by John Walters
RIO Speed Wagon
A sizzling and historic night on the track in Rio last night. In the span of less than half an hour, South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk set a world record in the 400 (43.03) and won gold running out of Lane 8, then Usain Bolt became the first human ever to win three straight 100-meter golds. On Saturday evening defending 10,000-meter Olympic champ Mo Farah was inadvertently tripped by teammate Galen Rupp, but still recovered to take gold.
NBC’s Ato Boldon was outstanding, by the way, on both eh Van Niekerk and Bolt calls, noting on the former that it may finally be time to imagine that a man may run a sub-:43 and on the latter that Bolt now belongs in the conversation of all-time greatest athletes along with Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.
2. Talent Pool
In his final event (until Tokyo in 2020?) Michael Phelps won his 23rd gold in the 4 x 100 IM relay. Katie Ledecky went Secretariat-at-the-Belmont on the field in the 800 freestyle, setting yet another world record—she has set the last five at this distance—and taking gold by 11 seconds! In Guanabara Bay, no one caught a crab (or a crap) as the U.S. women’s eight won a third consecutive gold medal in rowing, which is pretty ridiculous.
Also: Ryan Lochte did not get shot, Simone Biles won her third gold medal in gymnastics, and males everywhere (outside Brazil) were disappointed to see Joana Heidrich and her Swiss teammate come within a point of knocking out No. 1 seeded Brazil in two sets, only to lose the second set 27-25 and then later the match. It’s on to the SI Swimsuit issue for the 6’3″ Heidrich, we imagine.
3. Here Come Da Judge (and Austin, Too)
Yankee manager Joe “I Don’t Do Farewell Tours” Girardi’s week opened on a sour note, but ended on a sweet one. On Friday the Yankees overcame a thunderstorm and A-Rod’s farewell to win their third straight (Alex went 1-for-4, hitting an RBI double, and played a little 3rd base).
On Saturday Girardi inserted not one but two rookies, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge, into their lineup. Both had been called up the day before, the latter around midnight. Both had to drive 5-6 hours from upstate New York overnight to arrive at Yankee Stadium for the 1 p.m. start. Austin got a car service because bad weather canceled his flight; Judge, who stands 6’7″, got a ride with his parents when they were summoned from Dinosaur BBQ at around midnight.
In their first at-bats, batting one after the other in the lineup, both Austin and Judge homered. Both hit their shots on 2-strike pitches. No two teammates had ever made their debuts and homered in their first Major League at-bats in the same game, much less back-to-back. Austin and Judge did this on the same day the Yanks honored their 1996 World Series championship team, so Mo, Jeter, Torre, Paul O’Neill and the rest saw it in person.
“You couldn’t script it any better,” said Girardi. For once this week, he was right. The Yankees won four straight.
4. Underwater in Baton Rouge
Four people are dead and 20,000 needed to be rescued, as floods swept across southern Louisiana. Gov. John Bel Edwards used the words “historic” and “unprecedented” to describe the deluge, except that as my former colleague Zoe Schlanger notes,
— Zoë Schlanger (@zoeschlanger) August 15, 2016
So depending on where your “dogmatic religion” versus “understanding of science” X and Y axes align, you can either blame this on God punishing mankind or on global warming (or both, or neither).
5. Brendan Dassey Goes Free
The nephew of Stephen Avery, the most innocent victim in Making A Murderer who was not actually murdered (i.e., Teresa Haibach) may soon be released from prison (after nine years). Brendan Dassey’s conviction was overturned on Friday. If you saw the Netflix doc, you know that Dassey, now 26, was a pretty simple high school rube at the time who had absolutely no idea of the gravity of the situation as cops coerced a confession out of him.
I do hope the WWE invites him to sit ringside for its next Main Event, and soon.
There certainly was enough Trump rhetoric/news over the weekend to justify an item, but we chose to just let you all have a day off. Gird yourself for tomorrow.
Take It On The Run
In 1981 a supposedly minor league band out of Champaign, Ill., REO Speedwagon, released an album cleverly titled Hi Infidelity that was an absolute monster. This was their ninth studio album—you can imagine family members were wondering when they were going to quit chasing this dream—but it might as well have been a debut smash, as six songs made the Billboard charts, including “Keep On Loving You,” which went to No. 1. The album sold more than 10 million copies. This song, which hit No. 5, was recently covered/sampled/stolen by Pitbull. By the way, REO actually had a few hits prior to this album, such as “Ridin’ The Storm Out,” “Roll With the Changes” and our personal favorite, “Time For Me To Fly” (Okay, we’ll put that here, too).
NBC All Dang Day
Another outstanding day on the track, as we get the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final, the women’s 1,500-meter final, the men’s 800 final featuring King David Rudisha, the women’s 400 final with Allyson Felix, and the men’s pole vault final.