Buying holiday presents for sports fans can be as maddening as watching Tony Romo in the final minutes of a close game.
Which team does he like? Has she seen this? Should I throw the ball to the Packers instead of trying to run out the clock?
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. (Bulletin sports readers, that is. Cowboys fans, best of luck to you.)
Here are last-minute suggestions that those of us in The Bulletin’s sports department hope to see under our Christmas trees:
• “The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects” by Steve Rushin: A longtime sports writer for Sports Illustrated, Rushin retells the story of organized baseball through the inanimate objects that are so synonymous with the game. The history of bats, caps, and even jockstraps sheds a whole new light on baseball through the ages.
Available in hardback ($25) and on e-readers ($12.99).
• “You Herd Me!: I’ll Say It, If Nobody Else Will” by Colin Cowherd: A Washington native who worked for a while in Portland — he was a KGW TV sports anchor and did radio for KFXX — Cowherd, now one of ESPN’s most popular radio and TV personalities, riffs on a variety of topics in this collection of essays/rants. He compares Major League Baseball to the Republican Party, laughs at Tiger Woods’ claim of sexual addiction, and lambastes the arrogance of college basketball coaches.
Fans of Cowherd’s radio show will have heard some of the arguments he puts forth, but in print they are better researched and often more convincing.
Available in hardback ($26.00) and on e-readers ($10.99).
• “100 Things Oregon Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Rob Moseley and Chris Hansen: Moseley, the editor-in-chief of the UO’s athletic website www.GoDucks.com, and Hansen, a longtime Eugene Register-Guard sports writer, have roots in Bend, as they both were former intern sports reporters at The Bulletin. They chronicle the most memorable moments in University of Oregon football history — “Kenny Wheaton’s gonna score!” — and add a few bucket-list items for Ducks fans. Also fun for locals are the chapters on former UO players and current Central Oregon residents Dan Fouts (Sisters) and Gary Zimmerman (Bend).
Available in paperback ($14.95) and on e-readers ($11.99).
• “The Best American Sports Writing 2013” edited by J.R. Moehringer: A collection of the best and most expertly crafted sports stories from 2012, this anthology was designed for the reader who tears through Sports Illustrated in one sitting. While SI is well-represented, the TBASW series always does a stellar job of finding outstanding stories from places outside the typical sports landscape. Articles from Men’s Journal, GQ, The Believer, and The New Yorker all appear in this year’s book.
Available in paperback ($14.95) and on e-readers ($14.95).
• “ESPN 30 for 30 Collector’s Set”: The brainchild of ESPN personality Bill Simmons, the “30 for 30 Series” is 30 documentaries by 30 different directors telling stories that took place during ESPN’s first 30 years in business. Sure, some films are better than others, but several would have been Oscar contenders if not for the Academy Awards’ bizarre selection rules. “The Two Escobars,” which examines the intertwined lives and deaths of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and Columbian soccer star Anders Escobar — they were not related — is alone worth the price of the entire set.
Available on Blu-ray ($61.99), DVD ($20.49) and iTunes ($80.73).
• “McConkey”: This documentary on Shane McConkey, a freeskiing pioneer who liked to combine BASE jumping with skiing, screened at this year’s BendFilm Festival and I still cannot get it out of my head. McConkey continually pushed the limits of skiing until doing so ultimately cost him his life. Heartbreaking interviews with friends and family, as well as a vast amount of home video of McConkey himself, will move you whether you have a season pass at Mt. Bachelor or prefer your snow in plastic globes.
Available in a DVD and Blu-ray collectors’ box ($30), iTunes ($12.99) and Google Play ($9.99), and screening at Bend’s Tower Theatre ($10) on Dec. 28. For more information, got to www.mcconkeymovie.com.
• “Medora”: Another film that was shown at this year’s BendFilm Festival, Medora tells the story of the Medora Hornets, maybe the worst boys basketball team in hoops-crazed Indiana. Filmmakers spent a year following team members from this depressed Rust Belt town where poverty is seemingly everywhere. This is every bit as gritty and gut-wrenching to watch as “Hoops Dreams” was 20 years ago.
Available on Blu-ray ($25.99), DVD ($14.99), iTunes ($12.99) and Google Play ($9.99). For more information, go to www.medorafilm.com.
• MLB At Bat: All right, this present probably works only if you are buying for a baseball junkie, but it might be my favorite gift on the list. The MLB At Bat app allows you to listen to every Major League Baseball game of the 2014 season with your choice of home or away announcers. Last summer I spent hours listening to Denny Matthews broadcast Kansas City Royals games early in the evening before switching over to the West Coast game of my choice later in the night. This app is worth the price — $2.99 per month or $19.99 for the whole season — just to listen to Vin Scully call Dodgers games.
Available through www.mlb.com, iTunes, Google Play and other app marketplaces for $2.99 a month or $19.99 for the entire season.
• Topps Wall Art: A gift made for every man cave in America, these posters — they come as large as 23 inches by 31 inches — are exact replicas of your favorite Topps baseball cards from 1968 to 1990. Not all players are available — Buddy Biancalana yes, Bo Jackson no — but there is more than enough inventory to make any child of the 1960s, ‘70s or ‘80s happy.
Available at www.topps.com. Prices start at $64.99.