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ESPN The Magazine 09.04.17

ESPN The Magazine is for the NEXT generation of sports fans who want to stay on top of the athletes, teams, topics and upcoming events in their own sports world. The Magazine celebrates not only sports, but the cultures and lifestyles that are an integral part of them - all with ESPN's unique personality and authority.

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3 min.
bright future

Last October, two days after some guy named Sam Darnold won his first game as USC’s QB, I was on campus as a guest lecturer for a sports media class. I thought some students were football players because it looked like they were wearing team gear. One guy introduced himself as Sam, but I was convinced it wasn’t that Sam, because he didn’t have that swagger. And he participated, offering insight on why kids choose football over baseball. (They don’t want to get stuck in the minors.) Only when he walked out did I see the tiny 14 on the back of his collar. I checked the roster and realized who it was. I thought, “Well, damn, this kid is going to take over the world.” MORE ON PAGE 44 Whether…

2 min.
top wide receivers for 2018 draft

Calvin Ridley ALABAMA, JR. GRADE: 91 Ridley led the SEC in receptions (89) in 11 starts as a true freshman—at Alabama, no less. He started all 15 games last year and was second in the league in receptions despite having a freshman QB. Although he has average size (6-foot-1, 188 pounds) and sometimes struggles to get off press coverage, Ridley has outstanding quickness and is a nightmare in the open field. Christian Kirk TEXAS A&M, JR. GRADE: 90 Kirk hasn’t been running an NFL route tree, but he’s a solid all-around player who has amassed an SEC-best 163 catches over the past two years. He has soft hands and flashes the ability to make the tough catches with defensive backs all over him. The 5-11, 200-pound Kirk had 576 yards after the catch in 2016,…

4 min.
the numbers

Epic blasts are leaving ballparks nearly every night in this summer of the long ball, and everybody has favorites—a Cody Bellinger moon shot here, a Joey Gallo walk-off there. I thought no home run accomplishment in 2017 could surpass a guy named Scooter clubbing four in one game until Matt Olson, Franklin Barreto and Jaycob Brugman of Oakland each mashed his first major league tater on the same day. That hadn’t happened since three members of the Kansas City Packers—that’s right, of the Federal League—thumped round-trippers 103 years ago. The overall numbers are staggering: MLB batters this season are hitting a whopping 1.26 long balls per team per game (through Aug. 10), by far the most in history—a higher rate than in the days of Barry Bonds or Babe Ruth or…

11 min.
“it’s not a redemption tour”

Steve Kerr waited about a week before he texted Dan Quinn. He knew how many sympathy messages the Falcons coach must be getting—Kerr got about 50 after his Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals. The last thing a beaten man wants is people feeling sorry for him. Those first few days, Kerr found comfort in commiserating with fellow Warriors, who knew exactly what he was going through. Quinn did the same. While the Patriots celebrated deep into the night after their historic 25-point comeback victory in Super Bowl LI, the Falcons carried through with a planned party on three floors of the Westin hotel. Well, it wasn’t really a party; food and drinks were served, but everyone felt sick. Still, there was a need…

3 min.
stadium food deconstructed

SKUNA BAY SALMON CRUDO ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM COST: $14 ESTIMATED CALORIES: 500 Ed Brown has catered to the U.S. Open faithful since before Arthur Ashe Stadium was built, back in the days when hungry fans sought sustenance in food tents surrounding the tennis courts. These days, the Michelin-starred chef dishes up fresh seafood inside the stadium at his restaurant Aces. Between helming his Lincoln Center haunt, Ed’s Chowder House, and appearing on NBC’s Today show, the author of The Modern Seafood Cook fished out a few minutes to break down his ace Skuna Bay salmon crudo. What makes this recipe the perfect fit for the U.S. Open? The U.S. Open is one of the world’s premier sporting events, but it’s also one of its greatest eating events—which happens to feature tennis. In the…

3 min.
meet the red sox’s baby-faced baller

Four years ago this August, at age 16, Rafael Devers signed with the Red Sox as an international amateur free agent. Few players were as highly anticipated as the Dominican-born prospect. Shortly after Devers’ MLB debut on July 25, ESPN’s Marly Rivera caught up with the rookie—who collected 19 hits and four home runs in his first 15 games—to talk about joining the team he rooted for as a kid and his adjustment to playing in the States. How did you get your start in baseball? I can’t even remember the first time I went to a stadium, but I have been playing baseball as long as I can remember. My dad played baseball [in an amateur league], and he always brought me along to watch the games. When practice was over,…