In my five decades of sports writing, I've learned that these things are true and always will be:
The guy you really need to talk to is still in the shower.
A good sports column is like a good movie. You have to introduce them to a person they like, set that person's house on fire, and get them out.
Everybody can dunk in commercials.
Your kid won't remember the score of a single game he played. He'll only remember the time he laughed so hard in the dugout that Capri Sun came out of his nose. Relax.
The semifinals are always better than the finals.
I would rather cover athletes than any other anything. They show up early. They are accountable. They suffer fools endlessly and punch a very small percentage of them. They're forced to explain themselves daily and yet do it without bile. They push themselves places you don't know exist. Exhausted, they perform feats, under pressure, that never fail to give me chicken skin.
Fans who spend the whole game screaming at the refs are the unhappiest ones before the game, too.
The best sports are the ones you invent.
The greatest thing I ever covered was the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Compared to that, everything else was the Ogallala City Gymnastics Meet.
The Kenyan with the hardest name to spell will win the marathon.
Trapped at a Party with a Drunk Sports Fan Timeline: 8 p.m. -- Greetings, compliments. 9 p.m. -- Repeated greetings, diluted compliments, added story about nephew. 10 p.m. -- "You need to read my nephew's blog." 11 p.m. -- "Why the HELL won't you read my nephew's blog?" Midnight -- Accusations, insults. 1 a.m. -- Apologies, spittle, removal by nephew.
The less you've traveled, the more sure you are.
Fame was more fun before every single thing you do could end up on Instagram.
Everybody thinks they'll be the first fan to give a superstar athlete crap. You want to be different? Be polite.
Charles Barkley was the best quote. Howard Cosell was the biggest jerk. Mark Grace was the most approachable. Barry Bonds the least. Dale Murphy was the kindest soul. Allen Iverson had the largest heart. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had the most brains. John Daly the least.
The best sports book ever written was "Ball Four." Everything else has just been an attempt to copy it.
The price of greatness is more than you want to pay. The world's most legendary athletes are usually the ones most wildly out of balance. Michael Jordan had to crush you, whether you were an opponent or teammate. The thousands of hours Peyton Manning pours into every season would make you quake, then quit. Andre Agassi grieves, to this day, the childhood he gave up while hitting over a million practice balls. Enjoy your heroes, but don't envy them.
The exceptions: Jack Nicklaus, the Williams sisters, Derek Jeter.
If you're not sure you need it, you don't need it. That goes for cars, clothes and paragraphs.
The best seat in sports is front row, NBA. The worst seat in sports is front row, NFL.
Philly fans take it the worst. Seattle fans the best. Oakland fans are the most dangerous. Kansas City fans the least. Boston fans know the most. Miami fans the least.
A draft choice and his signing bonus are soon parted.
I've crushed cars in a monster truck, faced Nolan Ryan, parachuted with the U.S. Army, piloted a blimp and played golf with the standing U.S. president. But the most fun I ever had was playing tackle basketball with my kids.
There has not been an NCAA men's basketball championship team in the last 20 years that could come within 30 points of the John Wooden championship UCLA teams. Those were men. These are babies.
By more than double, the best-run sporting event in the world is the Masters.
By more than double, the worst is the Tour de France.
If you're a parent and you refer to your kid's team as "us," you're too into it.
It's true. He who angers you, owns you. Let it go.
There's no bad day stand-up paddle boarding can't fix.
Screw writer's block. Take a shower, go write at a deli, write standing up, switch to a legal pad, write the ending, write the middle, run around the block, chug a Red Bull. Just don't quit. Quitting is the express lane to the restaurant industry.
Sprinters walk the slowest.
You can write all the inspirational messages you want on your kid's school lunch bag. Nothing beats genetics.
The best thing to ever happen to marriage is the pause-live-TV button.
If cold beer didn't exist, half of sports would fall off the edge of the Earth.
If gambling didn't exist, the other half would.
There is nothing as steadfast as a fan's love for his team. Players shuffle like cards. Stadiums change names yearly. Uniforms change colors like Times Square billboards. But fans stay true game after game, year after year, generation after generation.
You'd never dream you can get bored with swimsuit models until you have to sit through dinner with them.
Before your kid's first T-ball game, teach him to catch a popup and hit to left, and he'll love playing baseball forever.
Hockey players are the friendliest. Baseball players the surliest. Boxers the funniest.
I've been in lots of fights. None of them hurt. None of them were worth it.
The best stories aren't on the cover. They're the kid at the end of the bench, the fan who snuck into the game, the coach who shouldn't be alive. They're the ones that are hardest to find, and hardest to forget.
A lie has to be tended, watched and guarded. A truth you send out on its own.
If you're trying to start your career, you can't wait for the phone to ring. You have to make it ring.
Tim Tebow was the cleanest. Tiger Woods the dirtiest.
Inertia keeps most people from living the life they dream. It's just safer to keep to the same path you've worn smooth.
This, too, shall pass ... even if you double-saved it.