CHRIS PICKS! WEEK 11

by Chris Corbellini

These Saints Could Be Something Special

I learned everything I needed to know about teamwork when I was 19. I had just qualified for the Dad Vail Regatta Finals as a freshman rower, and when my teammates and I returned back from the hotel, we spotted the varsity guys playing pool and drinking beers (they had not qualified). One of them, a future commodore of the boathouse, quickly called his shot. I will never forget it.

“Tonight you will hear the greatest speech of your life.”

We were in Philly somewhere. I don’t remember where exactly – and I lived in Old City for seven years in my 30s, so I should. All I recall is that night, after dinner, in a room with all eight of us and our coxswain seated around our coach as he started …

“When you are all rowing together, as one, after all your preparation, it is magic. You will feel it. It will all click. The boat will walk on the water. It’ll feel effortless. It. Is. Magic.”

He was in his late 50s at the time, and looking back now in a hazy way he reminds me of present-day Harrison Ford, with a little more nerd to him. A lifer on that water, always chasing some eight-man boat in his skiff on frosty Lake Cayuga in October and April. He went on, but I’ll stop there. The point was made. When you work together, moving as one for a singular goal, and it begins clicking almost unconsciously … well …

You become greater than the sum.

Everything just moves. It is indeed a magical thing. Perfect synergy in all that sweat. A perfect harmony at the finish as everyone exults, exhausted. A team that manages to find that and become greater than their parts can defeat another loaded with talent. I will always believe this.

Now let’s flash forward nearly 25 years. I’m reading an academic paper about the concept of team fit, and the study used something called Frescoball as a test case (You basically hit the ball to each other using super-size ping pong paddles, and not let the ball drop). The researchers separated the teams of two into eight categories, like so:

Athlete Consistent/Athlete Consistent (AC-AC)

Athlete Consistent/Athlete Inconsistent (AC-AI)
Athlete Inconsistent/Athlete Inconsistent (AI-AI)

Non-athlete consistent/Non-athlete consistent (NC-NC)
Non-athlete inconsistent/Non-athlete inconsistent (NI-NI)
Athlete consistent/Non-athlete consistent (AC-NC)
Athlete inconsistent/Non-athlete consistent (AI-NC)

Athlete inconsistent/Non-athlete inconsistent (AI-NI)

I’ll spare you the math and accompanying graphs, and just explain that the researchers at the University of Madison-Wisconsin punched out a supporting formula for my crew coach’s speech: you whip opponents by being consistent together. The AC-AC were big winners, yes, but the AC-NC and NC-NC teams were not far behind, and in most cases, convincingly beat the others.

And I think about that coach’s wisdom, and frescoball, as the NFL reaches Week 11.  Who is the AC-AC squad, action-packed with immeasurable talent and working together as one?

If the Los Angeles Rams put it together in all three phases during the playoffs … I mean, say goodnight, kids. The Rams are already more than a contender. As of this week, Los Angeles is l1-4 co-favorites to win the Super Bowl. If they can find a No. 3 receiver now that Cooper Kupp is out for the season, and that defensive line really starts to find its groove, and the corners start believing in themselves again, then that’s the AC-AC, and they’ll happily skip away with it. But the Rams aren’t quite there yet. They haven’t found that walking on water moment.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are grinding away together exceptionally well. There’s no way New Orleans should be 8-1 with that mediocre defense: slot corner P.J. Williams is atrocious (with a 42.6 Pro Football Focus grade last week), and Eli Apple isn’t exactly 2009 Darrelle Revis, either. But the sum is certainly greater than the parts. Throw in Brees and Kamara and Michael Thomas on offense, and there’s an AC-NC dynamic going on down there in NOLA. I can’t wait to see what they do with it … maybe with the HOF-bound Brees as a rallying point, the Saints find that magic and it all comes together in Super Bowl LIII.

And that’s where I’ll start this week. At New Orleans. As always, home team in caps. William Hill odds. I also added some percentages to correspond with the winners I picked – they represent the calculations made by The Quant Edge that those teams will cover the Vegas line. Full disclosure: I currently work at TQE as an advisor.

NEW ORLEANS (-7.5) over Philadelphia (57.2%, 75.5% if Brees plays great)
Iggles QB Carson Wentz is gonna light up the Superdome. Alshon Jeffery, Golden Tate, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor … that’s four bottles of lightning right there at his disposal. I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there in gambling-land who expect the Eagles to cover in a close loss.

But looks at those odds: 75% if Brees has a great game! On that turf, in front of that moveable feast of New Orleans fans, I submit that the Brees bar for great would be in the 310-yard, 2-TD passing range. With all that momentum after scoring a combined 126 points in the last three games, Brees could do that after three quarters, and let Kamara take it from there and pad the stats of his adoring fantasy owners from coast to coast.

I see the Saints winning by 10, with their embattled defense (and that D has been embattled since the ‘60s, with a blip of awesome in the early ‘90s) making a big play that surprises us all. There is a danger of NOLA peaking in this one, but let’s not knock the Big Easy off that cloud just yet, shall we?

Houston (-3) over WASHINGTON (58.2%, 81% if Deshaun Watson plays great)
The Texans have a nearly nine-point advantage when comparing their PFF grades on defense to that of the Redskins offense. Houston still can’t cover a tight end, so Washington’s Jordan Reed might enjoy this one (I feel like I write that every week). But the Redskins offensive line is a gooey mess at the guard spots, and the Texans should stunt inside to rough them up.

And here’s a Keanu Reeves “whoa” stat: corner Danny Johnson and his 39.4 PFF rating will face DeAndre Hopkins and his 90.8 score … a 51.4 differential. They will have to double Hopkins, right? Or throw Josh Norman his way? In either case, Watson is gonna throw a bunch while on the run in this one, as that Redskins front can pulverize you in the pocket (their linemen grades last week: 71-64-71-78). And when Watson does roll out, Hopkins is shifty enough to slip free of anyone. I see Houston winning this one on the road by a TD.

Carolina (-4.5) over DETROIT (58%, 73.3% if Cam plays great)
Norv Turner is yet another example of a failed NFL head coach absolutely tearing it up as an assistant. As offensive coordinator of the Panthers, he’s proven to Cam Newton that a two-man game with he and Christian McCaffrey is their best chance to win every week, and it’s worked well so far. That pair will face a Lions linebacker corps that are average at best, and a slot corner who shall remain unnamed who has a PFF-low grade of 29.6.

Still, this might be one of those fantasy-vulture games, where Carolina’s No. 2 receiver has, say, three touchdowns in the first half — instead of McCaffrey or popular tight end Greg Olsen. You wouldn’t expect Lions coach Matt Patricia to fall for such decoy tactics, but this was a weird f-cking week for him, as he spent a testy afternoon with reporters having to defend practicing outside when his next four games are indoors.

ARIZONA (-5) over Oakland (63.5%, 78.6% if David Johnson plays great)
A purely analytical pick, and one totally against my gut. I don’t typically go with a rookie NFL QB at -5. But New Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich realized that maybe featuring David Johnson, one of the league’s best players, is, you know, a worthwhile thing. At this point I expect Arizona to ride Johnson like one of Khaleesi’s dragons, burning defense after defense to cinders. A shame it’s too late for the Cards (2-7) to make a real run.

Oh, by the way, the Raiders D is ranked 29th against running backs in the passing game, and 32nd overall, so I punched in David doing well into TQE’s betting tool, and it gave me 78.6%.

Good luck to you all this week.

In the words of the late, great William Goldman: “May all your scars be little ones.”

Last week: 2-2
Overall: 16-21

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

and from the same game…

Starting Five

The Daily Kerfuffle: All-Houston Edition

The city of Houston was ground zero for all sports kerfuffles last night: the Warriors, who are in the midst of dealing with a minor tiff between two of its starters, were visiting the Rockets, who announced that they were bidding adieu to Carmelodrama after just 10 games (this saga will become ESPN’s first :30 for :30).

And on the gridiron, future Top 10 pick Ed Oliver of the University of Houston fumed at coach Major Applewhite when the latter doffed the former’s oversized jacket that is only for active players who are on the sideline. Why jackets are a necessity at 50 degrees is another issue.

Oh well, at least the Pardon My Take gang will have plenty to discuss all day.

The Warriors lost, by the way. The Cougars won.

2. It’s A Little Bit Funny

I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind our including this Christmas advert by John Lewis & Partners, which are a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom.

3. Why Are We Fighting The Holocaust All Over Again?

Earlier this week, for reasons that make no sense at all, we started watching Schindler’s List at midnight (and watched it in its entirety). It’s only a coincidence that we were watching just a couple of nights after Jews in our neighborhood were gathering at local synagogues to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, when the Nazis in Germany and Austria destroyed more than 1,400 Jewish synagogues, businesses and homes.

This commemorative gathering came only a week after many Jews in New York gathered to commemorate the slaughter of their denizens at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Jews are forced to do entirely too much commemorating, we feel.


Earlier this week, during a production of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore, a man stood up and shouted, “Heil Hitler! Hell Trump!” and we guess it was just a relief that he did not pull out an AK-47 and start mowing folks down. Those are the things we get to be thankful for. We sorta think Sarah Silverman (also Jewish) put it very well the other night (Here she was on Real Time last Friday: “In this age, I consider myself very lucky that I get a star and I don’t have to sew it on my clothes…”) when she opened her Hulu show this week by stating that we should be thankful for Donald Trump.

Why? Because Trump has brought our ills to the fore. “Trump’s shamelessness brought to light things that were going on in the dark. We can see them now. He is like a black light at a Holiday Inn Express exposing America’s….” (Well, you know where she’s going).

Whether you want to consider him directly responsible or not, Donald Trump has made it safe for Nazis and White Nationalists to feel bold all over again (oh, and while we’re at it, don’t type “Make France Great Again” when they won the Freakin’ World Cup last summer on the backs of African immigrant players; the U.S. failed to even qualify for the most important sporting event in the world). There’s a faction of Americans, a sad faction, who wonder why we took the wrong side in World War II. And thanks to Trump, they’re no longer in hiding. In a bizarre way, we should be thankful for that.

4. A Rock Star Is Born

The trailer alone is enough to make us want to drop everything and see Free Solo, which we can happily report is not the latest installment of the overcooked Star Wars franchise. Alex Honnold, 33, is the world’s greatest (still) living free climber and in June of 2017 he became the first human to scale the 3,200-foot wall of El Capitan without any gear except shoes and a chalk bag. No ropes. No pitons. No carabiners.

I’m off the deep end, watch a I dive in….wait, that doesn’t work.

Knowing how this film will end shouldn’t dull your fascination with it. It’s easily one of the greatest human feats ever, even more impressive than Sweet Pea leading The Land to an NBA championship. And we think we all should see this on a big screen, not on Netflix. That’s just our thought.

5. Aussie Rules

Yes, that’s her….

Is Nicole Kidman in every film AND at every awards show right now, or are we just imagining things? The Aussie actress is 51 but in a bizarre way she’s entering her prime. By the way, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Margot Robbie. When did Australia’s most valued export become actresses? And then you add Saiorsie Ronan and Kate Winslet to the pile and you wonder if any American actresses can compete…

Anyhoo, we went back down a “73 Q’s” worm hole yesterday and have decided that Kidman is one of the planet’s more delightful people. You tell us what you think. Is Kidman truly this delightful or is simply that convincing of an actress? Does it matter?

Music 101

Debbie Harry inspired more crushes, the sisters in Heart had more powerful vocals, and Joan Jett got more love from the MTV, but in the late Seventies and early Eighties no female rocked harder than Chrissy Hynde of The Pretenders. This was the closing tune off their eponymous 1979 debut album and while it was never released as a single, it deservedly garnered plenty of airplay from album-oriented FM stations.

Remote Patrol

Medal of Honor

Netflix

Learn a little more about American heroes…

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


 Starting Five

1. Stormy Weather

Attorney Michael Avenatti, the man who never met a cable news appearance he didn’t like, was arrested yesterday on a felony suspicion of domestic violence charge. The man who crusades for the likes of Stormy Daniels and other wronged women is now going to be receiving a plethora of black kettles for Christmas.

We’re reminded of two vignettes: One, Chris Rock’s joke about how Nelson Mandela survived 18 years of being imprisoned on Robben Island but then sought a divorce from Winnie just a few years after being released. Second, there’s a scene in the film Lincoln, after watching a movie in which the president has demonstrated profound patience in dealing with political rivals as he seeks to get the 13th Amendment passed, in which Honest Abe nearly loses his sh*t with Mary Todd because, let’s face it, she was looney tunes.

We’re not equating Avenatti with Mandela or Lincoln. Don’t misunderstand. It’s just that behind a lot of crusaders there’s a home situation that is not handled as easily.

2. I Wanna Ride A Cowboy

That’s former Dallas Cowboy linebacker Jeff Rohrer (1982-87) and his partner, Joshua Ross. The couple, based in West Hollywood, are getting married this weekend. Will this upset the NFL establishment? There’s a “take a knee” joke that we have too much class to explore.

This, from The New York Times story, is the kind of sentence that a writer presents to his editor with anxious excitement, waiting for the moment the editor gets to that part of the story (and hoping he doesn’t kill it):

The man who once spent four quarters chasing quarterback Vince Ferragamo on a Sunday, will look like a million bucks on his wedding day thanks to Salvatore Ferragamo…”

3. Family Feud

Remember the Pike County murders of June, 2016, when eight members of a rural Ohio family were all murdered in one place at one time, most of them in their sleep? And remember when it was learned that this family, the Rhoden family, were pot farmers and everyone assumed it was a drug hit and MS-13!!!

That’s at least 8 fewer NASCAR fans

Turns out it was another family whose main connection was that their son, Jake, had a child with one of the daughters but did not have custody. Yes, appears it was all a custody issue. Wow, a lot of people are paying for a little youthful indiscretion between a pair of teenagers.

4. LeBron Passes Wilt….Sort Of

In a LeLakers win over Portland last night, LeBron James had his best game of the season thus far: 44 points, 10 boards, 9 assists. Great game. He also passed Wilt Chamberlain in the all-time points department, 31,425 to 31,419.

Curious thing: Of the NBA’s five most prolific career scorers, in terms of total points, all but one (MJ) wore a Laker uniform for at least a game. Something else that’s weird? You have to go all the way down to 18th on the list to find anyone who ever wore a Celtic uniform (Paul Pierce) for at least a season, and yet Boston has the most NBA championships (the Lakers, second-most).

Chamberlain was DeAndre Jordan in a world that was in no way yet prepared for that. Two generations ahead of his time.

Finally, for perspective, the Big Dipper (Chamberlain) still is one of only two players, the other being MJ, who retired with a career scoring average of more than 30 points per game. LeBron averages just over 27 and is in fourth place all-time on that list, although Kevin Durant is at No. 5 and has averaged just 4/100ths of a point less than LeBron over a 10-year career. Our bet is that Durant will end up ahead on that ppg blotter.

5. Cy of Relief (But He’s Not A Relief Pitcher)

What the baseball writers got wrong two days earlier—failing to name Miguel Andujar, with his 47 doubles and 27 home runs, AL Rookie of the Year—they got right yesterday: naming Jacob deGrom NL Cy Young Award winner.

deGrom may be the worst pitcher in baseball when it comes to autocorrect (it always goes to “legroom”; he’s like Dalvin Cook used to be) but we don’t care about his paltry Won-Loss record (10-9). The native Floridian had baseball’s lowest ERA (1.70) AND its lowest WHIP (.91) and as far a we’re concerned those are by far the two most important metrics by which to measure a pitcher.


Nope. Nope. Nope, Michael. And by the way, deGrom’s victory is the latest but not the last example of everyone beginning to realize that the era of the STARTING pitcher is, if not over, about to be far less emphasized by clubs. Won-Loss records have made the STARTING pitcher a thing far longer than common sense would ask.

Music 101

Lithium

Band? Cult? Linen Department? Merry Prankster Wannabes? The Texas-based Polyphonic  Spree were all of that and more and they blazed a brief and memorable trail across the songosphere in the early years of this century. I’ll always remember that one evening we all shared in Irving Plaza. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

Here’s Tim DeLaughter and the kids covering Nirvana‘s Lithium. This is an example of one band discovering another band’s song that actually fits the band that did not write it better.

Remote Patrol

Lost In Translation

TMC (not TCM!) 8 p.m.

For relaxing time, make it a Santori time…

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


White Boys Can Jump

Starting Five

Sinema Verite: Krsyten Sinema (D-Ariz) becomes the first openly bisexual senator (key word there is “openly”) and Mike Pence, who doubles as president of the Senate, must have noticed the first three letters of her last name.

1. Odds ‘n Ends

We’re opening up with sort of a leftovers item:

–The Fitchburg State kid. What possessed him?

That’s Kewan Platt, who has been indefinitely suspended and has likely played his last collegiate basketball game. Which is fine with us. That’s flat-out assault. Nate Tenaglia buried the three and was able to remain in the game. Platt has also been barred from campus.

–The insane shooting of a hero security guard officer in Midlothian, Illinois, about 20 miles south of Chicago. Jemel Roberson, 26, was working security at Manny’s Blue Room. A few drunk and disorderly patrons were asked to leave after 3 a.m. One returned and opened fire. Roberson subdued him, had a knee in his back and had him pinned to the ground, pointing a gun at him. He was reportedly wearing a vest that read “SECURITY.”

Then the cops arrived and one nervous, hair-trigger idiot fatally shot Roberson. I’m sorry, this guy is even worse than Kewan Platt.

She’s got the right idea with “no longer deserves the honor of serving in the White House,” if not the right person

–Speaking of firing and hair-trigger idiots, since when do retired Slovenian bikini models get to decide whether key White House employees get to keep their jobs? Hate the Dems all you want, but their last two First Ladies held law degrees from Yale and Harvard, respectively. And they only interfered with staff if one of those staffers was, you know, turning the Oval Office into the oral office.

 

2. The Fantastic Finke Family

Imagine being the Finke parents this weekend in New York City. Imagine how proud you must be. Your daughter, Alex, is one of the female leads in Come From Away, one of the most acclaimed musicals on Broadway.

Your son, Chris, is a former walk-on at Notre Dame who is now a starting wideout for the 10-0 Irish, who will be playing at Yankee Stadium. These parents should be charging big dollars to give seminars on how to parent. Well done, folks.

3. MH Lunch Date!

The wall/door, on the right

The staff was fortunate enough to be invited to a lunch today held in the wine cellar of NYC’s renowned 21, the legendary eatery located at 21 W. 52nd Street. Something about awards for the best free daily blogs written by cat-owning males in flannel sweats, we think. Or maybe not.

Anyway, what we learned: During Prohibition there were as many as 35 speakeasies located on 52nd Street alone in midtown. 21 was perhaps the best-known, and raids by police into the building always proved fruitless. Why?

Well, first of all the wine cellar is literally that. You have to walk through the kitchen and then down a flight of stairs to reach the hallway. Then, you need a key that’s nearly two feet long (it resembles a dipstick with a hook on the end) that releases a latch that allows you to push open the two-ton brick wall that hides the stash.

You walk past the bottles (we saw a private reserve bottle for Richard Nixon) and then into the dining room above. New York City holds so many secrets. It takes more than a lifetime to uncover them all.

4. For Whom The Bell Toils

Apparently, no one. Point made, LeVeon. And everybody loses. Hope it was worth it.

From Bell’s vantage point, he did not appreciate the Steelers pinning the “franchise tag” on him, which would guarantee him a $14.5 million price tag, which is somewhat below market value. By our vantage point, while $14.5 million is below market value, $0 is even less and running backs have a finite shelf life.

Bell is only 26 and he probably has at least five more good seasons in him. Besides, a year off isn’t the worst thing for an NFL running back in his prime: ask John Riggins, whom we discussed yesterday. Either way, Bell is going to be wealthy beyond most fans’ comprehension. There are no winners here, and really no losers besides the fans.

5. Blunt Object

We’re a fan of Vogue‘s “73 Q’s” series and yesterday checked out this one with actress Emily Blunt (we also checked out the Seth Meyers, Cindy Crawford and Zac Efron episodes: Seth’s was our favorite while Cindy telling us that her favorite food is “caviar” left us rolling our eyes).  Anyway, this one provides a a peekaboo of Vogue’s editorial offices and we also learned that Emily has a famous brother-in-law and she did the setting up.

Music 101

You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine

The king of the three-piece leisure suit and romantic soul, that’s Lou Rawls. Although Rawls was the guy your parents listened to in the Seventies, this 1976 hit reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts, chart-blocked from No. 1 only by the Bee Gees later K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Interesting Lou Rawls note: For his first marriage, in 1968, his best man was Sidney Poitier.

Remote Patrol

Country Music Awards

8 p.m. ABC 

For one night each year—whom are we kidding? Only for the first 20 minutes of the show—the MH Manor goes country for this tremendously entertaining opening. Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are the best and here’s hoping he gets in a job about her “Game On” SNF theme and that she gets a few in about his cheating on her with Peyton Manning.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

Marvel Us

Comic book super hero Stan Lee, the wizard who created The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man,  The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther and Captain America, among others, passes from this universe at the age of 95.

Lee was born in Manhattan and first grew up in an apartment on the corner of 98th Street and West End Avenue, not far from MH world headquarters. He graduated high school early, served in the Army Signal Corps in World War II, and loved writing short stories. He was thinking of changing careers when his boss at Atlas Comics, trying to find an answer for DC Comics’ success with the Justice League and the Flash, asked him to come up with some super heroes.

On the advice of his wife, Lee created characters, beginning with the Fantastic Four, who unlike most super heroes to that point, were also flawed humans (Batman would’ve made a perfect Lee character). The rest is comic book history.

Lee, born Stanley Lieber, was Jewish. You wonder how many Marvel fan boys may also have a little bit of white nationalist in them. You wonder if they realize that most of their comic book heroes were created in the mind of a Jewish man.

Quoting Stan Lee:

 “Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.”

2. Bugaboo in Baraboo

Add “Prom Nazis” to the heap of things plaguing the country right now, though I think I could shop a treatment of “Prom Nazis” to AMC and we could give them 10 episodes for Sunday nights for the summer of ’19. I can even imagine Chris Hardwick hosting “Talking Nazis” live immediately after.

Should we take this photo, from the Baraboo (Wisconsin) High School junior prom last spring, seriously? Yes, and no. No, because high school boys make insensitive jokes hourly without truly grasping the weight behind their actions, and yes because many of these same boys will just grow older without really ever growing up. And they’ll have more money and less joy and use their power to punish others.. And if they have less money and less joy, look out.

And yes, the kid bottom center in the classic Trump suit is making an alt-white signal with his right hand. Also, you see the boy on the top left who is not smiling and not making a sign. He’ll grow up to create a billion-dollar artificial intelligence company.

3. Paradise Lost


Paradise, California, located roughly four hours north of the Bay Area, is mostly destroyed in the wake of both the largest and deadliest fire in state history. More than 40 people perished in the fire, many of them stuck in traffic gridlock as they attempted to flee.

If it seems as if wildfires in California have become more common, and coming closer to humans, in the past half-decade, well, you’re right. Part of that is the expansion of residential areas into what was wilderness. Part of it is drought.

4. Cuse Control

Last May I got on the horn with Syracuse coach Dino Babers and quarterback Eric Dungey and you know what? I really liked them. Like, REALLY liked them. Dino, even if he’s a stranger to Mike Francesa, is just a swell egg. The son of a career Navy man, he grew up mostly in San Diego and then attended college in Hawaii, which is odd because he doesn’t surf. In fact, he can’t even swim. Seriously.

This fall he’s got his daughter and her new husband living at his house, which is odd cuz the son-in-law is also the Orange’s starting left tackle. As for Dungey, he’s been almost criminally overlooked the past few seasons. A senior with NFL size, he’s a poor man’s Pat Mahomes.

Kid Dino-mite!

So I wish really good things for the 8-2 Orange, who barely lost at Clemson and only in overtime to Pitt. Except maybe not this Saturday in the Bronx.

What’s for sure, though, is that every single college football fan who doesn’t root for Notre Dame is on the Syracuse bandwagon this weekend, because they’re the only team (at least this week) who can throw the playoff into chaos. The following weekend Ohio State will have its chance (hosting Michigan) and then the week after that Georgia (against Bama).

This Saturday, though, almost everyone who loves college football is a Syracuse fan. And it’s hard to blame them.

5. Riggo

No, John Riggins did not die or anything. While we were not paying close attention a couple nights ago, one YouTube video bled into another and suddenly we were transported back to a time when John Riggins was the toast of New York (on a few subpar Jets teams…stop us if you’ve heard that one). And with NFL Films creator Steve Sabol interviewing him, it only gets better.

The native Kansan was a true original. Tougher than the rest, a white Jim Brown, and a guy who sat out a year and then actually returned, after the age of 30, better than he’d been before. Listening to him, you can tell he’s a very smart man, if still just one of the guys. Listen how quickly he furnishes an answer to Sabol’s terrific question: “Finish this sentence for me: ‘The mark of a great running back is…. ________?”

It’s the correct answer, too. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Music 101

My Back Pages

Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, the song’s writer, Bob Dylan, and finally George Harrison taking a verse apiece on Dylan’s 1964 classic nearly thirty years later at Madison Square Garden. Time capsule stuff. Dylan went 24 years after writing this tune before first performing it live in 1988.

Remote Patrol

A Streetcar Named Desire

8 p.m. TCM

“HEY, STELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!”

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Quenton Nelson played football at Notre Dame, where former teammate Jaylon Smith (now with the Dallas Cowboys) was nicknamed Murder Train. Why not both of them?

Starting Five

California Nightmare

People who live in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, and we know a few, are extremely pleased with their choice of where to live. They’re living the California dream, after all, and if you’ve ever visited there from the Northeast between, say, now and April Fool’s Day, you get it. You wake up on a lovely, sunny, warm December morning and, especially if it’s after a hard rain, you can spot the ocean in one direction and the snow-capped San Gabriels in the other.

It’s heaven.

But not in the past week. A shooter took 12 lives in Thousand Oaks and then wildfires have turned Malibu and Zuma Beach into a hellscape.

2. Deluge

This dude knew he wouldn’t melt….

Saturday marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, known at the time as The Great War or The War To End All Wars. World leaders convened in Paris with the plan being to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, approximately 60 miles from Paris.

The site was picked as a way to commemorate the Battle of Belleau Wood, where 1,800 American soldiers lost their lives fighting alongside British, French and Canadian allies. There was just one problem: il pleut.

(Trump’s actual fear)

Yes, rain. And that was enough to keep our Commander in Chief from attending. Consider this: Angela Merkel made it, and she is the leader of the country that was the enemy that day. And yet she found the will to brave the rain. But not Donald, the man who once publicly opined that “STDs are my personal Vietnam.”

Trump’s latest foray into hypocrisy (“I love the troops!” followed by “Cant’ get my hair wet”) opened the door for some world-class trolling. Here’s Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, by far the greatest leader in North America whose last name begins T-R-U…


And here’s the French Army Twitter page, acting as if a little rain is a life-or-death measure.

Last thing: On Friday afternoon TCM aired an old war movie, The Fighting 69th. Draped around a World War I backdrop in the French trenches, Jimmy Cagney plays a tough-talking outer-borough New Yorker who is actually a first-rate coward whose craven behavior gets many of his fellow soldiers killed and whom no one in his outfit can stand. That film was made nearly 80 years ago but, wow, so prophetic.

3. “Lieutenant Dan”

It’s always nice to see a simple-minded yokel and a Lieutenant Dan bury any past grievances and make peace, don’t you agree? We can’t commend Lieutenant Commander Dan Crenshaw enough for showing up and for accepting Pete Davidson’s apology, which absolutely was owed. It was a powerful moment and a funny moment and it took us back 40 years ago to our childhood when people were actually nice to one another and yet still funny on TV.

Above: That’s a two-time Best Actor Oscar winner, our nation’s current fictional president (I’d take her in a swap without a second thought), the country’s fiercest advocate for veterans’ rights (who puts his time and money where his mouth is), and an Asian actress whom if our actual president met her his first question would be, “Where are you from?”

4. Carmelodrama (Cont.)

When we read over the weekend that Houston Rockets officials and Carmelo’s people were in discussions as to how this arrangement could work out, we chuckled. Here’s how it works out: shut your damn mouth and listen to your coach. But of course, that’s so GOML of me.

This is exactly why I would’ve never wanted Carmelo to play on my team. You wanna be your own brand? Fine. Prove that you can win first. And not just at Syracuse for one year. That was then. This is the NBA.

Anthony is 34 and he’s the fifth-leading scorer on the Rockets at 13.4 ppg. That’s not horrible at his age. We’re not sure what he wants. When he retires, people are going to lobby for him to be in the HOF and he’ll probably make it, primarily because he salvaged his rep in the Olympics. But here we are in his 16th season and, with all that talent, he’s only taken a team to the conference finals once.

So much talent. So much attitude. At least that’s what it’s always looked like to us.

5. “I’m Melting!” (Part 2)

Here’s the BBC with another disturbing story on climate change. This is the northernmost town in Greeland, Qaanaaq (automatically, as a lover of adventure and palindromes, this must move to the top of Steve Rushin’s bucket list), and what you don’t see here that you should is…SNOW. Or ICE.

Here’s Qaanaaq as it should look:

The good news about the end of days is that you’re not going to have to worry about credit-card debt.

Music 101

God Only Knows

This 1966 song by the Beach Boys (really, by Brian Wilson and a crew of talented session musicians while the rest of the band was touring in Asia) is as close as we’ll ever get to knowing what heaven sounds like. But you just can’t create heaven on a lark. This video provides some context as to how much effort went into it. For such a tortured soul in real life, Wilson knew exactly what he wanted and needed in the recording studio. A genius. He was 23 years old.

Remote Patrol

Into Alaska

10 p.m. Animal Planet

It’s a brand new show about Alaska and wildlife and we’ll just get high on the fumes.

 

CHRIS PICKS (WEEK 10)

by Chris Corbellini

Week 10 Picks: The Goff-Jobs Theory

I’m a big believer in Steve Jobs’ famed Stanford commencement address. Watch it right now on YouTube, if you haven’t seen it. His main thesis is hardly a novel idea – do what you love. But the tech innovator, gone too soon at 56, crafted one passage within the speech that struck me deeply the first time I watched it, and it has stayed with me for the last decade of my football life. In not-so-great times, it had to: “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Let me take you back five years now — I was crashing on the couch of a friend’s apartment in Los Angeles, working freelance and hoping to land full-time at the NFL Network – watching a skinny true freshman at Cal named Jared Goff. He was, to put it nicely, getting his ass kicked by Northwestern. I couldn’t even stay awake to see the finish. But I remember thinking this kid had something special. He was an overwhelmed 18-year-old, but at times on pure muscle memory alone the QB made some lightning-bolt throws.

I took a mental note. Goff. Real potential. Cal went 1-11 that season, but, somehow, I didn’t see it as a negative for him. I thought if this quarterback could shake all that shit off, he’d be the perfect pick for a rebuilding NFL team one day. He had thick skin, electric stuff, and all the intangibles a scout cannot see.

Things went well for me out in LA, but I didn’t land a full-time job out there. Things went well for me at another big network last year on the East Coast (Goff, now a pro, even played on that network during the NFL playoffs, a wild-card loss to the Falcons), but their football broadcast package was then cut in half when a rival outbid them for Thursday Night Football. So I didn’t land anything there, either.

And this season? I faced the possibility of not working at all. You are an ant in my industry if you have no say over a budget, and I didn’t. My current accounting professor at Columbia more or less confirmed this to me with his theory that the ginormous rights deals that ESPN signed (NFL, NBA, etc.) were in part to give the company a built-in excuse to let a generation of employees go in the years that followed (editor’s note: !). This professor is not a conspiracy theorist. He handles budgets for another brand-name sports company, and the assignments he gives us each week are rooted in real situations. I believe his theory. That is what working in sports today means. Your layoff is planned in advance.

Still, I believe in The Jobs Speech more.

With no safety net to speak of, and no feature producer gig available, I cannonballed into daily fantasy sports and sports betting. A total “fuck it, this is fun” move. And after a long Saturday night where I painstakingly plowed through game film and analytics research on an Excel sheet (and wrote for John Walters here), I had to make a final decision: Is Goff my QB for Week 9?


I considered Goff’s opponent — the Saints and their atrocious pass defense. I looked at the Vegas O/U — the highest that Sunday. But mostly, I thought back to his first game as a Cal freshman. Thick skin, electric stuff, and all the intangibles a scout cannot see.

I went with a Rams pick (+1.5) in this space a week ago, and entered Goff as my quarterback in an LA-heavy DFS lineup. And while I got the bet wrong … I qualified for a World Fantasy Football Championship. I’m playing for a $500k grand prize against 73 other qualifiers, and Barstool’s founder, Dave Portnoy. By qualifying for the WFFC, I was also automatically entered into a fan championship which has a larger competitor pool, but nonetheless has a first-place prize of one million dollars.

In the words of Simon Pegg: “How’s that for a slice of fried gold?” And so I spent this week thinking about the Goff pick and The Jobs Speech in the Miami sunshine while working for The Spring League, which featured NFL hopefuls in a game setting and got the attention of scouts from the NFL, CFL and AAF. And I wonder if that experience will help me in the future — hopefully, you know, this week, while making my picks.

As always, home team in caps. William Hill odds. I also added some percentages to correspond with the winners I picked – they represent the calculations made by The Quant Edge that those teams will cover the Vegas line. Full disclosure: I currently work at TQE as an advisor. Another great gig that happened because a great gig in sports television didn’t happen.

BUCS (-3) over Redskins (60.1%)

Some sound advice that I overheard from a defensive coach this week: “What did I say? Remember? On the seam [route]? Outside leverage on the seam.” And it’s a shame the player he was coaching up didn’t absorb it, because that linebacker then let a Spring League tight end slip inside to score off a seam route the following afternoon. I see parallels here with the Bucs defense, who seemingly forget that the tight end position even exists, as the unit is ranked 29th against the position (courtesy pro football outsiders). This would suggest happy-fun times are ahead for Redskins tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, but it won’t be enough.

Washington is hurting on offense, especially up front, and is just average defensively. The Bucs passing game will likely pick away at the left side of the field, where the Redskins D has allowed the most yardage. Receiver DeSean Jackson complained to reporters about his role in the offense this week, and so it’s not hard to imagine Tampa Bay force-feeding him short completions to the left flat, and in one case at least, I see him spinning out of a tackle and sprinting for a score to give the Buccaneers a win by 7.

Patriots (-6.5) over TITANS (62%)

So, anyway, yeah, New England is now the best team in the league. Color me shocked. The victory over the Packers last Sunday night confirmed it — the Pack were hungry, boasted an elite QB, and didn’t stand a chance. Former Patriots player and current Titans HC Mike Vrabel might know Bill Belichick’s tendencies better than most, but he doesn’t have the personnel to keep up at the moment. I don’t need to do the math on this one. With Julian Edelman back from suspension and Josh Gordon acclimating nicely to The Patriot Way, the offense is rolling.

Saints (-5.5) over BENGALS (63.2%)

It’s Alvin Kamara in a big way in this one, as the Bengals linebacker group is a good 2-3 adjectives worse than awful. Before this game is over we may be calculating what it’ll take for Kamara to get a 1,000-1,000 season. He’s everything we thought David Johnson would be for the Cardinals this year, and on a playoff-caliber team to boot. If the Saints only had a respectable defense to go along with the Brees-Kamara pass parade, Super Bowl LIII would be theirs to lose.

Chargers (-10) over RAIDERS (64.7%)

You can’t say the Raiders don’t do their due diligence when looking for players. Down in Miami, a member of the team’s scouting department got the measurables for all 153 Spring League players — height, weight, hand size, arm length, and wingspan. He plowed through it all in one night with a tape measure and a wall sticker. The organization certainly doesn’t cut corners. I was impressed. It won’t result in a win this week. Not nearly. Not against Philip Rivers. But he might have connected the dots with someone, and for someone. It happens.

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 14-19

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Today’s post is almost entirely about Matt Whitaker and Bob Mueller and gloom and doom and HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYBODY!!!

Starting Five

Unwelcome Matt

A few years ago Matt Whitaker sat on the board of World Patent Marketing, a company that promised inventors it would help get them patents and make them rich. Last year the Federal Trade Commission recognized the company as a total scam and ordered it to pay $26 million in fines.

By that time Whitaker had moved on to FACT (the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust), which claimed to be a “non-partisan ethics watchdog which holds accountable government officials from both parties.” The problem is, it was actually a front for Whitaker to appear on television spouting anti-Mueller investigation talking points.

There was no FACT beyond Whitaker. He was the entire staff of FACT (imagine that, a singular person behaving as if he’s part of a larger organization so as to inflate that org’s importance; when I shared this with the MH staff, we all enjoyed a hearty chuckle). Someone with deep pockets bankrolled him, the sole purpose being so that he could appear on conservative talk shows and even CNN as FACT’s Executive Director as opposed to “Matt Whitaker, bald conservative lawyer who once played for Iowa but now tries to sell jacuzzis in infomercials.”

So that’s your cousin Jeffery…

2. Forced Whitaker

Sally Yates was the first of Trump’s three Attorneys General in less than two years in office. She lasted about a day.

Whitaker, you see, has been appointed acting Attorney General by President Trump after Trump fired Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. He got on Trump’s radar by constantly getting himself booked on CNN and other shows to spout the contrarian view on Mueller, and while there laid out a blueprint for how to combat Mueller that was actually better than any one Bannon or Miller or anyone else had conjured. The point is, you can land a Cabinet position these days simply if you’re a compelling enough cable news guest.

Trump’s motive for firing Sessions may or may not be unconstitutional (it depends if you can prove Trump was trying to obstruct justice by firing Sessions). That’s funny because the reason he fired Sessions is because the erstwhile Senator/Trump’s-most-raucous-cheerleader-among-that-body recused himself from the Mueller investigation, an investigation that was only launched after Trump fired the head of the FBI, and Congress decided we had to investigate whether or not THAT was an obstruction of justice.

There has to be one farewell Sessions skit left in Kate McKinnon

So, if you are following: Trump fires Comey —-> special investigation headed by Robert Mueller to determine whether or not POTUS obstructed justice———> Mueller’s putative boss, Sessions, recuses himself because he was appointed by Donny——–> Donny vewwwwy unhappy (“Why in the hell do you think I appointed you AG in the first place?!?”) ——-> Donny eventually fires Sessions ——-> installs his latest lapdog, Whitaker, to succeed Sessions ——> the last thing Whitaker is going to do is recuse himself, i.e., he’s now Mueller’s boss.

(And let’s be honest here, the entire reason for that last graf was me working this out in my own brain). 

So you can see the irony here. It’s kind of humorous, no? President fires guy, investigation launched over obstruction, guy who could squash investigation takes a flier on it, so he gets fired, too, which could trigger a second investigation. Henchman who resembles SS Stormtrooper installed to curb all of it.

3. So What The Hell Can Matt Whitaker Do, Anyway?


Well, until Congress reconvenes in January, a hell of a lot. He can bleed Mueller’s investigation dry of funds. He can fire Mueller (something Sessions refused to do and something Rod Rosenstein refuses to do, but if Whitaker is not recusing himself, then Rosenstein’s role as buffer between Mueller and Trump disappears). At the very least he can look over Mueller’s shoulder, peruse all the evidence, and report back to Trump. It’s like playing the Patriots (or the Faithful Patriots) but having to run every play past Bill Belichick before you run it in the game (which reminds us of the TapeGate Pats).

Let’s be real here: in the Beltway, Matt Whitaker is a TOTAL NOBODY. A MEATHEAD. He was a walking ad for road rage before Trump rose to power and he’ll probably revert to that afterward. He’s not a Senator. He’s not a Supreme Court justice or even a federal judge. He’s not even a Rep. He’s a fixer and he’s basically volunteered to assassinate, politically, Robert Mueller and end the special investigation.

And that will make him a hero to Trump. It may make him a hero to Iowans who, after all, reelected avowed neo-Nazi Steve King for another term as a Representative. So this may be a brilliant career maneuver for Whitaker. Who knows?

Now, when any and all of this has happened in the past, we’ve always heard the same thing from the well-meaning Democrats and cable news hosts: “TRUMP CAN’T DO THAT!”

Technically, Trump cannot. As Kellyanne Conway’s own husband wrote in The New York Times yesterday, Trump cannot appoint an Attorney General without the Senate’s consent because that is a job in which you report to one man and one man only, the President. The Constitution set it up so that in those jobs you need Senate consent so that the President can’t just fill out all the important roles with people who are his (cough, cough, Brett Kavanaugh) lap dogs or just the cast of Fox & Friends.

But so what??? Who’s going to stop him? The Senate? Nope, he owns them and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Supreme Court? Nope, not with everyone’s favorite drinking buddy now wearing a robe. So who? You, Lieutenant Weinberg?!?

This is Invasion of the Body Snatchers all over again. When the entire organism is corrupted, democracy cannot work. You have to hand it to Trump and his gang for the brilliance, and also the malevolence, of their plan. To wit…

A) Hijack the Republican party by appealing to its fringe elements.

B) Get McConnell and Paul Ryan, both of whom can see the Mack Truck headed right at them, to bend the knees in exchange for tax returns and the promise of SC judges.

C) Fire anyone who gets in your way…

D) Keep the Senate red so that impeachment is impossible.

He’s fully protected. You’re not going to get two-thirds of the Senate to impeach and you’re not going to get the Supreme Court to overrule any of Whitaker’s misdeeds. They’re all in cahoots and at least for the remainder of their careers, they’re protected. Who cares if the plane slams into the side of the skyscraper eventually? They’ll all have parachuted out by then.

4. Is There Any Hope?

Well, let’s discard the possibility of honor, integrity or love of our Constitution. They all took an Uber home with Vlad Putin.

So what’s left? In our minds, because you almost certainly CAN count on Mueller being gone soon, the best bet is the same thing that brought Richard Milhouse Nixon down.

The goddamn fourth estate. That’s right: newspapers.

Whatever Mueller is unable to present to Congress, should Whitaker thwart him, may certainly be leaked to The Washington Post or The New York Times, perhaps late at night (what’s the current parking garage situation in D.C. like), perhaps by someone who looks like Hal Holbrook. We’re somewhat kidding here, but the point is this: if the evidence is damning enough, and definitive beyond any reasonable doubt, America will be mad. Or at least a great portion of it will be.

And at that point it will be up to Senator Doubtfire, a.k.a. McConnell, and the other lizards in the Senate whether or not they truly want to go down in history as leaders who abandoned any pretense of being against treason so long as white supremacy remained intact.

Hey, maybe there’s no evidence at all. Maybe Donald is innocent (that would certainly explain why he fires anyone who gets to close to unearthing the evidence or refuses put a curb on those who do), but probably not. What exactly he is guilty of, or how deeply he went in with the Russians, we don’t know. But there’s almost certainly something there, something Donny desperately wants to keep hidden. The appointment of Whitaker was his most desperate move, and boldest stroke, yet.

One more item: Whitaker has continuously said, in his guise of executive director at FACT (remember, an entity that does not actually exist outside of his own existence), that he does not think it is fair to investigate any of Trump’s finances before he was president. This is either Whitaker being obtuse or just plain stupid, but we’ll go with the former.

The reason Trump’s finances are pertinent is because it goes to motive. There may have been a strong fiscal motive (either Donald being deeply in debt to and/or the Russians bailing him out by overpaying for real estate in exchange for favors) that forced Trump to get in bed with, or have golden showers performed by, the Russians. Of course being a former U.S. Attorney, Whitaker knows this. He’s just trying to fool American Gothic Overalls voters. Again.

5. And Finally…

We endorse this piece by Paul Krugman on Real America versus Senate America. It outlines why so few American citizens are having such a gigantic effect on the many.

Music 101

Sideshow

You couldn’t grow up in the early Seventies, nor would you have wanted to, without being exposed to the peak of soul/R&B music: The Temptations, Spinners, O’Jays, Isley Brothers, Sylistics, Earth, Wind & Fire, Commodores, Hall & Oates (!), Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross…you get the picture. Blue Magic was a lesser known act, but this song sold more than a million copies and rose to No. 8 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1974. One of many songs that takes you back to that era.

Remote Patrol

Fresno State at Boise State

ESPN2 10:15 p.m.

I’ll confess: I’m way over the blue turf. Like, waaaaaaaaay over it. Especially as a TV viewer, half the players on the field just blend into it. Anyway, the Broncos are only 7-2 this season while the Bulldogs are 8-1, so this is a rather big game for Group of 5 fans (Fresno State has a decent chance at that New Year’s 6 bowl berth). Also, Irish fans may want to tune in early for the undercard, Louisville at Syracuse.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Send in your suggested quote. Here’s ours: “I too have a blind eye I’d like you to see…”

Starting Five

Out Of Sessions

You have two choices once you accept Donald Trump as your lord and savior: You either do everything he wants you to do, i.e. express complete fealty, or you eventually end up in the gutter. Beside your career.

Former Trump sycophant and U.S. Senator from the great state of Alabama discovered that the hard way when, as newly installed Attorney General, he recused himself from the Mueller investigation. For 20 odd months since, the guillotine has been hovering over the back of Sessions’ neck.


Today it came down faster than you can say, “You’re a rude and terrible person.” Trump will install Matt Whitaker, a former tight end on the Iowa Hawkeyes who the president hopes will serve as a lead blocker agains Robert Mueller.

Whitaker got here by being an outspoken critic of the Robert Mueller investigation and offering a solution: bleeding it dry by withholding funding.

Kind of funny how less than 24 hours after the Democrats take over the House of Representatives, Trump fires the dude who was the firewall against Trump firing Mueller. In the immortal words of George Costanza, “WE’RE TAKING IT UP A NOTCH!”

2. Acosta Accosted

Here’s CNN’s Jim Acosta versus President Donald Trump, the high—or low- —light of yesterday’s 86-minute White House press briefing. In our opinion, there are no winners here.

Trump is being Trump, of course (“Oh, here we go…”) but Acosta isn’t exactly being respectful when he lectures the president on the difference between an “invasion” and “immigrants.” No one likes a pedant (trust us, we’re as pedantic as anyone we know).

We don’t agree with the the fear-mongering the White House is engaged in (and you’d be wise to note that yesterday, for the first time in more than a week, Fox News had no footage of the caravan; hmm, wonder why not?), but we think Acosta had more than enough Q&A time by the time the president cut him off. There were dozens of other reports in the room who likely wanted to ask a question, too. It’s one thing to request a follow-up, it’s another to clutch the mic so long that the home viewer wonders if you’re about to announce that “Now we’d like to do a deep track from our first album.”


(The Magic Loogie video: Back and to the left. Back and to the left. Baaaaaaaack and to the left.)

Acosta simply refused to surrender the microphone. He’d already asked a question or three and maybe if he wasn’t satisfied with the answers, that’s too bad. I’m not in the habit of defending Donald Trump, as you know, but what was the president supposed to do? If Trump had simply refused to answer any question by Acosta, I’d take his side. But Acosta actually got the president to react to three different questions, or at least questions interrupted. This wasn’t a one-on-one.

At a certain point the president is allowed to move on. And it is the president, not Jim Acosta, who sets those parameters. By refusing to relinquish the mic, Acosta was hijacking the presser. And from what I’ve seen, he’s not about to apologize for that. That’s why CNN loves him. He’s a bulldog, albeit a polite and respectful bulldog.

But he often treats pressers as an extended debate between himself and Trump (or Sarah Sanders). From our vantage point, there’s a wide spectrum between being the president’s lap dog and refusing to play by the rules, as he was.

Acosta left the president little choice but to step away from his own mic, as that poor White House intern tried to intervene. And my Twitter timeline, which is full of journalists, are all taking Acosta’s side. But I’m not. He asked his questions, and Trump rudely and condescendingly, as is his nature, gave his answers. At some point Trump gets to move on. And Acosta doesn’t get to say when.


As for Sarah Sanders later justifying the revocation of Acosta’s pass because he put his hands on the female staffer (and Corey Lewandowski, of all people, tweeting out his support of this censure) we’ll roll the tape and send it over to Dean Blandino in the replay booth. Still, if you peruse both videos, you’ll notice the White House version is chop-shopped. Wonder why…


Let’s be clear, because I can already see the sparks shooting up from Susie B.’s keyboard. I don’t think the White House has any justification to suspend Acosta’s hard pass (but then I don’t think they have any justification to fire Sessions, or to do most of the things they do every day), but I don’t think Acosta adhered to decorum, either. He was going to continue asking questions until someone forced him to stop. He, too, was out of control.

3. Borderline Insanity

Here’s the drill that we’ve all become accustomed to…

Where? Thousand Oaks, Calif., a nightclub called Borderline.

How Many?  12 dead

Who? Not Honduran immigrants, so that’s a relief.

What Next? Thoughts and Prayers; President Trump praises law enforcement in a tweet and since the gunman was Caucasian, makes no mention of him; “It’s Too Soon To Talk About Guns” timer is automatically reset.

4. Overdue Book

Saturday night’s sub-freezing Florida State-Notre Dame data point just got a little more interesting. Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book, the nation’s completion percentage leader at 74.5%, will apparently miss the data point with, as Al Michaels would put it, “a rib.”


How seriously injured is Book? Will he also miss the Syracuse data point, or is the coaching staff holding him out of FSU (a very winnable game) so that he’ll be ready for Syracuse, a more daunting foe, at Yankee Stadium on November 17? And will it be all Brandon Wimbush come Saturday, or will Brian Kelly sprinkle in a little of freshman Phil Jurkovec?

Stay tuned.

5. Two Generations Of Dickersons

You never hear them mention it on CBS This Morning, but host John Dickerson is the scion of a White House reporter (Hooray, Nepotism! Part 674) who had plenty of experience covering a president who would ultimately resign due to a scandal. Dickerson, who formerly hosted Face The Nation on CBS on Sunday mornings, is the son of Nancy Dickerson, a pioneer among women in on-air political coverage.

Nancy with John Chancellor, Harry Reasoner, and I don’t know who that dude on the left is…

Nancy Dickerson, who died in 1997 at the age of 70, is truly worthy of one of those slow-paced, historical CBS Sunday Morning profiles. A school teacher in Milwaukee, Nancy Hanschmann set off on her own to Washington, D.C.. with the dream of becoming a broadcaster. A single lady, she landed an associate producer’s gig at…Face The Nation.

In 1960 she became CBS’ first female correspondent (she covered Kennedy’s corpse being returned to Andrews Air Force base) and then from 1963-1970 worked for NBC. In 1962 she married a wealthy industrialist, C. Wyatt Dickerson, and they had two sons. They lived on a 46-acre estate in McLean, Va., called Merry wood, that overlooked the Potomac.

Dickerson then went on to work for PBS and produce independent pieces. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. We can understand why her son doesn’t want to bring up his mom’s name too much, but she is sort of a legend in the biz, particularly when it comes to women who cover the White House.

Music 101

Waiting

Sometimes it’s best to cleanse your musical palate with a simple garage rock classic. Here’s Green Day with a simple four-chord ditty (A, D, B minor, E, repeat) from the year 2000.

Remote Patrol

Bucks at Warriors

10:30 p.m. TNT

Get me to the Greek….Freak

Okay, even I’m interested in this one. Giannis and Dante take on the Splash Brothers. A moment of silence, please, for Milwaukee beat writers who have to type Antetokounmpo and DiVincenzo in all their gamers. These two squads are a combined 18-3 and the Bucks are the most exciting new super team in the league (I’m far more intrigued by them than the LeLakers).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


A blatant plug.

Starting Five

American Stalemate

The Democrats, after an eight-year absence, regained control of the House of Representatives. The Republicans gained three seats in the Senate, extending their majority. The darlings of October, at least with the liberal media—Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillem and Beto O’Rourke—all lost. Voter turnout was up over 35% from the last midterm elections.


The intensity and passion was there, but it wasn’t quite a Blue Wave. The more rural a state or area, the more likely you are to see MAGA out in support of Trump and white nationalism. The more urban or educated a state or area, the more likely you are to see people out in support of Democrats or diversity.


It’s a culture war and the battle lines have been drawn. I’m not sure how we ever unite over this. The jobs are in the cities, as are the educational opportunities or the opportunities for those who are educated. But there are still plenty of votes in rural America (and Florida, Texas and Ohio), enough to keep the Senate red and enough to win the electoral college. It’s a republic, not a democracy, after all, and Trump and Mitch are playing this game to win. And you might not like their tactics, but they do know how to play this game.

2. Dead Pimp Scrolls

Some of the weirder nuggets from yesterday’s mid-terms:

–Iowa goes “full retard,” as well as full neo-Nazi, by reelecting Senator Steve King.

–Nevada elects Dennis Hof, the rooster from the Cathouse series in which he openly boasted about owning seven brothels in Nevada, to a state assembly seat. The only problem is that he died 21 days ago. Hof is a true HOF’er.

Cortez: From concrete jungle to the swamp…

–Americans elected their first openly gay governor, in Colorado (Jared Polis…yes, they went to Jared), its first Muslim woman representative, its first Native-American female rep (two, actually) and its youngest-ever female representative, who happens to be Latina (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 30).

3. Revenge Tour?


The Selection Committee’s new top four: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan. We gots no problem with that, but we are curious as to why so many members of the media have fallen in thrall with the Wolverines’ self-proclaimed “Revenge Tour.”

Revenge Tour? The band has only traveled to South Bend, Evanston and East Lansing. Hep Alien did more dates over a greater range. This is only a tour Bob Seger could love.

You’re not really a great team until you win a meaningful game on the road (ask Alabama, 29-0 winners at LSU on Saturday; better yet, ask No. 5 Georgia, who lost badly in Baton Rouge last month). Michigan’s trio of road games: a loss in South Bend, a win Evanston that required a comeback from a 17-0 deficit, and a win at Michigan State in a game that was in doubt until the fourth quarter.

Have the Wolverines looked impressive in the Big House? Damn right they have. Are they better than they were on Sept. 1? Yes.

The funny thing is that right now they may get their wish and ours: a date with Alabama.

4. “The Call On The Field Is Targeting”

One man and some tape versus millions of years of evolution? Yeah, I’m going with the gator, too. Good for him.

5. ‘Heat’ Check

So the other night we watched Heat for the first time and it was pretty much as Michael Mann-ish as we feared it would be. It’s as if someone decided to make a three-episode arc of Miami Vice, except they wanted to set it in Los Angeles and then populate it with some of the best actors of that or any era: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, William Fichtner, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haysbert, Hank Arazia, Mykelti Williamson, Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman, even Jeremy Piven, etc. Then they tossed in Tone-Loc and Henry Rollins because why not?

Heat was released in 1995, so Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs had both already been released. Mann was still drawing stick figures while Tarantino was doing sketches of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Also, it’s kind of difficult not to think of Mann as a misogynist and well, maybe, a little narrow in his views. All the women live only to be used and abused by their men (and they still stick by them, to the point of absurdity) and the only black character is an ex-con.

(This is the most famous scene from Heat, but there are at least two others, when Pacino is irate, that are even better)

The saving grace: Al Pacino just chews the f***ing paint off the scenery and is simply so fan-damn-tastic. If you haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix. Re-watch the scene where he’s shaking down his informant in the junkyard. It’s a joy. And of course the scene in which DeNiro, the head of a crew of bank robbers, meets Pacino, the detective pursuing him, at a diner for a summit meeting is a time capsule scene. Here are the two most acclaimed actors since 1970 finally, finally sharing a scene together.

Honestly, the Pacino is the very, very best thing about Heat. He really did have quite a renaissance in the early ’90s.

As good as Pacino was, Val Kilmer was simply that bad. Everything about his performance screamed, “It wasn’t in our budget to get Brad Pitt.” Anyway, there was this scene at DeNiro’s Malibu hideout that I noticed and apparently I’m not the only one. To wit, what the hell is going on with Val’s left elbow here??? And why is it never explained? And why didn’t they just shoot the scene differently, or ask him to put on a long-sleeved shirt, to hide it? Ewww.

 Music 101

I’m A Believer

When you think of the bands that were making music in 1967—The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Mamas and the Papas, The Doors, The Who—it’s rather astounding that The Monkees had the top-selling record that year: This record, written by Neil Diamond. That’s Mickey Dolenz on vocals, which have never been given the credit they deserve. That’s what happens when your band is also a TV show. But they made some memorable music.

Remote Patrol

22 July

Netflix

“You will die today. Marxists, liberals, members of the elite.”

The events of July 22, 2011 shook Norway and all of Europe to the core. And sadly, the violence unleashed by a solitary individual that claimed 77 lives in a pair of coordinated attacks (the second a killing spree of teen youths on the tiny island of Utoya) has become a harbinger of the bloodshed we have seen here, as it was precipitated by a white nationalist who saw himself as a soldier in a race war.

Less than half of this film is the attacks. The second part is how a few survivors, particularly the teen above in the middle (played remarkably well by Jonas Strand Gravli), recover and deal with the trial of the murderer. The chilling scene that stayed with me is from the courtroom, when an avowed older white nationalist is called as an expert witness on the phenomenon. He explains that white supremacists are completely in line with the murderer’s ultimate goal, they just think that his tactics undermined their crusade. That the way to win this war is to wage a far more clandestine battle. As we have seen take place in the U.S.A.

“The alt-right, the far right, you can call us whatever you want,” the man says. “We’re deadly serious about seizing power, about changing society completely. But a single man’s violent act won’t help us to reach that goal.”