The 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.