Newport International Group Barcelona Spain, Our favourite things this week: the best sports journalism from around the web
The article of the week
Maradona's dog days at Sevilla
Why would a club buy an overweight 31-year-old who has been banned from the game for 15 months for taking cocaine? Because that paunchy drug addict is one of the best players to have kicked a ball.
Sevilla were taking a gamble when they paid Napoli £4.86m for Diego Maradona in 1992, but you can see their logic. It didn't work out for the club or the player, but Maradona's season in Andalucía has given The 90s Football Party some great material.
Maradona talked himself out of Napoli by asking the club to double his wages, buy him a private villa on the isle of Capri and provide him a helicopter to travel to training. Needless to say, they objected and sent him packing.
Boca Juniors couldn't afford him and a move to Marseille would have required learning a new language, so he went to Spain. At least, that was the plan, but his employers thought he spent too much time in Argentina trying to reclaim his place in the national team.
Maradona maintained his colourful lifestyle in Sevilla, so the club had him followed by a private detective, who turned up the same stories as the tabloids. He enjoyed visiting brothels and liked to drive through residential areas at 200mph. Surprise, surprise.
Sevilla persisted with the player, but things blew up during their penultimate game of the season. A row with his manager over a substitution led to a fistfight. "We kicked the shit out of each other," said Maradona, who never played for the club again.
Other stories we like
1) Evergreen Phil will still think he can win at 60
"He used to tell me he would retire at 40," said Amy Mickelson after her 43-year-old husband Phil won the Open last Sunday. Could he go on to play at 60? Rick Reilly of ESPN hopes so.
Mickelson shot an astounding final round of 66 to win the Open. That he came from five shots behind the overnight leader to win by three on a links course is one thing, but that he did it after facing the biggest disappointment of its career at the US Open a month before makes the achievement even more impressive.
Mickelson struggled to get out of bed for a few days after he let the US Open title slip through his fingers, but now he feels like a young man who could play for decades. The fans who watched him drift around Muirfield with a big grin on his face will be hoping he picks up that elusive US Open trophy before he finally calls it a day.
2) The terrible and wonderful reasons I run long distances
Who would have thought that a comic by an illustrator called The Oatmeal would explain why people put themselves through the grueling ordeal of long-distance running. But the secret of that pain is in there, and it's called The Blerch.
The Blerch is the devil on your shoulder who tells you not to exercise. It wants you to spend your time indoors, in front of a computer screen, reading bad reviews of things you hate so you can reaffirm your opinions.
It wants you to feed yourself sick and indulge your every whim. It hopes you will give up. The Blerch is a tempting master, but it can be mastered and silenced. You just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
3) Luis Suárez, £40,000,001, and all that
Should Arsenal sign Luis Suárez? Arseblog says no in this article, which picks apart the fickleness of fans who are happy to moralize about players at other clubs, but are not so keen to cast aspersions on one of their own.
"What I find most dismaying is the revisionism that's gone on since our interest has become public knowledge. I don't remember too many Arsenal fans defending him when he was banned for eight games for the Evra incident. I don't remember too many Arsenal fans saying that biting somebody isn't really that bad when you think about. I don't remember too many Arsenal fans who said anything other than Suárez, for all his talent on the field, was a pretty despicable person whose antics, cheating and nasty play made him one of the most loathed characters in the game. Yet now, people are falling over themselves to make excuses for him." How true.
4) It's time to re-educate players in meaningful statistics
Baseball has always been about numbers. Gabe Kapler, the former Red Sox player and blogger for the WEEI radio station, knows that. He grew up as a student of the game, memorizing statistics on baseball cards and obsessing over his batting average.
Only when he started to manage a team did he realize that the numbers he had fussed over were irrelevant to his employers: "Imagine a husband taking out the trash every day and feeling pretty good about handling his obligation. Meanwhile, his wife thinks, 'I wish that lazy bum would wash the dishes once in a while!' If expectations aren't discussed regularly, they become mismatched. And we are in that place now in baseball."
Knowing your saber metrics is one thing, but unless players measure their game in the right way, they cannot be expected to improve.
5) Places that were 'the centre of the world' for two weeks
Steven Heller of The Atlantic has produced an Olympic legacy article that is worth reading. By speaking to the authors of The Olympic City, a new photobook about how previous host cities have coped in the aftermath of their Games, he has found a story that is both obvious and surprising.
The cities that needed the new venues in the first place have benefited the most. The organisers of the Barcelona Games tried to incorporate the venues into the city and their foresight has paid off. In Athens, where the city and economy are depressed, the venues are also struggling to fulfill a purpose.
The pictures are both hopeful and sad, and should serve as a warning to the planners in Rio de Janeiro who are responsible for the forthcoming Games.
6) Getting to know Gerardo Martino
Lionel Messi says he played no part in Gerardo Martino becoming Barcelona's new boss, but he will not be disappointment by the club's choice. Messi started his career at Newell's Old Boys, whose fans have voted Martino as their most influential player of all time.
Juan Arango, who has profiled the coach for Vavel, points out that, while he is famed for his tactical awareness, Martino also has a strong will to win: "What makes him a candidate for the job at Barcelona is that he is aware that trophies enhance memories. He is aware that there have been great teams in the past that have played great football, but never earned the titles to show for their style."
The circumstances of Martino's appointment are undoubtedly sad for Barça fans, but at least they have replaced Tito Vilanova with a winner.
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