by John Walters

Starting Five


October is here! The greatest month of the year!

Sports-wise, there’s no contest. Playoff baseball begins today and will continue daily, often in the early autumn sunshine, for at least the next two weeks. College football season hits its peak. The NBA and NHL seasons begin. If you’re a runner, it’s peak road- and trail-racing time.

The weather. Sunny and crisp, but not too hot and not too cold. Climate-wise, it’s the very best time to be in the Midwest or New England or northeast.

The colors? God’s just showing off this month, letting us know what He could do all the time if He felt like it.

Birthdays! Many of our favorite people were born this month, and you know who you are, but we’ll send shout-outs to Phyllis and my sis and Smo, the funniest man we know.


They stage an Octoberfest; they don’t stage a Januaryfest.

October is a little bit like being in your early fifties or late forties. It’s the last hurrah month where you still feel smart and beautiful before November and December, when you’re going to have to start popping blue pills and having serious discussions about hip and knee replacements.

Viva October! Soak in every day.

Salazar Banned Four Years

Distance running coach and guru Alberto Salazar, once the U.S.’s premier marathoner, has been banned FOUR YEARS from athletics due to doping violations. Salazar 61, has long wielded tremendous influence in track and field as the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project, with top runners such as Mo Farah and Galen Rupp in his stable.

But for years now other runners, some past students of his, have alleged that he runs a dirty program. Salazar has long been combative and obtuse when hit with such allegations, sort of the Paul Manafort of track and field.

Now the Cuban-born coach, who until Meb Kefleghezi came along was the last American citizen to win BOTH the Boston and New York City marathons, disappears for a quadrennial. Good riddance.


A few sports-bro web sites made plenty of $$$ off Allison Stokke’s image back in the day, but she never made a dime while at Berkeley.

In California, Pandora’s Box opens. Governor Gavin Newsom signs the Fair Pay To Play Act into law (it will not take effect until 2023), giving college athletes the right to be compensated for the use of their likenesses.

Is the world going to burn down? No. It’s just that some enterprising schools and their boosters are going to find ways to use this law, particularly when/if Texas and a few southern states pass similar laws, to create a giant slush fund for player talent. The only difference being that now they will be able to do so without the help of a bag man.

Read more about it here from the always well-informed Michael McCann at

We welcome the idea of local car dealerships and eateries using current football heroes as pitchmen. USC backup quarterbacks Kedon Slovis and Matt Fink, both who’ve been pushed into service as starters already, would be perfect for an insurance ad.

Happy and Peppy And Bursting With Love

We’re going to, for no particular reason, leave this classic moment from The Odd Couple right here. We suspect that many of our sportswriting brethren (and sports reading brethren on The Athletic) are too young to have seen this early 1970s sitcom, which used to air on Friday nights after The Brady Bunch but before Kolchak: The Night Stalker (man, Friday and Saturday nights were great TV nights in the early to mid-Seventies). If any of them/you have a chance to binge this series, do so.

Watching this at our current age, we’re beginning to wonder if we’re a mash-up of Oscar and Felix. That’s enough navel-gazing for one morning.

Bye, Bye Burfict

Following this hit on Sunday on Colts tight end Jack Doyle, the NFL suspended long-time assault artist Vontaze Burfict for the rest of 2019. Burfict’s act may have played well in the days of Dick Butkus and Chuck Bednarik, but not so much these days.

What a checkered career the former Arizona State linebacker has had. From ultimate stud and All-American his first couple of years in Tempe to being benched in his final game for the Sun Devils to crashing and burning at the NFL Combine and going undrafted to becoming a starter and Pro Bowl selection for the Bengals and now the Raiders. To possibly being out of football for good.

What should happen is a cage match between Richie Incognito and Burfict, preferably in the Phoenix area where both have plenty of history.

Music 101

The Beat Goes On/Soul Bossa Nova

What happens when you marry Sonny & Cher with Austin Powers? You get this mashup from Emilie-Claire Barlow, a Canadian jazz vocalist.

Remote Patrol

NL Wildcard Game

Brewers at Nationals

8 p.m. TBS

This is Anthony Rendon, who leads the Nats in every major batting category and who just got offered $200 million to remain in D.C. I guess I should’ve heard of him.

What a matchup! You’ve got Christian Yelich on one side and Bryce Harper on the other. Wait, what?

5 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. I’m disappointed you didn’t answer my question yesterday about what Qatar must be paying various Olympic sports orgs to whore themselves. Anyhoo, yesterday’s events at the Track & Field WC had BY FAR the most attendees in the stands. In fact, at least one if not two ENTIRE SECTIONS were filled with Ethiopian fans dressed in their flag colors & waving said flags & cheering for their 5000 meter runners. Hmmmm, don’t know how this was financially possible but at least SOMEBODY was making noise in the stands & making it look like this World CHAMPIONSHIPS matters! BTW, it seems I am not the only person making a stink over T&F’s humiliation & like clockwork, the IAAF is blaming the “local organizers” (“they promised full stands”, yadda, yadda) & the local orgs are whining that the local times are “late” so as to accommodate world TV viewing. I guess they just NOW read the contract? LOL! What was last year’s excuse for the Gymnastic Worlds? Well, maybe the blowback over the pathetic weekend is what prompted the almost-full stands for yesterday. Who said a little ‘vinegar’ can’t catch some bees? πŸ˜‰

    My fave thing yesterday was Emma winning a Silver in the Steeplechase. Whoo-hoo! The Kenyans were determined to “take back” their race “from the Americans” so I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, but while ONE Kenyan did win, Emma was by far the best of the rest of the field. And she’s always such a classy competitor, win or lose.

    On Saturday, I got to watch almost ALL the Final round of the Women’s Hammer Throw (my fave of the throwing events). I don’t think I’ve EVER seen this much of the Women’s Hammer on TV & the reason we were so gifted is that American Deanna Price won the Gold! The 1st American, male or female I believe, that has ever won ANY Worlds medal in the Hammer. It was AWESOME! Seriously, the Hammer is an awesome event! The way they spin around, gathering speed & strength, & then HUNH!, hoist that hammer out there like a freakin Super Hero! It’s fabulous! I only fell in love with the Hammer about 18-20 years ago at a World Championships, in fact. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing all those previous years. The men’s event is Wed. I’ll be watching if it’s on TV! πŸ™‚

    (Note : I almost accidentally typed Deanna’s last name up there as “Prince”. That would have been a Freudian slip! Get it? ‘Dianna Prince’ is Wonder Woman, a SUPER HERO! πŸ™‚ )

  2. I’m back! I also wanted to mention the 800 Women’s Final yesterday. Disappointing for several reasons. 1st, that the woman who won the race should NOT have been in the Final! She pushed & SHOVED various competitors in the Semi-Final 2-3 times & I thought she had been DQed! In fact, the NBC commentators both thought she’d “surely be” too. Imagine my shock when I saw her at the Finals start! 2nd, American Ajee Wilson was the pre-race favorite but looked as if she was going to throw-up before the race even started. She ended up 3rd in a lackluster performance. I have not yet read if she was ill or dealing with an injury but that was a disappointing result. After YEARS of being denied a “fair” race, in her 1st chance to triumph, she wilts. Was it stress over being the favorite? I’m hopeful she’ll pull things together for next season (the Olympics). I realize I sound harsh in my assessment of Wilson but I’ve rooted for her for years & still do. I was shocked as I not only expected more of her, I wanted more FOR her. Which brings me to #3, the TV broadcast & far too many media sites kept describing this race as “being competed under a shadow”, etc. No, what was in an UNFAIR SHADOW were the last several World & Olympic versions of this race. It is FINALLY back into the light again of ‘fair play’. (Well, except for last night’s Finals winner!)

    (Eventually this week, fingers crossed, I will get to my comments on the final episode of Ken Burns ‘Country Music’ mini-series. This will come as a shock but I have a LOT to say. πŸ˜‰ )

  3. John Walters, great to see you are doing good, we use to play football together down at the Crestview Park as kids. You still a Cowboy fan .

    • Gary Harness! Of course I remember you. How are you? I just cheer for my college team now (and the Yankees).

      How is Middletown? Are you still there?


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