Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Great Reads on Life, Sochi and the 'Who Cares' Crowd

Here are links to three great articles from the past week. They don't need much introduction from me.

Roger Angell of the New Yorker is 93. He will receive the J.G Taylor Spink Award for "meritorious contributions to baseball writing" during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown in July.

This isn't a piece about baseball. It's about life and aging and...well, I really can't write any words that will do it justice. It's fantastic.

This Old Man, The New Yorker, February 17, 2014 

Bonnie D. Ford writes about Olympic sports for Covering this Olympiad generated some different emotions for her. And for me, to be honest. Detached would be a good starting point. Was it because of Putin and Russia's stance on homosexuals? Was it because it was eight time zones away? Was it because the Olympics have seemingly morphed into the X-Games? I'm sure it was a combination of all of those factors and some others. Bonnie does a great job spotlighting what is being left behind and raises some unsettling questions about what happens next.

All That We're Leaving Behind,, February 23, 2014

Sunday night, when he took the court for the Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jason Collins became the first openly-gay athlete to participate in one of our four major sports. Collins came out back in April 2013. He was a journeyman at the end of the road. His not being signed for the 2014 was more a sign of his talents than his sexuality. Collins quietly receded into the background as the season got underway and he didn't have a job.

When NFL draft prospect Michael Sam publicly announced he was gay earlier this month, he was thrust into the headlines and it looked as if Collins would just be a historical footnote. He isn't. And as Jason Gay rightly points out, he shouldn't be.

Someday soon these stories won't generate headlines. That's a good thing. That doesn't mean we can't celebrate them now.

Jason Collins, the Nets, and The 'Who Cares' Crowd, The Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back to life. Rekindling The Hammer Speaks

Time to get back at it.

I don't know exactly how The Hammer Speaks is going to evolve this time around or exactly how much time I'll be able to devote to it on a daily basis, but there's so much good stuff out there I want to use it as a way to share links to the best analysis, profiles, articles, stories and videos that I come across, while including some of my own thoughts and commentary. Sure, retweeting serves some of the same purpose, but this is as much for me as anyone. A way to catalogue a lot of good things in one place. If you want to share your thoughts and comments and it be comes more interactive over time, better still.

This won't be a Pittsburgh sports blog, there are plenty of great ones out there. Yes, it will be generally sports-focused, but I expect it to be considerably more wide-ranging than in the past. I've got plenty of interests away from sports so you're going to get a dose of that if you come along for the ride. Thanks for checking in. Feedback encouraged.


**The NFL got its dream match-ups for Championship Weekend. New England at Denver. San Francisco at Seattle. Few write about the Xs and Os of football better than Chris Brown of Here's his profile of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle defense, a great primer for the late game.

Who’s Laughing Now? Pete Carroll used to be a joke; now he's on the brink of a Super Bowl berth thanks to his defensive mastery

**When you think of the FT, sports coverage isn't the first thing that leaps to mind. But when Simon Kuper is writing, it's worth the time. This week he did an excellent job profiling Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Interview: Carlo Ancelotti

**Not many Tobacco Road purists would have assumed today's tip between #22 Pitt and #2 Syracuse would highlight the best the ACC has to offer, but the former Big East foes square off at 4 pm in Syracuse on ESPN. The undefeated Orangemen are favored by 5, but Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is 5-1 all-time against Jim Boeheim in the Carrier Dome.

**You may have heard it's hot in Australia where they are playing the tennis-season's first major. A piece from the New York Times suggests tourney organizers have actually been hugely negligent in addressing this and have put people at serious risk. But this still got a laugh of me:
And this was an actual quotation from the Canadian player Frank Dancevic: “I was dizzy from the middle of the first set, and then I saw Snoopy and I thought, ‘Wow, Snoopy, that’s weird.’ ”
**Think you did a good job raising your kids? Then don't read this.

How I made sure all 12 of my kids could pay for college themselves

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