A Girl’s Best Friend is her Blog

One of the best things about writing a daily blog is you can pour out your heart, express your frustrations, confess your weaknesses and occasionally, when you’re in the mood, embarrass your family.

You can talk about your son’s piano lessons, your daughter’s new bed and your sister’s old boyfriend, and not get fired.

“Just, whatever you do, can you leave me out of it?” my daughter Amanda begged tonight as I ran a made-up quote by her. “I think you need to keep your personal and professional lives separate.”

“But I don’t have a professional life,” I reminded her, which is about when she ran away from me trailed by her little brother, who was afraid I would follow up the piano lesson blog with an inspired piece about his tuba.

As a professional newspaper reporter, writing about women I observed in restaurants not wearing pants was not encouraged. Neither was writing about my loss of memory, naked men or my co-ed softball team.

I think that must be why I have written with more frequency and more joy in the last three months than I had in a long while. If I could make a living at this, I’d be the happiest woman in the world.

Not that I am not happy writing sports. I am. After a few months of seriously wondering whether I would ever return to sportswriting, I am happy to report that in writing about women in restaurants without pants, I have also re-discovered how much I truly enjoy being a sportswriter in my new duties for ESPN.

If I hadn’t returned to sports, I may have forgotten all those off-hand remarks people make when you interview them that never quite find their way into your stories because they just don’t fit, but that never quite leave you either.

Like when you’re finished talking to Cubs manager Lou Piniella about Ryan Dempster and the pitcher’s infant daughter’s health crisis, the interview is finished and Piniella slowly shakes his head.

“You don’t get it back,” he says quietly, talking in general about how the baseball culture has changed from the days when he was allowed a day off for the birth of only one of his three children. “Kids don’t forget about not being there for their birthdays and mothers don’t forget about not being there for their babies.”

Or when you’re sitting in the dugout one morning waiting out a blinding rainstorm with Dempster and your sportscaster friend Peggy Kusinski, and it’s just the three of you, three parents, talking about how much you love your kids.

“You know that movie “Taken?” says Dempster, whose baby is still in the hospital at this point, still with a tracheal tube because she is unable to swallow on her own some three months after her birth.

Peggy and I nod, though I doubt she knows the movie any better than I do.

“Liam Neeson is in France looking for his daughter,” Dempster tells us, “and the chief of police there says, ‘I’d help you but you’re tearing down the city.’ And Liam Niesen looks at him and says, ‘I’d tear down the Eiffel Tower to save my daughter,’ and that’s the way I feel about this. I’ve always felt that way about my son but seeing my daughter sick and in bed and going through this, I’ll do whatever I have to. I just want to get her better.”

It was for the same story that I spoke to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who as always delivered with comments uniquely Ozzie. But then you turn off your tape recorder and he adds:

“The only thing in life you have is your kids. As soon as you leave this game, they’ll remember you when you die and if you ever go to the Hall of Fame. The only time they bring you back here is if they can make some money. But when you talk about your kids, that’s the only thing that’s really yours. Your wife, your mom, they’re not yours. If one of my kids gets sick, [screw] baseball, I’ll go be with them.”

Those are the best moments, even when you can’t always work them into print.

And that’s why I love my blog, because I just did.



  1. Frank

    Very well written Melissa. Just great!
    I think I speak for many who are happy you are back in sports with ESPN.

    The kids thing strikes home.
    Ozzie is right, despite his descrpitive language. The only thing you have is your kids. They mean everything, but I would like to think Ozzie’s wife is special to him too. Also his Mom.


  2. ZWrite


    I thought I was a news junkie, but I’m about three months behind on the news about your leaving The Chicago Tribune. I just happened to find out on July 9 when I saw your blog on the local ESPN radio Web site and then did some research.

    I’m sure dozens of people have already complimented you on your writing ability so I won’t reiterate the obvious. I will say that I thought a long time ago that you shouldn’t have been confining yourself to Sports. From my perspective, you were always writing about people anyway so why only write about people who happened to be involved in Sports?

    Reading several of your blogs on July 9 confirmed my opinion, and I’m glad from reading this particular blog that you also enjoy writing about everything. And what’s with this hotel room story? If my Math is right, we worked together at that time, but I don’t recall that story at all. I know it wasn’t me. Enough said about that.

    I noticed the Alzheimer’s story on July 9, but didn’t have time to read it. I returned to your blog on July 12 to read it. On July 9, I had learned that the story was named the best feature of 2008 in Chicago so anything I say about its quality seems superfluous. My mother died of Alzheimer’s disease last Mother’s Day, and I can’t imagine having two parents with Alzheimer’s. Until July 9, I had never heard of anyone in this situation.

    As I navigated through your Web site, I inferred that there was some sort of forum for people to post their thoughts about Alzheimer’s and read about others’ experiences. I was just going to post a three-graph short that I thought would be beneficial to people who experienced what my family experienced long before the diagnosis. My father was also named Herb, by the way.

    I never found the forum. As I read your article a second time, I was inspired to write about my mother for the first time except for the brief eulogy. Four hours later, I had crafted a 2,600-word monstrosity that I have since expanded. So I guess I should thank you for inspiring me to write about her. Or kill you. I haven’t decided yet.

    No one who knows me will ever read what I wrote, but I did put my rarely-used pen name on the article and sent it to an Alzheimers-related organization that I was researching at the same time as I was writing my story. A rep from the group said she appreciated my sharing my experiences, but I think I’ll have to find a more appropriate group or health-related publication to send it to. Or not.

    Thanks again. I think.

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