Deadspin published a lot of long articles this year that might be toiling away in a bookmarks folder or neglected, tab-filled browser window. Now’s your chance to catch up, or at least use this as a one-stop guide when you do find the free time.
On April 22, 1981, an Ohio teenager named Randy Kobman skipped school to go to Riverfront Stadium to see the Cincinnati Reds play the Atlanta Braves. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Reds slugger George Foster fouled a pitch from Gaylord Perry into the grandstands behind home plate. The ball caromed off the the press box and headed back toward the field. Kobman, sitting in the front row of seats in the stadium’s second deck, moved toward the aisle to make a play for the bouncing ball. He caught it. Then he flipped over the railing.
Seventeen years ago, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team placed fourth at the Sydney Olympics, finishing behind Romania, Russia, and China. Coming four years after the gold medal from the Magnificent Seven, this placement was seen—both inside and outside the sport, by the press and by coaches like the famed Bela Karolyi—as a failure. After the competition, Karolyi, who had been appointed to the newly-created post of national team coordinator in November 1999, blasted the team, claiming “this generation of gymnasts lack the necessary work ethic” despite the fact that two gymnasts on the six-person team, Dominique Dawes and Amy Chow, had also been members of the 1996 team that won the gold medal.
Depending on who’s defining it, to whom, and why, SB Nation is either a popular website best-known for puckish, irreverent coverage and such whimsical projects as Jon Bois’s 17776, or a sprawling network of “team” or “fan” websites, each tightly focused on a particular topic, like the New York Mets or professional boxing. In either iteration, it is a foundational element of one of digital media’s foremost enterprises.
The Jewish laws of feminine modesty were the topic of a lot of conversations at the all-girls Orthodox yeshiva high school I attended in Brooklyn. We were required to wear uniforms to school—long, dark pleated skirts and long-sleeved white blouses—and were expected to dress according to similar standards outside of school hours. These rules touched nearly every aspect of our lives, and we were taught about them many times over the course of our education to reinforce them. We talked about them a lot, with our teachers and amongst ourselves.
Aaron Hernandez—convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd, charged but not guilty of murdering Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu, living in prison after once being paid millions to play football—died with $7.20 in his inmate kiosk. The final printout registering his account said the balance will be released. It did not say who will receive it.
There’s a word, and it’s quite short, for how the vast majority of information in this world is conveyed: Said. A person can say something. Multiple people can, together, say something. Old-timers in the newsroom will tell you that a document can’t say something because paper can’t talk, but that’s okay. Another, almost equally short word, stated, will do.
Every birthday I get an overseas call from my grandma, always early in the morning due to time zones. This was the first year that call was tinged with concern that I would be attacked by a fellow citizen. She lived in America for decades, but suddenly, in 2017, she’s concerned about her grandson’s wellbeing.
On Sept. 12, 2001, Mike and the Mad Dog host Mike Francesa drove to his local gas station to fill up the tank before coming into work. The station was owned by an “Arabic family,” and he said he could tell that the man working was understandably nervous given the previous day’s events, so he “gave him a slap on the back” before leaving the station.
ESPN laid off 100 employees last week, mostly on-air personnel and online reporters. At least six of those let go reported on the NBA: Henry Abbott, Marc Stein, Chad Ford, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Justin Verrier, and Calvin Watkins. But while no area of ESPN’s coverage was spared from the bloodbath, the gutting of ESPN’s NBA coverage was different, and has left many of ESPN’s NBA reporters scared, confused, and enraged at their bosses.
Peter King’s contract with Sports Illustrated is up after this NFL season. Long famed for his access to the inner workings of the NFL and especially for his mysteriously direct connection to the mind of commissioner Roger Goodell, he may continue on as the face of the MMQB, the football vertical launched for and by him four years ago, and he may not. How the MMQB itself will fare if he goes is unclear, but the record of sports-media vanity sites does not offer immense promise.
A boozy office party was starting to dwindle, and as the drunker among us were sneaking off to find dark corners and hidden alcohol reserves, the reasonable ones had switched to water. The evening had kicked off early so it felt much later than it actually was. By any standard, it was a Thursday, and we’d all have to be back there the next morning.
If like any red-blooded American capitalist you measure success by growth, these are boom times for Major League Soccer. North America’s top soccer league has gone from just 10 teams in 2004 to a whopping 22, with two more clubs in Los Angeles and Miami set to come online in the couple of seasons. And it’s readying itself to announce two more expansion franchises this fall, then another two next year, with ownership groups in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, and Tampa-St. Petersburg lining up to throw $150 million at the chance to own a piece of the soccer pie.
I have some personal news I’d like to share: I’m doping. With performance-enhancing drugs, even. The same kind that got tennis star Maria Sharapova banned from the professional tour for 15 months, and the reason she needs tournaments like the U.S. Open—which starts today in New York—to offer her wildcard entries so she can even compete. Maria and I, sisters in meldonium.
Warmed up and stripped down, 15 blade-thin runners milled on the track, game-faced, gathering themselves. A few words between them, Swahili and English—“20 seconds ... 10 …”—and the amorphous group coalesced into a single-file line, shuffling. Scott Simmons had not finished saying, “Go!” when the first in line clicked his watch, ducked his head, and sprang forward, the same sudden animation rippling down the line.
The internet abounds in cheerful content, and last fall one of its most cheerful stories started like this: In a press release, the University of New Hampshire announced that an elderly librarian had died—and left the school a shocking donation of $4 million.
Mention Yi Jianlian, and the first thing that comes to mind is probably that video of him working out against a chair. The baseline drive, the juke, the spin move around the defenseless chair and the ferocious slam. Do you remember it?
LAS VEGAS, Nev.—“Man, I’m usually in a suit, but it’s too fucking hot today,” a scalper told me a few hours before the big fight. It truly was too fucking hot. A police dog had to wear booties to protect his feet. This particular scalper was forced halfway inside, working the buffer area between the two sets of doors that separate the unsympathetic Mojave Desert heat from the air-conditioned artifice of the Monte Carlo casino floor. Tourists stumbled in for refuge and the chance to lose $20 on slots with names like Frog Kingdom 2, or they cruised outside to go to the fight or snap pictures of themselves next to the arena. At every step, they were presented with the chance to blow four figures on a ticket to the biggest show in town.
KOROR, Palau—What would a country run by baseball players look like? Would it be a sabermetrics-driven technocracy? A clutch-obsessed theocracy? A cup-adjusting macho dystopia?
During his first few days in jail, Mumin Tunc folded the limbs of his 7-foot-tall teenage frame as best he could and sat on his cell mattress with his back glued to the wall. He barely slept. Accused criminals filled the cells around him at the York County detention facility in York, S.C. Some were there for petty crimes such as credit-card fraud and shoplifting. Others faced harsher charges: Domestic violence. Carjacking. Armed robbery. Attempted murder. There were two of those.
Some of the people I write about are still alive and have done things that can’t be protected by the statute of limitations. For that reason, I won’t provide some names or talk about some things that happened. There are also people who are still alive who did me favors. I’d hardly be repaying them by telling people who they were.
The biggest chess story of the year is uplifting—and bogus.
The article hangs on a wall in my office. I am actually staring at it as I write this—it is taped, slightly crooked, to the white paint above my desk, positioned between a Chicago Blitz bumper sticker, a picture of my mother’s late Uncle John, and a photograph from the 1987 Mahopac High School freshman class trip to Washington, D.C.
This weekend, Heinz Kluetmeier will become the first photographer to be inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The longtime staff photographer at Sports Illustrated is undeniably hall-worthy. He’s shot iconic images of every major swimmer since 1970, from Mark Spitz to John Naber to Janet Evans to Matt Biondi to Michael Phelps, and pioneered underwater photography at the Olympics.
You can leave home again. Pete Strickland, an American who as a young man served as a Johnny Appleseed of basketball in Ireland, is going back, this time to coach the Irish national team.
I thought I was just shooing away another clown. I couldn’t have known at the time that I was shooing away a clown who would wind up becoming president of the United States.
There’s always buzz in the weeks leading up to the X Games about what insane, unprecedented maneuvers you might see. Max Parrot might try the quadruple underflip. Marcus Kleveland may go for the first quad cork. The 1620 is the new 1440. These promises, of things we’ve never seen before, are the reason we watch. They’re what people tune in for at home and stand outside in 2-degree weather in Aspen to witness firsthand. In contrast, when I heard that Colten Moore was going to attempt a double backflip on his snowmobile, all I could think was, “God, no man, please don’t do that.”
The attack began in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, 1972, when eight armed Palestinians affiliated with the Black September Organization snuck into the Olympic Village in Munich. They made their way to 31 Connollystrasse, where the Israeli delegation was housed, killed two men and took nine others hostage.
The fastest-growing career in America is not, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have you believe, in installing and repairing wind turbines. The fastest-growing career is doing 63 tweets in a row about why Donald Trump is a Manchurian president.
The National Security Advisor gets bounced for covert dealings with a Russian ambassador, then the Pentagon announces that Russian fighter jets recently buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea, and reports come out that the Kremlin has begun testing cruise missiles in utter disregard of a bilateral arms control treaty. Finally, a Russian spy ship gets caught cruising off the coast of New Jersey.
And that’s just from one day’s news cycle.
It goes without saying (hey there, Las Vegas Raiders!) that the NFL’s gambling policy is a hypocritical mess. But now that I no longer work for Rupert Murdoch, I can plainly state that every word out of Roger Goodell’s mouth about legalized sports betting for the past 20 months has been nothing but lip service.
When the Las Vegas Raiders kick off in 2020, they’ll be playing in the most expensive stadium in the world. The total projected cost of the site checks in at around $1.9 billion, a number topped only by the Rams’ and Chargers’ new complex in Inglewood that will cost approximately $2.1B, though that number reflects the complete redevelopment of a section of Los Angeles including the construction of retail and commercial space. The team’s decision to move to the desert follows a protracted waltz between Raiders owner Mark Davis, the city of Oakland, the NFL, and Las Vegas power brokers like casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. In three years the United States’ 40th largest media market—it sits behind such metropolises as Hartford and West Palm Beach—will be building a $1.9B stadium in the middle of the desert for a team that will take the field eight to 10 times a year. Nevada taxpayers will be shelling out for nearly half of the project.
When Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson faced off in the 100-meter finals at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the race to determine the world’s fastest human was the marquee event of the Games. It was America vs. Canada; the lithe Lewis against the hulking Johnson; the reigning Olympic champ against the reigning world champ; Lewis’s personal-best 9.93 against Johnson’s world-record 9.83.
Watergate and the Beatles are multimedia evergreens.
Jeffrey Gildenhorn, a beloved D.C. restaurateur, recreational politician, and full-time man about town for several decades, died earlier this summer after choking on his meal at the Palm, a local power lunch institution. He’d lived a full enough life that none of his many obituaries mentioned his supporting role in a forgotten chapter in the sports history of the nation’s capital, when Donald Trump told everybody he was going to bring baseball back to town.
When discussing Rickey Henderson’s Hall-of-Fame prospects, Bill James once wrote that “if you could split him in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.” It’s a seemingly hyperbolic quip from one of sports’ most precise thinkers. So it’s probably worth a closer look.
The current crop of athletes protesting during the national anthem has roots at the 1968 Olympics, with the Black Power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos after they finished first and third, respectively, in the 200 meters. John Dominis’s famous photograph of the two U.S. sprinters on the medal podium, their heads bowed, each with a black-gloved fist raised high throughout the playing of the anthem, captured an indelible moment of public protest and civic activism at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. What often gets overlooked is the controversy over the “Star-Spangled Banner” that was already raging—specifically, the anthem as sung before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series, exactly nine days before Smith and Carlos thrust their fists into the thin air of Mexico City.
The baseball soared into the early-morning blackness, heading toward the left-field foul pole. Tracking the flight of the ball he’d just hit, Carlton Fisk began to frantically flap his arms in an effort to will it fair.
It’s not hard to fracture the internet with a movie adaptation of a popular bad book. They’re made into movies all the time. They read like screenplays because they skip complex language that defies being replaced with pictures, and producers can’t resist a baked-in audience, which creates a baked-in counter-audience of critics. These people then meet online and ruin each others’ days.
The retirement of Georges St-Pierre, the longtime UFC welterweight champion and something like a consensus pick for the greatest fighter of all time, was as close as the sport of MMA gets to a happy ending.
There’s a fascinating boxing match on TV tonight between a faded, formerly great champion and a younger brawler with limited skills, but enough about the Cotto-Kamegai match on HBO. Instead of watching a real fight, millions will tune in for a glorified staring match between a middle-aged, retired, three-time ex-con and a semi-sentient growth protruding out of an oversized gorilla tattoo. Even though it is a stupid mismatch with no athletic significance whatsoever, its record-setting success is inevitable and unsurprising. Not only do Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Conor McGregor boast two of the largest, loudest and least educated fan bases in the world, but it’s a freak show. And it’s exactly the right freak show for 2017, a year when a reality TV star became president and an Olympic gold medalist raced a fake great white shark on television. And, hey, if Donald Trump (who, in addition to his close friendship with Mayweather, also boasts a loud, large, and poorly-educated fan base) were to fight a great white shark on TV, I’m sure that millions would tune in for that as well. Hell, I know I would. At least it would be a more competitive match-up than Mayweather-McGregor.
Chris Johnson realized that the Tour of Iran was a different sort of bike race while trying to solve what’s usually a simple mechanical problem. It was Stage 2 of the five-stage race. Johnson was driving Team Illuminate’s official team car toward an approaching dust storm while Edwin Ávila attempted to speak to the team’s mechanic in the back seat. Ávila speaks only Spanish, while the part-time mechanic, who works as a chocolatier in Tabriz, speaks only Farsi. This left Johnson stuck serving as translator—with the help of a smartphone app—while simultaneously piloting the car straight into the storm. Johnson said it was like something out of Mad Max.
You probably remember the rules of chess, but what’s actually happening there on the board? How many moves are Grandmasters really thinking ahead? Why do they never actually checkmate the opponent? Is my life just like a game of chess?
On a crisp November morning in Moscow, Steven Seagal found himself within the walls of the Grand Kremlin Palace, seated across from Vladimir Putin, the most powerful man in the Russian Federation. Dressed in a blood-red kimono and black trousers—a throwback to his days as a martial artist—Seagal observed the Russian president from behind his trademark amber-tinted glasses. The two men sat around a small marble table with a little red passport in its center. Cameras hovered around them to broadcast the meeting across the federation. Within a matter of moments, Putin would personally present Seagal, a U.S. native, with Russian citizenship.
“On a historical basis, a decade from now, we’ll be looking back saying, ‘That was the highest route efficiency that’s ever been captured in baseball.’”
For the last eight years, baseball fan-turned-writer Becca Schultz has presented herself online as Ryan Schultz, a false identity she assumed when she was 13 years old, duping and harassing women on Twitter along the way.
For the first time in almost 30 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers are in the World Series, hosting at Dodger Stadium, third-oldest in the majors. A few miles south of the home-to-first baseline is downtown Los Angeles; over the outfield are Elysian Park’s rolling hills and palm trees with mountains further in the background; an aerial view shows multiple highways surrounding the stadium. It’s easy to see why someone would have wanted to build a baseball stadium there, at a place whose name the television and radio broadcasters use interchangeably with that of the stadium itself: Chavez Ravine.
Stacey Kozel is a boundary-shattering athlete, a hero to many who has hiked some of the most famous and arduous trails in the United States. She’s completed the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail as well as the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, and she’s done it all as a functioning paraplegic with lupus. A flareup of her disease in 2014 left Kozel without the use of her legs, but she strapped them into specially made braces that allow her to traverse the trails and go for long distances. She is an inspiring figure, and recently rose back to national prominence after ABC News covered her recent completion of the PCT; her story was picked up by news outlets around the world, and she said that she was planning on writing a book about her experience.
Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez may be the world’s most popular boxer, and yet he has a problem: He lacks credibility among the sport’s largest fan bases, Mexicans and, increasingly, Mexican-Americans. Questions about Álvarez’s boxing skill extend beyond these two groups, but since he is Mexican, attempting to understand why he lacks credibility must start here, among his fellow countrymen and those with whom he shares a heritage.
To most of the sports world, Steve Robertson’s role in the greatest spectacle in college football this year has been a small one. Robertson, a recruiting writer for the Mississippi State fan site Gene’s Page on Scout.com, is the guy who found The Call, a one-minute entry in the record of Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze’s university-provided cell phone to a number once owned by a Tampa-area escort. The Call is what led Freeze to resign on July 20. But The Call is the end, not the beginning, of Robertson’s relationship with the spectacle.
ESPN’s SportsCenter has changed immensely over the last 18 years—sets, anchors, topics—but there has been one constant. It is hard to imagine an episode of SportsCenter without that deep, gravelly voice. “Coming up next...on SportsCenter.” You’re probably doing an impression in your head right now.
American Mormons have a longstanding and well-documented relationship with basketball. Aside from a few outliers like Steve Young and Bryce Harper, our most famous athletes are all basketball players—Jabari Parker, Jimmer Fredette, Shawn Bradley, Danny Ainge, and those two missionaries who went viral for balling out in full shirt and tie. Basketball is one of the few sports missionaries are allowed to play, though the handbook says they should only play half-court—a rule that, in my experience, is less stringently obeyed than the others.
If you’ve been on the internet this month, you’ve definitely been exposed to the most successful ad in the history of Twitter. Millions of people and countless media outlets have propagated the heartwarming story of a giant corporation buying a priceless amount of advertising for close to free. If you, like me, are one of the apparently few people who thinks it’s gross to willingly help a multibillion-dollar company expand its brand reach without them even paying you to do it, then I have some good news: You actually don’t have to do that.
Among the many aspects of Roger Federer that defy comprehension, most of them having to do with the possibilities of the human body, one puzzle has been stuck in my head lately. That is: his plain likability in spite of what looks, on paper, like so much countervailing evidence.
It’s a little sad that the latest high-profile edition of that classic, beloved hip-hop tradition—the rap beef—is yet more evidence of just how far the culture has fallen. Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma, two inarguably talented and entertaining rappers, have been going after each other on record for weeks, and regardless of how you score the bout, the clearest message to take away from it all is that hip-hop is dead.
The inaugural season of the National Women’s Hockey League was touted by the press as a rousing success. It provided an outlet for North America’s talented female hockey players to continue on with the game post-grad and in between Olympic years, and the salaries, although low, made professional athletes of the women who participated. Buoyed by flattering coverage, paid attendance hovered around 1,000 people per game, according to the league—respectable crowds for the small rinks where the four teams play.
When I was in high school, I let my guy friends shoot crumpled paper balls into my cleavage at lunch. I thought this made me cooler than the other girls, and that my ability to assimilate and remain sexualized was special. Besides, it was just a silly thing they did. It would be years before that memory soured, and I realized how dangerous it was that this had become my basis for what acceptance looked like.
Just before the 2016 MLB playoffs, Baseball Prospectus emailed its staff and contributors to tell them that they would not be paid for work they did in August and September until January 2017. The costs of a website redesign and the collapse of daily-fantasy ad spending, the email explained, led to the payment freeze.
I’ve never seen Conor McGregor fight. I don’t watch or care about MMA. That’s not a statement about, or condemnation of, McGregor or MMA; it speaks only to my own preferences and biases.
Terry Funk, along with being a legendary professional wrestler, deserves recognition as a sort of godfather of the Boxer vs. Other fight, a matchup of differing combat disciplines of the type that will captivate the world for however long Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Conor McGregor lasts.
Vasyl Lomachenko is a gizmo. “Hi-Tech” is a fitting sobriquet for the fighter whose ring style is a dizzying arsenal of bells, whistles, buzzers, beepers, and blinking lights.
In 2009, L.A. Weekly wrote a story about jerkin’—a dance craze sweeping across the Los Angeles basin—that highlighted the work of then little-known rapper YG. “He was so fresh out of prison, he still had ‘FREE YG!’ on his MySpace page,” the story’s author Jeff Weiss told me. It was one of the first interviews YG ever gave, and it’s what got him signed to Def Jam, which sent him on the path to national superstardom and helped cement his status as a local folk hero. Weiss said, “[YG]’s A&R told me ‘I plopped down the story and I told my boss, “This is what I’ve been talking about, this is why we need to sign this guy,’” and they said they signed him off that.”