Sports Illustrated is undergoing a construction boom. Last week we launched TheMMQB.com, the several-times-a-day-every-day expansion of Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column. In late February the SI Swimsuit franchise established its own beachhead with SwimDaily.com, your year-round digital getaway for all things Upton, Teigen, Agdal, et al. In June, SI Now, the 30-minute live lunchtime program on SI.com, became part of the sports talk show ether. This fall we will roll out a long-form (words, full-frame photography, video) site and, by year's end, a redesign of SI.com and its mobile platforms. Plans for SI's digital enhancements are no less ambitious for 2014, with Swimsuit's 50th anniversary in February and the franchise's 60th birthday six months later. That, however, is a discussion for another issue.
This year's bounty comes with condiments. Extra Mustard, SI.com's fusion of pop culture and sports, comes to the pages of SCORECARD, where it will run as a weekly feature. For the last six years Extra Mustard has flavored the website with its coverage of sports' quirkier, more viral corners, from the increasingly fertile vine-yard of absurd pool dunk videos to the social media Tinder-box that facilitates late-night canoodling over the day's hottest topics. A dollop of absurdity such as Titans running back Chris Johnson's racing a cheetah (page 20), we argue, goes marvelously with this issue's entrees: exclusive takeouts on Johnny Manziel (by Andy Staples, beginning on page 26) and Alex Rodriguez (S.L. Price, page 54).
"You can't tell me that the Johnson story doesn't demand an investigation into which land mammal would've been the most appropriate competitor—it's certainly not a cheetah," says Mark Bechtel, who along with fellow senior editor Neil Janowitz will edit Extra Mustard across all of SI's platforms. "The goal is to have fun with stories like that, to bring a different sensibility, in measured amounts, to the week's events."
With the arrival of Extra Mustard comes the return of the Pop Culture grid, in which three athletes rapid-fire their way through such questions as what they would name the royal baby and what's the weirdest thing they've autographed. Hot/Not has been redesigned to highlight a breakout performer, who will be featured in greater depth at extramustard.si.com, often with video. And this week you can revisit the White Sox' bizarre sartorial change of Aug. 8, 1976: Call it a ridiculously short oral history of ridiculous shorts. It's only a small taste of what's to come from Extra Mustard—which is presented by Schick—and from the larger SI franchise. We think you'll like the new menu.
ERICK W. RASCO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED