by John Walters

Tweet du Jour

Starting Five

Ellis never gave up and should probably head out on a corporate inspirational speaking tour immediately after graduation

Dominance And Resilience

Two races late Saturday afternoon on opposite coasts. The one you know about, the one you more than likely watched, involved Justify, starting from the post position and leading wire-to-wire at the Belmont Stakes. Justify becomes the second horse in four years to win the Triple Crown and the first, we believe, to have done so without having raced as a two year-old. The Bob Baffert-trained horse becomes the 13th Triple Crown winner overall.

Though we appreciated Justify’s unchallenged excellence, it didn’t really move us. Maybe because we couldn’t really relate to being the most talented and simply being smart enough not to get in your own way.

The racer we could relate to was Kendall Ellis of USC, who took off from the last position in the women’s 4 x 400 relay at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene. A little set-up: heading into the 4 x 400, the final event, Georgia had 52 points, Stanford 51 and USC 43. You get 10 points for first place, so USC’s only chance was to win the race (the Dawgs and Cardinal did not advance to the final in this event so neither had a chance to add to its total score).

USC’s anchor leg handoff was clumsy and Ellis, a senior from Pembroke Pines, Fla., was going to have to fight through traffic if she were to have any chance. A quick note about Ellis: she graduated high school with a 4.7 GPA and was a four-time Florida state champion in the 400. She also graduated USC in the spring of 2017 with a business degree. She’s a grad student.

So, after the botched handoff, Ellis is in fourth place. Go to 2:20 on the video and watch the final lap. Listen to ESPN’s male announcer (John Anderson? Dwight Stones? I think it’s the former, who is a former high jumper at Missouri) say with certainty, “There’s no way [Purdue loses] unless she drops the baton. Purdue’s going to win this…” just 100 meters from the finish.

Final note: this was LAST YEAR’s women’s 4 x 400 race. Look who finished in 2nd place. Ellis didn’t just come back from 4th place on Saturday. She came all the way back from 2017.

2. Alex and Anthony

As many of us devoted at least a few Saturday and Sunday moments to muse on what could lead CNN’s Anthony Bourdain to take his own life, the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin seemed to have the best weekend of his. Ovi tossed out the first pitch at the Nationals game, did a keg stand somewhere else, did push-ups in a D.C. fountain, and barbecued while singing “We Are The Champions” at the top of his lungs.

Ovi, understandably, was seizing the day, which is something Bourdain, via his two travel shows (first, No Reservations on the Travel Channel and later Parts Unknown on CNN), seemed to be encouraging us all to do. Perhaps that’s what makes the 61 year-old New Jersey native’s suicide so incomprehensible: Bourdain seemed to have a greater appetite for life and empathy for his fellow man than anyone on television.

If and when CNN re-airs it, watch the tribute to Bourdain that ran on Sunday night (extra, EXTRA props to the CNN producers who likely spent all weekend in an edit bay to make the show possible). Bourdain was no mere sybarite, getting to go to places we’ll never go to, eating foods we may not eat, having conversations we’ll never have and basking in the glory of his good fortune. No, if that was his schtick, we’d have never been drawn in.

Bourdain was an honest and empathetic travel guide. He was blunt and he opened a vein in describing his experiences to us. He was raw. He was genuine. Not only did he never take it for granted, but he approached his job as if he were both missionary and teacher. The difference is that whereas most missionaries bring their culture to a foreign land, his job was to bring that foreign land to us. He was the pilgrim, but we were the beneficiaries.

And how does all of that tie in to Ovi? Well, if you’re reading this, I can promise you that you’re never going to win a Stanley Cup. But you don’t have to in order to approach any weekend as Ovi did this past one. You’re alive. And there’s so much to do and see. You’re lucky. Don’t ever forget it.

And that does not make us understand Bourdain’s death any better. We may have more thoughts on that later this week. But at least he showed us not only what it is to live, but also to understand that most people all over the globe are remarkably similar: we are not our world leaders, or our military. We are a community. If you watch the CNN special, you’ll notice that Bourdain did not shy away from visiting dangerous places (Myanmar, Iran, Tripoli) and he’d always ask common citizens the same question: “Are you hopeful?”

3. Nadal’s House

The Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, wins his 11th French Open title, this time in straight sets. Beyond their 30th birthdays Nadal, 32, and Roger Federer, 36, seem more intent than ever  on putting the “Most Grand Slam titles” mark forever out of reach. Between the two of them they’ve claimed the last six Grand Slams—three apiece—dating back to the beginning of 2017.

Does Novak have a prayer of catching Rafi or Roger?

Federer now has 20 Grand Slams and Nadal 17 (Pete Sampras retired more than a decade ago with the then all-time most of 14). While it once seemed that Novak Djokovic, still only 31, would pass both of them as he won 6 of 8 Grand Slams between 2014 and 2016, the Swiss and the Spaniard are not going quietly into that good night. And it has now been two full year, eight Grand Slam events, since Djokovic has hoisted a cup.

Where does this end and who finishes on top? We’re going to go with Nadal, who has four years on Federer and basically owns Roland Garros (11 titles in Paris in the past 14 years).

4. Blame Canada

We don’t speak German, but we have to imagine Angela Merkel is at least thinking, You’re a buffoon.

If this weekend’s G-7 Summit in Quebec City were a party, Donald Trump was the guest who arrived unfashionably late, wondered why his friend who’d previously slipped the date rape drug into the drinks of sisters of other party goers wasn’t allowed to attend, and then left early, after which he insulted the affable host.

America First!

5. Hand-icapped

The first self-inflicted wound was punching the white board after Game 1. The second was wearing the cast after Game 4. Now the spin is that Ol’ Sweet Pea, who was able to go 9 days without his hand injury being revealed but unable to do so for one final hour after his team had been swept, only wore the cast to the post-series presser because news had begun to leak about the injury.

So how did that news exactly “leak?” Who leaked it? And why would that news compel you to wear the cast, which comes off as nothing less than a plea for sympathy and absolution. We know you’re great. We know the Cavs couldn’t have won without you (or with you). We know you didn’t have enough help. But now you need us to know that you were hurt the final three games and, oh, by the way, whose fault is that?

Not a good look. He’s an all-timer, but his career is speckled with moments (“The Decision,” “The Supporting Cast”) that make you wonder if he ever understood what being part of a team is all about. As one friend of ours aptly stated it yesterday, “He’s the Millennial Jordan.”


Homophobia AND a grammatical error! It’s a MAGA two-fer!

Music 101


Tom Waits, the lead track from his acclaimed 1985 album, Rain Dogs. Seemed rather appropriate for today. Thanks, Cecil.

Remote Patrol

The Staircase


Did novelist Michael Peterson murder his wife, Kathleen, or did she simply fall down the staircase at the family home? And wasn’t it more than a coincidence that family friend Elizabeth Raitliff died 18 years earlier…at the bottom of a staircase? This is being hailed as the “Making A Murderer” of 2018.

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. The relay was awesome to watch. Purdue looked like the clear-cut winner throughout, and then Kendall went full second gear.

    As someone that competed in track (albeit poorly) and competed in everything, minus running greater than 800 meters and jumping, I’d argue the 400 meter race is by far the hardest event in track. For the 100 meter & 200 meter, you can exhaust yourself to the fullest in a dead-on sprint. For 800 meters and greater, you can find a nice balance between endurance and speed. With the 400 meters, however, you are almost in no-man’s land. Sprinting 400 meters is a chore. And that final 100 meters is something else.

  2. I watched the last 3 NHL Finals games & it was fun & exciting & I was happy for the players & the organization but mostly for the long-time looooooooong suffering Caps fans. Unfortunately, since I embarrassingly know so little about hockey (for a self-proclaimed “sports fan” especially) it’s like I was in a foreign country & didn’t speak the language. What’s happening?! What did that mean?! Anybody here speak English? What?!! I even spoke louder to the TV. 😉 At least it let all the residents of the DMV to feel joy for the 1st time since The Reign of Terror began.

    As for Ovechkin, my happiness for him is DRAMATICALLY tamped down by the fact he is a PUTIN guy. History will look upon the pro-athletes, celebrities, business tycoons, politicians, etc that embraced Putin &/or Trump the way it now looks at Leni Riefenstahl. Possible future documentary title? Er, “The Devil has Two Faces”?

    As for LeBron James & the horrible ending to the 2018 NBA Finals, of COURSE you’d go there. Who leaked it? Windhorst on ESPN BEFORE LBJ got to the podium. There was no need to hide it anymore so why NOT wear the soft cast that he was probably wearing when not in public since the ending of Game 1? And so much makes sense now – his shocking (to me) post-game Game 1 presser when I thought he was just upset over the loss. Now we know he was in severe pain in the eye AND the hand & he must have been petrified he, er, “single-handedly” lost this Finals if he can’t play in the rest of the games. Heck, jdubs, he ADMITTED his stupid, “self-inflicted” action, you would prefer he continued to hide it or lie about how it happened? I’m not patting him on the back for letting his anger get the best of him, but YOU haven’t ever done something stupid in anger? ( I got off the bus one bad, angry school day many, er, decades ago, trudged up our quarter mile lane, anger wafting off of me like bad perfume, I get to our back screen door, use ALL my might to fling it open in my oh-so-righteous anger… & my purse strap gets caught & when the door slams back, my shoulder almost gets ripped off! THEN, the door flew out again & slammed me in the face! Let me tell you, I felt PAIN, anger & humiliation all at once; a freakin tsunami of “feelings” I’ve thankfully never quite duplicated again. 🙂 ).

    Also, as I mentioned here last week- LeBron was missing shots in Games 2 & 3 that he almost always makes. I chalked it up to the eye &/or ankle at the time. I watched Games 2 & 3 again yesterday & not only was his shot off, so was his precision passing (just 5% off but his passes were tipped, stolen or just didn’t get to his teammates in the usual fashion). Now that we know it was a severely injured right hand, it all makes sense. I’m not saying the Cavs would have won the Finals, but I believe we definitely would have won Game 3 if Sweet Pea had been himself. And the 2nd half of Game 4 wouldn’t have been so AWFUL!

    • Susie B., no one person is perfect. LeBron can still be great and make questionable decisions. They are not mutually exclusive.

      If they won game 4, would the cast still have been on? If no, why? For competitive advantage? What would the Warriors do differently? Triple team him instead of double team him?

      Again, I’m rooting for LeBron to win the next 5 championships. But c’mon….

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