Off the Record

The best advice I can give to someone with writer’s block is to just start writing.

Just say what’s on your mind. You can go back later and fix something or add information before or after that first sentence. So, I’m just going to start writing.

Fittingly, that’s what legendary columnist Mike Royko would say about his pieces. He didn’t worry about starting strong. He worried about finishing strong. That approach sure worked for him. Whenever I’m looking for some entertainment, I read a Mike Royko column. It’s good for the soul.

I bring Royko up at the perfect time—not that there’s a bad time. Jackie Robinson signed with Major League Baseball on April 10, 1947, and I’m writing this in the wee hours of April 11.

Royko wrote the best column ever—on Robinson’s first game at Wrigley Field—in October 1972, after Robinson died. I strongly encourage you to read it. It will make you feel good. It will paint a beautiful picture. It will be good for your soul.

Speaking of baseball, I have a question. Why do people continue to play fantasy baseball? More importantly, why do I continue to play fantasy baseball?

I plan to pay attention all year, but it just gets difficult—and tedious—checking my lineup every day. I want to love baseball again. But, I’m worried we’re done for good.

I’m also worried about the Sox. I’ve checked in on them a few times, and it’s actually impressive watching a team give up two or three or five runs in the first few innings day in and day out. I know they’re young and battling injuries, but it isn’t much to ask a professional team not to suck the life out of a game by the third inning.

Speaking of dead, my March Madness bracket was especially bad this year.

I had Duke beating North Carolina in the championship—and magically, I was still in line to win my pool as the field dwindled to eight teams. I just needed Duke to beat Kentucky in the title game—sure enough, both teams lost within roughly 24 hours of me discovering that.

A 7-year-old won the pool instead. Maybe he should write a commentary next year with bracket advice instead of me. At least he invited me to his victory doughnut party.

Which only reminds me more that I need to start working out on the new fitness stairs at Dan Ryan Woods. They look great. Do the Moms of Beverly meet there every day yet?

I often get annoyed with people publicly displaying emotions because it feels fake a lot, like people are just trying to show others how much they care. I totally respect crying. However, I have questions about announcing you’re crying on Twitter.

I’ll tell you what didn’t feel fake: the students at Southside Occupational Academy roaring with delight when their principal, Joshua Long, of Beverly, was surprised with a Golden Apple Award on April 3.

It was pure, raw, unadulterated joy at the school, which enrolls students with special needs. They hugged their principal. They waved pom-poms. One student broke out a “Mr. Long!” chant, and his classmates quickly joined in.

It was a day I was looking forward to, and it was a day I won’t forget.

Long entered a gymnasium full of students, and, while it was hard to hear among the roaring, he appeared to say, “Wow.”

It might just be the best story I cover this year.

It was, I dare say, great for the soul.