The Favorite

An engrossing and well-written piece by Brian Phillips for Grantland, on the dominance of the Williams sisters, and specifically the current opponent destruction being wrought by Serena:

Serena took over tennis and then … just kept on taking it over. She never stopped being a conqueror. I followed her around at Wimbledon this year, and let me tell you. Have you seen her play in person? The difference between Serena live and Serena on TV is greater than the difference between Roger Federer live and Roger Federer on TV; I’m not kidding. She is just — and I mean, you can spot this with one eye closed from the top row of a stadium — playing a different sport from her opponents.

Watching Wimbledon and the Olympics this year, I was awestruck by just how insanely talented this woman is. It’s electric to watch her play.

And I firmly believe this is because she loves what she does.

Sparkle Motion

Brian Phillips for Grantland:

The problem my little plan almost immediately ran into is that when, as part of my research, I started watching RG videos, I found that I actually liked it. I mean, I think you’re not supposed to say that if you’re an American sports fan with pretensions to red-bloodedness, but fuck it: These women are amazing. If you care about sports on any level beyond box scores and regional rivalries, if you love watching a wide receiver make an acrobatic catch or a striker score an off-balance goal, if you ever feel astonished by, just, like, the incredible things people do with their bodies — then I defy you to watch a few minutes of RG and not think it’s pretty cool.

Rhythmic Gymnastics starts on August 9th. We’ll be watching the stream in my house.

I love this paragraph, too:

Obviously — I mean, obviously — gender has something to do with this. RG is often not just girly, it’s aggressively, in-your-face girly; it’s an h-bomb of girliness. Looking at the overall culture of the sport, you sometimes get an impression of an ancient, complex civilization made up entirely of 12-year-olds named Bethany. The core aesthetic of RG is … well, there are leotards on which the sequins have sequins. There are pinks that cut your brain. Words like “butterfly princess” and “Euro Disney halftime show” and “the crime scene after the Easter bunny is beaten to death with a vintage Patrick Nagel print” flutter into the mind. If you’re a fan who’s got the least bit of insecurity about the sports you are watching, it is really, really easy to feel like, OK, at least pro wrestling involves smashing things. It is really, really easy not to give RG a chance.

Awesome writing to boot. And a great article title.

I Love You, Kill Screen, But…

This is what I get quarterly from Kill Screen for $40 a year; just shy of 100 pages:

This is what I get from the Grantland Quarterly for $48 a year; about 340 pages including a pull-out style section:

To be fair, Kill Screen is full color and has a lot more content that either isn’t available on the website or is delayed there after the print publication. (Grantland is done in 2-color groups and has mostly content that was published on the website about six months earlier, but it’s hardcover.)

I love both publications and think that they are both full of a lot of very, very good writing, but there’s a value comparison here that’s not in Kill Screen‘s favor, especially considering that Kill Screen has ads and Grantland Quarterly doesn’t.

“Dick’s Degrees of Separation”

From Mark Titus‘s weekly power rankings on Grantland:

I’ve decided to implement a halftime break for each column, and this week I’m using the break to start a new game. It’s called “Dick’s Degrees of Separation,” and it’s inspired by the tangents Dick Vitale rattles off whenever he calls a game. Dickie V. has a habit of letting his train of thought get away from him, resulting in rants on a variety of topics that have little to do with his original subject. It’s like he’s playing six degrees of separation in his mind and wants to find a way to connect Kentucky’s ball screen defense to the cheeseburger he ate in Salt Lake City in 1979 while watching the Magic vs. Bird national championship game. To celebrate how entertaining Dickie V. can be, I’ve picked out my favorite Vitale tangent of this past week. I’m going to provide the end point of the tangent, as well as three potential pathways that arrive at the conclusion. From there, it’s your job to determine which tangent is real and which ones I made up. Good luck.

I am so looking forward to next week’s answer and you should be too.

I plan on writing more on this once I receive my printed Quarterly, but some of the best writing on the Internet (or indeed anywhere) is currently happening on Grantland. If you don’t have it in your RSS reader of choice you should change that.

Westbrook In, Ludwick Out in 3-Team Deal

The Cardinals have acquired righthanded starting pitcher Jake Westbrook and cash considerations from the Cleveland Indians in a three-team trade that sends right fielder Ryan Ludwick to the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals receive minor-league lefthander Nick Greenwood from the Padres.

I’m good with this. Jon Jay is looking like a great investment in the future of the Cardinals, which gives Ludwick less of a place with the team, and another pitcher isn’t a bad move.

Sounds like a good money deal, too.

(via St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)

First Family Ballgame

Abby’s Girl Scout troop was invited to group seats at a Cards game this past weekend, which included a walk around the warning track at the park. (The group seats were, as you would expect, very high up.) This is the first time any of the children were able to go to a game, and the first time Amanda and my parents had been to the new Busch Stadium.

I’ve Made My Peace with St. Louis Baseball

You know, except for the 2006 World Series, when I was pretty sure I was going to explode from conflicting loyalties, I’ve pretty much settled with the fact that I’m now a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. My two oldest children wear Cards hats. I have a stuffed Fredbird. It’s happened, and I have to deal with it.

I can reconcile this because my Detroit Tigers are in the opposite league.

Because of this fandom, which has grown from the fact that I’m raising my children in this fine metropolitan area, I have to say that I’m pretty excited with how the beginning of the baseball season is progressing. There is—of course—still room for the Cards to disappoint, but they’re looking good.

It is also the reason that this picture is one of my favorite baseball photos of all time:

sosa_zoom

It literally never gets old. I thought of it completely spontaneously yesterday and felt I just had to share it with you all.