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ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine 12.08.14

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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2 min.

It all began in 1996. Looking to shield at-risk youths from neighborhood violence, two cricket lovers began offering after-school classes at Willowbrook Middle School in Compton, California—to mixed reviews. “It didn’t sound like a manly sport,” admits Emidio Cazarez (above left), 32. But after friends persuaded him to attend practice, the rest became Compton Cricket Club history. Eighteen years later, Cazarez is the team’s captain and has competed in Australia, Ireland and England. Still, for all their travels, it’s hard to miss these cricketers’ roots. “There were potholes in the park [at practice] and the ball went all over. I guess it made our fielding stronger. In England they’d say, ‘Wow! Your fielding is good!’” Talk about bowling over your competition. HOW TO BECOME AN ESPN INSIDER! 1 Turn back to the…

3 min.
[ hushed money ]

Washington residents don’ get to vote on whether the city will help fund a $287 million D.C. United stadium, the most expensive project in MLS history. In fact, they didn’t even hear the City Council members’ views on the deal before they headed to the ballot boxes in November. At the last moment, the chairman—who was up for re-election—delayed the release of a study on the hot-button issue until the day after the polls closed, even though the report had been finished for weeks. The officials’ opinions, like so many factors that enter into the screwy calculus of stadium financing, remained a mystery. For the better part of a century, politicians from both parties have siphoned taxpayer money into sports teams’ coffers, clawing at the chance to prostrate themselves before billionaire…

4 min.
[ baseball’s new balance of power ]

he Mets, of all teams, ignited MLB’s hot stove in November by inking Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract. Grabbing him was a goodwill gesture to the team’s long-suffering fan base and its biggest star, Cuddyer’s buddy David Wright. But while Cuddyer’s stats look Ruthian compared with those of other Mets outfielders, New York has to surrender its first-round pick (15th overall) in next year’s draft. The deal was so strange, in fact, that it raised a couple of interesting questions. How much is a draft pick worth now anyway? And are we witnessing in this Cuddyer signing a dying brand of deal-making? Let’s start at the beginning. Over the past decade, a series of sabermetricians—including Nate Silver (now at ESPN), Victor Wang and Sky Andrecheck (now working for…

1 min.

WHO Chiefs, Eagles and Chargers fans showing off their holiday spirit WHEN Dec. 22, 2013 WHERE Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego Every year the spirit of the season—and by that we mean the retail-driven mandate to start splurging—manifests itself earlier and earlier. And so it is that we roll out our annual gallery of festive fans, just in time for Black Friday sales. Last December our merry band of photogs snapped three sets of NFL fans. Among them was Chiefs diehard Tim Van der Pol (middle row, second from near left), who, despite a day job that has widened his waist, still uses PEDs (prosthetic-enhanced dress-up). “I may be getting fat,” says the 52-year-old quality auditor at a confectionery company, “but I still use a pillow.” Eagles backer Don…

1 min.

WHO South Africa lock Victor Matfield WHAT Revealing more than his allegiance in a rugby union friendly vs. England WHEN Nov. 15, 2:30 p.m. GMT WHERE Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, England Matfield, 37, the gruff-looking elder statesman of South Africa’s rugby union squad, is best known for leading his country to the 2007 World Cup title and for returning from retirement last year, becoming the oldest Springbok ever. But at the QBE Autumn Internationals, a teammate revealed the rough-and-tumble captain’s softer side, complete with a mascot tattoo and what appear to be some rather silky drawers. Matfield’s mates—who watched their leader register 12 tackles in the 31-28 win over England—might want to spring for some boxers. —DAN FRIEDELL…

4 min.
chicago here we come

If the College Football Playoff has affirmed anything, it's that determining the top teams is still a matter of opinion. Sort of like the NFL draft, right? Except instead of 12 people, you've got 32 teams' worth of viewpoints going into the picks made next April 30-May 2 in Chicago. Fear not-we bring you two opinions to trust. Here, Insiders Mel Kiper and Todd McShay assess how on-field results have reshaped draft boards. QUARTERBACKS MEL KIPER’S RISER CODY FAJARDO, NEVADA Few big-name QBs have seen their stock go up, so I’ll pick Fajardo, who has gone from nonexistent on most boards to a possible Day 3 pick. The senior is an above-average athlete, throws well on the run and shows poise facing pressure. A project, sure, but he has been just as successful as…