by John Walters


Argentina’s Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player ever and inarguably the most accomplished (World Cup, Champions League, La Liga championships, plus a record-seven Ballon d’Ors), has announced that he will join Inter Miami of the MLS.

Messi, 35, will spurn the $500 million offer made to him by Saudi Arabia.

As someone on Twitter noted, maybe the Saudis will simply purchase MLS.

The MLS has now pried David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahmovic (who retired earlier this week) and now Messi, all in their twilight years, away from Europe. But it still has yet to become a MAJOR American sport. We’ll see how much having Messi moves the needle.

Brownstones and Brown Skies

My city of ruins? Not exactly. New York City is, for once, not to blame for the environment in which it is currently smoldering. The storm-on-Mars air is a by product of smoke from Canadian wildfires. Of course, in Beijing, they’d just refer to this as a Wednesday.

Do You Know This Man?

This is Luis Arraez, currently baseball’s most under-the-radar star.

Arraez, a 26 year-old infielder for the Miami Marlins, is currently batting .401 after 62 games. The last player to be above .400 this late in a season was Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves. Arraez, playing for the Minnesota Twins last season (and that is also why you may not know him), won the American League batting title. He could become the first player to win the batting title in different leagues in consecutive seasons since… (should we save this for the Dollar Quiz?)… well, it’s never happened before.

The Dog Days Of Eternity

Even these two grew tired of one another

Probably not the optimal day to post this, as New York City resembles a dystopian hellscape, but I used to love working as a waiter/bartender at our seasonal outdoor restaurant alongside the Hudson River. In 10 years of service there, I learned a little bit about the circle of life (and about the Circle Line), as each season sort of resembled a lifetime.

Let me explain: we’d open in early April when the weather would still be chilly, but on any day above 66 degrees with blue skies we’d pack in the patrons. New Yorkers were excited about the end of winter and the onset of spring.

Each season there’d be landmark days/weekends. Memorial Day was our first big landmark weekend: summer was not yet here but we could sense it, taste it. The glorified cookout we called a cafe would be mobbed, you’d walk home with at least $1,000 for a three-day weekend, and we’d all go out to celebrate at our favorite Aussie bar on W. 79th.

June would be a dream (our LBGQT servers were stoked about Pride Month and celebrated duly) and we’d all be prepping for our biggest day/weekend of the season, the 4th of July. Because in those early years there were fireworks on the west side of the Hudson, tables along the ledge were at a premium. Again, you could earn a pretty penny.

But something weird happened as soon as we closed on the 4th of July. Although the alignment of the planets and sun told us we were only two weeks into summer, it felt as if summer were over. Depression set in. One memorable 4th a manager who owned a small boat invited four of us to join him as soon as we closed on the 4th and we spent all night, until the sun rose, motoring up and down the Hudson, quaffing beers, sharing stories and even, for a few of us, swimming in the Hudson.

That next day of work was one of the longest of my life.

The next six weeks, the height of the summer with often the best weather of the season, were often the doldrums. Some days, yes, you could blame the humidity, but others it was simply that, well, being in the middle of what we’d all been waiting for, it became impossible for that reality to live up to our expectations.

Then came our next big weekend: Labor Day. Suddenly, the cafe was buzzing again. Whereas on Memorial Day diners and drinkers were thrilled about what lay ahead of them, on Labor Day they were holding on to what they still could before it disappeared. September is possibly the best weather month of the year in NYC (it’s far superior to July and August, as the humidity vanishes) and so we always did well.

Then came October, as our managers and staff, clad in hoodies and occasionally gloves, held on for the hopes of an Indian Summer weekend to keep the bonanza rolling. Finally, November. The restaurant would be boarded up, the tables and chairs put away, and our outdoor nexus of fun and inebriation and potential romantic meetings went into hibernation.

To sit dormant for five or so months before it would all begin anew.

Memorial Day weekend. Anticipation. Labor Day weekend. Gratitude, mixed with desperation. Those were our best weekends. Fourth of July… a huge high followed by a colossal letdown, even though “death,” figuratively, was still at least two months away.

And that’s what worries me about eternity. If it exists. There will be no Memorial Day or Labor Day weekends there. Just an endless 4th of July which, if human nature has taught me anything, is impossible to maintain. An endless 4th of July but, also, an endless summer. Nothing to anticipate for what’s to come, nothing to cherish at the thought of it vanishing.

Eternity, quite simply, might wind up seeming like an eternity. Count me out.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What was the name of the monster Beowulf slew?
  2. What is the name of the river connecting Lake Superior to Lake Huron?
  3. What is smaller for any element: its atomic number or its atomic weight?
  4. Who was the only president to be born on the 4th of July?
  5. In what state did the Battle of Antietam take place?


by John Walters

Answers to previous quiz: 1) Rochester 2) Troy 3) 180 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 30, 36, 45, 60, 90, 180) 4) Oman 5) Jimmy Burnett (9), Cleveland Indians, in 1932; in an 18-inning game he went 9-11

Aaron Gordon’s first-quarter energy set the tone

Mild High

The Denver Nuggets easily handled the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the greatest elevation differential Finals (5,280 to sea level) in league history. Here’s an interesting factoid courtesy of SportsBrain. The Nuggets could very well win the NBA championship without having played any of the top eight teams in the league in terms of regular-season record. I don’t know if that would be a first, but it sure sounds as if it would.

The top eight teams by record in 2022-23: Bucks, Celtics, 76ers, Nuggets, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Knicks, Kings.

Also, the Nuggets could win the championship without having faced any of the top 9 MVP vote-getters: Embiid, Jokic, Giannis, Tatum, SGA, Mitchell, Sabonis, Doncic, Curry.

John Q, Publicly

Admittedly, resembling Scrooge McDuck probably did Adams no favors in floor debates

When you consider the first seven American presidents, it’s likely that John Quincy Adams (the sixth) is the one you least consider. George Washington (1) and Thomas Jefferson (3) are literally on the Mount Rushmore of presidents. John Adams (2), Q’s dad, has his own David McCullough bio tome and his own HBO biopic series.

James Madison (4) authored the U.S. Constitution and James Monroe was a wounded Revolutionary War veteran and a Founding Father (and, like Adams and Jefferson, he also died on the 4th of July). Andrew Jackson (7) has his own Jon Meacham bio and his face on the $20 bill. Even the eighth president, Martin Van Buren, was part of a subplot in an episode of Seinfeld.

But I’m here to argue that if you were to graph presidents on the X and Y coordinates of intelligence and decency, John Quincy Adams would rate tops among the first seven. Like his dad, Q was the only president among the first seven to never own slaves. He actually defended the slaves who revolted in the famous Amistad trial. He was bilingual. He also, incredibly, kept a journal from 1879, when he was just 12, until 1848, the year he died.

If you read Greg Grandin’s The End of the Myth, you’ll discover that Quincy Adams was supremely prescient about the troubles consuming present-day America. A one-term president (1825-1829), Q. went on to serve in the House of Representatives (the only former president to do so). As he watched successors such as Jackson and John Tyler and James Polk eradicate and exterminate Indian tribes, move them off their lands, and then foment war against Mexico, all in the name of adding real estate to the USA as a means of keeping the peace among white men (give someone free land and they’ll likely vote for you), Q. Adams foresaw the inherent strain it would cause.

As Grandin writes, “Adams’ speech in the House (foresaw) that the kind of settler violence Jackson had made national policy created an addictive cycle of expulsion, expansion and repression that led to lust for Texas but would not end with Texas.”

Adams argued that America’s “fight with Mexico over Texas would deepen the nation’s habituation to racist wars, leading to the point where racism and war would be the only thing that gave the Republic meaning.”

Finally, in his speech to the House, Adams asked his colleagues point-blank, “Are you ready for all these wars?”

He was referring to the inevitable war over slavery, but also I believe to the metaphorical culture wars.

I know some very smart people (okay, almost always men) who I attended high school or college with who continually surprise me. They’re otherwise decent folk, likely Christian or Catholic and yet they possess this, at least to me, incredible blind spot. Which is this: if it benefits white Americans, which to them is wholly synonymous with America, no matter what it is, it is good. And just.

John Quincy Adams did not believe that. I certainly do not. I live in a state that was once part of Mexico, which became part of the USA simply because John Tyler instigated a war with Mexico (sending U.S. soldiers to occupy Mexican territory, and when Mexico defended itself, as you’d expect, Tyler had his reason to declare war). It’s really no different than what Vladimir Putin is currently attempting to do in Ukraine.

History rewards the winners, alright. Less than 200 years later a giant swath of America is outraged that Mexicans are poring over the U.S.-Mexico border into the USA to work, when after all it was their nation’s land first. Either way, as Quincy Adams warned, when you make the repossession of land national policy, explicitly taking it from brown people to give to white people (and back then, more often than not, to give to white people who’ll have brown people work the land as slaves), well, maybe you’re creating a situation that one day will need a reckoning.

This line from Grandin’s book really struck me: “Adams’ second fear (his first was the dividing of the nation into pro- and anti-slavery camps; how’d he do on that one?) was that perpetual war on the frontier wouldn’t break the nation but rather bind it together in iniquity, with racist terror against Native Americans and Mexicans working like glue, uniting the country’s diverse population in shared hatred.”

Hmm. Here’s to you, John Q.

Zach’s Coming Back

Maybe they should call him the Stare Master

Naismith Award winner Zach Edey of Purdue, who finished 6th in the nation in points per game and second in the country in rebounds per game, announced that he will return to West Lafayette next season. Despite posting gaudy numbers for a team that was ranked No. 1 most of the season, the 7’4″ Canadian was slated to be a second-round pick in the upcoming June draft. And when has a second-round big man from outside the U.S. ever amounted to anything in the NBA (cheeky smile insertion)?

In Bloom

My fall 2020 sports reporting class at Cronkite-ASU had a plethora of talent. Off the top of my head, I’ll give you the names (save for future reference) Adrian Chandler, Nick Stavas, Gannon Hanevold, Egan Adler, SportsBrain, Garrie Ester, James Powel and Michael Garaffa. All of whom will make names for themselves in sports media or news media.

Then there was a wonderful, friendly kid named David Bloom. Our class was hybrid, meaning kids could attend remotely (Covid). David lived in the San Fernando Valley, so I never met him in person. What made him one of the class’ memorable characters is that he had an old soul’s sense of humor and that, while being relatively diminutive, he always parked himself in this comically large overstuffed brown leather couch in his family room. No one else ever appeared. The couch seemed to swallow him up, it became a member of the class, and David seemed to enjoy any of my attempts at comedy related to the couch.

Last week I received a call because someone was writing a story about David. Seems he never told us that he is also an actor and he’s appearing in a new series “American Born Chinese,” that’s airing on Disney+. It’s no small venture, as the show stars recent Oscar winners Michelle Yeoh and Key Huy Quan (alias Short Round). Can’t say I’m surprised. David’s a great young man with a winning personality. I’m just hoping the brown leather couch makes a cameo.

Dollar Quiz

  1. The least densely populated state east of the Mississippi is….?
  2. True-False: the first perfect game of baseball’s modern era was hurled by none other than Cy Young.
  3. Every actor who has portrayed James Bond has done so in at least two Bond films, with one exception. Name the actor who is the outlier.
  4. What do the M’s in 3M stand for?
  5. Name four bands in 10 or fewer letters (bonus if you can do it in 9).


by John Walters

Icon Tina Turner

One life, two acts. There was Tina Turner before Thunderdome, and then there was Tina Turner after it.

When those of my generation were introduced to Tina Turner via the variety show circuit in the late 1960s/early 1970s, she was a phenomenon that family-viewing America was not yet ready for. Yes, there were black female singers/front “men,” such as Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald.

But none of them, not even Ms. Ross, possessed the unabashed and in-your-face sexual energy of Tina Turner. I imagine as a husband watching Tina Turner on TV with your whole family was tantamount to going to a strip club with them. She was not hiding it. At all.

Jan. 11, 1970. Baby, it’s cold outside in midtown Manhattan, but not inside this studio.

Some people made fun of her and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Others got it. When Dick Cavett asked Janis Joplin who was the one performer she’d pay to see, she replied, “Tina Turner.” And when Cavett asked if she’d be surprised if he said he did not know who that was, Joplin demurely hid any contempt she might have (after all, wasn’t he the host of America’s second-most popular talk show? Shouldn’t he be up on this stuff?). You have to love Joplin’s reply. “She sings with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Ike is her husband, and… the bandleader. She’s the show.”

She’s the show. Indeed.

And then Turner seemed to disappear for most of the Seventies (I have not watched the documentary; imagine they explain where she was) and the early Eighties. Then Ms. Turner, a proto-cougar now in her early 40s, resurrected her career with a massive one-two punch: the album Private Dancer, which spawned three top-10 hits (including a No. 1) and earned four Grammy awards; and the film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, where she played the sexy and sadistic Aunty Entity, ruler of Bartertown (“Two men enter, one man leaves”).

Go to 2:58… and yes, many female-fronted bands had a dude who looked exactly like this in the ’80s. The dirty Billy Zabka look.

Turner is a pioneer. I don’t wanna go so far as to say there wouldn’t be a Beyonce or even a Lizzo without her, but I don’t know of any women (this side of Ann Margret, who could get away with it because she looked like apple pie and Independence Day) who were doing what Turner did before she did.

My favorite Turner moments: 1) her performing on the Ed Sullivan Show, working up a sweat while making America feel a little hot under the collar and 2) that climactic moment in “Better Be Good To Me,” where she just goes for it. You know it.

Jim Brown

Of course, Jim Brown, also in his ’80s, and also an absolute icon, passed in the past week.

Arguably the greatest NFL player AND greatest American lacrosse player EVER. E-V-E-R.

NFL: Three-time MVP and led the league in rushing eight of his nine seasons. Never missed a game. This stat will wow you: there’s one running back in NFL history to average more than 100 yards per game and more than 5 yards per carry. Jim Brown.

When your name outshines the name of the franchise for which you played, and it’s the same word, that’s saying something.

Brown played before my time, and before the Super Bowl era, so perhaps he’s not quite as appreciated as he might be. Also, he only played nine seasons. But he was the first BEAST black running back in the helmet-and-facemask era of pro football. He was big and powerful, like Earl Campbell. He ran angry, like Marshawn Lynch, and he leveraged his NFL fame into a film career, like O.J. Simpson. Unlike O.J., he also was an activist for social justice (and he never murdered his wife, so there’s that).

There were black performers and thinkers before the 1960s, but that decade put them in bold relief. And maybe it produced some all-time greats: Turner, Brown, Bill Russell, Cassius Clay, Lew Alcindor, Diana Ross, Jimi Hendrix, Wilt Chamberlain, Sly and the Family Stone, Willie Mays, Sidney Poitier, Bob Gibson, etc. No wonder white people got so scared. These people were better at the sports and the performing than anyone they’d ever seen. Throw in a few brilliant thinkers such as James Baldwin, MLK and Malcolm X, and now we’re talkin ’bout a revolution.

In every class I taught at ASU-Cronkite, I showed the video directly above. It pits Brown, freshly retired from pro football, against Georgia governor Lester Maddox. One played a savage sport, the other governed a state. Notice which one keeps his cool throughout (I think the picking at his pant leg was a stress reducer), while the other throws a hissy fit. It tells you so much.

The Premier League May No Longer Be Luton-Free

Manchester City has already wrapped up the Premier League title heading into the season’s final weekend (remember, Ted Lasso is only a TV show). So where is the drama? It’s playing out in Coventry on Saturday, where FC Luton Town visits Conventry City in what is basically a play-in game to be the third and final squad promoted to the Premier League next season (it’s the match for third place in the Championship League, the second-tier league of English football).

What makes this story so compelling is that only 14 years ago Luton Town was down in the FIFTH division of English football. Long ago, in the early ’90s, it had been in the top tier (it was not known as Premier League then but rather the First Division… we prefer the new name), but hard times emerged and the club foundered. Now, after a long and arduous climb up the ranks, the Hatters are one victory away from returning to the top of the pops… they’d be playing agains Man City and Arsenal and Liverpool and all the rest beginning in August.

A more inspiring story than either Wrexham or FC Richmond. SportsBrain informed me and I thought you ought to know about it.

You Must Be Jokic-ing

True story: Back in the pre-Internet age, I wrote a weekly column for Sports Illustrated called SI View. I wrote that for four very long years. Unlike today, we only had one page per week and there was very little space for commentary. I couldn’t react to the previous night’s events or go long on different facts in the industry. I couldn’t go Richard Deitsch, in short, and major props to him for taking the baton into the internet age and doing wonderful things with the column that I never did.

The truth, though, of it all, is that I never sought a job at SI (or in sportswriting) so that I could sit on the couch and watch sports on TV (I know… what is wrong with me?). I recall some time in my third or fourth year at SI finding a cartoon in The New Yorker. It’s a grave in a cemetery and the epitaph reads, “I watched sports.” That cartoon hit me and I posted it on my door.

And so it was that in my final year on the gig I simply opted not to watch the Super Bowl. I’d had enough. Again, this was not in the age of an internet column. I had not actually been derelict in my duties, but it definitely told me that I had no passion for doing the job they’d given me.

All of which is to say that I understand why Lisa Salters said what she did recently, but given the money she earns annually, I’m still shocked. Salters appeared on a podcast and candidly confessed that she’d never seen Nikola Jokic play. Not, never seen in person, but simply had never seen him play.


Nikola Jokic is a two-time NBA MVP (and probably should be a three-timer). There are millions of NBA fans out there, globally, who are familiar with Jokic’s game. You are the featured sideline reporter for ESPN/ABC and you’ve never seen him play? Sure, part of this is an indictment of Disney for not putting the Denver Nuggets on TV more often (they did finish with the No. 1 record in the West), but part of this also is on Salters.

This was also not great from a supposed expert…

This is your job. And you are paid a lot of money to do it. No one’s asking you to tell us the starting five of the Charlotte Hornets (I’m not even sure their own announcers could do that). But to have never seen a two-time NBA MVP play on TV or in person? That’s blatant neglect of duties. And yeah, you cannot help but feel that just a little of this dismissal of Jokic’s sublime gifts (13 triple-doubles in the postseason, already a career mark that toppled Chamberlain’s) from the folks at ESPN isn’t just a weeeeee bit of reverse racism (which is, let’s call it bluntly, simply racism) at work here. White Men Can’t Hoop. Except that this one just took out ESPN’s GOAT in a four-game sweep (and LBJ, to his credit, acknowledged Jokic’s greatness).

Susie B. Is Happy

Nvidia (NVDA) popped more than 25% on Wednesday’s after hours earnings report. The tech monster is now up 163% this year alone and more than 500% over the past five years. It reminds me that I should listen to my own advice more often.

And still today on CNBC’s “Halftime Report” there were Wall Street experts explaining why they were smart to not invest in it and why they won’t be doing so now. The facts are wrong; we weren’t. How Nate Silver of them.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Which one of these cities did NOT have an entry in the 1876 National League (inaugural year): Hartford, Louisville, Rochester?
  2. On whose side of the Trojan War was Paris?
  3. What number below 200 has the most other numbers that factor into it as whole numbers (no fractions)?
  4. Name a country that begins with an “O.”
  5. Who holds the record for most hits in an MLB game, or how many hits did he have (I doubt anyone will get this, but we will all learn something).


by John Walters

We’ve got a new LinkedIn photo. We understand this is not the highlight of your day, but just though we’d share.

Rooker Of The Year

Ever since I began following baseball—the Bobby Murcer Yankees of 1973—I’ve been intrigued by bad players on awful teams. The nature of baseball is such that the game’s premier player (Hello, Mike Trout) can play year in and year out on a team that fails to make the playoffs. Unlike basketball and football, excellence is able to exist in a vacuum.

So hello, Mr. Trout and Rod Carew (never made playoffs with Twins) and Ken Griffey, Jr., and Ernie Banks and Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Piazza and (mostly) Tony Gwynn, the last of whom is sort of the Walter Payton of his sport: spent almost his entire career on bad teams, then finally made it to the showcase at the tail end.

I bring this all up because baseball’s worst team thus far in ’23, the Oakland A’s, has a standout player: leftfielder Brent Rooker leads the American League in slugging percentage (.605) and is first in the A.L. in OPS (which my Gen-Z students tell me is the most important batting stat, though I’ll still take OBP first, thank you very much). The dude leading the AL in OPS (barely) is Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz. The Rays have the most potent offense in baseball, so pitchers cannot pitch around Diaz as much as they are able to Rooker, whose A’s are near the bottom offensively. Back when making an All-Star team meant something, it would be cool to see Rooker play in the Summer Classic. This year, alas, it’ll be a yawn. But he’s still worthy of a little tribute.

Is three-time MVP and former ROY Mike Trout destined to become the best player to never appear in a Fall Classic?

Meanwhile, the A’s are not only awful, but they’re dumb. The first is excusable, the second is not. The other night Oakland trailed the Diamondbacks 5-2 in the 8th. Their leadoff hitter had just crushed a solo HR and the next two hitters walked and singled, chasing the D-Backs’ starter. First and second, down three runs, no outs, and Rooker is on deck.

What happens? The next Oakland batter hits a soft fly in between short and left, but it’s playable. The shortstop runs out to make the catch, but Oakland’s runner on 2nd had his head down on contact and is rounding third. There’s not two outs, there wasn’t even one out: There were NO OUTS. The D-Backs throw to 2nd, double him up, and now Rooker comes to the plate with two outs and one man on.

The A’s go on to lose 5-2. Physical incompetence is a product of baseball’s salary structure. Mental incompetence is unforgivable.

Autocrat Softball Batting Practice

In the past fortnight, two of the world’s leading autocrats, Donald Trump and Elon Musk, have been given one-hour interview platforms on cable news networks. Respectively, but not respectably, CNN and CNBC. The interviewers, Kaitlyn Collins and David Faber (again, –ively but not –ably), failed to perform their jobs up to the standards of an interviewer in such a prestige spot. Anyone can ask a decnt question, but you set yourself apart by asking probing follow-up questions. Learning to counterpunch.

Admittedly, I watched none of Trump’s “town hall” (like Melania, I avoid Donald as much as humanly possible) and only saw a few Twitter clips of Faber’s tongue-bath of Musk.

Would we ever see Jon Stewart or John Oliver or Jordan Klepper interview either of these figures? Probably not. Which is too bad.

By the way, this was buried in the never-ending avalanche of miscreant news associated with these types, but Deutsche Bank just paid out a $75 million settlement related to its ties with Trump’s pedophile party buddy Jeffrey Epstein. According to Fox (!), “The lawsuit asserted that the bank knowingly benefited from Epstein’s sex trafficking and ‘chose profit over following the law.'”

You know the other thing about Deutsche Bank? They’re the ones who put Trump in touch with Russian oligarchs looking to buy real estate in the U.S. (for sums far above market value… hmmm). They provided loans to Trump when no one else would.

Super Boulle*

*The judges have no idea if this pronunciation, for pun purposes, is accurate

I am consistently humbled to learn things I never knew. For example, who Pierre Boulle was. Last night’s “Final Jeopardy” asked about the author of a book who saw human traits in apes he watched at a zoo. I guessed that the book would be The Planet Of The Apes but had no idea who the author was. Then when I researched a bit, I learned that French writer Boulle also authored The Bridge On The River Kwai.

Suddenly I’m hard-pressed to name a single author who had two books turned into better movies than those. If you’ve never seen one or either of them, do so as soon as you can. The latter is an all-time favorite, while I’d only recommend the original version of the former.

You can even draw some parallels between the two stories. The loner U.S. military guy in a hostile captive situation who must escape, through wilderness, to survive. The moment of clarity at the end of the film. Etc.

Anyway, I know this is the wrong language/culture, but Jolly good show, Monsieur Boulle. Jolly good show!

Charlie Vs. JJ

Here are two contrasting views on the Ja Morant situation from two retired NBA players who are paid to opine on TV. We respect JJ Redick plenty, but on this one we think he’s dead wrong. And you can point out that Charles Barkley was no angel when he played (in a pre-social media era), but that does not make him wrong here.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Who was the original host of Jeopardy!?
  2. True-False: George Mikan won the first NBA MVP award.
  3. If you go due west of Manila, the first country (beyond the Philippines) you’ll hit is….?
  4. Name a 300-game winner who never threw a no-hitter (extra props if you name the winningest pitcher to never throw one).
  5. Name a film that takes place entirely in Oregon.


by John Walters

This Week’s Sign Of The Apocalypse*

*The judges will also accept “Golden Girl”

Sitting here thinking how many times this Martha Stewart SI swimsuit cover has been shared on pickleball courts coast to coast already today. Stewart, 81, becomes the oldest swimsuit cover in SI history and also, let’s face it, lands right in the middle of the magazine’s target demographic these days.

Sad reality: Stewart is 81, which means she’s already survived longer than SI probably will.

Caught Looking

Last night in Toronto, in the midst of an at-bat and just before smoting (smiting?) his second home run of the game, Aaron Judge was caught by the camera stealing a glance toward… what, exactly? The Blue Jay broadcast duo went on a “I don’t want to make unsubstantiated allegations, BUT…” rant, but really, in the age of, what advantage might Judge have gained?

Perhaps the Blue Jay hurler was tipping his pitches beforehand and someone in the Yankee dugout was onto it and telling Judge to look at him for a signal, but if so, that’s all part of the game. It’s not as if anyone was banging on a trash can. Judge, meanwhile, said he was distracted by Yankee chatter in the dugout considering it was the 8th inning and the Bombers were ahead 6-0 (or was someone in the Yankee dugout holding up the latest issue of SI?)

By the way, Aaron Judge homered in his first plate appearance of the season, then had five home runs in his next 125 plate appearances (one every 20 PAs), and now has four homers in his past 15. Someone is heating up.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Name the three MLB teams on which Bo Jackson played.
  2. Name two Friends characters who never lived together (either in the course of the program or in the backstory).
  3. True-False: Italy and Croatia share a land border.
  4. For more than 30 years, two schools were members of what is now known as the Pac-12 (but was not at the time). Those two schools, neither of which are based in Los Angeles, are no longer part of the conference. Name them.
  5. What U.S. city has the most bridges?


by John Walters

Woe, Canada

The Edmonton Oilers lost Game 6 last night to the Las Vegas Golden Knights, 5-2. LVGK now advances to the Western Conference finals for the fourth time in the six-year history of the franchise. Edmonton, is the last Canadian club to bow out of this spring’s Stanley Cup chase, ensures that no Canadian franchise will hoist the Cup for what is now the 30th consecutive season.


The Montreal Canadiens lifted the Cup in 1993. Since then, not one single franchise north of the border has won the championship in the sport Canada invented. To see how nutty this is, consider that in the 30 years before 1993 (1963-1992), four different Canadian franchises—Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and even Toronto—had won 20 Stanley Cups between them.

Factor in that this season’s Edmonton squad had Connor McDavid, who led the NHL in Goals (64) and Assists (89) and compiled the most Points (153) in a single season since Mario Lemieux in 1996, and the Oilers’ (and Canada’s) flameout so early is even more confounding.

Doyle Brunson Folds

Yesterday Doyle Brunson, the man who basically invented Texas Hold ‘Em, passed at the age of 89. A two-time Main Event champion at the WSOP, Brunson literally wrote the book, Super/System, on strategic (Is there any other kind?) poker.

Brunson was the undisputed Babe Ruth of poker. Phil Hellmuth may have gone on to win more WSOP bracelets (16 to Doyle’s 10), but no pro who’s ever bluffed his way to the pot holding 3-5 unsuited would ever claim anything other than that Brunson loomed largest in the game’s/sport’s history.

Brunson, born and bred in Texas, was also a fantastic athlete. An All-State basketball player, he also ran a 4:43 mile in the state meet before a knee injury put him behind a felt table. If you want to read an absolutely enthralling book about poker, Brunson, and the WSOP, we could not highly enough recommend Positively Fifth Street by James McManus.

Seinfeld Sagacity

I’d never seen this clip before. Part of the reason I love it is that because no matter how famous and wealthy Jerry Seinfeld has become, he’s still just a guy from Queens who’d love to do nothing more than his set at The Comic Strip or Stand Up NY.

Seinfeld and I were “neighbors” on the Upper West Side for many years. He lived in a penthouse on W. 81st and CPW (just a few doors down from his fictitious residence on the eponymous show) and I lived on W. 79th and Riverside (hunting grounds for The Lopper). One day I had just finished a run in Central Park and I spotted Jerry in his natural habitat: walking aimlessly on W. 81st, the museum side of the street, with fellow comic and good friend George Wallace. It warmed my heart. Two comics likely cracking wise about all that they were observing. As you probably know, this was the genesis of Seinfeld the TV show.

The Joker

Iconic Batman villain.

Title of a Steve Miller Band song.

NBA superstar.

Nikola Jokic has already won two NBA MVPs and deserved a third this season, but as the Denver Nuggets have not previously advanced this far in the postseason during his career, the seven-foot Serbian is still somewhat under the radar.

No longer. With a seven-game series versus the LeBron Lakers beginning tomorrow, the NBA’s two most talented players (okay, two of the three…sorry, Steph) will garner millions upon millions of viewers. Be awed by the sheer size of Jokic—so wide without being heavy— but be wowed by his unbelievably soft shooting touch, his footwork, and his superior passing skill.

Jokic has 11 triple doubles in the postseason over his career. Wilt Chamberlain had nine. In the last three seasons The Joker has averaged roughly 26 points, 12 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. And in one of those seasons, he missed not a single game.

There is no one else in the NBA currently akin to Jokic. Historically, another eastern European, Arvydas Sabonis, was close, and for a brief period, so was Bill Walton. But Walton did not quite have Joker’s girth and Sabonis did not begin playing in the NBA until he was 29 years old. Jokic, currently in his eighth season, is only 28.

Lasso: The Last Roundup

If you’ve never watched Ted Lasso, this tiny moment from the previous episode will not mean much to you. But if you have, it’s a gem. The team trails at halftime and should be in disarray—its captain received a red card for going after a fan in the stands at the end of the first half, while another player has finally just outed himself to the team in the locker room as being gay.

Now Sam (the black dude) has always been the sweetest, kindest player on FC Richmond. And Jamie Tartt (white dude) has long been its best player and, in the first season, its biggest d-bag. But Jamie has been the greatest beneficiary of Ted Lasso’s program of “being the best version of themselves” program, and so his evolution to humble team player has been a gradual but fun thing to witness. Meanwhile, his teammates have also observed this wonderful metamorphosis.

So, in this moment, Jamie is clinging to his past a little (Sam’s just been handed the captain’s band for the second half and, as the team’s best player, Jamie wonders if he shouldn’t be wearing it). But Sam’s feeling his own self worth and he also recognizes that, at long last, Jamie is behaving like a teammate. So, as close teammates do, Sam feels comfortable razzing him a little.

It’s a wonderful and telling moment, with not a word spoken. Brilliant writing, without having to waste a second of dialogue.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Where did the Hindenburg crash and burn (town and state)?
  2. Name a state west of the Rockies that does NOT have a National Park.
  3. True/False: Every NFL team name ends in “s.”
  4. What two Houses were at the center of The War of the Roses (15th century… both Pa. town names now)?
  5. What are the surnames of the families in Blue Bloods and Yellowstone (you may need to ask your parents).


by John Walters

Sun Down

For the second year in a row, the Phoenix Suns trailed by 30 points at halftime of a closeout game at home.

This one felt more permanent, in terms of this current iteration of the squad. Mat Ishbia assumed ownership of the club last February and immediately took out a second mortgage on the Suns’ future by trading away up-and-comers Mikal Bridges (an All-Star) and Cam Johnson for legitimate legend but over-the-hill’er Kevin Durant. Plus, Ishbia gave up a slew of draft picks.

Last night the Suns realized what Dallas also has in the wake of its blockbuster trade: your two superstars need to be complementary, not near copies of one another. The Suns, I’m sorry to say, are not going anywhere special with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. Chris Paul, sadly, is 38 years old and is going to be playing like it…when he’s healthy.

And who knows what really happened with Deandre Ayton? At least when he quit on the Suns in Game 7 last year he was in uniform.

And Al McCoy is gone. After 51 seasons and zero championships. Which is just too bad.

You keep Devin Booker, who left last night without speaking to the media. You’re stuck with Kevin Durant. Everyone else is expendable.

We should note that Cam Payne Supernova (31 points) had his best game of the year and Jock Landale showed up in ways Ayton just never does (Did you notice his first bucket of the game was a dunk? Deandre rarely dunks).

Gold Mine

Denver, meanwhile, looks like a championship team. The Nuggets scored 81 first-half points last night, playing a beautiful offense that did not rely on the three-ball as much as it did running the offense through Nikola Jokic. Those half-court sets would’ve brought tears to the eyes of John Wooden, and likely did to Dave Patsch’s partner, Bill Walton.

Meanwhile, did you see how many Phoenix pass routes the Nuggets jumped for steals? It was like Lester Hayes was in uniform for them. A couple of things: 1) Like the Lakers, and Boston, the Nuggets are a team of players who know their very different roles and yet also make beautiful music together. 2) Nikola Jokic was the 41st player taken in the 2014 NBA draft. Anyone could’ve had him. Also, if Nikola and Luka don’t tell you that teams need to be scouting eastern Europe harder, I don’t know what will. 3) Finally, if you watched both games last night—and granted, it’s just one day—there’s little doubt in your mind who should have won the MVP this season (and note that Philly had Embiid duck Jokic in their March game at 5,280). Jokic just put together his 11th career playoff triple double last night (two more than the next-best big man, Wilt), while Embiid mostly was absent in the fourth quarter of Philly’s squandered Game 6 at home. Mark Jackson, former NBA player and coach and now ESPN commentator, did not have Jokic on his Top 5 MVP ballot (the only voter not to do so). Last night Jackson went on social media to admit it was “an honest mistake.” Our suspicion is that Jackson had no idea the votes were made public. 4) How does one of the biggest men on the planet (7’0″, 280) have the NBA’s softest touch? Jokic’s shots whisper into the cylinder. Last night he finished with 32-12-10. Glorious.

Logo LOL-o

If you’ve ever walked down Broadway, you know it’s the Bourbon Street of Nashville. So major props to the Tennessee Titans social media department for this gem on the day that the NFL announced its schedule dates. What puts this over the top, besides the day drinking of the participants, is the Fox NFL theme music.

“Rock Star” Has Gone Too Far

Maybe Rock Star Energy Drink finally pushed this cliche over the precipice. Either way, credit to Workday, or its ad agency, for this ad that lampoons the cubicle-life encomium. Favorite line: “I’ve done my share of bad things… also your share of bad things.”

Boy Genius

Keeping with the rock star theme, meet Phoebe Bridgers (blonde), Julien Baker (petite) and Lucy Dacus (larger brunette), the band known as Boygenius. All three musicians had burgeoning solo careers and would run into one another at festivals, etc. Then they decided that instead of playing Mean Girls they’d be more like The Joy Luck Club… or a Jane Fonda/Diane Keaton/Lily Tomlin movie.

Anyway, their track “Not Strong Enough” has gotten them visibility on Jimmy Kimmel. Before you (or I) say something snarky such as, “They should be selling out stadiums, not Taylor Swift,” do know that Swifty is not only a huge fan, but she gave them the stage to themselves at her concert last Friday night in Nashville (her adopted home town). She’s a fangirl, too.

Bo Peeps

We are unabashed fans of Bo Burnham (you’re right, Mulaney), so here’s a gem from a few years ago that we just happened upon…. David Allen Coe deserves credit for lampooning country first, though. So we need to include that here as well…

Dollar Quiz

  1. Which of these creatures can be found in both the Arctic and the Antarctic: polar bear, walrus, penguin?
  2. What NBA player is listed, correctly, as having played 83 games this season?
  3. What is the largest city in Wales?
  4. Name a TV show or movie that has each of the following in its title: asterisk, exclamation point, question mark.
  5. What was the name of the physician in Caddyshack?


by John Walters

Dollar Quiz Answers: 1. Andrew Jackson 2. Tulane 3. March 4. Ion 5. Serbia

Making Book

This is how extraordinary Devin Booker has played through nine playoff games this spring: Booker’s Phoenix Suns teammate, Kevin Durant, ranks fourth ALL-TIME in NBA career scoring average (27.27), behind only Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. This postseason Durant is exceeding his career scoring average by averaging 30.0 ppg for the Suns, and yet Booker is both outscoring him and outplaying him.

That’s no knock on Durant. Booker, now in his seventh season, is having something of a national coming-out party this spring. Those of us who see him play regularly have been waiting for the rest of the nation to catch up; now they have. Booker is averaging 36.8 ppg, has shot 80% and 78% the past two games (on mid-range jumpers, not Shaq-range dunks), and is showing the type of resolve only seen with the all-time greats in the postseason such as Jordan, Iverson and Kobe.

Also, like those three, Booker’s game is aesthetically pleasing. I’d almost throw out AI from that list. Booker, in size and game and now, resolve, is very akin to MJ and Mamba.

Whether the Suns will advance past this round is anyone’s guess at the moment—it’s 2-2—but there’s little question as to Booker belonging in any conversation of, at worst, top 10 players in the league.

What does Shaq do all night at TNT studios?

Michael Jordan did not win his first NBA title until his 7th season. Booker is in his 8th.

Meanwhile, I’ll be surprised if the Suns don’t go shopping Deandre Ayton in the offseason. As Ralph Amsden tweeted on Friday (I’m paraphrasing), “There are, conservatively, 1 billion people on the planet who wish they were able to dunk but cannot, and every single one of them hates Deandre Ayton.”


Vida Blue

And yes, those uniforms were fire

When I read that former Oakland A’s pitcher Vida Blue died at the age of 73 this weekend, what struck me was his age. Blue was a legend—with one of the more legendary names a sports figure has ever had—from the early ’70s. When I was just becoming aware of life, and sports.

So if Blue was only 73 when he expired, I thought, how old was he when he was making baseball history?
The short answer: very young.

In 1971 Blue, who was 22 when the season began, won both the American League MVP and the Cy Young Award. The Louisiana native went 24-8, posted a 1.82 ERA and had eight shutouts. He threw 24 complete games! (Clayton Kershaw has thrown 25 in 16 seasons). And this was a year before the Oakland A’s advance to the World Series.

In the following three years southpaw Blue, along with Jim “Catfish” Hunter, would be the pair of aces that would lead Oakland to three consecutive World Series triumphs.

A three-time 20 game winner, Blue is not in the Hall of Fame and perhaps his overall career numbers do not support induction into Cooperstown. But, before he turned 26, few if any hurlers ever threw better or harder. It is said that only Nolan Ryan, from that era, threw harder.

In a high school game that lasted seven innings, Blue once struck out 21 and threw a no-hitter. He was also an outstanding quarterback who reportedly had offers from both Notre Dame and Purdue.

You read about a dude such as Vida Blue now–that name, that comet-like stardom—and it almost seems mythic 50 years later. As I age I’m continually reminded that the Seventies was the most extraordinary pop culture decade of my lifetime.


Not sure who here is on Tik Tok. I’m not, but I am on Instagram, which I hear is very akin to it. I bring it up because a wonderful phenomenon has been occurring on both platforms, which someone cleverly has titled. It’s where bibliophiles do short videos in which they introduce and provide brief descriptions of books they’ve enjoyed. One person I follow, schizonphrenicreads, provides a list of must-read books by genre.

Love this. He’s gotten me excited about reading all over again. I cannot wait to pick up Plagues and People, The Indifferent Stars Above, Kill Anything That Moves, The Cold Vanish, and Empire Of Pain. That last book is written by Patrick Redden-Keefe, author of Say Nothing, which is easily the best book I’ve read in the past four years.

Books, not guns.

That’s the answer.

Truth Bomb

I know that some people turn off as soon as they hear the mention of Bill Maher, but this clip (not sure when it aired) is on the nose. And it’s not Bill on some rant. It’s Bill providing a few stats and allowing a pair of professors to weigh in.

What needs to be emphasized here, from someone who saw how the sausage is made for two years:

  1. Yes, colleges/universities require administration, but the administrators-to-faculty ratio has gone completely out of whack. Schools are far too focused on customer retention and growth as opposed to…wait for it… education.
  2. That more than two-thirds of faculty are adjunct profs, basically the equivalent of job off-shored to Manila or Mumbai, is just wrong. It’s wrong for the students, who are paying more for tuition than they ever have, and it’s wrong for the faculty: the tenured faculty feel under cut while the adjuncts are hilariously underpaid—I taught three courses in the spring of ’22 and would earn just as much working at CostCo. When I was given a third course, which by law obligated my university to provide benefits, the person offering me that third class and informing me of this boon literally said to me, “We do not want to do this.
    Oh, I’m doing you a favor and none of this comes directly out of your pocket and you need to tell me you’d rather not have to do something that is required? Good leadership.
  3. When Maher asked why shouting someone down is fun and the prof replied, I think both missed the point. It’s not about fun; it’s about entitlement. Schools are not selling education as much as they are the experience (Storm the field! Get drunk after classes on Thursday!) and the cost is such that students (even though dad and mom are likely paying) feel as if they’re entitled to get the grades they want, the classes they want, even the opinions they want. Not to mention the jobs.
  4. I don’t blame tenured profs for feeling threatened by, or resentful of, adjunct profs. But that’s also a simplistic way to look at it. In a field such as history or literature, for example, it helps to have a PhD who’s put in years of study on the topic. However, in a field such as medicine or journalism, students benefit more from those who’ve spent much of their careers practicing such. The school that cannot differentiate between the two does its students a disservice.
  5. The lesson I learned from my lifetime in education is this: There may be some teachers you like in the moment who you will appreciate and be grateful for just as much 20 to 30 years down the road. But the teachers who you more likely will appreciate when you reach middle age are the ones who did not need you to like them; who challenged you and whom you cursed under your breath. As John Powers once wrote of a priest who taught him in high school, “At the time, I thought he was the hardest teacher I’d ever had. Ten years after high school, I thought he was the best. Today, I realize he was the only teacher I’d ever had.” If I can realize that, why can’t schools? Because the higher priority for them these days is to keep the customer happy.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What planet corresponds to Tuesday?
  2. What Shakespeare play takes place in Scotland?
  3. In the 20th century, four U.S. presidents died in office. Name them.
  4. What Canadian province borders British Columbia to the east?
  5. What does “FDIC” stand for?


by John Walters


*The judges will also accept “Dead-On Wood” but will not accept “Royz ‘N The Hood”

If you missed Roy Wood, Jr.’s keynote speech at Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, here’s your chance to catch it. It was fantastic. Unlike some other comics who’ve taken the podium previously (and also killed), there’s a down-home, regular-guy aspect to Wood that makes it impossible for even those who might say so to refer to him as “elite.”

Wood had arrows for everyone. Some were Nerf arrows, but others drew blood. He told the audience to stop worrying about kids being groomed at school by drag queens because they’d probably die in a mass shooting, anyway. When that drew groans, he shot back, “Don’t groan. Pass some legislation.”

The HBCU grad saved his sharpest tip for Clarence Thomas, with a line whose set-up came a full minute or two earlier. He referred back to it, subtly, and it was a thing of beauty. I don’t want to spoil it here. If you are unfamiliar with Wood’s work on The Daily Show, maybe this is a reason to tune in.

Also, I came across two funny lines from black comics on Instagram. The first is from Wood, who notes that an abundance of American flags in one area (I live in such a community that overdoes it with the red, white and blue) has that whiff of racism. Wood asks, “How many American flags equals one Confederate flag?” Bingo.

The second is from a comic I didn’t know, but see if you don’t like the line as much as I do. “To a lot of Americans, black people are what pennies are to a cashier. Yes, you’ve got to accept them, but if anyone shows up with more than a handful you’re not happy.”

Gordon Lightfoot

Canadian singer/songwriter, Yacht Rock HOF’er Gordon Lightfoot passed yesterday at the age of 84. Lightfoot will forever be remembered as the man who penned one of the more incongruous chart toppers of the Seventies, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Here was a ballad about a ship that sank in a storm in Lake Superior, a true story that had taken place just one year before its 1976 release.

If you were a child of the Seventies and your parents listened to AM radio in the car, you’re familiar with Lightfoot’s three TOP FIVE hits: the aforementioned, which reached No. 2, “Sundown,” which went to No. 1, and my personal favorite, “If You Could Read My Mind,” from 1970, which topped out at No. 5.

Certain songs immediately transport you across the decades. That last one puts me in the back seat of my parents’ wood-paneled Chevy station wagon as we drive to the beach or to the home of one of our countless Italian relatives or maybe even just on a get-lost Sunday drive.

What Joni Mitchell was to singing/songrwriting for Canadians, Lightfoot was her male counterpart. Thank you, Gordon. RIP.

Ted Lasso Discovers Johan Cruyff

The last two episodes of Ted Lasso. Wow. So much to say, but I’ll limit my comments. The first finds the team in Amsterdam playing a midseason friendly versus Dutch power Ajax and getting waxed, 5-0. First, the little I understand about EPL, midseason friendlies between club teams from different leagues are highly, highly unlikely. But that’s neither here nor there.

The episode was shot in Amsterdam and it’s partly a travelogue and a love letter to that magical city of canals and pancakes and hash. In the early 2000s, before Jason Sudeikis had even made it to 30 Rock and SNL, he was part of an improv troupe along with Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard) called Boom Chicago. It was there that the two first developed an interest in football; so this episode was their prayer of thanks, in a way.

But it was also an ingenious means of steering the ship onto its homeward course (the series ends after this season, I believe), and it ties Ted Lasso’s hopelessly American sports brain to the future of FC Richmond. Sitting alone in an American-themed restaurant, Lasso watches footage of the 1992 Chicago Bulls playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. He hears the announcer intone about Tex Winter’s triangle offense and how it works. Inspiration comes to Ted: Why can’t we do something like that with 11 players on the pitch instead of five on the hardwood?

When Ted shares his epiphany with the ever-studious Coach Beard, the latter asks Ted if he came up with that on his own. Yes, Ted says. Coach Beard congratulates him and informs him that he’s just discovered “Total Football,” which was the Dutch squad’s innovative strategy that took them as a decided underdog all the way to the finals of the 1974 World Cup (where they lost to Germany).

In the subsequent (most recent) episode. Coach Beard gives the Richmond squad (and, more importantly, us the viewers) a brief history lesson on Total Football. He expounds on how the Dutch were led by all-timer Johan Cruyff (their Michael Jordan) but how they played more as a synergistic group in flow than as a one-man band (i.e., Zava).

Next, he tells them how Cruyff went on to a highly successful coaching career at FC Barcelona, where one of his star players was Pep Guardiola, who is now the manager at Manchester City. All true. But here is where Ted Lasso receives an unexpected boost from current events. Right now Manchester City is looking, in real life, to win the Premier League and has advanced to the semifinals of the Champions League. They’re also still in the running for the championship of the FA Cup.

The last time a single club has won all three, i.e., pulled a treble, in one season? The year was 1999 and the squad was Manchester United (helmed by David Beckham).

Kind of a spoiler alert here: the full transformation of Jamie Tartt from self-absorbed diva to Richmond’s Cruyff is the signature victory of Lasso’s tenure at Richmond. It is the embodiment of all that he was trying to instill in and teach his squad. What’s the fourth factor, thus far, unnamed? Initially I thought it was “Trust,” but now I believe it is either “love” or “sacrifice.” Kinda the same thing in this context, no?

Also, when Sam and his dad entered Ola’s and the team were inside, cleaning up the joint?… I gotta admit, a tear welled up in my eyes. That’s what great shows do.

An aside: Did Rebecca or did she not get impregnated on that houseboat by the charming bachelor who reminded me a little too much of Tom Tolbert? If so, is he the same Dutch guy who’s been ordered to stop donating sperm due to his 500 fertility clinic offspring? Geez, dude, give it a rest. Literally.

Is This Simply A Meme For Grad School At Cronkite-ASU?

Dollar Quiz

  1. Who was the first president (while president) to survive an assassination attempt?
  2. Who beat USC in a bowl game last season? (I know you know this one, it’s just fun to remind everyone)
  3. What, in ancient Roman times, was considered the first month of the year?
  4. What do you call an atom that does not have the same number of protons as electrons?
  5. What country is Nikola Jokic from?


by John Walters

Bye Bye, Tucker

Biologically speaking, Tucker Carlson was always a paradox to us: a host who is also a parasite. We don’t have anything to add to his surprising exodus other than, “Good riddance, and will his successor be even more of a fascist?”

Meanwhile, Carlson’s firing was announced relatively early Monday morning, giving every late-night writing staff ample time to prepare its arrows. But none hit closer to home than this opener from The Daily Show, strategically delivered with utter precision by interim-but-should-become-permanent host Desi Lydic.

Flee Agent

Tyler Buchner was resoundingly outplayed by newcomer/transfer portal arriviste Sam Hartman in last Saturday’s Blue-Gold game in South Bend. And so, before this weekend he’s now made his exodus to Tuscaloosa, where his former O.C. at Notre Dame, Tommy Rees, is now the O.C. A few thoughts:

— You gotta have empathy for Buchner. Missed his junior season of high school with injury, than senior year cuz of Covid, then all but the first game (at Ohio State) last season due to another injury. And then a grad transfer takes his job.

–Alabama? I mean, don’t they recruit as well as any school in the country? And they’re handing their most important job to the backup QB from Notre Dame?

—I wonder if Sam Hartman has once said to himself, I could be the starting QB at Alabama right now. I wonder if Drew Pyne has had the same thought.

—I used this line on Twitter, but if Tommy Rees is such a whiz kid offensive coordinator, why did he look to a player from his old school to come rescue his new offense? Did Bama’s offense languish that badly this spring? It’s not as if they don’t have talent. And isn’t that Rees’ job: to make the engine hum? Feels a little bit as if he’s… passing the Buchner.

So I’m left to wonder if Rees isn’t so much of a coach as he is a consultant at McKinsey: convince your prospective client that only you are able to improve his company, then contract out the actual work to people who, unlike yourself, can actually perform.

—If this goes south, Nick Saban is going to have zero patience with Rees. This is his baby and he’s already used a phone-a-friend. It had better work.

—November 4: LSU (and Brian Kelly) at Alabama (and Rees and Buchner).

The Return Of Baby J

If you’ve not yet caught John Mulaney’s new standup special on Netflix, here’s our skinny: it’s highly confessional about his drug problem. It’s not a single word confessional about how his divorce or his quick relapse into a relationship with Olivia Munn (he does mention their son once, but never his wife or Munn).

Mulaney is a brilliant, highly self-aware comic. He knows what you’re thinking about him, or what you’re about to think about him, 10 paces ahead. One of the highlights of the show is early in, when he performs vaudevillian song-and-dance about how his life has been a nightmare since you last saw him on stage and how all the kids think Bo Burnham is funnier now (it’s true; I do).

At another point Mulaney divulges a highly embarrassing story about just how desperate he was to obtain cocaine, and at the end of the tale, he says, “No matter what you think of me for what you just heard, how low your opinion has sunk, keep in mind that that’s the story I was willing to tell you.”

Loved that moment. There’s no observational humor here; okay, only when he goes off on a tangent on something related to his odyssey that goes all the way back to the age of six (or three, depending on how much credence you put into his opening anecdote). It’s Mulaney in group, sharing the stories of addiction and desperation and shame. And most of it’s funny. There’s a moment near the end of the show, though, where the room becomes quiet and Mulaney is not attempting to make a joke. He talks about how for so much of his life, and public life, it was so important to him what people thought of him. Now, he says, “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me.”

I’m not so sure I believe him. But that would be nice.

As I’ve shared here before, I had an interesting lunch with John Mulaney, just the two of us in the Village, back in April of 2015. He was a rising star and I’d jumped on the bandwagon early. What threw me off when we met was what a downer he was. He was quiet, not particularly engaging, and a little bit insecure. He’d obviously not taken the good drugs that morning.

He was polite. And later that night he invited me backstage to his dressing room, but feeling a tad insecure myself, I declined.

I think you can say that it is brave, what he is doing. Or maybe he realizes he can’t play a room until he addresses the elephant in the room. But I believe there’s another elephant there taking up space. And I hope for his sake that he’s able to stay sober. He’s still, along with Bo Burnham, the most talented comic around younger than 40ish.

The Bucks Stopped Here

A quick notes column on the first round of the NBA playoffs:

–You realize that Miami lost its play-in game at home to Atlanta and then went ahead and took care of the No. 1 seed in the East, the team with the NBA’s best record, in five games?!? WUT!

–Russell Westbrook scored 37 points in a game without attempting a single free throw. The Clippers lost that game.

–Devin Booker and Jimmy Butler have been the best player in either conference. Both are averaging just above 37 ppg, tops in the postseason. I already knew/believed Booker was a Hall of Famer, but what he did both on offense and defense versus the Clippers was astounding.

–How much are Kings fans going to be wondering about Harrison Barnes’ missed three in San Francisco on Sunday? If he hits that, Sac-Town goes up 3-1. Now they trail 3-2 and are headed back to Chase Center.

–The Suns have won five consecutive playoff series…when the opponent’s best or second-best player is out with injury. Can Jokic or Murray be hurt in the next 48 hours? The winner of this series is my favorite to win it all.

— A second-round series between LA and Golden State would, and should, break existence TV ratings records for a non-Finals matchup.

— Had to laugh when Deandre Ayton referred to himself as “Domin-Ayton.” Ninety percent of Monty Williams’ salary goes to managing that curious fellow.

–Damontas Sabonis will never be as good as his dad, but he’s better than I thought he’d be.

–On any other team without the best backcourt in NBA history, Jordan Poole is a star. His one-on-one moves, at this point in his career, are virtually unstoppable. I think he’s a more potent offensive weapon than Ja Morant.

–Something is off with the Celtics. I like either Philly or Miami to emerge from the East, and I think the NBA Finals would be more entertaining with either of those two squads.

–Giannis. The Question. Failure. Fair question, thoughtful answer. Any question that evokes such a viral response means the reporter was doing his job and then some.

Carol Turns 90

We were so spoiled on Saturday nights in the early to mid-Seventies. Saturday night’s lineup on CBS: All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett. Shows 1, 3 and 5 on that list belong on anyone’s and everyone’s list of Top 10 TV shows.

Carol Burnett turned 90 yesterday. As a young comedic actress she was a huge fan of Lucille Ball and how fitting that the two redheads are the most naturally funny comediennes in the history of television.

Every Saturday night you’d tune in and just sop up Burnett’s opening, where she took the stage, talked to the audience and fielded a few questions. Then there were the sketches, some of the funniest ever written for television. The recurring characters, from Miss Sue Higgins to Eunice, were simply gold. Or, if you’ve never seen their take-off on a certain film classic, titled “Went With The Wind,” find it on YouTube.

Happy Birthday, Carol. We’re so glad we’ve had this time together. And so glad it’s not yet time to say, “So long.” We’re sending an ear tug your way.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What is the world’s northern-most city with a population greater than 1 million people?
  2. What president had the middle name “Birchard?”
  3. James Dean appeared in three films. Which one eerily forecasts his own death (it was released one month after he died)?
  4. How many stitches on a baseball (will accept single- or double-stitch number)?
  5. Name one band that appeared at Coachella earlier this month (I cannot, off-hand).