(Guru's note: A story on the Guru's Inquirer departure written by Frank Fitzpatrick that is in Saturday's print section appears elsewhere in Philly.com. Because it held a few days for mere things such as the Phillies and Flyers games and the NFL draft, comments from a certain coach who grew up in Norristown and has led his team to two straight unbeaten NCAA women's titles were able to insert into the story despite his busting the original deadline. That ought to make papers in a state north of New York think twice before giving him any assignments in Nutmeg country.)
By Mel Greenberg
So Mel, what was the final full-time hour like on Friday night in the Sports Dept. before slipping into the past tense and the three-week extended fadeout to take care of adminstrative and archival matters?
Technically, the transition began a little while ago and it is unclear whether the identity badge will open the gates of the garage out back allowing me to leave. In fact, they may have calculated that as a way of keeping me around without pay or to increase the value of the place at Tuesday's auction of the paper.
But as bad luck would have it since it was a normally scheduled desk shift, the Guru went down to the last file slug, last game element in the slug, just-before the final deadline.
It reminded him of the time Tim Kelly, a former sports editor in the early 1970s now publisher of the paper in Lexington, Ky., approached his last day here and went through the process as if nothing was about to change.
One of the Guru's duties Friday night was writing blurbs for the baseball minor-league roundup, consisting of the Phillies' affiliates in Reading (Pa.), Lakewood (N.J.), Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Pa.), and the Yankees' affiliate in Trenton, N.J., 30 miles north of here.
Three games were over quickly, but Lakewood went into extra innings stretching between the final major deadline and what we call the quick lift, which happens 30 minutes later. Then Hagerstown went ahead in the top of the 12th with a run but Lehigh Valley tied it.
"I'm never going to wrap it up," the Guru thought. Finally, a lead-off homer in the bottom of the 14th just before the absolute deadline approached gave Lakewood the win, the Guru an easy blurb, and life as he has known it for the past 40 plus years was moments away from going into transition.
Piece of cake.
For you stats freaks, by the way, the Guru calculated that give-or-take vacation time (what's that?), 10 extra days added for leap years, the math shows that he has been involved with the Inquirer for some 14,400 days.
Here is a poem assistant/deputy (titles change twice a month) sports editor Gary Miles read in a Night-Before-Christmas motif at Thursday's farewelll salute to the Guru that got the proceedings under way.
Incidentally, the Guru has been told that video will be available sometime next week.
Twas a minute till deadline and all through the desk,there was chaos and panic. The slot was a mess.
The news had just broken. Cohen's head was still swimmin'. The NBA had confirmed it. They were changin' to women!
Other papers and Web sites were out of the loop. They scrambled for someone to get them the scoop.
But Cohen and Quinn and I felt very well, when in through the door walked our top expert, Mel.
His eyes, how they twinkled, his dimples how merry. And he chuckled and cackled as he tapped his Blackberry.
"Chill out," he said. "I blogged that last week. Just cut it and paste it and give it a tweak."
And we beat the whole nation, were the toast of the day. Then Mel retired to our great dismay.
But we heard him exclaim as he left our white tower, "If you need me, just call me. Hundred dollars per hour!"
Show and Tell
So what will the first day off the payroll books be like.
If the Guru wakes up in time, he may attend the clinic being held in South Philadelphia Saturday morning by the Big Five women's coaches and Drexel coach Denise Dillon.
However, several months ago, the Guru had originally declared this an off-day prior to rush of events because on Saturday night in center city he will be attending the 45th reunion of the 123 graduating class of Northeast High.
I guess the Guru has a some souvenirs from the past few days to bring along in case his former classmates ask what the Guru has been up to since the parting of ways as the last mid-year graduating class back there in January, 1965.
Voice From the Past
So early Friday night the Guru left his desk to check on an artifact or two that may or may not have to be moved elsewhere and when he returned he noticed a red light on his office phone indicating a message had been left.
The Guru won't give you the name per se but you can guess the identity because the person was a longtime coach of a nationally prominent university located in the middle of the Guru's state of Pennsylvania.
It was a shock at first because the Guru had not spoken with this person since weeks before the individual left the profession three seasons ago.
A return number was not left but since the coach had local ties to the Guru and had just heard the news, the person wanted to convey thanks and appreciation for the person's words, though again the Guru notes, it's not the basketball era that's ending here.
But since that person would always proclaim "It's official," when the Guru would appear at a media day or game involving that team, I guess because of the message and looking at the clock on the way in an empty newsroom, the Guru can say, "It's official."
Also, the Guru appreciates the emails received and stories he's seen to date in the past several days.