North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Posts Tagged ‘The Good Point

Breaking Down 100 Good Points

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I don’t know if there’s any writing more disposable than sportswriting. Maybe grocery lists. Certainly posts like this. The best sportswriting is timeless: nobody’s ever going to forget about Pat Jordan, Red Smith or WC Heinz, let alone pieces like Norman Mailer’s report in the Ali/Frazier fight. But mostly, it’s uneventful stuff. “Then the Habs scored two quick ones, bang, bang, and it was 3-2 for the good guys,” that kind of thing. Most sportswriting is on deadline and is dated by the next day. It’s not meant to be read a week later.

That said, what I do is less reporting and more blogging. My title’s Contributor and I almost never get press credentials, although I don’t apply for many to begin with. And I’ve been lucky enough to bang out words on a weekly (and more usually, biweekly) basis for The Good Point, so there’s a little more latitude when it comes to writing. So instead of covering things, I usually write about whatever’s been happening in the world of sports and react to them. On a bad day, I’m not any more interesting than a hack columnist on some small town newspaper, offering uninteresting and instantly dated opinions (see: this column about the NHL coming to Markham). I feel for editor and general behind the scenes wizard Rob Boudreau, who deals with me every two weeks. He’s probably my most regular reader.

But on a good day, I’d like to think I’m able to shine a little light into some of the more offbeat corners of sports. Over the four years I’ve been writing at The Good Point, I’ve covered a huge range of topics, including some I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone else write about; I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of wider interests than the average sports-scribbler or on my complete inability to function as a journalist.

I recently filed my 100th post for The Good Point. I have no idea how I got to this number, I never thought I’d be there for a full year (then again, I always thought I’d be a beat writer of some sort by now). What follows is a few links to some of my favourite posts and a few words on each.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by M.

July 23, 2013 at 10:00 am

Elsewheres: Neil Young, David Stern and more

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Things have been a little busy, which is why this blog hasn’t addressed things like:

  • The Winter Classic being cancelled
  • The Kyle Lowry Show
  • The Argos making the playoffs
  • The last game at Ivor Wynne Stadium

So until I get around to those, hopefully sooner rather than later, here’s some links to what’s been keeping me busy.

The Good Point – Stern: Driving the Boat No Longer

When I think about Stern, I think about him at the draft last June and how a rowdy crowd booed him constantly. Is he the most unlikeable commissioner in sports? He’s certainly more popular than Gary Bettman. And he’s actually more than a little likable; when he was booed, he held his hand up to his ear, feeding off it like the heel in a pro wrestling show.

What will his legacy be? That’s a tough, large and ill-defined question. Instead we should look at what he’s done: he was in charge just as the league started to blossom in popularity, brought in changes that helped make the sport more fun for the casual fan and been there as the NBA became a global league.


Flashfact: Time Fades Away, Neil Young’s Lost Album

Think back to 1972 for a second: Young had just scored a number one hit with Heart of Gold. When people went out to see Young, they were expecting something like that. They got something else entirely instead: a hard rocking band, with Young screeching on a Flying V which barely stayed in tune. They didn’t get the gentle country from Harvest, they didn’t even get the jamming rock of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. They got something else entirely: loud, dissonant  downright punkish country-rock. And goddamn, is it good.


Flashfact: More Than Just A Funny Guy: Frank Zappa and the Mothers – Roxy and Elsewhere

(P)resent, though, was the emotional center of this band: Napoleon Murphy Brock and George Duke. Brock played sax, Duke played keyboards and they both spent a lot of time at the mic, goofing off and jamming. When Zappa fans say this was their favorite band, they usually mean these two: Duke’s funky keyboards gave Zappa’s band a sound it’d never had before (or ever would again, really) while Brock’s sense of humor and personality shine through, even decades later. He’d never quite get this same chemistry on stage again. This was a funny band but it could play its pants off too. To paraphrase band percussionist Ruth Underwood, Zappa thought this band could conquer the world.

The Good Point: A review of John McPhee’s Levels of the Game

On the surface, “Levels of the Game” is a compact, powerful profile of two tennis players: Clark Graebner, a conservative white player from Ohio, and Arthur Ashe, a liberal black man from the south. Their styles of play reflect their personalities. Graebner plays the odds, a grinding, powerful style of tennis, heavy on driving the ball past the opponent. But Ashe plays risker, gambling on big shots and hits with a powerful backhand. On a deeper level, these two are the faces of America as the 1960s ended and the sporting culture began to shift.


Plus, I’ve been contributing to a few other places and done a few smaller features for Flashfact and The Ogopogan, including a movie review, a story about the rejected BCE/Astral Media merger and some stuff on Quebec politics. For full updates, keep an eye on my twitter account!

Written by M.

November 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm

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Elsewhere: Dream Team, Nordic Pop and the Montreal Expos

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Things are getting pretty ugly with the Jays, so look for a post on that forthwith. But until you do, here’s a few links to some of my stuff that’s appeared elsewhere.

Earlier today, the Toronto Review of Books ran my review of Jack McCallum’s history of the 1992 Olympics, Dream Team. From my essay:

And when McCallum covers familiar ground, like Bird reluctantly accepting a role on the team or Jordan covering up a Reebok logo with a flag during the medal ceremony, he sheds new light on these stories with his access. Everybody involved, including McCallum himself (who covered this team for Sports Illustrated), remembers everything clearly, from on-court play to playing off of it, in all-night high-stakes card games at the hotel. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look.

Click here to read the whole thing!

Meanwhile, over at Flashfact, my latest music column takes a look at several Scandinavian indie acts I like and you might like, too. Click here to check it out and listen to some nice tunes, too!

Finally, The Good Point ran a piece of mine on Monday, where I look at the surging and playoff-bound Washington Nationals and wonder what connection they still have to the Montreal Expos. Can a finally successful team be the spiritual successor to the longtime loser? And is that a legacy they want?

This is the year the Nationals are putting it all together: Strasberg will finish with a 15-6 record, a 3.16 ERA and a 2.6 WAR. Now starting at first base, Adam LaRoche is hitting with an .842 OPS and Ian Desmond’s OPS is .846. As a team, the Nationals are second in the NL in home runs (172), fourth in OPS (.749) and first in ERA (3.28). Their wins total tops both leagues and gives them a comfortable division lead. As the season winds down, the Nationals might be the best team in baseball.

As they get set for the postseason, is it worth it to keep thinking back to what could have been in Olympic Stadium?

Click here to read the whole thing.

Written by M.

September 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm

The Good Point: Glory Days: Kobe, Jordan, Marv and The NBA on NBC

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I was watching some older NBA stuff the other day when I realized it’s been 10 full seasons now since the NBA ended it’s run on NBC. It’s kind of a strange period: everybody looks back fondly at the NBA on NBC while barely caring about any other old broadcast: who pines for the days when Brent Musburger called games on CBS or for Chris Schenkel’s bowling stuff? Probably has something to do with a certain couple personalities.

From my essay:

There were many things to love about the NBA on NBC: the Jordan Dynasty with his six titles; the Kobe and Shaq Lakers winning multiple championships; the iconic theme song. But another was how wide-ranging its broadcasts seemed: I remember when the Raptors played on a national game. And I remember when they aired two, sometimes three games on single day.

Click here to read the whole thing!

Written by M.

August 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm