Rookie at Bat

In its inaugural editor's note, America's newest sports magazine promises "no swimsuits, no bikinis...no rehashes, no game stories, no press-box pontificating, no wistful reminiscences about the good old days." It's a direct shot at rival SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and serves notice that the No. 1 sports weekly (published by Time Inc.) is facing a potent challenger.

ESPN the Magazine, a biweekly that debuted last week, is so distinct in look and approach that it hardly seems to be playing the same game--which, of course, is the point. In an effort to grab a young male audience, ESPN's book is oversize, a la...

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