IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Ed Grimley did, I must say.

Starting Five

Kavanaughty?

The sniff test? I don’t like him.

Sorry.

He’s not a straight talker. He speaks like a politician, not like a judge. Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh went on Fox News last night and blah blah blah “I want a fair process” blah blah blah “I want a fair process” blah blah blah “I want a fair process.”

Don’t judges want due process?


First there was Dr. Ford (Georgetown Prep). Next came Deborah Ramirez (Yale). Then Michael Avenatti found someone. Then The New York Times found nasty yearbook references. By the time you read this there’ll probably be something else.

But here’s my gut: He’s not a straight talker (Someone nominate Herm Edwards to the SCOTUS and I’ll support that!). He’s a politician. Not a judge.

2. Monday Night Slapdown


If you’d ever wondered, Can you be posterized in football, the answer is yes. That’s Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive back Chris Conte, who himself is 6’2″, getting double bitch-slapped (that’s probably not an appropriate term any more, is it?) by 6’4″ Pittsburgh Steeler tight end Vance McDonald en route to a 75-yard touchdown.

3. Citizen Crane*

*The judges will not accept “We Pick Booger”

How many minutes did it take for you on the season premiere of Monday Night Football to realize that Booger McFarland (above) was the superior MNF rookie to Jason Witten? Hell, even Brian Kelly and Dabo Swinney were sharp enough to flip-flop their No. 1 and 2 quarterbacks before the end of September—will ESPN bring Booger down from the crane and into the booth?

We noticed the former LSU defensive lineman during the opening week of Get Up! last April. He wasn’t even one of the three principal cast members but was by far the most engaging dude on the set. People like Booger. People relate to Booger. Booger is better. It’s just that simple.

4. Rule No. 7

Last night the Yankees, playing at Tampa Bay, finally test-drove the formula that the Rays have used with great success all season (and which we suggested in a Newsweek article two years ago). Namely, use multiple pitchers throughout the game, never pitching anyone more than two innings. So how did that work out?

–The Yanks won 4-1, with eight pitchers combining for a two-hitter and 13 strikeouts.

–The victory eliminated Tampa Bay from the postseason.

–Seven of the eight pitchers did not allow a hit. The only one who did was Sonny Gray, who was also the only one to allow a run and the only one who tossed two innings. Gray got the victory.

–Also, only one of the eight pitchers failed to get a strikeout. That pitcher was Dellin Betances, who entered the night having whiffed at least one batter in 44 straight appearances. The Major League record? 45 straight appearances.

Finally, from another game, “There’s no fighting in the bleachers.”

5. Sound of Silence

On Saturday night in Corona, Queens (where Rosie was queen), a short bicycle ride from the home in which he was raised, Paul Simon gave his final concert. Like, ever. The set list for the musical genius, who turns 77 next month, is included in this link, but know this: he finished with the song that is the headline of this item.

Bittersweet. The above video is so powerful for us because you’re watching one of the defining artists of the pop-and-rock era, a man who’s been recording iconic hits for more than half a century, literally strumming the final chord of his career.

In another decade or two all of our rock and roll legends will be silenced by the Grim Reaper. Hello darkness, my old friend.

Music 101

Something Stupid

This song opened up last week’s episode of Better Call Saul, using a brilliant split-screen montage to illustrate how Jimmy and Kim were slowly untangling as a couple (situation remedied this week: Kim came over to the dark side). The artist here is Lola Marsh, a current Israeli duo who were commissioned specially to record it for this episode. The better-known version, recorded by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, shot up to No. 1 in 1967. Think of all the bands and songs that were roaming the earth in 1967, one of the best years ever for music. And this song went to No. 1.

Remote Patrol

Dunkirk

2:25 p.m. HBO

Only for those with HBO and who have two hours to kill on a (cue the Moody Blues) Tuuuueeeeesday afterrrrrrnoooooon. Anyway, the first time we saw this, on a flight with bad ear buds, we did not appreciate it. The next time, when we understood what director Chris Nolan was trying to do, we were in awe. It’s a genius look at one of the most fateful military events in European history, taken in three different morsels of time: one week, one day, one hour.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


The author of the letter to the editor may be the best pro-choice argument you’ll see today…

Starting Five

F(Oregon)e Conclusion

How do you give away a football game—twice? I still don’t believe what I saw happen in Eugene. Are the Ducks cursed or are the Stanford Cardinal simply charmed?

That moment where Duck QB Justin Herbert had his back to the play, coolly flipped the ball to his running back on the jet sweep, and it appeared that he’d race to the pylon for the score that would make it 31-7 late in the third quarter? That very moment where he flipped the ball so nonchalantly out of his hands into the air?

The 6’6″ Herbert completed 25-27 passes before overtime and ran for what should have been the game-winning first down in the final two minutes.

That was the zenith of his college career. That was the moment every one of us has in our lives, where the future is unbelievably bright and hopeful, just before things come crashing down and you graduate to the school of hard knocks. Not all of us get the chance to see the precise moment happen, but there it was.

2. Star 80

At the end of the first round of the PGA Tour Championship in Georgia on Thursday, Tiger Woods had a share of the lead. And at the end of Sunday’s final round, the 42 year-old had the lead all to himself. Woods, who still has not won a major since June of 2008 (his 13 major championships are second only to Jack Nicklaus’ 18), claims his first victory on the PGA Tour in five years.

He went 1,876 days between Tour wins…

It’s Tiger’s 80th PGA Tour victory.

Preparing for a Sunday drive or two…

It was refreshing to hear “Tiger’s exploits” and not have to think, Who now? And if you’re wondering about that wave of euphoria, that swarm of fans who followed him up the 18th fairway, and asking, “Why?” Because we all love a redemption story.

People are calling this the greatest sports comeback of all time. Don’t know about that. Do know that if Michael Schumacher ever returns to win a Formula One race that’ll top it. Too soon?

And that’s an encouraging way to end 2018 for a veteran of multiple back surgeries. “Tiger’s Back” has long been the problem, but maybe “Tiger’s Back” is at long last an accurate report of events.

3. Feats Of Clay

For the third consecutive week, Green Bay Packer linebacker/Norse god Clay Matthews (he’s a viking, not a Viking) was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a quarterback, or what everyone outside the league offices on 52nd and Park Avenue would describe as “doing his job.”


This is a crock, as recently retired future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas implied on Sunday…

4. The Job Of Book

*the judges spent 73 minutes attempting to think of an original Ian Book pun.

Granted, Wake Forest isn’t exactly Michigan (and the Demon Deacons did fire their defensive coordinator in the wake of Saturday’s 56-27 defeat), but it’s not far from Ball State or Vanderbilt. Redshirt sophomore Ian Book took the reigns of Notre Dame’s offense for a trial run (as this blog suggested on Sept. 12 in an item titled “Notre Dame’s Playbook? Play Book”) and won the job.

It wasn’t just that Book’s numbers were impressive (25 of 34, 325 yards, 2 TDs, 0 picks, three rushing TDs) in leading the Irish to eight offensive touchdowns (they scored nine in their first three games, all wins), but more so that everyone else shined with him on the field. Ten different teammates caught passes, again equaling the number through three games with Brandon Wimbush at the helm.

Wimbush led the Irish to a 3-0 start this season and was 11-3 as a starter/finisher, but the offense often sputtered until/unless he started doing improv

The Irish defense has the chance to be special. Now, the offense with Book on the field can come close to matching it. And what of Wimbush, whom the coaches call the team’s premier running back? That’s the next conundrum. Is he the number two QB, or do you move him to wideout or running back? Would he accept that move?

Related: Did you see that throw true freshman Phil Jurkovec unleashed in garbage time? He has a cannon.

5. Thanks, I’ll Drive

In Birmingham, England, 44 m.p.h. gusts from Storm Ali (not to be confused with Storm Ali G.) caused this Air France airbus to abort its landing this weekend. Mitch McConnell commented that as soon as he gets Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to SCOTUS, these will no longer take place. And then someone told him to shut up.

 

Music 101

Runaway

Love this summer of ’78 Fleetwood Mac-style single from Jefferson Starship. This song peaked at No. 12 and I’m honestly not sure if the vocals are Marty Balin or Grace Slick. I think it’s the former. It was a good summer for music, and I remember it well because the fam moved cross-country and drove the entire way. Must’ve heard this song, Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good,” and Walter Egan’s “Magnet and Steel” two dozen times each on that pilgrimage.

Remote Patrol

The Last Waltz

9 p.m. TCM

Early in his career, Marty Scorcese filmed the final live performance of The Band, at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on Thanksgiving, 1976. If you were there you witnessed the legendary group play a dozen songs and then back up even brighter luminaries such as Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, Ringo Starr and, of course, the musician for whom they launched their career as a backing ensemble,  Bob Dylan.

Better Call Saul (a.k.a. The Last Walt)

9 p.m. AMC

If you don’t have DVR, this WILL be a dilemma.

CHRIS PICKS: WEEK 3

by Chris Corbellini

Week 3 Picks: When in doubt, don’t take your eyes off the QB

The windows to complete passes are so small, and the defenses are so fast, that it occurred to me that amazing needs to be the new normal for NFL quarterbacks. OK, let me rephrase: Amazing needs to be the new normal if that quarterback’s team wants to reach the NFL playoffs.

Example: Trailing the Packers 23-14 with 7:29 to play at Lambeau Field last week, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins faced a second and 10 from his own 25 and, at the snap, with Stefon Diggs running a go pattern, you could tell almost immediately that his throw would need to be Hail Mary-ish if he were to complete it to the streaking receiver. Diggs beat corner Davon House about 20 yards downfield, with House straining to keep up from there, and holy hell, Cousins uncorked a beauty. He let it go at his own 16, and Diggs caught it at the Packers 22 in stride. That’s a 75-yard touchdown pass on the box score, but it traveled 82 yards in the air.

Cousins is joining the immediate family of elite QBs

And it wasn’t even his best throw of the fourth quarter. That would be the 22-yard touch pass to Adam Thielen between two Packers defenders (Jaire Alexander and Kentrell Brice, who upon later review, may have held up a little because they knew they could hit each other) to cut the Pack lead to 29-27. The Vikings would then tie the game off a nifty pivot route by Diggs, who Cousins hit with ease for the two-point conversion. Cousins then had another impressive 25-yard completion to Thielen in OT, but it still wasn’t enough. The Vikings kicker missed a 35-yarder several plays later and the game wound up a tie.

We will need to wait until late November to see if Cousins can keep up with Packers All-Pro Aaron Rodgers once again. If he does, that may mean the division title and an automatic playoff berth. Maybe the Vikings sideline walked to the team buses numb and sore due to the 29-29 tie, and furious at the kicker (who was promptly released), but no question there’s an underlying confidence there due to Cousins. And it could carry them for months.

A good QB = hope. An amazing QB = swag. It’s a quarterback’s world, and the rest of us are watching it.

It’s soooo early, but to this point, here are the QBs that have impressed me most so far on film. Let’s see if these teams end up in the playoffs come January:

Cousins

Rodgers

Alex Smith

Patrick Mahomes (Well, hello and welcome!)

Philip Rivers

Jared Goff

Tom Brady

Matthew Stafford (Yes, really)

I’ll wait another week before I put the legend of Ryan Fitzpatrick and his chest hair on the list, and ditto with Blake Bortles and the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton. But I’m not saying it won’t happen.

And all of this is prologue to my QB-centric picks this week. When in doubt (and I’m doubting now, having gone 1-2 last week) … go with the QB who can make an entire NFL sideline believe.

William Hill odds. Home team in caps.

Patriots (-6.5) over LIONS

You try to talk yourself into something, but the film shows you otherwise. I was ready to bury the Detroit Lions this year, and then I watched the second half of the team’s loss at San Francisco. There, Stafford completed the passes of a franchise guy who has reached his full potential athletically … and is now a smart QB to boot.

If I squinted Stafford looked just like Rivers against the Bills last week (a much-weaker foe than the Niners), a combination of hunger, a big arm, and brains. Perhaps the Lions will be beat down later in the season, privately griping about the system and the coaching staff with the playoffs out of reach. But Stafford found the right balance of experience and desperation in that second half. That should carry over if the Leos trail early against the Pats. I’m considering taking the over (53) on this game.

Don’t you love Angry Tom Brady?

Still, the Lions defense has been a story this week in Detroit, and not a warm and fuzzy one. The safeties and linebackers look lost under Matt Patricia’s new staff, and the stats bear this out. According to Pro Football Outsiders, the Lions are ranked 32nd, 22nd, 31st and 27th against opposing No. 1-3 receivers and tight ends, respectively. That’s … not so good.

I see Patricia matching Bill Belichick move-for-move for a half, but in the fourth, Brady will hit tight end Rob Gronkowski over and over, and Gronk will go full barbarian. This will lead to an awkward Belichick-Patricia postgame handshake. And a Gronkowski bear hug that Patricia will want no part of. And that phony smile Brady trots out to any vanquished coach he already knows.

VIKINGS (-16.5) over Bills

The ball sizzles out of Josh Allen’s hand. It’s so pretty on film. So pretty a pro scout might want to put a ring on his melt reel. But obviously the rest of his game needs work. Like a lot of rookie QBs, Allen looks like he’s playing waist-deep in mud. So, the Vikings D will mix it up — at times playing chess and other times just flat-out attacking the rookie — and Allen will react like DeNiro in GOODFELLAS after he finds out Tommy was whacked.

One thing I did notice of the Vikings D, that running back LeSean McCoy could exploit: Minnesota defensive end Danielle Hunter lines up so wide it’s like he’s covering a slot receiver … he’s consistently 7-8 yards away from the nearest defensive tackle. That’s a lot of cutback room for McCoy. And I noticed #29, Xavier Rhodes, can get beat consistently because he plays off coverage so deep and … oh, who am I kidding? This is a matchup between a Super Bowl-caliber defense and a rookie QB. Plus, Cousins is rolling. I won’t overthink this, even at -16.5.

Bears (-5.5) over CARDINALS

For the second straight week I thought Arizona’s goal-line defense just gave up way too easy in a critical moment. In this case, it was a fourth-and-goal with :03 to play in the half, with Todd Gurley ducking his head a little and romping in to take a 17-0 lead, and then slashing inside for the two-point conversion (strange – the Cardinals D showed more pride on the 2-point try).

Bears at Cards once gave us Denny Green’s infamous post-game presser: “They are what we thought they were!”

There is no elite quarterback in this one. Sam Bradford is a flat tire at the moment (when did he decide Larry Fitzgerald is not their No. 1 receiver?) and Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky is still looking for his “This is my f-cking team” game. Maybe this victory is it. But I doubt it, simply because he doesn’t need to play like a Pro Bowl passer to win this one — more likely he’ll dink and dunk to his two running backs, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, against a Cardinals defense that is ranked 31st against RBs in the passing game. That duo, and a hungry, talented defense should be enough for Chicago to win by a touchdown. Wait, did I write should? They *will* win by a touchdown.

49ers (+6.5) over CHIEFS

Even at Arrowhead, even against Mahomes, I see the 49ers covering here. Of all the players I watched this week, besides Cousins, I was most impressed with Niners running back Matt Breida, mostly because he was such a surprise, especially on off-tackle runs (“Who is this guy?”). He’ll do well against the tissue-paper Chiefs defense, who forced Mahomes to play like a 21st Century Dan Marino over the first two games.

I don’t believe the hype yet. Show me something special at home, Kansas City. Go home and get your f-cking shine box.

Last week: 1-2

Season: 3-4

Related: Picking games against the spread is extremely difficult (thanks, Captain Obvious!). If you take nothing else out of this post, it’s that I have been humbled by this experience already, and when you throw your own moolah into the mix, you will second-guess your logical, well-researched choices.

A Few Words On Writing As A Hobby Versus Writing As A Profession…

by John Walters

A long time ago, a decade or so back, I was set up on a blind date (many of my personal anecdotes begin this way). When the lady seated across the table learned that I was a writer, she beamed. “I’m a writer, too!” she said.

“I thought you said you were a dentist,” I countered.

“Oh, I am,” the well-meaning lady said. “But I write free-lance when I can…Don’t worry, I’m no threat to you. I write for free.”

“That’s exactly why I’m worried,” I told her.

***

She meant well, but as I explained to the dentist, What if a whole bunch of us started practicing dentistry, simply because we enjoyed pulling teeth or doing root canals? Maybe we couldn’t do it as well as you, but we offered our services free of charge. Don’t you think we might cut into your market some? And worse, wouldn’t you be maybe just a tad offended that we presumed we could do your job without having taken all the courses and gone through all the rigors you did to become a dentist?

Granted, you need to be licensed to practice dentistry as opposed to practicing journalism. Still, treating any art or skill where people toil to make a living as only your hobby, and then brushing off a shortcoming as “well, this isn’t what I actually do” is a little bit disrespectful to those who do, no?

Last night I read a story on the Notre Dame fansite OneFootDown.com that caused me to revisit this conversation. A writer whose name I will not mention here wrote an opinion piece that was also an admonishment: “Stop Calling For Brandon Wimbush To Be Benched.”

Now, you’re welcome to your opinion on whether Brandon Wimbush or Ian Book should start at quarterback for the Fighting Irish. After all, only one man’s opinion truly matters. But if you look at the site OneFootDown.com, up in the right-hand corner, there’s a banner for SBNation. This tells you one thing: no matter whether the person who wrote this piece is a professional writer or not, the site exists as a for-profit site. Sure, it wants to inform its readers, but it is also a business. And as soon as you call yourself a business, no matter if you are a restaurant or a publication or an auto-repair shop, your work is subject to critical review. No matter how much or how little you pay your employees.

I did not share the author’s opinion nor did I find his arguments trenchant. Worse, he went with the dreaded unnecessary exclamation point (!) more than once. I don’t recall exactly how many times he did this, but it was at least twice. Sure, I could have been nicer about it, but I simply RT’ed the story link on Twitter from One Foot Down and added this admittedly snarky critique:

Can I occasionally (frequently?) come off as an A-hole on Twitter? Probably. Does that matter to me? Not really. I hate to borrow from Clay Travis here, but it’s true: “Facts, not feelings.”

Not long after someone from One Foot Down tweeted back at me that the author of the piece “writes 1 or 2 articles a week. I think he’s okay here — it’s the internet.” But I think he missed my point. The author’s literary integrity isn’t at risk here; the site’s is.

I’ve worked at a few places that make money based on the content of their stories. The brand name of any of those publications where I worked is only as good as the lamest story  that appears in that magazine or on that website. It’s the lowest common denominator that matters, not the highest common denominator.

If you want to write because you like to write, go right ahead. If you want to post pieces on a private blog for your friends and family and maybe a few people who will discover them and enjoy reading them as much as you enjoyed writing them, again, go ahead. And I’ll keep my mouth shut.

As soon as you write a piece for a site or magazine that actually employs people to keep that magazine or site running, your submission is fair game for my or anyone else’s critique. What you were paid to write it or if you only submitted it because you’re a die-hard fan or maybe because you’re just a dentist who likes to pen pieces pro bono in your off-hours, I don’t care. That site is a business; and as a consumer, I have every right to inform you that the product is sub-par.

Being that it’s Twitter, I’m now officially mean. And that’s unforgivable. So of course the hoi polloi will rally around the writer, who’s just a fella, I presume, who writes pieces in his free time because he loves Notre Dame football and whose pieces SB Nation happily runs because, hey, FREE CONTENT!

I’ll just leave you with this: When I went back to re-read the story today, someone had edited it. There’s now only one (!) exclamation mark in the piece, where previously there were more. I dunno, this is a bizarre thought, but maybe if someone at SB Nation who actually gets paid to produce pieces had taken the time to read and edit the piece (unofficially, Doing Your Job) before I sent out that tweet, this entire kerfuffle might have been avoided.

Have a nice weekend.

Go Irish!

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Whose town? His town!

Baker Backers

Cleveland wins for the first time in 20 games and the entire city gets free Bud Light (what was second prize, by the way?). I see a commercial in which rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield overindulges, is chased down by the king’s guard, then tossed into the Pit of Misery. But then he leads them all to escape by scrambling away from the guardsmen and spiraling the keys to a fellow prisoner?

2. CannaCurious?*

*The judges will also accept “Weed All About It”

Why the sudden buzz about pot stocks?

On Wednesday the CEO of Canada-based Tilray (TRLY)appeared on CNBC, boasted that his company had gotten  approval from the DEA to import cannabis from Canada to the USA for medical research, and shares surged 38%. Yesterday Tilray came down from its high, searched in vain for a bag of Doritos, and saw its share price plunge 20%. They’re down another 16% in pre-market trading this morning.

Ahhh, but also yesterday, shares of England-based Isodiol International (ISOLF; a Walker Capital holding) surged 28%.

If you’re a cannabis company looking to step out from the pack, why not hire this pair as your spokesmen?

Why the sudden surge of interest in cannabis stocks? Because Canada is legalizing recreational marijuana use next month (this explains Richard Deitsch’s recent exodus to Toronto). Here are all the details if you just decided that you’ve always been meaning to visit Winnipeg or Moose Jaw and what better time than now.

We should note that this cannabis craze is taking place while the DOW is experiencing record highs. Coincidence?

It’s funny, though: All last autumn our friend Jason McIntyre was referring to Baker Mayfield as “Bitcoin.” Turns out Mayfield is not Bitcoin at all, but cannabis stocks sure appear to be.

3. The President of Something Called “The Ethics and Public Policy Center” Just Did A Very Unethical Thing

Yesterday conservative blogger/lawyer/former Antonio Scalia law clerk/Montgomery Burns doppelgänger Edward Whelan posited, ON TWITTER, that perhaps Christine Blasey Ford just fingered the wrong full-maned white guy for the attempted rape when she was in high school. Then Whalen went ahead and named whom it might have been.

Yes, now you have middle-aged white guys playing the “all white guys look alike” card in order to exonerate Brett Kavanaugh. What is useful here, besides the fact that we hope that other white guy, whom we won’t name, sues the suspenders off this clown, is that Whalen did not deny that the incident occurred. And he’s close buddies with Kavanaugh.

I’m not a smart man, Jenny, but maybe Edward Whelan should not be the man in charge of anything that has Ethics in its name?

4. Sawx Clinch

You better, you better, you Betts

Yes, Luke Voit hit a home run again, giving him 10 with the New York Yankees and making them the first team in Major League history to have 12 players with at least 10 home runs in one season. But the Red Sox won 11-6 to clinch the A.L. East in Yankee Stadium and stave off a three-game sweep.

And the A’s beat the Angels, 21-3, putting them just 2 1/2 back of the Yanks in terms of hosting the wild card game. Note: If both teams finish with identical records, the Bombers own the tiebreaker.

This was a typical Yankee loss in the second half of the season: A few big home runs, including a Giancarlo Stanton grand slam, but a costly (and sort of unforgivable) fielding error by Miguel Andujar in the 7th inning allowed a run and then Aroldis Chapman allowed a three-run bomb to Mookie Betts in the 8th…because he’s a totally unreliable pitcher now. 

Last night A’s leadoff hitter Nick Martini, who we’d thought was a bartender back in Bedford Falls who refused to serve George Bailey, went 3 for 6 with a home run.

Anyway, the A’s are SMOKING RED HOT and right now, at best, the Yanks are the third-most likely team to represent the A.L. in a World Series. But that Red Sox-Astros ALCS should be en fuego.

5. Victim Victoria

At least 80 people are dead and probably more as a passenger ferry capsized in Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. The ship, with a capacity of 600, may have been carrying as many as 1,000 when it sunk. 

Music 101

Whole Lotta Love

The song that released the tethers from Led Zeppelin and let their monster career take flight. The song, the first track off Led Zeppelin II, was also the band’s first single, hitting No. 4 in the USA in spring of 1970 and No. 1 in Germany. Led Zep did not release songs as singles in their native U.K.

Parts of this song were cribbed directly from Chicago blues musician Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love,” which Muddy Waters had recorded in 1962. The band eventually settled with Dixon in 1985 and now he gets credit on the song. Elvis, the Stones, Led Zep: the originals in appropriating black culture.

Reserves

Can’t wait to read this. In SI, and Tom Verducci is a master.

I was an 11 year-old Yankee fan who sat in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium the day it was announced, in late July, that Billy Martin would come back the following season. We all were relieved and at the time were assuaged (even if I didn’t know what that word meant at the time) because even though 1978 was lost (or so we thought), there was reason to be giddy about the future.

****

Now this. THIS. This is writing. By Alexandra Petri. Outstanding.

Remote Patrol

Florida Atlantic at UCF

7 p.m. ESPN

This would have been a fantastic game last year, as the Owls won their final 10 games in Lane Kiffin’s inaugural season while Scott Frost’s Knights went 13-0. It’s still a good game, as McKenzie Milton, the Knights’ QB, gets a national prime-time platform. He’s from Hawaii, too, you know.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Mark Cuban entered the Shark Tank yesterday. Rachel Nichols, step-daughter of Diane Sawyer, does the family proud. Cuban, to his credit, comes on camera and takes the grilling. Doesn’t excuse what happen, but he didn’t hide. Ahem.

Starting Five

Dodgers: Artful

So apparently there’s an entire other league of baseball teams outside the Red Sox, Astros and Yankees. Seriously! No one there plays .600 ball, but they’re going to have playoffs and everything next month, and then the hottest team will win the right to be smoked by one of those three teams above (Astros).

And right now the hottest team in that league is the L.A. Dodgers, who last night completed a three-game sweep of the Rockies thanks to a go-ahead, pinch-hit, three-run blast by Yasiel Puig. The erstwhile Cuban refugee has hit six home runs in the Dodgers’ past five games.

The sweep put the L.A.ers 2 1/2 up on the Rockies in the N.L. West

Rojo for Ronaldo 

One day after Messi passed longtime rival Ronaldo for Most Career Champions League Hat Tricks (8), Ronaldo one-upped his Argentine friend by being the first of either of them to be given a red card in a Champions League match. The Portuguese man-of-war was sent off in the 29th minute after chiding a Valencia foe for flopping.

Out of the shallow now

To Ronaldo’s credit, he did not berate the official, claim he’d never cheated in his life, demand an apology, or even sulk about the fact that his ex-girlfriend is now Bradley Cooper’s baby-mama. You can read Martina Navratilova‘s essay (“What Ronaldo Got Right”) in tomorrow’s New York Times.

By the way, Ronaldo’s new team, Juventus, still won 2-0. Their next Champions League group match is against a side called Young Boys. Really. That’s the name of the club. Young Boys. Sounds like a ’70s punk outfit.

3. New Highs For A Pot Stock

If you owned shared of Tilray (TLRY) one month ago, you know that at the time they were hovering in the low $30s. Yesterday, though, the stock reacted as if it were Tuco having taken a hit of Heisenberg’s crystal blue for the first time, shooting up more than 50%.

That probably had something to do with Tilray receiving approval from the U.S. to import a cannabis study to California (check the stock portfolio of your local congressman).

Shares of the Canadian cannabis company are now at $228.

Is cannabis gonna be this year’s bitcoin in terms of small asset class bubble? We’ll see.

4. Rape Doc

Grant Robicheaux (above) had it all: an orthopedic surgeon in his 30s with good looks and a Newport Beach, Calif., address. His girlfriend was a smoke show. But that wasn’t enough.

Allegedly, Robicheaux, 38, and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, 31, traveled to music festivals and the like, met and charmed women, then drugged and sexually assaulted them. Like, dozens of women.

They’re both free on $100,000 bail and if I were him, I’d run. Or jump off a cliff. Because he’s too pretty for prison. And you know what happens to pretty boys in prison…

Speaking of sexual assault and tribal culture, this piece from Elizabeth Bruenig of  The Washington Post is outstanding. Really well written by a young scribe. Highly recommended (no idea if she is related to Dallas Cowboy linebacker Bob Bruenig, but wouldn’t that be a scream?)

5. Get The F Out!*

*The judges thank the Chandler regional bureau for this headline suggestion.

Remember that Snickers commercial where the end-zone painter forgot to paint the “i” in Chiefs so that it turned out “Chefs?” (great googly moogly). Apparently it can happen in real life, and as many online smart-alecks noted, “Cathay Pacific has no F’s left to give.”

Mistake? Probably, but also a brilliant marketing maneuver.

Music 101

Love Is The Drug

If VH-1 still did “Behind The Music” (we haven’t watched VH-1 or MTV in years), a Roxy Music doc would be in order. Brian Ferry is the type of artist who was born to be brilliant and difficult and what else could he have ever possibly done to make a living?  The band’s genius co-founders, Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, did a lot of shagging. Even for rock stars.

This was always a band that was more influential than it was popular. But if you don’t already own them, go buy Avalon or Street Life: 20 Great Hits. You’ll see what we mean.

This 1975 single was the British band’s breakout hit in the U.S. You can hear the early New Wave and disco all over it.

Remote Patrol

Jets at Browns

8:20 p.m. NFL Network

We’re not even sure if we get this channel, but there are always salooneries. The Browns have lost 36 of their last 37 games, including 19 in a row, but they’ve played very well in their two defeats this season. The J-E-T-S were incredible on MNF, then hit a dud at home versus the Dolphins. For two teams that probably won’t make the playoffs, this is a must-watch game.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

Messi-anic*

*The judges will not accept “Lionel Trains”

In FC Barcelona’s Champions League opener, Lionel Messi (Did you just call him the greatest footballer of all time??? Okay, he’s in the top 3, at worst) scored three goals as the Spanish club took down PSV Eindhoven (Dutch), 4-0. It was Messi’s eighth career hat trick in Champions League play, putting him alone for the most hat tricks in this annual tournament.

Messi had been tied with Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s also in that Top 3 conversation (along with Pele).

2. Brought To You By The Letter “G” *

*for “gregarious,” of course

We don’t care what the nature of Bert and Ernie’s relationship is, we just are curious as to why one of them has a unibrow and the other has none. It’s as if they’re the Anthony Davis and Charlie Villanueva of PBS.

Meanwhile, as someone astutely uttered on the Twitter yesterday, “Their relationship has always been much healthier than Kermit’s and Piggy’s.”

After all, they DO attend the theater a lot

Moving on to Statler and Waldorf…

3. Tragedy In Ames

Some stories are just too bizarre and sad: 22 year-old Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena, the reigning Big 12 champion, was attacked and fatally stabbed while playing a round alone in Ames Monday morning. The assailant: a homeless man of the same age who had told an acquaintance that he had “an urge to rape and kill a woman.” The suspect lived in a homeless encampment not far from the Goldwater Golf Links course where she was playing.

Arozamena was set to be honored during Saturday’s Iowa State football game for being the school”s female athlete of the year. It’s the second fatal stabbing of a female college student in Iowa this summer, but since this time the assailant is a white American male and the victim is of Hispanic heritage (as opposed to the last time, when the identifying traits were reversed), you probably will not hear any national GOP figures exploiting the tragedy for political capital.

4. What’s Missing In This Story…

We finally got around to reading this story in the June issue of Runner’s World titled “The Running Safari.” In it the author, Tom Downey, is given the opportunity to go on recreational runs inside a private game reserve in Tanzania.

At first we thought, How cool. Then he informs us that as he’s running he has a guide in a follow vehicle. Later he spends three or four grafs explaining how running is prohibited at most safari spots because wild animals being wild animals, you know, they see a weaker creature running, and they might just give chase or be alarmed, etc. But then Tom continues that as a travel writer and runner he has a near visceral need to explore new places on foot, running (something we get, as do we) and so apparently his urges are more important than the animals’ (something we don’t get).

Two trunks, one animal

Lastly, Downey  explains that this private game reserve “has the resources and knowledge to protect me, and provide a safari vehicle, guide and scout, who will follow behind me and scan the horizon for any danger.”

And when we read that line, here was our first thought: We’re not concerned about YOU, Tom. We’re concerned about the animals. Left untyped in Tom’s piece is any mention of what would have happened if an elephant or hyena or any other wild creature had surprised Tom or the guide before they had time to get him into the vehicle. Also left untyped: Who paid for this extravagant story?

What might have been a tale about the magnificence of the wild came off, at least to this writer and runner, as one man’s selfish urge to check off a bucket-list item, no matter the inconvenience to or danger in which he was putting that land’s inhabitants, the animals.

At least he didn’t bring a rifle. Thank God for small favors.

5. Oh No It Doesn’t


This 2015 joke has not aged well, Judge Kavanaugh. Last night former White House spin wizard Ari Fleischer went kindergarten logic (“He’s doing it, too!”) on the Kavanaugh confirmation kerfuffle, tweeting:


And that’s useful information if Al Gore ever seeks public office again. Or is nominated to a judicial position. Like Kavanaugh, he was never charged with a crime (for reasons you can research yourself).

We do agree with Fleischer on this statement, which he uttered on Fox News:

“There’s a bigger ethical issue I want to get to here, too. And I want to say this with a lot of sensitivity because these are sensitive issues. But high school behavior — how much in society should any of us be held liable today when we lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue took place in high school? Should that deny us chances later in life? Even for Supreme Court job, a presidency of the United States, or you name it. How accountable are we for high school actions, when this is clearly a disputable high school action? That’s a tough issue.”

You can totally argue “YES, it should deny you chances later in life” if the behavior is awful enough. And so that’s the question. How awful was this behavior, because it appears as if Kamp Kavanaugh has already moved beyond the “it never happened” stage of their defense.

Music 101

Janie’s Got A Gun

 

Listen to the sound of an experienced, confident and polished band. This 1989 hit from Aerosmith is almost :45 in before you get any discernible vocals from Steven Tyler, but it’s all a terrific build-up. The ’70s rockers seemed to be content to rest on their laurels until Run-DMC woke them up with the crossover cover of “Walk This Way” three years earlier introduced them to a new generation of fans. Then this song heralded the band’s renaissance, climbing all the way to No. 4 in early 1990. Easily the best thing the band produced in the past 35 years this side of Liv Tyler.

Remote Patrol

The Amazing Human Body

8 p.m. PBS

For those of you who were never shown Hemo The Magnificent in elementary school.

Ocean’s Eleven

8 p.m. TCM

The original, with the Rat Pack: Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Angie Dickinson is the babe while Cesar Romero (the original Joker) plays the heavy. Tune in just to see how different 1960 Vegas was than the current iteration.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

More than a decade after it went off the air, the cast and creators of Gilmore Girls were basking in Emmy’s glow. It may be time for that Hep Alien world tour.

Gilmore Girls Win The Emmys!

Two Emmys for Amy Sherman-Palladino. One for her husband, Danny or David (I don’t remember which). Nominations for Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us) and for the show (The Handmaid’s Tale) in which Alexis Bledel is a major character. Man, those kids from Stars Hollow went out into the great big world and really made a name for themselves (even if the best the show’s star, Lauren Graham, was able to do this past year was a three-episode arc on Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Other Emmys thoughts:

–The self-deprecating/self-aware opening number (“We Solved It”) was too safe, as was Colin and Michael’s duologue. The only line that did not feel stale or safe was Michael Che’s noting, “Can you believe they did 15 seasons of E.R. without one Filipino nurse?”

–43 years after being the biggest television star in America as Arthur Fonzarelli, Henry Winkler, 72, wins his first Emmy. “Kids, daddy won! You can go to bed now.” Good humor.

Fonzie and Richie Cunningham together again. The former survived the Malachi Crunch, dating the Hooper Triplets and a duel with Mork from Ork to reach this moment.

–Tracy Morgan was his typical checked-out-genius self. He told Jimmy Kimmel that he was only rooting for the black actresses, including Millie Bobbie Brown. When Kimmel, a reliable straight man, informed Morgan that Brown is not black, Morgan shot back, “Then she’s not invited to the cookout.”

–Benicio del Toro’s “We’ll kill, then we’ll kill again” woke us from our slumber. Fine non sequitur there.

–Yeah, yeah, yeah, the dude wins an Emmy, reveals that his mom just died, and then proposes to his girlfriend. It was like an episode of This Is Us broke out in the theater.

–After that, it was a letdown when Betty White, 96, opted not to propose to anyone in the audience. “Til death do us part” doesn’t sound so overwhelming when you’re just a few years away from turning over the odometer.

At least the Emmys were vertically diverse

–Mad libs still decrying the lack of diversity among the honorees. They just weren’t paying attention when a dwarf (4’5″ Peter Dinklage) and a 6’4″ drag queen each won an Emmy.

2. Florence

This tweet illustrating how Interstate 40 morphed into a tributary got our attention…


And we also saw, as did you, that video of the doggies who’d been locked in cages and left behind by their owners and were fortunately rescued.

This man is a hero. The dopes who left these pooches behind should spend a few nights in a flooded cage themselves.

Who does this??? (I’d save my cat before I’d save my own mother, and both creatures are well aware of that,  though I don’t think there’s going to be a tray of lasagna waiting for me the next time I fly home).

3. LaJax

The Gurley Man already has three touchdowns in two games.

The NFL season is only two weeks old, but already the Los Angeles Rams, bolstered by a defensive stud who should have won the Heisman (Ndamokung Suh) and an offensive stud who would’ve had he not gotten hurt (The Gurley Man), appear to be the best team in pro football. The best team in the AFC? That would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who silenced the New England Patriots in Jax in a rematch of their AFC Championship contest.

The Rams have the NFL’s best point differential after two games, +54. The team with the second-best PD? The New York Jets (who are 1-1), at + 23.

4. Pussy Riot Poisoning

We just finished Ben Mezrich’s Once Upon A Time in Russia, which tells the story of the post-glasnost rise of the Russian oligarchs, which then led to ascendance of Vladimir Putin. The book also tells the story of the first known target of Vladimir Putin’s wrath via polonium poisoning, a former KGB agent named Alexander Litvinenko. From his deathbed in London in 2006 Litvinenko released a statement in which he accused Putin by name of being behind his murder.

A dozen years later, little has changed. This week Pyotr Verzilov, the spokesman for the Moscow-based band Pussy Riot, which have long been outspoken protesters against the Putin regime, was apparently poisoned. He has been flown to a hospital in Germany for treatment. In July Verzilov and two others stormed the pitch of the France-Croatia World Cup semifinal dressed as police as a form of protest. Vlad doesn’t forget those things.

5. Should Brett Fret?

We’ll say this first: The biggest mistake that Brett Kavanaugh made in terms of this just-under-the-wire scandal was denying it ever happened. Unless it didn’t happen…

But if it did, the GOP’s most-favored Supreme Court nominee made a YUUUGE tactical mistake by adopting the Donald Trump strategy of DENY DENY DENY. By now you know the story: A letter written by a 51 year-old professor in California, Christine Blasey Ford, gets into the hands of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) in July. She turns it over to the FBI. The FBI fails to follow up. Feinstein leaks the letter after the confirmation hearings but before the vote.

The contents of the letter? That while Kavanaugh was a 17 year-old student at Georgetown Prep, he attempted to sexually assault the 15 year-old Ford at a party at a posh house in Montgomery County, Maryland. She recalls being groped and Kavanaugh, shite-faced, trying to muffle her screams with his hands.

It’s not rape, but it’s legally an assault. It’s a preppy in 1981 or ’82 acting like a jackass. The world was a far more sexist place back then, especially for the white male American teen (see: Animal House, Caddyshack, Porky’s, Risky Business, etc.). How long did this alleged assault last? Were any of her clothes removed? How blitzed was he?

None of those answers mitigate the fact that the alleged incident is serious. But if it did happen and Kavanaugh had come right out and said, “I was 17 years old and drunk and stupid. I sincerely apologize,” well, sure, we’re about to hit the one-year anniversary of the MeToo movement, but it’s possible that the confirmation vote would have proceeded on schedule (Thursday) and he’d have been approved with reservations.

He was a minor. No charges were filed. The statute of limitations has passed. Own it, apologize, stress that you’ve gone on to be a responsible figure in public life, you’re married, a dad, yada yada yada…

Instead, Kavanaugh denied this ever happened. Now it’s no longer a case of how horrible his behavior was—something I believe reasonable people can disagree on, at least in terms of what long-term consequences it should have on his career. Instead, now it’s a HeSaidSheSaid case. Who’s lying? And after Monday’s hearing, when I believe Ford will come off as a far more credible witness than Kavanaugh (and she’s already passed a polygraph), it will be too late for Kavanaugh to employ the strategy the MH staff just laid out.

Because now it will all be about him being an exposed liar. And c’mon, a dude who claims to have no memory of a meeting with a major player at a law firm within the past year (when questioned by Kamala Harris) now has a vivid memory of having not attended a party 35 years ago? Riiiiiiiiiighhhhht.

Maybe she’s lying. Maybe she was “put up to this’ by the Democrats. I doubt it, though. If Ford’s telling the truth, and it’s much more plausible that she is, then Kavanaugh is now something worse than an adolescent ass. He’s a confirmed adult liar. And that will likely disqualify him.

Music 101

I Want To Break Free

We were waiting at the service bar of the cookoutateria Sunday afternoon when this Freddie Mercury gem energized the sound system and a colleague opined, “This may be the most underrated Queen song.” Part of the greatness of Queen, not unlike the Beatles, is that they were capable of extraordinarily sophisticated epics (Bohemian Rhapsody/A Day In The Life) but also of penning simple melodies that remain in your brain forever (Crazy Little Thing Called Love, or this song/Eight Days A Week). This 1984 song hit No. 3 in the UK, but only No. 45 here in the States, where MTV banned the video for a time due to all the band members dressing in drag.

Remote Patrol

Norm Macdonald (Has A) Show

Netflix

We can’t vouch for the entire series, but the premiere episode with David Spade is hilarious. And that’s mostly because David Spade is just a very funny and likable guy (as are all men from the Phoenix area). The set is only slightly more elaborate than “Between Two Ferns” and Norm’s longtime pal, Adam Get, acts as sidekick. Stick around for the closing jingle, which is easily the most (only?) inspired part of the program.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Davis Up

This may be a first: Cornerback Vontae Davis, 30, in his first season with the Buffalo Bills, retired at halftime. “I shouldn’t be out there anymore,” Davis said in a statement, after putting on his dress clothes with the Bills trailing at home to the Chargers 28-6 at the intermission.

Davis was a healthy scratch in Game and pulled himself out of Sunday’s game after telling coaches he didn’t feel right. He’ll get mocked all over the inter webs, but he spent nine full seasons in the League and he gets to WALK away. So yeah, awful timing, but maybe it’s the right decision. No one should play in the NFL half-assed. You’ll get murderlized.

FWIW, in the worst loss we were ever part of in organized football (49-0 to the vaunted Marcos De Niza Pop Warner Bobcats in 8th grade), our teammate quit immediately after the game, on the field, handing in his shoulder pads and helmet to our coaches. And he was our starting running back (maybe he was upset with the play of the team’s quarterback, ahem…). Anyway, we bring this up because one of Davis’ Bills teammates, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, noted that he’d never seen that at any level, including Pop Warner.

Then again, at least my teammate waited until after our loss to quit.

Cape Cod Is Now Cape Fear

We arrived home from the cookoutateria on Sunday night to see that Jaws was airing on Ovation. Which is odd timing, because it’s the story of a shark that terrorizes an island near Cape Cod (a fictional Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket). Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, a 25 year-old swimming at a beach in Cape Cod that used to be an annual pilgrimage for the MH staff, in the town of Wellfleet, was the victim of a fatal shark attack.

Arthur Medici of Revere, Mass., was boogie boarding about 30 yards offshore when he was bitten. It’s believed to be the first fatal shark attack off Cape Cod since 1936. But, a 61 year-old man was bitten last month by a shark a miles north of Wellfleet in the town of Truro. Well, off the coast of the town of Truro.

1. Matt Ryan Fitzpatrick Mahomes

The first of these three-quarterbacks-in-four-words should have won his first Super Bowl two years ago. The third, in his second NFL season and first as a starter, has guided the Kansas City Chiefs to a pair of road victories while throwing 10 TD passes without an interception.

The middle guy, pictured above, is a career journeyman, a married father of six who graduated from Harvard, went undrafted, is 35 years old and is only starting for the Tampa Bay Bucs because Jameis Winston is serving a four-game groping suspension. But here’s the thing: Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 8 TD passes, just one pick, and has the Bucs at 2-0 after they beat the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. In doing so he became the first QB in NFL history to throw for 400 yards and 4 TDs in each of the first two games of a season.


Also, the Chandler Hamilton High grad has a sense of humor to go with that bushy beard, donning teammate Deshaun Watson’s outfit for his postgame presser. That is some major swag.

4. Crazy Lost Asians

This is Fan Bingbing, one of China’s most famous movie stars. No one has seen her since June, shortly after a report was released stating that she was evading paying taxes by having a public contract for movie deals and a far, larger private one. In China these are known as “yin-yang” contracts.

Her disappearance in the authoritarian Communist state has been met with great…Fanfare. We assume wherever she went, she’ll turn up again in a few months, properly reeducated.

This is what happens in a nation where the central government is permitted to control the media.

5. 26.2 In 2:01:39

At the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge set a world record with a time of 2:01:39. The 33 year-old Olympic champion lowered the world-record time, set four years ago on this same course, by an astounding one minute and 18 seconds. The 5’5″, 123-pound runner has now finished first in 11 of the 12 marathons he has run.

A sub-2 hour marathon will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

Music 101

Coconut

This song by Harry Nilsson, featured on his 1971 album titled Nilsson Schmilsson, reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts. But what does it mean? We have no idea. One curious note: the song has no chord changes. It’s a C7 all the way through.

Remote Patrol

70th Primetime Emmy Awards

8 p.m. NBC

Your hosts are Michael Che and Colin Jost, and presumably at some point in the show they’ll bring on Leslie Jones to discuss her sex life. We’ve never seen The Handmaid’s Tale, This Is Us (more than a few minutes before heading to the bathroom to retch), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or Atlanta, so we’ll probably feel left out. Mindhunter wasn’t even nominated, which we do not understand. At least Kate McKinnon should win something.

Chris Picks: Week 2

By Chris Corbellini

Friday News Dump: NFL Week 2 picks

Last week’s record: 2-2.

Total record: 2-2

I walked 15 blocks, stepped onto a ferry, took a train and then a shuttle bus to get to a sports book last Sunday. And in doing so I learned an important lesson, allowing me to look deeply into life and all its mysteries … Don’t do that ever again. After all the early games were over, and the hard-core gamblers groused about bad luck and warm beer, I knew the future of sports wagering was in mobile. I must give the proper respect to the book employees — especially the teller who had to walk me through my first-ever bet, which I mistakenly tried to pay with a credit card — they were uniformly positive and unflappable and did an amazing job. But if sports gambling really wants to go mainstream, state by state, then the customers have to feel like it’s easy, accessible, and it must be said, upscale.

Still, before I take things online for good I will grouse about my own bad beats last week. I’m going to swim in the filth with the rest of the bettors, because I was one of them. For starters, I yelled this out loud, to no one in particular but to everyone in earshot: “What the FUCK, Ben?!”

As in Ben Roethlisberger, who suddenly forgot he’s played in rainy, October-like conditions before — he grew up in Ohio, and played his college ball there too. That’s 25 years of October rainy football — and coughed up an overtime tie to Cleveland, of all things, people and places. And while we’re here, in the bitter barn, I think the Tennessee-Miami game is probably still delayed. The Titans could never get the running game going, probably because they binged on “Stranger Things” while waiting out the lightning in the locker room, and were so distraught by it they thought the Dolphins defense were creatures from The Upside Down.

I did get the Jaguars pick right (those linebackers are fast) over the Giants, and then the Rams woke up, stretched their arms, yawned, and became a playoff team in the second half of their Monday nighter against the Raiders. So, 2-2 on picks on my first try, and a resounding 0-2 against Mother Nature. And here comes Week 2, otherwise known as irresponsible overreaction week. I made three picks this time because I couldn’t talk myself into the Browns covering at New Orleans (-9). Home team in caps, with William Hill odds (as of Thursday night).

WASHINGTON (-6) over Indianapolis

So, I re-watched Redskins-Cardinals game film on NFL Game Pass. Some of the things that stood out:

-Can anyone tell me if Game Pass sucks or not? I’m a new subscriber. I see good things and bad.

A. Smith

-On the Redskins’ first touchdown, off a second and 10 from the Arizona 13, quarterback Alex Smith, falling backward against a single-man bull rush, hit Chris Thompson on his right shoulder pad as the running back was sprinting right while a defender trailed him. The placement was perfect, and Thompson had the angle to get to the end zone. It was the kind of throw the entire Washington team can and will get behind: The new guy is pretty damn good.

-With 4:12 to go in the second quarter, off a third and goal at Arizona’s 1, right guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses blasted Cardinals defensive linemen left and into the turf, and Adrian Peterson sliced through to make it 14-0. The Xs and Os aside, this was a total “fuck-you-we’re-coming-right-at-you” play.

-Earlier in that drive, Smith finally completed a pass to a wide receiver – a 10-yarder to slot man Jamison Crowder off a second and 9. To that point, the offense consisted of Smith dump offs to Thompson and even some scrambling, and I wondered if the Redskins were setting up a deep throw at some point.

-Then in the third quarter, off a third and 9, Smith did go deep to Paul Richardson, and missed by an inch or two. An “almost” to file away. BTW, the Cardinals were then called for defensive holding, which gave the Redskins a first down. I’m sure Arizona’s defensive coordinator handled that one coolly and calmly, without any profanity, up in the coaches’ booth.

–Redskins center Chase Roullier and Thompson deserved game balls for this one. Roullier had some nasty blocks 5-10 yards downfield in several instances, and Thompson decided he was Earl Campbell for one Sunday. That’s a long, bullet-point way of saying I like the Redskins offensive line, Smith’s accuracy in a sloppy pocket, and Thompson trying to put Peterson on the bench. It’ll be enough against Indy.

DENVER (-6) over Oakland

The Raiders are a hot train wreck without Khalil Mack – the defense is ranked 29th in the NFL in passing situations against running backs, and their starting safeties and a corner were graded harshly by Pro Football Focus last week. I can’t predict who of the Broncos rookie running backs will have a bigger day — Royce Freeman, or Phillip Lindsay — but their combined efforts in the flat will give the Denver Thoroughbreds a win by a touchdown at home.

The bluebook value on this Carr has plummeted

Something to file away, if it becomes a trend: Oakland QB Derek Carr was locking on to one receiver too much, and he released the ball too quickly on some attempts. I know it’s a hair-trigger thing, life in the pocket, but it was noticeable in Week 1. Something’s up. I’m sure his receivers sense it.

LOS ANGELES RAMS (-13) over Arizona

The line here almost made me bail. I’m a newbie at betting games, and even I winced. That’s a lot of points so early in the NFL season, with everybody healthy. And then I looked closer. In the first half of their season opener the Rams looked … spacey. A little off. The receivers didn’t get enough separation. Not even Brandin Cooks, LA’s sprinter. Not consistently. And they couldn’t cover a tight end. Looking at you, #58.

No one in FBS or FCS history ever caught more passes (428) for more yardage (6,464) than Cooper Kupp, but he never had cancer, so College GameDay never profiled him.

Still, I think of Todd Gurley here against a Cards defense that was pulverized a week before. And watching the game film of the Rams-Raiders game, I was impressed by LA’s second-half adjustments, especially on defense. And #58? Cory Littleton? He would pick off Carr in the fourth quarter, staying in his zone on the left side of the field even as a Raiders receiver closest to him broke inside right, and the QB lofted one right into the linebacker’s hands.

And those receivers that couldn’t break free? On a first and goal, during the final play of the third quarter, Cooper Kupp pulled off a fake chip block before sneaking into an open space for a TD. That’s one way to do it. The DB put up his arms in anger – as if to say, how did I just lose?

Finally, in the fourth quarter, cornerback Marcus Peters beat Jared Cook for a Pick 6 that was the cherry on the victory (and a reported $13,000 fine for his Marshawn Lynch crotch grab). An emphatic finish for the Rams, but more importantly, on plays big and small, they are listening to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and his assistants. It’s working.

I see LA calling on Gurley enough to break free for a fattening fantasy football day, and the defense should figure out the Cardinals offensive strategy by the half. That’ll be enough for a two-TD victory, and allow the fair-weather Los Angeles fans a chance to jet sometime in the third quarter to grab some In-N-Out Burger.