There is no greater sports star than the sports star I become … in my head.

There is no greater sports star than the sports star I become in my head.

In a vacuum, with no one forcing me to adjust for defense or change my direction, I am a scrappy hitter. I am a freaky consistent jump shooter. I am a Gold Glove defender.

I am Ichiro Suzuki. I am Oscar Robertson. I am Ozzie Smith.

My swing is true. I don’t hit home runs, but I do the little things that win games, despite the fact that I’m not actually playing games, relying only on a glorified batting practice to show off my amazingly consistent wares. My flow is sweet, my follow-through fluid, my confidence at its high; every shot snaps the bottom of the net, every juke and every fake – each one as fake as its name – unstoppable, every twist and turn like a gibbon effortlessly climbing a zoo cage.

Of course, I know the truth. I know what happened the last time I played one-on-one, the “one” itself betraying the number of points I was able to score in two combined games. I know what happened the first three times I saw a slow pitch softball this summer, how the breeze off my bat kept the outfielders cool, how even the mosquitoes kept away from me lest I miss the ball and knock them into the back fence.

It’s such childish bull, really. We’re supposed to grow out of it, right? We’re supposed to understand our place and buck up and admit that we’re not made for sports and that we’d do a lot better if we just stopped playing and started worrying about Brett Favre or some other tabloid sports crap.

That’s not how it is, though. Not for me. Not for any sports fan, regardless of talent.

We all want to imagine that we’re the best. Even if we know, without a doubt, that we have no chance in making it that far.

I don’t play sports to win. I play them to dream. To have fun. To taunt my friends. To imagine that I’m actually on a real field. That I’m actually a real athlete.

Because, on my own, with all of the quirks that come with a home court, or with the guiding hand of a friendly pitcher, I can pretend that the talent is real.

Without defense, I am All World. There is no greater player. No one can match the effort and skill and talent of the sports star I become. In my mind.

This was lovingly handwritten on August 11th, 2010