by John Walters

PCH: The Fogo Island Inn

Starting Five

Tiger’s BAC!*

It was a memorable Memorial Day for Tiger Woods, as the 14-time major winner was picked up for a DUI at around 3 a.m. No one knows what Tiger’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) was because he never blew, and then he doubled down by releasing a statement that reads, in part, “I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”

Is that a playable lie?

*UPDATE: He blew a 0.00, according to the police report. It was the meds.

Bryce Capades

Look at that thick mane of hair!

I don’t know if you tuned in to SportsCenter, or was it Baseball Tonight, last evening, but they Zapruder-filmed the hell out of this event. Why can’t we just enjoy a good old-fashioned basebrawl without an iso-cam on Buster Olney not reacting?

Anyway, it’s hard not to love Jeff Samardzija and teammate Michael Morse inadvertently colliding head-on and dropping at 90 degrees to the main participants, Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland. Good stuff, baseball.

3. The World’s Tallest Midget

A fond farewell to Frank Deford, who passed away in Key West yesterday at the age of 78. Like so many people who would enter the sportswriting business, I had the opportunity to meet him and I gushed—I was barely 23 and had just been hired at the same entry-level job he had accepted at Sports Illustrated 27 years earlier—about how he was my favorite sportswriter yada yada yada and he could not have been more kind or gracious about it. That’s who Frank Deford was.

I really love this tribute from fellow SI senior writer, fellow Princeton alum and fellow man of humanity Alex Wolff.  The quote from everyone’s idea of SI’s true saint, Gabe Miller, rings true: “He always wrote as if he were shooting for something.” That was Deford and that’s Steve Rushin. The standard they held/hold themselves to is far more difficult to attain than anything of which an editor could impose.

Deford, with Sugar Ray Leonard

Deford’s peak years, that sweet spot from about 1967 to 1985, were also Sports Illustrated‘s. After the first Super Bowl but before the advent of ESPN. This was an age when America really, really became obsessed with sports and there was no national media outlet designed exclusively to cover it except SI. Men like Deford, Roy Blount, Jr., Dan Jenkins and Curry Kirkpatrick were household names for those of us who were obsessed with sports. They lived glamorous lives, at least from my perspective, and they were blessed with so much talent. Their stories were ripe with humor, pathos,  insight and—get this—reportage.

It was, if not the golden age of sportswriting, the golden age of SI. And the 6’4″ Deford, literally and figuratively, was the giant in that room.

4. Is Jared On His Way Out?

It’s going to be really interesting when Donald Trump finally comes to the moment when he realizes he must punt his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to save his presidency. But it is a presidency that is already doomed, so what’s the use? Some terrific reporting here by the usual suspects and a worth-our-time editorial by David Brooks.

5. An Immigrant Story

Your author and his Kazakhstani co-worker (hoodie, a gift from my good friends Mike and Katie, included)

At the cookoutateria where I work weekends during the warm months (and have most every summer regularly since 2009), we have a sweet, guileless new server from Kazakhtsan named Sofia (her actual name is Guzal but as everyone kept mispronouncing it, she settled on Sofia). Sofia and I bonded early in the season when I saw that she was cold (my internal temperature always runs about seven degrees warmer than the average person for reasons I don’t understand: I’m  a perpetual hot flash) and I lent her my hoodie for the day. Ever since then, we’ve been close. What I love about Sofia is that she takes nothing as an entitlement and is genuinely grateful just to have a job (you can make the Borat jokes on your own).

Two Sundays ago, after she learned I’d written a book, Sofia asked if she could see it. So that Sunday morning I gave her a copy of my book about the UConn Huskies. “In Kazakhstan, book is the nicest present you can give someone,” Sofia said. “Because you are giving them knowledge.”

Anyway, Sofia takes the book and places it in her backpack. That day the weather was sublime and our spacious open-air restaurant was packed to the gills. I had 12 tables myself and was running around all day as if the place was on fire. I never had time to look around or notice anything outside my section. Meanwhile, Sofia, who speaks Russian, had the chance to wait on an elder Russian couple and their daughter in her thirties.

When Sofia recognized their accent, she decided it would be easier to converse in Russian. And as her diners became familiar with Sofia, the mom informed Sofia that their daughter was a professional basketball player. And Sofia, not really knowing who Svetlana Abrosimova was, asked to take a photo with her.

Svetlana and Sofia, with the Hudson River behind them

And then the next day Sofia started reading my book and sent me a text. Amazing world, eh? For those who read the book, you’ll know that Svetlana is one of my favorite people and yet another shining example of how immigrants are some of the best Americans you’ll ever meet.

Svetlana, next time you’re in town, feel free to stop by again.

Music 101

Reeling In The Years

Holy Jell-o Pudding, grandma! There’s Bill Cosby introducing thinking man’s rockers Steely Dan in this classic 1973 video. The song shot to No. 11 on the Billboard charts in 1973.

Remote Patrol

Nationals at Giants

10 p.m. ESPN

Alright, who’s getting beaned tonight?

5 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. Love Sofia’s ‘story’ & if you ever want to write more about Deford, would love to read that too. I’ve mentioned here before that SI was my 1st “adult” mag subscription, started when I was 8 or 9. I loved flipping thru the glossy pages, staring in wonder & awe at the photos & reading most but not all of the various articles (even then, I rarely read about baseball). Maybe because I began reading at such a young age or maybe I was just a doofus, it took me YEARS to actually think of the names of the men (never remember a female writer back then) who wrote the articles as actual people. Oh, I liked certain guys’ style/humor & when I’d see their names, I was giddy with anticipation, but never actually thought of the names as more than some ephemeral entities who wrote in “my” magazine. Deford’s was one of the names I looked for in the Table of Contents & honestly, I think he probably wrecked my expectations for what sports writing COULD & SHOULD be. I’m quite embarrassed to admit how many years before I actually did recognize the writers as people with lives – I was in my 20s(!) & it was an end of year SI Sportsman of the Year issue (1989 or 90 I think); near the front of the mag was a personal piece written by a guy talking about one of his younger brothers trying out for the Detroit Lions. I laughed & cried through the whole thing & right there, the ‘3rd wall’ was breached. I actually remember being SHOCKED that these guys had lives beyond the pages! The writer of that piece was Austin Murphy & if what you tweeted is correct & SI has let him go, I am not just shocked & disappointed but LIVID. Who the hell is in charge of SI these days?!

  2. Yes, Susie B., I remember being with Austin as he was telling me about the piece on his brother before it ran. I’ll have more to say on Austin in the coming days here. He is truly one of a kind and my unofficial big brother at SI. A truly wonderful guy with the dryest sense of humor of anyone I know.

  3. I met Frank Deford once, around 1990, when he was nice enough to give some college students a tour of the Fifth Avenue newsroom and offices of the National Sports Daily. I remember thinking two things about the newsroom: 1) it was expensively outfitted and immaculate, not at all the kind of gritty, paper-strewn environment you might picture a daily’s newsroom to be like; and 2) there was practically no one there, presumably because most of the national writers worked remotely.

    Deford could not have been more charming and polite.

  4. Argh. Hard to believe Svetlana was in the house and you had no idea!

    Thanks for reposting the Fogo Island Inn story. Using your power for good never grows old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *