A makeshift memorial for the Boston Marathon bombing victims is near the finish line ahead of Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
THE 118th BOSTON MARATHON Monday at 6:30 a.m., Universal Sports Network: “There’s a road race in Boston on Monday,” Boston Globe columnist Dan Schaughnessy wrote Sunday. “An actual athletic competition. Thousands of athletes will compete to see who can cover 26.2 miles faster than anybody else. Remember when the Boston Marathon was just a footrace? …. Everything, of course, has changed. This year, the Boston Marathon belongs to the world. It stands as a symbol of American freedom and a population refusing to cower to terrorism. Bostonians, New Englanders, Americans, and citizens of the free world on Monday will return to Hopkinton to reclaim a celebration that last year was interrupted by murder and mayhem.”
Shalane Flanagan approaches the finish line to finish fourth in the women’s division of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Flanagan is more determined to win the race for her battered hometown, and if she does, the Marblehead, Mass., native would be the first American winner since 1985. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
For example: There will be 100 runners in this year’s race as part of Team MR8, all picked by the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation to honor the 8-year-old who was the youngest of three who died during the bombings last year. One of those chosen Pat Brophy, who was stopped with less than a mile to go from the finish line when the two blasts occurred. “I have unfinished business on that course,” she told CBS News this week. The group, who applied through the www.teammr8.org website, is made up of many who didn’t get to complete the race a year ago, but “they are also running for our son Martin, and finishing a race he wanted to someday run, but will never get the chance to,” his mother, Denise Richard, said in a statement to CBS News. Pre-race coverage starts at 5:30 a.m. and race coverage ends at 10 a.m., with a one-hour wrap-up show at 1 p.m. A two-hour condensed version of the race airs from 5-to-7 p.m. and 8-to-10 p.m. with the wrap-up re-airing each time.
From left: Casey Stengel, Branch Rickey and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in the fall of 1960, a time when Stengel would be fired as the New York Yankees’ manager and when Rickey’s plans for a rival league were unraveling. Bettmann/CORBIS
The pitch: Spaulding must have thought there’d be a Continental League ready to launch in the late ’50s or early ’60s. Or how else do you explain the baseball it all prepared for this thing?
The plans to construct this rival to Major League Baseball (before such a phrase like “Major League Baseball” was even thought to be an entity to compete with the National Football League or National Basketball Association) has been documented in several places. Most notably, see the 2009 amazing biography of Branch Rickey by Leo Lowenfish and the 2010 book by Michael Shapiro called “Bottom of the Ninth: Branch Rickey, Casey Stengel and the Daring Scheme to Save Baseball From Itself.”
Buhite, a professor emeritus of history at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, has made his mark with books about Douglas MacArthur,FDR’s fire-side chats, foreign policy, and decisions made at Yalta. But where his history crosses with the interest on how the Continental League almost came to be is directly related to the fact that he was a first base prospect in the late 1950s who, after some time in the New York Giants,Baltimore and Washington, signed a contract to play with the Western Carolina League. That was to be a minor-league feeder for the Denver team of the Continental League, according to plans.
Buhite sites the work by Lowenfish and Shapiro in his own account, but adds: “Despite their excellent work, however, the story is in many ways incomplete.” Buhite’s own work on documenting what happened actually preceded their publications, he notes. Continue reading →
Frank Shorter (5, center) and Bill Rodgers (right) makes their move in the 1978 Boston Marathon as they pass through Natick, Massachusetts. (Outsideonline.com)
Frank Shorter gave thought to running in Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon.
It was a short-lived idea.
“I’m really not that fast anymore,” said the 66-year-old who transformed the sport decades ago to what it has evolved into.
Why would speed matter? Tis not how fast you run the race, but . . .
“Yeah, I know, but it’s hard for me to answer,” he hemmed. “I’m not sure why.”
The only American male to win Olympic gold in the marathon really does know – he wants to finish what he started a year ago, without any horrific interruptions.
It’s been ingrained in him since an early age to never drop out of a race.
The long-distance legend who never finished in the top three in all his attempts for the Boston Marathon, was part of the Universal Sports Network telecast last year as a studio analyst. He and his team never got to do their afternoon wrap-up show after two bombs ripped through the area near the finish line, killing three people and leaving more than 250 injured.
He’s going back to be part of the broadcast again, no second thoughts about running it. Even if Boston Marathon legend Bill Rogers told Shorter he’d run with him in the event before injuring a hamstring during training, ending that thought.
Shorter instead has some time to sort out his approach to being back in Boston a year later: Continue reading →
The pitch: It’s a story that first came across our radar a few years back in an L. Jon Werthheim Sports Illustrated story, and then again while reading the new book, “Tales From the Deadball Era: Ty Cobb, Home Run Baker, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Wildest Times in Baseball History” (by Mark S. Halfon, Potomac Books, 248 pages, $26.95). There, contained to pages 12-15, in the course of giving example after example about the “blatant corruption” that often took place in baseball during the first 20 years of the 20th Century, came this incomprehensible tale.
When famous auto maker named Hugh Chalmers offered one of his Chalmers “30″ Roasters to the player with the base batting average in the big leagues in 1910, fans took notice. Few people owned a car at that time but were captivated by the technology.
(Imagine Richard Branson offering the home-run winner of 2014 a chance to fly into space on one of his new-fangled Virgin Galactic rocket ships).
So there went Detroit’s Ty Cobb and Cleveland’s Nap Lajoie in the “great automobile race” — far and away ahead of the eventual NL champion Sherry Magee.
Huhn, who has done bios on Eddie Collins and George Sisler, allows the story to play out without giving away the ending — which you could easily look up. Continue reading →
The pitch: Before it comes out in theaters billed as the new Jon Hamm movie (release date: May 16), this quasi-young-adult book version written by Las Vegas agent Bernstein (portrayed by Hamm) who experienced it all first hand does more than lay the groundwork for those who want to read up on what’s going before swallowing the Hollywood-ized version. Continue reading →
The focus of this week’s sports media column (at this link): There will be some 3,000 members of the media gathering around Boston for Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon,including the entire Universal Sports Network team returning from a year ago when their coverage of the 2013 was marred by two bombs going off near the finish line, killing three and injuring hundreds more. How USN will cover the marathon moving forward is finding the balance of remembering the past and focusing on the future and its redemptive healing process. More notes on the Lakers’ final TV ratings versus the Clippers, how ESPN/ABC and TNT have plans for the NBA playoffs and what happened to the Tiger-less Masters last weekend as far as a TV draw.
What else could have been included but will be situated just fine here:
== USN’s 2013 Boston Marathon tribute show, which first aired live Tuesday, repeats Friday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m. The 2014 race preview show airs at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, plus at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Gregory Heisler/For Sports Illustrated
== Sports Illustrated sent out a call for whomever wanted to be part of the April 21 cover to show up at the Boston Marathon finish line at Boyston and Dartmouth at 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 12. Some 3,000 appeared with mayor Marty Walsh, first responders and some of last year’s runners. Said SI Managing Editor Chris Stone in a press reelase: “Boston Strong is a story about people, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, ordinary people doing ordinary things. SI’s creative director, Chris Hercik, believed the best way to tell this story a year later was to bring all those people, or as many as possible, into a single photo at the finish line. If you look at last year’s cover photo, you see all that empty space all the way down Boylston Street filled by smoke and that backdrop of chaos and destruction. This year’s photo fills those spaces with the Bostonians who wrote the Boston Strong story.”
== Add to the Boston Marathon: The next episode of “Backstage: Galaxy” on TWC SportsNet (Saturday at 7 p.m., after the Galaxy-Vancouver game) includes an interview with Galaxy goalie coach Matt Reis, whose father-in-law, John Odom, was seriously injured in last year’s race. Both are interviewed as Odom talks about his progress and plans to return to Boston. This Boston Globe story explains what Odom went through.
The pitch: So there was Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt talking the other day on a Philadelphia radio station about ways to speed up the game: “I think the umpire at home plate should not call balls and strikes. I think they should have a force field over home plate and if the pitcher throws and the ball touches the force field a little bell goes off and it’s a strike. That would expand the strike zone to the point where the hitters would now have to swing the ball, which would shorten the game. … You’d think it would be something very easy to do with what they can do electronically in our world today.”
In our world as we know it today, “force field” is not a baseball term. Those things that Schmidt talks about may be forcing the issue. Continue reading →
The pitch: If this latest Jackie Robinson Day has taught the young-ins another history lesson about race relations and the game of baseball, here’s something that turns the clock back even further.
“Whereas much has been written on Jackie Robinson and the process of baseball’s racial desegregation, not nearly enough attention has been paid to an obvious but oft-overlooked question: how did baseball develop to the point where it needed Jackie Robinson in the first place?” Swanson writes in the introduction.
Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., and Washington D.C. are Swanson’s focus on how baseball may have thrived in dense black populated cities after the Civil War, but this “fanatical desire by white baseball leaders to foster a ‘national game’ was the preeminent force behind baseball’s segregation,” the University of New Mexico professor continues about how the Reconciliation period of America compromised racial progress, and baseball was merely a reflection of that.”
Strange, eh? Continue reading →
Jackie Robinson, right, with Roy Campanella, left, at the Harlem YMCA on Nov. 15, 1948 (www.sportingnews.com)
The pitch: Maybe this story has been told before.
In the notes to the introduction of this book, Kashatus cites some stories found in his research: “A Feud Grows in Brooklyn,” is the headline on a piece by the L.A. Sentinel’s Doc Young in 1957. “Campy Envied Me,’ Busy Robby Hastens to Explain,” wrote Dick Young in the New York Daily News about a month before Doc Young’s story. “Campy Ridicules Robinson: I’ll Catch 5 More Years,” Young wrote again, the day after his previous story.
Maybe those of us who were not around when Robinson was retiring in 1956, or as Campanella had his career end in 1957 after a car accident never heard this side of their relationship before.
Not that we expect all teammates to get along. Winning solves a lot of relationship issues. So why bring it up again? Because as the latest rounds of Jackie Robinson tributes come again on this day set aside in his honor, some reflection on how his legacy didn’t always mix with his fellow African-American Dodgers teammates, and why differing approaches toward the end-goal of equality was more likely a reflection of society as a whole as it fought through ways of getting to the end game.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Robinson and Campanella were from almost two different worlds. Just look at the titles of their autobiographies — “I Never Had It Made,” went with Robinson, who moved to Pasadena with his mom as school kid, while “It’s Great To Be Alive” is connected to Campanella, whose father was Italian and his mother black.
Robinson was all about intensity, aggressiveness, pride. Campanella was more easy going, charming, and wanted his abilities to speak for themselves. And there they butted heads often, writes Kashatus, using the comparison in his introduction to how the two mirrored a philosophy toward ending segregation as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois did in their own ways. Continue reading →
The pitch: In an excerpt of the book that appeared in the March 10 issue of Sports Illustrated — it was the cover story, for that matter — this paragraph explained best what was at the crux of the matter: “Of all the ways one might characterize the differences and similarities between Rose and those players known to have used performance-enhancing drugs — the Hall of Shamers, as it were — it comes to this: Rose has been banished for the incalculable damage he might have done to the foundation of the game. Steroid users are reviled for the damage they actually did.”
That paragraph doesn’t make until Chapter 22 of this book by Kennedy, the Sports Illustrated assistant managing editor who decided to take on this project.
Our dilemma: Do we care enough to invest our time and patience into this project?
For the writing of Kennedy, sure. It’s not like he’s got Rose-colored glasses on here.
For the filibuster that takes place in trying to make us all understand this complicated matter? We’re not sure. But then, maybe this book isn’t intended for someone like us to digest. You don’t have to convince us.
After plowing through the evidence that Kennedy re-unearths, our better sense is that we believe more than ever that use of the words like “fatal flaws” and “enigmatic” or “conundrums” are really what is derailing any progress in Rose’s legacy. Continue reading →