Nothing’s Really Happening

People often ask me, “Katie, how come when you guest write at Medium Happy, you don’t follow the “Starting Five” format? And by people, I mean no one, and by often, I mean never. But the answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Truthfully, whenever I write here, I usually have to spend the next couple of days avoiding angry phone calls from John, wanting to know “how I knew the password” or some such nonsense.

Everyone knows the password, John. Everyone.

Carrying on…oh, and I should tell you–there are no pictures or large fonts or anything fun like that today, because I don’t know how to make those things happen. My apologies, for that and, well, all of it really.

Starting Five

1.  Jane Fonda Looks Amazing

Which is literally the only good thing I can say about the movie Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, which I just watched on Netflix. I’ve been trying to live more frugally this week since school is starting soon and the children need pencils, so instead of blowing 1.29 at the Red Box, I’ve been sticking to the already-paid-for Netflix streaming offerings, which are not great (not counting the documentaries—they are all great).

Anyway, Jane plays this old hippie grandma who never shuts up about how great Woodstock was, Catherine Keener is her uptight daughter who wears utilitarian dresses and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, best known as the dead husband from Weeds, plays the love interest. Now, some of you may be crying foul, that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is actually best known as the dead boyfriend from Grey’s Anatomy or the dead guy from Supernatural, and you might be right. The point is, he had the good sense to die on all of those shows. No such luck here—instead of dying he sleeps with Catherine Keener, and then we find out he also slept with Jane Fonda, and then we puke out all our popcorn. And then everyone realizes that we’re all just human and love is all you need. I would argue a good script also comes in handy.

The night before last, I watched Safe Haven, starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. That was also terrible, but I have to admit I kind of liked it and if I come across it on cable this January, I’ll watch it again. She plays a girl on the run, he plays a widower, they meet and fall in love and there are cute kids and beach montages and rustic houses and adorable vintage bicycles and Julianne and Josh are both spectacularly attractive, and the scenery was nice. Heck, let’s call it like it is—three more viewings and it’ll probably be my favorite movie.

And finally, three nights ago I watched the Spectacular Now, starring Shailene Woodley and some kid who reminded me of a young, doughy Vince Vaughn. Or I guess I could just say a young Vince Vaughn. It was very after-school-specially-lots of teen alcoholism and growing and learning. Bleh.

2)   I Don’t Care That Robin Williams Died

OMIGOD NOT REALLY! I’m not the devil. I just wanted to see if anyone was actually reading. Plus I wanted to take some of the heat off John for hating on the ice-bucket challenge. Now I see it was a terrible mistake. (You: I’ll tell you what was a terrible mistake! You writing for Medium Happy!) Please send all hate mail to John.

3)   Something About Sports

By and large I believe this is considered a sports blog, so here goes: umm….OK, apparently someone called Bubba Watson is sorry for behaving badly at the PGA Golf tournament a few weeks ago. I guess he refused to participate in the long drive contest, swore a bunch and treated his caddy like the dirt on his cleat. Here’s what Bubba had to say by way of apology:

“If you look at the bigger picture, not competing in the Long Drive Contest was the first mistake. When you look at just me as an individual, that was the selfish part, because I didn’t agree with it but there’s a lot of things that I don’t agree with that I do.”

Uh, what?

He goes on to say he’s not so bad, because after all he did give his umbrella to someone who needed it.

Can I stop pretending I follow sports now?

4)   Governor Rick Perry Turns Himself In

Just kidding! Number four is really Jason Bateman. Last week I watched two back-to-back Bateman offerings and loved them both: The Longest Week and Bad Words.

The Longest Week was an unexpected delight- it felt like a mash-up of Woody Allen, Whit Stillman and Wes Anderson (something the director winks at in a moment toward the end) -smart, quirky and chock full of dry, hilarious dialogue and narration, not to mention it looked completely awesome. I swear I could watch it again with the sound off and enjoy it just as much.

Jason Bateman plays the heir to a hotel fortune who has never had a real job. He gets cut off when his parents get divorced and neither one wants to pay for his upkeep. He moves in with his best friend, played by Billy Crudup, who is aging very well and is extremely funny. Billy Crudup is in love with Olivia Wilde, and he stupidly introduces Jason Bateman to her. Jason Bateman and Olivia Wilde fall in love, Billy Crudup gets mad, Olivia Wilde finds out Jason Bateman is actually a jobless, clueless nitwit and she dumps him. In the span of one week. That’s pretty much the whole story—but it’s told so well! And everyone and everything is so beautiful! Watch it.

In Bad Words, which Jason Bateman also directs, he plays a mean man who exploits a loophole so he can compete in the national spelling bee circuit. Everyone hates him, but not half as much as he hates them. The stuff that comes out of his mouth–well, let me just say you shouldn’t drink hot tea while you watch it. It’s funny, kids, really funny—and then it becomes touching, and then everything makes sense and we realize he’s not mean, he’s just on a mission and the mission makes sense.

5)   This Ad I Just Found On Craigslist:

50 Shades of Fun

compensation: Varies

Interviewing today for an office assistant position. After staring at the stack of resumes, an interesting thought popped into my head. What if there was a woman out there who can do this job and a little more for her boss? ;) If this is something you might be interested in please send your resume and a picture in your reply. Like I said, interviews are taking place today and if your open to the idea this will guarantee you an interview today! Hope to hear from you soon!

My reply:

Dear Sir,

 I appreciate someone who is human enough to admit he gets bored at work and lets his mind wander off. I myself often have odd thoughts when faced with mundane tasks, like sometimes when I’m supposed to be filing invoices, I wonder what it would be like to watch a man slowly die of arsenic poisoning or what a brick to the temple really sounds like. Ha ha! Perhaps great minds think alike? Please let me know what time we can set up that interview. I couldn’t attach a picture, because I am wanted in Montana.

 Best Regards,

 Katie McCollow

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Starting Five

1. “I Call Shotgu–uh, Never Mind!”

Last night Captain Ron appeared on CNN at around 1 a.m . Eastern time and in the midst of answering questions posed him by Don Lemon and Jake Tapper, invited them to hang out with him tomorrow (this) evening. You’ve never seen two cable news guys so excited. I’d love to see Anderson Cooper big-time them on this and demand to be air-dropped into Ferguson for this ride-along.

Meanwhile, a white photographer was tear-gassed and he became CNN’s top story for 20 minutes. He told Lemon, who asked him if he’d ever witnessed anything like this, that, yeah, he had because he’s from Albuquerque…where police have killed 26 people the past four years. Including this guy. And this guy. Gus Fring is impressed.

Of course, they’re standing behind a white line

And I loved when Lemon asked the freelance photographer if he was going to go to the hospital. The photog shot him a “Child, please” look as if to say, “Hospitals are for you corporate types with health care. I’ll just rub some dirt on it.”

That’s Errol Barnett, not Erin Burnett.

Also last night: CNN went to its London studios for late-night coverage, where Rosemary Church wondered aloud why police in Ferguson would not “perhaps use, water cannons?” And watch the look that co-host Errol Barnett, a man whom I am convinced was constructed in a secret lab to be the Africanized version of Anderson Cooper, reacts.

I hope someone shows Rosemary this video before she returns to air.

He really wants a Liter-O-Cola!

We still don’t know exactly how it went down between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. What I do feel pretty confident saying, though, is that the police seem to prefer bullying to building bonds through civil discourse. It’s as if they’ve all seen Super Troopers and modeled themselves after Farva.

Finally, this is hilarious and oh so Fox News.

2.  Notre Dame’s Conundrum

Not the best lab partner

Yes, I’m a proud Notre Dame alumnus. I’m proud that I attended a school that excels on the athletic field –it won the Capital One Cup for overall athletic excellence in Men’s Sports this past school year–and in the classroom, where it is currently ranked No. 17 in U.S. News & World Report.

But, having spent four years there as a student and many autumns there since, I also know this: the football players are no more representative of the overall academic prestige of the student body as my friends in Dillon Hall and I were representative of the football players’ gridiron prowess.

Sure, he’s a cardiologist now–but he was also the kicker (and a damn reliable one)

To say that a Notre Dame football player is a typical Notre Dame student in the classroom is to say that I belonged on the two-deep because I passed Emil Hofman’s General Chemistry class (although I did catch a pass Steve Beurlein threw me at the end of practice one day; my roommate was a student manager and got me in).

Yes, I know –not believe, know–that as an institution Notre Dame does the right thing. But I also know that it opens the door for the investigation (no one has been found guilty of any wrongdoing) when it admits young men, almost all of whom are of good character, into a school where the course load is often over their heads.

“Mama said knock you…”

Still, this video by 120 Sports is frighteningly cynical. If I’m to extrapolate Ro Parrish’s thoughts here, then recruits may be scared off of attending Oklahoma simply because they now know they can’t put a bitch in her place when she gets out of line. Sure, it seemed that OU would be fine with that when it accepted Dorial Green-Beckham, but now that it suspended Joe Mixon for the season, well…

3. “Tell Him What He’s Won!”

“It’s Saturday Night Live, with….”

The inimitable Don Pardo, the greatest unseen voice of my childhood next to Mel Blanc, passed away yesterday at the age of 96. It was Pardo who told contestants on games shows such as Jeopardy! and The Price is Right what they had won, and it was Pardo who did the roll call at the opening of Saturday Night Live from day one in 1975 all the way to last May (he missed one year of 39).

Pardo actually joined NBC in 1944–at at time when World War II was still undecided.

Besides the near four decades of introducing SNL each week, Pardo is also a legitimate part of U.S. history. It was he who provided the first NBC News bulletin after JFK’s assassination.

Don Pardo leaves us at the age of 96. But he will receive some lovely parting gifts.

4. Our Tillery?

He won’t pancake you. He’ll Jerry-mander you.

The young man on the left, Jerry Tillery, is rather large. He stands six-foot-seven, 317 pounds and is beginning his senior year at highly renowned (at least for football) Evangel Christian in Ruston, La. This photo may provide better evidence of his size differential to other players his age.

What I love about Tillery is that he’s kind of a nerd. The Notre Dame verbal commit –and I know, that means zilch — has a 4.0 GPA. But, he was spotted last spring taking in the LSU Spring Game. A change of heart. “To be honest, I didn’t go down to Baton Rouge for the spring game,” Tillery told a newspaper. “I was there for the state literary test.”

5.  Johnny, Are You Queer?

It’s actually third down, Johnny, not first

I’m with Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead on this: don’t get your panties in a bunch over JFF giving the MF to the Team Whose Name Cannot Be Mentioned. They laughed, after all.

And, as the Oscar Wilde of American sportswriting, Jason Gay, wondered, “Um isn’t making people pay for preseason tickets also kind of an obscene gesture?”

The problem for the Browns is this: How much do you want your QB, whose not the next Peyton Manning, being Topic No. 1 on First Ache and PTI and ATH and The View? How much noise is worth this? Isn’t that what eventually made Tim Tebow quartbacka non grata?

Let Johnny be Johnny? Okay. But it’s beginning to suffocate the league. I mean, wasn’t Michael Sam supposed to be the distraction?

******

Finally, I am overjoyed to announce that we’ve secured the services, one day per week for as long as she doesn’t grow bored of it, of the utterly fabulous Katie McCollow to steer the MH ship. Katie’s pretty much my favorite humorist. Please, everyone, shower her with welcomes tomorrow and tell her that her hair looks nice.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Honestly, there’s too much happening. We’ll do what we can to cover it.

Starting Five

It’s all for a good cause

1. Ice Bucket List Challenge

When did donating money to a good cause become a blatant act of self-promotion? I get it: celebrities dousing themselves in a bucket of ice water draws attention. Which raises awareness. Which spikes donations.

But it feels as if we’ve crossed the Rubicon on this. Now it’s more like, “Well, if you don’t let someone videotape yourself being self-icing a bro, you want people to die of ALS. And you’re just mean.”

Larry David covered this ground –brilliantly– in a terrific episode of “Curb…” with Ted Danson. 

My dream? Someone issues Meadowlark Lemon the Ice Bucket Challenge and then he allows someone to toss a bucket of confetti over his head.

2. Ferguson

Captain Ron (left) meets with protesters

A few thoughts on the Ferguson crisis, some of which you may not like:

1) There are two sides to every story, and I’m not even certain we’ve heard one of them yet. To quote Fr. John Jenkins of Notre Dame, who was speaking about another matter entirely, the rush to judgment here may be “premature.” What I do know is that we don’t know. And that this eyewitness account is only going to upset some people more.

Officer Darren Wilson

2) It’s been three days, and I still don’t know anything more about Darren Wilson other than he is a six-year veteran of the Ferguson P.D. and that he is 28. Where did he grow up? Where did he attend high school? College, yes or no? Married? Kids? Anything in his background to point to his having a short fuse or problems with minorities?

3. Of course no one deserves to die because they stole a pack of Swisher Sweets. And of course it’s coarse for the police to release that “DVD extra” as they grudgingly release Wilson’s name. But you know what? It IS slightly relevant. Why? Because it goes to Michael Brown’s state of mind when he was confronted by a police cruiser not long afterward. The photo of Michael Brown lying dead in the street is ugly because the entire situation is awful. But maybe a little patience is in order here.

4. I’m more than a little over the embedded media practicing the “Look at us” journalism. This isn’t Selma. Sorry. A young man was shot down in midday on a street by a policeman. We still don’t know all of the extenuating circumstances. Getting yourself arrested or tear-gassed doesn’t make you a better journalist. It makes you a voyeur. What happened to Wes Lowery of the Washington Post last week–that was real news. Everything since has felt like a battle for attention.

5. No, I’m not “blaming the victim” when I point out that in a town that is two-thirds African-American only 12% of the African-Americans voted in the last election*. The point is that towns operate best when their leadership is representative of the general population.  If 35 of Ferguson’s 53 police officers were African-American, as opposed to three of the 53, my guess is that the Michael Brown tragedy is very unlikely to happen. Statistically alone, the chances would’ve been two out of three that the cop who came across him would’ve been black and would’ve handled it better.

*I’m told the 12% figure is for the entire town, not just African-American voters. Still, two-thirds of Ferguson IS African-American.

6. I’m sorry, Dorin Johnson, but you lost me. You went on the cable news shows and gave your account of the shooting without ever mentioning what you’d been involved in less than half an hour earlier. You surrendered the moral high ground. So I’m a little more skeptical of how the police cruiser’s car door just accidentally got pushed back in when Officer Wilson opened it –you described it as an accident.

7. Is everything that folks, from Bill Maher to John Oliver, are saying about the militarization of police forces true? Sure. In fact, as follower Jim Leahy reminds us, The Andy Griffith Show covered this ground more than 50 years ago. Do the Ferguson PD have a PhD in incompetence when it comes to handling the aftermath of Brown’s killing? Certainly. Will that photo of the Fallujah Invasion cops pointing their weapons at an unarmed black person as a mailbox in the background has the words “F___ the Police” haunt this town and this era of law enforcement for a long, long time? Yes.

But does any of that directly impact the evidence of Michael Brown’s killing? No. Time will tell.

8. A few African-Americans who follow –followed?–me on Twitter said that Captain Ron Johnson is a “puppet.” I found that a little sad. To me he’s pulling heroic duty, stepping into a racial gulf and trying to soothe a situation before anyone else needlessly dies.

3. Football Returns: Size the Day!

Jason Gay of WSJ likened this moment to “Armstrong walking on the moon.”

The opening weekend of the Barclays Premier League saw the NBC debut of the Men in Blazers, (listen to how often Rebecca Lowe giggles off-camera) a pair of awesome no-look, heel-touch assists (for Liverpool and Manchester City) and an awesome fan penalty kick that the keeper, much to my delight, still felt the need to save. Love that.

Last week –and we all saw this coming back in June– the Michael and Rog visited GFOP Seth Meyers.

Also, worth noting:

Steven Naismith                                                                       Stephen A. Smith

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Lowe                                                                                                              Rebecca Lobo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Story Arc of a Diver

Windle already has a gold-medal smile

Meet Jordan Windle, a 15 year-old Cambodian native who was orphaned before his first birthday and then adopted by a gay American man, Jerry Windle. Who is now married. Yesterday Windle convincingly won the U.S. Men’s Diving 10-Meter platform championships and he is now a legitimate medal threat in Brazil. I cannot wait to tell Ann Coulter!

Jerry and Jordan have already written a book about their lives, in fact.

5. Nice Mug

Grudging Admiration. Extra credit for making the T-shirt orange

This is Robert Burt, 19, of Pittsfield, Maine. The charge: Driving under the influence and operating a vehicle without a license.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

There’s a new sheriff in town

1. From Guns to Radar Guns

Remember that scene in Hoosiers where Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) kindly informs the townie to hand him the basketball and that his help will no longer be needed? That’s kind of what took place yesterday in Ferguson, Mo., as Governor Jay Nixon announced that the Missouri Highway Patrol would, at least for the time being, replace the local police.

Some interesting info on Ferguson first and the militarization of police departments in general:

First, in 1970 Ferguson was 99% white and 1% African-American. Today it is 29% white and 67% African-American. However, 50 of the 53 police officers in the department are white, as is the police chief. You decide how that plays into the fact that 85% of the people arrested are black.

One suggestion going forward: If you’re not actually a minority, exploit that. There should be more blacks on the police force and in local government. They have the numbers to make that happen. That would effect change.

Second, and I got this off CNN while the TV was on “Mute” (although my remote also has a “Moot” button), but it said that militarized equipment given to police departments in the USA totaled $1 million in 1990. Last year it totaled $450 million. Thanks, Osama Bin Laden. Nothing like good old-fashioned unwarranted panic to stoke the profits of the MIC.

2. Another Bronx Beauty

The former Betty Joan Perske landed her first role, opposite Bogey, at the age of 20

Like Phyllis, Lauren Bacall was born in the Bronx and then married a dark and handsome fella who made his few words count. Unlike Phyllis, she was 20 and he was 45 when they wed –and her husband, Humphrey Bogart, was already married.

Bacall was more than just a pretty face. She played characters who were a little salty, who possessed just enough cynicism to be challenging without being crass. “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?” she tells Bogart in To Have and Have Not. “You just put your lips together and…blow.”

(Although, technically, that’s bad information. You sort of pucker your lips and blow. This is why I was  not allowed on the set. That and my parents were at least a dozen years away from meeting.)

Here she is in 1952 giving marriage advice to Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How To Marry a Millionaire.

3. Hurry-Up Offense

Kyle Wilson said he joined Tinder because he “didn’t want anything too easy,” which is like moving to Chicago for the climate

Tinder is to Match.com what Chip Kelly is to Nick Saban. More plays with less time in between each one. So it’s sort of funny to learn that some of the New York Jets are using the speed-dating app while embedded (hello!) at training camp in upstate New York.

Two thoughts: 1) “Love” is not what these Jets are looking for, and 2) The ladies of the Finger Lakes region are thinking, Oh, sure, now that Tebow and Sanchize are gone, NOW they discover TInder.

4. Football! Football! Football!

Medium Happy’s pick for national champion. Show me a team that came close, is hungry, and has one of the nation’s top 3 QBs.

Here’s Sports Illustrated’s preseason Top 25 and The Big Lead’s Top 50 football players –as penned by Tyler Duffy (“Go Blue!”), which may have something to do with that dude at No. 50 (and no one from a school about 4 hours to the southwest being on the list). But, you can kinda see that.

You can always quibble with such lists –I’d have included Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly and Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith –but there are no egregious omissions.

This list, though, of the “50 Best College Towns,” is indefensible. Austin, Tex., arguably the best college town in the country is not included. And Athens and Eugene, both of which are in my top 10 (and most others’), fail to crack the top 35.

5. Great Jones

C’mon, who does he look like? A l’il bit, as Robert DeNiro might say, a l’il bit. Hint: He’s from Chicago and wears No. 23 (but only because that’s the uniform that fit). This is Pierce Jones of the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars out of Chicago. Yesterday he jacked three home runs and a triple –in the first four innings–as his team won their LLWS opener, 12-2.

And then you have Mo’Ne Davis, the female flamethrower out of Taney Little League in Philadelphia (the local favorite). There are eight U.S. teams in the 16-team bracket in Williamsport, and while Mo’Ne and Pierce are not immediately on one another’s schedule, they could wind up meeting in either the winners’ or losers’ bracket in a few days.

 

 

IT’S STILL HAPPENING!

We’re back!

Here’s what happened: On Friday evening, as I left my weekly manicure and was phoning Ubercar for a ride to the heliport, I decided to visit Medium Happy to see if we’d reached our typical daily total of 100 comments yet. Instead, I got nothing. The site had vanished faster than Nora Durst’s family.*

And so I did what I normally do in moments of technological panic. I hurled epithets and phoned Tim “Oak” O’Connor, the genius who originally spoon-fed this site to me. Oak devoted a good portion of the next few days to correcting the problem while neglecting his son, “Acorn Oak,” a choice that will likely result in said offspring not being accepted into a reputable or even accredited college. As it turned out, our left axle was busted and the cam-shaft was also not firing properly (I have no idea if cam-shafts fire). So, thanks, Oak, for coming to my rescue. If I had any real skills, I’d offer those in exchange, but really, this is all I know how to do. And juggling. So, if you ever need a juggler.

For a while there, it looked as if the suffix to “Where in the World…” was “…did all my blog entries go?”

Anyway, I don’t know whom The Guilty Remnant is on this hacking episode, only that there are too many viable suspects to list. Also, I sort of enjoyed the three-day holiday, I’ll be honest. But we’re back. And we (air hug) missed (air smooch) you, too!

*What?!? A “The Leftovers” reference? Two of them?!? Really? 

1. Robin Good

Back when “working on a desktop” had an entirely different meaning…

So much may be said –and, as my brother notes, too much already has been (“Seed,” he tells me, “you must remind people how awful Popeye was”) — about Robin Williams, so I’ll just add three notes here: 1) this Golden Globes acceptance speech, in which he received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement,  perfectly epitomizes him in my mind. Why? Because there are a few moments of genius, just as many that have true warmth, and then there’s a few jokes that you just wish he’d edited out. The kind that make you squirm a little. In a 60 Minutes profile done on him in the 1980s, Williams even said that there were times where his brain wanted to pull him aside and ask, “Why did you just say that?”

I mean, sure, I’ll linger on Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting if they’re on, but does anyone stop what they’re doing to watch Jumanji? Hook? Patch Adams?

2) In the late spring of 1989, Dead Poets Society was released. At the time I was dealing with a very similar quandary that the character Neil was facing. In retrospect you understand that Neil’s choice between medical school and the arts, of those two alternatives, either was better than suicide. Fortunately, I didn’t have access to a gun and, much like my hero Rust Cohle, I lacked the constitution for suicide.

His best role

The dual irony here? Mr. Keating could not prevent Neil’s suicide –some at Welton Academy would say he precipitated it– and then Williams himself committed suicide. Also, that the actor portraying Neil –Robert Sean Leonard–grew up to stay employed as an actor whose biggest role, and he was very convincing, was as a physician.

3) This anecdote, courtesy of Norm Macdonald, is worth a read. I call this “the Vinny Klunk Act” after a childhood buddy who rescued me in a moment of terror and panic  (although we may need to update it as the “Tim O’Connor Act.”). People who perform deeds like this, well, they are all too few.

2. Put Your Hands in the Air/Like You Just Do Care

Hands Above America\

That’s some crazy stuff that’s going on in Ferguson, South Africa. I thought they’d outlawed aparthe–what? Ferguson, Missouri?

Even if you go to the far right and assume, if you choose, that Michael Brown was insolent to the policeman, why is a police cruiser pulling up to two young men at noon on a Saturday and is a cop invoking the F-word to tell them to walk on the sidewalk? Why are police dressing in camouflage gear like failed Army Rangers wannabes? Why is Michael Brown, who should be in the first week of college classes today, dead?

I think we know who we really need to be afraid of

HBO’s Bill Maher was quite prescient on Michael Brown’s needless murder when, back on July 22nd, he ended his “New Rules” segment with a monologue titled “Blitzkrieg Cop.” Watch the whole thing, but here’s the gist of it, “Once you start dressing and equipping people like an occupying army, they start acting like one.”

“Don’t shoot me, either,” says Touchdown Jesus. “And can you bring back my grass?”

There are definitely moments when we need the police to use force, sometimes deadly force. Most of the time, though, good community police work simply involves keeping the peace…which involves relating to people at the same level. And a sense of humor.

My dad, an 18-year sheriff’s deputy, once had to break up a racial riot at a jail between two minority groups. He and fellow officers quelled he melee (he’d never use those words) and then he shouted, “I don’t give a damn what color you are. To me, you’re all green!”

My dad waited a beat. Then he said, “Now, I want the dark green guys on this side of the room and the light green guys on that side of the room.”

They all cracked up laughing. That was effective law enforcement.

Andy and Barney would’ve handled this better…

And I’m not sure if this is the best or worst possible weekend to release a film titled Let’s Be Cops, but I’m thinking it’s the latter.

Finally, take a look at this incredible photo essay by Scott Olson, who has taken the shot of the year.

3. Where There’s Smoke…

In Tony Stewart’s defense: Sprint cars are an entirely different animal than stock cars, and you actually use the throttle to steer….Kevin Ward, Jr., should have never left his vehicle and definitely should have never walked toward Stewart’s vehicle…the track is poorly lit on the backstretch, Ward was wearing a black suit and helmet, and this was dirt, not pavement.

On the other hand: Tony Stewart was by far the most skilled driver on the track that night at Canandaigua Motorsporks Park….the fact that Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli would even utter “Business as usual” following Ward’s death is indicative of how callous Stewart is. Zipadelli doesn’t say that unless his team’s prized driver has adamantly stated that he is driving on Sunday and Zipadelli does not recant unless someone higher up in NASCAR gets on the phone and asks, “What in the wide world of sports do you think you’re doing?!?”…Four other cars eluded Ward, Jr.; granted, he walked directly toward Stewart’s car, but probably only Stewart knows how much time he had to avoid the young man…If you’re the Ontario County District Attorney, I don’t see why you at least do not seek an indictment on manslaughter in the second degree. The only question here would be whether Stewart was “aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk.” As far as that issue is concerned, how can anyone involved say that it is resolved with 100% certainty.

Not one to lose his cool on the track

You know what I haven’t heard a lot of in the aftermath of Ward’s death? A slew of NASCAR drivers stepping up and saying what a great guy Tony Stewart is, how he would never intend to bully or harm anyone on the track. The silence is telling.

Is Stewart guilty of second-degree manslaughter? I don’t know. But I don’t understand how anyone is able to say for sure that he is innocent at this moment.

4. “From the Crap Part of Stamford…”

How’d they become network TV stars? Blame it on Rio.

This had to happen. Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, a.k.a. the Men in Blazers, were just too entertaining and far too British (I know, that’s redundant) on their ESPN World Cup podcasts and appearances to just disappear into the woodwork of an MLS season. The duo, both of whom now reside in New York (Davies has citizenship; I believe Rog is still waiting) belonged on a stage where they could opine on the EPL, and that meant NBC, which has the rights.

Because, let’s face it, compared to the EPL or La Liga, the MLS is tiny bananas. 

(Someone I know very well called for this to happen back in late June.)

So, I don’t know how exactly they worked it out with Grantland, but Sam Flood & Co. threw some money at them and now MIB will be part of NBC’s “sokkuh” coverage. And I do hope they find a way to lasso Ted, er, Lasso to regularly appear. Pro tip for Michael and Rog: Just tell Sam how much you love hockey every time you see him and all will be fine. Also, wear lots of Michigan Wolverine gear. #Courage

p.s. For me, this was the performance that took their act to a new plateau, from which they’ll never descend.

5. Coming Up on the SEC Network

And tune in next week for “Honey Badger, I Shrunk the Kids”

The SEC Network, ESPN’s latest foray into world domination, makes its debut today. A programming guide:

10:00 a.m. Wuerffel House: In which a former Florida quarterback samples the South’s finest fare.

10:30 a.m. My Three Sunseris: Watch as a heralded and well-paid assistant coach raises his lads who play football at different schools.

11:00-11:01 a.m. The Vanderbilt Minute

11:01 a.m.-1 p.m. SEC Network Original Movie: Sumlin Wicked This Way Comes

1 p.m.-2 p.m. Cosmos with Les Miles: Watch as a distinguished SEC coach attempts to explain uncharted mysteries of the universe such as the Northeast, Midwest, and any place west of Dallas.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Long ago, Cade McNown threw up while also throwing for 355 yards in a 41-38 defeat of the Ducks

1. Throw Up For Grabs

I don’t have a singular photo of it, but watch The Big Lead’s video of Cincinnati Bengal QB Matt Scott tossing his cookies just moments before tossing a touchdown last night during an exhibition win against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s promising to see that Scott hasn’t lost the touch he displayed back in college in Tucson…

Perhaps the question should be whether the position of quarterback lends itself more to regurgitation. Do quarterbacks, both actual and figurative, just endure more stress during a performance, which leads to spewing? Maybe. You say Cincinnati Bengals, I say Barden Bellas. “I saw the sign…”

Audrey Posen also returned stronger from her regurgitation display

2. “Outlined Against a Blue August Sky…”

the One Horseman rode again. In dramatic lore his name is…”

I love it. Ninety years ago (October 18, 1924) Grantland Rice was a famous sports writer who wrote a lede –after a halftime talk with a Notre Dame student media relations assistant during an otherwise desultory contest at the Polo Grounds–that inspired one of the most iconic staged photos in the history of sports.

 

Harkening back to Niedermeyer arriving for ROTC training. “P-p-pledge pin?!?”

Today, Grantland is a web site (I wonder how many of their staffers can recite the lede verbatim; that should be mandatory, no?) and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly rode a horse onto the practice field at Culver Military Academy in Indiana.

UPDATE: Half an hour into practice, Kelly subbed out the first horse and brought in a fresh horse from the sideline that he has dubbed “Tommy.” All part of his Next Mane In credo.

3. Tiger Beaten

On Tuesday I wondered whether the question of if Tiger Woods could win this week’s PGA Championship from Val-HOLLA! was even the pertinent inquiry. To me, it was more to the point to ask how many holes he’d even play, because never for a moment did I think he’d play 72. Would he miss the cut and drop out after 36 or would he voluntarily retire –again–due to back spasms?

It looks as if it’ll be the first option. Tiger, three-over-par after the first round, tees off later today and is currently two shots behind making the cut. I find this “Far Side” cartoon illustrates Tiger’s current predicament better than anything I might say. Yes, he’s “gifted”, but he’s trying too hard and he’s definitely working against himself. And as poorly as his back aches, I still believe most of his problems are between his ears. Go away for awhile, even a year or two, and then come back in a proper frame of mind.

I believe my old colleague Sally Jenkins agrees with me.

4. The Return of Coach Lasso

And have you seen Ted Lasso’s wife?

In six minutes of delightful parody, Jason Sudeikis makes a film that is about eleventy billion times funnier than “We’re The Millers.” And cost a lot less to make –and view.  The purpose, of course, is to promote NBC’s airing of the English Premier League, which begins its season on August 16th, which as you are well aware, is the second birthday of Medium Happy (and th 60th of some other publication).

Best line? When Lasso tells Tim Howard, over beers, “I think I literally have a better understanding of who killed Kennedy than I do of offside…it was the mob.”

By the way, Ted Lasso’s wife has gotten some major press lately…

…and also in that booth…

The best excuse to say, in a NYC diner, “I’ll have what he’s having,” since When Harry Met Sally

5. Bill Boredom

A two-day suspension for this? Lighten up, Norby.

Just want to make sure of something: ESPN gives Dan LeBatard his own weekday afternoon show and titles it “Highly Questionable” and then is abashed when he pulls a highly questionable prank? And it wasn’t even highly questionable. It was actually mildly amusing (which may be a better title for the program?).

All I know is that 1) you reap what you sow, Bristol, and 2) I’ve canceled my “You’re Welcome, Scalabrine” billboard that was actually going to be a lawn sign in Roxbury, Mass.

Here’s The Sherman Report on it…

 Reserves

Roone and OJ. When you take the OJ out of Trojans, you get Trans. I have no idea if that’s significant.

I love this idea by Sports Illustrated to publish the “60 Greatest Stories” of its first 60 years, one per day for next 12 weeks (my math calculates that to mean only weekdays). The first one is Steve Rushin’s epic –literally, since I believe it to still be the longest piece ever to run in the mag– “How We Got Here” that ran on the occasion of the mag’s 40th anniversary. And here’s a terrific Q&A with Steve, a “Behind the Music” of how the piece came about.

At least a dozen Rushin pieces belong on this list, as does Jeff MacGregor’s rattlesnake piece, Franz Lidz’s profile of Don King, Bill Nack’s elegy for Secretariat (“Pure Heart”) and Gary Smith’s “Crime and Punishment” piece on Richie Parker.

What does concern me is that this list will neglect many wonderful pieces that were either written on a tight deadline (the story of ND ending UCLA’s 88-game win streak was terrific, as were Alex Wolff’s numerous NCAA basketball tournament championship pieces that had to be written on the tightest deadline imaginable, since the mag normally goes to press at about the time the game tipped off) or by writers who are no longer GFOPs.

Tim Crothers’ piece on Red Klotz, for example, is not only a classic but Crothers, then a fact-checker, penned the story on the sly –he knew that if he suggested it that it would be given to a senior writer–spent the cost of one Metro North ticket and a hot dog reporting it, and then turned in a 3,000-word piece that was just so captivating that the editors were forced to run it. The story behind that story is nearly as good as the story itself.

Red Klotz, who lost more than 14,000 times to the Harlem Globetrotters and died earlier this summer. So, no “Where Are They Now?” piece

(Years later, Crothers, no longer at SI, pitched a story to the mag that they turned down; he then took it to ESPN, where it was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Excellence in Feature Writing, then turned into a book, and Disney even now has the movie rights to it. Some people never learn.)

***

Where in the World?

Previous: Chalk Pyramids, near Oakley, Kansas

Hint: It’s in Europe

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

What’s a banker gotta do to get thrown in jail? (that’s a trick question)

1. $hame on U$

A Florida woman (oh boy) is headed to jail for six months (what’d she do?) for having sex in the town square, actually in the gazebo (that’s not a euphemism). The woman, who is 68, a grandmother of 14 and has been married for 50 years, is about to become the post-menopausal Piper Chapman.

Meanwhile, the Bank of America has just settled with the U.S. Government for the sweet, sweet price of $17 billion for its MAJOR role in precipitating the sub-prime mortgage crisis that basically helped put millions of people either out of work or their homes or both in the 2000s. But, you know, that’s just the cost of doing business. No Bank of America executives will do even an hour of jail time.

This country’s priorities are simply F”ed up.

2. The Pooh Grass State

Johnson: Drops bombs before, after, and during interviews

A refreshingly candid interview with University of Kentucky freshman football player Cory Johnson, who weighs 280 to 300 pounds. Asked how come his weight fluctuates so markedly, Johnson replied, “Because I poop so much.” My heart warms to know that the Don Yaeger School of Canned Quotage –the former SI scribe actually travels to schools and teaches players how to give boring, canned answers, and schools pay him for this service;  it’s like a former fireman teaching you how to set fires; Do I seem a little feisty today? Yes,  I have feist) has yet to corrupt Johnson’ s glib and candid soul. Poop on, my man! Poop on!

3. Lollapaloser

Bite victim Ben Lenet.

Yes, a “zombie” bit a fan in the arm during the Arctic Monkeys’ set at Lollapalooza in Chicago last weekend. And just because of that I’m going to post this awful Eighties tune…

4. Spurs and Heels

Gregg Popovich is one sneaky radical. First, he becomes the first NBA coach to build the nucleus of his team around not one but a trio of foreign-born players, and now he becomes the first to hire a female as a full-salaried assistant coach. Kudos to Becky Hammon, who played high school ball in South Dakota and was not even selected in the WNBA Draft out of Colorado State. Hammon, 37,  is now in her 16th WNBA season. She perseveres. Pop obviously respects that.

5. Plumb Loco

What was the El Pollo Loco motive for going public?

I can honestly say that I’ve never dined at El Pollo Loco –but then, I would never tell you that I am dishonestly saying something, would I?– and I bet many of the people who have invested in it since its IPO less than two weeks ago have, either.

But they do watch the markets. And they have noticed that Chipotle (CMG) has seen its stock rise about 700% since it went public in 2009. So when El Pollo Loco, which is only in California, Texas, and a couple of other western states and specializes in fresh grilled chicken with a Mexican accent, issued its IPO two Fridays ago, the stock (LOCO) went, well, loco. From a start price of about $19 it rose all the way to $42, or more than 100%, in about four days. It’s currently just over $38, or still above 100%.

I think the money that was there to be made in LOCO has already been made, for now. Meanwhile, when will In-N-Out Burger go public?

 

 

THE DAILY HARRUMPH! (“harrumph harrumph harrumph”)

Wait, you say, no Starting Five? Quel est le probleme? Well, I do have a bunch of items lined up (I fear my friend Keith Arnold has not listed Jesse Bongiovi in his Top 25 Notre Dame Football Players of 2014, for example) but I’m tight for time this a.m. and I wanted to discuss one topic that I think, as the kids say, will get some burn. Hence, our inaugural installment of The Daily Harrumph. 

Our topic: The kerfuffle that was sparked by Screamin’ A. Smith’s unfortunate statements on domestic abuse, Michelle Beadle’s rapid and enraged public response, and the fallout. Here, then, are an Unknown (at this moment) Number of Things I Think I Think About the Screamin’ A. Smith-Michelle Beadle Kerfuffle. 

 

1. I think that unless she is about to shoot you or stab you (the famed “Fatal Attraction Dispensation”) that there is never an appropriate time to strike a woman. Not even, if she uses her fists, in self-defense. I think we can learn a lot from Jay-Z on the latter part of this statement.

Too Close for comfort

2. I think that Screamin’ A. Smith (heretofore, SAS) actually had good intentions with what he said, which is what made it all the more offensive. He was basically trying to help women by saying not to provoke your man, but by doing that, unwittingly, he was blaming the victim. I personally have some empathy for SAS on this issue because he was actually coming from, in his mind, a protective place. His intent was benevolent, though misguided. Your mileage may vary.

Life was simpler when all you had to worry about were Cheezy Doodles

3. I think that Michelle Beadle (heretofore, Beadle) came from a very personal place in her response. Far be it from me to upbraid someone for going off all emotive and half-cocked on Twitter (been there, tweeted that), but the immediacy and anger of her her tweets tells me that this wasn’t an argument about global health initiatives. She has been in that woman’s hypothetical position –was it a hockey player? –and, as she alluded, has intimate familiarity with this issue.

A Texan displaying her right to “open carry.”

4. I think that SAS never gets suspended if Beadle never tweets. Hence, his suspension is only partially about him telling women not to provoke men. It’s more about ESPN taking Beadle’s side. It’s a power play and Beadle won.

5. I think that if I’m Sage Steele’s agent, I consider an exit strategy. Beadle loves the NBA, has a glomance (a guy-girl bromance) going with Bill Simmons, and is an avowed Spurs fan. She just went all in with a pair of sixes and won. Now her chip stack is even bigger.

She’s really good on SportsCenter. The NBA Countdown transition has been a little like watching Carmelo and Amare on same team.

6. I think ESPN Suits (heretofore, Norby), with their abysmal track (and field) record of sexual discrimination and harassment, had to decide whether the greater good was to punish a high-profile on-air talent for using social media to admonish a high-profile on-air colleague, or whether to “side with Cheryl” and thus not throw any gasoline on the domestic violence fire. Norby chose the safer bet and Rob Parker’ed SAS.

7. I think there are a whole lot of ESPN talent who ain’t happy with how this went down. SAS is paid to bloviate, he bloviated, and he got suspended. A public on-air apology was not sufficient?

No, it’s not even okay to strike her…if you’re a dude.

8. I think that, if she’d taken a breath and counted to 30, and then maybe asked, “WWBLD?” (What Would Bob Ley Do?”), Beadle would have realized that, like SAS, she appears daily on weekdays on her own nationally televised show on ESPN. And that maybe the appropriate response would be to ask her producer –ahem, tell her producer– that she wanted to take a moment at either the top or bottom of the show (the A Block or the…F Block?) to revisit SAS’ comments and to respectfully tell her colleague where he got it wrong. I think she might also phone him to warn him that she would be doing this before she did so.

9. I think that Peter King is a good egg but that he may be just a little intoxicated on his own bug juice. Did Cam Newton owe it to Peter King to approach him? Or might it not have been better the other way around? This is one King who really does expect you to bend the knee.

10. I think that deep down in places that you don’t talk about at parties, the brothers –and sisters– are laughing at white folks trying to tell them how relationships should be handled. Should a woman ever be struck? Of course not. Is the world that SAS grew up in a little different than the one Beadle was raised in? Yes. Should I say that domestic violence transcends racial boundaries? Yes. Is that what happens in actuality? I don’t know.

11. I think that Jason Whitlock’s comment on “Olbermann” that “Canadians just don’t have it’ (a hunger to win) was in many ways no less offensive. It was an ignorant statement that ascribed a qualitative trait to a demographic en masse. But maybe because we think of Canadians as white, and maybe because John Saunders did not rip Whitlock a new one on Twitter, he escaped scot-free. Whitlock was referring to Andrew Wiggins, who is Canadian…and black. What if a white panelist had said that the Cavs can afford to part with Wiggins because, well, blacks are known to be lazy? Yeah, then you’re getting Rob Parker’ed.

Between one fern

12. I think that, given that SAS’ comments and Whitlock’s comments happened within days of one another, that Norby should’ve meted out the same punishment or non-punishment to both. Didn’t happen.

13. I think that this would be an excellent topic for Keith Olbermann to lead with on his eponymous show because right now, in the first week of August, it’s the most intriguing sports media topic on the horizon. And the essay would be more articulate, and certainly not enumerated. But Olbermann cannot touch this because all involved are ESPN personalities, which is the essential flaw of his otherwise brilliant and incisive program. It’s what keeps the show from approaching greatness.

Keith, Urban

14. I think we need more Bob Costas in this world. He basically missed Sochi and these are exactly the types of issues that he’d handle with insight and eloquence, and he wouldn’t do it at halftime of your Sunday Night Football Game, which a few of you seem to take as a personal offense. How dare he, trying to edjumicate me!

What about Bob? And is he seeing Dr. Marvin?

15. And finally, I think women are going to continue to allow men to hit them as long as they don’t think they (and remember, sometimes kids are involved) are better off without them. And that men are going to continue to hit women when they grow up in a household that is devoid of a real father showing you how a woman deserves to be treated. Which is not an excuse. But, alas, I fear it’s the truth.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

The men’s winner, Filipe Toledo, from Brazil, survived a Sharknado-free event

1. Board Games

If I’m Fox Sports 1, I recognize that probably half my on-air talent and as many staffers as can afford it probably live in Manhattan Beach, Huntington Beach and/or Redondo Beach (amirite, Bruce?) and next year I land the broadcast (as opposed to webcast) rights to the U.S. Open of Surfing. It’s kind of a big deal in southern California, as you can see here…

 

…and you know what surfing competitions in southern California have no shortage of? Beautiful people in bathing suits…

Contestants at the U.S. Open of Surfing are subject to pier review

Yes, I’d add this to my somnolent summer lineup, as well as the Badwater Ultra from Death Valley and the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado, the DIPSEA from Marin County and Mount Marathon from Seward, Alaska (the last two being the two oldest U.S. footraces outside the Boston Marathon). These are iconic American events (even if they are won by foreigners) that ESPN celebrity-dom and silly money have yet to spoil. The winner of this event, Toledo, pocketed $100,000, which was barely enough to cover the tab he and his friends probably rang up at Katsuya later that night.

2. Attention To Detail

The first rival band to spell out “M-I-H-I-G-A-N S-T-A-T-E” during its halftime show wins a free subscription to Miedium Happy

3. Taylor’s Summer (Hospital) Tour

Taylor Swift: Albums that go multi-platinum, heart of gold

I do love the Taylor Swift. I love how she wears dresses that make me wonder if she’s headed to a picnic with Tyrone Power . I love that she’s rather gawky and gangly and knows that deep down she’s not one of the cool kids. And I love that her heart’s always in the right place.  Yesterday she visited this sick six year-old lad at Boston Children’s Hospital –while some geniuses were probably vandalizing her beach estate– and serenaded him with “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” one of the great F-You tunes of the 21st century.

Taylor actually said, “I will play ANY song you want” and with all my heart I hoped that the ragamuffin would answer, “Just don’t do anything off your new album.” (also, amateur move here, T-Swizzle: You must have one of your roadies tune the guitar before you arrive in Intensive Care).

Afterward,  Taylor promised to hit two home runs for him later that night. I KNOW!

Wouldn’t it be cool if Swift did an entire summer tour of visits to children’s hospitals? Just not the one in Toronto, which she should boycott (girlcott?) because they call it, they actually refer to it, as “Sick Kids Hospital.” Seriously.

Adjacent to “Dead KIds Funeral Home”

“Mommy, am I gonna die?”

     “No, Billy, everything’s fine.”

“Then why are you taking me to SICK KIDS’ HOSPITAL!?!”

4. Accepting the Scallenge

Here’s hoping you did not burn your old Scalabrine Celtics jersey

Is there anything sexier than a person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously? Pardon me while I ask Darren Rovell.

Here’s NBA veteran/journeyman Brian Scalabrine doing a near line-for-line satire on LeBron James’ “I’m Coming Home” essay to explain why he signed with the Boston Celtics. Genius.

Scalabrine has actually played 11 NBA seasons, the same number as LeBron, and has only one less NBA championship ring.

5. The Funk You Talkin’ About!

I wonder if Boseman studied tapes of Eddie Murphy doing James Brown on SNL

The Godfather of Soul, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, James Brown (“James Browwwwwwn”…that’s for you Talking Heads fans) would probably tear off his purple leisure suit if he were to learn that the man portraying him in the biopic “Get On Up” is named Chadwick. Seriously, Chadwick? However, Chadwick Boseman, 32 and a Howard alum, is on quite a roll. Last summer he portrayed another 20th century African-American icon, Jackie Robinson (what makes it even more astounding is that Boseman is a white kid from New Canaan, Conn.) and the reviews were solid. This summer, the reviews for the film itself are lukewarm but the praise for his portrayal of Brown practically proclaims “OSCAR!”

Listen, there are three sure-fire ways to garnering at least an Oscar nom: 1) half-retard, 2) dying star turn 3) biopic. So I like Boseman’s chances here. Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx will note that he actually sang all the songs in the Ray Charles biopic, while Boseman here lip syncs.

Finally, will Boseman’s portrayal be anywhere near as charismatic as vintage Eddie Murphy’s, who launched an entire genre of SNL skits with James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party in the early 1980s (Kenan Thompson’s “What’s Up With That?” completely Scalabrines it). There was a time, in the early ’80s, when Eddie Murphy was the world’s top comedian and this is why. And it ended as soon as he started releasing music himself and we all realized it wasn’t a put-on.

Where in the World

Yesterday: The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, Hayward, Wisc.

Hint: Self-awareness will tell you that this is closer than you think.

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING

STARTING FIVE

Cancel my holiday in Sierra Leone!

1. Going Viral

An incurable virus that has taken the lives of more than 700 people now has hosts in Atlanta, as two U.S. health-care missionaries who were infected in Africa have returned for treatment at the National Institute for Health. One has to ask, Is this more a lost chapter from “World War Z” or the prequel of “The Walking Dead?”

Another pressing question: Which was the better film, “Outbreak” (1996)starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman, or “Contagion,” (2011) which boasted Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lawrence Fishburne –along with Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Bryan Cranston, Kate Winslet and, of course, Demetri Martin?

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spreads very well

Finally, if you’re a fan of irony (and you should be), you have to admit that there would be something ultimately ironic about a potentially apocalyptic –to mankind, at least– disease emanating from Africa, which is also the cradle of human evolution. Something to laugh about as you’re donning your HAZMAT suit.

2. Bye, George

Irving, Plumlee and Hayward are feeling a little nauseous after seeing what happened

Haven’t seen video of Paul George’s injury and I don’t want to –although it is interesting how exponentially many more times I am able to catch video of Eric Garner’s death on TV than the Pacer All-Star’s injury. Anyway, it’s a terrible mishap that will sideline him at least for one year. No need, at least from this camp, to speculate on the why of it, but I think we can all say with certainty now that neither team from last year’s Eastern Conference finals will be returning in 2015: the Pacers are now minus George and Lance Stephenson, while the Heat are without LeBron.

Wizards-Cavs, anyone?

One thing to wonder: Will there be another televised USA Basketball scrimmage any time soon? Methinks not. You can call this a fluke injury, and it was, but somewhere (probably in Larry Bird’s office) people are wondering whether the energy of the scrimmage might have been different had it taken place without any cameras.

3. Tiger’s Back (but like, not, returned)

Golfers must be Gumby-esque

It may not be the most aerobic activity (that Aqua Boot Camp class I took this weekend was more so), but golf is a discipline that rewards players who are more limber, especially in the lower back. Look at Rory McIlroy’s swing (above). Then note that Tiger Woods withdrew from Sunday’s Bridgestone Invitational with lower back pain after rushing to return to the course from back surgery in March.

Tiger is done for 2014. He won’t be playing in next week’s PGA Championship and he won’t play in the Ryder Cup, because hopefully someone with sense will tell him that if he ever hopes to return to close to the form he once showed, he needs a long period of rest to fully recover. You know who might be able to advise that? His girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, who over-ambitiously attempted to return from a torn ACL in time for Sochi last winter.

Ow

The easy story is Tiger’s demise and Rory’s ascent (and Sergio now playing the role of Phil Mickelson?). But Rory is 25 and flexible, while Tiger is 38 and stiff. If you have or have had lower back pain (raises hand), you know how impossible it is to expect Woods to play this game well with it. And four knee surgeries in 20 years don’t help.

4. Bale to the Victors!*

As Jim Delany ponders whether men’s soccer can be a revenue-producing sport

That’s right, a U.S. record crowd of 109,318 spectators packed Michigan Stadium on a Saturday afternoon in August to spectate –that’s what spectators do–for a friendly pitting Manchester United of the English Premier League versus Real Madrid of La Liga, which proves a couple of things:

1) It’s not yet American Football season.

2) Those members of the national media who trolled the popularity of the World Cup and tried to paint it as a fad by using Major League Soccer attendance and viewership numbers either don’t understand the hierarchy of soccer or were simply being disingenuous. American sports fans, like KISS fans, “wanted the best, and they got the best.” If you put the world’s best soccer players on a stage in the USA in 2014, people will come. In this case that translated to Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Chicharito of Manchester United.

Yes, it took an English-based club to return to the suburbs of Detroit wearing the logo of an iconic American auto manufacturer

Keep in mind, this was only an exhibition, in America’s heartland, and yet more than 100,000 people paid anywhere from $45 to $189 to view it. On the other hand, let’s not forget: Real Madrid and Man. U were recently named by Forbes as the world’s 1st and 3rd most valuable sports franchises, respectively. The revolution hasn’t begun; in some respects, it’s already been won.

What’s next for soccer’s growth? Could they go all NFL/NBA and even MLB (the Dodgers opened the season in Australia versus the D-Backs, recall) on the USA and stage a regular-season EPL or La Liga match on our soil? It’s a great idea.

In the interest of fairness, I will note that 67,000 people attended an open practice for the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field that same evening.

*Yes, I am aware that Gareth Bale’s team lost.

5. The Dutch Master

deGrom, a Florida native, played shortstop his first two seasons at Stetson University

New York Mess rookie pitcher Jacob de Grom took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night in Queens and in some respects it was the six-foot-four stud’s worst outing in more than a month. Consider that it was the first time deGrom allowed more than one earned run in his past five starts…although it might have been zero if second baseman Daniel Murphy didn’t use an iron mitt.

I remember first seeing deGrom back in May when both he and opposing pitcher Chase Whitley of the Yankees were both making their Major League debuts on the same night. deGrom took the loss, but he allowed just one run in seven innings –and also broke the Mets’ pitchers’ 0-for-64 streak from the plate–and it was clear that he had the superior potential.

deGrom is now only a pedestrian 6-5, but his ERA is 2.45 and he has only allowed more than 3 runs in one of his 10 starts. If the Mess get Matt Harvey back next season in similar form, this rotation has heft.

Where in the World

Previous: Mont. St. Michel, France

Hint: You should see the one that got away