• print • June/July/Aug 2022

    A Bloop and a Blast

    SEVERAL YEARS AGO, while visiting my parents’ house, I found an artifact of my tortured early years of baseball fandom. It was a journal I was assigned to keep at the beginning of first grade, a stretch of time in the autumn of 1993 that coincided with a thrillingly unexpected Philadelphia Phillies postseason run. “I like the Phillies,” I wrote on October 8—a rather bold statement, given that the Greg Maddux–led Atlanta Braves had clobbered them 14–3 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series the night before. I added several small crayon illustrations, as if placing my modest offerings

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Meet the Mets

    Baseball: “Inning Eight: A Whole New Ballgame” (PBS; 1994)

    The Mets don’t make an appearance in Ken Burns’s epic documentary Baseball until the eighth part, but they storm the scene like only they can, charting a wild ride in the 1960s from the cellar to the penthouse. Burns gives ample time to the ill-fated and slapstick-y Casey Stengel era, but the climax of the story is of course the arrival of ace Tom Seaver and the team’s world-shaking 1969 championship run. 

    Doc & Darryl (ESPN; 2016)

    For this entry in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio staged a reunion between

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Court and Sparks

    LORD LET ME 

    Why I am so inclined to tell you the finest bit of high school ball playing I have ever seen I’m not exactly sure, though I am, and given as I have seen in my days a lot of ball (funny, that sounded like an old man talking, which I am not, and I have enough old friends and relatives who have earned the designation so let me not diminish their designation by claiming it), you might listen up. And you know, at the same time, grain of salt. 

    He was nearly uncoachable—a hothead, bristly, pouty, so sensitive that my partner Stephanie reminds me I spent hours on the phone with Loco (

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Fit Pics

    I HAVE REACHED a shocking conclusion after paging through the exhibition catalogue Sporting Fashion: Outdoor Girls 1800 to 1960 (American Federation of Arts/DelMonico Books, $60)

    Athleisure . . . is . . . progress

    The ubiquitous yoga pants that people still write into etiquette columns to complain about, the Allbirds sneakers that pad through the corridors of Silicon Valley startups, even the crop tops celebrities don to drink green juice après Pilates—perhaps these are the garments that most unequivocally define modern fashion. Not inventive dresses or breathtaking gowns, but the kind

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    One Syllable at a Time

    ONE DAY IN MARCH 1948, a twenty-five-year-old clerk in the French colonial administration in Ivory Coast experienced a transformative vision. He reported that the sky opened and “seven colored suns described a circle of beauty around their ‘Mother-Sun’” and that he was then called upon to be “the Revealer.” This divine command would set Frédéric Bruly Bouabré on an investigative path deep into the folklore, language, and religion of his people, the Bété, an undertaking that produced voluminous texts and thousands of drawings, all aimed at elucidating his cultural heritage as the foundation of

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Death Becomes Him

    IN THE UNRULY ANNALS of twentieth-century American art, Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009) carved a quiet place for himself as a chronicler of clapboard fronts and windswept fields in the shadeless stretches of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and, later, Maine. The artist imbued his portraits and landscapes with a kind of sacred plainness, his drybrush paintings capturing the specific dust-in-the-water melancholia of Middle America.  

    For a painter so steeped in realism, Wyeth cultivated quite a mystique about himself. An aura of death permeated his paintings, rendering them at once fragile and leaden.

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Different Strokes

    I WAS EIGHT THAT YEAR. The Indian cricket team won an unlikely victory against the West Indies during their Caribbean tour in 1971. I discovered this from the color photographs in the Illustrated Weekly of India—a young Sunil Gavaskar, his sleeves rolled up, holding his bat aloft after stylishly driving through the covers. The red cricket ball shone like a cherry on the lush green outfield. The whites worn by the cricketers, the wooden bats with their straight lines and subtle curves, the dark borders on Gavaskar’s sweater. I cut out those pictures and made my first scrapbook. Which is all to

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    More Than a Game

    RENÉE RICHARDS, eighty-seven, has admitted she has some regrets. Among them is that she never pitched for the New York Yankees, a job MLB scouts once seemed to think she had a real shot at.

    Her contributions to the sports landscape, though, ended up being far greater than a few years in pinstripes. Had she played for the Yankees, she might never have had a sex change (her preferred term). Had she never had a sex change, she never would’ve had to fight tennis officials for a spot in the women’s draw of the 1977 US Open.

    In Richards’s two autobiographies, Second Serve and No Way Renée, published

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    When the Shirt Hit the Fans

    THE BALL SLINGS INTO THE NET, and by the time the camera pans back to Brandi Chastain, she has whipped off her shirt and is twirling it in the air above her head. Then she drops to her knees. For about six seconds, she is alone with her accomplishment. That’s the time it takes for her teammates to run to her from the center line, engulfing her in a raucous, cheering group hug. Chastain had won the 1999 Women’s World Cup—only the third ever such tournament—for the United States, on a penalty kick. 

    In the video of Chastain from this moment, her joy has an almost blinding force. Satisfaction,

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Knight Vision

    RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE has been a boon for American oil and gas companies, Russian bond traders at Goldman Sachs, and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. The former world champion and staunch critic of Putin has become a regular guest on prime-time cable news slots. He’s penned op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune. His 2015 book, Winter Is Coming, which predicted that Putin would invade Ukraine beyond its eastern regions, has rocketed to the top of Amazon’s charts and journalists’ recommended-reading lists. Kasparov is quoted by the press as though he were an oracle.

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Alas, King Richard

    RICHARD WILLIAMS DEMANDS GLORY. The pursuit of glory is revised madness, the ambition of addicts, to get so high they collapse, and are forced to repeat the ascent as if for the first time. It’s preemptive repentance disguised as innocent yearning to win. You have to need vindication to need victory so desperately. Richard Williams is looking for redemption. In a scene from a 1990s video of Richard, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, we see him genuflecting on a tennis court in Compton, California, in front of a shopping cart full of tennis balls—the ground swells with them.

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Applauded at Every Point

    A TENNIS MATCH HAS AT LEAST FORTY-EIGHT BEGINNINGS and endings; you need to win a minimum of forty-eight points to win a match. An orchestra traditionally receives a single round of applause at the conclusion of a performance. A professional tennis player at a large tournament is applauded after every point.

    It makes sense, then, that Geoff Dyer would write a book about tennis that doubles as a book about endings. The Last Days of Roger Federer begins by mourning what seems to be the imminent ending of the career of Federer, the most sublime tennis player of all time. This meditation leads to

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