OK, we are going to move quickly this week. Today, there's a lot to get to, but we are still going to try to move quickly.
The 5-at-10 is packing the 5-at-10 rollin' sideshow. We got a moment.
This weekend, as we head into the unknown waters of preseason football practice, an unknown theme feels appropriate. Today, we'll roll with winners or losers and winners AND losers because there is a fair amount of overlap. Deal? Deal.
From the satellite office of the shores of Lake Martin in beautiful Eclectic, Ala. (Seriously, Chas, the name of the town is Eclectic and the biggest BID-ness is the Dollar General, which makes you wonder how cool the folks at corporate must think the 'Eclectic Dollar General' is, when in truth, it's a pretty normal Dollar General), let's roll.
Weekend winners or losers
Winner: Boston Red Sox. Yes, Sunday's loss may have given you pause because Chris Sale continues to look like a 4 rather than a 1. Still, those powerful, luxurious and relentless bats. It's been since Valley Forge that the Yanks took that much battering.
Winner: High school football fans in Tennessee. If you did not get your fill this weekend from the TFP (here, here and here are great starting points of the look back at the TSSAA starting its 50th year of high school football playoffs), you can follow along here as TFP sports editor Stephen Hargis does his annual high school football tour.
Winner: Clippers fans. Wow, you get Kawhi and Paul George in the offseason and then comes news that the long-time laughing stock will be getting its own building after sharing the Staples Center with the Lakers. "My goal is simple. I want the Clippers to have the best home in all of sports," Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer told reporters. "What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood. Our goal is to build a facility that re-sets fans' expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home." Knowing that Ballmer has enough coin to buy the 15 most expensive NBA franchises tomorrow and still have $5 billion in the bank, it's hard to imagine all the bells and whistles that building will have. It's supposed to open by 2024.
Loser: The Bengals. Yes, the football version of NASCAR in that it could be listed almost every Monday as a loser just because, the Bengals are here today because A.J. Green messed up his ankle and will miss six weeks-to-two months. And for any wide receiver — even one as universally great as A.J. Green, who may be my favorite former UGA player since Herschel — an ankle injury that could nag all season long is an awful way to start August.
Loser: Tyreek Hill. Just because. He met with the media, and to be honest, there was very little he could say that would make me change my view of him as a scum bucket, but his clearly rehearsed (hey, the Chiefs had to make sure this did not add feel to the controversy) but still poorly expressed apology was awful. Here's the story. Yes, his excuse for "punching his son in the chest" which is the accusation from his wife on the police tapes that have been released, was Hill was reaching his son how to box. Hmmmmmmmm.
Winners AND Losers
The Braves. Yes, the A-T-L took home two of three in Philadelphia. That was the goal and with the Dodgers taking two of three in Washington, the Braves' lead in the NL East is now 5.5 games before playing three at the Nationals starting tonight. But, almost all hope that the Kevin Gausman of last week was going to be a new Kevin Gausman that could be a difference-maker in the final two months was undone when the Inconsistent pre-IL Kevin Gausman reminded us why he's 3-6 with a 5.97 ERA. Plus, one of the main names mentioned as a possible addition to the rotation — Marcus Stroman — has already been dealt. (Side note: Get you some, Adam Duvall. The Braves journeyman slugger — did you know he was 30? — was called up for the weekend and went 4-for-9 with a homer. A win-win for Braves as maybe someone fell in love and Duvall could be a moveable piece over the next three days. Side note on the side note: If we had to rank the Duvalls, we'd go Robert, David, Shelley and Duval Street in Key West, where the Pub Crawl was reportedly invented. Then Adam. But a few more 4-for-9s, and who knows.)
Zion's future. Wow, how's this for a back-handed compliment for the guy you are hoping has the ceiling of the next LeBron? New Orleans GM David Griffin to The Athletic: "If you look at him as an extremely athletic Draymond Green type who may be able to facilitate all things for others and get out in transition and make plays that's exciting." Exciting for whom? Not Nike, which gave him the biggest shoe deal ever for a rookie. Not Pelican fans, who are expecting a dude who can carry a franchise. Is it more realistic? Maybe. Does it help tamp down exceptions? Certainly. But wow, an extremely athletic Draymond Green is what, no better than a high 3 or a low 2 option on a championship contender, no?
Trevor Bauer. Dude melted down and acted like the worst 7-year-old in your kids' league. After a terrible outing, he threw the ball over the centerfield fence as his manager was walking to the mound to pull him. (Hey, we likely need nets over the outfield fence since, who knows when a player may throw a heater into the bleachers, right?) That's loss. The win: Bauer owned it like a man in the postgame news conference, heading off questions with a detailed apology that included words like unbecoming, childish and unprofessional. Still, somewhere, his name is on Brian McCann's list and if he digs in against the Braves, well, heater to the back. #UnwrittenRules.
More control for the controllers of the controllers
The video game world became a talking point this weekend.
The Fortnite World Cup tournament paid the top 30 teams a prize pool of $30 million, with the winner getting $3 million.
Now, he'll likely get endorsement deals. Heck, imagine what his Fortnite rookie card may be worth.
Quick caveat: I grew up loving video games. My first crush was Mike Tyson Punch-Out on the old, original Nintendo system. That led to a slew of other sports games through the years, including way too much time playing Madden and the beloved old-school classic that was EA Sports College Football.
That said, I do not recall watching others play video games. But then again, I watch old SEC football re-broadcasts — games I know the outcome to — so I get people watching what entertains you.
The $30 million prize pool is more than the world's best golfers split in the Masters and U.S. Open combined. It was 30 times the $1-million prize kitty that was awarded at the USA Track and Field championships this weekend in Iowa.
The $3 million first prize check awarded some 16-year-old kid with the screen name Bugha after his win at the Arthur Ashe tennis facility in NYC on Sunday is about $750,000 less than the winner's share of the U.S. Open tennis championship at the same facility in early September.
The conversation about eSports has been around for a while, but the volume and the platform will only continue to expand now that there is a $30 million championship event.
For perspective, Fortnite, which funded the event, made close to $3 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year. And that's not even counting the sold-out 20,000-seat venue for multiple days as well as the ever-growing streaming or TV rights. Yes, TV rights. One of the top-five finishers — some kid named ninja — has already been on the cover of ESPN the Magazine.
There are now dozens of colleges — including all of the schools in the Big Ten — that have eSports teams and are offering scholarships. (Can you imagine the level of head-scratching that is going on right now in the NCAA office on whether Bugha — aka Kyle Giersdorf, and the LeBron James of his field — is eligible? Ha, ha, ha, ha Eat it Mark Emmert.)
But before we all giggle at the idea of retiring the "Wasting your time playing those video games" laments, known this: There are 42 million young people in the U.S alone playing Fortnite (and billions — yes, with a B — worldwide) and you can make a hard mathematical argument you have a better chance making a million dollars as an 49er in the NFL than a Fortniter in the nebulous.
Sure, the growth potential should make all of us wonder about the future of sports gaming and viewing. Because at the core of fandom is the connection between the respect of the accomplishment and the attempts at reaching similar accomplishment, if that makes sense.
And what once was a pond of interest that was eSports is growing at flood-like levels, while the basin of the mainstream sports — baseball especially — is flat, if not receding. The Fortnite numbers of players confirms that. According to StatisticBrain.com, about 36 million U.S. kids played sports — any kid of youth sports mind you — in 2018.
So Fortnite has more than all of them
Debate the pros and cons of that all you want. Debate the social interaction and the undeniable physical benefits of playing rather than controlling. Debate the divide between worrying about concussions or carpal tunnel.
Those are worthy discussions, now more than ever.
But to pretend these conversations won't grow sooner rather than later — and be a bigger player on the sports spectrum — seems as dated as Tecmo Bowl.
This and that
— Hard not to be excited about Peyton Manning's "Peyton's Places" series celebrating the 100th season of the NFL. It's leading ESPN.com right now.
— Gang, we have been known to make the passing joke of the overly emotional tenor that Ol' Tommy Rinaldi can take on occasion. Well, friends, if you watch this story about Dave and Drago and the power of the human spirit and of great story-telling, and it doesn't get dusty where you are, then that's a you issue. I'm not crying; you're crying.
— The PGA Tour approved reducing the cutline from top 70 and ties to top 65 and ties. Look at it however you would like.
— Speaking of golf, which is the walkaway feeling from the St. Jude WGC event: Brooks Koepka showing up late and telling the organizers "I'm loose, I'm good" and dropping 65 on his way to another W, which all-but clinches his repeat as player of the year; Rory McIlroy's performance under pressure continues to be troublesome? As Brooks — the No. 1 player in the world — dropped that 65, Rory, the No. 3 player in the world, was the only player in the top 10 entering Sunday who did not break par. Rory shot 71.
— Longtime NBA vet Carmelo Anthony, the all-time U.S. international scoring leader, will reportedly not be invited to join on Team US. That team is a hodgepodge of change. One thing that seems to never change is how we continue to treat our veterans who served our country with not enough respect. (Admit it, Spy, you liked that one.)
— Is there anyone more tone deaf than Art Briles? Oh my. Here's his latest interview with the Houston Chronicle and his reasons why he should be exonerated.
— It's Shark Week. And we are going to the beach Film at 11.
Weekend winners and losers. Go.
If you had to enter one tournament and risk your own money on your entry fee, which video game would you have the best chance to compete? (Mine easily would be Madden back in the day. Although, I was pretty legit at RBI Baseball on the original Nintendo too.)
As for today, it's July 29, and there are some things that happened.
We'll kick off Shark Week with a Rushmore of Sharks, and be creative friends.
(So much for being brief, huh?)