Tuesday, May 28, 2024 May 28, 2024
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EarBurner Podcast: Introducing Mike Piellucci, Our New Sports Editor

We stole him from The Athletic. Sorry, The Athletic.
Photo by Jonathan Zizzo

Are you ready for some stuff to go down? Seriously. This is about to happen.

In the next few weeks — OK, maybe a month — D Magazine will launch a new sports thing called StrongSide. It’ll be just like FrontBurner and SideDish and FrontRow. Only it will be totally different and focused on sports in North Texas. Its tagline, until we decide to change it, is: “Smart takes and winning stories about Dallas sports.” And the guy who will call the shots is named Mike Piellucci. In this episode of EarBurner, Mike introduces himself, and Zac insults my bottom. And we discuss competitive collegiate meat judging.

Quick links to stuff that comes up in our conversation: the D story Mike wrote about the first professional bridge team; the Sports Illustrated story he wrote about meat judging; the Athletic story about the discord within the Mavericks organization that Mike edited; and the D story Matt wrote about Dr. Death that NBC won’t even send him a thank-you coozie for.

You’ll find the podcast player below. Or you can subscribe through whichever podcatching app you prefer. Also below, you’ll find a letter of introduction from Mike himself that ran in the August issue of D.

Allow Myself to Introduce … Myself

Some people understand Dallas through its restaurants, others through its museums, still others through its music. I understand it through sports.

The seasons of my childhood were spent in our teams’ temples. There was the constant of fall nights in the Reunion Arena nosebleeds, my father taking care to point out the old Sportatorium on the drive downtown. Then there were the one-offs, like the frigid winter day bundled up in Texas Stadium to see The Triplets battle Randall Cunningham’s Philadelphia Eagles, or my oldest friend’s birthday party on a balmy spring day at the Cotton Bowl, where we watched the Dallas Burn a half decade or so before they became FC Dallas. Somewhere in between is an indeterminate number of summer boils at the Ballpark in Arlington, the heat reducing all those innings to a stew of home runs and sweat.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that I found my way into writing about sports and that, despite moving to Los Angeles and working nationally — on staff at VICE, freelancing for Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and The Ringer — so many of the stories I gravitated toward remained in Dallas. I moved back in 2018 and took a job with The Athletic’s Dallas bureau the following year. My reorientation with the city picked up where it had left off. It still centers me, for instance, to think of D Magazine’s office in relation to the American Airlines Center (it’s about a mile southeast) or DFW Airport relative to Jerry World (20 minutes south). My roots don’t pull up easily.

Your relationship with Dallas sports might not be as encompassing as mine — it’s probably healthier if it isn’t. But professional sports surely play at least a minor role in your life, if only because of their sheer representation in North Texas: franchises in the country’s six major professional sports leagues, a NASCAR track, and a storied golf tournament, to say nothing of circuit events and the amateur ranks, including high school and college.

For nearly 50 years, D has covered our city better and smarter, with a greater civic focus, than any other media outlet. Now it’s time to turn our attention to sports. As D’s first sports editor, I can promise you plenty on the biggest teams in town. Yes, that means the Cowboys; there is no tuning out our city’s longest-running drama. And there will be plenty to say about Luka Dončić. But we’ll also keep a close eye on the Dallas Wings, whose loaded young roster might be the foundation of the city’s next championship team.

That’s only the beginning. Did you know that we have emerged as one of the country’s biggest cities for esports? We’ll talk about that, just like we’ll dig into our history as a professional wrestling town. Tennis? Sure. Rodeo? Why not? True local coverage means telling great stories wherever they turn up.

Sports are a powerful cultural unifier, and in a city that cares this much, with so much ground to cover, they warrant focused coverage. That’s what I’m here to do. You’ll find stories here in the magazine, of course, but you’ll be able to read much more online at our new sports site. It’s called StrongSide, and it will launch later this summer. In time, there will be an associated podcast and newsletter.

I can’t wait to explore, learn about, and, like always, understand this slice of our city together with all of you. —Mike Piellucci

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