Austin Riley. Yes, the Braves rocked the D-Backs but stayed three back of the scorching Mets. But there's no denying what Riley has been doing. The soon-to-be-named July player of the month had two double Sunday and the walk-off RBI in a 1-0 win to complete the sweep. It completed a monster month for the Braves slugging third baseman. In 26 July games, Riley was 44-for-104 with 15 doubles, 11 homers, 25 RBIs and 21 runs scored. He slashed .423/.459/.885 for a staggering OPS of 1.344. And he's moved neck-in-neck with Paul Goldschmidt as the NL frontrunner for MVP.
Stephan Jaeger. Yeah, yeah, Tony Finau has found his stride. We get it. Finau ran away with his second consecutive PGA Tour win and his fourth career title. Good for him. But Jaeger recorded four rounds in the 60s at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, shot 11 under on the weekend and finished solo fifth at 20 under and collected $344,400. The former Baylor School and UTC star moved up 33 spots to 100th in the Fed Ex Cup standings, which bodes extremely well for getting into the playoff and keeping his Tour card.
Amanda Nunes. The GOAT of female MMA delivered a performance for the ages to regain her title. Still, it's a bit surreal to see the clips of a champion fighter, bloodied and beaten, raise her baby girl in a post-match celebration.
Baseball trade junkies. There are bigger names on the horizon this year than in previous years — seriously, Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani are two of the top 10 players in the game today, and they could be acquirable for the right price — which is cool. Add in the fact that the Dodgers, Yankees and Mets — three of the biggest payrolls in the game — are in play and between now and Tuesday dinner could be a lot of fun.
Ric Flair. The famous "Nature Boy" won his final match Saturday night in Nashville. It started with his trademark "Woooooo!" with the crowd and ended with a bloodied Flair using the 'Figure Four' leg lock to end the match, and his all-time great career. Allegedly. Flair is 77 and said this is it. We'll see.
All of us. When we lose great human beings — not just great athletes, but the true difference-makers God puts in His world — we all must pause and reflect on their impact. And ours. Rest easy Bill Russell, who died this weekend at the age of 88. You were great, and it had nothing to do with basketball.
Golf. Other than Jaeger's storyline, what was intriguing this weekend? Finau was in complete control in Detroit from Thursday evening, which turned Sunday into nap-central. The LIV conversation was about protests and politics, which makes those of us wanting to see pros fight for par pick a hard pass. All this bickering has got to be hurting the general appeal of the game if golf diehards like me want it to go away — from each side.
Golf's future. Not to get to preachy on this, but the game should heed words of esteemed golf veteran David Love III, who will be the U.S. captain at the President's Cup later this summer. (Side note: You remember the President's Cup right? It's golf's spinoff version of the Ryder Cup the way the Goodwill Games was the little brother of the Olympics.) But Love cautioned that if the majors do not prevent the LIV players from competing the PGA players should boycott, aka strike, against the majors. Yeah, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better if I had to guess.
The recent moaning that happens any time a Black QB receives criticism. And this USA Today column makes it even worse by asking Patrick Mahomes to go even deeper into complaining about it. OK, let's look big picture here. First, all QBs receive more criticism than every other position in any other sport and more critiques than every other position in football combined. Second, the complaint that patience is an issue and 'one-read' conversations is insulting and racially motivated is too convenient. Because if that's the complaint about a young Mahomes, who clearly worked through it, it also was the commonly heard complaint against Mitch Trubisky, who did not. And the arguments that these complaints are levied against Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray also come in the aftermaths of Mahomes and Murray signing extensions in the hundreds of millions and Jackson looking for a second contract worth half-a-billion. Is there racism out there? Of course? Are there subtle racist terms and even compliments, in sports commentary and criticisms? Yes, but they go both ways, like gym rat. But if there has been strides made anywhere in the racism preconceptions in sports, embracing Black QBs has to be close to the front of the conversation no?
My line of thinking ab out not overpaying for a WR. So, the NFL in this offseason has inked seven pass catchers to deals worth $24 million or more per season. Yeah, take that Greeson. Looking at the players — Tyreek Hill to Miami, Davante Adams to Oakland, Cooper Kupp to L.A., AJ Brown to Philly, Deebo Samuel to S.F., Stefon Diggs to Buffalo and DK Metcalf to Seattle — there are only three with QBs not on rookie deals and two of those — the Rams and Bills — are in Super Bowl-winning windows that call for wrecking the future. Still, $30 millions for Tyreek Hill is hard for me to fathom to be honest.
So reports coming out of the NFL insiders — morning Schefty — have today being the day that DeShaun Watson's punishment will be announced.
Breaking: ESPN ace Adam Schefter just reported this morning that Watson will get a six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct penalty.And here's the thing with the past lack of credibility and precedents with the league?
Is this fair? Hard to know, to be honest?It's overly harsh since Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Daniel Snyder, et al., got nothing.
It's overly soft since Jerry Richardson was forced to sell the Panthers for how he treated women?
It's overly harsh when you consider that Watson was already forced to miss all of the 2021 season, so this now becomes closer to a 23-game suspension, which is far worse than the 10 Randy Gregory got for felony assault against his girlfriend or so many other players who admitted wrong doing and/or were found guilty of crimes.
It's overly soft when you consider that there are no fines and that Watson negotiated his deal — the richest guaranteed contract in the sport's history — to get paid only $1 million this season, which means this suspension will cost him $333,333 of a $230 million contract. Also, he collects all of his $44.9 million signing bonus.
It's overly harsh when you remember that two grand juries refused to indict Watson on criminal charges.It's overly soft when you consider the number of claims — and Watson has now settled 23 of the 24 civil cases — filed against him.
In the end, the fairest measure of fair or unfair will be which side seems most pleased. In the end, I think both sides will be a little frustrated by the ruling — the Browns wanting four games; the NFL wanting eight games or more — which may be the biggest statement of fairness all around.
That, and the fact that Roger Goodell was removed from the initial ruling process.
This and that
— Here's Saturday's A2 chat from a round-faced fella on lottery and a different spin on the over-inflated back-slapping the city is doing on bike usage downtown.
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT football.
— Speaking of the red-Red-RED hot Austin Riley, you have to wonder about the future and Riley's connection with hitting guru Mike Brumley, who also works with Dansby Swanson, who also is having a banner year heading to a busy offseason. Brumley, according to Dave O'Brien, is not with the Braves this year because he would not get vaccinated, but is still working with the Braves 2 and 4 hitters and gave Riley a tip in late June about a hand adjustment that clearly has worked swimmingly.
— So, the Lookouts Stadium. Expanding tax base. Expanding controversy. Exploding emails accusation against county mayor-front-runner Weston Wamp. Yeah, been a full weekend on that front.
Weekend winners and losers. Go.
Side question on a Monday: If you had to bet a significant amount of money, was Saturday Ric Flair's last time wrestling? Yeah, I think not, too.
Multiple choice Monday goes here: What is your view on DeShaun Watson getting suspended for six games to start the 2022 season, Golcilocks?
— That one is too hard;
— That one is too soft;
— That one is just right.
MTV made its debut at 12:01 a.m. on this day in 1981.
This is so in my go zone. Rushmore of things that were unbelievably cool in the 1980s that are a complete after thought today.
Go, and MTV could have a place.