IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Stand-Up Gal

Moving from left to right, that would be Truth to Power. Look at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi standing up to president Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room (I watched The West Wing, too, ya know) and telling him, “With you all roads lead to Putin.”

Look at the three men immediately to Trump’s right, one of them the Secretary of State and another the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all three staring laser beams into the papers before them. They’re embarrassed for him. They’re embarrassed to be there. We’re embarrassed as Americans.

The best part about this photo, of course, is that Trump tweeted it out as an attack against an upset and emotional woman. Of course, like so many of Trump’s master plans, it backfired.

You Can’t Jive Turkey

To be fair, you may have written a letter. The difference is that it was during third period Bio sophomore year and it was sent to Suzy Schmotz, imploring her to rethink the fact that she dumped you yesterday. And even then you were not so hysterical as to refer to her as “the devil.”

Again, we are only seeing this letter because the White House, and not The Onion, released it. And you have to appreciate that these are the types of missives he’s been sending out to foreign leaders for 1,000 days (today is the first 1,000 days of his presidency).

Okay, so let me be sober for a moment. Here’s how I think Trump sees the world and his presidency. He looks at it as if America gave him the mandate to be its CEO. And he’s not into diplomacy or leadership or the Constitution so much as he is into making deals. And many of those deals, most, are designed to financially benefit him and his family.

(That translator is you and I)

In Trump’s mind, as long as the Dow Jones Index and S&P are headed north and as long as Americans are safe, then everything else he does is fair game. And no one has the right to question it. So if he wants to “make deals” with Putin and Saudi Arabia and even Turkey on the side, deals that enrich him or benefit him, then that’s his right as America’s CEO. And if he wants to spend 310 days out of his first 1,000 on a Trump property then, again, that’s his right.

It isn’t, of course. But that’s the way he sees it.

Elijah Cummings Dead at 68

Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represented a district in Maryland since 1996, one that the president recently referred to as “infested,” has died. Of course now that he’s passed the president is playing nice again. It’s the John McCain rope-a-dope revisited.

Cummings’ home was robbed earlier this year and Trump mocked him for it. Earlier Trump had referred to the city of Baltimore as being “infested.”

Sure, It’s Easy To Be A Great Interview When They Don’t Ask You About China

Whitney Houston? We Have A Problem

Beautiful, gifted, charismatic. She was a vocal Julia Roberts–until she met Bobby Brown.

There are few institutions which we’d like to hold in higher esteem but actually hold so little for than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (also on that list, the post-1973 New York Knicks). Earlier this week the R&R HoF released its 2021 nominees and here are just a few of the problems I have with their list:

DMB, Soundgarden, the Doobie Brothers, Thin Lizzy, Whitney Houston, Motörhead, The Notorious B.I.G., Pat Benatar are the first time nominees. NIN, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, MC5, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Judas Priest and Todd Rundgren are also on the ballot once again.

–First, and I believe this should be the standard for all major HoFs, no more than two individuals should be inducted in any one year. That’s the limit. It’s the hard that makes it great. The lower you set the bar, the more of a disservice you do to everyone who has already made it. I don’t see MC5 and the Beatles belonging under the same roof, sorry.

All I want is to have a peace of mind. And I won’t until this band is inducted.

–Second, once again, where is Boston? You’ve got 16 nominees, some of which are more my cup of tea than others (and yours, too) and none for a band whose songs continue to be played regularly on radio more than 40 years later? At this point Mumford and Sons will be inducted before they will.

–Third, and this is a big one: If you’re going to consider inducting Whitney Houston, who was a major pop star and had a few monster hits but was of all things NOT a rocker, then you have to explain to me how Barry Manilow is not already an inductee. Whitney Houston had 11 No. 1 hits; Manilow had 13. And this is totally subjective, partly a product of my age and maybe even my ethnicity, if you like, but Manilow’s songs will remain far longer in the public consciousness than most of Houston’s. One of her three top hits (“I Will Always Love You”) is actually a Dolly Parton anthem, re-made.

In the end, it’s silly for me to be upset by such things. I know it. But then again, what’s more important than rock ‘n roll? Not much, I’d argue.

As to the list above, going by the “only 2 rule,” it’s the Doobie Brothers and, if you want to go by impact, then yes, Whitney Houston. I like Soundgarden and Pat Benatar, too, but there’s no way either band should even be sniffing the front door of that institution.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Up Shildt’s Creek

Yes, the Nationals swept the Cardinals to reach the World Series for the first time in their franchise’s history with a 7-4 win last night. But also, maybe there’s some karmic retribution for Card manager Mike Shildt‘s speech that followed the Cards’ series-clinching win against the Atlanta Braves last week. Geez, Mike. Do you chew tobacco with that mouth?

Anyway, there will be a World Series in Washington, D.C., for the first time since 1934. Also, today is Bryce Harper’s 27th birthday.

12 Angry Dems

This new NBA expansion team looks awful

Only watched a moment or two last night, but these Democratic “debates” feel more like a liberal arts core course I was required to take in in college where we’d have to spent the entire year discussing “issues” and philosophical theme. Enough already. Send the dozen of them on a 5-hour hike or do some feats of strength competitions. We’d find out just as much about them, probably more.

And who’s this Tom Steyer guy? Does a billiionaire who’s never previously run for office really believe he can be elected president???

Carrie Nation

The 1976 horror classic Carrie was on last night and we’d never seen it, so we stuck around for the final hour. Here’s a few bits of tid we found:

–This was the first Stephen King book that was turned into a film. How much was a then unknown King paid for the rights to his novel? $2,500. Brian DePalma bought the rights and directed.

–During the slow dance scene Carrie (Sissy Spacek) bumps heads with Tommy (William Katt) and apologizes. Tommy replies, “No harm…no foul.” So people have been saying that for more than 40 years.

–The cast. Incredible. Sissy Spacek would be nominated for an Oscar for this role and five years later would win one for Coal Miner’s Daughter. Betty Buckley, who plays the well-intentioned teacher, would win a Tony Award for Cats in 1983. William Katt would go on to play the title role in Pippin on Broadway and then of course become The Greatest American Hero.

John Travolta, the knucklehead boyfriend of the sinister teen played by Nancy Allen would go on to be John Travolta (he was already starring in Welcome Back, Kotter at the time). Allen would marry DePalma. Amy Irving, who plays Allen’s friend and Katt’s girlfriend, would go on to an Oscar nomination. Piper Laurie, who plays Carrie’s mom, has been nominated for an Oscar in three different decades, including in this film.

Spacek and Buckley are both native Texans

But it’s Spacek who holds the film together. Is there a better performance by an actor or actress in a horror film? And is this the horror film that jump-started the next wave of teen-based horror movies? Think about it: Halloween (1978), When A Stranger Calls (1979), Friday The 13th (1980) and He Knows You’re Alone (1980).

Hollywood saw Carrie and immediately put more teen horror flicks into production, it would seem.

The Tide Was Out

Nick taking a skeptical view of The Athletic’s list, but privately is giddy about it.

We are offering no ancillary commentary on this, simply noting that our part-time employer The Athletic released its “Midseason 2019 College Football All-American Team” on Tuesday and there’s something (Alabama) missing (Roll Tide!) from the first (“PAWWWWWWWL!”) unit. Whatever the opposite of Rat Poison is, Nick Saban’s program just got served a heaping helping of it.

Of course, part of the problem is that Alabama has such a surfeit of talent, particularly on offense this season, that they cancel one another out from a statistical standpoint. Neither wideouts Jerry Jeudy or DaVonta Smith are in the top 10 in terms of receptions partly because the other is on the field. And then there’s Henry Ruggs. Last Saturday Jaylen Waddle, considered the Tide’s fourth-best received scored on a play in which he made Texas A&M’s defense look as if they were playing in molasses (no one laid a hand on him). When you’re fourth-best receiver is a cheat code, that’s just not fair.

We still think Alabama or Ohio State is the best team in the nation (the Buckeyes landed three players on The Athletic’s first team) and if they were to meet on Saturday, we’d give the edge to the Tide due to the big game experience of both Tua Tagovailoa and Nick Saban relative to their Buckeye counterparts.

Two more notes: 1) Only one Clemson player, linebacker Isaiah Simmons, made the first team and 2) I played no role in compiling this list (obviously, I would’ve insisted a few Michigan players, particularly quarterback Shea Patterson, be named to the first team).

Springsteen And Springer

Look at these two guys. Above, that’s George Springer of the Houston Astros, who is an outstanding outfielder and one of the more personable ballplayers out there. You can tell because he’s the guy that Fox always tries to interview. Springer, 30, is from (“hard hittin'”) New Britain, Connecticut, and played his college ball at UConn (which is insane because it doesn’t get above 60 degrees there until mid-May).

And here is a young Bruce Springsteen, who is now 70. The same first six letters of the surname, the same East coast upbringing, the same ridiculous talent in their crafts, and the same charming smile. Am I crazy or is there a somewhat uncanny resemblance between the two?

In case you’re wondering, Springer is Panamanian and Puerto Rican. Bruce is Italian and Irish. There’s no good explanation, relative to their heritages, for either man’s last name.

And Finally…

A Very Happy Birthday to ‘Mama Dubs,’ alias ‘Phyllis,’ alias ‘Mom’ this morning. Her coffee cake and lasagna remain unsurpassed in western annals of cuisine, and no one wields a broom or mop with more flair. She is the Inigo Montoya of domestic cleaning devices.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

What the….? It’s not as if someone was Broccoli Rabe’d.

Starting Five

LeBron To Morey: “Shut Up And General Manage”

Here’s what LeBron James said before the Lakers’ preseason game against the Warriors last night:

Our favorite part: “I believe [Morey] wasn’t educated on the situation at hand.”

Not sure how LeBron is able to glean this from Morey’s seven-word since-deleted tweet: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

So then LeBron revved up the Twitter machine to do the ol’ “Wuh I Meant Wuz” thing…

and…

I’m pretty sure LeBron had Colin Kaepernick’s back when he took a knee, a gesture that also had ramifications, particularly financial ones, not only for himself but for his pro sports league at large. It’s okay to be woke about racism but Morey “could have waited a week” if he wanted to make a statement about the supression of freedom by the world’s most powerful authoritarian regime. Ooooooookay, LBJ.

Meanwhile, our good friend Tim Ring crafted a statement that LeBron could’ve/should’ve used instead of what he said, tweeted. It’s so easy. And we’re still working on Tim to launch a Ring Tones podcast.

Six Flags Over Met-Life Stadium (and Lambeau Field, etc.)

On Sunday night we turned on the CBS hoping to see a few moments of 60 Minutes but, alas there was still an NFL game on the tube: Cowboys at Jets. Okay, that’s an interesting matchup, I thought, of two of my favorite childhood teams who rarely play. So I watched. The Cowboys were trying to mount a game-winning drive.

To say the drive was abetted by penalties would be an understatement. On six consecutive plays a flag was thrown, and not all against one team. Finally Tony Romo said what every viewer was thinking: “I just want to see one play without a flag.”

Welcome to the NFL in 2019, where cameras exposed missed calls more than ever, where referees are well aware of that, where action on the field is subject to further review, and where almost every player is taught to hold or do whatever it takes to gain advantage (the old, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” maxim).

It’s not as if all of these penalties, or at least most of them, weren’t being committed at nearly the same rate decades ago. It’s that the ability to see them by cameras has improved, which has put the zebras on higher alert, which means that more than ever NFL games are being litigated as opposed to played.

(A Lambeau Leapin’ zebra?)

Apparently the same thing happened last night at Lambeau Field with two hands-to-the-face flags against Detroit Lion defensive end Tre Flowers essentially costing his team the game. I can’t watch. I’ll tune in for the playoffs, but only because it’s January and I probably won’t be at my private sex island in the Caribbean like some New Yorkers.

Chris Hayes Goes All In

Here’s MSNBC’s Chris Hayes vying to be the next Shepherd Smith. Hayes begins by noting the moral void inherent in powerful institutions doing their best to suppress the truth (because it will affect the bottom line), be it the NBA last week or Republican congressmen in regards to the president’s behavior. Then he quickly moves on to how NBC executives who are attempting to discredit former NBC correspondent Ronan Farrow‘s reporting on their lackluster response to Matt Lauer’s sexual predations, which was an aftershock of Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein.

Hayes, who is going out on a very shaky professional limb here, details how Fannon worked on the Weinstein story for 7 months for NBC, how NBC refused to air it, how he then walked out and published the story in The New Yorker a week or two later, how the story not only won him a Pulitzer Prize but also jump-started the MeToo Movement while also landing Weinstein in jail and effectively ending his career (and his attacks on females).

Young Blue Eyes: Ronan Farrow has a law degree from Yale, is a Rhodes Scholar, and is worth $12 million. One of the few journalists who can literally afford to take on the establishment. Do not mess with Frank’s son.

“Of course there’s a reason it took so long for the true on Weinstein to be told…and that’s because time and again the path of least resistance, for those in power, was to not cross Weinstein and his powerful friends and army of lawyers.” You can sub in “cross Trump” and “cross China” here.

Chris Hayes told the truth and in so doing spit in his bosses’ eyes last night on their eyes. I’d say “All In” is, at last, a fitting name for his show. We’ll see how much longer it remains on air, though.

National News

Remember when the Washington Nationals were unable to re-sign the bedrock of their franchise, The Natural, Bryce Harper, last winter? What ever became of that woeful, misbegotten franchise? Oh yeah. They beat the best regular-season club in the National League, the Dodgers, in an NLDS series and now have won three straight versus the St. Louis Cardinals while allowing a total of one run in those three games.

Strasburg is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA

We are all in for an Acela Express World Series between the Yankees and Nats, by the way. And as for Harper, he’s doing alright with the Phillies: 35 home runs and 114 RBI this season while being slated to earn $318 MILLION over the next dozen years. Still, the Ewing Theory extends to baseball and it’s wild to think that Stephen Strasburg (seven innings, 12 Ks, no earned runs in last night’s win) is going to play in a World Series game before Harper does.

A Farewell To The Cookoutateria

One of these clowns is your author

Yesterday, a gloriously sunny and warm mid-October day here, marked the final day of the season for the Cookoutateria (a.k.a. “The Boat Basin Cafe”). It was also the final day of what will be at least three or four years, as the city is closing the area in which it is housed to completely renovate the W. 79th Street traffic circle (situated directly above).

I haven’t worked there much the past six weeks or so, but I wanted to stop by and pay my respects. This is a picture of one of the few other staffers who has worked there almost as long as I did. This is Ubaldo, a busser, whose English is as poor as my Spanish and yet who has for years been one of my closest friends there. “Hola, Papi” is how we greeted each other each day, and with a close hug.

If there’s anything I know as to why we were such good work friends, it’s because I think we both admired the other’s work ethic. Too, after I was finished bartending a private party, I might have occasionally slipped Ubaldo a can of cerveza for him to enjoy after his shift.

Highly doubt I’ll ever put in another shift at the Cookoutateria (at least I hope not), but I’m eternally grateful for the people I met and for the awareness it awoke in me. And working outside under sunny skies along the Hudson River in shorts and a T-shirt was never a bad gig.

Music 101

That Voice Again

There were only eight songs on Peter Gabriel’s outstanding 1986 album, So, a true masterpiece. Of those eight, at least five if not six received more airplay than this track, which closes the first side of the album (if you have it on vinyl). We love the haunting tone. This was somehow never released as a single. Maybe they should release it now.

Remote Patrol

Game 3: Astros at Yankees

4 p.m. FS1

Check that time! Baseball in the gloaming, and it’s going to be a lovely sunny day here in NYC. Gerrit Cole, the most dominant pitcher in baseball the past four months, brings the heat for the Astros.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Sub-2:00

In Vienna, Olympic marathon gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge runs the time above to become the first human to break the 2-hour mark for a marathon, a.k.a. 26.2 miles. However, and it is a big however, the Kenyan’s time will not be officially recognized as he ran with a rotating wave of pacesetters in a race whose sole reason for happening was to break the 2-hour mark.

Kipchoge had run a similar race two years earlier in Italy, on a track, and missed the two-hour mark by 25 seconds. It’s an asterisk record.

Meanwhile In Chicago

In Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, an actual race, Kipchoge’s countrywoman Brigid Kosgei ran a 2:14:04, under legitimate conditions, to set a new world record for women in the 26.2-mile event by more than one minute. Kosgei, 25, broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16 year-old record by 81 seconds.

Meanwhile, two of banned coach Alberto Salazar’s runners—Galen Rupp and female Jordan Hasay—dropped out in the midst of running the Chicago Marathon. Both ran for the Nike Oregon Project, which Salazar headed and which over the weekend Nike announced that it is disbanding. Mo Farah, arguably the greatest runner in Salazar’s stable, finished in eighth place, running the slowest marathon of his career.

Shep Quits

Longtime Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith abruptly announced that he was leaving the network at the end of his Friday afternoon broadcast. No one quite knows for sure the reasons behind Smith’s exodus, but no on-air talent at Fox has been more critical of Donald Trump since he took office.

For a few years now, this Shepherd has been more of a lone wolf at Fox, not only sparring with the president but also with the network’s sunshine boy, Sean Hannity. Guess he finally got sick of it.

Perfect Parody From SNL

Actor David Harbour from Stranger Things was the host on SNL this week and you could tell that the cast loved him. Harbour, a Shakespearian actor with quite the zest for performing, could easily be a regular on the show. One of the best bits he was involved was this tone-perfect parody of the Joker trailer. Watch.

Two more observations from Saturday: 1) Pete Davidson, above, looks, well, a little strung out. You keep thinking he’s going to go Chris Farley before his 28th birthday (he’s 25) and 2) Bowen Yang, the show’s first Asian cast member, is a keeper. Not sure if he’s a star in the making, but he’s definitely going to be a workhorse in the rotation.

Moose News

In honor of one of MH’s oldest readers, we present this update on her namesake in Wyoming. It’s mating season for moose and I guess there’s a good happy hour at this strip mall. Do not order the Moscow Mule.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Dunk you very much. There’s four moments here where Liz nails it, and notice the comic timing. She waits for the cheering to subside before delivering the coup de grace, “…assuming you can find one.” Probably a set-up question, but still, beautiful.

Also, catching this late but well worth your 2-plus minutes if you have not seen it…

Starting Five

Clean, Beautiful Cole

A few things to know about Houston Astros starter Gerrit Cole, who stuck out 10 last night as the Blastros beat the Rays, 6-1, to advance to the ALCS:

–Since May 22 he is 18–0 in 24 starts.

–He has struck out at least 10 batters in every game for the past 11 games, a Major League record.

–Last night his streak of recording at least one strikeout in an inning reached 73 innings before finally ending. That’s the longest such streak since at least 1961—as far as Elias could trace back—and the next best mark is only 40 innings, by Pedro Martinez.

–Combined with his 15 strikeouts in Game 2 of the ALDS, the 6’4″ right-hander from the mean streets of Newport Beach, Calif., whiffed 25 batters in consecutive playoff games. Only one man has ever struck out more in consecutive postseason games: Bob Gibson (27) of the Cardinals in 1968.

Either Cole (20-5, led the league in strikeouts [326] and ERA [2.50] and was second in WHIP, [0.89]) or teammate Justin Verlander (21-6, led in WHIP [0.80] and was second in striketous [320] and second in ERA [2.58] will win the Cy Young, which is why the ALCS may hinge on the fact that the Rays extended the Astros to five games, meaning neither will pitch Game 1 and even if Verlander does pitch Game 2, on Sunday, it’ll be on short rest.

Wonders: After a win, do the Astros dine at Mastro’s?

Thug Shots

You are looking at Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Russian-born clients of Rudy Giuliani. Yesterday the pair were arrested at Dulles Airport as they had one-way tickets to Frankfurt. They are accused of breaking several campaign finance laws, including setting up phony companies in which to funnel money to Republican candidates, money that originated from an unknown Russian investor. They also allegedly introduced Giuliani to Ukrainian officials who suggested they push the Biden-corruption angle.

Besides being clients of Giuliani, the pair had their bail agreement ($1 million) negotiated by Paul Manafort’s attorney. President Donald Trump says that he does not know them which, well, of course.

This is paint-by-numbers stuff at this stage. Manafort, now in prison, was the original conduit to the Russian agenda. When he went away, Rudy replaced him. The game all along has been to funnel Russian money to Republican super-PACs and candidates via shell companies or third parties such as the NRA. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Republicans pols, who consider liberals and/or Democrats the greatest threat to their U.S.A., have no problem accepting cash from Russians if it will keep them in power. And kow-tow’ing to them. And using Putin’s KGB methods to remain in power.

And here’s Don Jr. with the both of them

This is treason. If you want to hang some of these men, it’s not the worst idea.

Trump, yesterday afternoon before heading to a rally in Minneapolis:

Rudy, that bus ahead is the one you’re about to be thrown under.

Shame, Shame For Ol’ Notre Dame

We love our alma mater, tis true, but this is shameful: Attorney General William Barr, who could be going to prison within a year or may be resigning even sooner, is scheduled to speak at the University of Notre Dame Law School today. That’s bad juju, Irish, particularly on the eve of the USC game.

Here’s hoping a “Lock him up!” chant is started by a few spirited 1Ls.

By the way, since Ronald Reagan, every U.S. president has given a commencement speech at least once at Notre Dame. Donald Trump has not yet been invited—Mike Pence delivered it in 2017.

Mystic Achievement

We don’t have much to say about the Washington Mystics winning their first WNBA title after 22 seasons in the league other than Good job. League MVP Elena Delle Donne beats the state of Connecticut again, as the Mystics take down the Sun in five games (Delle Donne famously committed to UConn and then withdrew her first week on campus in the summer, likely costing the Huskies at least two national championships). Delle Donne played the series with three herniated discs in her back. And a broken nose.

It’s the first Washington, D.C., pro sports championship since the Capitals two years ago.

Mercedes Rule

We were strolling past the Mercedes dealership on 11th Avenue the other day when we noticed, in the showroom, this 2020 Mercedes AMG GT C Coupe. Sticker price of just $150,900. As soon as that Bitcoin play comes in, we’re purchasing one of these. We’ll even take you for a spin, Susie B.

Music 101

Alive

The first time we heard Pearl Jam’s breakout tune, in September of 1991, we just knew it. You did too, right? It’s not exactly a toe-tapper, more of a foot-stomper. This is the song, and the opening guitar riff, that started it all.

Remote Patrol

Nationals at Cardinals

8 p.m. TBS

A fine appetizer for tomorrow’s incredible day of sports ball: Oklahoma-Texas, Penn State at Iowa, Alabama at Texas A&M, USC at Notre Dame, Florida at LSU, Yankees-Astros. Crazy.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Who’s Your Yadi?

Rule No. 7 (In any baseball game you have a chance of seeing something you’ve never seen before) was in full effect last night as the Cardinals put up a 10-run first that included one sacrifice bunt and zero home runs. The series was over before the Braves ever got to bat.

St. Louis wins Game 5 13-1 in a contest in which they were out-homered by Atlanta, 1-0.

Defeat of Clay

In a first-ballot Hall of Fame career, Los Angeles Dodger pitcher has never given up back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches—in the regular season. He’s now done it twice in October as he allowed back-to-back blasts to Washington’s top hitters, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. The Nats tied the game 3-3 on those bombs and then used a Howie Kendrick grand slam in the 10th to win 7-3 and advance.

Meanwhile, anyone remember when Bryce Harper’s departure was supposed to leave the Nats mediocre? Also, another Rule No. 7 moment as in the bottom of the first Joc Pederson hit a ball through the outfield fence (an opening in the chain link fence).

By the way, the Nats are now 3-0 this postseason in their navy-blue tops. Manager Davey Martinez: “I’m not superstitious. I’m just a little stitious.”

There’s An App For That

Given a rare prime-time TV appearance, Appalachian State moves to 5-0 with a 17-7 win at Louisiana. The Mountaineers are now 16-2 the past two seasons, the lone defeats being at Georgia Southern and in overtime at Penn State. A note on first-year coach Eli Drinkwitz, 36: he never played college football but was the student body president at Arkansas Tech.

The Mountaineers have a decent shot of being the Group of Five school that plays in a New Year’s Six bowl.

Pence-ive Reply

This is what “I Want Not To Be Here” looks like from a compromised politician whose sole role is to defend his crooked boss.

Give Her The Turnover Chain

Speaking of dumb crooks, check out this amazing turnover in a foiled robbery at a hotel in Kentucky….

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Rays Of Hope*

*The judges will also accept “Trop Of The Heap”

In Saint Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Rays stave off elimination a second consecutive night with a 5-1 defeat of Houston to force Game 5 in the ALDS. The Rays also do the Yankees a favor by forcing the Astros to start Gerrit Cole in Thursday’s game and wasting a Justin Verlander start. Even if he Astros win, chances are Cole and Verlander would be unavailable for Games 1 and 2 in Houston—the Astros swept the Yankees three straight way back in early April the only time the two teams played in Houston this season.

Meanwhile, this defensive relay play from centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier to 2nd baseman Willie Adames to catcher Travis d’Arnaud to nail 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve is as beautiful a defensive play as you’ll ever see on the diamond.

Heigh Ho, Silver!

Given a day or two to mull its official Sunday statement calling Daryl Morey’s tweet urging solidarity with Hong Kong “regrettable,” the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver game out in favor of truth, justice and the American way.

Before a preseason game between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors (you may remember them? the NBA champs?) in Tokyo, Silver said, ““Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right [to free expression] as one of our employees. What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech, and we will have to live with those consequences.”

(Well of course they’d whitewash something in a Communist country using red paint)

Money’s original tweet, since deleted? “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

CCTV, China’s state-run television, has canceled the airing of two NBA preseason games (as a service to its fans? I hate exhibtion games) and the Chinese Basketball Association, run by former Houston Rocket Yao Ming, has severed all ties with the Rockets…who may wind up being the most watchable team in the NBA this season.

China, meanwhile, says that it too believes in freedom of expression unless it threatens the sovereignty of the state, which is like saying you believe in dinner but not after 3 p.m.

Silver: “If those are the consequences of us adhering to our values, I still feel it’s very, very important to adhere to those values.”

This is what a leader looks like. Values over dollars. If only our president or secretary of state had the integrity of Adam Silver.

The Cables Guy

In the Italian Alps, a near-miracle. A small plane was a second or two from crashing into terra firma, which would have killed both occupants. Instead it gets tangled in a chair lift at Prago Valentino ski resort in Teglio and flips upside down. Both the pilot, 62, who was thrown onto the wing, and the passenger, 55, are fine.

This is Bugs Bunny-level stuff. Unbelievable.

Dam Shame

The nation of India, which leads all nations in selfie-assisted suicides (really; India’s Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.did a study in 2018, Susie B.), added four more people to the list recently. A newlywed, 20, and three family members aged 15 to 22 drowned when they slipped while attempting to take selfies shots at Pambar Dam (above). The groom and his sister survived.

From October of 2011 to November of 2017 some 259 people died worldwide due to incidents involving attempted selfies. And the editors at MH can only thank them for helping to fill out our final item or two on many a morning.

Here’s The Truth, Ruth

Before this tweet fades into the mist, I wanted to post it and have it here to represent the simplest disconnect between those who still side with Trump and those who side with the U.S.A. and the Constitution.

In case the type is too small, I will post it here in ALL CAPS and bold:

“I THINK WHAT MOST LIBERALS ARE MISSING IS THAT THIS ISN’T ABOUT RIGHT AND WRONG. IT’S ABOUT WINNING AND LOSING. I’VE ATTACHED MY ENTIRE WORLDVIEW TO THIS MAN AND I AM GOING DOWN WITH THE SHIP. NOT ONE OF YOU IS GOING TO CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.”

It’s funny. A New York judge orders the president of the United States to hand over his tax returns; he ignores the order. Congress subpoenas a former ambassador to Ukraine to appear before it and the White House blocks it. And on and on and it may go to federal court, but WHO CARES?

Even if the Supreme Court rules against Donald Trump, does anyone really believe he will comply with it? He will simply keep stonewalling and do the Roy Cohn 101 bit, akin to pulling an Al Pacino in And Justice For All

I really doubt that he will ever admit defeat, will ever willingly abandon office even if the Senate ratifies the House’s impeachment vote. Resign? Never. It will take a Colonel Jessup moment wherein two giant Marines walk into the Oval Office and haul him out as he threatens Nancy Pelosi, here in the role of Lt. Daniel Kaffee, in the most vile of terms.

In the end, only an overwhelming preponderance of evidence (PUT OUT BY THE MEDIA!!!!) will produce a turning of hearts and minds in precincts that had formerly bought MAGA hats by the thousands, which will eventually stir some Republican legislators who’ve been riding the Trump Train to at last get religion, which may at last stir Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who is the lynch pin in this entire affair, to pull the plug on his support for Trump.

Meanwhile, Nobody Republicans such as Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz (below) and Devin Nunes will eventually wind up in jail as well as the scrap heap of history as their political careers are last seen in that mobile-dumpster-on-fire GIF.

In the interim, the U.S. abandons its allies in Ukraine and the Kurdish, most likely for the personal enrichment of the Trump family. Last night I was talking to a friend (who took me out to dinner…sweet!) and likened the U.S. foreign policy situation, and our image among the global community, to a house party when the parents away. The sane part of the country is the Lisa Simpson type, and Donald Trump is like a teenaged Bart, who has decided to throw the greatest bash ever while Homer and Marge are out of town.

Someone vomited in Marge’s underwear drawer. Someone else broke a vase. There’s pizza on the ceiling. The cat is in the dryer (at least it’s not running). The place is a mess and here we are, Lisa, helpless to do anything really until Hurricane Bart and his friends play themselves out and/or pass out. Then we’ll get to the task of cleaning up after them for the gigantic mess they’ve made. We just hope they don’t burn the house down before we can get to work.

Reserves

Rageaholics Autonomous

In Philadelphia—of course—Wells Fargo Arena introduces a “Rage Room” where fans of the Sixers and Flyers are welcome to take out their frustrations. I don’t see that counter lasting very long. How was this not ever a plot angle on It’s Always Sunny….? It’s pure genius.

Music 101

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

We’ve finally begun watching Fleabag and there’s a terrific line in the first or second episode. You know the one: “Don’t make me hate you; loving you is painful enough.”

This was Canadian native Neil Young‘s first single to chart, in 1970, and is reportedly about the breakup between his ex-bandmate Graham Nash and yet another influential Canadian musician, Joni Mitchell (No. 2 on the Most Influential Canadians list?). Young’s music has an inimitable, and often searingly heartbreaking, sound. I love it.

Remote Patrol

GAMES 5!!!!!

Cardinals at Braves

5 p.m. TBS

Nationals at Dodgers

8:30 p.m. TBS

Heat Miser doppelganger Justin Turner has been the hottest bat in the N.L. this postseason

I’m SO down for all of this. October. Baseball. Do or die doubleheader!

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Presidential.

Starting Five

Minnesota Tloses

Certainly the Yankees are Savages, but the Minnesota Twins just lost their 16th consecutive playoff game. And their 13th in a row to the Bombers, a team that only won two more games (103 to 101) than they did this season.

The Yanks become the only team to sweep their divisional series. Gleyber Torres, 22, had a home run and two doubles while making an incredible defensive play in short right from his second-base spot. Gleyber, Judge, D.J. LeMahieu and Didi Greglorious (!) all made fantastic defensive plays.

The Twins may want to petition to move to the National League.

Big D Visits Big D (Arlington, Actually)

On Sunday TV host and Extremely Wealthy Woman Ellen DeGeneres and her partner, Portia de Rossi, were guests of Jerry Jones in the owners’ box at the Packers-Cowboys game. Well, they were more closely guests of Jones’ daughter, Charlotte. Ellen, who sat next to the 43rd president of the United States, had a few wise things to say about her pilgrimage to Jerry World on Monday.

Another Flag Incident In San Francisco

In the midst of the 49ers’ 28-3 pasting of Baker Mayfield and the Browns, Niner rookie Nick Bosa sacked Baker Mayfield and celebrated by figuratively planting a flag in the turf.

Bosa played at Ohio State in 2016 and ’17 (he mostly sat out last season) and while there only lost one game at the Horseshoe: to Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners—a game after which Mayfield planted a flag in the Ohio State turf.

I’m not sure if MNF payback really counts—but the Niners are 4-0.

Follow You, Follow Me

We caught Phil Collins’ “Not Dead Yet” show at Madison Square Garden last night.

Now, before you say that you’re more of a Peter Gabriel guy/gal than a Phil Collins guy/gal, hey, so are we. But do you know the other artists who sold more than a 100 million records both as a member of a band and as a solo artist? It’s a short list: Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Phil Collins.

Collins, who must be seated for most of the show due to complications from back surgery, played plenty of hits both from his solo career and Genesis (we wanted to hear “Turn It On Again” but alas, no), but the true highlight of the show was the band’s 18 year-old drummer, Nicholas Collins.

Besides holding his own at dad’s drum kit, Nicholas also played piano for a duet with his proud pop. Can you imagine being 18 years old and not only touring with a world-class artist but also your father? And holding your own? Good-looking kid, too.

The Last Point After

Almost, if not every, former Sports Illustrated staffer grew up a fan of the magazine (had my first subscription at age seven or so and only dropped it when I was hired) and most have given eulogies-in-kind in the past week. I worked there for 15 years in two stints: 1989-2001 and 2003-2006. I actually started on July 20th both times.

Anyway, today I want to talk about SI for two reasons. The first is this Point After piece by Rick Reilly buried deep in Peter King’s “Football Morning In America” column this week. It’s worth the scroll down as it’s vintage Reilly.

When I was in college Reilly was the guy my Notre Dame buddy Marty Burns and I would read religiously, and it’s a wonderful gift of fate that Mister Burns and I were both able to work at SI for more than a decade. When I was in my post-collegiate existential crisis between attending grad school, making lots of money and marrying far above my station or pursuing my childhood dream of working for SI, I wrote to Reilly. Like, a letter. In an envelope. With a stamp.

He wrote back to this nobody. A letter. In an envelope. With a stamp. When we finally met in person he was gracious and funny and humble and just incredibly kind to all the twenty something fact-checkers at SI whom he knew aspired to be him. I read a lot of cheap shots taken at Reilly these days on Twitter, blogs; those folks can go suck eggs. In his prime, Reilly was the absolute best at his craft and when he’d visit the office (he lived in Denver at the time), he was a charismatic presence who brought laughter to every office he visited.

The second thing I’d like to talk about today is something I’ve not heard anyone mention. To work at SI or even to be a sportswriter is, hopefully, to eventually be brought into spheres of people who tell you that they don’t follow sports. This happens to me a lot and at first glance I find plenty of folk, particularly here in Manhattan, think of us as Oscar Madison. Or worse.

To me the appeal of sport, the longer I’ve had to think of it, is that unlike ballet or Broadway or a recital (and those things all have their appeal), there is genuine excitement because Darwinism is involved. Somebody wins, somebody loses, just as has been taking place for millennia out on the Serengeti Plain or the Kalahari.

Sport is the surrogate for survival for our subconscious and instinctive self, a 21st-century being that no longer has to worry about maintaining the hearth or fending off saber-tooth tigers (although, ironically, Nazis remain a threat). When I’ve posited my theory at dinner parties, etc, I’ve seen people genuinely look at me differently. They’d never thought of sport that way. But to me that is why it has such passionate and universal appeal; it is providing that same anxiety/thrill our ancestors felt when riding a stagecoach across Apache lands or going to war against the Visigoths.

Now, I bring that all up because what are layoffs than just another example of Darwinism (and I’ve been on the wrong side of a layoff or two, so I have empathy for these jettisoned SI staffers, I do)? Yes, Maven is a corporate vampire that will use up SI’s last remaining drops of integrity the way a pimp uses a pretty 18 year-old girl’s virtue and charms, no doubt. But this is also a story of natural selection: half the staff was selected to survive and the other half was sent out into the wilderness.

As a sportswriter or jettisoned SI staffer, maybe (not now) you will one day appreciate the irony of it all (right now you will grieve, perhaps publicly and on various podcasts). Sports are all about one side making the cut and the other not. And that’s what happened at SI last week. Although, honestly, I believe that those who did not make the cut will ultimately be better off.

I’ve written this before, but when SI laid me off in June of 2001—on the morning of the wedding of my SI buddy Steve Cannella, where I was headed; Cannella is now the co-editor in chief of the mag— I received plenty of nice notes and calls of conciliation from co-workers. The one call I will never forget came from my close friend, then and now, Austin Murphy. “John, Austin,” the driest sense of humor in journalism began. “Better you than me.”

Life isn’t fair, as every pro athlete knows. You don’t deserve anything. I learned that lesson and good when SI laid me off. It’s a lesson you need to experience but once you do, everything gets better. It’s a lesson plenty of ex-SI staffers are feeling, perhaps truly for the first time, this week.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Hong Kong Phooey

On Sunday Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out an image that read, “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”

Quickly, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that Morey does not speak for the team.

Then Yao Ming—remember him?—who is the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, said that the CBA is suspending its relationship with the Rockets.

Then the NBA itself called the tweet “regrettable.”

Then the Rockets’ two future Hall of Famers had to take one for the team.

And sure, because you cannot just have colonies breaking away from their repressive nation and forming an independent country of their own. That would be chaos, right?

RIP, Rip

Long before people in Hollywood—or elsewhere—were publicly allowed to be gay, actor/comedian Rip Taylor was heralded as being “flamboyant.” Taylor, who died this weekend at age 84, was someone whom I did not recall seeing in anything other than a flowery scarf and a bright leisure suit.

Folks of my age know him from his frequent and outlandish appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, often accompanied by Phyllis Diller. What a pair.

Also a RIP to former Cream drummer Ginger Baker, who by that name you may have thought was an old black jazz singer. Baker, who passed away at age 80 this weekend, was a primal force of rock drumming although he always insisted that he was “a jazz drummer” (see?). I’m also informed by my sister, whose late husband was a rock-and-roll drummer, that Baker and I slept on the same couch (though not on the same night). Baker, by his own admission, “quit heroin 29 times” and was as much a character off stage as he was a virtuoso behind the kit. An ex-wife once said of him that if Baker were a passenger in a plane that went down he’d be the only survivor “because the Devil takes care of his own.”

Standing Pats

A little more than one month into the NFL season, the New England Patriots are the league’s only undefeated franchise (5-0). The Pats, who strangled the Washington Redskins 33-7 yesterday, a team whose coach, Jay Gruden, was fired shortly afterward, have outscored their five opponents by a combined 121 points.

The next-best point differential in the NFL thus far is +42, by the 3-0 San Francisco 49ers, whose quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, learned at the foot of Tom Brady. Who is probably the only Patriot I can name off-hand.

So, unless Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs can take care of business this time, it’s not too early to book the Pats to the Super Bowl for the sixth time in the last nine seasons. While you’re waiting, though, read this revealing story in Vanity Fair about owner Robert Kraft’s visit to a sex spa.

Second Whistleblower, First-Hand Knowledge

A second intelligence official, reportedly with first-hand information about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, and with grave misgivings about them, has come forward but has yet to file a formal complaint. Meanwhile, all that 45 and his supporters such as Senator Lindsey Graham are able to do is to beg for the whistleblowers to be outed so that they can show that these people are “partisan hacks.”

Not only is this witness intimidation, of course, but it’s also the last Hail Mary pass of a president and his cronies who know that the facts are not on their side. It’s the Roy Cohn School of Self-Defense: attack the integrity of your accuser when the facts clearly show that you are guilty.

Brown testifying

Meanwhile, on the topic of witness intimidation, the neighbor of Dallas murder victim Botham Jean, a young black man (and former college football player) named Joshua Brown who had testified at the murder trial of Amber Guyger, was himself murdered on Friday night. Guyger received a soft (in our opinion) 10-year sentence for murdering Jean in his own apartment. On Friday night Brown was shot once in the mouth and once in the chest outside an apartment complex. There was no known motive. Uh huh.

The Sudafed Syndrome

Remember this photo from Cinco de Mayo, 2016? Your Republican presidential nominee tweeting out his support of Mexicans because he enjoys the Taco Bowl from the Trump restaurant inside Trump Tower? If you look closely at that open drawer behind the future president, you’ll notice not one but a few boxes of Sedated (if you blow up the photo, it’s easier to spot of course).

We would advise you to visit the Twitter feed of @JRehling to learn about all of the possible effects of abusing this well-known decongestant, but it’s important to note that there is a limit to the frequency an individual may purchase Sudafed and that these limits were clearly being circumvented. Of course, President Trump does sniffle a lot.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Pirate booty

Starting Five

Sigh, SI

Where Are They Now? Indeed.

In what must have been the bloodiest day in the history of Sports Illustrated staff shakeups, 50% of the current staff were shown the door at 225 Liberty. Sadly, and a sign of what has happened to the iconic 63 year-old mag in the past decade, you will not recognize most of the names.

Here are some of the job postings that Maven, the soulless vampire company responsible for all the cuts, has posted in the wake of the layoffs: “managing editor,” “pre-editor,” “editorial lead,” “insider (reporter),” “sport editor” and “expert writer.

And dig, I’ve been critical of the way SI failed to adapt to the changing new media landscape the past 25 years, but those of us who were there at SI before the internet and before America went mad over SportsCenter (we co-wrote that piece in December, 1992) can appreciate that there was no real way to stop this tidal wave.

If you’re under 40 and grew up in an age before cable news and ESPN and USA Today and the web, this may shock you: Americans used to watch sports on the weekends and wait until Thursday to read what Sports Illustrated had to say about it. Sure, you’re local KPNX news guy would spend 30 seconds on it, if the event were big enough, before talking about the local teams; and your local newspaper, if your city was large enough, would send someone to cover a World Series or NFL playoff game.

But if you wanted the ONE AUTHORITATIVE VOICE to take you, the reader/viewer, to that game after it happened (and remember, most everything that was taking place was NOT on live television…that’s why “This Week In The NFL” was such a popular weekly show; it was Berman and Jackson’s NFL Blitz before that show existed), you read Sports Illustrated.

As soon as SportsCenter became the cool hangout (not until about 1991) and then the internet came along shortly thereafter, that all changed. Sports consumers no longer had that sort of patience, and why should they? And SI, which easily could have put those written-on-Sunday stories on its website Monday morning, still made readers wait until Thursday or Friday to view them. At least in the beginning.

The bell tolled for thee, and that bell originated in Bristol and on the WWW.web.

Acuna Matata

So gifted. So maddening.

Atlanta Braves 2nd-year superstar Ronald Acuna, Jr., went 3-4 with a two-run home run in his team’s Game 1 loss to the Cardinals last night, but everyone’s angry with him. Why? Because he spent too much time admiring a 7th-inning hit that he thought might go over the right-field porch and was held to a single. Later that inning he was doubled off second base when by all intents he should have been on 3rd when the ball was hit.

The Braves have lost an MLB-record 10 consecutive postseason Game 1’s.

Enough Already

Late in the Rams-Seahawks game, Clay Matthews was penalized for roughing the passer on this play. Pathetic. The Rams led 29-24 at the time and this penalty gave the Birds 15 yards and a first down, which they’d use to finish the game-winning drive. Pathetic, no?

A Star Is Born

To be fair, the acoustics inside subway stations are really, really favorable.

This is Emily Zamourka, who has been homeless in the past two years in Los Angeles (but still dresses better than I do) and is from Russia. Her background:

She’s a classically-trained violinist and pianist who moved to the United States from Russia 30 years ago. She worked as a music teacher, but when her medical bills piled up due to a serious health problem, she played her violin in the streets to make extra cash. That $10,000 violin was stolen a few years ago, and Zamourka became homeless. But she still performs for subway commuters, despite not being a trained singer.

–From CBS Los Angeles

We picture a national underground tour, playing some of the most iconic subway stops in New York City, D.C. and Boston. Perhaps even an L station in Chicago.

It was an LAPD officer, Frazier, who shot the video and changed Zamourka’s life (she’s already received $100,000 in GoFundMe donations). That is, until some enterprising newspaper uncovers her old racist tweets.

It’s Katie McCollow’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday to MH’s funniest contributor and to the most talented stay-at-home actress we know. You may not recognize Katie’s face, but you’ve heard her voice on quite a few national TV commercials in the past few years.

All those casting directors who told you that you’ve got a great face for radio. Who got the last laugh? You did, Katie. You did. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

p.s. Katie and Mike are now empty nesters and since they have no interest in touring the nation to visit Civil War battlefields, you can help keep Katie busy by soliciting her to paint someone or some pet you love (Mike will golf in 30-degree weather so don’t worry about him). It makes a wonderful Christmas or birthday present. We have two Katie originals hanging in the MH world headquarters.

Music 101

I Lost It

Our dream country-rock concert would be Lucinda Williams and Son Volt. And if you don’t own Williams’ 1999 album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, from whence this song comes, you’re not living your best life. We’re here to help, America.

Remote Patrol

Rays-Astros

2 p.m. FS1

Cardinals-Braves

4:30 p.m. TBS

Twins-Yankees

7 p.m. MLB Network

Nats-Dodgers

9:30 p.m. TBS

October playoff baseball quadruple header. You’re welcome, America! Bask in the glory.