It is a writer s greatest fear. You wake up in the morning with nothing to say. The boss, of course, is not particularly sympathetic.
It happens to everybody. Television guys just show more taped highlights. Radio guys open the phones and let others do the talking. For newspaper people, though, this is a real problem. That blank space on the page needs filling.
There must be something.
The Tigers? They re better. That about covers it. The Indians? No better. No bullpen. The Red Wings are done, the Pistons are medium-rare en route to well done. Suffocating defense, at times, but a choked-up offense. What can you say about Roger Clemens that hasn t been said? There s Moises Alou, who brings a new meaning to the MVPee Award. What more would you want to say about that?
The Lions had a good draft. Time will tell about the Browns. LeBron isn t playing and Kobe is, and something just doesn t seem right, but this is America. The walleye are about played out on the river. Even perch take a backseat, taste-wise, but that s about the extent of my opinion on walleye.
It s not that I don t have any ideas. I could write about the Olympics that should not be held. We could stage the great Phil-Vijay-Tiger debate. We could ask why baseball purists were taken aback by advertising on the bases that they would hardly be able to see but apparently have no problem being overwhelmed by giant outfield billboards, not to mention those located behind the plate - for maximum TV exposure - that change messages between batters.
No, it s not that we don t have any ideas. I just don t have any time.
It s the grass, you see. The dang stuff won t stop growing.
It didn t used to be a problem. Not when the grass-growing professionals were in charge. They d bring their tank truck and spray, they d stop by now and again with a spreader and a bag of little pebbly powder, they d put down stuff to eradicate weeds and kill grubs. They d roll it in the spring, lift plugs out in the fall and they d charge me enough to single-handedly put one of their kids through private school.
I d mow once a week or so and squirt a little water on it when the spirit moved me. Then, in late summer of 2002, walking around my high-maintenance, high-priced acre, I found thin and yellowing splotches surrounding some very green and healthy weeds. I lifted a strip of grass and found grubs holding a root picnic.
So I fired em. The lawn service, that is.
I bought a spreader. I bought a thatching (or is it de-thatching?) attachment for the riding mower. I bought a roller. I bought a new push mower to go with the rider and the trim mower. I bought a gas-powered weed-whacker. An electric edger. A blower. A roto-tiller. One of those pump-it-yourself spray tanks for chemical applications. I began investing in big bags of fertilizer five times a year. Grub killer. Etc. What used to be a two-car garage is now a lawn and garden center.
I actually took a week of vacation last year to work on my lawn. Dug up crabgrass. Ripped out clover. Planted new seed in the bare spots and covered it with straw. When the straw blew away, I got a couple bags of recycled newspaper pellets.
I could have taken the money and bought a boat. I could have joined a country club. I could have toured the French Riviera. But noooooo, I was going to grow green, thick, lush grass.
And I did it.
And now I have to mow it.
It s 80 and sunny every day lately. The cooler air moves in at night, smacks into the hot air and we get thunderstorms. (The TV weather folks explain it more eloquently, although no more accurately.) It is conducive to growing grass. The grass in my yard seems to be growing about an inch an hour.
So I wake up in the morning full of column ideas. But I have to mow, you see.
Now the flower child to whom I am wed just pulled in with six big flower pots, bags of soil, tubs filled with bulbs, and flats stuffed with impatiens and geraniums and daffodils and pansies. Her theory? Let no patch of ground go unturned.
So back to work. I should be through the worst of this and have time to return to sports writing by, say, early October.