For the longtime Communist leader, sports were as much a hallmark of his legacy as they were a tool to trumpet the revolution’s triumphs. As a writer, though, he wasn’t always as different from your average sports columnist as you might expect.
Over the last decade, the Yukon's Pinoy community has grown from 150 people to more than 2,000. Things are changing up north, and the region's Filipinos—and one particular basketball league—are a part of it.
Bruce Herman, the man who writes the text for more or less every trading card printed and sold by Topps, lives in Blacksburg, Va., with his wife, children, massive record collection (very heavy on pop-punk) and massive dossiers of quotes from and factoids about the various players he’s paid to write about. For a while, I edited what he wrote when I worked at Topps; for a longer while, I wrote those cards myself—mostly basketball, some baseball, and the occasional card for Susan B. Anthony or an astronaut for one of Topps’ historic sets—for him as an independent contractor.
As much as I enjoyed writing the cards I wrote—I almost got the words “a screaming comes across the sky” onto the back of a Renaldo Balkman card, and generally enjoyed the opportunity to spend what was either just enough or actually too much time reading up on random NBA players—I was never nearly as good at it as Bruce. I was never less than in awe of his work. He had long ago shed the Master Prosesmith vanity that led me to write too many/too much about, like, Speedy Claxton and then grump over the self-edits I needed to make to get my card-backs down to character count; he swapped my flopsweaty adjectives for something smoother and more economical and more reliably on-point. Where I might fuss over finding the right 200-character sentence for a Shaquille O’Neal card—Just one sentence to describe Shaq? Why must “Fu-Schnickens” contain so many letters!—Bruce just reached back into his dossier and pulled up a quote from Jason Collins. This would have been on Shaq’s Topps card around the middle of the last decade. Playing against Shaq, Collins said, “feels like you’re lifting weights.” And then Bruce was on to the next card, after writing what was both the perfect card-back for Shaq and, in recent retrospect, also the perfect card for Jason Collins.
Even for die-hards and true believers, the baseball season can be a slog. Luckily, this year's Toronto Blue Jays roster—the most hope-inducing in decades—boasts such a rich collection of literary-style backstories and archetypes, you can be sure the narratives will be compelling, even if the numbers aren't.
Whether they're cheering for the anemic Toronto Raptors or hoping Steve Nash plays long enough to win a championship, most fans eventually learn that caring deeply about sports is, well, terrible. And wonderful. But mostly terrible.
What’s more Canadian than the CFL? It’s a question that sounds like it should be followed up with a punchline, maybe something about beer and maple syrup. Maybe it would lead to a complicated joke about the Governor General. Or maybe we would fall back on the most obvious answer and just say hockey.
Stephen Brunt has certainly considered the matter. One of Canada’s best regarded sports writers, Brunt is a commentator at Sportsnet and most recently the author of 100 Grey Cups: This is Our Game—its publication coinciding with this Sunday’s 100th Grey Cup game. Brunt doesn’t try to sum up what role the Canadian Football League plays in our national identity, but by celebrating the Cup’s history and reassessing the above question for a wider and more meaningful scope he makes one thing clear—Canada simply can’t be separated out from the Grey Cup.
There was a rumour going around that Justin Verlander is the best pitcher on the planet. That idea might have taken just a bit of a hit after the loss he suffered at the hands of Pablo Sandoval and the San Fransisco Giants last night. But probably only a slight one. However, he can, as we learned before the World Series began, on the kind of slow news days that sports rumour-mills seize upon, neither confirm nor deny reports that he is dating Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton.
How's that for meta-fiction? An athlete dating a Sports Illustrated model is much like Charlie Kaufman writing himself into his adaptation of The Orchid Thief. Can there really be a slow news day in sports if Sports Illustrated can supply so much of its own content?
As a general rule, I feel like baseball is a sport that resists conclusion. Extra innings can last forever. An unlimited number of pitches can be thrown.
The 2012 New York Yankees just saw their season resist its conclusion, with the extension of their series against Detroit for at least one more night. Of course, this has little to do with baseball, which is fitting of course for these Yankees. Inclement weather prompted the postponement of game 4 of the American League Championship Series until tonight, and it might be the last game of the year for the Yankees. Despite the temporary delay in the series, New York is trying to stave off not just elimination but a 4-game sweep at the hands of Detroit. It's a bit like the Yankees haven't shown up for the series, and the metaphorical value for that abounds. After all, it's not really like the Yankees play baseball anymore anyway, is it?
Derek Jeter is injured
An injury to his left ankle forced Jeter out of game one of the Detroit series, and it was announced after the game that he was finished for the season. The Yankees would have to play on without him, of course already down 1-0 to the Tigers. I might not be able to explain this well, but sometimes it feels as though Derek Jeter is the only thing that keeps the Yankees existing as a baseball team. This theory is both cosmic and spiritual.
You remember Tracy McGrady. You might remember Stephon Marbury. But you shouldn’t forget about God Shammgod, pictured above demonstrating his trademark, streetball-savvy, cross-over dribble. I have long been a fan of the basketball player named God Shammgod, and I’ll get to talk to discuss him here, by way of China.
You see, the influence of the Chinese market in the NBA is a bit of a wild card. China’s influence goes as its interest does, and it’s been tied to the presence great NBA players like Yao Ming and emerging star Jeremy Lin, but also to the Chinese economy and the sheer size of China as a market.
This past February, New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow ignited a literary sensation when he read the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham broadcast over the Internet. But what has he been doing lately? Maybe that’s what New York fans were asking when, during last Sunday’s Jets-49ers game, after the 49ers were well on their way to demolishing the home team 34-0, they started to chant Tebow's name.
As the Jets’ backup quarterback Tebow should have plenty of time to read. He doesn’t have much to do during the games, and there is only so much work to be done brushing up on the team’s playbook. I think I’d like to have a book club with Tim Tebow. He’s already read Suess; I think I’d like to move him on to something else. Maybe we could start with something like… the collected works of John Milton.
“My final show for The Black Album tour,” writes our man Jay-Z in his memoir Decoded, “was at the Garden. Playing Madison Square Garden by myself had been a fantasy of mine since I was a kid watching Knicks games...” And look at him now. Tomorrow night, on September 28, Jay-Z kicks off an eight-night concert series to celebrate the opening of the brand new Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s newly relocated Brooklyn Nets. Pictured above, he is profiling the Nets’ updated and redesigned logo. On his album The Blueprint 3, Jay hinted that he “might wear black for a year straight,” but it’s going to be much longer than that I imagine, given that not only did he help design their black-and-white look, but Jay-Z is also a part owner of these Brooklyn Nets.
If patriotic nostalgia isn't your thing, we offer four easy steps for paying tribute to the 40th anniversary of Canada's most storied sporting moment, and becoming the Paul Hendersons of our destiny.
Pictured above is Andy Roddick how I remember him best. Or rather, how I hope to remember him best. This is Andy Roddick looking rather "business casual," implying that he's still got some hours to put in at the office....
Pictured above is Chinese Olympian Liu Xiang at the London 2012 Olympics. In moments he will get up from where he has fallen. Despite the considerable pain of a torn Achilles tendon, he will approach and kiss the hurdle that...