Saturday, October 02, 2010

Billy Wagner Sports Illustrated Pieces by Michael Bamberger

Good story in the Oct 4 issue of Sports Illustrated... that led to my reading an even better story written 11 years earlier by the same author on the same topic.

From the latest issue, "The Last Stand Of Billy The Kid" is by Michael Bamberger and about Atlanta Braves closer Billy Wagner. It's interesting reading about a guy who after 16 years in the major leagues states that this will be his last. A professional athlete retiring doesn't typically have great profundity associated, but Wagner's story is one to pique interest.

He's having one of his best seasons in baseball and by retiring will leave at least $6M on the table. In the Bamberger story, Wagner's stated reasons for walking away have to do with spending time with his family. As he puts it "Sarah's been raising our kids and running the house alone for a lot of years now, it's time for me to step in."

This piece struck me as interesting writing on an interesting guy, but in doing a search for the story on the CNNSI Vault, I came across a Bamberger piece from September 1999 that reached a different level of the aforementioned profundity. Titled "Astro Physics", it's subtitle gets at the content within...

"To understand how Houston closer Billy Wagner can throw a baseball 100 mph, you've got to examine the dynamics of his rural upbringing."

Really compelling writing about someone who has been through things in life that few have experienced. Him retiring perhaps before he needs to (i.e. is forced out of the game due to production on the field) doesn't seem as important or foolish when you consider Wagner's life story. Perhaps it even leads one to consider the real import of wins or losses on the field.


Two other things of interest from this recent issue of SI were mention of the recently published books "The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption" by Jim Gorant and "Sports Illustrated The Hockey Book."