The professional athletes we cover are often asked to rehash and re-examine their mistakes. Even if they’re small ones. Tiny ones. Insignificant ones.
Maybe writers should, too.
Yesterday’s SI.com profile of Macho Man Savage‘s baseball career received a ton of positive praise, which is very gratifying. But, like a ballplayer who misses a sacrifice bunt, there are small elements I wish I could take back. For example …
• In the second paragraph, I wrote, “The boy had a dream, after all.” I hate “after all.” It’s supposed to be conversational, but it’s actually not. It’s just a cliched fill-in we writers use at 4 in the morning, when we’re struggling and a tad lazy. I used to whip out “after all” a lot when I was in college, finding my voice. That was 16 years ago. No need.
• I called him “Randall Mario Poffo.” His brother Lanny (who loved the story) told me late last night that Randy was his actual name. Damn Wikipedia (which I almost never rely on, but did late on deadline).
• “Was Randy Poffo the greatest athlete Downers Grove (Ill.) North High had ever produced?” Lately I’ve been using waaay too many questions as segways. Bad.
• This (With the local reputation as a winner, a player with power to all fields and a cannon of an arm from behind the plate, a future in pro ball seemed all but inevitable) is a dreadful sentence. Want it back.
• In the second section, I used “Randy Poffo” in back-to-back sentences. No need. Fatigue, I’m guessing.
There’s a bunch of other stuff. One interesting debate the wife and I had. Lanny was very emotional about Yankee Stadium holding a moment of silence for Randy, with his image on the scoreboard. He said, “I feel like he finally made the major leagues.” As soon as the words left Lanny’s mouth I thought, “Bingo—instant ending!” Excitedly told the wife, and she said, “Sorta cliche, no?” And it is, well, would be, if I’d said the words. But Lanny did, and I felt the sentiment was real. However, I wound up not concluding with it, because I thought I came up with a more original way.
Anyhow, there you go. Warped thinking from a warped scribe.
PS: Final thought—the positive feedback means so much, I can’t even explain. It really does. People send negative stuff all the time. So when you hear “Good job,” it’s very significant. So … thanks.