For a few years now I’ve resisted the impulse to declare Serena Williams the greatest female tennis player of all time.
While 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.
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.
Those 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
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.
After 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
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.
“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.”
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.
In 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.
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.
Selig 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
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.
Earlier 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
Fidel Castro’s impact on Cuban sports was among the topics of discussion in the wake of his death Friday at the age of 90, as retrospectives poured in about “The Last Cold Warrior,” and his legacy on his country and global affairs.
Injecting sports into his country’s Communist identity was one of Castro’s initial and enduring actions, affecting far more than his beloved béisbol.
In his 2015 book “The Domino Diaries” (Sports Biblio review here), author Brin-Jonathan Butler wrote:
“Sport wasn’t an opium for those people; their culture was an opium for sport.” Continue reading
One of the great joys of doing this blog and newsletter is hearing from authors as well as readers. As another Thanksgiving holiday approaches in the United States, I want to thank all of you for reading, subscribing and getting in touch.
This is a passion project, and I’m grateful I get to do this every week. Lately I’ve been limited with my Sports Biblio project, as I’ve taken on several freelance assignments. I have a number of blog posts lined up that I will be publishing soon, an assortment of book reviews and book-related topics that are long overdue.
I’ve been very thankful to hear from authors offering to send me copies of their book, and recently I got a couple of very nice surprises. Continue reading