IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Are You Sycamore High School Football?

You have to love that this still can happen in 2021, in a world of online research and Google-mapping, etc. Last Sunday ESPN aired a high school football game between IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla., and Bishop Sycamore of….where, exactly?

Forget for a moment that Bishop Sycamore had actually played a game on Friday night before being waxed 58-0 on national TV. Or that the players that the school’s coaching staff promised had D-1 offers don’t. The biggest deal is that the school does not actually exist as a school. It’s an “on-line charter school” and really, particularly in the Covid age, who knows how much any of these football players attend class? In high school, not college.

IMG is barely better. It’s a super-sports academy (I’ve spent time there) where the classes are an afterthought. IMG produces great college talent in football, basketball and tennis. It’s a sports academy. Period. Where students do the minimum amount of academic work to get by (of course, you can say that about plenty of high school students). But at least IMG is an actual place.

Newton’s Fourth Law Of Thermodynamics

A veteran quarterback at rest during August training camp will soon be displaced by a talented rookie.

The Patriots cut former NFL MVP Cam Newton and name rookie Mac Jones as the starting quarterback. Jones becomes the third Alabama starting quarterback from the past five years who will be a Week One starter in the NFL in 2021.

If you’re wondering, the last Alabama quarterback to start a game who is not currently an NFL starter is Blake Barnett.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Ida Evacuated Sooner

Well, blow me down. Hurricane Ida, a category-4 hurricane with winds approaching 155 m.p.h. strikes landfall almost squarely in New Orleans.

Hope everyone’s safe, but nature really does put on the best show.

Frost Bites

Nebraska at Illinois felt a little wrong more than one full week before Labor Day and in 96-degree heat… particularly if you’re a Cornhusker fan. Down 9-2 early, the Illini and backup quarterback Art Sitkowski reeled off four consecutive touchdowns and held on to win 30-22.

How poorly is Scott Frost doing in his return to his home state and alma mater after leading UCF to a 13-0 season? I didn’t quite believe this when I read on the Twitters, so I checked it out and it’s true: Frost would need to go 37-1 over his next 38 games simply to match the record Jim Harbaugh has had at Michigan, a record that by most accounts has been very disappointing for that former college QB who returned to coach his alma mater in the same conference.

Dunno if Frost can right the harvester in Lincoln, a school that has been synonymous with college football success for an entire century. But the Huskers have a pretty big game versus Oklahoma on Sept. 18. And that one’s in Norman. Good luck. Norman, or Waterloo (No, not the Iowa one)?

Oh, Mr. Graaaaant

Actor Ed Asner passed away Sunday at the age of 91. He had many roles in life, but none so career-defining as the gruff but lovable Lou Grant, head man of the WJM news team on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. There may have been a sitcom or two as good as MTM, but there’s never been a better ensemble cast on a sitcom. And Asner was the captain of that ship.

The line I remember, and it may have been from the premiere episode. Lou says to Mary, “You’ve got spunk… I hate spunk.”

That’s So Raven

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Washington Football Team 37-3 in both teams’ final preseason game of the weekend. Here’s what’s nutty: it was Baltimore’s 20th consecutive victory… in preseason football games. That’s a streak that extends back five years. Has any NFL club ever been so dominant in so meaningless a facet of the sport?

And what, if anything, can we extrapolate from this? I don’t know. The NFL record for consecutive regular season wins is 23, held by the 2008-2009 Indianapolis Colts… who used to be the Baltimore Colts, I think.

During this same period, in case you were wondering, the Ravens are 52-28 with no Super Bowl appearances, all under John Harbaugh. A very good record. Just something less than 20-0.

The China Syndrome

China has issued an edict BANNING the playing of video games between Monday and Thursday and allowing just one hour per day on Friday through Sunday. Sometimes, repressive authoritarian regimes have their upside.

Now, sure, you may cry, “But my free-dumb!” and you’re correct, but China, the world’s second-largest economy and first-largest country by population, has smartly deduced that having so many of its children spend so much of their times with their faces in screens is not beneficial long-term (we’ll see on that… stay tuned). Of course, the irony in all of this is that China leads the world in companies that manufacture the games and the hardware that makes these games possible.

So, yes, let’s profit off it. But let’s not do it. Sure, I’ll own a whorehouse, but none of my daughters are going into that business….

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

From Beirut To Kabul

From History.com

October 23, 1983

A suicide bomber drives a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. That same morning, 58 French soldiers were killed in their barracks two miles away in a separate suicide terrorist attack. The U.S. Marines were part of a multinational force sent to Lebanon in August 1982 to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon. From its inception, the mission was plagued with problems–and a mounting body count.

I remember that day well. I believe it was a Sunday morning when the news broke, my senior year of high school. I remember it being tragic, the worst loss of U.S. military life in one day since at least Vietnam. And I remember no one calling for President Reagan to resign, but then, he had been so damn good in Knute Rockne: All American and Kings Row (films in which, respectively, he had lost his life and legs).

It wasn’t really Reagan’s fault, after all. The mission was next-to-impossible, and whenever you have an opponent willing to commit suicide as part of their attack, it presents problems (ask any Naval commander in the Pacific from World War II).

Yesterday a dozen or so U.S. military personnel were killed in Kabul (a dozen, not 243) while executing a near-impossible task: evacuating Americans and Afghans from Kabul via the airport. For those citizens to not flock to the airport means they risk being kidnapped or killed by the Taliban or ISIS in their homes or wherever they are hiding. Their best escape route is via the airport, of course, where more than 80,000 have been evacuated the past week or so, but that means bunching up in crowds outside the airport gates, which, of course, makes them an inviting and vulnerable target.

And yet here are plenty of disingenuous Republican “leaders” calling for President Biden to resign. It was not President Biden who released 5,000 Taliban prisoners nor was it Biden who brokered a deal with the Taliban last year (it was President Trump and Mike Pompeo). These Republicans know that, but they also know that so many of their cult are sheep who don’t care to possess the ability for critical thought.

Beirut was a terrible day. But we were one country then. Kabul was, from a body-count perspective, far less significant. But we have awful people on one side of the aisle in 2021. And useful idiots supporting them.

Ten Turns 30

Happy 30th birthday to one of the very best debut albums in the history of rock and roll.

I remember the moment. Labor Day, 1991. Walking into an appliance store on 72nd just west of Broadway, in search of a stereo. You know, it’s the early ’90s so I need a CD player that also plays cassettes. So sad that I abandoned my turntable (what were we thinking?).

Then I hear it. This BELLOWING guitar that sounds like a battle cry. The opening chords of “Alive.” It was a beautiful late summer afternoon in Manhattan, the kind where the humidity has departed and you can feel the early strains of autumn. The golden late afternoon sun outside. And inside, this sound I’d never before experienced.

Make no mistake, Pearl Jam came out of the gates early that fall, before Nirvana. The other Seattle-based grunge band would soon take the lead. By Christmas holidays they’d be sharing a stage together, both serving as warm-up acts for RHCP.

Our favorite songs from Ten, in order: 1) Alive 2) Release 3) Jeremy 4) Oceans 5) Black 6) Once 7) Evenflow

Won’t See You In September

Not appearing at the U.S. Open that begins next week: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Venus Williams. That foursome represents 17 U.S. Open singles titles since 1999. Or nearly half.

The door is wide open for Novak Djokovic to become the first man with 21 career singles titles (and he should celebrate at the iconic 21 in midtown Manhattan). And as far as we know, Naomi Osaka is coming to Flushing Meadows. Naomi versus the New York media. Should be a fun show.

Death Valley Daze

Two male hikers have died in separate incidents at Death Valley National Park this week. Why? Because it’s really, really, really hot there and they were really, really, really unprepared. The men were 52 and 60 years old (man, is that old!) and to be honest, it wasn’t even that hot in Death Valley. Only about 109 degrees.

You have to love a national park that lives up to its name. And the hype.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Make America Crate Again

Not sure how the “Milk Crate Challenge” became a thing, other than it originated on Tik Tok, but it’s certainly the most viral phenom of the past week. Our favorite person above is the dude wearing a mask. Being careful about Covid but not about his neck.

Our new priority order for emergency room cases goes like this: 1) vaccinated, 2) unvaccinated, 3) milk crate challenge losers.

And then there’s this…

‘cuz We’re Stupid And Contagious

Thirty years after appearing on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind, Spencer Elden has filed a lawsuit against the surviving members of the band alleging child pornography. I mean, he’s holding the pretty damning evidence. One baby to another said I’m not happy to have met you…

Then again, the band’s directions to the model were come as you are….

Elden is seeking less than $3 million and if you read this it seems pretty apparent that Geffen records and/or Kurt Cobain’s estate should simply pay up and settle…

Is this the start of a wave of album cover-related lawsuits? This would seem to be a perfect class-action lawsuit aimed square at a band even more iconic than the godfathers of grunge…

Weir Have All The Hitters Gone?

Yesterday in the Little League World Series Gavin Weir threw another no-hitter. The 12 years-old from Sioux Falls struck out 14 batters as South Dakota defeated Oregon 1-0. Weir is one of the most phenomenal kids we’ve seen in LLWS in a long, long time.

Here’s Weir’s line through the tournament thus far: two no-hitters. 43 2/3 innings pitched and he’s only allowed one hit and no runs while striking out 114 batters. He’s gotten 131 hitters out, and 114 of them have whiffed.

And here’s the craziest thing: Sioux Falls and Weir shouldn’t even be in Williamsport. They finished second in their region, but because of Covid, as you may have noticed, there are no international teams in the LLWS this August. So second-place teams from each region also advanced. Which is why Weir and Sioux Falls are here.

Unless there is a rainout, Weir will not be permitted to pitch again. Because he’s maxed out his pitch count for the week. That’s a LLWS rule… which might deny fans of an epic LLWS finale.

cuz We’re Stupid And Contagious (Part Deux)

“Send me some studies.” The f**k is wrong with people?

Up All Night

San Diego is not the furthest west baseball city in America— Seattle is. In fact, it may blow your mind to learn that America’s Finest City is further east than Spokane… it is. But it sure felt like it was halfway to Hawaii last night as a baseball game between the Padres and the L.A. Dodgers went early into the morning on the East coast.

The Dodgers outlasted the Padres 5-3 in 16 innings in something less than a classic and more than a marathon. What began as a pitchers’ duel between Cy Young favorite Walker Buehler an Blake Snell remained a 1-1 game to the top of the 15th… more than six innings after both had exited.

In fact, the Padres went more than nine innings before Fernando Tatis, Jr.s’ two-run homer in the 15th tied it up at 3-3. It was Tatis’ first hit in two games, or 8 at-bats.

The box score was not pretty: the clubs went a combined 7-51 with runners in scoring position, for about a .113 batting average in that spot. A.J. Pollock put L.A. up for good with a two-run homer in the top of the 16th. I went to bed after the 11th when the Padres loaded the bases with two outs but had to pinch-hit using a starting pitcher who was 3-for-40 as a hitter (why not just keep your ace closer in with those odds?).

The game took 5 hours, 49 minutes to play, which means it ended at 3:49 a.m. Eastern time. It’s the longest extra-inning game since MLB tweaked extras by starting the inning with a baserunner on 2nd (I think I buried the lede).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Jesus of Nazare

Watching 100 Foot Wave on HBO Max. Terrific. Concisely, it’s the story of big wave surfer Garrett McNamara’s quest to ride the world’s tallest wave before age boxes him out. To outrace the world’s largest wall of water before he’s over the hill.

Is McNamara a bit obsessed? He’s named his first son Barrel.

Two things: 1) Most of this 5-part series is based around the coastal Portuguese town of Nazare, which had not been traditionally thought of as a surfing mecca, and 2) the supporting characters in this tale are all thoughtful, articulate and sincere. They’re not wacko streaming-doc characters. McNamara’s wife, Nicole, his brother-in-law, J.C., his tow-riders from England and Ireland, Andrew Cotton and Al Lennie, the Nazare locals who help fund the project, these are all good people and great teammates. And the latter two just happen to have the courage to ride 50-foot plus waves.

And make no mistake: it’s thrilling to watch these surfers “dance with God,” as one Brazilian big-wave rider puts it, but these waves will wreck people. A broken back, a wrecked shoulder, a near-death experience. McNamara’s wife, Nicole, is a decent surfer who eats it on a small Nazare wave and gets rag-dolled into shore. After that, she’s done. And that’s probably the puniest wave in the whole series.

If you loved Free Solo as we did, you’ll truly enjoy this.

The Skinns Game

This is David Skinns, a golfer from England who just experienced his Tin Cup moment (except he got the win, not Rene Russo… settling for second, I guess). Skinns is 39, a journeyman 16-year pro on lesser tours. During the pandemic he worked as a delivery driver and a bartender to support his family. As recently as six weeks ago he was 82nd on the Korn Ferry Tour, which is the next tour below the PGA Tour. The top 25 golfers on the Korn Ferry Tour are elevated to the big league tour, the PGA, the following year.

In four of Skinns’ five final events, he finished no lower than 8th. This weekend at the Pinnacle Bank Championship in Omaha he one-putted the last four holes to win… and finally move himself into the top 25. And a much bigger series of pay days next year. The man who was a driver used his driver to take a big leap forward.

Built To Last

Remember the U.S. sprinter who was kept off the Olympic team after testing positive for Cheech-and-Chong’ing it? Last Saturday in Eugene Sha’Carri Richardson had her chance for redemption, as she lined up in the blocks against the three Jamaicans who stood on the podium in Tokyo. And a few other sprinters.

Richardson came in last place. By a lot. She finished 9th, but only because there were only eight other sprinters.

To Richardson’s credit, she did the post-race interview at the Prefontaine Classic, congratulated the winners, and the 21 year-old told everyone, in colorful language, that she’s far from done.

A Shohei from Sioux Falls

Meet Gavin Weir, the breakout star of the Little League World Series from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Yesterday Weir jacked a three-run bomb to lift his squad, representing the Midwest, past Oregon, 3-0. He provided the game’s only RBI.

But Weir’s also unhittable. In fact, pitching may be his true forte. From Yardbarker: “. Over his last 37.2 innings, he’s allowed just one hit, no earned runs, and struck out 100 batters. Yes, he has struck out 100 of a possible 113 batters (88 percent). That’s just crazy.”

Happy 10th, Tim

Today is the 10th anniversary of Tim Cook being CEO of Apple. The company’s stock has risen 1,000% since he’s been in charge. We were fools to ever sell it. #NeverSellApple

The Freeze Has Supernatural Powers

In Atlanta, the Yankees and Braves met, an encounter 120 years in the making. Sure, they’ve played plenty in the past 12 decades, but it was the first time since 1901 that two teams sporting nine-game win streaks were meeting. The Yankees won, 5-1, meaning their last loss is still the Field of Dreams game.

Anyway, that little historic moment was overshadowed by a stunning finish in the nightly Freeze race at the ballpark. Watch.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Bronx Tale

After new Yankee shortstop Andrew Velazquez made a sweet throw from deep in the hole (below) to throw out a Red Sox baserunner in the top of the ninth and crush a rally, he made his way back to his parents’ home in the Bronx. The sublime 6-3 put-out put the final touch on a Yankee sweep of the Red Sox. It also heralded the arrival of Velazquez, who grew up less than 30 minutes from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. His dad is a retired NYPD detective.

In the last four games, all Yankee wins, Velazquez is 5-for-10 with three RBI. And the 27 year-old plays shortstop like a Hoover. Will he stick around once Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres get healthy? Highly unlikely. But for now it must be fun coming home after games and telling his parents how his day went.

Mary Jane’s Next Dance

This weekend’s Prefontaine Classic is gonna be lit with fast women. The event to watch is the women’s 100-meter dash, where the tokin’ (but not token) American will be Sha’Carri Richardson. She’ll be running against the trio of Jamaicans who swept gold, silver and bronze less than a month ago at the Olympics. Richardson had been favored to win a medal, perhaps even gold, before a drug test revealed she’d taken some of the funky herb. That’s a no-no with the IOC.

War Shooter

Robert Capa took one of the most riveting war photographs ever published. In the late 1930s Capa was covering the Spanish Civil War when he shot “The Falling Soldier,” which purportedly was taken at the moment of impact when a loyalist soldier took a mortal bullet to the chest as he was charging toward the enemy (there have been murmurs since that the photo was staged).

Capa’s own life may be worthy of a series of moving pictures. Born in 1913 in Hungary as Endro Erno Friedmann, he moved to Berlin to attend college. But if you look at how old he’d have been in college, his last name, and where he was attending school, well, Friedmann was smart enough to leave Berlin while he still could. He moved to Paris where he and a female friend jointly assumed the name, as a professional photography duo, of Robert Capa.

Considering his taste for adventure/war and his talent, it should come as no surprise that Capa soon became fast friends with Ernest Hemingway. And John Huston. And John Steinbeck.

During D-Day, Capa was the only civilian photographer to join the Allies as they stormed the beach at Normandy. His 11 photographs appeared in Life magazine less than two weeks later.

In 1954 Capa was in Vietnam, or Indochina as it was then known. A little dust-up was brewing between the colonial French and the natives, the Vietnamese. He had been in Japan and Life had asked him to take the assignment. He’d long ago claimed he was done shooting wars, but took the gig. One May day he left his jeep and decided to go up the road and photograph the advance. He stepped on a land mine. Capa, or Friedmann, was 40 years old.

MAC/CAM

Do you use a Mac or a PC? Or in New England’s case involving quarterbacks, a Mac Jones or a Cam Newton? For now the gifted veteran who once led the Charlotte Raes to a Super Bowl defeat looks like the starter in Foxboro. But the rookie from Alabama whose first name is the incumbent’s spelled backward has also been impressive. In a meaningless preseason game last night, New England beat Philly 35-0. Both QBs looked sharp. Stay tuned.

A Case of Murder

(That is Jones, 38, standing on the far left during the tribute to Pata)

Fifteen years ago University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata came home from practice after dropping off a few teammates, and was killed outside his home. The murder went unsolved all this time… until yesterday. Miami police arrested Rashaun Jones, a former Hurricane teammate of Pata’s.

Apparently the two had got into an altercation over a potential theft (by Jones) and there were also girlfriend issues involved (Pata was apparently dating an ex of Jones). You have to admit, this is a very University of Miami thing to happen.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Shohei Kid

The line last night for Los Angeles Angel pitcher Shohei Ohtani: 8 innings, 8 strikeouts, 1 earned run, and the Win. He also hit his 40th home run of the season while improving his record to 8-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.79.

As ESPN’s Jeff Passan has pointed out, this is historic stuff. Ohtani leads the bigs in home runs and his ERA would be in the Top 10 if he had enough starts.

All that and he got Jack Morris suspended without even trying…

And That’s Why They Call It…

A husband, wife, their one year-old daughter and even the family dog were found dead after going for a hike near their home just outside Yosemite National Park this weekend. No signs of trauma on any of the bodies.

So what happened? The couple had lived in the San Francisco area, where he’s a software engineer, but had relocated to just beyond Yosemite for a simpler, cleaner life. Now they’re all gone. Was it noxious fumes from a deserted mine? Tainted water? The Taliban? Who knows.

By the way, I’m really looking forward to a week or two from now when the NFL season starts and America can go back to not giving a sh*t as to what happens in Afghanistan…

Where You Really Do Earn An Mrs. Degree

In Reykjavik, Iceland, you will find the School of Housewives, which really does teach Nordic lasses how to excel in the art of husbandry-pleasing. And now, of course, someone has made a documentary about it…

College Football’s Big Weekend

As it stands now, and we have no reason to believe the preseason rankings will change, college football’s opening weekend will feature five games between a pair of Top 25 schools. That’s 10 schools. That’s 40% of the Top 25, for those of you who like the maths. The contests:

No. 23 Louisiana (Lafayette) at No. 21 Texas

No. 19 Penn State at No. 12 Wisconsin

No. 17 Indiana at No. 18 Iowa

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 14 Miami

No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 3 Clemson

Sexy games not on the list: No. 16 LSU at UCLA and No. 9 Notre Dame at Florida State.*

*And no, we presently have no idea whether The Athletic will ask us to bring back The Bubble Screen.

Predictions? Why not. Let’s go with Louisiana breaking in a new QB, Penn State and the power of James Franklin, Indiana and Tom Allen’s Ted Lasso coaching talents, Bama to crush the Canes, and Clemson in a battle of red-ass coaches.

We’re Back? Are You Sure?

There’s a big concert on The Great Lawn in Central Park this weekend to celebrate New York being “back.” Performers include Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Earth, Wind and Fire, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Wyclef Jean, The Killers and Journey. Did they say back or back to the Eighties?

We’re not overly militant here about reminding people about the pandemic and the Delta variant. At this point in the game, our attitude is pretty much live and let live. If you’re vaccinated, you may get sick but not too sick. If you’re not, well, someone probably advised you to quit smoking a long time ago, too. At this stage of the game, it’s on you.

Have a good time, everyone.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Bad Faith Arguments

In his latest “New Rules” installments, Bill Maher took on bad faith arguments on Real Time. You know, kind of like when Jack Morris made a bad attempt at Asian humor during last night’s Tigers-Angels game and now Twitter wants to see him hanged…

…or kinda like how Fox News and Newsmax is trying to destroy President Biden over America’s exit from Afghanistan while at the same time they’d be destroying him if more American lives were being lost there in a hopeless cause… while ignoring that his predecessor engineered this so that the Taliban would take over and the departing Afghan prez would leave with a $169 million parachute and land in the UAE… and also ignoring that it was George Bush who put us there.

Bad faith arguments happen on both sides of the aisle. I was recently scorned for “mansplaining” something, though that’s not at all what I was doing, but it occurred to me that if I pointed out that this was not the correct usage of mansplaining that it would be the ultimate in mansplaining. So I kept quiet, recognized it for the bad faith argument that it was, and moved on. That’s the thing with bad faith actors. They’re not worth your energy in terms of having a rational disagreement. They’re not looking to find common ground. They’re trying to cause an earthquake.

Would You Rent a Beach Cruiser From This Homie?

A somber reminder that you don’t need a license to be a parent. Someone else said it, and I agree, but it’s as if Alex Jones and Adam Duritz had a love child.

Heavyweight Investors Bout

In this corner, Cathie Wood… whose ARK Innovation ETF had a return of 150% last year and has been hailed as a CNBC superstar. It helps, of course, that she’s age-appropriate pretty and a good TV presence.

In the other corner, Michael Burry… the renegade character from The Big Short who profited youge-ly from shorting the housing market 15 or so years ago and who recently put in 2,355 put contracts against Wood’s fund. A put is basically a short bet based on conditions.

Wood is saying that Burry does not understand the innovation space. Burry is not saying much. Why should he? His track record speaks for him.

Fastball?

So the MH staff was noticing that the San Francisco Giants have baseball’s best record, and then the staff waxed wistful about the possibility of a Yankee-Giant Fall Classic… and then we looked up the last time these two franchises had met in a World Series.

The year was 1962.

The Yankees won that one in seven games, culminating in a 1-0 victory in Game 7 at Candlestick Park. But as we researched, what blew our minds was the length of time for each game. Remember, these are World Series contests, which regularly approach four hours these days.

The time for each game: 2 hours, 43 minutes; 2:11; 2:06; 2:55; 2:42; 2:00; and 2:29. That’s an average of 2 hours and 28 minutes over seven games.

Find Your Mojo

Remember when MH used to do “Where In The World?” Well, this is kind of like that except that we’ve already provided the answer. This shot is from Moyo Island, which used to be named Mojo Island and someone who is not very savvy in terms of marketing changed the name. It’s in the Pacific, just a little bit east of Bali. One of these days we need to get lost in this part of the world for six months. Who’s with us?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Yesterday, August 16th, was our 9th anniversary.

Af-gone-istan

It’s funny. I’m re-reading Once Upon A Distant War, by William Prochnau, at the moment. It’s all about the young reporters in Vietnam, the early years, who exposed the folly of the conflict and the countless lies that the White House and the Pentagon told in order to sustain it. One of the most telling quotes, from an army colonel to Peter Arnett: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

So now the U.S. is exiting Afghanistan and leaving it to the Taliban. Charlie Wilson’s War, II. We all know that the war began with a lie, a lie that people will pin on George Bush (at least those who don’t tune in to Newsmax and OAN and blame it on Joe Biden) when really the blame belongs to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the puppet masters.

Is Afghanistan moving backward? Probably. But how many American lives are supposed to be expended to attempt to rescue it? And after nearly 20 years, maybe it’s time to admit nation-changing and war-fighting are not the same thing.

Cornutopia

…. Speaking of tough defeats for the Yanks. Now that’s what we call a Midsummer Classic. Everything about the Field of Dreams game was perfect, right up (for a Yankee fan) until Tim Anderson’s walk-off blast. The Fox production was sublime and the producer understood the importance of the sunset beauty shot. Honestly, we thought Kevin Costner was unintelligible at times, and we’re not saying he was drunk, only that a few of his sentences didn’t seem to make all that much sense. Just us?

The Yanks have won three straight since losing 9-8 to the Sox.

Tim Anderson, a black player, hit the walk-off home run. There were no black players in baseball, of course, at the time the players who materialized from the corn rows in the original Field Of Dreams played. And how perfect would it have been if Anderson were sporting corn rows! Anyway, the first White Sox player to hit a walk-off home run versus the Yankees? Joe Jackson. You can’t make it up.

Debut-Tiant*

*The judges acknowledge this is a bit of a stretch

On Saturday night, Tyler Gilbert made his first Major League start. For the Arizona Diamondbacks. Versus the potent bats of the San Diego Padres. Gilbert, 27, tossed a no-hitter. Something that had not been done in 68 years (a pitcher making his first start) and something that had never taken place at Chase Field (a no-hitter in general).

One Major League start, one no-hitter. Grover Cleveland Alexander started 600 games, won 373 of them, and never tossed a no-hitter. Greg Maddux never threw a no-hitter. Pedro Martinez tossed a one-hitter versus the Yanks in the Bronx, but never a no-hitter. Tyler Gilbert has already thrown a no-hitter before his first five-days-between-starts rest.

Emma Falls

Certainly not what we expected to see in Tokyo. Emma Coburn, the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, simply bonked in her race. And then, as you see here, tripped coming over a hurdle and was DQ’ed for leaving the track. Some days/nights your body just does not come to play. No matter what the stakes.

We’ll have plenty of Olympic memories/highlights in the coming weeks. For the record, we were stationed in romantic Fort Lee, N.J., and writing for the nightly CNBC studio show in Englewood Cliffs.

Good news for Emma, others: The Prefontaine Meet in Eugene, Ore., is happening this weekend. Cool beans. Lots of Olympic athletes will be there.

Shoe-Dogged

We just finished reading Shoe Dog, which is Phil Knight’s autobiographical story of how Nike came to be (ghost-written, expertly, by the incomparable JR Moehringer). In the blurbs section, you’ll see some big names tout this as the best business bio they’ve ever read and, having read it, I wouldn’t disagree. It’s captivating and at the same time it tells you just how tough the road was for the men behind the swoosh. The company was more than a dozen years old in the late 1970s and still missing deadlines on payments to its lenders because the cash float was negative.

Another telling thing about the book: Phil Knight might have created Nike, but the man above, Jeff Johnson, was its most valuable employee. It was Johnson who opened the first Blue Ribbon (they weren’t called Nike for the first seven or eight years) store in Santa Monica; it was Johnson who uprooted his life and relocated to Wellesley, Mass., after Knight lied to his Japanese suppliers and told them he had an East Coast distributor so send the shoes there. Knight even told Johnson’s successor at the Santa Monica store that he’d gotten Johnson’s gig before he told Johnson he was leaving (the new guy burst into the store and informed Johnson); it was Johnson who re-relocated to Oregon when Knight needed him at the home office; and it was Johnson who re-re-relocated to New Hampshire when Knight decided they needed an American factory.

Oh, and when Knight wanted to name his company’s first homegrown sneaker “Dimension Six,” it was Johnson who came up with another name… Nike.

Phil Knight is the main character of Shoe Dog. Jeff Johnson, now retired and living amongst thousands of books in New England, is the hero.

By the way, two little-known facts: 1) Nike and Apple had their IPOs within 10 days of one another in December of 1980. NKE was issued on Dec. 2nd and AAPL on Dec. 12. I challenge you to think of another American brand that did not already exist before, say, 1970, that has been more influential the past 40 (not 20) years. 2) The last four digits of Nike phone office lines throughout world spell out “NIKE” (6453) and if you put that number backward, 3:54.6, it is Steve Prefontaine’s best mile time.

*****
TCM today (all times Eastern). It’s a fantastic lineup. We don’t deserve it.

4 p.m. Odds Against Tomorrow: Ed Begley, Robert Ryan and Harry Belafonte in a bank heist.

8 p.m. The Big Heat: Classic film noir starring Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame

10 p.m. In A Lonely Place: Another film noir classic, with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. GG had IT, and she would’ve gone on to an even bigger career… but, well, the director of this film was Nicholas Ray, who happened to be her husband… and soon after she had an affair with her step-son, Nicholas’ biological son, who was still a teenager and underage.

Delay Of Games

by John Walters

Weather has forced us to take flight tomorrow instead of today, so a brief item or two….

Rule No. 7*

*Any baseball game offers the opportunity to see something on the field (no, we’re not talking about Saturday night’s Padres-Nats contest) you’ve never seen before

Is it strange that two of the most bizarre plays in baseball this season have taken place within 15 feet of home plate at PNC Park?

The Mets fell behind 6-0, in the first inning, on this bizarre play. They rallied to win 7-6 on a go-ahead two-run Michael Conforto homer in the top of the 9th. A day earlier, the Mets had blown a 6-0 lead to the Pirates and lost. That has only happened (teams trading blown 6-0 leads and losing on consecutive days) four times before: 1889, 1968, 2019 and this weekend.