by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Guarded Optimism

The consensus is that the first three picks in tonight’s draft will be, in order, Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett. As many have said, “The draft begins at the No. 4 pick.”

And when that does happen, look for three guards to be among the next four players taken, if not the next three. They are: Darius Garland, Vanderbilt; Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech; and Coby White, North Carolina.

Quick notes on all three:

–Culver, 6’5″, has a dad named Hiawatha who was Texas Tech’s team chaplain and said the pre-game prayer. His older brother Trey tied the fourth-best high jump mark in NCAA history as a track and field athlete for the Red Raiders (teams wondering if Jarrett can take his big brother’s hops).

–White, also 6’5″, is the top prep scorer in North Carolina history, which bears noting because Michael Jordan, among others, played his high school hoops in that state. White is also the top freshman scorer in Tar Heel history (again, M.J.). A lot of folks think he’s being seriously undervalued in this draft as opposed to say, Morant, who played in a far easier conference in his collegiate career (whereas White played in the nation’s toughest).

Culver came within an overtime session of a national championship

–Garland, 6’2″ish, is the son of former NBA player Winston Garland. He led his high school team, Brentwood Academy, to four state championships and he was a three-time Mr. Tennessee Basketball. He played only five games for Vanderbilt before a meniscus injury ended his season/collegiate career, but many folks believe he’s the best pure shooter/one-on-one player in this group.

Hope and Chains?

Former White House minx Hope Hicks kickstarted the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots about 10 days early by stonewalling a Congressional subcomittee hearing yesterday. From The Washington Post

During a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, a White House attorney and Justice Department lawyer kept Hope Hicks from answering questions about her tenure in the West Wing, claiming immunity for the executive branch — although Hicks is a private citizen.

If you’re keeping score, this is the 17,849th time that the current administration has plowed over a “They Can’t Do That, Can They?” standard of the past. Hicks is literally obstructing justice, but the DOJ is doing a “We’ll allow it,” which is going to compel House Democrats to take it to the courts, which will take forever (or at least until close to the 2020 election). Justice delayed is justice denied, and few understand that better than Trump and his lawyers.

This is where you have to hand it to T-ball dads. When they don’t get a judgment they like, at least they take steps to resolve the issue swiftly.

Passing The Snell Test

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, took the mound at Yankee Stadium at around 1:15 p.m. yesterday. One out, two hits, three runs, four walks and thirty-nine pitches later, Snell got the hook. He’d eventually be charged with six earned runs in the first inning in what would become a 12-1 Rays defeat.

Snell becomes the first reigning Cy Young Award winner to give up at least six runs and get no more than out in a start. The 57 pitches Tampa Bay needed to get through the first inning were the most in any inning in more than 30 years.

A famous denizen of the old Yankee Stadium was known to have said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This one was over in the first inning, Yogi.

What Ever Became Of ‘Big Time Timmy Jim’?

There are two pitchers in the entire history of baseball who have thrown two no-hitters, won two Cy Young Awards, and played for multiple World Series champions and been voted to play in multiple All-Star Games. The first is Sandy Koufax, widely considered to be the greatest living starting pitcher (although your Bob Gibson cries are being heard).

The other? Tim Lincecum.

The lithe Lincecum, who stands just 5’11” and seemed to have been made out of the same material as Gumby, turned 35 years old last week. Lincecum is technically listed as a free agent, but he has not pitched in a Major League contest since 2016. And would you believe that his career record is a rather unimpressive 110-89?

This story from a year ago is the most recent piece I could find on the phenomenon they called “The Freak.” As for Cooperstown, I believe we’ve entered an era where the anayltics nazis are more about spreadsheets than, you know, actual “Wow!” factor of players. Tim Lincecum definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame not because of his career numbers but because, for a brief five-to-six year spell, he was an MLB phenomenon. He was fascinating, exceptional and genuinely unique. It’s a Hall of Fame, not a Hall of Stats, no?

The Carls

Every neighborhood has an intersection that is the heartbeat of said ‘hood, and for me that is 79th and Broadway (where the 1 train stops). For a few years now, at least four or five, the unofficial mayor of that intersection has been a tall, homeless man named Carl who patrols the south median most hours.

Let me tell you about Carl: he’s a very handsome, athletic-looking black man about 40 years old. I’d say he’s about 6’3″ and toned, with green eyes. Seriously, you could clean him up and he could be an actor, easy. He’s usually howling at the wind, which scares some passersby, often while wearing a tank top and holding a 40 in one hand.

The Apthorp, decades ago. Carl’s “home” is a little entryway on the building’s right side in this photograph

In the past three years, Carl and I have become friends, which is to say that I bring him a to-go box of food after my work shift and he knows my name and says, “Thank you, John.” I’m not under the impression that Carl sees me as anything more than a Seamless-for-the-Homeless, and I don’t want any credit for this nightly altruism, as I have to pass him on the way to the bodega for my post-shift “You-earned-it” Modelo, so it’s just easier to drop off some food as opposed to telling him why I won’t give him money.

Like a lot of Upper West Siders, Carl keeps two residences. Unlike many of them, he pays a mortgage on neither. His “primary” home is a little outdoor vestibule on the side of The Apthorp, a beautiful and iconic pre-war apartment building that takes up an entire city block (78th to 79th, Broadway to West End) and is the home of Cyndi Lauper and formerly Louis C.K.

Carl’s second home is beneath an archway in Riverside Park, two blocks away. Whenever I see Carl I’m amazed that he seems to have changed his clothes, gotten a shave and, like I say, looks pretty damn good. I’m not the only one who has noticed, as this spring he seems to have gotten himself a girlfriend (I’ve dubbed her “Mrs. Carl.”). What she has brought to the party besides love and affection is a futon, which the couple often keeps with them on the median as they go about their daily business (I’ve wondered if Carl should start writing a blog, Median Happy).

So here’s Carl: two residences, no work headaches, a beer whenever he likes, and a woman who loves him. I don’t know anyone on the Upper West Side who’s living a better life than Carl. And I have told him this. I’d show you a photo of him but maybe after I ask him permission. Not yet.

A work friend has joked to me that I’m feeding two now while I joke back that if The Carls want to start a family, they’re going to have to start looking at stoops in Park Slope. That’s just the way it works in New York City.

The other day I was approaching the intersection to do my laundry and a very nice, very white young man, well-dressed, stopped me. He was one of countless solicitors we get in this neighborhood (there are a lot of very wealthy, guilt-ridden folks where I live) for various causes. Before he got three words into his schpiel I stopped him. “See that man over there?” I asked, pointing at Carl about 20 feet away, who was railing incoherently about something. “He’s the only person at this corner who gets to shake me down.”

And with a smile (I think), I took my leave.

Paint Misbehavin’

The Persistence of Memory

Salvador Dali, 1931.

Well, hello, Dali. No one made the surreal more sublime than the Catalonian artist, and imagine what he might’ve done with the help of LSD. Off the charts! This painting was given to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City by an anonymous donor (was it Ted Danson?), where it still resides. Note to self: visit MoMa soon.

Remote Patrol

Women’s World Cup: USA vs. Sweden

3 p.m France

Fox should do a recurring “Go Ask Alex” segment, but they don’t. I don’t know why not.

From Le Havre, France, along the Normandy coast. Both squads are 2-0 in Group play so if the Yanks win or draw (goal differential, big advantage) they’ll play the second-place team in Group B, Spain. If Sweden wins outright, the Americans will face the second-place team from Group E, Canada. None of this makes sense as most feel that Spain is a superior squad than Canada. These women soccer players never get treated fairly.

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