by John Walters
Leaders On Holiday*
*The judges will reluctantly accept “Topless Tsar”
Vladimir Putin is spending his time off shirtless, outdoors and in Siberia. Donald Trump is spending his (thus far) on Twitter, indoors and in New Jersey.
Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
Siberia. New Jersey. Siberia. New Jersey.
2. Snakes Alive!
Don’t know if you know this, but south Florida is now brimming with Burmese pythons. The serpents are not indigenous to the area, but the latitude is nearly the same as their home base in Asia and, to the dismay of many other local species, including your pet terrier, the vipers are thriving.
Snake hunts are now a common thing in the Florida Keys and Everglades, with the python posse bagging $8.10 an hour and as much as $300 per snake. It almost makes you wonder if these snake searchers would be induced to raise their own pythons to keep the gig going longer.
3. Colin > Christian, No?
Yesterday the New York Jets! Jets! Jets! 2016 second-round pick, quarterback Christian Hackenberg, was booted from the field after twice failing to break the huddle correctly during seven-on-seven drills. Hey, it’s not as if he was punched in the face by a teammate, but it’s still not a good look for a guy whose only job it is to play quarterback (it’s not as if he’s fitting this in after classes, etc.).
Hackenberg seems like a decent dude, but seeing as he plays for the Jets, and as he completes too many passes to reporters based on the sidelines, he’s become a target (perhaps one he could actually hit) for media types who wonder how badly a QB has to play before some owner gives Colin Kaepernick, a dude who actually led a team to a Super Bowl five years ago, a chance.
I’m 100% all-in on Christian Hackenberg. Big arm. Has good receivers. As soon as Geno throws 1st pick in Q1 of W1, gimmie the Penn St kid
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) April 30, 2016
Besides, it’s always fun to remind Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead how high he was on Hack.
Look, Sam Darnold is a very, very good quarterback. He may even win the Heisman Trophy this season. Then again, the USC redshirt sophomore may not.
“Sam Darnold is boring.” —Jeff Pearlman, Bleacher Report (that’s the lede to his profile)
Last January Darnold threw for 453 yards, five touchdown passes and led the Trojans back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit against Penn State for a 52-49 win in the sexiest Rose Bowl since January 2, 2006 (Texas-USC). And sure, it was nice to see a team that opened the year with a 52-6 loss against defending national champion Alabama and started out 1-3 right the ship. The Trojans have now won nine in a row and Darnold is the face of the renaissance.
USC is on a very, very short list (Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio State, Alabama) that fans nationwide will always care about. Love or hate. And so it’s not that surprising that Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report and the Los Angeles Times have ALREADY come out with huge features on Darnold.
Here’s the problem: his story isn’t all that incredible. He’s a SoCal beach kid with good, solid middle-class parents. But that hasn’t stopped everyone from writing about a QB who was 9th in passing efficiency, 13th in TD passes and 36th in passing yards last season. Where are the features on Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who rushed for 194 yards in that Rose Bowl and is no less a legit Heisman Trophy candidate. Or on USC linebacker Cameron Smith, who in MH’s opinion is a better player, position for position?
I guess the question becomes, If writers agree that Darnold is not the world’s most compelling main character, and if his numbers are terrific but he’s not exactly Jake Browning (another Pac-12 QB with better numbers who actually led his team to the CFB playoff last year), then why the plethora of Darnold pieces? Is USC just Notre Dame’ing its way into your feed? Do writers feel more comfortable talking to a white kid from The O.C. than, say, Lamar Jackson? Has anyone written a piece on Toledo’s Logan Woodside, who led the nation in passing TDs last season and was second behind only Baker Mayfield (another dude whose story is far more intriguing than Darnold’s) last year in passing efficiency?
Dig: as a Notre Dame alum this MH staffer should be the last one to call out any school/player for garnering too much attention in August. Granted. I’m just wondering if those ND/USC presesason profiles are just a product of intellectual laziness on the part of editors/writers? Or if it’s shameless clickbait? Or, likely, a little of both.
5. Google Gaggle
Last week James Damore, a Google engineer and a former child prodigy in chess from Illinois, wrote a 10-page manifesto (emphasis on that first syllable), an internal memo. You can read it in full here.
On Monday afternoon, Damore was fired. While many of Damore’s opinions were unpopular and some downright false, perpetuating stereotypes against females that have been proven over and over again (Did this dude not see Hidden Figures???), it is a little ironic that he was fired for, in essence, demonstrating a diversity of opinion. Which was sort of the point of this entire exercise.
Does Damore have a case against his employer? Well, his First Amendment rights, as you know, do not extend to what Google must put up with from an employee. Did Google do the right thing? My answer: No. Let him work there and if he’s doing his job well and treating co-workers with respect, that’s really all that matters. Allow him to be a misogynist if he must–at least he’s out in the open about it. As this article shows, Damore is far from alone in Silicon Valley.
The MH staff discovered Mount Marathon five years ago (back when we wrote for Fox’s The Daily). Outside magazine discovered “The World’s Toughest 5-K” this month. Thanks, guys. Now it’s going to be that much more difficult to get in.
Dance The Night Away
The first single from Van Halen II was the band’s first Top 20 hit, and though Diamond Dave, Michael Anthony and the Van Halen sibs did not want it to be the band’s first single off the 1979 album, the record label overruled them. The tune is just too fun to ignore.
A Word, Please
beyond what is normal or natural