Johnny Damon, when age and ability are both taken into consideration, was the best available free agent in this off season’s anorexic market. Instead of receiving the due diligence owed from his employer, The Boston Red Sox, both Damon and his representation felt slighted by the organization when they took a decidedly lackadaisical approach toward negotiations. When the New York Yankees stepped up both their pursuit and offer, Damon bolted, shedding ties with the team and fans that catapulted his image into stardom, and granted him the opportunity to shine on Baseball’s biggest stage. He did this with all the complex tact of a thief in the night, tainting sacred memories still lifting the spirit of Greater New England.
Matt Waters is a screenwriter currently living in New York. He has been writing about sports since age seventeen, about the time when it became painfully apparent that his athletic dreams would go unfulfilled, due to terrible luck and an obscene lack of talent. His favorite movie is “The Thin Red Line”. His favorite band is “Modest Mouse”. His favorite sport is baseball! With an exclamation point.
A Bunch of Stuff By Matt Waters
I got stuff. It’s rattling through this head of mine. Why not write it down? Awesome idea. And post it on Sports Column… Oh yeah, now I’m thinking like a champ! In the words of Billy Madison: LETS GO!
1 Untouchable by Matt Waters
A runner is thrown out by a step. A season ends. A team celebrates. The fan unleashes a smiling scream, his thirst for truth within the confines of sport measuring beyond naught, his more optimistic idea of human nature at least temporarily satiated.
Champagne adorns the clubhouse, on walls, soaking into the carpet, for all eternity. It will never dry. A manager accepts validation for his dedication, a player due adulation for an unforgiving occupation. An owner wipes away betraying tears. Commentators, live, attempt valiantly to trap a moment with words. Some succeed.
The sun sets earlier in the day; darkness accentuates winter, enveloping its essence. A hot stove flickers, belches, than burns. Amid the burning tumult, a team is delivered, forged and steadied, easily identifiable. We keep the game alive, us alone, carrying a tattered torch, at times expressively through will.
One day, nature scoffs at the calendar, and the air belies any tangible temperature. It feels lighter, looser; our mind automatically triggers a specific response. The mind searches for definition, until one magic word produces an exacting, all encompassing correlation.
Baseball, even in the winter we still think of Baseball.
The Ice melts. Days are counted, sped up, part of something greater than just game.
Finally, the pitchers and catchers report, our rhythm returns from the down turn of an infinitely epic crescendo, rising and flying again.
Ken Griffey’s bat waggles behind his head, a composer’s instrument of ultimate athletic expression, grace.
Nomar readjusts his batting gloves, Derek Jeter smiles while living the life we imagine, somewhere, sometime, Ernie Banks’ requests two.
Some fool analyzes his favorite team.
Alex and " A-Rod" by Matt Waters
His name is Alex Rodriguez. Commercially known as A-Rod, he has the talent and benefit of playing in an era where salaries exploded, and a baseball player could add impossible digits to an already swollen bank account.
Leap of Faith by Matt Waters
Matthew 20:16 — "So, the last will be first, and the first will be last"
Because the colors.
The years blur together. Speed past one of many haunted avenues. Fullback Leon Johnson has a decision to make. While galloping along the rock hard turf surfacing Detroit’s Super Dome, he can either break forward past a line of scrimmage for the temporary salvation of a broken play, or he can pass, play the hero of circumstance, and prove one of Bill Parcells’ worst game deciding hunches correct. A berth in the playoffs is in the balance. A season after finishing 1-15, the New York Jets, official punch line for the A.F.C., are a single decision away from a previously unthinkable wild card invitation to the Post Season. The clock is ticking. Lion defenders, also fighting with vigor for their Playoff lives, viciously close in on Johnson. A touchdown pass would have won it.
An interception lost it.
The Jets go home.
Waves in Water
by Matt Waters
As the dogs days of August began to grudgingly give way to the promise of September, nary a thought of foreign politics or agendas swirled through my mind as I happily clutched the tickets to Cal Ripken’s final home game at Camden Yards. In just a few weeks, I’d be sitting in a modern cathedral, bowing at the altar of baseball history. The days dropped off the calendar with routine ease. September 9… September 10…
A Sweet Spot in Time
by Matt Waters
It’s the sweet, precious, moment in time. The natural high adrenaline can bring, the one second where it feels as if we could skate right on the Milky Way, defy gravity, the rules, the expectations, defy our common denominator of humanity.
It may happen once, twice, it may not happen at all.
Dying to Live – Matt Waters
I’m sitting in a hotel room during late June, located ground zero in the “revitalized” section of downtown Detroit, staring blankly at the ninth rerun of SportsCenter. My father, brother, and me had taken a trip into the proud home of the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions and Robo-Cop on a sojourn to see our Yankees do battle in the newly minted Comerica Park. We had just seen Wrigley Field a week prior on our Baseball themed Summer Vacation, and once the initial and deserved shock of seeing what a cathedral that park truly is wore off, the main ingredient served in the back of my mind about seeing and experiencing a Cubs game was not the Ivy on the wall, the merrily obstructed views, or even the Hot Dogs [best in the free world].
It was the fans.
Cub fans are of a different sort. They weren’t watching the game in a modern, frenzied pace that is best reserved in Chicago for the middling Bears [a shuffling crew.] It was quite the contrary, as they took in the experience of a meaningless June against the Brewers wholly inside themselves. Pitch by pitch, inning by inning, one didn’t feel the momentum of the moment, a tie game, taking hold of the mass gathering bowing at the altar of their beloved Cubbies. Instead of tensing up, the crowd seemed to exhale as each frame ended, expelling all of which they had bottled up in the vast emporium that exists within any seasoned baseball fan’s mind. My brother and I had noticed the trend by the fourth inning. After Corey Patterson, a maddeningly gifted player who had not fulfilled his copious potential after ruining his knee during the ’03 season, failed to get a bunt down and than proceeded to strike out, a Corey Patterson trademark moment in a tight game which demanded perfection from both teams, we both prepared our eardrums for the venom sure to rise from the throats of those jaded by the stars Cub fanatics. There was booing to be sure. But there was something missing. Where was the anger? The booing had a different tone, a different tint if you will, that I recognized only later that night.
It was apologetic. Apologetic booing. How sweet.
” You believe these freaking people?” My brother Greg wondered it aloud in utter amazement.
I nodded my head in quiet understanding, than took yet another nervous quick glance at the romantic out of town scoreboard. The Yankees led Baltimore by one run, and hoped to stave off the ghost of .500 for at least one more night.
Dear Chicago Bears,
You’re killing me Bears. Just killing me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan, just an interested observer who has resorted to rubber necking at you’re distorted franchise.
Where did it all go wrong?
Remember back in 2001, heady days than, when Mike Brown was making miracle interceptions in overtime on a seemingly weekly basis and Jim Miller guided by his formidable beard was leading you to an amazing 13-3 season?
What the hell happened?
Here was a man who had it all, a high nineties fastball and a knee buckling curve, a rubber arm and steel back bone, an intense glare with pristine perception, but most importantly the talent in reserve to move above the status of legend.
Here was a man who threw it all away and still recieved second chance after chance. A man who succumbed to temptation and betrayed himself. A man who looked in the mirror and mocked his gifts. A man who fell back on his accomplishments instead of elevating above them.
Here was a man who had the key to New York City only to open all the wrong doors. Here was a man whose tale spun from adventure to tragedy. Here is an example of the saddest thing in life, which is wasted potential.
Here is a human being.
Here was a man.