The Sporting Scene

I know that Print media is supposed to be dead. The numbers certainly bear that out. But, I still subscribe to some of my favorite print publications — The New Yorker and Cigar Aficionado are two (actually I received the subscriptions as gifts). I have no problem reading The New York Times or the Huffington Post on their  iPhone apps — especially on the go. But some of the most creative and useful content is not free. The Wall Street Journal won’t give it away. And neither does The New Yorker‘s digital edition.  You pay to read.

Most publications are sterile. They contain news, stories, columns, Annie Liebovitz photos — they can be interesting and entertaining. They lose very little in the translation from hard copy to digital formatting.  The New Yorker is different. Since 1925, the publication has been the premier showcase for writers, poets, critics and humorists. Recluses like J.D. Salinger and Woody Allen felt comfortable releasing their new work on its pages. The news reporting and commentaries are thorough and cerebral without being haughty. It harkens to the reader who seeks seminal creative content. Unlike many publications it rejects the ephemeral and pop cultural.

I enjoy the tactile experience of reading a hard copy of The New Yorker. I like having copies of it on the credenza. I like taking it to bed, on the plane, to the bathroom. I like the fact that it is published weekly. I like it’s taste and style — its lack of slickness and hipness. I like the cartoons. It will look fine on an iPad , I guess. But, what if you forget to bring your iPad to the dentist’s office? Or if your flight doesn’t have wiFi? Some of my most memorable creative enjoyment has occurred 20,000 feet above geometric farmland with The New Yorker in my hands — it’s very presence a more revealing clue into my personality than anything I can wear or maybe even say. If you carry an iPad around the airport, we know you’re digital. And cool. If you’ve got a rolled up issue of The New Yorker in the back pocket of your khakis or jeans — well, that tells us something else entirely.

One of my favorite columns in the venerable publication is The Sporting Scene. John McPhee, Herbert Warren Wind, Roger Angell and John Updike are just some of the authors whose pieces on sports have appeared in this space. So I humbly proceed with my first sports “column”. What does this have to do with growing your creative agency? Well, nothing directly — but I’m pretty certain that if you read The New Yorker, you personally will be more creative and you’ll propagate a more creative culture.

Ok, first up — steroids in baseball. Steroids are illegal drugs. They enhance strength and performance. They make an interminably long season easier to navigate. You could describe amphetamines with these very same words. Baseball players in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s religiously popped “greenies” (see Bouton, Jim “Ball Four”). Amphetamines were part of the fabric of the game, synonymous in the players’ vernacular with “doubleheader”, or “day game”. Nobody questions anyone’s statistics from this era or holds anyone accountable for amphetamine use. But, we do know this —  if an Olympian peed greenies after a medal event, they would be stripped. I’m not defending steroid use;  but, I just have to laugh when the old guard makes a grandstand play on the sacrosanctity of statistics and how steroids taint the game’s history.  Reminds me a little of the drunk who castigates potheads.

NY/NJ gets the 2014 Super Bowl. SO this game will be played outdoors? I was in the city the past 4 Super Bowls to judge the NY Addys. We usually do a Judges roundtable at the New York Athletic Club and discuss the spots. Hey. I don’t remember ever being colder ANYWHERE than this past year’s Super Bowl evening in NYC. Who will they get to do the Halftime show? I think it needs to be a Canadian act, or ABBA (from Sweden) — someone who knows how to perform in cold weather.

LeBron James is a free agent. How can he not want to come to NY — and how can he not want to BE the face of  the new Brooklyn franchise? Never again in the history of sport will someone have an opportunity to come into the biggest city in the world and LAUNCH a totally new franchise. It is completely unprecedented.                                                                                  

Speaking of NY hoops — how can Spike Lee not become a Nets fan? If anyone saw Crooklyn, you know the dude is not a Manhattanite. Yes, he hangs at the Regency Hotel watching Knicks’ road games with his buds and he’s The Garden’s version of Jack Nicholson — but Spike’s a Brooklyn boy (who you calling “boy”?). I personally think he’s prejudiced against Italians — as was evidenced by the tragic ending of Do the Right Thing. But, I’m not here to pre-judge anyone.

Tiger. Has anyone not written something about Tiger? Let’s stay with sports here — I believe his former swing coach really let him down. I mean Hank Haney was so busy fixing Charles Barkley’s swing and Ray Romano’s swing that he forgot to fix Tiger Woods’ swing.

June brings us the NBA Finals. Just a hunch — everyone anticipates another historic Celtics-Lakers saga. You’re reading it here first, I see a Magical Sun on the horizon for the Finals. If so Boston will have two teams who have blown 3 – 0  playoff series leads in the same post-season.

I can’t wait for the release of Ken Burns‘sequel to Baseball (“The 10th Inning”) in September. Supposedly, it examines the steroid issue, the International talent explosion and the Red Sox miracle of 2004.

While Hanley Ramirez has been rightfully demonized for dogging it and bucking his manager, I do agree with one point he made. If you never played, you can’t possibly know what’s it’s like to be a player. I am very leery of coaches or managers who never played professionally. I wouldn’t want to play for one. This much is true, Hanley Ramirez is the best all-around player in baseball. He will have a bad day now and then. And at 27 years old, it would be nice if he were as mature as we’d like him to be — but you can’t coach talent. And it’s difficult to manage it if you never had it.

Closing on the phenom of the future — Pitcher Stephen Strasburg will make his imminent MLB debut in the next two weeks. I look for him to get shelled in the hyped premiere. Then I see him to settling down and becoming either the next Mark Prior or Tom Seaver, who’s still the best I ever saw. I know Gibson was a badass competitor but I thought Seaver had more pitches. I did see Koufax and Drysdale start each end of a doubleheader one Sunday in Shea Stadium — but I was like 6 years old. I still have the vivid recollection of Drysdale hitting one off the scoreboard in the nightcap and my grandfather slipping the usher a fin so we could sit downstairs.

2 thoughts on “The Sporting Scene

  1. mom and dad

    i always enjoyed “current cinema”.. the reviews werealways spot on at times though a little condescending…ken auletta acontributor to the magazine use to watch me play when i played for nathan’s his uncle mike auletta was our coach..kenny plays on saturdays at sag harbor good field no hit.i played with him once or twice.with me it was good hit but terrible field…
    also loved the jokes

    1. mikepalma Post author

      How about that? Mom and Dad on the blog — very cool. I’m not sure if this is Mom or Dad, but thanks for writing. Yes, Wilt and Ted were great talents — but I’d argue that Wilt had incredible athletic talent around him in Philly he could have helped some of them become HOF’ers by winning (Billy Cunningham, Hal Greer, Lucious Jackson). And shoot, in LA he had West and Baylor.

      Splinter is different. He played on three very good teams — but the other 17 were really awful. Williams suffered from an ownership/management group that was slow to embrace Negro talent in the ’50’s — and Ted really paid for that. The 1950’s Boston teams were truly awful. But, Ted had some Pistol in him — it’s a fine line — to be that good requires incredible ego.


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