5-at-10: Weekend winners and losers, golf’s divided dire straits, Rushmore of mister

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, hits a basket over Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

Weekend winners

Sam Elliott. OK, in terms of Hollywood, our guy Sam Elliott checks a lot of boxes. Best 'stache? Check. Rushmore of all-time great voices? Check. (Beef. It's what's for dinner.) All-around likability. Check-plus. Well, he finally got some hardware last night, taking home a well-deserved SAG award for his great turn as the guide in "1883." Man, who doesn't like Sam Elliott?

Dame Time. Damian Lillard is too good to be in the NBA wasteland that is Portland. Dame dropped 71 -- SEVENTY-bleepin-ONE -- on the Rockets over the weekend. And the numbers say it was the most efficient super-volume scoring effort in league history. Lillard was already the only player in NBA history to top 60 points in a game while making at least 10 3s, and now, after making 13 3s last night, is the only player to top 70 points while making double-digit 3s. Dame scored 71 in 39 minutes of playing time. Do that math.

The Lakers. Visor tip to LeBron and Co., who pulled off a monster comeback Sunday against Dallas. L.A. rebuilt the roster, and the addition-by-subtraction move of shipping Russell Westbrook off has helped the chemistry. Plus, LeBron has vowed to play hard -- insert regular-season NBA joke here -- down the stretch as the Lakers try to push into the Western Conference playoff picture. And ask yourself this: With the possible exception of Phoenix with Kevin Durant, who in the West has a better Big Three than LeBron, AD and D'Angelo Russell.

Folks who love the NFL draft. Hey, maybe only Coach Russ Huesman and I care -- we love the draft; you know this -- but the NFL combine starts this week. Yes, I enjoy the underwear Olympics, and there will be more on this in the coming days. Of that you can be sure.

Our college basketball picks. A 3-1 run over the weekend closed a white-hot 10-3 run from Tuesday-Friday. Giddy up.

Weekend losers

Baseball's new rules. We covered a lot of the new rules late last week in the mailbag, and for the most part, I'm OK with them. But for the nation's first real experience with the pitch clock to be a walk-off strike-out because of a batter violating the clock rules is a terrible look.

The NET. The main metric used by the folks who determine who is good and who is above average in college basketball -- and who gets a dance card -- is clearly flawed. Clemson beat NC State over the weekend, which caused Clemson to jump a whopping 26 spots in the NET. Unless you beat the Milwaukee Bucks, this late in the season one game should not improve -- or really even drop -- any team that many spots to begin with. But even with the move, Clemson is now only 16 spots behind those NC State Wolfpackers that the Tigers have pasted by 39 combined points in their two meetings.

Auburn basketball. I think we all knew the trip to Kentucky was going to be a tall order. But losing by 30-plus is a terrible look, and with Alabama and Tennessee this week to close the season, egad. Man, Bruce Pearl's posse is going to need an upset in one of those games or could very well be playing for its NCAA lives in the first couple of games of the SEC tournament.

Alabama basketball. Are there any adults there? Hey, I was fine with Brandon Miller playing last week at South Carolina and fine with him playing Saturday in the Tide's win over Arkansas. Alabama should have sat him and been forthright in the hours and days after he was at the scene of the Jan. 15 murder that was committed with a teammate's gun that Miller brought to the scene. Sitting him now -- provided Alabama knew of Miller's role in the events of last month -- is an attempt to placate the masses and kowtowing to public opinion. But come on folks, whether it was part of his pregame intro all year or not, the "patting" him down like he has a gun part of Miller's entrance during lineup announcements was a terrible look.

SNL. Yes, SNL can be an almost weekly place-holder here, but for all the Trump haters who want the GOP to move on from his ilk, it sure seems like Trump's biggest critics are doing everything in their power to keep him in the spotlight as long as possible, too. I'm more than ready for him to move along, but it sure seems the CNNs and SNLs and even the Clay Bennetts of the world are more than pleased to keep Trump in the headlines, you know?

XFL. We're two weeks in, and other than AJ McCarron, how many players can you name? Well, other than McCarron and his back-up, for Baylor School star Nick Tiano? How many team names can you name? Here's betting the TV numbers this weekend will not be good.


Speaking of less-than-good TV numbers, well, LIV's debut on the CW was dreadful.

Some reports had numbers at 0.2 rating. Man, "Saved by the Bell" does better than that. But then again, "Saved by the Bell" has Kelly Kapowski.

Before we go much deeper into a golf rant, I want to give a monster visor tip to Chris Kirk, who won the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour over the weekend.

I have known Kirk since he was in high school in Cherokee County. He has far exceeded almost every high-end expectation for his playing career that anyone could have expected.

He also has exceeded so many personal hurdles by overcoming his drinking problems that he's a real inspiration. Congrats, Chris. Well deserved.

But the conflicting events -- the PGA with a hollow field in Florida and the LIV in its season-opener in Mexico -- showed that there may be plenty of money to go around, but not enough star power or story lines in today's modern version of golf.

Yes, the majors and even the Ryder Cup have said they are open to LIV members in those events, and that's a good thing.

However, when the bigger names are battling each other on an unknown network at unknown times and some dude named Eric Cole is in a prime-time playoff on the Tour, golf needs to embrace the adage that divide, you will fall.

To that end, I am a golf fan who watches a lot of golf.

I watched next to none this weekend. Maybe they should find a way for Kelly Kapowski to be more involved, huh?

This and that

-- So Moon River Festival tickets are gone. Here's more from TFP entertainment ace Barry Courter.

-- Go big or go home, right? Forget a random carjacking, this dude carjacked a CARTA bus. Shouldn't that be busjacking? Are we being insensitive to busses here?

-- The Hawks hired Quin Snyder to replace Nate McMillian as the team's head coach. Quin, meet Trae Young. Make sure you keep him happy otherwise, hit the bricks.

-- You know the rules. We will give everyone a day grace period before discussing "1923." You have been advised.

Today's questions

You know the drill, weekend winners and losers. Go.

As for Multiple Choice Monday, what was you take away from the first exposure to the new MLB rules?

-- Dude, it's spring training no one watched.

-- Dude, we had a walk-off strike-out on a clock violation. What a clown show.

-- Dude, it took an average of almost 30 minutes off game time. Mission accomplished.

-- Dude (other).

As for today, Feb. 27, let's review.

Mr. Rogers died on this day 20 years ago.

Rushmore of mister/Mr. and be creative.