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Collection of Rick Reilly’s ESPN.com columns deserves a spot on your bookshelf

The new book from ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, “Tiger, meet my sister… and other things I probably shouldn’t have said”, a collection of Reilly’s ESPN columns, is by turns sad, touching, and raucously irreverent.
The new book from ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, “Tiger, meet my sister… and other things I probably shouldn’t have said”, a collection of Reilly’s ESPN columns, is by turns sad, touching, and raucously irreverent.cover photo courtesy Blue Rider Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA)

Rick Reilly’s ‘Tiger, meet my sister… and other things I probably shouldn’t have said’

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Sportswriter Rick Reilly has been amusing, informing, entertaining, and sometimes outraging readers for the better part of four decades, first at Sports Illustrated and then at ESPN.com. If you are a longtime reader of Rick Reilly’s work you will probably already have read most of what is contained in his upcoming book, Tiger, meet my sister… and other things I probably shouldn’t have said, but don’t let that dissuade you from picking up a copy when it goes on sale May 13.

Tiger, meet my sister… is a collection of Reilly’s columns from six years at ESPN.com, from 2007 to 2013, a distillation of his wit, compassion, candor, and sometimes outrage, each appended with a line or paragraph of followup to the story as it first appeared. A book that is a collection of previous work might be seen as a quick out for a columnist looking for a book deal before retiring (Reilly will write his last column for ESPN on June 30th, 2014). When you want your readers to pony up and re-read material they (probably) have already read, just packaged in one easy-to-handle bundle, you better have quality material to sell, and in this case, he does. Reilly brings the goods with this book, in a collection of his best work for ESPN.com.

I doubt that Rick Reilly and World Golf Hall of Fame sportswriter Dan Jenkins are good pals, but one thing they have in common is the advice I got when I was introduced to Jenkins’s first golf novel, Dead Solid Perfect, by the father of a friend – “Don’t read it anywhere where laughing out loud will get you in trouble.” That’s also good advice for the foreword in Reilly’s book, and many, but not all, of the columns reproduced inside – though I will add another caveat: “Don’t read it anywhere where people can see you cry.”

Reilly’s writing, at its best, is not about sports, per se, but the people associated with sports, and the humor, pathos, good and bad behavior they exhibit. The first section of the book, entitled Flaws (Big People Acting Small) opens with his January 27, 2013 column on how he was duped, like so many of us were, by Lance Armstrong. The second section, Fortitude (Small People Acting Big) is a good two hankies, on average, per column – a selection of stories showcasing examples of the best that sport can bring out in fans, athletes, and coaches alike.

Reilly often takes delight in knocking the more pretentious high-rollers in professional sports off their perches when he can, and he doesn’t shirk from making fun of himself. In the section Fights (Columns That Got Me in Hot Water), he has included his December 1st, 2012 column, “Notre Dame Fooled Us All”, which recounts his bet that the Fighting Irish would fall to the USC Trojans in their November 24th matchup – and how he ended up shining the helmets of the entire Notre Dame football squad after the Irish prevailed, 22 to 13.

Reilly’s writing covers the full spectrum of what sportswriting, at its best, has to offer, and Tiger, meet my sister… is a top 5% distillation of his work. After reading Tiger, meet my sister… and other things I probably shouldn’t have said you will be glad that Reilly said (or wrote) them. This book will have you going back to the shelf again and again to pull it down and re-read a column here and there, for a laugh, or for inspiration.

Tiger, meet my sister… will be available at booksellers and online May 13th, 2014.