That's What She Said: Mood boosters
It doesn't happen often.
I've got enough perspective to know that I've got it good. But every once in a while, when things get really, truly mucked up, it happens: I dread going to work.
This has been one of those bury-my-head-in-the-sand kinds of weeks when I would give anything to crunch numbers, sling burgers or fold flannels somewhere; anything to avoid talking about another season-ending knee injury to Derrick Rose.
I woke up Monday morning already feeling bleary-eyed and stiff-legged after Sunday's five-hour bus ride back from St. Louis. Witnessing the penalty-plagued atrocity that was the Bears' 42-21 loss to the Rams was enough to put me in a foul mood; but the 10 a.m. news release announcing Rose would miss the rest of the NBA season had me damn near in tears.
Injuries happen (just ask Bears starters Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, Peanut Tillman, D.J. Williams, Henry Melton … you get the picture), but losing Rose again feels different. This time, we're mourning not just the season, but also the big, bold hopes we built up in his absence, the golden opportunity lost, likely never to be regained.
He was the real thing -- the No. 1 pick who somehow landed in Chicago despite minuscule odds. The youngest MVP in league history. The hometown kid, the prodigal son, coming home to turn the Bulls into a dynasty once again.
Now? Who knows?
The whole thing is a reminder of just how cruel sports can be. If things were fair, this wouldn't happen to Rose, the hard-working, soft-spoken, humble leader with outrageous talent and unlimited potential. Not again.
So I've spent the week cursing the gods of sport and dragging my feet into the radio station every day. I've heard fans call Rose "soft," "broken" and "finished." I've endured conversations about blowing up the roster and intentionally tanking. I've suffered through the tragic comparisons of Rose to talents never fully realized, like Brandon Roy and Grant Hill.
I've seen athletes from different cities, sports and generations offer their condolences to a young man who is about to embark on yet another long, lonely journey through rehab.
Thinking about it is enough to turn the biggest optimist into a cynic.
But I can't let that happen. No matter how unfortunate the fates that befall my favorite teams and athletes, I can't become one of those bitter, misanthropic sports pundits who spend their days bemoaning the worst, instead of seeking out the best.
Perhaps this Thanksgiving, as late as it feels, is coming at the right time. A few days off to remember what's really important -- family, friends, a really good cornbread-and-sausage stuffing -- may just have me back at the office next week feeling grateful once again to get a paycheck to talk sports.
So in the spirit of the holiday, and in an attempt to raise my spirits from somewhere near "Carrie," post-prom, to a little more like Fraulein Maria singing "The Hills Are Alive" while twirling atop a mountain, I've found a few things to be thankful for this year:
The Chicago Blackhawks
The Stanley Cup-winning Hawks played so deep into the summer and partied so long after the win, Chicago fans were able to completely ignore their awful baseball teams. Just a few months later, atop the NHL standings once again, the Hawks are now keeping fans off the ledge while the Bulls and Bears stumble. They're the gift that keeps on giving (and winning).
Darnell Dockett's Twitter account
Whether he's lamenting his forgotten eHarmony password, giving Katherine Webb his phone number or asking whether his followers let their farts rip while getting a massage, the Arizona Cardinals defensive end is never one to censor his thoughts.
I wanna be in hunger games! I know I can survive I'll be a beast on there. My partner will be precious.— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) November 23, 2013
Jim Leyland's tearful moonwalk
The emotional manager moonwalked (with finger guns!) in the Tigers' locker room while the team celebrated its division crown. It was OG swagger at its finest.
A 64-year-old woman achieving a lifelong dream and inspiring young and old while giving a big ol' middle finger to jellyfish everywhere? It doesn't get much better than that.
Jose Canseco's diaper-wearing goats
Earlier this month, the former slugger was pulled over while driving home his new pet goats Coco and Chanel. He tweeted out a shot of one of the goats in the backseat wearing Depend diapers. Thank you, Jose, for keeping life interesting.
Just got pulled over with goats in the car. The cop laughed at our poor goats . Awesome pic.twitter.com/hN1WiE7qDG— Jose Canseco (@JoseCanseco) November 21, 2013
Tim Tebow fading into the sunset
I've got no problem with the guy (he seems like a hard worker with a good heart), but by all accounts he can't play quarterback. I hope he finds his way, whether it be to a broadcast booth or the CFL. Just as long as the Tebow-as-NFL-savior stories are put to rest.
For proving she's still got it, and putting together one of the best seasons of her storied career at the "over-the-hill" age of 32.
Mariano Rivera's goodbye
It was a fitting end for one of the classiest players in Major League Baseball, the greatest closer of all time, the Yankee whom even Boston fans apotheosized. His tearful encounter with Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter before walking off the mound one last time was the stuff of legend and the very best of sports.
The adorable and optimistic kid fan versus the smooth-moved stadium usher in an impromptu dance-off for the ages. And … I'm back to loving sports again.