Sports Biblio

A Blog About Sports Books, History And Culture

Changing The Baseball Rule Book: Sports Biblio Digest, 2.26.17

At the risk of sounding like a “get off my lawn” Baby Boom geezer, does eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk seem like anything more than a cosmetic change to the baseball rule book that won’t really solve the pace of game concerns?

2017 official rules of major league baseball, baseball rule bookAs Scott Simon said on NPR this weekend, such a move might eliminate about 15 seconds. In my youth softball league 40-plus years ago we did this, and it was more about the lack of skill of kids than anything else.

I understand the owners want to attract younger fans who don’t sit still for anything longer than, say, 15 seconds, but these are the same owners who approved the replay rule that has been a real drag on pace of play. Continue reading

Michael Novak and ‘The Joy of Sports’: Sports Biblio Digest, 2.19.17

The timing of Michael Novak’s death from cancer on Friday, at the age of 83, comes at an especially intriguing time in American politics and society.

michael novak, the joy of sportsThe Catholic theologian and author of dozens of books, mostly about the convergence of religion, philosophy and public policy, is the author of the sports book that has influenced me more than any other.

“The Joy of Sports,” first published in 1976 and revised in 1992, is Novak’s metaphysical romp about sports and the deep meanings it holds for players and fans alike. It inspired me in part to begin this blog, and I think its message is even more relevant today. Continue reading

The Late Greatness of Serena Williams: Sports Biblio Digest 1.29.17

For a few years now I’ve resisted the impulse to declare Serena Williams the greatest female tennis player of all time.

My Life: Queen of the Court, Serena WilliamsWhile admitting my generational bias in favor of Martina Navratilova, I’ve also wanted to refrain from the in-the-moment rush to make such a pronouncement, if only to myself.

The emotional sweep of watching history as it happens overtakes almost all sports fans, and just about every sports journalist. We root for greatness, for a lifetime body of work that stands above the competition.

 

Continue reading

The changing politics of the Baseball Hall of Fame: Sports Biblio Digest 1.22.17

The election of Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week may have signalled the end of the ongoing culture wars among voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Cooperstown Casebook, Jay Jaffe, Baseball Hall of FameThose culture wars being over casting votes for players caught in the decade-long imbroglio over use of performance-enhancing drugs.

By the time that trio is enshrined in Cooperstown in June, it will have been 10 years since Major League Baseball imposed a ban on steroids use, and implemented stiff punishments for positive tests. Continue reading

The Chargers and the NFL in Los Angeles: Sports Biblio Digest 1.15.17

Once upon a time, the Chargers were the toast of professional football. After playing their initial season in the American Football League in Los Angeles, the franchise moved to San Diego and was one of the more innovative teams in the sport.

charging through the nil, chargersAfter being the only NFL team in southern California for two decades, the Chargers now find themselves sharing the same (and unenthusiastic) Los Angeles fan base with the newly relocated Rams, and are temporarily consigned to playing in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium.

The Chargers’ announcement this week of their return to L.A. after 56 years was an expedient move, hotly denounced in local and national sports media even though it was expected. Continue reading

New Role for Chris Berman, ESPN’s Original ‘Boomer:’ Sports Biblio Digest, 1.8.17

Chris Berman, one of the few original employees remaining at ESPN, is stepping away from his role in three signature NFL programs as part of a new contract.

those guys have all the fun, espn, james andrew miller, chris barman“I like to think of myself as an ESPN lifer,” Berman, now 61, told Sports Business Journal media reporter John Ourand, who broke the story. “There really wasn’t any thought of doing anything else. … We’ve had a great working relationship extending 38 years.”
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Selecting The Best Sportswriting of 2016: Sports Biblio Digest 12.18.16

Rick Telander, the guest editor of a collection of the best sportswriting of 2016, describes how even his own voracious reading habits were stretched by the task of selecting longform pieces for the book.

best sportswriting of 2016, best american sports writing 2016, fall 2016 sports booksIn addition to preferring stories that “get to the essence of the human struggle,” he tells sports media writer Ed Sherman that much of what he chose from “all had the sense of possibility.”

I think that’s a terrific approach to what could have been a predictable process for the latest edition of the  “The Best American Sports Writing” anthology, and Telander’s credentials are impeccable.

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Bud Selig, Steroids and the Baseball Hall of Fame: Sports Biblio Digest, 12.11.16

The announcement this week of retired Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig as a 2017 inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame didn’t come as a surprise, and it has sparked a renewed discussion about the inclusion of players in the so-called Steroids Era.

the game, jon pessah, bud seligSelig was selected with longtime Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz by the newly formed Today’s Era Committee, which votes on non-playing contributors from 1988 to the present.

Selig, the first owner-turned-commissioner, presided when performance-enhancing drug use in baseball was on the rise. His induction, with more than 90 percent of the vote, is prompting several voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to reconsider their refusal to vote for players they believe were aided by steroids. Continue reading

An ode to a sports photograph: Sports Biblio Digest, 12.4.16 

The year 2016 figures go down as a memorable one for chroniclers of the art of the sports photograph, and what these images reflect about the cultures and eras they depict.

stroke of genius, gideon haigh, cricket books, notable sports books, sports photographEarlier this summer, Gail Buckland’s “Who Shot Sports” was hailed as the companion catalog to her curated Brooklyn Museum exhibit about some of the luminaries of sports photography, and some of their best work.

At the end of the year, Australian author Gideon Haigh’s new book about a famous photograph of cricket legend Victor Trumper was being celebrated well before its official publication. Continue reading

Sports Biblio’s list of 2016 notable sports books

In the ever-subjective world of books and the reviews that may or may not define them, trying to come up with a year-end listing of books that stand out is a seemingly impossible task. Even using the loosely defined category of 2016 notable sports books, which can mean many things.

the selling of the babe, babe ruth, glenn stout, baseball books, 2016 notable sports booksThe second annual Sports Biblio list of notable sports books does have this parameter: Books published in the calendar year 2016. That’s why you will not see below some of the books that have been garnering acclaim by the brand-name sports book award houses, some of which cover the previous year (William Hill in the U.K., ESPN/PEN in the U.S.)

What does follow is an incredibly subjective and seemingly random list of 15 sports books published around the world during the year 2016 on a variety of subjects, and that generally received some noteworthy critical attention. Continue reading

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