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Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2014″

August 14th, 2015 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.”

Surprisingly, the introduction to The Best American Sports Writing 2014, might be the second-best opening I’ve ever read: “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 a first line is that? If you don’t read a line like that and get instantly fired up for the latest entry into Glenn Stout’s annual series, stop reading this review, as I’m not sure reading as an activity is really for you.

Christopher McDougall’s intro to BASW 2014 is about parkour and the electricity he felt watching it for the first time. That same energy, he argues, can crackle off the pages of particularly good sports writing. He only mentions two stories by name – David Merrill’s “The One-Legged Wrestler Who Conquered His Sport, Then Left It Behind,” whose topic should be self-explanatory, and Amanda Hess’s “You Can Only Hope to Contain Them,” about sports bras and how female athletes deal with the challenges of competing with breasts – but his point comes through loud and clear. Read the rest of this entry »

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Monthly Cape Cod Times roundup

August 2nd, 2015 by

I finished The Best American Sports Writing 2014 … I just haven’t found a free hour to write it up. Look for the review some time mid-August.

Until then, my latest Cape Cod Times roundup!

Cape League Extra Innings

Cape League extra: Harwich’s Johnny Adams has a ‘passion for the game’

Cape League: Whitecaps edge Commodores late

Hitting party for Whitecaps

Cape League Extra: Toffey comes home to play for Y-D Red Sox

Cape Cod Baseball League: Red Sox win on Edman walk-off

Extra innings: Cape League notebook

Cape sends two athletes to L.A. for World Games

Cape League: And down the stretch they come

Cape Cod Baseball League: Extra innings

All-Star Cole Billingsley homers in Y-D’s 8-0 win

Schiffner gets 500th win

Cape League: Stars shine on Wareham diamond

East makes one run count in win over West

Cape League All-Star Game: Englert’s plan works to perfection

Cape League: Playoff push under way as season winds down

TITLE SLAM

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Monthly Cape Cod Times roundup

July 6th, 2015 by

I’d planned to spend the intro to this post talking about my first time watching the Boston Whitecaps and Major League Ultimate. I haven’t had time to put my thoughts together yet, so instead I’ll just go write into my monthly roundup.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share my thoughts in a couple of weeks.

Also, keep an eye out for another Best American Sports Writing volume review! I know how much everyone loves those!

School lacrosse: Falmouth Academy girls win tourney opener

Girls lacrosse tournament: Blue Knights knock out Warriors

School baseball: Nichols leads Monomoy

School softball: Hadley Tate carries a big stick for St. John Paul II

High school baseball: Lions pounce on Wildcats in tourney opener

East Division predictions: Y-D Red Sox ready for title defense

Softball: Navigators and Dolphins knocked out

Sharks bite Upper Cape

Cape League season opens with high hopes

Boys tennis South Sectionals: Barnstable knocks off No. 1 Brookline for title

Courageous Championship

Figure skating: Theatre on Ice at HYCC

SJP II in finals again

High school baseball: Lions ready for another state final

Unbeaten Season

Local golf: Clark qualifies on home course

Early slugging for Mariners in 5-3 win over Whitecaps

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

Monthly Cape Cod Times roundup

June 2nd, 2015 by

When I’m covering a game, the story usually presents itself rather quickly. One team (almost always) wins, and the other loses. Usually a couple key players emerge, and when they don’t the story becomes how the team is so deep it gets production from many of its players.

Even features on players are relatively straightforward. There are certain questions I ask every time, including how old a player was when s/he started playing, a favorite memory at the high school level, other sports and activities and what the player is doing next. The challenge is to make the feature not sound formulaic, even if the questions are often the same.

But twice in the last month I was assigned to cover events in Cape Cod – the Figawi Sailing Race and the Best Buddies Challenge bicycle race. These were both unique challenges in that I was sent to write a feature without already knowing what the feature would be.

For me, there’s nothing more stressful than knowing I need to write something but having to come up with the entirety of the idea on the spot. With both events I had to spend several minutes simply wandering around, looking for angles I could turn into decent 600-word stories. Eventually I came up with ideas, and from there the structures and formats for each story quickly fell into place.

I covered the USA Ultimate High School Northeasterns tournament three years ago, doing both a recap and a feature/column. I remember spending the first hour just watching teams and games, not sure what to write my feature on. Eventually I realized each team’s coach had a different philosophy, so I put together a feature on that. Once I had my idea, it became easy to execute.

As with sports, sports journalism is often about improvisation and learning on the fly. I had to improvise with both Northeasterns and this past month’s events, but in both cases I pulled it off.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

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First Cape Cod Times roundup

May 2nd, 2015 by

I’ve been at the Cape Cod Times for about six weeks now. I still haven’t put together all my thoughts on what it’s like working here, but I can say the following:

1) I came here hoping to learn how to be part of a sports team and get some advice on how to be a better sports reporter, and both hopes have come true.

2) I don’t have to paginate or take photos here. Ever. and that’s awesome.

3) I feel like I’m producing good work and learning the Cape Cod beat, but so far this job hasn’t been as labor-intensive as it sometimes was at the McAlester News-Capital. That’s not to say this job is easier, nor is it to say I didn’t enjoy the volume of work I produced in McAlester. And it’s distinctly possible my workload will increase as my editors here get more comfortable with my skill-set and capabilities. But I rarely have to come in before the early afternoon, it’s one article a day instead of two, and everything I write has a lower word count — all of which I consider either professional or personal positives.

Here’s everything I wrote through April 30.

Snowed out: Weather blasts away at spring seasons

School lacrosse: Sandwich edges Barnstable, 9-8

Spring breaks in time for golf

Softball: Falmouth blasts Martha’s Vineyard in season opener, 15-3

Baseball: Dolphins overcome 3-run deficit for win

High School Baseball: D-Y edges Nauset 7-6 on Wednesday afternoon

High School Golf: Barnstable beats Monomoy in season-opener

Girls Lacrosse: Rogorzenski leads Barnstable to a 10-8 win over Falmouth

School tennis: Barnstable overpowers Nauset

Girls lacrosse: Amelia Way scores 4 goals in CCA’s 14-4 win over Sturgis West

Softball: Unbeaten D-Y defeats Vineyard for 5th straight win

School volleyball: Sawyer Jr. leads Red Raiders over Quincy

Monomoy powers up

High school Girls lacrosse: Lakers dominate Canalmen in SCC showdown

Girls lacrosse: Nauset uses draws to defeat Barnstable, 10-8

College baseball: MMA’s Bob Corradi gets a boatload of hugs — and jersey 12

School softball: Willette walk-off homer powers Sandwich

Matt Santos helps lead defending state champion St. John Paul II

Local golf: Clark qualifies on home course

Early slugging for Mariners in 5-3 win over Whitecaps

Local baseball: Team Cape Cod rolls on

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

Final McAlester News-Capital Roundup

March 8th, 2015 by

This will be my last roundup of stories for the McAlester News-Capital. I summarized my thoughts on writing and working in McAlester pretty well in the last story listed here, so no need to repeat myself.

Instead, let me talk about how writing professionally affects blogging recreationally.

I moved to McAlester planning to continue regularly blogging on Goose’s Gabs. Maybe I wouldn’t match the five or six stories I wrote each week between the end of grad school and the start of my job in June 2012, but I figured I’d blog at least three or four times a week.

When you’re paid to write and spend all day doing it, the last thing you want to do is come home and then do it for another hour or two. For the most part I don’t even spend my hours watching sports, let alone writing about them.

The sports journalists who get off work and then go home and watch ESPN for another three hours astound me. I check ESPN.com daily and watch the occasional Patriots or Red Sox game, but that’s it.

I devote most of TV viewing to science fiction, superhero and fantasy shows. It’s how I create a clear line between work and home, and I’d like to think it leaves me more energy for the writing I get paid to do.

I started out blogging News-Capital roundups every week. Within a year that number dwindled to once a month.

I also soon realized ideas that would make for good blog entries would also make for good columns. My blogging creativity went down as my professional creativity went up.

I watched a lot of the 2012 Summer Olympics and blogged about them, but those occurred just two months into the job. Covering the Olympics is also one of my career goals, so it behooves me to watch as much of them as I can now so I’m better prepared when I get the chance.

But even that urge couldn’t rouse me to blog when the 2014 Winter Olympics aired. It also didn’t help that a) the United States didn’t do that well at Sochi; and b) Russia decided to invade Ukraine on the second-to-last day of the Olympics, killing any interest I had in watching two more days of Russian self-adulation.

I’m leaving the News-Capital for the Cape Cod Times, a paper that puts its digital product first in a way I think McAlester wants to but doesn’t yet do. And without a sense of how much actual writing I’ll be doing on a daily basis, I can’t predict if I’ll blog less, more or the same amount.

So maybe I’ll have the free time to start rebuilding this blog’s audience, which I’d guess has shrunk dramatically over the last 2.5 years. Or, maybe I’ll just abandon this blog entirely save for three or four Best American Sports Writing reviews each year.

All I know right now is that I’m about to begin my second job as a professional sports journalist after an almost three-year, extremely prolific and successful first job.

I’d say I’m on the right track.

Frink-Chambers to host ORES Area tournament

Krebs approves new fields for Pittco Youth Sports

Midweek Update: Red Oak teams second and fourth in Class B

Class A and B brackets released

Buffs edge rival Cougars

Wells leads Lady Cougars past Lady Buffs

Three Buffs, two Miners sign Letters

Cowgirls beat Haileyville, win Pitt 8

Cowboys double up Warriors

Senior Spotlight: Joseph Johnson makes one point count

Classes 2A-4A districts announced

Seven ORES teams still in playoffs

Midweek Update: Miners clinch conference title

Osife leads Miners blowout

Pocola’s defense stymies Lady Miners

Clift, Cowgirls beat Lady Warriors

Cowboys top Pirates, win District

Brackets released for Classes 2A-6A

Midweek Update: Ten teams make Regionals

Dawkins’ 37 fuels McAlester win

Hugo girls top McAlester

Boys and Girls Club joins PONY

Senior Spotlight: Chase Shearwood just keeps shooting

Ardmore sweeps McAlester hoops

Tigers too fast for Buffs

Lady Tigers shut down Lady Buffs

Davis, Savages win District

Lady Savages top Lady Eagles

Midweek Update: Cowboys, Hornets to play for State

Buffs tennis expects greatness

Know Your Foe: Lady Buffs face Grove at Regionals

Grove knocks out Lady Buffs

Know Your Foe: Buffs face Comets in Tulsa Regional

Buffs golf starts Monday

Buffs soccer goes coed

Weekly Update: Snow postpones basketball tournaments

Buffs baseball ready for new season

Young Buffs track team starts Friday

The journey continues

 

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Soccer, Tennis | No Comments »

Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 2001″

February 22nd, 2015 by and tagged ,

“The Best American Sports Writing 2001,” edited by Bud Collins

“The Best American Sports Writing 2001,” edited by Bud Collins

The Best American Sports Writing 2001 is the only volume I’ve reviewed so far where the introduction doesn’t actually introduce anything. Volume editor Bud Collins discusses the volatile, even occasionally violent relationship between athletes and the sporting press, but never once does he mention any of the 28 stories that follow.

Instead, Collins puts a one-section reaction at the top of each story. It’s a unique approach, but the lack of any discussion in the introduction sets an odd tone for the ensuing 357 pages.

And therein lies the theme of this review: tone. An appropriate emotional tone can make a great story even greater, but the wrong tone can just as easily tank an otherwise well-written story.

The best and worst stories in BASW 2001 earn that status because of their tone. “Everest at the Bottom of the Sea,” by Bucky McMahon, captures all the adventure and excitement and danger one would expect in a story about diving for treasure in a sunken luxury cruiser.

Series editor Glenn Stout has said repeatedly that sports writing isn’t the same as writing about sports. One might not think of treasure-diving as a sport, but this story is so cool it absolutely belongs in this collection.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

February 2nd, 2015 by

The annual Pitt 8 Tournament is always exhausting, but it’s also always extremely fun.

Here’s my coverage of it and everything else I wrote in January for the McAlester News-Capital.

Midweek Update: Canadian wins 2015 openers

Local tournament schedules

Savages come back, beat Demons

Lady Savages win, now 9-0

McAlester’s Curley to coach All State Cheer

Senior Spotlight: Diehl loves the Friday-night lights

Quinton sweeps Stuart basketball

Davis, Savages edge. No. 2 Hornets

Lady Savages win, now 11-0

Buffs third at McAlester Open

Lady Panthers win third straight Dee Foster Invitational

Midweek Update: Five teams win tournaments

Weiher, Cougars top Tigers

Oktaha beats Lady Cougars in overtime

McAlester sweeps Durant at Homecoming

Dawkins, Buffs tame Lions at Homecoming

Lady Buffs edge Lady Lions

Photos from McAlester Homecoming

Wrestling Homecoming to honor Fugitt family

Photos from McAlester Homecoming Dodgeball Tournament

100 Years of Pitt 8 winners

Porum Tournament schedule

Pitt 8 Tourney fun facts

Pitt 8, Day 1: Top seeds roll

Midweek Update: Lady Savages improve to 14-0

Pitt 8, Day 2: Four blowouts in four games

Pitt 8, Day 3: Top two seeds to play for championship

Pitt 8, Day 4: Haileyville and Crowder advance to consolation championships

Pitt 8, Day 5: Cowgirls and Hornets win

Final thoughts from the Pitt 8 Tournament

Pitt 8 All-Tournament teams

Buffs banquet honors seniors

Midweek Update: Pitt 8 Tournament wraps in McAlester

Ada sweeps Buffs wrestling

Two Buffs make OCA All-State team

Class A and B basketball districts released

Miners put Wolves away early

Lady Wolves beat Lady Miners

Savanna’s Weeks signs with Murray State

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Football | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

January 5th, 2015 by

If a journalist goes his or her whole career without writing something that draws a strong negative reaction, chances are that journalist isn’t very good. I’ve been a professional reporter for 2.5 years, and I’ve already written a coupe articles that people haven’t liked.

Sometimes I’m prepared for that reaction, as I was when I wrote an article arguing against the death penalty (the specific issue was suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev). Sometimes the reaction catches me off guard, as it did when I used the seemingly innocuous word “fall” in a headline about a local team that had made a state championship but then lost.

I was also surprised that a statement about a former coach not fitting in drew such a negative reaction, including allegations of racism. I never mentioned the racial makeup of the community, team or coach, so how race played into it is beyond me. I also wrote that statement knowing that a) one of the team’s best players quit midway though last season; b) multiple parents and players had already told me they didn’t like the coach; c) multiple other conference coaches had told me they either didn’t like the coach or could see the kids not responding to him; and d) I’d been told a group of parents had gone to the school board trying to get the coach fired.

What I wrote was true, so what’s the issue?

Sometimes something I think will draw a negative reaction doesn’t draw any at all. When NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, I wrote that I hoped it would open the floodgates and make countless other gay athletes feel confident enough to come out of the closet.

Maybe people hated that story, but nobody emailed me to say so.

I’m expecting the final story in this roundup to draw a huge negative reaction. Check it out, along with everything else I’ve written in the last month.

Midweek Update: Buffs win winter openers

Buffs coach wraps 2014 season

Hornets win, stay undefeated

Lady Hornets hang on in EOSC semis

Buffs Replay: McAlester vs. Lawton MacArthur

McAlester wins hoops home-openers

Local teams in Saturday tourneys

Buffs come back, win in OT

Robinson, Lady Buffs beat Poteau

Miners win Pick & Shovel Classic

Cougars top Diggers, take third in Hartshorne

All-District list released for 2A-6

Midweek UpdateKnow Your Foe: Quinton hoops starts 4-0

McAlester Pom preps for State

Schedules for local basketball tournaments

Disruptive Demonettes top Warriorettes

Demons bench big in win

Friday’s basketball tournaments update

Saturday’s basketball tournaments update

Lady Warriors slay Lady Dragons

Hanna Dragons frustrate Warriors

Lady Savages top Broken Bow for championship

Savages take third at home tournament

Midweek Update: McAlester pom wins at State

Kiowa’s Walters drops 28 on Rams

Cowgirls edge Rattan, win sixth straight

Wood leads Buffs All-District list

Nix, Lady Buffs beat Lady Warriors

Dawkins, Buffs beat No. 11 Warriors

Senior Spotlight: Shattee Robinson takes charge

Senior Spotlight: Derichsweiler carries heavy load

Midweek Update: Local teams wrap final week of 2014

Class A and B All-District released

Senior Spotlight: Jared Morgan back in action

Senior Spotlight: Katelynn Creekmore keeps Lady Buffs going

Senior Spotlight: Keaton Clements follows his instincts

Midweek Update: Basketball season resumes

The 2014 high school sports year

Pittco Youth Sports changes leagues

Posted in Baseball/Softball, Basketball, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles | No Comments »

Monthly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

December 2nd, 2014 by

And so ends high school football. I think just about everyone in and around McAlester was disappointed the Buffaloes couldn’t pull off the win in Friday’s Class 5A semifinal and return to State, myself included. So when I finished my sports content Saturday for the Sunday paper — the last Sunday paper that’d be devoted entirely to high school football until next year — I found myself surprisingly unmotivated to turn around and start working on my content for Tuesday’s paper.

A late Friday night played some part in that, as did the basketball scrimmage I’d planned to cover Saturday afternoon taking place ahead of schedule. By the time I arrived, it was nearly over.

I got some good photos, but without being there from the beginning I knew my story would be kinda lacking.

I ultimately typeset a couple of local basketball tournament schedules — useful information, sure, but not all that riveting — to go with my summary of the scrimmage. I’ll find out in a couple days if my page designer — who in the past has made magic out of a small amount of text and few photos — was able to make what I submitted work or if he needed to run wire to fill up the rest of Tuesday’s sports section.

I’m sure once I get into the swing of basketball season again my energy will pick back up. But for about 24 hours this weekend, I didn’t have much to write about and couldn’t make myself find any more.

Of course, that doesn’t mean a month’s worth of stories isn’t quite a long post. Enjoy!

Midweek Update: Buffs climb to second in polls

Senior Spotlight: Josh Dungan reads the angles

Wood’s Demons win in return to Pittsburg

Lady Panthers double up Demonettes

Buffs Replay: McAlester vs. Shawnee

Buffalo Run Pro Disc Golf Course grand opening this weekend

Senior Spotlight: Cody Cozad back at full strength

Know Your Foe: Buffs wrap regular season against Chargers

Buffs lead Chargers 55-7 at halftime

Buffs beat Chargers 62-7

Buffs ground Chargers in Tulsa

Box score: McAlester 62, Memorial 7

Region Roundup: Diggers end losing streak

House leads after Buffalo Run Day 1

Senior Spotlight: Tim Richards grows into his position

Senior Spotlight: For Richardson, Buffs a recipe for success

Midweek Update: Buffs back on top of polls

McClellan wins Buffalo Run Pro/Am

Buffs Replay: McAlester at Memorial

Savanna’s Haynie signs softball scholarship

Know Your Foe: Buffs host Eagles in playoff first roun

McAlester leads Edison 21-14 at halftime

Third quarter fuels Buffs blowout; three Eagles ejected

Box score: McAlester 70, Edison 14

Region Roundup: Miners move on

Buffs wrestling gunning for State

Senior Spotlight: Cody Petty keeps head on a swivel

Midweek Update: Hornets, Lady Eagles still unbeaten

Senior Spotlight: Williams and Wynn lead the trainers

Hornets top Longhorns, stay unbeaten

Lady Longhorns too much for Lady Hornets

Posted in Basketball, Football, McAlester News-Capital Articles, Ultimate/Disc Golf | No Comments »

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