Vlad the Impaler

Not too long ago, I was working on a project that (sadly) never quite got off the ground -- it was a project to explore why we still love sports. Here we are surrounded by the horror of concussions and NCAA hypocrisy and PED use and countless other unsavory things … but we still love the games. In a weird way, we love the games now more than we ever did.In the book, I was going to write an entire chapter about a Vladimir Guerrero at-bat.In my lifetime, there have been certain athletes who were just FUN to watch. Now, I’m not referring to how good they were or how valuable they were … simply how much joy they gave us. Some of the all-time greats were great fun, of course: Magic Johnson was fun, Barry Sanders of course, Muhammad Ali. Pistol Pete Maravich. But there are some others too who weren’t all-time greats. The Cleveland Browns used to have this amazing kick returner named Eric Metcalf (son of the great Terry Metcalf) -- he was widely viewed as a massive disappointment because he could never quite translate his punt returning genius to his life as a running back or a receiver. But, MAN was he fun -- anytime he touched the ball, he might just do something that would blow your mind. Actually quite a few punt returners were like that. White Shoes Johnson was like that. Dante Hall was like that. Devin Hester.Dwight Gooden was amazing fun in the early days. The strikeout pitchers are always fun. Jim Zorn was fun -- scrambling quarterbacks are wonderful. These days: Bubba Watson is fun. Joe Flacco is oddly fun*. Victor Cruz is fun. Andrelton Simmons is fun -- great defensive shortstop are fantastic. Lionel Messi. Man, nobody’s as much fun as Steph Curry -- you can’t watch him play basketball without, at some point, just breaking out in a big smile.

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