The best sports essay I read in 2012

sam-page-2The best sports essay I read in 2012 was written about R.A. Dickey (a Nashvillian) in October by Sam Page (a Nashvillian) for the Gawker-owned sports blog, Deadspin: “What The Best Pitcher In Baseball Taught Me About Prep School, Socrates, And The Art Of Not Selling Out.”

First, some disclosure. Like R.A. Dickey and Sam, I’m also a Nashvillian. While I don’t know R.A. Dickey, I know Sam. He’s a senior at NYU and grew up around the corner from me. He’s one of this blog’s 12 readers. He’s been a friend of my son since middle school and I’ve followed Sam’s various blogs about his two favorite sports topics (the New York Mets and the Nashville Predators) since he was in high school.

When they were in middle school, my son and Sam started a blog. I would take them with me to the early blogger meet-ups in Nashville where they were the youngest attendees and I was among the oldest. In retrospect, I think they agreed to go with me because they both had a major crush on @Tabbulous.

My son, who is an excellent writer, hung up blogging soon-thereafter as he forked down the path to being a man of numbers, but Sam continued being a prolific blogger and soon was recruited by popular sports blogs to write about the Mets and Predators. (I wonder how many readers knew he was covering the Mets from his bedroom in Nashville or the Predators from his dorm room in New York?)

Sam is a natural-born blogger, a term coined by Dave Winer, to describe, among other things, a person who doesn’t wait for permission to write about things. When he was 15, Sam was writing about the Mets for SB Nation before most of us had ever heard of
SB Nation
. But this is how I know he’s really a natural-born blogger: Sam is the only person I know who would think to text me from a class because Jay Rosen was the guest lecturer that day. (Even for a blogger, that’s very “inside baseball.”)

If you want to know what I mean, all you have to do is read the first paragraph of the Deadspin post that’s the best sports essay I read in 2012:

“At my old high school, Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, there is a large multi-purpose hall with high ceilings. The hall features large hanging glass panels that extend nearly from the ceiling to the floor, engraved with famous quotations and the image of the speaker. I remember two of the panels: one of Grantland Rice (“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes—not that you won or lost—but how you played the Game.”), who was a famous alumnus of the school, and one of Socrates (“The unexamined life is not worth living”), who was not.”

I don’t know where Sam will end up after he graduates this spring, but anyone who can hook Grantland Rice and Socrates into a first-person essay about a knuckleball pitcher should be a first-round pick of any sports media company.

Remember this article from the New York Times

Snow Fall-800

The New York Times article “Snow Fall:The Avalanche of Tunnel Creek” is being touted, and deserves to be, as a breakthrough in multimedia story-telling. As I am a consistent “linker” to the digital work of the staff, I will add my “wow” to the story, as well. It demonstrates how multimedia can be used to enhance and extend a story — and not merely “because it can be.”

However, there are a few things about the story I haven’t seen mentioned — while not negative, I find them interesting.

On the notable side, it’s the first time I’ve seen a story from a legacy media company (one that existed before the www) that so effectively ignores the metaphor of the page. The page, while a helpful measure of the location one may be while progressing through a physical book or article, is, nonetheless, a measurement that originated with the [tippy title=”printing press” style=”u” header=”off” bgcolor=”#FFF200″]Clay tablets were all one page and scrolls used location markers that weren’t “pages”[/tippy] and which made its way to the internet by that person who first hung the label “web page” on what, if you’ve ever scrolled to the bottom of a page on, you know has nothing to do with physical length.

(Sidenote: One of the reasons I love the app Instapaper is its use of mobile devices’ [tippy title=”accelerometers” reference=”” header=”off” color=”blue”] In this context, I’m referring to the gravity sensors that enable the devices to know “up” from “down” and to measure the velocity of the speed at which you’ve just dropped your iPhone onto a concrete sidewalk. See Wikipedia for more accelerometer info.[/tippy]  to enable “tile scrolling,” the best example I have to demonstrating the complete uselessness of multiple metaphoric “pages” on text content appearing on screens.)

No matter. It’s a great piece of story-telling and a great example of how online and digital media can be used correctly.

Grovo just declared war on me

[Update: See reply from Grovo in comments]

I’m not a novice at this stuff, but I feel I made a rookie mistake last night when I agreed to a request to register for a web service called Grovo. (I’ve placed no link to it — and suggest you stay away.)

I used my Google Mail account (which in my case is my company mail, as we are a Google Apps for Business customer) to log on and selected an option that I thought would make me discoverable to anyone who used the service who is among my contacts.

What I did, however, was spam everyone who is a contact.

Yes, that was my mistake.

But, it was a mistake I’ve never made before and I’ve signed on to hundreds of such services.

I don’t care enough to re-trace what I did to spam people, but I can assure you I won’t be using Grovo, no matter what it does, or how good it may be.

Great Gifts from Tennessee, 2012

tn-gift-11 Last year, I posted some last-minute Christmas gift ideas from Tennessee. Those still work, but here are some new ideas volunteered by some Tennesseans.

(Sorry, this slide show is not working. I’m working on getting it reposted.)

Belle Meade Bourbon thumbnail
 Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream (a
Corsair Nashville Boubon thumbnail
Benjamin Prichard’s Double Barreled Bourbon (90 Proof) thumbnail
Olive & Sinclair Chocolate thumbnail
El Camino, The Black Keys thumbnail
Blunderbuss, Jack White thumbnail
Jefferson: The Art of Power thumbnail
Lynskey  2013 Helix OS Limited Edition thumbnail
Nissan Leaf thumbnail
Ultimachine's  RAMPS Pre-Assembled Kit Complete thumbnail
Belle Meade Bourbon
 Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream (a
Corsair Nashville Boubon
Benjamin Prichard’s Double Barreled Bourbon (90 Proof)
Olive & Sinclair Chocolate
El Camino, The Black Keys
Blunderbuss, Jack White
Jefferson: The Art of Power
Lynskey  2013 Helix OS Limited Edition
Nissan Leaf
Ultimachine's  RAMPS Pre-Assembled Kit Complete

Belle Meade Bourbon

Last year, I included a Tennessee product that is known world wide, Jack Daniels. This year, thanks to some spirited friends on Facebook, I discovered there are several Tennesseans mixing up some potent potables, My favorite (for the name) is Belle Meade Bourbon from Nelson's Green Brier Distillery.

Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream (a "whiskey liquer")

SPEAKeasy Spirits, Nashville, Tennessee

Corsair Nashville Boubon

A smoke whiskey with a very American point of view.
Corsair Distillery, Nashville

Benjamin Prichard’s Double Barreled Bourbon (90 Proof)

Prichards Distillery, Kelso, Tenn.

Olive & Sinclair Chocolate

Handcrafted by native Nashvillians in the Portandia-esque neighborhood of East Nashville, Olive & Sinclair is, according to their website, "the paramount bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the South." I'm not sure what that means, but I can say, their chocolate is so great, at Hammock Inc., we chose Olive & Sinclair as our "official client-love holiday gift" this year. More of their mouth-watering website copy: "Slow-roasted and stone ground in small batches, select single origin beans are combined with pure brown sugar for a smooth and robust flavor unique to Southern Artisan Chocolate." Pictured is the holiday special product, Peppermint Bark, 8 oz. box, $15.99.

El Camino, The Black Keys

This is a repeat recommendation since it was on last year's list. However, the Nashville-based Black Keys' El Camino is nominated for the 2013 Grammy Album of the Year to be awarded in February.

Blunderbuss, Jack White

"Music City Ambassador" Jack White's Blunderbuss is (also) nominated for the 2013 Grammy Album of the Year to be awarded in February.

Jefferson: The Art of Power

Author Jon Meacham's blockbuster history of Jefferson's White House years doesn't need my endorsement since, as I'm posting this, it is #1 in a half-dozen categories on Amazon. However, since Tennessee-native Meacham recently moved his family to Nashville, I felt it the welcome-home thing to do.

Lynskey 2013 Helix OS Limited Edition

Chattanooga's Lynskey Performance Products is creator of some of the finest titanium bicycles in the world. It's a family-owned and operated company "with a burning desire" to produce high quality, custom-made performance bikes that are functional pieces of art. The bicycle pictured retails for $6,899. Yes, you read that correctly.

Nissan Leaf

Be "geo-green" and get one of these "made in Tennessee" Nissan Leafs. Please. Somebody. Apparently, they haven't been blowing out the doors, as the 2013 model is about $1,000 less than last year. MSRP starts at $36,050, but the federal government will kick in a $7,500 federal tax credit. California buyers get an additional $2,500 state rebate. Two more things: The plant that makes batteries for this car has just opened in Smyrna, Tenn. It was built with a $1.4 billion loan from the U.S. taxpayers as part of the 2009 stimulus package. In other words, we want this car to succeed.

Ultimachine's RAMPS Pre-Assembled Kit Complete

My friend, Jay Graves suggested the coolest product on this list. It's from the same small town that's home to the 125-year old Lodge Manufactuing, South Pittsburgh, one of my recommendations from last year. If you're on the cutting-edge of hip geeksterism, you'll know that Brooklyn-based startup 3-D printer Makerbot is getting lots of attention for being the new, cool kid in town. But, if you are actually a cool kid, you'd be making your own 3-D printer rather than purchasing an already assembled one from Makerbot. And if you were that cool of a geek (like Jay) you'd be purchasing the motherboard for your DIY 3-D printer from Ultimachine, based in, yes, South Pittsburg, Tennessee. No kidding. I don't know about you, but learning that a geek-popular DIY 3D printer motherboard and the country's oldest family-owned iron skillet foundry share the same hometown of South Pittsburgh sort of just sums up why I love Tennessee. Merry Christmas.

Marco Arment’s Master Plan to Revolutionize the Future of Publishing

The MagazineActually, Marco, the developer of Tumblr and creator of Instapaper, says he doesn’t have a plan, nor is his new creation, The Magazine, a model for “how it’s done.”


“A publication’s app should be designed and built with purpose and consideration. The Magazine works because I based decisions not on what everyone else was doing, but on what would be best for this magazine. Every publication has its own unique needs, audience, economics, and style, so their apps should reflect that.”

While Marco Arment may not have a master plan, the things he does without a plan are far more intriguing than are those attempted by people who wear suits and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on what they think are master plans.