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.
His 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
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.
The 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.
“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.”
Hegel’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
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.
At 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
When Frank Deford signed off this week after 37 years of Sweetness and Light, his regular sports commentary on NPR, I thought it strange that there was very little public or media reaction.
Then I remembered it’s been more than a year since his weekly contributions were cut back to a monthly basis, partly because of the public radio outlet’s push for diverse voices, and not long after a churlish outcry over his segment on media coverage of women’s sports.
The asinine “shoot the messenger” posturing from new media hipsters (including rife usage of “mansplaining,” the ridiculous concoction of an easily triggered millennial media) brought to mind a letter I wrote to Deford years ago, before today’s snarky web kidz were born, when he was the editor of the late, great The National. Continue reading
Many sports magazines promise to offer a real, gritty, authentic look at games and recreational endeavors that go deep into what the athletic experience has to offer. Victory Journal truly delivers on that promise.
In the latest episode of the Sports Biblio Podcast, I explore this sports-and-art magazine that debuted in 2010. When I first noticed it at my local Barnes & Noble, I could tell right away that it stood out from the standard coffee table fare. Once you look through the lushly photographed pages, it’s clear that this isn’t usual magazine eye candy. Continue reading
When it comes to the so-called “intersection” of sports and politics, essayist and author Pamela Haag knows where she stands along this increasingly blurry divide.
Americans, she wrote in 2012, should pay more attention to sports than to presidential politics. Sports, she claims, better reflect the values we used to believe we could find in campaigns.
If she watched enought highlights on ESPN “SportsCenter” or listened to enough critics of the college football bowl system, she might amend her remarks: Continue reading
During his long and distinguished career, realist artist Edward Hopper expertly chronicled the dark, isolated psyche of 20th century American life.
“Ground Swell,” by Edward Hopper, 1939 (National Gallery of Art)
Even the paintings that demonstrate his mastery of color and light—especially those stemming from his summer visits to the New England shore—reflect spare and lean vistas and landscapes, and the uncertainties and anxieties of everyday people.
The few sports-related activities Hopper depicted in his mature works also contain these themes, although in some cases they are drawn more subtly. Continue reading
One of the best vacations I ever took was quite a few years ago, in Colorado, where I had done things I rarely ever did and in some cases haven’t done since. More than recreation beckoned, and it was glorious.
The peaceful waters of Sope Creek, close to where Sherman’s army crossed the Chattahoochee River into Atlanta. (Wendy Parker)
A friend had a time share in Breckenridge, and for a week I filled my days with kayaking and canoeing, some hiking and taking the ski lift to enjoy the magnificent view.
There were summer youth symphony concerts, fine little shops and restaurants in the heart of town and a restful vista from the deck of the house where I stayed, complete with barbecue grill and hot tub. Continue reading
My stepfather had passed through Valdosta, Ga., on his way back to Atlanta when the news came over his car radio that Dale Earnhardt had died.
An avid NASCAR fan, my stepfather had seen the 2001 Daytona 500 in person, watching the legendary driver’s car collide along the back straightaway with Ken Schrader’s car in the final lap, with both vehicles sliding onto the infield in a smoking heap.
Schrader got out of his car under his own power, but Earnhardt did not. Even today, it’s still hard to fathom the impact the tragedy has had on NASCAR, and its legions of fans. Continue reading