The Captain of the Night

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On Friday night, September 26, 2008, Derek Jeter played in a baseball game that didn’t matter. The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 19-8 that night and up until this week’s All-Star break, it was the only one of Jeter’s 2,685 regular season games where the Yankees had been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

2,685 baseball games played and only one that didn’t matter. One.

Jeter took his All-Star bow last night at Target Field and it was nearly perfect.  From his taped introduction from the voice of God to the thunderous ovation from everyone in the stadium before his first at bat. National League pitcher Adam Wainwright provided a nice touch by placing his glove and ball on the mound and stepping off the back to join in the applause and stretch the moment to the appropriate length.

Jeter finally settled into the box and as the FOX announcers let the moment bathe in natural sound, a nit-wit fan (Was it A-Rod? Who let him in?) was clearly heard yelling, “overrated” twice.  Jeter obviously didn’t hear him, but you’d swear he did as he shut the clown up by lacing a double to the opposite field. You have a criticism of Jeter? You’re wrong, and he’ll prove it quickly.

In the “twitter can make a mountain out of any molehill” world we now live in, Wainwright was bashed for suggesting he’d piped a couple of pitches for Jeter. Many took to the twitter pulpit immediately as if Wainwright had bet on the outcome of the game and shot up steroids while doing so. “Wainwright has clearly stained the sanctity of the game and should be burned at the stake!”

Intrepid (and oh so young and pretty) reporter Erin Andrews played her part, attaching a grave look to her face when she questioned Wainwright about why he’d killed that man, rigged the election perhaps gutted a couple of fastballs to Jeter.

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When it all got back to Jeter postgame, he gave a short response that nicely encapsulated why he’s Derek Jeter.

“He grooved them? I don’t know man….if he grooved it, thank you. You still have to hit it.”

Perfect.

Above the fray and out of the nonsense, just like always. That’s Derek Jeter.

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Another opposite field single and another goose-bump inducing moment when he exited the game after taking the field in the top of the fourth. Jeter saluted the National League dugout before tipping his cap to the crowd and then hugged every player in the American League dugout. (And these were real hugs, Jeter hugs, not A-Rod hugs where he was already looking glassy-eyed past the guy he was embracing. You almost expected each player to get a gift basket after Jeter moved on to the next guy.)

Oh, and the American League won, of course. Derek Jeter was on their team, so they won, that’s how it works.

Jeter arrived in MLB in the mid-90’s along with Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra, as a trio of superstar shortstops. They were the progression of the position that Cal Ripken had started: shortstops who could not only field, but hit like stars. Miguel Tejada soon joined them. When all the dust settles, Jeter might be the only one of them in the Hall of Fame.

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A-Rod became infamous. Nomar and Miggy became Almost Famous. Jeter? He’s cool man, trust me, I’ve seen him and he’s cool. WAR doesn’t measure how cool somebody is and Jeter’s as cool as any cat that ‘s played baseball since George Brett.

Let’s get this part out of the way: He never won an MVP. He never won a batting title. He never hit 25 home runs. He only reached 100 RBIs once. Now let me repeat this: There’s no stat for cool. There used to be a stat for clutch, but Jeter broke it.

If you want to tell me that Jeter’s zone coverage analytic declined over the last decade,  go ahead, but I’d ask that you put down your protractor and go look at pictures of Minka Kelly, Jessica Alba, Adrianna Lima and Jessica Biel.

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Derek Jeter won five rings. Derek Jeter has more hits than any other New York Yankee ever. He’s the longest-tenured captain of the greatest franchise in the history of sports. Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve was quoted this week as saying, “He’s not just the captain of the Yankees, he’s the captain of baseball.”

Here’s one for the stat-heads: Jeter is one of only two players to have over 3,000 hits, 250 home runs, 300 stolen bases and 1,200 RBIs. The other is Willie Mays.

No stage was ever too big. The bigger the game, the better Jeter got. He worked his ass off and got everything he could possibly get out of his talent. At 40, he’s clearly not the player he once was, but did you think he’d let anybody down last night in his final All-Star game? With the entire sports planet watching him and hoping for the best, he went two-for-two and made a fantastic fielding play. The lights were the brightest imaginable and Jeter came through. That’s what he does.

“The flip” is perhaps his most famous play, and some have deemed it as overrated over the years. It’s not. Who backs up a cut off throw down the first base line? A guy who’s paying attention to everything around him, that’s who. Go watch the clip again, Jeter takes off the second Shane Spencer uncorks his throw because he knows it’s sailing over the head of the cutoff man and ending up in no man’s land.

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Jeter spent a lot of time in no man’s land. Five rings. No scandals. More beautiful girlfriends than George Clooney. For god’s sake, Jeter let go of the only woman on earth who didn’t want to marry Tim Riggins.

No sports fans on earth hate something as much as Red Sox fans hate the Yankees. But even Red Sox fans are going to get misty and mumble “Derek freaking Jeetah” under their breath when the captain plays his last baseball game, which is scheduled to be Sunday, September 28 at Fenway Park.

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It will be nearly six years from the day that he played in the one game that didn’t matter.

But of course it mattered. Derek Jeter was playing in it.

– Bill Hubbell

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Just another two guys who were born in New Jersey.

1. Target Practice

Bottom of the first inning, Target Field, Minneapolis:

Derek Jeter, double.

Mike Trout, triple.

Miguel Cabrera, following a Robinson Cano whiff, home run.

All four of those American League All-Stars will some day enshrined in Cooperstown, methinks. The American League, which won 5-3, hit for the cycle by the bottom of the third, as Jeter singled in his next at bat. Both of Jeter’s hits were opposite-field jobs. Brian McCann, take note.

As for Adam Wainwright “grooving” a pitch to the A.L.’s leadoff hitter, which he joked about doing, then denied doing to Pam Oliver Erin Andrews? Perhaps that was just his way of tipping his hat to The Captain.

2. All In

I’m lovin’ it

The most newsworthy NBA event to take place in Las Vegas this month? Probably LeBron James‘ 58th-floor confab with Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated in the Wynn Hotel.

Number 2: The early validation of Creighton’s Doug McDermott –I’ve been on record as calling him a Top 5  pick (he went 9th) since at least March–who scored 31 points in the Chicago Bulls’ second NBA Summer League contest on Sunday and buried 20 points in just 26 minutes of action, a 34-point defenestration of the Minnesota Timberwolves, last night.

Oh, and the fans love him.

One thing to file away: His nickname is Dougie McBuckets, and he’ll be playing in Chicago, which happens to be the world-wide headquarters of…McDonald’s. Oh, I think this is going to work out just fine.

3. Yellin’ vs. Yellen

CNBC doesn’t care whether or not you like Santelli. They care that you find this compelling TV–which it is

It’s easy to loathe CNBC’s Rick Santelli, at least for the masses, because 1) he’s white 2) middle-aged 3) seems to have little empathy for the poor and 4) he yells and 5) he’s talking about things that few want to discuss and that most don’t actually understand.

His latest rant took place on Monday, and the topic was Fed easing, and my guess is that more of you can explain WAR than you can Fed easing (hey, me too).

Help me if I’m wrong here, but it seems that Santelli is angry at Janet Yellen and the Fed continuing to give us PEDs even though we don’t need them to overcome our injury because we’re no longer injured. Now she’s just giving us the PEDs because our offensive numbers are inflated. And he’s saying that the longer we continue to use PEDs –the new normal –the harder the thud will be when we are eventually taken off them. And Steve Liesman, who at least argues in a sane and rational way, is saying, “But look at how happy everyone is now.”

But I may be wrong. Please feel free to correct me.

I did agree with Santelli on his famous earlier economic rant, the gist of which was, Just because you live in a house that you put a down payment on does not mean you OWN the house. If you bought a house whose mortgage you clearly could never afford, and then the bank forecloses on it, tough. That house was never really yours–and the rest of us who were prudent enough not to buy something we could not afford should not have to bail you out. But that’s just me. I’m kind of a hardass on that stuff.

4. They Will Rock You

He’s just a poor boy, from a poor family

Queen, with original members guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, and without bassist John Deacon and also without the greatest front man in the history of rock and roll (the judges will also accept Mick Jagger), recently launched a summer tour. Gifted “American Idol” alum Adam Lambert is playing the role of Freddie Mercury, and while no one can ever match his charisma and vocal gifts, Lambert is coming close, apparently.

The magazine Rolling Stone just did a feature on the theatrical and utterly original British band –and it should have earned the cover over Melissa McCarthy, but whatevs– that is worth a read. And here’s the band’s entire set from Live Aid, 29 years and 3 days ago, from Wembley Stadium. It was the band’s rebirth, and what May called “the best day of our lives.”

(Check the moment at about 6:00, when Freddie leads the entire stadium in the clap-clap for “Radio Ga Ga.” That’s power. Apparently, all the other artists looked on in disbelief, and Elton John rushed up to them after the set and told them, with a laugh, that they’d just stolen the show. It was incredibly gratifying for Queen, who by this time appeared to have been left behind by the new wave of, well, New Wave.)

5. So, Not the Bruckner Expressway?

Thelma and Louise may have voted for it, but Highway 153 did not make the list

Here’s Outside magazine with a compelling list of “America’s Best Car-Touring Roads.” I’d add –though not to say they are more scenic –Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway and Mississippi’s Natchez-Trace Parkway. Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Morro Bay in California is pretty spectacular, too.

Where in the World?

Monday: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Hint: This home would suit Twiggy

The final World Cup-themed “Men in Blazers” podcast, with a nod to, at around the 20th minute, the notion of German superiority in all things. Also, right before 2:00, “Algentinian Malbec.” From the “CRAP part of SoHo.” Also, an excellent suggestion from Jordan Weissman of Slate for an annual Fourth of July sports event that would hopefully take the focus off competitive eating.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Cespedes and Puig: Real Cubans, although real Dominicans (Cano, Ortiz) are also smokin’.

1. Cuban Missiles

Cuba’s Yoenis Cespedes “for the rest of us” (I didn’t watch; Did Boomer use this?) won the Home Run Derby last night for the second year in a row. I don’t want to say the contest was a protracted affair, but Dr. James Andrews performed three Tommy John surgeries in a kiosk beyond the center field wall between the first and last homer.

2. Hat’s Entertainment

Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada

Cut from the final version of Nike’s “Tip of the Cap” ad tribute to Derek Jeter

1) Howard Stern, who was here before and will be here after, and is one of the few New Yorkers as popular as Jeter but also wealthier.

2) Alex Rodriguez tipping his hat while staring at a mirror (thanks to @okerland) and backed by his legal team.

3) A group tip from Mariah Carey, Jordana Brewster, Jessica Alba, Adriana Lima, Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly –all clad in over-sized pinstriped nighties..

4) Stephen Colbert, who  lives in New York and even has a segment titled “Tip of the Cap.”

5) Times Square’s “Naked Singing Cowboy”, who is arguably the second-biggest male attraction in the city, and, like Jeter, wears a hat as part of his uniform.

6) Lena Dunham…naked.

7) Former New York Yankee (assistant to the) traveling secretary George Costanza.

8. Former mayor Michael Bloomberg, pouring out a 32-ounce soda.

3. Just Missed

Please, God (or Mother Nature), improve your aim

The 113th U.S. Congress has apparently just reached its Lightning Round.

I’m sure it is only a coincidence that only a day earlier a congressional blog noted that this edition was the ultimate “do-nothing Congress” (even its sexual congress is lacking, from the dearth of recent scandals), having passed fewer laws of substance than any.

They truly do not work for us; they work for themselves. Or, as John Oliver put it on Sunday, “You’d think that in a democracy, policies that benefit the very few at the expense of the many would not have a chance to succeed. But they do…”

4. Spokes and Sprinkles

This is a good time to remind you that “deluge” is a French word

(with our own tip of the cap to unpaid Medium Happy cycling correspondent Susie B.)

The Tour de France overtakes “Noah” as 2014′s Wettest Drama. Through 10 stages, wet weather (“Il pleut!”) has pelted the peloton (the peltoton?) and, sorry, Gene Kelly, but not no one is singing about it. Last year’s champ, Chris Froome, dropped out one day after crashing in during a stage that mixed pelting rain with cobblestone streets.

Kelly: Indifferent to cycling woes

Two-time champion Alberto Contador dropped out yesterday after crashing on a descent and breaking his tibia. Popular rider Mark Cavendish dislocated his shoulder after crashing on the final sprint, which is his specialty, during the race’s opening stage in Yorkshire.

Right now Italian Vincenzo Nibali wears the yellow jersey and has a 2 minute, 23 second lead as the Tour takes a day of rest. But he’s only a spill away from disaster.

5. SEC Media Doze

My suggested cover for the 2014 University of Florida football media guide. Own the moment, Gators

Four days in Birmingham in July???

What was second prize– a jailhouse visit with the Alabama tea bagger?

If all 14 SEC media guide can be condensed to one disc, can’t this Hoover Happening be condensed into one two-hour phone call? Answer: yes.

Reserves

Pam in her prime

Pamelot

I covered the NFL for Sports Illustrated in the mid-Nineties, right as Pam Oliver’s career was taking off on Fox, and here’s what I can tell you: not a few players, when told that Fox wanted to do a feature on them during the week, specifically requested Oliver.

She was, and still is, a gorgeous African-American woman. And she’s also good at her job. She just happens to be 53 now, not 33 or 34 or 35. She’s the age of a lot of these players’ moms now.

Yesterday, my old friend and colleague Richard Deitsch broke the story about Oliver’s No. 1 role being usurped by everybody’s favorite Trubiotics salesperson, Erin Andrews (“It supports digestive AND immune health!”) and the internet reacted with its typical gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments (And I thought, Wow, I do miss the World Cup).

Another old friend and colleague, Jeff Pearlman, tore off this appeal-to-the-masses take on the whole sad incident.

Someone wrote me on Twitter this morning that Oliver had experience at six stations before she landed her FOX gig. Great! I don’t care if she’d memorized the NFL Fact & Record Book. She’s a terrific reporter, but then so is Vic Carucci (Who? Exactly) and no one gave him a high six-figure deal to stand on a sideline and report news and land interviews.

Carucci is an inveterate Cleveland Browns reporter; actually, FOX or ESPN should hire him now

My point? Oliver landed this job, at least in part –and if you are honest with yourself, more than just “in part”–because of how telegenic she was and because not only did that appeal to viewers, but it also appealed to players who were more willing to talk to her. So if part of her initial evaluation was superficial, and that evaluation provided her 20 years of high-profile living and income, as well as a wonderful gig –when not being struck in the head by wayward passes–why is everyone so upset that a second evaluation based on superficial values bumped her to No. 2?

And, by the way, when two FOX executives fly to your hometown to break the news to you, that’s a sign of respect. Most people in most jobs never get that.

And so the era of Pamelot draws to a close. Is Oliver “better” than Andrews? All depends on your definitIon of “better.” Andrews is 36, has a larger contract and also more leverage. And 10 years from now she won’t. That’s how this game works. And everyone who plays knows it.

Then again, maybe Roger Goodell is still pissed off over this….

Holly Sonders. Sure, I’ve seen Jack Arute strike this pose

Finally, we would be remiss if we failed to note that yesterday it was announced that Fox had just hired Holly Sonders (who is married to Eric Kuselias, Over-Chicked Hall of Fame first ballot inductee) away from the Golf Channel. So maybe they had to clear some air space for her?

Remote Patrol

All-Star Game

Fox 7:30 p.m.

King Felix, or as one Sports Guy Mailbag reader once dubbed him, “F-Her”, will start for the A.L. at Target Field

In which The Captain, Derek Jeter, will hit a slow roller between the pitcher’s mound and third base, leg it out for an infield hit, and be named MVP. The Midsummer Classic will never again draw the viewers it did when I was a child, in the Seventies, because a prime-time nationally televised baseball game (there was at the time one per week) is no longer an event, nor is seeing players from the American League face off against those from the National League something we only see in this game and in the World Series. Also, there’s Candy Crush and binge-watching of Orange is the New Black.

By giving us Christmas once a month, Bud Selig has devalued Christmas. As if it took a genius to see that.

Also, 37 players on a roster?

And, you start the best players, then sub them out while not allowing them to return, but you decide that the stakes of the game are which league’s champion hosts the final two games of the World Series?

More is not more, Bud. Less is. Ask anyone who ever put on a bikini.

My suggestion: 25 players to a roster, and you may sub position players back into the game. And if your favorite team doesn’t have an All-Star, tough. Tell them to play better. NEXT!

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Mario Gotze’s control-and-finish was a thing of beauty in the 113th minute, but Andre Schurrle’s cross into the box was every bit as spectacular.

1. “SIEG!”

Portugal, 4-0. Brazil, 7-1. Argentina, 1-0.

Germany outscored its Portuguese or Spanish-speaking opposition 12-1 en route to the World Cup championship. That’s Ger-MANY goals. It was actually Ghana (2-2), USA (1-0), Algeria (2-1) and France (1-0) who provided them stiffer competition. Or maybe it was just a matter of when die Mannschaft was on, they were unstoppable.

For the record, Germany won World Cup and 60% of USA’s goals were scored by Americans who were born and raised in Germany.

Germany was the best team in the tournament. They deserved it. Meanwhile, the Men in Blazers arrived back home to “the crap part of SoHo” and provided this black tie Boot Room Extra.

Coming to World Cup 2018: Jim Boeheim wants 128 nations to get in, while Mike Slive thinks that two SEC teams should get in (kudos to @theFishstache). Meanwhile, does Pussy Riot play before the final?

2. The Son Holds the Sun

“He’s got the whole world (or center of our solar system) in his hands/ He’s got the…”

Here’s how I imagined the conversation going:

“I am the light of the world.”

“NO! I am the light of the world.”

“My dad made you!”

“Your dad made you.”

“I am Who am.”

“Today is Sun-day. When you get one day per week named after you, as opposed to one day per year, get back to me.”

Didn’t you love when the ABC director could not avoid the temptation to return for a second helping of this admittedly spectacular shot? And Ian Darke was annoyed –Darke opposes Light! Good job, FIFA writers –so that when they finally returned to the game, he cheekily intoned, “Germany leads, two-nil.”

3. LeBron James, 007 & Vladimir Putin Walk Into a Room…

Gisele, a Brazilian of German descent, was a no-brainer. But who’s that guy standing next to her?

How about that FIFA World Cup final guest list? Putin, King James, Daniel Craig, Ashton Kutcher, Wyclef Jean, Arash Markazi, Shakira, Gisele AND Adriana Lima (those FIFA executives are no dummies; evil, but no dummies). Here’s the entire list

Oh, it was studded with stars….

Game 3, 1996 NBA Finals, Bulls at Sonics. I’m trailing Bob Costas for two days for a story in Entertainment Weekly. After the telecast, Bob and Julius Erving stroll into a luxury box at Key Arena with me in tow. Here’s who’s in the room besides those two: Cindy Crawford (and a friend), Dennis Rodman and three members of Pearl Jam, including Eddie Vedder.

Jocks/Rock stars/Film stars/Supermodels. It’s their world. The rest of us just live in it.

4. Not So Fast, My Fiend

I only hand out balls to the ladies. You should know that by now.

While he was standing in the on-deck circle  in the fourth inning of last night’s game at Camden Yards, The Captain, Derek Jeter, decided to hand a baseball (don’t know if it was autographed or not) to a little girl who was seated in the second row. A dude in an Orioles shirt seated in the front row attempted to intercept it, and it’s hilarious how quickly Jeets pulled it back from the dude’s grasp. Two things struck me:

1) You’d think after the entire Tony Tarasco-Jeffrey Maier fiasco (that’s Costas on the call)  that dudes in Orioles shirts would have learned (by the way, Maier did not actually catch it).

2) If there’s one thing we know about the future Hall of Famer, it is that he only bequeaths baseballs to the ladies.

p.s. The little girl did receive the ball and the Yanks lost 3-1 after the game was called with no outs in the bottom of the fifth after a 2 hour, 20 minute rain delay.

p.p.s. Is this the best ad of the year?

5. Emma Coburn Notice

Coburn’s 9:11:42 broke Jenny Simpson’s five year-old American record by more than one second

I’m not sure whether Emma Coburn looks more like she should be starring in an Alfred Hitchcock film or auditioning for The Bellas.

Either way, the 23 year-old Colorado native and alum is stunningly beautiful. She is also now, after Saturday’s meet in Glasgow, the fastest 3,000-meter steeplechaser is American history. While Coburn finished second to Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayelew, her time broke the U.S. record of her New Balance teammate Jenny Simpson. Coburn now owns the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth-fastest times in the steeplechase, as difficult a race as there is in track, in U.S. annals.

Oh, and it should be noted that her boyfriend’s name is Joe Bosshard.

Coburn should definitely be more well-known. Can you work on that, NBC?

Where in the World?

Friday: The Pantheon, Rome

Hint: If you guessed the Dolomites, try again.

***

Happy Birthday (and Happy Bastille Day) to Dan Smith, the lead singer of Bastille, whose hit single is about a city that is NOT located in France. Just to be clear, for any Upper West Side residents reading this, this is NOT the same Dan Smith who “will teach you guitar.”

Remote Patrol

Backpackers

CW 8:30 p.m.

The show I pitched, “Barackpackers”, in which POTUS and SCOTUS tour Europe separately, was not picked up.

While ESPN airs the Home Run Derby (“A Cespedes for the Rest of Us”), even better summer escapist fare may be this trek through Europe. An engaged couple decides to backpack through Europe –separately– to test their bond before marriage. Duuuuude! Head to Amsterdam, like, pronto!

Why “The Essay” Was So Much Better than “The Decision” (Day of Snore?)

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Well, for starters, Jim Gray wasn’t involved. I’d say that ESPN wasn’t involved either, but let’s face it, they were. Where else were we going to see eloquent Heat fan reacts like, “yo, this sucks man…. it just sucks.” And thank god they had a stable of reporters that could “confirm” the story after it broke. (“It’s not official until we say it’s official!) I might have turned on NBA TV to see coverage, but I don’t know where it is, it always takes me two minutes of cruising up or down the channel guide to find it, and I wasn’t that interested.

So LeBron broke his decision via a poem. No, it was an essay, but how great would a poem have been?

Wait, I’m supposed to believe LeBron wrote an essay? Oh, it was “as told to Dan Jenkins”. Ok, it was Lee Jenkins, but how great would that have been?

Universal praise ensues. For LeBron, for Cleveland, for Jenkins, for Dan Gilbert.

Kevin Love will be traded to the Cavs to form a younger, better “big three” that can make a run at a title next year. Don’t trade Wiggins for Love? Love can rebound, shoot 3′s and (perhaps most importantly) throw the best outlet passes in the league. (We’ve all had the argument about how good LeBron would be as a tight end or a receiver. Adding Love will be the closest we ever get to seeing that. He might average 20 points a game on breakaway dunks.) Love’s the perfect complement to LeBron. Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade will fade away. Rockets fans will wonder why the hell they paid that much money for a guy who averages 16 points and four boards a game.

But back to today’s news. The essay. I’ll preface the following fan fiction by saying that I like LeBron. He’s chasing titles. You can argue that he isn’t doing it the “Jeter Way,” but you could also argue that rather than going to find other good players, Jeter just let the Yankees bring those players to him. Phil Jackson takes a lot of measured pauses when he speaks (most people read them as “ah, the zen-master is zenning out”… I think he might just be zoning out) and he never really says much that adds up to anything. But he’s a coaching legend because he put himself in fantastic positions of opportunity. The “genius” of the triangle offense was simply, “get the ball to MJ,” or “get the ball to Kobe and have Shaq underneath.” God bless him, he won a ton of titles and you can’t take that away from him, but his brilliance was in figuring out which way the wind was blowing and hopping on the biggest wave.

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LeBron has learned that nobody is good enough to win it by himself. When Wade was still a top-10 player, they were good enough to win titles. The Spurs had four players better than Wade this year and the Heat got killed.

So LeBron is once again taking advantage of his opportunity as a free agent and going home. A home that is in much better shape then when he left. A home that could have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on board. He was demonized for the way he left Cleveland, with a TV show that was as interesting as when Geraldo Rivera went into Al Capone’s vault. (Google it youngsters….. and  who was more smug and obnoxious at their peak, Geraldo or Jim Gray?)

So kudos to the essayist, Lee Jenkins, and here’s how we’re guessing the “as told to” version went:

LeBron: “Yo, so I’m signing with the Cavs. Look, I’m from Akron and I know a lot of people there. It’ll be fun.”

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Jenkins translation:

Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.

LeBron: “It kind of sucked the way people reacted when I left. Be cool to make it up to them.”

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Jenkins translation:

Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left.

LeBron: “Miami was bomb though. God did we have a lot of fun. I’ll keep a pad there for the parties…off the hook.”

Jenkins translation:

Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.

LeBron: “I love my boys, but I didn’t know D-Wade would age so fast. I should probably text him though.”

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Jenkins translation:

I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life.  I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.

LeBron: “Yo, say something nice about the coach… what’s his name again… Spoonstraw or something? And Riley… say something cool about him.”

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Jenkins translation:

I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. He and Riles didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.

LeBron:  “We almost done? I want to get to Brazil to party. Hey, they don’t have the internet in Brazil do they?”

Jenkins translation:

I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.

LeBron: “Winning titles is what’s up. I want to win titles in my hometown for my homeboys.”

Jenkins translation:

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

LeBron: “The wife’s been bitching about getting back around family. I’m like, “that’s cool.”

Jenkins translation:

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

LeBron: “I didn’t want to go back to being on the shitty Cavs again though. So I had to make sure they could get K-Love. Me, him and Kyrie can win titles.”

Jenkins translation:

To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?

LeBron: “Wait, does that sound too much like the 4,5,6 thing I said when I signed with Miami?” Put some, like, modest sounding stuff in there.”

Jenkins translation:

I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.

LeBron: “End it with something cool, man. Say some stuff about Cleveland that makes me look good. We cool? Adios, man”

Jenkins translation:

But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.

Well done Mr. Jenkins. We’ll see the Cavs in next year’s finals.

– Bill Hubbell

 

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING! OR IS IT?

STARTING FIVE

1. The LeBron Playlist

Editor’s Note: This was undertaken on Friday morning, before the SI.com piece came out. Was intended for the gang at the real job, but the news got in the way. Still, you have to credit the MH staff for their prescient thoughts, no?

1. Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash

“This indecision’s buggin’ me/Indecision me molesta”

2. Let’s Stay Together” by the Rev. Al Green

Loving you whether, whether/Times are good or bad, happy or sad

3. “The Heat of the Moment” by Asia*

“What were the things you wanted for yourself/Teenage ambitions you remember well”

Asia, an early 1980s supergroup, were the 2010-14 Miami Heat of rock bands. Four All-Star musicians who came together from different bands to produce two blockbuster albums.

4. “Get Back” by The Beatles

Get back, Jo Jo!

5. “Miami”by Will Smith

“I only came for two days a playin’/But every time I come I always wind up stayin’”

6. “Cleveland Rocks by Ian Hunter

All the little kids growing up on the skids/Going Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks

7. “Price Tag” by Jessie J

“Ain’t about the (uh) cha-ching cha-ching/Ain’t about the (yeah) ba-bling ba-bling”

8. “Our Lips Are Sealed” by The Go Go’s

(dedicated to “sources”)

“Pay no mind to what they say/Doesn’t matter anyway”

9. “The Life of Riley by Lightning Seeds

So here’s your life/We’ll find a way/We’re sailing blind/But it’s certain, nothing’s certain

10. “All Apologies” by Nirvana

(for Dan Gilbert)

“I’ll take all the blame/Aqua sea foam shame”

11. “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” by The Black Eyed Peas

(suggested by Cavs fans parked outside LeBron’s Akron estate)

Crazy is what crazy do/Crazy in love, I’m a crazy fool”

12. “Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” by Jimmy Buffett

Nothing remains quite the same

13. Kyrie Eleison by Mister Mister

“Kyrie Eleison/Where I’m going will you follow?”

14. “Back Where You Belong” by 38 Special

(for Chris Broussard)

“I heard you’re asking how I’m feeling/I guess I’ll play it day by day”

15. My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders

“I went back to Ohio/But my city was gone”

16. “Miami Vice Theme by Jan Hammer

17. “Live Your Life” by T.I. featuring Rihanna

(dedicated to ‘bron’s and D-Wade’s week in Las Vegas)

Just live your life (Oh!) ay ay ay/Aint’ got no time for haters”

18. “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) by Beyonce

“Cause I cried my tears for three good years/You can’t be mad at me”

19.  “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News

(dedicated to double-double dealing power forwards)

It can be cruel sometimes/But it might just save your life

20“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

“Moats and boats and waterfalls/Alleyways and payphone calls/I been everywhere with you”

21. “Cry” by Godley and Creme

(the best ending of a “Miami Vice” episode, and decades ahead of its time)

“You make me wanna cry/You don’t know how to ease my pain”

22. “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa

(sub in “Wine” wherever you hear “Black”)

“Repping my town when you see me/You know everything wine and yellow wine and yellow”

23. “Dirty Money-Coming Home” by P. Diddy featuring Skylar Grey

And though my kingdom awaits/And they’ve forgiven my mistakes

 

2. Forced Friendship

“Olive Garden it is!”

Whoever pitched this concept to Seth Meyers deserves either a raise or a promotion. Great idea, and then adding Keith Morrison for this edition is an inspired choice. Or is it? Here’s the first installment, with Lester Holt.

3. Lance. A Lot

If you’re following the Tour de France –most of us are not– defending champion Chris Froome dropped out after a Stage 4 crash and a Stage 5 across cobble-stoned streets in the rain that was the strangest idea since that World Cup qualifier played in a blizzard. Meanwhile, John Richardson over at Esquire has penned a pretty spectacular of a one-time seven-time Tour de France champion titled “Lance Armstrong in Purgatory.”

Turns out Armstrong, 42, spends most of his time golfing these days. Because isn’t that what you do when you’re middle-aged and bored?

4. Take a Hike

You know what? I’ll just be in the car.

I like to think of hiking, to turn a phrase about golfing sideways, as “a good walk soiled.” Our friends at Travel + Leisure (actually, I do not know anyone there) compiled this list of a dozen of the “World’s Scariest Hikes.” No. 4, the Mount Huashan Trail in China, will blow your mind better than Paul Carr ever could.

5. Oh, Boy!

Seriously, though, how lucky is Linklater that Coltrane didn’t die, like, 6 years into filming? Though I suppose Coltrane is even more fortunate.

Get ready for the film hit of the summer, if not the year. Richard Linklater, the Texas-based cinema auteur behind Slacker, Dazed and Confused and the Before Sunrise trilogy, may just have released his masterpiece: Boyhood. The film, starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as the parents and Ellar Coltrane as  Mason, their son, was shot over a 12-year period and, as the title suggests, examines his childhood and adolescence.

The critics are like, more obsessed with it than Randall “Pink” Floyd was with hanging out with his friends and scoring Aerosmith tickets. I’m sure Roger Ebert would have thumb-upped it, which is somewhat funny since a movie about Ebert’s own life, Life Itself, is also currently in limited release and garnering nearly as gushing reviews. But not as gushing.

Boyhood, not to be confused with Boyz ‘n the Hood –but why would you?– is the highest-rated film this year on Metacritic.com (99)  and did even better at Rotten Tomatoes, scoring a perfect 100%. Every reviewer I’ve come across absolutely is in absolute thrall with this film –it’s the ultimate coming-of-age film that actually is made in real time. How do you top that?

Where in the World?

Yesterday: Norilsk, Russia, the world’s northernmost city (69 degrees 20) of more than 100,000 residents

Hint: A favorite of both The Sports Guy and Men in Blazers

 

Songs We Love: Copa Bananas

Loyal friend, gifted pundit and Weird Al wannabe GREG AUMAN offers this salute to the 2014 World Cup, Barry Manilow, and the strip of sand that brought them together….

 

Copa Bananas

–Lyrics by Greg Auman, with a little help from the dude who wrote Mandy (and in case you need a refresher)

His name was Juergen
He was a savior
He started circling the dates
And leaving Landon in the States
He was a realist
Said we won’t win this
Still they thronged into Grant Park
Saw Jozy hobbled from the start
The fans would hold their breath
All hooked on soccer meth
With the Americans advancing from the Group of Death



At the Copa
Copa Bananas
The strongest, the fittest, the tannest
There at the Copa
Copa Bananas
Joyous eruption
And FIFA corruption
At the Copa

We fell in love …


His name was Suarez
He was a striker
And in a lapse of sanity
He got a taste of Italy
He wasn’t carded
Despite his history
And though he held his mouth in pain
The victim’s evidence was plain
He drew a four-month ban
The World Cup dental plan
But in his own defense the coach had said to mark his man

At the Copa
Copa Bananas
Devouring the world
Like piranhas
There at the Copa
Copa Bananas
Yellows unending
And #flopping was trending
At the Copa

He headed home … 

(interlude)



His name was MÜLLER
He was a scorer
And in the semis with Brazil
The Germans had them seven-nil
His name was Messi
Argentine captain
And though the match went on for days
Albiceleste won it in PKs
The final’s coming soon
It’s been a ratings boon
And the next thing you know Tim Howard’s got his own cartoon.

At the Copa
Copa Bananas
The final awaits Maracana
There at the Copa
Copa Bananas
Limited scoring
But don’t call it boring
At the Copa…

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Jose Altuve, who at 5’5″ may be shorter than his bat, already has 127 hits with another series to go before the All-Star break

1. Get the ‘L’ Out of Here

No more Lastros. Houston not only won last not, not only beat “I Just Cant’ Stop Loving Yu” Darvish, but also completed a three-game sweep of their Texas neighbors, the Rangers, in Arlington, to move out out of the cellar (Ratt reference!). The Astros, now 38-53, had not been out out last place in the AL Central West, after mid-April, since joining the American League at the outset of last season. As Twitter follower James Baker tells me, after 73 games rookie George Springer has one less HR (18) than Yasiel Puig did all of last season in 104 games. And Jose Altuve leads the A.L. in hitting at .339 Oh, and by the way, the Lastros lead the league in Sports Illustrated covers this season with two. Also, the last three teams to grace the cover of SI –Chicago, Houston and Colorado– have suffered six (and running), seven and eight game losing streaks immediately afterward, respectively.

2. He Saw It (Second) Coming

Christ the Redeemer, the Touchdown Jesus of the southern hemisphere, with Maracana in the background.

Argentina is through…Pope Francis, the 267th pope, claims it as his native land. Germany is through…Pope Benedict XVI, the 266th pope, claims it as his native land. So, yes, Men in Blazers, it’s the “World Cup of Popes.” The World Cup final will be played in the shadow of the largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world –don’t come at me with that weak-ass Christ the King statue in Poland s&$*. That latter statue is only “taller” due to its base. You don’t count platform shoes for your official height. There needs to be some friendly papal wager for this game. I’d offer some suggestions, but I still have a very narrow shot (based on Phyllis’ recommendation letters) for a post-mortem interview with St. Peter, so I’ll refrain.

Christ the King statue, in Swiebodzin, Poland. Apparently, Jesus had Nordic ancestry.

By the way, you may know that Peter was the first pope. Do you know the name of the second? Answer after No. 5

3. I Do Not See Platinum Blond

This was German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger at his first World Cup in 2006, in Germany. He looks ready to both mark Zinedane Zidane or crush “White Wedding.”

Schweinsteiger rose to prominence at the 2006 World Cup, which was held in his native Deutschland

And this is Bastian Schweinsteiger now. Slightly less Aryan. Which, by the way, is not an adjective defined as “anything related to Ned and Catelyn’s Stark’s kickass younger daughter.”

And here he was on Tuesday

By the way, it’s not only the World Cup of Popes, it’s the World Cup of SI swimsuit cover models. Heidi Klum has graced the cover once, while Yamila Diaz-Rahi has done so twice.

Klum trolled Brazil –and Gisele–with this pic she posted on Twitter Tuesday.

And here’s Diaz-Rahi, whose parents are of Lebanese and Spanish descent…

At five-foot-seven, Diaz-Rahi is at least as tall as Lionel Messi

4. Loaded Category

Instead of balloting, Tyrion Lannister is proposing “Emmy by Combat”

Let me put it this way: If LeBron James were an actor trying to decide between taking a role in a comedy or a drama, pundits would advise him to go Comedy because the other field is too loaded with talent and he’d never get out of the Emmy nominations. Check out the field for Best Drama, which was announced earlier this morning: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, True Detective, House of Cards and Downton Abbey. Something to consider: Not a single one of those shows originated on TNT, so you can no longer claim that you “know drama.” Also, none of those shows were spawned from a major network. I have people tell me that House of Cards is the best in this field. I’ve never seen it, so I’m in no position to judge, but WOW. Those first four for me, each one is more deserving of an Emmy than the next. To think that one of them will not win–much less three–and that Modern Family may win again (though Veep should) is a shame. Personally, I’d vote True Detective, but only because you can only choose one. I think the Emmy voters will salute Breaking Bad this year as it will Mad Men the next (as they take their final respective bows) and they’ll tell Marty and Rust that “time is a flat circle, so maybe you’ve already won.”

5. They Had It Coming

And sometimes the pig eats you

If I’m ever appointed Czar of ESPN –Nate Silver gives me a 0.7% chance, but that’s the same chance he gave Germany of scoring seven goals versus Brazil, so I’ll take it– the first thing I do is take the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest off the air (yes, even before Chris Berman). It’s gross, and it’s an insult to animals and the gift of life itself. Why not just have a contest to see who can piss for the longest uninterrupted time interval (I imagine it’s been proposed)? Anyway, Walter Eagle Tail, of South Dakota, died via choking at a hot-dog eating contest in Custer, South Dakota, on the 4th of July. And while I’m sorry for Walter and his family, I’m sorta not sorry for the stupid sport itself. I hope it dies a quicker death than Mr. Eagle Tail, who apparently bit off more than he could chew. In other Darwin Awards nominee news, Bill Hillman, who wrote a chapter of “How To Survive Running with the Bulls”, was gored in the thigh by a bull in Pamplona earlier this week. The bull came within a center of striking the femoral artery. Better luck next time, Bos. I’ll be rooting for you.   Papal answer: Linus

Where in the World?

Yesterday: Jacob’s Ladder on the island of St. Helena, a 699-step staircase that may be the longest straight set of steps in the world.

Hint: This is NOT a city in Michigan.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

Another day that will live in infamy.

1. Massive Attack!

Germany 7, Brazil 1.

If you’re going to find a historical or sports analogy, it needs these components:

1. The losing side is at home.

2. The losing side is historically the best at the art at hand, and takes great pride in it.

3. The defeat is swift, unrelenting and massive. It renders the vanquished shell-shocked.

4. The stakes are high.

Christ the Redeemer, although all-seeing, has seen enough.

I honestly don’t have a perfect analogy. Pearl Harbor satisfies conditions 1, 3 and 4, but not so much 2. Miami 58, Notre Dame 7, satisfies 2 and 3,  but not 1 and 4. Chicago Bears 44, Dallas Cowboys 0 at Texas Stadium in 1985 satisfies 1, 2 and 3, but not so much 4. Twitter follower John Broussard suggested the 1991 Cotton Bowl, Miami 46, Texas 3. I like it.

I don’t think die Mannschaft celebrated quite like this

Here’s my write-up for Newsweek.

2. FDR: New Deal LBJ: Max Deal

Carry on our Hayward Son: Gordon signs for $63 million in N.C., which means he’ll be asked about that last shot versus Duke maybe a couple more times.

Max deal.

You’ve heard that term a lot since July 1.

“LeBron wants a max deal.”

“Bosh eyeing a max deal with Houston.”

“Charlotte gives Gordon Hayward a max deal.”

It feels as if “max deal” is Kramer’s “write-off.”  I wonder how many people who use the term “max deal” even know what it actually means, beyond what the term implies? I know that I don’t.

So I looked it up.

From Wikipedia (because who is more reliable?): The maximum amount of money a player can sign for is based on the number of years that player has played and the total of the salary cap. The maximum salary of a player with 6 or fewer years of experience is either $9,000,000 or 25% of the total salary cap (2010–11: $14,511,000), whichever is greater. For a player with 7–9 years of experience, the maximum is $11,000,000 or 30% of the cap (2010–11: $17,413,200), and for a player with 10+ years of experience, the maximum is $14,000,000 or 35% of the cap (2010–2011: $20,315,400).[10] There is an exception to this rule: a player is able to sign a contract for 105% of his previous contract, even if the new contract is higher than the league limit.”

So there you go…

3. Copa Bananas

This was the scene last week at the Fan Fest for Brazil vs. Chile.

My good friend Adam Duerson, SI soccer editor, liver of life, ahead-of-the-curve hipster and Wisconsin-raised-Bears fan, was at Copacabana Beach yesterday (the only beach, as Rog and Dave-o have noted, named after a Barry Manilow tune). He took some video. The weather was more foreboding than this scene, as was the outcome of the contest. And that’s when it got a little scary.

Is it just me or did that not remind you of the Christmas Tsunami of 2005?

Also, ESPN’s studio went out at halftime of the match –ESPN went from “Darke to dark” –and the only solution was for the High Priest of Tirico-ism and Alexei Lalas to use Bob Ley’s Panic Room. How awesome was that?

4. Cub Meh?

All-Starlin? Castro, hitting .280, is the Cubs’ only (mandatory) All-Star now that Samardzija has been traded to Oakland

Was it the Sports Illustrated cover curse? Or was this just the latest example of how the Chicago Cubs cannot get out of their own way?

Last week two things happened: SI put Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, on its cover for its annual “Where Are They Now?” issue (and why that issue doesn’t include a WATN?-themed Pub Memo is beyond me). And, the Cubs embarked on a five-game win streak, including a three-game sweep of the world champion Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Then, on Saturday morning, the Cubs traded two of their best starting pitchers, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, to the best team in baseball: the Oakland A’s. That day Chicago lost 13-0 and have lost five in a row overall. Yesterday they were swept in a doubleheader at Cincinnati, blowing a 5-0 lead in the nightcap to lose in the ninth.

Yes, the Cubs raked in some marvelous prospects but they just cashed in their chips on the 2014 season. I guess Theo Epstein’s thinking is, They’ve waited 106 years for a title, they can wait one more.

5. Newport News

Carlson

This story got buried earlier in the week due to the “shark attack” in Manhattan Beach, but over the Fourth of July weekend a lifeguard in Newport Beach drowned while rescuing a swimmer (who lived). Ben Carlson, a 15-year veteran, was the first lifeguard to die at the popular southern California beach while on duty in the 100-plus year history of the department.

Carlson, 32,3 had made contact with the swimmer in distress when a large wave smacked the pair at about 5 p.m. The swimmer was recovered, and alive, but Carlson’s body was not found until 8 p.m. Read this short profile of Carlson, a man who was living the life he loved.

Where In The World?

Monday: Baa Atoll, Maldives

Hint: There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold…

Remote Patrol

Argentina vs. Netherlands

ESPN 4 p.m.

Messi: Soccer’s version of Pete Maravich

Pure star power here, with Lionel Messi versus the Dodgy Flapper, Arjen Robben. If you’re Brazil, either outcome is horrible. A Dutch win means an all-European final at your sacred ground, Maracana. An Argentine win means your kid brother/annoying neighbor is playing for the championship on Sunday. I don’t have a prediction, but no one is winning by six goals today.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

STARTING FIVE

The 11th hole at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, site of the 143rd British Open.

1. British Isle Be Seeing You

Wimbledon finished up on Sunday.

The British Open commences next week from the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Merseyside, which reminds me of this wonderful Sixties pop tune by Gerry & the Pacemakers that I’d hear while sitting in the back of my family’s wood-paneled Chevrolet station wagon (the progenitor of the mini-van).

And over the weekend, while Eugenie Bouchard was taking all of three games from Petra Kvitova in the Women’s Singles final –much to the chagrin of ESPN, it seemed — and Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battled through five sets and 59 games of the Gentlemen’s Singles final at Wimbledon, the Tour de France (not to be confused with Anita DeFrantz…not to be confused with Anita Bryant…not to be confused with Bryant Young…not to be confused with Young Frankenstein) invaded the UK.

Was it a successful invasion? Approximately 6 million Brits turned out in person to watch the Tour’s first three stages from northern-most Yorkshire, home to my favorite literary veterinarian, to Essex, and then finally in a stage that went from Cambridge to London. Six million spectators, or eight times as many as turn out to watch football in person in all four of England’s professional leagues each week.

In the Tour’s 111 years, the Grand Depart has taken place outside France 20 times, beginning in 1954 in Amsterdam (the Grand Depart next year will take place in Holland, too). As for England, this was the fourth such time it has hosted the race’s start, and the wildly successful response assures, as one official stated, that a return to England is a matter of “not if, but when.”

Now when will they do a stage inside the Chunnel?

2. Spencer for Hire

Hall, now ready to dominate Mustache Wednesday himself.

In the past year Fox Sports 1 has hired college football analysts Clay Travis (not me), Bruce Feldman (not me) and Stewart Mandel (also, not me). But last night it appears that they gave an on-air audition to Spencer Hall, whom all college football denizens know as the founder of “Every Day Should Be Saturday“, alias @EDSBS, alias TEDDY GOOALSEVELT, alias the funniest guy in the room.

And Hall, to his credit, knocked it out of the park. He’s a natural.

Now, if Fox Sports 1 is smart, they’ll offer the Florida alum and Atlanta-based Hall, who writes for SB Nation, a full-time gig.

And if ESPN is smarter, they’ll see that offer and raise it and make him a regular on the SEC Network.

By the way, The Nashville Tennessean did a profile of Clay last week, and it was fascinating. However, the printed transcript of the interview, which for some reason the paper put on-line, was even more so.

3. They Have Issues

This week’s cover of ESPN the mag features an infielder who is also an out Fielder.

Kids, this is where vegetarianism leads…

While this week’s cover of Sports Illustrated also features an infielder, and there the similarities end…

By the way, it would be a failure of sports bloggery to not include at least one photo of an attractive female from ESPN’s Body Issue, no? The complete list of athletes.

Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson, Slope-style…

 

…and free style.

4. PED-estrian

 

Francisco C

Cruz, who leads all of baseball in HRs and RBI, is a convicted PED user with a one-year deal. Think any teams will shy away from him come November?

ervelli started at catcher last night for the New York Yankees –who won their fourth in five games, all on the road.

Nelson Cruz leads the Major Leagues in home runs with 28, and is headed to the All-Star Game.

David Ortiz is even more miffed about “free passes” than Dan Shaughnessy is about the World Cup.

And in 2007 A-Rod sought permission from MLB and was given an exemption to use PEDs (which, in extreme cases, they may grant), or so a new book alleges.

The nouveau blogger cool ‘tude on steroids is “I don’t care, let ‘em do it.” But I do. And not because steroids may be harmful to the user or because they are cheapening the hallowed records. I care because it compels players to either cheat and survive or play by the rules and suffer. It’s the same reason you hate seeing people cut in the TSA line just because they’re late for a flight.

You know what? The next time you won’t be late for that flight. But if you know you can cut in line with impunity, you won’t get your act together. And the people who have their act together will suffer.

5. Crumb-ling

The cupcake bubble, hopefully, has burst. CRUMBS is announcing that it is closing every store. If you live on the Upper West Side, you can only rejoice. Bring back our pizzerias and all-night diners, please!

Meanwhile, New York women will need to find another comfort food to satisfy their craving for the city’s shortage of Mr. Big.

Remote Patrol

Brazil vs. Germany

ESPN 4 p.m.

Joachim Low, the Anti-Herrera

Copa des Copas! The two sides who have been to the most World Cup final matches in the event’s history –seven apiece –vie for an eighth berth. Selecao will be without Neymar (and Silva), while German manager Joachim Low will be without conditioner. So, that’s a push.