Monday, February 06, 2012

Excellent Sports Writing - from Reilly, Wetzel, Lake, Segura, Phillips & Wertheim

Have seen a host of interesting pieces of sports writing lately from a few different sources.

The recent Feb 6, 2012 issue of Sports Illustrated had two of them in Game, Set, Matchless by Jon Wertheim and Under Siege by Thomas Lake and Melissa Segura.

The Wertheim story was on the just under six hours epic Australian Open Final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Solid writing on a domination of men's tennis with Wertheim noting that 24 of the last 28 Grand Slam semifinal spots have been claimed by one of Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray (with the four in that order as of late). Its a pretty remarkable level of competition right now and brings to mind Wertheim's chronicling of what at the time was more just a Federer-Nadal rivalry in his 2009 book Strokes of Genius.

On the same just completed Australian Open Final, Brian Phillips penned the exceedingly well written Nadal vs. Djokovic: Here We Are Again, My Friend for Grantland. Piece covers the same four-headed domination of the men's tour, but differs from that by Wertheim in that Phillips gets further into Nadal and his drive, brilliant play... and still coming up short. Definitely writing on athletic struggle that traffics in the profound.

The Lake and Segura story in this same issue of Sport Illustrated was on the three months ago kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in his native Venezuela. Lake's writing carries an air of thorough reporting and this piece no exception as he and Segura delve into the particulars of the case and what may or may not have been the reality of his capture by Venezuelan government agents.

Another Jon Wertheim piece that stood out recently was Driving for Home from the Jan 23 issue of SI. About Delaware college hoops star Elena Della Donne, it brings to mind the 2009 Selena Roberts commentary "Burning To Play Again" on the at Deleware, but not yet returned to the game of basketball Della Donne.

Finally, two excellent pieces recently on New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Shortly after his Super Bowl loss to the Giants, Dan Wetzel wrote Tom Brady in postgame daze of disappointment for Yahoo Sports and Rick Reilly did Tom Brady is as advertised for ESPN. Wetzel's story takes a more conventionally reporting approach than Reilly's (makes sense as Reilly tends towards commentary with his writing) and each shows Brady as someone who has both stayed a good guy and continued to try really really hard despite being at the top of his profession.