Best of Gary Smith: SI staffers pick their favorite stories from one of all time greats

Put this post aside for when you have some time to do some reading. This is more than worth your time.

With Gary Smith announcing his retirement, Sports Illustrated did a terrific post asking staffers and others to select their favorite stories from him. Smith even participated in the exercise.

From the post:

Picking a favorite Gary Smith story is a near impossible task; there are so many great ones to choose from. When asked to pick his favorite or most memorable SI story, Smith identified two: a 1996 piece about an 18-year old mentally impaired South Carolina boy affectionately called Radio, which was made into a movie in 2003; and Damned Yankee, a 1997 story about a tormented Yankees catcher named John Malangone. “Out of all my stories, something just sticks out with those two,” Smith said.

I … Continue Reading

Update: Single day record for SI digital; MMQB strikes big by having first-person columns from Richard Sherman

Update: Eric Fisher of Sports Business Daily reports that SI digital set a signal day record Monday with 4.3 million uniques. Thank you, Mr. Sherman.

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I tried to persuade Richard Sherman to keep it in the family and do his first-person story for Sherman Report. Please, cousin Richard.

OK, so maybe you guess we’re not related.

Anyway, the Seattle cornerback has been writing accounts of the season for Peter King’s new site, MMQB, at Sports Illustrated. Talk about incredible timing.

Sherman is the most talked-about athlete in sports today (well, besides Peyton Manning), and will be through the Super Bowl. And MMQB has him as a contributor. Sherman definitely will bring attention to the site.

Here’s his contribution about yesterday’s game and postgame, which at last check generated more than 1,200 comments prior to 2 p.m. ET.… Continue Reading

Dave Zirin: SI Sportsman of Year has become a QBs award; Manning ‘a dreadful choice’

Earlier today, I wrote that Sports Illustrated made the right choice in selecting Peyton Manning to be its Sportsman of the Year.

Dave Zirin disagrees. In his column for The Nation, he slammed SI’s selection. He made an interesting observation that it has become a quarterback’s award.

An award that used to be for trailblazers, social justice avatars, and people whose sense of fair play brought out the best angels in sports, had become the magazine cover equivalent of the SI Swimsuit issue: all image and no substance. You could easily envision SI’s editors slamming their desks shouting, “Find me a quarterback dammit! And he better have blue eyes and dimples!”

Since 2004, the magazine has had Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and Drew Brees as their Sportsperson of the Year. So what do they do to break the trend in

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Sportsman of the Year: Sports Illustrated got it right with choice of Peyton Manning

It’s really hard to argue with Sports Illustrated’s choice, although many people will.

No, Peyton Manning didn’t win the Super Bowl in February. Failing to win the big game always will be the knock against the Denver quarterback.

But guess what? He has the Broncos in position again. He’s doing it with a video game offense producing all-time record numbers. With two games to go, he has 47 TD passes and has thrown for 4,811 yards. Damn, why did I skip over Manning in my fantasy draft?

And this is from a 37-year old quarterback who supposedly was done two years ago.

Even more, Manning easily is the most-watched athlete in 2013. The Broncos, it seems, are featured in one of the national windows almost every week, pulling in the biggest ratings for the various networks.

The reason? Peyton Manning. … Continue Reading

Charles Barkley rides a subway in New York

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch tagged along with Charles Barkley as the big man experienced New York’s subways for the first time yesterday. He was going out to Brooklyn for TNT’s coverage of the Knicks-Nets game.

Again, this is a perfect example of what you can do with an iPhone in the new age of media.

From Deitsch’s story.

4:02 p.m. Barkley has made it through the MetroCard entry with the help of one of New York City’s Finest. But the 6-foot-4 Barkley nearly his hits his head on a sign above when going through the entrance.

4:03 p.m. People in the subway start recognizing him. He poses for a couple of photos and shakes hands.

4:04 p.m. The E train comes by and passengers disembark into the station. A young guy walks off the E and his brain registers

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Awesome Sports Illustrated cover: Pays tribute to Boston first responders in Red Sox victory

Really a nice touch by Sports Illustrated. In fact, it is inspired and inspiring. This is the kind of cover that has an impact.

From SI:

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In this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (11/11/13)—on newsstands Wednesday— senior writer Tom Verducci writes about how 2013 World Series MVP David Ortiz, one of the greatest postseason sluggers ever, used leadership and resilience to carry the Red Sox and the city of Boston to their third Series title since 2004. Ortiz, who had a .688 BA with 11 hits and two home runs in the six- game Series against the Cardinals, shares this week’s cover with Boston police officers Javier Pagan and Rachel McGuire and detective Kevin McGill –all three appeared on SI’s April 22, 2013 cover as the issue reported on the Marathon bombings.

Writes Verducci, “If any one person were to lead … Continue Reading

Cover: SI should have gone with NFL concussion book excerpt over Kate Upton

OK, nothing wrong with a little fun. The Upton cover concept was clever.

Besides, the presence of Kate Upton on the cover will help newsstands sales, even if she isn’t in a skimpy bathing suit.

However, there was a better choice this week. Sports Illustrated has the excerpt from Mark and Steve Fainaru’s new book about concussions and football, League of Denial.

The headline on the SI.com: An exclusive excerpt from the book the NFL doesn’t want you to read

Indeed, there’s some eye-opening stuff in the excerpt. It is going to generate considerable talk. Given the gravity of the story and the anticipation for the book, it would seem to be cover material. Certainly more so than Kate Upton in a baseball uniform.

By the way, the excerpt from the book led with a terrific passage featuring the … Continue Reading

Fitting tribute: Sports Illustrated cover features Mariano Rivera

And here’s the write-up on Tom Verducci’s story:

(NEW YORK – September 18, 2013) – Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is the template for what it means to be a pitcher, a teammate and a friend, says senior writer Tom Verducci in the cover story for this week’s Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday.  “Closing time for the game’s greatest closer has arrived,” Verducci writes. And as Rivera—baseball’s alltime leader in regular-season and postseason saves—ends his iconic career, Verducci presents an oral history of Rivera with commentary from coaches, teammates, opponents and fans whose lives Rivera has touched. The Yankees’ closer appears on SI’s cover for the fourth time, with the billing “Exit Sandman.”

“Probably not since Koufax have we seen anyone leave the game with so much respect,” says Joe Torre, Rivera’s manager with the Yankees for four of his five

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Sports Illustrated defends Oklahoma State coverage: ‘Stands behind the work’

When the dirt starts flying during one of these big investigations, it isn’t unusual for the news outlet to find itself on the firing line.

Such is the case with Sports Illustrated and its five-part series on Oklahoma State football.

Deadspin has done posts knocking down the SI package. Yesterday, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy also did a story that questioned the veracity of statements by one of the key players quoted by Sports Illustrated.

McMurphy writes:

Some aspects of the story of former Oklahoma State safety Fath’ Carter, who was quoted extensively in Sports Illustrated’s series about improprieties within the Cowboys’ football program, are inconsistent with information obtained by ESPN from a number of university documents.

Carter was one of the main sources quoted in SI’s five-part series that alleges players were paid by coaches and boosters and had an academic

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