The Best of the Rest: June

June 29, 2012 | Mark Brown

One of the things you have to accept as a person who writes or otherwise talks about sports is that not every funny, interesting or insightful thing out there is going to be written by you. Rather than finding this to be a threatening situation, it’s better to embrace it. If you recognize other great writing and share it, people will know that as they go about their busy lives, they can visit you and be exposed to a variety of entertaining pieces. They don’t have to sift through the rest of the entire Internet if you do it for them.

To that end, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite bits of sportswriting that I’ve seen across the Internet this month. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have.

1. The No-Hitter Field-Stormer, or the Stranger in the Mob by Jon Bois on Baseball Nation

Jon Bois tirelessly documents the phenomenon known as field-storming – or streaking – at baseball games. The point of view from which he approaches this is simple: you would not want your son to be that person out there streaking, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with pointing and laughing at the spectacle. In Jon’s capable hands, you might think you are reading about performance art. Perhaps you are. This post is about a man who ran onto the field following Johan Santana’s no-hitter for the Mets and joined in the celebrating clump of Mets.

2. The Consequences of Caring by Bill Simmons on Grantland

Like him or hate him, Simmons is an oft-imitated and never-duplicated voice in sportswriting. Fifteen years ago, he was just another idiot with a website, and now he runs the Grantland brand under the ESPN umbrella, something that allowed him to do a “B.S. Report” podcast with President Obama. Sometimes the Boston homerism is too much. Sometimes he just writes about something I don’t care about. But sometimes he touches on a deep feeling that everyone can understand. In this article, he writes about his young daughter and her emerging sports consciousness as the Los Angeles Kings played for the Stanley Cup.

3. Coldhearted: Los Angeles, at Last! by Katie Baker on Grantland

Another Grantland writer who is a favorite of mine is Katie Baker, who writes for them about hockey. I don’t particularly watch a lot of hockey – in fact, I watched none prior to the playoffs of the recently-concluded season. Baker breaks it all down for the layman (or idiot) like myself, and she works hard to track down video to illustrate a play she references. Must be nice to write about a sport that lets video be posted on Youtube. She also captures the human side of sports like no other, as in the above: the Kings players who had just won the championship not as distant and inaccessible athletes but as real human beings with families, friends, and feelings.

4. Jake Arrieta is a Confidence Man by Andrew Gibson on Camden Chat

Full disclosure: this is my one homer pick. Andrew is my friend, podcast co-host, and Camden Chat is where I also blog. That said, there was a lot of chatter among the regular Orioles media prior to and after Jake Arrieta had a great start against the Pirates in the middle of the month. Were all his problems really just stemming from a lack of confidence? Andrew makes the observation that, while the results were good on the surface, his Pirates start wasn’t all that different from some of this others this year. His subsequent starts have been decent (except for one grand slam pitch) and good enough. Perhaps Jake will keep going in the right direction tonight.

5. The BCS finally has a stake driven through its heart… by Dan Wetzel on Yahoo! Sports

Wetzel wrote a book entitled “Death To The BCS”, part of a tireless crusade to advocate for some kind of playoff system in college football as an alternative to the BCS setup. So on the occasion of the NCAA finally embracing some kind of playoff for its Division I football, you can understand if Wetzel might be tempted to say I told you so. Actually, his summation is about the whole process, appreciating the product even as he points out its warts. NCAA football has never been one of my top sports to follow, probably because I never went to a university with a football team. Wetzel makes it easy to see why so many people care about it so much.


So there’s some of the Best of the Rest for June. If you’re looking for something else to kill some time before you head for the beach this Friday afternoon, maybe these will do just the trick.