IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Nothing to do, nowhere to go-o-o

Meanwhile, on the penultimate day of the year, the U.S. broke its less than one day-old record for most coronavirus deaths in a day. We had more than 3,800 yesterday. Experts are predicting approximately 80,000 deaths next month.

If we know 2020 like we think we do, we’ll send the year out with our first 4,000-death day on New Year’s Eve.

Hammon Time

In San Antonio, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is ejected and assistant coach Becky Hammon takes over the squad for the final three quarters (What took Pop so long?) agains the world champion-Lakers.

Hammond becomes the first female to coach any of the four major professional sports teams, albeit in an interim role. Between this and Sarah Fuller and Kamala Harris, it’s been a good past two months for equality. Former NBA coach George Karl tweets out that Hammon will be a full-time NBA coach in the near future. When you consider that most NBA players are African-American or foreign-born men, and not wealthy, middle-aged white American males in suits, I’d say she has a real shot to be heard and succeed.

Dawn’s Sunset

Ginger or Mary Ann?

It’s a question every boy or young man has answered the past half-century.

My answer? Lovey. Wealthy and older and Thurston can’t hold on forever.

Anyway, Dawn Wells, who played Maryann (the beta male’s choice) passed away yesterday at the age of 82. You have to hand it to the creators of Gilligan’s Island. They put seven people on a tropical island, did not make it a reality show, and there was never a hint of sexual indiscretion (although Ginger often seemed, um, in search of satisfaction).

Things you might not have known about Wells: She was born in Reno, attended Reno High School, and was originally a chemistry major. She also was crowned Miss Nevada and represented the Silver State in the 1960 Miss America Pageant back when that was a really, really big deal.

The Shoe Bomber Fallacy

Remember Richard Reid? The “Shoe Bomber?” If you don’t, here’s the Wikipedia skinny…

On 22 December 2001, a passenger on Flight 63 from Paris to Miami complained of a smoke smell in the cabin shortly after a meal service. One flight attendant, Hermis Moutardier, thinking she smelled a burnt match, walked along the aisles of the plane, trying to assess the source. A passenger pointed to Reid, who was sitting alone near a window and attempting to light a match. Moutardier warned him that smoking was not allowed on the airplane. Reid promised to stop.

A few minutes later, Moutardier found Reid leaned over in his seat. After she asked him what he was doing, Reid grabbed at her, revealing one shoe in his lap, a fuse leading into the shoe, and a lit match. Several passengers worked together to subdue the 6 foot 4 inch (193 cm) tall Reid who weighed 215 pounds (97 kg). They restrained him using plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, leather waist belts and headphone cords. A doctor on board administered a tranquilizer to him which he found in the emergency medical kit of the airliner.[16] The flight was immediately diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, the closest US airport.[17]

The explosive apparently did not detonate due to the delay in the take-off of Reid’s flight. The rainy weather, along with Reid’s foot perspiration, caused the fuse to be too damp to ignite.[18]

So here’s the thing: While a more competent terrorist might have caused a major disaster, Reid never actually killed anyone. He’s serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. But ever since that day, you cannot board a commercial airline in the U.S. without having to take off your shoes first so that they can go through metal detection separately.

Meanwhile, 350,000 Americans have died this year alone due to the virus. And yet there are people (many in red baseball caps) who will take off their shoes without complaint and then board the plane and get all uppity about having to wear a mask.

Why is that? Might it be because it’s easier for them to fathom the existential threat of a Muslim terrorist (who was unsuccessful) than it is for them to understand or acknowledge science, which has already killed more than 1 of every 1,000 Americans? Hmmm.

And now you know why Space Force exists, and why the GOP spends so much on defense while not caring a whit about distributing a vaccine.

White Bread Cannot Hold The Mayo

During the raucous celebration following the Duke’s Mayo Bowl (an annual tradition), Wisconsin freshman quarterback Graham Mertz drops the glass trophy and shatters it. Someone also might say that Mayo does not belong on a Graham cracker.

Best Bad Beats of 2020

This is always, always entertaining. Our favorite new ESPN segment since “The Blitz.” Enjoy.

Final Tesla Post of 2020

Again, we failed to truly take advantage of this (that is, failed to take our own damn advice), but here’s where Tesla (TSLA) stock was on the first day of 2020:

$84.90

And here’s where it is on the last day of 2020:

$714

Is that good? Yes.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

(Scott Merrill was one of 12 Bucks who made at least one three)

Live Three Or Die

The Milwaukee Bucks set an NBA record for three-pointers made in a game last night, with 29. Oh, and they beat the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat by 47, 144-97.

Here’s the historical chef’s kiss on the evening: Every single Buck player drained at least one three-pointer (recent acquisition Jrue Holiday led the squad with six) with one exception: two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was 0-2. Even Giannis’ younger brother and teammate, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, drained one from beyond the arc.

Later, in Phoenix, the Suns led the Pelicans by as much as 40 points in the second half while draining 19 three-pointers. The Suns would win 111-86.

Worth noting: Milwaukee shot 57% from beyond the arc, Phoenix 41%.

Also worth noting: the Suns-Pelicans game had two recent No. 1 overall picks, Deandre Ayton and Zion Williamson, but neither were major factors. Why not? They’re old-school NBA. Two-point shooters. Muscle-inside types.

Ayton will be a productive pro. He’ll average double-digits in boards for as long as he wants and will clean up inside to the tune of anywhere from 10 to 18 points per game (he had 12 and 13 last night). But this is the new NBA, the NBA of Trae Young and James Harden and Steph Curry. Players with sick range are far more lethal, and valuable, than those who post up.

There was a play in the second half from Phoenix, with the Suns up about 35, where they isolated Ayton on the low block versus Jaxson Hayes. Ayton went up, had his shot blocked, grabbed it and then missed the follow-up. And I thought, Well, that’s nice. They’re trying to make Ayton feel loved.

But that’s not how you win in the NBA any more. That’s a wasted possession. Keep an eye on the Suns’ top pick from the year after Ayton arrived, 6’8″ Cam Johnson (11th pick overall, above), who was 4 of 10 from long range last night and scored 18 off the bench. He’s the Sun who is also a rising star, which is what a Sun is, after all.

Insane Vids

Just enjoy…

…and…

…Can we get a little love for whoever filmed this? And if the first tweet is the “greatest video I’ve ever seen,” what’s the latter?

You Just Knew This Article Was Coming

This piece only touches the tip of the LED battery, or whatever it is that Elon Musk powers his cars with: ordinary folk who purchased shares of Tesla (TSLA) seven years ago when the stock price was below $100 who are now millionaires (as the prices has soared to the equivalent of $3,300).

Shares of TSLA are up more than 700% in the past year alone. Tulip or tumult? Time will tell. But no one who invested a few years ago and held their shares feels stupid right now.

This story from Bloomberg is better (just found it). This is a profile of Brandon Smith, a five-figure wage earner who poured $10,000 into Tesla stock in June of ’17. “I don’t make six figures, and I don’t know anything about puts and options,” Smith, 32, said in a phone interview. “I’ve just bought and held the entire time. I’ve never sold a single share.”

That doesn’t exactly make Smith a millionaire, but his $10K investment from 2017 is now inching close to $100K. Not a bad windfall.

Letlow, Let Go

As bad as anyone might feel for Louisiana congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 just two weeks ago and died yesterday—at the age of 41—it should not go unnoticed that he was just one of a record-breaking number of coronavirus-related deaths yesterday (apparently topping 3,700).

Letlow was a both-sides-of-the-fence Republican when it came to COVID. The married father of two advocated social distancing but also frequently campaigned mask-less. And he stumped for easing his state’s pandemic restrictions in order to boost the economy.

On Dec. 18, Letlow announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. One day later, he was admitted to the hospital. Ten days after that, he was dead. When the chancellor of the hospital to which he was admitted was asked whether underlying conditions played a role in Letlow’s death, the doctor, G.E. Ghali, said, “None. All covid-related.”

One of more than 3,700 such deaths. Just yesterday. Just in the USA.

Hilaria, Hilarious

Generally speaking, any time you have the opportunity to marry a woman who can do this, you should take it. So who are we, or you, to fault Alec Baldwin for marrying yoga instructor Hilaria Hayward-Thomas in 2012?

But it turns out that Hilaria had been affecting her Spanish accent and origins for years (her pops has a degree in Spanish literature and her parents did move to Mallorca—in 2011—but Hilaria is about as Bostonian as you can get: mom was a doc at Mass General, dad was an attorney…they may both still be practicing, we don’t know).

Anyway, here’s Drew Magary to guide you through today’s Twitter shamefest. As for us, we cannot fault Hilaria. She’s new to our language and customs and how was she to know that faking being a European was considered uncouth? What surprises us most is that Portugal has become the IT Iberian country. That’s where I’d tell people I was from; not Spain.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Admittedly, we’re a little bit bored with talk of stimulus bills and vaccine rollouts and the latest Trumper Tantrum about the rigged election. There are other sites to read about that. We’re just going full Lloyd Braun (“Serenity now!”) between here and Jan. 20, you know. It’s healthier.

The Blake Show Heads West*

*The judges will grudgingly accept “Snell’s Like Teen Spirit”

For us, it will remain one of the most intriguing sports stories of the past year. Blake Snell is pitching a lights-out gem in Game 6 of the World Series for the Tampa Bay Rays. Through 5 1/3 innings pitched Snell, the Rays’ ace, has allowed one run on two hits and struck out 12. Twelve!

He’s struck out the top of the Dodgers’ order, the top three hitters. Twice.
And manager Kevin Cash pulls him.

More than inconceivable. It’s unfathomable. And, analytics be damned, unforgivable.

So it doesn’t surprise us that that was Snell’s last moment on a mound in a Rays uniform. Yesterday he signed with the San Diego Padres, because he probably watches Fernando Tatis, Jr., higlights, too. And going from Tampa Bay to Coronado Bay is an upgrade. So good for him.

The Padres also signed Yu Darvish. They matter now.

Booger

Listen for yourself. Watch Adam Schefter attempt to interject, then not find an open window to do so (probably for the best). Our issue is not that Booger is wrong, but that you can also find white quarterbacks/players who’ve failed to realize what an opportunity this is. Injecting race into it lost Booger much of his audience here.

Buffalo Is Now Allen Town

There were more than a few people who criticized the Buffalo Bills for using the 7th overall pick of the 2018 draft on a quarterback from the University of Wyoming. Sure, Josh Allen at 6’5″ an 240 looked like a prototype NFL QB, but who had he played, PAWWWWWL?

By the way, there are still people grudgingly admitting that Josh Allen is okay, but quickly pointing out that he may have the NFL’s best receiver, Stefon Diggs (which this year may be true… and Joe Montana had Jerry Rice). Last night Allen led the Bills to a 38-9 win at New England, figuratively driving a nail into the coffin of the Bill Belichick era while throwing four TD passes. He now has 34 this season, a Bills record.

Buffalo has the AFC’s 2nd-best record at 12-3.

The two QBS who were taken ahead of Allen in 2018 were Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, who has led the Browns to a winning record (and a shot at the playoffs) and Sam Darnold, who has led the Jets to two wins this season (but who may turn out to just be a late bloomer).

By the way, all we want out of the NFL playoffs is Tom Brady (36 TD passes, 4th in the NFL, at 43 years old) and the Buccaneers at Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers (44 TD passes, just five picks, at 37 yeas of age) and the Packers. In the snow. In January.

Please, Lord, make this happen. It would be Brady’s first postseason visit to Green Bay and possibly his first snow game since the Tuck Rule Bowl.

Yeah, That’s About Right

Beanstalkers*

*The judges will also accept, “Oh, Grow Up”

Yesterday our friend Dan told us about the company Plenty, an indoor vertical farming company based in San Francisco. As the company’s website proclaims:

Imagine a 1,500 acre farm. Now, imagine that fitting inside your favorite grocery store, growing up to 350x more. That’s efficient.

According to the site, Plenty farms use 99% less land than conventional farms (there’s a better way to say that, no?) and also do not use pesticides, GMOs or bleach. It’s all very futuristic and efficient. Maybe we can give all that land back to wildlife (don’t laugh at me…it’s the right idea…even if I’m sure the CEO of Pulte Homes disagrees).

Plenty is not a publicly traded company yet.

Why Can’t People Be More Like Golden Retrievers?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Bomblastic

You know when suicide bombers in a major American city, detonating themselves on Christmas day, do not induce enough concern in our federal government to evoke even the slightest reaction from the President of the United States?

When they look like this guy.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would Huey Lewis wanna end it all? I dunno.

Fitzmagic

If the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has a rotunda, this should be painted on the ceiling. That’s backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Dolphins completing a 34-yard pass with less than :19 left and Miami trailing by 2 as Las Vegas’ defensive lineman Arden Key facemasks him….tacking on another 15 yards.

Miami kicks the game-winning field goal… after Las Oakland had eschewed a TD in favor of killing more clock and kicking the go-ahead field goal. And now the Fish may just make the postseason.

It’s complicated as five different AFC squads have 10-5 records. By our assessment, three of them will qualify for the playoffs.

The Plague Year

Just released: The New Yorker, which only a few times in its 95-year existence has devoted an entire issue to a single subject, is here with a full-issue, 30,000-word piece on the pandemic by Lawrence Wright. At its age, the esteemed publication is in a very high risk group in terms of fatality from the pandemic, and yet here it is looking all robust and full of life.

We could very well, thanks to an utterly apathetic president, achieve 400,000 COVID-19 deaths by the time the 46th president is sworn in less than one month from today. We’re already at more than 1 death per 1,000 Americans. Imagine if your chances of winning the lottery were that good. Well, now they are: the Death Lottery.

On The Flipside

And yet, on the same weekend, The New York Times publishes a story titled “Market Edges Toward Euphoria, Despite Pandemic’s Toll.” Because let’s face it, as bad a year as it’s been for public health globally—the worst in a century—it’s been a wildly prolific year in the stock market. And those two phenomena are related, though I’m not sure exactly how.

So maybe I should read the entire story.

We remember reading in one of Jim Cramer’s books (so sue me) how his first wife, Karen Backfisch, who was also a securities guru, would advise him when the market was plunging that it was never time to buy until the bear market was so awful that it was an above-the-fold story in The New York Times. Conversely, maybe it’s time to begin selling once the bull market is making this kind of news in the NYT?

We dunno. We just know that the market is doing cartwheels at the moment and, oh by the way, Susie B., check out Bitcoin-related stocks GBTC and RIOT.

GBTC on Dec. 1: $18.50….GBTC on Dec. 28: $30.94

RIOT on Nov. 27: $6.15….. RIOT on Dec. 28: $16.02

We’re only here to report. You decide (and Chris Sacca is right).

An Elephant Never Forgets To Protect Its Young

Here it is: Nature in full force. You’ve got birth but also Darwinism. Look how swiftly the rest of the herd wander over and form a protective barrier to shield the newborn from predators. As a species, we should attempt to emulate elephants, no?

(Is this going to cause a flurry of anti-abortion comments on my site? Uh oh).

Message Of Love

Merry Christmas!

Loved this piece by Peter Wehner, “The Forgotten Radicalism of Jesus Christ,” that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. A worthwhile read.

Jesus, whose birthday the planet celebrates today, spent his time with the sinners and the dissidents. The great unwashed. The un-entitled. The non-members of the club. What club? Any club.

Treason’s Greetings

As another 2,800 Americans perished yesterday, and with a stimulus bill not arriving in time for Christmas day for millions of Americans, the president…went golfing.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Par-Don

*The judges will also accept “From Don Pardo To Don Pardon” and “Get Outta Jail, Flee!” card

If there were any question as to whether Donald Trump is simply the head of a crime family (spoiler alert: there wasn’t), yesterday’s pardons of Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner leaves no doubt. Let’s take a moment to recall what makes Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s father-in-law, such a special (and worthy of clemency) American:

That actually happened. If you think Jake the (Snow)Flake is lying, well, here’s one of Don’s closest buddies giving it to you straight:

Anyway, it’s only December 24 and Trump’s appetite for destruction has not come close to being sated. What havoc will he wreak next?

Happy Festivus!

Of all the episodes of Seinfeld that will stretch into the distance, “Festivus” and “Soup Nazi” will have the longest shelf life. It took a lot to make my dad laugh, but I don’t know if I ever saw him love an episode of TV more (at least not since All In The Family went off the air).

Today is Festivus, everyone. The holiday that celebrates who we really are.

I’ll take a moment to share how yesterday was a typical day in the life for your humble scribe: in the morning I learn, from my close friend through thick-and-thin and editor at SI, Adam Duerson, that my story on the New York Press League made Richard Deitsch’s list of “Most Impactful Stories of 2020.” Which is nice.

In the afternoon I’m at the market and, showing initiative, take 20 minutes out of my busy schedule to alphabetize the rib roasts. You see, apparently everyone wants a rib roast (of varying sizes) on Christmas and we have a $3.97 a pound special if you order the entire roast. And so people have been reserving them the past fortnight.

Well, we cut and tie or do whatever needs to be done to the roasts, slap on a slip of paper with the customer’s name, and then place them on stackers in the cooler (where the temps are sub-freezing). Then, when someone comes in to pick up their roast, some unlucky schlep (moi) goes in and does a scavenger hunt on said roasts. But before yesterday there had been no rhyme or reason as to where a particular roast was stored, which for some reason didn’t seem to annoy my more senior co-workers (but for those of us spending unnecessary minutes in 20-something temps simply cuz cuts of dead cow have been haphazardly arranged, it feels as if there may be room for improvement).

So, I waited until management went home (they’d tell me not to bother) and I spent a good 20 minutes or longer arranging the rib roasts in alphabetical order. That Notre Dame education at work.

Thank you for allowing me my “airing of the grievances.”

Human Hield

*The judges will also accept “Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?”

The NBA’s first full night of games was highlighted by a game-ending steal and buzzer-beating tip-in by the Sacramento Kings. Buddy Hield supplied the coup de grace (above) as the Kings beat the Nuggets, 124-122.

Elsewhere, Trae Young poured in an evening-best 37 points as the Hawks beat the Bulls. We were listening on ESPN radio the other night that you could get 100-1 odds for Trae Young to win NBA MVP this season. And while his name does not begin with “LeBron,” we’d gladly put down a benjamin on that.

Toxic Cop Syndrome

Defund the police? Maybe there’s a better slogan to use than that. But why is this allowed to happen? Acceptable answers do not include, “Because they’re not white.”

Let’s hope this father and son find a lawyer. Let’s hope they win a major settlement and that this cop loses his job. Even the partner asks, “For what?” when the first officer says, “Arrest him.”

This was in Keller, Texas, north of Fort Worth, and as you can see, it’s a relatively affluent area (So what were people of color doing there, anyhoo???).

A Little Christmas Wisdom From the Coach at Creighton

Welcome To InstaFriends

Could we really leave you for four days without some type of contribution from the scorched-earth mind of Katie McCollow? I don’t think so. Here she is teaming up with fellow Minnesotan Marisa Coughlan, whom you might recognize from Super Troopers. We’re not sure if we’re posting this right, but that may as well be our epitaph.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Two Titanics!

On April 11, 1912, a very big ship struck a iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage. I like to think of it as the “Sail of the Century.” Anyway, 1,503 people died that night and they’ve made a few movies about the incident since and 108 years later everyone still knows what you’re talking about when you mention “Titanic.”

Remember that figure: 1,503 souls lost.

Yesterday, just another day in December of COVID-19, 3,376 Americans died due to the virus, according to worldometers.info. So that’s more than twice as many people perishing in one day as died due to Titanic.

Ah, they say, but Titanic was an avoidable disaster caused in part by man’s hubris.

Child, please.

Fleece Navidad*

*The judges stole this from @NoelCaslerComedy

This morning President Trump, having pardoned two targets of Robert Mueller’s probe and two Blackwater agents, having proposed criminal immunity for the Saudi prince responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, and having refused to sign the stimulus bill after ignoring negotiations for weeks, will fly down to Mar A Lago to host a Christmas party where all guests must pay to attend and nobody will wear masks.

Remember when Costanza was doing everything in his imagination to get the New York Yankees to fire him so that he could work for the Mets? That’s your president, people. He’s petty and cruel. If he cannot win, he’s going to take down everything that he can as he exits… while soothing his bruised ego around the company of moronic sycophants who pay $2,000 a head for the opportunity to stroke him.

Meanwhile, and this bears paying attention to: as the Trump presidency winds down, Rosemary Vrablic, the Deutsche Bank exec who oversaw all of the bank’s loans to Trump (via Russian oligarchs) is stepping down next week. In the mortal words of Steve Levy, “Get outta town!” (and avoid extradition while you can).

I do wonder how many Trumpers (and Trump family members) will be taking up residence in Russia by this time next year.

Bwrecksit

I don’t believe there are any plans for a Season 5 of The Crown, but with Liz and Phil still kicking it and Boris Johnson as PM, how can they not do this? The dramatic possibilities are simply too rich.

Johnson, the planet’s second-largest buffoon leading a supposedly western democracy, has whiffed on the coronavirus while also being an ardent supporter of Brexit (in which the UK leaves the European Union because Union Jack First!).

Meanwhile, hundreds of Soggy Rain Road Truckers in England are being prevented from crossing the Chunnel into France due to Brexit restrictions coupled with Covid. You see, a new strain of the virus has surfaced on the island—Trump has yet to label it the “England Virus”—leading other European nations to close their borders to all Brits. Ha ha.

So now you have a nation that longed to be isolated feeling the pangs of isolation when things aren’t going their way. And now there are shortages of produce, etc.

If only there were some 19th-century Christmas story that told of how being miserly and selfish is what actually may lead one’s own demise, as opposed to being gracious and generous. If only someone had written a story such as that, perhaps Brit leaders would have a blueprint, a template, as to how to react.

Tip Off

So, 129 years and one day after James Naismith introduced the game of basketball at the Springfield (Mass.) YMCA, the NBA launched its season. This one is a 72-game season due to Covid.

Only two games last night: The NBA mandated Golden State to travel all the way to Brooklyn to play the Nets (KD versus his former team, see?) and the borough ‘ballers won 125-99 in coach Steve Nash’s debut. Then the Battle of Los Angeles raged as the Clippers beat the defending champion Lakers.

The night’s real winner, though, Was TNT’s studio show. They remain in championship form.

***

In other sports news, BYU rocked UCF 49-23 in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish 11-1. It was 21-0 after one quarter and 35-10 at the half as Zach Wilson (26 of 34 for 425 yards and 3 TDs) put on a show. The Cougars finished the nation 5th in Scoring Offense (two schools ahead of them? Alabama and Clemson) and 4th in Scoring Defense having played a legit 12 games.

No other school finished in the Top 5 in both categories. The shame of it all is that we fans never got to see BYU play a legit Top 10 Power 5 team. Because that’s the way those who oversee the sport want it. No mavericks, please. They tarnish the brand.

Mira, Mira, On The Highway

This is funny. When fans sidle up to your car on the road to give you a shout-out and you do not realize that the driver is an Oscar-winner. I imagine the news has reached Pete by now.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Brothers Glib

News from the SNL/comedy world: comic Pete Davidson is having all of his tattoos removed. And close bud-guru John Mulaney is checking into a rehab center in Pennsylvania for 60 days for drug and alcohol abuse.

I don’t know if drugs and alcohol are used as antidote for depression, but spending 60 days anywhere in Pennsylvania in the dead of winter is not the cure. Panacea later, if you know what I mean.

(This may take awhile. And yet, Pete’s in remarkably good shape)

Anyway, we wish them both the best. And whose therapy will be more painful, we wonder?

Still, we romanticize, to a certain extent, the idea of John and Pete running amok in NYC as if it’s 1977, doing lines, quaffing beers, leaving the clubs Stefon recommends only after the sun rises. It would make a great documentary, or at the very least a highly entertaining SNL short.

Spin-derella

Remember her?

The year was 2019. The month, December. The home-spin class-cycle company Peloton released this ad…

It was widely mocked and parodied (your only value as a wife is to stay in incredible shape so that when I get home from my high-pressure, high-salary job I’ll find you sexually attractive). A few months earlier, on Sept. 25, the company had issued its IPO (PTON) and traded at roughly $25 a share. The experts were unimpressed.

Peloton was founded in 2012.

Today? Thanks to arguably the greatest timing in the history of retail products—to wit, the pandemic—sales of Peloton bikes are robust. Not bad for a stationary bicycle that costs nearly $2,500, or far more than most bikes you can actually ride outside.

And for those of us who thought that Peloton would be the next Fitbit, both as a fad and as a stock? We were wrong. Shares of PTON are up $20 this morning, or 14%, to $165. So, basically, up 400% from a year ago.

Last week, by the way, I stated my first rule of investing: “Make Money.”

Here’s my second rule of investing: “Never sell Apple.” (It’s up 4.4% this morning and 400% the past five years. This isn’t an outta-nowhere stock.)

WTF, WSJ?

It’s been a year of Freezing Cold Takes from the Wall Street Journal. How does Jason Gay muster the enthusiasm to write for this once-respected rag each week? In times such as these it’s important to remember that Rupert Murdoch, who is a cyborg and will never die, owns the WSJ. It’s as if all the good will and bonhomie that all the other Aussies you will ever meet have compiled is offset by this one singular cretin…whose wife was once married to Mick Jagger. Now that’s a bio I’d read.

Santa Claus Is Signing To Town

I’ve Looked At Bowls From Both Sides Now

It was on College GameDay last Saturday that Kirk Herbstreit uttered wise words that were somehow lost in the moment: “The sense of urgency has been lost.”

Exactly.

For years the “Death To The BCS” folks argued that a 4-team playoff (or an 8-team playoff) would improve college football while troglodytes such as myself insisted, “THE SEASON IS THE PLAYOFF.”

They never listened.

I’m most well-versed in Notre Dame history, so I’ll use my alma mater as an example.

1988: the mid-October Miami-Notre Dame game was YUGE because most everyone realized that it was an elimination game. Still, there was no way for the Irish to play for the national championship at that moment because the nation’s No. 1 team, UCLA, was locked into the Rose Bowl and the Irish, not being a Big Ten or Pac-10 school, had no way to play that game.

Cruel? Unfair? Maybe, but then UCLA lost at home to an unranked Washington State team and opened the door for the Irish. Meanwhile, West Virginia goes 11-0 and while no one thinks they’re one of the nation’s top four teams (ND, Miami, FSU, USC would likely be the seeding), they deserve their shot. And why should the Irish have to beat a team twice in one season?

Now let’s look at 1993. The Irish are 9-0 when No. 1 Florida State comes to town. It’s hyped as The Game of the Century but will turn out to be nowhere near as memorable as Catholics vs. Convicts or Bush Push or the 2020 Clemson game. Irish win. But the following week Notre Dame loses at home to a resurgent 7-3 BC team and squanders its shot at a national championship.

The Irish trailed 38-17 entering the fourth quarter but made a miraculous comeback (this was before spread offenses and the Air Raid mentality) and even converted a 2-pointer because Lou Holtz knew a tie would likely drop them from a top-two spot. BC then makes a final drive and David Gordon nails a field goal to crush the Irish’s national championship dreams.

The Irish don’t make that comeback if there’s a playoff. And no one remembers David Gordon’s name if there’s a playoff.

College football pre-playoff was filled with heartbreak and exhilaration. It mirrored the emotions of an 18-22 year-old. Frankly, it was not perfect, but it was far better than the sterile way we now have of selecting a champion.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Triumvirate Rules

Another college football season, albeit a chaotic and staccato one, plays out, and once again Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State are atop the pack. As for recruiting—the early signing period ended just last week—Alabama and Ohio State are 1 and 2, per Rivals.com, and Clemson is at No. 7.

Much like this nation during the pandemic, the rich get richer while the list of have-nots grow and there seems little hope that anything will tip the scales any time soon.

It’s boring.

College football’s postseason is broken, and you cannot blame it on the pandemic. The stifling status quo up top is part of it, but not the only problem. Vestigial bowl contracts, with conference and ESPN tie-ins, are also making a mockery of the game we love. Here are two consequences of the current system that no one could ever possibly defend:

  1. South Carolina, which finished with a 2-8 record and fired its coach, is going to a bowl (43% of bowl teams this season are from the SEC, by the way).
  2. Army, which finished 9-2, is not currently headed to a bowl. In a bowl ecosystem that has an Armed Forces Bowl and a Military Bowl, the actual United Freaking States Military Academy cannot garner an invitation to a bowl…with a 9-2 record. Blow up the system. Start over.

We hit upon an analogy for the state of college football in the past half-decade. It’s basically men’s tennis. Alabama and Clemson are Federer and Nadal, while Ohio State is Djokovic.

Come Together

Tonight, the night of the winter solstice, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, will appear closer together in the night sky than they have in the past 400 years. It’s known as The Great Conjunction. Enough of a reason to turn away from The Bachelor (or The Bachelorette) and go outside for a peek? We hope so, for your sake.

If you’re wondering if this is kind of a big deal, it’s been nearly 400 years since Jupiter and Saturn have appeared this close together in the sky (1623), but that time it occurred during the day. It’s been about 800 years since they appeared this close together in the sky at night…so I really hope it is not raining or snowing where you are this evening.

QAnon-ymous

It takes a group of Aussies to point out how ridiculously foolish so many Americans are.

Surely, You Jets

When yesterday began, the hapless New York Jets were 0-13 and in the driver’s seat to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick. Then they did something so stupid that, even for the Jets, this was remarkable: they went out and beat the playoff-bound LA Rams, 23-20.

So now what? Well, with two games remaining, New York owns the same record as the Jacksonville Jaguars (Is there an NFL town or culture better-suited for a Clemson grad? Maybe only Charlotte), but the Jags would win th tiebreaker based on having played a weaker strength of schedule.

One of my students at ASU had a brilliant idea (this young man often has brilliant ideas…I hate him): Instead of a Pro Bowl that no one cares about, you pit the NFL’s two worst teams against one another that weekend. Call it the Shame Bowl. Winning side gets the No. 1 pick. Losing side drops down to 5th pick. Players from both teams are paid with the losing side getting only half what the winning side does. The top NFL prospects attend and are on the sidelines, available for interviews.

Now you may ask, Why would Sam Darnold or Gardner Minshew want to perform well when the prize is his team selecting his replacement with the No. 1 pick? Here’s why: 1) If you’re the quarterback of one of the league’s two worst teams, your job is already in jeopardy and 2) This is the largest stage you’re ever going to have to audition for other prospective employers. Take advantage.

Both These Receivers Are Light-Footed

We’re big fans of the surname jersey mash-up. We’ve seen some good ones in the past (and wish we could remember them). This one pays homage to the greatest song ever devoted to a shipwreck in the Great Lakes.

Called Shot

This is Tony Schwartz, best-known as the ghostwriter of Trump: The Art Of The Deal, predicting Donald Trump’s behavior after losing the election. The 2016 election. Still holds true four years later.

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Oh, and Susie B., have you taken a look at EDIT this morning? I have. Woo and Hoo. Merry Christmas!

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Phoenix Rising

Yes, this billboard popped up in downtown Phoenix, the capital of the formerly (very) red state of Arizona. Location: Grand Avenue and 11th Avenue area of downtown, just west of the Central Ave. corridor. Related: a derelict area long inhabited by homeless that is beginning to make a bohemian-style, Lower East Side-ish comeback.

Anyway, let’s look at some of the recent news, shall we? I think this tweet sums up the past few days quite well:

Let’s note that in the past two days more than 6,500 Americans have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Two. Days. Also, that officials at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency say that the Russians have hacked our government computers to a level that poses a “grave risk” to the United States.

Do you know what President Trump has had to say about either of those developments the past few days? Nada. But his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, has come out to complain that a member of the Biden campaign staff referred to Trump and his team of sycophants as “f*ck*rs.” Allow me here to confess that I, too, have used that term (and worse).

What’s the appropriate response to Ms. McEnany’s mewling? Do I call her a “snowflake” or do I say, “F*ck your feelings?” Maybe my Proud Boys readers can help me with that.

Anyway, as CNN put it pithily this morning, “Trump Fights For A Job That He’s Not Doing Now.” Now? Ha!

I think we all know why Trump has nothing to say about the Russia hack or the 3,000-plus dead per day level we’ve reached. I’m just curious, as always, what it would ever take for his defenders to abandon him.

Oh, and VP Mike Pence and MajLeader Mitch were the first in line to receive the vaccine today. Of course they were.

The NFL’s Next Great Quarterback

This Justin: That Herbert kid has turned out to be an amazing steal for the Los Angeles Chargers. In a battle between two NFL teams that have both at one time been based in Los Angeles but also been based in another California city, the L.A. Chargers defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in overtime last night, 30-27.

It was also a matchup between former Oregon Duck QBs: Herbert and Heisman Trophy-winning Marcus Mariota (a Raider backup). Anyway, Herbert finished 22-32 with two TD passes and no picks and called his own number on a QB sneak that won the game in OT.

(Jon Gruden’s 1st-half retro attire was an accident)

The former No. 6 pick is one of two players to seriously consider as the league’s Rookie of the Year (the other? Seattle WR D.K. Metcalf, who is No. 2 in the league in receiving yards but whose iconic play was actually a tackle; Metcalf was the 64th overall pick and for that reason will probably garner a lot of told-ya-so votes). Remember when people wondered if he was too cerebral and not fiery enough?

And This, My Friends, Is How Memes Are Born

What happens when you’re not exactly sure how to solve a problem so you take a “harmless” whack at it? Well, this can happen. I think we’ll be seeing this footage for years to come, no?

In The World Of Chimpanzees, I Was A Monkey

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: “There is only one rule in investing and that is, ‘Make Money!'”

The postulate to that: Do not lose money.

So we’ve been there the past few years as the educated experts with MBAs from Kellogg and Harvard and Columbia and Stanford, or PhD’s in finance, have appeared as guests on CNBC and poo-poo’ed Tesla stock and bitcoin shares. As a few undisciplined renegades held to their beliefs.

Well, here’s what’s happened since New Year’s Day (Jan 2nd, actually):

Tesla (TSLA): From the equivalent of $85 per share to $655 per share. That’s a multiple of 7.7. If you owned $10,000 worth of Tesla on January 2nd—and held—you now own $77,000 worth.

Bitcoin (we use GBTC as our measuring stick): From $8 per share on Jan. 2nd to $28 now. That’s a multiple of 3.5. If you owned $10,000 of GBTC on New Year’s Day—and held—you now own $35,000.

Longtime investors know it isn’t easy, or likely, to turn $20,000 into $112,000 in one year. Much less with two stocks that everyone is not only talking about daily, but also dismissing as overvalued or possessing phantom value.

And maybe the experts are correct as to where shares of both stocks should be. But they are where they are. Tesla’s P/E, for instance is an insane 1,300. Whereas Apple’s, by comparison, is 39. So keep that in mind.

We’re not here to tell you what to do. Only to observe and reflect. How any of us uses this information in the future is up to the individual.

Note: we’ve made a little money, but nowhere near the cumulative 5.5 times off them we might’ve this year.

“I Want To Go To There”

*The judges will also accept “What’s The Matter’horn”

This is Hardergrat Trail in Switzerland, which looks pretty sweet.

It is a 14.5-mile ridge trail (duh) near Interlaken, Bern, Switzerland. It is rated as difficult and I do not believe you want to be caught up here if a storm suddenly whips up. Although it does sort of look like the kind of spot you might run into the Von Trapp family as they were fleeing the Nazis.

Happy 77th, Keith

Few people, if any, have ever gotten more out of picking up a guitar as a youth—or gotten more out of life—thank Keith Richards. The glue guy of the Rolling Stones turns 77 today (insert Wallace Shawn in The Princess Bride uttering, “Inconceivable!”).

Besides all of his success with the Stones, and writing or co-writing some of the most iconic songs in the history or rock ‘n roll (“Satisfaction”, “Wild Horses,” etc.), we love that Richards found and married this Staten Island girl and has remained wed to her for 37 years. No dummy, he. And they have two lovely daughters who now—wanna feel really old?— are in their mid-30s.