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ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine 10.01.18

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.
just dance

If there’s one thing from Fortnite that’s taken hold in popular culture, it’s the goofy victory dances. Athletes bust out their gamer moves to celebrate goals and touchdowns, and I see kids flossing in the grocery store all the time. So naturally, when we had the world’s most famous Fortnite player in front of us, we had to ask him for a demo. Ninja was a good sport, though he did look a little nervous. He changed out of jeans back into his plaid pajama pants, then suddenly charged downstairs. “I’ll be super fast!” he shouted. Despite streaming for about 12 hours a day for the past year, he needed one more download. For inspiration. MORE ON PAGE 58 (ALSO CHECK OUT OUR BACK PAGE!) Senior writer Tim Keown on the…

4 min.
the numbers

If you’re interested in NFL strategy, the endless tango of adjustments that offenses and defenses deploy to one-up each other, the rookie to watch this year is Miami defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins selected the former Alabama star with the 11th pick in April, and he’s their primary nickel cornerback. His emergence marks a turning point for the league: Teams might finally recognize the need to spend high draft picks and build base defenses with an eye toward covering the slot. Slot formations have been around for something like 50 years, since Al Davis lined up two Raiders wideouts on one side of the field and had them run to different depths. But the slot didn’t really draw much attention or—with the exception of Hall of Fame wide receiver Charlie…

12 min.
rhapsody in blue

There is no easy way to tell a player he’s been traded. But generally whatever awkwardness or emotion an executive feels from those calls is offset by the excitement of the calls welcoming the players joining the club. Last December Andrew Friedman took pleasure from neither: He had to call the team’s prodigal son, Matt Kemp, to tell him he’d been reacquired by the Dodgers—the team he came up with and with which he nearly won an MVP—but likely wasn’t staying long. Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, cut right to the chase. “I just want to be honest with you,” he told Kemp. “I’m not sure how this will play out.” This was the second time the two men had spoken. The first came in 2014, when Friedman was two months…

2 min.
a banner season

One of the crazier scenes in this crazy 2018 National League season came in the eighth inning at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 1, when umpire Joe West confiscated a card from Phillies reliever Austin Davis. Davis claimed the cheat sheet was merely for information on Chicago’s hitters. West said it was illegal under Rule 6.02 (c) (7), which prohibits a pitcher from using a foreign substance. You could say it was a senior moment for the Senior Circuit. “I’ve been here 40 years,” West says. “I ain’t never seen it before.” West could say that about a lot of things this season. Strikeouts might outnumber hits for the first time in MLB history. Teams will use more pitchers than ever before. And through Sept. 6, there had been a record…

14 min.
the nail files

remedy ACRYLIC NAIL ARCHIE BRADLEY, DIAMONDBACKS After multiple cracks in his nail curtailed the use of his curveball, the Arizona reliever found relief at a local salon. remedy ROOFING AARON SANCHEZ, BLUE JAYS After serving multiple stints on the DL, the 2016 AL ERA leader finally cracked the nail-care code through manual labor. remedy TRIMMING AND FILING DAVID PRICE, RED SOX Boston’s blister-prone big lefty takes matters into his own hands, buffing and clipping his nails before he pitches. remedy PICKLE JUICE GERRIT COLE, ASTROS There’s never a dill moment for the Astros ace, who dips his digits into some brine whenever he feels a blister coming on. remedy SUPERGLUE ZACH BRITTON, YANKEES When his one-seam sinker causes his nail to catch, the southpaw relies on the adhesive to smooth things out. Aaron Sanchez is staring at his cuticles, pondering a seemingly simple question. The Blue Jays pitcher has just…

18 min.
“how is this happening?”

By the time he neared second base, Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien sensed something was off. The vibe in Minute Maid Park was weirdly uncomfortable. It’s not like he expected an ovation in Houston, but this was like jogging through a crypt. What happened? Did everyone disappear? He was feeling pretty good about the home run he’d just hit off Gerrit Cole, but the silence that followed was unlike anything he could remember. It was enough to make a guy feel self-conscious. Semien’s homer came in the second inning of the first game of a three-game series in the last week of August. The A’s had already crafted a nice little season for themselves, and they’d long ago detected a whiff of disbelief from the outside world. Usually that doubt was voiced:…