by John Walters

Dollar Quiz Answers: 1. Andrew Jackson 2. Tulane 3. March 4. Ion 5. Serbia

Making Book

This is how extraordinary Devin Booker has played through nine playoff games this spring: Booker’s Phoenix Suns teammate, Kevin Durant, ranks fourth ALL-TIME in NBA career scoring average (27.27), behind only Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. This postseason Durant is exceeding his career scoring average by averaging 30.0 ppg for the Suns, and yet Booker is both outscoring him and outplaying him.

That’s no knock on Durant. Booker, now in his seventh season, is having something of a national coming-out party this spring. Those of us who see him play regularly have been waiting for the rest of the nation to catch up; now they have. Booker is averaging 36.8 ppg, has shot 80% and 78% the past two games (on mid-range jumpers, not Shaq-range dunks), and is showing the type of resolve only seen with the all-time greats in the postseason such as Jordan, Iverson and Kobe.

Also, like those three, Booker’s game is aesthetically pleasing. I’d almost throw out AI from that list. Booker, in size and game and now, resolve, is very akin to MJ and Mamba.

Whether the Suns will advance past this round is anyone’s guess at the moment—it’s 2-2—but there’s little question as to Booker belonging in any conversation of, at worst, top 10 players in the league.

What does Shaq do all night at TNT studios?

Michael Jordan did not win his first NBA title until his 7th season. Booker is in his 8th.

Meanwhile, I’ll be surprised if the Suns don’t go shopping Deandre Ayton in the offseason. As Ralph Amsden tweeted on Friday (I’m paraphrasing), “There are, conservatively, 1 billion people on the planet who wish they were able to dunk but cannot, and every single one of them hates Deandre Ayton.”


Vida Blue

And yes, those uniforms were fire

When I read that former Oakland A’s pitcher Vida Blue died at the age of 73 this weekend, what struck me was his age. Blue was a legend—with one of the more legendary names a sports figure has ever had—from the early ’70s. When I was just becoming aware of life, and sports.

So if Blue was only 73 when he expired, I thought, how old was he when he was making baseball history?
The short answer: very young.

In 1971 Blue, who was 22 when the season began, won both the American League MVP and the Cy Young Award. The Louisiana native went 24-8, posted a 1.82 ERA and had eight shutouts. He threw 24 complete games! (Clayton Kershaw has thrown 25 in 16 seasons). And this was a year before the Oakland A’s advance to the World Series.

In the following three years southpaw Blue, along with Jim “Catfish” Hunter, would be the pair of aces that would lead Oakland to three consecutive World Series triumphs.

A three-time 20 game winner, Blue is not in the Hall of Fame and perhaps his overall career numbers do not support induction into Cooperstown. But, before he turned 26, few if any hurlers ever threw better or harder. It is said that only Nolan Ryan, from that era, threw harder.

In a high school game that lasted seven innings, Blue once struck out 21 and threw a no-hitter. He was also an outstanding quarterback who reportedly had offers from both Notre Dame and Purdue.

You read about a dude such as Vida Blue now–that name, that comet-like stardom—and it almost seems mythic 50 years later. As I age I’m continually reminded that the Seventies was the most extraordinary pop culture decade of my lifetime.


Not sure who here is on Tik Tok. I’m not, but I am on Instagram, which I hear is very akin to it. I bring it up because a wonderful phenomenon has been occurring on both platforms, which someone cleverly has titled. It’s where bibliophiles do short videos in which they introduce and provide brief descriptions of books they’ve enjoyed. One person I follow, schizonphrenicreads, provides a list of must-read books by genre.

Love this. He’s gotten me excited about reading all over again. I cannot wait to pick up Plagues and People, The Indifferent Stars Above, Kill Anything That Moves, The Cold Vanish, and Empire Of Pain. That last book is written by Patrick Redden-Keefe, author of Say Nothing, which is easily the best book I’ve read in the past four years.

Books, not guns.

That’s the answer.

Truth Bomb

I know that some people turn off as soon as they hear the mention of Bill Maher, but this clip (not sure when it aired) is on the nose. And it’s not Bill on some rant. It’s Bill providing a few stats and allowing a pair of professors to weigh in.

What needs to be emphasized here, from someone who saw how the sausage is made for two years:

  1. Yes, colleges/universities require administration, but the administrators-to-faculty ratio has gone completely out of whack. Schools are far too focused on customer retention and growth as opposed to…wait for it… education.
  2. That more than two-thirds of faculty are adjunct profs, basically the equivalent of job off-shored to Manila or Mumbai, is just wrong. It’s wrong for the students, who are paying more for tuition than they ever have, and it’s wrong for the faculty: the tenured faculty feel under cut while the adjuncts are hilariously underpaid—I taught three courses in the spring of ’22 and would earn just as much working at CostCo. When I was given a third course, which by law obligated my university to provide benefits, the person offering me that third class and informing me of this boon literally said to me, “We do not want to do this.
    Oh, I’m doing you a favor and none of this comes directly out of your pocket and you need to tell me you’d rather not have to do something that is required? Good leadership.
  3. When Maher asked why shouting someone down is fun and the prof replied, I think both missed the point. It’s not about fun; it’s about entitlement. Schools are not selling education as much as they are the experience (Storm the field! Get drunk after classes on Thursday!) and the cost is such that students (even though dad and mom are likely paying) feel as if they’re entitled to get the grades they want, the classes they want, even the opinions they want. Not to mention the jobs.
  4. I don’t blame tenured profs for feeling threatened by, or resentful of, adjunct profs. But that’s also a simplistic way to look at it. In a field such as history or literature, for example, it helps to have a PhD who’s put in years of study on the topic. However, in a field such as medicine or journalism, students benefit more from those who’ve spent much of their careers practicing such. The school that cannot differentiate between the two does its students a disservice.
  5. The lesson I learned from my lifetime in education is this: There may be some teachers you like in the moment who you will appreciate and be grateful for just as much 20 to 30 years down the road. But the teachers who you more likely will appreciate when you reach middle age are the ones who did not need you to like them; who challenged you and whom you cursed under your breath. As John Powers once wrote of a priest who taught him in high school, “At the time, I thought he was the hardest teacher I’d ever had. Ten years after high school, I thought he was the best. Today, I realize he was the only teacher I’d ever had.” If I can realize that, why can’t schools? Because the higher priority for them these days is to keep the customer happy.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What planet corresponds to Tuesday?
  2. What Shakespeare play takes place in Scotland?
  3. In the 20th century, four U.S. presidents died in office. Name them.
  4. What Canadian province borders British Columbia to the east?
  5. What does “FDIC” stand for?

3 thoughts on “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

  1. TJ, you just set a new land speed record for completing the quiz and at 100.

    This may never be matched.


Leave a Reply

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