Jeff Pearlman

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The Pack

So earlier today I spoke with Pat Scanlon’s class at Manhattanville College. Pat is the Valiants’ men’s basketball coach, and he has a very relaxed, chill approach to teaching. Which makes for a wonderful 45 minutes.

I digress.

During my talk, a student asked whether, come playoff time, I miss being a Sports Illustrated baseball writer.

I’ve never answered a question with a quicker reply: “No.”

Back in the day, I loved Tigers-Twins in July. I loved sitting down with Jim Edmonds and Gary Sheffield and J.D. Drew and talking about their lives; the hopes; their goals; their careers. I loved picking the brains of managers (or, in the case of Jim Fregosi, lack thereof) . I loved sitting back and hearing certain guys just ramble on—Dusty Baker and Sean Casey and Joe Torre and Bobby Valentine and Banny Agbayani and Barry Zito and Brian Johnson and Torii Hunter and on and on. I loved walked in the field, leaning against the cage and observing BP. I love the press box banter with my fellow scribes.

I mean, I really, really loved that stuff.

But I detested the playoffs.

The swarm, the cliches the TV boobs, the occasional Mike Lupica sighting, the Chris Berman strut, the 10-deep crowd around Derek Jeter as he discussed the intricacies of his ankle sprain. It was just … too much. Too big. Too packed. Too repetitive. As I told today’s class, I’d always take two hours by a pond with Walter Payton’s old agent over five minutes of playoff post-game.

I assure you, Bryce Harper will be asked, oh, 576 times how the pressure will impact him. Jeter will be asked how he’s help back Father Time. Chipper Jones will be asked about retiring on top and Mike Rizzo will be asked repeatedly about Stephen S.

Meanwhile, in the background, all alone by his locker, there’ll be some backup catcher anxious to spill the beans.

He’ll receive nary a question.

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