It was all much weightier stuff than mulling who should start at left tackle on Sundays, or why certain hitters struggled against left-handers. I wanted to do those kind of stories. So did most of my friends. Having once camped out for three hours in the Orioles players' parking lot to ask Sammy Sosa about an abscess on his foot -- he declined to comment, and not politely -- only helped reaffirm my goals and ambitions for journalism. My non-sports friends, even the ones in journalism, didn't always understand. They thought his prose was hackneyed, his themes too often reminiscent of a bad Disney movie, and that his stories lacked the ironic detachment most good journalism demanded. And they weren't always wrong. It was just that Gary Smith wrote for believers. Cynics, bless their hearts, could never enjoy the ride.