1. Our Man in the Fertile Crescent
This is Richard Engel, who should turn 40 years old next month (Sept. 16), God –and Allah–willing.
Engel was raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His father worked at Goldman Sachs and Engel, despite his dyslexia, attended Stanford University. By all rights he should either be working at a Silicon Valley start-up or at a consulting agency such as McKinsey & Co.
Instead, upon graduation from Stanford in 1996, Engel moved to Cairo because he sensed that the Middle East was where the next wave of meaningful international events were taking place (oh, and because Don broke up with him and Jim was in New Hampshire canoodling with Grace Gummer). Anyway, Engel had no job prospects and did not speak Arabic, but he was a man on a mission.
Today, Engel is NBC’s chief foreign correspondent and the most trusted –if not the only American — name in Middle East reportage. He bases himself in the Middle East (Beirut) and is never more than a few hours away from filing a live report from the scene of the action. This week he is in Cairo. Last December he was kidnapped for five days while covering the civil war in Syria.
The next time a reporter whines about having to cover a game in Starkville (granted, it’s no Athens), I hope he or she considers what someone like Engel does every day.
2. The Madding Crowd Goes Wild
Caught the second episode of “Crowd Goes Wild”, Fox Sports 1’s 5 p.m. show that stars Regis Philbin and Hey, there, Georgie Girl!
Quick thoughts: The co-hostess, England’s Georgie Thompson is star material and another valid argument for all of us to learn to speak with a British accent (we would just sound smarter). Georgie is what the Brits would call “a television presenter”, and she is truly the show’s de facto host. Regis, who is 82, spent too much time telling us about the agents with whom he dines and at one point asked panelist Jason Gay where Yasiel Puig came from. Regis needs to put down that copy of Variety and pick up a copy of Sports Illustrated.
As for Jason Gay (no, that’s not a question about an NBA player)? One of the quickest twits (i.e., Twitter wits) out there, but I’m not certain that the Wall Street Journal sports columnist transitions well to TV. He has the sort of wrecked voice that recalls a young Owen Meany.
Former NFL player Trevor Pryce is actually well-informed and well-spoken. The surreal moment for me –and a moment funnier than anything that “Crowd’s” own Krusty the Clown, Michael Kosta, could cook up — was when Pryce gave a detailed and accurate bio of Italian striker Mario Balotelli (currently gracing the cover of SI), about whom I’m sure Regis was thinking, Didn’t Gelman and I eat at his trattoria last week? Gelman! Where’s Gelman?!? Georgie, where’s Gelman!
3. Chris Huston, alias “The Heisman Pundit”, Has a Passing Fancy
Our friend Chris Huston, who is as passionate about the Heisman Trophy as we are about John Oliver, released his Preseason Heisman Watch yesterday, listing the top 10 college football players whom he envisions to be viable candidates. The decade (we’re going with the secondary definition here, as in “decade of the rosary”) have one thing in common: all are quarterbacks.
Yes, 10 quarterbacks. In Huston’s defense (and this may be the last time you see the words “Huston” and “defense” in the same sentence), 11 of the 13 Heisman Trophy winners this millennium have been quarterbacks. Curiously, none of Huston’s top ten are quarterbacks who play in Texas, though the last three Heisman Trophy winners all played at least one year of college ball in the Lone Star State (Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel).
Huston’s No. 1, which is also ours: Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
Not on the H-Pundit’s list, however, are three players we are enchanted by: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Clemson Do-Everything-Guy Sammy Watkins, and Georgia tailback Todd “Hurley” Gurley. If you are looking for dark horses…
4. Honey and the Beis…
Our friends at The Big Lead (look at us, with so many friends!) report that Fox’s lead NFL and MLB play-by-play man, Joe Buck, 44, is now squiring around NFL Network reporter Michelle
Beadle Beisner, 36. The former Denver Broncos cheerleader does not speak with a British accent, but she should. Tim McCarver chaperones all the dates, we believe. Beisner, avid sports blog readers will recall, was first introduced to us six years ago by A.J. Daulerio, and I’ll let the link (“lemme know“) tell the rest of the story. If Daulerio, who like Beisner was completely unknown before that post, was not off pulling a Dave Chappelle at the moment, I’m sure he’d have something to opine about their relationship and concomitant sexual congress. Also, if Buck were to wed Beisner, he’d be roaming into Clay Travis territory (and Clay is now a Fox colleague). Finally, if you’re scoring at home, both Beisner and former Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero were previously NFL cheerleaders. Something to think about, ladies, as you polish those applications to Medill.
Was this item catty enough for you? Not catty enough? Too catty, like Calico-catty? You tell us.
5. Question: How is Manila like Detroit?
Yes, they’re both underwater. Half of the capital of the Philippine capital is currently below the water level, due to heavy rains, which begs two questions: 1) When will the floods recede? 2) Why is it Philippines with a “P” but Filipinos with an “F?” I’ve always wondered that.
Todays’ All-Aptly Named Team inductee is Oakland A’s reliever Sean Doolittle. Last night Doolittle entered in the eighth inning with a 2-run lead and promptly surrendered four runs without recording an out in Oakland’s 7-4 defeat. He also sabotaged a terrific seven innings by our All-Oxymoron Teamer, Sunny Gray.
One of the better stories of the first weekend of college football (just eight days away) will be Sam Rogers. A freshman at Virginia Tech, the five-foot-ten Rogers walked on to the football team and yesterday was named the Hokies’ starter by coach Frank “I’m the Longest Tenured Head Coach in the FBS” Beamer. Rogers will be able to ease into the role as Va. Tech opens a week from Saturday versus defending national champion Alabama.
The Christopher Lane murder in Oklahoma is simply tragic and it completely makes no sense. That said, as an avid runner, I’ve long told friends and family that I feel far safer running in New York City than I do most anyplace else. One reason: Every place else has more teenagers who are either out driving cars or just being bored idiots. The Lane story is beyond the pale, but I’ve had teens drive past me while running and toss bottles at me. Beavis and Butthead do, unfortunately, exist.
For what it’s worth, Yasiel Puig took a lot of heat for reportedly saying, “(Bleep) the media” yesterday. Meanwhile, Jeff Pearlman, a well-educated sports writer who was raised in the United States, was praised (by some) for posting this entry on his blog on Sunday that had, I believe, nine “F___ You’s.” So can someone please help me out here?
So, Elijah Hood, a four-star running back, decided not to wait until after he had signed with Notre Dame, or finished his freshman season, and decommitted from the institution –to which he had committed last April –yesterday. Verbal commits are the football version of “engaged to be engaged.” Hood has plenty of months to decide where he wants to attend, and in the meantime we’ll mention that he sounds a lot like the actor who played Frodo Baggins, whose best friend was Samwise, who was played by the same actor who portrayed Rudy, who attended Notre Dame, all of which means nothing.