The Sporting Web: Vulture Capitalism; Spurs Culture; Dodgy Vets and Legendary Schmoozers

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.







  1. Big emerging sports story. NBA finals round 1. Air conditioning not working in San Antonio’s home stadium. Game tight for 3 quarters. Miami heat can’t handle stadium heat in the last quarter. LeBron James benched with cramps after dominating for 3Q. San Antonio 110 def Miami 95 in Game One of the Playoffs.
    The depth of the San Antonio bench makes all the difference. (You read it first here – or second actually).
    Air conditioning failure a happy accident or a deliberate tactic by San Antonio? A whole lot more sophisticated than Sheeds tieing down the windsock at Windy Hill, or Saints leaving the sprinklers on all night at Moorabin.
    Plus ca’ change…………….–game-one-20140605-39m2t.html

  2. Chris Weaver says


    I really enjoyed this column. Will you turn it into a weekly feature? Very informative!



  3. MGLFerguson says

    Grantland is always chock-full of really good sports writing, as well as some decent pop culture writing, and isn’t even always wholly US-centric. Charles Pierce is particularly good, but there are many others. I would urge any sports fan to bookmark that site.

    For really good US sportswriting, a specific guy to check out is Wright Thompson, who is a really craftsmanly writer for ESPN’s boutique-ey sites (as well as other places).

    An archive of a fair sampling of his work can be found at, and is worth checking out. He recently wrote a neat piece on Liverpool/Ecuador striker Luis Suarez which you can find at A really stunning piece about his relationship with his father over golf and the Masters tournament is at, And if you get an Australian Netflix-equivalent streaming movie service, be sure to check out the documentary “Ghosts of Ole Miss,” one of ESPN’s “30-for-30” series of movies, about the contentious racial integration of the University of Mississippi that occurred during a national collegiate championship season by the (all-white) football team. Thompson, whose family was from Mississippi, wrote and narrated the story from a very personal perspective. Magnificent journalism.

  4. MGLFerguson says

    I mentioned just above the documentary movie “Ghosts of Old Miss.” I can’t commend this enough to you all as a window through sport into some of both the best and the very worst of the American experience, and the complicated relationship we still have with race and history.

    And since it turns out that you don’t have to have a streaming service to see it, I thought it worth reprising my comment above to direct those who might be interested to where you can watch the movie for free, with only a few interruptions every now and again for a commercial.

    Movie run time is about 50 minutes; it isn’t over until the credits run, so if it stops running, hit “play” again to continue (after a commercial).

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Just got around to reading the links. Some great stuff. Impressive effort by Harry Caray. Thanks Peter.

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