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Monday, January 26, 2009
Stick to Sportswriting, Genius

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Five Things I Learned The Hard Way From Anchoring SportsCenter from L.A. Last Week:

1) Don't forget your pants.
I thought my pants were on the same hanger as my coat. They weren't. So I thought, "No problem. I've heard anchors just wear jeans with their suitcoats anyway, because you can't see the pants under the desk on the set. That would've worked, except I had to do a stand-up that night. So I had to borrow Stan Verrett's pants. Beautiful fabric. They fit perfectly. Please do not tell Stan.

2) When the man is counting down in your ear, it does not mean you are supposed to just stop talking and listen to the man count.
Very bad. Very, very bad

3) Sometimes the top 10 plays are not just 10.
Sometimes they are 11. This is something I did not know. For instance, on Friday night, when it came time for me to give the No. 2 top play of the night, I had no idea that the paragraph underneath that play on the shot sheet was ALSO No. 2. Apparently, the same outfielder had thrown out TWO people that night, so some clever PA in Bristol decided to make it a two-part top play. (I am now philosophically opposed to this idea.) I just finished my one highlight and looked up with a self-satisfied grin, oblivious. Luckily, my co-anchor, Neil Everett, possibly the smartest and kindest man in the world, saw that I was about to blunder and picked me up. He said, "Wow, you got a double top 10 play! Your luck! Because (such-and-such outfielder) gunned down (such-and-such runner) at the plate three innings later!" So it all came off as though we'd actually planned it. I can honestly say I would have Neil Everett's baby.

4) You do not have to sit perfectly erect the entire 60 minutes.
In fact, you hardly have to sit erect at all, only during the times that you're on camera. I did not realize this. Apparently, I sat there like the Lincoln Memorial without so much as crooking an eyebrow for 60 minutes, much to the amusement of the camera guys. And my back and stomach were sore for two days afterward.

5) There is no delete key.
It's live, so if you screw up, it's out there. Or, as Chris Berman told me, "It's off to Pluto and possibly Uranus. Let it go." But when you get it right, it's a rush like you used to get playing high school sports. And on the rare occasions I did get it right, I kept turning to high-five Neil. But it turns out when I stopped talking, that meant it was Neil's turn to talk, so that didn't go over all that well.

Perhaps that's six.

See all of Rick Reilly's "Stick to Sportswriting, Genius." More random mind dumps from the brain of Rick Reilly. Go fish! Be sure to check out Rick's Life of Reilly