Sergio Garcia. Dude showed up with a super model on his arm with primo seats for Centre Court action at Wimbledon. Yes, there are lots of rich Euros pulling that off during the last fortnight, but how many of them showed up in their recently acquired Masters green jacket? Yep, enjoy the summer of Sergio.
James Harden. The Beard got the biggest extension in the history of the NBA, which is a monster league that has become quite comfortable giving big extensions. That said, and we're all for a franchise trying to push its chips into the middle and win the whole thing, but this seems like a monster waste, no? Harden gets the biggest contract extension ever. Chris Paul gets a max deal. They are adding pieces and even exploring the possibility of adding the two-year $55-or-so million albatross contract that belongs to Carmelo Anthony. So they will have hundreds of millions in cap money and hundreds of millions more in luxury tax, and they are blowing through that bankroll so they can lose to the Warriors in five games.
Justin Fields. The praise continues to swirl for the rising senior quarterback at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Ga. Yes, that Kennesaw, which made headlines as the town that requires its citizens to own a gun. (We know a lot of folks in Kennesaw, and we feel comfortable that those folks meet that town ordinance.) Well, Fields' gun hangs from his right shoulder. The praise continue to come in for the strong-arm quarterback who may pass Trevor Lawrence as the top-ranked high school player in this recruiting cycle.
TFP readers and Press Row listeners. Friends, those of you who like college football in general and the SEC in particular, are in for a real treat. TFP SEC ace David Paschall — here's his preview of this week's festivities in Hoover — will have the best coverage you can find on the craze that is the Media Daze. And he'll be on live from 3-to-6 Eastern on ESPN 105.1 the Zone locally and timesfreepress.com across the inter web from radio row with yours truly each afternoon. We have a plethora of guests — from SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to coaches and players from across the league —lined up and we have Paschall, who has forgotten more SEC football than most anyone you know will ever know.
Dodgers and Astros. These teams — L.A. is 61-29; Houston is 60-29 — appear to be on an October collision course. (Remember, friends, Houston is in the AL now, which ranks right there with Pittsburgh being in the ACC and Maryland and Nebraska being in the Big Ten as the most confusing realignment outliers.) And they rolled into the All-Star break with most Sunday wins using their strengths. The Astros scored 19 runs with an offense that is downright scary. The Dodgers rocked the Royals because they handed the ball to Clayton Kershaw, who needed 99 pitches for a complete game 5-2 win that included 13 Ks. Kershaw is a total dude. he's 14-2 and earned a W in each of his last seven starts. More over, the Dodgers have won the game in Kershaw's last 13 starts and are 17-2 in games he's started this year. Again, Kershaw has reached a place in which he a) is must-see TV, and b) is being paid roughly $1 million to pitch every time out, and we think he is underpaid.
Shia LaBeouf. Dude was arrested for berating and cursing at a woman who would not give him a cigarette while filming a movie in Savannah. In Smyrna, growing up, we had a phrase for folks like Mr. LaBeouf. They simply were, as the kids would text today, "INOABW" — as in "In Need of a Butt Whipping."
Merica. Count us firmly among the folks who want President Trump to succeed. In fact, if you want our president to fail, then, you have put politics about patriotism and you need some seriously alone time to ponder your place in this life. But when the president of the greatest nation around sends his daughter to sit in for something as important as the G20 summit, well, that's a bad look nationally and internationally. Hey, if the dude who owns your neighborhood Jiffy Lube wants to send his little princess to the Chamber of Commerce meeting, well, OK. But c'mon Trump. (In fact, despite all the jazz hands and over-the-top rhetoric from the far side of each party, Trump's first six months or so has been better than a lot of people will give him credit for, and would be beyond surprisingly good if he would a) put the dang Twitter down and b) keep his immediate family out of the West Wing.
The Cubs. The defending World Series champs hit the All-Star break struggling. Mightily. Sunday, the Cubs were crushed and Jon Lester was the one lighting the fuse. He allowed 10 first-inning runs (four earned) in Sunday's loss as the Cubs capped the first half with a 43-45 mark, which is 5.5 games behind the Brewers and only a half-game better than the Braves.
Le'Veon Bell. Yes, the NFL star running back was on the Celebrity Family Feud and the first question from host Steve Harvey was "We asked 100 married men, you are home alone, the doorbell rings and there is a naked woman standing there, what's the first thing you do?" Bell buzzed in and said, "Get her number," to which Harvey, who is the second-best Family Feud host ever, trailing only the incomparable Richard Dawson, had a field day with the response. "She's there! Ask her for her phone number? She already naked, she's at the door, and your a#& needs her number! Come on, Le'Veon!" Harvey then acted out the scene: "Ding-dong. Ah, lookie here," as he pretended to check out a naked woman, "Yeah, let me have your phone number." Good times.
SEC Media Day 1 primer
We will do this each day this week, but starting with tomorrow, we'll also have a little reaction as well. Today, the list of folks taking the podium is as follows:
Greg Sankey, SEC commissioner goes first, followed by the esteemed head coaches at Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee.
Here are some of the expected talking points of each fellow who will take the center stage (the players conduct interviews in smaller continents):
For Sankey, with the unbelievable financial health of the conference, what is he specifically and the league in general doing to a) protect competitive balance and b) getting prepared for the eventual closing of the financial spigot that has been ESPN. (Also, we're curious what new buzz slogan he's throw out there this year, since last year's "It just means more" was rather blah-tactic even with that lady trying to pitch it as sexily as possible on the SEC Network.) Side note: Here's the excellent, as always work of TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer, who details some of the financial reports in today's sports section.
For Arkansas Bret Bielema, there has to be some hot seat talk. We believe that his seat is the third warmest in the league, behind Kevin Sumlin (a 10 out of 10) and Gus Malzahn (an 8.5 out of 10). We also expect some sort of slip of the tongue that makes the entire room belly-laugh because, well, Bielema is Bielema and the league is in short supply of head coaches willing to show their charismatic side to the media.
For LSU coach Ed Oregon, we expect be hammered in the Ed Oregon drinking game by the end of his remarks. If you are curious about the rules, take a drink every time he refers to LSU, "greatest program in the nation/country" references to LSU. Take two drinks every time he refers to some sort of Cajun food dish (and specific 'crawfish' references means an extra drink). Finish your beer when he calls LSU his "dream job." And if he says he has an answer at quarterback, well, then you know both you and Ed are drunk.
For Tennessee coach Butch Jones, we actually expect him to be a little more relaxed this time around. Tennessee will not have the same lofty expectations it did this time last year, and coaches are OK with that. Sure, he'll talk about the talent — and Tennessee has a fair amount coming back, especially across each line of scrimmage. He'll also talk about the departed leadership and skill sets of Derek Barnett and Josh Dobbs. (Did you guys know he graduated in aerospace engineering? Man that had to be tough, and he was likely really smart.) And he'll talk in generalities about the quarterbacks looking to replace Dobbs. Oh, rest assured, we'll be less surprised if he does the first 10 minutes of Eddie Murphy's "Raw" from the podium than tell us who the starting QB is, but still, we have high hopes for a more laid-back Butch.
This and that
* Speaking of Weeds, for you Johnny Mocs Fans, here's Mark's great Sunday column on the reunion of the 1997 UTC Sweet 16 team this weekend.
* Todd Marinovich — yes, that dude who is like my age — is looking to make a football comeback. And yes, he's been sober for six months.
* Here's the list of the rankings of the Power Five schools in terms of athletic success in terms of on-the-field results. To the surprise of very few, Stanford is numero uno.
* Here's a primer to this week's MLB All-Star festivities. Enjoy. Or don't. Whatever floats your boat.
* Interesting look here at some anonymous answers to a survey ESPN had with LPGA players. Interesting, and in some ways laughable. Interesting, like in the idea of potentially having an overlap tournament with the men and the women with intertwined tee times or having the women's tour play on Monday-through-Wednesday so there's not a direct competition with the men's game viewers. Laughable in the cry for equal pay. C'mon, this is not a gender gap; this is an interest gap. Plain and simple.
* Speaking of that, the men's bracket at Wimbledon — the one tennis tournament each year we pay attention to — is shaping up to be special. The women's bracket looks like a bad New York Times crossword with only Venus Williams still of note to us very, Very, VERY casual fans.
Yes, we'll do some baseball mid-way point stuff later this week.
Yes, we saw the golf but the Greenbrier is not exactly The Players. (That said, if Tiger never returns to any measure of any merit, the fact that his last top-10 finish would be at the Greenbrier is akin to Johnny U in a Chargers jersey or Willie Mays wearing Mets gear.) But it's Monday. Who won the weekend? Who lost it?
As for July 10, well, happy birthdays to Andre Dawson (63), Urban Meyer (53), Sofia Vergara (45), Jessica Simpson (37) and Antonio Brown (29).
On this day in 1975, Cher filed for divorce from Greg Allman. It was 10 days after the were married, and her second divorce in roughly two weeks. (Her divorce from Sonny Bono was finalized on June 26, 1975.)
On this day in 1913, the temperature in Death Valley, Ca., hit 134 degrees F, the highest ever recorded in the U.S.
If we need a Rushmore — and there's a lot to digest today — let's go here, in honor of Andre Dawson, the man known as The Hawk: Who makes the Rushmore of MLB outfielders (hitting and fielding) of the last 40 years?
We think The Hawk has a strong case, for sure.
Go and check out SEC media day Twitter updates from Paschall (@DavidSPaschall), Wells Guthrie (@WellsESPN1051) and yours truly (@jgreesontfp) live from Hoover all week long.