- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2003

Ted Leonsis, the erstwhile most accessible owner in professional sports, has disappeared.

Have you seen this man, Washington?

Ted, Teddy, Theodore.

Where is Ted?

Call 1-800-TED-GONE if you have any information regarding this unnerving development.

Or just call out his name.

Yoo-hoo, Ted. Where are you?

Ted apparently is coming to a mailbox near you, his mug on a commercial insert, along with his height, weight, age and date of his disappearance.

There is so much to discuss with Ted. There are so many questions.

Has he shaved his goatee? Has he dyed his hair?

Ted. Ted, TED.

Everybody: Ted-dy, Ted-dy, Ted-dy.

There have been unconfirmed sightings of Ted.

He was said to be last seen on Fun Street in a white Bronco, with $10,000 in cash, a fake beard and a passport. But who really knows?

Perhaps he has taken up with Elvis at the Burger King in Kalamazoo, Mich. Or perhaps he is hanging out with Baghdad Bob.

Ted, you’ve got mail.

Please answer your e-mail. Or pick up the phone.

Should we try to establish a primitive form of communication instead?

Stomp your foot once if you are all right, twice if you need help.

Can you blink your eyes? Good. That is a start. Now wiggle your nose. Blink your eyes, wiggle your nose and move your ears back and forth real fast.

Ted, it is all right. Don’t do it. Come down off the ledge right now.

Life is too short to be in this state.

What happened to you? You used to be fun. You used to be the life of the party.

Now you have slipped into this Machiavellian world of intrigue, mystery and anonymous sources.

How long was that meeting between Abe Pollin and Michael Jordan? We can start there. Was it 12 minutes, 18 minutes or 29 minutes and 42 seconds? Who was in charge of the time on the scoreboard?

That must have been a surreal meeting. In times like these, surreal is a good word to employ. Who knows what the word means? It just sounds good. Rule No.1 in journalism: Any low-speed freeway chase is surreal. Baghdad Bob also was surreal. Maybe, Ted, you are surreal, too. Do you feel surreal or do you feel as if you have been blindsided by Pollin’s unilateral business tactics?

Hard as it is to believe, the sun has managed to pop up on schedule each day since the departure of Jordan. This is not the-day-the-earth-stood-still stuff. This is not even Code Orange. No one is buying duct tape and plastic sheeting, only a brown paper bag to wear over the head next season, if necessary.

Poor Ted. Good old Ted.

Ted used to be Mr. Instant Message on America Online.

You would write, “Hey, Ted, what’s up?”

He would reply: “Not much. How about you?”

Now there is no instant messaging.

There are just secret handshakes, passwords, tea leaves, tarot cards, rumors, whispers, anonymous sources, lawyers, ghosts and goblins, shadows in the dark, the bogeyman, creaky stairs and tornado warnings.

Wait. Did you just hear that?

Was that the wind rustling against a tree limb, or was it Ted trying to come back to life?

Please, Ted, give us a sign.

Try to stand up and be counted.

Yes, it is tough, it is so terribly hard, but you can do it if you try.

How about the poor single mother working 10 jobs? She would like to have your problems, which come down to this: Your team was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, your handpicked guy Jordan was ousted by the old regime, and word of Pollin’s mellowing presence was off the mark.

So now what?

You can go into the fetal position or call Dr. Jack Kevorkian or stuff your belongings in a shopping cart and shuffle down to Lafayette Park, or you can accept the challenge and move forward.

What do you say, Ted?

Can you hear us?

Tap once on your keyboard if this message has reached your undisclosed location, and give our best to Dick Cheney while you are it.

Would you feel more comfortable if we folded up the message, stuffed it into a bottle and sent it your way by the Potomac River?

Or are you communicating by carrier pigeon these days?

Just remember: It is all good.

You still have your health, right?

It is like grandma always said. If you don’t have your health, you have nothing.

So lighten up, Ted, and get back into the game.

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