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ESPN The Magazine 08.18.14

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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fred kranz

Kranz was just 4 years old when the Dodgers up and left Brooklyn for LA’s greener pastures. No matter: Distance made his Dodgers heart grow only bluer. “Every spring, my family and I would go to Vero Beach [for spring training],” says the 61-year-old Brooklyn native. “We went there so often that the players treated us like family. I’d show them pictures of my room, and little by little, the collection grew.” And grew and grew. Kranz, now living in Spring Hill, Florida, boasts a memorabilia haul that includes Dodger Stadium seats, 20 jerseys, 30 autographed bats and more than 140 signed baseballs. Tops among them? His Sandy Koufax–inscribed bat and ball. “He was my idol,” Kranz says. “When I met him in spring training, he was bigger than life.” HOW…

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[ starter’s finish ]

This is the story of a jacket. Or rather, the absence of one. This spring I spent many hours online searching for a Starter jacket in Seahawks blue, a childhood dream too long deferred. After coming up empty—the selection was scarce and mostly XL—I settled for a cheap knockoff, a polyester parka that looked like the desiccated corpse of Papa Smurf. The zipper broke with a single tug. It’s been 15 years since Starter Corp. went bankrupt. Since then, the brand’s ugly-beautiful jackets, spliced into jarring colors like Mondrian paintings, have accrued mythical status. Rare editions sell for hundreds of dollars online. Some are impossible to find. Their inventor is not. David Beckerman, 71, is a semiretired real estate investor in New Haven, Connecticut. When I emailed him recently, he responded immediately.…

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[ smashing success ]

I try not to foist too many of my own metrics on you. But hey, it’s the middle of the summer, baseball is the only game around, and pennant races are still taking shape. So it’s the perfect time to tinker with numbers that answer interesting questions like, “Who has the most pure power on the planet?” So I present to you: smashing percentage. Smashing percentage (SMASH) is a hitter’s slugging percentage divided by his batting average, which is another way of expressing his total bases per hit. SMASH doesn’t measure the value of a player’s power. (For that, you’re better off looking at isolated power, which is SLG minus BA.) It doesn’t care how often a batter reaches base, or whether he makes contact at all. It just basically looks…

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WHO Sculptor Blair Buswell WHAT Measuring former Bills receiver Andre Reed for his Pro Football Hall of Fame bust with a caliper WHEN May 23, 1:52 p.m. MT WHERE Buswell’s studio, Pleasant Grove, Utah While marveling at the busts at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a teenage Blair Buswell found his life’s calling. “I thought, ‘Someone makes these things,’” says Buswell, 57. “‘This would be a great job to have someday.’” A former BYU running back who studied sculpting, Buswell has created busts of 84 players for the Hall of Fame since 1983. A typical posing session lasts five to seven hours, during which he incorporates vintage photos into the sculpture. Reed’s bust debuted on Aug. 2, when he was enshrined with six other football greats, three of whom were sculpted by Buswell. “I love working with…

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zo om

WHO Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team WHAT 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships WHEN July 10-19 WHERE Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado The 2014 FIL World Championships were a more receptive affair for the Iroquois Nationals than the 2010 edition, when they were denied entry into England after the Brits refused to accept their tribal passports. The team, representing the Six Nations Confederacy, a sovereign nation based in New York and Canada, went 5–3 during this year’s event and reached its first FIL podium, taking home the bronze. It was a moment nearly four centuries in the making: Though the national lacrosse program wasn’t founded until 1983, some of the first Iroquois lacrosse games are on record as early as 1636. “We had support from not only back home but the local Natives from Denver,” says…

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the cavs and the cav-nots

By bringing LeBron James back home to Cleveland, the Cavaliers won the heralded 2014 offseason. But now the real work begins as rookie NBA coach David Blatt attempts to mold this team into a winning outfit for the first time since, well, the King’s departure in 2010. The fact that James is the NBA’s best and most versatile player gives the squad a host of options, but Blatt still needs to figure out what he has—and, more important, what he doesn’t. Here are six tasks awaiting Blatt & Co. that will determine the Cavs’ fate. 1 RECOGNIZE YOUR STRENGTHS … The Cavs’ biggest strength last season? Defensive rebounding. The team grabbed 75.8 percent of opponents’ misses, sixth best in the NBA, despite a trio of wings who contributed little to the cause:…