Another visit with the good doctor

Why I keep doing this I have no idea. It didn’t seem to resolve the Cubs’ infatuation last August. I still haven’t figured out exactly how I feel about steroids in baseball. And yet I’m still going back for more, ahem, treatment.

Deep breath. OK, let’s get the dog-and-pony show on the road. Open the door, sign in, flip through old magazines, wait an hour after the scheduled appointment time…

“Mr. Podlogar, so good to see you again. Dr. Kendall is waiting for you.”

Whoa, wait a minute. Last name pronounced correctly. Receptionist welcomes me at the door. Immediately sends me back. What is this?

He’s waiting for me? Seated comfortably in his chair, legs crossed, legal pad on his lap, pen in hand? Huh?

“Alex, Alex, come on in. Have a seat.”

“Um, gotta say, Doc, the service has been exemplary today. I’m a little flustered, I have to admit.”

“Well, you’re something of a rock star around here.”

“Rock star? You know, Doc, it’s kind of unsettling knowing the shrink is waiting with baited breath to see you.”

“Oh, don’t be silly. You’re one of our most fascinating subjects, err, patients, um, people. Yeah, people.”

“Gee, Doc…”

“So what’s on your mind today, Alex? The Cubs’ exasperating season? The ridiculous free agent signing of Milton Bradley? Aaron Heilman’s inability to keep the ball in the ballpark? Or is it Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension? The fact he could’ve played in the All-Star Game? Or that baseball let him rehab in the minors even though he wasn’t injured? Is that it? Huh? Tell me. Tell me! I’m dying to know!”

“Well, those are all good points. Especially the Bradley thing. But that’s not it.”

“Oh boy — it’s something new?”

“Gosh, Doc, can you back away from the edge of your seat there? A little close, don’t you think?”

“Sorry. Proceed.”

“I think I need to give up sports.”

“Wait. What?”

“I take them too seriously, Doc. You should’ve seen me last Sunday. I was a total wreck. I could barely watch the final round of the British Open, settling instead for text message updates from a friend. And then when I did watch, as Tom Watson, my main man when I was growing up, was about to win at age 59, accomplishing something never before seen in sports, it all fell apart.”

“I see, Alex. It’s a classic case of jinxotic paranoia. You think that because you started watching, a bad thing happened to the person you were rooting for.”

“Well, not exactly — although I totally have that. Carlos Marmol walks the leadoff guy, I turn the TV. But it wasn’t that so much.”


“It’s how I felt after the carnage of the playoff. I was heartbroken, crushed, devastated. Nothing could cheer me up. It happened halfway around the world, to a man I’ve never met, and I was destroyed. Even when it looked like he would win, I could barely watch. I was a nervous wreck. My wife thought it was the dumbest thing ever.”

“Wait a second. You’re married? Boy, would I love to talk to her.”

“Focus, Doc.”

“Sorry. Go on.”

“Anyway, I felt horrible, and for days afterward. I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t bring myself to watch SportsCenter because I didn’t want to hear about it, see the highlights or even read the results over and over again on the scroll at the bottom of the screen. No sports talk radio. I removed myself from sports for like three days.”


“I know. My wife loved it.”

“Have you felt like this before?”

“Oh sure. When Steve Bartman happened.”

“The 2003 NLCS, right? The guy who got in the way of the foul ball in Game 6 against the Marlins. The bobbled double-play ball right after it. The eight-run inning and the collapse in Game 7 a day later.”

“OK, OK. Enough.”

“Why Watson?”

“He was my guy when I was a kid. My first on-TV golf memory is of the ’82 Open, when he chipped in on 17 at Pebble. My dad hated Watson ’cause he loved Nicklaus. So naturally, I dug Watson.”

“So you and your dad have issues, too, huh?”

“Nah. It was just one of those things. We get along great. Geez, Doc, I got enough going on without you trying to make stuff up.”

“Yeah, make stuff up. That’s what we do. That’s why you keep coming to me.”

“OK, my turn to be sorry.”

“All right, so you feel like you take sports too seriously, that the outcomes of the teams or people you root for affect you too personally.”

“Precisely. So what do I do about it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Say again?”

“I don’t know. You’re a sports writer, right? How do you put those feelings away when you’re covering a game?”

“That’s different. That’s work. You just dive into your job and be a professional.”

“Can’t you do that with this?”

“What, make sports work all the time? Where’s the fun in that?”

“Where’s the fun in how you’re watching sports now?”

“Good point.”

“Look, aren’t sports about the great unknown? That anything can happen in a single moment, something that maybe you’ve never seen before? Like the catch that center fielder made to preserve the perfect game.”

“Yeah, that was pretty fantastic.”

“Think about what Watson accomplished last week. Does the fact he wasn’t able to win make it any less amazing that he was able to contend to the very last moment in a major championship at 59? How about the grace with which he handled his defeat? Sports are what they are, Alex. A series of highs and lows, and the lower the lows, the higher and more satisfying the highs.”

“That’s what we Cubs fans keep telling ourselves, Doc.”

“Just enjoy the moments for what they are, or turn out to be. At the end of the day, who wins and loses doesn’t make that much of a difference.”

“C’mon, you really believe that?”

“Geez, I see we still have a lot of work to do. See you in October, then?”

“God, I hope so. I think.”


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Filed under Alex Podlogar, Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves, Barry Bonds, Boston Red Sox, British Open, Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs, Designated Hitter, Golf, Greg Norman, Major League Baseball, Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixiera, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB playoffs, Padraig Harrington, PGA Championship, PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Seve Ballesteros, Sports, Sports columns, St. Louis Cardinals, Steroids, Steroids in sports, Texas Rangers, The Sanford Herald, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, U.S. Open, World Series

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