by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Ending The Season On A Blue Note

On January 7 the St. Louis Blues had the lowest point total of any team in the NHL. On June 12th the Blues hoisted their first Stanley Cup, despite losing two games at home in the finals to the Bruins by five and four goals, respectively. The Blues were founded in 1967.

Odd. The Bruins and Blues combined to lose Games 5, 6 and at home. St. Louis clinched it last night with an anti-climactic 4-1 win. Boston did not score until there were less than three minutes remaining. And so the city of Boston must sate itself with only two, not three, pro sports championships in the past nine months.

Joke-l Yokel

Beloved Clemson football coach/sweetheart yokel Dabo Swinney made an interesting comment during an appearance on a Sirius XM radio show earlier this offseason (we have been unable to pinpoint the exact time or who the show’s hosts were). Referring to how he has gone from being a favorite son in Alabama (where he was a walk-on wide receiver) to a nemesis, Swinney said:

β€œI think it was all fun and games early on. It was β€˜Aww, isn’t that sweet?’ and all that stuff. I don’t know about walls, but I am kinda like Osama Bin Dabo,” Swinney said with a laugh. β€œI have to navigate my way through the caves and back channels to make my way through Alabama these days. They aren’t as happy to see me.”

We get what he’s saying, and maybe that’s a joke you make while having beers with friends, but when you’re the $92 million man/head football coach of a two-time national champion, you’ve got to be held accountable for that comment. Remember, Dabo also had the lack of self-awareness to say that if they paid player he might as well go coach in the NFL, which is odd since he’s earning nearly eight figures per year now (from his school; he’s over eight figures per year when you add on the garnishes).

Is Dabo college football’s Donald? Should we be taking him “figuratively and not literally?” Will it be awkward for Kirk Herbstreit, who now has two freshman preferred walk-on sons on the Tiger roster, to continue defending Dabo from his Saturdais (we’re coining that term)? And wouldn’t Brian Kelly be publicly crucified in the A Block of every ESPN SportsCenter for a 24-hour news cycle, at least, had he said that about the 9/11 mastermind?

Barry’s “Pine Barrens” Episode

The more we catch of HBO’s Barry (we’re halfway through Season 2), the more we see it as derivative of Breaking Bad. And that’s not really a knock.

The similarities: Our protaganist is leading a double life, one half of it that needs to remain secret since although he (still) sees himself as a good guy, or is at least grappling with it, he commits heinous acts. His activities are not just criminal in nature, but felonious and murderous. He’s reached the point where he’s killing in order to maintain his charade. And he’s deluding himself into thinking that he’ll be able to walk away from this if he makes just one (more) big score/hit.

Also, whereas Walter White had Jesse, Barry has Fuches. And while Walter was the mentor and Barry is the protege (i.e., roles reversed), there’s still that love/hate symbiotic relationship, partnership, you’re-the-only-person-who-really-knows-me aspect to it.

However, whereas Breaking Bad was mostly a drama with comic elements, Barry is exactly the inverse: a comedy with dramatic elements. And there’s no walking that back, even if they were to try. Which I don’t think they are.

As close as it comes to Breaking Bad, the series takes a Sopranos detour during one episode of Season 2, “Ronny/Lily.” In this episode, which is highly reminiscent of “Pine Barrens,” most of the cast is never seen. Two of our characters find themselves in an unfamiliar place, up against a formidable and new opponent who seems to be nearly immortal. There is a tension that builds because we never switch to another subplot or story arc. The story stays with these same folks all the way through and, just like “Pine Barrens,” it ends somewhat unresolved.

Where is that girl? And is she going to return, or just haunt his dreams for the rest of the series? If you don’t know what we’re talking about, we suggest you give Barry a watch. It’s good.

After typing this, I Googled to see if I was the only one who had this perspective. Of course not. And yes, Bill Hader both wrote and directed this episode. Can you imagine being a schlub in the writers’ room and here the series star turns in the best script the show has seen yet?

Ironman Deaths

Not one but two competitors at a half-Ironman in Madison, Wisconsin, died during the swim portion of the event. For the uninitiated, a half-Ironman, or “70.3”, encompasses a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Add up the distances and you get 70.3 miles. Also, and this is worth noting, the swim comes first.

Last weekend in Madison, Todd Mahoney, 38, and Michael McCullouch, 61, both died during the swim portion of the race. We’ve only done one Olympic-distance triathlon, but we’ve never quite understood why triathlon officials continue to use the swim as the race’s first event. We understand the thinking that the water is most dangerous (see beginning of this paragraph) and that you want entrants at their most rested for it, but the downside with everyone entering water at once (even with a staged start, many enter water at once) is that there’s chaos in the water. It’s somewhat akin to watching piranhas fight over a lost pig.

This may have had nothing to do with the two triathletes’ deaths. But we’d be much in favor of starting a tri with the bike, then move to the swim, then finish with the run.

Also, we thought this was an interesting comment by Madison’s mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway, after the event: “My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the two athletes who died while competing in the Half Iron Man on Sunday.” Like, she had to add that “Half” in there just to throw a little shade.

Who Are Ryu?

In five of the past eight seasons, the National League ERA leader has been Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In fact, Kershaw is the only starting pitcher still alive whose career ERA is in the top 30 all-time in baseball. The only other pitcher among all still alive also in the top 30 is former Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, who was the first unanimously voted in Hall of Famer (last winter).

Babe Ruth, it should be noted, has a lower career ERA (2.28) than Kershaw’s 2.41.

This season finds the Los Angeles lefty somewhat returning to Earth with a 3.00 ERA, but another starter on the Dodger staff, Hyun-Jin Ryu, is on the verge of an historic season. Rye’s 1.36 ERA is the lowest in baseball and the South Korean native also has a 9-1 record, but that’s somewhat besides the point given LA’s talented lineup.

Ryu, 32, who missed all of 2015 and pitched only one game in 2016 due to labrum surgery and shoulder issues, is currently the best pitcher in baseball. Yes, it’s only late spring in a regular season that extends outward to early autumn, but you have to go back 101 years, to Walter Johnson’s epic 1918 season (CORRECTION: “go back 61 years, to Bob Gibson’s epic 1968 season”…and yes, I’m somewhat disturbed realizing I was alive in 1968 and it’s closer to 1918 than it is to the present) when he posted a 1.27 ERA (and a 23-13 record) to find a pitcher who finished a season with a lower ERA than the one Ryu has now.

And we cannot help but wonder why Ryu hasn’t garnered more attention, other than the fact that most sportswriters/media cannot converse with him without the help of a translator.

Remote Patrol

NBA Finals

Game 6: Raptors at Warriors

9 p.m. ABC

So yesterday I spent a few moments thinking about how I blew the headline two days ago on Kevin Durant’s injury, how it should have been “Achilles’ Last Stand.” Some of you may recognize that as the title of a Led Zeppelin tune that weighed in at 10 1/2 minutes and, despite being a favorite of guitarist Jimmy Page’s, is included on arguably the band’s worst album, Presence, from 1976.

I mention this because in high school I had a classmate (we spent four years in the same Latin class) who was an editor of our school paper, The Roundup, who got his jollies by slipping in the titles of Led Zeppelin songs into the paper’s headlines “No Quarter In The First Quarter” is one I recall, when our football team was taken behind the woodshed early against an opposing team quarterbacked by future Notre Dame utility stud Steve Belles.

Anyway, I lost track of this classmate for years, and then suddenly you know what? He was the EDITOR-IN-CHIEF of Maxim magazine. His name is Keith Blanchard. True story. And while that has nothing to do with tonight’s Game 6, the final Warrior contest at Oracle Arena, I thought you might find it interesting.

5 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. I’ve “known” for over a month that the Boston Bruins would NOT win the Cup. How? Well, the, er, Sporting Gods “informed” me that they’d realized they’d made a tragic mistake these past 10-15 years : they’d created another city of arrogant, entitled sports brat-fans & they were going to right that wrong. It seems the “gods” in charge of the 4 various pro-sports in this country don’t get along (jealousy) & thus didn’t communicate as they should. When they finally paid attention, Boston had become a “monster”. So, heads up – the Patriots will NOT be winning next year’s Super Bowl. πŸ™‚

    I was surprised to read that the Blues had been in LAST place at mid-season! Has this ‘gutter-to-championship since mid-season’ happened before in the NHL or the other 3 pro-sports, in, let’s say, the past 50 years? Anyhoo, any team that picks “GLORIA!” as a theme song has my cheers.

    Another bit of info on Chris Froome’s cycling crash, albeit confusing. I’ve now read an eyewitness report that said Froome crashed into a wall of a HOUSE, not the “low wall” that I’ve read on all the other reports. Hmmm, HUGE difference there so don’t know what to think. Either the writer of the interview wrote the witness’ comments incorrectly or all the other reports were inaccurate. Knowing cycling, either could be true.

    Finally, wait a minute, WAIT. A. MINUTE! You took 4 YEARS of Latin & trash the Spelling Bee?! The Bee is not just those kids “memorizing” the dictionary, it’s them learning the “rules” of language derivation. And isn’t that why people even still learn Latin? (Although Catholic-school friends of mine swear it’s to “learn suffering & perseverance”. πŸ˜‰ )

  2. I know the line about Ruth/Kershaw was a throwaway, but in terms of ERA+, which takes ERA and adjusts for park factors and other variables, Kershaw is No. 2 in baseball history, and first among starting pitchers. Ruth is tied for 93rd (although he is ahead of Hall of Fame pitchers like Tom Glavine, Don Drysdale and Bert Blyleven).

  3. I hate correcting you because I not only love reading Medium Happy every morning, but I believe that you also do a great job of fact checking. But…With regard to Ryu having the lowest ERA since Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA in 1968 which contributed to the lowering of the mounds in the MLB. πŸ™‚

    • Oops!

      Thanks, Jeff. I went through that list twice this morning but obviously not closely enough. Appreciate the correction.


  4. I’ve been meaning to mention this for over a week & keep getting distracted when I get here. πŸ™‚ Anyhoo, I saw this & thought of you, jdubs! Not that you’ve mentioned you’re interested in some personal real estate at the moment, but it’s always good to have information.

    So, in an article on CNBC (I think), it listed what one can buy currently for $250K in some of our largest cities. In NYC, you can buy a 500 sq ft 1 bed, 1 bath co-op in East Harlem. However, in your “home away from home” of Phoenix, you can buy a 1772 sq ft, 4 bed, 2.5 bath single family house. So, whenever you’re finally ready to hang up your working shoes, maybe you should… HEAD WEST, OLD MAN! πŸ™‚

    It also mentioned how many years one would have to save (5% a year of their income) to afford a 20% down payment & well, that was worthless & probably alarming for most readers. For example, I doubt the folks who can actually afford the $1.3 MILLION “median” home in San Francisco wait 40 YEARS to buy! However, it does pretty much show that one better be saving more than a paltry 5% (unless you’re an NBA player, etc) to accumulate the money for a good down payment.

    Heck, 30-some years ago, If I’d only saved 5%/year & compounded that mistake by putting it into a CD (which at the time paid 6-8%), I’d STILL be living in a roach-infested apartment in P.G. County (the armpit of Maryland)! If you’re single AND don’t want to have paying roommates AND make less than 6 figures, you need to save at LEAST 20-30% & invest in the stock market via index or no-load mutual funds. You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

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