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Frank Sinatra died at the age of 83 on May 14, 1998.
May 14, 2016
Hello, fellow humans. This is the second installment of the still-unnamed Weekly Will Leitch Writing Newsletter. One subscriber this week recommended “Soaked In Leitch,” which wins points for cleverness but loses them right back for conjuring up some truly disturbing images. So we remain on the not-particularly-urgent hunt.
This week, my old high school scholastic bowl coach — I’ll pause to let you finish gasping that I played scholastic bowl in high school — found a newspaper clipping about our team from 1991.
I never worked for a small-town newspaper so this is largely supposition and guesswork, but: Honestly, those people are heroes. We all have parts of our jobs that we struggle with or don’t enjoy, but we trudge forward because it’s our job. I can’t imagine having to wake up in the morning and have part of to-do list be, “Interview high school scholastic bowl coach about how his team is coming together” and then somehow cobble together 700 words about it. Yet here we are, 25 years later, and those 700 words (and accompanying photo) gave me more joy than 700 words have given me in a long, long time. I still remember that St. Bede tournament. That was as close as I ever come to Reaganing.
(Oh, and that headline! CLICKBAIT.)
Also, I told my baseball coach, Mark Jackley (who is still Mattoon’s baseball coach), that I couldn’t attend a doubleheader in Decatur — a doubleheader I would have surely sat the bench for the entirety of — because of a family commitment. But I actually was playing in a scholastic bowl tournament instead. I made my choice. I’m still a little baffled as to why I was never caught in the lie, but Coach Jackley, I’m sorry, I lied.
Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)
1. Harper to Ump: Even When You’re Right, You’re Wrong, Sports On Earth. The reason I’m bad at Hot Takes is because I honestly never feel all that strongly about anything. I mean, it’s sports, or movies, or politics — it’s not, you know, real. This would seem a weakness in a columnist, but I like to believe it’s actually a strength: It allows me to write about polarizing individuals or controversial incidents without having emotions blind me to logic or reason. (This is the goal, anyway.) I don’t often get it right — and sometimes my take-less views can come across as sleepy, even — but this is one I thought worked out. I tried not to look at Harper and his “outburst” and instead at the reasons for it, how strangely invalid they were and how, ultimately, it didn’t really matter. I wrote in my yearly Deadspin cameo about how we were living in a post-truth society, and I feel like the Harper incident was a prime example of that. Harper was wrong about everything, but he was more fervent than those who opposed him ... which was all that really mattered. I liked this one.
2. Time to Start Rooting for the St. Louis Blues, Sports On Earth. I’ve never been anything resembling a bandwagon fan before — I’ve publicly lamented the practice, even — but I gotta say: I understand the appeal now. Blues wins make me happy ... and Blues losses are, well, sorta disappointing, I guess, hey, what’s the score of the Cards game? I have become what I loathe. If you see me doing The Wave at a game, I won’t even duck when you punch me.
3. The Lobster, Animal Magneticism, or Else, The New Republic. This movie is excellent and hilarious and insane. You should really go see it.
4. Individual Baseball Feat Experiences, Ranked, Sports On Earth. I was traveling and doing a lot of television this week, and I had about 35 minutes to write this between two pre-production meetings. That is obviously not ideal — and writing something that fast made me feel a little like Stephen A. Smith famously typing out Philadelphia Inquirer columns on his Blackberry in between TV hits — but when you have a fun, albeit weightless topic, it’s almost more fun that way. And someday I’m gonna see a no-hitter. It has to happen. The odds have to be in my favor by this point.
5. What Happened to the James-Durant Rivalry?, Sports On Earth. I don’t write about the NBA enough. Almost every other sport besides baseball, I’ve found a love it a little less each season ... except for the NBA. I do miss the Spurs already, though. Age remains undefeated.
6. Vote in Round Two of the Best Baseball Jersey Bracket, Sports On Earth. Nothing like an easy, relaxing bracket to finish out the week with. I sort of like to do these extra columns on Fridays just to cleanse out, a digestif.
7. Strasburg Signing Cuts Appeal of Free Agent Market, Sports On Earth. The piece itself doesn’t give you much more insight than that headline. Heavy travel weeks like this one are hard. They sometime lead to duds like this one.
8. Which MLB Team Has the Best Jersey? Sports On Earth. This is from last week; I just forgot to link it last Saturday. It’s too late to vote anyway.
Another three-podcast week. As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the four (!) podcasts I do. Here they are:
The Will Leitch Experience, this week with Alyson Footer, talking Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
Grierson & Leitch, this week discussing the Cannes Film Festival, “Casino Royale” and “Married to the Mob.”
Culture Caucus, no podcast this week, but we taped one in NYC, about the upcoming documentary “Weiner,” about Anthony Weiner’s ill-fated mayoral run a couple of years ago.
Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, new episode! We wrapped up our first season of talking Georgia football. It’s always pleasant to have nice people to drink bourbon and prattle on with.
It’s graduation weekend here in Athens: It’s disturbing how much closer in age I am to the parents of the graduates than I am to the graduates themselves. Here is a picture from my college graduation.
I haven’t worn a robe like that since. They look comfortable.
Have a great weekend, and be safe out there.