I'm With Al Michaels

May 5, 2002, Memorial Hospital, New York

Well, sports fans, it's come down to this.

After a series of tests, doctors identified the cause of my bowel obstruction: cancerous growth in the small intestine in at least two spots. Because I'm too frail for surgery, they tried to clear the obstructions using an endoscope, a snake-like instrument shoved down the throat into the gastro-intestinal area. Unfortunately, the area was too knotted up for them to do anything. As a result, they packed up their bags, patted me on the back, and said good luck. They've got no more tricks up their sleeves.

So here's where we stand: For the foreseeable future, I can't eat. The docs are giving me a small liquid diet to see how it goes, but in the main, I'll be getting all my nutrition intravenously through a system called TPN. I can't take my pain-killing drugs orally, either. I'll have to wear a fanny pack with a line feeding narcotics straight into my veins.

I'm down to one last card to play, at the Block Medical Center. The hope is that TPN will build my strength up to the point where I can tolerate a chemotherapy strong enough to shrink my cancer and clear the bowels so I can start eating again. The folks at Block speak positively, believing they can "rebuild" me. I believe them. But there's no denying we need a miracle.

As a lifelong sports fan, I fully believe in the Yogi Berra maxim that it ain't over 'til it's over. I've watched enough games in my time to know it can happen. The Immaculate Reception. Flutie to Phelan. Lorenzo Charles. Larry Mize. Buster Douglas. The Stanford band play. Game 6, '86 Mets.

Lying in my bed recovering from surgery last fall, I stayed with every pitch of Game 4 when the Yankees looked dead in the water--same with Game 5. It can happen. When there's two outs, two strikes, and no one on in the bottom of the ninth, when the ball goes up in the air on the Hail Mary pass, when there's one last inbounds play with :00.1 showing on the clock, I'm one of those guys who's still in the stands, on my feet, watching expectantly. I never head to the exits early to beat the crowd. I want to see what happens.

So don't talk to me about the likelihood and the probabilities. Let me hear Al Michaels counting down those final seconds at Lake Placid in 1980:

Do you believe in miracles?