Monthly Archives: September 2013

2013 Mets Debut Autographs

Auditions for 2014 are now open

It’s been a rough year for the Mets. Starting pitchers have been dropping all season long, with Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum unlikely to return, Jeremy Hefner out for all of 2014, and Matt Harvey due to be ready for Opening Day, either in 2014 or 2015. David Wright missed two months, Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada went down just when they were trying to make a case to come back in 2014 as more than AAA org filler, Bobby Parnell and Scott Rice saw their seasons end with surgery, Jeurys Familia and Frank Francisco missed most of the season… All of this does open doors for the prospects though, until they too suffer an injury like Wilmer Flores did and is still trying to recover from while also getting playing time (the opposite of recovery…). If you want a job in baseball in 2014, the Mets are the team for you.

Take starting pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang, for instance. Both earned release from their previous teams and were quickly snatched up by the Mets. Both are aiming for a starting job in 2014, for another team. I’m not sure Mets fans could take much more of either of them, but I guess you need someone to pitch those innings with Montero, deGrom, and now Wheeler shut down. Lost amid the rotation shakeup is the outstanding job Dillon Gee has been doing; he should be getting a nice little contract in the offseason to keep him under team control at a reasonable price for the next few years. The bullpen has its share of 2014 candidates as well, with Vic Black and Sean Henn making their Mets debuts, Carlos Torres splitting time between starting and relief, and Jeurys Familia, Pedro Feliciano, and Tim Byrdak back after recovering from injuries. Frank Francisco is almost certainly not coming back next year, but fill-in closer LaTroy Hawkins wants to come back and the Mets want him back, so hopefully the Mets don’t go and screw this up like everyone expects them to.

The outfield is nothing but 2014 auditions with the departure of Marlon Byrd, but more playing time for Juan Lagares and recent call-up Matt den Dekker can’t be a bad thing. As for Eric Young Jr., well, there’s always a backup role to shoot for. Around the infield, Lucas Duda is at first trying to prove that he’s a first baseman, which is better than when he was an outfielder trying to prove that he’s a first baseman. Juan Centeno beat out Francisco Pena for the third catcher spot and, after Ruben Tejada’s freak injury, Wilfredo Tovar made his MLB debut after spending the season in AA. Barring another freak injury, that should be it for the 2013 Mets, leaving them with 28 new faces. That’s tied with 2006 for the 5th most new Mets in the club’s history, behind only 1962 (45), 1967 (35), and 2002 and 2004 (29). Interestingly, those 2002 and 2004 newcomers include one current Met in each year (Pedro Feliciano from 2002 and David Wright from 2004), while no current Mets debuted in 2006. Daniel Murphy in 2008 is the next oldest debut on the active roster behind Feliciano and Wright (next is Niese, then nothing until 2010). With such a young team, just about everything should be up for grabs next year.

John Buck Marlon Byrd Collin Cowgill Brandon Lyon
1 April 2013 1 April 2013 1 April 2013 1 April 2013
Scott Atchison Scott Rice* Greg Burke LaTroy Hawkins
1 April 2013 1 April 2013 3 April 2013 3 April 2013
Aaron Laffey Anthony Recker Juan Lagares* Shaun Marcum
7 April 2013 7 April 2013 23 April 2013 27 April 2013
Andrew Brown Rick Ankiel David Aardsma Carlos Torres
3 May 2013 13 May 2013 8 June 2013 16 June 2013
Zack Wheeler* Eric Young Jr. Gonzalez Germen* Wilmer Flores*
18 June 2013 19 June 2013 12 July 2013 6 August 2013
Travis d’Arnaud* Daisuke Matsuzaka Matt den Dekker* Vic Black
17 August 2013 23 August 2013 29 August 2013 2 September 2013
Sean Henn Aaron Harang Juan Centeno* Wilfredo Tovar*
9 September 2013 12 September 2013 18 September 2013 22 September 2013

*MLB Debut
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Fixing the Rookie Card

Bringing the thrill back to the hobby’s most cherished institution

Yesterday, we took a look at all of the Rookie Cards and associated prospect paraphernalia that have been released for the Mets so far this year.  After that lengthy exercise, we learned a few things about Rookie Cards.  Here’s a brief summary.

These are Rookie Cards:

Seems pretty straightforward.  These are also Rookie Cards:

Now things are getting a bit strange, but this still seems reasonable.  However, these are also Rookie Cards:

So just what the heck isn’t a Rookie Card?  Well, these for example:

How are those not Rookie Cards while the ones above are Rookie Cards?  This isn’t making much sense anymore.  And that’s when we get to these:

Rookie Cards?  Well, they say RC at least, so maybe?  But these definitely are NOT Rookie Cards:

Even though they are the first MLB-licensed cards for the players depicted.  Just for fun, let’s jazz things up a bit:

Still not Rookie Cards.  Neither are these, even though these guys are rookies in 2013:

And especially not these minor league cards:

So the guys with Rookie Cards didn’t do much of anything during the season, while the guys who were actual rookies this year have to wait until after the season to get their first Rookie Cards?  And none of them are the first MLB-licensed cards for any of them?  What’s the point of even having Rookie Cards if there’s nothing special about them?  It’s easy to see what’s wrong here, but what we need are solutions, not more problems.  Luckily, I’m here to offer my services in solution management to get the Rookie Card back on track.

Step 1: Close the Prospect Loophole

When the MLBPA came up with the new rules for Rookie Cards starting in 2006, they seemed to be able to keep all pre-rookie players out of base sets.  And then the manufacturers reconfigured base sets to put all prospects in insert sets or base-like insert sets, thus rendering the MLBPA’s efforts largely moot.  If we want the Rookie Card to mean anything, it can’t be preceded by several years worth of non-RC prospect cards.  That means either giving up on the new RC rules or getting the prospects out of MLB-licensed products.  Some leeway needs to remain to allow non-players and possibly prospects not presented as players, but taking a picture of a kid playing college ball and slapping some MLB logos on it shouldn’t be the way these guys get their first MLB cards.  That’s just crazy.

Step 2: Send Minor League Products Down to the Minors

If you look at products like Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, Bowman Inception, and Bowman Platinum, it becomes obvious that the few actual MLB players they contain are only there as token representatives to make the product qualify as a Major League product.  Let’s just end the pretense and make these official Minor League products alongside Pro Debut and Heritage Minors.  It already seems a bit odd that there is no Bowman MiLB product when minor leaguers are supposed to be what Bowman is all about.  There are also no premium MiLB products, which this move would fix.  Is the concern that nobody will buy premium products that aren’t MLB-licensed?  If so, Panini should have done away with that.  Plus, it would give us more shots of players in their proper minor league uniforms, which are often more diverse and unique than their big league counterparts (Brewers excepted).

Step 3: Push Back Release Dates on RC-heavy Products

Topps Series 1 launches about a month into the year, well before offseason deals can be accounted for.  Topps Series 2 launches in June, before most rookies who debut in April can be incorporated.  Bowman launches on April 30 next year, just one month into the season.  That leaves most rookies who make their debuts during the season waiting until October or next year for their first Rookie Cards.  If the new rules were supposed to match up Rookie Cards with rookie players, they are failing miserably.  Push the release dates of these products back a month or two into February/March, July/August, and June/July, respectively, and this problem should go away.  Assuming that Topps can get its production chain running smoothly.  Given their recent staffing issues, there may be bigger issues in play.

Step 4: The Nuclear Option – Bring Back the One True Rookie Card

I wouldn’t be doing this issue justice if I didn’t bring things to the point of absurdity, so let’s go crazy.  What people are longing for here are the days before we had new products every week, dozens of parallels and inserts in every product, and cards produced of players who wouldn’t reach the majors for several years, if ever.  In 1981, our innocence was lost forever when we were given a choice of baseball card products and competition resulted in the hobby we have today.  MLB has done its part by returning us to the One True Manufacturer, but the legacy of the non-monopoly era remains in the form of the dozens of products competing for our attention.  Some players end up with Rookie Cards in most of them, while others have to settle for one or two, punished for debuting at the wrong time of the year.  There’s one way to fix this and I’m sure it won’t be a popular one.  Do away with official Rookie Cards as base cards entirely.  Instead, produce all Rookie Cards in a common design inserted into all products, with the exact mix of players changing as rookies debut.

While a silly idea on the surface, it does solve several problems in one elegant solution.  All players, regardless of when they reach the majors, will be able to have Rookie Cards distributed in equal numbers in a consistent design.  It would also eliminate the inconsistent application of RC rules regarding inserts.  Instead, there will be only one Rookie Card for each player – no parallels, autographs, relics, etc.  Players could still have rookie cards (lowercase) in any products released after their debut, but the big RC would only apply to one card.  Lead times will also be less of a factor, as the Rookie Card mix could be changed at any point up until packout without affecting checklists or insert ratios.  This also has the advantage of taking the MLBPA definition of Rookie Card out of the base products and limiting it to one set of cards, allowing the hobby to decide how to handle cards released in a player’s Rookie Card year or cards released of players who never appear in the official Rookie Card set.  It’s a solution that would probably be universally hated by the MLBPA, Topps, other manufacturers, dealers, and collectors alike, but it’s better than what we have now.  Makes you wonder if the point of absurdity is where we already are.

2013 Mets Cards: Rookie Cards of This Year (So Far)

An 8 month Mets rookie/prospect extravaganza!  Of mostly Jeurys Familia.

We’re coming up on the most hectic stretch of baseball card releases as numerous Topps delays have left late September and October with new releases every week.  For the 2013 rookie class, it’s now or, well, next year.  Once we get through the next six weeks, the focus will shift from current rookies to draft picks.  For players like Zack Wheeler who were highly-touted and debuted in the middle of the season but have yet to have an official Rookie Card, they can be assured a spot in the upcoming wave of releases.  Juan Lagares, still waiting after an April debut, should also be a safe bet.  August debuts like Wilmer Flores, Travis d’Arnaud, and Matt den Dekker could have come too late for this year’s RC class.  The big question though is what will happen with Scott Rice.  14 years in the minors and the Mets’ trademark overuse leading into injury should be enough to get some hobby recognition, but middle relievers are often overlooked, as Gonzalez Germen almost certainly will be.

But before we get to the Rookie Cards that people actually care about, let’s take a look back at the rookies, debuts, not-rookies, and prospect oddities from the first 8 months of the year.  Because I’m not even sure how we got here or what this all means.  Read on for an exhaustive run-down of 2013’s Mets prospects in cardboard.

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Marlon Byrd Has One 2013 Baseball Card

A breakout season on the field but not in cardboard

Lost among the disappointments and the disasters that make up the Mets’ 2013 season is Marlon Byrd’s breakout season after being traded, released, and suspended for a banned substance in 2012. In 117 games with the Mets, Byrd hit .285 with 21 home runs, providing a much needed power boost alongside a surprising (in April at least) John Buck. He did all this after signing a minor league deal for a mere $700,000, barely more than the league minimum with no guarantee of major league playing time. Byrd made the team out of spring training and the rest is history. A late August trade to the Pirates with Buck brought back two promising prospects, so Byrd’s impact could be felt for years to come. After all of that, let’s take a look at all of Byrd’s cards from the first 8 months of the year:

No, the others aren’t underneath it, that’s the only one. No base cards, parallels, regular inserts, autographs, or anything else. Just one card in the online-only Topps Mini with a piece of Cubs jersey. Now, he didn’t sign with the Mets until after 2013 Topps Series 1 was released, so you can’t fault Topps for skipping him in that and some of the other early releases. He wasn’t a lock to appear in the majors until late March, so production lead times would make Topps Series 2, released in June, his first chance at a Mets card. It was mostly prospect-oriented products from that until Topps Mini came out, so at least they got to him on the second real opportunity. And then skipped over him in Allen & Ginter’s and Tier One. Maybe we’ll see more of him during the release blitz with Topps Chrome, Bowman Chrome, Topps Finest, Topps Update, and Topps Triple Threads launching on consecutive weeks from late September to the end of October.

After seeing Byrd’s 2013 checklist to date, you wouldn’t expect much from the rest of the Mets’ newcomers. Shaun Marcum signed with the Mets on January 30 and started the season on the DL; some doubted that he would even appear in a game in 2013. Marcum would have to settle for numerous cards in Heritage and Gypsy Queen in a Brewers uniform before his first start with the Mets on April 27, then his first Mets card in Bowman two weeks later. Huh? His Bowman cards were followed up by a redemption autograph in Topps Series 2, a season-ending injury after his final start on July 6, then more cards in Allen & Ginter’s and Tier One in August. Um, he appeared in 14 games over 10 weeks and is now practically a hobby mainstay for some reason. What gives?

Topps, with Photoshop, in Series 2…

John Buck was one of the few newcomers practically guaranteed to make the team straight out of spring training. As salary ballast in the Dickey trade, Buck was the only veteran catcher left in the Mets’ system. With only 6 weeks between the trade and the release of Topps Series 1, there just wasn’t enough time to get him in that product. Instead, his Mets debut had to wait until Topps Series 2 in the base set with countless parallels. That was it for Buck other than the expected base and parallel cards in Topps Mini. Collin Cowgill was about as likely as Byrd to make the team out of spring training, so it wasn’t a surprise that he wasn’t in any of the early products. His production was all downhill after his Opening Day grand slam, so there was no real reason to put him in any of the later products. Cowgill made his Mets debut with a random autograph card in Topps Series 2, released the day after his final game with the Mets. You’d have to be pretty insignificant to get worse treatment than that.

Or apparently one of the most productive players on the team. Why no love for Marlon Byrd? As I see it, there are two possibilities. First, the culprit could be the Topps release schedule, which is so heavily front-loaded that a player who debuts in April usually has to wait until October for their first card (unless they are Yasiel Puig, in which case they will be in every product for the rest of eternity within a month). With Series 1 launching before spring training starts and Series 2 usually scheduled for well before the All-Star break, there is little time to reflect current-season players in a year’s product. This makes no sense. Pushing the release dates back a month or two would allow Series 1 to reflect offseson deals and Series 2 to incorporate early-season call-ups. Instead, we get Jason Bay, Jon Rauch, and Scott Hairston shown as Mets in 2013 with Jeurys Familia and Collin McHugh as the only Mets “rookies” in the base product.

I couldn’t end this without a conspiracy theory, but this isn’t one that originated with me. It has already been speculated that Topps cuts back on the cards of players who have received PED suspensions. There isn’t really enough data to work with to come to any conclusions (that should change soon), but the lack of Byrd cards given the season he’s had (even considering lead time issues) is suspicious. Maybe we’ll be flooded with Byrd in October as Byrd’s season continues with the Pirates and the suspension can be ruled out as a factor. But if not, shunning by Topps could be yet another consequence of PED use.

Sports Illustrated as Seen by a Non-Subscriber

Wait, I thought print journalism was dead

I get a lot of magazines in the mail.  That probably makes me unusual in today’s “print is dead” world where a journalism degree is worthless without a concentration in food service.  Some of these magazines are gifts, some are the result of impending airline mile expirations, some are misdelivered by the post office, and I don’t know how I got on Good Housekeeping’s mailing list.  The one common thread is that I don’t pay for any of them.

Occasionally, I’ll find something in the pile that I would have actually considered paying for.  Stephen Colbert’s issue of Newsweek (remember Newsweek?) is at the top of that list.  Other times, there’s an article that stands out, like a short interview with Darryl Strawberry in another issue of Newsweek (I swear, this is a thing that used to exist).  And sometimes I subscribe to something like The New York Observer just hoping to get an interesting Mets ad or two (and after a few Yankees ads and a full-page tasteful nude print, there actually were several large Mets ads).  Mostly, it helps me to fill my recycle bin and earn a few more cents for my town to not spend on making my road look less like a post-apocalyptic hellscape.

Enter Sports Illustrated.  Actually, it was more like “Enter code from a Coke bottle cap.”  Because when I did just that, I got a special offer to get a 28-issue subscription to Sports Illustrated for only 95 Coca-Cola points.  What a bargain!  With a cash value of “250 points will get you one coupon good for a free 12-pack of soda”, that’s actually cheaper than the “92% off the cover price!” deals they offer all the time.  The only catch was that I had to decide immediately.  Was it worth using up a quarter of my points for another magazine?  Well, that’s the question I’ve now set out to answer.

General Content

As the name implies, Sports Illustrated covers a lot of sports and has a lot of pictures.  I, on the other hand, only have an interest in baseball and don’t really care about pictures unless they have something to do with the Mets.  Given the team’s struggles, that could limit the amount of applicable content.  Starting my subscription at the start of the year didn’t help matters any, but it could not be avoided.  The deal expired at the end of 2012, so I had to activate my 6-month subscription deep in the football, basketball, and (in theory) hockey seasons.  At least I should be able to get most of the way to the All-Star break, not that I’ll miss any important content by waiting to the last minute.  And then R.A. Dickey appeared on the cover.  There were no baseball covers between October 1, 2012 and February 25, 2013, but there’s Dickey on December 17, 2012.

The first six months of the year aren’t very good for baseball coverage.  With playoffs in football, basketball, and hockey on top of college finals, there’s not much room left for stories about spring training and small sample size successes that will fade over a 162-game season.  Overall, the amount of baseball coverage wasn’t even worth the time it took to flip through many of these issues.  Baseball content started to take over once basketball and Hockey wrapped up in June, but then football was back in the picture by the end of July, well after my subscription was supposed to have expired.

Specific Issues

The typical issue of SI went through this life cycle: appear in my mailbox, get flipped through for a minute to find anything of interest, retire to the recycle bin and await curbside pickup.  Some didn’t even get that much use if I got the electronic version first (the print version won the race a few times, as unlikely as that sounds).  A few issues managed to avoid this fate, so that must say something about their value.

15 February 2013 – Swimsuit 2013

OK, I have a confession to make – I haven’t even opened this issue.  It sat in my mail pile for a few weeks and then went into a binder sleeve.  A lot of effort went into making this issue, and I’m not talking about the numerous pictures of scantily-clad ladies that I have been told can be found inside.  This is a heavy-duty glossy magazine that is clearly meant to be treasured for many years and passed on to first-born children when they are of age.  I can’t bring myself to toss something like that into the recycling bin.  As for the content, it seems to be a bit of an anachronism straight out of the early ’60s.


1 April 2013 – The Best Player You Never Saw

The focus of this issue is the start of the 2013 baseball season, but the big draw is the story about Mets prospect Brian Cole.  I wrote about Cole’s cards after seeing a preview of this article.  As it turned out, my look at Brian Cole’s brief baseball card history was one of this site’s biggest draws this year, largely because people weren’t sure if the story was real or yet another April Fool’s joke about a too-good-to-be-true Mets prospect.  Unlike the story of Sidd Finch though, this April 1 article was about a genuine tragedy.


22 April 2013 – Boston

This one became buried in a pile of papers for reasons unrelated to its contents, so it was a bit out of date when I realized that it was still here.  I’m not sure why I held on to it; I haven’t even read it.  After being bombarded by the media coverage of the bombing and subsequent manhunt, I’m not sure there’s anything to be gained from a few more stories and pictures.  Still, this seems too significant to dispose of.



6 May 2013 – The Gay Athlete

This one is just full of contradictions.  On the one hand, the story of the first American professional athlete in one of the major sports to come out as homosexual is very well-written and compelling.  On the other hand, why should this even be newsworthy in this day and age?  It turns out that the story behind the story is what is most significant here – that, in 2013, American sports are one of the last major institutions to face the issue of how its homosexual participants are treated.  This shouldn’t be a big deal, but for some reason, we’re only just starting to have the conversation, like parents sitting down with their middle-aged kids to discuss the birds and the bees.  The rest of the world is getting all of this sorted out, why are sports only getting started on recognizing that homosexual athletes exist?

20 May 2013 – The Dark Knight of Gotham

This is the real prize from my subscription.  Matt Harvey in full (clothed) glory on the cover.  Even better, this arrived when my subscription was winding down, so it came in a “Last Chance” renewal cover, keeping Harvey pristine underneath.  This was worth 95 Coke points and then some.



29 July 2013 – Why Pujols can’t hit Jennie Finch

My 28th issue arrived on July 8.  So why was I still getting the magazine on July 29?  I have no idea, but I was glad I did.  Inside is an excerpt from a book about how athletes become as good as they are.  As it turns out, the discussion about how baseball players are able to hit a ball was relevant to a post I was working on about photographing baseballs at home plate.



And that’s about it.  I received the next issue (number 31 of 28) electronically and then my expired subscription finally expired.  So what’s the verdict?  Well, the 95 Coke point price was right, but I doubt I could be persuaded to part with the 400 or so points a 28-issue subscription normally costs.  As for cash, forget it, I can read most of this online.  Even on the off chance that I wanted an issue for the cover, paying full newsstand price (assuming that newsstands still exist and I can find one) would get me a clean copy.  For free, it’s a great deal.  Otherwise, these issues have issues.

The Good

As noted in the issue discussion above, there are several very good articles in there, some that aren’t fully available online.  Unfortunately, there are maybe two from these seven months that I would consider paying for.  That’s not enough to justify a subscription.

Mobile Support
Being able to download and browse an entire issue on my phone before the print version arrived was very convenient.  Unfortunately, sometimes the print version arrived first.  That really shouldn’t happen, unless the electrons are stuck in traffic or something.

The Bad

Mobile Support
Remember what I just said?  Well, while the mobile experience was great when it was working, it would frequently have authentication errors that required signing out or even reinstalling the software.  I also did not like the notifications it would push, though I suppose that could be turned off somewhere.

Content Diversity
I would be fine with nothing but baseball coverage, but this is a general sports magazine, so I can live with a variety of coverage.  Unfortunately, that variety is largely limited to football, basketball, hockey, and baseball.  I have no interest in the first three, so many issues had absolutely nothing of interest to me.  What would be of interest?  No, not soccer, golf, tennis, etc.  It’s not an Olympic year, so that’s out.  How about some coverage of sporting events I don’t know much about?  MMA is getting some coverage, so that’s a start.  There are plenty of fast-growing athletic competitions out there that may not be as polished and commercial as the big four sports, but that’s just what makes them interesting.  Roller derby is making a big comeback as a serious sport with a sense of humor.  Obstacle courses are growing in popularity; American Ninja Warrior is getting big ratings on NBC (though it is classified as non-sports for some reason) and even Citi Field hosted an obstacle course race this year.  There’s a lot more out there than will fit in your fantasy football draft or NCAA bracket, but there isn’t room for it in SI.

The Ugly

Ads are a necessary evil in media, but something seems a bit wrong with the ads in SI.  Some make sense, like athletic clothing, sports drinks, personal hygiene products, media services, etc.  Cars, travel, financial services, watches, electronics, and other luxury goods are also reasonable.  Snacks and fast food, well, I guess you need something to munch on when watching the game on your tablet (though I’m not sure what’s going on in some of those peanut ads).  Then we get to the hard stuff: viagra, alcohol, and cigarettes.  I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised to see cigarette ads in this magazine, especially since they seem to be clustered two or three to an issue when they do appear.  Back in the ’80s, cigarette advertising was everywhere.  Today, it has largely vanished, or so I had thought.  Some of these issues brought back memories of old issues of TV Guide, mainly because I think they’re still using some of the same ads.  Now, I’m not advocating legislating away this type of advertising, but I would think that Sports Illustrated would want to stay away from drugs given the countless high-profile examples of athletes abusing even legal drugs and the message this sends to kids.  It’s not like this is an adult magazine.

Or is it?  Back to the swimsuit issue, something seems a bit off with that.  I don’t have a problem with the issue itself, and you can always opt out if you would rather have an extra non-swimsuit issue instead, but why is it there?  Where’s the relevance to sports?  And why is it only women in (or out of) swimsuits?  ESPN Magazine has its annual body issue, but it addresses both of those issues by featuring male and female athletes, not exclusively female models.  There are some great stories (in the digital edition at least) about the locations and the photography, but I don’t see the connection to the magazine’s core subject matter, unless that connection is supposed to be what its subscribers like to see.  And I’m not sure that holds up anymore.

A 1997 SF Gate article puts the percentage of female Sports Illustrated subscribers at 14%.  The most recent numbers I’ve found put that number at 23%.  Anyone looking at those numbers should be able to tell two things: the number is going up (though two data points are far from conclusive) and there’s a big untapped market out there.  You’re not going to have much luck tapping into that market though when your biggest issue of the year is something that a teenage boy would hide under his bed.

Markets are what they are though, so 23% might be the right balance for the content type, swimsuits or no.  After all, that’s about what the female enrollment at my college peaked at, despite continued efforts to attract female students.  Sometimes the root causes are greater than any one institution.  It isn’t fair to hold SI responsible for who does or does not choose to subscribe to their magazine.

But it is fair to criticize the content they choose to publish.  And that’s where, in addition to any sports behind the big four, professional female athletes come up short inside SI’s pages.  Open up any issue and you’ll probably be more likely to find female athletes in the ads than in any of the feature articles (I haven’t conducted the study, but someone looking for a school project might want to try that one out).  I flipped through the five regular issues mentioned above and found just four articles with more than half a page about female athletes.  One that caught my eye was a short interview with Lexi Thompson that I recognized at the time as one of the rare instances where a professional female athlete was featured in the magazine.  Then I noticed that it was sponsored by McDonald’s, complete with a full-page ad on the facing page.

There is a tremendous opportunity to improve the coverage of female athletes not just for the benefit of female readers but for all readers.  If there is little interest among the male readers, how much of that is simply because there is no coverage?  I had no idea that UFC was against creating a women’s division until I read about how Ronda Rousey’s dominance in the sport demonstrated that there was value in accepting female fighters.  I hadn’t even heard of Ronda Rousey before.  How many great stories are being overlooked because of the conventional wisdom that readers aren’t interested in stories about female athletes?

The Verdict

Well, enough of that, I didn’t intend to go so long on one topic.  Let’s just say that Sports Illustrated and I have parted ways and leave it at that.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get caught up on American Ninja Warrior.  It sure beats football.