by John Walters
We’ve got a new LinkedIn photo. We understand this is not the highlight of your day, but just though we’d share.
Rooker Of The Year
Ever since I began following baseball—the Bobby Murcer Yankees of 1973—I’ve been intrigued by bad players on awful teams. The nature of baseball is such that the game’s premier player (Hello, Mike Trout) can play year in and year out on a team that fails to make the playoffs. Unlike basketball and football, excellence is able to exist in a vacuum.
So hello, Mr. Trout and Rod Carew (never made playoffs with Twins) and Ken Griffey, Jr., and Ernie Banks and Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Piazza and (mostly) Tony Gwynn, the last of whom is sort of the Walter Payton of his sport: spent almost his entire career on bad teams, then finally made it to the showcase at the tail end.
I bring this all up because baseball’s worst team thus far in ’23, the Oakland A’s, has a standout player: leftfielder Brent Rooker leads the American League in slugging percentage (.605) and is first in the A.L. in OPS (which my Gen-Z students tell me is the most important batting stat, though I’ll still take OBP first, thank you very much). The dude leading the AL in OPS (barely) is Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz. The Rays have the most potent offense in baseball, so pitchers cannot pitch around Diaz as much as they are able to Rooker, whose A’s are near the bottom offensively. Back when making an All-Star team meant something, it would be cool to see Rooker play in the Summer Classic. This year, alas, it’ll be a yawn. But he’s still worthy of a little tribute.
Meanwhile, the A’s are not only awful, but they’re dumb. The first is excusable, the second is not. The other night Oakland trailed the Diamondbacks 5-2 in the 8th. Their leadoff hitter had just crushed a solo HR and the next two hitters walked and singled, chasing the D-Backs’ starter. First and second, down three runs, no outs, and Rooker is on deck.
What happens? The next Oakland batter hits a soft fly in between short and left, but it’s playable. The shortstop runs out to make the catch, but Oakland’s runner on 2nd had his head down on contact and is rounding third. There’s not two outs, there wasn’t even one out: There were NO OUTS. The D-Backs throw to 2nd, double him up, and now Rooker comes to the plate with two outs and one man on.
The A’s go on to lose 5-2. Physical incompetence is a product of baseball’s salary structure. Mental incompetence is unforgivable.
Autocrat Softball Batting Practice
In the past fortnight, two of the world’s leading autocrats, Donald Trump and Elon Musk, have been given one-hour interview platforms on cable news networks. Respectively, but not respectably, CNN and CNBC. The interviewers, Kaitlyn Collins and David Faber (again, –ively but not –ably), failed to perform their jobs up to the standards of an interviewer in such a prestige spot. Anyone can ask a decnt question, but you set yourself apart by asking probing follow-up questions. Learning to counterpunch.
Admittedly, I watched none of Trump’s “town hall” (like Melania, I avoid Donald as much as humanly possible) and only saw a few Twitter clips of Faber’s tongue-bath of Musk.
Would we ever see Jon Stewart or John Oliver or Jordan Klepper interview either of these figures? Probably not. Which is too bad.
By the way, this was buried in the never-ending avalanche of miscreant news associated with these types, but Deutsche Bank just paid out a $75 million settlement related to its ties with Trump’s pedophile party buddy Jeffrey Epstein. According to Fox Business.com (!), “The lawsuit asserted that the bank knowingly benefited from Epstein’s sex trafficking and ‘chose profit over following the law.'”
You know the other thing about Deutsche Bank? They’re the ones who put Trump in touch with Russian oligarchs looking to buy real estate in the U.S. (for sums far above market value… hmmm). They provided loans to Trump when no one else would.
*The judges have no idea if this pronunciation, for pun purposes, is accurate
I am consistently humbled to learn things I never knew. For example, who Pierre Boulle was. Last night’s “Final Jeopardy” asked about the author of a book who saw human traits in apes he watched at a zoo. I guessed that the book would be The Planet Of The Apes but had no idea who the author was. Then when I researched a bit, I learned that French writer Boulle also authored The Bridge On The River Kwai.
Suddenly I’m hard-pressed to name a single author who had two books turned into better movies than those. If you’ve never seen one or either of them, do so as soon as you can. The latter is an all-time favorite, while I’d only recommend the original version of the former.
You can even draw some parallels between the two stories. The loner U.S. military guy in a hostile captive situation who must escape, through wilderness, to survive. The moment of clarity at the end of the film. Etc.
Anyway, I know this is the wrong language/culture, but Jolly good show, Monsieur Boulle. Jolly good show!
Charlie Vs. JJ
Here are two contrasting views on the Ja Morant situation from two retired NBA players who are paid to opine on TV. We respect JJ Redick plenty, but on this one we think he’s dead wrong. And you can point out that Charles Barkley was no angel when he played (in a pre-social media era), but that does not make him wrong here.
- Who was the original host of Jeopardy!?
- True-False: George Mikan won the first NBA MVP award.
- If you go due west of Manila, the first country (beyond the Philippines) you’ll hit is….?
- Name a 300-game winner who never threw a no-hitter (extra props if you name the winningest pitcher to never throw one).
- Name a film that takes place entirely in Oregon.
1. Art Fleming
4. Roger Clemens
5. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Greg Maddux famously never threw a no-hitter, but I think the bonus answer is Grover Cleveland Alexander.
For #5, I’d go with the excellent horror thriller,”Green Room.”