25 Jay-Z and Kanye West Spit Some Sports Sense
"Psycho/I'm liable to go Michael/Take your pick/ Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6."
—From their 2011 song N----- in Paris
26 Glove Hurts
Why do dramatic baseball games, more so than those in other sports, acquire such permanence and personality? The answer became apparent as I looked into the eyes of the key players--especially those from losing sides—who sat across from me early this year during the taping of the MLB Network series
MLB's 20 Greatest Games,
for which I served as a cohost alongside Bob Costas. I witnessed the pain and the pride of getting caught in the randomness of historic moments.
Show after show was filled with remembrance and revelation about the small twists upon which history is built. Bill Buckner explaining how his old, floppy first baseman's mitt (the one he should have replaced) snapped shut too quickly in 1986. Pedro Martinez remembering how he thought his night was done after seven innings in 2003—only for manager Grady Little to ask for more. Mitch Williams regretting his using a slide step on the pitch to Joe Carter that ended the 1993 World Series. Dave Henderson not just recalling his '86 ALCS homer but pleading, "I did not kill Donnie Moore," the server of that pitch who committed suicide three years later.
I never could have imagined the emotion the series would evoke. There was something very powerful and moving about watching these men as they saw their younger selves caught in the vortex of history. And in every case there was a cross-the-Rubicon moment when a guest would go from simply remembering what happened to reliving it. That's when I finally understood why baseball games never truly end.
27 Bristol Bristles With Intrigue
Odd as it may be to make the observation in mid-December,
Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,
James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales's oral history of how a network built on a muddy Connecticut landfill became a broadcasting behemoth, was easily the year's most enthralling beach read, all parceled into gooey, gossipy little chunks. And in time, it may be some future summer's biggest blockbuster, as 20th Century Fox has already snatched up the film rights to the rollicking New York Times best seller. When it comes to casting, SI has some suggestions for the eventual producers.