Starting Five

1. Do You Know This Man?

He has a condition known as heterochromia iridium, which in “Sorry, We Didn’t Cover That in Anatomy 101” terms, means that one of his irises is a different color than the other. You should know him –or you will soon –because he should be starting the All-Star Game for the American League.

His name is Max Scherzer and this spring, at least, he has replaced Justin Verlander as the ace of the Detroit Tigers’ staff. Last night Scherzer struck out 10 Baltimore Orioles in a 5-1 win to move his record to 10-0. In stats that matter more that one’s Won-Loss record, Scherzer is second in the A.L. in strikeouts with 116 (Yu Darvish, 127) and third in WHIP at 0.91 (Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners, 0.89; Chris Sale of the White Sox, 0.90).

Oh, and Gary Smith Alert: Scherzer’s lone sibling, younger brother Alex, committed suicide one year ago this Friday. Although ESPN the Magazine has already trod this ground.

2. Maybe You’re Amazed?!?

He just happens to be the worlds’ greatest living pop star. He is 70 years young — or six years older than the age at which he once wondered if you’d still need him, if you’d still feed him. And last Friday night Sir Paul McCartney, a.k.a. “Macca” played a three-hour plus set at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

Unlike American icon Tom Petty, a fellow headliner who has spent the spring playing sets that included a lot of tracks that are found “deep in the albums” (sometimes there’s a reason for that), Macca pulled out the hits. From both his days with the most influential band in pop music history as well as his days with Wings which, on their own, are fringe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-worthy. Look at this set list.

You picked the wrong time to be standing in the Port-a-John-Paul-George-Ringo line


If you were among the 80,000-plus who witnessed this, you saw history. If this set alone isn’t its own HBO Special in a few months, I don’t know what I don’t know. Here’s Macca opening the show with one of the Beatles’ plethora of perfect pop songs, “Eight Days A Week.”  And here he is closing out the second of three encores (someone has been taking “Bruce Springsteen Concert” lessons) with “Helter Skelter.” Fittingly, he ended the third and final encore with “The End.”

3. Pressing Matter

Shouldn’t the Raiders have signed Spoto already?

This is Eric Spoto (left). And he can bench-press more than we can. More than you and I combined. And you can probably throw in Dirk Diggler’s max, too. Last month Spoto, 32, of Henderson, Nev., became the world-record holder in the “raw” bench press (no “bench shirt”, which provides stability), hoisting 722 pounds.

4. Tombstone Typo

Engrave Error: Koch, a WWII veteran, was born in 1924, not 1942.

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch (“How’m I doing?”) died earlier this year at the age of 88. He secured a plot at the Trinity Church Cemetery in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan (north of the George Washington Bridge). According to friends, Koch meticulously planned the details of his burial starting back in the 1980s. Of course, he could not plan a closing date –but he did have his personal launch date down.

Koch died on February 1 but the dates of his life were only recently added to the tombstone. And now Koch, who entered the world on December 12, 1924, will have to wait –but not for an eternity– as workers correct the error. New Yorkers who recall the city’s fearless and feisty mayor would agree that he’d probably get a kick out of this.

5. NCIS: Annapolis

Bizarrely enough, Mark Harmon actually played college football. And he was good. And was never charged with sexual assault.

As I’ve noted before, don’t all everyone rush out and search for impassioned columnists to denounce the United States Naval Academy over the fact that three of its football players –all of whom were on the roster last season — are now facing an Article 32 hearing because they are being charged with rape of a female Midshipman.* After all, it isn’t as if the USNA held a signed recruit accountable for reneging on a contract.

Actually, this case is definitely serious and potentially extremely ugly. And not just because of the crime. But because of the potential cover-up. It’s “Steubenville-meets-A Few Good Men.” And it obviously does nothing to disabuse the public of the notion that the United States military is a petri dish for sexual harassment.

And what of Melinda Henneberger, the Washington Post writer/Irish alum who last January informed us why she wouldn’t be cheering for Notre Dame in the BCS NCG? As John Everett (@jeverett15) tweeted, “She’s not going to root for Navy in any more wars.”
*As a matter of fact, yes I did link to a story that was written by a grown man named “Scooby.”


The Best Off-Broadway Show in NYC: (John) Oliver!

As a substitute teacher, John Oliver is doing a terrific job at The Daily Show thus far. It’s not just that Oliver has the right amount of naivete/anger, but the writing staff appears reinvigorated while The Boss is off directing a movie. Last night he broached Sarah Palin’s return to Fox News after leaving only five months ago (“She even quit quitting!”) and then moved on to the fact that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was forced out of office due to term limits (“making him less powerful than Mayor Bloomberg”).

The most inspired moment, and I wish I had the video to show you (try this; it doesn’t work for me) was when Oliver ended the segment by hoisting Ahmadinejad’s signature windbreaker to the rafters to join the coats of Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qhaddafi and Kim Jong-Il. Brilliant, simple idea. A-plus.



Johnny Manziel “can’t wait to leave College Station.” Is he ever actually there? Our incomplete recollection of the Johnny Manziel World Tour since he won the Heisman Trophy has him taking batting practice with the San Diego Padres, attending the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals, playing a round of golf at Pebble Beach, doing remarkably well at the casino, and getting his Cabo Wabo on south of the border.


Never mind that he is still not of legal drinking age (he’s 20).

Carson: “Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”
Manziel: “Wheeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny?”

Some people think that Manziel’s on-field antics remind them of Fran Tarkenton while his off-field antics remind them of Joe Namath. I’d say that, as for the latter, he reminds me more of Ferris Bueller.

Who can blame him, you ask? Sure. Remember, though, that this is a young man who takes all of his courses on-line. And he still has only played one season of college football. This should get even more interesting.

If this is the best that you can do, SportsGrid, you might want to reconsider publishing the post.


Marissa’s Mulligan

Miss Utah, Marissa Powell, is given a second chance on “The Today Show”. A few things:

1) If only we could see the thought bubbles over the head of the actual Miss USA winner, Erin Brady, who was compelled to share her moment with Powell. Can you say, “Death lasers?” Or how about, “Upstaged?”

2) I actually sat on that exact couch in that exact spot last July (to discuss Penn State on the Saturday edition of Today). My responses were less coherent.

3) Would anyone really mind if she replaced Savannah Guthrie tomorrow?

The incomparable Steve Rushin tweets: “NCAA to probe Monsters University.” That’s gold, Jerry.


If you are a New York Mess fan –I’m not, but I find them morbidly fascinating –this is the biggest day in years. The Mess play a day-night doubleheader at Turner Field today. Ace Matt Harvey, a.k.a. Mr. No Decision, takes the hill in the opener. Harvey’s career record since being called up late last July is only 8-6, but his ERA is 2.30 and he has 172 K’s versus just 46 BBs.

Wheeler: How many starts before the Mess crush his soul?

Tonight Zack Wheeler, the organization’s top overall prospect and an Atlanta native, takes the mound for his Major League debut.

Harvey is 24. Wheeler is 23. “Mess” is a four-letter word. So is “hope.”
Oh, and if Wheeler is wondering what awaits him, Mess P Dillon Gee pitched eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball and, of course, drove in the Mess’ only run in Atlanta last night. Then, in the ninth –and this was after the game’s start had been delayed four hours due to rain — he allowed a single to Justin Upton and then a home run to Freddie Freeman to lose, 2-1. That is SO Mess.


Flori-Duh (courtesy of The Big Lead)



 Remote Patrol

NBA Finals, Game 6

ABC 9 p.m.

This is going seven, so you can take the night off. Or switch to ESPN for the USA-Honduras World Cup qualifier. I mean, it is going seven, right? And wouldn’t it be wiser for Pop to simply give his Trio Grande the night off in order to be well-rested for Thursday? This would be only the third series (Knicks-Rockets, 1994; Pistons-Spurs, 2005; Celtics-Lakers, 2010) in the past quarter-century to go to a seventh game.




Starting Five

1. Did Miss Utah Botch Her Answer? Sorry, I Wasn’t Paying Attention

“Blah blah blah ‘Create education better’ blah blah blah

Last night. Miss USA Pageant. During the Q&A session –which occurs after the T&A session (see above) — Miss Utah, Marissa Powell, was asked, “What does it say about society that women continue to earn less than men?”

First of all, let’s credit Powell for the following:

1) Not using the term “U.S. Americans” in her response.

2) Not spending the night at A.J. McCarron’s home.

3) Not replying, “Who died and made you Mika Brzezinski?”

Good question. Difficult question to answer, especially when there is house music playing in the background. Powell stammered, then talked about how “we need to figure out how to  create jobs right now, that is the biggest problem” (way to remember the talking points), before adding that “we need to see how to…create education better.”

In the words of Steve Martin: “Some people have a way with words. Others….not have way.”

Powell, 21, finished as the third runner-up. Miss Connecticut, Erin Brady, won. But it is Powell who, due to her inchorent answer, is garnering all the attention this morning. So she did win.

Also, you have to love a month (June) that gives you both the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the Miss USA Pageant. #MericaF*%$Yeah

2. Mad Men Four-Word Review: “They (Sorta) Killed Kenny!”

1. Ken Cosgrove learns the hard way that if you are going to hunt in Michigan, only go bow-and-arrow hunting with Ted Nugent. Matt Weiner goes all “South Park” in this episode, but doesn’t even wait until the next episode to revive Kenny. We think he is dead, but rather he just took some buckshot in the eye and returns for a scene after the commercial break.

2. “You’re a monster!” Funny that in an episode that makes so many references to “Rosemary’s Baby” that it is Don Draper who is called out as being a monster. But, hey, Peggy’s right.

3. The big secret about Bob Benson? Il habla espanol, papi! In addition we learn that Bob, like Draper, hails from the wrong side of Appalachia and has invented his own backstory. We called this weeks ago when we noted that the names Don Draper and Bob Benson are both alliterative and have the same three-six word arrangement. Writers, and Weiner is certainly that, don’t do this by accident.

4. The episode begins and ends with Don Draper in a fetal position. And shot from above. Again, not by accident. Why? I think we are supposed to be seeing that Don realizes that he has nothing: his daughter has disowned him, his wife cannot fix a decent breakfast (again, the conceit of “Mad Men” is that no one ever eats Megan Draper’s cooking), Peggy now fawns over Ted Chaough, and Mrs. Rosen Rosen is probably over.

5. Harry Hamlin utters, “Great Caesar’s ghost.” Hamlin, in both appearance and demeanor, has been channeling Adam West’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the contemporaneous “Batman” TV series (a classic in satire) all season long. This is a Batman-ism. Masterfully done.

3. Ginobiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

Did you see this coming? I did not see this coming.

Spurs sixth man Manu Ginobili (who is Italian by way of Argentina, which makes him the Diana Taurasi of men’s hoops), who had been underwhelming through the first four games of the NBA Finals, is given his first start all season. And the future Hall of Famer responds by scoring a season-high 24 points to lead the Spurs to a 114-104 rout (they led by 20 in the fourth quarter) in Game 5.

Is it now okay for me to refer to Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan as the “Trio Grande?” It is? Thank you.

All five San Antonio starters scored at least 16 points, by the way, while their bench accounted for seven.

Danny Green shot 6 of 10 from beyond the arc, giving him an NBA Finals-record 25, topping the old record of 22 held by Ray Allen. As if to remind folks not to shovel dirt on his grave, Allen hit all four threes he attempted while scoring 21 points.

(Adopts Magic Johnson voice: “Look, the Heat have more to lose this series than the Spurs have to win. San Antonio is already 4-0 in NBA Finals during the Duncan-Popovich era. The legacy is already secure. The Heat want to be thought of as the Chicago Bulls of this generation, and they seemed to turn the corner in the fourth quarter of Game 4. So this effort is very disappointing. They now have their backs against the wall –just as they did versus Dallas two years ago — and if they find themselves 1-2 after three consecutive NBA Finals, well, that’ll be a stain on this trio’s legacy.”)

4. Viva La Balotelli! (As someone of Italian descent –don’t let the surname fool you–I take great pride in Nos. 3 and 4 today)

If you think that Mario Balotelli is the host of “Iron Chef America”, well, I have news for you.

Balotelli is a striker for Italy, but you can just think of him as the Dennis Rodman of soccer. Yesterday Balotelli scored the winning goal for the Azzurri (typing that secures my football cred)  in a CONCACAF match versus Mexico in Maracana Stadium in Brazil, and in signature fashion, went all Matthew McConaughey immediately afterward. For that he was given a yellow card.

Balotelli, 22, is not quite Lionel Messi. The striker who earns his living for AC Milan may not even be Gareth Bale. What he is is the most polarizing, mercurial figure in soccer today. And he’ll be a key figure back in Brazil next summer.

5. Won’t You Be My Number Two?

At the U.S. Open at Merion, Brit Justin Rose wins his first major.

But, like Marissa Powell, it was someone who failed to win who earned more attention. Phil Mickelson, who finished second in this major for the SIXTH time in his career, completely spoiled every wretched columnist’s saccharine narrative. First of all, it was Lefty’s 43rd birthday. Also, it was Father’s Day, and Mickelson opened this tourney on three hours’ sleep because he had taken a red-eye from San Diego because he didn’t want to miss his oldest daughter’s eighth-grade graduation on Wednesday evening (eighth-grade graduation?!? Seriously? Hell, William Miller missed his own high school graduation in San Diego…but he was off touring with Stillwater). Finally, there was the easy headline: “Phil Masters Philly.”

There’s an old Peanuts routine in which Charlie Brown tells Linus that “Nobody remembers who finished second” and then Linus, being the child prodigy genius that he is, goes on to enumerate numerous silver medalists (figurative) through time. I cannot find it this morning, but trust me, it’s out there.

Everyone –or at least everyone who knows what term “up and down” means –will remember Mickelson, who has now been a runner-up in eight majors, as golf’s No. 2. Which is better than most, of course. But as Dale Earnhart once said, “Second place is just the first place loser.”
Harsh? Yes. True? You decide.

*Opted for the Joe Jackson song title hed, although I thought long and hard about the Elvis Costello album hed –Mighty Like a Rose. Either way, the Eighties ruled musically.


Starting Five

1. Defense. Determination. D-Wade.


The Heat led 88-81 early in the fourth quarter. The outcome was still in the balance. Then Dwyane Wade stole a worrisome cross-court pass from Danny Green and took it back the other way for a jam. And suddenly the game was over. Heat, 109-93.

Miami outscored San Antonio 28-17 in the fourth quarter, with their Trio Grande of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh responsible for 25 of the 28. Bosh played his best game of the series, scoring 20 points and outhustling everyone for loose balls and down low. James had 33 and Wade, in vintage ’06 mode, had 32.

The defense was superb and I do believe that right about now Tiago Splitter could use a hug.

Jeff Van Gundy said that Manu Ginobili needs to start playing like Manu Ginobili, but you wonder if that choo choo has left the station. At one point in the second half Ginobili flashed a vision of old, driving to the hoop and then no-look passing to Tim Duncan, who then had his shot blocked by James.

That Heat team, when it shows up and plays like this, cannot be beat. Miami simply has a greater upside than San Antonio. The question is, Can they summon it twice more?

“I guess there’s only one way to find out,” said Wade afterward, smiling. “See you Sunday…well, I’ll see you before Sunday, but you know what I mean.”

2. The National League: No Longer Latos Intolerant

Unbeaten Mat Latos took the hill at Wrigley Field for the Cincinnati Reds yesterday afternoon. The vendors at Wrigley ought to sell Reds gear, since Cincy had won 12 straight there. Latos (6-0), left with a one-run lead in the top of the seventh, but the five-plus hour game was just getting started. Chicago would win in 14 innings, as Red manager Dusty Baker never brought in his closer, Aroldis Chapman, and Joey Votto struck out twice in extra innings, three times overall. Latos is still unbeaten –he got a No Decision –but the Reds bullpen has already blown five saves for him this season…

3. From Mat to Matt…

Continuing on the subject of unbeaten NL pitchers, the Mess’ Matt Harvey (5-0) got the start for a matinee at Citi Field against baseball’s best team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Had it been a night game it would have been torrential downpour-ed out, but instead Harvey had to face the Cardinal lineup well aware that he’d likely get just one run of support. He failed to get even that, leaving after seven innings trailing 1-0 in a contest the abysmal Mess eventually lost, 2-1 (the tying run was on third in the bottom of the ninth when Josh Satin struck out to end the game).

A non-Congressionally approved tarp.

How frustrated must Harvey be? In the 7th inning, with the Mess trailing 1-0, two outs and a runner on second, St. Louis intentionally walked Kirk Niewenhuis, an .083 hitter, to get to Harvey’s spot in the batting order. Met manager Terry Collins lifted Harvey, who actually has a better batting average, .138, for pinch-hitter Josh Turner…who grounded out to end the threat. Next time, Skip, let Harvey hit.

The line on Harvey: It was his first loss in his past 15 starts. In his past 10 starts, Harvey, whose ERA is 2.04, is 1-1 thanks to the Mess scoring a total of 18 runs for him in those 10 starts. The All-Star Game is at Citi Field this July and Harvey will certainly pitch at some point in the contest. It’ll be a strange, new experience for him: pitching for a lineup that can actually hit

4. Opening Today….

Not opening today? This…

…or this…

…or this…

5. Incendiary and Hypocritical Big-Time College Athletics Quote of the Week

University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director Steve Pederson, after Vanderbilt basketball player Sheldon Jeter was denied by Commodore coach Kevin Stallings in his appeal to transfer to Pitt: “There ought to be some rationale for leaving. That’s where we’ve gotten a little tighter in terms of talking about departures. This shouldn’t be just free agency and when you want to leave you just leave.”


“Give it to me, Sheldon” — Billy Crystal, “When Harry Met Sally”

A) Keep in mind, this was the Pitt A.D., not the Vanderbilt A.D., saying this. The A.D. at the school to which Jeter wants to jump.

B) You can cue up the mental leap of every columnist in the nation faster than Ray Ratto can reach for a chocolate glazed on this one: Student-athletesc cannot play the free agency game but coaches can? What is the rationale for Chip Kelly leaving Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles? More money and/or greater opportunities. Why can’t student-athletes play that card?

C) Important to remember: Jeter may still transfer to Pitt, no matter what Kevin Stallings decrees. He just may pay his own tuition the first academic year. Either way he was going to have to sit out a year. It’s up to him whether transferring to Pitt is worth one year’s tuition. Of course, he can always ask the students he takes classes with if they think it has a value-add prospect.


“The Oakland Athletics are the hottest team in baseball.”

I’m sorry, but don’t we seem to read that headline at some point in the season every year (I’ll check with Aaron Sorkin and Michael Lewis)? Anyway, the A’s really are, as they’ve won 20 of 25 and are coming off a sweep of the New York Yankees in Oakland. Oh, and guess what? They have a bunch of renegades and mavericks with bizarre facial hair and are a loose bunch. Because no one have ever seen that before.

Having conquered the A.L. West, Billy Beane has now moved on to fighting zombies.

My question: Why do we refer to the Athletics as the “A’s” and the Orioles as the “O’s” but never the Indians as the “I’s? I wondered this on Twitter and someone replied, “I’ve always just referred to the Indians as ‘terrible.’ ”


Two (more) cents on Eddie Vanderdoes:

Was there ever a single moment in the last month, the last few, where Vanderdoes expressed either remorse or frustration that his “extenuating family health circumstances” were going to prevent him from matriculating at Notre Dame? I’m trying to put myself in this young man’s exceptionally large shoes. Say that you truly wanted to attend the school with which you signed, but a family situation at home was creating a conflict. You think there might be some public expression of being tortured.

Instead, we seem to have a young man who has already located a new haven. And who now wants his school of first choice to accommodate him because that would just be more convenient.

The argument in favor of Vanderdoes from my detractors in Twitter seems to be…

1) Give the kid a break. He’s a kid.

2) Notre Dame sucks. So whatever side Notre Dame is on, I’ll take the other side.

3) In any conflict between student-athlete and major university, I’ll take the former.

4) So it’s okay for a coach to leave a program without consequence, but not a kid?

My points:

— Eddie Vanderdoes, and every other high school football recruit, signs an NLI with a school, not a coach. The coach may be a big reason why he chooses that institution, but the coach is not paying his scholarship. He’d do well to remember that.

–There are terms of a contract. Had Brian Kelly bolted, he would’ve owed Notre Dame a buyout. All Notre Dame –or Florida State, in the case with Matt Thomas — is doing is holding Vanderdoes to the terms with which he agreed, to a contract he signed under no duress.

— Notre Dame has at least the grounds to be skeptical as to why Vanderdoes truly wants out of his contract. And, like Vanderdoes, they have an entity to protect. Just as Vanderdoes has the right to act in his best interests, so do they. Particularly if they followed through with their terms of the agreement.

–We’d all love a break sometimes. Life isn’t kindergarten, though. The sooner you learn that, the better.

–UCLA just offered an 8th-grade quarterback from Texas, Lindell Stone, a scholarship. Of course, it’s meaningless: UCLA can change its mind at any moment and Stone is still four years away from being able to contractually commit. But maybe, just maybe, an argument can be made that Jim Mora is going to hyper-aggressively attempt to out-recruit crosstown rival Lane Kiffin and USC. And maybe, just maybe, if he saw the tiniest aperture of opportunity to keep the top defensive lineman in-state the past few months, well, maybe he jumped at that chance. Just a thought…




Starting Five

Original Six

1. United Center Ice

Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals was even better than Game One of the NBA Finals. Why?

— The game extended well into the third overtime, ending after 108 minutes and 12 seconds after Michal Rozsival’s shot glanced off two Chicago Blackhawk teammates, Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw, and past Tuukka Rask for the game-winner (When is the last time Tony Parker did that? Right? Riiiight?)

–It was the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history.

–It featured a dude named Tuukka Rask.

–It was the first meeting in the Stanley Cup Finals between these two Original Six franchises, which is the name given to the sextet (Detroit, Montreal, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs) who WERE the NHL between the years 1942 and 1967. Boston’s first season in the NHL was 1924 and Chicago’s was 1926 and Bill Hubbell probably already knew that.

–Because Chicago trailed by two goals midway through the third period but then managed to tie it up. You will recall that the Bruins trailed by three goals in Game 7 of Round 1 of these playoffs versus another Original Six squad, Toronto, and came back to tie it, force OT, and then win. The Bruins have now played three of the six OS franchises in these playoffs.

–Because look at the Blackhawk logo. I mean, c’mon.

2. You Have Got To Be KIDD-ing

Former Maverick/Sun/Net/Maverick/Knick Jason Kidd, who retired four minutes ago, is hired by the Brooklynettes. Kidd is No. 2 all-time n the NBA in assistusises. No. 1 all-time, John Stockton, is currently sipping Country Time lemonade on his front porch in Spokane. Is Kidd a Hall of Famer? Of course. Does the fact that Deron Williams gave him a thumbs-up validate his hiring? Somewhere Jerry Sloan, who happened to coach Mr. Stockton for his entire NBA career –and coached Williams as well, who instigated the terminus of Sloan’s tenure in Salt Lake City — is howling.

3. Driving Rain-ge (See What I Did There?)

Not Gonna Lie: I’d rather watch this than golf.


So the officials at Merion Country Club sent out a few golfers this morning for the first round of the U.S. Open. Do they not have Doppler 4000 at the PGA Tour? A few brave souls made it all the way to the seventh hole and at last update were seen heading toward the Flemish Cap. Honestly, if you’ve seen the forecast for this weekend the U.S. Open may –may –finish up before the British Open. But don’t count on it.

This is why majors should always be played in domed golf courses. They probably have one in Dubai, no?

Now, we are not exactly Shipnuckian in our ardor for the game, but we will blast this tune as an anti-rain dance in hopes that play resumes at some point this weekend.

Duran Duran, sporting my high school wardrobe.


4. Matt Taibbi on Bradley Manning and Chumpbait

Another insightful and incisive piece of writing from America’s fiercest journalist. If you think Bradley Manning is a quarterback or starred in “Silver Linings Playbook”, go directly to No. 5.

5. Left Turns

Tragic, of course, that Jason Leffler died last night in a dirt-track accident in New Jersey. Leffler, 37, a fringe driver on the Sprint Cup circuit, leaves behind a five year-old son.

Curious, to me at least, that his nickname was “Left Turn.” Couldn’t every race car driver have that sobriquet, after all?

But here is where my mind –and yours –begins to wander onto larger topics. Why is it always left turns? In auto racing? In track and field? In baseball? I have long held that Major League Baseball should devote one day of the season –hell, I’ll take spring training — to having baserunners go clockwise instead of counterclockwise (Roger Clyne song alert!)

Back to our topic: Why in sports do we always go left? Here’s one theory. I have no idea if it’s true. Of course, The Sensationalist Times claims there’s an alternative league already ahead of me. I think they are Onion-ing this, though.

6. We Three Kings

From Left: Ovett, Cram, Coe

Tonight -0r, in an hour or so — in Oslo Great Britain’s three brilliant contemporaneous middle-distance runners — Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cramwill reunite on the Bislett Games track for the first time since 1980. All three men set the world record in the mile at some stage between 1979 and 1993, and none besides those three held it in what was the golden age of (European) middle-distance running.

On August 1, 1980, all three men ran in one race (Cram was just 16) and on that same evening both Coe (1000M) and Ovett (Dream Mile) set world records. Within a few weeks the trio headed to Moscow for the 1980 Olympics, where Coe earned the gold in the 1500, a.k.a. the Metric Mile and where this photograph, one of the best in the history of track and field, was snapped. And not with a phone.


In a 48-hour span on SportsCenter, both Neil Everett and Andy North appeared wearing physician’s lab coats. North went the extra mile, draping a stethoscope around his neck. Is it “‘Let’s Play Doctor’ Awareness Month?”

Scott Van Pelt missed a gimme putt to make a Dr. Beeper reference here.

Rajon Rondo defeats two sports journalists in Connect Four while playing both simultaneously. Unfortunately, for me this says more about sports journalists’ than it does Rondo.

Impressed? You should see Derrick Rose play Stratego.


Remote Patrol

NBA Finals, Game 4

ABC 9 p.m.

The most intriguing sub-plot: How to inveigle Gregg Popovich to provide an answer of any substance in length during the quarter timeout. Me, I’d head the other direction. We obviously realize that Pop is brilliant and testy. But he does appreciate a mental stimulant. And he appreciates terseness. So if I’m Doris Burke I just stand next to Pop and begin playing Password.” You know that he’ll catch on. “Helterrrrr….” You know what? Forget it. I’d rather watch that episode of “Password” than Game 4.






The Film Room with Chris Corbellini: “Mud”

By now you know the drill: Chris Corbe-Fellini watches films and then provides expert analysis. Today he looks at the new Matthew McConaughey film, “Mud”, which scored a 99% on the Rotten Tomatoes meter.


by Chris Corbellini

A woman’s desire to change and mold a bad boy into something else is well-covered territory. Novels, the occasional hit cable series, and a never-ending stream of magazines have all tried to tackle the catch that refuses to be caught. Far less discussed in those circles, if at all, is the role reversal: a caring man’s inability to hold onto an irresponsible, beautiful woman for very long. The movie “Mud” may be pitched at first as a story of star-crossed lovers and the two kids that offer to help them out, but at the finish this one is a cautionary tale about how a pretty face can be a man’s ruin. Or worse, someone who is still just a boy.


Consider the Beach Boys classic “Help Me Rhonda” that warbles playfully over the end credits. Perhaps not playfully. Mockingly might be a better fit. You see, the clam digger uncle of one of the boys, played by Michael Shannon, explains to young Ellis (Tye Sheridan) that the song is about the best way to cure a broken heart: a brand-new bit of female booty. The other boy, the nephew in question, Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), already agrees. When a jilted woman angrily leaves a family trailer she stops, pivots, and tells the seemingly-impressionable lad to “treat a woman like a princess,” but he is already past that point, staring giddily straight down her shirt.

Sheridan and Lofland share a “Stand By Me” moment


Not that Neckbone isn’t a good kid. Quite the contrary, like Ellis he’s handy, loyal, and flies under the radar of watchful adult eyes in a small, soggy Arkansas river town. The pair begin the film on an island looking for a boat wedged high atop a tree after a flood, find it (the vessel looks like one of those fake arrow toys you place on someone’s head) and claim it as their own. Alas, they then discover a squatter of sorts in a man named Mud. The camera first locates the title character (Matthew McConaughey) from a distance, seemingly appearing out of nothing. Indeed, moments before, the boys noticed that a track of footprints simply disappear in the sand. This would suggest McConaghey as a mysterious and perhaps sinister figure, but his motivations quickly become clear. Mud has been in love with a girl named Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) his entire life, things turned ugly with another guy, and now he is on the run. These two boys represent his best chance to get that boat back on the water and escape. A letter passed discreetly to Juniper would be a solid as well.


That’s enough set-up for a two-hour movie, and with a hollow-faced group of bounty hunters and a dead man’s family looking for Mud this film builds to a violent climax like rising floodwater. But this isn’t a straight-up thriller, it’s a coming-of-age tale, and the screenplay deftly weaves in Ellis’ first cannonball into women-infested waters. It’s not a pretty landing. Consider the ladies that circle his life:  His mother wants a divorce and there’s talk of their home on the river being dismantled (the father glumly states that love isn’t enough to keep it all together, it fades). An older love interest pushes him away and pulls him in. Then there’s sexy-sad Juniper, and a betrayal which I will not reveal. I will only say that Ellis and Neckbone have to experience it twice, once for themselves and again through Mud’s pleading eyes.

Reese is no June Carter Cash in this Southern Gothic flick.


It’s McConaughey’s best moment, and Witherspoon, Shannon, Sam Shepard and Sam Shepard’s rifle rise up to the quality of the script as well. Still, it’s the kids that carry us all from credits to credits. Sheridan and Lofland play 14-year-olds, and it’s the perfect age of know-how around machinery and naivete about people.  It’s easy for a teenage boy, when surrounded by so many things he cannot control, to go so far out of his way to help someone else. The pair are old enough to traverse the river by boat and ride a motorcycle, but not old enough to own a driver’s license. Old enough to stand up to a grown man beating on a girl, yet not old enough to physically stop him. The camerawork does get crafty when they need the leads to act older than their years, shooting up at them from near their waists. The scene where Ellis tries to convince Shepard’s character to help Mud was lensed this way. Yet when they are confronted by an adult with bad intentions they are all in frame from a normal eye level, and the size difference is drastic and frightening.

Did you really think that MM was going to keep his shirt on the entire film?


With movies like this it’s not about the teens they are at that moment, but the men they will someday become. The final shots of open water and a stolen smile from a girl across the street offer an upbeat ending, but what a boat ride to get to that point for all involved. In one of his two key moments in a hotel room with Juniper, Ellis steps outside and … and … and he can’t help himself, he must walk back to see a beautiful woman’s reaction to one more letter. Would she be stone-faced, watching a TV? Or maybe on the phone flirting with the next of many interested parties? What happens next, and a few final words from Mud before it all goes down in a hail of gunfire, likely set Ellis’ path of relationships more than anything else. If the filmmakers decided to revisit he and Neckbone 20 years later, no doubt they would be happy and successful working together on the water. As the sun finally dipped into the river they would part walking toward their vehicles, one with an uncle tagging along to a singles bar, and the other into the arms of a loving, stable wife.

(Editor’s Note: Tennessee native Witherspoon seems on a mission to tackle every SEC state that she can in her career. It began in 1991 with “The Man on The Moon” [Louisiana] and continued in 2002 with “Sweet Home Alabama”  and then her home state in 2005’s “Walk The Line.” Witherspoon was born in Sportsman’s Paradise but was raised in Nashville.)



Starting Five

1. World War Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz: Spurs 113, Heat 77

Miami got outscored by 21 points — in the fourth quarter


— World War Zzzzzzz? I was this close to going with “The Interned.”

–I just want to lead off by stating that Mike Miller shot five-for-five from beyond the arc. Remember that, lackluster franchises, if Doug McDermott is still on the board when your spot arrives in the NBA Draft.

–Let’s just assume that the Spurs covered the spread. The 36-point defeat was the third-worst loss in NBA Finals history. In Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Chicago beat Utah 96-54 (42 points). In Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, Boston beat Los Angeles 131-92 (38), which means that Ray Allen has participated in two of the three worst blowouts in Finals history. Allen scored 26 points in that ’08 contest and four last night on 2-2 shooting.

–Before the game Bill Simmons reminded his three amigos on the set that Mario Chalmers, who had 19 points in Game 2, “is one of the league’s most up-and-down (read: inconsistent) players.” Chalmers started last night and finished with zero points on 0-5 shooting.

–As predicted earlier this week, Game 3 failed to produce an item in The Big Lead about female fans with zaftig (look it up, A.J.!) figures.

–Can’t decide if I want to go with the Danny Green Reno Bighorns’ jersey or his Erie Bayhawks jersey for Game 4 (correct answer: the Danny Green 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers jersey!). Green, who has emerged as the breakout star in this series after scoring a game-high 27 points last night, leads all scorers in this series –including his former Cav teammate, LeBron– with 56 points. Remember, though, that Green did start on an NCAA national championship squad (North Carolina, ’09), while four of the 10 starters in last night’s game never even played college hoops (FTR, two other players, both Heat, did the same as Green: Udonis Haslem [Florida] and Chalmers [Kansas]).


— Love this, from ESPN (but not from Ed Werder): The first time Miami won in San Antonio –after 11 losses — was in 1996. David Robinson broke his foot in that game, the Spurs crashed and burned the rest of the season, and their reward was drafting Tim Duncan the following June.

–The most pivotal Game 3 that comes to mind for me was in 1991: Bulls and Lakers are tied 1-1- as we head to the Forum. Michael Jordan, who had averaged 34.5 points in the first two games (those are the kinds of numbers GOATs put up, kids), led Chicago back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit (sound familiar, Heat fans?) to send the game into overtime, where the Bulls would win. For anyone who remembers, the series was over after Game 3. It felt that way, and in actuality the Bulls would win the final two games, in L.A., without too much trouble.

2. Tiananmen Square…Tahrir Square…Taksim Square…Hollywood Squares!

The first protester in Istanbul who cries, “I’ll take Charley Weaver to block” will have my undying devotion.

So, there are protesters in Istanbul, Turkey, a place I’ve never visited but would love to see…though now I think I’ll wait awhile. Yesterday the government police were spraying tear gas at protesters in Taksim Square, at these, yes, young Turks, who were revolting against the planned closing of Gezi Park, which would be replaced with Ottoman-era army barracks (making so little sense that I wondered which current U.S. elected official hatched that idea).

Okay, sure, the moment you heard this, if you are like me, your mind immediately went to Jerry Seinfeld’s thoughts on the Ottoman Empire: “an entire empire built around a foot rest.”

Anyway, I’m on the side of the protesters. Would that I lived in a nation where people turned off the television long enough to go out and protest the atrocities its own government commits on a daily basis. That said, I don’t think the answer in these foreign countries is less repressive regimes. The answer is less squares.

And, because I hope that Steve Rushin occasionally reads this, here are some classic Paul Lynde quips from the original Hollywood Squares (Host, Peter Marshall: “Paul, how many husbands have the three Gabor sisters had among them?” Lynde: “You mean including their own?” and “Paul, what is a good reason for pounding meat?” “Loneliness.”). You can be funny without using the F-word, it turns out.

3. Oldest Living Human Dies

Kimura was 44 years old on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Jiroemon Kimura, 116, of Japan passes. I actually learned of Kumara’s death three days before he left this mortal coil because Rafael Nadal tweeted it.

4. And That Is Why They Don’t Call It a “Pacific” Division

Thanks, Ian Kennedy, for trying to ruin the best story of baseball season.

Major brawl between the D-Bags and Dodgers last night. It began after Ian Kennedy struck THE LEGEND Yasiel Puig in the nose with a pitch in the 6th inning (it ricocheted off Puig’s shoulder before striking his face). Zack Greinke retaliated in the top of the 7th by striking Miguel Montero in the back, and then Kennedy struck Greinke in the helmet in the bottom of the 7th.

The best part? Vin Scully narrated the entire fracas (“No use in calling out names; they’re all down there”). My only disappointment is that somehow Don Zimmer was not in the midst of this.

Seriously, Ian Kennedy, WTF!?! Before Puig arrived this is what a Dodger game was like.

5. He Still Needs To Receive His Letter of Exceptance

Kizer should be fine as long as he avoids Everett Golson’s study group.

Four-star quarterback DeShone Kizer of Toledo Central Catholic, a high school senior-to-be, tweets out that “I am privileged to say that I will be continuing my Fighting Irish tradition (CCHS goes by same moniker) by playing football at the University of Notre Dame!” So, the Fighting Irish lose a quarterback to the state of Ohio (Gunner Kiel) and then they obtain one. Kizer’s next tweet, since deleted, alerted media that he “would not be excepting calls until 6:30 p.m.” Typo? Maybe, but either way, as one follower tweeted, “This is not going to be good for Notre Dame’s APR.”


How do you see this A.J.-Webb-Wood scandal ending? Is it going to get all “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” as Katherine Webb seeks out Wood’s ex, baseball prospect Aaron Judge? No, silly. It ends with Webb dumping A.J. for Johnny Manziel. C’mon! Right?











Meanwhile, I has a few questions for the paid-for-a-living sports media:

1) Have any of you checked on whether there was a canceled Birmingham-to-Memphis flight on Saturday?

2) And how exactly did Wood get from Birmingham’s airport to Tuscaloosa? That’s about a 40-mile drive.

3) How did Wood’s tweets first appear on Radar’s, um, radar? She said nothing about A.J. McCarron on them.

4) Has anyone spoken to Webb (and if you do, have you reminded her that, well, she can do much better than A.J.? [Darnell Dockett begged me to add that])?

5) Where did Wood, McCarron and “friends” go out? Who contacted whom first? Who are the mutual friends?

6) Why aren’t there any SEC quarterbacks as handsome as Heath Shuler any more?

7) Are any of you going to make any calls on this or are you just going to keep glomming onto Radar’s quotes?


What is more difficult to fathom: That anyone could actually not be on Edward Snowden’s side or that someone could earn $200,000 a year living in Hawaii and, while engaged to an acrobat, throw it all away for his ideals? Either way, the only ones faulting Snowden are the people who already “got theirs” and like the way that the government works for them all the time.


Mark Lisanti’s weekly “Mad Men Power Rankings”, in which he at last dethrones Don Draper. Word is that when Draper heard about being dropped in the rankings, he approached Lisanti, who kept his door closed while Draper lamely attempted to explain to him that he was simply “comforting Mrs. Rosen Rosen.”

Ocean Spray or Sunkist? Why not both?


Our Rankings:

1. Ted Chaough: Has his pilot’s license and appears in those “It’s Not Complicated” ads…

2. Yessiree! Bob Benson: First, Joan. Now, Pete. And we thought 1967 was the “Summer of Love.”

3. Roger Sterling: “Gimme one scene, just one scene per show, and I’ll steal the whole damn episode,” he says while juggling chainsaws.

4. Mitchell Rosen Rosen: Avoids Vietnam (and hence, Vietnam flashbacks), has a great ass and will later form the band Television.

5. Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons: Just because.


How can you have a stat called “Fielder’s Indifference?” As if you can assume ambivalence. Just give the guy the stolen base. Meanwhile, I’ll stump for “Batter’s Indifference” when someone takes the third strike looking. Also, if the Detroit Tiger first baseman fails to hold you on the bag, is that Prince Fielder’s Indifference?


In which genial and deservedly vaunted NBA scribe Jack McCallum, a former colleague, thanks me for reminding him that you cannot have an NBA All-Style Team without Pete Maravich.

Short shorts and your nickname on your jersey. The NBA in the ’70s.



The USA defeats Panama, 2-0, in the World Cup qualifier in Seattle. The U.S. is now in first place in the CONCACAF standings, where the acronyms are just not long enough.


Flooding is expected for the first round of play at the U.S. Open at Merion outside of Philadelphia on Thursday. This is why golf courses need to be domed.


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Starting Five

1. Oliver’s Army is on Their Way/Oliver’s Army is Here to Stay?

John Oliver, Piers Morgan: The latest British invasion is taking place on cable news shows.

The correspondent who came in from the cold? Great Brit John Oliver, who will fly The Daily Show desk this summer while Jon Stewart is off “learning to cobble shoes in a small Italian village.” Granted, The Daily Show’s correspondents file their live field reports literally a few yards away from where the host’s desk, but Oliver leap-frogged a few talented veterans, a fact that the show handled deftly and hilariously–surprise — in its second segment (this is even funnier when you realize that the first two correspondents features, Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, are real-life husband and wife).

In the first segment? The PRISM controversy, about which Oliver states, “I bet the Amish are feeling pretty smug right now…or they would be if they had any idea what’s going on.” He also introduced a new segment titled, fittingly, “Good News! You’re Not Paranoid.” Solid material.

2. From Pigskin to Pygmalion

Can’t you just imagine Bill Belichick and his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, sitting in Belichick’s office, sipping tea, and discussing the inalienable differences between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow? Wtithin moments BB is getting all HH (That’s Henry Higgins, as in Professor Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady”) as he proposes that he can transform Tim Tebow, Eliza Doolittle-style, into a proper NFL quarterback (go to 3:00 mark).

Granted, they don’t share a tailor…














“This is what the SEC population/Calls a Heisman-

worthy education,

Why cant’ the SEC/Teach their QBs how to pass?

JaMarcus Russell was the No. 1 pick/Now he’s sitting on his ass,

The Tebow lad/His sideline throws are such a load of crap,

But I could teach that boy to play in literally a snap.”

And so, the experiment begins. Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy-winner, future nominee for beatification and recently cut by the New York Jets, will move into Belichick’s spacious home and learn to become a proper gentleman:

“All I want is a locker room,

Far away from that cold Jet tomb,

To see my talent bloom,

Oh wouldn’t it be lo-verly…”

Plucked from the gutter…

Plucked from Florham Park











So now, you have the two most famous quarterbacks in professional football, Tom Brady and Tim Tebow, (sorry, Peyton) sharing one meeting room. At least for the mini-camp. This oughta be fun. And wait until Gisele starts playing matchmaker. The good news for Tebow is that no head coach insulates his team from the media quite like El Presidente Belichick. The bad news is that Bristol, Conn., is just 92 miles away.

3. California Dreamin’

Self-Doubting Thomas

So Matt Thomas, a Miami native who some outlets rate as the nation’s top linebacker in the incoming freshman class, no longer wants to enroll at Florida State but instead wants to attend USC. And he wants a release that will allow him to play immediately, which the Seminoles are unwilling to grant without a “compelling reason.” Our suggestion: Just tell them you want to be closer to Eddie Vanderdoes’ ailing relative. You can cue up that “Shame on Florida State!” column by Gregg Doyel of in “3….2…..I said ‘3….2….’ …, there seems to be a problem with the righteous indignation column loader…our techs will look into it.”

4. From Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco to…. Chandy Dufresne?










Judge: “Sir, are you satisfied with the assistance of your attorney?”

Chandy: “Yes, ma’am, he’s awesome!”

Judge: “You should be. He’s an excellent attorney.”

(Chandy slaps butt of defense attorney; Judge reaches into robe and tosses yellow flag)

Judge: “I’m not accepting this plea negotiation. As a condition of his probation he’s to serve 30 days in the Broward County Jail.”

Chandy: “I don’t understand! How can you be so obtuse?

Judge: “So what? What did you call me?”

Chandy: “Obtuse. Is it deliberate?”

Judge: “30 days. And no conjugal visits.”

Chandy: “Child, please.”

Just remember, Chandy. At the end of the 30 days, don’t hang on to that defiance. Or she’ll slap you with another month in solitary. The best line we read about this entire episode came from Twitter, where Matt Goldich  (@MattGoldich) opined, “If Chad Johnson gets two cellmates instead of one, that could free up more opportunities for TJ Houshmandzadeh.”

5. Dustin Pedroia is a Boss

Just one Major League Baseball game in a season in which all 30 teams play 162 of them (you can do the math on the total for me), but if you watched last night’s Red Sox-Rays game, you can appreciate the axiom that every game is unique. Consider that the Red Sox scored six runs before a single out was made in the contest. Consider, too, that the score was tied 6-6 after nine innings and 8-8 after ten. The Sawx would win in 14.

Technically, it’s heels over head, but who are we to argue with a cliché?

The best part, though, was the sheer brilliance of Dustin Pedroia, who plays the game as if this were 1917 and Ty Cobb were sliding in to second base spikes high. In the top of the ninth inning Pedroia stole both second and third base before scoring the go-ahead run. In the bottom of the ninth, and this is not easy to do when you think about it, he made a game-saving dive for a pop-up at the pitcher’s mound. One inning later the five-foot-nine (??) former AL MVP rushed a drag bunt and made a perfect toss to first, helping the Red Sox escape a bases-loaded, no outs jam with the score tied.

Some players hit the ball real hard, some have cannons for arms, some run real fast. Pedroia has tools, but he plays the game smarter and harder (when is the last time he finished a game with his uniform not besmudged?) than anyone in baseball. He’s kinda the Tony Parker of MLB right now.


Also a Boss? Debra Fine.

Fine feels…fine after suffering four grazing gun shot wounds.

Someone wondered aloud, and it is a valid question: How come last Fridays’ tragedy in Santa Monica, where a man shot and killed five people, two of whom were his father and brother, received so little national attention? Read this detailed account of the actions of Debra Fine, who attempted to stop the killer (I won’t name him) and took three to four bullets herself. Fine survived (here she is with Piers Morgan). If you’re keeping score, and I am, that’s two women who heroically stood up to spree murderers this spring (remember the lady in London) and zero males. C’mon. None of us are surprised by this (also, next time don’t put your car between the shooter and the victim; simply strike the shooter with your vehicle).

Pac-Man Finds Trouble…Again

A police sketch of the women Jones confronted outside the bar.

In Atlanta Pac-Man Jones is arrested for allegedly punching a woman outside of a bar. Jones, who now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals (of course), claims that he was simply defending himself. The NFL says that it will review the videotape. In my mind I see Ed Hochuli strolling over to the corner of Roger Goodell’s office, going under the hood, and emerging 90 seconds later saying, “Upon further review, the call outside the bar stands.”

“So, what? No (Bleepin’) Ziti?”

The Interweb Commerce Blogging Act of 2009 contractually obligates us to show gratuitous photos of fame-seeking babes in bikinis. So don’t blame us.

This won’t hurt SEC recruiting one iota.















Oh, A.J., it’s much more dire than that. Perhaps your worldwide Webb privileges will be revoked. While Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s pulchritudinous paramour, Katherine Webb, was making an appearance in Los Angeles last weekend, a Maxim bikini model crashed at his Tuscaloosa home after having too much to drink (it could’ve been worse; she could’ve crashed at Greg Dent’s place). The salient points are 1) How this story ever became public in the first place (after all, the model in question, Margaret Wood, is suddenly far more famous than she was last week; tip of the cap from Ms. Webb, who recognizes that play from Pg. 1 of her playbook) 2) The Joy Behar point: “So what? Who cares?” and 3) that this is all the University of Mississippi’s fault, since McCarron “met” Wood while standing on the sidelines during the Bama-Ole Miss game last fall. If only they could have made the contest more compelling (final score: Bama 38, Ole Miss 7). He asked for her number. If only A.J. had gone A-Rod and tossed her a football with his phone number on it.


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It’s All Happening! June 10

Starting Five

1. Legen-wait for it-dary Opening Number

NPH crushed the Tonys as host.

For the opening number of last night’s Oscars at Radio City Music Hall, host Neil Patrick Harris, 39, strummed guitar, danced with Mike Tyson, vanished into thin air (only to reemerge at the back of the theater), got in jabs at Shia LeBoeuf and Kathy Lee Gifford, referenced Chuck E. Cheese and his own erstwhile childhood character, Doogie Howser, and literally jumped through a hoop. He even used the word “legendary.” “It’s Bigger” was better than anything one can recall from an awards show host since perhaps vintage Billy Crystal openings at the Oscars (even better than “Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit“). The Oscars? An awards show that NPH will certainly host someday, after he accepts an Emmy award for hosting last night’s Tony Awards. Oh, yes, the Tonys. Who won? Didn’t you just read the last four sentences?

2. Sally Draper Witnesses Unholy Fornication; Unlike Bran Stark, Is Not Tossed From Tower

Sally Draper: Let the rebellious phase begin.

Switching from gay emcee to AMC (thanks to Greg Auman for that one), last night’s “Mad Men” shocker involved a doorman handing over keys to a teenage girl who doesn’t even live in the high-rise full-time (I think we now know how Sally’s “grandma” gained entry a few episodes back). So, impressionable Sally Draper witnesses dad, ahem, “comforting” the wife of Dr. Rosen Rosen and then has to sit by as their son, a guitarist for The Strokes, I believe, shakes his hand and thanks him for being such a great guy. Then Sally storms from the dinner table because, let’s face it, who wants to eat Megan Draper’s cooking? Later, Don fecklessly appeals to Sally that he and Mrs. Rosen Rosen were simply performing Father Abraham.


Woodstock is like, 13 months and a two-hour drive north away, Don Draper, and Sally is SO going next year. She’ll show you what free love is all about. Meanwhile, the terminally earnest Yessirree! Bob Benson does the knee-touch thing with Pete Campbell, a harbinger of his future as a GOP senator.

That’s Sally in Row 17

Roger Sterling gets one scene, juggling oranges? And Joan is a DNP, Coach’s Decision? That’s just wrong.
Last thing from me: If Ted Chaough is not atop Mark Lysanti’s “Mad Men Power Rankings” on Grantland later this morning, I’ve lost all hope in humanity.

3. As ABC Once Sang, “Shoot That Poison Arrow Through My Heart

She’s right, you know.


Ygritte treats her true love, Jon Snow, as an archery target. Arya fatally stabs a man in the neck, employing the old “Oops, I dropped my coin” ruse. Sansa talks about “sheep-shifting”, which is Westeros’ version of short-sheeting with a side dish of livestock dung.  And Khaleesi goes crowd-surfing as if she just happened upon Lollapalooza.  The women of Westeros are not to be trifled with in the season finale of “Game Of Thrones”, although Ramsey remains atop the list of “Those With Whom Not To Trifle.”

Khaleesi: Mother of Soup Dragons?


–Tywin Lannister is Miles Dentrelle from “Thirtysomething.” They’re both operating out of the same playbook, and they even bear a strong resemblance. That said, Tywin’s little speech about “the man who puts his family first” was spot-on. Even the Imp could see that.

— I miss Petyr Baelish. I mean, sure, that “chaos is a ladder” was the best career walk-off home run you’ll ever see, but there’s at least 30% less chicanery and 17% less intrigue when he’s missing. I hope he shows up at the Time-Life Building and touches knees with Bob Benson.

Lord Walder Frey –and Steve Rushin will back me up on this — looks and behaves like every third patron at The Emerald Inn (a legendary bar on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which recently closed but has relocated to West 72nd Street and will reopen this week. Pop in for a Guinness.)

— Seven of the ten most boring characters on “Game of Thrones” are Stannis Baratheon. I don’t know what Melisandre sees in him.

–If you are large and slightly overweight, isn’t Hodor the easiest Halloween costume for you? Just stumble around with a goofy grin on your face saying your own name? I may put on 30 pounds just to try this (I already have the gray going for me).

–Is there a reason Kingslayer must wear his right arm in a sling? Can’t he just let it hang by his side? Is there a blacksmith in King’s Landing who can fashion a hook for him now? Or just attach a giant sword?

–If Joan can do ads for Johnnie Walker, I don’t see why Cersei can’t do ads for Yellow Tail.

–In Season 4, Fleabottom undergoes gentrification. Trust me on this. The first signs of this will be when an inordinate number of young artists move in and start producing Mumblecore films.

–Are you like me? Do you sit there wondering what comeuppance Ramsey is going to receive for all of his unmitigated evil? My best guess is that he’ll become the new co-host on CrossOver.

— Why does Bran feel the obligation to go north? Why doesn’t he just stay that “extenuating family health circumstances” preclude him from heading into that dangerous region?

Samwell slays a White Walker AND gets a chick into Castle Black (which, if I still lived in Dillon Hall today, would certainly be that dorm’s nickname). When the Home Depot Game of Thrones Awards Show airs later this month, Samwell is definitely going to win Most Improved Player.


4. Turning on The Heat

Do you wonder if anyone thinks the team name is “He at?” as in “Where he at?”

Our own Bill Hubbell had all the insightful observations in last night’s MH, so rather than step on his brilliance, I’ll just recommend you go there. And yes, that is the first time I’ve linked this site on this site. It’s like looking for the Miami Dolphin inside the Miami Dolphins helmet.


5. Joey Crawford is not the only Whistle-blower Out There

The man who leaked the fact that the National Security Agency combs through as many phone records as it wants to is 29 year-old Edward Snowden (who sounds like a character on GoT, no?). What I find most preposterous is that he did not even work directly for the government, but rather for a privatized consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. The U.S. government will learn from this. The next time it wants to farm out illegal wire-tapping work, it’ll off-shore it to India and Bangladesh (oh, JW, stop being so naive; that’s probably already happening).


Snowden: It only takes one man to start a revolution.


The Feds will attempt to portray Snowden, who is now seeking asylum in in another country, as a treasonous traitor (as opposed to a treasonous trader, Wall Street-style), but for me he is everything but. He is a citizen who truly believes in the first three words of the most important document in this nation’s history: “We the people…”

Oh, and isn’t it funny how pissed the NSA is that someone would know their secrets without their approval? Hmmm. Pot. Kettle. Hello?

Give ’em hell, Edward. And we will come visit you in Iceland.


Don’t feel bad, Tiago. You’ve just gained immortality.


Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Daniels and Marisa Miller in a movie? Sure, why not?














Remote Patrol

The Doctor

NBA TV 9 p.m.

Dr. J practically necessitated the creation of the sports poster industry.

The Doc doc promises to be blissful nostalgia for those of us who were raised on Arthur Fonzarelli, disco and the hegemony of the Pittsburgh Steelers. During the NBA interregnum between the dominant Celtics and Lakers of the late Sixties-Early Seventies and the dominant Celtics-Lakers of the Eighties, the league foundered. The ABA had more spectacular talent, but less infrastructure (tomorrow: race out to a bookstore or go on-line and order Terry Pluto’s “Loose Balls”; you’ll think 90% of it is fabricated, but it’s all true). Into this wasteland soared Julius Erving, alias Dr. J., who starred for the New York Nets in the NBA until he was plucked by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat of that era: Dr. J., George McGinnis, Maurice Cheeks, Doug Collins, and Caldwell Jones were the starting cast, but memorable characters such as Bobby Jones (one of the best sixth men of all time), Steve Mix (a walking Just For Men ad), Darryl Dawkins, World B. Free and Andrew Toney also were part of the cast. As was Kobe Bryant’s dad.

But I’m getting away from the point. The Doctor was the most mesmerizing player in the league. Sure, Connie Hawkins before him soared just as high and Michael Jordan after him soared even higher, but the Doctor was the first player who combined aerial acrobatics with superstardom (anyone out there remember Hawthorne Wingo? Besides me and Marv Albert?). Also, he is the first player in my memory, even before Jordan, to be associated with a shoe brand. Yes, Puma had Puma Clyde’s but every kid bought Converse All-Stars because that’s what the Doctor ordered.

This is a 90-minute documentary and I hope it explores the culture of the era. The NBA was down at the time –Finals games truly were broadcast on tape-delay and SI actually did a story on how come nobody attends NBA games. So much has changed. Doc was the rudder that altered its course.







Sally Draper Witnesses Unholy Coupling, Is Not Thrown From Tower Aperture

Well, BOOM!, Mad Men. I mean, Don Draper is a silver-tongued fox and all, but he’s going to have a difficult time explaining to his teenage daughter that he and Mrs. Rosen Rosen were just doing the moves for “Father Abraham.”

Meanwhile, Yessirree! Bob Benson makes a move on Pete Campbell at the office. I’m not at all dismayed that Bob may be gay. I’m just worried that he has such bad taste in men.

Cicely Tyson wins Tony, Thanks Producers For Not Putting Her in Death Montage

Gotta love Cicely Tyson getting her first Tony nomination at age 79 and winning for “A Trip to Bountiful.” Glad they gave her time to speak her mind, talking about wanting one more great role after 30 years away from stage: “I didn’t want to be greedy. I just wanted one more.” You win an award at age 79, I can’t bring myself to make dress comments. … Pippin wins again, with Patina Miller getting Leading Actress in a Musical. Her arms might be stronger than Scottie’s.  …

Cicely Tyson or Sally Field in blackface?