by John Walters

Tweet du Jour

Starting Five

Hirving Lozano scored the match’s lone goal….

1. Mexicult!

In the first weekend of World Cup play, South American powerhouses Argentina and Brazil could only manage draws against Euro upstarts Iceland (at 335,000 citizens, the tiniest nation ever to play in the World Cup) and Switzerland. Meanwhile, defending champion Germany lost 1-0 to Mexico. Ronaldo scored a hat trick as Portugal gained a draw against finalist favorite Spain and Russia leads the tourney in goal differential thus far in plus-5.

…and it triggered a “seismic event” in Mexico City, which knows a thing or two about them.

The biggest takeaway, with not all first round of games yet played, is the underwhelming play of the overdogs: Spain, Argentina, Germany and Brazil. But there are still two more matches for each of them in group stage.

2. New York Phil-harmonic

Who won the 118th U.S. Open? Who cares! Look what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday afternoon on the 13th hole during the third round. Anyone who has golfed even a little is able to understand this urge, and that it overtook one of the premier duffers of the past two decades, well, there’s a universal relatability to all of it.

We imagine Brooks Koepka will ring the bell at the Dow and be on a talk show or two. And he did become the first repeat U.S. Open champ since Curtis Strange in 1989. But on a course in which no one, not even Koepka, shot par all weekend, Phil stole the Open with this move.

We love it not because he broke the rule but because it was a spontaneous, instinctive act. Isn’t that why you fell in love with sports as a kid? Now if only he’d have buried that putt….

3. Meanwhile, Back At Shinnecock

We guess we were just wondering how necessary this story was. We’re almost annoyed with ourselves for giving it any more attention. The set-up: Dustin Johnson was the leader heading into Sunday and he’s married to Paulina Gretzky, who may have invented the Instagram bikini shot and is Wayne’s daughter.

She was out on the course, watching the final hole on Sunday with two friends and standing close to Koepka’s dad. When Justin holed in (he’d finish 3rd), Gretzky and her friends whooped and one of them asked, “Did Justin just win?”

The writer of the story is unable to identify who asked, but who cares? She’s a wife who, unlike almost all of us, is not watching it on TV with Fox graphics, but is just out on the course. At least she’s there. These are the kind of stories that slovenly sportswriters who’ve never gotten a date with any of the hot girls file because the 15 year-old in them is still upset.

4. The Daily Harrumph: Crossing A Line

Do we really want to wade into this border mess? Okay. Sure.

The administration crossed an imaginary line (of public outrage) when it became apparent that it was separating children from their parents who were being detained for illegally crossing a figurative line (the U.S.-Mexico border).

Now, we will cop to this first and foremost: I am not a parent. But, just to be clear here, a few things to know: 1) I grew up in a border state (Arizona), 2) my dad was part of the Dept. of Corrections (yes, he had to work for Sheriff Joe) for nearly two full decades and 3) I currently work with a number of Mexican-Americans, many of whom are my closest friends (and while you can’t say that without sounding like, “Some of my best friends are black people,” the point is this: I doubt there’s another sportswriter in America, even a part-time one like I currently am, who works more closely with and has more Mexican-American friends than I do).

So, with all that said, I’ll say this: Not all illegal immigrants are MS-13 members but neither are they all doe-eyed dreamers. You can respect and admire their desire to give their families better lives, but do not for one moment think that most of them have not figured out that their best bet, their only bet, to gaining access to the U.S. is to cross the border illegally and then cry, “ASYLUM!”

They’re smart people. And they’re gaming the system. One thing my dear departed Dad taught us, without saying so in so many words, is to be a little skeptical. Not cynical, but to have a healthy dose of skepticism. And while I have plenty of skepticism about the Trump administration’s true motives here (red meat to their white nationalist base), I’m also skeptical of people who casually ignore that the pre-existing policy provided huge incentives for people to illegally immigrate here and that they’re shrewd enough to exploit it. Trump is absolutely right when he calls it “catch and release.” The worst penalty right now is you’re no worse off than if you never tried to cross the border and you’ll just do it again the first chance you get.

(This does not make you, an alien, a bad person. It just makes you a recidivist offender.)

So as a government your options are to either change the system or figure out a way to curb the influx. If it’s between what’s currently happening and a “Wall,” I’ll take this 21 times out of 2o. First of all, stop with the Nazi Germany references. No one’s being taken away from their dads and moms forever, no one is being killed, no one is being targeted for genocide and extermination.

These adults really are breaking the law, they are well aware that they are breaking the law, and they’re counting on a soft immigration policy to get away with it. Quite simply, the empire is striking back. And while no one likes to think of a suffering child, I don’t know why you reward bad behavior that is incentivized because of the very soft rules on ILLEGAL immigration we currently have.

You want more people from Latin American countries to be able to live in the U.S.A.? Fine. Change the law. But please don’t drone on and on about how the president does not respect the rule of law when it suits your purpose and then conveniently forget about law when it comes to this.

This has nothing to do with the character of the people who want to live here. Demonizing them (MS-13) is wrong, but so is beatifying them. It’s not about that. It’s about whether you believe the U.S. has a responsibility to its own citizens, its taxpayers, that trumps (pun unintended, but also, intended) the dreams of millions of people who WANT to live here and, unlike people in AFRICA or ASIA, are able to get here by foot. Because one of those sides will have to pay a price, at least short-term.

(This, for me, is where Trump blows it and is clearly only trying to be a fear-monger to aging white Americans, etc. Portraying them as gang members is not only inaccurate—are all white male teens school shooters?—but also beside the point.)

It’s funny how quickly liberals forget their adherence to law and the Constitution at the sight of a child crying. Yes, it’s awful. But it’s not what you base policy upon.

p.s. My great-uncle was put on a ship in Italy by his family and sent to the New World all alone. He was about 10 years old. After 2-3 weeks, maybe even a month, at sea, he landed at Ellis Island. No one from the extended family who was supposed to meet him there showed up, so they shipped him back to Italy. He spent probably 6 weeks on a boat at sea, back and forth, on a voyage all by himself. He’d eventually make it here and he turned out fine. Not equating his odyssey with what’s currently going on, but also trying to point out that the kids being detained probably don’t have gluten allergies and don’t throw a tantrum when they don’t get to play three hours of CandyCrush per day.

5. Early Steve Carell

We were searching for a good example of improv this weekend and came across this long ago sketch involving Steve Carell. The actress, whom we don’t know, is fantastic. ‘nuf said. Enjoy.

Music 101 

Good Vibrations

How do you follow up the most transcendent American rock and roll album (Pet Sounds) ever released? You follow it up with a masterpiece that skyrockets to No. 1 in the U.S.A. and UK in the fall of ’67 (a pretty decent era for music) and, at 90 hours in the studio, was the costliest and most time-intensive single to that point ever produced. Architect Brian Wilson could have included this on Pet Sounds, but chose it instead as “B” side to a single. Even geniuses can be too smart for their own good (remember that, Susie B.). Wilson was inspired to write this tune after learning about how dogs respond to good and bad vibrations that other creatures emit.

If, like us, you’re sort of a B.B. groupie, this archival footage is pretty cool…

Remote Patrol

World Cup

11 a.m. Belgium vs. Panama

2 p.m. Tunisia vs. England

Put on your Hazards

Jump back! What’s that sound? It’s Eden Hazard taking on the Panamanians, followed by Harry Kane and the Limeys taking on Tunisia. Belgium is the smart sleeper pick to advance to the final.

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. What? You love Phil’s BLATANT disregard of fair play DURING actual tournament competition because it was a “spontaneous, instinctive act”? Gee, I’d say smashing one’s hand AFTER the competition out of frustration & anger because you were CHEATED by so-called refs & then let down by the brain-fart of your teammate is also a “spontaneous, instinctive act” too but I didn’t see you rushing to LBJ’s defense. In fact, you trashed him because he put on a soft cast when the ENTIRE competition was over & admitted his stupid/out-of-control act to the media. I understand both “acts” & while understandable , I feel neither deserve total praise. And between the two, come on, how do you pat Phil on the back?! At least LBJ WAITED till after he was done competing to act the fool.

    So, I watched what I call the Usual Suspects in World Cup play (i.e. the teams favored to at least reach the quarters if not win) since Friday night & while I know more about soccer than hockey, my “knowledge” of “the beautiful game” is what can generously be called “a bit lacking”. I have some questions! Between the Portugal-Spain tie, the Iceland-Argentina tie, the WIN by Mexico over defending champ Germany, & the Switzerland-Brazil tie, WHICH is considered the biggest upset? My biggest shock out of all of it is that the FOX studio shows didn’t make that clear! Based on some pre-WC reading by the soccer media, I’d say ALL these results were stunners! But I’m thinking Mexico’s win was the biggest. Is that correct? And right now, the player far & away in front for the “MVP” of the tourney (is there such a thing in WC?) is Ronaldo! I’ve never actually liked the guy much (he looks like a cross between a Bond villain & a male professional ballroom dancer) but heck, he sure was impressive against one of the overall faves (Spain)! THREE goals! And when you compare his play to fellow “best of his generation” player Messi, the latter looked woefully, well, just woeful! The entire game, Messi looked like he didn’t even want to be there. All you soccer nerds, am I being too hard on Messi? Is his team equivalent to this year’s Cavs & it’s not his fault? Still, Ronaldo made his PK & Messi…did not. Overall, I was pretty happy with the outcomes, as I was rooting for all the underdogs & boy did those dogs have their day! 🙂 Do you think these results were because the chosen teams were too cocky & didn’t take their opponents seriously? At least till there was less than 5 minutes to go & they all realized they were NOT actually going to win? I definitely felt that, especially with Brazil , Germany, & Argentina.

    Other World Cup thoughts – the Iceland team could all be extras on the VIKINGS TV series, Switzerland’s cutie patootie goalie looks like a boy-band escapee, I love all the group-viewing shots of the countries’ fans back home (Iceland & Mexico are my faves so far) & FOX’s late night wrap-up show is DREADFUL! The earlier studio shows are ok but omg, the late one is just so bad it’s like a high school production of Les Miserables. They should pay Rob Stone double & get him to stick around for the hosting duty. It is blatantly obvious they are trying to duplicate ESPN’s fun late-night Rio shows of 4 years ago & they are failing miserably. (Les Miserables…get it?)

  2. Susie B.,

    Not gonna anoint myself a soccer expert, but I think I implied, if did not outright type, that the biggest surprise was how flat almost all the favorites looked. Bigger than any one outcome, though I’m sure most people would say it was Mexico’s win (I’d go with Iceland’s tie, only because Germany looked completely somnambulant…this is what happens when you no longer have BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER!!!!).

    I love Belgium. They’re my pick to win it and they came out today ready to play. Don’t count out any of the faves who started poorly. And yes, Ronaldo, was total money on Friday. It’s crazy when a Superstar plays a Superteam and actually wins, eh?

    • Ha, ha! But is the current Spanish team the…SUPERVILLAINS of international soccer? And did Ronaldo have a teammate do an “own-goal” in the last 7 seconds to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Isn’t that what they call it when a player accidentally knocks the ball into their own net & thus scores for the other team? Not QUITE what Swish (& George Hill) did, but close. Heck, Sweet Pea scored 51 points! AND was smacked in the eye! And I didn’t notice the Portugal-Spain refs BLATANTLY giving the game to Spain! Humpfh!

      What’s your opinion of how Messi played? Is he being forced to play for his country? Because he didn’t look happy even before the game began.

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