I don’t like your friends.
That’s not true. I like most of them, individually. I just don’t like them as a group. There are few things in life that I enjoy less than being forced to intersect a circle of friends that I’m not part of.
Invariably, one of two things happens. Either I end up clinging to the one person I do know, all the while worrying that I’m ruining their good time by preventing them from a proper mingle, or I take part in an endless series of idiotic get to know you conversations with people I really have very little interest in actually getting to know.
Earlier this week, I ended up sitting across from a radiologist who was a friend of a friend. In an effort to break the deafening silence that came with us staring at each other and grasping for things to say, I asked about his job. Now, let’s be clear. I do not care about this guy’s job. I’m just trying to break the cycle of awkward. Because I’m a gifted conversationalist, I teed him up with this one: “Radiology, huh? I bet you have a ton of stories about finding weird stuff inside people.”
That should have been perfect. By asking about his work, I make it seem like I’m interested. And by asking a slightly offbeat question, I loosen up the mood so things get a little less awkward.
Here’s how he answered:
That’s it. Nothing. No story about finding a stapler in someone’s colon or a fancy pen that had been lodged in some patients’ skull for twenty years. Nope. I got a one word response.
What could be worse? I’ll tell you.
A few days later, I was with a different friend and a different circle of people I didn’t know. It was a daylong festival of inside jokes I wasn’t part of, discussions of topics I don’t care about and, worst of all, the spouting of facts I knew were wrong but didn’t correct because I didn’t want to seem like a dick to this group of strangers. “Yes, Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side is probably just a five minute cab ride from the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. Especially during the tail end of rush hour. That sounds exactly right.”
So, don’t invite me out with your friends. Instead, let’s pick a day and hang out, just the two of us. Or even better, why don’t you come out with me and my friends? They’re great guys. You’ll love them.
I enjoyed Kelli Anderson’s piece on NBA vets working with college players this offseason. I have to say, I’ve been very impressed with the way the vast majority of NBA guys have operated during this lockout. Gone are the stories about guys complaining about making car payments on multiple Maybachs. In there place are stories about guys getting their degrees or organizing charity games. I don’t know if the players are winning the PR battle during the work stoppage. (I’m pretty sure there are no winners in that fight,) but at least they aren’t doing anything to actively lose it.
Pay For Play by George Dohrmann
George Dohrmann is back with another well researched and well reasoned piece about an issue that’s at the forefront of the country’s sports dialogue. And, as has been in the case with his past articles, I got about half way through it before losing interest.
All For One, One For All by Tim Layden
Aaron Rodgers seems like a good dude, but I wish we had spent a bit more time with his seemingly endless collection of wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. Let’s meet the entire Packer offense instead of focusing on the QB, who has been profiled in this magazine before.
Bang! Pow! Pop! Wham! Touchdown! An Explosion of Offense Across The League by Peter King
Here’s a quote from Sean Payton that appears in this article:
Andy at TCU was in the shotgun, seeing single safety, man and zone, he’s seeing two-deep, zone pressure, quarters coverage. There was a time when that quarterback saw Sky and Cloud coverage and then came into the NFL and all of sudden was like, What’s this Thief and Robber?
WHAT????? I don’t know what any of that means.
Go Crazy, Baseball, Go Crazy by Tom Verducci
You can argue that Sports Illustrated made an odd and borderline blasphemous decision by burying the World Series champions article in the middle of this issue. But, by the time I read it, the series had been over for a week and it was mostly out of my mind. So, maybe it was the right choice. This is not a judgement on the content of the article, which was wonderfully written by Tom Verducci. Instead, its a comment on timeliness.
The Evolution of Manny Pacquaio by Chris Mannix
This week’s Sports Illustrated is really dense. It incudes two or three more articles than most issues. Something had to give. This article was that something. I don’t like boxing. I did not read this article.
What Will Les Miles Do Next? by Austin Murphy
I read this article a few hours ago. I barely remember it. I guess I’m supposed to come away thinking Les Miles is eccentric. I didn’t.
Hard Times In The Endangered Zone by Austin Murphy
Austin Murphy gets two articles in a row! This one, which focuses on the changing role of NHL enforcers, is very good. It’s thorough and engaging and, despite it’s length, keeps the readers attention throughout. Kudos to SI for allowing one of it’s writers, who usually focuses on other sports, to tackle a hockey piece. The outsider perspective is a welcome one.
The Forgotten Hero by Tim Layden
A quick story: Years ago, I read the critically acclaimed book “A Confederacy of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole. But before reading the book, I read the story of how it ended up getting published. Toole was a failed writer, who committed suicide because he couldn’t get anything published. Following his death, Toole’s mother found the manuscript of “Confederacy,” and brought it to a literature professor, who, after initially blowing her off, sat down and read the story. He then championed the cause and got the book published, 11 years after it’s author died. Toole even won a Pulitzer posthumously. To me, the story of how the book got published is far more interesting than the actual book. That’s exactly how I felt while reading Tim Layden’s article. Guys like Mike Reilly, as great as he was, are really a dime a dozen. What makes this story great is the quest to figure out, decades later, why his jersey number had been taken out of circulation. I would have enjoyed more detective story and less profile.
The New Training Table by Alexander Wolff
Tomatoes make Steve Nash sad? What? Who cares?
Point After by Phil Taylor
This is only a page long, yet I couldn’t even get through it. It’s that fucking stupid. Don’t waste your time.