Another Letter to Miami Asking Them to Drop Football, Why a 154-Game Season Would be Good for Baseball, Jim Harbaugh Channels the Spirit of Bill Walsh, The Day That Damned the Dodgers and More from the Aug. 29 IssuePosted: August 24, 2011
You’ve seen the Brewers “living the high life” on this week’s cover. This week’s Aug. 29 issue also includes the following:
1. Time for Miami to Get Real: Sixteen years ago, senior writer Alexander Wolff asked then University of Miami president Tad Foote to dismantle a Hurricanes football program that had run amok and then some. Now, history has repeated itself. Read Wolff’s updated letter – this time addressed to Donna Shalala – addressing the Nevin Shapiro scandal by visiting Sports Illustrated’s official Facebook page. Click “Like” at the top of the page if you are not already a fan, then click “Fan’s Only” on the left-hand side of the page to read Wolff’s letter.
2. The 154-Game Solution: Senior writer Joe Posnanski argues that shortening the MLB season by eight games would not only shorten a season that seems endless as it is, it would also lend proper context to the home run records warped by the steroid era.
3. Jim Harbaugh: The new Niners coach is looking to the past and embracing the teachings of Bill Walsh – who, like Harbaugh, also made the jump from Palo Alto to the pros – hoping to achieve the same level of success as San Fran fans hope they’ve finally found a worthy successor.
4. The Day That Damned the Dodgers: When Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten into a coma in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day, it marked the latest black eye for a once-proud franchise. Senior writer Lee Jenkins finds out more about what the team – and the city of L.A. – have done in response.
5. 2011 U.S. Open Preview: Senior writer L. Jon Wertheim lists seven players to keep an eye on and takes a closer look at what makes the last tennis major of the year so profitable – and why U.S. tennis is in the dark ages in spite of that.
6. Which manager would major league players most like to play for? 291 players weighed in for this week’s MLB Players Poll.
Read on for more.
MIAMI FOOTBALL: 16 YEARS LATER, IT’S TIME TO GET REAL – ALEXANDER WOLFF
In the June 12, 1995, issue, senior writer Alexander Wolff wrote a letter addressed to then University of Miami president Tad Foote imploring him to dismantle the vaunted Hurricanes football program in the wake of several damning revelations. Now history has repeated itself in the form of a reported eight-year spree of lawlessness by booster (and Ponzi scheme perpetrator) Nevin Shapiro. Wolff’s recommendation remains the same, but now there’s a chance for real change if current Miami president Donna Shalala—who served on the original Knight Commission more than two decades ago and served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton—uses her substantial influence and persuades the NCAA to do the following (page 32):
- Overhaul the compliance process
- Reign in the salaries of coaches, athletic directors and conference commissioners
- Challenge the bowls
- Bring the hammer down on rule-breakers (starting with her own school)
To read the full version of Wolff’s letter to Miami president Donna Shalala on Sport Illustrated’s official Facebook page, click here. Click “Like” at the top of the page if you are not already a fan, then click “Fan’s Only” on the left-hand side of the page to read Wolff’s letter.
On the Tablets: Read more about five of the big names to whom Nevin Shapiro allegedly gave illegal benefits: Vince Wilfork, Devin Hester, Jacory Harris, Jonathan Vilma and Frank Haith. Also click the hotspots to read Wolff’s original letter from 1995 and watch SI’s video coverage of the most recent scandal.
POINT AFTER: THE 154-GAME SOLUTION – JOE POSNANSKI (@JPosnanski)
Senior writer Joe Posnanski is calling for baseball to go back to a 154-game schedule. Then baseball commissioner Ford Frick first touched upon the idea 50 years ago when he asked for the sport to separately acknowledge records broken in the new 162-game schedule and he took a public beating for it. Now his idea is a logical one. Not only would it shorten a season that feels dragged out, but it would also accomplish what baseball has been dying to do for years: quarantine the home run records set during the steroid era (page 68).
To read the full online version of The 154-Game Solution, click here.
JIM HARBAUGH: STUDENT OF HISTORY – PHIL TAYLOR (@SI_PhilTaylor)
New Niners coach Jim Harbaugh is gearing up for the future by looking to the past and embracing the teachings of Bill Walsh—another offensive whiz who made the jump from Palo Alto to the pros. Harbaugh spent much of the NFL lockout studying footage of Walsh and his assistants conducting practices and team meetings, delivering motivational talks to players and diagramming and breaking down plays. Says Niners tight end Vernon Davis (page 36): “Anybody who loves the old Niners has to think, Well, if he’s that interested in studying Walsh, that’s got to be a good sign.”
One of Harbaugh’s first moves (along with team general manager Trent Baalke) was to, surprisingly, re-sign quarterback Alex Smith. Perhaps the only thing more surprising was Smith’s agreeing to return after years of being booed. Smith sums up his rationale thusly: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about going somewhere for a fresh start, but in a lot of ways this is a fresh start. The chance to learn under [Harbaugh] was a big part of it.”
To read the full online version of Student of History, click here.
MARCH 31, 2011: THE DAY THAT DAMNED THE DODGERS – LEE JENKINS (@SI_LeeJenkins)
Dodger Stadium used to offer peace amidst its teeming L.A. surroundings. That idyllic reputation was shattered on Opening Day 2011 when Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten into a coma in the stadium’s parking lot. Senior writer and Southern California native Lee Jenkins gets to the bottom of the subsequent investigation and what the team and the city have done in response to yet another black eye for the Dodgers (page 50).
Says Los Angeles county supervisor Michael Antonovich: “What happened [to Stow] was the direct result of a culture [Frank] McCourt allowed to exist in and out of the stadium. It was barbaric.” Antonovich emailed his spokesman, Tony Bell, on April 1 and told him to announce a $10,000 reward from the county for information about Stow’s assailants—which the Dodgers were not pleased with. Antonovich says: “McCourt’s people called the office. They were upset we got involved. They wanted us to ignore it. They tried to sweep it under the rug.”
To read the full online version of The Day That Damned the Dodgers, click here.
On the Tablets: Lee Jenkins joins media writer Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) on the SI Podcast.
2011 U.S. OPEN: THEY’RE COMING RIGHT AT YOU – L. JON WERTHEIM (@JON_WERTHEIM)
This year’s U.S. Open will feature the dominant Djokovic-Nadal-Federer trio, 3-D coverage on CBS—and no top-ranked American players. Considering the money that the two-week tournament brings in, the last fact is a surprise. The U.S. Open is the highest-grossing annual attended sporting event in the world, reeling in approximately $250 million in gross revenue. Only 10% of that is for players’ prize money, with a large portion going to USTA’s investment in the game. We’re in a gilded age for tennis overall, but it’s a dark era for U.S. tennis. Senior writer L. Jon Wertheim wonders if this historic low is the result of the USTA’s failure to nurture talent or the inevitable result of a more global sport (page 40).
On the Tablets: L. Jon Wertheim joins Richard Deitsch on the SI Podcast.
SI PLAYERS MLB POLL
Which manager would you most like to play for? (page 17)
- Joe Maddon, Rays….14%
- Terry Francona, Red Sox….12%
- Jim Leyland, Tigers….10%
- Mike Scioscia, Angels….9%
- Dusty Baker, Reds….8%
[Based on 291 MLB players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: The five managers listed average 14 years’ experience and have combined for 10 Manager of the Year awards and seven pennants; only Francona, the lone two-time World Series winner, is without an MOY…. Scioscia, Maddon and Francona finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the same SI poll in 2009…. In another SI poll this year, Ozzie Guillen of the White Sox was voted the skipper players least want to play for.
SCORECARD: GENE GENIES – STEVE RUSHIN (@SteveRushin)
These days, predicting a kid’s sporting success is a matter of science. For a DNA sample and a couple hundred dollars, companies now promise test results that will help parents make “appropriate sports choices” for their kids and discover their children’s “genetic advantages.” Senior writer Steve Rushin wonders what happened to finding out the old-fashioned way (page 13): “As a sports-obsessed culture pokes its foam finger ever earlier into childhood, there’s a growing mania for assessing talent, divining potential and generally turning life into the NFL combine. And so we find our children at this strange intersection, at the corner of Mel Kiper and Wet Diaper. All it’s costing us is the here and now. In our strange new concept of space and time, the future is somehow a measurement of the present.”
To read the full online version of Gene Genies, click here.
BOOK EXCERPT: THE ART OF FIELDING – CHAD HARBACH
The Art of Fielding, by first-time author Chad Harbach, explores the on- and off-field lives of the Westish Harpooners, a small-college team in Wisconsin. At the center of the novel (and the excerpt in this week’s SI) is Henry Skrimshander, a slick-fielding shortstop who immediately transforms the fortunes of the traditionally moribund Harpooners. Yet one of the sport’s mysterious mental demons, Steve Blass disease, threatens to undo Skrimshander’s bright future in the major leagues and the Harpooners’ unlikely success. Starting Sept. 7, when The Art of Fielding hits shelves, readers can find out more about Skrimshander’s fortunes and those of the rest of his team (page 60).
On the Tablets: Click to pre-order a copy of The Art of Fielding. Plus, a Q&A with author Chad Harbach.
THIS WEEK ON THE TABLETS
- SI Digital Bonus: Raised by Women to Conquer Men – In his Aug. 28, 1978 profile on Jimmy Connors, Frank Deford discusses how the “Brash Basher of Belleville” was raised by his grandmother and coached by his mother to become the best tennis player in the world—and how Connors refused to alter his game even as it slipped.
- In memory of photographer Lou Capozzola—who died last Thursday at age 61—Leading Off features extra photos from his portfolio of climactic hockey shots.
- Off the Record: This week’s must-see moments in sports video.
- View From the Bridge – Video footage from inside the huddle at the University of Washington—courtesy of a video camera affixed to the helmet of quarterback Keith Price.
- On the Road with Peter King – The final week of King’s long, winding road through the 2011 training camp schedule.
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 20)
- Sarah Wilkey (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor High) – Water Polo
- Cody Proveaux (Leesville, S.C./Pelion High) – Golf
- Olivia Gugliemini (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional High) – Sailing
- Kendal Williams (Jacksonville/Stanton College Prep) – Track and Field
- Karen Thorpe (Salida, Colo.) – Pack Burro Racing
- Amu Aukusitino (Anchorage/Service High) and Kenan Sadanaga (Mililani, Hawaii/Leilehua High) – Football
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- Fantasy Football (page 25): Backbeat – Late starts and lagging conditioning make this the year of the running back. Plus, five busts and sleepers to keep an eye on. (David Sabino, @SI_DavidSabino)
- Olympic Sports (page 28): Oh, To Be in England – Teenagers Jordyn Wieber and Danell Leyva set the bar higher for next summer by winning their first U.S. all-around titles. (Brian Cazeneuve)
- On the Tablets: A slideshow of all the action from last week’s U.S. championships.
- College Football (page 30): Transfer Credits – An accomplished bunch of campus transplants, including some potential stars, should make an impact for their new teams. (Pablo S. Torre, @SIPabloTorre)