The year is 2024. Some swimmer (who's, like, eight years old now) has become America's latest Olympic hero. Five gymnasts (who are five now) brought home another gold for Team USA. Anthony Davis—this year's likely NBA Rookie of the Year—has led America to another basketball gold medal. (Since this is a fantasy, let's say the coach is Allen Iverson.) And there's a young kid from Philadelphia, mid-twenties. He's just a teen right now, but in 2024 he is America's next great distance running hope. On the final day of the Olympics, in the games' signature event, he's going down Broad Street, breaking away from the Kenyans and Ethiopians and surging into the lead. The crowd gets louder as he enters the Olympic Stadium. The track heads in the audience are going bonkers as one of our very own is about to become the first American to win the marathon since Frank Shorter in 1972. As he crosses the line ...
I must admit, I was pretty intimidated. I was in hockey's mecca, home of the team with all the accolades: 24 Stanley Cups, 61 Hall of Famers, 17 retired numbers. The city that rioted after Rocket Richard's suspension. Even the team's name — Les Canadiens de Montréal — sounded weirdly intimidating in French. I'm a Philadelphian who barely speaks English correctly. A few days in Montreal and I still had no idea what was going on half the time, and everyone I met pronounced "Dan" with a soft-a. I was on another planet.
My friends were so worried I was going to get killed at Made in America. Maybe last year's 4th of July shooting was fresh in their heads. To me it seemed silly: I had been to plenty of shows on the Parkway without incident, and this was a fenced-in, $100-a-ticket Budweiser Corporate Sellout Tour. The pointman was Jay-Z, a well-respected businessman—a business, man—for two decades. He would make sure nothing bad happened. I'd be way more worried attending an Eagles game. (Who do you trust more: Jay-Z or Jeffrey Lurie? I rest my case.)
Phillies fans have a lot of options when following the team. The media sources come in flavors ranging from official to broadsheet to tabloid to TV station to variousblogs to whimsical. But, thanks to an exclusive TV contract, when we watch the Phillies, we all watch the same channel.
Yes, after a long wait, Game of Thrones—the excellent fantasy soap opera adapted from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series—has returned for yet another season. I have no interest in the books, and I'm not usually a fan of the fantasy genre. But, damn, this a good show. Let's recap! Since this show's cast is so large, I'll link names to the Game of Thrones Wiki. I have to look everyone up anyway.
It's Cousin Bern's world, we're all just living in it.
A quick recap: La Salle, by far the smallest of the city's Division I colleges, went 22-9 this year and qualified for the team's first NCAA tournament since 1992. The Explorers played in the First Four play-in round, shooting 63 percent to beat Boise State. As a 13 seed in the Round of 64, they jumped to an 18-point halftime lead against 4-seed Kansas State; despite falling behind in the second half, Jerrell Wright's seven free throws down the stretch were enough for a 2-point win.
It was going to be my crowning achievement of college.
I didn't go to class all that often during my four years, preferring to spend my time in bed at the school newspaper instead. Because I spent a lot of time covering basketball in college instead of going to class, I liked to think I knew the sport better than most of my peers. I didn't, but what I did in March of 2004 almost made me think I did.
Going into the Final Four, I'd missed just six winners in the NCAA tournament. I was in line to win both my mom's and dad's work pools and five pools at my college. I was going to clear so much money from my NCAA tournament pools that going into journalism didn't seem like such a bad idea after all, even as job rejection letters started to pour in. So what if it took a while to find a gig? I could live on the interest from the 2004 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship indefinitely.
"Habemus Papam," Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran said from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Wednesday. Nobody knew what he meant, because it has been oh-so-long since high school Latin. Anyway, we have a pope!
In the grand journalistic tradition of localization, piggybacking and outright theft, I present to you the Best Things That Have Ever Happened on the Philadelphia Local News. I don't feel too bad about it, since I spent years of research (read: watching TV) to get all these screenshots myself. (The gold standard in this genre remains Mike Sacks' Photos of TV: "In his youth, Hitler became a moody adolescent.")