Features

Time to Shut It Down

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Once you commit to a weekly game, it becomes what you set your watch to. The rest of life is just what goes on in between or threatens to interrupt the Saturday ritual.

There’s No Hope in Vegas, Mets Fans

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So with visions of .500 baseball, and maybe a run of good luck at the blackjack table, I planned a trip to see Amed Rosario play. At the time, it felt like he could be the missing piece to salvage the Mets’ injury-plagued season.

Alien Days: Minor League Las Vegas

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Through dry, desert-stung eyes and ears, a few details broke through: the third-base umpire with a black cast on his right arm; the young boys in the stands pummeling an inflatable green alien; the vendor’s regular bark of “beer, water, NUTS.

When the Ball Goes Into the Crowd

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It’s coming your way, it’s coming your way, it’s coming your way! Oh, but it lands just short, a few rows down and five or six seats across. The supporter who catches it does so perfectly and casts it pitchwards with a meaty, assured throw. Those around him pat his back and cheer.

The Night of the Virgin

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For six months, the banality of being a not-playing soccer player on a lower-division club ate away at Manny. He could go out with his roommates to bars and say he was a Gales player, but no pictures of him in a Gales uniform appeared on TV or the newspaper. The local press simply didn’t care. Nobody was a fan.

Deadball: An Interview with W. M. Akers

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I never expected to get my baseball fill from a board game until I picked up a copy of W. M. Akers’s Deadball: Baseball with Dice. Funded in under four hours on Kickstarter, the baseball simulation uses simple player statistics, dice, and traditional baseball scorekeeping to a surprisingly realistic effect. A few weeks ago, after playing a few rounds with the early, unfinished rulebook, I reached out to Akers to talk about the origins of the game.

The World’s Classic

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As the iridescent fog settled into Chavez Ravine during the 7th inning of the World Baseball Classic’s second semi-final, the tension in Dodger Stadium simmered low. The crowd was sparse, yet dedicated, having shown up during the height of the day’s rain shower and persevered throughout under umbrellas, rain jackets, and ponchos.

L.A.’s Perfect Pools: An Interview with Tino Razo

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His new book, Party in the Back, collects over 300 photos Tino took while documenting his exploits finding, cleaning, and skateboarding the abandoned, or simply unfilled, pools of Southern California with his friends Rick and Buddy—all while inevitably waiting for the cops to show and break up the party.

Believe in the Sixers. Believe in Yourself.

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With the team starting to win not only games but the respect and admiration of their peers, the beauty of Hinkie’s plan continues to unfold from beyond his (basketball) grave. Suddenly, with Ben Simmons’s debut still to come, we can root for the Process and root for success at the same time.

With Dennis Danziger

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For 26 years, I played in the same Sunday afternoon, full-court basketball game with the same guys. Then my Medicare card arrived in the mail and I switched to doubles tennis. Occasionally, at the gym some 20-somethings will see me shooting and ask me to join them. I figure since I have to die one day, might as well be while trying to hit the open man.

Drafting the NWSL’s Future

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On the tables closest to the stage, each club’s scarves are carefully laid out around bouquets of flowers and team signage, where management and representatives from the 10 organizations will conduct their draft. The players hoping to be drafted are not far behind them in the audience. With family, friends, and even some youth club coaches in attendance, the event is open to the public, and I can’t imagine anyone here, regardless of what brought us, has only a casual interest in The Beautiful Game.

An Interview with Molly Schiot

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All of these women’s names and all of their stories are stuck in dusty old books and magazines that no one ever looks at anymore because they’re in libraries. They’re not on the Internet. So, I decided to create an Instagram account specifically for these stories and get them pushed onto a popular culture media platform.

The Best of Eephus – 2016

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We chose some of our favorite, most Eephus-y stories of 2016. We hope you’ll enjoy any you’ve missed, and stick around for what’s to come in the new year.

With Jason Diamond

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I was on the floor during Game 7 of the World Series mumbling to myself, tears running down my face pretty much from the 6th inning when David Ross hit that homer and onward until about three in the morning before finally passing out. As a lifelong Cubs fan, that was easily one of the most intense, insane, and ultimately wonderful experiences I’ve ever gone through.

Episode 70: MLS Cup

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Guy Yedwab joins the podcast to discuss the 2016 MLS Cup final, tactically sound but boring soccer, and a little banter about the future expansion of MLS.

An Eephus Holiday Gift Guide – Books

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Looking for some sports books to pick up for your friends or family (or yourself) this holiday season? Here are some of our favorites, from 2016 and earlier, for the fan in your life. Happy reading.

With Jim Hock

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My first real memory of the waterworks was watching the Rams lose to the Steelers in the Super Bowl. I can remember exactly where I was sitting and Vince Ferragamo’s interception sent me over the edge.

Los Angeles, 1953. Hollywood’s Rams.

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Feel how different it was from games in any other city, like Pittsburgh or Chicago. This was Los Angeles in 1953. Maybe Los Angeles wasn’t so special to merit Major League Baseball, but the Rams were still the best pro game in town—Hollywood’s team and worthy of a five-star premiere.

Etcetera 28.

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The mayor’s ten-speed bicycle, reported missing last spring, has been fished out of the river by a retired doctor.

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In a basement restroom of the basketball arena, an unidentified person smashed the mirrors and clogged the drains.

With Matthew Specktor

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Will it make me seem lazy—or too much like a casual fan—if I admit I can’t remember a single pilgrimage of any memorable length?  And since I rarely leave home (I’m a writer, after all; a sanctioned hermit), the game is always on.

Ali’s Forgotten Final Fight

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With :43 left in the seventh, the unranked Trevor Berbick stopped raining punches on Muhammad Ali as he slumped against the ropes, looked at ref Zach Clayton, and screamed “He’s hurt!” Did they stop the fight? They did not.

My Season in Czech Semi-Pro Basketball

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In the winter of 1993, a young man moved to Prague with the idea of finding a pro or semi-pro basketball team and convincing them to let him join. It was a dumb idea, partly because the young man didn’t know if they even had pro or semi-pro basketball teams in Prague, partly because he didn’t speak any Czech and partly because he was, in the grand scheme of things, just okay at basketball.

Etcetera 26.

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We used to jump rope in our Florsheims. We used to play football in our Oxfords.

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Shoes with spikes, shoes of canvas. Underwater shoes and shoes for dancing.

With Mark Chiusano

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Today we get the answers from Mark Chiusano, columnist and editorial writer for Newsday and amNewYork, and author of the short story collection Marine Park.

Etcetera 25.

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In Las Vegas, dog-walking along the fence of McCarran Airport is popular sport.

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Who holds the world record for most consecutive rides on the High Roller observation wheel?

With Jonathan Lethem

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Today we get the answers from Jonathan Lethem, the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and most recently A Gambler’s Anatomy.

Doc Gooden: 30 Years On

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In July, ESPN premiered a Judd Apatow-directed 30 for 30, “Doc & Darryl.” The documentary pairs Gooden and Strawberry once more and traces the ascent of the ’86 Mets and the drug-fueled downfall of the two players. It is poignant to see the two reunited. Strawberry is enjoying a new life, and things even seem to be looking up for Gooden.

Timelines

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On the first timeline I am 40 years old, husband, father of three children, builder of things, writer of things, breaker and fixer of things. On the second timeline I am watching baseball, and it has all just happened, is happening, will happen in a moment. Time does not elapse.

Friday Night Plight: Week 7

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My approach to FPL could be an intro course to behavioral economics. Step right up, undergrads! Every week, a real-life demonstration on sunk cost fallacy and a reminder that markets are not rational, because people are not rational.

With Dave Fromm

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Today we get the answers from Dave Fromm, author of the memoir, Expatriate Games: My Season of Misadventures in Czech Semi-Pro Basketball.

Friday Night Plight: Week 6

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Some people are good at Fantasy Premier League: they listen to podcasts, read analysis, remember to trade people right away when they get suspended before they lose value, and understand how bonus points are awarded. Me,…

With Sam Miller

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Today, we get the answers from Sam Miller, editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus and a contributing writer at ESPN The Magazine.

Friday Night Plight: Week 5

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Some people are good at Fantasy Premier League: they listen to podcasts, read analysis, and understand how bonus points are awarded. Me, I set my team on Friday night—exhausted from work, often slightly drunk, informed by twenty minutes of wild research, fueled by irrational notions.

With Jonathan Wilson

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Today, we get the answers from Jonathan Wilson, author of the recently published Angels with Dirty Faces: How Argentinian Soccer Defined a Nation and Changed the Game Forever.

Donovan’s Return

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Do the Galaxy need Landon Donovan on the pitch? Perhaps his return is a kind of reclamation of the team’s recent history, and the mindset that got them there.

Home Discomforts

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During the 2011 Copa America, the field-side announcer read out the teams before the game, announcing “in the 10, the best in the word, Lionel Messi.” There was polite applause. “And in the 11, the player of the people, Carlos Tevez.” There was a mighty roar.

Why I Ride

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There’s a transformative moment, early on in training, when you start to recognize that what you’re feeling during a given moment is shared, physically, by those around you.

College Football – Week 1

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The Big Game podcast is back, just in time to cover the first college football games of the season. Our resident SEC fan and LSU alum Guy Anglade (@musetteanddrums) returns to the podcast to talk about the…

Clear Eyes, Broken Hearts

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I have found that Modelo Especial goes best with my tears. You see, I am a UCLA Bruin (an actual Bruin that is, with the degree and debt to prove it), but that comes with a certain inevitability—we are going to choke.

With J. Ryan Stradal

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“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of catching a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every Monday morning (and sometimes Wednesdays…

With Steve Kettmann

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Today, we get the answers from Steve Kettmann, author of nine books on subjects ranging from sports to politics. His most recent is Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets.

Etcetera 19.

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In the bullpen — there’s got to be a jar of instant coffee in here somewhere.

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The team doctor prescribed the swimmers two cups of decaf before bedtime.

Le Baseball: Québec and the Can-Am League

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Keeping score takes an extra half-beat in order to allow the brain to translate. A left fielder is avoltigeur de gauche. A pitcher is a lanceur. A shortstop is an arrêtcourt . At the end of each half-frame we tally up points, coups surs, erreurs, and runners laisses sur les buts. All 3842 of us await a coup de circuit, though no one manages to clear the ad-plastered wall.

With Ben Lindbergh

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Today, we get the answers from Ben Lindbergh, co-author of The Only Rule Is It Has to Work, an excellent book about running an independent league baseball team. He is also a staff writer for The Ringer and, with Sam Miller, the cohost of Effectively Wild, the daily Baseball Prospectus podcast.

At Home on the Road in South America

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Two days have passed since I spent an evening at Estado Alejandro Serrano Aguilar, the home of Deportiva Cuenca, in southern Ecuador. Since then I’ve searched a dozen local retailers for a kit, tried to change the team I support on FIFA16, and spent at least an hour trying to understand the Ecuadorian league and tournament structure.

The Incident: My Basketball Selves

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It’s the hypotheticals of that moment that haunt me. What if he’d tripped over his legs and blown out his knee, or gone tumbling into the wall and hit his head in a way that triggered bleeding in his brain? At the time, I thought of myself as an activist. Some of my teammates even came to my support—I’d stood up to the coaches. But the self-aggrandizement quickly dissolved into guilt, and six years later it’s more or less remained with me.

Basketball in the City of Sin

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The NBA’s Summer League concludes next Monday with the mini-tournament’s championship game, held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. So last weekend, as the Summer League was about to kick off, I did what I like to do and embarked on another road trip into the desert to watch some more meaningless exhibition games.

Etcetera 16.

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Water! At the square root of sports is water.

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Squirt water on the boxer’s head between rounds. Squirt the water all over his jaws.

The Road to Omaha

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  If you missed it two weeks ago, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers earned their first College World Series title in a winner-take-all series against Arizona, 4-3. And your follow-up question may be “The Chanti-who?” According to…

Victory, In the Streets of Lisbon

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It sounded like bedlam. Shouts. Cheers. Jubilation. The yelling gave way to song. Someone started up his motorcycle and revved his engine in tandem with chants of POR-TU-GAL! POR-TU-GAL! I’ve never been so happy to lose a bet.

Zá-to-pek! Zá-to-pek! Zá-to-pek!

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In the past eight days he has already won two Olympic golds, achieving the elusive distance-running double of winning both the 5,000 and the 10,000m. And now he is minutes away from completing a treble which everyone watching must realize will almost certainly never be achieved again. This is, by the way, the first time he has ever run a marathon.

A Terrible Day for the Races

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On Saturday, June 11th, I found myself in Northeast Los Angeles with a few hours to kill and made my way to Santa Anita to catch a simulcast of the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown’s third and the longest leg, and hardest to handicap. I put down a $50 exacta box on the 7-horse and the 11-horse. I’ll spare you the drama: we didn’t win.

Defunct

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Relocated, renamed, contracted, defunct. The history of professional sports is littered with teams that failed, moved, or slipped quietly away. And I love them.

Rules of the Mini Game

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Tom Thumb had a castle with doors that opened and closed, a ferris wheel that spun, and of course a windmill. A mini-golf course is a kind of fantasy land. The first thing I learned is that rules were probably a good idea to protect people from themselves, or protect them from who they pretended to be.

With George Quraishi

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“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of catching a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every Monday morning. In this, our…

The Redemption of Earl Swish

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Maybe, after Sunday, it’s time we realize that J.R., knowingly or not, may have heard us all along. Every word, the forgiving and the flaying, building towards some hellish clamor he couldn’t ignore anymore.

The WNBA’s Battle of the Unbeatens

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Minnesota is in the midst of a run that may come to rival any professional team, mens or womens, of this era. Perhaps, with their season-opening winning streak now reaching 13 games and counting, the country will pay even more attention and take that much sought after final step into “crossover story.”

Golf’s Most Hyperbolic Major

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The rough is always the longest, the greens the toughest, whether by severe undulation or speed, or both, and the scoring the highest. The USGA labels such conditions challenging, and they are, I suppose, but when is golf not challenging?

With Will Leitch

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“The 7 Questions” is a new sports questionnaire — the Eephus way of catching a snapshot of the fan’s life. From writers to artists and beyond, we bring you answers every Monday morning. We’re very excited…