Went to bed at 5:30 this morning.
Was up writing. And writing. And writing. And writing. Handed in a 3,200-word piece to SI.com this morning, which should be up momentarily, about the four-year minor league baseball career of Randy Poffo—aka Randy (Macho Man) Savage.
Why 3,200 words on the minor league baseball career of Randy Poffo—aka Randy (Macho Man) Savage? Because these are the type of pieces I absolutely cherish. The digging. The piecing together. The reconstructing. If I never have to profile a head-of-the-pack, prime-of-his-career superstar again, I’ll be a pretty happy guy (not that I’m turning anything down). What I truly enjoy is going back through time, finding something obscure and glueing together the moments.
I’d always heard that Savage played minor league ball, but I didn’t know for sure until I learned of his death of a heart attack this past Friday. I immediately went to Baseball Reference and found this. Man, the power of the internet. If the year’s 2000 or 2001, I’m scracthing and clawing to find one name from one of those ballclubs; maybe two. But here, right in front of me, was a list of every Poffo team; every Poffo teammate; every Poffo manager. I dug in—started looking people up and making calls. From Friday until last night, I probably spoke with, oh, 30-35 people about Randy (Macho Man) Savage—baseball player. I love making those calls … the initial surprise, then laugh, when you say, “I’m Jeff Pearlman from SI.com. This is gonna be one of the most random calls you’ve ever received, but …”
Some have no memories. Others are filled with them. The crown jewel was Lanny Poffo, Randy’s brother and an absolutely wonderful man. When you’re writing about the death of a loved one, it’s obviously a v-e-r-y sensitive area. People are either offended that you’re even trying, or happy that someone’s making an effort to remember. In this case, Lanny was happy. We spoke at length, and toward the end he offered to e-mail me a ton of photographs. He owns a scanner, but actually went to a nearby Office Depot or Staples to make sure the quality would be top-flight. He told me the store was near his house, and the person behind the counter—aware of Macho Man’s passing—did the scans for free. Lanny choked up retelling that story. It was beautiful.
Anyhow, I took a 4 1/2-mile run at 10 last night, then watched a little TV (Bill Maher), then had some Special K, then a little more Special K, then—at long last—got to writing. For me, the process is … unsettling. Up, down, bathroom, food, TV, down, write, delete, write more, delete, take a break, cookies, bathroom, write. The internet is my friend and my enemy. Great for information, terrible for IMDB gazing and old Roger Ebert reviews and YouTube clips of Shannon Hoon singing weird songs.
But I trudged through, and as the sun was rising (actually, it’d already come up) I pressed SEND to B.J. Schecter, my SI.com editor.