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Norman Chad analyzes The Players’ Tribune

I had largely ignored The Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter’s year-old Web site where athletes share first-person narratives. But while working out the other day at Muscle Beach along the famed Venice (California) Beach Boardwalk, one of my fellow lifters called The Players’ Tribune “a literary athletic version of The New Yorker,” so I dropped a 250-pound barbell and raced to the nearest laptop to check it out.

Before I even got to the site, I read that Kobe Bryant had just invested a large chuck of money in The Players’ Tribune. Now, Kobe doesn’t part with his hard-earned hardwood dollars easily – you don’t see him writing a seven-figure check, say, for Radio Shack, do you? – so I’m figuring he might be on to something special.

Plus Kobe is listed as the Tribune’s “editorial director.” OK, so Jeter is founding publisher and Kobe is editorial director. Wow. What if The Captain is a latter-day William Randolph Hearst and Kobe is a latter-day William Shawn?

Essentially, The Players’ Tribune is an online newspaper/magazine in which athletes can express their thoughts, unfettered and unfiltered.

(Traditionally, this was done as they walked out of the postgame locker-room shower, with a towel around their midsection and a paunchy sportswriter around their locker.)

As it turns out, The Players’ Tribune – in addition to The Captain and Kobe – has a who’s who of big-name Algonquin Table-type writer-jocks roaming its virtual halls. To wit:

· David Ortiz, Editor at Large

· Tiger Woods, Contributing Editor

· Kevin Love, Senior Editor

· Danica Patrick, Senior Editor

· Russell Wilson, Senior Editor

· Matt Harvey, New York City Bureau Chief

(Future hires might include Dennis Rodman, Foreign Affairs Editor, and Ray Lewis, Crime Editor Emeritus.)

Yes, Harvey is NYC bureau chief. That seems like a big job; after all, we’re talking five boroughs, plus New Jersey. Yet so far, Harvey’s only filed three pieces for the Tribune – similar to his “innings cap,” he could be on an “articles cap,” closely monitored by his editors and by his agent Scott Boras.

In fact, Harvey’s most recent piece, “I Will Pitch in the Playoffs,” was only 307 words; actually, maybe he’s on a “word count.”

Anyway, I decided to dive into The Players’ Tribune, somewhat skeptical and somewhat open-minded.

(Who knows? Maybe Jeter’s a journalistic genius, a pinstriped prince of the press. I mean, is it possible that a fella who spent 20 years answering, “I don’t know,” to most media questions could now run a transformative, insight-filled media empire?)

So I clicked away on article after article on the site that bills itself as “The Voice of the Game.”

First baseman Eric Hosmer, on his Kansas City Royals: “We’re here, now. And we’re going to be sticking around for a while.”

Former NBA center Adonal Foyle, on mental health in sports: “Athletes are no different than anyone else. They too experience everyday stress.”

Retired NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman, on the Bengals’ 6-0 start: “Some things can’t be overstated. The importance of chemistry is one of them.”

Boy, I got chills – it was like reading excerpts from a “Best of John Feinstein” book collection.

But my favorite piece was penned by baseball hall of famer Reggie Jackson, who wrote about the three “most feared, most clutch postseason hitters I’ve ever seen” in the modern era – Manny Ramirez, Tribune editor at-large David Ortiz and, yes, Tribune founder Derek Jeter.

(I give Jackson credit – Mr. October, showing a clear understanding of American commerce, realizes Mr. November butters his bread here.)

Jackson wrote of The Captain, “Derek Jeter always rose to the occasion. If there is such a thing as the ‘clutch gene,’ Derek Jeter [has] it.”

I read those words to the late Red Smith – he didn’t roll over in his grave, he jumped out of it and threw my laptop into the nearest ditch.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Re: Miami-Duke: Who was it that said, “The opera ain’t over until the conference suspends the officials and replay crew for two games the day after the opera?” (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pennsylvania)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. If the Chiefs-Lions game had not sold out in London last week, which city would the NFL have blacked out, Kansas City or Detroit? (Peter Canada; Bethesda, Maryland)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Do you think Peyton Manning and Bernie Sanders both go to the same geriatric physician? (Jeff Kemp; Bethesda, Maryland)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Since the Washington Nationals are valuing “experience” for their new staff, will the bench coach be RGIII? (Daniel Duncan; Burke, Virginia)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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