Let’s harken back to the olden days, all the way back to a time when an ice cream sundae represented a fun treat to me, and not, as it does now, a moment of temporary joy followed quickly by searing gastrointestinal pain and bargain with god to make it stop projectile diarrhea. Back in those days, I had a strategy for attacking a sundae. The cherry, obviously, was the best part.Â Some people can’t wait and eat in the first bite. I took a different tact. The first thing I did was stir up the ice cream and hot fudge and sprinkles so the cherry was no longer on top. It was buried in the bottom. That way, I knew I had something to look forward too.
That’s how I felt when my issue of Sports Illustrated arrived this week. The cover article is about my four favorite players on my favorite team in my favorite sport.Â Do I dive right in and forget my usual SI routine to read the interview? Or do I save it for last?
I chose C. Go eat some ice cream, wait for the tummy to start to rumble, then read the article in the bathroom.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sports writers should not attempt comedy. It doesn’t work. Two glaring examples come during this week’s preamble. First up, we have Peter King’s column about how great the NFL is (that’s a shocking perspective for him to take. KSK takes him down weekly.) His column, while not particularly interesting, is not what bothered me. It’s the horribly unfunny “2015: April Football Fools” graphic. As I said last week, writing as if you are in the future is neither creative nor a good idea.Â Here’s another thing that’s never a good idea. Taking momentary pop culture phenomena and mixing their names with football themes. Take, for instance, “Ty and Chad Pennington Build Your Own Room.”Â Yes, those two people have the same last name. That is a coincidence, not an opening for hilarious comedy. In fact, it is the opposite of that. Also, STOP MAKING JERSEY SHORE REFERENCES. That show is for 20 year olds. If you are 45 and cover the NFL for a living, mentioning Snooki doesn’t make you cool. It makes you pathetic. New rule of thumb: If Jay Leno thinks it’s funny, it’s not funny.
Dan Patrick falls into another trap. It’s called trying to hard. Here is his attempt at a hilarious one liner for the week, titled “The Fine Print:”
Ex-MLB Manager Kevin Kennedy subdued a deranged airline passenger. And a grateful TSA overlooked that he boarded with more than four ounces of mustache wax.
Four Days in the Wild West by Lee Jenkins, Phil Taylor, Chris Mannix, and Ian Thomsen
This was a fascinating way to cover the four NBA playoff series and it was carried out to perfection. My favorite mini-article is the first one, “On the Fast Track,” Lee Jenkins piece on the Suns/Blazers series. It seems that Mr. Jenkins forgot to apply for his press pass for the series and had to come up with an alternative angle. So, he cozied up with NBA maverick turned Women’s College coach Paul Westhead, and watched with him. It was a really interesting way to cover the series, and summed up the entire series without a single quote from a player or coach on either team.
So Far, So Good by Tom Verducci
Let’s go back to the cover photo one more time.
What the fuck is going on there? Why are they touching each other’s knees? Why are they all grinning like that?
That’s pretty much my only complaint. It’s interesting that these four had never gone out alone together before Verducci sat them down for the interview.Â He didn’t really get much out of the “core four,” but that’s to be expected. These guys have always guarded their privacy pretty fiercely. And kudos to Sports Illustrated for printing it as a transcript of the interview, instead of trying to turn it into a fully fleshed out article. That would have only taken away from the story.
Wishing Upon A Star by Ben Reiter
It’s the weekly soccer article. The World Cup is about a month away (keep an eye on SportsCracklePop for an interview on that subject in the coming days.)Â We’ll have to endure these weekly profiles of semi-famous American soccer players until then. If I had to guess, I would say it will eventually wrap up with a piece on Charlie Davies, the player who almost died in a car crash recently. It will be written by Gary Smith.
The Colossal Conference Grind-up by Austin Murphy
The Big Ten may expand. The Big 12 may shrink. The Pac 10 may expand. The Big East may die.Â This article made my head hurt a bit. Lots of permutations and possible outcomes, which I don’t care about. I, of course, do not care for college football, so I am not the target audience for this piece. One strange thing, though. It seems the Big Ten’s main motivation for adding a team like Rutgers, Notre Dame or Syracuse would be to get the Big Ten Network on cable in the New York Metropolitan area. Well, at the moment I am sitting in my apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan watching the Big Ten Network on Time Warner Cable. (They’re showing the University of Michigan’s graduation ceremony.. and there’s a play by play guy and a color analyst. Weird.) Perhaps if the Big Ten finds out they’re already on in the New York Metropolitan area, perhaps they won’t kill the Big East.
Gareth Thomas…the only openly gay male athlete by Gary Smith
Listen to this song while reading this part of the review:
Join me for a second on my soapbox. Homophobia is the last socially acceptable prejudice out there. There’s no reason for it. Legalize Gay marriage, get rid of don’t ask don’t tell, and, for god sake’s, let’s have a gay athlete come out of the closet. Will this article help? Maybe it will. And for the same reason that it had to be a Welsh Rugby player to break through the barrier, it’s going to have to be someone in the NFL here. Just do it already.
Horse racing. Pass
POINT AFTER by Selena Roberts
I’m rooting for Myron Rolle. I hope you’re rooting for Myron Rolle. This column seems to flow well from the Gareth Thomas article. Both are about potentially transformative players forcing sports to change the way they look at things. Nice work on this one.