- In SI's latest weekly newsletter, we reflect on a silver lining of October and look back on the legacy of legendary NFL writer Paul Zimmerman.
The lasting image of the 2018 postseason may be of the bullpen door swinging open or a ball landing in the stands. Maybe it’s the Brewers’ Wade Miley as he heads to the dugout after facing one batter to start the game, or the Astros’ Alex Bregman working yet another walk. All of those moments portend a future dominated by relief pitching and home-run hitters, one that has already begun. But there was another frame from October that warrants recall: the moment Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig realized his line drive off Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez was going to clear the wall during Game 4 of the World Series.
The still from the Fox broadcast is like a painting. The fans in the background are just beginning to understand, except for former Entertainment Tonight host and longtime L.A. fan Mary Hart, on the right, who is already deep into her celebration. Umpire Chad Fairchild has removed his mask and is tracking the ball’s flight. Catcher Christian Vázquez is lifting his hand to his head. Puig is watching it go, arms raised, already victorious. And on the mound, Rodríguez is in the process of slamming his glove into the ground.
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“They said rules are rules,” Ken Griffey Jr. narrated in this year’s postseason ad. He lists the ways people told him not to show joy over his 22-year, Hall of Fame career, then adds, “No more talk. Let the kids play.”
We ask players to devote their whole lives to baseball, to skip the births of their children and the weddings of their siblings, to play hurt, to take less money to stay with the teams that drafted them. And then when they show how much the game means to them, we tell them to act like they’ve been there before? No. Please, never act like you’ve been there before.
Our lives are filled with cynicism. What a gift, that we get to watch people care unselfconsciously about something. These are sports. When Bregman posted a video on Instagram of the Astros going back-to-back-to-back off the Red Sox’ Nate Eovaldi, captioning it with “lil pregame video work,” that was great entertainment. And when Eovaldi later struck out Bregman, and Boston lefty David Price screamed, “Post that!”—well, that was even better.
The Red Sox took home the World Series trophy. But if, along with the parade of relievers and the miles of home runs, we got a preview of a future in which players publicly celebrate their triumphs and mourn their defeats, then baseball fans were the real winners this October.
• An epic loss, a rookie manager and a season for the ages: How the Red Sox claimed their fourth World Series title in 15 years. (By Tom Verducci)
• Now “everybody looks stupid,” says one Maryland insider. Our breakdown of DJ Durkin’s sudden firing. (By Ross Dellenger)
• The third episode of Fall of a Titan: The Steve McNair Story is out. Give a listen to our serialized SI True Crime podcast here.
• Headlined by Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, this is one of baseball's deepest free-agent classes in a long time. We ranked the top 50 players. (By Ben Reiter)
• Will Grier's wife and young daughter have become his guides through a college journey that has not always been as smooth as it is now at West Virginia. Check out the SI TV feature, too. (By Andy Staples)
• From Kansas all the way down to Delaware State, we ranked all 353 teams in college basketball for 2018–19. (By Molly Geary and Eric Single)
From the Vault: Remembering Dr. Z
All of us at SI are saddened by the passing of legendary football writer Paul Zimmerman (also known to readers as Dr. Z). He'll forever be a titan among NFL scribes, covering the game through an analytical lens that proved to be years ahead of its time. He's pictured above on the left, tugging a jersey with another former SI football guru, Peter King. The duo participated in a photoshoot with SI's Heinz Kluetmeier in February 1997 as they each drafted their own expansion team. They, of course, wrote about their drafts and published their picks.
Best of the Rest
Editor's note: To honor the late Dr. Z, below are some of his best stories in addition to SI's remembrances.
• The Long Way Up: Howie Long Departed Boston’s Streets for NFL Stardom (from the July 22, 1985 issue)
• A Rose by Any Other Name: Steelers Linebacker Jack Lambert Is Not Known As a Sweetie, but He Sure Knows the Sweet Smell of Success (from the July 30, 1984 issue)
• Joe Cool: The 49ers’ Joe Montana Knocked the Bengals Cold With a Spectacular Late Rally in the Super Bowl (from the January 30, 1989 issue)
• Appreciating Dr. Z's ultimate legacy through the pages of his book, The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football (By Andy Benoit)
• How Dr. Z understood the internet better than anyone and how he truly loved football (By Jimmy Traina)
• Find a lengthier list of Dr. Z's best work here
Editor's note: What kind of stories and content would you like to see in the Weekend Read? Let's chat at SIWeekendRead@gmail.com.