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ESPN The Magazine 09.01.14

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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How to build a fan cave in four easy steps: 1) Be up front. When McVicar, a 41-year-old Chicago-area native, married wife Lisa in 2008, his groomsmen wore Cubs jerseys. “She knew what she was getting into,” he says of Lisa’s take on his project. 2) Play hardball. McVicar commissioned a replica of the famed Wrigley Field marquee, then ordered three redos to get the curve right. 3) Spare no expense. He outfitted his “Club 400” with 10 TVs, a custom-made logo bar (four draft beers!), hot dog, popcorn and soda machines, and a Wrigley turnstile. 4) Throw away your receipts. When asked how much he’s spent on his labor of love in the four years since its inception, McVicar pleaded the Fifth. “If Lisa knew,” he jokes, “I might…

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home game

Early in a mid-July home game against the Angels, Shin-Soo Choo strikes out for the second time. As the Rangers’ leadoff hitter lumbers back to the dugout, I realize that my heart is racing. I’m no Texas fan—I root for the division rival Mariners—and there is nothing significant about the game, aside from the hundreds of Korean Americans, myself included, perched in the stands. The Korean Society of Dallas had organized a heritage night in Choo’s honor, luring the region’s sizable Korean population to the ballpark with the promise of bulgogi beef sandwiches and rally towels. Choo is one of just two Korean-born players in the majors; the other, Hyun-Jin Ryu, pitches for the Dodgers. (They share an agent.) As a result, both are the subject of intense pride, and anxiety,…

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walking dead

The moment you think you’ve seen it all in baseball, the game delivers something you’ve never encountered. Consider the decline of Albert Pujols (age: 34; OPS: .800). Everyone’s stats fall off sooner or later, but Pujols’ skills have decayed in a way that is unique in baseball history—and that shows how the latest advanced metrics let us gauge the physical and even mental struggles of a waning ballplayer. On average, as baseball players age, they lose speed, then power, but maintain or even improve their strike-zone judgment well into their 30s, even 40s. Willie Mays, for example, led the NL with a .425 on-base percentage at the age of 40 in 1971, the only time in his 22-year career that he drew more than 100 walks in a season. Not so with…

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Behold the human Spirograph—in actuality, a stunt from the opening ceremony rehearsals at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, in eastern China. From Aug. 16 to 28, the best young athletes in the world, ages 15 to 18, will compete in 28 sports, including three-on-three basketball, gymnastics and rugby sevens. China is the favorite; the host country was the top medal winner in 2010 and has the most athletes participating with 123. Regardless of who takes home the most gold, however, we already know which group deserves a standing O. 204 Nations, with roughly 3,800 athletes, that will compete at the Games. 60,000 Spectators expected to witness the opening ceremony at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre stadium.…

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With a tagline of “If you’re not lost, you need to try harder,” the Mongol Rally is less a race than an opportunity to test limits. “Everything has gotten far too safe,” says Dan Wedgwood of the Adventurists, a group of Brits that first ran the annual 10,000-mile, London-to-Mongolia trek in 2004. “You really can just head out into the world. People don’t know this because they don’t try.” Like most of the entrants, Tommaso Piazza of Team Rust & Dust was fired up for the start of the monthlong journey when he left London’s Battersea Park on July 20. “We wanted to inhale the culture … like travelers, not tourists,” he said on Aug. 7 after crossing into Tajikistan. Each of the 248 teams needed to donate 1,000 pounds…

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a hawk-eye view of flushing

Tennis fans are drawn to the swing-but experts keep an eye on the feet. That's because everything about strategy starts with footwork, from the way Rafael Nadal barricades himself behind the baseline to Roger Federer's fast-moving attack. But unlike an NFL post route, tennis efficiency isn't about limiting steps. “If these guys are using their legs, they're forcing the other guy to take risks,” says ESPN analyst Darren Cahill. To help us measure how much the ATP's top four players move-and what it means for their games heading into the U.S. Open (Aug. 25 to Sept. 8)-The Mag asked the brains behind Hawk-Eye, the camera system that tracks ball movement at tournaments, to develop a new distance-based metric. The result: distance run per point, or DPP. Here's how it works…