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Because only about 5% of babies are born on their due dates, there was much wagering in my family as to when, exactly, my wife would give birth. And though the due date of our daughter-to-be happened to fall during the holiday season, her impending arrival evoked not Santa Claus but Santa Anita. Indeed, the frenzied action riding on her delivery ensured that she would enter the world like Pete Rose. Which is to say, headfirst and surrounded by betting slips.
Of course, my wife also had a piece of the action, so she bluffed all other bettors, announcing more false contractions than Bud Selig.
It isn?t easy being the unborn offspring of sports-addled parents whose entire extended family is also sports-addled, as is our circle of friends. (How sports-addled are we? We have an on-deck circle of friends.)
As a professional athlete and sportswriter, respectively, my wife and I were infantilized by sports. Which may explain why we are now sport-ilizing our infant. Naturally, we started the process before she was born. This can?t be healthy, can it?
But being a sports fetus does have its advantages. My unborn daughter enjoyed the prenatal attention of NBA All-Stars. In a locker room in Philadelphia, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash told me that he and his longtime girlfriend, Alejandra Amarilla, had just become parents of twin girls. ?Lola and Bella,? said Nash. ?If we had had triplets, the third would have been Stella. You guys can have that name.?
?Stella,? I said, stroking my chin in contemplation. ?It is the name of one of my favorite beers.? Nash looked at me with pity. We agreed that the bold taste of a Belgian lager was insufficient inspiration for so christening my daughter.
In the end, my wife and I chose a name like an unplayable Scrabble rack: Siobhan, from the ancient Gaelic word for unpronounceable. Indeed, even before her birth, Siobhan--?ShuhVAWN?--would already be butchered as Soybean, Chevron and Shakeyourbonbon.
?Love the name,? said our friend Mike Gorman. ?She will drive play-by-play guys crazy in 2020.? This is saying something, when you consider that Gorman--as play-by-play guy for the Boston Celtics--has conquered, over the years, such C?s as Vitaly Potapenko, Stojko Vrankovic and Ruben Wolkowyski.
?If you need any parenting advice,? Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams told me, ?don?t hesitate to call.? I saved his number because Williams and his wife, Ruth, have maintained a sense of humor despite--or more likely as a result of--raising 19 children.
So we had our baby?s name and our baby?s support group. All we needed now was our baby.