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ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine July 2019

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.
game changers

Prior to this shoot, how much did you know about Mendez? Sara: We didn’t know anything. And then we watched the SC Featured profile on him, and we were so moved by it. I teared up. We were really excited to tackle this assignment because it’s not something we normally do. We usually shoot fluffier pieces, more fashion, celebrity, pro athletes. Mark: And this is so heartfelt. What stood out the most during the shoot with the coach? Sara: I’d have to say his relationship with the players. Mark: There was a lot of trust between Mendez and his players. You can tell a lot about a person by those types of relationships. He’s a really deep and honest character. Did anything unexpected happen the day of the shoot? Mark: It did! We were going to shoot…

4 min.
the truth

These are desperate, fractured times. Tiger Woods thrillingly wins the Masters, but he is complicated: the racial confusion, the sex addiction, the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, a rival worthy of Nick Saban, makes millions from unpaid labor and says he would quit his job if players were ever paid. Americans channel-surf for customized versions of the “truth.” Shelves in bookstores across America are stacked with polemics lamenting a decline of shared values; Michiko Kakutani, the Pulitzer Prize–winning former New York Times critic, titled her latest book The Death of Truth. The center, if ever there was one, no longer holds. An old, discredited name has recently pushed us ever closer to the brink. Lance Armstrong is the most despicable of creatures, an athlete who preyed on a…

4 min.
the numbers

Basketball Analytics 101 says shot location matters. By extension, so does an athlete’s propensity to be in the right place at the right time during games. Yet as the NBA draft approaches, consider the qualities we use to evaluate prospects. We discuss their height, weight, length, speed—there’s even a set of complete anthropometric rankings, including body-fat percentages, on—plus the big plays we’ve seen them make in big games. Tools and highlights are fine for appreciating potential draftees as physical specimens. But we generally don’t assess court presence, largely because there hasn’t been any way to see how it translates from college to the pro ranks. Until now. Last year Google uploaded a huge cache of statistics for NCAA games, including play-by-play info going back to 2009, to BigQuery, its online data…

3 min.
1 handy man

HITTING FOR AVERAGE . Bellinger is a true Triple Crown threat (.353, 20 homers, 54 RBIs) thanks to that huge improvement against left-handers—he’s hitting .309 with a 1.017 OPS against them (.226/.681 last year). He has cut his strikeout rate (14.1 percent) nearly in half from two seasons ago and bumped his contact rate (77.0 percent) to a career best. Oh, and he leads MLB with 5.5 WAR. If he accrues WAR at this pace, he’ll finish with 13.3, within shouting distance of Babe Ruth’s single-season record (14.1). HITTING FOR POWER . Bellinger set a Dodgers record with 14 home runs through April. His homer rate (7.2 percent of his plate appearances end in round-trippers) is more than double the MLB average. He’s accomplishing all this because he’s hitting everything squarely. If he…

1 min.
2. pack mentality

A year of prep. Five tons of shipments to Europe. And gum—so much gum. Here’s how head equipment manager Ryan Dell got the USWNT geared up for a month in France. BY THE NUMBERS 400 Jerseys 2 Heat presses. “We print jerseys on-site,” Dell says. “We had one break on a trip to Spain, so now we take two.” 12 Large bottles of shampoo 20 Large bottles of bodywash 12 Large bottles of conditioner 12 Five-pound boxes of flavored gum. The USWNT goes through five packs a game. 7 Massage tables. Four are used for athletic training and three for full-body massages. 120 Pairs of cleats. That’s about five per player, but Dell says an active player like Julie Ertz could go through eight pairs in France. 1 Vinyl cutter. “If you give me your last name, we could have…

1 min.
3. games of the weak

July is National Anti-Boredom Month. But here at The Mag, we’re proud to admit that we have a bit of a pro-boredom streak. So please consider these ugh-worthy athletic contests to be our anti-anti-boredom PSA for the month. MLB Orioles at Blue Jays (July 5, 7 p.m. ET, MLBTV) Hmm, this game has Vlad Jr. in it. And also … well, there’s no also. It’s just Vlad Jr. against a recordbreakingly bad homer-yielding O’s pitching staff. That’s something interesting every 45 minutes or so, though, right? MLS FC Cincinnati at Chicago Fire (July 13, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) These teams are a combined 7–17–8. But hey, the FC Cincinnati coach’s name is Yoann Damet, and that’s really fun to yell at a bad soccer team!…