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Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2015″

June 15th, 2016 by and tagged ,

“The Best American Sports Writing 2015,” edited by Wright Thompson

“The Best American Sports Writing 2015,” edited by Wright Thompson

The older we get, I think, the more the idea of “legacy” enters our everyday thoughts. The legacy we leave for our families, our workplaces and industries, or our communities – the closer the end gets, the more we wonder what we’ll leave behind.

The Best American Sports Writing 2015 is the 25th entry in Glenn Stout’s annual anthology series. The forward from Stout, who at 58 has spent nearly half his life on this series, is much longer than it typically is, and “legacy” runs throughout.

BASW 15 then segues into an introduction by ESPN writer Wright Thompson. Thompson dovetails Stout by writing about the impact BASW has had on him since his days at the University of Missouri, and how honored he is to be part of its legacy, which is clearly the through line for the ensuing 21 stories.

Very few of the BASW volumes I’ve reviewed to date establish a running theme, but here it works. Seth Wickersham’s “Awakening the Giant,” about NFL Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, makes Tittle’s severe dementia something that’s robbed him of any awareness of his own legacy, as he no longer recalls almost any of the moments that make him so beloved.

Tommy Tomlinson does the exact same thing with former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in “Precious Memories.” These two nearly identical tales reinforce and amplify each other’s sadness over how hard it would be to lose your own past, your own legacy. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

June 1st, 2016 by

One of my most prolific writing months since joining the Cape Cod Times ended with a regatta in which a photographer cussed me out in public for getting seasick and sitting where the captain of the press boat told me to sit. Apparently I should’ve known this would happen after it happened last year – which this person was clearly still pissed about – and insisted on getting to Nantucket through alternate means so as not to get in her way.

I considered blowing up at her on social media about this later, but I decided against it because a) the person in question and I aren’t Facebook friends, so the likelihood of her ever finding out would be minimal, and b) many of my colleagues and editors at CCT and I are Facebook friends, and they probably wouldn’t think it very professional of me to air dirty laundry in a shameless plea for validation from my friends.

So the first two sentences of this post are all I have to say about the incident. I’d still be pissed about it, I ran my first official half marathon a day later and it went great, and as I type this I’m enjoying a week-long vacation. And feeling angry while on vacation is a waste of a vacation.

Anyway, here’s everything I wrote in May.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Cross Country/Track and Field, Hockey, Lacrosse, Tennis, Volleyball | No Comments »

April 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

May 2nd, 2016 by

I try to produce video at every game I cover this spring. There’s more time in between baseball or softball or lacrosse plays than basketball, making it much easier to take notes and record at the same time and then still produce a decent write-up for the print edition.

I shoot video on my phone, an iPhone 6 Plus, which I know has the battery and space to shoot for 2.5 straight hours, or the length of a high school football game. But because warmer temperatures still haven’t shown up on the Cape, lately my battery tends to get cold and shut down after only about 1-1.5 hours of continuous outdoor shooting.

Usually this means I get until about the fourth or fifth inning. That’s exactly what happened at one of the baseball games I covered below (Falmouth-Nauset, towards the bottom), and unfortunately almost all the scoring happened in the innings after my phone shut off.

I walked to my car, charged up the phone, then resumed recording for the final inning. But I was left with a lot of strikeouts by the winning pitcher and nothing about the offense behind him.

I could’ve scrapped the whole thing, but instead I came up with an alternative idea. I recorded a two-minute postgame interview with the pitcher, who’d performed more than well enough to merit it, then uploaded it and the game footage into my editing software.

Normally I’d write a script and do a voiceover for highlights, like you might see on “SportsCenter.” But this time I separated the interview into separate audio and video components, then systematically replaced portions of the video with shots of him striking someone out or fielding.

It took some fine-tuning to get it all synced up properly, but the end product turned out really, really well. I managed to both take a creative approach to producing multimedia content and fairly represent the game I’d covered. This is definitely a format I’ll use again.

The moral of the story is that a little creativity can turn a minor failure into a major success.

Here’s everything I wrote in April for the Cape Cod Times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, Lacrosse, Tennis | No Comments »

March 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

March 31st, 2016 by

So a buddy of mine from college and I occasionally do these podcasts about comic books and science fiction. They’re fun, often long, and they give me a chance to talk about stuff I sometimes feel like nobody else in my life cares about to the same degree as I do.

My editors at the Cape Cod Times know I do these. I have no idea if they’ve ever listened to any of them, but they’ve explicitly said my doing them is neither a conflict of interest nor a poor reflection of my professional image, and I’m free to continue.

I’m part of the CCT’s “Innovation” team, which is tasked with exploring different technologies and mobile applications that could potentially improve and diversify how we report the news. And at the introductory meeting for the team, higher-ups from the parent company specifically mentioned podcasts as something newspapers should explore.

I never thought these podcasts would impact my career in any way other than as a hobby. But after hearing that, I volunteered to be one of the test cases for a weekly podcast, which I of course devoted to previewing the spring high school sports season on the Cape.

My sports podcast took almost exactly half an hour. It was a fun conversation, barely any “ums” or pauses, and as far as I can tell, what we recorded required barely any editing.

As I was walking back to my desk after, I heard the guy I worked with tell my team leader, “Matt just killed it on the podcast!”

I’m certain my experiences doing these nerdy podcasts on the side made it much easier to do my first professional podcast. I’m confident I’ll get even better at podcasting the more I do it on the side, and should the CCT decide to make podcasting a weekly thing, I’ll be able to help make it a huge success.

The moral of the story: anything you do can advance your career if you think creatively about how to apply it.

The podcast, and everything else I wrote in March, appears below.

Boys basketball: Gibbons scores 23, but Sturgis East falls to Southeastern in Division 4 South Sectional

South Sectional girls basketball: Currence’s 1,000th point helps Mariners roll

High schools: Cape Cod Academy gears up for lacrosse

Division 4 boys basketball: Top-seeded Lions too quick for Bristol-Plymouth

Girls basketball South Sectionals: Falmouth Academy cruises into semifinals with win over St. John Paul II

Girls basketball South Sectionals: Falmouth Academy ready for tourney rematch

Girls basketball South Sectional semifinals: Falmouth Academy’s unbeaten season ends in 57-41 loss to GNB Voke

Boys basketball tournament: St. John Paul II goes down to Cohasset

High schools: Seahawks sailing team heads to Ireland

Barnstable’s gymnastics program emphasizes fun while winning state titles

Tribute: Pratchett meant the (Disc)world to me

Falmouth Academy’s Sarah Stokey conquering Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Podcast: Spring high school sports preview

SJP II’s Oriola to play baseball at Endicott

High schools: Weather or not, spring seasons begin

Family name, hoops create special bond between SJP II’s Katie Wojciechowski and uncle Steve

High school notes: Red Sox to honor Barnstable gymnasts

School baseball: Sturgis West looking to build on success

Sticking from the beginning: D-Y fields girls lacrosse team

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Lacrosse, Tennis | No Comments »

February 2016 Cape Cod Times Roundup

March 1st, 2016 by

After spending most of last month re-posting (or rewriting) old content, Goose’s Gabs is finally back on track with all of my February 2016 writing from the Cape Cod Times. And what a month it was! I got to cover a state swim meet, which I’d never done before, and then wrote my fifth story in less than a year about a local team winning a state championship when I covered Barnstable at the state gymnastics meet this past Saturday.

What made the gymnastics meet even better was an encounter with the mother of one of the gymnasts. I was put on the CCT “Innovation Team” a couple months ago, which is a small team of content-producers and editors who explore different apps, social media, programs and technologies that might be useful for reporters. In theory, our experiences are actually serving as a test case for the parent company, who’ll then come up with guidelines for papers across the country.

The two big technologies I’ve been playing with lately are Periscope, a streaming app related to Twitter, and SnapChat, the photo-sharing app. I’ve created two SnapChat stories so far – one from swimming, one from gymnastics – and during the gymnastics meet a mother came up to me and complimented the photos I’d taken so far.

It seems that a couple of the gymnasts had seen via Twitter that I would be doing this, spread the word, and most of the team followed the CCT SnapChat account so they could see my photos. Even better, they encouraged their parents and families to sign up as well, I think in a few cases even getting them to download an app they wouldn’t otherwise use.

Sure enough, when I looked at the final numbers, I’d gotten about 42 views – more than three times the number who’d viewed my swim photos – and many of them were either Barnstable gymnasts (including some of the best on the team) or shared a last name with Barnstable gymnasts.

We’ll never know if any of this drives traffic to the CCT website, though later we did embed the photos as a slideshow in the digital story. But instances like this, at least to me, are signs that a) we can use SnapChat to reach out to demographics that might not otherwise engage with a newspaper, such as teenagers, and b) promoting our SnapChat account ahead of a big event does generate additional followers and views.

Those are all good things. And as a final good thing in February, I won third place for a sports story at the New England Newspaper Association awards banquet!

Anyway, here’s everything I wrote.

Boys basketball: Canalmen too much for Rams

Boys basketball: Sandwich rallies to edge Falmouth

High schools: Sturgis schools to host “Sturgis vs. Cancer” night

Boys basketball: St. John Paul II defeats Sturgis West, captures C&I title

High schools: Snow wipes out Friday’s games

Super Bowl Predictions

School basketball: Fraser shoots Mashpee to win over Hull

Boys basketball: 33-point game by Ashworth doesn’t rescue Canalmen in loss to Apponequet

Sturgis East and West unite for cancer fundraiser

High schools: Mariners, Whalers meet with first place on the line

Girls basketball: Carly Whiteside scores 22 points in Barnstable’s first league win since 2013

Girls basketball: Clippers clinch league title with win

School notebook: Sandwich’s Collentro will get her kicks at Stonehill

Boys basketball: Happy berth day for Nauset

Girls basketball: Upper Cape’s Amber DiBona scores 1,000th point in 58-42 win

Hannah and Jack Johnson help Nauset swim team reach new success

Cape Cod Classic: Clippers settle for tie in regular season finale

High schools: Swimmers looking to make a splash

School swimming: Johnson leads Nauset at Div. 2 meet

High school swimming: Nantucket girls 10th, Nauset 17th at state meet

Doug Fraser named daily journalist of the year (I didn’t write this, but I’m mentioned for winning an award!)

Boys basketball: Ford’s 41 leads Mashpee to share of title

School basketball: Falmouth to host Endowment Game

School basketball: Falmouth High edges Falmouth Academy in MIAA Endowment Game

Wrestlers grappling for All-State titles

High schools: Barnstable readies for state gymnastics meet

Red Raiders win fourth straight state gymnastics title

Family ties bind Barnstable’s Spalt

Women’s defending champ conquers windy Hyannis Marathon course

 

Posted in Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, Hockey, Soccer | No Comments »

Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2000″

February 24th, 2016 by and tagged ,

"The Best American Sports Writing 2000," edited by Dick Schaap

“The Best American Sports Writing 2000,” edited by Dick Schaap

Some “Best American Sports Writing” introductions imbue their volumes with early energy. Others are fine, if forgettable.

The Best American Sports Writing 2000 is one of those unfortunate volumes with a detrimental introduction. Dick Schaap spends more than half of it mostly talking about how many famous friends he has and how cool that makes him, then gives a perfunctory final thought about how sports stories should always be entertaining, and when possible funny.

The problem is, none of the BASW 2000 stories are funny. What’s worse, too many of them fall flat.

James Hibberd’s “Poker Face” is about professional poker player Johnny Chan, but the essay doesn’t seem to have much to say beyond that he plays a lot of poker, and you kind of walk away from the story thinking, “so what?” Jeanne Marie Laskas’ “America is a Bull” is about a neither famous nor innovative bullrider, and his struggles aren’t enough to carry the central metaphor of the title.

And Jonathan Miles’ “Ay Caramba!…” is one of the worst fishing stories to appear in a BASW volume. Its lack of a point is matched only by a dense, meandering writing style that renders scenes all but indecipherable.

But by far the flattest of them all is Stephen Rodrick’s “Blown Away,” about a machine gun show and the militia communities surrounding Knob Creek in Kentucky.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2014″

February 17th, 2016 by and tagged ,

"The Best American Sports Writing 2014," edited by Christopher McDougall

“The Best American Sports Writing 2014,” edited by Christopher McDougall

Plenty of great books don’t have particularly memorable opening lines. But there are some opening lines so awesome on their own that they create an energy that carries through to the final line several hundred pages later.

The best such example might be William Gibson’s Neuromancer: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

But the second best, at least for me, is from Christopher McDougall’s introduction to The Best American Sports Writing 2014: “Death-row cells have better natural light than the Rite Aid in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where you can only glimpse sky through the sad slit of a window above the checkout counter.”

Seriously, how awesome is that? If that doesn’t get you immediately pumped to read the rest, you should stop reading this blog, because I’m not sure the written word is really your thing.

The essay is about McDougall first experience watching the three-dimensional running style known as parkour. McDougall writes of the jolt of energy he felt watching these parkour runners, and how an especially well-written sports story can carry the same kind of electricity. Read the rest of this entry »

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December 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

February 14th, 2016 by

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in December 2015.

School football: Falcons use past to fuel present

School football: Mashpee strength program pays off

School football: Mashpee built to go the distance

TITLE HOPEFUL: Mashpee faces St. Bernard’s in Div. 6 championship

Senior captains help Falcons fly into title game

Dias leads Mashpee Falcons to title 28-8 over St. Bernard’s

Mashpee Falcons claim state football championship

Super Bowl notebook: Junior back Andrade powers up behind Dias

3-day competition draws nearly 3,000 skaters

Boys basketball: Defending league champion SJP II begins season with 66-29 victory

Boys basketball: Migliore hits for 23 points in Sandwich’s triumph

Girls basketball: Currence, Van Voorhis help Falmouth Academy to impressive start

Girls basketball: Seahawks survive Storm, win in OT

Boys basketball: Houston sparks 54-47 win over D-Y

NAVIGATORS’ WAY: Sturgis West comes back to beat Cape Tech

DRAMATIC VICTORY: Mashpee boys basketball tops Falmouth

Girls basketball: St. John Paul II shuts down Sturgis East in C&I victory

High schools: Middle school players essential to Cape athletics

 

Posted in Basketball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Football | No Comments »

November 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

February 13th, 2016 by

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in November 2015.

Nauset, Nantucket earn No. 1 rankings in boys soccer

FALCONS MOVE ON in girls soccer playoffs

Football ties a family tradition for Deshaun Dias

School volleyball: Storm serve up playoff win

BLUE CRUSH: Mashpee dominates Blue Hills

School field hockey: Sandwich wins to gain semifinals

High school volleyball: Sturgis East, Sandwich eliminated

High School Football Preview: Mashpee faces familiar foe

Shibles headed to Fairfield, Megnia to UMass

Barnstable sweeps Concord-Carlisle in semis

School Football: Offensive line key to Falcons success

Schools: Three more local athletes sign letters

Barnstable volleyball team ready for battle

Football: Mashpee vs. Essex Tech preview

Barnstable wins 17th state volleyball title

Video: Moment Barnstable volleyball team wins title

Canalmen face Vikings for 85th time

Falcons, Knights play in Cranberry Bowl

For Jamiels, Thanksgiving is D-Y football and family

Sandwich 7, Mashpee 6: Blue Knights edge Falcons with extra point

Girls hockey: Defending state champion Clippers open new season with new coach

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Cape Cod Times Articles, Football, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball | No Comments »

October 2015 Cape Cod Times Roundup

February 12th, 2016 by

Here’s everything I wrote for the Cape Cod Times in October 2015.

High school football capsules, 10/2/15

High school football: Couhig the master of Falmouth’s triple option

High school football capsules, 10/3/15

LaFrange, Couhig leads Clippers’ rout

High school football capsules, 10/4/15

ACL showdown: Unbeaten Falmouth faces powerful Marshfield

D-Y’s Andrew Jamiel scores 3 times in win over Nauset

3 dads and a team

High school football capsules, 10/16/15

School football: Lions, Falcons set for battle in Buzzards Bay

GROUND ATTACK: Mashpee football pounds St. John Paul II

Upper Cape 34, Holbrook/Avon 6: Johnson, Allen lead playoff-hopeful Rams to victory

School football: Playoff picture in focus as Falmouth faces D-Y

Upper Cape Tech 32, South Shore Voke 12: Johnson runs for 5 TDs in Rams’ victory

4th-seeded Clippers sail into home playoff game

MEMORABLE WINS: Falmouth football takes playoff opener

Posted in Cape Cod Times Articles, Football, Hockey | No Comments »

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