Starting Five

1. Brrrrrrrrrrr. That’s all I have to say about that. I don’t want Mark Twain looking askance at me from beyond the grave.

2. Former Hollywood Squares celebrity defeats Serena Williams at the Australian Open. Wait, what? Oh. Sloane Stephens, not Shadoe Stevens. Stephens, 19, is the daughter of former New England Patriot running back John Stephens, who died in an auto accident three years ago (Stephens was actually the NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 1988) . Her mother, Sybil Smith, was an All-American swimmer at Boston University. In fact, she was the first female African-American All-American swimmer in D-I history. Sloane lived up to mom’s legacy in Melbourne by becoming the first American tennis player younger than Serena to defeat Serena. In fairnesss to Williams, 31, she was up 2-0 in the second set, having already won the first, when she appeared to have tweaked her back.


Hey, Nineteen! Stephens, still an adolescent, slays Serena.


As an aside, we have to ask: Is watching that brilliant midsummer Australian sunshine good or bad for our January Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)? Or does it just make us all want to hop a flight to Down Under?

3. Manti Te’o Fauxmance Update

 — Longtime Notre Dame beat writer (and, full disclosure, Notre Dame alumnus) Tim Prister scolds Deadspin for taking their outstanding investigation one step too far –and for failing to ever attempt to contact the man(ti) at the center of the storm.

–The Cleveland Cavaliers debuted a “Manti Te’o Kiss Cam” at Quicken Loans Arena last night, showing dudes seated next to empty seats on the Jumbo-tron. Well done, Cleveland. Well done.

4. Speaking of the Cavaliers… Kyrie Irving dropped 40 points on the Boston Celtics last night as Cleveland added to New England’s awful sports week in a 95-90 win. The Celtics, who still have three potential Hall of Famers in their starting lineup (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo) have now lost four in a row, the last two at struggling Detroit and Cleveland. This is a squad, alas, that understands and perhaps embodies the term Rust Belt. The Celtics are 20-21.

One reason Boston is struggling: Paul Pierce blows lately. Pierce is shooting 18 of 58 (31%) during the skid.

As for Irving, he became the first player to drop 40 against the Celtics in the past two seasons. The second-year point guard is averaging nearly 24 points and six assists per game for an 11-32 team. Does he deserve a spot on the All-Star roster (the Celtics’ Rondo will deservedly start at PG).

Hot in Cleveland. Irving goes for 40 versus the Celtics.

“If you look at the point guards in the Eastern Conference, name one that’s having a better season,” says Cavs coach Byron Scott. “I’ll wait.”

5. “From Seneca to Selma to Stonewall…” was the takeaway phrase from Barack Obama’s inaugural speech. The 44th president (Hey, 44 was also Hank Aaron’s number) of the United States invoked women’s rights, African-American rights and gay rights –the last a nod to an iconic West Village bar — in one alliterative phrase. As Jon Stewart intoned on last night’s The Daily Show: “I believe it’s the first time a president has name-checked a gay bar at his inauguration since Rutherford B. Hayes reminisced about working at ‘The Loaded Musket.'”


We are going to give the new Jeffery Ross show on Comedy Central, “The Burn”, a chance. This, after all, is the man who had the greatest takedown in Comedy Central Roast history (our mom reads this, so we’ll spare the details except to say that it involved Bea Arthur and an anatomical part that Ms. Arthur most likely did not possess).

Last night Mr. Ross discussed a man who recently died on a New York City subway when he attempted to take a dump while riding between two cars. “I can only assume that he was on the No. 2 train,” Ross quipped.

Apple (AAPL) reports earnings after the bell today. Both Google (GOOG) and McDonald’s (MCD) have beaten the Street estimates in the past 24 hours. Clearly, the key to vitality in the equities markets is to just have Wall Street put very low expectations on quarterly earnings. Is that too much to ask?

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