Archive for News About News

Top Second-Half Nonstory Lines

Dear Thought Catalog,

Woke up this morning, made a couple of egg sandwiches, took a pic of my cat. Sat down with my egg sammies and my laptop, started a Third Eye Blind playlist in iTunes, opened Twitter. Saw a Buster Olney tweet about second-half story lines.

Went to the NotGraphs WordPress dashboard, checked to see if any NotGraphers had “second half story line” posts scheduled for today or tomorrow; they didn’t; started this post.

Started by typing the title and “nonstory lines” just popped in there. Googled “nonstory”, saw this

and thought, “Hey, this is a journalism term. I’m supposed to be doing ‘journalism.’ I can write a nonstory. I can write a bunch of nonstories!”

Thought about how exclamation marks should be used sparingly to never in journalism. Thought, “Balls.” Set to work on the following nonstory lines for MLB’s second half:
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The 2012 Congressional Baseball Game

Democratic congressman / starting pitcher Cedric Raymond. Photo via the National Journal.

A very exciting day in politics on Thursday was capped off by the annual Congressional Baseball Game — for charity! At Nationals Park, the Democrats hit the Republicans hard in an 18-5 victory. Rep. Cedric Raymond was the starting pitcher for the Dems side, and he pitched a complete game win. He also had a multiple-hits game at the plate and was awarded the MVP award by his teammates. Raymond was a varsity pitcher at Morehouse College and apparently he still throws in the early 80s. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by an Astros rainbow-guts-era adorned Ron Paul — who you may remember, hit a home run in the game in 1979. Paul was also inducted into the Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame, which is apparently a thing. It’s worth noting that the Democrats have now won the game four years in a row. Baseball also beat out politics, for one night only, as Republican manager Joe Barton (Texas) was quoted as saying “Win or lose, we’re gonna go upstairs after it’s over and have a hotdog.” America!

Ron Paul. Photo via the National Journal.

One for Wil(l)neau, or #willmcdonaldthebest

So this is how it ends. Will McDonald (now ExRoyalsReview on Twitter), longtime mainstay of Royals Review, has decided to call it a day after eight years of blogging about the Royals. During that time, Royals Review grew from just some guy’s blog to a team site on the fledgling SB Nation network to perhaps the most popular Royals blog around.

With the management formerly of Royals Authority taking the helm, things should be in good hands. Still, it is hard for many of us to imagine following the Royals without the incentive of knowing the referents for Will’s next brilliantly-written combination of anger and comedy. How will we get through the season without more Royals Bibliomancy or Mitch Maier‘s Letters Home From Baseball Camp, or expressions of irritation over Royals prospect Wil Myers spelling his first name incorrectly.

Will has been a huge inspiration. Don’t hold it against him, but, while I never “worked” at Royals Review, I probably would not be blogging today if it were not for reading Will’s stuff. Will’s posts garnered attention far beyond Royals fandom — I think the first “big break” his blog received was when Keith Law linked to it in one of his ESPN chats. I cannot summarize Will’s work, but that is the nature of all good art. So as a tribute to Will (or “Freneau,” a moniker he adopted in recent times in tribute to a poet from the era of the Revolutionary War) and as a public service, I will briefly go through just a few of McDonald’s best moments of the last few years.

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On Frank Deford and Sportswriting

Frank Deford, a legend of sportswriting at Sports Illustrated for over half a century, was awarded the Red Smith Award for outstanding contributions to sports journalism last Friday. In his acceptance speech, he touches on the direction of sportswriting. One sentence in particularly speaks directly to what we at FanGraphs (and much of the “new sports media”) write.

I don’t want to see sportswriting be overwhelmed by statistics. I want to read about the heart and blood of athletes and their stories, which has made sportswriting so special.

Deford is absolutely right. Sportswriting needs the feature stories that allow us to see the stories of these athletes. We need Molly Knight on Matt Kemp. We need Chris Ballard on Tim Duncan. We need Jimmy Breslin on Joe Namath.

Seriously, if you haven’t read that Breslin story, drop everything and read it now.

The best feature writers make us feel like we’re in the room with our favorite athletes; like we can somehow identify with them as they perform absurd, superhuman acts on the field of play. It adds an immeasurable and necessary amount to our sports experience.

But I also think there are immeasurable stories to be told about the game itself. How it is won or lost, over the course of a season or a game or an inning or even one single play. I want — and surely Deford does as well — good, quality writing about both the players and the game they play for us.

I care about the guy putting up MVP numbers for his team, but I also care about what it means for his team and how it helps them win. I’m interested in the man who hits the walk-off home run, but I also want to see how and why it happened. Statistics — sport’s silent historians — are our vessel to that end.

Deford is right in another fashion: sportswriting, even when it comes to dissecting the game itself, cannot be listing numbers off a page. There is always more to it — some nuance, some insight that brings us above simply what happened and starts answering questions. Why? How? Answering these questions can move us too.

So yes, Mr. Deford, let’s not overwhelm the word of sportswriting with statistics. Let’s just allow them to do their part.

Update on New Bedford Youth Baseball Controversy

The handsome and besexed reader has no doubt been waiting, breath breathily bated, for news on the unfurling 2007 controversy surrounding the New Bedford, Massachusetts Youth Baseball League. To update:

– A 92-signature petition requesting the presumably blood-soaked removal of the league’s Executive Board has been filed with the Attorney General’s Office.

– Said Executive Board curiously won quite a large share of those league raffle dollars, in some instances, oddly enough, in increments roughly proportional to the amount of power wielded by each member of the Executive Board.

– Ejected coaches are supposed to be fined, and the coach of Manny’s Barber Shop totally was indeed fined upon being ejected. Not fined for being ejected, however, was Coach DeGrasse, who, it so happens, is a member of the Executive Board.

– Complain to the mayor about the conduct of the Executive Board, and you shall be relieved of coaching duties. At least that’s what happened to the former Coach Pereira.

– League Vice President Heather Rowan was allegedly “talking about vibrators in front of the kids.”

– Someone, someone possibly with allegiances to Ma’s Donuts, threw a rock and hit the parent of a player for Manny’s Barbershop, a team already the target of previous ruthlessness on the part of the Executive Board.

– As well, there is an almost palpable lack of “urgency from them [the big assholes of the Executive Board] to find out who threw the rock.”

– As well, there is an almost palpable “conspiracy to expel me [Coach Duarte, of Manny’s Barber Shop] from the league . . .”


Tough Loss for Orioles

If you’re partial to connoisseur’s baseball — the kind of ball-match in which runs are earned by grit, moxie and a toiler’s ethic — then yesterday’s Orioles contest should be to your liking:

Much as one does not merely walk into Mordor, a major-league team does not merely stride onto a diamond housing the ball-ists of Manatee Community College and expect to escape without a brawler’s bruises. If it consoles, then know that the vanquished Orioles share the yoke of the defeated with the mighty likes of Indian River State College and Polk State College and the University of Tampa junior-varsity squad and Florida State College-Jacksonville.

Indeed, not all who have dared square off against Manatee Community College have been as fortunate as Palm Beach State College and Chipola College and Seminole State College and Broward College (twice) and Florida State College-Jacksonville (thrice) and Polk State College and, well, quite a number of others, actually.

But no, not every team can be so kissed by the fates — so groped by the fates like a coquette on a Tokyo subway — as to escape the presence of Manatee Community College without a loss. Although that University of Tampa junior-varsity squad tied them at one point, it seems …

Anyhow, one might notice the gallery of tossers that the Orioles faced upon the yesterday …

Doubtless, the reader will be reminded of that solemn piece of base-and-ball doggerel, penned by Grantland Rice when he worked the MCC beat like a flatfoot on the Bowery …

Wada, Ayala, Phillips, and Esquivel …
Prithee, civil sir, for a gentler kind of hell?
Under sun, under thunderheads or under moon,
Your scrap nine they’ll surely dragoon!

So chins up, Orioles of Baltimore: for countless others have met such a fate!

But not Hillsborough Community College, it turns out.

Chipper Joneses

When Chipper Jones announced yesterday that he would be retiring after the 2012 season, a nation of cats named Chipper Jones shed a little extra fur in anticipated sadness.

Chipper Jones the cats watch baseball. Chipper Jones the cats have have lost weight. Chipper Jones the cats are under an umbrella. Chipper Jones the cats are entertained by doctors. Chipper Jones the cats are being squeaked. Chipper Jones the cats wanted something different. Chipper Jones the cats have owners who are so glad they named their cats after Chipper Jones, but for all the wrong reasons. Chipper Jones the cats are Mr. Jones and me. Chipper Jones the cats are stuck with you, too. Chipper Jones the cats are broken images. Chipper Jones the cats are animated little fellows (or are they?). Chipper Jones the cats have been fine ever since. Chipper Jones the cats would love to help you with that quilting. Chipper Jones the cats truly are the pimp shit.

CJ Wilson Is a Pranking Fool

Somehow this one slipped between the cracks — C.J. Wilson pranked Mike Napoli… by putting the catcher’s phone number on twitter. He wasn’t particularly contrite about it afterwards either:

Perhaps “Nap Nap Weiner” will take an item off of this list of suggested revenge pranks?

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The Song That Was Not, The Song That Was

The Internetting Gentleman may have encountered tawdry hearsay that the Miami Marlins, denizens of the Sunshine State, where everything — save for the weather, people, housing market, and milieu — is great, recently dropped a new theme song like something that is on the verge of scalding the very hands that bear it. Recognize:

But then the story, like an indolently raveled thing, began unraveling. The Marlins did not, in point of fact, grant their imprimatur to such a malodorous tune! Jeffrey Loria is a professional aesthete, so how, pray tell, would he green-light such an Up-With-Peopled mess?

Here’s how: the world is shit, and yet it manages to spin. This may not be the Marlins’ theme song, but, for me and mine — so all of us, really — this is the Marlins’ theme song.

In the Sunshine State, it turns out, everything is mothertrucking great.

Brian McCann Will Be What You Need Him to Be

We know that Braves catcher Brian McCann is good at baseball, but now comes evidence — evidence that the stern and jowly judge will allow so long as counsel is going somewhere with this — that he is also adept at falling on his sword:

“The most I ever sat and pondered over a season since I started playing baseball,” McCann said.

After deep contemplation — along with plenty of offseason golf and vacations to Las Vegas and the Bahamas — he was sure he had arrived at the root cause of the Braves’ epic September belly-flop. By the time he came south, he was prepared to sling a little blame.

It was him.

Not the hurricane in New York that broke the team’s momentum. Not the injuries to starters Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. Not the sapping of the bullpen.

All him. He’s Spartacus.

“I truly felt if I played up to my standards, the Cardinals don’t get in the postseason,” McCann said.

In Boston, where the collapse was equally as tragicomic, there were other culprits — three of them, to be precise. McCann, because he is a McMan, is willing to be those three things. Bless this magnificent bastard …