Something strange happened to the English League Cup last week. You could even say it was spooked. No, this isn't just a bad attempt to make an otherwise matter-of-fact teaser appear more intriguing by making altogether too much of the chance simultaneity of the recently-played fourth round of the competition and Halloween. How dare you. No, there were odd things going on, alright: goals. Lots and lots of goals.

It's not just that Rajon Rondo finds passing lanes where there are not apparently passing lanes, or regularly reaches seemingly unreachable spaces on the floor. That's remarkable enough, but how he gets there is what makes him great. What Rondo offers on a nightly basis is the possibility contained in the unknown. He is the deviant in a league that thrives on ritual and repetition.

University of Michigan professor Andrei Markovits is a world class sports bullshitter. Which is to say, he's an expert on the sports discourse. Along with former student Emily Albertson, he's explored the whys and hows of the way we talk about them, and what makes women take longer to learn the language. 

Nikola Pekovic is a working man who happens to have a bruising, difficult job. He is also a hooded warrior who wants your skulls. Both of those things. This is what makes him great. It's complicated.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, currently overseeing the third prolonged labor dispute in less than 20 years, makes for an easy villain. But the awful paradoxes with which he has presented fans—a league that hurts its fans to grow its fan-base and foregoes games to increase revenue—have had an unusual effect: they've reminded fans, in the game's absence, of how much hockey is really worth.

The ill-advised tattoos. The ill-advised shots. The ill-advised public statements. The moments of wild, careening transcendence. The total batshit mania. There is substance hidden somewhere amidst the insanity that is Stephen Jackson.

The New York City Marathon is off, which is as it should be. But that it came so close to being run with the city still devastated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy speaks to a number of daunting divisions and distances.

Andrea Bargnani has been a professional basketball player for 10 of his 27 years on earth, and has the opaque and deeply unknowable personality to show for it. But he has also developed into a player as intriguing and quirky as he is outwardly blank, and he's about to get his best shot yet at leading a team into the playoffs.

As the New York City Marathon faces the strangest run in its history in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation, it seems worthwhile to take a look back at this long race's long, strange, and almost implausibly colorful history, both in New York and in the public consciousness.

Lance Armstrong's fall from grace was a long one, and hard. A look back at the cyclist's prelapsarian persona reveals a complex portrait of the man and his brand, and the inspiration bubble that went bust.