I'm on vacation the next two weeks. A few things before I go:
(1) The fight of the summer was Paul Williams upset Saturday of Antonio Margarita. Williams, out of Aiken, S.C., is 33-0. He stayed undefeated against Margarita, a tough, tough guy, by jabbing and changing angles and throwing wicked combinations. Even when Margarita landed big punches late, Williams didn't lose his composure. The fight was on HBO.
(2) Everybody talks about summer reading. I read the same things in the summer, fiction, that I read the rest of the year. But for a change I read Mark Kriegel's biography of Joe Namath.
If you came of age when Namath ruled the world, I recommend it. Like all good books, sports or otherwise, it takes readers to a different time and puts you there. I put the book down after reading several chapters and walked outside. I expected to be in Manhattan.
A former New York sports columnist, Kriegel is an excellent reporter and writer. The book is as much about the constant pain with which Namath contended as the constant good times he had.
Kriegel also write Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich. Kriegel passed through Charlotte on a book tour, and I wanted to finish Maravich before he arrived. I fell behind, and to catch up read his work the way I read texts in college. I got the gist but failed to appreciate the words.
Stuck at the airport in Tampa for seven hours, I went back and read Maravich the way I should have the first time. It was like reading it the first time. If you have any interest in eclectic sports icons, I recommend it.
(3) I don't hate soccer. I just don't like it. And I've tried. I watched Ecuador make its first foray into the World Cup with an apartment full of Ecuadorians, and was in Mexico before the most recent World Cup. Wish I could summon that passion for the sport they have. But I can't. And there's no reason to pretend.
Here's one facet of the human condition I fail to understand. Why do you care if I don't like what you like? I like to run and read. I like dogs, blues, Led Zeppelin and the White Stripes. I like to drink wine and coffee, the good stuff.
I don't care if you like any of those things. I promise. I don't buy the strength in numbers theory. If there really were strength in numbers, we'd all wear khaki pants and drive SUVs and give our kids the same names -- oops.
(4) I know that in terms of spectator sports these are the dog days of summer. But, man, I love July.
(5) I don't say this enough: thanks for reading.
Email lately has been off the charts. There's nothing like starting the day with hate mail from Toronto. I can always tell it's going to be hate mail when the first sentence includes MANY CAPITAL LETTERS AND multiple exclamation points!!!
It's not all hate mail, of course. Many of you have nice things to say. There's also email from readers who disagree but don't deal in hate, CAPITAL LETTERS or exclamation points!!! Not everybody wakes up bitter.
One reader, a regular emailer whom I respect, ripped a column I wrote, said it was whiny. I went back and read the column. It was whiny.
Another regular emailer, MC, always causes a problem. The problem? His responses to my columns are always better than my columns.
As a columnist, I'd rather be liked than disliked. But I'd rather be disliked than ignored.
Have a great summer.
And go outside.