by John Walters

Starting Five

“I pledge allegiance/To the pu**y grabber…”

1. In Haley, Ex-Haley

Yet another cabinet member, United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, submits her resignation. But in the West Wing it’s all peaches and cream and how-’bout-a photo op? What gives?

Theories: 1) She got tired of Jon Bolton‘s creepy mustache and Mike Pompeo‘s perpetually I’ve-had-too-much-for-lunch girth. Plus, they’re serious hardliners where she is more of an eyeliner. 2) She and her husband wanna make a little more bread. They’ve never earned more than $270,000 a year combined (I’m sure Donald has a few thoughts about that, spouse-wise) or 3) Haley is positioning herself to take Lindsay Graham‘s vacant South Carolina senate seat when Donald appoints him attorney general to replace Jeff Sessions.

We’ll see.

Whatever, Haley only informed her staff of the exodus a few hours before meeting Trump later Tuesday morning (just after he finished watching Fox & Friends and cartoons). So it was an either abrupt or carefully guarded decision.

2. Stanton Stinks (Don’t Talk To Us, We’re Grieving)!

Another walk of shame for G-Rod

Is it too soon to dub him G-Rod? The Yankees trailed 4-1 to the Red Sox in an elimination game heading to the bottom of the ninth in the Bronx last night. The leadoff hitter, Aaron Judge, walked. The next batter, Didi Gregorius, singled. No outs and the tying run, Giancarlo Stanton, comes to the plate.

To that point Stanton had four singles in the series (two during a 16-1 rout on Monday) and five strikeouts in 17 at-bats. No extra-base hits, no RBI. The man whom the Yankees have invested an MLB-record $325 million through 2028 predictably struck out, but it wasn’t the K itself, it’s how he did it. The last two strikes Stanton swung out were low and away, far outside the zone.

It says a lot that the next batter, Luke Voit, who’s in his second season, was able to work a walk against the Sox’ Craig Kimbrel, one of the game’s premier closers (while Stanton was not). Then Neil Walker, another batter more clutch than Stanton, was hit by the first pitch, forcing in a run.

Gary Sanchez, who wouldn’t shorten his swing to save his mother’s life, flied out to the warning track, bringing in one more run. Then Gleyber Torres hit a two-strike slow roller to third and was thrown out by inches, ending the game and the Yankees’ season.

We say this as longtime Yankee fans: it’s a cheap thrill watching a team set a Major League home run record (267) during the season but utterly unable to put wood on the ball when it matters. In two games in the Bronx the Yankees failed to hit a home run (we don’t know how often that happened during the season, but it was rare for a team that averaged more than 1.5 per game).

Only Angel Hernandez (three overturned calls in Game 3) had a worse series than Stanton. The Cuban native has filed a discrimination grievance with MLB; is that why he keeps getting to work playoff games?

Also, mock the “clutch gene” theory all you want, but in his first season in New York it’s clear that Stanton wants no part of big moments. Like Jason Giambi and A-Rod before him, he’s great at hitting 450-foot blasts when the Yanks are up or down five runs, but in key moments? New York sent seven men to the plate in the ninth inning and only their most expensive player whiffed…again, on two obvious balls.

Players such as George Springer of the Astros or Christian Yelich of the Brewers, here are guys who make contact and also have power. In the offseason we hope Stanton either visits an optometrist or learns how to lay off high heat and low in-the-dirt sliders. For now, though, he’s what our dad would call “a stiff.” I can’t stomach another 10 seasons of this; I’m too old for that. It’s almost enough (almost) to make me a Mets fan.

Thank you for letting me vent. Sports therapists’ hourly rates are too expensive.

3. Michael: Would You Like An Upgrade?

Yesterday Michael was an unassuming Category 1 storm with 90 m.p.h. winds just minding its business at Starbucks. This morning it’s a Category 4 hurricane that is about to hit the Florida panhandle with the potential to be the nastiest October hurricane since StatCast began tracking exit velocity and launch angles (sorry, we’re just not ready to let the Yankees’ season be over yet). Anyway, seriously, it could be the worst October hurricane in U.S. history.

Also, this just in from your favorite Super-Pac or GOP politician or email-forwarding relative: climate change is not real. But you do have to wonder, why does dear Baby Jesus keep taking aim at red states so often with His magnificent tempests?

4. The Rear Window-ing of Jamal Khashoggi

The last moments Jamal Khashoggi was seen alive

If you’ve ever seen the Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window, you know that once you murder someone inside a building with only one exit, the hard part is removing the body. So where is Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered his nation’s consulate in Istanbul last week and never emerged? And was a 15-man assassination team really necessary? How many people do you need?

Also, will the Trump White House just dole out lame platitudes about wanting answers until hopefully a domestic mass shooting or kneeling NFL player wipes this story from the front page? After, you’ve got a Muslim journalist (two strikes) versus an evil, oil-producing monarchy (three pluses). Whose side do you think President Spray Tan is on?

5. Swift Voting >>>> Swift Boating*

*The judges will also accept “Pop Rock—But No Longer Country—The Vote”

Popette Taylor Swift won another Artist of the Year AMA last night and encouraged viewers and the audience to get out and vote (two days earlier she’d finally broken her political silence and said she’d be supporting two Tennessee Democrats; it’s a wonder someone didn’t hurl a copy of Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too at her).

Through serendipitous timing, Kanye West was too busy having lunch at the White House (really) to march onstage and interrupt T-Swizzle’s acceptance/suffrage speech.

Music 101

The Edge of Glory

Just a couple of native New Yorkers in a studio grinding, trying to make a living. Lady Ga Ga appeared on Howard Stern 11 years ago and what comes across, undeniably, is her superlative talent (she’s only 21 years old here). MH had a staff outing last night to see A Star Is Born (why waste two nights in a row watching the Yanks lose at home to the Red Sox?) and this performance becomes more impactful. Why? Because not unlike Jackson Maine, we prefer the stripped-down Stephanie Germanotta, with that one in 100,000 million voice and the piano chops, to the platinum-haired, dancer-adorned Ga Ga.

Remote Patrol

Warriors at Lakers

10:30 p.m. ESPN

It’s only preseason, but this is the first time LeLakers will face the Warriors. We’re hoping Steve “I don’t want to be here, anyway” Kerr gets himself tossed in the first half.


3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Hell hath no fury like a Yankees fan scorned!

    MH must be feeling rich these days. Full price movie tickets, drinks and popcorn for all those judges? That’s a big number. 🙂

  2. Your bona fides as a Yankees fan cannot be questioned, because that was a WFAN-quality morning-after rant. We’ll call you John from Levittown or Throgs Neck. The sign of a top-shelf Yankee rant is getting in a blast of A-Rod.

    The only other time this year that the Yankees went homerless in consecutive games at home was during the first week of April.

    • I only watched from the bottom of the 7th on. Near the end of the bottom 9th, as I was waiting for Sanchez to strike out (he surprised me), I actually said, “This inning is a microcosm of our entire season.” This morning I read how Neil Walker called it “a synopsis of our entire season.” To wit, this team can’t hit gappers, only home runs or strike outs. And Didi only got a single because they had to hold Judge at first. I can’t take X more seasons of Stanton doing this.

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