by John Walters

Starting Five


Just two days ago, the World Cup was a European union of four nations: Belgium, Croatia, England and France. Then France took out Belgium, 1-0. And yesterday the Croats came back from an early 1-0 deficit to take out the Brits in extra time. The winning goal was a beauty, a header from the edge of the box that bounced to the right leg of Mario Mandzukic, who windmilled it past the British keeper. 2-1, Croatia.

Croatia, the first side in 28 years to overcome a deficit in a World Cup semi and win, moves on to its first ever World Cup final. England misses out on what would have been its first World Cup final in 52 years.

2. Roger, Out and….Over?

Perhaps it was London’s notorious sunshine. Or maybe the Uniqlo gear. Or the fact that he’s 36. Or maybe it was just the South African with the forgettable name (Kevin Anderson). Whatever, Roger Federer, the King of Tennis, had a nobody on the ropes, match point in the third set, let’s get to the semis, and he…..wait for it….LOST!

The Supreme Swiss falls in five sets, 2-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 and is bounced in the quarters. No man has won more Wimbledons than Roger, with eight, and no man older than 35 has ever won Wimbledon. That 35 year-old was Federer last July. He’ll turn 37 next month. Will he ever advance to a Wimbledon final again, much less win one?

For the record, Federer owns the most Grand Slam titles in men’s history, 20. Rafael Nadal, who also went to five sets yesterday but won, has 17. Novak Djokovic, whom Rafa will meet in the semis, has 12.

3. Papa Don’t Preach

Are we really to believe that Papa John’s pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter resigned simply because he used the N-word during a public relations training exercise in May? We thought people had, well, thicker crusts.

For the record, during a conference call, Schnatter, upset that he’d been taking heat for his stance on NFL players kneeling during the anthem, said, “Colonel Sanders called blacks niggers.”

We have no idea if it’s true what the Colonel did, but we just don’t get the uproar over this. You’re not even allowed to say the word to reference someone else having said it (will we be forced to resign from MH for having printed it??? We kinda hope so, but that’s a different story).

A reminder: on April 18th on CNBC’s Squawk On The Street morning show, we heard Yale School of Management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld drop the N-word live, on-air, in a discussion about the history of racial sensitivity in this nation as it relates to brands. This was in a conversation about Howard Shultz and Starbucks. We heard it, we tweeted about it, and absolutely nothing happened. Nuh-thing.

None of the three co-hosts on CNBC even addressed it. Now, Sonnenfeld is not the CEO of a middling pizza empire, but still, that remark just disappeared like a fart in the wind.

Here’s the bottom line: support your locally owned pizzeria. And maybe don’t order the bianca slice tomorrow.

4. Head Over Heels

If Broadway could make a long-running hit musical out of Beauty and The Beast, why can’t it do the same for the girl band that gave us Beauty and the Beat? The show is called Head Over Heels (from one of our favorite Go Go’s tunes) and it’s a musical that mixes the band’s tunes with Shakespearian dialogue.

The musical is in previews now and opens on Broadway July 26th. A musical theater nerd friend of ours saw it and gave it a thumbs up. As you may already know, we always give The Go Go’s a thumbs up.

5. The River At The Dawn Of Life

This is the Coppermine River, which is located in the northern reaches of Canada’s Northwest Territory. I doubt any of us will ever get here though, I mean, if we really wanted to, we could (this is one reason I don’t have children: I’d pile them into a van and we’d go here for vacation instead of Wally World and they’d never forgive me for it).

Apparently, if you read the BBC story , you’ll see that there’s still true wilderness left on this planet, and that this river tells the story of the dawn of life on it. Pretty cool.

Music 101 

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

Reggie Dwight, a.k.a. Elton John, released a lifetime’s worth of sublime tunes in the early to mid-Seventies (with the invaluable assistance of writing partner Bernie Taupin). Then the muse just up and left the two of them, except for perhaps that whole Lion King deal. This, for our money, was the last great Elton John song on the radio. It was released in 1975 as the lone single off Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (the title tune is decent, too). This is the story of how Taupin and another friend, Long John Baldry (the “someone” in the title) saved John from getting married (to a female) in 1968 as he was contemplating suicide and to, instead, pursue his music career (and other non-traditional endeavors).

Remote Patrol

World Series of Poker

Final Table 

9 p.m. ESPN

Live. The 49th annual main event. The November Nine—when ESPN halted the tournament as it got to the final table and made us wait four months so that they could produce the shows leading up to that final table—is no more. Technology has finally caught up to, well, the internet. So we’re going back to the final table without a day’s—much less four months’—break.

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. I just saw Jacob’s request (from yesterday) for some TDF updatin’. You don’t need to ask ME twice! 🙂

    Yes, Jacob, you & everyone who like hard-as-hell sport mixed with bee-yoo-tee-ful French scenery, medical emergencies, soap opera, a touch of tragedy, a soupcon of comedy, & a pinch of farce absolutely should tune in! Today completed Stage (day) 6. For the past 10 or so years, the 1st week has been your basic GAUNTLET WEEK, kind of a “test/quest” that the individual rider & team must complete & pass to make it to the, er, “bonus” rounds of Weeks 2 & 3. 🙂 Thus, it is set up for maximum attrition (& carnage). The race organizers pack the sizable (too overinflated actually) peloton onto NARROW, twisty roads, that is all super nervous with 1st week jitters, sits back & waits for the show. And a show is what they get! So far this year, no GC (guys that are going for the overall win) have crashed out but several have lost chunks of time (due to crashes, theirs & others that delay them on their, er, quest). Also, the weather has been sunny, warm & blue skies every day with just a bit of wind, which has limited any damage that coastal winds usually cause in a bike race, much to the consternation (probably) of the race designers. (This week so far has been mostly along the upper western coast of France).

    So far, we’ve had 3 sprint stages (mostly flat-land affairs, livened up with the scenery & crashes), a Team Time Trial (won by 1 of the 2 “American” teams, this one on it’s last, er, wheels as their benefactor recently died & they haven’t been able to line up new sponsors) & 2 stages with what they like to call “rolling terrain”. I call yesterday’s stage a “Full Trot” stage, as the riders go up/down/up/down/up/down ALL damn day. And today’s stage was “rolling” but ended on 2 trips up “the WALL” (“Mur de Bretagne” to be precise), an infamous stretch of French town road that goes UP (10%) & is the main feature in one of the annual spring ‘Classic” bike races.

    Tomorrow & Saturday (Bastille Day in France) look like sprinter stages, but then comes Sunday. Duh, dunh, dunnhhhhhhhh – COBBLES! COBBLES! And MORE COBBLES! 1st, cobblestones in France are not your weak, flabby, baby stones, nooooooo , they are MONSTER size, dusty, occasionally slippery honkin’ pieces of rock just waitin’ to burst your tires & END ALL HOPES OF a happy ending in Paris for you & or your team! There has not been a TDF stage with this many cobblestones since I began watching (1984) & possibly never & I guarantee you, MANY of the GC hopefuls will either crash out with injury or lose so much time they may finish the NEXT day! Oh, ok, that MAY be an exaggeration, but most GC guys are little &/or wraithlike & avoid cobble races like the plague. Whomever decided to put this many cobble sections in a TDF stage has a heart like one of those rocks. And an evil sense of humor. And if it RAINS? O.M.G.

    A couple other bits of info. 1st, An American (Lawson Craddock) “hit the deck” (cycling slang) on the 1st day in the “Feed Zone”, where he incurred a nasty, bleeding cut above one eye and a BROKEN SCAPULA. Not only did he finish, he’s STILL IN THE RACE. YOU try doing anything with a broken shoulder & lemme know how it goes. OWWWW! 2nd, this year there are only 8 riders per team. There has been 9 for at least the past 15 years. While I like the idea of cutting down the size of the peloton, THIS is NOT the way to do it! For some ridiculous reason, race owners/organizers are allowed to include “wild card” teams of their choosing into the Grand Tours. There are 4 (usually French) in the TDF. Can you imagine in the NFL/NBA/MLB playoffs, that 4 MINOR league teams get included?

  2. Also, I’m bummed that my 2 chosen World Cup teams did not make the Final, but HEY, they made it to the Semis! Where 3 of the pre-WC “Fave 4” (Brazil, Spain, Germany) were not! 🙂 Too bad I don’t like either of the 2 remaining teams; no one to root for! 🙁

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