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Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) dives back to first base ahead of a throw to Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell (19) in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

We are having some computer issues at the 5-at-10 compound, so we're going to try to be brisk. Shut it Spy.

Before we get to the topics du jour — hmmmm, that sounds good, I think I'll have that — a monster tip of the visor to Dave Staley, local sports media personality who was hired on by Channel 12 here in ChattaVegas. Dave is a good dude and does good work. Glad he and the always fun 'Dave's Diamond Darlings' are back in the game.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day. As you would expect the Mrs. found her way downtown to make some magical photos.

 

Baseball's best and the best of baseball

We had a revelation this morning. We can add to the list.

No not, that list. Or that one. Or even that. My list of sports loves.

The draft is there. You know this. Augusta National is there. Friday nights under the lights has a spot. Tailgating too. Sports interacting with kids. The sounds of metal spikes clicking on concrete and the rip of a perfect swish. The smell of freshly cut spring baseball fields. 

The parts and pieces of sports are more enjoyable and consistent than the people. Scenes, sights and smells are romantic; people are flawed.

Yes, Tiger has a lifetime place on this list. So does Maddux. And Bo Jackson. And Cam, for bringing me something I never thought I'd see. (And, yes, $180K was a dirt cheap price for it, too.) 

Tiger, with all his faults and exaults. LeBron used to be; Luka soon could be. Mike Trout was close, and Shohei is closer. Kershaw has a lifetime achievement award there, as does Hakeem Olajuwon, who had the best footwork since before Bill Walton had problems with his feet.

But it's time. Add Ronald Acuna to this. It's love.

And what pushed me over the top was not his MLB-leading 16th homer last night, which was a wrist-flick at a pretty good pitch that travelled almost 400 feet to right-center.

It was not his grace in the outfield. (Side note: I was too young to watch Mays or Mantle, but I can remember Garry Maddux, who was the best center fielder in the game until Andruw and a healthy Junior roamed the outfield. But the ease with which those cats cruised to a fly ball, whether it was routine or a rocket shot, was mesmerizing. It's akin to watching Robbie Alomar take infield. It's more than fundamentals; it's God-given. Side note on the side note: When I was a kid, the saying about Maddux, the Phillies center fielder, was "Two/thirds of the planet is covered by water; the other third is covered by Garry Maddux.")

It's not his RPG hanging from his right shoulder or even his great speed and better base-running instincts.

My love started with the joy with which he plays, something that baseball sorely needs now more than ever. 

But that love was punctuated with the picture on the front of the TFP sports section today. It's subtle and most may not notice it, but I did. And I loved it.

Because for the line items of greatness I listed above — both on the field and in the clubhouse — the main photo is of Acuna legging out an infield hit AND showing the great fundamentals of a kid playing the game the proper way.

As Acuna is passing first, his head and eyes are looking to the right to see if the ball got by the Nationals first baseman. Sure, it's a little thing, but the little things matter. In baseball more than most. 

Forget the unwritten rules, baseball is played the right way by players doing those inherent little things.

And when your best player — heck, the game's best player — sweats the little things, it's magic.

 

Year of the old guy

Sorry, Spy, not you. (And hey, how about being brisk, huh? Yeah, whatever.)

That said, Spy is among the regulars in my email. He and Intern Scott and Big Ern and John M and several others who offer regular views on our discussions here rather than in the comments.

That's fine, I understand the desire to keep thoughts and views in a two-way street rather than the public thoroughfare. 

Another of those is Bicycle Bob, who offers some wisdom from time to time in the electronic mailbox.

His Monday after a glaring omission in the weekend winners and losers deserves to be shared, however.

"Jay,

I have another name for this past weekend's winners: Helio Castroneves. After being let go from his long-time ride with Penske in favor of a younger driver, Castroneves won the Indy 500. And in the process, he joined one of the most elite groups in sports: four-time winners of the race (only three others have accomplished this). And since Roger Penske now owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Castroneves had the pleasure of accepting the trophy from his old boss. I call that winning the weekend in a very big way. And as he said, with Brady and Mickelson, the old guys are having a pretty good year.

Kind regards and happy Memorial Day"

So, so true.

And add in LeBron, who is great at an age in basketball that few have ever seen.

In this old athlete renaissance, tennis has to be the next frontier right? A 39-year-old Federer winning another Slam event or Serena trying to push the sun back into the sky for one more magical summer day in London.

Maybe Albert Pujols catching fire and leading the Dodgers on a memorable march through the 'er' months.

But, as always, thanks for offering the safety net friends. Because Helio certainly was a weekend winner.

 

Right side of thinking

I have a hard time finding anything to disagree with the complaints of Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen, who said allowing transgender New Zealand athlete Laurel Hubbard to compete in the upcoming Olympics a "bad joke."

 "Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes," she told Olympics news website insidethegames.

Amen.

Hey, the decisions and the conversations for those unsure about who they are on the inside are difficult and trying and deserving of our patience and support.

But those decisions should not be at the expense of the opportunities of others, because simply put, biological men competing against biological women in almost every sport out there, puts the female athletes at a disadvantage.

And with the possible exception of boxing, is there an individual Olympic sport with more of a gap than weightlifting? 

Vanbellinghen's logical worries and concerns continued in the interview:

"I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes, the whole thing feels like a bad joke. Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes — medals and Olympic qualifications — and we are powerless."

Not sure how she is as a weightlifter, but in terms of making her point on this issue, Vanbellinghen is gold-medal right on.

 

This and that

— Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open. This whole thing is really strange. What started out as an attempt to control the narrative has now spun in a slew of directions. (Side note: Here is YahooSports columnist Dan Wetzel on the subject, and as always he does a good job.) We have discussed the story since late last week, and the sequence is curious. At best.    

— The recent spate of bad fans' antics in NBA games is bad, mmm-K. Bad I say. But Kyrie Irving playing up the animosity in Boston must be mentioned too. Of course it's never OK to throw stuff from the stands, and that Boston fan is not only getting the lip-service "banned from the arena" he's also getting charged criminally. But Irving, before the game called Boston racist and talked a load of smack, and after the Nets' win jumped on the Celtics logo, which drew ire and criticism from former Boston players. Again, it's never OK for fans to throw things, but hey, Kyrie, if you don't start none, there's a much better chance there won't be none, too.  

— Wow, when Lincoln — yes that Lincoln, the freer of slaves guy — is not inclusive, well, so it goes. The Veterans Administration has forever used a line from Lincoln's second inauguration speech as its motto. ""To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan," is the VA slogan. Washington politicians want to change that because the Him/His is not acceptable for Democrat Kathleen Rice, who is looking to rewrite a more-inclusive slogan in the Honoring All Veterans Act of 2021. Whatever. But the rest of that bill better be dang impressive and cover all the bases if we're getting bent out of shape about pronouns rather than, you know, doing the governmental things our Veterans truly need and deserve. 

— UT baseball got the No. 3 overall seed as the SEC filled a lot of the NCAA baseball field of 64. Here's more from TFP college sports ace David Paschall. 

— As if we needed another line item this morning — brisk, right Spy? — it being June 1 means the Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers and DeShaun Watson talks actually mean something now. 

— The NFT craze is, well, crazy. Here's a story about a music studio in Dubai paying three-quarters of a million bucks for the rights to the YouTube clip "Charlie bit me" and keeping it on the popular stream site. The same studio bought the meme of 'Disaster Girl' earlier this year, among others. 

— Wow, good thing he's rich, and apparently the Honey Badger says what he wants. Tyrann Mathieu, the former LSU star and current Kansas City Pro Bowl said he will give LSU $1 million if Derek Stingley Jr. wins the Thorpe Award given to the nation's best DB. I would be shocked — and will give me kids $1 (EACH) — if Stingley doesn't. 

— Someone get Harry Stamper on the blower. There's a dangerous asteroid passing the planet sometime to today, and NASA is paying close attention. Side question: Am I the only one that thinks Armageddon falls into the Road House, so bad it's stunningly rewatchable, category? Discuss. 

 

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday.

True or false, you've seen Armageddon more than once.

True or false, transgender athletes should be able to compete in the Olympics.

True or false, Ronald Acuna is the funnest person in sports right now.

True or false, 40 is the new 30 in sports.

True or false, the first thing you think of when I say June is Beaver Cleaver's momma. 

As for today, June 1, another good run of birthdays. 

Marilyn Monroe would have been 95 today. As would Andy Griffith.  Morgan Freeman is 84. Tom Holland, who is aces as the current Spiderman, is 25.

It's also National Say Something Nice Day. 

On this day in 1968, "Mrs. Robinson" hit No. 1. It went on to be the first rock song to win the Grammy for record of the year.

Rushmore of Robinsons. Go.      

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