Dig Through the Bones of the Spectator Past

Wild Horses Austin Kelley

A visit to the Palio prompts consideration about what happens when questionable ethics aren’t a breach of the rules but woven into the very fabric of the competition.

The Orwellian Anti-Pageantry of a Game without Fans Michael O'Bryan

The infamous Baseball Game with No Fans reflects the discrepancy between two versions of America currently being played out in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis.

The Ultimate Sports Villain by Noah Cohan

Can a player be so reviled that he conjures up racism, classism, and homophobia all at once? If his name is Christian Laettner, then yes.

History Lessons by Dan Kaufman

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano talks soccer. More.

Big Data Meets the NBA Matt Nicholas

Recent tirades by Charles Barkley and Kevin Durant provoke questions about why some NBA players may be so resistant to analytics. The basketball hellscape depicted in Space Jam may have something to do with it.

Elegy Written in a Coaching Graveyard Matt Nicholas

Marc Trestman’s values were at odds with the culture of the NFL. So he was fired.

Experimental Football Matt Nicholas

A new, “experimental” football league grows in Brooklyn.

On Bad Faith in the NFL Katie Muth

Comparing the Hope Solo domestic violence case to the Ray Rice domestic violence case is at best a false equivalency and more probably deeply nefarious.

Football, Dogfighting and How the NFL Helps Us Get Off on Violence and Feel Really Good about Ourselves Mark O'Connell

The spate of domestic violence cases involving NFL players prompts reconsideration of another incident of violence from recent history: Michael Vick’s dogfighting case.

An Ex-Fan's Notes Noah Cohan

When considering the overwhelming evidence that links traumatic brain injuries to football it’s also crucial to consider how such arguments against watching the NFL are constructed.

The Sound of Silence Matt Nicholas

Watching a baseball a game without the meddling presence of curmudgeonly announcers really helps you appreciate those curmudgeonly announcers.

The Enormous Screen Brian Schwartz

Watching the U.S. – Ghana World Cup match on a new, gigantic television screen — and experiencing the frustrations and exhilarations it provides.

Please Wear Blue to My Funeral Beth Boyle Machlan

For one new fan, the Rangers playoff run inspires anxieties about bandwagon-jumping and the kind of faith inspired by fandom.

World Cup Dad Austin Kelley

Before the US-Ghana match, a new father reflects on the birth of his first child and on watching the World Cup. Welcome to the world, August Fiorello Thompson Kelley

Tough Jungle Love Matt Nicholas

It isn’t soccer that brings us together as much as it is the crushing terror and indifference of the natural world. Ole Ola!

Rethinking Those Deacon Blues Matthew Shipe

A new book about Alabama football during the 1960s elicits a reflection on the Crimson Tide’s past and present football glory.

Lay It Down, Big Man Matt Nicholas

Bill Walton put out a spoken word record two decades ago, which unified, if only for a moment, the disparate jock, punk, and hippie cultures.

Curling, Sweep Me Away Patrick M. O'Connell

The sport of curling looks simple enough to play that those of us watching at home think we could do it and complicated enough to keep those of us watching at home fascinated for hours.

Losing the "Big Fight" Matt Nicholas

Downhill skiers experience a form of terror imagined in paintings by Goya, poems by Shelley, and, more subtly, films like Hot Dog…The Movie.

Welcome to the Jungle Brian Schwartz

Sage Kotsenburg won the gold in slopestyle snowboarding. Perhaps his weirdness could offer some much needed inspiration to the U.S. Men’s World Cup team.

The Armed Circus-Pony Competition Austin Kelley

The biathlon can look ridiculous but it’s still a primal test of endurance and accuracy with would-be assassins as competitors.

Going out on Top Noah Cohan

For the first time in their nearly 40-year existence, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl. So now seems like a good time to leave the party.

Coded Hate Speech on the Pitch Austin Kelley

Nicolas Anelka scored a goal. Then he performed the “quenelle.” And now we’re left to determine what’s offensive.

Fight Songs and Drone Strikes Matt Nicholas

Bowl games are sponsored by investment banks and restaurants chains. And defense contractors and helicopter manufactures.

Your Weekend Guide to Fetish Objects Matt Nicholas

The last weekend of the regular season in college football brings us: apple cups, and golden eggs, and old oaken buckets.

Reasons to Care Sam Beebe

Rooting for a sports team that you don’t normally root for provides an opportunity to think about what it is that attracts you to sports. And also what repels you.

Chock Full of Half-Emptiness Patrick O'Connell

Trying to understand pessimistic sports fans can be difficult. Are they just masochistic?

Child's Play Matt Nicholas

Are we doing enough to protect our athletes from humiliation and psychic trauma?

A Lonely Centaur Roams the Uncanny Valley Matt Nicholas

Alex Rodriguez is an all-star, a steriod user, a cheater, a fraud, and a creepy, inhuman life-form who evokes a kind of primal anxiety within the legion of baseball fans who despise him.

Sports + Literature = Sports Literature? James Williams

Concern over teaching a class called “Sports Literature” leads to a consideration of the ways in which sports and literature actually work at cross purposes to one another.

Game of Substances: The Pine Tar Incident 30 Years Later Matt Nicholas

The 30th anniversary of the Pine Tar Incident affords the opportunity to explore the wonderful and confusing world of baseball’s various viscous materials.

The Team Dream Austin Kelley

Major League Baseball designates captains to choose participants in its annual Home Run Derby, awakening those anxious moments spent on the playgrounds of childhood waiting to be chosen.

Wimbledon and the Family Romance Matt Nicholas

The big winners at Wimbledon this year were Marion Bartoli, Andy Murray, and dime-store psychoanalysts everywhere. Read more.

This Is What I Do Matt Nicholas

Amid the threat of his retirement, let’s pause and reflect on the career of Manu Ginobili, a player for whom adjectives fail to suffice. Read more.

The Rules of Luck Jessica Lott

A visit to the Belmont Stakes raises questions about what it means to win, to feel chosen—if only for a moment. Read more.

Horses and Schadenfreude on Long Island Matt Nicholas

When there’s no hope for a Triple Crown winner at the Belmont Stakes, the initial disappointment gives way to tranquility.

The Networking Game Matt McClelland

College lacrosse may seem like merely a competition for financial networking-types, but it also has more generous, less calculating aspects that lead us to places and people we never thought we’d know.

Stataesthetics Katie Muth

Today’s sports enthusiast is confronted with a seemingly endless debate about the effectiveness of advanced metrics—a debate in which the two sides end up arguing similar, rather mundane, points. Read on.

Will You Please Be Quiet Please, or Why I Hate Rick Reilly Matthew Augustine

Rick Reilly is an acclaimed sportswriter. Rick Reilly’s columns are idiotic. Which would be a forgivable (if annoying) offense if Reilly didn’t so disingenuously misunderstand the very idea of sports.

Pajama Warriors Colm O'Shea

Martial arts mystique and the denial of reality
The martial arts supply an empowering narrative for those beset by fear, but a distressing vicious circle results as the martial artist goes from fear-sufferer to fear-inducer. Read more.

Lessons in Quitting with Rory McIlroy by Austin Kelley

Golfer Rory McIlroy was skewed in the media for walking off a round of golf and taking the easy way out. But is quitting really as easy as it seems?

The Great Tom Izzo and Yooper Invisibility by Matt Nicholas

Michigan State’s basketball coach Tom Izzo is often praised as being both a good coach and an even better guy. Which is why it matters that he hails from a remote area in northern Michigan.

It's a Wonderful Uniform by Emily Sanders Richards Hopkins

The lamentable influence of groupthink on athletic uniforms sparks a consideration of the ideal uniform. Read all about it.

The Lunatic Fringe by Austin Kelley

Beginning in 2020, wrestling will be removed from Olympic competition, an announcement that prompts a reflection on the experience of being a high school wrestler. Albeit briefly.

On NBA Nerds and Poseurs by Matt Nicholas

The term “nerd” gets applied so loosely that it might be worth separating the nerd wheat from the poseur chaff. Even in the NBA.

Pain Don't Hurt: Scenes from PT by Austin Kelley

A torn rotator cuff lands the author in physical therapy, which turns out to be a proving ground for his masculinity as well as a good place to score Quaaludes. Read more

College Basketball's Counter-Reformation by Matt Nicholas

Although still hypothetical, the Catholic Seven basketball conference has been meet with enthusiasm and support. But for what exactly?

After the Gold Rush, After Lenore by Austin Kelley

Super Bowl XLVII features an epic showdown between teams named for a poet’s famed pestering bird and a band of opportunistic prospectors.

A Lonely Seabird in a Land of Big Cats Patrick M. O'Connell

Some pundits mocked the name change from Hornets to Pelicans for the New Orleans NBA franchise. But what do we want in a team name or team mascot?

The Super Bowl of Empty Metaphors by Matt Nicholas

The Super Bowl extends far beyond its football context. Here’s a handy guide to some non-football super bowls out there.

Lance Armstrong's French Disconnection by Austin Kelley

Thinking back on how Lance Armstrong’s scapegoated the French only confirms that we should have trusted our instincts all along when it came to that asshole.

Welcome (back)! by Matt Nicholas

We’re happy to announce that The Modern Spectator has returned from the cyberspace beyond.

Coming Soon! TMS Will Be Back

Get ready for The Modern Spectator. We’re coming back.

Minister of Information by Matt Nicholas

The most entertaining part of watching a San Antonio Spurs game has nothing to do with the action on the court.

Mancunian

How much Manchester slang do you know?

Everybody Wins: Leisure Olympics II

The Second Leisure Olympics began, appropriately enough, with a blank sign. It had originally been marked with words (white gaffer’s tape on black cotton), but the letters decided they didn’t want to be letters. They didn’t want to be corralled into meaning-making, they didn’t want to pin anything down, they didn’t want to work. So the letters fell off. They relaxed.

Things, of course, went smoothly off the rails after that. We didn’t get to half the sports (Slothathon slumbers on). Our medal ceremony music (10 versions of “Ode to Joy”) sputtered. At some point we ran out of beer. By then, though, we were already doing our best to imitate the ex-letters. We were deep into leisure. And deep into peach-and-plum sangria.


Read more.

LEISURE OLYMPICS II

Get Ready
for
Leisure Olympics II


Saturday, Sept. 1, 12-5p
Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Get more info and more lovely illustrations here.

“Know Thyself”

New Schedule


12:00-1:30 Practice
1:30 Opening Ceremonies
2:00 Badminton
2:30 Stone Skipping
3:00 Bocce
3:00 Croquet begins
3:30 Paper Airplane
4:00 TRICK
4:30 Slothathon
5:00 Closing Ceremony

Tell your friends to tell their friends’ friends.

Get more info and more lovely illustrations here.
illustration by Marshall Hopkins

The Long Goodbye by Austin Kelley

As many of you have noticed, we haven’t published anything new on The Modern Spectator for quite some time. It’s disappointing to say it, but this hiatus may last through the winter, or perhaps longer. There are good reasons for this, including my classes at NYU and writings which will occasionally appear here. For now, the break has given me a chance to look back and review some of the things we’ve done over the past four years. I’ve posted above one of my favorite images, a drawing by my wife, Emily Thompson (Read the accompanying article, a dream-like meditation on tie games by Brian Phillips, who runs the excellent soccer blog, The Run of Play), and have dug into the vaults to feature some other old pieces below. You can also take a look at our archives, where you’ll find my old musings on Zidane, luck, texting, and subluxation. And please drop me a line at austin (at) modernspectator.com.

The Good, the Bad, and the Brackets by Austin Kelley

I finished third overall in ESPN’s World Cup prediction game. I’d like to brag about it — there were more than a million entries, and I finished just one point shy of the $5,000 first prize – but I can’t. It’s not just because I won nothing for my truobles. It’s also because I didn’t try. Before filling out my bracket, I could have consulted statistics, broken down tactics, and carefully considered historic results. Instead, I just went with my first, unconsidered instinct, and vowed not to change a thing. When I did look back at my picks, I was appalled. Uruguay in the semifinals? Holland beating Brazil? Crazy. Read on.

Iron Man 3: Xavi

Does Xavi look a little like Robert Downey Jr.?

Look back at our profile of Uruguayan soccer fan Eduardo Galeano and check how you are doing in our pool.

Karma Chameleon: Germany Wins by Austin Kelley

History repeats itself, or mocks itself, or at least that’s what we like to believe. Read on.

Beyond the Thunderdome by the Spectator

One of the ESPN announcers, Adrian Healey, I think, called the knockout stages of the World Cup the “thunderdome.” When he said this, I imagined Tina Turner playing soccer. I think she’d be good. I suppose it’s the legs.

Two teams enter, only one team leaves.

Come watch with us in Brooklyn.

USA v Ghana, Saturday, 2:30
The Black Horse, 16th St and 5th Ave

Probable locations for Sunday
England v Germany, 10:00
The Draft Barn, 3rd ave & 12th st

Argentina v Mexico, 2:30
Loki, 5th ave & 2nd st

Amazing! U.S. Wins by the Spectator

US V GHANA, BLACK HORSE, 5TH AVE & 16TH ST, BROOKLYN


The U.S. beat Algeria, 1-0.

That’s a simple sentence, but one that leaves me speechless, and crazy, so I’ll let others do the talking. First, Andres Cantor with a cracked voice, then Brian Phillips on happiness, then Josh Dean cursing with joy, and then everyone on video.

On another note, I know my lookalikes are pretty far-fetched (besides Messi-Polanski), but does Diego Millito look a little like Bert?

Plus, Over on Journal, I wrote about the teams with the most foreign-born players.

What World Cup Team Has the Most Foreign Born Players?

Of Algeria’s 23 players, 17 were born in France. I discuss borders and the French in The Wall Street Journal.

The Land of the Free by Austin Kelley

For various reasons, mostly unintentional, I have more than a passing familiarity with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

The World Cup Wakes Up by Austin Kelley

Soccer can be exhausting, watching soccer that is. If you are foolish (and lucky) enough to try to catch all the games in the World Cup, you have to stare at a television for some six hours a day, day after day, beginning in New York at 7:00 a.m… Read my notes on the sixth day, and by the way, does the Uruguayan goalkeeper look a little like Scott Baio?

See also my thoughts on North Korea, Holland, and Domenech.

Why I Love North Korea by Austin Kelley

One pleasure of the World Cup is indulging in somewhat random allegiances. Four years ago I loved Ecuador because of a shirt someone gave me; I’ve supported Paraguay because of my first experience of coffee; I like Portugal just because I’ve been there. Then there are the old stereotypes that can help you cheer: The Italians are all defense, the Argentines are cheaters, the Germans are robots. And the Brazilians, ah, the Brazilians, they just love to dance. Read more.

The Polanski Problem by Austin Kelley

My wife thinks Lionel Messi looks like a young Roman Polanski. Read all about it.

Play It Again, Bafana Bafana by Austin Kelley

Read my recap of day one including some love for the vuvuzela.

Who Will Win the World Cup? by the Spectator

Friday’s schedule
10:00 a.m. South Africa v Mexico (watching at Madiba in Ft Green)
2:30 Uruguay v France
We’ll be watching Saturday’s USA-England match at the Bell House in Gowanus.

Time is running out on the pool!
We’re using ESPN.com this year. It’s easy to do: just click here (If you don’t have an ESPN account, you have to register, but it’s painless). Then click the teams you think will win. ESPN provides their FIFA ranking to give you some indication who is favored. To join “The Modern Spectator” group, the password is “tms”. Invite your friends, but do it soon. Games begin early Friday morning. There is also an optional money game. Email Austin for details.

Curious Oranj by Austin Kelley

Is the Netherlands dourly efficient or flamboyant and philosophical or just bald?

Women and Children First by Brian Schwartz

Brian Schwartz will be awaiting his first child while his friend Jesse is off in South Africa watching soccer.

The Architecture of Sports by Austin Kelley

The Modern Spectator returns with World Cup coverage, wondering if the sport a little too pretentious?

The Modern Spectator Relaxes

Dear Spectators,

Please excuse our appearance while we take a break from the world of online publishing. We shall return!

In the meantime, tiptoe through our archives, and send us your thoughts. Congratulations as well to E.J. Murphy who won our basketball pool by picking the devilish Dukies.

Tiger's Par Is Enough

Tiger Woods is the only player on the PGA Tour who can win by turning in an average day on the course. Read about it in the Wall Street Journal

Stability Spells Success by Austin Kelley

The teams with the highest player turnover, a new study shows, tend to lose. Read about it at WSJ.

Our Belated NCAA Pool

Dear Spectators,

See how you’re doing on our NCAA Pool over on Dawgsled.com.

New writing is still on hiatus here at the Spectator, but we’re featuring some of our favorites from the archives in the boxes below.

Snowboarding Imitates Rodeo by the Spectator

Watching the Olympic snowboard half-pipe the other day, I was struck dumb. Not by the ridiculousness of the sport – although it does bring out the fuddy-duddy in me – but by the U.S. uniforms. They are on top, fake flannel and on the bottom, fake denim. The “jeans” have phony fading and phony rips. The whole thing is made of Gore-Tex (which I like to think of as a long lost election result, not as a magical fabric) and was created by Burton so ski bums could imitate urban hipsters imitating cowboys.

It’s not surprising really. Snowboarding is the most derivative of sports, as I discovered a few years ago when I wrote about an event in NY: the rail jam.

The Modern Spectator will return with new writing soon. In the meantime, we’re featuring some of our favorites from the archives on the front page. Enjoy.

Yellow Card Tally by Austin Kelley

Who gets the most yellow cards? Spaniards?

Hall of Fame: No Popularity Contest by Austin Kelley

If the Hall of Fame were for the most famous players, Mattingly would be a shoo-in.

We're on Break
Illustration by Marshall Hopkins

The Modern Spectator is temporarily on holiday. Please check back on the weekends for the Gambling Gurus’ NFL picks. And soon we’ll return with more fanciful writing on sports and everything else. Thanks, Austin

Week 12 Picks: Oooh... Miami by the Gambling Gurus

Picking Miami to beat his hometown Bills, Brooke writes, “I read that male sports fans experience a measurable drop in testosterone production when their teams lose, but male bettors experience a comparable spike in testosterone production when they win money. “ Call it even. Read more.

NFL Week 11 Picks: Bills Fire Themselves by the Gambling Gurus

The Gambling Gurus are back with their weekly NFL picks. Brooke writes of his beloved Bills, “ So far this year Buffalo has fired their All Pro left tackle, O-Coordinator, starting QB (twice), and finally now their head coach. Next up is the GM. The owner on the other hand stays the same, and he is the guy that hired all these other guys. Perhaps he should fire himself.” Read more.

FIFA's Flawed Rankings by Austin Kelley

The FIFA rankings have had surprising results, in the Wall Street Journal.

NFL Week 9 Picks: Texans Forget, Lose by Brooke Costello

Stefan is off this week so Brooke goes it alone. Of the Colts – Texans game, he says, “There is a lot being written about Matt Shaub’s season. He is leading the league with 16 TD’s and his yard per completion stat is through the roof. But more importantly he has Houstonians forgetting to ask themselves why they live in an overpriced underconstructed shack in the middle of one of North America’s biggest swamps. This is what professional sports is all about. Replacing the “Why?” with a “Hell yeah.” The bad news is Indy really is really good.” Read on.

Pic of the Day: Godzilla Strikes

When the Yankees jumped ahead of the Phillies on Hideki Matsui’s third RBI hit of the night, I got a text from a friend and Yankee fan, Matthew McKown. It said, “At least it’s Matsui.” I used to love Matsui. Back in 2003 he came to New York with great fanfare. He hit a grand slam in his first game in Yankee Stadium. And he always looked hilarious. He wore the same determined expression on his face at all times. When he sprinted straight and hard for the ball in the outfield, his hat would fly off again and again. Matthew and I attended one of his first games against Seattle when Ichiro and Matsui drew thousands of Japanese fans to the stadium. We loved it.

But in the end Godzilla is not a lovable character. He is a monster who destroys your village without even trying. He is a nuclear bomb, a disaster. So it was last night when the Phillies succumbed to the wrath of Matsui. In a way, I’d rather have been beaten by Teixeira or Posada, someone without special menace and without special charm. Now I’ll never look at Matsui the same.

Star Align for Yanks, Won't Stop Phils! by Austin Kelley

The Fall Classic is here, an epic matchup between my Phillies and the Bronx billionaires. To get ready I asked an astrologer, a statistician, a Las Vegas oddsmaker, a computer, a former major-league manager and a baseball analyst to predict the outcome of the series. The Phils were underdogs to everyone but Mitch Williams. Read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, look back at some of our Phillies stories, including this essay on the rhetorical genius of Charlie Manuel and this consideration of Ryan Howard’s IHOP years.

Taking a Penalty? Relax by Austin Kelley

Taking a little more time with a penalty kick may help you score. Read it in the Wall Street Journal.

The Grudge: The Battle for Porkopolis by Austin Kelley

This week we analyzed two big grudge matches in the NFL.

NFL Week 7 Picks: Dr. Who Wins by the Gambling Gurus

Read the predictions of our betting-mad madmen.

NFL Week 6 Picks: Shockey Effect by the Gambling Gurus

Our gamblers didn’t bet on Shockey & Co. Boy, were they wrong. Review the picks.

The Wild Bunch by Austin Kelley

Can a relaxed clubhouse help the Yankees win a championship? Read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

Pic of the Day: Argentina At Last by the Spectator

Argentina, Honduras qualify for the World Cup.

Pic of the Day: Howard's Big Hit by the Spectator

With two outs in the ninth inning of Monday night’s playoff game between the Phillies and Rockies, Ryan Howard remained as cool as can be and hit a two run double to tie the game. His Phillies went on to win 5-4 and set up a repeat of last year’s NLCS matchup with the Dodgers. Look back at our profile of Howard and his slow march to Scranton.

Golf Returns to Olympics with One Superpower by Austin Kelley

Golf is returning to the Olympings. I rate the projected national teams on WSJ.

Week 5 Picks: Races to the Bottom by the Gambling Gurus

Our gambling gurus are sour on this week’s games including the matchup between the hapless Oakland Raiders and the NY Giants. “Jamarcus Russel,” writes Stefan Tornquist, “has a QB rating of 42.8, which you get for doing the post game interview without grabbing Suzie Kolber.” Read the picks.

And, check out Austin Kelley’s report on international golf, which will return to the Olympics in 2016.

The It Team: Real Madrid by Austin Kelley

What does Stephen King have to do with Real Madrid?

Hockey Fans Are Rich, Eh by Austin Kelley

Who are the richest sports fans?

Week 4 Picks: Karma Chameleon by the Gambling Gurus

Will Favre burn or flame out? Check the picks..

What is the world's worst soccer team? by Austin Kelley

I compiled the worst records in World Cup qualifying over on WSJ.

Lions Win, Start Zorn Debate by the Spectator

How many Zorns does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Week 3 Picks: Brady Hits Earth by the Gabling Gurus

Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen are being sued by the paparazzi. Will that curse the golden QB? Brooke says, “You have to love how much shit Brady is taking these days. A little over a calendar year ago he was as close to being the perfect Homos Americanus as possible. He was mack daddy to one hottie’s baby, and engaged to and even more hot hottie, being feted by stars and politicians alike, and, most importantly for some, he was the grand poo-baa of NFL QB’s. Who wouldn’t have changed places with him? And then pop goes his knee, pop goes a pistol at his wedding, pop goes his defense and pop goes his perfect timing. In comes the young gun and talk of the league Matt Ryan ready to send the Pats to a 1-2 start (Oh So Close To 0-3.). Brady digs deep this week, but I don’t think it will be enough to cover. “ Read the rest of the picks.

The Spirit of Pittsburgh in Detroit by Austin Kelley

Miguel Cabrera wears a Duquesne t-shirt every day under his uniform. He didn’t go to college. Why?

Pic of the Day: Not that Armstrong by the Spectator

Kristin Armstrong, the reigning Olympic champion in the individual time trial, won her second world championship in the sport, and will go down in history as one of the best cyclists named “Armstrong.”

Week 2 Picks: Seymour Goes Mad by the Gambling Gurus

Look back at our NFL prognostications.

Week One Picks: Browns, Broncos Stink by the Gambling Gurus

Pic of the Day: Motherly Love by the Spectator

We can’t help but be impressed with Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open after taking more than two years of maternity leave from professional tennis. Over on the Rumpus, our friend Brian Schwartz asks:

“Is there something special in Belgian culture that might help a woman return to form and come back an even better tennis player than she was before taking time off and having a baby? Does the combination of excellent chocolate and fruity beer somehow prepare one to undergo the amazing transformation of pregnancy and childbirth, then win a Grand Slam tournament?”

Pic of the Day: Del Potro Reigns in Queens by Austin Kelley

It always bothers me when the tennis commentators call Juan Martin Del Potro by the nickname, “DelPo.” It makes him sound more like a regional utility company than an outstanding Argetninian tennis player with long limbs and fluid powerful strokes. But whatever you call him, the 20-year-old has toppled the seemingly invincible Roger Federer at the US Open. Hats off to Del Potro, el rey de Queens.

Are You Ready? by the Spectator

We at The Modern Spectator aren’t really ready for football.

Pic of the Day: Serena Strength

Serena Williams won her opening match at the US Open. For live scores click here.

Gambling Gurus: Preseason Picks by Stefan Tonrquist and Brooke Costello

Stoked Again by Austin Kelley

Surfing slang lives on. Hang loose, dude.

Bolt Bolts Again by the Spectator

Austin Kelley contributed to the story about Usain Bolt’s world record on the WSJ.

The Red Sox and Andrew McCarthy by Austin Kelley

What do John Hughes, director of Sixteen Candles, and the Yankees have in common?

Number Don’t Lie: Soccer Commentator Ratings by Brian Schwartz

How much has American soccer broadcasting and commentary improved in the last 25 years? Read about it.

Baseball Research Veers Into Left Field by Austin Kelley

Democrats love the designated hitter and other baseball research.

Break for the Tour de France
Illustration by Marshall Hopkins

The Modern Spectator is on a temporary hiatus, but while you’re waiting for our next whimsical look at the world of competitive sport, we suggest you watch a bit of the Tour de France. To get into it, look back at our articles about Versus, the channel that broadcasts the Tour in the US, and about their announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.

Pic of the Day: Drop Shot

Eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lost, 2-6, 3-6, in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon to Serena Williams, the second seed. Check Wimbledon scores at the official site, and read Austin Kelley’s story about British tennis in the Wall Street Journal.

The Failure of British Tennis by Austin Kelley

Why can’t the Brits win Wimbledon? Read the Wall Street Journal.

The Spanish Armada by Austin Kelley

Barcelona was part of a revolution in Spain. Read about it in The Wall Street Journal.

On Top of Our Game by the Spectator

The sports cliche persists. Read on.

Inquiry Into the Morality of Soccer by Austin Kelley

Is there a morality to soccer? Check ESPN.

MLS Crests Go Classic by Austin Kelley

What’s in a crest? Read about it at ESPN.

To Stand or not to Stand by Austin Kelley

Read about the history at the history of spectators standing Wall Street Journal.

The Conflicted Fan by Brian Schwartz

Spectator contributor Brian Schwartz discusses the Champions League on the Rumpus.

The Geriatric 11 by Austin Kelley

Who are the best soccer players in the world over 33 years old? Read on at ESPN.

Who was the lowest draft pick to become NBA's Rookie of the Year?

The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, who won this year’s Rookie of the Year award, was the first overall pick in last year’s draft. So were about 16 other former winners. What winner was the most underestimated at draft time?

Soccer II: The Sequel by Austin Kelley

Sequels, any Hollywood exec will tell you, are money in the bank. Read about the Premier League II and some MLS heartthrobs at ESPN.

Derby Day by Austin Kelley

There is no greater enemy than one’s closest neighbor. Read about crosstown rivalries at ESPN.

Angels in Augusta by Austin Kelley

Read about the Masters, the Frozen Fours, and the gods at WSJ.

Suckling Pig Soccer Bailout by Austin Kelley

Soccer clubs are trying to bail themselves out of dire straits. Read about it at ESPN.

UNC, Dan O'Hara Take the Title

The Tar Heels destroyed the Michigan State Spartans, and Dan O’Hara, Jr. won our pool.

Final Two: The Confidence Man by Austin Kelley

I wrote about the Final Four in the Wall Street Journal today. Read it here.

Just before the NCAA tournament began, my friend Kevin Konty told me emphatically, “I am going to win the Modern Spectator basketball pool.” Kevin is a bit of a statistical whiz, so I didn’t know how to take it, but I told him, “confidence doesn’t mean much when it comes to March Madness.” Kevin was hit pretty hard in the first round, and he never recovered. He finished higher than me, but that ain’t saying much.

Read more and check the standings.

Kissinger, Korea, and Soccer by Austin Kelley

Is Kissinger a curse to US Soccer? Read about it in ESPN.

Final Four: Baby Steps by the Spectator

Seven-month-old Lucy Koller is threatening to become the youngest ever Modern Spectator NCAA pool winner. Read on.

Guus Hiddink, The Two-Timing Dutchman by Austin Kelley

Guus Hiddink is managing two teams at once. Go to ESPN.

Sweet Sixteen: Nicknames Win by the Spectator

The roundup after round two is here.

Round One Results: Siena Saves a Marriage by the Spectator

My girlfriend, Emily, and I both picked the ninth-seeded Siena Saints to beat The Ohio State University in last night’s first round game. It wasn’t because of any special knowledge about Siena: we weren’t counting on their dominance on the glass; we weren’t predicting that their guards would match up well against the Buckeyes backcourt; we didn’t think badly of the Big Ten. But we’re planning to get married in Siena, Italy, and that was reason enough. Siena was for us. Read on.

Welcome to the Spectator NCAA Pool by the Spectator

Thanks to all of you who joined The Modern Spectator NCAA Pool. We have about 80 competitors this year, vying for the official Leisure Olympics badminton set and the Spec t-shirts. Good luck.

I’ve taken a look at your entries and ran them through my analog supercomputer (my notepad) to track trendy picks. Then I realized the real computer had done it for me already (Check here).The most popular team is, not surprisingly, the number one overall seed, Louisville. Nineteen of you think the Cardinals will cut down the nets n a few weeks. UNC is second with 16 supporters (although they are the most popular final four pick), followed by Pitt with 15. UConn (6) is the least fashionable number-one. Memphis (5) and Duke (4) were the hot 2-seeds for Spectators.

Special recognition always goes to those of you who take long shots all the way. I particularly like Jonathan Durham’s picks. Eleventh-seeded VCU is his champion, and they are joined in the final four by LSU, USC, and Cal. Jonathan clearly likes three-letter combinations.

You can find brackets, results, and standings here.

MLS Eyes Barcelona by Austin Kelley

Can Drew Carey bring Barcelona style to Seattle? Go to ESPN.

Join Our 2009 NCAA Pool

Time’s up! The games have begun.

Check in on your performance at view results. You can also see whom everyone else picked.

Good luck!

Communication Breakdown by Austin Kelley

Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson have different styles, but are both rhetorical masters. Go to ESPN.

Here Comes March Craziness

Siena barged into the NCAA tournament last night by beating Niagra in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference final. Will they survive the first round? You decide. Our annual FREE NCAA pool will be like last year’s. Stay tuned.

Who is the All-Time Home Run Leader in the World Baseball Classic?

Without Bonds and A-Rod, there is room for other sluggers to emerge in the international tournament. So who is leading in the long ball category as the second WBC gets underway?

Find out.

Who Got the Juice? by Gentry Kirby

Can we give steroiders some credit for breaking the law, just so they can be better?

Project Skort: Soccer Chic by Austin Kelley

Soccer is arguably the most fashionable of team sports — from Armani to the skort.

Pic of the Day: Cricket Attack

About a dozen armed men attacked a convoy in Pakistan carrying the Sri Lanka cricket team to Lahore. Six policemen and a driver were killed, and many others were wounded. The BBC tells the story of one man’s escape and asks, who did it?

Pic of the Day: Blini Wars

Revelers outside Moscow celebrate Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, by fist fighting. The fist fighting “game,” a tourism website tells us, “dates back to the times when our ancestors fought their enemies with fists.” Maslenitsa marks the end of winter and the beginning of Lent in Russian Orthodox tradition.

Inquiry Into the Morality of Soccer by Austin Kelley

Michel Platini thinks Manchester City ismorally bankrupt. Read the rest at ESPN.

Playing God by Gentry Kirby

The time was ripe to mold an impressionable mind. Read more.

The Swansong of Paolo Maldini by Austin Kelley

Italian legend Paolo Maldini played in his 56th, and last, Milan derby. He will go down in history.

Historic Clash in Columbus by Austin Kelley

Look back at Austin Kelley’s preview of USA-Mexico at ESPN.

In Defense of Michael Vick by Ricardo California

Is Michael Vick getting the shaft? Read more.

Pic of the Day: Vonn Double

Lindsey Vonn is the greatest ever U.S. woman skier. She’s just won two golds at the World Championships and is leading the overall World Cup.

The Soccer Bubble Keeps Blowing by Austin Kelley

The London Times is nostalgic for an era when milkmen won the FA Cup. Go to ESPN.

Pic of the Day: Kobe Kills Us by the Spectator

Kobe Bryant’s record-breaking 61-point performance in MSG reminded us how good he is and how much we hate him.

Pic of the Day: It's a Catch

Santonio Holmes keeps both feet in and clinches a thrilling Super Bowl for the Steelers. Look back at our gurus’ picks.

Gurus: Super Bowl to Go Over by S.T. & B.C.

Each week our gambling gurus, Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist bet on the NFL. Ahead of the final game of the year, Brooke gives advice to the exotic dancers of the greater Tampa Bay area, while Stefan contemplates the Colts. Along the way, they make Super Bowl picks.

Pic of the Day: Samba on Ice

The Brazilian curling team — that’ right, the Brazilian curling team — challenged team USA to a five-match tournament. The New York Times reports.

Who has the most receiving yards in a Super Bowl?

Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald already has 419 yards receiving this post season, a playoff record. Along the way he had some great outings: a three-touchdown half, a 166-yard game, and a 152-yard game, but those numbers won’t break any new records in the Super Bowl. Who has the most receiving yards in the big game and how many?

Becks & Landon: BFF by Austin Kelley

David Beckham is a master of the SMS text message.

Pic of the Day: Wild Fight

Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild and Ian White of the Toronto Maple Leafs got in a bit of a tussle during the second period of last night’s game. The Wild scored four goals during that middle frame, and beat the Leafs, 6-1.

Pic of the Day: Roger May Rise Again

A few years ago you couldn’t open a magazine without reading that Roger Federer was a a god. He wasn’t only the best tennis player ever to have lived; he was reinventing the game as poetry, as free-form improvisatory beauty. He was the Satchmo of sport. More recently, the Federer bandwagon has flagged, perhaps because of the rise of Rafa Nadal (Federer isn’t number one anymore) or that weird bout of mono, or just the news cycle’s endless churning. Roger doesn’t get the respect he used to. British bookmakers even picked Andy Murray as a favorite in the Australian Open. But Murray is out, and Federer is in. And if Roger wins the tournament, he will, at age 27, tie Pete Sampras’s record for the most Grand Slam singles titles ever. Time to revisit those magazine paeans, by David Foster Wallace and Nick Paumgarten.

Pic of the Day: Becks Still Bending

David Beckham scored his first goal for AC Milan this weekend in a 4-1 rout of Bologna. Rumors are swirling that Milan will try to make his loan from MLS permanent ad they make a run for the Italian title. We like this photo because no matter how popular Beck is, and no matter how much he says the “right” things about being a good teammate and family man and such, there is something unmistakably lonely about him. Poor David.

Who is the youngest player to appear in an NHL All-Star game?

With all the youngsters in this year’s NHL All-Star game, Alex Ovechkin and Sid the Kid are starting to look like a pair of old geezers. The West will feature two 20-year-olds, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, in its starting lineup (part of the 3-Blackhawk starting squad), They aren’t, though, the youngest ever to play in an All Star game. Who was?

Pic of the Day: Obama Nation

The Football Fashion Blog pointed out that World Soccer Shop is selling U.S. national team soccer shirts with Obama’s name and the number 44.

Austin Kelley also linked to the post in his latest ESPN column about soccer hoaxes, Buddhism, and the persistence of belief. Click here.

January Fools: The Soccer Hoax by Austin Kelley

Is Masal Bugduv the new Sidd Finch? Read about it at ESPN.

The Spirit of Draws by Brian Phillips

The author goes to a bar, and a philosophical debate breaks out. It ends in a draw.

Gurus Split on NFL Conference Championships by S.T. & B.C.

Each week our gambling gurus, Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist bet on the NFL. Here are their picks for the conference championships.

And don’t miss our Super Bowl picks based on local beer.

It’s the Beer Talking By John Bolster & Mac Montandon
Illustration By Marshall Hopkins

Divining the NFL playoffs by comparing local brews.

Sounders Seek Players by Austin Kelley

It’s a cross between “American Idol” and “Invincible,” gone low budget. More.

Letters to the Editor, or How Wigs Spell Victory for the Eagles by Austin Kelley

How do wigs spell victory for the Eagles? Look into the mailbag for answers.

Pic of the Day: Hornet Heights

New Orleans Hornets guard Rasual Butler drives to the basket against the New York Knickerbockers. The Knicks, though, pulled off a big upset down in the Big Easy, winning the game, 101-95. Moving the ball well, the Knicks had 30 assists in the game. David Lee had 24 points.

Gurus: Chargers and Curses by S.T. & B.C.

Each week our gambling gurus Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello bet on the NFL. This week they ask if receiving MVP votes are a guaranteed curse and if Philip Rivers (left) can surprise a few people and charge into the SuperBowl.

Or at least cover the spread.

Read their picks.

BCS Battle of the Bands III: Thriller by the Spectator

We love the strangely persistent tradition of college marching bands. Read on.

The Transfer Market Mysteries by Austin Kelley

The mysterious world of loans and transfers at ESPNthemag.com.

Pic of the Day: Texas Triumph

Texas Longhorns receiver Quan Cosby dives into the endzone for the winning touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl. Texas beat Ohio State 24-21.

Pic of the Day: Westbrook Breaks Free

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook turned a screen pass into a 71-yard touchdown, helping the Eagles beat the Vikings, 26-14. They face the Giants next Sunday. Baltimore also beat Miami. Look back at our gurus’ predictions.

Gurus: Ravens, Falcs to Fly by S.T. & B.C.

Each week our gambling gurus, Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello, bet on the NFL. Here are their picks for Wildcard weekend.

The Year in Soccer by Austin Kelley

We give out our 2008 awards, WGATU style.

Pic of the Day: Monkey Business

Orangutan boxing: What more can we say?

Pic of the Day: Favre Fades

Has Brett Favre thrown his last interception? The Jets lost to the Dolphins and were knocked out of the playoffs, prompting the annual Favre questions. Plus: Look back at our gambling gurus’ picks.

Gurus: NFL Week 17 Picks by S.T. & B.C.

Titans at Colts (+3, 38)
ST: Neither team has anything to play for in this year’s version of the ‘Not the Face’ Bowl. These guys just want to get out of the game intact. I’d be shocked if Bob Sanders plays a down, or if Peyton sees much time (do the Colts have a backup quarterback?). The Titans are a team of equals as opposed to the Colts star chamber, so if I had to bet, and I don’t, I’d play the Titans.

B: My wife Justine and I just got back from Christmas in Austin TX. It’s a strange experience for a Buffalo guy to open presents on a sunny 72 degree morning. A few days before Christmas my in-laws and Justine and I all went to Luling and Lockhart; two small towns known for having he best BBQ in Texas. Our favorite was Smitty’s. The walls are coated with Post Oak wood smoke and the ribs, brisket, and hot links never need sauce. I’ll take the Titans and an Over. More.

The Other World Cup by Austin Kelley

Manchester United won the World Cup! Or maybe we should say, they won a World Cup. It wasn’t the same as the World Cup—you know, the one with national teams, the thousands of gallons of official Budweiser and a billion temporary soccer fans. Instead, on Sunday, United beat Equador’s LDU Quito in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, a fairly new and haphazard competition that supposedly crowns the best club team in the world. Read on at ESPN.

Pic of the Day: Beijing Christmas

A big Christmas tree adorns the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. Earlier this month Chinese newspapers reported that pieces of the stadium were being sold.

Pic of the Day: Slippery When Wet

Woop woop woop woop. Phoenix Coyotes’ Ed Jovanovski and Edmonton Oilers’ Ales Hemsky suddenly realize they’re on ICE! The Oilers scored two in the final period to win, 4-2. Ales Hemsky, by the way, is an awesome hockey name.

Gurus: Cards Fold in Beantown by S.T. & B.C.

Each week our gambling gurus, Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello, bet on the NFL.

13 Ways of Looking at Dan Dierdorf by Brian Schwartz

I heard Dierdorf praising the sit-com “Two and a Half Men” a few weeks ago in the middle of a game. It happened during a network cross-sell moment—the kind I rarely notice anymore—when NFL announcers are forced to mention other programs on their home channel.

Argentine Apertura Heats Up by Austin Kelley

How corrupt is the Argentine Primera? Read my column.

The Other Fantasy Football by Gentry Kirby

Can English soccer fans understand the importance of statistics?

Pic of the Day: Empire Strikes Back

India’s Yuvraj Singh celebrates cricket victory over England in the first test match in Chennai. “For India this could not have ended more perfectly,” The Guardian reports.

Gurus: Giants to Prove Themselves by S.T. & B.C.

Each week Brooke Costello & Stefan Tornquist bet on the NFL.

Buff at Jets (-8, 41)

ST: Brooke and I nursed our hangovers by drinking away our Sunday watching his beloved Bills play their way out of contention against a surprisingly consistent Miami team. Fortunately, we weren’t drinking every time the Bills screwed up. This is a team that’s gone round the bend and it’s hard to see them coming out of their stupor. Tease the Jets and the Over.

B: OMG!!!! WTF!!!!!! NLMAO!!!!! Losman’s starting!!!! Take the Under!

Pic of the Day: Deflated Minor Leagues

Even minor league baseball mascots are not immune from the effects of the downward-spiraling economy.

The Real Madrid Merry-Go-Round by Austin Kelley

There is one sports team in the world with enough dysfunctional will to win to match the Yankees: Real Madrid. Go to ESPN.

Gurus: Bears + Saints = Over by S.T. & B.C.

Brooke Costello & Stefan Tornquist bet on Thursday night NFL action.

NO @ CHI (-3,44)

S: Chicago scores 17 points against good defenses (usually) and 24 against bad ones (more often than not). New Orleans scores 24 and 32 in the same scenarios. Read on.

Pic of the Day: Lindsey Flies

Lindsey Vonn, last year’s overall World Cup skiing champion and owner of a pet cow, has started the 2009 season off well, winning the downhill in Lake Louise last Friday and winning her first slalom race ever. Vonn has jumped to first in the overall standings again.

Pic of the Day: Chargers-Raiders

The Chargers beat the Raiders 34-7, supposedly in 3-D. Look back at our gamblers’ picks.

Gurus: Giants Roll, Lions Roll Over

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello bet on today’s match-ups.

Eagles at Giants (-7, 43.5)
ST: One of these weeks the Giants will relax I suppose and let us down in spread town. This ain’t the week. These teams don’t like each other and the Giants are such an all-round team that I like the G-men to cover, especially if you make it easy on them by teasing the points with the Ravens, my other ATS crush.

B: Justice dictates that the Giants will breeze through the playoffs and then play a highly overmatched foe that they beat in the regular season in the Super Bowl. That foe will be hyper focused and incredibly well prepared and pull off the most recent upset of the century. This team will probably be the Steelers. But until that February game the Giants will not lose a game that counts, which should mean that they start resting guys after the night game next week in Dallas, but through a quirk in the schedule the Gints play the NFC Central leading Vikes and the NFC South leading Panthers the last two weeks of the regular season. I don’t think anybody in the Gints organization wants to hand a future playoff foe a cheap win. All of this is a long winded way of saying take the Gints and the Under separately.

Pic of the Day: Waimea Breaks

Calling all surfers! Plane tickets are cheap these days, and there are high surf warnings on the North Shore of Oahu. This photo shows Waimea yesterday before the start of the Eddie Aikau memorial surfing contest.

Pic of the Day: Wet & Wild, Hungary-Style

An enormous new water park opened in Hungary with water slides, a wave pool, and of course a replica Angkor temple. There was ceremonial sychnronized swimming to kick things off. You know we love synchronized swimming.

Oakland to Cover, Move to Key West by S.T. & B.C.

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello call Thursday night betting.

Big Phil Freaks Out by Austin Kelley

Remember the plot of Hoosiers? Chlesea is nothing like it. See ESPN.

The Sneaker Grouch by Li Wang

If you wore Adidas Ewings, you were in control. If you wore Air Jordan Ones, you were flashy.

Pic of the Day: Lost Luge by The Modern Spectator

Russia’s Albert Demtschenko crashed during his first run at a Luge World Cup race in Austria. Demtschenko finished third overall in last year’s World Cup, losing out to Armin “Il Cannibale” Zöggeler, an Italian who has won the overall title seven times.

Gurus: Giants to Keep Rolling by S.T. & B.C.

Look back at Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello’s betting breakdown of this week;s NFL games.

Tickled Pink: Nike's New Campaign by Austin Kelley

Nicklas Bendtner scored a remarkable goal. What made it historic? His shoes. Read the rest at ESPN.

Gurus: End Turkey Day Tyranny by S.T. & B.C.

Review the picks for Turkey Day.

Photo of the Day: Hejduk Gone Wild by The Modern Spectator

Spectator contributor Brian Schwartz sent in this photo of Frankie Hejduk holding up the MLS trophy. We’ve always loved Hejduk’s crazy style on and off the field, even if we’ve cursed him during his stints on the national team for lacking skill.

More importantly, as Brian asks, “what’s up with those square, biscuit-shaped medals MLS bestowed on the champs?”

Gurus: Titans Will Ground Jets by S.T. & B.C.

Our gambling prognosticators knew the Eagles would lose. Big. Review their picks for week 12.

Steelers to Recover, Cover Spread by S.T. & B.C.

The gurus thought they Steelers would cover.Review.

Egyptians Take Squash

The best squash player in the world is Amr Shabana, a 28-year-old Egyptian, but his 19-year-old countryman Ramy Ashour is on the rise. Read Men’s Vogue .

Books in Bulk by Austin Kelley

The Strand books store sells whole libraries by the foot. Sometimes they’re for learned folks like Indiana Jones. Read the Talk of the Town in The New Yorker.

Spring Fever by Austin Kelley

A graduate student teachers’ strike hits Columbia University. Read the Talk of the Town in The New Yorker.

Pigskin Poet by Austin Kelley

For its last season, “Monday Night Football” employed Tim McGraw to sing play-by-play over the highlight reels Meet the poets in The New Yorker.

The Old-School Collector by Austin Kelley

DJs, like curators, are collectors, so when Grandmaster Flash and other hip-hop luminaries met up with some officials from the Smithsonian, there was some serious collecting to discuss. Read about it in The Village Voice

The Politics of Whit Stillman

Stillman’s movies like “Metropolitan” have earned him praise from conservatives. Read the review in Slate.

Farewell to the Working Class

Could laziness really be the key to peace, happiness and a more perfect world? Read the book review in The Nation.

Ireland's Crack Habit

Prefabricated Irish pubs have colonized all corners of the globe. It’s part of a master plan. Read the Story at Slate.

Soccer Is for Babies (Redux) by Austin Kelley

What’s next in soccer? The wet willy? Go to ESPN.

Why do teams have different punt and kickoff returners? by the Spectator

Despite the fact that returning kickoffs and returning punts seem to require similar skills, most teams in the NFL employ different players for each job. Why?

NFL WEEK 11: Time for a Giant Fall by S.T. & B.C.

Our gambling gurus Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello give us their weekly take on Vegas and the NFL.

Gurus Pick Pats Over Jets by S.T. & B.C.

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello look at Thursday night’s Pats-Jets game.

Jet @ Pats (-3,42)

ST: Thursday may provide an clue as to which AFC East team gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Hot stuff.


B:
Some of the names have changed, but by and large it’s just like old times in the AFC East.

Read more.

The Mysterious Art of Coaching by Austin Kelley

Coaching a professional soccer team, like managing a hedge fund, is a slippery business.

GUrus: NFL Week 10 Picks by S.T. & B.C.

Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist misjudged the Broncos. What’s next?

Can Obama Bring Change to Soccer? by Austin Kelley

Is Obama’s victory a sign that American soccer is on the rise?

Gurus: The Broncos Are ATS Losers by S.T. & B.C.

Which teams are performing best and worst against the spread?

Redknapp Runs Around by Austin Kelley

A word of advice for Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth at ESPN.

Gurus: NFL Week Nine Picks by S.T. & B.C.

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello give the lowdown on this week’s NFL matchups.

The Phillies Win? Yes by Austin Kelley

Winning is pretty damn cool. Read on.

NFL Week 8: Gurus Look to Bounce Back by S.T. & B.C.

Is the financial crisis getting you down? Try the NFL. How much worse can you do?

Dope and Beer by Austin Kelley

We always thought vitamins were supposed to be good for you. Beer, maybe not so much. Read my ESPN column.

Last-Minute Odds: NFL Week Seven Picks by S.T. & B.C.

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello made these picks just under the wire. Look back at their performance.

The Zen of Charlie by Austin Kelley

When Charlie Manuel was first hired as Phillies manager before the 2005 season, I was, like many Philadelphia fans, skeptical at best. Soon the skepticism turned to anger. Read on.

Soccer Goes Virtual by Austin Kelley

Think you’re past your soccer prime? There may be a future for you online. Read more at ESPN.

Gurus Look NFL Week 6 in the Eye by S.T. & B.C.

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello roll into week 6 with their crystal balls.

Crouch Freak by Austin Kelley

Peter Crouch, the 6’7” English striker, is a bit like a circus performer. Got to ESPN.

Leisure Olympics Make History by Modern Spectator

Look back at the celebration of the universal principles of lying around, dogs, and physical comedy.

NFL Week 5 Picks by S.T. & B.C.

Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist weigh in on this week’s games.

The WPS Fantasy Draft by Austin Kelley

Marta, the world’s best female soccer player, got “drafted.” Sort of. Check ESPN.

Gurus Keep Rolling? Don't Bet on It by Stefan Tornquist & Broooke Costello

Will the gambling gurus keep their incredible winning streak up? Don’t bet on it.

The Rise of the Multi-Sport Mogul by Austin Kelley

Stan Kroenke owns a lot of teams. Is Arsenal next? Read my column in ESPN.

Gambling Gurus Week Three Picks by Stefan & Brooke

Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello are on a roll. Check their latest punditry.

Champions League Preview by Austin Kelley

Fashion and finance in the world’s biggest club competition. Read my column at ESPN.

The First Leisure Olympics
Illustration by Emily Thompson

Dear Modern Spectators,

I’m compiling an oral history of the Leisure Olympics, so please send me your thoughts and feelings about the afternoon of mild, but hard-fought, competition and not-so-mild punch. Did you experience the glory of victory, the ennui of defeat, or the agony of alcohol?

Cristiano Ronaldo's Gift by Austin Kelley

Austin Kelley breaks down Cristiano Ronaldo’s skill at Play magazine.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Picks Week Two by Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello

The Gurus share their picks for week two in the NFL. Agree?

Bragging Rights

The rich are getting richer and buying whole sports. Austin Kelley charts it in WSJ.

German Baseball: A Cure for Insomnia by David Malley

An American goes looking for baseball in Berlin and finds it.

World Conflicts and the World Cup by Austin Kelley

It’s Rivalry week as North Korea faces South Korea and Turkey plays Armenia. Read my ESPN column.

Beijing: Cheap Food, Socialism Prevail by Ming Thompson & Dan Mattingly

Our Olympic correspondents are back with their final thoughts about food and fandom in Beijing.

Gambling on Week One: Atlanta Wins? by Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello

The Gambling Gurus are back with their week one predictions.

The Gambling Gurus NFL Preview by Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello

The Gambling Gurus return with their picks for the year and their picks for week one.

The Saga of Manchester City by Austin Kelley

Abu Dhabi is trying to make Manchester City the biggest soccer club in the world. Read my ESPN column.

Kobe, Osama, and the New Fandom by Austin Kelley

What do Michael Moore and Osama bin Laden have in common? Read my column at ESPN.

Hooray for Sports by Austin Kelley

There are no asterisks at the Sports Museum of America. Read my Talk of the Town story at The New Yorker.

Georgia Keeps Kicking by Austin Kelley

Georgian soccer players like Milan’s Khaka Kaladze have a difficult time lacing up their cleats. Read my ESPN column.

Beijing Bureau: Athletes of Unknown Parentage by Dan Mattingly

Not every Olympic parent is whisked off to the Today show Read more.

The Balance Beam of Life by Austin Kelley

Gymnastics reminds me of Genesis, the band, and makes me a little sick.

Olympic Soccer Draws Little by Austin Kelley

Should soccer be in the Olympics? Maybe. Read about it at ESPN.

Beijing Bureau: DIY Security by Ming Thompson
Olympic gym photo by Ming Thompson

Security is a hands-on experience, reports Ming Thompson.

Beijing Bureau: Shuttlecock Diplomacy by Dan Mattingly

How do the Chinese react to Taiwan’s athletes? Read Dan’s report from the Olympic badminton courts.

The View From Beijing by Ming Thompson

The smog settles over Beijing, Ming Thompson reports.

Can Comrade Posh Save Soccer? by Austin Kelley

Victoria Beckham is descended from Commies. What else is new? See my ESPN column.

The Olympics by the Numbers by Austin Kelley

There are 940 McDonald’s in China, serving the “China Mac.” Read the Olympics by the numbers in Play.

Vive Le Tour de France by the Spectator

We take a look back at this year’s Tour de France. Vive le tour!

Who was the oldest Olympic champion ever?

With the Beijing Games coming up, we’re digging into the Olympic vaults to bring you all the oddities of the past 112 years of this international sports carnival. Read all about Oscar Swahn, his son Alfred, and an old-school version of Buck Hunter.

Footballers Conquer the World on Holiday by Austin Kelley

The summer is a time to sleep with models and colonize the world. Read my column at ESPN.

Sopranos Soccer by Austin Kelley

Is Giorgio Chinaglia a mobster? Read about it in my ESPN column.

Soccer Scams by Austin Kelley

Nigerian kids are getting fleeced while Sepp Blatter thinks Ronaldo’s a slave. Read about it at ESPN.

The 1959 Home Run Derby by the Spectator

Check out the videos of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

Soccer Is for Babies by Austin Kelley

Sometime soccer is a childish game. Read more at ESPN.

Euro 2008: The Corporate Fanzone by Austin Kelley

Read about the official motor oil of the World Cup at ESPN.

Steve Nash Has Touch by Austin Kelley

Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, and Thierry Henry got together for playground soccer in Chinatown. Read about it at ESPN.

For the Birds: A Futile Trip Down Oriole Way by Mac Montandon
Illustration By Marshall Hopkins

My beloved Baltimore Orioles were holding open minor league tryouts. My course was clear.

Euro 2008 Sticker Books by Austin Kelley

I came up with a few sticker book ideas to ward off post-Euro 2008 depression. Read my ESPN column.

You're Uniform's So Ugly... by Austin Kelley

Check out the ugly uniform slideshow, “edited by Sean Avery,” apparently, at Men’s Vogue.

Who was the first player to bat in a televised major league game?

He is also the oldest living major leaguer. He just turned a hundred. Read about it.

Webb of Violence by Austin Kelley

All of Poland would like to kill English Referee Howard Webb.
Read about it at ESPN
.

The Last Waltz by Brian Schwartz

Jason Taylor may be the best ballroom dancer in the NFL. How does that make us feel?

Soccer Goes Hollywood by Austin Kelley

Chelsea have hired show biz agents, while its players are caught up in cinematic plots. Read more at ESPN.

Mourinho Abdicates Special Title by Austin Kelley

The Portuguese coach no longer wants to be called “the special one.” Read about it at ESPN the Magazine.

The Politics of the Opening Ceremonies by Austin Kelley

The Olympics used to begin without ceremony. No longer. Read about it at RL.

Maradona: The Movie by Austin Kelley

My newest column at ESPN the magazine remembers the weird and wonderful Diego Maradona.

Drogba, Work, and the Individual by Austin Kelley

I have begun writing a weekly soccer column at ESPN the Magazine’s website. My first installment was published today to coincide with the Champions League final:

Sports memoirs can make for dull reading, so it was refreshing to learn that the new autobiography of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, released in France last week, was spicy enough to provoke an investigation by the English Football Association. The FA is annoyed by Drogba’s admission that he picked up yellow cards on purpose so that he would be suspended for certain games. Read the rest at ESPN the Magazine.

Carl Lewis Supports Political Games by Austin Kelley

Carl Lewis spoke about sports, drugs, and politics outside the Sports Museum of America the other day.

Mel Kiper Jr. Drafts Himself by Austin Kelley

Mel Kiper, Jr. seems to have had a normal upbringing, but somehow he became an NFL draft expert.

A Flyers Fan Is Finished by Tyson Smith

The Flyers have come to represent the most goony, vicious, and pathetic of all the NHL teams. Read more.

Jayhawks, Josh Dean Take the Spoils by TMS

Overtime. Inevitable. Bravo, Mario Chalmers. Click here for the final standings.

NCAA Final: Fact vs Fiction by TMS

What’s cooler a Kansas Jayhawk or a Memphis Tiger? A Jayhawk is apparently a fictional bird, a cross between a blue jay (bastard!) and a sparrow hawk. The term goes back to the 1850s and gets mixed up with the Civil War and cattle rustling. The fantastic avian fella has given rise to some pretty great drawings including this one, above left, from 1912 and some others here.

The Memphis Tiger nickname is not quite as interesting (It comes from some kids back in 1914 yelling, “We fight like Tigers”). But they’ve got a real tiger, above right, and a rap video. “Winnin’ baby. Yeah, that’s Coach Cal’s game.”

It’s a toss up. Click here for pool standings.

Number Ones Crush Defenseless Underdogs by TMS

It’s a historic, revolutionary year in the NCAA tournament! Never before has it happened! The Final Four is all number-one seeds! Ugh.

Rooting for all favorites seems a bit like rooting for China against Tibet, so I’m going to continue to keep this Davidson Wildcats image up in honor of the tourney’s best underdogs, the insurgent Tibetan monks of college basketball who were crushed by the Maoist nationalist oppressors, the Kansas Jayhawks. Well, maybe the comparison is a stretch. Maybe it’s just sour grapes. I had Georgetown. Click for revised pool standings.

Wildcats Best Badgers by TMS

Sadly, no one picked the Davidson Wildcats, who shocked the badgers of Wisconsin (By the way, do badgers look anything like that mascot?) I would have given out a T-shirt for that alone. Still, five of you (Laura Kelley, Josh Dean, “Our Own” Mike Stevens, Emily Thompson, David Gendelman) got all seven of the other Elite Eight picks right. Congrats. As for the rest of you, don’t despair. There are still a lot of points left on the table, including 15 for the national champion. It’s anyone’s game. Check your progress.

Can a baseball player catch a ball while standing in the stands?

Reader Yonatan Freedman asks, “If a batter hits a very high foul ball, and a fielder walks well into the stands and waits there to catch the foul ball and then catches it, is the batter out or is it just a foul ball?”Click here for the answer.

Sweet 16: V for Villanova, V for Victory by TMS
Memories of Massimino

Villanova, I said, didn’t deserve to be in the tournament at all. Check the pool standings.

NCAA Pool Round 1 Results

Join the 2008 NCAA Basketball Pool

The Modern Spectator is hosting a free March Madness contest. All you have to do is download one of the Excel brackets on this website, fill it out, and email it to us by Thursday at noon. Or just send us your picks on a pdf or in the text of an email (Here is a printable bracket). The winner will get a TMS T-shirt and a toy break-away basketball hoop. The first and second runners-up will get T-shirts as well. For rules and more, click here.

What country has produced the most overall World Cup skiing champions?

Americans Bode Miller and Lindsay Vonn were the overall World Cup winners this year, so we wondered how many times both winners have come from the same country and from what mountainous nation do the best skiers hail? Click here.

Researchers Take Insomnia Seriously by Austin Kelley

Occasionally The Modern Spectator observes events outside the realm of sports. Perhaps we grow tired of sports on occasion. Can we just get some rest?

The Ten Greatest Rivalries by Austin Kelley

Check out the ten greatest individual rivalries in sports history at Men’s Vogue.

Gambling Gurus: Take the Super Bowl Under by Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello

Better late than never: Read the gurus’ Super Bowl visions.

What was the biggest point spread in Super Bowl history?

Were the Giants the biggest underdogs in Super Bowl history, or did that honor belonged to another team, perhaps the Jets who won Super Bowl III? Find out.

Gambling Gurus: Chargers to Beat the Spread, Lose by Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello

The Gambling Gurus weigh in on the NFL conference finals.

Ramy Takes Manhattan by Austin Kelley

I covered the Grand Central squash tourney for The New York Times.

Reading Red Smith by Brian Schwartz

Red Smith was very alert to the ironies and hypocrisies of our national obsession with football. Read more.

BCS Battle of the Bands II: Brass Boogaloo by Austin Kelley

The LSU and OSU bands square off.

Sun Spots by Mike Stevens

The Norwest Sun Bowl. The Wells Fargo Sun Bowl. The Brut Sun Bowl. And so on.

Gambling Gurus: Wildcard Weekend by Stefan Tornquist & Brooke Costello

Sometimes, a thing is the thing it is, and Jacksonville is a better team than Pitt. Check the picks.

Shanny Time by Austin Kelley

Brendan Shanahan changed hockey for the better. Review his career.

Gambling Gurus: Play it Cool Until Playoffs by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

What’s on tap for this week? More surprises.

Gambling Gurus: Week 15 Picks by Stefan Tornquist

Stefan is 65-54-4 for the season. Read his thoughts on this weekend’s games.

Gambling Gurus: Giants Smoke Philly by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Our wagering duo shares divergent opinions on this week’s games.

NFL Addiction: Step 9, Make Amends by Austin Kelley

Words that express feelings –- like “Good game” or “I love you” — often conceal hidden meanings.

The New Yorker Draws Sports Angst

For links to sports cartoons in The New Yorker Cartoon Bank, click here.

Gambling Gurus: Favre, Romo Go Over by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Look back at the gambling picks from this weekend’s games.

Gambling Gurus Split on Lions' Turkey Bowl by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Our gamblers share their thoughts on Thanksgiving weekend. Read on.

The Other Football Roundup

While many of you were caught up in field-goal-gate or Bill Belichick’s bad behavior, some of us were watching football, I mean, soccer. This weekend the MLS crowned a champion, and a host of teams secured their places in Euro 2008. Click here for all the news about the beautiful sport.

Gambling Gurus: Can the Bills Cover? by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

The Patriots may be the best team in the league, but will they win by 17?

NFL Addiction: Step 8, the List by Austin Kelley

I have harmed so many people in my pointless obsession with a team that will never win the Super Bowl.

Why do NFL QBs have green dots on the back of their helmets?

Enzo asks, “Have you noticed every NFL QB has a round neon green sticker on the back of their helmet this year? What is this? Is it a hole so God can see in?” Not quite, but the green dot, in a way has a long history. Click here to read all about it.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Week 10 Picks by Brooke Costello

Big divisional rivalries highlight this week’s NFL line-up. Who will win? Who will cover?

NFL Addiction: Step 7, Petition by Austin Kelley

I present an open letter to God and/or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Week 9 Picks by Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist

How did our bettors pick the game of the century?

What NBA team won the most consecutive games to start a season?

The Boston Celtics did it again. They beat the New Jersey Nets and extended their unbeaten streak to seven games. It was an ‘ugly’ 91-69 win, but the team had six players in double figures. Larry Bird, who played on a Celtics squad two decades ago that started 6-0, thinks the new kids in beantown have “good chemistry.” They still have a long way to go before they can claim the record as the NBA’s winningest team at the start of a season. Bird didn’t do it either. Which two teams share that record? Click here to find out.

A Student Athlete by Any Other Name by Mike Stevens
Illustration By Marshall Hopkins

When I volunteered at my college radio station, I was never called a student-DJ.

The Fandom of Fathers and Sons by Brian Schwartz

I grew up with a fractured baseball patriline, but I’m thinking I should make a major league commitment.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Week 8 Picks by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Were you paranoid enough to pick the Panthers over the Colts?

Our Guide to the World Series by The Modern Spectator

The Red Sox may have won, but the Rockies had the worst uniforms and the creepiest Christian ideology.

NFL Addiction: Step 6, Reunion by Austin Kelley
Sophia Kelley

For a moment, I had a vision of football as a happy game. Then the Eagles ruined everything.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Week 7 Picks by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Our bumbling bettors continue to analyze the NFL. Read this week’s musings.

World Series: Aesthetics Vs. Politics

If the Indians had faced the Rockies in the World Series, it would have been a battle of aesthetics vs politics.

NFL Addiction: Step 5, Confession by Austin Kelley
Nike, Goddess of Victory

I confess, I believe the Eagles can, should, and will win every game. Please help.

Gambling Gurus: NE Messes With Dallas by Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist

NE Covers in Dallas, and AFC stays strong. Check this week’s picks.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Week 5 by Brooke Costello and Stefan Tornquist

Our gamblers break down this week’s NFL matchups.

NFL Addiction: Step 4, Moral Inventory by Austin Kelley

I’ve dug into my moral warehouse and uncovered my biggest Eagles-related failing: I’m too negative.

Gambling Gurus: NFL Week 4 by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Look back at our gamblers’ thoughts on last weekend’s NFL match-ups.

Step 3: Surrender by Austin Kelley

These were like no Philadelphia Eagles I’d ever seen. Read more.

Sport Leverages Future by Mike Stevens

From our archives: The latest threat to sports: the global liquidity crisis.

Gambling Gurus: Read the Signs, Pats Win by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Look back at our bettors’ picks for the NFL’s third weekend.

Step 2: The Supernatural by Austin Kelley

Andy Reid is not out to get me. He is not trying to ruin my life. Read more.

Gambling Guru: Falcons, Browns Suck by Stefan Tornquist and Brooke Costello

Look back at the picks for week 2.

NFL Addiction: Step One, Admission by Austin Kelley

I hate football. It is a disease. Read more.

Ten More Reasons to Hate Nike by Austin Kelley

Why did everyone wear the same bad shirt at the U.S. Open? Couldn’t someone at Nike prevent this ugly repetition?

What was the worst team to reach the playoffs in Major League history?

Last year’s World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, finished the regular season with an abysmal 83-78 record, but they didn’t have the worst winning percentage of a playoff team. Who did?

The Offerman Precedent By Mike Stevens

Baseball can’t always shield its players from the law. Read more.

My Brunch With Landon by Brian Schwartz

From the archive: The view from our table was spectacular, but Landon Donovan created a minor obstruction.

Phil Rizzuto: The Money Store Man by Austin Kelley

Phil Rizzuto reminds me of a bygone era of commercials, back when Pete Rose was an Aqua Velva man. Read more.

HBP: The new HR? by Mike Stevens

Craig Biggio of the Astros is poised to become the player who’s been hit by the most pitches in history.

Slugger Cinema: Beverly Hills Bonds by Austin Kelley

In 1994 Barry Bonds was Barry Larson on Beverly Hills 90210.

The Palio Pages: In Vino Veritas by Austin Kelley

On the morning of the Palio horse race in Siena, I woke up in a pool of ink. Read about it at Men’s Vogue.

Soccer Is for Babies by Austin Kelley

In case you didn’t hear this weekend’s big soccer news, Argentina won its 6th U-20 World Cup (for players under 20 yrs old) by beating the Czech Republic 2-1 in Toronto. Take a look back at my live commentary of the game on the The New York Times excellent Goal blog. Atlético Madrid striker Sergio Agüero scored his 6th goal in the tournament and earned the Golden Boot, but I was most impressed by Maxi Moralez, who plays for Racing in Argentina. Maxi had his head wrapped in bandages for part of the game, and it seemed to give him superpowers as he roamed all over the pitch dictating the play. Incidentally, David Beckham is not mentioned in the commentary.

Which NBA team has the most losses in history?

The Philadelphia Phillies recently “earned” their record 10,000th loss, but which is the losingest basketball team?

The Tour de Vie by Austin Kelley
Illustration by Marshall Hopkins

From the Archive: Cycling commentator Phil Liggett has a way with words: “And so the first pedal has been turned… in anger.”

What were the names of the racing teams in Hanna Barbera's The Wacky Races cartoon?

In this classic animated road-rally there were 11 different cars packing in a total of 23 regular characters. Such ‘toonish bounty is unparalleled and bears explaining. Read more.

Copa Oro

Our colleagues at the NY Times will be covering the major US soccer matches this summer, beginning with the defense of the Gold Cup. Read Austin Kelley’s preview of the US-El Salvador match. and Jeff Z. Klein’s preview of the tournament.

The Science of Speed

What makes a sprinter so fast? Read Austin Kelley’s article in Play magazine about World Champion Lauryn Williams and the biomechanics of running. And don’t miss the supplementary graphic.

In golf, where did the term caddy come from?

Like all good sport history, opinions differ. Many point to Mary Queen of Scots, who some call the first female golfer. They say her highness coined the term “caddy” in…

Remembrance of Soccer's Past By Brian Schwartz

American soccer fans meet thundersticks.

Consummate Loser to Show by Austin Kelley

Whenever I bet on horses, I lose. I have tried different techniques. I’ve been the educated bettor. I’ve lost. I’ve been the spiritual bettor. I’ve tried numerology. I’ve tried whimsy. I’ve tried rhyme. No luck.

Dubai Does Sports by Austin Kelley

Dubai has poured millions into snowboarding, golf, and camel racing. Now devolopers are creating a mini-metropolis dedicated to sports. Read Austin Kelley’s story in Men’s Vogue.

Athletes Engage in Textual Relations by Austin Kelley

Text messages are creeping into sports. And not just among the fresh faces with Treos. Witness Ron Zook, the serial texter from Illinois, or Terrell Owens, who can feel disrespected in any medium.

The Modern Spectator Lives! (Maybe)

We have moved to a new web hosting company, and we seem to be up and running again. It was touch and go for a while. We thought we lost five and a half months of The Modern Spectator. Luckily, the interenet is absurdly exhaustive, and some server somehwere saved us from extinction… We hope.

Please let us know if you encounter any errors or dead links on the site. And thanks again for your patience.

Also check out Ryan Sloan’s story about riotous basketball crowds, the final pool results, and David Andrew Stoler’s Scrabble chronicles.

Who is the youngest player ever to lead the NHL in goals?

Sidney Crosby became the youngest Art Ross trophy winner in history when he finished this season with the most points in the NHL. But 19-year-old Sid the Kid was well behind Vincent Lecavalier in the race for the Maurice Richard trophy, given to the top goal scorer each year. Who was the youngest to ever win this title?

The Sublimity of Scrabble by David Andrew Stoler

You know you’re in for a rough night when a guy who spends his days talking to himself and chasing after an imaginary dog lays down ROTGUTS as his first play against you in a Scrabble tournament.

March Madness: The Pleasures of the Crowd by Ryan Sloan

After victory, what’s a crowd to do, swooning with possibility and assiduously drunk? Avoid the burning dumpster.

NCAA Pool: Schwartz, Florida Beat Murphy, Ohio State

Brian Schwartz topped The Modern Spectator NCAA basketball pool. How did you do?

Gators, Bruins, Hoyas, Buckeyes

John Thompson and Patrick Ewing have led Georgetown back to the Final Four. Of course, this is Patrick Ewing Jr. (I love that his jersey says “Ewing Jr.”) and John Thompson III, the sons of the great Georgetown player and coach. The new Ewing has only a bit role, but he did his bit, and UNC fell apart in the closing minutes. Georgetown will play the Ohio State University, and Florida will play UCLA in a rematch of last year’s final. Gators, Bruins, Hoyas, and Buckeyes—that’s a pretty weird bunch of mascots. Check how you’re doing in the pool.

NCAA Pool: Favorites Rule Elite Eight

If you look up “March Madness” in the DSM-IV, the manual of psychiatric disorders, you’ll find the basic symptoms: last-second shots, big comebacks, torn-up brackets. The Sweet Sixteen had all of these. The only team to win by double digits was Carolina, and USC was killing them until the Tarheels went on a tear and USC coach Tim Floyd lost his cool. But the DSM-IV also lists big upsets as essential indicators of this seasonal mania. These were markedly absent. The Ducks of Oregon, a 3-seed, are the biggest underdogs of the last eight. Go Ducks. Check how you’re doing in the pool.

Ongoing scores are here.

Squats, Curls, & Other Parenting Tricks by Mike Stevens

Children, in addition to all the other joys they bring, are a burbling biological weight set. Read on.

NCAA Pool: UNLV, Dominic Win

Are you hanging around the water cooler with a self-satisfied grin, casually remarking, “I totally had the Running Rebels”?

NCAA Pool Results: Round 1

Here are the standings after round one.

NCAA: Hating Duke Is Hard by Austin Kelley

Can one truly hate one’s alma mater? I found out during the 2007 NCAA tournament.

NCAA Round 1: Favorites Prevail

The Madness Has Begun

Final Four Pool Stats: UNC Wins

UNC is the most poular pick in The Modern Spectator NCAA Pool. Check the picks here.

Join The Modern Spectator NCAA Pool

Just a few minutes left. Games tip off at 12:20, and we’re accepting emails until then. Filling out a bracket is free and easy and requires no real skill.


Download our Excel bracket, fill it out, and email it back to us by Thursday at noon. The winner will receive a limited-edition Wilson NCAA basketball and a Modern Spectator T-shirt. The second and third place finishers get T-shirts as well.

The rules are here. If you prefer a pdf bracket, click here. Beginners can get the basics here. You also might want to check out some of the office pool tips in Asked & Answered.

Beginners Guide to the NCAA Pool

Some of you, I’ve learned, have never done an office pool for the NCAA tournament and don’t know the Big East from the Far East. So here’s the deal.

Going to Bat for Cricket (Almost) by David Andrew Stoler

More people will watch this month’s Cricket World Cup than did last year’s World Series and Super Bowl combined. But does cricket kind of suck?

NCAA Pool Rules

How often does the top-ranked team in the polls win the NCAA basketball tournament?

Ohio State currently tops both major men’s college basketball polls. Are they a shoo-in to win the national title? The odds aren’t great.

A Tale of Two Navarros by Austin Kelley

Why did Valencia’s reserve center back David Navarro run out onto the field at the end of the game and punch an opponent in the face. Did he have Wikipedia envy?

The Spectator Thaw by Mike Stevens

Spring training safely weans us spectators off the spastic fury of football or the perpetual excitement of basketball. Read more.

How many college basketball teams have gone undefeated?

The Duke women’s basketball team is currently 29-0. If they win the rest of their games, they will join an elite group of perfect teams. Read more.

Spring Training on the Web

Pitchers and catchers! And now third basemen and center-fielders and the rest are heading to Florida or Arizona for the annual ritual called baseball. Here are some links to prepare you for the season.

Snowboarders Take Manhattan by Austin Kelley

If sports are judged for their naturalism, rail jam gets a low score.

Is the purchase of Liverpool FC the most expensive purchase of a sports franchise?

Two American businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks just bought Liverpool, the most successful franchise in the history of English football, for $343 million. Tom in Florida wrote us to ask whether this is the most expensive sports transaction. Click here to find out.

Super Bowl Ads: The NFL Gets Political by Austin Kelley

What do Janet Reno, David Beckham, and LL Cool J. have in common? Besides being has-beens, they appeared together in an NFL commercial called “Hanging with Chad.”

Super Hype XLI

We have all the meaningless ephemera surrounding the big game in Miami. Click here.

Super Bowl XLI: Roman Numerology by Austin Kelley

From the archive: The Super Bowl still offers little pleasures — like Roman numerals. Read more.

Ski Racing: Kitzbühel is Cancelled!

The world famous downhill race at the Hahnenkamm in Austria was canceled this year due to global warming. Skiers are still trying to race down slushy hills and make the best of a diminished World Cup season. Americans Julia Mancuso and Bode Miller are both in podium position with only a few races left. Check in on the Alpine action.

Gambling Guru: Saints Are Money by Stefan Tornquist

You win some. You lose some. Or sometimes you just lose some. Our gambler stumbled in the conference finals.

My Mother, the Hooligan by Brian Schwartz

My mother’s sports fanaticism, like any religion, has its canonical narratives like the one about Mr. Snape asking Mom to sit on the school bus.

NFL PLayoffs: One Man's Wagers by Stefan Tornquist

Last week our resident gambler said he was going to bet on the Pats for sentimental reasons, then he added: “Truth be told, the Chargers should kill them, easily covering.” He’s glad he was so wrong.

Besides David Beckham, who is the highest-paid soccer player in the MLS?

The MLS salary cap was changed specifically to allow the league to sign aging heartthrob David Beckham, who will join the LA Galaxy this summer and make a reported $250 million over 5 years. Call Landon Donovan’s agent, quick!

NFL Playoff Guide Guide

Now that the conference finals are set—Pats at Colts, Saints at Bears—check our updated links so that you can crunch numbers, highlight match-ups, and work yourself into a frenzy.

Gambling Guru: Cash in on Wild Cards by Stefan Tornquist

Now that the first weekend of the NFL playoffs is over, take a look back at our resident bettor’s picks. Dallas covered the spread, as predicted, but the Eagles didn’t. Read more.

Stadium Notes: The Empty Bowl by Eric Breit

Our stadium archeologist picks some favorite sites. His decisions aren’t based on visits for games, but on visits to empty arenas.

Tooning In: A Newcastle Fan's Journey by David Andrew Stoler

I had come to Northeast England for one reason: to finally see my favorite football club, Newcastle United, play live. Their next home game was the following day against Chelsea. And it was sold out. Read on.

BCS Battle of the Bands by Austin Kelley

Florida beat Ohio State on the field, but who won the battle of pomp and circumstance? Look back at our college band showdown.

The Poetry of Sport

In honor of Frank O’Hara’s birthday celebration here in New York, we present a few poems with some relationship to games, including O’Hara’s “Steps,” which happens to mention the Pirates. Read on.

How many teams has Vinny Testaverde played for since he turned 40?

Ah, it seems like only a decade ago that Vinny was leading the University of Miami Hurricanes. Vinny, who was recently called up by the Patriots, is 43 years old. He played for the Jets, the Cowboys, the Jets again, and now the Pats in his middle age. Read more.

Zidane and the Art of Soccer by Austin Kelley

A new film follows Zinédine Zidane

Rutgers?

The Scarlet Knights’ upset of heavily favored Louisville last week didn’t stun those familiar with college football’s roots. The school after all won the first college game ever played, beating instate rival Princeton in 1869.Read more.

TV Sports: OLN Vs. Versus by Austin Kelley

OLN is now called “Versus.” The network tells us the new name sums up competition “whether it is Man vs. Man, Man vs. Beast, or Team vs. Team.” Read more.

Moneyball

Business is not one of our favorite sports. Nonetheless we find that pleasure requires cash, so here’s a guide to some financially-minded sites.

Tackles, Chicken Wings, and the Quest for a New Cash Cow by Mike Stevens

The sports business blooms.

Is Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game, the most anyone has ever scored in one basketball game?

While the Modern Spectator has total respect for Chamberlain on the court if less so in more intimate spaces, “the Stilt” is no Mats Wermelin.
In a 1974 regional boys’ tournament in Sweden, this 13-year-old phenom scored every single point of the game—all 272.

Marathon Marketing by Tyson Smith

The new “World Marathon Majors” uses a NASCAR-like point series to crown long-distance champions.

Spectating the Marathon

The idea of running 26.2 miles may make most of us nauseous. But 37,000 people disagree. They will be parading through New York to show us how wrong we are. The least we could do is rouse ourselves, grab a couple bear claws and a coffee, and cheer on these fools. Here’s a quick primer.

Should Home-Field Advantage Be Decided by 12-Sided Dice?

The All-Star game now officially determines home-field advantage in the World Series. We propose some alternatives.

Trivia Question: Which five major league teams do not have their home city or state written on their away uniforms?

Answer the question and win a prize.

Birds on a Bat by Austin Kelley

Two classic uniforms face off in the World Series, but the Cardinals’ logo is in a league of its own.

Why would you pitch to Albert Pujols in the World Series when runners are in scoring position and first base is open?

We have no idea.

Betting the Series by Stefan Tornquist

From bullpens to weather forecasts, your cheat sheet to placing that Series bet.

The World Series

We explain what kind of beard a ballplayer should wear in the playoffs, and why we love the Cardinals twin-bird logo. Look back at our coverage of the Fall Classic.

Stats Dork: What's The Difference Between the NL and AL?

The keys to the Series: Rob Deer and Tommy Herr… and the RBIBHR.

Fall Classic Facial Hair Primer by Brian Schwartz

Player-tested beard and mustache fashions that deserve consideration.

Did the hockey season start?

Yes. You may have been so caught up in the baseball playoffs or your fantasy football team that you didn’t realize another unending NHL season is under way. Read more.

The World Series of History

Already a sport prone to steep in itself, baseball knows no greater temptation for self-mythologizing than the World Series. From this nostalgia hothouse past performances are fertilized, pruned, and re-presented as titled performances like the catch, the wave, or simply Buckner. Read more.

From Hanoi to the Motor City by Austin Kelley

Thomas Magnum’s Tigers hat carried a heavy historical load.

Home Sour Home by Joe Kelley

Eagles fans were in a frenzy over the return of wide receiver Terrell Owens, who defected to the rival Cowboys. But did they throw a pig’s head at him? That’s what happened to soccer star Luis Figo when he returned to Barcelona.

Major League Minutiae

It’s October, the month when baseball is no longer leisurely. It’s serious. Whether you’ve been following the 2430 games of the regular season, or you’re just tuning in now, here’s a guide to get you through the month.

Has there even been a switch pitcher?

Usually freak baseball stats or stories begin something like this: Born in County Cork, Ireland in 1859, Tony Mullane was baseball’s earliest switch pitcher, meaning he could pitch either right- or left-handed. And indeed this story begins that way as well, but notice the modifier: Mullane was the earliest not the only switch pitcher. Read more.

The Long Ascent of Ryan Howard by Austin Kelley

It took Ryan Howard a long time to get to the majors. That’s why we love him. Read more.

Dear Mr. Fantasy by David Andrew Stoler

Playing fantasy football was liberating, separating myself from the Jets, the team that I had adored but which had also been a burden, in a way, throughout my life. Read more.

The T.O. Squeeze

If there was one thing that might have made Cowboys’ wide receiver Terrell Owens sympathetic, it was the notion that behind the smirky veneer he was so conflicted as to be suicidal. And here we are, maybe. Read more

The Yankee Web by Willing Davidson

Playing baseball is fun, and watching it is usually fun, too, at least if your team is winning. But following it on the internet is a compulsion. Read more.

Madden '07

The football season ends. Strikes happen. And there are weekdays. For this, God created video games. And last August he did good. That’s when video game giant EA Sports released Madden ‘07. Read more.

Mickey Mouse Fight Club by Brian Schwartz

How did Mark Wahlberg become a leading man? When did he become a man at all? Read more about Invincible.

In American football, why do QBs wear low numbers, while linemen wear higher ones?

For most of its life, the NFL was the Wild West as far as numbers were concerned. A 300 lb. tackle could wear number 3. Quarterbacks could sport a 60. Then came Rule 5, Section 3, Article 3c. Read more.

Spectating at YouTube by Mike Stevens

Zinedine Zidane’s shocking headbutt has settled into YouTube’s formidable databases alongside famous touchdowns, baseball blunders, and marching band moments. All await the curious spectator. Read more.

The Champions League

It seems like just a few weeks ago that Barcelona beat Arsenal in the Champions League final, but Europe’s most prestigious soccer competition has begun again. Here’s a guide.

A Gambler's Glossary by Stefan Tornquist

If you’d like to bet on football, but haven’t tried, there are a few things—and a bit of lingo—that you need to know. Our gambling expert provides a primer.

The Contrade: Keeping the Feud Alive by Joe Kelley

What N.F.L. franchise is the most valuable?

The Washington Redskins are worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes, which has been tracking the value of teams for eight years. While most of the headlines, and public indignation, have focused on players’ ballooning salaries, team owners have had a great run. More.

The Pleasures of the Palio by Joe Kelley

Il Palio di Siena is a frantic, short-track, bareback free-for-all. Read about it here and here.

College football

For many, college football is the only sport, and for good reason. But it is also a sprawling mess of conferences, capped by a cryptic bowl system. To get to the bottom of it all, click here.

During the U.S. Open how many balls are used?

Between practice and play, the U.S. Open runs through six tons of tennis balls, or roughly 70,000 balls. Wilson, who supplies the “optic yellow” balls to the tournament, estimates that they need 3,900 pounds of rubber and 700 square yards of felt to make their annual shipment to Forest Hills. Read more.

Tennis Gets a Little More Virtual by Austin Kelley

The U.S. Open’s new computer animated replays are changing tennis.

The Wooly Wilds of the Sports Web

The range of sporting information on the web is truly embarrassing. ESPN’s site alone could paralyze all but the most sports crazed. Here’s a guide.

Besides the Yankees, what franchise has won the most World Series?

It’s a tie, at least since the modern World Series began in 1903. The Cardinals and the Athletics have each won nine times. But the Cardinals have the semantic edge. In 1886 they won a championship called the “World Series.” Read more.

Buddy Up By Brian Schwartz

The myth of the Hebrew Slugger isn’t just a Jewish kid’s dream. It’s a certifiable New York Story. Cue Shawn Green… and Carlos Delgado.

The U.S. Open

When the U.S. Open tennis tournament was founded 125 years ago, it offered only one title: the men’s single championship. Now there are five. The Omnivore helps you keep track of it all.

Where does “love” come from -- in tennis?

In tennis, as in all things, love is shrouded in mystery. Some claim that it was derived from the French for egg, “l’oeuf,” since an egg resembles zero. Lexographers at Oxford University Press disagree. Read on.

Monday Morning M.D. by Austin Kelley

The long NFL pre-season is a boon to the sports medicine industry and to diagnosis lovers everywhere. Do you know your subluxation from you Lisfranc sprain?

Premiership Preview

The English Premier League kicks off Saturday, August 18th. If you already miss the international action of the World Cup, turn your attention to this cosmopilitan “football” league. The Omnivore takes you through the upcoming season.

How big is the largest stadium in the U.S. and world these days?

This question, sent to us by Steve in Brooklyn, is more difficult than it might seem. Is it in Indianapolis or Pyongyang?

The Lazy Boys of Summer by Austin Kelley

Bobby Abreu makes it look easy. Is that so bad?

The Dope on Doping

In the midst of all the to-do about drugs in sports, the Omnivore takes a look at some of the options out there for today’s performance enhancers. Should you take testosterone, The Clear, or EPO? And if you’re caught, what’s your excuse?

Has a transgendered Pole ever won an Olympic medal?

Yes. At at least one transgendered Pole, the renowned sprinter Stella Walsh, won gold. But Walsh was hardly alone in bending genders at the Olympic Games.

Ogling Sports Googlers by Mike Stevens

From the archive: Tired of simply obsessing about sports? Ready to obsess about people obsessing about sports?

Besuboru, Beisbol, Baseball

However you pronounce it, you’re saying, ‘national pastime.’ The question is, what nation? More.

The Emergence of the Modern Spectator by Austin Kelley

Sports were invented in Cincinnati in 1869. That year player-manager Harry Wright assembled the first professional baseball club, the Red Stockings, and matched them against the top teams in the nation…. Read more.

Cue the Aged

I am in my early 30s and still want to compete athletically. What sport offers me the best chance?

It depends on what you mean by sport. If you consider… More.

The Beautiful Calculations of Synchronized Swimming by Emily Richards

From the archives: How natural is your favorite sport? Synchronized swimming?

Sounding the National Pasttime

On the forefront of baseball acoustics is physicist Daniel Russell who is looking at how sound helps create a sweet spot on bats. This week’s Omnivore gets scientific with the sounds of the game. More.

Who caught the highest pop up ever?

If you asked catcher Joe Sprinz he would likely admit he wasn’t too excited after winning the honor in 1939. More.

T.O.: My Hero

Was Terrell Owens misquoted in his new autobiography?

The British Open

Floyd Landis may be returning to America after winning the Tour de France, but the Omnivore remains in Europe this week to take a belated look at the British Open. More.

Why do American footballers need protection when rugby types go pad free?

Because of a power grab by the Executive Branch, or something like that. More.

Two Footballers in Search of an Author

Zidane head-butts Materazzi, and we write a play

The Tour de France by Mike Stevens

We’ve gotten a late start on the Tour de France here at the Spectator. To catch up, we’re providing a compendium of cycling links, beginning with a Tour primer and a look at the 21 individual stages. More.

World Cup-ology by Mike Stevens

From economics to philosophy: An interdisciplinary guide to the World Cup