Presented in no particular order, here’s a look at some of our favorite Grantland pieces from the past week:
It Wasn’t (Just) About the Money
By Charles P. Pierce
“And so, on the day after Thanksgiving, when most of America was coming out of a tryptophan-and-Tony Romo-induced coma, and when hardly anyone at all was looking, they came up with a deal. There will be a 2012 NBA season, after all — a perfectly logical 66-game package beginning with a Christmas Day multimedia extravaganza that will be what ancient Rome would have organized, if Nero had invented the T-Cannon and Charles Barkley. This undoubtedly will include several of the league’s marquee, big-market teams, whose baleful influence over the game’s economics was supposed to have been management’s casus belli for the lockout in the first place. And it might have been, if the whole absurd kabuki ever had been about money in the first place.”
More Grantland lockout coverage: The Grantland staff celebrates the return of the NBA ♦ Jay Caspian Kang on forgetting the lockout ♦ Brian Phillips on David Stern ♦ Rembert Browne on what we’ll miss
OU vs. OSU: The Search for Squinky in Stillwater
By Brian Phillips
“I ditched the car in the parking lot of the Masonic Temple and walked the rest of the way to campus. I can’t say I feel entirely sure about this. I’m not Mason-authorized, and for all I know the Temple spirits away the Chryslers of unenlightened lot-interlopers. But the spot I took was in a gravel patch that didn’t look especially dangerous. And more important, I’m here to battle a demon. I figure I need all the occult help I can get.”
The First Day of NBA Christmas
By Bill Simmons
“Note: This could end up being one of the craziest months in NBA history. To celebrate the signings, trades, rumors, roster shuffling, insanity, and the hilarity/incredulity/incompetence that can only ensue, I’m unleashing a special series called ‘The 12 Days of NBA Christmas.’ Starting today and finishing on Monday the 19th, I will be writing once a day (Monday through Friday) about this unexpected NBA Christmas.”
By Tom Bissell
“Review Skyrim? You may as well try reviewing last month. “It started out strong, but by the end I was definitely ready for it to be over. Some great things went down, along with some stuff that kind of blew. I nevertheless recommend last month. Lots of variety. 3½ stars. Look, Skyrim is obviously a terrific game any way you cut it, and I come to you today neither to bury nor praise it. I come to you, in the spirit of respect and fellow feeling, to say what must be said about one of the most deservedly esteemed gaming franchises in the world.”
By Andy Greenwald
“Because, make no mistake, The Walking Dead is worth rooting for. The current landscape of hour-long dramas is grim, riddled with hoary historical epics (Hell on Wheels, Boardwalk Empire) and soggy crime procedurals (The Killing) that aim for the cinematic but too often settle for the cheap and violent. The Walking Dead, at its best, is both terrifying and ambitious, a full-throated (often open-throated) celebration of genre that possesses the highest concept, the highest stakes, and the highest body count ever seen on television. There are three months before the show returns to finish off its second season — plenty of time for new showrunner Glen Mazzara to course-correct and get as far away from Hershel’s farm as possible, both literally and figuratively. With that in mind, we not-so-humbly present some suggestions on how best to bring The Walking Dead back to life.”
Cotto-Margarito II: How Much Punishment Is Enough?
By Eric Raskin
“Part of me doesn’t want Margarito to ever fight again. Part of me is endlessly intrigued by the plotlines surrounding Margarito-Cotto II and by the potential for a legendary action fight. With the way these fighters’ styles mesh, that elusive pugilistic magic is in play. On the basis of that alone, when the bell rings, I will be watching. I know that much. And though members of the media are not supposed to root for fighters, I will be silently pulling for Cotto to exact revenge. I’m certain of that.
“What I don’t know is what it will take Saturday night for me to decide that enough punishment is enough. Margarito is a disgrace to the sport of boxing. But he’s also a human being. I hope I never lose sight of that. I hope I continue to periodically ask myself that question, ‘What’s a nice boy like you doing in a sport like this?’
“I’ll ask the question, and I’ll do so knowing that boxing, on its better days, will give me precisely the answers I need to hear.”
We Are All ‘Closing Time’: Why Semisonic’s 1998 Hit Still Resonates
By Steven Hyden
“If you were between the ages of 13 and 24 in 1998 and at all engaged with pop culture, there’s a very good chance you can sing at least the chorus to Semisonic’s ‘Closing Time.’ (Here’s a hint: Just say ‘closing time’ in a sing-songy manner.) And if you know the chorus, there might be another stray lyric or two lodged somewhere in your brain as well. (‘Gather up your jackets, move it to the exits’; ‘You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here’; ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.’) ‘Closing Time’ wasn’t an exceptional song in terms of its chart performance (it peaked at no. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100) or impact on culture; there were way bigger hits that year. It was just a catchy, moderately rocking track by a journeyman Midwestern indie band that peaked in popularity as the alternative rock boom was hacking out its final, phlegm-y death rattle. And yet for several months in the spring and summer of ’98, ‘Closing Time’ was everywhere in a way that songs would soon never be again. Just one year later, Napster revolutionized popular music delivery systems, and moderately rocking nice-guy indie bands stopped having hit singles. Today, most people wouldn’t know Semisonic if they personally escorted them out of their favorite bar after last call. But ‘Closing Time’ instantly conjures its era with startling intensity. As a result, ‘Closing Time’ is maybe the most late-’90s thing there is.”
The Totally Subjective Holiday Sports-Book Gift Guide
By Katie Baker
Plus the Minnesota Wild, the best ski locations in America, and all your other questions answered in this week’s edition of the Bake Shop.
The Surreal World of Thanksgiving in Vegas
By Bill Barnwell
“Vegas is simultaneously the most useful and depressing place in America on Thanksgiving. Useful, of course, because the city turns into a hundred different Thanksgiving dinners with no invitations needed. Virtually every elite restaurant on the Strip remains open and cooks a turkey dinner with all the trimmings that blows away the meal your aunt was going to slave over all day. Chances are that your aunt wasn’t preparing pumpkin risotto, foie gras creme brulee, or toasted cinnamon ice cream. If turkey isn’t your favorite, restaurants offered alternate options like bison tenderloin, Australian Kobe beef, and bourbon barrel-aged ham. And if you actually like turkey too much, the city’s many buffets offered Thanksgiving dinner on a loop for ten hours straight. You are now hungry.
“If you’re like me, though, you end up spending Thanksgiving night in the sports book at the Stratosphere, watching the 49ers-Ravens game next to a guy with no shoes on shouting ‘Get his ass!’ at Terrell Suggs and points in the general direction of Alex Smith. You recoil in terror as the same guy then clears his throat in some inhuman manner and the snot involuntarily flies out of his mouth onto the floor in front of him. And then you realize that you’re basically spending Thanksgiving in a bus station waiting area with better TVs.”
MLB Hot Stove: Team Needs
By Jonah Keri
A team-by-team analysis of what each franchise needs to add this offseason.
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