sports column

02/20/2020
Several days ago my wife, Deborah, and I went snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on a thick blanket of lovely fresh snow. We weren’t alone. Joining us on the outing was our friend Felicia. Felicia had never been snowshoeing or skiing before. Felicia is in her third and final year living in Vermont thanks to a temporary job in town. Two and a half years in, and she still isn’t a big fan of the cold of Vermont winters. For that, she can be excused. Felicia grew up in Jamaica. The average January temperature in Montego Bay (near the cold northwest corner of the Caribbean island nation) is 74...

MOOKIE BETTS
02/13/2020
One hundred years ago last month (Jan. 5, 1920), the Red Sox unloaded their best player for financial reasons. They sold the best left-handed pitcher in the American League, a versatile 25-year-old who had begun to play in the field on occasion because he could also hit: George Herman “Babe” Ruth.  How’d that work out? Will my children and their children be lamenting the Curse of Mookie after I’m gone? Mookie Betts is one of my favorite Red Sox players ever. I place him in the exalted company of Nomah and Pedro. I like him even better than Papi, and that’s a high bar. Mookie looks like a high...
02/06/2020
This coming June, the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) is hosting their annual conference at Jay Peak up in northern Vermont. It’s a great gathering of outdoor communicators: writers, photographers, filmmakers, editors and publishers, and others affiliated with the industry including reps of various manufacturers. I’ve been to this conference twice in the past four years: when it was held in Montana in 2016 and then again in Arkansas in 2019. As enjoyable as those locations were, and as much as they had to offer in outdoor recreation, I’m even more excited to have the conference...

A VERITABLE MOUNT Rushmore of sports writers on a panel at Middlebury College earlier this month. Shown from left are Alex Wolff, Bob Ryan, Jackie MacMullan and Jack McCallum, who all worked for either Sports Illustrated or the Boston Globe. Photo by Karl Lindholm
01/30/2020
Stories! An hour and a half of great stories by four of America’s most highly respected sportswriters — verily, a Mount Rushmore: Alex Wolff, Bob Ryan, Jackie MacMullan, and Jack McCallum, all in one place at Middlebury College. These four terrific writers have been intimately affiliated with either Sports Illustrated or the Boston Globe, publications of Biblical import and authority in my life and for many other American sports fans. To list their awards would take up much of this column space. A few years back I was lucky enough to attend the Basketball Hall of Fame weekend festivities in...
01/23/2020
The decade of the “Teens” has come to an end. I know that most writers penned their end-of-the-year columns, or best-of-the-decade stories in late December as the decade was winding down. I’m a bit behind, as you may have noticed. But it’s not because I haven’t been thinking about it. As I reflect on the past 10 years, three themes emerge. For me it was a decade of growing awareness of the importance of protected and threatened public lands, especially as I experienced, learned more about, and increased my appreciation for numerous national parks and national forests across the country. Hand...

LARRY GARDNER, CIRCA 1915
01/16/2020
Whenever I go to a Lake Monsters game in Burlington, I find an occasion to declare casually to my companions that I played at historic Centennial Field for the Middlebury College nine, many years ago. If pressed, I have to admit that it was just one game and I was the starting pitcher, and only lasted three innings. We lost 13-5 to the University of Vermont. I always add: “They were really good!” Nonetheless, only a few years after my dismal performance, the decision was made to drop baseball as an intercollegiate sport at UVM, or more accurately to suspend the program. It left in 1971 for “...
01/09/2020
The first fish caught me by surprise. It was a landlocked salmon, and a fairly large one by the standards of that small Maine lake: about 18 inches long, with a visible kype identifying it as a male. Perhaps a frustrated male that hadn’t been able to spawn. Although brook trout and possibly landlocked salmon were once native to the lake, any native stock had long since been extirpated. The lake had seen a series of stockings of non-native fish including bass, brown trout and pickerel dating back decades. This was rectified by a “reclaiming” of the lake when I was a child — a poisoning of all...
01/02/2020
If nothing else, here at the Independent Sports Desk we believe in accountability above all else. Well, second to spelling high school athletes’ names right, anyway — here’s to you, Name Hall of Famer Sean Grzyb. You will never be forgotten. Back on task: In September I wrote a column assessing the state of the four main Boston sports teams and predicting how they might fare this fall and beyond. Rather than ignore my gaze into the crystal ball, it seemed only fair to see what predictions were playable, and which were regrettable swings and misses. Excerpts from that piece and self-...
12/26/2019
It’s the second of Christmas’s 12 days. The next time you pick up a paper with one of my columns, Christmas will be over. In fact, 2019 will be over. It will be a new year. The way most people tally decades (making the most of the same second-to-last digit of a year), my next column will reach your eyes in a new decade. It will be the fourth decade in which I have put thoughts into words and stories in these pages. I admit that the passing of individual years means less to me these days, since I passed the half-century age mark more than half a decade ago. Time is definitely speeding up. I...

IT WOULD BE hard to imagine a better breakfast companion for a Hot Stove League conversation than longtime and much admired baseball Coach Jim Carter. Photo courtesy of Karl Lindholm
12/19/2019
Editor’s note: The first of a two-part series. “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” — Rogers Hornsby Back in time, when baseball enjoyed its hegemony among the leisure passions of Americans, there was the “Hot Stove League,” a term coined in the 19th century. The image was of folks warming themselves around a pot-bellied stove talking baseball in winter’s chilly off-season. Last weekend, I participated in a great Hot Stove League session. I met in Hinesburg on Saturday morning at the Parkside Café...

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