I didn't like Marty Schottenheimer when he was 4 and 12, and I don't like him today, when he's 12 and 4.
I've stepped out of the darkened cave — or, more precisely, have exited the animal den known in another life as my living room, to stroll in fresh air and reconnect my chakra with living things. This adventure is a result of this morning's discovery that my living room seemed to be congested with — I'll say it out loud: food droppings. Bits and pieces of pizza, hamburger, bacon, T-bone steak, egg yolks, breadcrumbs, potato chips, turkey bones, pork ribs, plus several to many organic items I do not, at present, recognize. Remnants of the above sprinkled the gray living room rug like snow dusting Mt. Helix. The droppings probably went unnoticed for a time due to the thick overlay of food wrappers, newspapers, magazines, dishware, dirty clothes (mostly socks and shirts), assorted containers (glass, plastic, and metal) used to hold liquids. There appeared to be evidence of alcohol consumption. Finally, there were a very large number of popcorn kernels.
The indoor sludge heap is due entirely to 26 college-football bowl games and 32 NFL games that were played over the course of 12 days.
It gets harder every year.
I have, long ago, lost track of my football bets and will have to rely upon those who lost to pay up and those who won to contact me. This is a perilous way to begin 2005.
On the other hand, on the happy side of the street, this appears to be a providential moment to jot down a few New Year's sports resolutions.
Resolution number one: I will find a way to like Marty Schottenheimer.
Well, this one won't last 48 hours. Unlike those who bowed and bootlicked before the Schottenheimer as soon as the Chargers started winning, I have remained steadfast. I didn't like him when he was 4 and 12, and I don't like him today, when he's 12 and 4.
At bottom, excessive, soul-suffocating caution is what I hold against Marty. Caution is unbecoming in life, ugly in sports, and a crime in the NFL. Take Sunday's game. Sure, other playoff-bound teams were holding out their stars — the star quarterback, the star running back — not wanting to get a franchise player hurt before the playoffs begin.
But Marty held out an entire squad: Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Randall Godfrey, Eric Parker, Tim Dwight, Antonio Gates, Keenan McCardell, Lorenzo Neal, and Jamal Williams. The equipment manager was on the bubble.
Resolution number two: I will write about women's sports more often this year. This one I have a good chance of keeping.
I've dropped the ball on women's sports lately. This noncoverage, unintended as it was, illustrates the predicament of women's sports. It's hard for the movement to get traction when someone like me, a general-interest sports writer who is on their side, has to make a resolution to write about their games.
I like women's tennis better than men's tennis. I like women's track-and-field and women's soccer and women's golf. I find women's basketball, football, and baseball to be an acquired taste. Unhappily, those sports are where media, fans, money, and fame congregate.
Resolution number three: I will not write a National Hockey League is Dead column. This one, I'll keep.
Resolution number four: More baseball and more NASCAR. Another keeper.
Resolution number five: I will watch televised sporting events all the way through to the end even if I have no money on the game. I'll give this one week.
Resolution number six: Give steroids a rest. I've been writing about steroids, always implicating Barry Bonds, for over two years. The rest of the media have finally caught up. They can take if from here. May well keep this one, at least until somebody goes to trial.
Resolution number seven: More Tijuana and Baja sports. They've got minor-league pro football and baseball down there. They've got offroad racing headlined by the Baja 500 and Baja 1000, bullfighting, greyhound racing, the always-ignored jai alai, golf, paintball, pro wrestling, pro boxing, any kind of fishing, any kind of boating, camping, snorkeling, diving, bicycling, surfing, running, tennis, hunting, legal sports betting, and, if you really feel you have to, snowboarding.
Sounds fabulous. And then one thinks of the border and remembers that the Bush administration is in the process of hiring 10,000 additional border agents. One thinks of the towering paranoia and mindless swagger one encounters when interfacing with newly empowered homeland security personhoods. One wonders if that joint you left in the back seat 15 years ago is still there. One wonders if there is a traffic warrant, a 1987 ticket for jaywalking in Atlanta, Georgia, lurking in some distant crime-stopper's computer database. Everything is accessible to everyone now, and everything is a jailable offense. Hmm. Perhaps this resolution would be better placed next year.
Just kidding. Sort of.
Finally, if there's a sport you love, send me an e-mail and tell me about it. Maybe we can find a place for it here.