Note: There’s an ‘L” in my surname. I never directed the Ohio State marching band. Just like there’s no “L” in Greg Auman’s name…and he never directed the Allman Brothers.
1. Cleveland Rocks
The Cleveland Gladiators, an Arena Football League team, are 16-1 with one game remaining, at Tampa tomorrow night. They’ll have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs all the way to the ArenaBowl on August 23. Wouldn’t it be funny if a team ended the city’s 50-year playoff famine before Johnny Manziel or LeBron James ever suited up?
My story in Newsweek here…
2. As Dad Doubles Down on the Oakland A’s…
Hilarious moment from abroad, brought to our attention courtesy of “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver. Before the World Cup, Singapore ran an anti-gambling ad in which a little boy is downcast because his father “bet my savings on Germany.”
But Germany won!
(Didn’t anyone at the ad agency realize that die Mannschaft was a favorite? Or did they just go on the whole “a European side has never won a World Cup on South American soil” maxim? Listen, if you want an ad like this to work, you always go with, “My dad bet my life savings on England. ENGLAND!”)
I’d like to see an updated ad in which the dad is one of Singapore’s most successful touts, promising “mortal locks” on field hockey and cricket matches.
3. Lupica’s List
So the New York Daily News releases a list of the “50 Most Powerful Figures in New York Sports” (No. 1, James Dolan, a benefactor of nepotism who’s decided to victimize all of us because of it). One sports writer makes the list: Mike Lupica at No. 21…who writes for the Daily News and whom I imagine believes he should be higher on that list.
Notably not on the list? Michael Kay, who has been the TV voice of the Yankees since 2002 and who also has an afternoon sports talk show on WEPN-FM; the New York Post’s longtime acerbic sports media columnist, Phil Mushnick; anyone from the New York Times, including well-respected sports media columnist Richard Sandomir; any player from the New York Jets (okay, that’s understandable); not a single local sports anchor, including long-time WNBC anchor Bruce Beck or highly regarded Al Trautwig; Walt Frazier or Mike Breen, who’ve been doing the Knick games for years; and while longtime Mets’ media relations gatekeeper Jay Horwitz is included (at No. 50), Jason Zillo, who has performed the same job for the Yankees for more than 15 years and who is very well-liked and highly regarded, is not.
It comes off as a list of people who 1) you just cannot exclude or 2) Lupica cronies. I imagine he had to have vetted the list.
4. One Reporter’s Gaza Odyssey
Last week NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, who personally witnessed the attack on a Gaza beach in which four boys playing soccer were killed, was a high-profile face of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Mohyeldin, who is Egyptian and American and is fluent in Arabic, has reported from inside Gaza during previous conflicts.
Then Mohyeldin was pulled out of Gaza by NBC in favor of its top dog foreign correspondent, Richard Engel. In fact, on the day of the strike that killed the boys, NBC Nightly News had Engel report the story from Tel Aviv–as opposed to Mohyeldin.
One of three things were happening here: 1) Someone high up at 30 Rock thought that Mohyeldin’s reporting leaned toward the Palestinian side, 2) Engel was asserting his alpha-dog privilege or 3) NBC was afraid that its viewers wouldn’t respond as well to Mohyeldin, or to someone who has a name like his, or looks like him (i.e., not Jewish), as they might to Engel, who is admittedly a familiar face and a highly regarded reporter–and has a name and a face that is not as alienating to Middle America.
It may have been a little of all three, though mostly No. 3. NBC, which first pulled Mohyeldin out of Gaza for “safety concerns” before immediately installing Engel there, has been called out for its hypocrisy. And so now the Peacock has returned Mohyeldin to the Palestinian settlement.
Why do network executives make life so hard on themselves? My experience is because they think they’re the only people in the room with a functioning brain.
5. It’s A Shame About Ray
Our latest Get Rich Slow idea, a daily sports show that takes umbrage on an issue, The Daily Harrumph, has yet to be picked up by the networks. So I guess we’ll just have to discuss Ray Rice here. Not much to say other than that, yes, two games seems rather lenient.
Did we see what happened inside the elevator between Rice and Janay Palmer, then his fiancee and now his wife? No. Is that relevant? Honestly, I don’t know. Do I agree with Clay Travis, whose Fox Sports column on the issue concluded that it’s society’s fault, and here I quote, “that’s our fault, not the NFL’s?” Heck no. One of my favorite teachers of all time, Jack Labonte, used to say that the “it’s society’s fault” catch-all argument was “a piece of crap” that people use when they’re too lazy intellectually to delve into the actual reasons. I agree.
If you think the punishment is too lenient, it’s the NFL’s fault. It’s not ours.
Personally, striking a woman is never defensible (Jay-Z handles righteously irate and hostile females in elevators with much more aplomb; maybe the NFL should show that video in its next rookie orientation). And Raven coach John Harbaugh should understand how bad he looks when he answers a question about Rice’s suspension with, “It’s not a big deal.”
The only against-the-mean thing that I will say is this: As a member of the media, I’m finding the media’s instant I-wasn’t-there-but-I-know or I-don’t-live-in-that-world-but-I-know approach to these daily controversies (Tony Dungy, Rice, etc.) tiresome. At a certain point you have to understand that there’s some nuance to situations, and that the people closest to the situations, who live within the situation, may have a better grasp of it than the guy seated in front of his lap top.
On the surface, Is Ray Rice knocking out a woman a deplorable crime that deserves more than a two-game suspension? Yes. Is that all there is to this? I don’t know. Do you?
This vehicle, and those velvet ropes, belong to Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch. He’s an immensely talented player, and he’s holding out for more money. Which he has a right to do –Seattle simply won’t pay him, and we’ll wait to see who blinks first.
Lynch, clearly, is no pauper. Nor is the man who signs his checks. It’s not about fair, it’s not about whether Lynch “needs” a raise. It’s simply about the old Madonna tune –yes, a Madonna tune from the film “Dick Tracy”– (“Nothing’s Better Than) More” and about leverage. We’ll soon find out who has it.
Madonna, by the way, is worth $1 billion.
Where in the World?
Yesterday: the Mercury City Tower in Moscow, Europe’s tallest building