Posts Tagged ‘Sports Illustrated’

Today is the 500th episode of The Tapes and there’s a special prize lurking in them for one lucky reader. Wait, no there’s not. But here are some good links.

* Bobby Valentine didn’t like how the Yankees responded to September 11. Because he’s Bobby Valentine.

* Jon Krakauer seems to have found the answer to how Chris McCandless, the subject of his book Into the Wild, died.

* The Tampa Bay Bucs are in disarray. There’s even talk of vote rigging.

* The daughter of Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Höss lives in Northern Virginia, as detailed in this remarkable story in the Washington Post. 

* Ridiculous story out of South Carolina. Because of Steve Spurrier, The State newspaper is not allowing its columnist to cover South Carolina’s football team. That’s a powerful coach. Wait…update, he’s back on the beat. 

* Phil Jackson is a god. And in 2005 a commercial he starred in accurately predicted how Heat fans would leave the arena before the end of Game 6 in 2013. Spoooooky. Also, fire D’Antoni.

* Joe Posnanski thinks Rafa Nadal will be the best player of this extraordinary time in men’s tennis. 

* People are mad at Jimmy Kimmel for being behind a viral video about twerking gone bad. 

* Jason Whitlock is already in trouble with ESPN. Insert reference to The Wire.

* Sports Illustrated made headlines with a series digging into alleged rule breaking inside the Oklahoma State football team. Read that. And the rebuttal. Yes, folks are taking issue with the pieces.

* The New York Times is dead to us after claiming that breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day. How dare they? We may double our cereal intake (to nearly lethal levels) in protest.

* Your weekly soccer link pertains to an American import from Iceland.

It’s time for the links. Print them out and use them to fan yourself.

* Great story on Jack Handey, who’s the envy of every comedy writer in America.

* Grantland celebrates Jeff Bridges — although not his new movie — with a YouTube Hall of Fame tribute. Wish there would have been some Jagged Edge action, though.

* From the LA Times, the tale of a man who has the signatures on 2,913 Sports Illustrated cover subjects and his quest for an unnamed model on a 1960 issue. And the sad followup.

* New York Magazine on the controversy over Rolling Stone’s cover with the Boston Bomber. 

* Fun piece from Patrick Reusse on nine lost traditions from baseball.

* Drew Magary on how America is ruining Johnny Manziel.

* Wright Thompson on a search for family history in Scotland.

* Dude wrestles shark.

* The Boston Globe on what life inside the joint is like for ex-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

* Grantland is in on the new Netflix show “Orange is the New Black.” TV is, too.

* Remember when TV did some extra work in a video? Here is the final product.

Every so often, usually after she’s watched a few episodes of Hoarders and worries about a future where she’s keeping dead squirrels in the freezer and live ones as pets in our apartment, my wife starts cleaning out her book collection. She’ll get rid of novels and cookbooks, old textbooks, memoirs and coffee table books. Some we donate, others we just leave in our apartment lobby for people to take. Occasionally I think about following this path and ridding myself of some of my books, but then I stop and think: What if I want to read that book again? Or read it for a 12th time?


In honor of the 75th year of the NCAA basketball tournament, Sports Illustrated put together a list of the top 75 players in tourney history. It’s important to note that this is just tourney history, has nothing to do with the regular season. So you won’t see Pistol Pete anywhere on the list since Louisiana State never made it to the tournament.

The Top 10:
1. Lew Alcindor
2. Bill Walton
3. Bill Russell
4. Oscar Robertston
5. Larry Bird
6. Wilt Chamberlain
7. Bill Bradley
8. Magic Johnson
9. Christian Laettner
10. Jerry West

So we have some issues.


Wednesday night, at about 11:30 p.m., I noticed I suddenly had 80 unread messages in my email inbox. They were all mail delivery failure messages. I hadn’t sent any email in a few hours, much less 80 that failed to find a home. Turns out I’d been hacked or hijacked or whatever and a spammer had sent out a GREAT BUSINESS PROPOSAL to dozens of people in my contacts list. So disheartening, confusing. Hopefully the new password fixed things. If you received such a message, I apologize. But if you liked what you read and want to know more about THIS INSANE BUSINESS OFFER, please let me know. We could hit it big.

Anyway, this week’s links:

* The New York Times is doing an interesting series on data centers and the insane amounts of energy required to run them. It’s not something you think about at 11:30 at night as you’re dealing with a hacked email or while looking at 700 pictures on Facebook, but it’s a real issue. The stories have generated – if you will – controversy from technology folks who believe The Times isn’t with the times, and that the stories would have been more relevant six years ago. But as someone who wasn’t really aware of the issue – as is the case with so much technology – they opened my eyes a bit.

* Heart-warming story – or it is making a mockery of the game, take your pick – about former Chicago Cubs player Adam Greenberg, who was beaned on the first pitch he ever saw seven years ago. He never played again, done in by the after-effects of the concussion. But after a campaign by a filmmaker, the Marlins are going to give Greenberg one more at-bat, next week against the Mets.

* Here’s one of Grantland’s new 30 for 30 series, but a short one. It’s on Arnold Schwarzenegger and his life in Austria. Nearly all of the original 30 for 30 films were really good and they’re starting up again soon. Grantland will also be offering these shorter films.

* J.K. Rowling has a new book out. An adult book. A very adult book, apparently. It’s getting bad reviews, but I enjoyed this New York Magazine look at Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani and her love of the word limn.

* Chris Jones on Greg Schiano’s belief that kickoffs should be eliminated from football. That also brings us to the podcast of the week. ESPN The Podcast is an offshoot of – you guessed it – ESPN The Magazine. Hosted by editor Chad Millman, it’s sort of like a DVD extra to supplement the mag. For example, this week Jones came on to discuss his piece and to debate former NFL coach Herm Edwards on the topic. Previously, Wright Thompson gave insight into how his piece on Urban Meyer came to be. While it might be too Inside Baseball for the average fans, journalists should eat it up.

* Because we haven’t had a list for a while … Sports Illustrated has put out its second Twitter 100, a list of must-follows in the sports world. Incredibly, TVFury did not make the list. (That snub will be referenced during our Blog Hall of Fame induction speech in 2037.) But 100 others did. Some we’ve heard of an endorse, others seemed to be a bit of a reach. See for yourself.

TV and Fury have noticed that there are a bunch of Web sites popping up dedicated to longform – and really good – sportswriting. (Nothing gets by us.)

Grantland, Sports on Earth, the forthcoming Glenn Stout project – we like them all. But what’s prompted the trend, are non-writers into it and can it be maintained given the cost and the constantly changing media industry? That’s the topic of this week’s TVFury podcast.

Here’s the link.

Interesting week at TVFury, as we got a terrifying glimpse into Terry’s mind and life and we can all now picture him stomping around his Sioux Falls home, bread crust hanging out of his mouth, old cereal milk dripping down his chin, sweat pouring down his cheeks because he refuses to use the air conditioner, while he rants about having no desire to watch a six-hour game between the Yankees and Red Sox.

On to the links.

* In MIAC news that doesn’t involve the state of St. John’s football, Carleton made news as the members of its 50th class reunion raised $30 million during their little gathering. Yeah, yeah? Well, you’ve still never beaten St. John’s in football! Yeah! (shuffles off to donate plasma so there will be enough rent money.)

* Do not give a negative review to The Dark Knight Rises. Do not.

* I’ve never had a BlackBerry. Or an iPhone. But if I would have had one of those two, I think it would have been BlackBerry; it would be in line with my desire to go with older-school companies. Hence, Yahoo! mail. But BlackBerry is not doing well and here’s a good look at why it’s dying.

* Culture alert! Boston magazine has a piece on a guy who has spent his whole life training for the 10 minutes he has to impress members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

* Also today, it’s Ma and Pa Fury’s 44th anniversary. Congrats! And please don’t get divorced, it’d be awkward now.

* TV here. My lone entry this week comes from the legendary Gary Smith. How legit is Smith? I’ve not only heard of him, I’ve read one of his books.
Smith recently wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated chronicling Wonman Joseph Williams, a walk-on football player at the University of Virginia who made national headlines for a politically driven hunger strike. The kid’s story is inspiring, but I remain unsold on the idea that student-athletes are taken advantage of. Some are, sure. But all or most? Not the ones that I interact with through my job as an NCAA Division I beat writer.
I may have to delve into that at a later date. Feel free to chime in.

Don’t let anyone ever say TVFury doesn’t appreciate — no, love — America. Of course I hate that the 4th is on a Wednesday and I have to work Thursday and Friday, but that’s not really America’s fault, is it?

No big plans in New York City, although I hear Terry is planning a backyard barbecue where he’ll grill up some famous Vandrovec burgers while shooting off legal and illegal fireworks into the South Dakota sky, all while he dictates a 600-word story into a recorder about incoming cross country recruits for South Dakota State, which he’ll finally type up and send to the office while watching the Boston Pops performance on TV. Here, we’ll relax, go to a barbecue and maybe watch some fireworks from a friend’s balcony, where you can see three or four different fireworks shows while having three or four hundred mosquitos attack.

In honor of the Fourth, here’s a…I don’t know, grab bag, potpourri, random things grouped together, of Americana.


Back by popular demand, it’s The Fury Files, the seventh-most downloaded Q&A on Kindle. As always, I will shamelessly plug previous editions, so check out my interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van ValkenburgMichael Kruse and Chris Jones.

When Ballard talks about writing or hoops, you’ll want to listen.

This week’s guest is Chris Ballard, a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated. Ballard joined SI in 2000 and has been a Senior Writer for about eight years. All he’s done during that time is become one of the best writers in the magazine, not to mention one of the most versatile. Ballard is best-known for his superb NBA writing. And while it’s a well-deserved reputation — as these stories on the dunk and Kevin Durant prove — it would be unfortunate if his skills as a hoops wordsmith overshadowed the fact he’s put together a series of features at SI that stack up against anyone’s.

This year, Ballard was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in profile writing for a November 2011 story about Dewayne Dedmon, a Jehovah’s Witness who went against his mother’s beliefs and eventually became a Division I basketball player. Twice Ballard has earned inclusion in the Best American Sports Writing series. The first time was for his 2006 story on an insane high school football game in Arkansas. The 2011 anthology honored Ballard’s story on Cal crew member Jill Costello and her inspiring fight against cancer. Some of Ballard’s other memorable features include his piece on retired quarterback Jake Plummer, the story of the kissing couple from the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots and a piece from this past February, which you very well might find in next year’s BASW book. The feature focused on Chicago-area high school wrestling coach Mike Powell and his fight against a draining, potentially deadly illness. Ballard did an interview with freelance writer Brandon Sneed and the pair dissected the story on Powell. Make sure to check it out. In the most recent Sports Illustrated — the May 14 issue — Ballard examines Kobe Bryant, his dad, Jellybean, and mom, Pam. The story is “Where Does Greatness Come From?” and is another superb piece by Ballard.

Ballard has also written four books, with the newest one hitting bookstores next week. His first, Hoops Nation, chronicled his half-year-long trip across the country playing pickup basketball. The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People Who Found Their True Calling Way Off The Beaten Path came out in 2006. And in 2009, he wrote one of my favorite basketball books ever, The Art of a Beautiful Game.

His latest effort, which is already receiving a lot of praise, is One Shot at Forever: A small town, an unlikely coach and a magical baseball season, the story of a high school baseball team in Illinois that accomplished great things back in the early 1970s. Hoosiers on the diamond. Ballard first told the story of the Macon Ironmen in a 2010 Sports Illustrated story. The book will be released on May 15.

Back to hoops. Ballard was a good high school player who played a year for Division III Pomona College in California. He’s still pretty tough and if you watch the video in this story Ballard wrote about some magical shoes, you can watch a sports writer dunk.

Below, Ballard talks about the inner editorial workings of Sports Illustrated, playing hoops with his dad, an interesting piece about a boring Tiger Woods, column writing vs. longform, finding your voice as a writer, writing about Kobe, his new book, Hoosiers, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Chris.


Tonight in New York City, 32 divisions of one of the most powerful companies in America will gather together and begin divvying up the latest crop of young talent.

That’s essentially what the NFL Draft is, in corporate terms even though we tend not to look at it in that way. But what if we did? What if conventional companies, be it newspapers or trucking firms or schools, filled jobs in the same way. That is: Monitored prospective employees through college, put them through aptitude tests, studied their backgrounds, got to know them through a series of interviews, tested their performance under pressure and then – in ceremonial fashion – drafted them according to a predetermined order.

Could that work? (more…)