INPHO/Donall Farmer

The Sunday Papers: some of the week's best sportswriting

Enjoy the pieces from newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs that we bookmarked this week. You don’t even have to get your hands inky.

IN NO PARTICULAR order every Sunday, we flick back through the week’s newspapers, websites, blogs and magazines to bring you the best sports writing.

1. “Seventy-year-old Jerry Harkness answered his home phone in Indianapolis Thursday afternoon and received the news of Joe Dan Gold’s death from a Mississippi sports writer.

There was a long pause.

‘No, no, oh no,’ Harkness said. ‘Joe Dan? I had heard he wasn’t well, but … oh no, God, I hate to hear that. What a great guy; you know, we became good friends.’

Forty-eight years ago, Harkness and Gold shook hands on a basketball floor in East Lansing, Mich., and the world took notice.”

The handshake that changed basketball forever.

2. “Twenty years ago this week, and five months before he slid into a deep coma, Michael Watson and I sat together in an old boxing gym behind St Pancras station in London. He was my favourite British fighter but I could hardly believe how Watson’s gaunt face tightened whenever he spoke about his next opponent, a strutting and contradictory character called Chris Eubank. They were preparing to fight for the first time in the hazy summer of 1991; and Watson could not have known then how a punch from Eubank would change his life forever.”

Typically wonderful piece from Donald McRae of the Guardian on Michael Watson, the man who suffered brain damage two decades ago in the ring.

3. “’I’d be an awful man for a list,’ says Páraic Duffy as he gets up to grab a sheet of paper off his desk. We’re in his office on the sixth floor of Croke Park. If you’ve seen a game from a corporate box or been in the stadium for a conference, you’ve almost certainly walked past the GAA director general’s office and you haven’t had a clue. It’s an unmarked door on a public corridor that to the untrained eye may as well be where they keep the mops and buckets.”

Malachy Clerkin meets Parcic Duffy in his little Croke Park office.

4.If you read “Moneyball,” the concept was not necessarily to use modern statistics to identify a particular talent. The concept was to use modern statistics to identify things that are currently undervalued, and can therefore help you find an inexpensive road to wins. Getting on base happened to be the undervalued thing at that time, but just like on Wall Street, the value play is ever-changing.

So, what’s undervalued now? It’s a complex question. But there’s a simple element: Being bigger, faster, stronger, tougher … that’s never undervalued in any sport. Every fan, coach and GM loves that stuff.

In this talk, I make the case that if you’re looking for value, you could do worse than to look around for players, techniques and skills that don’t fit the bigger and tougher macho mold.”

Henry Abbot on ‘the opposite of macho’. I hear ya brother.

5. The following interview comes with a disclaimer. Kieran McGeeney insisted on it. “You are going to write about this again and people are going to say, ‘Jeez, does McGeeney never shut up about referees’. I hope you put in the fact that you asked the questions. I don’t volunteer this information.”

The former Armagh captain seems as just the same, though he’s on the Kildare sideline these days. The Irish Examiner’s John Fogarty did a man-marking job.

6. “With hole names like “White Dogwood”, “Flowering Crab Apple” and “Yellow Jasmine” everything was very much in order at Augusta National just as I had left it three years ago on my last visit. The sense of permanence and perfection gives the impression of being in golfing heaven. There is no doubt it is the most pristine course and clubhouse on the planet. For a golfer playing the Masters, heaven can either gradually or quite rapidly start to feel more like hell.”

Caddie Colin Byrne watched on as Rory McIlroy imploded last week at Augusta.

7. “The reality isn’t so appealing. While it’s impossible to know how many students disobey BYU’s honor code, which prohibits fornication and alcohol use, among other things, the honor code violations that come to light almost always involve student-athletes. And they almost always involve athletes of color. Since 1993, according to our research, at least 70 athletes have been suspended, dismissed, put on probation, or forced to withdraw from their teams or the school after running afoul of the honor code.”

Deadspin take a long, hard look at the college that holds its students to a higher standard. In theory.

8. “My son watched a few holes of the Masters with me on Sunday. He’s nearly 3 and a half and hasn’t figured out how to crap in the toilet yet. He spends most of his time naked or partially naked, barking out orders like “Put on Wow Wow Wubbzy!” and “I want graham crackers!” Every night, he promises us that he won’t climb into our bed in the middle of the night, and yet, I always wake up around 4 a.m. because some snoring wildebeest is kicking me in the kidneys. Last week, the stubborn bastard sat still for a haircut for the first time only because we allowed him to play “Angry Birds” on an iPad. He’s a man of many quirks. I’m not gonna lie.”

Bill Simmons - I’m not usually a fan, if I’m honest – riffs on the gift that is Mr Eldrick Tiger Woods.

9. “Hurling is a thrilling and dangerous sport, and in Ireland the players are universally admired for their nerves. Within this pool, it is the goalkeepers who are most venerated.“A key requirement to be a goalkeeper in hurling is that you have to be mad,” says Feargal McGill, head of games administration and player welfare for hurling’s governing body, the Gaelic Athletic Association.* To wit: In 1997, goalkeeper Joe Quaid shattered one testicle, and had to have half of the second removed, when he took a ball to the crotch on a penalty shot. Upon recovery he returned to the sport, and continued playing as a goalie for three more seasons. While I haven’t seen any other documented cases of exploding testicles, mouth and eye injuries are common in hurling.”

Popular American website Slate try to get their head around our national game and the job of the goalkeeper in particular. They also have a piece on how dinosaurs had sex.

10. “On Sunday, after the Masters ended, I found myself in a small pack of reporters chasing around the crumbled but proud figure that was Rory McIlroy. He had shot a miserable 80 and, after leading the Masters for three rounds, had dropped to 15th. He was very willing to talk — I was so impressed with the way he handled himself – I came away hoping he wins the next 10 majors. In any case, as I was walking out I noticed that Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times was talking with Tara, giving her a few of the quotes. I did not think much of it. I drove to Atlanta. One thing I DEFINITELY did not think in 2011 was that Tara needed the quotes because she had been barred from the locker room because she is a woman. But, alas, this is what happened. Apparently, this was because of a “misunderstanding.”

Joe Posnanski on that Masters gender discrimination controversy. Read the background here.