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Dublin: 2°C Sunday 17 January 2021
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The Sunday Papers: the week's best sportswriting

Here’s some of the pieces from newspapers, magazines and online that we bookmarked this week. You don’t even have to get your hands inky.

Image: INPHO/James Crombie

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.

10. “Unfortunately the problems facing Galway football run far deeper than that.  And in my view, the time has come to change some of those charged with running football in the county.  As in all politics though, those with the power are loath to give it up, even when the ship is sinking and they have sailed her onto the rocks.”

Former All-Ireland-winning Galway skipper Ray Silke laments the demise of the game in the county on the Irish Examiner sportsblog.

9. “I see Dale and he goes flying across the front of me. I’ll never forget his car just flying across the bow. I just chirped off the throttle. It was not a bad wreck. I remember thinking, ‘Oh man is he gonna be pissed off.’ ”

Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt died on the final lap of the Daytona 500, 10 years ago. The Post Game pieces together his final hours, talking to those who were present that day.

8. “You notice a second too late the phone has been vibrating. Missed call from David Hickey. You don’t need to have been a child of the glorious 1970s to vibrate with excitement yourself when you realise that one of the gods is on the line. You just have to know Hickey and his enthusiastic engagement with life. You grab the phone. Dial 171, Hickey has left a message. Sardonic and self-mocking. ”This is David Hickey, former Dublin great…’”

Tom Humphries speaks to the transplant surgeon ahead of the anniversary of Philly McGuinness’s tragic on-field death a year ago.

7. “Based on my past experience in writing about sports, I know that whites ascribe very different characteristics to black athletes than they do white ones. I also make a habit of asking every white sports fan I know whether they watch the NBA. In virtually every instance, they say they once watched the game but no longer do. When I ask them if it has anything to do with the racial composition, they do their best to look indignant. But my guess is they felt very differently about the game when Larry Bird and John Stockton were playing.”

Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger confronts the NBA’s declining popularity and race.

6. “John Rutherford of Scotland’s ’84 Grand Slam team was typical: lean and elegant with quicksilver hands and, like most three-quarters, looking like he could use a good meal. He had the poise and coolness of one of those characters you might see on Saturday afternoon Westerns: no lip out of him but still the fastest draw in the saloon.”

Keith Duggan’s Sideline Cut column is often the highlight of my Saturday morning, sadly. Last week he lamented the loss of the rugby player of yesteryear.

5. After careful consideration, I have an announcement to make: I’m running for the presidency of FIFA in the election to be held on June 1. And no, I’m not kidding. Have you seen who else is running? That’s right: Sepp Blatter.”

Sports Illustrated’s soccer writer Grant Wahl announces his candidacy for the game’s top job. He’s serious.

4. “What I loved most about watching Ronaldo was that—quite possibly because of the same vague goofiness that made him into a laughingstock—he never stopped playing like the game was just unbelievable fun.”

The Run of Play‘s Brian Philips reflects on Ronaldo’s legacy as the Brazilian genius bowed out of football.

3. “But it isn’t the stats and the trophies that make Casillas a great keeper. They are merely the by-products of his genius. His phenomenal reflexes and agility make him a joy to watch and an inspiration to budding goalkeepers the world over – reminding us all that you don’t have to be a beast of a man to be a true giant between the sticks”

Like Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, Irish football site BackPageFootball has been compiling a list of the best 50 players on the planet. Excellent.

2. “Rastamouse, it was reported this week, has drawn more than 100 complaints since it was first broadcast on January 31. Some object to the characters using Jamaican patois; others claim using Jamaican patois makes the programme racist. In a country of roughly 60million people, 100 contradictory complaints about a knitted rodent puppet do not amount to very much. You could put the test card on for an hour and a 100 people would find something to moan about.”

Martin Samuel‘s column was written as a defence for Glenn Hoddle in the wake of his ‘Chinese footballer’  gaffe on Monday night. Only the likes of the Daily Mail behometh would be allowed 466 words riffing on the merits of an animated mouse and Tripadvisor before he even mentioned the former England manager’s name. 

1. “But when the bat exploded in Sammy Sosa’s hands on that balmy night of June 3, 2003, at Wrigley Field, with Sosa grounding out to second in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, something changed for all time. Corked bat? Cheating? Sammy didn’t know nothing. It was a batting-practice bat, maybe, he concluded. He’d taken it to the plate by accident. Manager Dusty Baker didn’t know nothing. ‘Dude, I don’t know,’’ the Dust-man said when I asked him if he had a clue about corked bats. But why would he? He’d only been in baseball for 36 years.”

This is my favourite piece of the entire week – as well as this Vanity Fair article which is not sports-related. One-time Cubs star Barry Bonds has long denied cheating by ‘corking’ his bat; the Chicago Sun Times put it through a CAT scan.

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