The Braves. Wow. Smoking right out of the break, the Braves swept San Diego and got a bona fide ace performance from Dallas Kuechel (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 K) on Friday and Mike Soroka (7 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, on 83 pitches with 63 strikes) on Sunday. They increased their lead in the East to seven games and how about this stat: The Braves won three straight games with Freddie Freeman going 1-for-11 (yes, that one was a three-run jack in Sunday's 4-1 win) and Austin Riley going 2-for-11.
Simona Halep. Wow, again. That young lady played nearly perfect tennis in a straight-set, 6-2, 6-2 win over Serena Williams to win the women's Wimbledon title. How perfect? She made three unforced errors total. Heck, I make three unforced errors before breakfast.
College football elite. We know Nick Saban drafts rather than recruits. Well, Clemson, Georgia, LSU and THE Ohio State have made it a five-team arms race for the elite players in the 2020 recruiting cycle. According to this story, the numbers of the recruit hoarding for this five powers is staggering: 13 of the 247sports.com composite five stars have committed, and it's to those five schools; 21 of the 34 commits of the top-50 are headed to those schools; and 35 of the top 70 committed prospects are pledged to those five schools. (Side note: Hey Gus Malzahn, want to guess the only program who has to play three of those teams every year?)
Everyone involved in the Angels' amazingly emotional Saturday night tribute to Tyler Skaggs. A combined no-hitter — on the night that Skaggs' momma threw out the first pitch mind you — was punctuated with the game ball being played in the locker of Skaggs, who died earlier this month.
Tony Romo. Hey, there were a lot of dudes you've never heard of making hay at golf tournaments around the globe. Well, you've heard of Romo and he ran away and hid from the celebrity field in Lake Tahoe, which is the Augusta National of celebrity golf. Man, Tony Romo is living a good life these days friends.
Roger Federer. Harsh? Maybe a little, because Federer was part of one of the iconic Wimbledon finals of all time and someone had to win and someone had to lose. But dude will be 38 next month and he had several chances to win Sunday. Plus, Federer is the GOAT — right now. But Novak Djokovic is now only four behind and is going to be the favorite in every major championship outside of Paris for the foreseeable future. I guess I could have put Djoker on the winner's list — it was an amazing match for sure — but truth be told, he's not that likable. And my bigger takeaway was did Federer — and Serena — too just miss the last best chance at a one more major title?
Scarlett Johansson, even though she did nothing wrong whatsoever. Johansson, who is exceedingly easy on the eyes, has been cast in an upcoming film called "Rub & Tug" (and no it is not the Robert Kraft story). Johnson is cast to play a transgender gangster in the role, and since Ms. Johansson is exceedingly not transgender, there are folks outraged that the part did not go to a transgender actor. (Forget the part that Ms. Johansson also is almost assuredly not a gangster, so we bet Capone's great-great granddaughter or Gotti's great niece also are bent out of shape.) It's called 'acting' right? And do you have to be gay to play a gay person. Can gay actors then not play straight roles? My head hurts. Here's more on the controversy.
My email box after writing in Saturday's TFP that I am done with Starbucks. Wow. We all around these parts have abnormal attachments to our sports teams and favorites. (Shut up Stewwie, LeBron going to be MVP next year and you know this. Man.) But buckets, the occult that the Starbucks folks have crafted is legit. And they can go Latte themselves.
The Donald's Twitter. Seriously is there not someone who can take away Smart Phone 1 at this point. Forget which side your on, but telling Americans you disagree with to go back to the country they come from is nonsensical at its core. Uh, Don, they are in the country from where they came. Plus, Trump waded into the weekend discord right as AOC and her merry band of socialist headline hunters were starting to throw stones inside the glass house of the Democrats. (Hey, the Republicans live in a glass house constructed with the same cellophane, so there's that.) Then The Donald's tweets reminded all the Ds that, "Hey, why fight among ourselves when we can throw barbs toward Trump's Twitter?" (That said, Kamala Harris suggesting that no one in America would have cared about Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem unless the Russian bots had not been involved is a remark so stupid it actually could be certifiable.)
The Chattanooga crime scene. I'm a 100-percent backer of the guys and gals in blue who go to work to protect us. And 99-plus percent of them are worthy of that respect and admiration. But the stories from last week's stop and cavity search has made national news. Then another shooting death this weekend — this one at the downtown apartments mainly used by UTC students — only adds fuel to the PR nightmare. Hmmmmm, maybe this has a big role in why Chattanooga was listed as the fourth-worst-run city in the country earlier this summer.
On the road
OK, by the time you read this, there is a real chance I will already be in Hoover, Ala., for SEC media days.
It's not as fun as it sounds. Seriously.
Yes, it does give us football to discuss. And that's a bonus. But man, the quotes. In fact, we are going to post a daily list of the top 5 cliches from coaches each day this week. (We're not going to do players because, truth be told, there's no telling how I would have answered as a 21-year-old college dude. Heck, there's no telling what I may say on the radio — good, bad, appropriate or not — and I'm 48 with a couple of tots. So there's that.)
To be fair, we will also list the worst questions we hear, because man, oh man, there are a whole bunch of those too. (Since we will be doing the radio show down there too, and there are several sessions that overlap from the 3-6 p.m. Press Row slot, we will not be at every open media session. But, if we set the over/under on the "Coach, can you talk about" lazy intro that so many folks in my profession open with, it would be north of 30.)
There were a couple of excellent stories advancing the event in Sunday's TFP. This one from TFP SEC guru David Paschall previewing some of the storylines of the week. This one from TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer about the coaches with the warmest seat cushions heading to Hoover. (And, yes, as Weeds notes, Malzahn's job is not only the toughest in the league, it also is the most in jeopardy.)
The rest, well, here's hoping that we can entertain and enlighten. Maybe we can share a quip or three, like the time we were right there when former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema absolutely destroyed the men's room on Radio Row a few years ago.
War Hoover. (Side question: Rushmore of Hoover? Vacuum. The dam and the man its named for. President of the Delta House in Animal House. J. Edgar.)
This and that
— Speaking of Trump's Twitter, did you see the court ruling that Trump can't block anyone on Twitter? It happened last week, and I wonder how wide that net of "non-blocking" will be casted on public figures, elected leaders, you name it?
— Giannis celebrated his MVP with Bucks fans over the weekend. It was cool. He will be the single biggest individual case study about the future NBA CBA harmony between owners when his rookie deal expires.
— The NFL did not opt out of its DirectTV deal. Smart move for a multitude of reasons. One, the package is not as valuable right now with labor uncertain around the corner. Plus, right now, taking the guaranteed $1.5 billion (yes, billion with a 'B') makes a ton of sense. One, this late in the budgeting process for the next fiscal year, who has 10 figures to unroll from the checkbook. Plus, as more and more platforms become available, I believe the value will double for the complete Sunday ticket when ESPN+, HBO-plus, Amazon and other streaming services are operational.
— Speaking of the NFL, I thought this was very interesting. The top sports events TV-wise in the first half of 2019 was dominated by the NFL, which had the top-10 most-watched sports broadcasts of the first six months. There were 11 NFL playoffs games, the other — Colts-Texans — was 12th. The next five were the college football title game (11th overall at 25.28 million viewers), the NCAA hoops title game (13th at 19.63 million viewers), NBA Finals Game 6 (14th at 18.76 million viewers) and Game 5 (15th at 18.6 million viewers) and the Women's World Cup Final (16th at 16.87 million viewers). How strong is the NFL. Well the first round of the draft drew 11.1 million viewers, which is more than the final round of the Masters and the Daytona 500.
— The first professional baseball player to 'steal first' is Tony Thomas of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Here's more.
— The comeback story of Ryan Leaf continues to be one for a Hollywood script no? Leaf has been hired by ESPN as a college analyst.
— OK, I've forever maintained that "Remember the Titans" is the most overrated sports movie of all time, largely because of the 'historical freedoms' the production team took. Well, now comes the story that Sunshine from the movie is a perv and is part of the #MeToo jackwagonry. (Side note: Jackwagon is a regular term around these parts, but expect to see more of the adjective form jackwagonry in the future. That is all.)
Weekend winners and losers. Please share.
Interesting storylines or big-picture college football issues you are curious about heading into SEC media days?
As for today, well, it's July 15 and the British Open is right around the corner. Giddy-up. Nothing better than a.m. major sporting events.
Well, on this day in 1988, the all-timer "Die Hard" was released. Moment of respect friends.
OK, Forest Whitaker is 58 today. Dude is a very accomplish thespian by any measure.
I first remember him as Jefferson in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which makes him a no-brainer on the Rushmore of movie athletes from a non-sports movie.
Who else joins Whitaker's Jefferson there? (First he's gonna bleep. Then he's gonna kill us.)