Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving

Be thankful you didn't watch this game all the way through

When I was a lad, I believe it was Bill Lyon who'd do the inevitable Thanksgiving "notes" column in the Philadelphia Inquirer as to what there was in sports to be thankful for. On one hand, it always struck me as silly, seeing as there was so much going on in the real world, so much suffering and injustice, that being truly thankful for Mike Quick's ability to keep both feet in bounds while reaching for an overthrown pass seemed a bit twee. On the other hand was the recognition that it's worth taking joy in what you do have, and one of the things that was available to me was a sports section full of supert writing, from Lyon to Jayson Stark to Al Morganti to Peter Pascarelli to, well, a whole lot of good writers. From them, I learned (osmotically) what it was like to write about sports as opposed to writing about being a sportswriter, and to do so with context, humor, and grace. So, without further ado, here's Sportsthodoxy's list of things in sports to be thankful for:

  • Peter Gammons' recovery. Mensch, Richard Thompson fan, superb reporter - the season was diminshed by his absence during it.
  • The increased mainstream visibility of good, smart web-based writers and analysts like Will Carroll and Jay Jaffe, who bring the good stuff from the analytic community to folks without the "of course I'm right" attitude that sometimes afflicts their peers
  • The resurgence of the Tigers. The Olde English "D" is the classiest logo in sports, and watching a team rise on the backs of fireballing kids is just too damn cool.
  • Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers both succeeding. It's that there wasn't a villain in that piece.
  • George Mason. I mean, seriously, does it get any better than watching the ACC apologists get stuffed on crow tartare when a team from the Colonial shakes its booty into the Final Four?
  • The fact that a year has gone by since Theo Epstein appeared in public in a gorilla suit.
  • A Stanley Cup in Carolina, and all the diehard Whalers fans who got to celebrate it.
  • Curtis Sumpter coming back.
  • Boston College winning yet another bowl game, even if it was on the smurf turf. Seriously, that combination of turf and uniforms made the game look like a Jefferson Airplane video.
  • The kids in Florida just playing baseball, and playing it well.
  • The fact that there's another scrappy middle infielder with a funky name who can take some of David Eckstein's press coverage. Uggla! We ride!
  • Ryan Howard. Boom. Gone. And like Thome, he's just big.
  • Dave D'Alessandro's writing on basketball. Even with that haircut.
  • Joe Posnanski writing on just about anything.
  • The play that Mark, Citizen Z and I saw B.J. Upton make in the hole with the bases loaded, the night of July 3.
  • And most of all, that life is such that we can afford to care about sports.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. And remember, there are worse things than having to watch the Lions every year.
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