The Inside Rail

I always look. Just a token, wistful, wishful glance, never in the front, knowing that’s out of reach and surely you’d know, but thinking perhaps in the back, the asterisk column of The Best American Sports Writing. It’s called notable sports writing (from the previous year). This year, I escaped to the three-door privacy of the bathroom in the first-floor guestroom in my brother and sister-in-law’s house on Deerfield Lake in Shelby County, Alabama. Book in hand, a moment of peace.

I hadn’t looked at the list yet, when I started reading Glenn Stout’s foreword, hitting his requisite notes about the meat of the book, the 25 best sports articles in 2017 and how the notable list gets compiled. A few paragraphs, sentences, into Stout’s letter to his readers, one he's been writing since starting the compilation in 1991, I pause reading and flip to the back of the book and hit the C’s quickly, just checking to see if Joe or I made the list, knowing we hadn’t made the list. It’s actually more about simply not giving up, just a look to remind myself that I haven’t given up, that I still have some semblance of pride and hope in a profession that once mesmerized me and challenged me and captivated me but has slowly slipped away, an afterthought in the mad search to pay the bills.

And there it is. Sean Clancy. One Time. ThisIsHorseRacing.com, May 18. “Holy ****.” I scramble through three doors and into the den where my wife, my son, my in-laws lounge; reading, texting, scanning, watching inanity on TV. “What up, Sean?” my nephew-in-law Lee Baker asks. I scramble past, turn down the steps to my cocoon in the basement, still scrambling, firing up ThisIsHorseRacing and typing in "One Time" in the search box. Oh yeah, One Time, the column, well longer than most of my columns about Yellow Mountain slicing his tendon at the Iroquois in May 2017. “Holy ****,” I utter again.

I run back up the stairs, then act cool, sidling next to my wife and to show her. My in-laws, still confused about what I do for a living – there aren't many Turf-writer-publisher-bloodstock-agent-racing-managers in Birmingham. 

Nothing more than a footnote in a book that I give to my brother each year and he gives to me each year. I hadn’t even thought about the book this year until seeing it in the back of Barnes & Noble at the Summitt Mall on Christmas Eve this year. I thought about buying it, then put it back on the shelf, then redirected myself back to the shelf when my wife handed me books to buy and went to the bathroom. A couple of books in my hand, standing in line, what the hell, might as well add it, maybe I’ll read a few lines before I head home. A few lines turned into one line, one prideful line.

 

Read the column again, One Time