Photo: Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times/Redux My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on. Man, what a quote that is. Wouldn’t it feel fantastic to be enough of a badass to say that with a straight face? The person who actually did? An incredible woman named Michele Roberts, a longtime attorney called, by Washingtonian magazine, “the finest pure trial lawyer in Washington.” Now she is setting her sights on the insular, complacent, owner-friendly world of sports as the new head of the National Basketball Players Association. If you’re looking for the one person most likely to alter the world of sports most dramatically over the next decade, it’s not LeBron James or Roger Goodell. It’s this 58-year-old woman sitting in her office in Harlem, ready to watch the sports world burn. We’re more than three years away from the earliest point the current NBA … [Read more...] about Michele Roberts vs. the NBA: Why the New Head of the Players Union Is a Hero for Progressive Sports Fans
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The Yankees are ready to be relevant again. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images On July 26, the New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros 6-3 to reach a season-high four games over .500 and sneak within four games of the Boston Red Sox for one of the American League wild-card spots. That same night, the Mets won the second game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals to go seven games over .500 and within four-and-a-half games of the first-place Washington Nationals. The two teams were roughly in the same spot in the standings. For one of the few times in their history, the Yanks and Mets were right next to each other. Then, like it always seems to in baseball, it turned, just like that — each team lost its next four games. Their timing was impeccable. The losses ran right up to the August 1 trade deadline, the unofficial inflection point for middling teams like the Mets and Yankees. Are they trying to win this year, or are they tearing it down and building for … [Read more...] about New York Sports Fans Have Learned to Love the Fire Sale and Embrace Losing
Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images If there’s one enduringly destructive problem with New York City sports franchises, it’s that every team is expected to win a championship, or at least chase after it in desperate good faith, every year. They don’t do rebuilding in New York — because of the inherent financial advantages of running a team here, to insist on anything less than total domination, all the time, seems somehow defeatist. It’s Donald Trump meets George Steinbrenner: If you don’t win everything, you’re a loser. The thing about this strategy is that it produces a lot of losers. The Yankees fostered the illusion that their dominance since the ’90s was the result of some secret capitalist formula only they understood, but the real secret to their success was young, cost-controlled talent; some happy postseason kismet; and Mariano Rivera. The only time the Yankees ever truly spent their … [Read more...] about What the Jets, Knicks, and Mets Have to Teach Us About Fandom
Dan Dierdorf, right, of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1976. Photo: NFL Photos/AP Photo I was 12 years old when my beloved St. Louis football Cardinals, of Jim Hart and Dan Dierdorf and Roy Green and Big Red training camp in Charleston, Illinois, moved West to Arizona and left me and a gaggle of other crying Midwesterners in their wake. That team was everything to me, as much as anything can be everything to a 12-year-old. It was impossible for me to understand owner Bill Bidwill’s penny-pinching, or his demand for a new stadium downtown, or the promise of a new start in the American desert: As far as I was concerned, Arizona was in China. I just knew my team was gone. And by gone, I mean gone. In 1988, when your team left town, it vanished. Television showed only five games a week, and basically never featured the dismal Phoenix Cardinals. Local newspapers had no need to cover a team 1,500 miles away. ESPN was still known more for Australian-rules football than for the … [Read more...] about In the Future of Sports Fandom, State Lines Mean Nothing
New York Mets Noah Syndergaard posing with bat during spring training. Photo: Jeffery A. Salter/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images On October 14, 2003, I sat in an Inwood apartment, listening to game six of the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and the Marlins on the radio. The Cubs were leading 3-0 and were five outs away from their first World Series in nearly 60 years. My father called me. He, like me, is a die-hard Cardinals fan, and, also like me, he was struggling to wrap his mind around the fact that the Cubs — the Cubs! — were about to reach the World Series. It felt like, when the last out happened, the Earth would careen off its axis and begin barreling toward the Sun; it felt like the apocalypse was upon us. “We should watch this moment,” he said. “In case this is the end.” I agreed, so I sighed and turned on the television. I, and the rest of the planet, was about to meet a man named Steve Bartman, … [Read more...] about The Mets and Cubs Are League Favorites. Could This Possibly Be Real?
O.J. Simpson. Photo: Phil Bath/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images It was easy to love Ryan Murphy’s The People v. O.J. Simpson — the whole thing was a blast, from the Marcia Clark revival to David Schwimmer skewering the Kardashians. And though it played history as camp, most of the time, ultimately, that didn’t matter: The history was so rich we couldn’t help but take it seriously, even when it was fed to us as a popcorn reenactment. Which is why O.J.: Made in America, I guarantee you right now, is going to blow your mind. The documentary, which screened at Sundance this winter and last month at Tribeca, runs seven hours and 43 minutes. It was made under ESPN’s 30 for 30 banner and, after a brief theatrical run (probably to qualify it for an Oscar), will air in prime time, on ABC and ESPN, starting June 11. It will be the only thing this country’s going to be talking about that whole week. Directed by Ezra Edelman, O.J. is … [Read more...] about ESPN’s Eight-Hour O.J. Documentary Is a Masterpiece