Ranking All 30 Second Series Episodes of ESPN’s 30 For 30

*Written in 2015.

Luckily for us, ESPN decided to do another set of thirty films to expand this series. Now that this series has also reached 30 films and we got the soccer spin-off series, I’m hoping we get a third generation.

But for now, here are the 30 films of the second series ranked. And to be honest, all of these are really good.

1. Survive and Advance
2. Of Miracles and Men
3. Requiem for the Big East
4. Ghosts of Ole Miss
5. No Más
6. I Hate Christian Laettner
7. Big Shot
8. Bad Boys
9. You Don’t Know Bo
10. Benji
11. Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau
12. Brothers In Exile
13. The U Part 2
14. Bernie and Ernie
15. Free Spirits
16. Angry Sky
17. Rand University
18. This is What They Want
19. When the Garden was Eden
20. Sole Man
21. The Price of Gold
22. Brian and the Boz
23. The Day the Series Stopped
24. Slaying the Badger
25. Broke
26. 9.79*
27. There’s No Place Like Home
28. Playing for the Mob
29. Elway to Marino
30. Youngstown Boys

Documentary Review: Center of Attention – The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson (2015)

Release Date: June, 2015
Narrated by: John Slattery

NBC Sports Films, 47 Minutes

Review:

*Written in 2015.

Recently I read Derek Sanderson’s autobiography Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Story of a Hockey Original. While reading it, I was wrapped up in his tale and thought it would be a great story for a documentary. Luckily for all of us, NBCSN agreed and made a one hour film about Sanderson, which premiered this week after a Stanley Cup Finals game.

The documentary interviewed friends, family, coaches and former teammates – most notably the legendary Bobby Orr. It went on to highlight his career and his trouble with drugs and alcohol. Granted, I felt that Sanderson’s story could’ve been more fleshed out and presented over two hours instead of one but NBCSN still did a great job of hitting all the highs and lows of a man that went from the top of his sport to rock bottom in life.

While Sanderson’s story, at face value, isn’t unique, it is the character that Derek Sanderson was that make’s his tale compelling. He was the king of cool, often times referred to as the “Joe Namath of Hockey”. He was, at one time, the highest paid athlete in the world. And where so many of these stories end in tragedy, Sanderson’s had a happy ending, as he overcame his problems, turned his life around and dedicated his remaining days to helping those with substance abuse issues.

Still alive and kicking, when many thought he was on a quick trip to an early grave, Sanderson is a shining example of perseverance and a real man, who overcame adversity, conquered his demons and turned it all around for the better.

I hope NBCSN does more documateries like this, especially in the world of hockey. It was refreshing and engaging, especially when ESPN rarely showcases hockey stories in their great 30 For 30 documentary series.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Last GladiatorsKing’s Ransom and Big Shot.

Book Review: ‘Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers’ by the Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts

*Written in 2015.

This is a sequel to the awesome book Baseball Between the Numbers, which I reviewed.

The Baseball Prospectus staff once again provides baseball fans and stat heads with a magnum opus. Yes, they have produced two perfect and amazing works for us to read and both are monstrous volumes to add to your sports library.

Being that this one is a few years older than its predecessor, it is a bit more current with its subject matter and it gives us some other topics. A big part of the book goes into the use of PEDs and how it effects the game. It is a section that I agreed with wholeheartedly and it helped inspire the post I wrote about PEDs several weeks ago (*referencing an old website that is now gone).

The book also goes into team building, scouting, pitching, fielding, offense and other subjects. It does a thorough job of analyzing all this stuff and giving the reader with a lot to ponder. It also gives one good ammunition for bar debates with your friends.

Baseball Prospectus writes some of the best material in the baseball world. This book is no different and if you are a true baseball fan, if you don’t already own this, you are doing yourself and your library a big disservice.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: Baseball Between the Numbers by the Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts, The SABR Baseball List & Record Book by the Society for American Baseball Research, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James.

Book Review: ‘J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey’ by Jeremy Roenick with Kevin Allen

*Written in 2014.

Hockey season is about to start, as my Blackhawks have already played their first two preseason games. To get pumped up and shift my attention from the Cubs to the Blackhawks for the next six months, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite hockey books.

There are a lot of characters in the sport of hockey. None of them though, are quite as outspoken, charismatic and beloved as Jeremy Roenick. So who better to pen the man’s biography than the man himself? And honestly, Roenick does a fine job of telling his story and keeping you enthralled for the journey. In fact, this is one of the best sports autobiographies that I have read.

Roenick finally, in his own words, sheds light on how he felt about being a Blackhawk, leaving the organization, his resentment towards them and how that melted away when he was there to witness them win their first Stanley Cup in almost five decades.

J.R. also goes through his childhood and how dedicated he was to hockey. He covers his time in Phoenix as the sort of poster boy for the then new franchise. He also talks about his time as a Flyer, a King and a Shark. He spends a lot of time discussing his family life, as well as his broadcasting career thus far. The most interesting stuff though, is when he tells tales that most people don’t know. One of his stories involves him and Dennis Rodman and how they partied.

This is an enjoyable read and one of the gems in my hockey library.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Tough Guy: My Life On the Edge by Bob Probert and Kirstie McLellan Day, Made In America by Chris Chelios and Kevin Allen

25 Best Racing Games In History

Racing games have been around since almost the beginning. They have come in several forms over every generation of gaming. Here I am ranking the best ever. In some cases, I am just listing a series as a whole, as some of these have spanned generations and been consistently good over that time.

1. Gran Turismo series
2. Forza Motorsport series
3. Need for Speed series
4. Forza Horizon series
5. F-Zero series
6. F1 series
7. Tourist Trophy
8. Super Mario Kart series
9. Road Rash series
10. WipEout series
11. Out Run
12. Rad Racer
13. Hang On
14. Midnight Club series
15. Pole Position
16. Dirt series
17. Crazy Taxi
18. Blur series
19. Virtua Racing
20. Ridge Racer series
21. Burnout series
22. Project Gotham series
23. Final Lap
24. RC Pro Am
25. MotorStorm series

Book Review: ‘The Hidden Language of Baseball’ by Paul Dickson

*Written in 2014.

The Hidden Language of Baseball is an interesting little book for true fans of the sport. It goes through the history of signs and sign stealing in baseball, giving insight as to where it started and how it evolved over generations.

Paul Dickson has a talent for keeping things pretty concise and straightforward while still being thoroughly entertaining and informative. In fact, this isn’t a long book by any means, as it comes in at around 160 pages or so, not counting the appendices and extra parts at the end. However, just recently reading Baseball Between the Numbers by Baseball Prospectus and The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, any book would seem short by comparison. Regardless, for a book that isn’t very lengthy, this one covers a lot.

For the true aficionado, this book is a gem. Being that it adds insight to the culture of baseball beyond just simply observing the game, makes it an intriguing and entertaining book. Sorry, I’m just a baseball junkie and I love stuff like this, as it opens up the game and gives a glimpse behind the scenes.

The Hidden Language of Baseball isn’t just a book of baseball sign language though. It is also a book full of great stories about the great men who played and managed the game in every era. It is a great little treatise on one of the most important factors in the game.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow and Michael Duca

Book Review: ‘Miami Ice: Winning the NHL Rat Race With the Florida Panthers’ by Dave Rosenbaum

*Written in 2016.

As the Florida Panthers started getting good again with a team I really enjoy watching, I wanted to read a book about their fairly short history. I am a Blackhawks fan but I have lived in Florida my whole life and frequented a lot of games during the Panthers big playoff run in the mid ’90s.

Miami Ice is just about the only book I could find that covers the early days of the team. It was released in the late ’90s, so it is pretty outdated but it covered the era I wanted to read about in great depth.

This book actually gets into how the team came to be. It chronicles all the early talks of expansion of the NHL into Florida. It even talks about the history of the sport itself in the Miami area. I never knew about the Tropical Hockey League that existed for one season from 1938-1939. But that is just one cool little tidbit about Florida’s hockey history that no one has ever talked about in my lifetime. Miami Ice holds a lot of surprises.

Dave Rosenbaum penned a pretty awesome book here. It is immensely informative, as well as being an entertaining and fun read. It certainly doesn’t feel dated.

Whether you are a fan of the Panthers or not, this is a good book to add to your hockey library, if you have one. I’m sure I will thumb through it from time-to-time and still refer to it during drunken hockey debates.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: Grit and Glory: The Remarkable Story of the Florida Panthers by David Smale, Florida Panthers (Inside the NHL) by Taylor Reed