Let's handle our BID-ness first.
Rushmore of Barry Manilow: "Mandy," "Looks Like We Made It," "I Write the Songs," "Can't Smile Without You" (but my opinions on Barry are not strong and could even be ill-informed.)
Rushmore of Phil: Sports: Mickelson, Esposito, Simms and Rizzuto; non-sports: Hartman, Donahue, McCracken, Dr. Phil. (Side note: Did you know I do a pretty decent Dr. Phil? Who knew, right?)
Rushmore of ice: Ice, Ice Baby (don, don, don, da-da-don-don), Ice Cube, Ice the kicker (great call), and Zaxby's pellet ice. (Admit, the pellet ice is boss.)
Rushmore of "That" guy actor: This one may be the toughest Rushmore I've done in quite a while. Will Patton is there. I stand by JT Walsh — RIP — and I loved the Harry Dean Stanton suggestion, but I think he's too big of a name to be in the "That" guy conversation. Same goes with Christopher McDonald, who moved out of the conversation as Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore. I will add Danny Trejo though. And Vader's William Fichtner.
Tip of the hat to local-enough-to-claim-him athlete, Madison, Alabama, native Zach Harting who finished first in the 200-meter Butterfly Final at the U.S Olympic Swim Trials Wednesday to make Team USA for the 2021 Tokyo Summer games.
Two questions for the bag:
1) At the Greeson compound, which will be celebrated with more gusto this weekend, Father's Day or Juneteenth?
2) Please tell me the grade you'd give to Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden for how they handled their first head-to-head with Putin.
First, I've been to Madison, Alabama. My little brother in the fraternity at Auburn was a star athlete at Bob Jones High School back in the day.
Second, you don''t have to be even remotely connected to the 'hood to be a local athlete when it comes to the Olympics. Or the Ryder Cup.
#Merica. (Side note: Great decision by NBC to put these Olympic trials on in prime time. I've watched way more than I normally would have on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. And again for the folks in the back — #Merica.)
As for the questions, they will both get about the same amount of celebration, and it will be very little. If I had to pick one, it would be Father's Day, since I'll get a couple of cards, kick back a CoCola and watch some golf. My Juneteenth plans include a couple of CoColas and watching some golf, but no cards.
That's a very fair way to phrase that question about Trump and Biden in dealing with the Russian leader. (Side note: Sorry, have not been able to put in any time for the faux Biden-Putin conversation. Week got away from me in a hurry.)
I would give Trump a higher grade than most in matters of foreign policy, because I believe the directness and toughness proved beneficial, especially early. Without recalling all of the details of Trump's first meeting with Putin, big picture his efforts for America on the global stage got a B+ (at least) in my book.
Biden's demeanor is much more presidential — and I have a little more specifically on some Biden bits below — and that should and does matter, especially in public dealings. As for grading his meeting with Putin, it almost feels like grading the Draft the day after the first round.
Granted, I love the draft, you know this, but the grade is incomplete.
Fun week with the back and forth gang. As always, thanks for being able to agree to disagree with decency.
Why do we not hear about the "Best player to not have a major" like we used to? I can remember it being all anyone could talk about before Phil won his first Masters, but now, it's not talked about.
Thanks for your morning column — my ex got me reading it.
Thanks for playing along with the silliness.
Your question is 100% valid, and I'm not sure.
Maybe because there's not a clear, world-renowned player without a major the way Phil Mickelson was before claiming the 2004 green jacket.
Remember, Phil was bagel-for-39 before that memorable weekend in Augusta, and right there as the second-best player on the planet.
And in this day and age, when the slightest criticism of any player/athlete becomes a monster deal — even something as factually undeniable as major championships won and being paired with what's actually a compliment — and threatens a commentator's and potentially even a network's access to said player/athlete, the egg shells around making your living with words are sharp.
That said, Jon Rahm is the first name that comes to mind about best player without a major. He's the third-ranked player in the world as we speak. I believe he'll get one sooner rather than later. Same with Xander Schauffele (who is ranked No. 6) and Patrick Cantlay (who is No. 7).
As far as best careers without a major, that starts with Lee Westwood, and swings around to a Paul Casey and even a Rickie Fowler. I do not think any of those three will ever grab one to be honest about it.
Great question, and thanks for reading.
From Intern Scott
When are you going to change your stock photo to the Mike Gundy look?
P.S. Go Vols (Which makes me wonder – is college baseball a true revenue sport? If not, could it be for a program like Tennessee?)
Not planning on changing the the column mug any time soon, but here's a look at the flowing mullet in all its glory.
This should be a fun week for the Vols. Feels like they are playing with house money and have the confidence that comes with that.
And make no mistake Tony V is a cross between Bobby Cox and the Energizer Bunny and dude is pushing all the right buttons.
As far as operating as a revenue-generator, the short answer is no, but the details are hard to come by for a number of reasons.
First, the TV deals for non-revenue generating sports — read everything other than football and men's basketball — are pooled together. Be it the numbers from the SEC Network or the championship deal ESPN signed with the NCAA a decade ago. (Side question: That deal for $500 million for 12 years of NCAA championships looks like a bargain these days no?)
I was unable to find what the going rate of a UT baseball ticket is, but heading into this season — especially with all the COVID concerns — I bet you could have purchased season tickets for donating a can of Beanie Weenies and an old coat to the Salvation Army.
Granted the end of the season was a ton of fun for UT and when they opened up Lindsey Nelson, that place was packed and hopping. If UT builds on this run and continues to find success in the years to come, those tickets could be leveraged to a place where UT baseball could break even.
I bet the number of actual profit-turning college baseball programs is low. LSU, Mississippi State come to mind, but the tail does not wag the dog.
Those programs with monster followings and huge crowds also have the expectations — and staff salaries — that come with that kind of success.
War Vols this week. And Commodores too, Dr. Door. And Bullies. Anybody but Stanford, you know?
And War Mullet. It's glorious, don't you think?
Hey, Jay, why are you not hammering Joe Biden right now? Have you gone soft and over to the Libs? I thought you were the one lame stream media person I could trust!
Thanks for reading, and for the question.
What's there really to bag on President Biden right now? That he and Putin are pretending to like each other but not getting anything done?
And I refuse to get into the spat about Biden chastising reporters, because that is silly talk for a slew of reasons.
One, if a powerful person who gives that many news conferences and answers that many questions never gets flummoxed by the question-askers, then they are not answering — and maybe not even listening to — a vast majority of the questions.
That's part of the exchange, and it means no more than Biden saying, "Good question, Reporter Q" even if it's a query about his grocery list.
Two, I'm done with the "What about" game when it comes to politics and this is a "What about Trump?" magnet that will do no one any favors, answer no part of any of the discourse or really serve any purpose. And maybe that's why you're writing me, because every move Trump made — especially when it came to dealings with the media — was super analyzed.
But it was counter-productive and a nonsensical ratings grab then, and for me to do it now because I didn't vote for the guy in the big chair is a hypocritical farce that is a shallow attempt to stir emotions and generate clicks.
I want passionate, real-life-feeling leaders, be it on my college football team or in the Oval Office.
(Side note: I am not as keen however on how Biden is handling these questions, big picture. Not to get too political on what is a sensitive issue for some, but Biden's answers off the cuff recently have come across as mixture of mumbles and rambles. Thoughts?)
Thanks for reading.
J, I think what you are doing today with your dad's remains is awesome. Got me thinking about my own daddy and if i was to do the same, where I would start.
About the Braves, the bullpen is bad. I'm slightly concerned about Freddie, but at this point, I'm more concerned that the Braves will waste having possibly one of the best players ever in Acuna. He is the only reason i even watch the Braves at all right now.
Leadership in professional sports over the last decade seems to really suck ... from NBA, to MLB, Nascar and even the NFL at times has had issues. These guys have arguably the best jobs in the world ... how do they seem to screw things up so badly? BTW, I wish my employer would give me 10 days off with pay, I would gladly take it.
I don't watch the NBA at all, but I do watch Charles Barkley when i have the chance. J, how do we cancel the cancel culture? Me and millions of my reasonable, thick skinned, level headed friends want to know.
Thanks J, keep up the good work. I still miss you on Press Row. Maybe you should start your own radio show or podcast. Just an idea.
Thanks for the kind words, sir. Also, thanks to all you folks who wrote in with kind words about my run and shared your thoughts and memories of folks you've lost.
Side note: Because I'm, well, me, the number of puns I went through on my solo drive through my childhood was shocking even for me.
> We sang aloud the "Take out the papers and the ash; or you don't get no spending cash;"
> There were multiple versions of, "Well, Pop, I'll kiss your ash good-bye" at multiple stops;
> And of course the less-than-respectful but calendar-accurate Ash Wednesday reference (sorry to Spy and the rest of my Catholic friends) to name but a few.
Lots to get in Steve's email, so let's go point by point.
I am 100% with you on the Braves right now, and after Acuña hits, I find other things to do until it's approximately time for him to hit again.
The more miscues, gaffes and downright disasters from the leaders of the major sports leagues really point to the greatness of the commissioners of days gone by, you know? Granted, the media coverage and access and the 24/7 cycle of the modern world increases the scrutiny and magnifies the shortcomings, but the efforts of Rozzelle, Stern and the rest of those giants are made even more impressive with the follow of present day.
There's nothing, I can see, to be done about cancel culture, and in truth, it's not a new thing. The newness lies with the social media mobs that can heat-up like the furnace at Lodge and pop up like thunderstorm on a summer afternoon. And then that begets the finger-pointing and blame game of the "My opinion is right; you're a racist" other side, which sucks in the weak-kneed leadership of Rob Manfred who would rather placate the squeaky wheels and move the All-Star Game than look into the issue because he's scared Stacy Abrams is going to compare MLB to the Wallace administration.
(Side note: For example, I'm sure there are products or companies you don't agree with, so you do not buy their goods or services. I know I have a few, including a certain coffee-making company. But because I disagree with them does not mean I think they should be out of business or am going to use my platform to downgrade them or the people who enjoy their product. If you don't like Chuck — who makes far more fun of himself for being fat than all the females in all of Texas — here's an idea, don't watch. But just because you don't agree with Chuck, that does not mean TNT should fire him, does it?)
There are parts of Press Row — like Wells and David and interacting with a lot of you folks — that I miss, and I've had some small chats about what else I might do. But I love having my afternoons free.
Especially when you need to take a Wednesday Ash Dash. (Sorry. Not really.)
Have a great weekend friends.