Category Archives: Sports

2015: Best Words (#Longform)

People are writing and creating more text than at any other moment in human history. We also have myriad devices that allow us to read that text — tablets, laptops and phones which are causing us to walk to our deaths and ruin our posture — but catching up on all that reading can be daunting. (I recommend an app called Pocket.)

This year was no different. There was lots of great #content to be read, through blogs, newspapers, even Twitter.

There were lots of great pieces on sports, modern relationships, celebrities, politics and music.

Of course you can’t talk about the year in longform journalism without mentioning the demise of one of the great pop culture websites: RIP Grantland. I’ll miss it but on the bright side my daily productivity has increased 57 percent.

 

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“Swipe Right on Monogamy”

Charlotte Shane / Matter

 The problem with “only fucking” isn’t that sex is dangerous or wrong outside the confines of certain social containers like the boyfriend label or an engagement ring. It’s that in 2015 and before, casual sex, as practiced by straight Americans, was routinely bereft of physical pleasure, mutual respect, and interpersonal maturity. Hook ups were supposed to be fun but they… well, weren’t.

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“Inside Jeremy Lin’s life after Linsanity and the New York Knicks”

Pablo Torre / ESPN Magazine

Hard to believe Linsanity was over three years ago.

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“Augusta National is a Fake Southern Wonderland Inspired by Trench Warfare”

Spencer Hall / SB Nation

Hilarious take on a tradition unlike any other.

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“The Third Revelation of Father John Misty”

Sean Fennessey / Grantland

Everyone grows up eventually.

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“Ask Polly: Am I Too Smart for My Own Good?”

Heather Havrilesky / New York Magazine

All of Havrilesky’s “advice” columns are worth reading but this is the best of the bunch.

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“Has Europe Reached the Breaking Point?”

Jim Yardley / New York Times Magazine

Is the European Union experiment doomed?

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“The Late, Great Stephen Colbert”

Joel Lovell / GQ Magazine

Stephen Colbert on the eve of his Late Show takeover.

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“Ann Coulter is a Human Being”

Mitchell Sunderland / Vice Magazine

I AM VAST I CONTAIN MULTITUDES

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“How to Fix a Racist Frat”

Kate Dries / Jezebel

The kids are not alright.

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“What Kind of Person Would Vote for Donald Trump? These People”

Drew Magary / GQ Magazine

An in-depth look at the political base of our next president.

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“The Broad Strokes”

Rachel Syme / Grantland

Who says stoners are lazy?

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“A House Divided”

Ryan Lizza / The New Yorker

Inside the plot against John Beohner and the battle for the conservative soul of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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“The Katrina Disaster That Hasn’t Ended”

Michael Grunwald / Politico

This was the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and for the occasion lots of people wrote retrospectives. I didn’t read many of them because I suspected they were overly sentimental or about jazz and New Orlean’s resiliency or George W. Bush, which is fine of course. But this article tackles a problem that played perhaps the largest role in the death and destruction resulting from that terrible storm: the self-serving relationship between Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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“Out of Bethlehem”

Louis Menand / The New Yorker

How the greatest writer of her generation became a radical.

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“The Public Life and Private Doubts of Al Sharpton”

Eli Saslow / The Washington Post

Sharpton in Winter.

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“Against Chill”

Alana Massey / Matter

For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

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“Praise Kaitlyn Bristowe

Jada Yuan / New York Magazine

Let’s talk about sex, baby.

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“How to be a Friend Indeed”

Bruce Feiler / The New York Times

Practical advice on how to be a friend to those in crises.

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“The True Story Behind ‘Zola,’ the Epic Twitter Story Too Crazy to be Real”

Caitlin Dewey / The Washington Post

Background on the greatest story every written 140 characters at a time.

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“Sea of Crises”

Bryan Phillips / Grantland

Sometimes it’s all about the journey, ya know.

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“Da Art of Storytellin’ (A Prequel)”

Kiese Laymon / The Oxford American

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6 Reasons Why The Dawgs Will Win it All in 2014

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This year Uga will be feasting on steak instead of Alpo

Like the movie Groundhog Day, another year, another hope for UGA fans that this could indeed be The Year. While the “Disney Dawgs” are always optimistic, the 2014-15 season could finally be the year Mark Richt brings a ship to back to Athens.

It’s the Schedule, Stupid!

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For seven of the last eight years, the road to the National Championship has gone through the SEC title game. With the myriad teams that would be considered championship contenders, getting to The SEC Championship Game can often come down to who you play AND where you play them. UGA’s schedule, on paper, is favorable compared to last year’s. This season’s opener against “Clemmy” won’t be played in Clemson, but Between the Hedges– where the Dawgs enjoy one of the best home venues in football. Last year at home the Dawgs defeated a loaded LSU team that could put up points with the best of them. But they also had to travel and play an Auburn team that made a deal with the Devil in Jordan Hare. However (by far) the most important scheduling factor is that this year the Dawgs avoid the Big Two from the SEC West (LSU & Alabama) and face Auburn at home, where Auburn has struggled mightily in recent years. And while the Dawgs do go to South Carolina, this year’s schedule could hardly be called daunting by typical SEC standards and as we have seen, a favorable schedule is half the battle.

Death, taxes, and Coach Richt offenses

Florid Atlantic Georgia Football

Seemingly every year Richt features a strong offense. This year figures to be no different. While you can’t underestimate the contribution of Aaron Murray, UGA brings back 5th year senior Hutson Mason (whom many a fringe fan argued should have been starting over Murray for years). Now fans shouldn’t expect Mason to duplicate Murray’s records but they shouldn’t expect much of a drop off. Mason set his own passing records at Lassiter High in suburban Atlanta. And for a few years now we have heard from coaches and players that Mason was good enough to man the QB position.

UGA returns a WR group that many have rated the best in the SEC if not the country. The WR unit stands to be as good as last year’s and likely better with the return of Malcolm Mitchell who was lost on the first play of offense in the first game last season. Mitchell is UGA’s best WR and will provide a big boost to an already loaded unit.

UGA also brings back the best RB in the country in Todd Gurley– that should be enough to instill fear in the hearts of opponents. Further, the UGA backfield will feature three 5-star talents (stud Keith Marshall returns with additions Nick Chubb and Sony Michel). Of the Big 4 RBs, Todd Gurley was the lowest rated RB of the bunch. Safe to say, RB will be a strength in Athens this year. With a QB that has been in the system for years and WR/RB units that will challenge for best in the country, it’s expected that the UGA offense will continue to stress scoreboard circuits.

The Pruitt Factor

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This year fans will be introduced to new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt– the man that has coached the last two national championship defenses. This man is so single-mindedly devoted to football he’s never even heard of the wonders of asparagus:

 

Georgia’s Ex-defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, was known to have one of the most complex defenses in football. Former UGA players remarked that their NFL playbooks were smaller than Grantham’s. This complexity often manifested itself during play, as defensive backs waved their hands in wild confusion, as if they’d caught the holy ghost while opposing wide receivers flew by them. A biblical reference is appropriate since Bulldog fans often prayed when the defense was out on the field.

Enter Coach Jeremy Pruitt. Having a background in high school football, CJP is known for his emphasis on fundamentals and execution. Coach Pruitt is a proven commodity that will do wonders with UGA’s talented defense. This is a team that arguably has the best front seven in football coming back. Repeated 3rd and long failures (of which there were MANY) point to mental breakdowns in the secondary. Coaches like Todd Grantham believe football should be taught at a doctorate level; Coach Pruitt believes football is a simple game of who executes better. If the players can’t execute a play then that play will not be called. Don’t count on The Pruitt Factor making the Dawgs a dominant defense in year one. But do count on a vastly improved defense that will make offenses work. This new defense, combined with an offense that will score points should be enough to put the Dawgs in championship contention.

The Law of Averages

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Last year, after a promising start, UGA seemingly suffered every possible injury a football team can. Just on the offensive side of the ball, UGA lost for the season: Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell, and Justin Scott-Wesley. QB Aaron Murray and WRs Chris Conley and Michael Bennett all missed multiple games. Even the seemingly unstoppable Todd Gurley missed playing time equivalent to five full games. The 2013-14 Dawgs were a team with a loaded offense and pitiful defense. When they won they were outscoring teams with a myriad of offensive weapons. When those weapons were missing due to injury, UGA was left with an offensive side that was talented but inexperienced. As a result UGA became a team with a decent offense and still pitiful defense. This dynamic (or lack thereof) contributed to many of UGA’s losses.

Football is a funny game. Success often hinges on the lucky bounce of a ball. UGA is unlikely to suffer the injuries they suffered last year and at the very least the offense can’t expect to suffer the same loss of talent it did in 2013. A simple regression to the mean would leave many more weapons at offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s disposal than were available last year.

Playoffs! You Talking About Playoffs!?

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There is no other team in the country that will benefit from a playoff format more than UGA. Coach Richt’s teams have been characterized by slow starts to the season (usually an early loss) that build into late season hot streaks. (Think 2011, when the Dawgs dropped the first two games before ripping off ten straight wins.) This format is usually not conducive for placing a team in a single national championship game, but with three top 5 finishes (along with five top 7 finishes) Richt’s teams would have been well positioned to be one of the four seeded teams had a playoff system been in place. Richt’s pattern of finishes, coupled with the strength of the SEC give UGA a good shot of making the playoffs. Once you are in the playoffs you have as good a shot of winning as the other three teams.

Richt the Momma Dawg

Mark-Richt
When a well known Atlanta radio host asked Coach Richt about Aaron Murray’s lack of ability to win big games, I saw a fire in Richt I’d never seen before. You could see the anger in his eyes that an adult would insinuate that one of his best players was a choker (as if the guy setting conference records was the problem…). From that moment, I sensed a change in Richt. He seemed less satisfied and more driven. He seems determined to not have to answer any questions about his players not winning the big one. For the first time, Richt openly talks about his desire to win a championship. Richt’s motivation has always been questioned by a certain set of fans. While this may be overblown, a motivated Richt would put UGA in the best possible position to win a National Championship.

Oh, Hello!

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Hey guys! Welcome to the New and Improved, more user-friendly Antoine Vanderbilt. I have left the wilds of tumblr and crossed over to wordpress and I’m sure those words mean nothing to you, dear reader. But essentially wordpress allows me to build a more complex, customizable website. You may have also noticed that the domain is now just antoinevanderbilt.com.

Among the new features are a comment section, search categories and facebook and twitter sharing icons. This started as a lark by a bored grad student to entertain his friends. But now it’s grown so if you want to share with your friends, then by all means share posts and tell them about the site. I’ll be posting regularly.

I’m keeping open the old Antoine tumblr site and if you want the link just head to the upper right hand corner of the page. As for content, nothing is really changing. I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS. So you can expect the same hard-hitting investigations, pontifications on chain restaurant social apps, sportsball rants, heartfelt essays, 3500 word thinkpieces about rappers and dead authors, and listssomanylists.

So please enjoy, share and comment because we’re only one more opinion short of a perfect world.

– Antoine