‘Michael Sam Focuses On Making the Rams, Not History’

William C. Rhoden, writing for The New York Times;

The reality is that Sam, whether he likes it or not, is a trailblazer. He has made a significant impact — on the league, on fans and on an American sports culture that is not the most progressive — before playing an N.F.L. game.

He continues to attract attention and stir debate at training camp, where the Rams will decide whether to keep him. Regardless of what happens, Sam continues to raise awareness and smash stereotypes.

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On Timelessness and Time

Mike Plugh, “Baseball: Past American Time”:

It’s also important to remember that baseball is a rural game, a game of grass and dirt, of wood and chalk and pine tar. Baseball is a game of wide open spaces. We call the playing space a park, in contrast to courts, rinks, and gridirons. The sport itself also is the essence of timelessness, which fits with its rustic mores. The clock is an urbanizing technology, one of synchronization and uniformity, time being measured precisely to produce regularity in our routines.

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‘LeBron’s Mighty Mind’

Brian Windhorst, writing for ESPN.com:

He is 6-foot-8 or so, and 260 pounds or so. He has striking athleticism even while in a crowd of some of the greatest athletes on the planet. He has a strong work ethic that manifests itself in expansive summer programs that are at the heart of the steady development of his game over the years. He is ambidextrous, playing right-handed but doing most other things in his life left-handed, a trait that has helped him become one of the great scorers in league history. He has an expansive interest in the history of the game, which he uses both as a teaching resource and to generate motivation in a time where he has very few true contemporaries.

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On Levi’s Stadium

Ryan Lawler, writing for TechCrunch:

Levi’s Stadium, which had its ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday, is a beautiful arena. It comfortably seats 68,500 fans and can add additional seating to hold 75,000 for events like the Super Bowl. There are two giant screens on either side of the field, with a viewing area of 19,200 square feet between them.

But that’s the kind of thing that we’ve come to expect from new modern arenas. What’s really cool about Levi’s Stadium is the technology that has been built into it.

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On Going Home Again

Dave Zirin for The Nation, on what it means that LeBron is going back to Cleveland:

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LeBron: ‘I’m Coming Home’

King James himself, in a statement on SI.com:

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

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On the Braves-Giants Marathon Game

Mark O’Neill, writing for Around the Foghorn:

On July 2, 1963, one of the greatest pitching duels in major league history took place at Candlestick Park, when 25-year-old Juan Marichal, of the San Francisco Giants, out-dueled 42-year-old Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves, 1-0, in a marathon sixteen-inning game. The contest was ultimately won by the Giants when Willie Mays hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixteenth.

In an era of pitch-counts and specialization of bullpen personnel, it is inconceivable that any pitcher today would ever engage in this kind of lengthy appearance, but back in the day such was not the case. Complete games were the norm and guys prided themselves on their durability.

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On Tony Gwynn

Tyler Kepner, writing for The New York Times:

For Gwynn, the thrill was in the pursuit of perfection in a job built around failure. He tried to leave nothing to chance. Years before laptops and iPads, Gwynn would lug video equipment around the league, meticulously combing through his at-bats, discarding the rare clunkers and studying the gems.

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On Donald Sterling and ‘Injustice’

Dave Zirin for The Nation, on the dark side of Sterling’s exile from the NBA:

Now the NBA will never have to answer the question about why the Sterlings have been coddled for so long. Now the NBA won’t have to defend why racist housing practices, demonstrable misogyny and the verbal abuse of players was ignored for so long.

Great question — if Sterling was known like this prior, why wait to act now?

‘The National Pastime, Amid a National Crisis’

Michael Beschlosis, writing for the NYT’s The Upshot blog:

This is one of the earliest photographs ever taken of a baseball game, and it happened by accident. The photographer, Henry P. Moore, of Concord, N.H., was focusing on the well-uniformed Union soldiers of the 48th New York State Volunteer Infantry, but he also captured their baseball-playing comrades in the background.

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