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. Between pennant races, wild card berths, division playoff battles, league championships games and commercial breaks, the modern game has built in ample time for fans to learn, then as the playoffs grind on, to obsess over Series lore. It’s from this nostalgia hothouse that past performances are fertilized, pruned, and re-presented as titled performances like the catch, the wave, or simply Buckner. The first modern-era World Series game was played between the Boston Beaneaters and the Pittsburgh Pirates.…

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Major League Minutiae

It’s October, the month when baseball is no longer leisurely. It’s serious. Whether you’ve been following the 2,430 games of the regular season, or you’re just tuning in now, here’s a guide to get you through the month. First of all the four division series are: -Yankees v. Tigers -Twins v. A’s -Cardinals v. Padres -Mets v. Dodgers For some basics, visit Major League Baseball’s official site, which provides news, video highlights, and audio clips. A fan-based playoff preview like this one at Baseball Analysts can get you caught up on deeper issues. And Slate has provided…

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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. To catch you up, first a leaked Dallas Police report indicated Owens was taken to the hospital after affirming he had intentionally swallowed dozens of painkillers in a suicide attempt. After being released, T.O. caught passes from quarterback Drew Bledsoe that same afternoon. By 3:30 p.m. he held a press conference where he and his publicist, who had been dragged…

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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, the latest installment to the suddenly venerable football game franchise. With its technical sophistication, array of camera angles and dense playbook, there’s a serious argument to be made—and Slate makes it—that Madden ‘07’s can better illustrate football’s beauty than, well, football. But when Madden began it was humbler beast. Here’s a breakdown of the evolution of Madden football. Over the years the strategy-driven game has…

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The Champions League

The European Cup was founded in 1955 to determine the best soccer team on the Continent. Each year the champions from the national leagues would fight it out. Real Madrid quickly proved dominant. They won the first 5 competitions and have won nine times over all. A.C. Milan has won six titles, and Liverpool F.C. has five. (The winners’ list is here.) The Cup changed its name to the Champions League in 1992. It now lasts from fall to spring (The final is in May). For all the info, scores, and live commentary, check the official website…

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College football

For many, college football is the only sport, and for good reason. First the fans are great. Second, every game counts (The NCAA has a self-promotional blog of the same name). And finally, players stay closer to the amateur athlete model which so many N.F.L. fans seem to find desirable. This said, the sport is a sprawl of conferences, school rivalries and opaque tradition all governed by a moving thicket of NCAA regulations. A cryptic postseason bowl game system caps it all off. To try to get their hands around it all, sportswriters inevitably revert to lists.…

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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. In addition to the basic stats and scores that fuel sports junkies, the web oozes sports from all sides. Front and center is the bottomless pool of commentary and opinion on all matters sports related. (Who knew the wave needed defending? ) Next come the lists. These cover everything from bad hair to the biggest flameouts in the National League this season. Finally, the arcane arrives. Take a visit to the mound by a baseball…

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The U.S. Open

The U.S. Open turns 125 this year and has only become more vigorous after passing the century mark. In its early days, America’s premier tennis tournament offered only one title: the men’s single championship. Now there are five—men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles. To help you keep track, here’s a TV schedule, from the official website, which is chock-full of information including regular match updates, analysis and features (A great primer on racket history is, unfortunately, marred by overzealous sponsor, Wilson). The mildly addictive Ball Boy Challenge provides a break. Besides the…

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Premiership Preview

If you already miss the international action of the World Cup, turn your attention to the English Premier League, which promises cosmopolitan action. The Premiership kicks off this Saturday, August 18th. To get ready, take a look at the BBC’s quick team by team preview, and the Guardian’s guide to off-season roster changes. Sky Sports also has a more in-depth breakdown of the 20 clubs. Here as well is a full schedule and a guide to soccer on TV in North America. This year the team to beat is the two-time defending champion, Chelsea. Since Russian tycoon…

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The Dope on Doping

Both Tour De France winner Floyd Landis and world record sprinter Justin Gatlin have been accused of artificially tinkering with their testosterone levels. In the 80s and 90s testosterone, which was often injected, was less popular than closely-related, synthetic anabolic steroids. But testosterone seems to be making a resurgence in the form of skin patches and creams. Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone, which aids the development and strength of muscles. It is also said to increase aggressiveness and to reduce recovery time. Some scientists question its effectiveness, especially for the energy boost that Landis had on…

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