Written by Andrew Ottoson Tuesday, 27 January 2009 09:17The change to digital TV is not going well at Casa de Andrew. I have not yet purchased a DTV converter box, and the only over-the-air signal that reliably produces clear sight and sound these days is Channel 12—a good station to have during the first couple weeks of the NFL playoffs, but a lousy station to have during that slightly awkward weekend between the conference championships and The Big Game.
So on Sunday, I spent 45 minutes tuning my old-fashioned bunny-ears antenna toward the faint slice of spectrum that carries the NBA on ABC these days.
I started picking up audio late in the third quarter of the Celts/Mavs “contest” and finally cleaned up enough of the static blizzard to tell the teams apart midway through the first quarter of the Lakers/Spurs game.
Long story short, I sincerely hoped to have something interesting to say about NBA basketball this week. Instead, I’ll take the opportunity afforded by the failure of television to keep me entertained—or do I mean distracted?—to put down a few words about one of my favorite sports books. But before I get into to that....
Ten reasons Mike Shanahan won’t replace Herm Edwards in Kansas City:
1. Tyler Thigpen is Jake Plummer’s nephew’s cousin’s friend’s Facebook friend.
2. Staying in the AFC West just for spite might void the Al Davis Vendetta.
3. Elway called; Janet wants to bid on the ’98 and ’99 rings.
4. Shannon Sharpe jinxes former coach by picking the Chiefs to win the AFC West again.
5. Chiefs holding out for a coach with a history of winning big games at Arrowhead.
6. Well-designed play-action passes would wreck Tony Gonzalez’ defensive statistics.
7. Shanny might get fired by “The Denver Huddle.”
8. Science suggests humid climate may ruin leathery skin.
9. The thin air: Denver rioters haven’t done any cardio since Ray Bourque retired.
10. The Chiefs already have a general manager.
* * *
If you like the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry (and if you don’t hate to spend an evening with a book), open Richard Ben Cramer’s biography of Joe DiMaggio to the second paragraph on page 266, which ends: “The genius manager had thought it through—and he wrote DiMaggio in at cleanup.”
The pace and intensity of the writing will take you from the rivalry with Ted Williams straight through the advent of Mickey Mantle and Marilyn Monroe in one sitting.
Or start with chapter eight—look for the bit about Burleigh Grimes flattening Goose Goslin with a “wild” pitch because Goslin was leaning in, trying to get a good look at Grimes’ spitter from the on-deck circle.
* * *
I’m just getting started on two more books, both promising. One is about Bill Garrett, the Jackie Robinson of college basketball, and the other is about Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians and their contribution to the development of modern American football.
I can’t help but wonder who the Bill Garretts of the local schools were, and if someone out there can tell me who to ask, I’d be glad to have the opportunity to find out as much as I can about them. (If you can put me on the right track, e-mail or call.)
* * *
The prologue to “The Real All-Americans” by Sally Jenkins concludes with Pop Warner’s recollection of the prelude to the White v. Red battle that gave football much of its distinctive shape nearly a century ago: “Carlisle had no traditions, but what the Indians did have was a real race pride and a fierce determination to show the palefaces what they could do when the odds were even...it was not that they felt any definite bitterness against the conquering white, or against the government for years of unfair treatment. But rather they believed the armed contests between the red man and the white had never been waged on equal terms.”
I haven’t had time to read the first chapter, yet. But if the rest of the book follows through with that same intensity, I might not turn the TV on once this week.