Addio, Joe McGinniss, Soccer Buff
Joe McGinniss, who died on Monday at 71, wrote about politics and scandal and hypocrisy. In his foray into Italian soccer, he found himself at that very same intersection.
In his 1999 book, “The Miracle of Castel di Sangro,” he was living in a small hill city in the Abruzzo, getting to know the players. Then he watched them blunder away a final game that allowed the team from nearby Bari to advance into Serie A. Soon he accused some of the players of throwing the game, comparing them to the Red Brigade of the ‘70’s.
“Tu non sei costretto a parlare,” one key player said. You don’t have to speak.
This was revolutionary stuff in 1999. Seven years later, the world discovered that major teams in Serie A were leaning on referees and some players were gambling on their sport. Joe was not surprised. By that time, he was back in Massa-chusetts. The beautiful game was much like the rest of life.
We had one thing in common – awe of Roberto Baggio, the wispy pigtailed Buddhist genius, who created beautiful moments, from nothing.
“Other than my sons, he's the only man I've ever truly loved,” McGinniss wrote in an e-mail.
We never met. I remember seeing a very young sportswriter with a lean and hungry look, working for the Bulletin (“In Philadelphia nearly everybody reads the Bulletin.” But not anymore, inasmuch as that paper is long defunct.)
He soon wrote “The Selling of the President,” about the Nixon campaign of 1968, and later “Fatal Vision,” about the conviction of an army doctor for killing his pregnant wife and two children.
Janet Malcolm and others have accused McGinniss of misleading the doctor by professing to believe him to keep his access. I have never fully understood that. As a reporter, I have sat and listened to politicians, business people, sports officials, religious leaders and entertainers tell me all kinds of stupidità, and usually I kept a straight face, The trick is to keep them talking.
McGinniss and I never discussed that, or his time in Alaska, living next door to the Palins. I was jealous that he had lived in the Abruzzo. I’ve got dozens of his e-mails, deploring the gun culture in America or bad soccer on the tube, but he never bemoaned his wretched medical luck – inoperable prostate cancer, 14 months ago.
“Welcome to the Hotel Carcinoma," he wrote last year. He could not hang in there for the World Cup – Pirlo and Buffon and Balotelli in Brazil. I would have loved to hear his critiques.
Buon lavoro. Buona vita. Riposate in pace.
3/11/2014 05:22:41 am
Very sad to lose such an interesting and perceptive voice.
3/11/2014 05:55:13 am
Alan, tough little town up in the Abbruzz'. Owner who knows the straniero is saying the players tried to lose? His description of that final loss to Bari is very specific. Then again, I've seen calls favoring Juve and other teams over the years that I could not believe, Rigore in the 89th minute. Joe describes players he knows botching plays then should have handled. So, yes, he probably was walking the line,
3/12/2014 04:04:53 am
Peter, that is very nice. How nice you got to know him, and be part of his calcio exploration.
3/12/2014 09:51:44 am
3/18/2014 03:24:30 am
3/19/2014 02:03:35 am
Dear Nancy: Thank you so much for your lovely note.
8/30/2016 07:21:31 pm
didn't hear news til couple months ago
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.