Just back from a visit with Dr. Gray, who has the uncanny ability to be uplifting while she explains that I am doomed to forever be unhappy.
"What you must come to accept," she told me, "is that we all have priorities in life. Those priorities define who we are, and yours are about to change."
"But what if they don't change?" I asked. "I am the most self- centered person on earth. What if I remain that way even after the baby is born?"
"It does not happen that way, Michael," she said, "not for us who love our children and put them first."
That's the trouble. Sometimes you don't put the really important things first. I should know; I talk about sports for a living.
"Ah, yes," she said, "the games you enjoy so well."
"I do enjoy them, but it's more than that."
I thought about it for a minute. "I don't know."
"Think about it," she said. "If you can tell me why you love sports so much, it may give us the answers to other questions, too."
Well, I spent the rest of the day thinking about it.
I love the fact that my father, a man who grew up penniless during the Depression, refers to the Yankees' loss of a World Series game as the worst moment of his childhood. And I love that after making himself a successful lawyer and publishing a book, he dedicated it to his heroes, including Joe DiMaggio along with Clarence Darrow and William O. Douglas.
I love the fact that my mother, who grew up within walking distance of Yankee Stadium, is such a passionate sports fan herself that she must watch games alone because she finds conversation distracting. And I love that she would have left my father for Joe Namath in a heartbeat, and that he would have applauded her for it.
I love that my kid brother, who--like all kid brothers--always hated everything I liked, chose to root for the Miami Dolphins because they were the sworn enemy of my beloved New York Jets. And I love that, thirty years later, he flies to Miami every time the Dolphins have a big game.
I love that my wife, who grew up without sports playing any role in her life, now watches games with me and occasionally puts down her magazine. I love that she recognizes it is important enough at least to try.
I love the way I felt the first time I covered the Super Bowl. It was Pasadena, California, in January 1993. The Bills were playing the Cowboys and Garth Brooks sang the national anthem. I remember thinking about all the games I'd watched as a kid, and how if someone had told that kid he would someday get to cover the Super Bowl he would have said, "I am going to have the best life of anybody in the whole world." And then U.S. Navy jets flew overhead in formation just as the sun set over the mountains in the distance. That stadium was the loudest place I've ever been.
I love that Dave Wannstedt, then the coach of the Chicago Bears, once yelled at me over something I'd said on the radio, and I stumbled into the pressroom, humiliated, and a veteran writer pulled me aside and said, "Don't sweat it, kid. They never yell unless they know you're right."
I love the way Michael Jordan used to pump his fist when he made a big shot. I love the way Pete Rose ran to first base when he could have walked. I love that Lou Gehrig really believed he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.