• 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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 (

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Get Smart

    LET ME TELL YOU about the left hand of Marcus Smart, how it rose above the heads of three defenders to bank in a basket with 1:10 to play in the fourth quarter of the second game of the first round of the playoffs. We are in Boston, Massachusetts, and it is Wednesday, April 20; we are in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association. Marcus Smart, recently named Defensive Player of the Year, the first time he’s won this award, the first time a guard—a little guy—has won this award since Gary Payton (aka “the Glove”) won it in 1996, and the Boston Celtics are up 110–100 on the

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Season of the Pitch

    “THE MINDSET WAS PREDISPOSED TO BE NEGATIVE,” the writer Pete Davies said not long ago. We were discussing English attitudes in the run-up to the 1990 World Cup—Italia ’90—the subject of his elating travelogue, All Played Out, often described as the greatest book about soccer. The national game had been in a bad way—the playing style primitive, the supporters feral. An article by Brian Glanville, a prominent reporter, carried the headline “England Abroad: Shame and Mediocrity.” The general prognosis was that the team would be, in Davies’s word, “shit,” that “we’d be an embarrassment” both on

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    The Ice Storm

    LAST FEBRUARY, with the NHL’s 2020–21 pandemic-shortened season just a month old, The Atlantic published an impertinent provocation: “Hockey Has a Gigantic-Goalie Problem.” The title was literal. Ken Dryden’s piece traced the sport’s arms race, as the refinement of the slap shot and the switch from wooden sticks to lighter composites turned pucks into lethal missiles. This required additional padding for the netkeeper, while the dimensions of his domain remained the same. Amid a worldwide health crisis, Dryden’s jeremiad made it sound like oversize equipment jeopardized the spirit of the game,

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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

    Read more
  • 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,

    Read more
  • 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.

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    The Guy Who Stayed Out in the Cold

    OTHER THAN BEING among the moneyed elite, what do Gwyneth Paltrow, Joe Rogan, and Laird Hamilton have in common? To various degrees, they all espouse the teachings of Wim Hof, a jolly Dutchman better known as “The Iceman” for feats like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro shirtless, running a half marathon barefoot across ice and snow, running a full marathon across the Namibian desert without breaking for water, and generally exhorting the public to understand that wearing a T-shirt out in winter while saying you just don’t get cold is more than manboy behavior. For Hof, it’s the secret to the good

    Read more