I have been a subscriber to Sports Illustrated since November 2007, and have read the magazine faithfully since June of that year. In that span, I had saved almost every single issue that came into my possession. In those four years, I accumulated 200 issues of the great magazine, 200 issues that were hidden in every corner of my room. I knew that I needed to get rid of some of the copies at some point, but accomplishing the task always seemed so daunting. 200 issues, over 4 years. Some issues I would clearly want to save, due to historical significance. But what about the ones in between? How long would it take to determine which ones stayed in my room, and which ones hit the recycling bin?
About three hours, I learned today.
Once all 200 issues were piled onto the floor, I immediately set some ground rules as to which issues had to stay with me. Any issue commemorating a World Series, Super Bowl, NBA championship, or college football or basketball championship was safe. Ditto for any issues that featured the Winter and Summer Olympics. Covers displaying any member of the White Sox or Yankees were to be salvaged, as were the issues that displayed the images of Giants’ pitcher Tim Lincecum (my favorite non-White Sox player, and admitted “baseball crush”) or former college basketball star Tyler Hansbrough. After I found those issues and put them aside, then the real work began.
In total, I saved 111 full issues. I put 25 of those aside and designated them as “gems”, and of those 25, I put 7 in plastic Ziplocs, indicating that they were of the utmost value to me. I also ripped out 19 features stories from issues that otherwise weren’t worth saving. While sorting through these stacks of magazines, I really gave myself a refresher of the sports world in the last 4 years. It was wild to read about college coaches that were being hailed as saviors, who are now disgraced due to recruiting violations. It was amusing to read preview issues, and discover that the team the writers picked to win the World Series didn’t even make the playoffs that year. Below are some of the highlights of my tour:
May 23, 2011- What the Tornado Took: One of the things I love about Sports Illustrated is how it tells stories that transcend sports. This issue, whose cover story explored the damage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama after devastating tornadoes, personified that ability. Though the story focused on student athletes competing for the University of Alabama and how their lives were affected, I didn’t feel like I was reading about athletes. I felt like I was reading about victims and survivors, and this story gave me more insight into the devastation than any news report had.
December 10, 2007- Sportsman of the Year: Brett Favre: When this issue was published, former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was beloved by almost every sports fan. This issue gushed about his accomplishments and told countless anecdotes about what a great guy Favre was. Six months after this story ran, Favre retired–and then soon un-retired. The saga that followed made Favre reviled by the same people that once praised him. Two years after this, sick of yet another “un-retirement” episode, SI put four words in the corner of one of its covers: “100% Favre-Free Zone”.
June 8, 2009- Baseball’s Chosen One: I thought this was, and still is, one of the most disgusting covers I have ever seen. Bryce Harper was 16 years old when this cover ran. To give a kid this level of hype at such a young age I felt was outrageous. I keep this as a symbol of state of journalism today. Even respectable publications such as SI can’t help but fall victim to the appeal of sensationalism.
June 14, 2010- John Wooden 1910-2010: Most times, SI runs a headline on its cover, and then adds at least two subheadlines to attract you to other stories within the magazine. While good marketing strategy, I often feel that these subheads take away from the emphasis of the main story. But when former UCLA college basketball coach John Wooden, the greatest college coach of all time, passed away, SI knew to devote the cover entirely to his memory. This lack of distractions shows a great level of respect for one of the greatest men in sports, and I was very impressed by the magazine’s tact here.
Top row, first- December 26, 2006- My first issue: This started it all. It was my first issue, and I liked it. Four years later, I’m stuck with 200 of them in my bedroom.
Top row, second- August 13, 2007- History: Barry Bonds Hits Home Run No. 755: Love him or hate him, this was one of the most historic sports events in my lifetime thus far. I view this issue as an artifact.
Top row, third- March 10, 2008- March Madman: My dad not only made into a baseball fan, he also passed on a sizeable love for college basketball. Former North Carolina player Tyler Hansbrough was my favorite college player, and I was ecstatic to see him get his due in the form of a four-page feature. I read the article so many times the issue began to fall apart and is held together by a paper clip.
Top row, fourth, and bottom row, last- July 7, 2008 and December 27, 2010- The Tim Lincecum issues: I. Love. Tim. Lincecum. So. So. Much. (But not as quite as much as I love Mark Buehrle.)
Bottom row, first- August 25, 2008- The Alltime Olympian Michael Phelps: Like the Barry Bonds issue, I consider this to be an artifact of what was two of the most exciting weeks for me as a sports fan. Just a fantastic cover.
Bottom row, second- August 3, 2009- Perfect: If I could save only one issue, this would be it. As I have mentioned before, Mark Buehrle’s perfect game happened on my birthday, and this issue brings back memories of a thrilling day. What else would you expect from a Girlie Who Loves Buehrle?
It’s weird to say that a magazine has changed your life, but I believe that in some ways, Sports Illustrated has changed mine. With each issue collected, I became more of a sports fan, enveloping myself in the prose of victory and defeat, of joy and loss. Being a sports fan is a large part of my identity, and the wonderful writing of SI‘s reporters taught me more about the topic than simple highlights on TV ever can. Maybe the art of the written word is dying, but to me, the beauty of it is just starting to flourish.
Like my shirt? Just got it in the mail today. Designed it myself, because I needed to proclaim to the world that you are my absolute favorite player in baseball right now. My father mocks me for this. I live 50 miles from Yankee Stadium, so why not Derek Jeter, he asks? Or how about Tim Lincecum, who I have proclaimed to be my future husband? (Timmy does beat you in the looks department, have to admit.) Or if I must pick a White Sock as my favorite, as I reason with him all the time, why not Paul Konerko? Why you, my father asks, why pick a pitcher who right now sits at 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA?
- You play awesome defense.
- You are a workhorse.
- You were a part of the 2005 squad that first introduced me to baseball.
- You threw your perfect game on my birthday.
Okay, that fourth one kinda seals the deal for me. Yes, I love your two gold gloves and four All-Star appearances, and of course I love your shiny World Series ring, but I love that your perfecto was thrown on my birthday. I went to the movies with my friends that afternoon and was supposed to go to dinner with my parents afterwards, but I felt very sick from the blue Icee I drank at the movies and asked my mom to take me home instead. I guess the baseball gods wanted me home. The second I walked in the door, my father immediately announced that you just threw a perfect game, and I ran to the TV and watched the highlights for the rest of the night. I was giddy. I got a guitar and some pretty earrings, but the 27 up, 27 down mark was definitely the best present of all. And then, because you are just that awesome, you had to follow it up by setting the record for most consecutive batters retired, at 45. Okay, so it took you forever after the perfecto to win your next game, but I don’t care.
So let’s see, a perfect game, a no-hitter, a World Series ring, a save in said World Series, two Gold Gloves, four All-Star appearances, 149 wins, a career 3.87 ERA, twice leading the league in innings pitched and games started, a franchise record nine Opening Day starts. You also have weird but crazy awesome distinctions, like you were the first pitcher since 1900 to allow seven runs in the first inning but still win the game, or that you are one of only three active pitchers to win at least ten games in ten consecutive seasons. So what else is there? Oh, yeah, THE PLAY. Of course you know the one that I am referring to. Opening Day 2010…between the legs to Konerko…yeah, that one. There is nothing to say about that one other than that is precisely why I love you so much.
So I guess I could pick a flashier player…one who wins 15+ every season guaranteed or strikes out 200 or has a charismatic trademark. (well, your tarp slides during rain delays was one. I miss those. Dang Kenny Williams.) But no. You, Mark Buehrle, are my number one. Despite your ups and your downs, this girlie loves Buehrle, for better or for worse.
P.S. If you could please get to win No. 150 already though, that’d be nice. The team could use it.
P.P.S. Even though you are my absolute favorite, I am marrying Timothy Leroy Lincecum. He is my favorite non-White Sock, and it’s been decided. Sorry about that. He has nicer hair. But you’re married already anyway. Hope you don’t mind.
Of my fantasy baseball draft, that is. This year, our league finally decided to do a live draft, which is nice, since we got to control who we got instead of Yahoo! randomly picking players for you. (Last year, Yahoo! selected Miguel Olivo as my starting catcher. He was not even starting on his own team.)
The Roster of The Ozzies (Quite the team name, I know)
I’m pretty pleased. My bench is a bit weak, but I absolutely love my pitching staff. And of course, the White Sox are well represented, with Pierre, Thornton, and Danks making my roster. I wanted to get Gordon Beckham with my last pick, but my friend snatched him up with the pick before me. Oh well.
So of course, the start of fantasy baseball season signals the start of REAL. LIVE. BASEBALL. I am so excited I could honestly start jumping up and down right now. All in all, this weekend seems like it will be very exciting, sports-wise. Prime-time on Thursday, the Giants will take on the Dodgers, and my favorite non-White Sox player, Tim Lincecum will take the mound. Then Friday is Opening Day for the ChiSox, and while I will not be able to watch it live, just knowing that real baseball is taking place thrills me. Lastly, on Saturday, the NCAA tournament will continue with the Final Four games, and I love the Final Four almost as much as I love the World Series. I have notified all my friends that they cannot contact me from 6-11 on Saturday night, when I will watch the battle of the underdogs, VCU and Butler, and then cheer on my homestate UConn Huskies. Don’t get too many sports weekends better than this.
Oh yeah, this is my 20th entry! I know my entries have come only about once a week lately, but please keep reading. I appreciate all of your comments and am so happy to have made it to this milestone 🙂