Jeff Pearlman

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New study: Why our 45th president will be Donald Trump

Vote wisely? We can't even pee straight.

Vote wisely? We can’t even pee straight.

I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about this for the past month, ever since Donald Trump won the presidential election. I’ve been thinking about all the reasons that have been presented for his victory: An angry middle class. Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. White power. Trump resonating with people. Campaign demographics. Voter fraud.

On.

And on.

And on.

But none of them, I’ve concluded, are correct. You want to know—really, truly, genuinely know—why Donald J. Trump will soon become the 45th president of the United States? Are you sure you want to know? Like, really sure? Because it’s an ugly truth, and none of the networks or respected media outlets will say as much (for fear of losing huge swaths of people).

OK, here you go: The reason Donald J Trump won is because we, as a people, are stupid.

It’s true. It genuinely is. Donald Trump suckered nearly 50 percent of us into believing things that made no sense whatsoever. The wall. Mexico paying for the wall. Hillary in prison. Destroying all of Obamacare. On and on and on. He was going to make America great again, without ever explaining: A. How; B. Why America is no longer great.

It was illogical; impossible; ludicrous—and now, Trump has pretty much admitted that much of what he promised will never actually happen.

So why did we nod and cheer and scream? Because, again, we lack intelligence. Or, put different, we want to believe that which sounds appealing. It explains telemarketers, pyramid schemes, time shares, hair-replenishing tonic, lottery tickets, casinos. It explains faith healers, psychics, unqualified-yet-busy financial advisers, Division I recruiters and boosters. We are a hopeful people; oftentimes more enthused and swayed by hope than reason. So when a man arrives, and he blames all our problems on the Muslims and the Mexicans and the liberals, and says he can fix it all (“I’ve got a big brain!”), we tend to listen, nod, drool, accept, engage.

That, truly, is why Donald Trump won.

Not because he’s brilliant.

Because we’re idiots.

Can you believe if you don’t believe?

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A few moments ago I was skimming through Facebook posts when I came upon a friend who wrote of faith. There was a bit of a back and forth with different people, then this comment from someone I don’t know …

Anyone of true Christian faith believes homosexuality is a sin. That being said, a true Christian will not judge those people and will love them unconditionally as they love anyone else

I’ve thought about this quite a bit. Not, specifically, homosexuality, but the idea that, to be of a certain faith, you must hold on to certain specific beliefs. It made me think of boyhood, when one of my grandparents would explain that, “Being Jewish means we believe …” followed by a list of certain things we, as a people, hold as truth.

But here’s the flaw—and it’s a biggie: A people, as a group, can’t possibly all believe the same things. Because there’s a very clear and specific difference between hearing and believing. For example, when I was a kid I probably heard the burning bush story 100 times. It was presented as fact—there was this bush, God set it aflame, everyone then knew He was real. Only, well, I don’t believe the story. Didn’t believe it then, don’t believe it now. And while I was told to believe it, and admonished to believe it, and urged to believe it—I never believed it. Why? Two reasons: A. It just seemed insanely improbable; B. I can’t believe what I don’t believe.

That’s actually the big point—you can’t believe what you don’t believe. So if you’re Christian, for example, and you attend chapel weekly and listen to the preach and love God with all your heart … but you just don’t think homosexuality is a sin; well, does that mean you’re a non-Christian? A failed Christian? Because you don’t believe? Are you expected to lie and say you believe? Just go along with the masses—many of whom are probably going along with the masses?

If I tell you the sky is purple, and you see it’s blue, I can’t convince you to believe it’s purple. If I tell you your favorite athlete is LeBron James, but it’s actually Carmelo Anthony, I can’t convince you it’s LeBron James. Even if I threaten you. Even if I promise you tons of money. You can lie, fib, whatever. But beliefs are, generally, non-negotiable. They’re stubborn, like cement and my aunt.

So, really, don’t feel bad if you don’t believe what you’re told you need to believe. It’s a flawed system, perpetrated by people who want to sway your leanings and enter your wallet (and, sometimes, pants).

The sky isn’t purple. It’s blue.

And quite lovely.

I accept your apology

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Dear Trump Voter:

I accept your apology.

Whether you’re apologizing tonight, or next week, or next month, or even a year from now—I accept your apology, and appreciate the sincerity of your words.

You bought Trump’s miracle hair growth formula, because—much like those of us who visit faith healers and lose-20-pounds-per-hour diet clinics—you wanted to believe. You loved what he was saying. Big wall. Mexico will pay. Jail Hillary. Jobs for everyone. Punish China. Make America great again. And, truly, you’re not alone. The man convinced the majority a whole lot of American voters that he had the answers. Just as he once convinced USFL owners and Trump University students and Atlantic City casino investors that he had the answers. It’s what con men do. They con, and you fall for it.

So, again, it’s all good. I actually feel for you, because acknowledging a mistake of this magnitude isn’t easy. But when you read the actual details of the Carrier deal, you knew. Or when you saw him bungle communications with Taiwan, you knew. Or when you saw him compliment the Filipino leader’s efforts to wipe out drug abuse by murdering users, you knew. Or when you caught some of his late-night Tweets, you knew. Or when you saw him hire am avowed anti-Semite, you knew. Or when you heard him praise Obamacare, you knew.

You knew.

Whatever the case—at some point you realized that, as much as you dislike Hillary Clinton, at least she’s not an insane person. And right now, thanks in small part to your excitement over a fraud, we are led by, well, a fraud. An insane fraud. Who doesn’t understand geopolitics, and probably couldn’t name for you the capital of South Dakota or the British prime minister.

So, hey, we’re all good. And if America exists the next time we meet, I’ll buy you a beer.

Best,

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Jeff Pearlman

Anyone wanna talk about my book!?!?!? Anyone …

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I’m no supposed to admit this, because it’s as cool as tube socks, but there’s a bit of a hard adjustment when one goes from promoting a book to not promoting a book.

For two months, all I did was talk about Brett Favre. On TV. On radio. On the Interweb. During signings. I was hot shit—packed houses in Wisconsin, appearances on big shows. I told the same stories over and over and over and over again, and people laughed when they laughed and nodded when they nodded and followed up when they followed up. Was it tiring? Yes. Repetitive? Yes. Did I start to dread the day’s 23rd radio interview? Yes. Did I say, repeatedly, “I can’t wait for this to be over”? Yes.

Well, now it’s over. And I sorta miss it.

The problem with new products is they become old products. In fact, a new product is only new for a brief period of time, and then it’s forever old. Books have replaced mine, and books will replace books. It’s all a part of the process.

But now that I’m mostly done talking Brett Favre and Gunslinger, I sorta wanna talk Brett Favre and Gunslinger.

This happens every time. Sigh.

The 10 sports book you need to read

Pat Jordan: Don't fuck with him—just read his book.

Pat Jordan: Don’t fuck with him—just read his book.

When you write sports books, you read sports books.

Actually, scratch that.

When you write sports books, you likely grew up reading sports books. I certainly did. They were staples of my boyhood; so much so that the people at the Mahopac Library would call me and say, “We’ve got [X book] in. Come down and we’ll hold it for you.” Hell, I’m 44 and I still head immediately to the sports book section when I enter a Barnes & Noble.

Anyhow, enough babbling. Top of my head, here are 10 sports books you need to read:

“A False Spring” by Pat Jordan: Simply beautiful, haunting, funny look at Jordan’s time as a minor league ballplayer. Prose+sports=true love.

“The Last Hero” by Howard Bryant: Best Hank Aaron biography ever written—and there have been many. I’ve said for years that Howard is the business’ most underrated writer. This is the man at his best.

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Bryant

“Gunslinger” by Jeff Pe—Seriously, what kind of egomaniacal asshole would I have to be to include my own crap on the list. Just kidding—carry on …

“When Pride Still Mattered” by David Maraniss: His Vince Lombardi bio is the absolute gold standard for sports biography. A big, beautiful book from the king of the game.

“Namath,” by Mark Kriegel: I’ve never met a person who A. Doesn’t like Mark; B. Doesn’t like his books. Braodway Joe didn’t participate, but Kriegel made that matter nary an iota.

“Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life” by Richard Ben Cramer: In the aftermath of the release of “Sweetness,” when everyone in Chicago took a shit on my motives (“How dare you write about someone this way after he’s gone!”), I often found myself reading through Cramer’s master class. Honest, rough, harsh, brilliant.

“Loose Balls” by Terry Pluto: I’m usually not a big oral history guy, but Pluto nailed this. A fun, funny, insightful look at the ABA. Just gold.

“Luckiest Man” by Jonathan Eig: I started this Lou Gehrig bio because Eig and I share an agent (I didn’t know him well at the time), but was forever unable to put it down. The perfect marriage of reporting and writing.

Eig

Eig

“Heaven is a Playground” by Rick Telander: Rick is one of Chicago’s all-time fantastics, but for this one he came to New York and immersed himself in 1970s pickup hoops. As raw and gritty as sports journalism gets.

“The Bronx Zoo” by Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock: I have nephews who tell me certain movies are funny. I see them, they’re painfully unfunny. That’s because tastes change from 10 to 40. Well, I first read this when I was 10. Still love it. Just the perfect inside-the-clubhouse baseball diary from a guy who sits naked on birthday cakes.

“Dream Team” by Jack McCallum: I’ve known Jack a long time, and he’s always had this thing. It’s like a twinkle in his eye, and people respond to it. This book is an ode to writing and reporting, sure. But really it’s an ode to a reporter (Jack) who built very real and human relations with members of the ’92 Dream Team.

McCallum

McCallum

LePoop James and Lady PooPa

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The Game is in.

Picked the son up from school today, and together we devised a can’t-miss get-rich-quick scheme.

OK, first, you ask celebrities to poop into a company-supplied box, not the toilet.

Second, the celebrities return the poop-in-a-box, pre-paid postage, to your headquarters.

Third, our company molds the poop into the shape of the celebrity. For example, LeBron James poop looks like LeBron. Lady Gaga poop looks like Gaga.

Fourth, we seal the poop figurine in a translucent, weather-resistant casing.

Fifth, we give the celebrity poops funny name. LePoop James. Lady Poopa. Mike’s Trout Poop. SePoopa Gomez. Eli Man’sPooping. Arianna GrandPoop. The Game (of Poop).

Sixth, we attach a key chain.

Seven, it rains money.

Who’s with us?

Six Shooter and the next big thing

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The photo you’re looking at dates back 20 years. It’s Six Shooter—a band you most certainly have never heard of.

Back in 1996, when I was covering music for The Tennessean, I was asked to profile Six Shooter, a six-person country band made up of Nashville-based kids between the ages of 14 and 18. They were supposed to be (everyone say it together) the next big thing …  only the next big thing never became next or big or a thing. In the article, I quoted Brian Zonn, the bass player, saying the new album is, “stone cold country. It’s all country music.” Which is a pretty awful quote. Six Shooter was a country group. Were the album “stone cold gangsta rap”—well, we’d be on to something.

I digress.

In this business of chronicling life, there’s always a next big thing that never emerges. Ryan Leaf was the next big thing. Ruben Studdard was the next big thing. Mushroom quiche was the next big thing. Gretchen Mol was the next big thing. In fact, even when next big things become next big things, they’re not really big things. That’s because, come day’s end, we’re just pieces of flesh and bone and blood and nail held together by some weird cosmic staple. Yesterday’s Robert Redford is today’s Denzel Washington is tomorrow’s Michael B. Jordan. We live and we die and we sing and we dance and … well, we’re ultimately limited by the bounds of humanity. We can’t levitate or turn lasagna into ice cream with a snap of the fingers.

The next big thing, ultimately, is the same old thing in a new package.

Done rambling.

Vanilla with the nine …

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Son was bored last night. I suggested we dig through some old boxes. He wasn’t feeling it.

Then we came upon the above photograph.

I actually remember when and where it was taken, as well as the who.

When: Nashville, 1996. I was covering a high school soccer game for The Tennessean.

Where: Some field in suburbia.

Who: George Walker, Tennessean photographer.

My son reacted well. Eh, actually, “well” might be the wrong word. Were he 22, and not 10, he’d have said, “Holy shit, Vanilla Ice, where are the Ninja Turtles?” But instead he simply laughed and laughed and laughed. Which made me laugh and laugh and laugh. The glasses were enormous, the hat dreadful, the shirt almost certainly a $7 Marshall’s purchase. But the worst part is that I 100-percent thought I looked awesome.

That’s the oddity of youth, isn’t it? I probably saw George aiming his camera my way, and gazed downward to give off that contemplative, thoughtful vibe that Donald Trump will spend the next four years trying to perfect.

Alas, I was merely a punk kid with discount clothes and no clue.

One day, my son will be there.

He’ll understand.

I Was There! (a book excerpt from Eric Mirlis)

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In “I Was There!”, I interviewed 65 sports broadcasters and writers about the Top 5 moments they have seen in person. It was a great experience, and I was lucky enough to hear some of the great storytellers in sports share their personal experiences from each event. While it was predictable that people like Bob Costas, Joe Buck, Jim Nantz, Bob Ryan and others were going to talk about marquee events that everyone knows, the coolest part of the process was hearing stories that were off the beaten path.

There are two in particular that really stood out to me and that put a slightly different spin on things. In both cases, they are events most sports fans know, although people are only familiar with one of them through a fictional account. Here are two excerpts from “I Was There!”—the first from Terry Gannon, the other from Jeremy Schaap.

— E.M.

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Georgia Tech at Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana, November 8, 1975

Rudy Ruettiger is a life-long friend of mine, and our families have been close since I was born. My dad coached him in high school, as well as some of his brothers, who were champion wrestlers. My father had season tickets for Notre Dame football as long as I can remember, and I went to every game starting when I was five years old until the time I left to go to N.C. State.

We were living all of Rudy’s story with him. When he was going to Holy Cross, my dad would give him twenty dollars every weekend so he could try to get into the games, and afterwards, we would go out to dinner, and he would constantly tell us (and anyone else who would listen) about how he was going to play football at Notre Dame. We would always humor him and say “Yeah, yeah,” just thinking it was one of those ideas that Rudy always had. Damned if he didn’t make it happen, of course. I would actually stay with Rudy in what was a little closet at what is now the Joyce Center, but was serving as his dorm room, during football weekends, and he would sneak me out and shoot hoops with me on the arena floor in the middle of the night when the security guard wasn’t watching.

The weekend of the game he played in, I was there in the stands as the student body started chanting his name until Dan Devine eventually put him in the game, and, just like in the movie, where his family was going nuts, that was us, part of his extended family. Yes, he did sack the quarterback on the final play, just as the movie said it happened. If anyone wants to argue that, I would argue with them to the death. I witnessed it.

After the game, I went into the locker room, and Rudy said, “Here, take this with you.” He then handed me a Notre Dame helmet, which I proceeded to take and wear around the neighborhood while playing sandlot football. Years later, it was stored in my mother-in-law’s garage, and she called me to tell me she’d found this helmet that I had forgotten about. She was going to throw it out, but I made sure to stop her, and it is now on the mantel in my office at home. A couple of years ago, I called Rudy and told him about the helmet, so that he knew I still had it, but he told me that he had the helmet from the game and that mine was a different one. To be honest, though, neither of us really knows which the right one is. I’m not sure to this day. All I know is that he has a helmet and I have a helmet, and one of them is the one he wore in the game.

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New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts, October 2, 1978

We all know what happened: Bucky Dent homered to lead the Yankees over the Red Sox in a one-game playoff after trailing by fourteen games in July, earning a profane nickname (at least in the Boston area) in the process. I had just turned nine years old and was a crazy Yankees fan. That was the first season where I really followed the team every day, and it was a special treat to go with my father to Boston for the game. We flew up on the Eastern Airlines shuttle on the day of the game. During the flight, I was sitting next to American League president Lee MacPhail. I was a big baseball fan, but didn’t know who he was at the time. We spent the flight just talking about baseball, which amused my father. At Fenway, I was too young to sit in the press box, and my father had not secured any tickets. So he was asking the players around the batting cage if anyone had any tickets he could use. One of the players wasn’t using his, and that’s how I ended up sitting in Bucky Dent’s seats when he hit his famous home run.

I had never really experienced being in enemy territory, and from where I was sitting up in left field, I couldn’t really tell if the ball was fair or foul. Of course, the Red Sox fans didn’t react to the home run, and since I was accustomed to a Yankee homer being greeted by thunderous applause, I thought it was a foul ball. Then I realized what it was, and went crazy … until I realized that even being nine years old didn’t really protect me from the wrath of the home fans. It was a great moment, and I got to spend it with my father in Bucky Dent’s seats. Whenever I see Bucky, we still talk about it.

“I Was There!” is available on Amazon and in a bookstore near you.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life