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Original Issue

From Eternity To Here


SINCE THE MIDDLE AGES, man has tried and failed to harness eternity. "Perpetual motion" machines did not run perpetually. The "Everlasting Gobstopper" eventually stopped gobstopping. Even "permanent press" slacks acquired wrinkles over time—as do all of us who dream of immortality.

In journalism, a story that can last forever—that can run at any time, for all time—is called an evergreen. This elusive beast, a literary Loch Ness monster, covers all possible topics, for all possible weeks. You can read it in an infinite loop, like a dog chasing its tail, for it will always be timely. Such a piece would remain fresh 200 years hence, in the dentist-office waiting room of the 23rd century.

Which is why we're infinitely pleased to have cracked the code, for what follows is the first true evergreen—or the last sports column you'll ever need:

Baseball games are too long.

When will hockey ban fighting, football minimize head trauma, college athletes get paid, Little League parents behave, PED testers catch up to PED takers and replay reviews stop taking so long?

Sure, we're all still reeling from the greed and arrogance of that owner who just the other day moved his team from the good fans of a great city to a new market where taxpayers are now on the hook for a stadium that benefits a billionaire while the public school system endures budget cuts. But at least the move leaves no more cities left to bilk and ensures that the sports bubble—having clearly reached its maximum of both hubris and financial gigantism—will burst any day now.

What is left to say about that team that did that amazing thing last night, thanks largely to that impossible play—now etched forever in our consciousness—in the dying seconds of that instant classic? Only this: That it's the greatest athletic spectacle in human history, eclipsing that epic performance of a few days ago.

Of course, some will argue that the iconic star of that showdown—great as he is by today's standards—is a mere shadow of the guys who played the same sport (only way better) 30 years ago, when the game was superior and we were still young.

And speaking of young: Baseball and every other sport cannot possibly nurture a new generation of fans if they keep playing their marquee events in the middle of the night, solely for the benefit of their media partners.

Also: something something something Tim Tebow.

Yes, American tennis has a single superstar but no phenom to succeed her, which means the game will likely die in the very near future, in the same way that the NFL is showing subtle but unmistakable signs of falling from its place of preeminence in U.S. culture.

America urgently needs a new "face of baseball."

Shortly after the closing ceremony of the last Summer Games, the Olympic stadium fell into disrepair, its famous track sprouted weeds and the feckless officials of the IOC turned their gaze to the next host city.

If they keep stockpiling young talent at this rate, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to be really good at some date in the future.

As for that one dynasty that hasn't lost in forever, it is ruining the very sport that it's dominating. At the same time, that same dynasty is also elevating the sport by perfecting it, and its greatness will last forever.

It's difficult to find such permanence in life, despite so many claims to the contrary. There's a difference between actual eternity and Eternity by Calvin Klein. The film franchise known as The Neverending Story ended after two sequels. In sports, abiding verities are even harder to come by. Mike Schmidt had a memorable hairstyle for the Phillies, but his permanent was temporary. If Everlast boxing trunks truly lasted evermore, they'd put themselves out of business.

And yet there is a deep yearning in our DNA for things eternal, for perpetual motion, which is why ... [Return to first sentence and read again.]

The first true evergreen, a sports story that can run forever and remain relevant. Here's the last sports column you'll ever need.

What eternal truths would be part of your evergreen column?

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