Well, that happened quickly.

On Wednesday night, everything in sports was normal. As normal as can be with a looming pandemic, anyway. Games were being played. There was talk of playing in empty arenas, but the game went on.

Then Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was diagnosed with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and everything changed. The Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics saw their respective runs come to a halt, at least for now. The upcoming Major League Baseball season (and minor league season, Sea Dogs fans) is on hold.

None of us has a bracket to bust, because the NCAA cancelled the tournaments. All the tournaments. And the spring tournaments, too. Here in Maine, the Maine Principals’ Association rightly postponed the start of the spring high school sports season to April 27.

We are devoid of live sports, and that’s fine. As a society we need to get a handle on this disease. Knock it down and come back stronger than ever.

Still, are you getting fidgety wondering how you’ll fill your time? Are you looking for sports content to fill the void?

I am. I was looking forward to seeing if the University of Maine women’s basketball team could extend its win streak to 11 games with a win at Stony Brook in the America East Conference championship and earn a third straight trip to the NCAA tourney. I was eager to see if the Bowdoin women’s basketball team could make another run to the NCAA Division III championship game. I was pleased to see the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team enjoy a rebound season, and wanted to see if the Black Bears had a deep Hockey East tournament run in them.

On the optimistic side, it’s going to be at least a couple weeks before we see live sports again, probably longer. There are ways to get your sports fix. I’m a voracious reader and movie fan. Here are 10 sports books and 10 sports movies that might help you pass the time until the games are live.

Books, in no particular order:

• “Friday Night Lights” by Buzz Bissinger. Still the best sports book written. The gold standard. Forget the fictionalized TV series, or the movie that took liberties with the truth.

• “Orr: My Story,” by Bobby Orr. Orr’s love of hockey comes through every page of this autobiography.

• “Scribe: My Life in Sports,” by Bob Ryan. For my money, Ryan was the best sports columnists of the last 40 years. The thing about Ryan is, he never had to go for a hot take. He never had to raise his voice. A great writer and storyteller, Ryan’s memoir is top notch.

• “To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever,” by Will Bythe. The world has two types of people: Carolina guys and Duke guys. I’m a Carolina guy. So is Blythe, and that comes through in this account of the UNC-Duke rivalry as Blythe follows the Tar Heels run to the 2005 national championship.

• “One Goal,” by Amy Bass. If you like Maine high school sports, you should read Bass’ account of the Lewiston High School boys soccer team and how it came together to win the state title in 2015.

• “Football For a Buck,” by Jeff Pearlman. This is an entertaining look at the brief life and sloppy demise of the USFL.

• “The Cost of These Dreams,” by Wright Thompson. A collection of Thompson’s best longform writing for ESPN. I recommend reading “Ghosts of Mississippi” first, “Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building” and “The Losses of Dan Gable” are other highlights, but this entire collection is worth your time.

• “Belichick,” by Ian O’Connor. An unvarnished biography on the NFL coach you either love or hate, depending on your point of view and fandom.

• “When Pride Still Mattered,” by David Maraniss. Belichick is the modern football coaching giant. Maraniss’ book is a thorough biography of the NFL’s first coaching legend, Vince Lombardi.

• “Playing Through the Whistle,” by SL Price. This book explores the history of football in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where football still reigns even when the steel mills that built the town are gone.

Movies, in no particular order:

• “Slap Shot.” This hockey movie is a little dated, but still hilarious. Paul Newman’s finest film, I think.

• “Caddyshack.” Every generation has the movie it can’t stop quoting. Caddyshack is mine. Don’t sell yourself short, Judge, you’re a tremendous slouch.

• “The Bad News Bears.” Like Slap Shot, a little dated but a lot funny. Watch the original Walter Mathau version, not the remake starring Billy Bob Thornton.

• “The Longest Yard.” Again, watch the original with Burt Reynolds, not the reheated, limp, vanity-project Adam Sandler remake.

• “Miracle.” We just passed the 40th anniversary of the USA ice hockey team’s victory over the USSR in the 1980 Winter Olympics. You can probably find the actual game broadcast online somewhere. This movie is worth your time just for Kurt Russell’s amazing portrayal of coach Herb Brooks. It’s the best work of Russell’s long career. When watching Miracle, it’s hard to believe this Herb Brooks also was Snake Plissken in “Escape From New York.”

• “Major League.” This movie cracked me up when I was 16, and it cracks me up still.

• “Hoosiers.” Don’t get caught watching the paint dry. This movie is a classic.

• “Eight Men Out.” If you think the Houston Astros cheated, the 1919 Chicago White Sox set the bar high for professional sports chicanery.

• “Field of Dreams.” Speaking of those 1919 White Sox, they play a big part in this one. Yeah, it’s sappy, but it still gets me every single time.

• “Rocky III.” Is Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, one of the great movie villains of all time? I think so. Plus, “Eye of the Tiger” was my favorite song when I was 10, and there’s a cameo by the Muppets.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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