IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

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Starting Five

Memo Random

The problem with Donald Trump (just one?) is that he doesn’t see things from the perspective of a person who has ever had to adhere to the law (which he hasn’t), but rather from the perspective of a mob boss. People aren’t either “criminals” or “law-abiding citizens,” they are “bad guys” or “good guys.” And what determines if you’re a bad guy or a good guy is if you don’t or do bend to Donald’s will. Easy, right?

This isn’t a terrible quality in a mob boss or a gang leader, but it is a dangerous trait in a man who raises his right hand, places his left on a Bible, and swears to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Different respected sources (The New York Times, NBC News) confirm that former FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo after a conversation with Trump on the day after General Michael Flynn resigned back in February in which the president said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

As he wakes up this morning, or tweets overnight, my guess is that Donald Trump, not unlike Nathan Jessup, does not even see what he did wrong. But he just leaned on the director of the FBI to halt an investigation of a man who may have worked with the Russians and on top of that may have been doing that at the direct behest of Trump or people who work for Trump.

Between this and the previous day’s bombshell from the Washington Post in which it was divulged that Trump compromised an Israeli spy embedded with ISIS by giving away a secret shared by Israel to the Russians (the day after he fired Comey last week), it is, as one tweep said, “as if the New York Times and Washington Post are engaged in a slam-dunk contest.”

2. Celtic Uprising

The Boston Celtics will host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight (because they finished with the best record in the East) and will have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next month. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick second. Nice to see these historically humble, small-market franchises finally get a leg up in the world.

The Celtics have had a terrific season under Brad Stevens, but I don’t believe this crew as currently constructed has the goods to win an NBA championship (they are a respectable 4-7 versus Cleveland and Golden State the past two seasons). Even with next year’s No. 1 overall pick. We’ll see.

Is Lonzo Ball the premier player in this draft? Shhhhh.

How does this shake out?, is the fun part. Does Boston select the presumptive No. 1 overall choice, 6’4″ guard Markelle Fultz out of Washington? Do they take or threaten to take Lonzo Ball (I’m not sure he isn’t the better choice) just to induce the Lakers to trade up a spot? Do they trade down a few spots to, say, Phoenix (who landed the fourth pick when they finished with the second-worst record), where Josh Jackson or De’Aaron Fox or Lauri Markkanen will still be waiting because they don’t want to take the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’ hands? Is Thomas, who is 5’9″ and 28, part of the Celtics’ future?

3. The Quick Brown Fox and Other Mock Draft Thoughts

As a Suns fan, I won’t mind if they pick the quick brown Fox over Josh Jackson at No. 4

The most intriguing mock draft I’ve seen at this early stage belongs to Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports, who has the Celtics taking Duke’s Jayson Tatum (they need a talented 4 more than a gifted guard), the Suns picking 6’4″ guard De’Aaron Fox at No. 4 (everyone’s favorite “sleeper” only in the sense that they think he could wind up being ROY) even though they don’t need a guard (much less another guard from Kentucky; this would give them FIVE), and the Pistons taking Luke Kennard at No. 12.

Why is Dillon Brooks off everyone’s radar?

Pondering: 1) I love Kennard’s game, too. He’ll never be the centerpiece of a franchise, but he’s the kind of glue guy all championship-caliber teams like to have. 2) Dillon Brooks, who was named Pac-12 POY over Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, was not on any of the four mock drafts I perused. What did he do, kneel for the national anthem? 3) Caleb Swanigan, Big Ten POY, was only on one mock draft board; hey, he’s an undersized low-post banger; it’s usually NBA fool’s gold with rare exceptions, and I like him, too. 4) De’Aaron Fox is only 6’0″, but I agree he may be the most dynamic player in this draft. I like his star potential. 5) For much of the first two months of the college season, we heard how Villanova’s Josh Hart was a leading national POY candidate. Now he’s a late first-round pick? Potential steal for someone?

4. The Most Dramatic Moment In Golden State’s 136-100 Game 2 Win Against San Antonio…

 

5. So You’re Not Feeling Minnesota?

Sara Groenewegen, a native of British Columbia, has a 30-2 record and a .59 ERA. She pitched a no-hitter last weekend.

The top-ranked softball team in the nation according to the NCAA Coaches Poll? Minnesota, which has an astounding 54-3 record. The Golden Gophers also went 16-3 against teams in the 64-team NCAA tournament AND, as you might imagine due to their locale, played more road games than home games and won 38 of the former (they lost 2 games at No. 8 Washington and one at Illinois). The GGs were 16-0 at home and have a 25-game win streak.

As far as RPI goes, Minnesota was ranked No. 11. The GGs have the nation’s 2nd-best team ERA and 3rd-best batting average. This team can play.

Freshman backstop Kendyl Lindaman is batting .438 and has 20 home runs, both top 10 in the nation

Why am I telling you this? Because Minnesota, the No. 1 team by coaches’ ranking with that gaudy 54-3 record, did not in the NCAA eyes merit one of 16 sites to host a 4-team regional. Hence, they’ll be on the road in Tuscaloosa this weekend. And if they get out of that, they’ll face the winner of the Gainesville regional: Florida is the NCAA’s top overall seed.

The NCAA needs a dose of Robert De Niro lecturing Sly Stallone in Cop Land: “You BLEW it!”

Music 101

Senses Working Overtime

There’s a little Talking Heads,  a little Modern English, and maybe even a touch of Thompson Twins in XTC. The band formed in 1972 but didn’t hit it big until a decade later with this tune, a top 10 hit in their native England. I never knew this: the band abruptly stopped touring in April of 1982 due to lead singer Andy Partridge‘s overwhelming stage fright. If you saw them in San Diego on April 3, 1982 (you and Bill Miller; they were “incendiary!”), you saw their last live show.

Remote Patrol

NBA Tipoff

8 p.m. TNT

Game 1: Cavs at Celtics

8:30 p.m. TNT

Lord knows they’re trying—they’re always trying—but the difference in quality between ESPN’s pregame show and TNT’s is, well, like watching the Dubs against any team without Kawhi Leonard. Anyway, I won’t be watching TV tonight and if I were, I’d be watching Apocalypto (BBC 9 p.m.), but seeing as how we’re trying to lure Susie B. as our angel investor, I’ll post this as the RP choice and even include a photo of Sweet Pea (is she the only human who refers to him as that?)

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Olynyk

Kelly Hero*

*That’s for all you fans of WWII films starring Clint Eastwood and Don Rickles

The Celtics move to 22-8 all-time in Game 7s, including 19-4 at home, as they beat the Wiz (I thought “Nobody beats The Wiz!”) 115-105. Seven-footer Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to score 26 points, including 12 during a key three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.

Boston hosts the Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals tomorrow night. Lotsa luck.

2. Terry Time

Chelsea, which has already clinched the Premier League championship, defeats lowly Watford 4-3 to tie the BPL record for most wins in one season (29) with one game remaining, this weekend. 22-year veteran John Terry, who if the Blues are sort of the Yankees of English soccer would be a combo of Derek Jeter and A-Rod, gets his first start of the season and scores Chelsea’s first goal. But then he misplays a header that allows a Watford goal. He also dislikes my use of the present tense here. Anyway, Terry will likely retire after Sunday’s game versus Sunderland.

3. McMaster of None*

*a.k.a. Another Day of Trump

*a.k.a. “We Live In A World That Has Walls (Except on the Mexican border)

Another week, another admission from Trump that the truth that he had his White House minions deny the night before is the truth. This time it comes off the Washington Post story last night (Marty Baron is the Theo Epstein of newspapering) that alleged Trump shared highly classified information first given to us by an ally during his meeting with the Russians last week in the Oval Office.

 

The White House had H.R. McMaster & H.R. Pufnstuf issue a denial of a non-event (the dreaded “non-denial denial” from Watergate) outside the White House last night just minutes after the WaPo story broke. But now Trump is saying that what WaPo said is essentially true. Legally, POTUS does have the right to divulge anything he wants, including the nuclear codes, to the Russians. From an operational standpoint, though, he is endangering lives.

Anyway, now we know why laptops were banned on incoming flights to the U.S.A. ISIS always has to ruin everyone’s good time.

4. To Hill (And Not Back) 

*The judges will also accept, “Steep It Up”

Remember when Kate Bush recorded “Running Up That Hill?” (I do because I’m old). Well, the folks at Red Bull have now turned it into a series of races across the northern hemisphere (Asia, Europe, North America) called the Red Bull 400. Why is this ingenious? Because ski slopes are widely dormant during the summer time and now suddenly they have a function.

Sunday’s race, seen above, took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The full schedule is here. 

By the way, this is a subtle demonstration of Rule No. 1: Gravity always wins.

5. 2 Broke Girls Too Broke To Fix

After six seasons, CBS is finally putting the kibosh on Two Broke Girls. Or, as my friend Mark Bechtel called it, Two Broke Girls and A Pizza Place. This was basically Two’s Company (Kat Dennings as Janet, Beth Behrs as Chrissy) and my guess is as many men watched it with the sound off as on.

Music 101

Three Marlenas

Not unlike fellow mid-90s rockers The Gin Blossoms, The Wallflowers put out one fantastic album—and that was it. Lead singer Jakob Dylan had the right look, the right voice and certainly the right lineage, but he just didn’t have the gift for following up an auspicious debut breakthrough album. No shame in that. Most musicians never even get that far. This tune, the fourth single off Bringing Down The Horse, peaked at No. 41 in October of 1997.

Remote Patrol

Game 2: Spurs and Warriors

9 p.m. ESPN

Watch out, Zaza! Or, more likely, Steph. San Antonio will be without Kawhi Leonard tonight, and the Dubs are not Houston. This could get ugly in the direction of Golden State, but don’t be surprised if some Spur’s foot lands beneath a Warrior attempting a three.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Mother Of All Comebacks*

*The judges will also accept “Zaza Goodbye”

Down by 25 with just under 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter of Game 1 on Mother’s Day, the Golden State Warriors mount an incredible comeback thanks mainly to Zaza Pachulia.

What did Zaza do? He inadvertently stepped under the foot of Spur star Kawhi Leonard on a three-point attempt, causing a twisted ankle (if you’ve had that happen to you, you know how painful it is). I don’t think he did it on purpose, but it changed the game and it altered the series.

The Spurs led 78-55 when Leonard went out. By the end of the quarter, they only led by 9. Also, they would shoot 0-7 from beyond the arc after Leonard, who scored 26 points in a little more than one half, departed.

Stephen Curry finished with 40 for the Dubs, who are now 46-4 in games that Steve Kerr does NOT coach in the past two years. The Dubs move to 9-0 on the postseason.

No. 2, Derek Jeter, No. 2

Listen to Derek Jeter’s speech as the Yankees retire his number, during which he admits he just happened to be standing along the first base line in Oakland that day in 2001 because he thought he spotted Neve Campbell behind the visitors dugout…and reveals that he always harbored a secret ambition to be traded to the San Diego Padres.

And if you truly cannot get enough…

 

3. Black-to-Black Miss USAs From D.C.

For the second year in a row, an African-American government employee representing the District of Columbia wins the Miss USA pageant. Kara McCullough, a scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, succeeds Deshauna Barber, a logistics commander in the U.S. Army.

McCullough did not catch viewers eyes as much as she did their ears when asked if healthcare is a right or a privilege. She answered that it is a privilege and that the goal should be to get more people working so that they can have access to health care. And with that she was invited over to the South Lawn for a beer party.

4. Trump and Spicey: Lame

The Spicey-Trump kiss on SNL was aimed not so much at making Americans laugh (the sketch wasn’t funny and the set-up—that Spicer would travel to New York City to find his boss—had no basis in reality) as it was to infuriate the president and Flyover America. Neither Trump skit (this and the cold open) was very funny and each had the lead actor flubbing his/her lines.

Per usual this season, the show’s highlight were the Colin Jost-Michael Che jokes on “Weekend Update.” Amazon Silver Echo, with the “Uh Huh” mode, was the funniest bit on the show.

5. I’m Sure Those Off-Shore Nuclear Bomb Tests In No Way Played A Role In This

Look at the dude in the background for comparison’s sake

In Indonesia, the remains of a massive sea creature of unknown provenance (but thought to be a squid) wash up on a beach.

Music 101 

Long Train Running

Were the Doobie Brothers one of, if not THE, first American jam bands? The pre-Michael McDonald Doobs were a truly original, of-the-Seventies outfits with legendary hits: this song appears on The Captain and Me directly in front of “China Grove”: that’s quite a two-fer.

Remote Patrol

Better Call Saul

10 p.m. AMC

What is the fallout of Chuck and Jimmy’s “You can’t handle the truth!” moment last week? We had not a whiff of Mike Ehrmentraut or Gus Fring last week, so expect to see much more of them tonight?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Pop Star

Admit it: The Spurs, without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, defeat the Houston Rockets in Houston in a close-out game by THIRTY-NINE points, and you are not even surprised. I know I’m not. That’s Pop, baby.

LaMarcus Aldridge did score 34 points and pull down 12 rebounds, but hell, there are a few players in the Western Conference who can do that. There’s only one Gregg Popovich, though. And to think he’s been making Mike D’Antoni’s life miserable since D was back coaching the Phoenix Suns 10 years ago.

2. The New Yorker Takes Aim at a New Yorker

My words are not needed here. This is clever, except for the fact that all of the passengers have their shoes on and no one is wearing leggings.

Below: He never learns, does he? This isn’t, to use one of your pet phrases, small potatoes any more. You’re not hustling a contractor from Queens out the door.

 

3. SI Lays Off Five

On Tuesday I attended a lunch and sat next to someone from ESPN who is on-air. As he knew where I once worked, he asked me sincerely if I thought that Sports Illustrated could survive. Not having any inside info, I provided my standard response on print journalists/journalism: “We’re all just polar bears looking for an iceberg to stand on.”

Yesterday SI laid off five staffers. The only name I know of right now is Seth Davis, and he’ll be fine since he’s had his fingers in other pies for more than a decade. Seth is terrific on CBS’ college basketball coverage, so I think he’ll make his mortgage payment next month.

“Norrrrrrm!”

There are a lot of things SI has failed to do since former Time Inc. chief Norm Pearlstine famously uttered, “Print is dead” upon seeing a demonstration of the internet. Inevitably, though, the manner in which readers consume sports news changed. SI had a chance to purchase ESPN in 1987 and whiffed (this was before Pearlstine’s comment) and that was the first of many grave mistakes. But again, this is Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox going up against Bleacher Report. You know what I mean.

I still have many good friends at SI. Okay, I still have a good friend or two at SI. Most of the people I cared about are long gone, from someone who went on to write a story that turned into a book that turned into a Disney film (SI turned down his story pitch originally) to my current boss at Newsweek, who’s the best dude I’ve ever worked for in this business.

Will SI survive? I don’t know about the magazine. I do wonder when some of the writers from my generation and above will finally understand that Peter King is the only holdover from the 1990s who truly gets it. King, when I was there, was universally loved as a guy and respected as a reporter, but no editor ever swooned over his prose. Now the average joe thinks “Peter King” first if you ask about great SI writing. Why? Because he rolls up his sleeves and writes for the web prolifically. That should have been happening with all of SI’s top writers a long time ago.

Here’s fellow alum Jeff Pearlman’s “eulogy.”

4. But Whom Will They Call To Handle The Suit?

Everyone’s favorite cheesy law firm that advertises on TV (this side of Jimmy McGill), Cellino & Barnes, are breaking up. Ross Cellino is suing Stephen Barnes. This is, for those of us who watch too much TV, catastrophic. Next you’re going to tell us that the 1-877-Kars-4-Kids band is breaking up (there is only one VH-1 “Behind The Music” that I still want to see, and this would be it.)

5. Bunny Wisdom

Yes, I’m extremely late to the jam, but I’m finally working my way through The Wire (almost finished Season 3), which is absolutely, pardon the term, addictive. And because everyone who’s watched the HBO show has a favorite character from it, I’ll name mine so far: Howard “Bunny” Colvin, the police chief in charge of the Western District whose revolutionary plan to curb violent crime in his area scares the hell out of his superiors.

I love everything about Bunny: His integrity, his ability to place the needs of community over his career, his courage, his candor, everything. THIS is what a leader looks like (I don’t yet know what will happen to him, so no spoilers, please), but this is my favorite scene of his.

Music 101

I Am The Key

Dang, but I do love The La’s. Lead singer and tortured genius Lee Mavers, who gave us There She Goes, also wrote this little gem. They never even released it on an album. The La’s would be by far the best band ever from their hometown if that hometown were not Liverpool, England.

Remote Patrol

Master Of None

Netflix

So if you have the Netflix, Season 2 of Aziz Ansari’s terrific and comically unstable series drops today. You could watch Game 6 of Celtics-Wizards, but who cares? Cleveland is headed to the NBA Finals in, at most, five games.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Bernstein and Woodward

You’re Backfired!

Will President Donald Trump’s hasty and impulsive decision to fire FBI Director James Comey only intensify speculation and exploration into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia? The impulse for Bureau insiders to leak tidbits to the media just rose exponentially, and even a casual student of history might have reminded President Trump that Deep Throat, the informant who helped take down the Nixon presidency, was FBI Associate Director W. Mark Felt.

Delete Caps*

Guys rarely look athletic and graceful in hockey photos

*The judges will also accept “Washington Weak In Review”

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Washington Capitals 2-0 in Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference semis. The loss marks the seventh time in as many chances during the Alex Ovechkin era that the Caps (Katie stopped reading this item 17 words ago), who had the NHL’s top record this season, failed to advance to the conference finals. The Washington Wizards also lose Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference semis to the Boston Celtics.

Spicer Girl

Sanders has that look of, “Really enjoyed Woodstock, but can’t recall where we parked the VW bus.”

As White House press secretary Sean Spicer fulfills his Naval Reserve duties (as opposed to his naval-gazing reserve duties) Monday through Friday, deputy flak Sarah “I Heart” Huckabee Sanders takes the podium. If she performs well….well, President Trump has not fired anyone of note since Tuesday. Related: Melissa McCarthy hosts the season finale of Saturday Night Live this weekend.

“Sarah, does your dad understand how acronyms work?”

Flight Club*

*The judges will also accept “Airpain!”

Another week, another cabin-pressure fracas posted on social media as two passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight duke it out in coach. When did UFC begin to stand for “Unhinged Flying Combatants?”

Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

Despite the appeal of two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks and Hogwart’s alum Emma Watson, the dystopian Silicon Valley (pardon the redundancy) thriller The Circle is reaching “mother of all bombs” status at the box office. In its second weekend, the film grossed less than $4 million, finishing behind The Boss Baby and How To Be a Latin Lover. Perhaps if fewer of us were online, more of us would have seen it.

Music 101 

It Ends Tonight

I’ve never seen another band live that was so crass as to tell the young girls in the audience to find their bodyguards near the stage and that, you know, if you’re smoking enough, you’re invited back to the hotel for the after party, but All-American Rejects did that when I saw them in Phoenix about 10 years ago. D-bags. But they did have a few outstanding radio-friendly tunes, and this was one of them (related: I wasn’t hot enough).

Remote Patrol

Game 6: Spurs at Rockets

8 p.m. ESPN

I’m still not really that interested in the NBA playoffs. Are you? I’ll be sorta interested int the Western Conference finals, wholly uninterested in the Eastern Conference finals, and once again interested in the NBA Finals. None of this matters as much, of course, as what LaVar Ball does next.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

You’re FBI-red!*

*The judges will also accept, “To Russia With Love” and “Without Rhyme or Treason”

President Donald Trump fires FBI Director James Comey, and let’s face it, he did it to STOP the investigation into Russia. After firing Comey, the White House announced late Tuesday night that Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov would be visiting the Oval Office on Wednesday morning (“High five!”).

2. Anderson’s Eye Roll

Look who’s back! It’s Kellyanne Conway (I guess The Worst Wing did watch SNL last weekend). She threw shade at CNN’s Anderson Cooper by reminding everyone that she was right about Michigan and Pennsylvania, and that sent A.C.’s eyes 360.

 

CCN, Gov?

3. Ginobiliiiiiiiii!!!!!!

This may be the definitive photo of Manu Ginobili’s career, because a photo of a Eurostep is not quite as exquisite. The Spurs overcame the Rockets in OT last night, 110-107, when Ginobili was able to stuff James Harden’s potential game-tying trey from behind. I hope someone is painting a rendition of this moment atop a ceiling somewhere.

4. That 2:00.25 Marathon? It Was Actually Faster

This is the photo that Nike’s PR firm, Weber Shandwick, sent out after Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to become the first human to break the landmark 2-hour marathon mark last weekend at a Nike-controlled event.

Only one problem, as the good folks at Let’s Run.com discovered: Kipchoge’s time was actually 2/100ths of a second faster. Apparently, the Weber Shandwick folk wanted a rounder number that was easier to market, so they photoshopped the pic. I mean…when you manipulate the finishing time of a stated world-record attempt, even when you mark it in the opposite direction, that is….deplorable.

5. Send Your Hate Tweets To Outside Magazine

Yes, I’m not sorry at all about my health tweet last Friday. Here’s Outside this morning noting five things that happen to you when you stop working out (I’m not a physician, I was only accepted to medical school, probably because some relative got me in, but none of these five things seem beneficial for your health).

Reserves

MH’s 2017 designated stock pick, Nvidia (NVDA), had been dead in the water all year…until last night. A post-bell earnings report has lifted the Silicon Valley company’s stock more than 12% this morning. Onward and upward!

Music 101

Birdhouse In Your Soul

If liberal arts majors from private upstate New York and New England colleges bought more records, this 1989 tune from Brooklyn-based They Might Be Giants might have soared to No. 1. TMBG may have been Brooklyn’s original hipsters.

Remote Patrol

Game 7: Penguins at Capitals

7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Net

Will the Caps advance to the conference finals, for the first time in the Ovechkin era, to face Ottawa? Or is it another big letdown in D.C.? For football fans, Atletico Madrid hosts Real Madrid in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal (AM begins the day down 3 goals to 0) at 2:30 p.m. on FS1

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Going back to Cleveland....

Going back to Cleveland….

See Ya In June

The NBA Finals begin on June 1, no matter how long or short the conference finals go. That’s fine, because the Golden State Warriors closed out the Utah Jazz on Utah’s court last night by 26 points. The Dubs and Cavs are now a combined 16-0 in the playoffs and except for Cleveland’s opener versus Indiana, which they survived by one point, the games haven’t been close.

Might Houston or San Antonio give the Dubs, who are winning playoff games by an average of 15.6 points per game, give Golden State a stiff challenge. I see either team winning one or two games, but no way the Dubs have a test like the one OKC gave them last year. And the Cavs could lose one to Boston or Washington, but they shouldn’t.

Bring on the third chapter of the Dubs-Cavs trilogy. Until then, the NBA is on cruise control. Even the TNT guys sound bored.

2. Ride, Sally, Ride

Make America Yates Again

Make America Yates Again

Confession: I have a serious middle-aged guy crush on Sally Yates. She’s smart, beautiful, and she doesn’t take any sh*t from Ted Cruz (Did you notice the flirting going on between her and Senator Blumenthal?). Anyway, the big takeaways is that here was a woman among boys, patiently explaining to Don McGahn why one White House official lying to another one matters, and painting a smile on her face when d-bag Louisiana senator John Neely Kennedy said, “With all due respect, who appointed you to the Supreme Court?”

Atta girl, Sally. You rocked.

3. For Goodness Snake

Each spring, as the weather warms outside the town of Nacisse, Manitoba, the red garter snakes awake from their winter hibernation and well, they’re in the mood to boogie. Gotta make more snakes. They’re not venomous, so we can all chill.

4. Is Health Care A RIGHT?

First of all, major props to Jimmy Kimmel for 1) wading into a politically controversial issue, albeit only after it became personal to him and 2) not backing down from the haters who tried to shush him by calling him a “Hollywood elite.”

Last night Kimmel spoke more on health care and had the smart Louisiana senator (not John Neely Kennedy), Bill Cassidy, who is a physician and a Republican, to discuss health care. Cassidy spoke about the “Jimmy Kimmel test” for health care, which was, “no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can’t afford it.”

Kimmel kid

Kimmel kid

So allow me to wade in here (because I never get myself in trouble discussing health care): 1) Why did Kimmel say “family” instead of “individual?” Am I less important because I’m not married or not the young child of someone? 2) If we are to take Kimmel literally, can we ask, as Cassidy did, “How do we pay for it?” And while it’s laudable that Kimmel suggested not “to give tax breaks to millionaires like me,” the uncomfortable reality people don’t want to face is, What’s the value of a human life? And are some human lives more valuable than others? I’m not talking race or gender or religion, I’m asking, Do we spend as much to save an infant who needs a life-saving heart procedure as we do to save an 88-year old who needs one?

My recent experience with health care is that the most vociferous folks about it are the ones who will spend the least on it. Which is always the way. Come at me, bros.

5. Huell Be Sorry

And, yes, Howard saw it coming, which is why he tried to persuade Chuck not to testify

And, yes, Howard saw it coming, which is why he tried to persuade Chuck not to testify

On Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill—and his brother, Chuck—finally have their day in court. And Jimmy outwits Chuck by exposing his electricity illness as being psychosomatic (which we all knew dating back to Season 1) during Jimmy’s disbarment hearing. It may have been the best courtroom gotcha scene since A Few Good Men, but it will end up destroying the relationship between two brothers and more importantly, because it transpired in front of Chuck’s ex-wife for whom he still has strong feelings, it will probably destroy Chuck.

Ewell, a favorite from Breaking Bad, plants the battery on Chuck that exposes him. I believe that’s his first appearance on BCS.

Music 101

Tighten Up

Second confession of the day: I have no memory of hearing this song by Archie Bell and the Drells before this morning, but in the spring of 1968 (kind of a turbulent time in the USA) this song went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Even nuttier, between the time the band recorded this song and its release, Bell was drafted into the U.S. Army and shipped to Vietnam. He was over humping in the bush against Charlie as his song went to No. 1. How come I’ve never heard this story? Life is nutty.

Remote Patrol

Game 6: Senators at Rangers

7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Net

This should have been New York’s close-out game, but they surrendered a late 3rd period tying goal on Saturday and then lost in overtime. Now it’s a survival game. The Garden will be rocking.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Starting Five

Yankees Sweep! Thuuuuh Yankees Sweep!

Wild weekend in the Windy City for the New York Yankees as they take three from the World Series champs, the Chicago Cubs. Friday: Down 2-0 in the ninth with two outs and two strikes, Brett Gardner strokes a go-ahead three-run homer. Saturday: The Yanks explode for five runs in the first and cruise to an 11-6 win. Sunday night: Yanks blow a three-run lead in the ninth and need nine more innings to escape with a 5-4 win.

New York is 20-9, baseball’s 2nd-best record.

The Cubs are now 16-15.

To be continued in October?

Mud Run

At Churchill Downs Always Dreaming, a 9-2 co-favorite, won by nearly three lengths in the slop. Fellow co-favorite Irish War Cry finished 10th. RIP your exacta.

3. Morning Joe-Mance


SNL skewered Morning Joe, then pretty much took the rest of the show off. Michael Che had a good line about that White House photo op of white dudes looking so happy, “you’d think they just discovered sickle-cell,” but the rest was lame. Am I the only person tired of hearing Leslie Jones work through her sexual issues on TV? We get it: you’re a big black undersexed woman. What’s the funny part?

4. Ace In The Hole

A day or two from now, “The Dark Knight Returns” will be the go-to New York tabloid hed. The Mess suspended Matt Harvey three days after he failed to report to work on Saturday (he was scheduled to pitch Sunday). In fairness, how many of us have had to choose between getting out of bed with Adriana Lima to watch someone named Robert Gsellman pitch or hitting the snooze button?

5. War Of The Words

 

That time I suggested maybe Americans could eat better, exercise more and get enough sleep and got more than 1,100 replies, not all of them suggesting I ingest male genitalia (Is that the only food available in a “food desert”).

 

Listen, if you’re going to come at me with words like “ableist” or “victim shaming,” I’m coming back with Darwin’s thoughts on natural selection.

 

And for the LAST TIME, if it isn’t overtly obvious to you that recommending better diet, exercise and sleep does not mean the person doing the recommending is oblivious to factors such as genetics, I don’t know what to tell you. It SHOULD be obvious that you cannot do much to change your DNA, but you can do a lot to change your diet, exercise and sleep habits.

(FWIW: I lived without any health care from 2009-1013 and also from 2003-2006; that ’03-06 frame is more intriguing, as SI hired me back to write for SI On Campus and told me they could not provide health care. Then my boss at SIOC proceeded to hire kids right out of college and did provide them health care.)

Music 101

The Ghost In You

One of John Hughes’ favorite bands, The Psychedelic Furs released this soft-New Wave tune in the spring of 1984. It only reached No. 59 on the charts, but I always liked it more. That’s lead singer Richard Butler with the velvety, haunting voice.

Remote Patrol

Game 4: Dubs vs Jazz

9 p.m. TNT

I’ll be watching Better Call Saul, of course, but some of you may want to watch the Warriors attempt to finish off the Jazz, although it seems the NBA postseason has been distilled to the Dubs and Cavs doing their “Anything you can do, I can do better” routine. If Golden State wins tonight, the two repeat NBA finalists will be 16-0 this postseason.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Enema Of The State

How did Trump know his health care bill would pass in Congress? He had a preexisting cognition.

 

Also, the bill means that $880 billion will go back into the hands of the nation’s wealthiest people, so remember that as your wife or father can no longer get dialysis or heart medication.

I tried to explain this on Twitter last night: If this bill passes the Senate and tens of thousands of people who would have lived under Obama now die, that the people who pass it should have no expectation of safety.  One guy asked what kind of country has no respect for the rule of law, and I pointed out that the colonists who dumped tea into Boston Harbor did not; or the Scots who fought back against Prima Nocie (a law in which a Roman or English soldier gets to sleep with your wife before you on your wedding night) did not.

 

Horrendous laws, particularly those that endanger the lives of thousands, tend to have violent consequences. And so this dude on Twitter wondered where I was before Obamacare, and how mad I was then. And I tried to explain that we had slavery under Washington and Jefferson, but they weren’t bad presidents. However, if someone had tried to reintroduce slavery AFTER Lincoln (and who knows, it’s only been 106 or so days for Trump), then that guy would be a horrendous president.

2. Does This Make Them Also Great Danes?

A story on BBC.com (a HIGHLY recommended daily read) says that for the first time in 200 years, a wolf pack has returned to Denmark. Better yet, lupine experts are not providing officials with information as to the wolves’ location so as not to interfere with their breeding. Yay, animals! Yay, people who get it.

3. Let’s Get It On

How do you beat the Dubs when Draymond Green is making five threes in a game on top of everyone else?

How do you beat the Dubs when Draymond Green is making five threes in a game on top of everyone else?

I’m not 100% sure who will advance to the NBA Finals, but the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are now a collective 12-0 in the postseason. With their 115-104 Game 2 defeat of Utah last night, the Dubs have now won their six by an average of 16 points per game. The Cavs’ games have been much closer (they were a missed shot away from losing Game 1 to the Pacers), but the LeBrons seem to be getting stronger with each game.

Will either team lose before the NBA Finals (yes)? Are we heading toward the final chapter in this trilogy in June? Yes.

4. The Daily 360

I don’t know why I hadn’t really noticed it before, but if you go to the New York Times sit (nytimes.com), on the far left column, you will see a video embed under “The Daily 360.” They’re fantastic! Each day the Times takes you to a different part of the world with a 360-degree camera and provides a short essay to accompany it.

Truth: When I was at The Daily, the Fox News-run iPad newspaper, we did these and they were also terrific (the first one was from the heart of Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Egyptian uprising). Alas, they were expensive and we didn’t really commit to it as much as we should have. Also, not enough people use iPads, so there was that.

5. Fyre Extinguisher

I really didn’t pay attention to this Fyre Festival sh*t show until last night minutes ago, but 25 year-old organizer/Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland has some ‘splainin to do (and is already facing $100 million in lawsuits). A planned concert festival on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma with promotional posters featuring Bella Hadid and Emily Ratjakowski (the usual suspects), a rumored $250K payment to Kendall Jenner for a single Instagram post, tickets that cost as much as $12,000 and acts that canceled at the last minute such as Blink-182.

Move over, Martin Shkreli: There's a new douche in town

Move over, Martin Shkreli: There’s a new douche in town

Lots of profligate spending by McFarland and his fellow bros, who sound as if they were trying to get their Wolves of Wall Street on. Listen, if I want a clueless twenty something or two to throw a concert festival and pull it off, I’m going to Wayne and Garth. At least they knew how to do it.

Music 101

Sister Golden Hair

I’ll never understand why Glenn Frey and Don Henley didn’t just approach America and pay them gobs of money to write for them or simply to just go away. Or ask them to join the band. America was the best Eagles band outside (and often including) the Eagles in the early Seventies. This song, released in 1975, was one of two songs by the L.A.-based band that went to No. 1.

Remote Patrol

Game 3: Spurs-Rockets

9:30 p.m. ESPN

Kawhi Leonard can overcome anything short of autocorrect, but how will the Spurs fare now that Tony Parker will miss the rest of the playoffs? Tough task in Houston, and suddenly the James (Harden) gang has the upper hand.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Da Judge!

New York, baseball, America: Are you ready for your next superstar? Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge smoked a batting practice home run so hard yesterday that it smashed a TV screen in the centerfield bar. Then he clouted a two-run homer against the Blue Jays, his 13th of the season, in New York’s 8-6 win.

The Yankees, wisely, have no plans to fix this TV.

The Yankees, wisely, have no plans to fix this TV. Can we refer to it as a “Smoked Screen?”

We’re five weeks into the season, and Judge, technically a rookie, is all alone or tied for most home runs (13), best WAR (2.3) and most RBI (27) in the American League. He’s also tied for sixth in batting average (.330). A reminder: the Aaron era in the Bronx began less than 15 hours after the A-Rod era ended. Judge smoked a home run to dead center field in his first Major League at-bat.

2. Barf Brag

Comey seems to be holding it in right here....

Comey seems to be holding it in right here….

Addressing a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, FBI Director James Comey said, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we may have had some impact on the election.” Great, Jim, but would that be a preexisting condition?

3. Caps Lock*

*The judges, reluctantly, will also accept “On Thin Ice”

Despite the absence of Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals last night to push the Caps to the brink of elimination (3-1) in the Eastern Conference semis. The Caps have Alex Ovechkin, arguably the best skater in the sport, and had the best record this season (again), but they’ve never advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in Ovi’s 11 previous seasons.

4. Over The Rainbow

This is Randy Rainbow. I don’t know much about him—think Pee Wee Herman meets Glee—but he sure put a lot of work into this.

5. You Can Still Rock In America!

IMG_1956

First of all, sorry about the photo being off 90 degrees (after 5 minutes of tinkering with this, I got tired of the game). Anyway, that dude in the olive t-shirt, I totally dig him. My good friend Randy and I were at the Tom Petty concert last week and we noticed this young man, probably around 20 years old, and the girl he was with, rocking out to Petty and singing along to the songs.

And we loved that someone so young was THAT into Petty (we think that may have been his parents next to him). Anyway, at one point he noticed us staring at him and he didn’t think, “Those two old guys are creepy” but rather understood why. We exchanged smiles and thumbs up. After the concert ended, he walked over and we exchanged hugs though I’m not even sure if words were spoken. He knew why we dug him, and he was coming over to let us know that for old farts, we’re alright.

At some point I may have handed him a Pepsi, even. I’m not sure.

Reserves

Jackson, The Musical

I took a stab at it….

 

Music 101

Pilgrimage

What is the REM-est song? I’m not sure, but this is 1983 tune belongs in the top five. REM is the band of my twenties and I’m forever thankful for that and my experiences at SI, including my best friend there and the greatest REM fan I knew, Tim Crothers. It’s like nothing else to hear Tim walking down the halls of the 18th floor on a Thursday or Friday morning crooning, “Pilgrim-aaaaaaaaaage!” Good times.

Remote Patrol

The Late Show

11:35 p.m. CBS

Why am I suggesting this over Jazz-Dubs, Game 2? Because that series will only start if the Jazz win Game 3 at home and two, Charles Barkley is appearing with Colbert tonight. Right now Colbert is must-watch viewing, even if you don’t care for his politics, because he’s the only one going truly toe-to-toe with Trump (Seth Meyers, does, too, but some of us need to sleep). And Barkley is probably going to have a few words to say about the prez.