Sports Biblio

The Imagination Of Sports In Books, History And Culture

Softball and the Cause of Women’s Baseball: Sports Biblio Digest 8.13.17

The push to create more opportunities for girls and young women in baseball has come with a curious, and troubling corollary: The dismissal of a sport that in the United States has been at the forefront of women’s sports for decades.

fastpitch, erica westly, softballIf a ludicrous story published this week in The Washington Post is to be taken seriously (and it should not be), it is now considered an act of proud defiance for young girls to eschew softball for baseball, seemingly as part of a more strident effort to crack the glass diamond.

In an otherwise understandable campaign to champion “Baseball for All,” softball has been relegated to something approaching separate but equal status.

 

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The Eloquent Silence of Steve Bartman: Sports Biblio Digest 8.6.17

Steve Bartman had something public to say this week, for the first time since being unfairly maligned as the villain in a foul-ball incident at Wrigley Field during the 2003 National League Championship Series.

Catching Hell, Steve BartmanHis deflection of a ball that landed near the first row of left field line seating might properly have been ruled interference (and the third out for the Florida Marlins in the top of the eighth inning of Game 6). Instead, it foreshadowed how the Chicago Cubs lost their grasp of what would have been their first World Series appearance since 1945.

Bartman’s life quickly became a living hell, as he received threats, dodged stalking reporters and worked assiduously to stay out of the spotlight, and restore what was left of his privacy. Continue reading

Reimagining The Baseball Hall of Fame: Sports Biblio Digest 7.30.17

When Tim Raines, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell are inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame today, it will mark the start of a new era of voting by writers that could signal some profound, if gradual, changes to the process.

Cooperstown Casebook, Jay Jaffe, Baseball Hall of FameThe infusion of advanced statistics has created many new conversations about who’s worthy of inclusion, and who’s not. The issue of performance-enhancing drugs has ratcheted up emotions enormously, especially among an aging group of baby-boom voters not always enamored with sabermetrics.

Jay Jaffe, author of the newly released “The Cooperstown Casebook,” has made an innovative case for a numbers-based selection criteria and also  welcomes the steroids-tainted likes of Bobby Bonds and Roger Clemens.

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Reviving The Big City Sports Page: Sports Biblio Digest 7.23.17

It didn’t take long for my bullishness about the future of media and online sports journalism, even during the truly dark days of the recession a few years ago, to get roundly skewered on a sportswriters’ message board.

I had left the newspaper world in late 2008, after several years as an online editor. I knew it was going to be lean for me and for many others for a while, if not life-altering, and this has certainly come to be the case.

Stringing along as a freelancer and contractor, in between a few brief full-time jobs, has become the norm for too many of us of a certain age (hint: not young) who still cannot imagine doing anything but the news. Continue reading

Scorching Hot Dog Day Summer Sports Reads: Sports Biblio Digest 7.16.17

In my corner of North America, the wilting heat of the summer (compounded by a broken home air conditioner) had me reaching for some weather-related things to read, and ironically enough, actually cooled me off a little. So has a deep immersion in Roger Angell’s wondrous “The Summer Game.”

roger angell, the summer gameJuly is actually my favorite month of the baseball season, aside from October. I enjoy the historical backdrops of the All-Star Game and Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and it’s also when I dig into some substantial baseball reading outside the winter.

I’m including in this week’s abbreviated newsletter a few stories (and a couple of fine podcasts) that I hope you’ll find worth your time, and I’ll return next week with a more robust Digest. Continue reading

Remembering The ‘Sultan Of Swat Stats:’ Sports Biblio Digest 7.9.17

The day after the Society for American Baseball Research wrapped up its annual conference in New York, one of the organization’s most beloved members passed away.

SABR Home Run EncyclopediaDavid Vincent, 67, was dubbed “The Sultan of Swat Stats” by former ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark for his prodigious research into the game’s most prodigious statistical category—that of the home run.

In the many tributes that followed Vincent’s July 3 death due to stomach cancer, his impact on baseball numbers and history beyond that one category is immeasurable.

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Women’s Sports, Past and Present: Sports Biblio Digest 6.25.17

Summertime has become the biggest window of the year for women’s sports to emerge as spectator entities. This year is no different, with the cricket and rugby World Cups being staged, as well as the women’s Euro 2017 soccer tournament.

Game Changers, Molly Schiot, women's sportsIn the United States, women’s pro basketball and soccer are also in-season, and for the first time in a decade and a half the Solheim Cup will be shown on network television in America.

For a non-Olympic year, this summer calendar is a richly generous one for female athletes, and they’re being presented more robustly than ever. Sadly, for too many influential women’s sports observers, it’s not enough. Continue reading

Whither the Sports Book Market? Sports Biblio Digest 6.18.17

This week’s edition of the Sports Biblio Digest notes the distinguished collection of sports books honored this week in Britain, but with a sobering aside.

Forever Young, Oliver Kay, sports book marketOliver Kay’s “Forever Young” was named the Cross Sports Book Award book of the year. The book by Kay, football correspondent for The Times, was cited at the same time one of Britain’s leading sports book editors was shown the door by his employer.

According to The Bookseller, a British trade publication, Transworld has decided to pull back on the sports book genre “in the face of what its publisher calls “a rapidly declining market.” Continue reading

Soccer and the Intellectuals: Sports Biblio Digest 6.11.17

“Baseball and boxing are tailor-made for narrative,” Bécquer Seguín writes in a recent post, “Soccer for Intellectuals,” on the Public Books blog. “Soccer, on the other hand, isn’t wedded to the fate of individuals.”

Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano, soccer intellectualsHegel’s master-slave dialectic and Eduardo Galeano’s classic “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” (previous Sports Biblio post here) are quickly invoked in the same gargantuan paragraph in one of many interesting, if meandering points in an essay clearly aimed at the academic mind.

Seguín, soon to become a professor of Iberian studies at Johns Hopkins University, does delve into the literary treatment of soccer, after openly wondering why the sport doesn’t have a figure of the magnitude of Roger Angell or A.J. Liebling. I argue later on that it does. Continue reading

50 Years Of Black Athlete Activism: Sports Biblio Digest 6.4.17

It was 50 years ago today, in an office in downtown Cleveland, that prominent American black athletes met in what turned out to be the first event in a full-fledged movement of political protest.

Harry Edwards, Revolt of the Black Athlete, black athlete activismAt the behest of Browns’ running back great Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Lew Alcindor (later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and others gathered at what became known as The Cleveland Summit.

The general purpose was to support Muhammad Ali’s refusal to join the U.S. Army as the Vietnam War was ripping America apart. However, as Jonathan Eig, author of a forthcoming biography of Ali, wrote this week at The Undefeated, there are many layers to this story. Continue reading

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