Mike Lupica Achieves Long-Sought Sportswriting Perfection


You could single out almost any Mike Lupica column as typical, but the one in today’s Daily News as the Yankees prepare to play Texas in Game Three of the ALCS is really classic.

We don’t want to belabor the obvious — that’s Mike Lupica’s job.

Some examples: “The Yankees come home now. They have to believe that Game 3 of the American League Championship Series tonight at the Stadium is as much about them and the place as it is about the opposing pitcher.” Spot-on analysis. The Yankees are at home, the game is being played at Yankee Stadium, and the game is going to be at least half about them.

On the Rangers’ Cliff Lee: “Lee may turn out to be the star of this series and decide it all if he is starting Game 7 this weekend in Arlington.” That’s true, he might be.

“He is a big pitcher at this time of year.” Yes, that’s true, Lee is a big pitcher this time of year.

“They’re the Yankees and this is Yankee Stadium.” It’s easy to forget things like that when you’re reading a story about the Yankees playing a playoff game at Yankee Stadium, so it’s good that Lupica reminds us.

“So Lee tries to do it again at the new Stadium.” Again, right on. Lee will be pitching and this is the new Yankee Stadium — we looked, the old one is gone.

“But maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Maybe the story tonight is that Lee has to go up against the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium.” Once again, he’s right on every count. Lee is pitching, he is pitching against the Yankees, and they will be at Yankee Stadium.

“The Yankees have faced a lot of pitchers.” We checked this one out. It’s taken us hours, and we’ve only gone back half a century, but that’s enough to confirm that Lupica is indeed correct: the Yankees have faced a lot of pitchers, far too many to be mentioned in this story.

Lupica also has an uncanny talent for getting people to say things that you just don’t hear anywhere else. For instance, here’s Jeff Nelson replying to a question on whether or not the Yankees think they can beat any pitcher in baseball. “Didn’t Roy [Halladay] just lose last night?” We went on line and checked the Philadelphia papers. It’s true, Halladay did lose on Saturday night.

And the Rangers’ Jeff Francoeur on his team’s victory in Game 2: “Then they counted us out after Friday night. You know what we do? We just play.” We watched a replay of Saturday night’s game 7-2 Texas victory; Francoeur is correct, he and his teammates just played.

There is nobody better at telling us what we already know than Mike Lupica. More than forty years ago Flip Wilson told us a good preacher’s formula for success: “Tell ’em you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, then tell ’em you done told ’em.” Lupica’s achievement is this: he’s perfected formula for sportswriting.

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