ICYMI: This year's Quickish "Best Sportswriting of the Year" list.
Beyond the sadness we all deeply feel about the tragedy in Newtown, the story of Victor Cruz providing personal consolation to the family of 6-year-old Jack Pinto, a huge Cruz fan, is particularly affecting for me. That Gabe is in first grade, like so many of the children who were murdered, put the massacre in particularly horrifying perspective for me.
But, like Jack, Gabe is at the cusp of his die-hard life-long sports fandom. Gabe's favorite NFL player is Cam Newton and the Panthers. His favorite NBA player and team is Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. He watches highlights every day. He follows my fantasy teams (and wants to play next year by himself). He battles me each week making NFL predictions (he's currently beating me with two weeks to go.)
Being a sports fan is a huge part of Gabe's burgeoning identity, just as it clearly was for Jack Pinto and probably many other of the children who were killed. When you root for your teams -- when you watch sports -- think of Jack and how much he cared, in that way that is totally innocent and enthusiastic and cynicism-free.
When you watch sports with a 6-year-old, you simply can't say things you typically would with your buddies or at a sports bar, like "Cripes, he sucks." Partly, that's because you shouldn't talk that way around any 6-year-old and partly, that's because you can't -- you simply can't -- pierce the pure, wide-eyed love for sports that exists in a 6-year-old fan who cares so deeply about sports.
And thanks to Victor Cruz for caring back.
Awkward transition to shallow commentary about the latest sports news...
*Tebow era ending in NYC: It's for the best for everyone. I'm presuming he'll end up in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, it's possibly more intriguing that the Jets are ready to bail on Mark Sanchez. If only they didn't gum up the works with that idiotic contract extension last year.
(And then there's the idea floated out there that the Jets could be interested in Michael Vick. You know what? Great. He's better than Sanchez and could himself use a change of scenery from Philly.)
*Kevin Durant scores season-high 41: He is unstoppable, as is OKC. That the team is even better without James Harden is a testament to the evolution of Durant (and, for sure, Westbrook), but also to the "system."
*Clippers win 11th straight: Are they true contenders for the NBA title? Who cares? For this franchise, relevance and winning should be good enough.
*RGIII to start: But it's got to make Redskins fans feel a little less antsy to know that Kirk Cousins actually could step in if necessary. However: Fully expecting RGIII dominance, to maximize the narrative here.
*CBB: Myck Kabongo won't be able to play at Texas this season. If he goes to the NBA Draft -- as expected -- and ends up a 1st-round pick (as is his potential), then it begs the question why any player with first-round potential should play in college basketball, rather than sit out the mandatory year off and just train for the NBA (while taking advances on future paychecks).
*CFB: Was Brian Kelly the coach of the year? Oh, probably, although you could make a pretty good case for Bill Snyder or Will Muschamp or Kevin Sumlin.
*The best thing you'll read today: John Branch -- a 2011 Quickish "Best of the Year" honoree -- with a huge story on an avalanche in Washington's Cascades.
*Also really good: The Classical with an oral history of the legendary Website "Fire Joe Morgan."