The following, very incomplete, summary of U.S. magazines is aimed at afficionados and is likely to bore non sports fans intensely. I must start with the sad news that Strikeout has folded after issue four. This is a swift demise for a fine fanzine but if you got the chance to move to Boston and see baseball for real, then I know what decision I would make.
The Sporting News. Still the doyen of the sporting papers and to my view as good as ever despite a few technical hitches of the last couple of years. The writing staff is still spot on, never failing to take a controversial stand where required and the stats are rightly renowned. The issues I have cover the 30 day suspension of Pete Rose after his altercation with an umpire. The views are well argued and generally came down on the side of Rose, indicating strongly that the suspension was a tad severe. If you subscribe to one paper, this one still makes a strong case to be the chosen purchase. To my knowledge, still not available over here.
Sports Illustrated. If The Sporting News is the leading paper, then Sport Illustrated remains, by a mile, the ultimate sports glossy. The photography is of an excellent standard as ever and the stories, while light and short, are worth reading. $2.25 is good value, it is available over here for about £2.25 which is less appealing.
Baseball America. I have failed to pick this one up before now and in summary, while an excellent paper in its own right, it is one for the real devotee who wants to follow the minor leagues in detail. This is something I would like to do, especially to monitor Gonzo prospects, but life is short and as good as the paper is, I know I can't allocate the time to learn about the hundreds of minor leaguers. I will stick with the Sporting News pocket profiles. Bill James has not had good things to say about the crumbling farm system and the theory seems to be that things are not what they were - costs of running a multi-tier farm system are crippling and the players, despite being paid, often experience a hard apprenticeship. The future could show many of the teams looking to the colleges for initial training of prospects who will then be groomed in a much slimmer minor league system.
Hoop. This was the only basketball magazine I could find, though it was late in the season. 50% adverts, it is redeemed by some articles with a different angle covering both NBA and college games. It also has a good article on the college draft and historical first round choices. Otherwise average and probably tells you little that TSN doesn't cover. Expensive at $2.50.
Sport. Interesting. This issue carries a survey of the top 100 earners in sport. This subject never fails to amaze me. Even taking the sub section of baseball, salary never seems to reflect talent directly. There are anomalies everywhere and some players must be laughing while others get a relative pittance. By the way, would you believe Brent Musberger makes a cool $2m? Nevertheless, 75% of this colour glossy is advertising and the rest is so light it almost floats away. This is a journal of record offering very little in the way of insights or news. $2.00, subscriptions available.
Inside Sports. Very similar to Sport but much better, though still formula writing. Each issue I have bought has been a theme issue, covering baseball, NBA, football etc and going through the motions of 'top hustlers', 'loudest players' etc. A good read but one that quickly fades from memory. The sports media equivalent of the Chinese meal. About $2.00 on subscription though from my experiences last year, this one is available in parts of Europe.
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Mike Siggins. 12/6/88.
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