The Sublimity of Scrabble

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. That’s where I found myself two weeks ago, when my local bar decided its version of March Madness would consist of 32 regulars trying to put words like ANAL on a Scrabble board. My first round match was against Donavan, the guy who plays “Joe” on the Nickelodeon show Blue’s Clues, and he was one of the bracket’s few unknowns.…

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Going to Bat for Cricket (Almost)

Although you probably don’t know it, one of the biggest sporting events in the world is going on right now. Package tours have been sold, mountains of T-Shirts have been printed, and team controversies continue to swirl. Starting March 11, upwards of two billion people began watching the tournament. If that number seems high for March Madness, well, you’re right. I’m talking about the Cricket World Cup, currently underway in the West Indies. An event second in popularity only to soccer’s World Cup. More people will watch the month-and-a-half-long competition than did last year’s World Series and…

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Tooning In: A Newcastle Fan’s Journey

It was March of 2000, and the snow was starting to fall in Newcastle. It would have been picturesque—thick flakes and the blue light of late afternoon on old English streets—but I had been wandering around all day, it was freezing cold, and I was out of options. 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. In the US all I would need was enough cash for a scalper. I…

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Dear Mr. Fantasy

Troy, New York, is a crossroads town. Located at the intersection of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, Troy was the first stop on the Erie Canal and became a manufacturing powerhouse in the 18th century. The detachable shirt collar trade there drew workers from Canada, New York City, Western New York, and Western Massachusetts. Though the factories shut down when permanent collars became the standard in the 1960s, what’s left is a regional mish-mosh in which, sports-wise, you pretty much root for a team from somewhere else. The Celtics and the Knicks, the Yankees and the Red…

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