I can't get serious right now. I just had a good lunch with a good source, March Madness is maddening (I just lost my first Elite 8 team, Iowa, on a last second three from the baseline), it's St. Patrick's Day, a
nd it's the end of the damn week. Reporter folk, it's time to celebrate life a little.
So I'm gonna end this with some fun, perhaps at the expense of Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard, who I'm sure can take it (unlike a few thin-skinned, humorless weasels out there -- oh yeah, you know who you are). Anyway, you may remember Sam Eifling's little study on Le Batard's weirdly repititious use of phrases concerning Ben Wallace's afro and the 1980 Olympic hockey miracle [you can see it below].
Well, unbenowst to Eifling and the Pulp, a similar study was undertaken back in 1995 in the Miami New Times. A Pulp reader and veteran of the journalism scene remembered the piece, which was in the form of an unsigned "Best Of," and dug it up for me. It's believed to have been authored by the esteemed Tom Finkel, now editor of the New Times-owned Riverfront Times in St. Louis, and it is a thing of strange and hilarious beauty."
BEST MIAMI HERALD WRITER TO SPRING A LEAK
Dan Le Batard
On January 10, 1994, this babyfaced Herald sportswriter clambered into a literary catapult of his own making and hurled himself toward greatness. “The stink keeps seeping into sports,” he ventured in the topic sentence of a commentary about the recent assault on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, and then proceeded to find his incomparable voice, writing, “You can’t escape to these pages anymore, can’t always find quiet near the boxscores. The poison leaks in from the rest of the newspaper and next thing we know Michael Jordan’s father is dead.”
Thus was born one man’s love affair with a verb.
“The mediocrity begins at the top and trickles down, engulfing the entire Heat organization. It touches everything from the coach to the end of the bench, and it leaks into the front office, too,” Le Batard wrote less than two weeks later.
By spring the budding stylist was courageous enough to broach the gerund: “Magic Johnson is dying. The averages say he’ll be gone in about 11 years, life leaking from his body as predictably as seconds off a scoreboard clock,” he dispatched on April 10, then proceeded to turn in an even more adventurous April 22 entry: “Miami Arena was leaking now, sound being sucked out like air from a deflating balloon.”
In June Mexican soccer players competing in the World Cup “could feel the life leaking from their legs,” while December brought a high school football coach whose rage “leaks out occasionally, with a single word you wouldn’t want your children to hear” and a Dolphins special teams mentor undergoing “nearly six months of chemotherapy that made the life leak out of his body.” New Year’s Day 1995 informed us that “the game was done, clearly, but Joe Montana was behaving as if the life were leaking out of him.”
And only then was Le Batard truly ready. A January 19 article that began with the greatest single sentence in Miami Herald history (“He could barely walk, this strong man the Dallas Cowboys needed to run”) built to this corker: “And just when you thought Emmitt Smith didn’t have an ounce of emotion remaining in his body, just when you thought he had spent everything on the field, you noticed he had a little something left. It came leaking from both eyes.”
He would polish that particular gem in a March 13 epic about golfer Mark O’Meara’s caddie: “‘Yes,’ he screamed, and then he threw his arms skyward, too, so much joy rushing through him that he couldn’t keep it all inside. It came leaking out both eyes.”
No more could possibly be wrought, you say? Wrong. April 16 was occasion for a paean to Glen Rice’s 56-point effort against the Orlando Magic: “And when it was done, when he made that last long jumper...Rice could no longer keep all the joy inside him. It leaked out in a burst, right on the court.”
We say write on, Danny Boy. Let ’er drip!"