5-at-10: Monster Friday mailbag with pitching unicorns, MJ and LeBron, Keith Mitchell’s bright future

Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke looks at a baseball during Wednesday's game against the White Sox in Chicago. (Associated Press)

Sign up for the daily newsletter, Jay's Plays of the Day, to get sports betting recommendations for the top games of the night and the week ahead.

Happy Friday everyone.

Got a ton of emails this week, and thanks for the compliments on the "12 Days of Draftmas." I did think the 11 Kipers Kippin' was particularly fitting.


So, after we handle our business, we'll get a couple of questions and then just share some of the feedback from the week, including some fine answers and thoughts on the punishment for the middle school wrestler who sucker-punched his opponent after a loss.

To the Rushmores.

Rushmore of plays: Traditional, "Les Miserables," "Beauty and the Beast," "Hamilton" and "Phantom of the Opera;" Clever, "Other than that, how'd you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln;" play on words, Plays of the Day, Warriors, come out and play. Sports, Picket Fence, Annexation of Puerto Rico, Immaculate Reception and, as Kurtis Blow told us, his favorite play is the alley-oop.

Rushmore ABC — Howard Cosell, Arthur Fonzarelli, Roone Alredge, Meredith Grey. Other than the Jackson 5 classic, of course.

Rushmore of Tax — Brass (tacks), death and taxes, tax evasion (got Capone) and this wonderful quote from Winston Churchill, "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." Amen, Winnie.

Rushmore of most underrated Atlanta Braves players — Rick Mahler, Bob Horner, Rico Carty and Rafael Furcal. Was Ron Gant underrated? I need some help on this one.

You know the rules. Here's Hargis on one of those great high school sports stories he finds and spins so well.

To the mailbag.

From Mack

Did you see this?


Thanks. That of course is the post-round interview with Keith Mitchell and Zurich teammate Sungjae Im.

Mitchell goes into what he taught Im, which of course centered on Mitchell's beloved University of Georgia football team. It's a pretty funny clip.

And it's a clear reminder that the golf analyst world may have started with Johnny Miller, and it spun to Nick Faldo, who begat Trevor Immelman, but whenever Keith is ready, the networks will be lining up to pay him well to be Keith Mitchell and chat golf.

From Joshua

What a terrible take. You would be a clown if you take LeBron. Jordan finished every finals in 6 games. LeBron other than the first finals, has scraped by not counting the bubble ring. He needed his teammates to bail him out. Not even close.


So, background, this was in response to my Twitter post that said, "The classic debate about the definition of GOAT (and resumé, like Brady over Manning) and the best player. Because if you had first pick at the Y and both MJ and LBJ are standing there, you'd be making a mistake not taking LeBron. Period."

Heck, if all the players in NBA history are standing there in their prime, who goes No. 1 overall. Young Shaq? Milwaukee Kareem? LBJ or MJ? A healthy Bird even?

And let's be really clear about the teammate conversation. MJ got as much if not more help from teammates and coaches than LeBron did. And LeBron did way more with way less than MJ before Jordan got to his first Finals in the early 1990s.

And I never understood the "yeah, but MJ was 6-0 in NBA Finals series" argument. Are you saying in all those years that MJ and the Bulls failed to get to the Finals, that was a better season than when LeBron and his team got to the Finals and lost?

I understand the nostalgia and the love for MJ. And the mystique.

But comparing the resumés does not add up to the overwhelming "MJ is/was way better than LeBron."

From John

Good stuff today...

Kershaw is a slam-dunk, first-ballot HOF'er. No question.

Verlander is the only guy who gets to 275, IMO. He's a beast and has a new elbow at 40 yrs. old. Closest thing we have to Ryan in this age.

300 wins is dead due to the way teams use starters now.

Grienke is also a HOF'er, although it may take him a couple tries.


I tend to agree on Grienke, especially with the lowered bar. I mean Jim Kaat is in the Hall, never mind Simmons and Baines and the dudes the modern version of the Veterans Committee are rubber stamping.

The starting pitcher philosophies — both in terms of using an opener (a bullpen guy in a game with a plan to use a half dozen pitchers) and the arm rest (in innings and six-man) rotations — make the 300-game winner for a career and a 30-game winner for a season seem almost like unicorns.

Maybe Verlander gets there eventually, but after him, close the book.

From Mike

Why have you not talked about the transgender argument in sports? I know you used to right about politics. Did your boses make you stop or are you just gutless and won't take a stand?

I bet I can guess.


Happy Friday. Not sure what else I can write about the transgender athlete conversation to be honest.

I have written about it in this space. I have written multiple columns in the paper on it, too. Including this one.

As for the no-politics decision last month, that was completely mine.

As for the transgender athlete talk, I am all for everyone's right to be whomever they choose to be. If you want to be red-shirt guy or blue-shirt gal or whatever. God bless and best of luck.

But Lia Thomas having a physical advantage over female athletes because Thomas was born a dude is not OK. That's Thomas' rights taking precedence over the rights of other competitors.

Never mind the Title IX implications of a transgender woman taking the scholarship spot of a female athlete.

But I'm not sure I need to be banging that drum everyday. Whether you think that's gutless, well, point me in the direction of your public stances on issues and topics.

I think the entire thing — the right pandering about drag shows and the left's mistaken efforts about transgender athletics — is a jazz-hands way for our elected officials to energize their supporters.

And while all of this is happening, more and more kids are getting shot. But no one wants to tackle that one, you know.

Best make sure no one is going to cross-dress at Scottie's or that Lia Thomas can have the chance to go from second-team all-conference as a male swimmer as a sophomore to first-team All-American and Olympic hopeful as a female two years later.

Thanks for the letter.

From Patrick

Jay, what kind of car do you drive? Did I see you downtown Wednesday?


Maybe. I drive a black Tahoe. It's old enough to buy beer and has close to 300,000 miles. I love that truck. But she's about to die.

Anyone else name their car? Mine's Black Beauty.

And maybe, Patrick. If you ever do see me, feel free to speak. Unless you're Mike.

(Kidding, Mike. You're welcome to speak, too.)

On the young wrestler we got interesting suggestions:

From Tom in the comments

As parent, pull from wrestling team, ground for at least two weeks, require an apology letter (yes, letter) written to opponent.

As principal, remove kid from wrestling team, suspend from school for one week.

As state athletic chair, permanent ban from wrestling in state federation.

From Spy

As for the wrestling brat. I don't know what punishment you can dole to the parents. His parents might dole out punishment to him, if they're even decent parents.

As for the kid's punishment, as much as I'd like to say a lifetime ban, that doesn't give him a chance for repentance. So a two-year ban. But if he does anything like that again, he's done.

From Bill

They should let make that punk take a sucker punch from the wrestler that beat his (black)!

That's what they should do but they likely won't do anything. I know my father would have whipped my backside when we got home!


We got more, but those three ran a nice gambit. Plus, we're running a smidgen late.

To the question Thursday about it being assault, according to this story, the kid was charged by police for assault after the punch.

Have a great weekend, friends.