Introduction

New York used to have seven newspapers, and I read every one of them. When my old man came home from work, I greeted him not by saying hello but by snatching the New York Post and the World Telegram, which were wedged between his left arm and rib cage.

By that time, I had already devoured the morning pages of the News, Mirror, Tribune and even the Times, which in those dayshad a drab format. The last of the group, the Journal American, was mere filler, but the cartoons of Willard Mullin justified the investment.

I was enamored most with the columnists, the guys who wrote on subject matters of their own choosing two or three times a week, with great prose and clarity. The lineup was Red Smith with the Tribune, Dick Young with the News, Dan Parker of the Mirror, and Arthur Daley of the Times. But the best package of all was the Post, which featured Jimmy Cannon, Milton Gross, Al Buck, Leonard Koppett, and others. My favorite was Cannon whose cynical but literate style exemplied my notion of a sportswriter. Cannon would write a single issue column on an event of the day, or he would profile an athlete from the inside-out, as in “You’re Ted Williams, and sportswriters don’t scare you because you’ve shot down enemy jets.” But my favorite Cannon format was “Nobody asked me but….”, where he shot out one or two sentence bullet points on various subjects.

Over the years I have noticed a sharp decline in the quality of newspaper sports writing. Most of the newspapers have disappeared . The lone survivor of the New York afternoon dailies is the Post. Its sports page, formerly a bastion for aspiring writers, now loads up on misplaced modifiers, faulty syntax, and sensationalistic drivel. USA Today and the internet have taught us to receive our sports news in digestible fast food doses. Quality prose is out the window. A notable exception to this downward trend is the New York Times, which has dramatically upgraded its sports section over the years. I consider the Times sports section to be the best in the country. The Boston Globe and the LA Times are also outstanding.

This blog is my ode to the sports columnists of my youth and my attempt to emulate them. I will write about twice a week on teams, players or events which interest me. I will emphasize baseball, college and pro basketball, football, golf, sports betting, and the sports media. During the college basketball season, I will offer picks on selected games.

Hailing from New York and residing outside Washington, D.C. I will write most about what’s closest to my heart and line of vision. But those weekday nights spent watching the likes of Arizona State at USC on Direct TV will not be wasted. I’ll talk college basketball from the outer reaches of the Pacific Northwest (Gonzaga, Washington State, Oregon) to the swamplands of the southeast (Miami, Mississippi, Clemson). Occasionally, I’ll punctuate my commentary with on-sight reporting and quotes from the newsmakers. I welcome the contributions of other would-be sports scribes with talent and attitude.


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3 Responses to “Introduction”

  1. Arthur Daley was a great favorite of mine. I loved his columns on Casey Stengel, even though I wasn’t a Yankees fan. Daley tried to quote the ‘ole Perfessor’ verbatim. Does anyone know if there is a collection of the Stengel interviews available on-line?

  2. equestrian1954 Says:

    “The lineup was Red Smith with the Tribune, Dick Young with the News, Dan Parker of the Mirror, and Arthur Daley of the Times. But the best package of all was the Post, which featured Jimmy Cannon, Milton Gross, Al Buck, Leonard Koppett, and others.”

    I notice a heavy percentage of MOTs among the sportswriters of the time. Is that because we are profoundly ill-equipped as athletes, but profoundly well-equipped to write about those who are well-equipped to play? LOL

  3. How good was Earl the Pearl? One afternoon on the D train from the Bronx, 20 strangers shared favorite moves and moments of Monroe’s all the way to Manhattan.
    Thanks for reminding me.

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