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Easy Headline Alert: ...Vive la France!
[Posted Sun. p.m.]
Baseball Quiz: I know I’ve touched on this in a story, but not as a quiz. As the Yankees threaten the all-time single-season team home run record set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners at 264, name the six who hit 20+ home runs that season. Answer below.
It was France and Croatia in the final today at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and France became just the sixth country to win multiple Cups, 4-2 over Croatia in a highly-entertaining, exciting final. Didier Deschamps, a standout midfielder on France’s 1998 championship team, joined Mario Zagailo of Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer of Germany as the only people to win the World Cup both as a player and coach.
But Croatia may have been done in by the fact it had to come from behind in the second half of three consecutive games prior to today, all of which required 30 minutes of extra time to settle (two on penalty-kick tiebreakers). The legs just weren’t there in the second half, as much as they tried.
Croatia also has reason to complain, as the first French goal was the result of a free-kick when Griezmann went down theatrically; the kick then going off Croatia’s Mandzukic’s head and redirected into the goal.
Croatia tied it at 1-1 on a superb score by Perisic, only to have France get awarded a penalty kick shortly thereafter on a highly dubious handball call on him, Griezmann converting for a 2-1 halftime lead.
In the second, France struck twice in six minutes on scores from stars Paul Pogba and 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, only to see Mandzukic score one for his own side shortly thereafter to cut it to 4-2 at 69’. But that was it...Croatia’s luck giving out. Special kudos to their coach, Zlatko Dalic, who can now have any job in the sport.
The total goals scored in the final was the most since 1958, while Mbappe (19 years 207 days) is the second youngest player to score in a World Cup final, after Pele for Brazil in ’58, Pele being just 17.
--In the consolation game, which I had zero interest in, Belgium took third place by beating England, 2-0. Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard scored for Belgium, as it earned its highest World Cup finish in its history.
England matched its best World Cup result – fourth in 1990 – since winning the tournament for the only time in 1966.
--But what a tournament we had...yes, the best ever. Bring on Qatar in 2022.
Martin Rogers / USA TODAY
“The World Cup didn’t miss the United States. No one in Moscow was dipping hot dogs into their borscht and sipping Bud Lights as a show of sympathy. There were no Stars-and-Stripes T-shirts hidden beneath replica jerseys of teams that, you know, actually bothered to show up and take part in the tournament.
“Why would they? Sympathy doesn’t appear in the soccer lexicon. Every nation has suffered its share of soccer pain – even the countries who have won the World Cup multiple times – and there is no room left in any soccer fan’s strafed psyche for feeling sorry for anyone else.
“If heavyweights such as Italy, the Netherlands, Chile and Ghana weren’t going to be wept over, then the Americans weren’t either.
“Besides, the U.S. has a bigger, more immediate and closer-to-home problem to fix right now. Not only did the wider world not miss the Americans at the World Cup, plenty of Americans got over the initial shock far quicker than they might have expected.
“Television ratings would naturally have been given an upward bump by a few USA matches, but do you hear any voices suggesting that the event has been spoiled because of the farcical catalog of failure that led to the team’s qualifying exit?....
“Over the past month, Americans have learned to enjoy a World Cup featuring no American team. For U.S. Soccer, that is a problem, although by no means an unfixable one....
“Supporters in the U.S. glued themselves to a tournament that featured goals, drama, star power, excellence and zero American involvement and found it to their liking.
“Now the battle for the U.S. men’s program is to win back that emotional investment. It needs to re-earn the right to have people care. It needs to show enough emotional attachment itself to prove worthy of the emotions of the country’s sporting feelings....
“The fight for America’s soccer soul is a thorny one. For a large portion of fans, the scrap is won by European club teams, who captivate the attention span of their American followers more than the national side ever will.*
“Yet there is a patriotic spirit always ready to explode within the U.S., one shown during the 2010 and 2014 campaigns, but one that needs to be nurtured and rewarded and not taken for granted....
“Because the reality is that while the U.S. has grown up as a soccer nation and is a more involved member of the global game’s community than in the past, it wasn’t missed here at all – it just missed an opportunity.”
*That’s me...big Premier League fan who couldn’t care less about the MLS, for example.
--Premier League power Chelsea changed managers on Friday, not unexpectedly, sacking Antonio Conte and hiring Maurizio Sarri.
I’ve told you how there is no less secure job in sports than being a Premier League manager, and consider that just two years ago, Conte took Chelsea to the championship.
But it’s always “what have you done for me lately?” in the PL.
Sarri has been the man in charge at Serie A’s Napoli.
--Serena Williams’ dream of an eighth Wimbledon title was denied in convincing fashion by Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the women’s final on Saturday, 6-3, 6-3, Kerber’s first Wimbledon title and the 30-year-old’s third Grand Slam win overall.
Serena, though, while denied her record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title, emerged the victor on many levels. The final came just 10 ½ months after the 36-year-old gave birth to a daughter and dealt with a serious health scare. She was playing in just the fourth tournament of her comeback.
Williams had said at the outset that her return to competition was about far more than adding to her 23 titles, and she spoke to all women about what is possible following her defeat during the on-court trophy presentation.
“To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today,” Williams said, her voice breaking. “And I tried. Angelique played really well.”
In 2016, Kerber defeated Williams to win the Australian Open, but Williams then stormed back to defeat Kerber at Wimbledon six months later.
--In the men’s final, it was 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic vs. first-time Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson of South Africa, and no doubt Anderson was impacted by his marathon semifinal, as described below, though Djokovic had his own.
Djokovic survived a five-set epic duel with 17-time Grand Slam champ Rafael Nadal in their Wimbledon semi, held over to a second day because of a curfew Friday night; 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 10-8 in five hours and 16 minutes.
Djokovic hadn’t won a Grand Slam title since 2016. But he cruised today, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (3), for Grand Slam No. 13, fourth at Wimbledon, the last being in 2015.
So I guess you have to say Novak is back, right? I mean this is a guy who was dominating tennis, ranked number one for 223 weeks, before all manner of physical and personal issues knocked him down.
--But before the Djokovic-Nadal semifinal, we had Anderson vs. American John Isner, and boy, people were talking after because the match pushed both to the brink of exhaustion, 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (7-5), 6-7 (11-9), 6-4, 26-24.
Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“How crazy did Wimbledon get Friday night? They kicked everyone the heck out!
“How did it come to that? Well, the main culprit was a loopy Wimbledon men’s singles semifinal between Kevin Anderson and John Isner, which stretched five sets and ran an astonishing six hours, 36 minutes – longer than most American marriages.
“That, in turn, led to a very late start for the semifinal featuring Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, two accomplished dudes who do not play in a hurry.
“If this was the U.S. Open in New York, no problem – we let Djokovic and Nadal slog it out until sunrise, and then we all hit the diner for eggs and hash browns on the way home.
“But Wimbledon has an 11 p.m. curfew.
“So when 11 p.m. rolled around, Djoko and Rafa got booted like barflies at last call....
“(Anderson-Isner) lasted longer than ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather Part II’ combined and ended with Anderson taking the fifth set 26-24.
“That’s right: no tiebreak. You’ve got to win the last set by two games at Wimbledon. The final set between Anderson and Isner lasted two hours, 50 minutes. You can fly from Philadelphia to Miami in less than that.
“Even before it ended, you could hear some tennis voices panicking: Was this bad for tennis?
“But more to the point: does men’s tennis need to give up the ghost on tradition and employ a fifth-set tiebreak?
“Wimbledon’s not the only major tournament to do this. The no-tiebreak fifth set format is also used by the French and Australian Opens. The U.S. Open mercifully uses a tiebreak, because New Yorkers have places to be. (The U.S. Open also has no curfew, because New Yorkers are insomniac weirdos.)
“After their match, the exhausted Isner and Anderson sounded the call for change. They agreed that all of men’s tennis should employ a fifth-set tiebreak, for the good of the sport.
“To be clear: that’s the reasonable move here, for player health and logistical reasons. Anderson may wake up Saturday feeling like he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail with John Isner on his back. Then he’s got to go out Sunday and face either Djokovic or Nadal. Not fun.”
But Jason Gay adds, “I kind of like that tennis is capable of this craziness.... I like that the men’s tournament at Wimbledon has gone a little off the rails. The occasional screwiness is part of what makes tennis different.
“I also think a good deal of the objection to yesterday’s match was stylistic. Anderson-Isner was not exactly an all-time classic....
“Again, I get why fifth-set tiebreaks make sense. It’s humane. It makes life easier for tournaments, TV partners, fans and the players themselves.
“But I think tennis should hang onto its idiosyncrasies. I like five sets without tiebreaks the same way I like the red clay at Roland Garros and the way that zero is called ‘love.’ Oddities like those may not make a lot of sense in 2018, but that’s OK....
“Keep tennis weird.”
--The Cardinals fired Mike Matheny as manager, following a loss to the Reds on Saturday that dropped the team to 47-46 this season, in third place and 7 ½ games back of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
Matheny was in the midst of his seventh season as manager of the Cards, compiling a fine 591-473 record, including the 2013 NL pennant and three division titles after succeeding Hall of Famer Tony La Russa following the team’s championship in 2011.
Any observer of baseball, though, knows the Cardinals have been ‘off.’ When I’ve seen them, they’ve looked pretty bad, especially fundamentally, which isn’t “the Cardinal way.”
Bench coach Mike Shildt was named interim manager, while hitting coach John Mabry and assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller were relieved of their duties as well.
So now there are all kinds of rumors Joe Girardi could find his way to St. Louis. Certainly seems like a good fit.
--With the four-day All-Star break, Yankees fans will be buzzing over what the heck to do about their starting rotation, the Yanks losing today 5-2 to Cleveland to fall 4 ½ back of the Red Sox, 5-2 winners over Toronto.
New York 62-33... 4.5
The Yanks desperately need a top-flight starter, even as there continues to be talk of acquiring Manny Machado from the Orioles in his walk year.
I mean it should be more than a bit disconcerting that ace Luis Severino has suddenly throw two ineffective 5-inning stints, though he does go to D.C. for the All-Star game at 14-2, 2.31.
--Yes, the future of Machado will dominate talk at the break, as it has the last week with the trade deadline approaching.
Mike Lupica / New York Daily News
“Obviously you can see the possibilities, just in August and September, if they were somehow to add Machado, who had as many home runs as Stanton did through Friday night’s games, and was just a couple shy of All Rise Judge. Machado would make the Yankees even more of a win-now team than they already are, as much of a win-now team as the Red Sox, who now spend more money on baseball players than the Yankees do. Maybe the Yankees could simply slug their way to their first World Series title in nine years, and their second in the last 18. But it is a hard thing to do in baseball, even when you have the kind of arms in the bullpen that the Yankees do. It is why the Yankees still need a starting pitcher – or two – more than they need Manny Machado, even if the crop of starting pitchers we’re told that is available this summer just seem to be about 40 different shades of Sonny Gray.
“The appeal of Manny Machado is clear, but the Orioles star is not the missing piece for this Yankee team.”
--I have to note since I last posted Wednesday night that Boston’s Chris Sale won his fifth straight decision, throwing seven shutout innings in a 4-2 win over Texas.
Sale struckout 12, his fifth consecutive start with at least 11. He also hasn’t walked more than one in those five and headed into the All-Star break, 10-4, 2.23, with 188 strikeouts in 129 innings, and just 31 walks.
But I’d be more than a little concerned at Sale’s innings load heading into the playoffs.
--Albert Pujols had two home runs in an 11-2 win over the Mariners the other day. The first gave him 3,055 hits, tying him for 25th all-time with Rickey Henderson, and the second gave him 630 homers, equaling Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth.
But the Angels received bad news as ace Garrett Richards is undergoing Tommy John surgery and will be out all of 2019. At 30, Richards faces a very uncertain future. The poor guy is slated to be a free agent this offseason for the first time. When healthy, he’s one of the better starters in the A.L., but he’s had major injury issues since May 2016, when he was diagnosed with UCL damage, and then biceps nerve irritation limited him in 2017.
--George Will / Washington Post
“It is a prudential axiom: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This reflects the awareness that things can always be made worse, and it reflects the law of unintended consequences, which is that they often are larger than and contrary to intended ones. As baseball reaches the all-star break amid lamentations about several semi-broken aspects of it, it is time to amend the axiom: Don’t fix it, even if it is broken.
“The itch to fix complex systems often underestimates the ability of markets, broadly understood, to respond and adapt to incentives. So, even if you are an unsatisfactory American – i.e., uninterested in baseball – read on, because the debate about some of the game’s current defects contains lessons about lesser things than baseball, meaning everything else.
“Today’s all-or-nothing baseball is too one-dimensional. There are too many strikeouts – for the first time in history, more than hits, a lot more. And the number is increasing for the 13th consecutive season. Also, too many of the hits are home runs. It was imprecise for Crash Davis (Kevin Costner’s character in ‘Bull Durham’) to say that strikeouts are ‘fascist,’ but he was right that they are ‘boring,’ at least in excessive quantities. So are home runs (and caviar, and everything else except martinis). In about one-third of today’s at-bats, the ball is not put in play (home run balls are put in the seats). Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci notes that by the end of June there were ‘more strikeouts in half a season than there were in the entire 1980 season.’ And ‘on average, you have to wait [3 minutes and 45 seconds] between balls put in play – 41 seconds longer between movement than 20 years ago.’ Steals (hence pitchouts), sacrifice bunts, hit-and-run plays – interesting things for fans – are becoming rarer.
“This is not the main reason attendance is down. The weather is: In 35 spring games, the temperature was below 40; in the entire 2017 season, only one. But the all-or-nothing style is not helping, and it is encouraged by the exponential increase in the use of defensive shifts – from 2,357 in 2011 to a projected 36,000 this season.
“The best-known early use of the shift, in 1946, overloaded the right side against Ted Williams, who regally said that they could not put the shift high enough. Actually, he tried to hit through, not over, it, but after the shift began, his average that year went from .354 to .327. Today, the 99.999 percent of players who are lesser hitters elevate their bats’ ‘launch angles,’ exacerbating the all-or-nothing style....
“Particular hitters have particular tendencies; defenses adjust accordingly. Now, let us, as the lawyers say, stipulate that more information is always better than less. But for the moment, information is making offense anemic. So, there is a proposal afoot – this is facism – to ban shifts, to say that there must be two infielders on either side of second base, or even that as the pitch is delivered all infielders must be on the infield dirt. This would leave some, but much less, ability to manage defenses. It would, however, short-circuit market-like adjustments.
“Incessant radical shifting will persist until it is moderated by demand summoning a supply of some Rod Carew-like hitters. A Hall of Famer, Carew was a magician who wielded a bat like a wand, spraying hits hither and yon, like Wee Willie ‘Hit ‘em where they ain’t’ Keeler. The market is severely meritocratic, so some hitters who cannot modify their tendencies and learn to discourage shifts by hitting away from them might need to consider different careers.
“Baseball – the game on the field, not the business side – resembles a market system because constantly evolving strategies create demands for different tactics, and thus different skills, which are then supplied by people and teams eager to excel in the new forms of competition. Before restricting managers’ and players’ interesting choices by limiting shifts (and certainly before softening the ball; or moving the pitcher more than 60 feet, 6 inches from the plate), give the market – freedom for fan-pleasing ingenuity and adaption – a chance.”
--All golf fans can’t wait for The Open Championship this week at Carnoustie, or “Carnasty,” as it is not too fondly called among some of the professionals. While older folk still vividly recall Jean Van de Velde’s disaster on No. 18 in the final round in 1999, up three shots, then getting an inexplicable triple bogey to force a three-man playoff he lost, Carnoustie has a long history of unpredictability and calamity.
Back in 1931, Jose Jurado had a three-shot lead going into the final round, but came undone at No. 17, topping a ball into the burn and losing to Tommy Armour.
Of the six previous Opens on these menacing links, Ben Hogan is the only winner to hold a 54-hole lead.
And you have episodes like Rod Pampling, who once opened with a 71 and the lead, only to shoot 86 in the second round and miss the cut. Phil Mickelson hasn’t seen a weekend at Carnoustie. Sergio Garcia had a memorable major debut as a professional at Carnasty in 1999, shooting an 89 that left him in tears.
We are likely to see some massive scores among the young stars of the sport this week. Only 33 in the 156-man field have played an Open at the place.
--Oh, today, Michael Kim won his first PGA Tour event at the John Deere, in what had to be the most boring tournament in the last 10 years. The field sucked, for good reason, and there was zero drama.
You can get much better golf at some of the Fall Tour events, no offense to the good folks at Deere.
--In an interview at the Scottish Open this week, Phil Mickelson apologized repeatedly for his actions at the U.S. Open, saying it took him time to realize his ball-in-motion putt at Shinnecock was less than his best moment.
“Throughout my career, 25 years, there have been a lot of times where I have had to be accountable for decisions I did not make,” he said. “And the reason why this has actually been easier, it was my own fault. Like this was my own fault. So the articles and the backlash is my own fault.”
It will be interesting to see if the crowd at Carnoustie razzes him a bit.
--Martin Truex Jr. won the Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway last night, passing Brad Keselowski and then Kurt Busch late on the way to repeating as champion. It was Truex’s fourth win this year, 19th of his career.
So this strange season continues, with three drivers, Truex, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick winning 14 of the 19 races (Busch and Harvick five apiece). The sport desperately needs some of the younger guns to step up, in a big way, to begin rebuilding the audience, though the crowd Saturday night looked healthy.
[I’m heading to a race later on, Dover in October.]
--I noted last time I’d have a few thoughts on the 25th anniversary of the death of Davey Allison and I kind of ran out of time tonight. But Allison was a great in the sport, winning 19 races in 191 starts at the Cup level, before he tragically died in a helicopter crash.
His record, though, was about more than wins. He had the “It Factor.” Tremendous fan appeal, known for staying hours after a race to sign autographs and mingle, and the first to call upcoming event sponsors to ask if they wanted him to help out. In essence a chip off the Bobby Allison block, as NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton recently told NASCAR.com. Yeah, that Bobby. Dad.
Bobby didn’t coddle his son, putting him to work at the famous Hueytown, Alabama, race shop; Bobby insisting his son learn the sport of racing from the ground up.
And by the time he was racing, Davey saw the fans as the gas that would power his career.
His widow, Liz, said the other day, “I want him to be remembered first and foremost as someone who loved his fans, and the fans adored him, and he adored them. The history books will show what they need to show from a competitor’s standpoint. I care more about how he loved his fan base.... I care about who he was as a person and what the fans gave him and what he gave back to them.”
Davey was part of some of the more memorable moments in stock car racing. At the 1988 Daytona 500, he settled for second to father Bobby in perhaps the most famous 1-2 finish in the sport’s history, unable to chase his father down on the final lap. He idolized Bobby, and wanted to beat the man he considered the best of all time.
Bobby Allison once said, “I had the privilege of having a son that from the time he was a little bitty guy wanted to be with me and wanted to see what I was doing and wanted to know why.”
But Davey was disappointed he didn’t win that race, and it was just a few months later that Bobby nearly died in a race at Pocono, Bobby suffering severe head trauma; his racing career over...recovery taking years.
Davey went from being disappointed at finishing second to his father, to being honored to have finished second to him in Bobby’s final win.
Then in 1992, Davey won the Daytona 500.
But July 11, 1993, the day after the first-ever Cup race at Loudon, New Hampshire, the 191st and final of Davey’s career, finishing third, he flew home that night. The next day, July 12, he flew his Hughes 369HS turbojet chopper to Talladega as part of his support for friend Neil Bonnett, whose son was testing there.
But after a 50-mile flight from Hueytown with Red Farmer, a friend and race driver, Davey attempted to land in a parking lot near the track’s infield care center. The helicopter was about a foot from touching down, when suddenly it surged up 25 feet, spun counter clockwise, rolled and crashed.
Farmer described the crash as like being in a race car as its barrel rolling. “I could see the sun, I could see the ground, I could see the sky. I could see the dirt and asphalt, and everything was spinning and the helicopter was just going crazy and Davey was fighting the controls.”
Davey, since he was at the controls, couldn’t brace for the crash. Farmer said: “When it went down on the left side, he probably hit his head against the side of the helicopter. Then it flipped over and spun a couple of times and landed on my side. I hollered, ‘Davey! We gotta get out of here before it catches on fire!’”
But Davey was unconscious. Farmer, who suffered serious injuries, couldn’t wriggle free and was stuck. Neil Bonnett ran up to the copter, pulled Farmer out and dragged him to safety.
Ursula Smith, a medic who happened to witness the crash and knew Davey since he was a baby, removed Davey from the chopper, with Bonnett’s help, after she cut his seat belt. Davey and Farmer were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Birmingham.
Bonnett and Grant Lynch, general manager of Talladega at the time, drove to Birmingham.
Bonnett, who won 18 Cup series races, would die seven months later in a crash at Daytona.
Davey’s family and friends assembled at the hospital, but he was just being kept alive by machines. He was dead, officially early the next morning, the 13th.
Davey’s wife, Liz, always hated that helicopter. It was an American tragedy. 25 years ago. [Main source: NASCAR.com]
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will not acknowledge Terrell Owens individually during enshrinement weekend in Canton, Ohio, next month, the Hall’s executive director says.
“The focus is on the guys who are here,” Hall of Fame executive director Joe Horrigan said in an interview on Thursday. “There’s no reason to bring him up as an individual. He’s not here.”
Owens announced last month he would not be attending the ceremonies, and would instead give a speech at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Owens said he will deliver his acceptance speech on campus, Aug. 4.
Yes, Owens’ name will be included when the whole class is announced, Horrigan said, just nothing more. The traditional gold jacket will be mailed to him.
Owens, who thus becomes a leading candidate for “Jerk of the Year,” is pissed he wasn’t chosen for the Hall in 2016 or 2017, his first two years of eligibility. Cue Jeff Spicoli while we’re at it.
He was voted into the Hall in February, along with Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Brian Urlacher.
--Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He had three different injuries to the same knee during the course of his rookie season, though team officials said this latest injury is not serious and he “should be 100% ready for training camp,” according to GM Rob Pelinka.
Of course as these injuries pile up, it makes it more difficult to deal Lonzo, which is all about getting rid of LaVar.
--According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, in the opening weeks of legalized sports wagering in the state, venues took in more than $16 million in wagers and collected $3.5 million in gross receipts.
Monmouth Park logged nearly $2.3 million in gross revenue.
Of the $16.4 million in bets booked, $1 million is for contests in the future.
Two-thirds of all bets placed were on baseball, and 14 percent on soccer.
At first blush, you might think, $3.5 million in gross receipts isn’t much, but remember, $2.3 million for Monmouth Park, with fairly minimal expenses, is very promising, as Monmouth looks to keep horse racing alive there, with increased purses and better fields (ditto the Meadowlands, now that it has just begun taking bets).
--There was mass carnage at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans Saturday, when a jaguar escaped from its enclosure and killed six other animals as it rampaged through the grounds.
An employee spotted the 3-year-old animal, a male named Valero, on the loose on zoo grounds around 7 a.m., an hour before the gates were scheduled to be opened for the public.
The jaguar killed four alpacas, one emu and a fox before a team of veterinarians managed to coral and sedate it, CNN reported. No humans were hurt. The zoo was closed for the day, officials saying an “after action review” was underway to determine how the killer cat got free.
‘Jaguar’ moves up from No. 18 to 17 on the All-Species List as a result. ‘Man’ remains No. 423.
--‘Man’ is lucky not to be ranked worse after this one.
“Eight critically endangered black rhinos are dead in Kenya after wildlife workers moved them from the capital to a new national park, the government said, calling the toll ‘unprecedented’ in more than a decade of transfers.
“Preliminary investigations point to salt poisoning as the rhinos tried to adapt to saltier water in their new home, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said, adding the animals likely became dehydrated and drank more salty water in a fatal cycle.
“The ministry suspended the ongoing move of rhinos and said the surviving ones in the new park were being closely monitored.
“The loss is ‘a complete disaster,’ said prominent Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect....
“In moving a group of 11 rhinos to the newly created Tsavo East National Park from Nairobi last month, the Kenya Wildlife Service said it hoped to boost the population there.”
Between 1960 and 1995 numbers of black rhinos dropped by 98 percent to fewer than 2,500, but the population has rebounded some since. [Irish Independent]
--Mark R. was telling me he was recently at the top of Mt. Washington (N.H,), with the lovely Judy R., and they knew enough that the weather could be far different at the top than down below.
So, they were dressed appropriately and it was 35 degrees air temp at the summit, with winds of 60 mph, gusting higher, and Mark said he got a kick out of a large group of Japanese tourists “who froze their butts off,” among the tourists who “stupidly got off the train in shorts and tees!”
--We have an “Idiot of the Year” candidate, though I’m going to protect the woman’s identity in not revealing her last name.
Brad K. passed along the following from the Associated Press, dateline Atlanta.
“Bears don’t usually pack a lunch, but they’ll be happy to eat whatever someone else has prepared.
“WSB-TV reports that Carrie W. of Rabun County found a large black bear enjoying her sandwich, chips and a cookie inside her minivan after climbing through an open window.
“W. had left the windows down Wednesday to combat the summer heat. She initially thought the bear was a black cat.”
Good lord...what an idiot!
“The bear spent about 30 minutes in the van before it climbed back out the window and scaled a tree.”
Brad K. suggested ‘Man’ fall another notch for misidentifying a bear. I agree, but ‘Man’ gains one for the Thai Cave Boys Rescue, so it’s a wash.
--Finally, we note the passing of Nancy Sinatra Sr., the first wife of entertainer Frank Sinatra, who died at the age of 101.
She was the first of Frank Sinatra’s four wives and the mother of the legendary singer’s three children, including daughter Nancy, who had a 1966 hit with “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.’”
Nancy Sinatra Jr. wrote on Twitter: “Our mother was a fighter until the end when her brave, loving heart gave out....She made a difference.”
Nancy Sinatra Sr. was 17-year-old Nancy Rose Barbato, a daughter of a Jersey City, N.J., plastering contractor, when she met a skinny, 18-year-old fledgling singer from Hoboken in the summer of 1934 while they were both vacationing on the Jersey Shore.
“I was a poor, lonely and discouraged kid when I met her,” Frank Sinatra told American Weekly in 1952. “In Nancy, I found beauty, warmth and understanding.”
The couple continued dating and the following summer, he took her to see Bing Crosby at a theater in downtown Jersey City.
Nancy recalled in “Frank Sinatra: An American Legend,” Nancy Jr.’s 1995 book, “Bing had always been his hero. ‘Someday,’ he told me on the way home, ‘that’s gonna be me up there.’”
As Dennis McLellan writes in the Los Angeles Times:
“Frank and Nancy were married Feb. 4, 1939, in a Catholic church in Jersey City, where they set up housekeeping in a three-room apartment.
“The frugal young bride bargain-hunted at the grocery store and sewed her own clothes; she once cut up one of her dresses and used the material to make a bow tie for Frank that would match what he planned to wear on a singing job. During their early years, she later said, she made all of his bow ties.
“As newlyweds, Nancy was working as a $25-a-week secretary and Frank was working as a $25-a-week singing waiter and master of ceremonies at the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
“Several months after the wedding, trumpeter Harry James heard Frank sing and hired him to be the featured male vocalist in his new orchestra.
“As Frank’s singing career took off and then soared – he was named top male band vocalist by Billboard in 1941 – Nancy gave birth to their children: Nancy in 1940, Frank Jr. in 1944 and Christina (Tina) in 1948.”
But the Sinatras’ marriage was hardly of the storybook kind, as portrayed in fan magazines. Frank was frequently on the road and became a legendary womanizer, and Nancy was reportedly humiliated by her husband’s affairs, ranging from show girls to movie stars, but she apparently tried to overlook his faults, wanting only the best for his career.
There were people in Sinatra’s camp who wanted to make sure the nation saw Frank as a happily married family man, however, and it’s been said his press agent, George Evans tried to break up his extramarital romances. At the same time, Evans was attempting to transform Nancy into a glamourous, winning woman.
But the changes didn’t curtail Frank’s behavior, and when word got out Frank was heavily involved with actress Ava Gardner in 1950, Nancy filed for divorce and asked for custody of their children. A week after the divorce was official, Frank married Gardner.
Then in 1966, when Frank was 50, he married 21-year-old actress Mia Farrow, though this union was short-lived. He was then married to his fourth wife, Barbara, when he died in 1998 at age 82. Nancy never remarried.
But Frank and Nancy remained friends, and in his later life he was known to just show up at her home and fall asleep on the sofa. As he became more ill, Nancy visited him often.
Margalit Fox / New York Times:
“What is surprising, given the circumstances, is that for nearly half a century – from the end of their marriage in 1951 until his death, at 82, in 1998 – Nancy Barbato Sinatra, remained her ex-husband’s cherished friend and quiet confidante, displaying a fealty that was noteworthy even for a woman of her time....
“Nancy remained profoundly private, uttering barely a word in public about her life with Sinatra, though their mutual feelings were clear, her granddaughter, A.J. Lambert, recalled, to those who knew them best.
“ ‘I know he never stopped loving her,’ Ms. Lambert wrote for Vanity Fair in 2015. ‘And I know she never stopped loving him.’”
In his book “Why Sinatra Matters,” Pete Hamill reported that later in life, Mrs. Sinatra was asked why she never remarried.
“After Sinatra?” she replied. RIP.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/15/72: #1 “Lean On Me” (Bill Withers) #2 “Too Late To Turn Back Now” (Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose) #3 “Outa-Space” (Billy Preston)...and...#4 “Song Sung Blue” (Neil Diamond...mailed it in in retrospect...) #5 “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” (Looking Glass) #6 “Rocket Man” (Elton John...prior to the birth of Kim Jong Un...) #7 “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” (Wayne Newton...not bad, 46 years later...) #8 “Alone Again (Naturally)” (Gilbert O’Sullivan...as I note every time this song comes up...truly one of the most depressing tunes ever recorded, next to Chopin’s ‘Funeral March’...as brilliant as that is, I hasten to add....and after all, it does brighten up some...) #9 “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right” (Luther Ingram...I’m going to bed tonight thinking about the meaning of this title...) #10 “Where Is The Love” (Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway...truly a brilliant tune that should be part of the Voyager albums attached to the capsule...)
Baseball Quiz Answer: 20+ home runs, 1997 Seattle Mariners. Paul Sorrento, 31; Alex Rodriguez, 23 (A-Rod just 21); Russ Davis, 20; Ken Griffey Jr., 56; Jay Buhner, 40; and Edgar Martinez, 28. I don’t need to remind you this was the steroid era.
Next Bar Chat, Monday, July 23. I’m taking my own All-Star break.
*By the way, truthfully, the above is Bar Chat Edition 2,101.