IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

MOUNTAIN TIME IS NOW PRIME TIME

He’s comin’.

Deion Sanders is not the first black football coach at the FBS level, he’s not the first black football coach at Colorado, he’s not even the first black football coach at Colorado this year. But in some ways, Coach Prime is the first black football coach in major college football. Why? Because he arrives as someone far bigger than his job title; a man with leverage, who has the potential to be a major disruptor. And that’s a good thing.

A cover like this, in 1989, was a little too much for most of SI’s subscribers

I’ll never forget: it was 1991 or ’92 and I was fact-checking a story for SI on Florida State volleyball player/budding model Gabriella Reece (she’d later marry surfing icon Laird Hamilton). In the piece Gabby noted how she’d had a heart-to-heart with fellow FSU athlete Deion Sanders, whom the mainstream media at the time saw as an attention whore who was as much flash as he was talent, and that Deion had told her how she needed to maximize her earning potential and to exploit her gifts. Coach Prime was 30 years ahead of NIL.

I never forgot that anecdote because it informed me that Deion possessed more insight and intellect than many of us were giving him credit for. No doubt here that Coach Prime will be a magnet for talent to come to Boulder and that the Buffs are about to become a big problem for the rest of the Pac-12.

If you have not seen the above video yet, we give it the ol’ HR (Highly Recommend).

A few numbers on Deion: finished 8th in Heisman voting (top defensive player) in 1988. Two-time first-team All-American who also played baseball and ran track at Florida State. He had 54 interceptions and 22 touchdown in the NFL (in Hall of Fame) and 186 stolen bases and a .263 batting average in the MLB. Played in two Super Bowls (won both) and one World Series, in which he batted .533 but his team (the Braves) lost. Has a 27-5 record as a head coach with Jackson State.

In short, kids best listen to what he has to say.

JUDGE RENDERS VERDICT

He’s stayin’.

In a deal that could have been finalized on a beer napkin during Game 4 of the ALCS, Aaron Judge re-signed with the New York Yankees for the very round number of $360 million over nine years. That averages out to $40 million per season. The good: Judge, 31, just had arguably the most offensively potent regular season in MLB history, bashing an AL-record 62 home runs while also leading baseball in RBI, Runs, OBP, OPS, slugging percentage and walks. The bad: Judge has yet to lead the Yankees even to the World Series, much less win it, and this October he was actually a postseason liability, striking out three times as often (15) as he hit safely (5). His postseason average? .138

The Yankees had to keep him. He’s a great player and you could not build a better model for the face of a franchise in a laboratory. All that’s left for him to do is to get that chip, as they kids say.

Judge Judy: Not impressed

By the way, Aaron’s still not the best-paid Judge in New York City. Judge Judy earns $47 million per year.

BUCKEYE, BUT WHY?

37 TD passes against just 4 picks, plus he’s a pretty crafty runner

Ohio State, the school with only one loss but not one of the TEN Power Five schools to have played in a conference championship game last weekend, landed the fourth and final berth in this season’s college football playoff. And our question is, How come?

If conference championship games matter, then shouldn’t it matter that the Buckeyes did not even advance to one (before you throw Notre Dame in my face, yes, you’re right; but I’ve got zero problems with the Irish scheduling a 13th game, maybe even against an FCS school as the big boys do, in any year they’re up for consideration… yes, the point is moot going forward)?

Let’s stump for USC. Both the Trojans and Buckeyes beat Notre Dame and both lost one regular-season game, to their respective conference champions. USC showed out better in its last-minute loss at Utah than Ohio State did at home versus Michigan. OSU had an impressive road win at Penn State, but the Nittany Lions never beat a Top 10 team, either at the time or later in the season. USC won at Oregon State, who would later beat Oregon, a higher-ranked team.

USC’s main flaw is that it played Utah a second time, in a game Ohio State was not obliged to play, and lost. But USC has the presumptive Heisman winner in Caleb Williams and the Pac-12 has not had playoff rep since the 2014 season; this will be Ohio State’s fifth playoff. If for no other reason than variety, we’d put USC in. They also, in our opinion, have a superior resume.

Then there are the folks in Salt Lake City who’d point out, Hey, we beat USC twice AND we are our conference’s champion. Yeah, but you Utes have three losses.

In the wake of USC’s Friday night loss to Utah, the gabfest shows felt obliged to debate between Ohio State and Alabama for the fourth spot. We still think USC would be a better choice. They lost to the same team twice, which is not the same as losing to two different teams once. Besides, a first berth versus a fifth? Why?

The Big Ten, before its conference championship game existed, had a rule that if two schools tied for the B1G championship, the team that had most recently been to the Rose Bowl stayed home. We liked that rule. Common sense. The playoff should apply that same measure of insight.

VIVE LA FRANCE?

Outside of good hair, washboard abs, a chiseled jawline, elite talent and tens of millions of dollars in the bank, what does Giroud have going for him?

Heading into the World Cup quarterfinals, defending champion France has the best player (Kylian Mbappe) and the best-looking (Olivier Giroud, who at age 36 just became his country’s all-time leadin scorer in international competitions…but Giroud is wise and humble enough to acknowledge that Mbappe will one day shatter his record).

France are the defending champions. Brazil has won the most World Cups (5), but their last title was in 2002. The two met in the 1998 final in Paris, with France winning. The quarters also boast 1966 champions England, as well as the two greatest players of this generation, Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal), who would only meet in the final (unlikely). The other hopefuls, the long shots, are Morocco, the Netherlands and Croatia.
We foresee a run back of the 1998 final, with the same result. Mbappe is already great, now he’s about to become an icon.

IT’S ALL HAPPENSTANCE

by John Walters

The MH staff was going to give itself yet another morning off—Casual Thursday?— but then there was a World Series no-hitter AND we learned that Miss Argentina and Miss Puerto Rico were secretly married and we were like, Once more unto the breach, my friends.

Phillie Phutility

Rule No. 7 (Every time you watch a baseball game there’s a chance you’ll see something that has never happened in a game before) is working overtime during this Fall Classic. On Tuesday Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr., became the first hurler to surrender five home runs in a single World Series game (the Phils tied the record for most hit in a game) as the ‘stros were swamped, 7-0. And then last night McCullers’ four pitching teammates—Christian Javier, someone someone Abreu, Rafael Montero and Not-Elvis Pressly—pitched the first combined no-hitter in World Series history (and only the second overall after Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in 1956).

So, one of the worst pitching performances in WS history followed by one of the best, in the span of less than 30 hours, from the same pitching staff.

Interesting note from my super student Jared: Vin Scully had the call for Larsen’s perfect game in ’56 for NBC. Scully, a Bronx native, was then the precocious broadcast voice for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Larsen’s victims that day. So here we are, 66 years later, and Joe Davis had the call last night for Fox. Davis is the current Dodgers announcer, having replaced… Vin Scully, who retired a couple of years ago and only passed away a mere three months ago. Wild.

Also worth noting: the closest Philly came to a hit came early, 3rd inning we believe, with a man already on first (walked) and Kyle Schwarber up. The lead-off dead-pull hitter smoked a screamer that barely sizzled foul past the first base line after taking a hop and was ruled (correctly) foul. But just barely. If that’s a hit Philly has at least men on 2nd and 3rd. That’s the second time this series (also, Game 2, the overturned home run) in which Schwarber has flat-out scorched a ball that was millimeters foul and, if fair, might have changed the outcome of the contest.

You get the feeling that, persistence and excellence being what they are, that Schwarber will eventually be rewarded for all these near-misses with a timely clout later in the series. He already has the most awesome blast (an upper-decker at PetCo Park) this postseason.

Miss Taken Identity*

*The judges will not accept “Caribbean Queens” for cartographical reasons, and also for graphical reasons

This is the content for which the internet was created: the former Miss Argentina, Mariana Varela (left), and the former Miss Puerto Rico, Fabiola Valentin, revealed that they got married last Friday. Both pageant contestants represented their Spanish-speaking nations in 2020.

Ryan’s Express (Plenty of Stops)

Only a buzzer-beating corner three from rookie Matt Ryan saved the Los Angeles Lakers from falling to 1-6 last night. Instead, Ryan’s trey forced overtime against the New Orleans Pelicans (after a Pelican missed two free throws, either one of which would have sealed the win) and led to a Laker victory.

Doing a little research, we were startled to realize this is the same Matt Ryan who never once smiled at Notre Dame and eventually transferred to Vanderbilt… before once again transferring to UT-Chattanooga.

We recall Ryan’s arrival as a freshman in South Bend and were somewhat giddy. Sure, the surname was tailor-made for the Fighting Irish, but this kid looked and shot like the second coming of Doug McDermott. So how come he never seemed to give more than 50%? You could see the potential, but Ryan just never seemed to fit. The 6’7″ kid from Westchester County never averaged double-digits in college until his senior year at UTC, when he averaged 15.7 (and that was the season March Madness was canceled).

Apparently, after college and with the poor timing of Covid-19, Ryan found himself doing odd jobs such as driving for Door Dash and working at a cemetery in Yonkers (not the most famous person associated with Irish basketball to work in a cemetery, though) before catching on with a G-League team. And now a kid who once was stroking shots off passes from the likes of Rex Pflueger and Matt Farrell is teammates with LeBron James.

It’s a crazy world. Don’t try to figure it out.

****

Inveterate readers may have realized that while they’re paying the same price for MH as before, they’re only receiving three items per blog as opposed to five, as MH operated for years. And our answer to that is, “Hey, inflation.”

But, okay, here’s one more… a writers’ roundtable that includes John Krasinski and Bo Burnham. Early on, you can see Krasinski sensing that he’s met his new best friend in Bo, who (and we know this has become a cliche) is the most genius person in entertainment under the age of, well, maybe death. But certainly under 40. If you don’t know Bo, find his Netflix special “Inside,” which is simply a masterpiece.

Also, it comes all the way at the end, but Bo sneaks in an “elephant in the room” line at around 55:55 that gets completely talked over. Sadly. It’s the most incisive comment of the entire hour.

IT’S ALL HAPPENSTANCE

by John Walters

Not A Paula Abdul Documentary

What happens when your soul mate holds no sexual attraction for you (a question Susie B. has wrestled with, obv)? This 2019 film from James Sweeney (right; he wrote, directed and stars in it) is currently playing on Netflix and has a whipsmart dialogue.

Sweeney must be a fan of the “meet cute” and of old movies and he makes two separate references to Gilmore Girls, so you know what you’re in for here. If you cannot name at least two of Rory Gilmore’s three boyfriends, this film may not be for you. If you can, dive in.*

*Film recommended by Katie McCollow, of course.

The Happy Hooker

Why is Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker currently atop MH’s Heisman favorites list? Three reasons: 1) He’s one of only two quarterbacks with at least 20 touchdown passes and only one interception (the other is USC’s Caleb Williams), 2) He’s one of only two quarterbacks averaging a nation’s-best 10.7 yards per attempt (the other is Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud) and, 3) he engineered the nation’s most impressive win of the season, over Alabama, in what was thus far the season’s most exciting game, a 52-49 win. The Tide hadn’t lost to an SEC East team in the regular season since, like, 2010.

Now Hooker and the No. 2 Vols visit No. 1 Georgia this week. The last time a 1 vs. 2 matchup in the regular season happened without Alabama being one of the two schools was in 2006, Michigan at Ohio State. On the eve of that game, Michigan’s legendary coach, Bo Schembechler, died. Weirdly, and exactly one week too soon, Georgia’s legendary coach, Vince Dooley, passed away last Friday night. The Wolverines lost that Saturday, if you wanna keep tabs.

Hooker has already moved into the oddsmakers’ slim favorite to win the Heisman (something former Vol QB Peyton Manning never did). If he leads the Vols to a Rocky Top moment in Athens on Saturday—and this just in, Dawgs’ All-American LB Nolan Smith is out for the season with a torn pec—he’ll be way out in front, and the Vols will be ranked No. 1.

Hooker, like most Heisman candidates these past few years, did not start out at the school he now attends. He enrolled early at Virginia Tech in January of 2017…and spent three seasons there. That’s right, he’s now in his sixth year of autumn college football. Hooker will turn 25 just a few days after the college football national championship game. Hooker would be the second-oldest starting quarterback in the AFC East right now.

Verified

So, as you know, Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter finally happened, we assume, because the world’s wealthiest man considered that a smaller price to pay than enduring discovery in a Delaware court, and then ultimately losing his case, anyway.

The question for some is whether to remain on the platform. Many find it humorous and ironic that Musk has insisted that he does not want to prevent Twitter from becoming a “hellscape” and also that he wants to charge people who are verified $20 a month for that blue check because “it’s the only way to keep out the bots and trolls (but he’s on the side of the bots and trolls, no?).”

Quick question: So if a millionaire celeb chooses not to pay, is Elon going to kick him/her off the site? Or simply retract the blue check mark? I mean, all that person’s followers already know who they are.

Tweets such as this are what make the platform so valuable

We read a good thread this morning (while still in bed, before coffee, and forgot to save) from a prof who noted that Musk seems to think he bought a tech site when in fact he purchased a community platform. And for it to succeed, he must strike a delicate balance. On one hand, you want to preserve the 1st Amendment. On the other, if you make it 4Chan or TruthSocial 2.0, then you’ll drive away all the “libs.” And what fun will it be for the trolls and bots to “own the libs” if they’ve taken their balls and gond home? That’s exactly why the far-right is on Twitter as opposed to Truth Social: it’s more fun to fight than to exist in an echo chamber.

So we’ll see how this all falls out. What will always befuddle us is that of all the tech and social media companies whose stock grew exponentially in the past decade or two (Facebook, Google, Apple, even Musk’s own Tesla), Twitter’s never has. One more function of it being inordinately popular with journalists (guilty) who erroneously thought it resonated more with everyone else.

IT’S ALL…

by John Walters

Shell Game

This, reported earlier today in The New York Times: “

London-based Shell reported adjusted earnings of $9.45 billion for the third quarter, its second-highest profit on record. On the same day, Paris-based TotalEnergies reported a profit of $9.9 billion.

For both companies, the profits were more than double what they earned in the same period a year ago.”

A few things to remember:

• One, we are talking profits, not revenue. This doubling of an already uber-wealthy corporation’s quarterly profit from one year to the next has nothing to do with how much more it may cost to do business, or the pandemic. This is straight-up profit. It’s all about price gouging.

The spelling of the middle “to” should have been a dead giveaway

• Shell would never disclose this information if it was not compelled, as a publicly traded company to do so.

• A certain portion of the population, roughly half, will blame this on the current administration. These same people also advocate all the time about how the government needs to stay out of the affairs of private enterprise. So that’s an example of hypocrisy. But this same portion of the population is immune to being troubled by its hypocrisy. To reiterate, the government or its policies has no impact on a company’s profits. Perhaps it might on its operating costs, but even here that’s not the case.

• The people who need to hear the truth likely do not have the patience to read the explanation or, perhaps even more likely, would never read this blog (though, who would?). The oil companies, whose product is made out of dinosaurs, realized that they have become dinosaurs themselves. At least in a world that cherishes a livable climate. In 1997, five of the world’s largest 19 companies were oil companies—and three others were traditional auto makers. Times have changed and oil companies see that the current administration (as well as many other western governments) are moving to phase out fossil-fuel burning autos in favor of electric types.

So, the oil companies have a few moves they might be making: 1) A final “F You” to all of us consumers off whom they’ve profited so greatly over the decades or, more likely 2) a narrative that the higher gas prices, which concomitantly translate to higher prices on all goods that need to be moved by trucks (or, almost all goods), is not their fault but rather the fault of Let’sGoBrandon. So then Americans will blame him and vote him out. And guess who is voted in? A president and Congress who have been lapping up oil money for campaign contributions and will be oil-friendly as soon as they regain control of the White House. Crafty SOBs, those oil companies. And too much of America is just dumb enough to fall for it.

While we’re at it, watch Syriana some day. Great film.

• Also today, Shell announced that it will buy back more than half a billion shares of its stock by Feb. 2, 2023. Thus creating a scarcity of stock that will cause prices of its shares to go higher (now where did an oil company ever get the idea to create a scarcity out of thin air to cause the price of something to go higher?). That’s good news if you own Shell; bad news for most Americans who don’t own any stock outside of their 401-K.

This, Justin

The Houston Astros should be overwhelming favorites in the World Series that starts tomorrow at Minute Maid Park, no? Houston finished with the best record in the American League. The Philadelphia Phillies were the last of six National League teams to advance to the playoffs, are only in because of the new format, and finished in third place in their own division. Houston won the World Series in 2017 (
“They cheated!” “SHADDUP!“) and this will be their fourth appearance in the Fall Classic in the past six years. Philly has not appeared in a World Series since 2009, and last won in 2008.

Something to keep in mind, though: Houston’s Game 1 starter and ace, the presumptive A.L. Cy Young Award winner this season at age 38 and a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer (ta dah!), Justin Verlander, has a very uncharacteristic World Series resume. In seven starts, with Detroit and Houston, Verlander is 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA. Verlander looked vulnerable versus the Mariners in the ALDS though he looked light out versus the Yankees (what pitcher not name Civale didn’t?).

Just something to keep in mind.

Foxy Lady

Caught the second half of Foxy Brown, which we had never seen before, on America’s greatest network (TCM) last night. The year is 1974 and Pam Grier (above) plays the girlfriend of an undercover narc while her own brother, played by Antonio Vargas, is working with a gang of drug dealers who are white and whose front business is a modeling agency.

Too much to go into here, but if you’ve never seen it, Holy Chocolate Sex Bomb, Batman. I mean, I don’t recall this movie coming out in my neighborhood when I was eight years old, but if it had and if I’d seen it, we could have skipped ahead at least a decade. There is nothing in six seasons of Breaking Bad that’s as cold and ruthless (not to mention sexy) as this. Spoiler Alerts: Foxy poses undercover as a model/prostitute, but is then found out and sent off as a sex slave to drug rednecks who control her by keeping her hooked on heroin. Later, Foxy exacts revenge by cutting off the private parts of the boyfriend of the female modeling agency owner/drug lord and delivering the contents to her in a pickle jar. Also, the N-word is used at least ten times. All the while Grier is outfitted in about seventeen dozen costumes designed to highlight a figure that has more curves than the plot of The Big Sleep.

Foxy Brown feels like one of those films most of us have heard of but few of us have seen. If you haven’t seen it, MH recommends. And after you do see it, ask yourself what studio would greenlight this film today.

Champaign Supernova

MH’s sleeper college football team of 2022, at least until they play someone good, is the University of Illinois. The Illini are 6-1 but more than that, they lead the nation in both Total Defense (221.1 ypg) and in Scoring Defense (8.9 ppg). Those two stats used to be the best indicators of who would play for the national championship, at least until Air Raid offenses and dual threat quarterbacks were invented (now it’s Total Offense and Scoring Offense).

Also, Illinois boasts the nation’s No. 2 overall rusher (Chase Brown, 151.3 ypg) and number one among Power 5 schools. Brown, who is Canadian, has a twin brother, Sydney, who starts at defensive back for the Illini (“Paging Tom Rinaldi: We have a feature for you!“).

Okay, Bret Bielema’s downstate squad has yet to face a murderer’s row in terms of it schedule, but here’s why the rest of the autumn sets up nice: as temps in the Midwest dip below the 40s and weather impacts games more (cold, rain, wind, maybe even sleet or snow), what better to have than a bone-rattling defense and a money running back (from the Great White North, no less)? This is how you win games around the Great Lakes after Halloween.

The schedule is doable. After a visit to 3-4 Nebraska this Saturday, Illinois hosts Michigan State (3-4) and then Purdue (5-3). Win all three and the Champaign Supernova squad heads to likely unbeaten Michigan on Nov. 19 with a 9-1 record. The best record Illinois has ever finished with in more than 100 years of football is 10-2. They’ve never won 11 games in a season. After UM, they still play Northwestern and then likely a bowl. It’s all possible for the school that gave us Red Grange, Dick Butkus and Roger Ebert.

IT’S ALL HAPPENSTANCE

by John Walters

From Truss To Russ

Yesterday’s big news: the resignation, after six weeks in office, of British prime minister Liz Truss. Today we focus on Russ, as in Los Angeles Laker Russell Westbrook, who shot 0-for-11 in his 2022 Staples Center debut last night, a 103-97 loss to the co-tenant L.A. Clippers.

Two nights earlier, at halftime of the Lakers’ season-opening defeat at Golden State, TNT’s Charles Barkley had put it bluntly. First, he called the Lakers “a bad team.” Again, halftime of the season opener. Then Chuck said, “You know how I feel about Russell Westbrook. I love the guy. The Lakers need to move him.”

Westbrook, a former league MVP, two-time scoring champ and nine-time All-Star and at one time the most dynamic player in the NBA, no longer starts. No idea where you move a guard who cannot shoot threes (or anything much from beyond 10 feet), who’ll turn 34 next month, but his L.A. homecoming has been a dismal exercise. He would tear up the G-League, though. Is there still a G-League?

What Is Wrong With The New York YanKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKees?

The New York Yankees exit Minute Maid Park down 0-2 in the A.L. Championship Series. The Pinstriper pitching has been better than average, their defense superb. So what’s wrong? Well, for a team whose three most probable outcomes are strikeout, walk, home run, they’ve struck out 30 times, walked four times and hit one home run. That is not a recipe for success.

Last night, in a 4-2 defeat, the Yanks failed to hit a home run for the first time in 24 postseason games, snapping their record streak. If you’re a Houston fan, the good news is that you’re up 2-0 without Jose Altuve having gotten a hit yet in either series (they’re 5-0 this postseason and he’s 0-23) and Yordan Alvarez has also been fairly quiet. Those bats will wake up—especially after that fan ran onto the field before the top of the 9th last night to give Altuve batting advice.

Meanwhile, the Yankees, who now have three games in the Bronx, have lost six in a row at Minute Maid Park dating back to 2021.

A teachable moment for the Yanks occurred in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, both Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres, in successive at-bats, hit run-scoring ground balls. In other words, both batters made contact. Torres is normally one of the worst Yankee offenders in terms of swinging out of his shoes and failing to make contact. The announcers noted this fact and emphasized that Torres had been “rewarded” with an infield single for his more circumspect swing with two strikes. Both grounders resulted in an RBI, the Yankees’ only two runs of the night.

The Yankees led the majors in home runs (254) this season and led the AL in overall runs (807), but in the postseason they’re averaging 12 strikeouts per game. No other team is averaging more than nine. Just about anything is preferable to a strikeout. The Yankees’ best hit last night was a one-hopper back to the mound by Giancarlo Stanton that Astro starter Flamber Valdez misplayed for a two-base error.

Put the ball in play. Give your team a shot. It’s just that simple.

Like A Scene Out Of Signs

From last night’s NFL game. This is the first of consecutive pick-sixes the Arizona Cardinals scored off Andy Dalton just before halftime.

Manchester Divided

If you thought sports diva-dom was limited to NFL wideouts and some NBA All-Stars, let us reintroduce you to Cristiano Ronaldo. Arguably the greatest striker of this (or any) generation of footballers (Messi fans will understandably disagree), Ronaldo is now a dyspeptic thirtysomething playing for the Premier League where his career began, Manchester United. On Wednesday the five-time Ballon d’Or winner refused to enter the game as a sub in a match versus Tottenham Hotspur, then walked off the pitch before the final whistle in Man U’s 2-0 win.

Ronaldo is 37. Manchester United, which is not involved in Champions League play this season, is not where he wants to be. He will play for Portugal in next month’s World Cup, but beyond that he seems an unhappy camper. Wealth, looks and a supermodel wife are not the only keys to happiness. Ask Tom Brady.

Man U. opened the season 0-2 under new manager Ten Hag (yes, that’s his name), with losses to second-tier clubs, but have since gone 6-1-1 with wins versus premier Premier League squads such as Arsenal (first place), Liverpool and Tottenham (3rd place). It may be time for a little attitude adjustment from the petulant performer from Portugal.

IT’S ALL HAPPENSTANCE

by John Walters

Ripe For Removal

After a term that spanned two monarchs…” Wait, let’s try that again… “After a tenure that lasted 43 times longer than George O’Leary’s in South Bend…” How about, “After six weeks in No. 10 Downing Street…?” Yes, that’ll work. After six weeks in No. 10 Downing Street, Conservative Liz Truss has resigned as Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Will this even merit an entire episode of The Crown?

Rule No. 7 Two’fer

This is an outstanding photo, by the way, by K.C. Alfred of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and will likely hang in Austin’s den after the season ends. It captures both brothers reacting to Austin’s RBI single.

Two first in postseason MLB history yesterday during the LCS round. First, siblings Aaron (Phillies pitcher) and Austin Nola (Padres catcher) faced one another. That had never before happened. Aaron induced a groundout in big brother’s first at-bat but then let him off the hook with an 0-2 middle-of-the-plate pitch that San Diego’s No. 9 hitter rapped into right center for a run-scoring single (the man on first, Ha-seong Kim, was off on the pitch). That hit incited the decisive five-run inning that put the Padres ahead for good to even the series (San Diego’s second five-run inning during its rare four-game postseason homestand). You kind of have to love that the Nola bros are from Baton Rouge, which is not quite New Orleans (NoLa), but close.

Second, the Yankees struck out 17 times to Houston’s two, the largest strikeout differential (15) between two teams in postseason history. At one point six consecutive Yankees whiffed. This is who they’ve been all season, only more so last night. The letdown is that New York still had a chance to steal Game 1 last night at Minute Maid, but lost 4-2. A letdown if you’re a Yankee fan. Meanwhile, Jose Altuve is now 0-19 during this postseason.

Now This Was The Game 7 We Needed

Phoenix Suns basketball fans are still not over the Game 7 beatdown that Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks unleashed last May when, early in the third quarter, they led by 39 points (70-31). Only a 40-point fourth quarter by the Suns reserves that Sunday made the final score (123-90) look somewhat less abominable (PHX trailed by 42 points, 92-50, after three).

The NBA, in its infinite wisdom, chose to have the two clubs square off in the same venue last night to begin their respective seasons. And when Dallas raced to a 22-point first-half lead, it looked like more of the same. Then Phoenix miraculously pulled to within one point in the third quarter—only to have the Mavs go up by 15 again.

But something happened in the fourth quarter as, with both Chris Paul (old) and Cam Johnson (injury) on the bench, the Suns staged a comeback. Newcomer Damion Lee, who unlike his teammates owns an NBA championship ring… as a member of last year’s Golden State Warriors, whose best player is Lee’s brother-in-law, Stephen Curry, nailed a couple of big threes late and then, with the score tied at 105, a very difficult off-balance shot from the right baseline (sure, he walked to create space but why should Luka be the only one to get all the calls?) for the game winner.

It was a fitting Game 7 comeback… five months later.

A Deleted Scene From Superman II?

An undergarment check on the crew and passengers on this boat will be warranted when and if they reach safety.


IT’S ALL HAPPENSTANCE

by John Walters

Stars And Pinstripes

Quick thoughts on the Yankees outlasting the Indians Guardians, three games to two:

•If it seemed as if Aaron Judge had a subpar series, he really did not. Judge homered once every 2.5 games this season, which is exactly what he did in this series. Sure, he struck out a lot, but as a team the Yankees whiffed 53 times. That’s an average of 10.6 strikeouts per contest. The entire lineup struck out too often.

• The Guardians had more hits (44 to 28), while the Yankees had nearly twice as many walks (17 to 9). Add them together and the Guardians got on base 53 times to the Yankees 45. That’s, oddly enough, the exact number the opposing team struck out: the Guardians whiffed 45 times to the Yankees 53. So the Yanks struck out more and reached base less often but they won. Why? The long ball. The Yankees hit nine home runs to the Indians three, and thusly scored 20 runs (4 per game) to the Indians’ 14 (less than 3 per game).

• The epitome of Yankee offense this series? Giancarlo Stanton, who went 2 for 16 and struck out six times, more than one in every three at-bats. But Stanton’s two hits were home runs and his six RBI led all players. Stanton’s three-run bomb in the first inning of Game 5 proved the series’ knockout blow.

• Don’t know why Terry Francona started Aaron Civale. It was a calculated risk: stay close through five innings and then let your far superior bullpen take over. The problem was, the Yankees were aware of the strategy and so came out extra fired up to take an early lead. After four batters and a 3-0 lead, the game was basically over. As Bob Costas intoned over the TBS broadcast, decades from now Civale will be able to say he struck out the single-season home run king in a big playoff game (which he did), but then he’ll want to quickly change the subject. In our minds, the fault here lies with Francona: Civale had not pitched in 13 days and never in the postseason. We’d have taken a shot with our top relievers early and hope to grab a lead. Then the pressure flips over to the heavily favored Yanks. Moreover, we still don’t understand how Nestor Cortes was able to pitch on three days’ rest while Shane Bieber was not.

The Bubba Screen

by John Walters

Mostly Stanford-Notre Dame Edition

Observations from Stanford 16, Notre Dame 14….

1. Give the Cardinal credit. Every once in awhile Stanford enters Notre Dame Stadium (1990, 1992, 2022) and, despite inferior talent, clearly plays with more focus and more resolve and earns the “W.” David Shaw’s 1-4 squad (its only win versus Colgate) stopped the Irish cold on its first offensive series, then marched down field for its only touchdown of the game and this seemed to all happen before the crowd had stopped singing along to “Here Come The Irish.” Notre Dame, which entered on a three-game win streak and should have been playing downhill from the opening kickoff, entered flat-footed. That’s on the coaching staff and the senior leadership.

2. Notre Dame targeted 6’4″ true freshman wide receiver Tobias Merriweather in the end zone twice, batting .500 on the effort. Merriweather’s 41-yard TD catch was the longest touchdown scoring play of the season for the Irish by a full 11 yards and also his first career catch. In the sixth game of the season. NBC’s Jason Garrett noted afterwards that when the Peacock crew visited campus in August that Merriweather’s physical prowess and talent “jumped off the page” at him. So how come he’d never really mentioned this before as the Irish offense struggled to stretch the field? Even if Merriweather only comprehends 33% of the playbook (and I have no idea how much he comprehends) and needs work in run blocking, you need to put him on the field to keep the safeties honest. Before Merriweather’s score, 11 of Notre Dame’s 17 touchdowns had come from 10 yards in or closer. And the Irish still do not have a defensive score or a special teams score this year. Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees need to put Merriweather on the field more if for no other reason, during a 3-3 season, than to keep the Seattle native happy and stem any thoughts of the transfer portal.

3. The Irish are last, 131st among 131 teams, in interceptions this season, with one. That pick belongs, I believe, to Tariq Bracy on the opening play of the BYU game. The pick did not result in an Irish score. I don’t have a good explanation for this. Transfer safety Brandon Joseph has been an All-American candidate in the past and Bracy has experience. Benjamin Morrison is starting at corner as a true frosh, but he has played competently. Still, last is last.

4. The absence of an effective run game is an enigma. As Garrett noted, the Irish O-line outweighed Stanford’s defensive front by at least 50 pounds per man. Starters Jarrett Patterson, Blake Fisher and Joe Alt all have “NFL” stamped on their futures. While no one in the three-headed backfield (Audric Estime, Logan Diggs, Chris Tyree) is anywhere near Kyren Williams in talent, they each should be able to outgain Casey Filkins. ND retrieved its guru offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand, from the Chicago Bears, and it has talent up front. Why it cannot rely on its rushing attack remains a mystery.

5. On its first fourth down play of the night, Tommy Rees used a play that he’d seen BYU execute to perfection the previous Saturday. You take a wide receiver and put him in motion toward the center of the field, then synchronize the snap and the wideout’s reversal of motion so that he is headed back to the sideline as the defensive back in man coverage struggles to recover. BYU scored its first TD on this play in Las Vegas. The Irish merely converted a first down. The Irish would try the play again later in the game but wideout Lorenzo Styles dropped the pass. It was a little odd that neither Garrett nor Jac Collinsworth acknowledged that this was the same exact play the Cougars had run one week earlier. I’d never seen the Irish use it before then.

6. The called-back touchdown in the first quarter was due to a flag on tight end Mitchell Evans for being an “ineligible receiver downfield,” but the penalty was not his fault. It was the fault of running back Chris Tyree, who was split out wide left but failed to line up a full one yard off the ball. While Garrett acknowledged this, NBC’s cameras twice cut away to Evans, No. 88, on the sidelines after the play. The flag was not his fault. Garrett and Collinsworth knew this, which is probably why neither picked up on the visual cue.

7. The fourth-and-goal inside handoff to sophomore wide receiver Jayden Thomas was a curious call. To our memory, that’s Thomas’ first career rushing attempt. Sure, if it works, the element of surprise is in your favor. But when it doesn’t, and this is at least the second time in as many games the Irish have come up short on 4th-and-goal, the call invites questions. The fact that the Irish felt they needed to get cute versus the Cardinal is disturbing.

8. Let’s not blame Drew Pyne. Or at least not all that much. He was thrust into a job that literally is over his head (probably why most of his passes are directed outside the hash marks) but he has performed ably the past three games. On Saturday Pyne had three good rushes that won’t make anyone forget Ian Book, but they kept the defense honest and one worked on a third-and-long. It would be nice if Pyne did not lock on to Michael Mayer so often and for so long before he passes, but he’s been, at the very least, adequate. The 3-3 record is not his fault.

9. The Irish attempted another end around to Braden Lenzy and again it went for lost yardage. When will they learn?

10. At this stage in their respective careers, we shouldn’t be hearing “Prince Kollie” more than we do “Isaiah Foskey.” But that’s been the case the past two weeks. Foskey has all the physical gifts of a first-day NFL draft pick and he’s played well this season. But he has not been as disruptive as a Thursday night selection should be.

11. Notre Dame’s top three efforts (of six) thus far have been on the road and against superior competition than the teams they faced in South Bend: Ohio State, North Carolina and BYU, all of whom are or have been ranked. The Irish are 2-1 against that trio and the Buckeyes, whom the Irish led in Columbus for long stretches, are No. 2 in the nation. Clearly something is amiss in terms of the preparation for home games versus road games (and I know BYU was not a true road game, but you get it). If Notre Dame plays in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus as it has away from South Bend, the Irish are 5-1 right now. Their absence of energy for all three home games is a concern, but as I’ve written before, I think the 30 or so hours leading up to kickoff for a Notre Dame player are an unnecessary slog through pomp and tradition, a vestigial Hail Mary (pun intended) pass to the past. I’d curtail most of it if I were the athletic director, from the mandatory pep rally on Friday afternoons to the mandatory mass on Saturdays (How many of these players are even Catholic?).

12. In terms of Marcus Freeman, patience. Lou Holtz was 5-6 his first season (albeit playing well versus a murderous schedule) and Brian Kelly was 4-5 after two months. Ty Willingham started out 8-0 and Charlie Weis was signing a bazillion dollar extension after a home loss to a Pac-12 school on October 15th (all the same elements as last Saturday). As a longtime CFB observer, Freeman’s preternatural calm, almost zen-like demeanor, is almost worrisome. Sure, Twitter can’t mock him for having a purple face, but there’s also the wonder as to whether he instills enough healthy fear in his own players. Who knows? And does it matter? I’m not sure. What is known is that the Irish have far more talent than all three teams they’ve hosted this season, and they’re 1-2 in those games. They get UNLV this week and the spread is 24.5 points. Not sure if they cover, but if for any reason they lose, or if they are trailing for a significant portion, then the Freemans would do well to not plant any saplings in their yard. Though I doubt much planting is done in late October in South Bend.

The B.S. Wonders…

… After the first half Alabama played, only down four points, did anyone really believe Tennessee would hold them off? I did not. Props to the Vols, who could disrupt all of college football’s hierarchy if they finish 13-0. That would mean Georgia did not advance to the SEC Championship Game and that Alabama had at least two losses. Would open the door for a fresh face (UCLA? Mississippi? TCU?) in the college football playoff. It’s probably too much to hope that another orange team, Syracuse, upsets Clemson (yes, also orange)… Still, if Jahmyr Gibbs catches that flare out pass on third down, Bama probably wins. As outstanding as Tennessee played (Jaylen Hyatt, have yourself a day with five TD receptions), it still came down to a Bama miscue… The fate of Oklahoma State’s and USC’s undefeated seasons came down to either overtime or a last-second two-point conversion. Much like how Alabama let one late play (and that’s before we talk about Tennessee’s two completions in the final :25) upend their season… Michigan and Ohio State have yet to play a nervous game yet. And they most likely will not before November… perhaps against one another… Is 6-1 Illinois the most unlikely pleasant surprise in the Power 5 this season?… How good was Peyton Manning on College GameDay? The world needs more Mannings, and the good news is that we appear to be getting them… Did you see Please Don’t Destroy’s “Wellness” video on SNL? Good stuff…

… The second-year trio, all NYU alums, do have a little bit of nepotism working in their favor. Martin Herlihy (the bespectacled one, I believe) is the son of former SNL head writer Tim Herlihy. John Higgins is the son of former SNL writer and Jimmy Fallon announcer Steve Higgins.

THE BUBBA SCREEN

by John Walters

A note, nay, a confession: we don’t watch anywhere near as much college football this offseason. It’s… refreshing. So these reports are in no way intended to be comprehensive. Our completion percentage hovers around 50%, making us the Braxton Burmeister of college football re-cappers. Of course, this column remains pro bono (but also, as you’ll see, pro Bobo). If you care to donate, though, you may do so via PayPal and hit up trumansparks88@gmail.com.

Addison is a key addition for the Fight On crew

Own The Portal, Be Immortal

College football has morphed into the sports version of that classic SNL sketch, “Meet Your Second Wife.”
Watching a pair of college football games from Los Angeles this weekend instilled in us the primacy of owning the college football portal in this brave new world of CFB. On Friday night undefeated Washington and UCLA clashed (and not just fashion-wise) in the Rose Bowl. The Huskies were led by quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., an Indiana transfer who just happened to be leading the nation in passing (and still is, despite the 40-32 defeat). Two-thirds of the Bruins’ offensive skill-position triad are also transfers: matchup nightmare Mike Bobo (6’5″), late of Duke, who runs like a deer but looks like a tight end; and running back Zach Charbonnet, who returned home to Los Angeles after a season at Michigan. All three players shined in a game that kicked off at 10:30 p.m. on the East coast.

On Saturday night, same kickoff time (maybe this is a Pac-12 After Dark item disguised as a transfer item?), USC defeated team-without-hap Arizona State, 42-25. USC’s top three offensive weapons are all transfers, as you probably know: quarterback Caleb Williams (Oklahoma), wide receiver and reigning Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison (Pitt) and running back Travis Dye (Oregon). Dye, like Charbonnet, played his high school football in the Los Angeles area. Also worth noting that the Sun Devils had lost to the portal two key offensive weapons: quarterback Jaylen Daniels is slinging for LSU, who—don’t look now—is 4-1 with an only loss being a product of a blocked PAT at the end of regulation in the season opener versus Florida State; and 6’7″ wideout Johnny Wilson, now a Seminole, whom the ESPN guys splooge over every time his name is mentioned. Wilson, who’s actually on his third school, had hands of stone in Tempe. He has markedly improved.

There are so many more: quarterback Adrian Martinez (Nebraska to Kansas State) has the Wildcats ranked 20th (an inexplicable home loss to Tulane preventing K-State from being 5-0); Alabama, of all schools, is relying on a running back from Georgia Tech, Jahmyr Gibbs, to be its RB1. Not coincidentally, the coaches at Nebraska and Georgia Tech were fired before the calendar struck October.

Gibbs’ move about 2 1/2 hours west from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa is paying dividends for him and Bama; not so much for Geoff Collins and Ga. Tech

Sure, plenty of 2022 studs are still with the girl they brought to the prom (Bryce Young, Spencer Sanders, Bijan Robinson, to name just a few), but it’s more and more apparent that, as a coaching staff, your transfer portal “recruiters” need to be even more skilled and comprehensive than your high school recruiters. First, for a coach whose bath temperature is rapidly rising, transfers represent a much quicker fix. Second, they’re already established and you don’t have to shepherd them through the freshmen transition. And not only must schools begin to better appreciate the importance of the transfer portal. So must broadcasters. The portal, and not recruiting classes, has now become the largest indicator of a program’s offseason development—or depletion. And that’s also what makes it different. The portal, unlike recruiting prep stars, is a zero sum game. Look at Ga. Tech and Alabama. The Tide’s gain of Gibbs is just as much a story as the Yellow Jackets’ loss of him. Unlike pro sports, Ga Tech received no compensation.

Meanwhile, the portal will probably only widen the chasm between haves and have-nots. The only reason that you’re transferring, say, to a Purdue is because you’re stuck on the second or third team or you grew up in the area. But if you’re someone who’s established himself at a perennial sub-.500 or thereabouts school, such as Bobo or Gibbs, you transfer to a Bucket List School.

Final thought: the transfer portal being fluid as it is, the ultimate power move would be for Nick Saban to announce that he’s retiring, then persuade his top 40 players to join him as he returns to his alma mater, Kent State. Watch the Golden Flashes go 12-0 and earn a berth in the expanded 12-team playoff. Okay, maybe not Kent State, but what if Nick did this at Hawaii (maholo, bitches!) or even SEC doormat Vandebilt? We’d be rooting for them.

Jenny, Jenny*

*If you are a certain age, the words “Ooh, can I call you” just popped into your head

That, above, is Jenny Dell, CBS’s new sideline reporter for its marquee SEC game each Saturday. So it occurred to us that now both CBS and Fox (Jenny Taft) are leading with women named Jenny who have a four-letter surname that goes consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant. But the similarities only begin there. Both ladies attended college in Massachusetts (Dell attended UMass-Amherst; Taft, Boston University… SEC sororities should be mildly ashamed that a pair of Massachusetts schools-without-Division-I-football grads are taking these gigs) and both married professional athletes. Dell wed former Boston Red Sox infielder Will Middlebrooks (she covered the Red Sox for NESN), while Taft married Matt Gilroy, a former NHL skater and winner of the hockey Heisman, the Hobey Baker Award. Further, Dell’s cameraman is named Taft and Taft’s cameraman is named Dell (okay, that’s not true, but if Steve Rushin is reading this—and why would he be?—he’ll appreciate the line).

The Picture Of Dorian’s Play

We remember seeing this in real time and thinking, that’s just filthy by Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The ESPN announcers didn’t see to notice the U-Dub tacklers pulling a Florida offensive linemen-in-Musgrave-era Keystone Cops move in real time or even on the replay. Not until ESPN returned from commercial did they point it out. Someone on Twitter wondered aloud, “Can a play win the Heisman?” Outstanding point, sir. By the way, we believe this was at the end of the same drive in which DTR hurdled a Husky tackler (and on that play as well, two Husky defenders collided). This is a here’s-my-reel drive for the veteran Bruin QB.

Aaron Judge Not, Lest You Be Aaron Judged

How meta is it to be interrupting your own college football recap column with an item on the Aaron Judge nontroversy? Full disclosure, I’m a lifelong Yankee fan and so in terms of my interest in Judge’s home run chase, it would be foolhardy for me to claim I’m 100% objective. However, I am sincere in this task so allow me to pontificate for a moment or two. To me, it’s all a matter of maintaining perspective. Like, sure, if you’re watching Houston play Tulane on TV on a Friday evening (and did not attend either school), you may have bigger problems. And yes, I can understand how a live look-in to an Aaron Judge at-bat might seem annoying (it’s a split-screen; it’s not as if they dropped the football game entirely).

But isn’t this where it’s time to be an adult and say to yourself, “Personally, I don’t love it, but I can at least understand why the suits at ESPN are doing it?” I don’t know where the majority falls on this, because in the world of social media, it’s always the unhappy noisy few whose voices are the loudest (cutaway thought: almost no one goes on RateMyProfessor.com to say, “I thought the prof was at the very least above average”). We live, sadly, in a post-Yelp! world where the loudest whiners can make it seem as if they are in the majority. I imagine most people are like myself: we just don’t have the energy to say that we like something or, if we’re not a huge fan, can roll with it. Again, perspective. How big of a deal is this really?

Fox’s Tim Brando, whom we adore in most situations, tweeted out about this radical injustice and used the word “terrorizing” to describe what ESPN is doing here. And then he called out “media critics” for giving ESPN a free pass here. I’m no longer a paid media critic, but I am currently reading Max Hastings “Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945.” Now as you read about the countless millions who died the most horrible of death due to the true terror perpetrated by the Nazis, and Josef Stalin, and the Japanese, it’s hard to get too riled up about a split-screen viewing of Aaron Judge’s home run chase.

And yes, I realize I just went full Sinead O’Connor on a sports argument and that’s not really fair. Everyone, I would hope, would appreciate that when we are arguing sports that we still appreciate sports’ true role in relation to the actual important issues in the world. Then again, as a lifelong human being in these United States, I wonder if we Americans are so often so out of touch with reality (i.e., the “first-world problems’ issue) that we actually have lost perspective. I’d argue that using the word “terrorizing” in relation to a live look-in to an Aaron Judge at bat gives me sufficient reason to muse on that.

Can A Play Win The Heisman, Part 2

Notable That He Tosses Helmet With Non-Throwing Arm

The B.S. Wonders

… If you realize that both Alabama and now Georgia found themselves trailing in the fourth quarter to an unranked team on the road this season. Clemson found itself trailing in the fourth quarter at Wake Forest, which was ranked 21st at the time. Playing in your opponent’s on-campus venue ain’t so easy, is it? Ohio State, 5-0, has yet to venture beyond the Horseshoe… WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG POST TO TAKE YOU TO YANKEE STADIUM, WHERE AARON JUDGE IS WALKING TO HOME PLATE… How genius and aware of your fan base for the University of Wisconsin to announce the dismissal of head coach Paul Chryst during the fourth quarter of a tight Packers home game versus the Patriots? Chryst’s offense was criminally obsolete, but he is a Badger alum who led them to a Rose Bowl. Still, this may be what I remember most about his tenure. How on-the-nose Wisconsin his firing was… Should’t MacKenzie Scott be the next Bachelorette (if you need help, that’s Jeff Bezos’ ex who then married a high school chemistry teacher and has pledged to give away most of her wealth during her lifetime)?… Isn’t it too bad that UCLA quarterback Steve Bono preceded current UCLA wideout Jake Bobo (probably by about 40 years)? A “Bono to Bobo” connection would have been fun for broadcasters…Wouldn’t you laugh if, just once, you saw a rosary beads-clutching priest anxiously rushing into the medical tent? Or a Native American medicine man waving sage? I know I would… Did you also notice that Bryce Young addresses the not-his-equal college kids “C.J.” in that Fansville ad? Nice touch… After that shot to the head, if Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel is cleared to play this weekend versus Texas, should Miami fire its team doctor all over again?… If we’d all be discussing that astounding TD catch by Kentucky, the game-winner in Oxford, if they hadn’t flagged the Wildcats for holding?… By the way, Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart is now officially a misnomer, as he has the worst completion percentage in the SEC…How many of us had, for the Texas A&M at Alabama Saturday, what with all the off-season sniping between Nick and Jimbo, College GameDay setting up camp in Lawrence, Kansas, on October 8th?

Mizzou-ry

If for no other reason than that this college kicker moment needed to be validated, we found ourselves rooting for Missouri on Saturday evening.

Alas, two untimely errors from the right side of Mizzou’s O-line undid the Tigers’ upset bid of No. 1 Georgia. First, a right guard flinched on first-and-inches on the goal line and Mizzou would ultimately settle for a field goal. Later, Mizzou converted a key third-and-nine on a dynamite pitch-and-catch late, but it was nullified by a hands to the face flag (a good call, too). Alas, after that moment Mizzou still led but you could see the heart go out of them. It’s as if they knew what was preordained needed to come true. Kind of like the Mets in Atlanta.

Finally, think about how much more this game would have meant in the BCS era. The No. 1 team likely knocked out of its title quest with loss at unranked Mizzou. Now, it’s almost meaningless. In two years, it’ll be even less so. They’ll tell you that the expanded playoff gives more schools a chance but what it actually does is act as a safety net against blue bloods being undone by an upset loss.

Dye Job

This photo does not begin to do justice to ESPN’s “glamor shot” photo of USC running back Travis Dye, but at least it shows the mustache. Props to ESPN’s Dave Flemming for going there, noting that it “may be my favorite glamor shot” he’s seen this season. No doubt. If you’ve seen it, Dye seems to be going either for an Oates of Hall and Oates look, or ’70s TV cop sidekick look, or supplanting Billy Dee Williams for his own Colt .45 malt liquor ad campaign. Any way you choose to see it, Travis needs himself a guest spot in Fansville and pronto.

When You Realize The Manning Cast Is Just An Update On Statler & Waldorf

Kudos to SNL‘s writers for being this self-aware for the cold open of the show’s 48th season. And also props to host Miles Teller for, as everyone has noted, nailing the Peyton Manning impression. This reminded us of September 1993, we believe, when Conan O’Brien cold-opened the maiden broadcast of his late-night show in similar self-deprecating fashion. Conan, as you know, had previously been an SNL writer.

While we’re at it, rookie Michael Longfellow was solid in this sketch and in his “Weekend Update” appearance, basically transferring some of his stand-up material to the desk. We invite you to check out his stand up material on YouTube, especially the routine about him having three dads. Longfellow, like alums David Spade and Aidy Bryant, is from the Phoenix area. Both of his parents are attorneys out here.

The Perfect Metaphor

We know. It’s baseball. But a more apt metaphor you will not find.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Frankie Lasagna!*

*This is our new home run call, at least for this player during this run

Even the analytics guys cannot spoil this moment for us. Sixty-one years after Roger Maris belted number 61 in 1961, Aaron Judge becomes only the second American League player (and second Yankee) to smile number 61. Meanwhile, a guy named Franke Lasagna, sitting in the first row of Toronto’s elevated left field seats and having brought a glove to the game, whiffs on admittedly what would have been a terrific catch on a baseball traveling at more than 100 m.p.h.

We’d spent the past few nights watching and reveling on the blossoming relationship between Roger Maris, Jr., and Patty Judge (we know: she’s married). By Tuesday we’d even come up with this movie tease: “He broke his father’s home-run record; she broke his heart… ‘Love At First Bat,’ coming to theaters this Christmas.”

Aaron Judge seems like a genuinely good guy. We are happy to say we watched his first Major League at-bat (a home run to dead center in Yankee Stadium) and feel confident that the wealthiest (or one of two) organization in baseball will pay him handsomely this winter and not lose him to Manchester United (about the only other franchise that could afford him). Of course, it would help if the Yanks win the Fall Classic. Lots of drama ahead.

Splish Splash Storm Crash

Hurricane Ian strikes Florida’s southerly west coast and it is a banger. Besides being the only hurricane in memory whose name is fully included in the letters of “hurricane,” Ian has brought its 15 m.p.h. winds to places such as Fort Myers and Captiva Island (only 2 m.p.h. below a Category-5 hurricane… imagine if Ian had juiced). And then there’s all that water (it supposedly emptied all the water out of Tampa Bay, and we’re not sure how all of that water displacement works, but we’ve seen the photos). We read yesterday that one cubic yard of water weight 1,600 pounds, which we found difficult to believe, but if true, this explains so much of the devastation. That and winds that turn power lines into match sticks. And… whew… we managed to get through this entire item without mentioning that Gov. Ron DeSantis is a neo-Nazi.

The Hilaree Step Off

If you had not heard of Hilaree Nelson before last week, what you might have learned is that she lived that sort of adventurous life that every longtime subscriber of Outside magazine aspires to. Nelson, 49, lived in the idyllic Colorado mountain town of Telluride with her life partner, Jim Morrison, and two sons. She seemed to make a living by living adventurously, scaling some of the world’s tallest peaks and then, yes, skiing down them. In this video Nelson, a fit beauty and that was likely part of her commercial appeal, describes her ethos:

“I seek out suffering because through suffering I get to know myself a lot more.” Suffering, sure. But not death.

On Monday Nelson and Morrison were skiing in Nepal, down the summit of Mountain Manaslu, the world’s eighth-tallest peak, when she was taken under by a small avalanche. It took two days before rescuers could locate her body. Ten years ago Nelson became the first female in the world to summit both Mount Everest and Lhotse (world’s tallest and 4th-tallest peaks) in a span of 24 hours. The two peaks are separated by a saddle, which Nelson skied across.

We think of the death of free climber Dean Potter. Or of the survival of the protagonist of Free Solo, Alex Hannold. We are fascinated by Nelson and Potter and Hannold because—at least to us—here are people fortunate enough to live in a free society and have first-world problems and yet their thirst for adventure compels them to take the biggest gamble of all: to gamble with their lives when there are zero external forces obligating this. We, at least, think of the millions and millions of people throughout history who never had that luxury, who lost their lives because they were simply born in the wrong country or belonged to the “wrong” religion or were conscripted into battle. And, please understand, we in no way are judging Nelson or the others for this choice. Live your life the way you want. It’s only that, to me, this is why we find these people so compelling. How many humans are willing to risk their lives for… adventure?

Someone on one of Hilaree’s YouTube videos commented, yesterday, that they wonder if she’d think it was worth it all now. We don’t think of it that way. Of course someone who had the appetite for life that Nelson did would never want to have hers extinguished prematurely. We guess the other way to look at it is, How much more living did Hilaree Nelson do in her 49 years than most people would do in 90? RIP.

Balk Showalter

Back to Rule No. 7, which states, as you know by now, that “Every Major League Baseball game offers the possibility to witness something you’ve never seen before.” And you don’t have to be Frankie Lasagna to appreciate that. On Tuesday at Citi Field something we cannot recall seeing: the same Miami Marlins pitcher, Richard Bleier, called for a balk three times during one at-bat. There needs to be a sports doc about this moment. How and why did this happen?

Watch the video. You can definitely make the argument that pitchers balk the way offensive linemen hold (are you going to call it every play?). But as you watch this video, you’ll see that Bleier has a little history with the Blue and maybe they’re reminding him here who’s boss. I dunno. But to allow a two-out single and then see the runner score on a trio of balks? And they wonder why baseball lags behind the NFL and the NBA! Actually, we love the idiosyncrasy and, yes, the possible pettiness.

The Marlins did hold on to beat the Mets, 6-4.

Last note: the ump here is John Tumpane.

Best Packer Who Does Not Play For Green Bay

So simple. So genius. Join us in wondering how come you never thought of this yourself.