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Thread: From The Sports Desk

  1. #1
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    From The Sports Desk

    Hello Sports Fans!
    Here’s a thread to post about your favorite sports writing

    How about some intro music:

    You gotta be a football hero
    To get along with the beautiful girls
    You gotta be a touchdown getter - you bet
    If you wanna get
    A baby to pet

    The fact that you are rich or handsome
    Won’t get you anything in curls
    You gotta be a football hero
    To get along with the beautiful girls
    >>HORN SECTION<<

    https://youtu.be/TSVBhRVVd_A (Jazzy version)

    Anyway, bounty and I were over on the Nature-Writing thread when the conversation morphed into a chat about baseball and all of our favorite books on that subject. So I got to thinking, what a great idea for a thread, not just baseball but sports writing in general. And not just the obvious stuff from sports desks around the world, but sports writing that is embedded in a larger work. For instance, football and ping pong is nicely handled in Winston Groom’s novel Forrest Gump.

    I’ll start. Has anybody read The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved, from the Sports Desk of Hunter S. Thompson?
    Uhhhh...

  2. #2
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    hopefully Sancho there will be more than just you and me here!

    your song hearkened me right back to a quote I shared in the "quote of the day" thread:

    "The delightful attention of women, almost the sole aim of man's exertions..." -- pushkin

    I haven't read the Thompson book in question but I have a fair amount of horse racing reading under my belt. I used to teach a class in which we'd spend 1-2 days on it. my most prominent memories were I would share video from secretariat's triple crown victory in 1973 that came from a documentary espn put together chronicling the 50 greatest athletes of the century. I think he was 36th. the race scenes are incredible, and the music is deeply emotional. then I would read to them the compelling account of his death from his most addicted biographer, William nack (his book as a whole was only okay, but the writing at the end was very powerful).

    I also read some material from laura Hillenbrand's history of seabiscuit and we listened to the radio account of the match race between him and war admiral. some of her writings worth sharing here. from the preface:

    "in 1938, near the end of a decade of monumental turmoil, the year's number-one newsmaker was not franklin Roosevelt, hitler or Mussolini. it wasn't pope pius XI, nor was it lou Gehrig, howard hughe or clark gable. the subject of the most newspaper column inches in 1938 wasn't even a person. it was an undersized, crooked-legged racehorse named seasbiscuit."

    she goes on to provide fascinating accounts of his popularity, including "tuning into radio broadcasts of his races was a weekend ritual across the country, drawing as many as 40 million listeners."

    p85: "A thoroughbred racehorse is one of god's most impressive engines. tipping the scales at up to 1450 pounds, he can sustain speeds of forty miles per hour. equipped with reflexes much faster than those of the most quick-wired man, he swoops over as much as twenty-eight feet of earth in a single stride, and corners on a dime. his body is a paradox of mass and lightness. his mind is impressed with a single command: run. he pursues speed with superlative courage, pushing beyond defeat, beyond exhaustion, sometimes beyond the structural limits of hone and sinew. in flight, he is nature's ultimate wedding of form and purpose.

    p97: "Man is preoccupied with freedom yet laden with handicaps. the breadth of his activity and experience is narrowed by the limitations of his relatively weak, sluggish body. the racehorse, by virtue of his awesome physical gifts, freed the jockey from himself. when a horse and a jockey flew over the track together, there were moments in which the man's mind wedded itself to the animal's body to form something greater than the sum of both of their parts. the horse partook of the jockey's cunning; the jockey partook of the horse's supreme power. for the jockey, the saddle was a place of unparalleled exhilaration, of transcendence. 'the horse,' recalled one rider, 'he takes you.'"
    Last edited by bounty; 12-29-2022 at 03:38 PM.

  3. #3
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I have to contribute to this thread with a sad Information: Pelé, the greatest footbal player of all times died today at 82, from cancer.
    https://www.dw.com/en/brazilian-foot...-82/a-64223887
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

  4. #4
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    ah, am sorry to hear that danik.

    i have a book about south American "football" (have you seen the commercial with peyton manning and oh who the heck is that famous british player who's really handsome, david….where they fight over whether its called "football" or "soccer?" beckham, that's it!) from Eduardo galeano called soccer in sun and shadow. its one of the most romantic books written about sports ive ever read. i cant remember if there is anything "pele" in it but if i can hunt the book up, i'll check.

    there was a tv show from back when i was a kid called abc's "wide world of sports" and in the opening scene montage, pele figured prominently.
    Last edited by bounty; 12-29-2022 at 04:21 PM.

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    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    So sorry for his loss to the world. Even I have heard of Pelé's greatness, probably through abc's "wide world of sports" way back in the day. My Echo/Alexa went out of the way to announce the news via NPR as a notification which must be something in itself. Great football player and world ambassador. Rest in peace.

    - tailor
    tailor

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami

    7-8-2015

  6. #6
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks, bounty and tailor. I am no fan of football myself, but Pelé is one of our Brazilian legends that is leaving us, before 2022 is over.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Think I’ll echo that sentiment. I don’t know much about soccer/football, but I do know Pelé played the game with beauty and heart. RIP.
    Uhhhh...

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks, Sancho!
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    from my galeano who has one little section devoted just to pele, p132-133:

    " a hundred songs name him. at seventeen he was champion of the world and king of soccer. before he was twenty the government of brazil named him a "national treasure" that could not be exported. he won three world championships with the Brazilian team and two with the club santos. after his thousandth goal, he kept on counting. he played more than thirteen hundred matches in eighty countries, one game after another at a punishing rate, and he scored nearly thirteen hundred goals. once he held up a war: Nigeria and Biafra declared a truce to see him play.

    "to see him play was worth a truce and a lot more. when pele ran hard he cut through his opponents like a hot knife through butter. when he stopped, his opponents got lost in the labyrinth his legs embroidered. when he jumped, he climbed into the air as if there were a staircase. when he executed a free kick, his opponents in the wall wanted to turn around to face the net, so as to not miss the goal.

    "he was born in a poor home in a far-off village, and he reached the summit of power and fortune where blacks were not allowed. off the field he never gave a minute of his time and a coin never fell from his pocket. but those of us who were lucky enough to see him play received alms of an extraordinary beauty: moments so worthy of immortality that they make us believe immortality exists."
    Last edited by bounty; 12-30-2022 at 03:01 PM.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    That's a beautiful homage, bounty. Tomorrow when I'm on PC I'll add some images.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    I am just a page or three away from finishing the ted Williams biography I have been reading. a very solid book worth reading if you are interested in the subject. the author is leigh Montville.

    I felt like one little section was worth quoting for others to see. in 1999 major league baseball unveiled an all-century team at the world series. ted Williams was the oldest (he was 80) of the surviving players selected and presented at the park. the author described the occasion:

    "he could be caught one last time in this late curtain call for a generation. world war II veterans were supposedly dying at a rate of 1,056 per day now, a layer of history being peeled off the top, but there was still time for one more wave, a good-bye, a wet-eyed standing ovation. he was wrapped in the flag, wrapped in all the sweet childhood memories of baseball, in the promise of youth, the sadness of old age, wrapped in noise and emotion. he was elevated to some level of secular American sainthood." (p416)

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    finished the book last night. it closed with an addendum from the author. early on in that chapter he talked about how he used to send letters to professional baseball players when he was a kid in hopes of hearing back from them and collecting their autographs. he got a postcard back from ted Williams, but then later was told that usually the return writing was done by a clubhouse manager. he hoped against hope that the signature on the postcard though was actually ted williams'.

    the writing ended on a romantic, nostalgic note:

    "the book is certainly a much darker cat. lewis Watkins, the first director of the ted Williams museum, said one day, 'when you do a book like yours, youre reaching down to the bottom of the ice chest, where you touch all the dirt and strange things.' this is true, my fingers are still a little numb.

    "and yet...

    "my wife framed that little penny-postcard, maybe-autographed picture of ted Williams at the beginning of all this. it has sat on my desk for all of the phone calls, for all of the typing, ted looking at me as I punched out the bad words that he sometimes spoke and the troubles that he sometimes had. his face never has changed. he is in the finish of a swing, his eyes looking upward at the certain home run that he has just hit. he is still young and perfect and indominable, able to do anything he wants to do.

    "and I am still ten years old." (p493)
    Last edited by bounty; 01-07-2023 at 03:18 PM.

  13. #13
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Nice.

    Hand-eye coordination wise, I think Ted Williams was a freak of nature, or at least way out to the right side of the bell curve, several standard deviations from the norm. I just bought a book (haven’t started it yet) about guys a little closer to the mean: Where Nobody Knows Your Name, by John Feinstein. It’s all about life in the Minor Leagues. I’m looking forward to reading it. In fact I’m looking forward to baseball season. The preseason is only a couple of months away.

    I gotta tell ya, in a lot of ways I enjoy Minor League Baseball more Major League Baseball. For one thing it only costs a couple of bucks to get into the park. Then there’s the crowds, which tend to be more raucous. The players, of course, biff more often, which is fun. And nobody’s got a multi-million dollar contract. Anyway the Mariner’s Triple A team (The Rainiers) plays not too far from my house. Twenty or so years ago I had a part time job in Alexandria, LA and loved going to watch the Alexandria Aces play. They were Double A I think. I’m not even sure who’s system they were in, The Rangers probably. Anyway we were just happy to get through the game without the bleachers crashing down into a heap.

    D’ya ever see the Netflix documentary The Battered Bastards Of Baseball? It’s all about about the Portland Mavericks, an independent Single A team who only had a couple seasons back in the 70s.
    Last edited by Sancho; 01-07-2023 at 12:20 PM.
    Uhhhh...

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    some of my college classmates and I once got into a friendly discussion over who was the greatest athlete. then we quickly figured out we needed to define our terms. it was pretty tough, if not impossible to do. one of our profs argued that the hand eye coordination that top level hitters in baseball display is unparalleled in sport and that therefore the greatest athlete probably came from baseball. I don't buy the logic but its still a fun thing to think about.

    my area is host to a summer college league team. I haven't been to a game yet, but I see them going on in passing and they are a pretty popular draw. no raucous fans though. often when I watch M*A*S*H I think of the Toledo mud hens and klinger's vehement love and defense of them. I went to a couple of little league games this year and those were enjoyable. I haven't seen that documentary but I can well imagine it being worthwhile. let me re-recommend to you little league confidential by bill geist. its both hysterical and precious.

    I have some other of Feinstein's books, but not that one. i'll keep my eyes peeled if im able to hit that big sale in buffalo.

    meanwhile, having just finished ted Williams, I mentioned I would start the natural next and I just now fetched it from the garage.

  15. #15
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    some interesting notes about the natural.

    its much older than I thought, 1952. I was thinking late 60s at the oldest but more likely early 70s. I wonder how the decision to make it into a movie came about.

    I recently watched the hitman's bodyguard. despite the movie seemingly being about something else, there was a constant thread of romantic love that ran through both of the main characters.

    ostensibly the natural is a baseball book---but early on the main character, roy hobbs is smitten by harriet, a fellow passenger on the train and you know it just portends something meaningful that's going to last the whole book.

    and more to the point of "because there was a girl"---it was interesting to note how that has motivated and influenced the behavior of roy and whammer.

    it was funny how roy was cleaning out the prizes the ball throw game at the carnival such that the proprietor had to offer up kisses from his daughter as an alternative. and how after he struck whammer out in their impromptu face-off, she unnecessarily flung herself on him to deliver them.

    also---harriet seems to have switched gears from whammer to roy after the latter struck the former out.

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