The Ultimate Sports Poem | Year In Review | Chicago Reader
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"Dear Jay: Your column on Pippen and the brawl was superb," a fan wrote in May to Sun-Times sports columnist Jay Mariotti. "You shouldn't be wasting your time on sports. You should write great works of fiction." Now that Mariotti is on indefinite leave from the paper, perhaps he will have time to pursue his elusive novel. But we think his writing talents, his abilities to turn the perfect phrase and employ the telling detail, are better suited to another medium--poetry. That's why, here, for the first time, we present a poem by Jay Mariotti, culled from nearly a year's worth of sentences from his column. And now, The Ultimate Sports Poem

I

Welcome, friends, to one of those shimmering days when America can make passionate love to itself. (7/4)

Attitude is alive, pride is alive, passion is alive. (3/22)

A building that has been the very heartbeat of a brawny and passionate city, a 65-year-old House of joy and pain and memories for generations, can't close down with a loss. (5/20)

Be loud. Be crazy. Drink, hopefully in moderation. And make the damn building quiver. Make the other team shiver. Turn it into the most rousing spectacle imaginable, the Heartbeat of the city. (4/29)

Be the underdogs, the impossible dreamers. (5/8)

It's too absurd to be fake, too appealing to the masses. (6/3)

Come on, Basketball Bill. Wear the hog hat. (3/28)

II

Money. Wooing. Money. Creativity. Money. (7/6)

Do not tell me about sports and escapism. (1/21)

We've been so damn spoiled in Chicago. (5/11)

Flip flop. See saw. Teeter totter. (9/18)

Real people, real stories. (2/28)

You waited for tragic music, a curtain to fall. (1/10)

No, this is a media story, a movie. (2/1)

Let the mind games begin. (5/8)

No. Not again. Not another prank. (1/3)

This case is different, the most unusual ever. (2/2)

Settle for grandpa at the piano instead of Harry. (4/20)

III

Michael, come back. (5/26)

The Bulls, as we know them, are about to dissolve. (5/6)

Bullmaggedon? (5/18)

Chemistry is a dilemma now, perhaps unavoidable. (5/2)

Here it is, the morning after, and Pippen is still around. (6/30)

Knock, knock, Toni Kukoc. Anybody home? (3/23)

Intensity is what we're talking about--savvy, guts, cojones. (5/13)

To say that of Kuki would be kooky. (5/1)

Chill out on the four-peat and four-gasm. (4/19)

The Bulls are a catastrophe waiting to happen. (6/30)

Just tell us, Michael, tell us. (6/12)

How do you say "lottery" in Serbo-Croatian? (7/31)

IV

Clouds of dust still hover over Comiskey Park. (6/20)

They've installed little huts with curled roofs where players can rest and dodge smoke Bombs. (6/17)

As the Bulls fade into the afterworld of champions, Frank Edward Thomas rises Majestically along the great skyline. (7/8)

The kid is confused, stubborn, spoiled. (4/2)

The fight for civil rights cuts through his soul. (4/4)

His ego is starving, wilting, crying for help. (1/9)

He may have lost the girl and his memory, but he wasn't going to lose his mind. (1/27)

You wanted to throw your arms around the kid, free him from the media madness. (1/26)

The unflappable Big Hurt, a basket case. (7/13)

He deserves his reward, his security, his piece of mind. (6/7)

As long as he hits home runs, he'll get the rousing cheers. (3/10)

In a batting cage somewhere, Michael Jordan is jealous. (1/5)

And a damned strike could louse it all up. (6/8)

V

Fear. Horror. Helplessness. (1/10)

Justice. (2/19)

Along with Banks, that's your rotation, folks. (4/6)

The suds always flow, the vines always grow,

The fans always come to Wrigley. (7/10)

Commitment to mediocrity, we'll call it. (4/24)

A quarter, a nickel, and a phone is all it takes. (6/13)

Don't laugh. This team might not win until June. (4/20)

Ryne Sandberg, of course, was speechless. (5/3)

Cry uncle, gentlemen. (5/24)

Like Nixon in his final days, the embattled are usually found alone. (8/10)

The something-something has spoken. (5/31)

VI

Tonya wins, America loses. Tonya wins, decency loses. (2/13)

Jimmy wins, Jerry Jones loses, we laugh. (3/30)

The Bulls won, an embattled Eurosavior won, but society lost. (5/14)

Most alarming is how the new-age Bears played like pansies. (11/1)

The unfortunate term is xenophobia. (6/16)

Such behavior is the height of cultural arrogance and prejudice. (6/16)

Why look like an aristocrat with the aroma of manure nearby? (8/29)

VII

He glared at me in particular, leaving scorch marks with his eyes. (9/26)

It made me stare at my TV screen in the press center at Soldier Field, where suddenly the World Cup seemed irrelevant. (6/19)

He was as genuine as the Hertz ads seemed, always there with a smile.

I don't know him that well. (6/19)

You and I are in no position to judge his innocence or guilt. (6/19)

Someday, he'll thank a jerko like me for the advice. (1/9)

But a newspaper columnist can only make the suggestion; you must carry it out, no Gluttons or suckers allowed. (7/29)

VIII

Being from Chicago, I saw no need to sign up. (2/11)

This is the reason you watch sports, the reason I write about it. (2/24)

We are not supposed to root in this business. I don't care. (2/13)

So why was it so easy for me to get in the day before? (6/17)

I went boom myself, running to file a deadline column on--who else?--Tonya. (2/28)

It was pungent, it was sweet, it was marijuana. (2/14)

The more Super Bowls a writer covers, the louder he gripes and groans. (1/29)

I need to wash off every time I come from a game. (7/20)

I used a hair dryer to thaw my face. (2/21)

IX

How sad that we no longer can view sport as a fantasy, for all innocence is lost now. (1/18)

This is probably the most bizarre, hideous, disturbing tale ever produced by life's Sporting arena. (1/16)

In the most hardened sense of real life, pathos everywhere, a young woman has been forced to confront the forces of evil. (2/24)

So what we have here, at long last, is the potential apocalypse.

Only in America could a beautiful sport degenerate into a sick sort of boxing sleaze. (2/23)

They have raped us of the sensation, the fun, the tradition, the aura. (9/15)

Now corpses are being stored in what remains of the figure-skating hall. (2/12)

The wounds are too deep and bloody, leaving unprecedented bitterness among fans. (9/15)

Did some god ordain 1994 as the year of the great sports meltdown? (7/20)

Day, night, sunrise, sunset--it all looks the same. (2/11)

Nancy Kerrigan, save us from ourselves. (2/23)

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