January 13th, 2008

Believe It Or Not, This Made Me Cry

I'm sure a lot of college basketball fans were perversely delighted when ESPN's Dick Vitale was forced to have surgery on his vocal chords earlier this year. But I've missed him. Despite his inexplicable affection for Duke -- counterbalanced by his only slightly more explicable affection for North Carolina -- I have, to paraphrase Rex Harrison, grown accustomed to his voice. Indeed, I grew up with it, like so many other ESPN-watchers.

Vitale knows more about basketball than his critics like to think and conveys a lot more of that knowledge than they are willing to admit. Plus, he really loves the game. And that counts for a lot with me. It's not like he's one of those Bob Costas-types -- nothing against him, either -- who does sports of all stripes. With Vitale, it's basketball or nothing. And that's why I'll be glad to have him back. There's humor in his statement on getting cleared to return to work, but also something sweetly poignant:
For the record, I am so proud baby! That's right, I kept my mouth shut for almost four weeks. Now my wife Lorraine is off-duty from her role transcribing my handwriting. I will stop writing notes on the dry erase board now!
Remembering all too well the gruesome month, shortly after arriving in Tucson, when I was forbidden to speak because of acute laryngitis and had to communicate with pen and legal pad, I teared up at Vitale's words. I realize that has as much to do with my past as with his present, but what in life doesn't involve that sort of temporal tangle?