, but it has to wait until my People Magazine is completely consumed first and that can easily take a good 10, 12 minutes.
So I’m reading and I laugh — that sarcastic, self-righteous laugh — because I see a story about a 16-year-old baseball player from Las Vegas.
I am not laughing that self-righteous laugh because Sports Illustrated and Tom Verducci, a gifted writer l once worked with for one day on the staff of Today newspaper, chose to write the story on the fabulously gifted Bryce Harper.