Welcome To The Cauldron!
A place for your intelligent sports stories. Shared.
Cauldron (caul·dron) noun \ˈkȯl-drən\ — 1) A large pot or kettle; 2) something that resembles a boiling cauldron in intensity or degree of agitation.
Organized sport is a fickle siren. She captivates and mesmerizes us, and demands our attention with no promise of reward, nor any exemption from disappointment. We watch because we are compelled to. We recapture youth lost, bestow diehard-ed-ness to impressionable sons and daughters, and, perhaps most universally, briefly escape from our own realities.
But the things we see at the ballpark, in the stadium or through GIF-tastic tweets, also act as metaphors for our own triumphs and struggles. We don’t just watch the last-second shots, close-and-late situations, and nail-biting finishes. The successes and failures of “our guys” become our own.
Therein lies the motivation behind The Cauldron. As a staff, this is our opportunity to succeed; a digital embodiment of what The Great One knew: “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”
So it is with great pleasure, a healthy dose of trepidation, and immeasurable optimism that Andy Glockner, my Executive Editor Extraordinaire, and I welcome you. Here — assuming everything goes as planned — you will find the worthwhile sports stories, shared by a diverse and talented group of contributors with experience across the entire sports landscape.
The Heritage Bar and Restaurant sits a few hundred feet from the Bronx border in a mostly commercial section of Yonkers, New York. The bar itself is a nondescript, one-story building that serves up libations to the nearby blue-collar, predominantly Irish-American neighborhood known as Woodlawn. Inside you’ll find about what you’d expect: dark-stained mahogany wainscoting, endless brass taps, deep booths with seatbacks designed for impossibly tall patrons, and freckle-laden barkeeps that know well enough to keep the Maker’s coming.
I first stepped foot into Heritage on a Wednesday evening in June of 1994. It was actually the first time I had stepped foot in any bar, but it was certainly not the last time I would be found in a bar on my birthday. That night’s raucous crowd, however, was not in attendance to celebrate another year of my earthy existence. It was the first full day of summer and the day on which Game 7 of the NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks was played.
The mood at tip-off was uneasy. New York had just days before held a 3-2 series lead against Houston, but then those oh-so-clutch Hakeem Olajuwon fingertips just barely altered John Starks’ last-second, Championship-clinching three-point attempt in the waning seconds of Game 6. Few recall that Starks had dropped 27 points in that penultimate game, or that to that point in the Finals, the guard was averaging 19.3 points-per-game.
(For the record, Patrick Ewing was and remains my favorite player of all-time, but on the night in question, I proudly wore a #3 jersey. Starks was the newest and unlikeliest Knick to don the “missing piece” cap, that elusive second star who could help Ewing finally deliver on the promise of his ‘85 Draft status. No one expected anything of Starks, of course, while unfilled expectations eventually became the sad tagline to Ewing’s undeniably brilliant Hall of Fame career. Starks could have been any of us, it seemed; a living, breathing example of what our NBA miracle stories might’ve been.)
We all know how things turned out.
New York lost Game 7 to Houston, 90-84. Ewing, though he scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, was outplayed by his longtime nemesis Olajuwon (25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks). And John Starks, he of the most unlikely grocery-bagger-to-starting-NBA-two-guard rags-to-riches story, infamously went 2-for-18 from the field (0-for-11 from beyond the arc), forever smudging his legacy and almost single-handedly crushing New York’s destiny.
Nearly 17 years later, sportswriting afforded me the opportunity to sit down with Starks and talk to him about his career. I expected him to lament the game that, for seemingly everyone else, still defines him. I expected my questions to send him into a bout of depression or, at a minimum, a seizure or two, but his reaction was quite the opposite. “That was the most difficult game I ever played in,” he told me, “and it carried over through the summer and into next season. It wasn’t until I watched the game on tape in October  that I was able to stop running from the experience and get it out of my system, once and for all.”
If Starks was tired of answering questions about his performance, you would never know it by talking to the man. He was at peace with who he was and what he’d done. And he would play things the same way if he’d had another shot at it.
Interviewing Starks surprised me in another way, too. I realized that Game 7 was actually the first sporting event to leave me with a deep sense of personal loss. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that loss was one of many sport-centric catalysts to leave their indelible marks. Over time, I came to realize that I wasn’t just a fan; I cared about sports, and I wanted to share my opinions about sports. More importantly, I wanted to help others do the same.
Obviously, if you are reading this, then you are at least to some degree familiar with Medium. In short, as a writing platform, it is unrivaled in its execution, accessibility and user-friendliness. As a content provider, Medium delivers a clean, elegant, and intuitive reading experience that simply cannot be found elsewhere. And if this place does, in fact, become the world’s digital hub for writing and sharing, there will be nowhere better for The Cauldron to showcase itself.
Then again, what good is having the keys if the Ferrari is always out of gas?
Ultimately, it’s all about the content. I want The Cauldron’s readership to feel like the time it spends here is time well spent. If we leave our audience wanting more, all the better. This is not about #HotSportsTakes, aggregated third-party content, or click-bait. It’s about providing compelling and thought-provoking stories that encourage discussion and facilitate debate.
When you visit The Cauldron — and really, kick off your shoes and stay a while, won’t you? — you will find the droids you’re looking for. We will cover the things you would expect and some things you’ll never see coming. Our roster of contributors is as deep as it is talented, and it will come at you with a vast array of professional and creative experience. Some of our writers hail from traditional print outfits, others have written for well-known blog networks, and many currently freelance for major national sports publications.
It is no less important to me that The Cauldron acts as a talent incubator, a place where established journalists and authors can write and share their work side-by-side with up-and-comers trying to break into the industry. Here, contributors will have an opportunity to write for a national audience and receive editorial guidance in the process. I encourage anyone who wishes to contribute to The Cauldron to submit their work for review. If it meets our quality standards, it’ll be published.
Nowadays, I am less invested in the Knicks (or any other team), but I do still remain, for better or worse, latched to the Garden teat. This June marks 20 years since the Knicks came up short in Houston. And this year, like every year, my thoughts will drift to John Starks. Though he will never be confused with Gretzky when it comes to iconic sports quotes, Starks’ reply after listening to me complain about him ruining my eighteenth birthday was inspirational, to say the least.
“Listen, shooters shoot, Man.”
Well, here’s my shot.