Sports Illustrated Stanley Cup Prediction: Kings in Six
The Celtics Big Three Have One Last Shot at a Title
A Look at the Work of American Realist Master George Bellows
Matt Cain Voted Baseball’s Most Underrated Pitcher by His Peers
(NEW YORK – May 30, 2012) – Ten years ago, Sports Illustrated’s exclusive in-depth look at the use of performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball (MLB) led to a senate investigation. Former National League MVP and admitting steroid user Ken Caminiti told SI that he had used performance-enhancing drugs and believed that about as many major league players were using steroids as were playing the game clean. Senator Byron Dorgan opened the senate subcommittee hearing by citing the SI story as a call to action, a reason to decide whether any “legislative action is necessary.”
As MLB continues to expand its drug testing since the hearing, the focus has been on the tainted records and court cases that resulted from the Steroid Era. But the cover story for the June 4, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated looks inside the lives of ordinary players whose careers were defined by the choice they made, to cheat or not to cheat.
Senior writer Tom Verducci, who wrote the cover story in 2002, examines the playing careers of four right handed pitchers who were members of the Minnesota Twins organization in mid-to-late 1990s. They had similar skills and backgrounds. None were drafted by the Twins higher than the fourth round of the MLB amateur draft. One of the four, however, took steroids, and he was the only one who ever reached the major leagues. His name was Dan Naulty and his decision to cheat the game, his teammates and himself affected all their lives (page 38).
Naulty was 6’6’’ and 180 pounds as a senior at Cal State Fullerton, had a fastball that sat around 85mph and was drafted in the 14th round. After using steroids and other performance-enhancement drugs, he began throwing his fastball at up to 95mph and at one point weighed 248 pounds. He spent three seasons with the Twins, pitching in 97 games before being traded to the New York Yankees in 1999, where he won a World Series.
On the outside, he looked like many other major leaguers, but inside he was an emotional wreck from the steroids, the guilt of cheating and a drinking problem. Naulty hit rock bottom just after the World Series. After a night of celebrating with some teammates, Naulty asked his driver as they crossed the George Washington Bridge, “Tell me. Tell me if this is all there is to life. Because if this is all there is, just stop this car right now and I’ll jump…. I had no hope. I had sold myself that bill of goods so long that I believed it. But I realized at that moment I had totally destroyed my life. And I had destroyed countless other people’s lives. I was ready to die.”
Brett Roberts was the highest drafted of the four pitchers, and in 1996, the Twins invited he and Naulty to big league camp where Naulty beat him out for a roster spot. Roberts said, “It’s hard enough trying to make it in this profession. You want to make it on your own abilities and work ethic, and all of a sudden, when you think it’s an even playing field, you’ve got somebody cheating. I was very upset, knowing my chance to get to the big leagues was cut short. I was jealous, hurt, frustrated, angry . . . all that stuff. I guess I should have been suspicious. How can a guy go from 85 miles an hour to 95 in three or four years? As I look back on it, it’s so clear and obvious that I can’t believe I was that naive and incredibly stupid. All the signs were there.”
On the Tablet: Podcast with Tom Verducci and Richard Deitsch.
LAST STAND OF THE BIG THREE – IAN THOMSEN (@SI_Ianthomsen)
Despite a season plagued by injuries, the Boston Celtics have reached the Eastern Conference finals. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came together in Boston before the 2007 season and have since been known as the Big Three. After winning a title in their first season together, they have been consistently successful but haven’t won another championship. With Garnett’s and Allen’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, this is likely their last shot to win it all (page 58).
When Ainge traded for Garnett and Allen, he was reluctant to refer to his stars as the Big Three out of deference to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, who won three titles in their 12 seasons together in Boston. Now Ainge feels that the current trio has earned the right to be called Big. Ainge said, “When Kevin and Larry and Robert were healthy, they were extremely special. They just didn’t maintain it this long; Kevin and Larry weren’t the same players after their surgeries. When they were in their 20s, I’d give the nod to the Big Three of the ’80s. But in their 30s, I’d give the nod to the Big Three of today.”
QUEST FOR THE CROWN – MICHAEL FARBER
The Kings have gone 45 years without winning a Stanley Cup, which ties them with the Maple Leafs and the Blues for the longest active drought in the NHL. During that time, the franchise has wasted some of the best offensive talent in the history of the game including Wayne Gretzky. They have failed to raise their status in the city of Los Angeles in large part because they have never won the Stanley Cup, but they have a chance to rewrite history for now and years to come (page 52).
Luc Robitallie, the franchise’s all time leading scorer and president of business operations said, “Thirteen million people here. We’re not a city. We’re a country. The way we make a dent is if we compete [for a Cup] year after year. But our best players—27-year-old captain Dustin Brown, 26-year-old goalie Jonathan Quick, 24-year-old center Anze Kopitar, 22-year-old defenseman Drew Doughty—are our youngest players. We should be able to compete for six, seven years.”
On the Tablet: Slideshow of the Kings over the years.
THE ART OF BOXING – ALEXANDER WOLFF
The savagery and spectacle of prizefighting a century ago are at the heart of an exhibit of works by American realist master George Bellows. On June 10, the first comprehensive retrospective of his work in 30 years, opens at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., with further stops at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in the fall and London’s Royal Academy of Arts next spring (page 64).
Said Charles Brock, curator of Bellow’s boxing work, “These are the greatest sporting images in American art. Bellows is an intensely serious and ambitious artist speaking to the entire history of art. His work can appeal on a popular level but aspires to the highest place in the culture” curator Charles Brock says of Bellows’s boxing work.” Senior writer Alexander Wolff examines his work which includes six oils and scores of lithographs and drawings.
MLB PLAYERS POLL
Who is the most underrated pitcher in the game?
Matt Cain, Giants 9%
Doug Fister, Tigers 8%
Ricky Romero, Blue Jays 6%
Dan Haren, Angels 4%
Vance Worley, Phillies 3%
[Based on 293 NBA players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: A whopping 98 hurlers received at least one vote—including four Cy Young winners (the Brewers’ Zack Greinke, the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, the Mets’ Johan Santana and, at ninth overall with six nods, the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez). . . . Combined career record for the top five: 264–233; combined ERA: 3.47. . . . Fister, who drew 16% of the votes from his own AL Central, is winless in five starts in ’12, but has a 1.84 ERA. . . . In a similar poll on Facebook, Romero led with 34%.
SCORECARD: A MATTER OF HORSE SENSE – TIM LAYDEN (@SITimLayden)
On Saturday, June 9, I’ll Have Another has a chance to become the first thoroughbred in 34 years to win racing’s Triple Crown, one of the rarest feats in any sport. Hundreds of thousands of people will be attendance and millions watching from their TVs, but the sport of horseracing has a number of problems going on that can’t be solved with one Triple Crown winner. Senior writer Tim Layden said, “It is only a moment, and the sport’s troubles will rise unchanged with the Sunday sun. But racing deserves that moment. Racing can again be great for a day” (page 15).
POINT AFTER: TO FIGHT CANCER, IT TAKES A TEAM – PHIL TAYLOR (@SI_PhilTaylor)
The California softball team is one of many sports teams, who are active members of the Friends of Jaclyn foundation, a nonprofit organization that pairs children suffering from brain tumors with teams, primary college. Barbara Wiggs, better known as Bebe, has been a fixture with the Golden Bears all season. As she continues to battle cancer, she is always around the team, providing a vast amount of inspiration. Said coach Diane Ninemire, “I hope we’ve given her half the inspiration she’s given us” (page 74).
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- Motor Sports (page 31): Great Scot – On the second hottest day in Indy 500 history, Dario Franchitti shot to the lead on the next-to-last lap to win his third 500 and enter the talk of IndyCar legends. (@LarsAndersonSI)
- MLB (page 34): Death, Taxes and Adam Dunn – White Sox DH Adam Dunn had one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball history in 2011, but he’s back on track in 2012, putting up statistics like his old self. (@SI_BenReiter)
- NBA (page 36): Market Watch – A look at free agents not named Deron Williams who will garner a great deal of interest this summer. (@chrismannixsi)
On the Tablet: Truth and Rumors
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 24)
- Megan Pinson (Fallbrook, Calif./Fallbrook High) – Rugby
- Allex Austin (San Marcos, Texas/San Marcos High) – Track and Field
- Maggie Fobare (Dallas/Hockaday School) – Lacrosse
- Brandon Newton (Ruston, La./Cedar Creek High) – Golf
- Jessica Simpson (North Canton, Ohio/Miami (Ohio)) – Softball
- Kyle Merber (Dix Hills, N.Y./Columbia) – Track and Field
Chelsea’s Didier Drogba Excels in Soccer and Humanitarian Efforts
After Winning the Preakness Stakes, I’ll Have Another Looks Toward the Elusive Triple Crown
JR Hillenbrand Eyes Redemption at This Weekend’s Indianapolis 500
The Undefined Path of the Transgender Athlete
(NEW YORK – May 23, 2012) – Six playoff games in four days from their professional basketball and hockey teams, a baseball team leading its division by seven games hosting another division leader and 114 cyclists competing in the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California (the biggest bike race in North America) created a great sports weekend for sports in Los Angeles.
Senior writer Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) was on hand for all the madness. Jenkins talked with team executives, players, coaches, workers and fans to gain perspective on this time extraordinary weekend. New Dodgers minority owner Magic Johnson, who appears on the cover of the May 28, 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated, said, “When fans fall in love with their teams, it’s not just because they’re winning. It’s also because they are part of their community. That’s where we lost our way a little bit. We need to sign autographs. We need to give to charity. We need to embrace our community again.”
Much of the action took place in downtown Los Angeles at the Staples Center, home arena for the Lakers, Clippers and Kings. It was a crowning moment for Tim Leiweke—president and CEO of AEG, which owns the Staples Center. He had imagined a weekend like this back in 1997 when AEG first announced its redevelopment plans for this area. When construction started, the surrounding neighborhood was filled with liquor stores and rent-by-the-hour motels. AEG transformed the space into a four-million-square-foot entertainment district called L.A. Live, with 19 restaurants, two hotels and a public plaza. The hotels were so crowded this past weekend, even the Kings couldn’t get in (page 38).
Leiweke said, “I don’t think it is lost on Roger Goodell and the NFL owners what is going on. I don’t know if it’s a showcase or a defining moment or an exclamation point, but we have a chance to prove what we have been saying for years: ‘Of course football should be here. We have the infrastructure. We are built for this.’ ”
On the Tablet: Time lapse video of all the activity at the Staples Center.
ONLY THE BEGINNING – ALBERT CHEN
Dodgers centerfielder Matt Kemp is one of the best baseball players in the game, but the fact that he is still learning the game is a scary thought for opposing teams. As a teenager growing up just outside of Oklahoma City, Kemp loved basketball and played on his AAU team all summer. Baseball was strictly secondary. By his junior year in high school though, Kemp realized that his build would limit his basketball potential, and he began to focus on baseball (page 46).
In many ways, Kemp is still new to the game. What the Dodgers see now is a player whose mental skills are catching up to his physical skills. Manager Don Mattingly said, “This game is not so much physical. It’s when the mental side and physical side connect, that’s the most important part. Everyone’s road takes them on a different path. And with Matt, we’re beginning to see everything connect, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
IN PRAISE OF DROGBA – GRANT WAHL (@grantwahl)
Last Saturday, Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich 4—3 in penalty kicks to win its first title in the prestigious UEFA Champions League. Striker Didier Drogba scored the equalizer in the 88th minute and later scored the winning penalty kick. Senior writer Grant Wahl reflects on a conversation he had with Drogba two years ago in Angola’s province of Cabinda in southern Africa (page 56).
In that interview, Drogba spoke of his humanitarian efforts to fund and build a hospital in his native country of Ivory Coast and his interest in helping the poor, especially in earthquake-torn Haiti. Even though Drogba is nearly done with his soccer career, he believes he has much more to do with his life saying, “I want to help with a lot of things: my charity, the hospital. I hope to keep learning. For me it’s important to open my mind. I love to meet people and listen to their stories.”
On the Tablet: Champions League slideshow.
LET’S ALL HAVE ANOTHER – TIM LAYDEN (@SITimLayden)
A generation of American adults is nearing middle age without having witnessed a Triple Crown winner. It has been 34 years since Affirmed outdueled Alydar to take the 1978 Belmont Stakes and wrap up racing’s third Triple Crown in six years, a period that started with the great Secretariat in ’73 and included Seattle Slew in ’77. Eleven times since ‘78 a horse has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown but fallen short in the Belmont. I’ll Have Another will be the next to try. He won the Preakness the same way he won the Derby, by wearing down the speedy Bodemeister, this time just three strides from the finish (page 52).
I’ll Have Another faces his toughest challenge, the Belmont. The failures at Belmont have not been coincidental. John Servis, who trained Smarty Jones, which lost its bid for a Triple Crown in 2004, said, “You get to the Belmont at the end of a long campaign, with a bull’s-eye on your back. I know I felt a lot of pressure.”
On the Tablet: A look at Triple-Crown near misses.
BACK IN CONTROL – LARS ANDERSON (@LarsAndersonSI)
JR Hillenbrand’s final-lap crash in the Indy 500 last year could have been a career-defining moment, for all the wrong reasons. The initial reaction from media and pundits was that he had committed the biggest blunder in the history of American racing. Hillenbrand climbed from the ruined Panther Racing car that slid across the finish line in a hail of sparks and rode in an ambulance to the infield care center physically fine but emotionally broken. But JR Hillenbrand handled his heartbreak with grace. After the race Hillenbrand refused to blame anyone but himself, speaking eloquently to all who had questions for him.
Hillenbrand said, “The worst feeling in the world as an athlete is not closing things out. But I knew it was in my hands how people reacted to me, so I wanted to be thoughtful and serious about it. I accepted the situation.”
Playing fields have long been segregated on the basis of sex. But what happens to the athletes whose physiology doesn’t match their gender identity? Against whom do they compete? What obstacles do they face? And how are they being treated by sports’ governing bodies? One transgender scenario currently unfolding involves the U.S. Olympic women’s track and field team. Keelin Godsey, formerly known as Kelly, was born as a female and competes as a female but identifies as a male. Godsey will continue to compete as a female, in hopes of making the team heading for London, but will later undergo sex reassignment surgery to make his biological and gender identities match (page 66).
The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, which studies gender-identity issues, pegs the size of the U.S. transgender population at 700,000; how many are athletes is difficult to determine. The most contentious recent case was in November 2010. Kye Allums, a starting guard for the women’s basketball team at George Washington University came out before his junior year, making him the only open transgender Division I athlete. Allums said, “Yes, I am a male on a female team. And I want to be clear about this: I am a transgender male, which, feelings wise … I feel as if I should have been born male with male parts.
On the Tablet: Podcast with Richard Deitsch, David Epstein and Pablo Torre.
NBA PLAYERS POLL
Who is your favorite NBA announcer?
Charles Barkley 20%
Jeff Van Gundy 14%
Steve Kerr 10%
Reggie Miller 9%
Mike Breen 6%
[Based on 124 NBA players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: In Barkley, Kerr and Miller, TNT announcers landed three of the top five spots. ESPN is represented by Van Gundy and Breen (who also handles play-by-play for the Knicks on MSG). . . . Former Knicks star Walt Frazier, Breen’s broadcast partner at MSG, placed 10th, with 2% of the vote. . . . Bill Walton, whose bad back forced him to retire as an analyst for ESPN in 2009, placed eighth, with 3%, ahead of Shaquille O’Neal. . . In a similar poll on Facebook, Sir Charles ruled again, as he was named favorite by 52% of SI readers.
SCORECARD: SNOOZE CONTROL – DICK FRIEDMAN
Last week, during the Roger Clemens federal perjury trial, three jurors fell asleep. Senior editor Dick Friedman believes that this perfectly illustrated the boredom that some sports stories entail. Stories that he believes have been over-reported include the prospects for a Pacquiao-Mayweather “fight” and when will Los Angeles get an NFL team (page 15).
POINT AFTER: A STAT EVEN DR. NAISMITH WOULD LOVE– ROY BLOUNT JR.
Contributing writer Roy Blount realizes there are many basketball stats already, nevertheless, he invents a stat for a player who, based on his effective field goal percentage, makes more shots than he takes. Blount calls the stat Over the Top (OTT) (page 74).
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- MLB (page 33): Excitement in the Air – The Orioles currently have the best record in the American League, but their chances at contending may still be a year or two away. (@Joe_Sheehan)
- NHL (page 35): Block Busters – The Rangers lead all postseason teams with 328 blocked shots. Some feel they are ruining the game, but for New York, it’s all about winning. Michael Farber
- NBA (page 36): Help Wanted – With Chris Bosh injured, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade will have to play an even larger role for the Heat.
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page 24)
- Bernie Montoya (Yuma, Ariz./Cibola High) – Track and Field
- Stephanie Canfield (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph—Ogden High) – Softball
- Marvin Kimble (Milwaukee/Hamilton High) – Gymnastics
- Ryan Skomial (Hartland, Mich./Hartland High) – Lacrosse
- David Pless (Atlanta/Bates College) – Track and Field
- Caitlin Racich and Summer Ross (Santa Barbara, Calif./Pepperdine) – Sand Volleyball
Junior Seau’s Death Has Left Many Unanswered Questions
Floyd Mayweather Turns in His Best Performance
The NHL Playoffs Have Russian Players Front and Center
I’ll Have Another Wins the Kentucky Derby in Stunning Fashion
Kobe Bryant’s Excellence Derives from Both of His Parents
(NEW YORK – May 9, 2012) – Junior Seau was a beloved figure in San Diego and one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. His suicide last Thursday left those who knew him best stunned, confused and searching for answers. Seau appears on the cover of the May 14, 2012, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now.
Senior writer Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter), who covered Seau and the Chargers as a beat reporter in the 1900s, spoke with close friends and former teammates about who Seau was on and off the field. Seau grew up in the Oceanside section of San Diego, played professionally for the Chargers for 13 seasons and lived in San Diego until his death. His loyalty for the community was evident in his foundation, which since 1992 has dispersed nearly $4 million to aid disadvantaged kids and young adults in San Diego County, through programs such as Gangbusters (page 38).
Said former Rams and Bears lineback Pisa Tinoisamoa, “That saved my life. It had people around me and help set me straight…. June [Seau] was behind that. I saw him on my birthday last July, and he came in playing his ukulele and singing Happy Birthday. I didn’t get to tell him personally what he meant to me, but he knew. He saw the success I had, and he was proud of me. Whenever I saw him, he would talk about how good I was. He was always positive. That’s why everyone loved him. They felt they were friends with June. He had that status about him, but to us he was just a man of the people.”
Seau led by example. He was the first to the practice facility in the morning and provided helpful advice for his teammates. Seau ignored pain and insisted that if you could walk, you could play.
Former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson said, “I feel awful that Junior didn’t feel he was close enough to anybody that he could say, ‘Look, something isn’t right.’ He didn’t feel there was anybody, and we all need someone we can go to and say, ‘There’s something going on with me.’ That’s the sad thing, but that’s who Junior was. He didn’t want us to know he was hurting on the field, so off the field he certainly wasn’t going to say anything.”
Senior writer Peter King reflects on a time when he watched Seau play a game in 2000 with a severely pulled hamstring. Because Seau’s pain threshold was high, King held Seau to a higher standard, something King would think twice about doing again.
To download a high res image of the cover click here
On the Tablet: Video piece from senior writer Jim Trotter on Junior Seau and a slideshow of Seau through the years.
ALMOST PERFECT – CHRIS MANNIX (@ChrisMannixSI)
There is genius in Floyd Mayweather, a Picasso at work inside a sculpted 5’8’’, 147-pound frame. Last Saturday night Mayweather delivered possibly the finest performance of his career, overcoming a bloody nose and comfortably outpointing Miguel Cotto with his precision punching and impenetrable defense (page 52).
Mayweather’s genius extends beyond the ring. He promotes his own fights as the head of Mayweather Promotions. He assumes all the upfront risk, and thus controls every revenue stream. His previous eight fights generated more than $446 million in revenue, a tribute to his brilliant marketing. Mayweather understands that his empire depends on more than just hype. He understands that the “0” on his record means everything. Mayweather said, “I am carrying the promotion and it’s putting asses in the seats. I know I got to back up what I say.”
ANOTHER WAY TO WIN – TIM LAYDEN (@SITimLayden)
The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby had a thrilling finish and made for a wonderful story. An undervalued horse, ridden by an unknown jockey, roared to unexpected victory and now I’ll Have Another and his team have their sights set on the elusive Triple Crown. I’ll Have Another was purchased for $35,000 in April 2011 by Doug and Dennis O’Neill and J. Paul Reddam. After an up and down year, which included a convincing loss at the Saratoga Hopeful Stakes, he was a long shot to win the Derby (page 48).
But his trainer had a plan, and I’ll Have Another closed out the race in dramatic fashion, defeating Bodemeister. Dennis O’Neill, who beat cancer five years ago, said “A day like this makes it all worthwhile”.
On the Tablet: Video slideshow of the jockey room.
THE RUSSIAN QUESTION – MICHAEL FARBER
The 2012 NHL playoffs have been filled with intensity and excitement, but many of the biggest story lines have been about the missteps of players from the former Soviet bloc. The Predators’ Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn missed a team curfew and were suspended for Game 3 and scratched for Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. Alexander Ovechkin, a two-time Hart Trophy winner, has seen significantly less ice time in the playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year, $51 million contract with Philadelphia in the off-season, has been inconsistent for the Flyers (page 56).
There have been a few bright spots, but mainly, it’s been an uneasy postseason for Russian players. Some believe it could have an impact on the Edmonton Oilers, who have the first pick in this year’s NHL draft, and will likely choose Nail Yakupov. Terry Jones, a columnist for the Edmonton Star, tweeted last week, “The way the Russians are going in Stanley Cup playoffs, Oilers better give a real, real, real, real good hard think about Nail Yakupov, huh?”
On the Tablet: Slideshow of all-time great Russian NHL players.
WHERE DOES GREATNESS COME FROM? – CHRIS BALLARD (@SI_ChrisBallard)
You might assume that Kobe Bryant inherited his talent for basketball and his burning need for success from his father, former NBA and Italian league player Joe (Jellybean) Bryant. But Joe and Kobe are strikingly different, and while the son got some gifts from his father, he got his fire from an unexpected source, his mom. When Kobe was 14 years old he tried to dunk on his mom in a backyard game, and she leveled him with a forearm. Kobe said, “She would drop you. Oh, yeah, she was rough. My mom’s the feisty one. She has that killer in her.”
Joe Bryant has been married to the same woman for 38 years, and has close relationships with his children and grandchildren. He travels around the world, immersing himself in new experiences, and is generally loved by the players he coaches. After playing for 10 pro teams in three countries over 18 years, he has coached in the WNBA, the ABA, Japan, Mexico, Italy and now in Bangkok. Joe may never be great, but he is happy. Kobe Bryant may never be happy, and perhaps that’s what makes him great (page 60).
On the Tablet: Podcast with Richard Deitsch and Chris Ballard.
NBA PLAYERS POLL
Who is the league’s best pure shooter?
Ray Allen, Celtics SG 68%
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks PF 7%
Kyle Korver, Bulls SF 6%
Anthony Morrow, Nets SG 4%
Steve Nash, Suns PG 2%
[Based on 146 NBA players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: Warriors PG Stephen Curry also received 2% of the votes. He leads all active players in three-point percentage (.441), which puts him behind only Steve Kerr (.454) all time. . . . Allen is the NBA’s alltime leader in three-pointers attempted (6,788) and made (2,718) . . . . Knicks SF Steve Novak, who led the NBA in three-point shooting in 2011–12 (.472), tied for seventh in voting. . . . In a similar poll on Facebook, SI readers also had Allen (66%) and Nowitzki (16%) finishing 1–2.
SCORECARD: GLORY DAYS – CHRIS BALLARD (@SI_ChrisBallard)
Senior writer Chris Ballard’s book One Shot at Forever tells the story of the 1971 Macon High Ironmen varsity baseball team. The Ironmen represented the smallest school in Illinois history to play in the state finals before they lost to powerhouse Lane Tech. Many members of the team are excited about the book release, but a few still haven’t gotten over the loss (page 19).
For many athletes, high school is the only time they have an opportunity to achieve greatness, but often players remember the losses more than the wins. Ballard writes, “I’m 38 and I still dream about basketball games that I lost in high school (though never, strangely enough, about the ones I won). Likewise, when I get together with certain friends over beers, I know the conversation will eventually lead us back to some field or gym on some fateful afternoon.”
POINT AFTER: FOR PARENTS, A JUNIOR MOMENT – PHIL TAYLOR (@SI_PhilTaylor)
Senior writer Phil Taylor recalls the night six years ago when his then 14-year-old son, Ben, asked Taylor and his wife if he could play football. It was a question they had hoped wouldn’t come. Before deciding, they had to think long and hard about the positives and the negatives of the sport, including the delayed brain damage controlled violence can cause (page 68).
INSIDE THE WEEK IN SPORTS
- MLB (page 30): Out of Whack – Mired in a monthlong slump after signing a huge contract with the Angels, Albert Pujols looks to make adjustments and get back to being a star. Tom Verducci
- MLB (page 32): No More Mo? – Mariano Rivera’s storied career could come to end after he injured his knee in Kansas City last Thursday. (@Joe_Sheehan)
- NHL (page 33): Word to the Doctor – With NBC and its sister stations televising every NHL playoff game; the viewing audience is enjoying the eccentric vocabulary of announcer Mike (Doc) Emrick. Michael Farber
- NBA (page 34): Changing Fortunes – After a tough year filled with criticism, all the right pieces seem to be falling into place for the Miami Heat as the team looks toward an NBA title. (@SI_IanThomsen)
- NASCAR (page 36): – Danica Patrick is experiencing frustration during her first full-time season in stock car racing. (@LarsAndersonSI)
On the Tablet: Truth and Rumors
THIS WEEK’S FACES IN THE CROWD (page)
- Ariana Washington (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) – Track and Field
- Donn Cabral (Glastonbury, Conn./Princeton) – Track and Field
- Rebekah Chenelle (Hebron, Conn./Cornerstone Christian School) – Equestrian
- Collin Olson (Apple Valley, Minn./Pioneer High) – Hockey
- Heather Stearns (Carrollton, Texas/Hebron High) – Softball
- Peter Williamson (Portsmouth, N.H./Dartmouth) – Golf