There's been two pieces of great sports writing I've come across lately that also brought to mind solid work from years past.
Story I've thought about the most was "Mourning Glory" for the October 22 issue of Sports Illustrated. Written by Chris Ballard, it's on a Maryland high school baseball coach, team and how they responded to tragedy. There's also a remarkable connection to Nick Adenhart who died three years ago after pitching his first start of the year for the Los Angeles Angels. This connection for me helped give the story an appropriate balance between inspiration and devestating loss and I found myself wondering whether Ballard had in mind these things while writing. Regardless of what he thought about during the process, the piece he finished with was just excellent.
The topic is of course completely different, but an additional Ballard story I've read recently was his 2008 SI feature “The Birds”, a tremendously entertaining “fear & loathing-like” look at homing pigeon racing in Las Vegas.
Another recent piece of writing that stood out as outstanding was “Bonded by failure, Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum give Giants right stuff in Game 1 of World Series.” Written by Jeff Passan for Yahoo Sports, it’s great stuff on the two pitchers.
Zito is one of my favorite athletes and his recent success (after thus far not meeting the expectations of his contract) has brought up mention on the World Wide Super Tubes of a 2002 Zito profile “He Came from Outer Space”, Chris Jones’ first published work in Esquire.