Eric Heyl is not a sportswriter, nor does he play one on TV. But upon occasion he dips a journalistic toe into the world of professional sports, and generally to good effect. One of the funnier pieces I have ever read, anywhere, was written during Neal Huntington's massive garage sale of the Pittsburgh Pirates players during the 2009 season. To give you a taste of the article, here is a short excerpt:
PITTSBURGH - Having purged virtually every recognizable name from the Pirates' major league roster, Neal Huntington wasn't done dealing.
The Bucs' general manager today pulled the trigger on a trade involving a veteran Pirates employee.
Curtis "Beef" Wellington, the longest-tenured member of PNC Park's janitorial staff, was dealt to the Washington Nationals. In return, the Pirates received Burt Silva, the janitor for the Syracuse Chiefs, the Nationals' Class AAA affiliate.
"We'd like to thank Beef for his years of service to the Pirates," Huntington said at a news conference. "But Silva is younger, already vacuums like a veteran, is good with the broom and doesn't go overboard on the Glass Plus. He has a lot of upside."
You can get a sense of where the article is going when I tell you the title was "Huntington may trade himself for the right price." Highly recommended reading, and I can guarantee you Ray Lewis' name does not, shockingly, appear even once in the article.
Heyl has not left Pittsburgh sports fans comfortless today, either, In an article beginning "For the Steelers faithful, the highlight of the day is bound to be the bean dip," Heyl points out the Steelers were robbed of their "constitutional right to appear in the big game." As he says, "In a perfect world, Baltimore and San Francisco's pursuit of victory would have been treated like Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Both cities would have been subjected to severe economic sanctions until the two teams agreed not to play the game..."
Joe Starkey, who is an actual sportwriter as well as radio personality on 93.7 The Fan also has a column. It is filled, well, not with hope, but with the viewpoint of a person who grew up in a place where things are much, much worse. As he says,
My last fan day on Earth was Jan. 30, 1994, in a darkened efficiency apartment in Shadyside.
That's not to say I have no rooting interest in this Super Bowl I do. I want the losing fan base to suffer immensely. I want them to feel some Buffalo pain.
There's no getting around the fact the Steelers aren't in the Super Bowl this year. Or, for that matter, last year. But things could be a lot worse.
So if you need some perspective, or just a sardonic chuckle, check out the links.
And I hope the highlight of your day isn't the bean dip. At least for the sake of those you love...