The other night while on sick leave and having dinner with my family, I got a work call from Hong Kong. The last time I was getting work calls from that far away was when I was covering tennis and the likes of Boris Becker and Pete Sampras, and Pam Shriver would call me to answer my questions for upcoming major tennis tournaments like Wimbledon or the French Open.
Unfortunately, the call the other day was not from Shriver and was not about me meeting someone like Andre Agassi for an interview at Roland Garros in Paris. It was a father who was upset about his son being left off The Sun's All-Metro wrestling team.
The father had valid points. His son, Peter Galli, who competed at 140 pounds for St. Paul's, was his School's Athlete of the Year and had beaten Archbishop Spalding's Will Switzer during the regular season and in the MIAA Tournament.
The fact that I had made Switzer the All-Metro first teamer and Carver's Tyler Hinton the second team selection mystified him.
"What can I tell people the reason is?" the father asked.
But as I explained on the phone, picking All-Metro teams is an inexact science. We are picking among athletes from five counties, Baltimore City and the private schools. Who is best? Who is more worthy, the private school champion, the public school champion or perhaps, someone else?
We consider what we see, what we know. We also consider the information sent to us from the hard-working coaches who campaign for their wrestlers. In this case, some of the information reached me the night I was supposed to be finished the assignment and I was already lining up athletes for photos.
The process is always difficult because the time frame is always limited and the coaches' responses are often slow, due to their own work loads. The situation this spring was even more stressful because the time was made shorter by a week, as I was scheduled for surgery and had to have everything turned in early.
I said on the phone that night, that I didn't remember the details of exactly why I had made the selections the way I had and listening to this parent I felt like crying. But now, back at work, and reviewing it, I don't know that having the information sooner would have changed the outcome.
I had talked to other coaches and others knowledgeable about Maryland high school wrestling, I was aware Galli was ranked No. 1 on the Maryland State Forum wrestling site.
But in the end it was my decision. The reason I chose Switzer was that despite being beaten several times by Galli, when it came down to the finals of the Maryland Independent Schools State Tournament, Switzer had not been intimidated by past losses, turned the tables and won the state crown.
Switzer and Galli had each done their best in all off their meetings. Galli had been able to win close matches all but once and he went on to finish second in the National Preps Tournament. But in their last official meeting of the year, Switzer had managed to beat his long-time foe for the state title.
Carver's Hinton had also beaten the odds. He won the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's state title, becoming only the fourth city school wrestler in history to do so. How do you ignore that?
To make a long story short, the father calling from Hong Kong was right: Peter Galli did belong on the team, as did a number of others in several weight classes that were overloaded with talent. My apologies to all who believe they should have been first or second team selections.
But there was no right or wrong answer.
It is a difficult, if not impossible job. It's like fitting two dozen people in a Volkswagen Beetle. You can try and try - which I did - but they just won't fit comfortably, if they fit at all.
Know that I did my best in a difficult situation. That should be a trait admired, or at least respected, from Baltimore to Hong Kong and all ports in between.
That being said, input is always appreciated. The more information that comes in the better informed the final decision should be. So, please - coaches, parents or anyone who just loves following the local high school wrestling scene - feel free throughout the next season to send email with information about deserving kids.