Saturday, November 19, 2016

How Much Should We Appreciate Roger Angell?

In the barrage of Cubs stories after their historic World Series win -- covering everything from the 108-year-old who died soon after the Game 7 victory to absurd parade crowd estimates -- the source of my favorite article was unsurprising. Ninety-six-year-old Roger Angell's story "At Last" should be recopied onto beautiful parchment paper in the style of medieval scribes as a way for future sports fans to learn about one of the greatest games in baseball history.

Just as former Cub Moises Alou* came from a long line of big leaguers, Angell was born into a writing family. His mother was a New Yorker editor and writer from 1925-60, and his stepfather was the famous author E.B. White. Like Alou, Angell surely owes some of his success to his genes but most of it to tremendous work ethic and decades of experience.

*Insert Steve Bartman joke here.

Regardless of how hard I worked, I'm sure I could never replicate even 1/1,000th of Angell's performance in print. However, that doesn't stop me from appreciating the crap out of the legendary writer's annual World Series wrap. Here, then, are the 10 best things about that story:

Monday, November 7, 2016

How Do You Lose a Writing Contest? (I Just Learned How)

A few days ago, The Writing Cooperative published a story I sent them about writing in my classroom. Sure, the article was an entry in a contest that someone else won, but still. As Michelangelo would say, I've gotta keep practicing. Anyways, thanks to those guys for publishing my work!

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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet

Monday, October 24, 2016

How Cute Are These Aspects of Baseball?

During my men's softball game last week, I had an interesting conversation with a spectator that led me to think about the lovely nuances of baseball. A lady who was watching (one of our opponents' WAGs, no doubt) asked why someone on our team got his glove brought to him each inning. I explained that it's a courtesy players provide for a teammate who's been left on base or made the last out. It's a very standard custom on the diamond, for sure. "Oh, that's really cute," she said to me and her friend.

Which ... I guess it is kind of cute. I wouldn't normally use that term refer to anything done by tubby middle-age softball players. But, yeah ... bringing a glove to a teammate is kind of cute.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

How Does My Classroom Look?

Oh, hey. Sorry I've been scarce, but it's been tough to write since we've only been getting one or two Jewish holidays off each week.

The new school year is already hitting Month 2. If you're at all interested in public education, urban education, or how you could use basketball sneakers to teach kids, you can check out a video of my classroom here:

Ugh, it's horrible hearing yourself talk, isn't it?

If you want to subscribe to How Blank, just type in your email address on the right side of the page. You'll get a notification every time we post new content.

Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet

Thursday, September 29, 2016

How Idiotic Is This Football-Crazed Zealot?

In the September 19 issue of Sports Illustrated, Kalyn Kahler wrote an interesting story about increased youth participation in flag football. Toward the end of the story, Kahler reached a member of the knuckle-dragger community for comment:

Stephen Piercy, a Fort Mill tackle coach who recently joined the program, said he isn't concerned about the safety because of the many precautions in place. "Football is as safe a sport as I believe there is," Piercy said.

Monday, August 29, 2016

How Can We Determine the Yankees' MVP?

'Tis the season for the MVP arguments to begin. Should a closer really be considered for the MVP? Can someone other than Francisco Lindor be considered the MVP of the Indians? Is Mike Trout really gonna get shafted again, by voters and even his own manager? September always provides plenty of fodder for such discussions.

The smell of the MVP aroma in the late-summer air got me thinking about who has been the most valuable Yankee this season. It's tempting to call Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman the team MVP because of the substantial trade hauls both guys brought back. After all, it was extremely valuable how both players helped situate the team for sustained contention over the next decade. Either of those guys would be a terrific choice if the Yanks had pulled a Flashman and completely surrendered after their busy trade deadline. But the team has gone 15-10 in August and still has an outside shot at playoff contention. So let's give the MVP to someone who's helped keep the squad watchable deep into the season.

So who has been the most valuable Yankee this season? You can look at it from a few different angles:

Friday, August 19, 2016

How Boring Were These Olympic Events?

These Olympics, like all the ones before it, have boasted their share of awe-inspiring displays of athleticism, the burnishing of legacies, wild photo finishes, and heartwarming moments that might make even the most ruthless competitor tear up a bit. In Rio, all of that great stuff happened despite widespread corruption and protest, a messy "armed robbery" case, an embarrassing sex "scandal", and much else to make cynics roll their eyes at the very idea of the "Olympic spirit."

You know what else has been mixed in with all that goodness and badness? A healthy dose of dullness.