We're going to do everything in our power to move quickly today.
It's Ryder Cup Friday, friends. Very good times.
First, you're welcome Jules for introducing the clan to Fancy Like. In addition to the TikTok craze that it has generated and the Top 5 spot on the big-boy Billboard charts, it now appears that Fancy Like will be getting a pop remix with Ke$ha. So there's that. (Here's the official video, and how can you not love a new-school country song with an old-school lyric like "My new clean blue jeans without the holes in 'em; Country kisses on my lips without the Skoal in 'em" gang?)
To our BID-ness.
We cut off the nominations for your favorite Titans player today. Play along in the 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge below.
Rushmore of sports 'exhibitions' — Ryder Cup, Billie Jean King beating Riggs, every time the Globetrotters tip it off for some youngster who has never seen them before, and a nod to the historic — and local — feats of Jackie Mitchell right here in Chattanooga many moons ago when the female pitcher fanned Ruth and Gehrig at Engel Stadium. (Was it a nice day that afternoon, Spy?)
Rushmore of Tommy. Sports division — John, Lasorda, Nobis and former Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier. Non-sports: "Tommy Boy," "Tommy" from The Who, Tommy Lee Jones, Tommy Gun.
Rushmore of married music super couples — Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Garth and Tricia, Johnny and June, George and Tammy. And yes, that's heavy on country. And yes, there are some folks from the Fleetwood Mac fan base who will have a beef, but beef away.
Rushmore of tear-jerking sports movies — "Brian's Song," "We Are Marshall," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Miracle." In fact, we'll get a "Miracle" quote in each response today. Deal? Deal. (Side note: "Remember the Titans" ranks way down on most lists for me because I worked with a guy who went to TC Williams the year that story was based on, and the 'liberties' the directors and writers took are so out there that rather than saying it's based on a true story, it should offer it's loosely — very loosely — based on a true story, and some of the main characters were not like this at all in real life. There's some of that in "Blindside" too, according to Michael Oher.)
From A Reader
Jay, You're the worst. Your opinions suck. You think you are funny but you aren't. Your picks are Sports Illustrated jinks terrible. No wonder you got fired from ESPN.
Are you right about anything?
A Reader —
Hmmmm. I'm right of center politically, does that count?
For the Mrs, I was Mr. Right.
I rode with Carolina last night, so my weekend started off right. (It would have been a monster if McCaffrey had not gotten hurt because how about this in-game parlay Vader: Panthers -8.5, Cooks over 95.5 receiving yards, Bradford over 294.5, Ingram under 35 rushing and a McCaffrey any time TD. Would have paid close to +900 but the hammy. So it goes.)
As for the picks, well, if forced to pick 10 times, I might miss nine. But not that game. Not last night. (Sorry, paraphrased, but just go with it.)
Also, I'm right over here if you need me.
I'm also right-handed. Other than shooting pool, playing guitar and shooting a gun. (Side note: My dad wanted a pitcher and tried everything in his power to make me a lefty. Alas, it did not work. The reasoning is sound, too. Case in point about the difference: When I was 15, I moved to middle Tennessee for the summer to play travel baseball. I was the No. 2 pitcher behind a left-handed 16-year-old who pitched at Memphis or MTSU. Our No. 3 pitcher was another lefty junkballer who I threw much harder. He went on to be Jamie 'Cat' Walker and pitch 10 or so years in a big-league bullpen specializing in getting lefties out. Me, well, I'm just over here never being right.)
I was right about Shohei being the MVP. (Or at least I should be, and friends, what kind of statement is it about Shohei's season that Vlad Guerrero Jr. could win a Triple Crown on a playoff team and Shohei Ohtani is still a minus-2500 favorite to win the award. Nuts.)
Side question: Speaking of ESPN, and I saw this on Twitter this morning, but thought it was interesting: When was the last time you watched SportsCenter? Wow. I watch pretty often on Saturday morning with Randy Scott and the Briscoe lady and they have great chemistry. (Side note on the side question: Chemistry may be the most underrated part of almost every aspect in sports, be it teams, media or management.) But other than that Saturday morning occasionally, I can't recall the last SC I watched to be honest. And friends, that used to be staple and appointment viewing that we would frequently rewatch the next morning.
Side note: Noah Emmerich, who plays Herb Brooks' assistant coach, is a great 'That' guy actor who always brings a little something to the table, you know?
And I think we can pretty much hand the AL MVP award to Shohei, though Vlad Guerrero is putting up a good bid. He's turning into a shorter version of Manny Ramirez.
But what about NL MVP? Is it a Brave? It is Ozzie, who has stepped up without Acuna? Or Freeman or Austin Riley? Or what about the second-half Bryce Harper is having?
It would have been an easy pick for Tatis, but when one of your own teammates — who once famously said hustling was not his thing — is calling out for this "not being about you," can you really pick him in good conscience?
Excellent question, and we have covered Shohei. He was born to be a baseball player.
The collection of choices for the Braves is staggering, and despite the great years from Ozzie, Freddie and Austin, they didn't take off until Adam Duvall came back after Ronald Acuña's injury, you know. And you're so right about Tatis, who is a dude. And a diva. A duva?
Couple other things to mention in terms of the NL MVP:
Do you know the last Giants player to hit 30 homers in a season? Some dude named Bonds. They lead the league in jacks with 228 and Brandon Belt has the most with 26. Go figure.
The Brewers' best player has been a starting pitcher, but it's hard to see Corbin Burnes, no matter how great he's been, make an MVP charge despite leading the NL in Wins above replacement.
The Dodgers' two most impactful players arguably are former Nationals, as Trae Turner is competing for a batting title and the Dodgers are a perfect 10-0 in games started by Max Scherzer. How good has Scherzer been? Try these numbers in 10 starts: 63 innings, 37 hits, 10 earned runs (that's a 1.43 ERA), 85 Ks and eight walks. Chew on that.
If the Phillies pass the Braves, I would think it's Harper's to lose. But that's a big if.
Love your columns Jay. Thanks and it's amazing how much you write every week.
Like you, I really like the Ryder Cup. Do you think that's the most pressure in professional sports these days?
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Now this is an email that's right on. (See what I did there Spy?)
Thanks for the kind words, and for playing along Joey. (And congrats for rolling along in the Survivor Pool. Kudos. Yeah, we'll update them later today.)
Anywell, I think the Ryder Cup pressure is unlike most others because it's putting forever individuals in the spot to let their teams down, and in some extended ways their country. "When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates; and the name on the front, is a (heck) of a lot more important, than the one on the back."
That said, if you need Prozac because the US lost the Ryder Cup because Daniel Berger missed an 8-footer, well, there likely were bigger issues to begin with.
Plus, let's remember that all these dudes are among the best in the world and have already made their fortunes and established their careers.
So while I think golf is among the pressurized sports because it is so mental, I would rank its pressurized moments thusly:
Fourth — Ryder Cup, for the team aspect.
Third — Every shot on the 72nd hole when a player is trying for his first PGA Tour win, because one win changes everything.
Second — The entire final Sunday of any player trying to win his first major.
First — Everything about the qualifying process to get your PGA Tour card, because that's real-life pressure. That's the "If I miss this I wonder if Jenny's dad can still get me that job at StateFarm." That's "I owe my parents $50,000 and the guys at the club another $25 for staking me on this dream and it comes down to this 8-footer" pressure.
Sorry Daniel Berger, but in terms of stakes, that green on those greens >>>>>> than the Red, White and Blue.
And as for team sports, well it's not close. The isolation a mediocre kicker feels can't be compared. Dude is out there — and if you have ever watched a practice, kickers go do their thing while the rest of the team is taking years off their lives beating each other into game shape — by himself with a roster full of teammates who have truly put their lives on the line to get you in position to trot out in your pristine uniform and boot a ball through and upside-down H.
UT scored 56, which felt good, but then a look at the scores scrolling across the bottom showed Pitt losing to Western Michigan, and the Gators playing Bama to the finish and suddenly any encouragement was gone. IMO, the Vols are a good QB short of being competitive with most other SEC teams on their schedule, which means any shot at 6-6 and a bowl game this season means they will have to win one they will be the underdog in. It was/is apparent that the Volunteers have to find a QB that is good enough to make up for the lack of talent around him. We don't have that on the roster right now...
If the Braves could find an effective closer, and the Vols an effective QB...I'd be in a much better mood right now.
This came earlier in the week and it caught my eye for several reasons.
One, it certainly puts into context the roller coaster of emotions we fans ride and the reaches of outside influences that create speed on that coaster.
Two, it looks like UT is going to hand the ball to Milton in an effort to find a Paradise Lost in Gainesville. (Yeah I went there.) Of what I've seen, I believe Hooker has been > Milton, but this is Heupel's livelihood and area of expertise, so I'll ride with it. And remember, "great moments are born from great opportunity."
As for big picture, I think the Vols are more than a good QB away, but I'm not sure how good the middle of the SEC is either.
What do we know really about an Auburn or a Mississippi State or Missouri or South Carolina or even UK? (Sorry Chas. Lots riding on the Cats' performance this weekend, in my view.) "You think you can win on talent alone? Gentlemen, you don't have enough talent to win on talent alone."
Third, will someone tell Chip Carey and Paul Byrd to shut the heck up about how much better the bullpen has been. We get it. You guys are paid by the team and no one wants to insult fellow Braves employees, but sweet buckets of balloting ERAs and dwindling leads in the East, I have more confidence in my Flab 4 picks than I do any Braves reliever not named Luke Jackson or the Matzek. Herb Brooks on the Braves bullpen: "To me it looks like two monkeys trying to hump a football."
And how painful was that seventh inning in Arizona yesterday? Egad. This is unbelievable. You guys are playing like this is some throwaway game up in Rochester. Who we playing Rammer?"
Enjoy the weekend friends — and on that, I hope I am 100% right.