Articles

This is an intellectually worthless exercise in any sport, but one which in baseball lays bare the sport’s deep and abiding strangeness, too often naturalized beyond recognition through pastoral platitudes and kid’s-menu jingoism. I, for one, cannot wait.

I cut the line to get this picture taken after running the New York City Marathon last week, my second 26-miler of 2011. Eighteen months ago, I was not running marathons. Mostly, I was smoking cigarettes. For a solid decade before I quit, I was one of the world’s great smokers—naturally talented, fiercely committed, a real workhorse.

An exultant Juan Manuel Marquez raised his hands in triumph while Manny Pacquiao prayed somberly in the corner. Then, after it was announced that Marquez had lost by a narrow majority decision, he stormed from the ring as the arena of Mexican partisans and outraged boxing fans rained boos on the winner.

Today’s stars may look up to him, but Jordan isn’t interested in being anyone’s mentor. He’s mostly concerned with making sure none of them approach his accomplishments.

This is the flipside to sports, and to fandom’s projection of a million wants into one body at one moment in time.  As heroes go up, so must many come down.   Call it the Mike Tyson effect.

For many years there were two NBA video games that battled for supremacy each fall: the NBA 2K series from 2K Sports, and the NBA Live series from EA Sports. Each franchise had fans, but there was no clear winner — no Madden, as it were. This proved healthy: both publishers were driven to innovate in an attempt to capture whatever unclaimed market share existed.

Tim Lincecum's father was a former minor league pitcher and Boeing engineer, who had developed his son’s unorthodox throwing motion according to aerodynamic principles. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was completely false. But it was still a good story.

The status of players-as-proletariat has been one of the key ironies of the lockout, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed: one of the most echoed complaints about the whole affair has been that “billionaires are telling millionaires they make too much money.”

Such gestures have become common practice at pro sporting events of every size and scope, between innings or during TV timeouts: here are some veterans, standing ovation, back to the game. Play ball.

The game that decided baseball’s 2011 season had it all: a see-saw slugfest that inevitably led to a 9th-inning blown save; a starting ace coming out of the bullpen for extra-inning heroics; a crucial defensive error setting up the series-winning run. And that’s how the Far Mountain Redhawks became the first team to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win the championship, celebrating in front of nearly 12,000 stunned Ozarka Naturals fans at Ellie Ewing Stadium.