by John Walters

Starting Five

1. The Man Show

We can wonder why Ty Lue never doubled Kevin Durant (43 points on 15-23 shooting) in the second half or why he hasn’t played Rodney Hood (15 points on 7 of 11 shooting in his first significant minutes last night) more, but the larger epiphany of the 2018 NBA Finals is that Golden State has three players who on any given evening can be THE MAN and Cleveland only has one. And that it’s impossible to fathom how much more mental energy that drains from LeBron James game after game as opposed to the succor it provides KD, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

After Game 2 the dolts at ESPN’s postgame show were discussing how Curry (nine threes) had wrapped up the Finals MVP award. Then after KD’s performance, capped by that ridiculous, stone-cold 30-footer in the final minute, they were handing it to KD. Watch, Klay will explode for 35 in Friday night’s Game 4. The point is, Steph can have an off night (1 for 15 in the game’s first 46 minutes and 0-9 from beyond the arc before finishing 3 of 16 with one made three) in one game and he’s got two teammates who can spell him in the scoring area, not to mention a talented supporting cast who know their roles.

LeBron does not have that luxury. And when, in the final two minutes, he passes off to Tristan Thompson instead of keeping it himself and at least trying to draw the foul, he will be criticized. And should be, to a point. He knows the deal: He’s got to put this squad on his broad shoulders. If you’re gonna lose, LeBron, lose with the ball in your hands. But you’re going to lose, anyway. You’re simply outnumbered.

2. Judge and Jury

We watched this unfold as it was happening last night and it was glorious, and props to Scott Van Pelt with leading off his show with it as “The Best Thing I Saw Today.” Yankees at Blue Jays. Score knotted at 0-0 in the top of the 13th when Aaron Judge comes to the plate with one on and one out.

First, some backstory…

In a makeup doubleheader in Detroit on Monday, Judge had to have had the worst day in his young career. He went o-9 with eight strikeouts. Manager Aaron Boone gave him Tuesday’s game in Toronto off. When he comes to the plate in the 13th he’s 0-4 with a walk.

Meanwhile, up in the right-center mezzanine level there’s a boy, we’ll guess about 12, who’s seated with his parents and another person (aunt?). During batting practice Judge had lofted a JudgeBomb into their tiny area of seats so they already had that souvenir. During every Judge at-bat the Yankee broadcast would put the camera on him because he alone would stand holding an “All Rise” sign with a silhouette of a gavel. His unabashed devotion was both infectious and nostalgic, because all of us at one point in our lives had that innocent love of sports, worship of an athlete.

And by the 13th, as Yankee broadcasters Ryan Ruocco and Ken Singleton were noting, not only did his arms look heavy but so did his eyelids. So when Judge bombed a two-strike pitch into the left-center bleachers for the go-ahead (and ultimately, winning runs), well, it was special. As Singleton warmly noted, “That’s a lifetime memory right there.”

And if you’re too cynical to appreciate that, then what’s left?

3. “Where’s My Mom?”

Watch this come-from-behind win in the final 200 meters of the NCAA men’s 10,000 meter championship yesterday from Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. That’s fifth-year Michigan senior Ben Flanagan with the epic kick on the track that Steve Prefontaine made famous in the final race of his collegiate career. Afterwards, his first words are the hed of this item.

4. The World’s Highest Post Office

Yes, it’s about exactly what the title says: the Hikkim Post Office in northern India is located 14,567 feet above sea level, nearly three miles high. It is officially the highest post office on earth.

These are the types of stories I’d pitch at Newsweek and an editor would lift up one curious eyebrow and then agree only on the condition that I paid for most of the travel myself (which I would). Print journalism is a terrible get-rich-quick scheme.

5. Who Moved My Commander Of Cheese

Tough day for the president in the curdled milk department, as Kellyanne Conway mistakenly (or was it?) referred to him as the “Commander Of Cheese” and Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan backed Trey Gowdy’s assertion that President Trump is full of it on the FBI “spy” allegation. When you’ve even lost Paul Ryan…

Luckily, some of the best and most decent men in America, such as Rudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity, are still on Trump’s side. Personally, we think Kellyanne was just a little hangry during the interview. Get that woman a Snickers.


The semi-annual Munk Debates, held in Toronto, were created 10 years ago with the idea of bringing two people with polar-opposite views together in a public forum and allowing them to engage in old fashioned rhetorical swashbuckling. It’s like “First Take” only it’s about things that really matter and it’s actually entertaining.

Past participants have included Malcolm Gladwell, Tony Blair, Christopher Hitchens, Maureen Dowd, Laura Ingraham, etc. The other night British comedian Stephen Fry took on jackass-of-all-trades Jordan Petersonย and the topic was political correctness. If you have the time and the will, watch it above.

Music 101

Everything Is Beautiful

In the summer of 1970 this song, written, composed and performed by Ray Stevens, hit No. 1 for two weeks. It was the emotional salve that a country scarred from the Sixties needed. The children’s chorus at the beginning is from the Oak Hill Elementary School in Nashville, two of whose members were Stevens’ daughters.

Remote Patrol

The Wizard of Oz

8 p.m. TCM

Stanley Cup: Game 5, Caps at Golden Knights

8 p.m. NBC

NCAA Track & Field Outdoor Championships

7 p.m. ESPN2

Ovi, Oz and Ostrander all in the same night?

8 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. I always find it interesting to hear whom other people’s sports idols were.

    I’d say mine was Albert Pujols before he left the Cardinals. No matter what you were doing, you just had to watch his every at bat. The possibility of a huge hit was always there.

    Underrated sports television was always Wednesday Night Baseball (baseball after Catechism, yeah!), Saturday afternoon baseball on Fox (lazy Saturday with the birds chirping) and Sunday Night Baseball.

    On another tangent, there should be a ranking of sports days/shows that bring up nostalgic memories. Like, as a kid in 2005, it’d be something like:

    1) College Gameday (CFB)
    2) The College Football show that ran at night on ESPN
    3) Sunday Night Baseball
    4) College Gameday (CBB)
    6)Mike & Mike (was a devoted fan; I even read their book)

    I’m sure I’m missing stuff that I also enjoyed, but it is interesting to review these things. We are now just bombarded with “stuff”, so nothing really has meaning anymore.

      • There’s not much to say. The series is 3-0. I like LeBron; I want him to win more rings. But, you know, this Warriors team has too many weapons. Not a big fan of the Warriors. They are really good, and KD and Green are the only ones that “annoy” me, but that is just my sports perspective. I’m sure they are cool guys off the court.

        I think the NBA (and fans) benefits most if LeBron stays in Cleveland. The team needs an overhaul, and I don’t know how feasible that is. We’ve learned during these playoffs that this Warriors team is beatable. You must bring it every night, but it is possible. As every year passes, more teams get better.

        I’ll enjoy watching LeBron wherever he plays next year, sans Los Angeles. If he went to the Lakers, I think it would be similar to his first year in Miami. A lot of charades and what not. I like JW’s thought of him joining the Jazz: a smart, tough & young team. It would be interesting to see him on the Rockets, and if there is a GM to make it happen, it’d be Daryl Morey. But if you don’t have role players, I don’t think it really matters.

        Overall, no one knows. LeBron, to his credit, has created a marketing machine. After the Warriors’ championship parade (it’s not over, but…), LeBron will be the center of attention before free agency and after free agency. No matter where he goes, that team instantly becomes a title contender. As a non-basketball expert, I don’t see why he’d go play in the West. The 76ers and Celtics are great, young teams, but the West is far deeper and has THE team. Will it be like that in 3 or 4 years? No, probably not. But LeBron isn’t 25, either.

        LeBron has a chance of playing in 9, 10, 11, etc. straight championships. That only becomes feasible if 1) he stays in the East or 2) joins the Warriors. We’re one KD charge or one George Hill free throw away from this series looking very, very different. The Warriors are the better team, but that margin isn’t as large as once presumed.

        But let’s brighten up, folks! IS KEVIN DURANT BETTER THAN MJ?!

        • Thanks for the comment, Jacob. I also hope he stays in the East but as long as he doesn’t go to the Lakers or Supervillains, I’ve come around (mostly) to feeling ok about him leaving Cleveland. I kind of hope he goes to the Celtics! As long as they 1st trade Flat-Earther Irving to Sacramento for nothing more than a life-sized world globe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          And the biggest shock to me in this Finals is the realization that the Supervillains didn’t just lose all those games this year because of injuries to Curry & Durant. It’s because they are so filled with hubris & laziness. Typical of a consecutive-Finals team (see Heat, circa 2014). I sincerely doubt they will win another championship (after this one although this one is not in the bag yet!).

  2. Epiphany? Definition please – a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something. You’re just joshing, right, jdubs? It’s only an “epiphany” in 2018 if the viewer has been in a CAVE incommunicado the past 2 years! Humpfh. How would any sentient being be shocked at the result of adding the WORLD’S 2ND BEST PLAYER/PREVIOUS MVP to a 73-win/Finals runner-up team who already had the then current 2-time MVP & 2 other All-Stars on its roster?! For pete’s sake, for the last 2 years it been like the knife-toting Cavs showed up to a Warriors’ gunfight! And the only reason the Rockets took them to 7 games is because the Supervillains are filled with hubris & LAZINESS & deserve to lose!

    Since last night, I’ve been debating which has been worse – last year’s Finals or this year’s. On the one hand, the Cavs played TERRIBLY in the 1st 2 games last year while we played very good in this year’s 1st game (& the win was STOLEN from us by the friggin refs!) & not bad in the 2nd (excepting execrable 3-pt shooting). And the 3rd game was a heartbreak in both. I think it’s actually worse right now because this year’s Game 1 GAVE ME HOPE! We can beat these guys! We DID “beat” these guys! And now, I feel sucker-punched. ๐Ÿ™

    Since you did not watch all of the Cavs playoff games, let me enlighten you about Rodney Hood – when he played previously in these playoffs, he STUNK. Plus, he infamously REFUSED TO GO INTO A GAME during garbage time in one of the games. (Whoooaaaa) .Last night he played as if his life depended on it because his NBA-life DID.

    I did laugh at various times during the game – when it became repeatedly apparent that the designated Finals MVP Stef & Klay, his compadre in 3-pt “crime”, sucked. One would think THEY were the ones with the red ‘Kilauea eyeball’! Of course, now the TV yakkers & NBA writers have ALREADY switched horses & are now riding KD to the MVP crown. Do they learn NOTHING? The Finals ain’t over! And did they not watch the 1st game? I’m telling you jdubs, I think less & less of some of your professional cohorts all the time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m beginning to think the sporting gods want Sweet Pea out of Cleveland. Sure, they “let” him drag this team into the Finals but he’s got one leg still banged-up from the previous series, a half-blinded, blood-red eye that MUST hurt & affect his play & then last night, an early twisted ankle! Compounded with the unrelenting criticism by all the pathetic wankers over his sideline “processing” of Game 1’s victory theft! Enough!

    I’m not overly optimistic about Friday’s game. I, of course, believe a healthy LeBron can do just about anything but maybe there’s just too much stacked up against him/them this time. I surely HOPE (ok, pray which I realize is just pathetic) they win because I can’t bear him getting swept!

    • Susie B.

      I always appreciate your comments, but a few items:

      –Even though you constantly refuse to acknowledge it, your boy Sweet Pea launched the SuperVillains era when he conspired with his pals Dwyane and Chris to hook up in Miami. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s his. Me, I wish KD, Russ and Harden would’ve stayed together. They would’ve won all the championships GSW and LeBron have won combined, perhaps.

      –Those of us who’ve played sports have had that eyeball injury. It looks way, way worse than it is. It probably hurt when it first happened, but that’s just a broken artery and blood has no place to go in an eyeball. But I’m sure you already knew this and are just playing up the sympathy factor because when it comes to Sweet Pea you’re Sarah H. Sanders on the podium (which is regrettable).



      • I ALSO have had that eye injury. Twice. Both times it hurt like hell when it happened & affected my eyesight. However, the after-affects differed : the 1st time it felt ok after 2 days but continued to look awful for a week. The 2nd time it also didn’t hurt after a couple days but my eyesight was affected until it completely cleared up (over a week). Just because I’m an old broad now whose current physical exercise is mostly jumping up & down on the sofa when my Sweet Pea does yet another magnificent feat, don’t think it was always so.

        And that YOU refuse to acknowledge that LeBron joining up with Wade & Bosh to CREATE A BRAND NEW TEAM is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT that KD joining an EXISTING SUPERTEAM is incomprehensible to me. It’s like you’re one of those American Christians/Evangelicals who continue to support The Sociopath even though EVERYTHING he says & does is antithetical to their supposed beliefs -serial adulterer, serial liar, money worshiper, thief, con-man. They just refuse to accept the truth. Like YOU.

        And finally, to compare me to that troglodyte/bitch at the WH? That is OVER THE LINE.

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