I spend a lot of the one hour train trip from home to work in Fremantle scouring the web. Reading new articles on Australia’s best sporting website (have you heard of the Footy Almanac?) and my favourite overseas sporting sites (all US) – Deadspin Stacks; Grantland and New Books in Sport (they have a spin off called the Allrounder that I haven’t checked out yet). A couple of articles have really grabbed my attention this week:
Australians thought we were immune to the worst excesses of US vulture capitalism. Tony Abbott’s crony Commission of Audit, James Packer and AFL ticket pricing/match scheduling seem determined to prove that wrong. This is a scathingly witty article from Grantland by Charles Pierce about the raging entitlement and exploitation by golfer Phil Mickelson (insider trading) and former basketball owner Donald Sterling (lawyers, bigotry and money). Read it and weep (or better still get angry).
In a sporting world where every team is looking for winning strategies from other codes, check out Kirk Goldsberry’s piece (also from Grantland) about how the San Antonio Spurs have drafted and developed overseas talent (including Australia’s Patty Mills) that is the nucleus of the deepest substitute bench in the NBA. It prolongs the career of the ageing stars, and makes the team less predictable. But how do you get bit players to consistently perform in the clutch in big games? Alistair Clarkson will have his feet up studying this and thinking through an ‘edge’ for his Hawks.
For pure escape and longing for the ‘good old days’ of sports journalism, it is hard to beat this piece from Deadspin Stacks (their more literary and historical subsidiary site) and the Chicago Sun-Times about legendary boozer, schmoozer and baseball broadcaster Harry Caray. He kept a day book of every bar, drink and drinking buddy he had in 1972 – 288 straight days (for expenses purposes). It is a record of a bygone age when sports and celebrities from current day (Wilt Chamberlain), past (Jack Dempsey) and show business (Jack Benny) mingled anonymously over beer and cocktails.
In a week when California Chrome is attempting to break the 36 year drought for Triple Crown winners in US horse racing, and there has been plenty of debate about the punt on the Almanac, here is a great yarn (also from Deadspin Stacks) about how Lasix (then an illegal drug) and a clever dodgy vet gave Northern Dancer (one of the greatest sires) the edge to win the 1964 Kentucky Derby. Plus ca’ change……as Mr Wrap frequently reminds us.