New York Times bestselling author Mike Pesca discusses the present pandemic, the future, and famous what-ifs in sports history

Mike Pesca, New York Times bestselling author and host of “The Gist,” on Slate, chats with Andy about his book Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History. The book offers a look at what would have happened if some of the greatest sports moments hadn’t occurred and includes personal essays, counterfactual reported pieces, and sci-fi scenarios. 

“One thing I do in terms of making a contribution to the genre is define what makes a good ‘what-it’,” Pesca said. 

He explains that the best ‘what-ifs’ create unanticipated, fascinating ripples; have effects beyond the scope of one game, and are worthwhile flights of fancy. 

“Most of these stories can be told from the perspective of the athlete or the historian or the sideline reporter, but what about the perspective of the fans,” Pesca said of one of the personal essays in the book.  

He explains that sports are a thread that ties generations together and creates a bond between fans unlike any movies, concerts, or TV shows.

“What sports does for us is not only provides entertainment,” Pesca said. “We bond more over sports than we do over anything else.”

With the coronavirus is on everyone’s mind and Pesca offers some insight on why it’s okay to miss sports in the face of a pandemic. 

“Togetherness is how we heal,” Pesca said. “One of the major ways we healed after 9/11 was through baseball. Liza Minelli singing at the Mets game, the Yankees playing the Diamond Backs in the World Series…It’s very hard to mend because we, as a species, mend in proximity.”
Listen to the full episode here.

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