First, let's handle our BID-ness. But before that, in this time of stress, I feel the need to tell some funny stories. Well, at least they are funny to me.

We'll start here. My mullet is no more. It had a great run and even left on a high-water highlight. Gather round. Story time.

We got back into town last Saturday around 7 and there was next to nothing in the house to eat. I went to the local Mexican food joint for take-out.

Waiting at the counter with my mask on and my mullet flowing, a 6-year-old boy wandered over. He looked over both shoulders before signaling me to come closer.

As I did, he again sheepishly looked around as if he was either going to share the launch codes or ask me to the senior prom.

After some delay that likely felt like an eternity to that little guy, he asks —

"Are you Blake Shelton?"

I pause, grinning ear-to-ear behind my mask and say, "Yeah, Gwen loves to try new Mexican places — but don't tell anyone."

I eventually relayed the story to the little guy's parents, and we all laughed. But hey, if my mullet was Blake Shelton-like, well, that's truly a follicle feat.

This week's Rushmores:  

Rushmore of college football traditions: Boomer Schooner is > Ralph Run, I like the dotting of the 'I' and Howard's Rock too. From there — man too many to list — and falling just short are the Kinnick Wave (four years is a trend, not a tradition; heck there are players in the program who have been around longer than the wave, which is the coolest gesture in college sports, just not a tradition yet), Jump Around at Wisconsin, the Rambling Wreck at Tech, Night games at Red Stick, the Vol Navy and the Eagle circling at Jordan-Hare. And even touching the "Play Like a Champion Today" sign at South Bend. But college football tradition, for me, starts with Army-Navy and the marching of the cadets.

Rushmore of best upsets from individual sports: Buster Douglas beating Tyson, John Daly going from 9th alternate to PGA Champion winner, Andre Phillips ending Edwin Moses' 107-race winning streak to win gold in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1988 Olympics, Rulon Gardner's win in the 2000 Olympics over a Russian dude had not lost a single point in a decade.

Rushmore of current Hispanic movie stars: Benicio Del Toro, Javier Bardem (who gets on this list if his only acting credit was No Country for Old Men), J-Lo (not saying she is the best actress out there but she is a bona fide A-list star), Salma Hayek.

Rushmore of Sam Elliott movies: Road House, Tombstone, Rush, The Big Lebowski.

Here's today's A2 offering on the failures of the opt-out option in the mask requirements for Hamilton County schools.

And you know the rules. Paschall had a slew of items of interest in today's fish wrapper, including details from UT's first scrimmage and an area WR committing to Georgia.

From Andrew

Yo, I know it's late but if it's not too late for mailbag tomorrow. How great was the field of dreams game tonight? Yes, the entrance was kinda corny ( no pun intended) and Costner looked a million years old, but dang it if that movie doesn't make a grown (bleep) man cry, then they don't have a soul. Even for us with great fathers ( cause yours and mine almost set an unbreakable record, like DiMaggio's hitting streak), that last scene makes the room dusty. The entrance, the walkoff. Just entertaining all the way around. Might be the first game I watched start to finish since Acuna got hurt.  

Andrew —

So right. It was more than that. It was perfect. It was not heaven; it was Iowa, but it was pretty close.

I too watched almost all of it — man, the Yankees bullpen makes the Braves' look rock solid — and it was everything anyone could have hoped for.

It weaved the sappy with the scene. Yes, Costner was a bit melodramatic, but what can you expect, we're talking about the movie that I think can fairly be called the "It's a Wonderful Life" of my generation, and cemented Costner as bona fide Hollywood A-lister. (Yes, Bull Durham is a better baseball movie — right there with Bad News Bears as the best baseball movie ever — but Field of Dreams lifted Costner to leading man status.)

And man, was anyone better suited for sappy than Joe Buck? Side note: Hey Smoltzie, nice hat.

It was joyous and reminded us of the very basic principle that we so often forget when it comes to big-time sports:

This is a game we all played as a kid, and despite the money and the stakes, the excellence and the excess, it's supposed to be joy-filled. And fun. And filled with magic, like last night.

(Side note: I watch the White Sox more than most — hey, gambling anyone? — and they are legit. Also, they should have interviewed LaRussa about what it was like coaching against Shoeless Joe back in the day.)

In fact, that game and the way it turned out — who knew Rob Manfred and MLB actually could pull off something with class and caring? — made me join the social media wonderings of what venue is next and in which sport.

Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler — the site of the state title game in Hoosiers — for an NBA game would be cool if it was done properly. (That said, Spike Lee would have kittens and lead a charge that Hoosiers was racist in nature because the Huskers did not have any Black players and the Black coach of the mighty Bears of South Bend Central did not manage the game properly at the end.)

Not sure if there's a football venue that generates the same connection, especially since arguably the most beloved football move is "The Longest Yard," and yeah, the yard at Sing-Sing is not going to elicit the emotion of an Iowa cornfield.

Side story: One year our fraternity volunteered as a community service project to spend a Saturday playing softball at an Alabama state penitentiary. Seriously.

We played four games against teams of varying degrees of skill. The first one was filled with guys who were drawn from a hat, and we smoked them. Then there was a 'rookie team' of guys who had been in there less than a year. Then the B-league champs, who we barely beat 15-14, and then their stars, who beat the dog-stuffing out of us.

The field was all dirt and it was brutally hot. But the thing I remember most was that the left-field wall was about 250 feet from home plate and 40-feet high. It was the prison wall, and there were two things about that wall I will never forget.

Their A-level team peppered that wall like Jim Rice off the monster in '77, and hit a few so hard off the wall that our shortstop fielded them.

Second, in my first at-bat, I hit one over the wall, and every inmate that was playing or even around the field — in unison — shouted, "I'll get that ball, Boss!" and we cracked up.

And, all things considered, thank goodness there wasn't a riot. Good times.  

From Bob

In today's 5-at-10, you asked: Which Braves addition will turn out to be the most important? How about A.J. Minter? Yes, A.J. Minter. As the little boy asked of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, 'Say it ain't so, Joe'. But it is so: Minter is back with the Braves. And I predict he will be the most important addition to the team, because he will be instrumental in costing the Braves several games, thus torpedoing the promise of winning the division title. Jay, I also have a question today: Is Minter married to Anthopoulos' sister or something?

Bob —

I think Minter has the skinny on Snitker to be honest, because if it was just AA, being on the roster does not get you on the field.

Minter needs to eat innings in games like last night. And I would have allowed him to pitch at least one more than the two scoreless innings he hurled. Sorry. Hurled is a verb for what happens when you eat bad seafood. It's a weak reference among the pitching verbs, and belongs on the trash pile of sports terms with 'gridiron' and 'grapplers,' 'cagers' and 'arm talent.' My apologies.

Which brings us to the Will Smith question, because in truth, I think Richard Rodriguez is going to be the difference between this team winning the East and/or hoping for the final wildcard.

From Scott

Much talk has been made about declining TV (and media) numbers, generally.
I wonder, however, if we're just tired of hearing the same story over and over and over again.  People want to hear good news or, alternatively, just news, on occasion.  We tire of turning on the TV (or, even, reading the TFP) and seeing slanted coverage of one topic – the coronavirus – each and every day.  We tire of hearing health officials yell at us on TV and tell us how things are falling apart.  Consider even the following headline in last week's TFP – "Hamilton County Schools not requiring masks as COVID-19 data all going in the wrong direction."  Clearly, there's a bias.
All that to say ... it appears every news source – far left, far right, or somewhere on the prism – writes stories designed primarily to energize its subscriber base.  I'm saddened by the decline of the media.  Sure, there's always been an agenda, but at least it was hidden for many years, and at least I could believe what Dan Rather told me on the evening news.
So, is there really any such thing as "news" anymore?  More importantly, can we attribute declining readership, etc. to the distrust in the source from which it arrives?

Scott —

Your big-picture analysis is interesting. Not saying I agree with all of it, but it does make me think.

As for your questions, let's try to answer them as simply as possible: Of course there is news. In fact, news consumption is at an all-time high across all mediums.

As for declining readership, my answer is no, because readership started to take a dive long before the Fox-CNN shout-fest changed the news landscape.

As for your assertions, I understand your points — and man, I'm as tired of reading about and writing about COVID-19 as anyone — and I think there is a wide-open market for a straight-down-the-middle cable news channel, to be honest. I wish I had the funding to survive the first year of such an undertaking, but sadly the above-ground pool is eating up our savings. Hi, J-Mac.  
One thing that we as an industry have done that has been terribly damaging is not being clear enough between opinion and reporting. I am a columnist. I am offering opinions. Do I try to base them in fact and use quotes and truths to make them as strong and as convincing as possible? Sure I do, but in the end, it is my opinion.

The paper does a pretty good job of it, but at what point is it Tucker Carlson's or Don Lemon's opinion and not a report? That line is no longer blurry, it's invisible.

The perception of bias, sadly, is as bad as bias in most cases and now, the 'Fake News' or bias laments are used as stones against stories that folks do not like or do not want to believe. That's a two-way street, and a fast street at that because Trump used that autobahn in a lot of ways to get to the White House.

And like most really good deceptions, it was based on outlying examples of journalistic malfeasance that gave kindling to the bonfires of his vanity.

But this started long before Trump, he just maximized its power and galvanized his backers, not caring about the damage done or the destruction in its wake.

In truth, I think there are two seminal moments that forever changed our news format, and made Dan Rather look like Walter Cronkite.

First was the explosive popularity of Jon Stewart's Daily Show, which an entire generation treated as its news source.

It came on at 11. It covered real-life topics. It had the feel and the look of your traditional 11 o'clock news broadcast. Never mind that it was on Comedy Central for Pete's sake or that it was a daily, 30-minute spoof that was more SNL than NBC.

It was treated by far too many as news, and when CNN and Fox saw these ratings spikes, it made the bean counters search for entertainment. Be it in content or in commentators. It was no longer about the news, but about the presentation and the presenters, the mode and medium rather than the message.

The other one was the realization that there are stories and people that can simply not be over-covered.

This became fact in 1994 when OJ and AC took a ride in a Ford with a few hundred L.A. cops on their tail and a few hundred million people watching it unfold.

Great question, Scott. Thanks, because it really made me think.

From Peter

Jay, what do you mean "Field of Dreams" is not a sports movie? Did you even see it?

It's baseball through and through.

I love your writing, but you are dead wrong here buddy.

Peter —

Sorry, not a baseball movie. A movie that has a lot of baseball in it.

Want to know another one? "Caddyshack" is not a sports movie. It's a movie that pivots around a sport.

Are there any others, movies that prominently feature a sport but aren't really sports movies?

Hmmmmmmm. Let me think about that and get back to you.

From Mark

Does anyone like you?

Mark —

Not sure.

From A Reader (and there are more than one like this one friends)

Mask mandates!?!?!?!? Of course you want masks because you (bleeping) SUCK!

If you scared Signal Mt snobs are afraid then STAY home, (bleep)hole!

A Reader —

Good talk.

Enjoy the weekend, friends.

some text
Jay Greeson