Szwaja's Sports Blog

Saturday, July 09, 2005

About a week ago, I was engaged in conversation with two men who I can always count on to talk my ear off when it comes to sports. I don't see as much of them as I used to, but when we meet, we talk about sports like we all do nothing else in our lives but consume sports in any way possible. Admittedly, their knowledge of the sporting world fascinates, yet humbles me at the same time. I envy them. They spoke so highly of Dick Allen last week, and there I was, never having seen Allen bat, even on tape, to the best of my knowledge. Their names are Mr. Steve Scholten and Mr. Mark Russo (I used the "Mr." as a sign of my inferiority). Mr. Scholten is the father of Kim Scholten, who is one of my best friends. Mr. Russo is Kim's uncle and Mr. Scholten's brother in law.

Anyway, last week we were deep into a conversation that weaved its way through the many nuances of baseball -- ballparks, feared hitters, famed announcers, etc. -- when I brought up the right field porch at Yankee Stadium. I've never been to Yankee Stadium, but I can say without any reservations that it bugs me. Three-hundred-fourteen feet down the right field line? A-ha! Now we know why Babe Ruth hit all those home runs. Side note, in all seriousness, I believe Ruth was the greatest baseball player that ever lived. And ironically, it was Mr. Scholten who convinced me, during a separate conversation a while back, that the Bambino was indeed the greatest player to ever man a baseball diamond. Since then, I've defended Ruth on numerous occasions as baseball's best.

Back to the story at hand, we were discussing the Yankees' seven-run eighth inning earlier in the day when Mr. Scholten mentioned that Yankee hitters never hit the ball hard during the rally, and he was right. Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter had the biggest hits of the inning and both were jam-shot flares into right field. Then I added my two cents.

"Even Giambi's home run was a joke," I interjected. "He hit it off the trademark, and it barely crept over that sorry excuse for a wall they have in right field there."

Mr. Scholten looked at me, fixed a grin, then said...

"That's why I love talking to you, Michael. You're always writing your next article."

That's when it hit me like a line drive comebacker up the middle. For the time being, there was no next article. Yes, I wrote a sports column for four years at the Daily Illini, but those days were gone. Where would I go? The easy answer would be to find a job, which I've been working on, but for now I've decided to start this blog. I love writing. I love sports. And yes, Mr. Scholten, I am always thinking about how I can craft my thoughts on sports into a block of printed words. So, it's only natural to continue writing about sports, even if it is this little thing that only a handful of people will read. Hopefully, this thing will become a healthy obsession of mine, and some of you will continue to read it. I know many of you read my columns, so I hope you will find this blog equally entertaining. I promise you this will be the first of many pieces to come.

Mr. Scholten, you were right. I was writing my next article. Thanks for reading, everyone.


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