When a reader picks up a book about his favorite team or player, what he or she is looking for -- more than anything -- are stories. Wacky, wild, crazy, funny, bizarre, embarrassing, heartwarming stories. I have written biographies of two of SI.com's most hated teams of all time, and the reason both wound up on the
When did I know the 1986 New York Mets were perfectly suited for what would become
When did I know the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s (the '92 team made SI.com's list) offered enough debauchery to make
That the Mets and Cowboys were loathed is a testament to those stories and -- more precisely -- to the way they swaggered through seasons with unbridled cockiness and a screw-the-world mantra. It made researching both projects an absolute joy, in that I never knew what sort of insanity loomed.
With the Mets, there was
As a writer, my ally was the calendar. Had I written either book 10 years earlier, the players and coaches would almost certainly have been reluctant to share. The material was too raw, and in many cases, too hurtful. But with the passing of time and the widening of guts and the mellowing of outlooks, the members of the Mets and Cowboys started to view the old days not so much as guarded secrets, but as warm memories from the Pi Lambda Phi house. It seemed to do them well to talk, an odd sort of therapy that relieved any guilt from long-ago transgressions.
"I was young," Irvin said at his Hall of Fame induction. "Youth isn't always perfect."
Perhaps not. But in the world of sports books, youth is golden. It equals immaturity, recklessness, poor decision-making and outlandish acts. The young act on impulse, and rarely worry about what others will think. When
Hell, youth is my best friend.