Jeff Pearlman

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I was such a tool bag

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Earlier tonight I was digging through an old scrapbook from my freshman year at Delaware, when I wrote for the student newspaper and also contributed articles to my hometown Patent Trader. The pages sparked all sorts of memories—kicker profiles, nervous walk-ups to coaches, confusion over lacrosse terminology. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

That said, I uncovered one thing that I never need to read again. It’s a letter I wrote to the Taconic Road Runners Club, the organization that helped me develop from a mediocre young runner to a solid-yet-unspectacular young runner. With some reservation, this is the note as it appeared in the TRRC newsletter …

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Where to begin?

• The unjustified cockiness oozes from the page. “Develop my running abilities to their peak”? What? I was a hack. Not even a very good hack. Slightly above average. And “now as a freshman runner on the University of Delaware Division I cross country team”? WHAT? I was on the Hens because the coach was an amazing man who didn’t cut. I was Division I solely out of luck. Truth be told, I’d have been a bad DIII runner. Jesus Christ.

• “Run with the best”? Seriously—I was barely surviving practices. Barely. These guys were so beyond my non-skill level.

• “Pearl”—I signed the letter with a nickname I was given in fourth grade by a Little League teammate. And now I’m referring to myself as “Pearl”? WHAT?

Seriously, it’s so awful it’s laughable. I honestly didn’t realize what sort of mojo I was setting free; couldn’t sense the people surely laughing at my inanity.

Maybe that’s just youth.

But, man, it was bad.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life