Friday, June 13, 2014

Thinking of Ralph Wiley Today

Just tweeted this out, but collected them here:

*10 years ago today, the all-time great Ralph Wiley passed away. In the decade since, his voice and his brilliance have been so missed.

*I was lucky enough to hit in the early-00s Page 2 lineup where RW "bat cleanup" - being his colleague remains a personal/career high point.

*This is what I wrote in the wake of his passing.

*And if you haven't read Wiley's "Why Black People Tend to Shout" or "Serenity" yet, here's an Amazon link.

*In the meantime, enjoy Wiley's Page 2 archive. Here is a page of memories from colleagues.

*When I first launched the Quickie, I asked Ralph for any critiques. The last bit of his reply remains printed out and carried in my wallet:

"Feedback matters, but in the end, it's you against your standards ... if you hit that mark, you can live with what everybody else thinks."

*His final column carried this lead: "All a man's got is the integrity of his work." Ralph, you are so missed.

-- D.S.

Here is the full text of the first few items of that Daily Quickie column:

Two Words For You:

"Bats cleanup ... for Page 2."
That's the tagline phrase at the bottom of Ralph Wiley's Page 2 columns, and it was always the last thing I read after engulfing whatever his latest column was. It's his baseball metaphor, so I'll run with it:

The cleanup hitter is the heart of the order. Ralph brought the heart of Page 2. And its soul. Its brains and its brawn. Its conscience and consciousness.

The cleanup hitter brings the players in front of him home and sets the table for the ones behind him. With his unmatched combination of voice and insight, clarity and style, and -- most of all -- his passion, Ralph made Page 2, its contributors and its readers better.

When young writers ask me for advice about how to get better, I send them the link to Ralph Wiley's Page 2 archive.

When budding bar pundits want to talk or Page 2 with me, my litmus test is Ralph; similar to how my editor Kevin Jackson feels, if people don't see the genius, I have no interest or reason to keep talking with them.

See "Q It Up" for a link to his Page 2 Archive, which is worth book-marking and re-reading any time you want to read the best sports columnist -- online or off -- of the last four years.

Ralph and I went head-to-head for Page 2 only once -- "head-to-head" is overstatement, actually:

He wrote a column on why the NBA is better than college hoops:

I came up with the bright idea to take him on with why college hoops is better than the NBA.

I guess I thought I was pretty smart ... maybe even knew my stuff ... R-Dub proceeded to file a "last-word" column, taking each of my arguments -- point by point -- and just crushing them.

It was, to say the least, an education. No, more like a K.O. But a badge of butt-kicking I continue to wear with pride.

 Passion ... generosity of spirit ... big-hearted... tried to make everything smarter... a giant in our industry... important.

From Bill Simmons to Mike Lupica, the way Ralph's colleagues described him is really just an inkling of the admiration and respect for a writer and man who was confident and passionate enough to return those feelings to all of us.

6/13 Father's Day Weekend Quickie

*"Spurs in 5" might turn out to be my best prediction in years. It almost makes up for my "Lakers in 4" that I spouted on Around The Horn the day the 2004 Finals started.

*The past two games should end any discussion that the NBA's post-Jordan time period since 1999 should be known as anything but the "Spurs dynasty" or the "Duncan dynasty."

*Brazil's tepid start: That iffy call by the ref in the box is a nice foreshadowing for the rest of the tourney.

*Today's must-see: Spain vs. Netherlands at 3 pm ET. Quality you would see in a World Cup semifinal. Both will likely advance, but the battle for "B1" likely pivots on the result of today's game.

*Happy Father's Day to all the dads -- including my own dad. I'll stick with what I said last year: I'm not close to being the dad that I aspire to be, but I'll keep working at it.

-- D.S.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

6/12 World Cup Quickie

*I definitely classify as someone who isn't as much of a soccer buff as I should be, but someone who really gets into the World Cup. Really looking forward to the next month of daily games to watch.

*I'm going Occam's Razor here and picking Brazil to win it all, over Uruguay in the finals -- which would, partly, exorcise the ghosts of 1950.

*Other semifinalists: Germany (which will lose to Brazil after some highly suspicious refereeing) and Argentina (which will lose to Uruguay in an epic semifinal battle).

*Other quarterfinalists: Spain (which will lose to Uruguay), Colombia (which will notably beat England in the knockout round), Switzerland (the Swiss!) and Belgium (bandwagon!)

*Eight other teams making it to the knockout round: Croatia (A), Netherlands (B), Greece (C), England (D), Ecuador (E), Bosnia (F), Portugal (G), Russia (H).

*Of course, that means I am predicting that the US will NOT make it out of the group stage -- if they were in another group, very possible.

*But I'll certainly be rooting for the Yanks to beat Ghana and somehow tie Portugal (before the inevitable loss to Germany), sneaking into 2nd place in the group.

Enjoy the tournament!

-- D.S.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

6/11 Spurs Quickie

*That Spurs 1st quarter was among the most effective quarters of basketball you'll ever see.

*This Cespedes throw from the deep outfield (after bobbling away the ball!) to home plate is one of the greatest throws you will ever see.

*This Deadspin piece by Greg Howard about my one-time Page 2 colleague Jason Whitlock is one of the greatest pieces of media reporting and analysis you will ever see.

*World Cup: This piece by Grantland's Brian Phillips -- "The Soul of Brazilian Soccer" -- is one of the best pieces of soccer writing you'll get this month -- or any.

Can't wait for the World Cup to start tomorrow.

-- D.S.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Must-See: The John Oliver Video About FIFA

This segment from John Oliver about FIFA is as good as everyone is saying today:

And then there's this one -- sort of affirming Oliver's final point -- from Nike:

-- D.S.

6/9 Monday LeBron Quickie

*OK, so maybe "Spurs in 5" was misguided. Game 2 was the difference between "no LeBron in the final 2 minutes" of Game 1 and "Yes, lots of LeBron in the final 2 minutes."

(And that pass into the corner to Bosh for the game-winning 3? Go figure: The same "right basketball play" he was pilloried for when Bosh missed the shot against Indy.)

*California Chrome denied: It's easy to feel for Chrome's owner, but he managed to rip/steal the storyline from his horse, with his griping.

*Rafael Nadal: Best ever? It's hard to imagine we could so swiftly be moving from "Federer: Best ever" to someone that would replace him. But isn't it amazing that we can have that discussion?

*I'm not a fan of "why doesn't he/she play the game 'the right way?'" scolds -- but I also think that acts of retribution (or whatever it was) like the one by Manny Machado are dumb, because he could have injured the player and his (likely) suspension will hurt his team.

-- D.S.