by John Walters
Novax Is Bax
Another match, this time a semi, another straight sets win for Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. The oft-surly Serbian is into the final after a 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 washing of Yank Tommy Paul earlier today. In six matches thus far the Djoker has lost all of one set—he’s won 18 of 19— and that was a 7-5 (7-6) tug-of-war versus unheralded Enzo Couacaud (I’d like to buy vowel). He’s doing all of this at age 35 with a strained hammy.
You could’ve gotten +180 odds on the Djoker to win the tourney a week ago after he strained his hammy during a match. At the time it seemed 50/50 if he’d bow out of the tourney. But Djoker knows that the Aussie is for him tantamount to Rafael Nadal’s ownership of the French: he’s won eight of the past 12 tourneys there and it might be nine if he had not been sent out back from Down Under last January for refusing to be vaxxed.
So here he is, just a championship match against Stefan Tsitsipas from tying Rafael Nadal with 22 men’s singles grand slam wins. We are witnessing history here, tennis fans. A trio such as Roger Federer, Nadal and the Djoker will not be seen again in our lifetimes. I feel pretty confident saying that. The idea that the three winningest men in tennis history were each other’s contemporaries speaks volumes as to just how far ahead of everyone else they have been.
Extreme Stupidity From Opposite Extremes
Here’s first-ballot Batshit Crazy Hall of Famer/ex-Major Leaguer Aubrey Huff intimating that there’s something scandalous about the fact that Buffalo Bill defensive back Damar Hamlin (the Immaculate Resuscitation!) has made no public appearances since his brush with death three weeks ago. We already knew that Huff was a birther; turns out that he’s also a deather.
But the stupidity is not limited to the far right. Here’s the AP Stylebook ruling from on high (it’s not quite Pope Francis proclaiming that homosexuality is not a crime, but it’s up there) that using “the” before a group of people (e.g., “the French”, “the Russians”) is offensive. Last we checked, their organization is referred to as “the Associated Press.” Did they just cancel themselves?
Oh, and by the way, Nikki Haley, “you must be a citizen to vote” is not a bold or polarizing stance. Everyone I know agrees. To put it out this way as if only the GOP owns this belief is ridiculous.
My Levito/A Mosquito
America’s new “It” girl in figure skating is 15 year-old Isabeau Levito from Mount Holly, N.J. Levito, who has never failed to reach the podium in any event in the past six years, was not in Beijing last winter, but look for her to be a medal favorite in Italy in 2026. The 2022 Junior World Champion is currently competing in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose this weekend.
Duel vs Jaws
Two nights ago TCM aired the 1971 film, Duel, which was released as a TV movie on ABC back when that was a big deal. It is noteworthy and I stayed up to watch it because it was Steven Spielberg’s first feature-length film. Widely praised and ahead of its time, Duel is basically Mad Max: Fury Road without ever supplying a valid reason as to why our protagonist is on a road-rage fight for his life almost throughout.
As I watched it, though, what hit me is how often Spielberg would later plagiarize from his debut while shooting his magnum opus, the similarly four-lettered movie Jaws, only four years later. The tanker truck becomes the shark, and Dennis Weaver’s mid-level businessman becomes Chief Brody. There’s an early scene, shot from the passenger seat of Weaver’s red Plymouth Dart, looking toward the driver. It’s a tight shot and suddenly we see the truck whiz past. It’s like that scene in Jaws when Brody is shoveling chum and the shark makes its grand entrance.
The climactic scene involves Weaver going for broke, driving his car directly at the truck, a life-or-death jousting match. The ensuing collision will result in an explosion and a slo-mo shot of all the carnage that ensues as our hero narrowly survives. Sounds like any movie you know?
I was a little surprised that our host, Ben Mankiewicz, never mentioned this. Also, having not seen The Fabelmans, is that how this film ends as well?
Pardon me for being coy here. This is, admittedly, not the paragon of professionalism but I have another full-time job these days totally unrelated to journalism, so I’m just posting this for the receipt at a later date.
Last fall I wrote a story for SI titled “Open Season” that was universally ignored by my pals in the media on Twitter. That’s okay. I may have whined about it then. I definitely did.
So why am I back on this topic? Folks in the Phoenix area may soon be hearing about a murder that took place this month in which a player from that Chaparral freshman football team is one of four teens charged. It’s obviously a tragedy: the victim was a completely innocent teenage girl. But, it’s also the first dent in the plan of Chaparral’s athletic department, its booster club and a few Chaparral dads to rule the Open Division for the next three years. Which was possible and may still be.
The legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins once opined, like 20 years ago, that the only thing that could prevent Tiger Woods from obliterating Jack Nicklaus’ record was women. It was a flippant comment (and obviously the fairer sex is not to blame; Tiger is) but accurate. Those who follow Chaparral, myself included, have always thought that the only thing that could beat the Firebirds was life away from football.
Finally, I don’t want to paint with a broad brush. First, details of the incident are still forthcoming (the young man in question was most likely simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and not the shooter). Second, the young men I know best on that team are good students with their heads and hearts firmly in the right place. They’re dedicated and motivated.
You should be hearing more soon.
- What NFL franchise has the highest regular-season winning percentage?
- Name the previous two cities that the Los Angeles Clippers called home.
- In what present-day U.S. state did the Meadows Massacre take place?
- What was the Wright Brothers’ primary job before their interest in flight took over?
- Provide one factual item about the longest MLB game, in terms of innings, ever played: number of innings, who won, who played, year it took place, etc.