Here’s how dumb I am: A while ago, I decided that I would make all my lists match up to the best number in sports. That, in and of itself, is not a terrible idea. Rather than Top 10 lists, which are boring, I would make my lists a different number, one that has some sort of magical connection to sports.
Obviously, the number could have been ANYTHING. I could have said that I was going to do Top 7 lists in honor of Mickey Mantle and George Castanza. I could have done Top 9 lists in honor of Ted Williams, Roy Hobbs and Mia Hamm. I could have done Top 12 lists to celebrate Brady, Namath, Bradshaw and the 12th man. I could have done pretty much anything.
And what did I do? I decided instead that the best number in sports is THIRTY-TWO.
It is true, I think. Thirty-two is Jim Brown. It is Sandy Koufax. It is Magic and Halladay, Carlton and Malone, it is THE number. Thirty-two is also A VERY LONG list. I mean, doing the 32 best sports calls of all time or the 32 best NFL running backs or the 32 best baseball players … at some point, hours into those lists, it might have occurred to me that my life would be a whole lot easier if I decided that Bill Russell and Stan Musial shared the best number in sports (No. 6). If I had gone with Tommy Lasorda and Derek Jeter (2) I could have been out golfing.* I’m just not particularly savvy.
*This seems as good a time as any to announce that, beginning with the August issue, I will be writing the back page column for Golf Magazine. The point, generally, will be for me to learn how to play golf. You might know that I have not played even most of a round since playing 16 holes at Augusta National in 1992. The potential for destruction and injury is pretty high. There are some plans in the works — will keep you updated.
In any case, I’m bringing back the lists … but we’re going to try a more sensible list number so that I can actually live a life. I’m going to go with No. 14 — that’s the number of the guy on the cover of my last book Pete Rose. It’s also Otto Graham’s number, A.J. Foyt’s number, Johann Cruyff’s number and Bob Cousy’s number. That’s a pretty cool collection of athletes. And 14, for list purposes, is significantly less than 32.