So the shooting hasn’t exactly been prolific over the last two days — 1,000 Tuesday morning because I was just plain tired, and 1,000 Wednesday morning because I had to wait to get out of bed so as not to disrupt Thing 3, a.k.a. Rosie, who had crawled into bed with us at about 4:30. This morning was a different story altogether … 1,500 with a whole lot of frustration in the first 400 or so, for two reasons: 1. I couldn’t shoot; and 2. The net had become so tight that the ball must have stuck there 10 times. I’m not sure how it looked like I was handling it after the ninth or 10th one, but in my head I was a foul shooting Jack Torrance … coming unhinged at the line.
I took a deep breath, grabbed a stepladder and some scissors, and performed surgery on that very net. It shall betray me no longer. The rest went much more quickly.
My point: The shooting end of this thing has been pretty eh over the last few days.
Regardless, I’ve got plenty of giddy in my yap lately for one specific reason: One of my idols, one of the great sportswriters in the history of the world (no, that’s not hyperbole) was in touch (sort of), and maybe just maybe he’s going to join us one of these days for a little rebounding.
It was actually Cynthia Reilly who sent an e-mail on behalf of her husband a couple days ago, in response to a few recent notes of my own to — yes, I may as well name him now — the Great Rick Reilly.
Yes, that Rick Reilly. The Rick Reilly whose mug graced the back page of Sports Illustrated for 10 years or so, giving the magazine a voice and personality that will never be replaced, great as it still may be. The same Rick Reilly who has been named National Sportswriter of the Year only, um, 11 times. The same Rick Reilly whose Nothing But Nets charity has raised millions of dollars to fight malaria in Africa by protecting kids with mosquito nets. The same Rick Reilly whose latest book (SPORTS FROM HELL: My two-year search for the world’s dumbest sport) is probably flying off some bookstore shelf as you read this. The same Rick Reilly who has hung with SI’s swimsuit models as part of a workday and did a commercial with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Did I mention it’s the same Rick Reilly who wrote the screenplay for Leatherheads?
And the same Rick Reilly who has been writing stuff like the following for the last quarter-century …
On Khalid Khannouchi: Khannouchi is the world-record holder in the marathon — by about a Macy’s parade. His time of 2:05:42 at this year’s Chicago Marathon lopped 23 seconds off the old mark, which is like outeating John Madden by a meat loaf and a half.
On his 4,008 reasons to hate the Yankees: Rooting for the Yankees takes all the courage, imagination, conviction and baseball intelligence of Spam. It’s like rooting for Brad Pitt to get the girl or for Bill Gates to hit Scratch ‘n’ Win.
On Pete Sampras giving up tennis: “I think I could win another Wimbledon if I wanted to,” he says, “but the problem is wanting to.” The way his nose wrinkles when he talks about it, you get the feeling he’d loofah-scrub Al Roker first.
It’s probably unfair, actually, to pick just three clips from a lifetime of amazing work, but those are my three. There’s plenty more from the (past employer) SI vault here or the (current employer) ESPN vault here, and then there are the books. If you’re just diving in, I’d suggest starting with Who’s Your Caddy, and fire up the John Daly chapter. A bit of advice, though: Don’t bring it down to the dinner table to read the excerpt on Daly’s physical, um, how shall we say, prowess, to the in-laws. Just plain uncomfortable.
(Sometimes my social graces leave something to be desired.)
My point: Rick Reilly is a words artisan and, to my way of thinking, the greatest.
Which is why I am all a-gaga after hearing from The Lovely Cynthia (Hey, I’ve got a matching The Beautiful Heth!), from whom we got the sense of some interest in our project:
“He loves what you’re doing and would like to support it somehow. Perhaps we can work out an appearance, but it would most likely be with only a week’s notice to you.”
My thought? It’s Rick Freakin’ Reilly. He can show up unannounced 10 minutes ago, and that would be fine.
So that’s that. We’re now at 289,507 down, 710,493 to go to 1 million made foul shots, and I’m pink-clouding like crazy, because the Great Rick Reilly …
Maybe, just maybe.