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Staff file photo by Troy Stolt / UTC's Tyron Arnett, pictured, had two catches as quarterback Drayton Arnold spread the ball to seven receivers on 11 completions for 222 yards during Saturday's win at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

Weekend winners

Shooting. Yes, shooting decisions would be in the other category, but the one takeaway — hopefully — from Sunday's NBA All-Star Game was the exhibition put on by Steph Curry and Dame Lilliard, each of whom drilled half-court pull-up 3s. In fact, Lilliard's 40-plus-foot swish to end it looked as routine as Jerry West from 17-feet. Being 7-feet with the agility of a point guard like Zion or being the freakish physical combination that is LeBron or Zion is God given. Shooting strokes like Curry's and Lilliard's is crafted by thousands of hours of work, and that demands respect.

Bryson DeChambeau. Man, that was U.S. Open hard, and Bryson delivered. He delivered on his promise to fly the way on No. 6 (hitting a 370-plus drive Saturday to carry over water to get within 70 yards of the green on the 555-yard, par-5) and he delivered the tournament title. Like him or not, dude is a factor in every tournament he enters, which puts him in the Rory, DJ, Koepka club. Side note: How brutal was the course playing Sunday? Well, there were four players out of the 72 who made the cut shot even par and three shot in red numbers. Bryson's 1-under 71 tied two others for the best final round number, so no one shot in the 60s. Brutal.

Kyle Larson. Wow, you have to believe that Larson was beyond emotional coming around the final turn to win the NASCAR race at Las Vegas on Sunday, right? I mean it was right about a year ago that Larson was overheard using the N-bomb during a televised video game racing event and suspended from the sport and fired from his ride. We all wondered whether he would get another chance, and you have to believe he wondered it with way more worry and stress. To come back — and the photo of Bubba Wallace congratulating him after the win was especially powerful, since Wallace's tolerance really helped Larson get back into the conversation about returning to NASCAR to begin with — and to win, it's a modern-day Disneyesque comeback in these strained social times.  

UTC football. OK, and I know it's only two games into this strangest of all strange football scenarios, but is UTC the class of FCS football right now? A whipping over Wofford and a tough road win at El Cid makes Rusty Wright's wrecking machine 2-0 in 2021 and 2-1 in this elongated season. That one was a felony rip-off because of a bogus call on the road at FBS Western Kentucky last fall. So, we'll ask again? Is this Mocs bunch as good as anyone putting pads on for real this spring?

 

Weekend losers

Duke. Can we please stop pretending that this Blue Devils bunch is a tournament team? Nine ACC losses — and this not exactly the mid-1980s ACC either friends — is Duke's most since 1982-83 when some a few of the guys around the league were named Jordan (UNC), Sampson (UVa), Price (Tech) and Valvano (NC State). The Blue Devils had their regular season punctuated with a tar-and-feathering from the rival Tar Heels on Saturday night. Side question: Is the phrase or the verb form 'tar-and-feather' no longer appropriate?

My hair. Yeah, I have crafted a rather impressive, very Mike Gundy-esque COVID mullet. It started as a side angle to a dad joke. I was going to grow it to try to make my two kids uneasy about it's redneck inference. Then something strange happened. The entire family started to like it — me included. Oh, it needs to be cut. And I'm pretty sure I could not get the flowing top and sides to pull of the Jay Dirt spin-off of David Space's immortal movie character. But my mullet was the target of comb assassination over the weekend as TFP ace life columnist Mark Kennedy put my 'do in the don't category. (Side note: All in good fun, my hair does not want Mark cancelled.) 

The dunk contest. Yawn. And I liked the thought of putting it halftime of the actual game. But man, when the best dunk is the first dunk you know it's going to be a tough go. Man, the dunk contest used to be the bees' knees. Granted when the stars participated it made it way more fun. And know this: Not since the Indians negotiated land deals in NYC has anyone been robbed as egregiously as Dominique Wilkins was in the late 1980s in dunk contests. He was the victim of the Spud mania when we all couldn't believe a 5-foot-7 dude was dunking and the MJ hometown hubbub when the event was in Chicago a couple of years later. True or false on a Monday: Dominique Wilkins was the best dunker of all-time. (Sorry, Dr. J and MJ and PJs and whatever J you want to connect, but Wilkins was. Prove me wrong.)    

Nick from Teen Wolf. Yeah, I got sucked into Teen Wolf over the weekend. Not the worst thing I suppose. Couple of things that jump out. First, how I left Nick off the 'Punchable movie characters' Rushmore last month is a mistake on my part. My bad. Second, Boof was wicked underrated and way > Pamela. Third, Did you have any idea how successful Teen Wolf was? Cost $1.2 million in budget. Made $80 million at the box office. Fourth, arguably the worst actual sports in a sports movie ever. In fact, I'm not sure its arguable. Fifth Coach Bobby Finstock may have been better than Norman Dale, and way wiser. Finally, I can make a hard argument that Michael J. Fox was the biggest star of those teens and early 20s of that time. Sure, Rob Lowe and Judd Nelson and Emilio and the rest of the brat pack were running in the cool crowds, but did any of them pull off TV as wells as carrying blockbusters like Fox? Plus, Fox was at a certain height of celebrity that very, very, very few actors ever reach. Maybe Cruise was there. Maybe Hanks. But can you think of anyone that was truly at the apex to where someone wrote a script about a teenage werewolf in high school that was part comedy, part sports movie, and it got green-lit in truth only because Marty McFly was the title character. Well done Mr. Fox.

Les Miles. Wow, who had that coming down the pike this time last week? Former lovable, Yogi Berra-like grass chewer being the guy that could not be around coeds in the office by himself? Again, wow.  

 

One more loser

The economy.

Yep, the $1.9 trillion 'rescue' plan was passed through the Senate along party lines over the weekend.

The refrain and explainer needs to be added, so let's just get it out of the way now: There are a lot of Americans, millions in fact, that need help right now because of the COVID and the lingering economic devastation.

But this thing is too big by half. At least.

Plus with the real possibility of the country reopening by the end of this month, well, that adds to claims that this is robbing Peter (future generations) to pay Paul (current voters).

Yes, there's more complexity to it, but that's a big part of the brass tax. (Side note: Yes, tax was used on purpose right there.)

There are almost too many parts of the bill to list that are pieces and parts of liberal spending plan and not COVID-related to list. Things from expanded child tax credits for poor folks to exemptions on student loans through 2025 to pension bailouts to money to colleges as well as subsidies to people purchasing insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Hey, a debate on these measures is warranted. Bootstrapping them to the 'Rescue' bill is crap, though.

And cue all of the rhetoric referencing how it happened under Trump or Bush, and it did. But it was wrong then just as it's wrong now, and worse still, putting it into something as truly needed and a hot-button issue as COVID relief may be the single worse example politicizing a pandemic that has killed more than half a million Americans.

And it's even more crazy to think that more than a few elected officials on the far left are actually upset that President Biden didn't spend trillions more of the publics dollars by adding the minimum wage hike into this puppy.        

 

This and that

— Speaking of deep 3s, well, couple of gambling items from Sunday night's all-star festival. Lilliard's 3 from a step inside half-court made the final 170-150, with a total of 320. The over/under at most places was 318 or 318.5. That's a bad beat friends.

— You know the drill. Here's TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer on marching toward March Madness during the time of COVID. His excellent column on college hoops covers the insane Vols, who look like a Final Four contender at times and a First Four hopeful at others, and the Mocs, who were bounced in their first SoCon tourney game in large part because two main pieces had to sit because of COVID protocol. It also offers a mini-SEC tournament preview — Weeds is not overly high on his Cats, sorry Chas — as well as the plagues of the paralysis of analysis that is the official review in college hoops and the disaster that is the block/charge dilemma. Well done, Weeds.

— Speaking of college hoops, here's a look at the upcoming schedule of full-tilt conference craziness. Good times.

— Speaking of NBA and betting, these stats from ESPN gambling writer David Purdum caught my eye. As the NBA pauses for its all-star break, underdogs are 270-255-7 against the spread and there were 274 overs and 252 under with seven pushes on the total..

— Speaking of against the odds, wait, that's a tough segue. OK, few baseball beat aces comb and part the numbers the way Jayson Stark does. He's great at his craft. Well, in his latest offering, Stark presents the case that youthful Nationals slugger Juan Soto is on a career arc that is as good as Ted Williams. Yes, the incomparable Ted Williams who hit 521 homers while batting .344 and the all-time record with an on-base percentage of .482 despite missing all or most of five prime seasons because of military service. Through their age of 21 seasons, Soto and Williams had 1,349 and 1,338 at-bats respectively. And here are the comps, with Soto listed first in each: Walk rate (16.9%-15.2%) and Walks+HR rate (23.1%-20.0%). He goes on, and the amazing blend of power and patience puts Soto in rarified air that includes Williams. More here at The Athletic, and it is a pay site.

   — Not sure what it means, but I'm pretty sure I've never felt more old and out of touch with celebs and pop culture and such than this morning. I was doing my morning research for this little tour called the 5-at-10 and trending on Twitter was 'Yaya' so I clicked on it thinking it had something to do with the shortstop from Sandlot. Turns out it's someone named Yada Mayweather who is in some sort of feud with someone named Lil Durk about Pooh Shiesty. Or maybe in a feud with Pooh Shiesty about Lil Durk. And get off my lawn!


 

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

Couple of random multiple choice Monday questions:

Which is more telling that you need to call the Tennessee Red Line for gambling issues?

> Betting on preseason football;

> Betting on random FCS games played in the spring because of COVID;

> Betting the over/under of the NBA All-Star Game;

> Betting on table tennis in foreign countries.

Also, after the weekend, which of these events that at one time were extremely popular has lost the most luster?

> The dunk contest;

> The NBA draft;

> Major conference basketball tournaments;

> Traditional college football signing day.

As for today, March 8, let's explore.

Lily from the AT&T commercials is 34 today.
Does she make the Rushmore of actors forever linked to a commercial. Go.

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