It happened by accident. I worked mornings last week and, as a sign of civil disobedience against a system that makes me show up to the office at 4am for three consecutive days, I chose not to shave. Now, I’ve decided to stick with it.
This isn’t a ZZ Top beard or a goatee or some sort of chin strap deal. It’s a close cropped full beard. In fact, I look a lot like hero astronaut Mark Kelly, without the hero part.
The thing with beards is that people either love them or hate them. So far, I’ve gotten compliments on this one. But, I’m not about to consider it unanimous.
Let me take you back to the halcyon days of autumn 2004. An upstart named John Kerry was trying to win the White House. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made history as the first all-female hosting team on SNL’s weekend update, and a young Justin grew his first significant facial hair during a trip to Montana.
Upon my return to civilization, a lot of people said they liked it. Beltway Buddy even had some fun at a bar, telling a girl that I was an Alaskan crab fisherman just back from my latest journey. That worked until she started asking me specific questions about Alaska. “Uhhh.. Juneau?” does not work as a univeral answer.
I kept the beard for a few months, but when the weather started getting warm, I decided enough was enough. One day, I shaved it off. Then I went into the office and one of my co-workers stopped me. “You shaved your beard! Thank god. It looked terrible.”
That’s not constructive criticism. Why didn’t you tell me that during the 6 months that I had the beard?
And so, America, I ask you to do me this favor. If I look like shit, please tell me.
I think the Penn State story sucked all the sports oxygen out of the national news media room. That meant that two rather major stories received less coverage than they deserved. The Wilson Ramos kidnapping is one of them. It could be a tipping point, though, at this point, there’s no way to know which way things will tip. Will this be the first in a growing number of kidnappings of professional athletes in Venezuela? Or will the quick and violent response by police mean its the last?
This Is Penn State by L. Jon Wertheim and David Epstein
Thorough. Well Researched. Well Written. Completely and Utterly USELESS. There was absolutely nothing in this article that hasn’t already been reported in a hundred different places. The Penn State scandal is exactly the type of story that a weekly magazine like Sports Illustrated is no longer equipped to cover. News Magazines like Time and Newsweek have adjusted over the years, covering big stories by analyzing what they mean and trying to determine what comes next. That would have been the best way for SI to handle this. At this point, no one needs a summary of what’s already occurred. Even the sidebars, both penned by great writers, left something to be desired. Tom Verducci wrote from the perspective of a Penn State Alum, but following two weeks of responsible and emotional reporting by PSU graduates, like Kim Jones on WFAN and the YES network, Verducci’s take doesn’t feel neccesary. Jack MacCallum’s piece on Joe Paternos legacy felt squeezed. Perhaps that should have been the angle that got the most attention.
The Thrill Is Back by Jim Trotter
It was an interesting decision, midway through this article, to abandon the usual narrative structure in favor of bullet point descriptions of 49er players who are getting a second shot this year. Of course the list of “surprise” San Francisco contributors is made up entirely of former top 10 draft picks, but who am I to split hairs?
Goodbye to the Slapshot by Michael Farber
This was a fun article. The lack of slappers isn’t really something you think about while watching hockey, until you see one and realize how rare it is. I went to the Rangers/Islanders game Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum. Aside from the fact that the arena is a complete shit hole (they have a tattoo parlor ON THE CONCOURSE,) the thing that jumped out at me most was Brad Richards game winner late in the 3rd. It was a rocket. And it was perhaps the only truly hard shot that was taken all night.
Joe Frazier 1944-2011 by Richard Hoffer
Earlier, I said the Penn State story had overshadowed two other sports stories that should have been front page news. The first is the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos. The other is the death of Joe Frazier. Boxing has always inspired the most lyrical writing of all sports. Richard Hoffer’s tribute to “Smokin” Joe continues that tradition.
The verdict of history is decisive, and it is permanent, and men like Frazier, who stumble at the precipice, are forever remaindered on the heap of losers, their vinegary claims to justice lost in the courts of public opinion.
How I Spent My Lockout by Alexander Wolff
JJ Barea’s an imported backup point guard on a championship team with a famously hot wife. Is he that much different than Sasha Vujacic? Not really. So, why does he get profiled?
Lexi Thompson Has A Lot On Her Mind by Alan Shipnuck
It’s like Shipnuck knew what everyone would be thinking while they read this. Lexi Thompson and her family have an answer for every potential criticism, whether it be about pushing their daughter to hard, pulling her out of school or having her skip college. Still, I walk away feeling uneasy about this girl’s future. Also, the Prom thing seems contrived.
Point After by Phil Taylor
A strong effort by Phil Taylor. Yes, Michael Jordan has been a dick during the NBA lockout, but Taylor makes the great point that no one should be surprised by that.