This is a weekly column from Leitch.
It has words, and pictures. It's called Ten Humans Of The Week.
As some of you might know, I write a regular column for Sporting News magazine (they dropped the "The" because definite articles are unhip). I find this more enjoyable than I thought I would going in, because, as you would probably guess, the readers of Sporting News make up a different audience than I'm used to writing for. I sometimes worry I'll freak them out if I make a reference to Facebook, or that whippersnapper long hair Jimi Hendrix. It's fun to try out tricks on new people. It has been great. It's a better magazine than you probably think it is.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, after writing a column making fun of the two New York baseball stadiums, I invited SN readers to email me their pitches as to why their stadium was unappreciated. I would "reward" the best pitch by buying them and me a ticket to a game this year. I received some impassioned pitches for Detroit, Arlington, Philadelphia, Toronto, even Tampa. But the contest was kind of rigged: I really wanted to go to Pittsburgh.
This was for two reasons. First, I've heard from numerous people that PNC Park is a gorgeous stadium where it's easy to procure great cheap seats because the Pirates play there. But mostly: I had slated May 12, today, as my travel day for the game, and the Cardinals happened to be in town that day. That's cheating, but whatever, it's the Cardinals.
Anyway, I was primed to proclaim the first person to email me about PNC Park the "winner," but, because the Pirates have no fans left, nobody sent me a thing. Then, they day before I had to make a decision, I received an email from some guy, whom we'll call "Robert." His note was not inspiring — "The reason that PNC Park is different is that it's the most beautiful stadium of any sport in the entire world and it's parking lot is located near our pre-Forbes stadium, Exposition Park" — but who cares? I had my Pittsburgh resident! I emailed him posthaste, told him he won and asked if he could make it May 12. "I'll buy the tickets," I told him. "We can just meet there. My hotel will just be a few blocks away. I'll buy the booze too!"
I was on deadline, so I began to worry when I didn't hear back from Robert for a few hours. I kept needling him, saying I needed him to confirm so I could file my next column and buy the plane tickets. I kept offering him plenty of booze in Pittsburgh: Nobody fails to act when booze is on the line, I figured. And nothing. So I finally gave up. I chose Minnesota, because I've always wanted to see the Metrodome, which is in its last season, and because I thought I would seriously try to talk the Twins into making me their general manager because that would be HILARIOUS. And then I didn't think that much more about it.
Three days later, I received an email from a woman named "Barbara." She informed me that she was the mother of ... Robert. Who was 13 years old. Who had told her that "the man from the magazine" had invited him to "meet" him at the Pirates game, that his hotel was right by the stadium, that he would buy his ticket and buy him lots of booze.
"He was a bit overwhelmed by your kind invite," she said, and I really, really hoped she'd seen the magazine, the column and the "contest." Because I had just invited her 13-year-old son to come meet a stranger with alcohol at a baseball game. With my hotel "just a quick walk away."
I'm pretty lucky that I gave up and booked the Minnesota tickets. Because if I had shown up at PNC Park and Chris Hansen had been there ... I'm not sure explaining the facts of the situation would have gotten me out of it.
Dusty Baker. The rivalry between Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker has always been an entertaining one, and having just watched the full series between the Cardinals and Reds last weekend, I can attest that the Reds are a lot better than anyone realizes. It would be kind of an amusing irony if Baker ends up taking the Reds to the World Series, something he could never make happen with the Cubs. The only thing that would be better? If Jim Essian came back. I loved that guy. Anyway, yeah: I'm officially terrified of the Reds. And I don't even think Dusty's going to shred all those pitchers' arms this time either.
Murray Chass. The erstwhile Times columnist garnered some attention last week with his detailed takedown of Selena Roberts' book. Whether you agree with him or not — and though I enjoyed the book and don't think Roberts is is some terrible person out to hurt poor little A-Rod, he does make a solid case and, frankly, it appears I'm on the wrong side of history on this one — I was mostly just relieved that, finally, someone is paying attention to Murray Chass. Ever since Chass launched his Protest Blog — a site that makes a big deal out of being "columns" rather than "blogs" — he's just been typing away in the nether, a lonely guy typing away tons of opinions, blissfully unaware that no one's actually reading any of them. I had been feeling kind of bad for old Murray: I feared his attempts to, at last, finally bring some class to that wretched Internet were, you know, failing. But Murray found some new online friends with his Roberts column. Congrats, Murray. Perhaps the striking originality of his recent Steroids Are Hurting Baseball's Image column will push you over the top. "The Hall of Shame will be an invisible wing of the Hall of Fame." Well played, sir. Well played.
Alfred Luckerbauer. You might have missed this over the weekend, but Daulerio and I both received emails Friday night from a man named Alfred Luckerbauer, who apparently is the email attack dog for Freddie Mitchell. I'm not sure why Mitchell would need a protector from Deadspin — which is literally the only place that ever writes about Freddie Mitchell — but I love how much information Daulerio found out about him, including his awesome personal Web site. Money quote: "Would YOU like to improve anything in your life ? More Money? Better Health and more Energy? Maybe spend more time with friends and family or have time and money for your favorite activity........YOUR DREAMS ?" Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! To all those questions! I would love to have time and money for my favorite activity with is MY DREAMS. I would love to subscribe to your newsletter.