sports

We hear now, the story of two men.

Jim Thorpe: Super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American

Pop Warner: Indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad.

Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called "the team that invented football," they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.

Author Steve Sheinkin’s new book is: Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team - the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.

There will be a launch party for the book on Sunday at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs at 5PM. 

Keith Strudler: The Downside Of Solidarity

Dec 21, 2016
The logo of the University of Minnesota
wikipedia.org

There is such a thing in sports as team solidarity. In some ways, it is the single adhesive that keeps disparate individuals together. It’s manifest when teams eat together, lock arms on the sidelines, attend family funerals of teammates, and so on. It’s a list of activities that often extend far beyond the sidelines in the widely accepted belief that teams that act as one will be stronger than those that don’t. Which theoretically means more wins and fewer losses, at least relative to your talent. If you’ve ever seen a team where the athletes look like they can’t wait to leave the arena and get away from each other, you’d probably agree. Jets fans know exactly what I’m talking about.

Former three-time major league baseball all-star Ralph Branca has died at 90. Branca had an 11-year career in the bigs including stints with the Tigers and Yankees, but he is best remembered for a landmark moment in New York baseball. Pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers in a 1951 playoff, Branca gave up the “Shot Heard Round The World” — Bobby Thomson’s home run that sent the New York Giants to the World Series. Years later, Branca and Thomson made peace. But as Branca explained in an interview with WAMC in 2011, it eventually emerged that Thomson had received help stealing the Dodgers’ signs in an elaborate scheme. We spoke with him about his memoir A Moment in Time: An American Story of Baseball, Heartbreak, and Grace.

Ron Darling is a New York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning baseball analyst for TBS, the MLB Network, SNY, and WPIX-TV, and author of The Complete Game. He was a starting pitcher for the New York Mets from 1983 to 1991 and the first Mets pitcher to be awarded a Gold Glove.

In his new book, Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, he looks back at what might have been a signature moment in his career, and reflects on the ways professional athletes must sometimes shoulder a personal disappointment as their teams find a way to win.

Every sports fan recalls with amazing accuracy a pivotal winning moment involving a favorite team or player - yet lost are the stories on the other side of these history-making moments, the athletes who experienced not transcendent glory but crushing disappointment: the cornerback who missed the tackle on the big touchdown; the relief pitcher who lost the series; the world-record holding Olympian who fell on the ice.

In Losing Isn’t Everything, sportscaster Curt Menefee (joined by bestselling writer Michael Arkush) examines a range of signature "disappointments" from the wide world of sports, interviewing the subject at the heart of each loss and uncovering what it means—months, years, or decades later—to be associated with failure. 

Keith Strudler: Finding Solace In Sports

Nov 9, 2016

I know most all of you don’t want to hear me talk about sports right now. You don’t have the appetite to consider the college football playoff rankings. Or whether NFL officials are missing too many calls. Or if baseball is a regional game. None of these topics sound important, and to be honest, they aren’t. Not relative to the fact that, in the estimation of a lot of reputable sources, we have just put our children’s future at considerable risk and destabilized the world. And potentially validated a pattern of bigotry, xenophobia, and sexism that’s largely unknown to this current generation of Americans. So I get that it’s kind of hard for you all to listen to me talk about sports right now without wanting to either change the station or, more likely, shove something down my throat. Let’s all agree that sports is simply not so important right now, even if it’s kind of what I’m supposed to do.

Bertrand Stepping Down From Section 2 Athletics

Oct 28, 2016
Wayne Bertrand
Wayne Bertrand

Most students who play high school sports won't go on to a pro career or a college scholarship, but they often take with them memories and life lessons along with perhaps a few bumps and bruises. Wayne Bertrand is about to step down as head of Section 2 of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, which covers 95 public, private and parochial schools over a wide area of eastern New York. Before taking over Section 2 four years ago, Bertrand was the athletic director at Guilderland High School; and he started the new job by fixing some major financial problems.

Keith Strudler: Chicago Cubs Fans

Oct 19, 2016

Cubs fans, it is now time to get nervous. A few days ago, you were up one game to zero in the National League Championship Series. Three more wins against the Dodgers, and it was off to the World Series, where you would be the favorite to win over what now appears to be the Cleveland Indians, who are up three-nil on the Toronto Blue Jays. This would be your first trip to the Series since 1945. And if you won, the first time since 1908. As you’re well aware as a Cubs fan, this is the longest championship drought in professional baseball. Or more precisely, in all professional sports.

MLB:

In the American League Championship Series, Cleveland doubled up Toronto 4-2 to bring the Indians within one game of moving to the World Series. Cleveland now has a three-games-to-none lead.

Some of the most memorable moments in sports history aren’t highlights, but snapshots — photographs of a brief time that define a game or an athlete for generations. Indeed, during the recent Rio Olympics, it was a Getty composite of sprinter Usain Bolt that went viral — not a video of his race. Many of these photos—and other, lesser known examples—are gathered in the new book Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to Present, by photography expert Gail Buckland. The book is published by Knopf.

Keith Sturdler: Organic Sports

Sep 7, 2016

I have grown to believe, perhaps incorrectly, that Gatorade is the most important elixir in the history of the planet. It makes you run faster, jump higher, lift more, and generally perform like an elite athlete. I’ve also grown to believe it can cure most human illnesses, something affirmed both by having two kids of my own and during a short period earlier in my life when I dated a med school pediatric resident, and on pretty much every call she told some parent to just give their kid Gatorade and let ‘em sleep. Which made me believe that being a doctor wasn’t all that hard, at least that part.

  For millions of people around the world, the Summer and Winter Games are a joy and a treasure, but how did they develop into a global colossus? How have they been buffeted by―and, in turn, affected by―world events? Why do we care about them so much?

From the reinvention of the Games in Athens in 1896 to Rio in 2016, best-selling sportswriter David Goldblatt brilliantly traces their history through national triumphs and tragedies, individual victories and failures.


  It’s a Saturday in winter, somewhere in the suburbs, and a high school girls’ soccer team warms up for its indoor game. They stretch in sync – right quad, left quad, lunge – and their conversations spin around and off their turf, far outside the air dome bubble, and back again.

 

The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe, is the second mainstage production this season presented by Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theatre. The production, directed by Lila Neugebauer, runs July 21st through July 31st.

 

The play was a recipient of the American Playwriting Foundation’s inaugural Relentless Award and a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Sarah DeLappe joins us to tell us more.

 Brian Kenny is an Emmy Award­–winning broadcaster and host for the MLB Network. The foremost proponent of analytics on sports television, he founded the first and only TV program devoted to sports analytics, Clubhouse Confidential. He currently hosts the daily panel shows MLB Now and MLB Tonight, and is a columnist for Sports on Earth.

In his new book, Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution, he uses stories from baseball’s present and past to examine why we sometimes choose ignorance over information, and how tradition can trump logic, even when directly contradicted by evidence.

Colby Perry/Flickr

Daily Gazette Executive Sports Editor Mark McGuire and Marist College Director of Sports Communication Keith Strudler join us today to talk sports. 

  The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

First released in 2013, the best-selling book has been released in a Young Readers Adaptation by Viking Books.

Berkshire Sculling Association in Pittsfield is hosting John Biglow, member of the 1984 Olympic rowing team. John has developed a talk around the The Boys in the Boat book, which he’ll be presenting at the Duffin Theater in Lenox on Sunday June 26 at 2:30.

There’s nothing more dangerous in sports, from a TV network perspective, than a live mic on the field of play. Perhaps better put, it’s a high risk/reward kind of deal. On the one hand, it can be really cool to hear what a defensive back says about an offensive scheme or a player matchup. On the other hand, it becomes pretty clear athletes use the entire dictionary on the field of play, including words you don’t learn in school – not in the classroom, anyway.

Chances are if you’re a dedicated WAMC listener, Frank Deford is a part of your morning routine. The legendary sportswriter has delivered more than 1,600 commentaries for Morning Edition over the past 36 years. His wry and incisive observations remain a refreshing antidote in an age of shouty sports talk defined by hot takes.

An Emmy and Peabody winner, Deford has written 18 books and serves as senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated, where he first appeared in 1962. He’s also a correspondent for Real Sports on HBO.

This Saturday, Deford will sign copies of his new book I’d Know That Voice Anywhere: My Favorite NPR Commentaries at Sweetpea in Stone Ridge, New York.

Keith Strudler: Searching For Answers In Sports

Jun 8, 2016

Perhaps the most instinctive human process is the need to know “why.” As thoughtful beings, we don’t simply accept our reality. We question it, often in vain. Whenever someone does something wrong, the first question we ask is why. Why did they do it, what made them act that way. It’s often a fool’s quest, since we frequently do things that lack reason. That’s the reality of life, which might best be summed as a series of mistakes, where each day we vow to make just a few less.

  Vin Scully called the tenth-inning groundball in Game Six of the 1986 World Series - Mets versus Red Sox - that sealed a comeback, fueled a curse, and turned a batting champion into a scapegoat.

But getting there was a long, hard slog with plenty of heartache. After being knocked out of contention the previous two seasons, the Mets blasted through the National League that year. They won blowouts, nailbiters, fights, and a 14-inning game that ended with one pitcher on the mound, another in right field, and an All-Star catcher playing third base.

Matthew Silverman’s new book is One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseball's Impossible One-and-Done Champions. He will be at The Low Beat in Albany, NY for a Happy Hour Mets event and book signing and he joins us. 

What’s it like to live through the longest season in sports, the 162-game Major League Baseball schedule? Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga’s The Grind, now out in paperback, captures the frustration, impermanence, and glory felt by the players, the staff, and their families from the start of spring training to the final game of the year – and into the offseason, when the preparations start again.

So much about baseball is known: the distance between the bases (90 feet), the batting average of a good hitter (.300), the velocity of a hard fastball (95 mph). The Grind shows us what we don’t know. No sport is as unrelenting as Major League Baseball; enduring the 162 games squeezed into 185 days (plus spring training and postseason) is shared, in different ways, by every facet of a franchise.

Courtney Miller: Confessions Of A Female Sports Fan

Apr 3, 2016

I know the feeling of triumph. I also know the feeling of disappointment. I have witnessed Game 7 comebacks and I have witnessed last-minute interceptions to end a season. And I owe all of these experiences to my family, for raising me to be the sports-loving female I am today.

  How can the NCAA blithely wreck careers without regard to due process or common fairness? How can it act so ruthlessly to enforce rules that are so petty? Why won’t anybody stand up to these outrageous violations of American values and American justice?

In the four years since Joe Nocera asked those questions in a controversial New York Times column, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has come under fire. Fans have begun to realize that the athletes involved in the two biggest college sports, men’s basketball and football, are little more than indentured servants. Millions of teenagers accept scholarships to chase their dreams of fame and fortune—at the price of absolute submission to the whims of an organization that puts their interests dead last.

Nocera's new book is Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA.

Actor Tate Donovan played a key role as Bob Anders, one of the Americans caught up in the Iran hostage crisis in 2012’s Best Picture Argo. Now, Donovan has returned to the subject matter, directing the new NFL Network documentary American’s Game and the Iran Hostage Crisis. From Smokehouse Productions, the film tells the story of how bits and pieces of football news helped the American hostages stay connected to their home and families during their more than year-long captivity.

New York Times bestselling author Mark Bowden has had a prolific career as one of America’s leading journalists and nonfiction writers.

His new collection, The Three Battles of Wanat and Other True Stories, features the best of his long-form pieces on war, as well as notable profiles, sports reporting, and essays on culture.

EPIX presents the Road to the NHL Winter Classic.
EPIX

One of the best new traditions in sports is coming up again — the NHL Winter Classic, which marries the magic of the pond hockey with some of sports’ grandest stages. This year, Original Six rivals the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are playing on New Year’s Day at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

John Feinstein is an award-winning columnist and one of the nation's most successful and prolific sports authors. He has written over two dozen books to date including the bestsellers A Good Walk Spoiled and A Season On The Brink.

In addition to hosting a radio show on CBS Sports Radio, he writes for the Washington Post, and is a regular commentator on the Golf Channel.

Keith Strudler: The New Stadium Reality

Nov 18, 2015

For anyone working for a sports team or league or college athletic department, last Friday in Paris wasn’t simply horrifying. It was an uncomfortable reality, one that would forever impact your daily work life long after the Parisian chaos subsided. See, if you ask someone in the sports world about their worst fear, it’s not a losing season, or a bad trade, or even a critical injury to a star athlete. These things happen all the time, and while burdensome, are simply the cost of doing business.

Even if you’re a sports fan, it’s been hard to keep track of all the steroid scandals in sports in recent years. From Alex Rodriguez to countless Olympians, the headlines and teary apologies — and the subsequent morality play over the meaning of tainted records — can be overwhelming.

  Endzone tells the story of how college football's most successful, richest and respected program almost lost all three in less than a decade - and entirely of its own doing. It is a story of hubris, greed, and betrayal - a tale more suited to Wall Street than the world's top public university.

Author John U. Bacon takes you inside the offices, the board rooms and the locker rooms of the University of Michigan to see what happened, and why - with countless eye-opening, head-shaking scenes of conflict and conquest.

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