by John Walters

Quiz Answers: 1) Cabaret 2) True 3) Six innings AND fewer than three earned runs 4) Four (all but Staten Island) 5) Ireland and Iceland

I see the face of God doing a nose dive

Find Your Way Back

When we heard that Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket was named Starship, and then we saw its launch this morning (“rapid unscheduled disassembly,” they’re calling it), the musical possibilities overwhelmed our own memory storage. Knee Deep In The Hoopla? “And I carry a heavy load?No Way Out?

Anyway, it’s been quite a 4/20 already for Elon Musk, who may already have lit up a major spliff. Twitter is scheduled to take away verified blue checks to those unwilling to pony up $8 a month for them; TSLA shares are down 7% after yesterday’s after hours quarterly earnings report, and now this.

Is this any way to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday?

There Really Is No ‘There’ There

Now those were some sweet threads

The novelist Gertrude Stein is known mostly for two quotes: 1) “A rose is a rose is a rose” and 2) “There is no ‘there’ there,” the latter a reference to her hometown of Oakland.

Gertrude really had a way with words, no?

Some quick Spark Notes on Gerty: she attended Radcliffe (then an annex of all-male Harvard) and later, though she had no interest in medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical School (all of this in the late 1800s). She flunked out in her fourth year, opting to take long walks and attend the opera instead of studying. She then moved to Paris and hosted the Paris salon (she had family money) where young artists such as Picasso, Hemingway and Fitzgerald hung out. She lived out the rest of her days in Paris. During World War II, as a German Jew, she got by by being at least a Nazi sympathizer, if not collaborator.


Anyway, it’s that latter quote that intrigues us this morning as the city of Oakland prepares to lose the last of its three pro sports teams: the A’s have announced they’re moving to Las Vegas.

Ten years ago Oakland had three pro sports teams and Las Vegas had zero. Soon Oakland will have zero (and it’ll be better for it, trust me) while Vegas will have four–the Knights, the Aces, the Raiders and now the A’s—and before long, five, when an NBA franchise either relocates there or there’s an expansion franchise.

Fifty years ago the A’s were in the midst of winning three straight World Series (a feat that has only been emulated once, by the 1998-2000 Yankees, since). Also, the A’s were the only franchise to have an Oscar-nominated film made about them, Moneyball. They’ll be gone, but not forgotten.

Dollar Quiz

  1. What Titan (Greek, not Tennessee) was punished by having an eagle peck at his liver daily while he was chained to a rock?
  2. Put in order, from oldest to youngest, these three nations as independent nations: Germany, Mexico, USA.
  3. Name a president who is also a cartoon character.
  4. Who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft?
  5. Who is the current NBA leader in career games played?


by John Walters

Slugger Randy is the world’s most famous Arozarena

That’s So Ray’vin

Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays improved their record to 11-0 in front of fewer than 13,000 fans at Tropicana Field. By comparison, the New York Yankees averaged 40,000-plus fans per game last year.

So part of this story is Tampa Bay’s historic start to the 2023 season: the Rays are two wins away from tying the MLB record of 13, shared by the 1982 Braves and the 1987 Brewers. Skeptics will note that Tampa Bay have played no one but bottom-dwellers thus far (Washington, Oakland Detroit and Boston, all of whom are currently in last place in their respective divisions. Nevertheless, the Rays have six dudes hitting above .300 (though, oddly again, no one in top 30)

The other half of this story is that Tampa Bay will play its 9th home game today (versus Boston) and they’re averaging just over 16,000 fans per game. That ranks 27th out of 30 teams. Part of it is the stadium, being both indoors and located far across the bay from the major city of Tampa (it’s in Saint Petersburg). Part of it may simply be the fan base. The Rays, after all, have been good for awhile now.

Would/should the Rays consider moving? We could see Nashville or Memphis, or our perennial favorite expansion city, Billings, embracing this club. Even Albuquerque. No matter where they end up, since they’d no longer be the Tampa Bay Rays, they should call themselves… wait for it… the Ex-Rays.

“Play (Basket) Ball!”

After the longest preseason—82 games— the NBA’s real season began last night with two play-in games. Though, as Charles Barkley aptly noted on TNT, because the NBA refuses to include play-in game stats as postseason stats while also refusing to include them as regular season stats, maybe these two contests never took place.

Last Sunday the Mavericks rested Luke Doncic, while only playing him 12 minutes in the team’s penultimate game, as a way to ensure that Dallas would miss the play-in and retain at Top 10 draft pick. Hey, Dallas was going nowhere this month, even if it did make the conference finals a year ago, so you could understand the strategy. Even if you do find quitting distasteful.

What I found funny is that the NBA was investigating whether Mark Cuban & Co. were making “a mockery” of the play-in tournament. You cannot make a mockery of a mockery (unless you hire James Austin Johnson to impersonate it). The NBA spends 6 months playing 82 games per team all to eliminate 1/3 of its franchises. It’s a colossal waste of time and all the teams and players know it.

It’s cute to see a team like Sacramento (or, last year, Phoenix) that has had so little NBA Finals success race to a top finish in the regular season. But the real ones know that it’s better to finish 6th and be rested and healthy. So you have to steal a game on the road. A team such as Golden State can do that in their sleep.

By the way, I was listening to ESPN hoops analyst Chiney Ogwumike (a former No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick) yesterday talk about the NBA and she referred to the Warrior players as “the original O.G.s” which is rather redundant.

Fast Car

In the wake of the latest school shooting (Nashville) or in preparation for the next one (remember, April is when all the wackos come out, from David Koresh to Columbine, etc.), allow me to propose an analogy:

You live on a street like the one on which I grew up in Middletown, New Jersey. It’s a suburban neighborhood where kids are always outside playing, often in the street. These kids have parents who have enough sense to keep an eye on the little ones. As for the older ones, say above the age of 9 or 10, they know enough to yell “Car!” when a vehicle approaches so that the kids can clear the road and remain out of harm’s way.

Embedded in this culture is a dual compromise. The kids clear the street when a car approaches while a driver is decent enough to not speed on a road where he or she knows kids are playing. Now, let’s say there’s a driver who decides to gun it (no pun intended), maybe he’s listening to an early Springsteen song, and he races down my street at 75 mph. And maybe he kills a kid or two.

The parents would be outraged. The driver might be jailed for manslaughter. If the parents went to the local officials and said, “You need to put up a speed limit sign,” would the officials say, “There’s nothing we can do about it.?”

Let’s say there already was a speed limit sign up. The driver ignored it. Let’s say five more drivers, 10 more drivers ignore that sign, each time taking out a kid or two. At what point, as a parent, do you take matters in your own hands either by 1) never letting your children play in the street again or 2) acting as a sort of vigilante group against any driver who comes onto your street speeding recklessly?

Regardless, what would you do if your local city government refused to put up a single speed limit sign, simply saying, “There’s nothing we can do. People can still get their hands on cars. They will still speed.”

This is hardly the first argument to demonstrate the hypocrisy of 2nd Amendment truthers or our current gun laws. The kids clearing the street to allow a car to pass is every sensible American’s understanding that, within reason, you have the right to own a gun. The car speeding along without any regard to the children’s safety is the gun lobby saying no number of innocent lives lost will induce us to budge from our hard-line stance.

There’s a difference between playing on a freeway and playing on a neighborhood street. Sensible people understand that. Hard-liners for the 2nd Amendment refuse to do so.

Boston Market

Two unrelated Boston items:

  1. Yesterday, or maybe two days ago—earlier this week—the Indiana Fever selected Aliyah Boston of South Carolina as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft. The 6’5″ Boston was born and raised on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She will not be the last first overall pro basketball pick this year. Boston actually has history with the Boston area, as she moved from the Caribbean to improve her game at Worcester Academy as a teen. But, as you know, Boston itself has no WNBA team. The closest one is near the Conn/Rhode Island border at the Mohegan Sun casino.
  2. Last night (definitely) the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 to improve to 64-12-5. The Bruins now own the NHL record for most wins in a season (64) and most points (133) with, one game remaining.
    A reminder that the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116 wins), 2016 Warriors (73 wins) and 2007 Patriots (17 wins) all set single-season wins marks in, respectively, the MLB, NBA and NFL. All failed to win championships in those seasons.


  1. What film won the most Oscars without winning Best Picture?
  2. True-False: area-wise, the U.S.A., Canada and China would all fit inside of Africa.
  3. What defines a ‘quality start’ for an MLB pitcher (two qualifiers)?
  4. In how many of New York City’s five boroughs has Notre Dame football played a game?
  5. Name two countries that 1) are longer than four letters and 2) are within one letter of being the same word.


by John Walters

Yesterday’s answers: 1) North 2) Denny McClain 3) Dizzy Dean 4) Michigan and Virginia 5) We can take Minneapolis, San Diego/Buffalo, Philadelphia, Kansas City-Omaha, Cincinnati

Summer Of Louvre

Thankfully, you have me (and I have SportsBrain) to keep us apprised of budding Olympic superstars about whom we should know. And will be hearing plenty about soon. To wit (or is “To whit?” Nope, it’s the former), 16 year-old Canadian swimming sensation Summer McIntosh.

Two summers ago in Japan, McIntosh was the youngest member of Canada’s Olympic team and achieved a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter freestyle. Since then the Toronto native, whose mom swam for Canada at the Olympics, has become the youngest world champion in more than a decade. In the past fortnight McIntosh has set two world records, both in popular events: 400 free and 400 IM.

McIntosh should compete directly against America’s reigning Summer Olympics queen, Katie Ledecky, next summer in Paris. She’ll still be only 17 (will turn 18 one week after Games conclude). Last month in Florida McIntosh became the first person to beat Ledecky in a race on U.S. soil in nearly a decade. This will be THE rivalry of the Paris Olympics. And NBC couldn’t be more excited.

(yes, McIntosh is only 17… the promotion of her beauty will be very carefully managed as a way of attracting TV audiences while not at the same time attracting producers from NBC’s own “To Catch A Predator.”)


*The judges realize that’s typically ascribed to Australia, not New Zealand.

Don’t know how (blame it on algorithms or ChatGPT, which we do not at all understand) this dude showed up on my Instagram feed (I don’t do TikTok, but this is pretty much the same, no?), but someone with the name “Cambostock” is hiking the length of New Zealand. Apparently there’s a country-length, north-to-south walking trail known as the Te Araroa that stretches roughly 1,800 miles.

Curious fact, as I looked into it: New Zealand is dreadfully bereft of land-based wildlife. You’re not gonna have to worry about any bears or leopard/cougar types stalking you. They don’t even have any kangaroos. The kiwi itself is just an ugly bird. So enjoy the scenery, but the wildlife is a bit wanting.

Currently our solitary hero, who checks in daily and provides about a minute-length video each time, is on Day 29. If you’ve never been to New Zealand and want to see more of it than just what the Lord Of The Rings trilogy provided, I recommend a follow. Thus far, no sign of Smiegel (alas).

Where Are We Headed?

If you have Netflix, I highly recommend the 2007 film Charlie Wilson’s War, which was just added. The movie was not even nominated for Best Picture that year (arguably the strongest year, after 2015, of this century with No Country For Old Men beating out There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton for BP) even with a murderer’s row of talent: director Mike Nichols (his final film), writer Aaron Sorkin, and a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman (who was nominated for BSA, but did not win).

Anyway, early in the film Hanks’ titular Texas congressman meets with a constituent/donor who is upset about the ACLU filing suit against a nativity scene being put up at a fire station. He reminds Wilson that “this is a Christian country,” etc. So this is a film made 16 years ago, depicting a time 25 years earlier, and the sentiments that exist now existed then.

No surprise.

What is worth noting is how much bolder the constituents and pols in certain states (I believe they’re known as “red”) have become about returning this country to what I refer to as “Puri-tyrannical times.”

The abortion debate is well-known, but is that not providing cover for more insane legislation such as banning books (we’re banning books in the 21st century?!?) and now, in one state, defunding libraries?

And while I would not claim that the general public is fine with this, it feels as if there should be a greater uproar. There’s one political party in this country that is actively engaged in keeping people ignorant, in not allowing them to be exposed to ideas (except those in the Bible, which let’s face it, they can quote but they don’t actually read for context), and in making our laws concerning rape and abortion more similar to those in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

I don’t want to leap into an abortion debate, but honestly, if there is someone reading this who is not appalled by the idea of banning books or defunding libraries, I’d love to hear your arguments in favor.

At the end of Charlie Wilson’s War, after the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have spent $1 billion in a covert war in Afghanistan to repel Russian advances and succeeded, Wilson meets with the same pols who rubber-stamped all that military spending and asks for $1 million to fund a school in Afghanistan. That’s 1/1,000th of what they’ve spent on weapons. His request is denied.

The film draws a subtle, but not indirect, line between our squandered opportunity to educate young Afghan men and the 9/11 attacks. That may be a little too clean an explanation. But there is just a little truth to it, no? Ignorance breeds holy warriors. On either side of the Atlantic.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Twice in Oscar history two people have won an Oscar for portraying the same character. Name at least one time (the character and the two people).
  2. Who is baseball’s all-time hits leader among players not born in the United States?
  3. What state is ranked 49th in population density (least dense)?
  4. What were the most popular early bicycles called (two words)?
  5. Baking soda has one ingredient. What is it?


by John Walters

Jerk Store*

*The judges will not accept “Angel With Dirty Faces” because that’s racist!

Two headlines related to The Incident that I came across this morning:

  1. Only Racists And Squares Have A Problem With Angel Reese’s Antics” from Buzzfeed
  2. Angel Reese Trashing Caitlin Clark Was Weeks In The Making” from Newsweek*

*The hed is inaccurate, and the story never corroborates this assertion. More crappy work from the post-James Impoco/Bob Roe era of Newsweek.

My two nickels: One, that first hed is absolute trash and everything that is wrong with Wokeness and very similar to what I experienced last spring in the classroom. If you dare to disagree with us, it’s not about the validity of your argument; it’s that you’re a racist or a GOML’er. That shuts down meaningful conversation and debate immediately.

Two, Angel Reese has the power to behave any way she damn well pleases. And, similarly, you and I have the power to react to her, or anyone’s, behavior, any way we damn well please. I never saw Caitlin Clark’s initial use of the gesture versus Louisville and I’m not fully aware of the back-and-forth that may have gone on between Clark, who by the way became the first female player to put together two 40-point games in one tourney, and her Cardinals counterpart Hailey Van Lith. Regardless, it had nothing to do with Reese.

Three, if a player from UConn had done this to a player from San Diego State immediately after Monday’s final, a similar double-digit win in a championship game, fists are flying. Let’s not pretend that wouldn’t have happened.

Four, and most importantly to me, it all seemed so contrived. Am I offended as a sports fan? No, I’m offended as a comedian. It reminded me of Costanza’s “Jerk Store” comment, in which he was dissed on the fly, then waited weeks in order to exact verbal revenge. But his retort, as it happened, was stale and not witty and then the object of his wrath once again provided the wittier comeback (“You’re their biggest seller”).

Reese manufactured animus between herself and Clark that did not authentically exist, other than the fact that they are two of the best players in their sport. She retaliated against Clark for a gesture that Clark had not used against her. It was more of a stunt than a moment of genuine catharsis. And, at least for me, that phoniness is why I was turned off by it. Because it was never about Reese releasing some emotion at a player who had dissed her first. It was all about Reese calling attention to herself.

Trash talk is part of the game, they say. Fine. Let it be. But when it’s calculated, then it’s not, at least to me, entertaining. It’s childish and immature.

Finally, let’s be real here. Half the reason most of the people in the media who are defending Reese are defending her is because the black girl smacked a Karen. If the Karen had smacked a black girl, these takes, I suspect, would be 180 degrees opposite. No one would be defending Caitlin Clark for rubbing it in Reese’s face. They’d be saying that her behavior marred an otherwise brilliant performance.

Postscripts: 1) Yes, Jill Biden’s gesture toward Iowa was dumb and poorly thought out. If the White House needs a czar of sports, there are plenty of available applicants, 2) As much as the media is trashed for supposedly not respecting Reese, they did vote her Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

King Leer

I’ve been on a deep dive into Shakespeare of late, and with each passing day the tale of the above fella looks more and more like one of the Bard’s trademark tragedies.*

*An aside: Finding out how much Shakespeare ripped off The Lion King in order to create Hamlet has been somewhat disappointing. If I were Elton John, I’d be furious.

Paying a porn star hush money so that the story of their tryst would not derail his presidential campaign was 1) ineffective, obviously (i.e. never has someone so not gotten their money’s worth in paying someone to remain silent) and 2) pretty much the least of 45’s crimes against humanity. As we will continue to see.

If you know the story of King Lear, he is a king who retires and then goes insane and paranoid after leaving his kingdom to his children. That’s far from an apt comparison to The Donald, who has always been a little mad. In fact, almost all of Shakespeare’s tragic figures (Lear, Macbeth, Julius Caesar) at least had a redeeming quality or two. Not so with Trump. He was, is and will continue to be, as long as he breathes, an amoral (not immoral) person and an incorrigible pu**y hunter, self-confessed, whose only goals in life are to satisfy his appetites: lust, greed and power. That’s it.

I doubt that Mr. Trump has ever truly loved anyone or anything other than himself. You know that scene in Good Will Hunting where Sean lays that smackdown on young Will, telling him the same thing? The difference is that Will was just a brash kid, that he was on cusp of evolving. Mr. Trump is 76 years old. He hasn’t learned, has no interest in learning, and he never will. This is one human who could really use a pet, dog or cat.

And I’ll remind you that Mr. Trump was at a fundraiser in the Hamptons, with plenty of powerful NY-based GOP donors, on the summer evening when Jeffrey Epstein (ahem) hung himself (cough, cough) in his jail cell (though for some reason Epstein screamed beforehand, as so many suicidal people do before hanging themselves) in Manhattan. That’s how far Mr. Trump will go to protect himself.

I’m reminded of another quote from Shakespeare, from another tragedy based upon another power-hungry autocrat bent on turning a republic into a dictatorship: The evil that men do lives after them.

Dollar Quiz

  1. In which general direction does the White House face (front doors face)?
  2. Who was the last 30-game winner in baseball?
  3. Who was the previous last 30-game winner before him (hint: alliterative name)?
  4. What two states have a significant chunk of land connected not to rest of state but rather to another state (separated from same state by water)?
  5. There are four NBA franchises in California. Name their four origin or at least previous cities.


by John Walters

Yesterday’s answers: 1) I honestly do not recognize a single name, but the leadoff hitter is Tony Kemp (5’6″…maybe he’s the next Altuve) and the opening day pitcher was Kyle Muller (who’s 6’7″) 2) Hoffman, lame, as in Midnight Cowboy; McQueen, incarcerated and caught trying to escape and put in solitary twice, as in The Great Escape, 3) U.S.A., New York City 4) 30-0, Yankees over Orioles, 2007, 5) Houston Nutt (others appearing were Fulmer, Holtz, Saban)

Arraign Man

Adding to his infamous list of firsts, Donald Trump becomes the first president, current or former, to be indicted for a crime. But it likely will not be his final indictment.

Expect zero epiphanies from the general public. Some of us have understood what a snake and a crook Trump is and has been for decades (just read Jeff Pearlman’s book, Football For A Buck, which details Trumpian manipulations and malfeasance dating back to 1985). All yesterday demonstrated is that at least one district attorney has the stones to put Trump on trial.

This is Law & Order Trump.

And there’s the rest of America, for whom Trump can do no wrong. Even when confronted directly with the evidence. Trump admitted on tape that he is a serial sexual abuser (the Access: Hollywood tape), he acknowledged later that he said it, and he still retained the evangelicals and a lot of pearl-clutchers and church goers who, for whatever reasons, opted to look the other way (at least he’s not a woman who forgives her husband receiving a blow job was the reasoning of some). They’ll buy into Trump’s persecution complex.

This is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (and the victim is ME) Trump.

I’d suggest you follow Seth Abrahamson on Twitter. He had a long thread yesterday explaining how this hush money payment was never about Trump maintaining a reputation (ha!) of being a faithful husband but more about winning the 2016 election. And all the ramifications of that. It’s worth reading, though I believe that James Comey’s “We’re investigating Hillary’s server” statement less than a week before the election did far more damage.

The victory in yesterday’s indictment is not that the Deplorables will finally see the light. The victory is simply that, for once, the people in power chose to enforce the law rather than consider the repercussions of either choice and opting for the one that created less disruption (particularly among the rich and powerful). If only someone had had those stones during the sub-prime mortgage crisis, as opposed to resorting to “Too Big To Fail,” me might have avoided Trump altogether.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Who was the first pitcher to violate the pitch clock rule?
  2. If a batted ball sails over third base and lands directly on the white line, is it fair or foul?
  3. Name the actor whose father competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (he’s British).
  4. Name classic NYC-based sitcoms with 2, 4, 5, 6 and > 6 close friends (bonus $1 if you can name one with three).
  5. Name a country that borders South Africa.


by John Walters

Yesterday’s answers: 1) Mississippi State, Notre Dame, South Carolina 2) Rich Hill 3) Iraq, Iran, Syria, Armenia, Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria 4) U.S. Steel 5) Grand Rapids

Anomaly or Harbinger?

The San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees were two of four teams (the Braves and Nats started moments earlier) who launched the Pitch Clock era today. What did we encounter? A game that wrapped neatly in 2:34 AND a combined 32 strikeouts (each side had 16).

Was the strikeout total more about staff aces and last season’s MLB strikeout leader (Gerritt Cole) or was it more about the pitch-hit clock? Maybe a little of both. It’s our feeling that the pitch-hit clock makes it easier for pitches to maintain a rhythm while it may, at least earlier in the season, make batters feel rushed. Kinda like playing blackjack with your friends as opposed to the first time you sit down at a table at the Bellagio. Feeling rushed, making poor decisions.

Also, a follow-up to yesterday’s Anthony Volpe item: the Yankee rookie actually phoned Brett Gardner and asked him for permission to wear that number. Classy. Also, as Matt Vesgersian insightfully noted, Volpe’s favorite player was Derek Jeter, who wore 2, and 11 may be construed as 1 + 1 = 2.

Ballpark Buddies

The Giants opened their season in New York City for the first time since their home was the Polo Grounds. Look how close the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium were once located. Apparently, less than half a mile apart across the Harlem River.

Worth noting: neither of the stadiums pictured above exist today. The Polo Grounds are now apartment buildings, and the Steinbrenners tore down the House That Ruth Built and erected a new one just across the street from where you see the left field bleachers.

I asked on Twitter if there’s another two stadiums so close that house two teams that play the same sport (who, unlike the Clippers and Lakers, don’t actually share the venue). The possible correct answer came from this wonderful tweep.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Deaths

This work by Cathy Wilcox of the Sydney Morning Herald deserves a Pulitzer. There’s really nothing new to say about these tragedies. Politicians who accept NRA donations are, for the most part, willfully trading the lives of children for money (and the power that comes with being reelected). It’s blood money; there’s no denying that.

The hypocrisy is, of course, shameless. And the easiest way to illustrate that is automobiles. You must register your car, you must also register yourself. No one bats an eye. But ask these 2nd Amendment truthers, who ALWAYS conveniently ignore the phrase “well-regulated” to give an inch on guns and they act as if someone just suggested canceling Yellowstone.

There’s no reasoning with these types. As we see it, only two solutions: nationwide school strikes by students AND teachers or, sad but true, someone needs to start giving these pols a lead-based taste of their own medicine.

Leap Of Faith

The 1973 film Papillon aired on TCM two nights ago. It starred Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen as two Frenchmen imprisoned for crimes first in French Guiana and later on Devil’s Island, 24 miles off the coast of South America. Above is the climactic scene, as McQueen’s character (this was based on a true story) leaps either to freedom or his death (I’m not going to spoil it).

A few notes:

A) McQueen did this leap himself. The Tom Cruise of his day, McQueen often insisted on doing his own stunts (particularly in love scenes with Faye Dunaway). He rode the motorcycle and did the jump in a film 10 years earlier.

B) The director chose this panoramic shot to show the climactic leap. While it provides great perspectie on how high up the cliff was, how perilous the jump, it robs McQueen of any glory. The audience has no way to know that it’s McQueen, and not a stuntman, jumping. I imagine this did not sit well with Steve, who called this moment “one of the most exhilarating of my life.”

C) That scene was shot in Ke’anae, Maui; not in any of the other locations for the film (Spain, Jamaica). This was already an overly costly film ($12 million, including McQueen’s $2 mil salary) to make, so I’m a little surprised they’d venture all the way to Hawaii for one scene, albeit a memorable one.

D) A hedge: there is a previous scene in which McQueen falls from a small cliff into a river. I cannot be sure, and searching on the web has failed to yield a conclusive answer, if THAT was the actual cliff jump to which McQueen referred. And not the film’s above climactic moment.

E) Further, I’ve been unable to find the height of that cliff. I know; I’m useless. But I’d venture more than 100 feet.

Metaphor/Meme Alert

This was Anthony Richardson at his pro day, his pass hitting the ceiling at UF’s indoor training complex. I sent this to SportsBrain, who for a finals paper tried to do more than he needed to do (in essence, shelving the assignment he’d committed to doing and then crashing and burning on the improvised one) and wound up receiving a “C.” But he was not a grad student so he did not go whine in an email about it to my boss. Because he understood that he received what he did based on his work. That’s why I’d hire him if given the chance. (Am I worried that former ASU colleagues or students will read this? Exactly the opposite.)

As for Richardson, this play may wind up being a metaphor for his value. Off-the-charts athletic ability, but all we want is for the pass to be completed. We’ll see if it turns out to be an apt metaphor or not.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Name a current Oakland A.
  2. In Papillon, both Hoffman and McQueen have a character trait or plot point that is redolent of earlier films each appeared in. Name the films and the trait or plot similarity.
  3. In what country was Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, born?
  4. The other day, in a spring training game, the Astros beat the Cardinals 24-1. What is the greatest final score disparity in a regular season MLB game (hint: happened this century)?
  5. Name a college head football coach who appeared in The Blind Side as himself but has NEVER won a national championship.


by John Walters

The Rookie

Not only have the New York Yankees placed 21 year-old shortstop Anthony Volpe on their opening day roster, but they’ve also penciled the Watchung, N.J., native to be in the starting lineup. And they’ve given the first can’t-miss-kid since Derek Jeter jersey number 11.

That’s not only the lowest non-retired jersey numeral (besides “0”) in franchise lore, but it’s also the number of former Yankee centerfielder Brett Gardner, who, if you’re paying attention, still has not officially retired. A moment of homage for Gardner, who on paper feels like someone all Yankee fans should adore, but who in reality never entered their/our hearts in the way that Paul O’Neill or Tino or Bernie or even Luis Sojo ever did.

To begin, Gardner was a walk-on at the College of Charleston. That’s how lightly regarded he was.

Then he makes the Yankees and spends his entire 13-year career with them. The accolades: one World Series win, one All-Star selection. Gardner once led the A.L. in steals, once led it in triples and once won a Gold Glove.

On the all-time Yankees list, Gardner is third in steals (behind a pair of rock-solid Hall of Famers) and eighth in triples (behind a few Hall of Famers and a few Yankee legends, such as Wally Pipp). He’s 22nd on their all-time hits list. Should the Yankees retire/have retired Gardner’s number? Of course not. But if you’re Brett Gardner, sitting home in Holly Hill, S.C., waiting for the phone to ring, or at least waiting for the Yanks to treat you as well as they’ve treated, say, O’Neill, it can be argued that you have a legitimate gripe.

But again, no Yankee fan ever embraced Gardner the way we/they do the true Yankee legends. He may be this century’s Wally Pipp (who twice led the A.L. in home runs). And Volpe, who’ll be an instant favorite in the right field bleachers, is Gardner’s Lou Gehrig: taking not his position, but his number.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Since 2017, three different programs have appeared in two NCAA women’s basketball championship games. Name them.
  2. Albert Pujols was the oldest MLB player last year. Who will be the oldest this season?
  3. Name a country that borders Turkey.
  4. What company’s stock ticker symbol is “X?”
  5. Which of these cities did NOT have a franchise in the inaugural NBA season (1949-50): Grand Rapids, Sheboygan, Indianapolis?


by John Walters

Bracket Carnage

Moments before Maryland and West Virginia tipped off to christen this year’s NCAA tournament, CBS (above) did a fun segment in which they used a certain set of parameters (there were about five data points, as I recall) to show which schools had no chance to win the tourney. At the end of their winnowing, only the above 10 schools met all the criteria.

To win the tournament.

Not a single one of the 10 advanced to the Final Four. Who did?

FAU. Miami. San Diego State. UConn.

Moreover, we have a 4-seed (UConn), a pair of 5-seeds (SDSU and Miami) and a 9-seed (FAU) in the Final Four. Three of the four schools have never advanced this far. Conventional Wisdom has opted for the transfer portal this month. It’s…

What’s next, you ask? A female school shooter?

If the Owls face the Hurricanes next Monday night, it’ll be the two nearest campuses (49.5 miles) ever to play for the championship.

If the Aztecs play the Huskies, it’ll be the two farthest campuses (2,977 miles) ever to play for the last shining moment.

Dear Brigitte

As I’ve typed before, one of the reasons I’m always tuning to TCM (or now, also FXM) is the chance that I’ll be enchanted by the odd old movie I’d never even heard of before. Enter Dear Brigitte, a cute 1965 offering starring Jimmy Stewart (A-list all-timer legend) and Billy Mumy (yes, it’s the “Danger, Will Robinson!” kid from Lost In Space… basically, for the time, the backup redheaded kid, the poor man’s Ron Howard).

Briefly, Stewart is a beloved but futzy professor of poetry whose nuclear family lives on a houseboat in Sausalito. Mumy, his 8 year-old son, is a mathematical genius, a virtuoso. But all that he desires in the world is to meet Brigitte Bardotte.

As I watched, I could not help wondering whether Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had seen this film before writing Good Will Hunting. I’ve never heard either mention it, but the mathematical genius bit story line has some overlaps. If not the French sex goddess overlap.

It’s Jimmy Stewart near the end of his career, and it’s sweet and funny and—spoiler alert— the title character does at last make a cameo. So tune in for that if for no other reason.

The Women’s Tourney

Three big storylines:

• Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, the best player at the college level for a year or two now, explodes for 41 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assist as the Hawkeyes eliminate Louisville to advance to the Final Four. No player, male or female, has ever eclipsed 40 points in a tourney game and recorded a triple double.

•South Carolina remains unbeaten (35-0). The Gamecocks, defending national champs who meet Maryland tonight with a Final Four berth on the line, are 70-2 the past two seasons, the two defeats coming by a total of three points.

• UConn is out. The Huskies fail to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2007. That’s before LeBron won his first title (or Steph), before the subprime mortgage crisis erupted, before anyone had even heard of Taylor Swift. Geno Auriemma has led the Huskies to 11 national championships, but none since 2016.

Geno turned 69 last week. How much longer will he continue?

Jon Stewart Provides Yet Another Lesson In Journalism

Here’s Stewart pushing back on Fareed Zarakiah, an erstwhile celebrated Newsweek writer (I hear those guys are really smart), when Zarakiah asks if Donald Trump should be arrested. Diplomatically as he is able, Stewart wonders how come cable news is devoting more time to that question as opposed to explaining earnestly to their audience what the crime is that he’s being investigated of committing, what the evidence has revealed, etc.

Stewart’s gently nudging Zarakiah to move away from the “feels.” Do your job. Report the news. Inform. Don’t do a taste test. Why is this so difficult?

Dollar Quiz

  1. What band name-checks a celebrity mentioned in today’s blog? And what is the song?
  2. Only one Pac-12 school has never been to the Final Four. Name it.
  3. What six elements are most prevalent in the human body?
  4. What famous philosopher was Alexander the Great’s tutor?
  5. What Ivy League school has been to two Final Fours (more than all the others combined)?


by John Walters

A Modest Proposal

Every year I hear the same refrains:

  1. There’s nothing like the first weekend of March Madness and Don’t change a thing! (True and yes)
  2. College football’s playoff is about finding the best team in the sport (Why is that important?)

I’m perennially amused by the fact that the same folks who are in crazy, stupid love with March Madness seem so infatuated with determining the truly best team in college football. Does anyone really think FDU (above) is a better team than Purdue, or Princeton better than Arizona? In a seven-game series between either pair, whom are you taking?

Which is not to say that I’d change a thing about March Madness. I was listening to the final eight minutes of FDU-Purdue on the radio while driving and it was far more dramatic than any moment in this season’s CFB playoff—or at least right up there with the second half of Georgia-Ohio State—even though both these schools would fail to reach what is college hoops’ Round of 16.

So here is a modest proposal, one that would make college football a little more like March Madness while also appreciating that you cannot ask gridders to play that many games against that much top-tier competition on top of their regular seasons. Or at least that you should not.

I’m J-Dubbing it the “Sweet Sixteen Weekend.” Here’s how it works. Sixteen schools make the CFB playoffs, with at least four schools being outside the Power 5. These schools are seeded 1-16, just like in hoops. Now here’s where it becomes fun. The first two rounds, which are played on a Thurs-Sat or Wed-Fri (just like in college hoops, but avoiding Sunday for NFL reasons) are only 30-minute games. Two 15-minute halves.

So maybe you have No. 1 Georgia facing No. 16 Toledo in a first-round game that is actually only 30 minutes. The winner faces the winner of a similar game between Nos. 8-9 two days later, also a 30-minute game.

This has multiple benefits:

A) Less wear-and-tear on players

B) The same opportunities for magic as in the opening weekend of March Madness

C) More schools get a shot at the playoff

D) Most of these 1st- and even 2nd-round games will likely be blowouts anyway, so who needs 60 minutes when 30 minutes provides the answer we need (see: last January’s national championship game).

We all loved FDU’s win over Purdue, though everyone watching knew that while Purdue had a legit Final Four shot, FDU never would reach that spot. The better team lost, and no one was up in arms. If somehow Toledo shocked Georgia, why would or should we feel any different?

You thus have four playoff sites, sending four schools to each. After three days, you have a winner and now you’ve got a college football final four.

I can already hear the detractors: a 30-minute football game is not an actual game. So what? It’s still football. It’s more “football” than an overtime that eliminates special teams play. The shorter game gives the underdog a greater shot, which makes it more entertaining if for some reason Toledo builds a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Most importantly, this would make outstanding theater.

Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal-keeper Goal

Gotta admit, I’d never seen a goalie score a goal off a goal kick (outside of 7 & 8 year-old leagues) before. If this also happens to be the climactic moment of season 3 of Ted Lasso, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Tim Brown & The Transfer Portal

Was ruminating on the transfer portal yesterday and thinking about my old college classmate, Tim Brown. It occurred to me that if the transfer portal existed in the 1980s, there’s almost no way Brown remains at Notre Dame four years and wins the Heisman Trophy (maybe he does win the Heisman Trophy somewhere else, but now way he remains in South Bend).

Brown’s first college play was a muffed kickoff that Purdue recovered and quickly leveraged into a touchdown. His freshman and sophomore years, he played well but the team stunk. They were better his junior season, Lou Holtz’s inaugural campaign, but still finished 5-6. Does a 2022 version of Tim Brown, a player with such spectacular talent, tough out three seasons of that? Even if his senior year was full of transcendent moments? I don’t think so.

And that’s what’s lost. And I don’t blame the current generation of college kids as much as I do the adults who’ve enabled that line of thinking: if things are tough, quit and leave. The Field-Turf is greener somewhere else.

Sure, there are many situations in which you’re in an abusive relationship or it’s not healthy for you to remain where you are. The majority of the time, however, the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves. I’m glad Tim Brown never had that option. I imagine he is, too.

Scareway To Heaven

Nope. Uh-unh. Definitely not!

This is the Sky Ladder in Gosau, Austria, a 40-meter rope ladder whose photo speaks for itself. This is something humans are allowed to do, without a license. And Ron DeSantis is afraid of a few books. Puh-leeze.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Who is the only current Major League hitter in the all-time Top 30 in either batting average or OBP?
  2. Name another actor besides Marlon Brando who appeared in On The Waterfront (hint: three others were Oscar winners and a fourth deserved at least one)?
  3. Which planet’s rotational axis is 98 degrees, so that it looks more like a bowling ball rolling down a lane?
  4. Willis Reed just passed away at the age of 80. He was the starting center on on the 1973 New York Knicks, the last Knicks team to win an NBA championship. How many of Reed’s teammates from that squad besides Reed are in the Naismith Hall of Fame?
  5. Who founded the Rolling Stones (what member)?


by John Walters

Haaland Days

Remember last August or September when we told you to look out for Manchester City rookie Erling Haaland, a Norse God of soccer (we don’t deserve credit for this; our former student SportsBrain does)? Well, last week, in a Champions League match versus RB Leipzig, the 22 year-old Haaland scored five goals—FIVE! And all in the first 57 minutes of play.

Only two other players, Lionel Messi being one of them, have ever done that. Again, Haaland is just 22

Haaland has already scored 30 goals in Premier League play and he is way ahead of the pace to break the single-season scoring record. He should be garnering so much more attention than he already has.


A year or so ago my college buddy and unofficial mentor Andre asked me if I had ever heard of the comedian Gary Gulman. I had not. Andre told me he was a big fan, so I decided to check him out. Gulman is a 6’6″ Jewish man from Boston (Gulman, Bill Burr, Louis C.K., all from Boston) who actually attended Boston College on a football scholarship (he only played his freshman year).

Some comics just have “it.” Gul does observational humor, never works blue, possesses a gift for verbiage, and demonstrates just the right amount of curiosity and skepticism. He knows how to craft a set. This, on state abbreviations, is one of his best. It won’t surprise you to discover that Gulman used to be a substitute teacher and would often craft lessons as bits. You could see this originating this way.

Zombie Apocalypse

A week or two ago I was driving along, listening to Tom Petty Radio on XM (as per usual). They were playing “Buried Treasure,” a show on the channel that Petty himself used to host where he played personal favorites. Petty played a song I’d never heard, “A Rose For Emily,” by the late Sixties British group The Zombies.

The tune stuck in my head, and so I commenced a deep dive…the song is off the album Odessey and Oracle (the first term unintentionally misspelled) and if it sounds like an outtake from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, that’s more than coincidence. The Zombies moved into Abbey Road Studios shortly after the Beatles had completed recording their classic album there. Not only were they influenced by it, but—strapped for cash and running out of studio time—they even used some instruments that the Liverpudlians had left behind in the studio.

Here’s where the story takes an even more intriguing turn: One song was included as an afterthought on the album, “Time Of The Season,” which lead singer Colin Blunstone did not even want to sing. The song was not one of the two singles the band released off the album. By late December of ’67, the album had received diffident reviews, there was little appetite on either side (fans or artist) for a tour, and the Zombies…broke up!

It was 1967/1968 and the airwaves were replete with some of the greatest bands and music of the rock era. Even a dude like David Bowie could barely afford a sandwich. The Zombies were toast.

Then, more than a year later, an A&R man in the U.S. named Pat Kooper discovered the song and inveigled a few stations to give it airplay. Soon it was No. 3 in the U.S. The Zombies, broke and broken up, were suddenly a hit. Across the pond.

One last item: It was 1969, 1970. The internet and social media did not exist. News did not spread as fast. In the U.S., not one but two bands calling themselves The Zombies toured, playing Zombies tunes, even though they were NOT the Zombies. One of these faux Zombie bands had two future members of ZZ Top. I sh*t you not.

Today, “Time Of The Season” is rightfully recognized as a signature track of the pyschedelic era and the Zombies have been enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

A Horror Even Edgar Allen Poe Couldn’t Have Conjured (Or Could He)

If you know the story of Richard Parker, you may continue on. If not, this is astounding.

In 1838 the master of the short story had his only novel published: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. In the tale, four members of a lost ship find themselves in a lifeboat without food or water. They draw straws to determine which of them will be sacrificed to feed the others. The unlucky scalawag is a teen named Richard Parker, who is promptly stabbed and devoured.

Forty-six years later, in 1884, a 52-foot yacht with a crew of four set off from Southampton, England, bound for Sydney, Australia. Somewhere off the coast of South Africa the vessel was swamped by a rogue wave. Long story not as long, three of them eventually resorted to killing the youngest of their group in order to cannibalize him… and that teen’s name was Richard Parker.

It’s true. If you’ve read or seen Life Of Pi, you know that the tiger is named Richard Parker. This was intentional by author Yann Martel, in homage to the eerie coincidence. Though “Richard Parker” is a more common proper British name than, say, Lenny Kowalski. Now THAT would’ve been something.

Dollar Quiz

  1. Who is the Roman goddess equivalent to Hera, who was the wife of Zeus in Greek mythology?
  2. Whose face was on the first U.S. coin that had the face of an actual person?
  3. What is the largest land-locked country in the world?
  4. Eddie Murphy bought a painting from the estate of Marvin Gaye for $50,000 soon after Gaye was killed. He still owns that painting, valued at more than $16 million. Any ideas as to what it is?
  5. What element has the atomic number 3 (hint: the other two before it begin with an “H”)?

Answers to previous quiz:

  1. Lake Michigan
  2. John Calipari, Rick Pitino.
  3. First Battle of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor
  4. Hexagonal
  5. Stegosaurus (Susie B.), Triceratops, Ankylosaurus (just a few)