Tuesday, March 6, 2007
ESPNsoccernet: March 7, 1:30 PM UK
Rediscovering my literary roots
It's been six months since the last time I put pen to paper and I want to publicly state, using this slice of the 01001010010101000101010 universe, that my own private exile from the literary bourgeois is over. I don't remember exactly what my motivation was in censoring my diarist ways, but if I sit still long enough, I'm confident that my inner chi will help offer up some excuses.
Sitting still. Still. Excuse No. 1 I scrolled through the archives of my previous attempts at writing to try and locate my frame of mind during the past year's events and what I found lying in the muck was an unfinished outline of my experiences from January 2006 until now: Run the beep test.
Score the winning goal in my first game postsurgery.
Give kisses to the hurt area during the goal celebration.
Convince the coaches that I am, in fact, 100 percent healthy.
Hear my name on the World Cup roster.
Share a room with Josh Wolff.
Run more fitness tests.
Captain the national team in a friendly.
Display my ugly mug on "Good Morning America."
Go to Germany.
Have a good seat for the Czech Republic game.
Play in the Italy game.
Start the Ghana game.
Answer quite a few, "What happened?" questions.
Shake my head.
Rejoin the Wizards.
Play against Chelsea.
Give Didier Drogba a nice kick from behind.
Get yellow card.
Rejoin the Wizards.
Break my jaw.
Have more surgery.
Get a grill.
Lose a mentor unexpectedly.
Miss the playoffs.
Get a radio show.
Make up for lost talking time due to broken jaw.
Attend the Gala Awards and the MLS Cup final.
Witness the greatest one-minute span in MLS Cup history.
Speculate with a microphone.
Upon reflection, I realize I stopped writing around the time I got the radio show and the grand delusion of me as media mogul (competent writer, enjoyable radio personality, credible talking head on television, designer of my own clothing line, and if I could find the right mix of fragrances, like "Eau de Toilette + Paper," perhaps even a perfumer) set in. It was then that I began to use every ounce of my extracurricular creativity not to produce composed and sensible commentary, but to convince people to come on the show. "It will only take 10 minutes," I offered with pure salesman machismo. "What is this for?" They responded. "It's for a brand new radio show that Major League Soccer is putting together for the playoffs. I get to play puppeteer and I need you to come on the air and be my puppet." There was a long pause on the other end and then I heard, "Who is this again?" "Shari $%@&*% Lewis," I said with the slightest hint of agitation. Dial tone. At the end of my self-proclaimed media blitz, I was tired. I was tired of trying to sell myself; I was tired of hearing my own voice; I was tired of feigning cleverness; and ultimately, I was tired of using that part of my brain. I needed a break from rational thought and all I wanted was someone else to think about this whole, wide world for me. Where's that damn remote control? Excuse No. 2 "David Beckham signs with the Los Angeles Galaxy for a quarter of a billion dollars over five years." -- ESPN I was so flustered by the thought that by the time Beckham brushes his teeth in the morning, he makes as much money as I will in a year, that I didn't know how to react. Do I write a scathing letter to the Powers That Be about the imbalance of distributed funds OR do I compose a love note to said "Powers" for making a move that puts Major League Soccer into the global sports vernacular? I attempted, but never finished, a mix of both. My Scathing Love Letter Dear Powers That Be, How dare you pique the interest of the uninterested by marrying your wallet to the faux-hawked prince of the paparazzi ... am I not good enough for you? Would it help if I named my first child after a city in New York or told my wife to suck in her cheeks, wear really big glasses, and walk around with some bodyguards? I know I don't have that one guy from "Top Gun" in my cell phone, but is the potential color of money making our mission impossible? I consider this, far and away, the days of thunder between us and I want to make sure that you understand that your actions are risky business. There are other ways to make this work. We could invest our resources into gambling, display our love in Las Vegas, and take advantage of a growing addiction for many people. Or we could use the money already promised to the Chosen One to spread the wealth with per game bonuses for each player. If we put a meaningful amount on each result ($1,500 a win, $500 a tie per player, and prorate the net sum by playing time, being on the roster, etc.), then the level of play in practices and, more importantly, games, would vastly improve. On the other hand, I believe the landscape of our future had to change and I admire your courage to shake hands on this deal despite the criticism you will face from both ignorant and knowledgeable alike. It takes prudent decision makers and/or bottomless pockets to see the positive monetary ripple effect that this move will have and I respect your commitment to go for it. I'm sure you will argue that with time and patience, we will see the Warren Buffett-ness of your decision and that may very well turn out to be true. But for the time being, I'm picking the petals of our favorite flower and thinking, I love you,
I love you not,
I love you,
I love you not,
I love ...
Excuse No. 3 After scoring the game-winning goal against our bitter rivals to secure another victory for the red, white and blue, I know the prevailing perception would be that I'm too big time now to write for some no-name Web site, but I assure you that is hardly the case. I've just been busy, you know, doing interviews, photo shoots, commercials, stumping for my presidential campaign, meeting the Pope, signing some autographs for some crazy fan who used to play (I think his name was Pelé), singing a duet with Bono, re-enacting my goal celebration for Nelson Mandela, respectfully declining an offer to be knighted by the Queen, dunking over Shaq in a charity basketball event, donning the robes as an honorary member of the Supreme Court, rendering the indefatigable Jim Rome speechless, watching a statue of my likeness be unveiled in my hometown of Temple City, and finally, having my pregnant wife rub my feet and feed me grapes while I lounge on the couch in my diamond-studded robe. What? OK fine, I lied. Here's the Jimmy's, I mean, God's honest truth: this Web site is the online baby of the biggest name in sports entertainment, I plan to contribute my every-once-in-a-while entries every once in awhile, and much to my eternal sadness, I don't own a diamond-studded robe. Yet. So, now that I've done my part resurrecting soccer commentary for the 2007 MLS season, it's time for you to do yours: If you want me to get you Beckham's autograph, forward this to 100,000 of your closest friends. If you want to live forever, forward this to 10,000 people. If you want a forum where you can ask, and I will answer, your (soccer-related) questions, forward this to 1,000 strangers. If you want to make me believe that you are, like totally, the most awesome person on earth, forward this to 100 people who can back up such a claim. If you want to show your family how much you love them ... and me, forward this to 10 relatives. If this piece of propaganda doesn't guilt you into forwarding it on, then the next time I see you I'll give you a big high five. HIGH FIVE!
Jimmy Conrad is a defender for the U.S. national team and Major League Soccer's Kansas City Wizards. He contributes regularly to ESPN.com.