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Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

oddmanout“Matt McCarthy, a graduate of Yale and of Harvard Medical School now working as an intern in the residency program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital in New York, has gained national attention in recent weeks for “Odd Man Out,” his salacious memoir of his summer as an obscure minor league pitcher. He writes about playing with racist, steroids-taking teammates, pitching for a profane, unbalanced manager and observing obscene behavior and speech that in some ways reinforce the popular image of wild professional ballplayers.

“But statistics from that season, transaction listings and interviews with his former teammates indicate that many portions of the book are incorrect, embellished or impossible. It comes during a difficult period for the publishing industry, which has recently had three major memoirs — James Frey’s infamous “A Million Little Pieces” and the recollections of a Holocaust survivor and of an inner-city foster child — exposed as mostly fabricated. The authors of those books have acknowledged their fraud.” (more @ NY Times)

Disputed passages from the book can be found here.

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sportsstuff“The sports collectibles industry looks like it is going to take a big hit because of the souring economy, and there’s lots of speculation that the hobby’s biggest auction house, Mastro Auctions, won’t be around much longer. The Illinois company – the nation’s largest sports memorabilia auction house – is the target of a federal investigation into shill bidding and fraud, and [last month], the Daily News reported that it has problems paying consigners.” (via NY Daily News)

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[Until a few years ago, and for more than a decade, I was a prominent and respected member of the sports collectibles industry. Early on, I ran a mail order business specializing in historic and rare sports programs and tickets; and for several years after that, I ran a catalog auction, Sloate & Smolin, in partnership with Barry Sloate, a specialist in early cards and memorabilia; I also ran my own online memorabilia auction, About Time Auctions. So when I say that the sports collectibles industry has never been a place for the faint of heart, I speak from experience.

Bill Mastro, the founder and president of Mastro Auctions, has a long and complicated history with the “hobby” – Mastro is one of the people most responsible for transforming a one-time hobby into a major industry and for making a fair number of people, himself especially, quite wealthy along the way. But there are low moments in the Mastro story as well, some of which are reported by Michael O’Keeffe and Teri Thompson in their 2007 exposé, The Card: Collectors, Con Men, and the True Story of History’s Most Desired Baseball Card.

As for the broader concerns of the hobby-industry, a “crash” in the hobby market has been anticipated for years — since before I became a full-time dealer in the early 1990s — but never materialized. But this time might be different – facing the one-two punch of a sinking world economy and the possible demise of one of the industry’s leading auction houses, the hobby this time really might be going down for the count.]

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“Joseph O’Neill’s novel ‘Netherland’ was named the winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation said on Wednesday. The honor for ‘Netherland,’ about a Dutch-born equities analyst, his British wife and their son, who live in New York during the Sept. 11 attack and its aftermath, is something of a comeback for Mr. O’Neill. The novel, though widely praised, was shut out in the National Book Awards and the National Book Critics Circle awards.” (via NY Times)

Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times review of “Netherland” can be found here.

[In many ways “Netherland” is a book about sports — in this instance cricket — and national identity; but the novel also contains some of the finest descriptions of ethnic New York City found anywhere. Related20 Are Detained After Cricket Attack (3/4/09, via NY Times)]

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nbcAs former NFL head coach Jim Mora might ask, “Recession? Recession? Are you kidding me? Recession?”

NBC Sells Out Super Bowl Ads for Record $206M (via NY Times)

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johansson1Ingemar Johansson, the Swede who stunned the boxing world by knocking out Floyd Patterson to win the heavyweight title in 1959, has died. Johansson was 76.” (via ESPN)

[Sometimes a person, or an event, sticks in your head in ways you don’t necessarily appreciate until much later, perhaps not until the person dies or the event regains relevance.  I have been an avid sports fan, mostly of baseball, since I was a young boy growing up in the 1950s in a home with a sports-crazed father. I remember vividly my father’s shock, and disappointment, when Johansson KO’d Patterson in 1959 – my father went on for months about how it was the greatest upset he had ever seen in any sport.  The following year, in October 1960, just two months shy of my 8th birthday, my beloved New York Yankees were upset by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a classic seven-game World Series — classic if you rooted against the Yankees — ended by Bill Mazeroski’s famous home run. While the Yankees loss meant much more to me than the Patterson defeat, I think that together, the two famous upsets, one coming so soon after the other, “proved” to my nascent sports-fan’s sensibilities that the world of sports was a world in which anything — anything! — could happen. If so, Johansson is owed my thanks (as is my father, of course, and the still-despised Bill Mazeroski) for my lifelong love of sports.]

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“Jackie Robinson was my boyhood hero and with every passing year I have a richer appreciation of what he went through and how he made this world a better place with his courage and grace.” (Tom Brokaw)

Earlier this week in New York, in advance of what would have been his 90th birthday tomorrow, Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, kicked off a fund-raising campaign for a planned Jackie Robinson Museum. “The museum will consolidate the major themes that defined Robinson’s life and the lives of all who aspire to effect change: commitment and courage. ‘I saw [those traits] in Jack and I see that in President Obama and others who prevail,'” said Robinson, during an interview with New York Times sports columnist William C. Rhoden. 

A Way to Mark Robinson’s 90th Birthday (via NY Times)

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upd0-005“My subject is the American Protestant small town middle class,” Mr. Updike told Jane Howard in a 1966 interview for Life magazine. “I like middles,” he continued. “It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules.”

[My first encounter with Updike’s writings was during the summer of 1970 when I was required to complete a summer school course in American Literature to satisfy the requirements of my high school diploma that was provisionally bestowed that June.  As an “extra credit” project, I read Updike’s first novel, “The Poorhouse Fair,” which led me to consider his short story collection, “Pigeon Feathers.”  Updike’s anthology, which even he, apparently, considered among his finest work, kindled my everlasting appreciation for short story writing.  Updike also contributed one of the greatest sports essays ever written, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” about Ted Williams’ last major league game.]

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