- Regrets, I’ve had a few;
- But then again, too few to mention.
- - “My Way” as recorded by Frank Sinatra
Regrets; we all know them. Some are more potent than others. They poke at us when we want to forget them most. They all stick to us like burrs on a hunting dog’s fur. They make us who we are because they come from who we weren’t. Even the great ones have them.
Hunter S. Thompson, one of America’s true original artists and one of the select handpicked few journalists that could overwhelmingly succeed at making any event enthralling – whether sports related or otherwise – had a tremendous regret: The Rumble in the Jungle.
HST was sent to Zaire to cover Muhammad Ali, his fellow Kentuckian in a battle against the predominant power puncher in his time George Foreman. Thompson met with his wildly talented friend and illustrator Ralph Steadman in Zaire and the event was to be covered in that “Gonzo” styling that had descriptively blown into bits and reassembled the Hell’s Angels, the ’72 Campaign Trail, even chasing down the American Dream in a fearful and loathable Las Vegas. The fight which grew into its own epic organically was primed to be another instant journalistic classic – both cult and natural.
But Thompson never wrote the story. It was his great regret.
As we all know now, Ali outlasted the bigger stronger Foreman and shocked the world despite his vocal bravado and oral brashness. He backed it all up with his body, brains and courage. Thompson thought he knew for sure that his friend from Louisville was toast and couldn’t bear to see the carnage… let alone have to tell the tale afterwards under an imposing deadline. So he gave away his press passes (both his own and to Steadman’s dismay, his illustrator’s/boxing enthusiast’s pass as well) and went swimming in the hotel pool and sipped beers instead thinking about how he could write about experiencing everything EXCEPT the fight to justify the expenditures of his assignment.
Except… Oops! When Ali won, there was no other story. It was THE story – a story that still screams today.
Sure, Thompson missed out on other moments that he could have smashed into bits and put together again with a wisdom only he possessed. It wasn’t always as simple as letting a deadline pass, sometimes it was just the way it had to be – he couldn’t turn Gonzo on whenever he wished and he couldn’t accept anything less than his best. He was there in the fall of Saigon and never submitted a story. He never wrote about Watergate – which is amazing if you think about how much he despised Dick Nixon. No matter how much you can appreciate the moments of triumph, the soul of we, the readers is a devouring beast that wonders why there wasn’t more “magic”… why we don’t have more disgusting beauty to consume… why an American Giant of Storytelling could be so utterly human just like us.
- Make the most of your regrets;
- Never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it come to have a separate and integral interest.
- To regret deeply is to live afresh.
- - Henry David Thoreau
Sometimes I sit and think about moments I missed out on – ESPECIALLY when it comes to sports; namely playing baseball.
I think of all the pitches I wish I made instead of those I did, of errors due to mental mistakes instead of fluid physical movements that I had drilled into my utter being through endless sweaty hours of practice, of hitters I drilled in the ribs – maybe not to “do over” but just to experience it one more time. It’s been more than a dozen years since I hurled a pearl and a batter/unsuspecting victim! My mind feels like my body is still in that place - despite my current (older, creakier and appreciably fatter) condition – I can still feel the moment; the air, the ambiance, the grind of competition, the sound of the bustling crowd of dozens, the want of victory… I can still mentally “feel” my delivery, my arm slot and angle, the balance points, the release, my general lack of a follow through and the outcome.
Despite all of these feelings that I can recall so vividly, so clearly, so ‘right here now’-ish – the joy of spectacular effort providing fruition, the moments of physical triumph overcoming physical exhaustion, the sweet sip of victory’s nectar… moments of “leaving it all on the field”. I can recall them when I want. There are those regrets that remind me – I don’t have to ‘try’ to remember them. You can’t escape regerets.
- Regretting… all those times I’ve spent regretting.
- Remembering all those things you can never forget.
- - “Regretting” as recorded by Manny Stiles
As my personal regrets pertain to sports journalism and my experience on the internet there are many regrets. I jumped in head-first into what I thought were deep waters. Perhaps it was naïveté, perhaps it was my stubborn belief that people aren’t complete fakes when they can assume a sense of anonymity (yeah, I guess it IS naïveté) but the Internet seemed to me in 2006 as a deep ocean of possibilities (creatively, socially and expression-ly) only to find myself here three years later bruised, battered and beaten down from diving into crags, rocks with firmly mounted, self-important, all-knowingly and mind-numblingly witless barnacles called “bloggers”.
I regret having to explain myself – even once – in that my “online persona” just happens to be no different than my “Extranet” being. I am a mixed bag indeed but there is nothing to explain for I am really just who I am – which gleefully, is who I WANT to be. I regret taking pride in defending “my turf” instead of remaining objective to the matter – I took being a part of ArmchairGM as a badge of pride. It was fun for me to say that I was contributing to something I felt was worthwhile – a slightly less shallow pool in the urine puddle of sports websites. I regret expecting anything near the effort I put into the site from anyone else.
I regret that it’s a possibility anyone has a reason to think I am a problem, a nuisance, a detriment to this site – but that’s what the experts call a YOU problem, not a “me” problem. I’ve given far more than I ever dared to take.
- I have many regrets and I'm sure everyone does.
- The stupid things you do, you regret?
- If you have any sense and if you don't regret them maybe you're stupid.
- - Katherine Hepburn
My Sports Regrets
- I regret not trying harder to get press passes to the Super Bowl in Glendale in 2007 (by “harder” I mean “at all”)
- I regret not going to any of the games (1,2,6,7) of the 2001 World Series. I was not a Diamondbacks fan but I hated the Yankees, so I should have gone anyway! Oddly enough, I also regret never seeing a game at Yankee Stadium.
- I regret not attending any of games 3,4,5 of the 1993 World Series as even though I was not a Phillies fan, I was living in Philly at that time.
- I regret trying out for the Cubs in 1994. I tried out for a couple other teams and was scouted throughout 1992-1994 (make no mistake, I had the physical tools but I know I didn’t have the makeup or support system to have ever been more than a AA scrub) but it was at that invite camp in Quakertown, PA that I first felt “that pain” in my shoulder and was indeed the beginning of the end for my playing career. I regret that I tried to impress a handful of scouts only two days after striking out 12 and allowing 2 hits in 8 innings – which was attended by some of the same scouts. I should have never thrown a single pitch that day – but as invincible as I was then in those days I stupidly and unimpressively pitched to 8 batters. I also regret that a fellow Temple University pitcher was signed from the same camp that day – and made it all the way to a short career as a AA scrub.
- I regret not shoving Jose Canseco back when he threw a shoulder into me at a baseball card convention in 1988. Sure, I was barely 15 at the time but I was already taller than him (maybe he shoved me out of envy of my height; or more likely ‘roid rage) and what was he going to do to a kid? Kids nowadays would do it with the bravery knowing a lawsuit was a slam dunk.
- I regret letting my brothers and their threats of lawsuits de-rail, taint and suck the joy out of my “Tampa Bay Rays Charity Blogger” experience. Their ignorance, closed-mindedness and social retardedness was my motivation in pursuing the experience in the first place. But when the ball started rolling and luck shined on me, they changed the tone of my effort and essentially bullied me into submission. By the time I tried to pick up the pieces again in June, the damage was done and the thrill was gone. I haven’t spoken with either of those two since and I will beat their asses the next time I see them. And I won’t regret that!
- I regret not harassing the Yankees clubhouse more when I had the chance.
- I regret not asking Elijah Dukes to come back to my house to share some bong hits. I felt so sorry for that guy (the day of the “You Dead, Dawg!” and calling into the Tampa radio show ‘event’, when the Rays were in Phoenix) and he clearly needed someone to get him stoned. But maybe if I did, I would have regretted messing with a Bull (-sized human being in an unstable place in his life). I don’t regret stating profusely that he is NOT a bad guy or defending him (or Delmon Young for that matter).
- I regret not writing more about Matt LaPorta.
- I regret not doing an in-depth interview with Arizona Fall League creator and former MLB GM/multiple Exec-of-the-year award winner Rollie Hemond. I had many conversations with him during my time at AFL but never bothered to ask him to sit down so I could pick his brain and hear the tales he lived through... duh.
- I regret not thoroughly interviewing Evan Longoria at Arizona Fall League in 2007 instead of just babbling, goo-goo and gah-gaahing at him. I guess that goes for J.P. Arencibia as well in 2008.
- I regret not harassing Jimmy Rollins more when I had the chance (November 2008, just a few weeks after the World Series). I ESPECIALLY regret not wearing my Rays hat that night as well.
- I regret not shoving my way around the track at my (so far) only NASCAR event but – to be honest – I didn’t really know what I was doing there anyway.
- I regret not forcing Sports Shaman into doing a tarot reading for the entire NCAA tournament this year.
- I regret throwing away a crap load of what would have been decent articles as comments when no one reads them anyway.
- I regret not having more interesting and funny things to regret.
- And then there’s the one regret that I have that I can still remedy: I regret making every article idea turn into an epic. I am long for words and expansive on ideas but I have learned that this one regret is lesson in distribution, not productivity. From now on, I will aim for a mix of quality and quantity without proportion; not attempting to cram both worlds into one. Unless the concept absolutely requires it, I won’t be posting more than 1,000-1,200 words in an article any more. I’ve finally given into the game everyone else plays. And I’m wasting my time spitting, pissing and vomiting my words into the wind.
Maybe that will be my next regret…
- How now, my lord, why do you keep alone,
- Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
- Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
- With them they think on? Things without all remedy
- Should be without regard: what's done, is done.
- - Lady MacBeth as written (supposedly) by William Shakespeare in the play MacBeth
What are your great sports regrets?
So – the comments section is down there.