Book Review: “The Best American Sports Writing 1998”

“The Best American Sports Writing 1998,” edited by Bill Littlefield

When I saw that Bill Littlefield had edited The Best American Sports Writing 1998, I became very excited. This is the guy who created Only a Game, which consistently pushes the medium of sports radio to unparalleled levels.

While Littlefield’s abilities as an on-air personality and radio journalist are top-notch, his editing talents unfortunately don’t quite measure up.

Of the eight BASW volumes I’ve now read, BASW 1998 has by far been the weakest. So let’s review it.

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Go Huskies!

Because of how hypocritically ESPN debated Northern Illinois qualifying for the Discover Orange Bowl, I hope Jordan Lynch and the rest of the Huskies goes out and crushes the Florida State Seminoles on New Year’s Day. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

So after the NCAA football regular season concluded a few weeks ago, I watched ESPN’s weekly “BCS Countdown.” I have no idea why I decided to watch it, as I already knew that Notre Dame would play Alabama in the national championship and that Wisconsin would be in the Rose Bowl (and didn’t care about anything else).

But for some reason, I subjected my self to ESPN’s 20th show in which two people talk at each other for half an hour or longer without doing anything my Boston University journalism professors would actually consider “reporting.” And in watching this talk show, I discovered the saga of Northern Illinois University.

For those unfamiliar, Northern Illinois went 12-1 and won the Mid-American Conference — a non-automatic qualifying conference with such illustrious teams as Bowling Green, UMass and both Eastern, Western and Central Michigan. Normally, teams like the Huskies wind up with at-large berths to bowl games nobody remembers — in part because the bowls’ names seem to change every two to three years.

But as with seemingly all this related to college athletics, the BCS uses a system of rules so complicated that it would easily baffle most tax lawyers or Talmudic scholars. Through a characteristically bizarre set of circumstances, 15th-ranked Northern Illinois earned a berth in the Discover Orange Bowl — one of the four big-money BCS bowls — against 12th-ranked Florida State on New Year’s Day.

And because Northern Illinois somehow squeaked into the Orange Bowl, four top-10 teams — Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina — were relegated to various iterations of the Not Important Bowl.

I didn’t really care about this story until one of ESPN’s analysts said the following: “No disrespect to [Huskies quarterback] Jordan Lynch. I love everything about his game.”

Nice thing to say, sure. But in the very next sentence, that same analyst said it was an absolute travesty that Northern Illinois would be in the Orange Bowl.

This analyst essentially said, “I love everything about Jordan Lynch’s game. But he isn’t nearly good enough to be worthy of this great honor.”

The on-air guys then cut away to Kirk Herbstreit, another ESPN college analyst, who said Northern Illinois making the Orange Bowl showed how flawed the BCS system is even beyond how it chooses who goes to the national championship.

Because of the blatant hypocrisy I witnessed on “BCS Countdown,” I want the Huskies to win. More, I want them to kick the Seminoles’ asses up and down Sun Life Stadium.

Continue reading Go Huskies!

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

So my plan to resume regularly posting my stories online didn’t quite go as planned, as I know at least a few things I wrote last week just never made it online (like the results of the McAlester-Broken Bow basketball games which I previewed below).

To make it up to all my readers, I’ve made some subtle changes to the overall layout of Goose’s Gabs! See if you can find the new stuff!

Or just read what I posted during this past week. Whatever.

McAlester United keeps on growing

Lakewood Christian starts 17-6

Lady Hornets sink Lady Pirates

Pirates come back against Hornets

McAlester hoops hosts Broken Bow Friday

Weekly McAlester News-Capital Roundup

I haven’t been posting a lot of myMcAlester News-Capital stories lately. Given a few minutes, I’m sure I could come up with a few reasons why.

Our archaic internal system, for instance, doesn’t allow me to access the photos I take from the same console I from which I do the majority of my writing, meaning posting any story online means spending time at two different computers.

My online content, for instance, is always such an abbreviated form of my printed version that I feel like online readers don’t don’t get to experience my true style.

My work week, for instance, is so jam-packed with traveling, reporting, writing, editing, photo-editing and everything else that taking an extra 10 minutes to post my content often feels exhausting.

All of those previous statements are absolutely true. But it’s more true that over the last two weeks, I’ve just been lazy. Working briefly with the Boston Globe spoiled me, because there it was someone’s exclusive job to post and monitor web content. All I had to do was email a video ID when I uploaded my highlight reels, and that took at best a minute.

As I went day after day forgetting or being too lazy to post my stuff, the amount of stories left unpublished grew to the point it became overwhelming. So instead of getting bogged down with what I didn’t publish, I decided over the weekend to just forget about old articles that never made it online and wipe the slate clean.

Here’s what I wrote over the weekend. Next week, expect a full crop of stories.

Tahlequah beats McAlester wrestling

Savanna sweeps Haileyville basketball

Local football players named All-District

Lady Diggers win home tournament against Lady Ironheads

Bowling Bulletin: High Flush wins Men’s First Half

Wilburton releases All-District list

Christmas at the Garden

Kevin Garnett likes playing Santa. Who on earth knew? But Ray Allen won’t a gift, which could make him feel a bit blue. (

‘Twas Christmas at the Garden, and there was plenty of mirth.

But someone was missing: Jesus Shuttlesworth.

While the Celtics were happily giving each other gifts,

Ray Allen’s in Miami, playing on the Heat’s second shift.

Ray-ray left the Celtics; some found that uncouth.

Players like Kevin Garnett, and of course The Truth!

Garnett’s written off Allen, and now all but ignores him.

To Garnett, Allen’s efforts do nothing but bore him.

So when the C’s play Secret Santa, Allen’s off the list.

His old friends now focus on those still in their midst.

Continue reading Christmas at the Garden

Spurs Fined for Having Stars

By resting aging stars like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili before Thursday’s game against Miami, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich (left) put player-safety and playoff-readiness ahead of TV ratings. By fining the Spurs a quarter-million, NBA commissioner David Stern (right) did the opposite. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Forgot to post my News-Cap work last week, so enjoy this column instead!). NBA commissioner David Stern fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 on Friday. The Spurs’ crime? Sending stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green — combined age: 126 — home early from a road trip instead of playing them on Thursday against the Miami Heat.

Apparently, good players can only rest in games that don’t matter.

Duncan, Ginobili and Parker comprise the Spurs’ top three scorers, while Green ranks sixth. Neither Duncan nor Green had missed a start before Miami, and coach Gregg Popovich decided that, given the Heat’s undefeated record at home and its high-speed, high-flying style of offense, this would be a good opportunity to rest his aging players.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, Thursday’s game aired on TNT, meaning it drew a national audience expecting to see the NBA’s best. Instead, fans had to watch the Heat beat a bunch of scrubs.

Boo hoo.

No rules exist that prohibit teams from resting as many starters as they want for as many games as necessary. As such, Stern had to manufacture some bullshit philosophical arguments to justify punishing the Spurs.

Stern claimed Popovich’s decision acted “contrary to the best interests of the NBA” and “did a disservice to the league and our fans.”

Translation: “The Spurs cost me money.”

This notion of “our fans” that Stern mentioned — exactly which fans is he talking about? Because in all likelihood, most Spurs fans would support Popovich’s move because they know resting Duncan and Ginobli more now might make them fresher for the playoffs.

Continue reading Spurs Fined for Having Stars