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[Posted Wed. a.m.]
College Basketball Quiz: Name the last two schools west of the Mississippi to win the national title. Answer below.
NFL Playoffs...and stuff....
Yes, by now even French President Macron knows that three of the four teams remaining in the playoffs have quarterbacks by the name of Case Keenum, Blake Bortles, and Nick Foles....not Sam Bradford (or Drew Brees), Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Wentz (or Matt Ryan). The topic was beaten to death by the time Stefon Diggs hit the end zone. Yes, this is unusual. But, oh yeah, the fourth playing on Sunday is one Tom Brady.
Al Weis was a hero for the Mets in the 1969 World Series. Gene Tenace hit four homers in the 1972 World Series for the champion A’s, after hitting 5 in 227 regular season at-bats. Stuff happens.
Washington Redskins running back Timmy Smith had 26 carries for 126 in the entire 1987 regular season, then went off for 204 on 22 carries in the Redskins’ Super Bowl victory over Denver.
So we get that this is not the norm having three of four QBs who are retreads. Let’s just now play the games. I mean every Jacksonville fan knows their quarterback next season is Eli Manning, typed the editor mischievously.
But one thing is for sure. We already know that regardless of who wins the two conference championship games on Sunday, the Super Bowl is going to have a number of great story lines.
Jason Gay / Wall Street Journal
“Did you see it? Did you see the Minnesota Vikings win that playoff game on that zany last-second pass?
“Did you scream?
“I screamed. I screamed so loud, the neighbor’s dog started barking. The neighbor’s dog has been dead since 1988.
“It was absurd, outrageous, beautiful – whatever you want to call it. Of course, if you’re a Saints fan, I imagine you’re still hiding underneath the couch. Let me know if you find my remote.
“How do the Minnesota Vikings not feel like the NFL’s team of destiny? They now have a chance to play a Super Bowl at home, in their fancy new ice fishing shed in Minneapolis. No team has ever gotten to do that. After Sunday’s dramatic victory – and make no mistake, that heave from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs is an all-time, top-of-your-lungs, call-the-police, run-down-the-street-in-your-undies sports shocker – the Vikings have to believe they can win a home Super Bowl. And the NBA championship. And a Nobel. And a Top Chef.
“It’s especially crazy because this is not what the Vikings do. What happened Sunday – that’s what other teams are supposed to do to the Vikings. Minnesota is one of the most tormented franchises in sports. All sports. They’ve been to four Super Bowls, and never won one. They’ve lost so many inexplicable heartbreakers, you could easily do an Inexplicable Heartbreaker Top 10. The term ‘Hail Mary’ was coined after a play that beat the Vikings.
“That’s right: every time a football team gets its soul crushed on a last-second long pass, Minnesota gets a royalty.
“Each Vikings generation has experienced some of this pain. That’s why this win didn’t feel like a mere win.
“It felt like an exorcism....
“This has been a rough season for the NFL – the game has been under siege; a lot of its problems self-inflicted. But Jacksonville, Minnesota and Philadelphia are undeniably fun stories. All three teams know agony, melancholy, and outright despair. None of them have ever won a Super Bowl. None of them even had a winning record last season. Late January is approaching, and the NFL should be thrilled. There are three very excitable and deserving fan bases just two wins away from the ultimate prize.
“The New England Patriots are also left in the playoffs.”
--Ben Roethlisberger quickly dispelled rumors he was retiring following Sunday’s playoff loss to Jacksonville. Big Ben said he was returning, especially with the “guys up front” (the O-Line) coming back. The Steelers’ loss wasn’t his fault, that’s for sure. 42 points should be enough. And as I pointed out last time, there were two beyond questionable fourth-and-1 calls that went awry when a simple sneak from Roethlisberger would have done the trick, or Le’Veon up the gut, not on a sweep.
By the way, Roethlisberger is 18 of 19 on fourth-and-1 sneaks in his career, including playoffs.
[And yes, I’m sorry my “Pick to Click” didn’t go further. My record is now a tidy 2-127.]
--The Giants appear to be set to hire Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who was 9-23 in two seasons at Cleveland, 2011-12...4-12, 5-11, which many Browns fans would take these days.
Steve Serby / New York Post
“Shurmur checks a lot of boxes – smart, beautiful offensive mind, quarterback whisperer, high character, team guy, communicator, teacher, delegator, flexible, mature, something to prove – but can he be the ass-kicker head coach aligned with the ass-kicker GM this franchise needs right now?”
Shurmur has received rave reviews from Vikings’ QBs Sam Bradford and Case Keenum.
--Meanwhile, Tennessee and head coach Mike Mularkey parted ways after the Titans’ playoff loss to the Patriots.
While Mularkey was 9-7 his last two seasons after taking over in the middle of the 2015 campaign, and while he guided the Titans to their first postseason appearance since 2008 and had an upset win at Kansas City in the wild-card game, he just always seemed miserable and I can understand why Titans GM Jon Robinson said: “I just felt like we needed to go in a different direction, and maximize the skill sets of the players on the field. I think in any organization, not to speak for other teams, but its ownership, the head coach and the general manager, they all have to be on the same page.”
The Titans were willing to extend Mularkey through 2018, but they wanted to make changes to his coaching staff and couldn’t find enough common ground.
College Basketball Review
AP Poll (Jan. 15...records a/o Sun.)
1. Villanova 16-1 (63)
2. Virginia 16-1 (1) !!!
3. Purdue 17-2 (1)
4. Oklahoma 14-2
5. Duke 15-2
6. West Virginia 15-2
7. Wichita State 15-2
8. Texas Tech 15-2
9. Michigan State 16-3
10. Kansas 14-3
17. Auburn 16-1...huh...
19. Seton Hall 15-3...gonna be a rollercoaster, boys and girls
20. Clemson 15-2
--Monday, Duke beat 25 Miami on the road, 83-75, as freshman Gary Trent Jr. had a breakout game; 30 points, 6 of 9 from three.
And 6 West Virginia was hosting 10 Kansas in Morgantown, had a 41-28 lead at the half, but collapsed in the second, a big win for the Jayhawks, 71-66.
Also, surprising Boston College (13-6, 3-3) defeated Florida State (13-5, 2-4) in Chestnut Hill, 81-75. I’m tellin’ ya, the Eagles are dangerous come ACC tourney time. If they make a little run, they could find themselves in the Big Dance. Love their three guards.
--Clemson headed to Chapel Hill on Tuesday, a staggering 0-58...yes, 0-58...at the home of the Tar Heels. Phil W. passed along a piece by Mike Lopresti of NCAA.com and as Lopresti notes, not only did this streak start in 1926, but it has carried through 16 U.S. presidents.
So they played the game... and make it 0-59, Clemson losing 87-79 to 15 UNC (15-4).
Also last night, 4 Oklahoma was blown out at Kansas State (13-5) 87-69, as Trae Young not only was held to 20 points, but he committed a kind of staggering 12 turnovers.
And South Carolina (12-6) upset 18 Kentucky (14-4) in Columbia, 76-68.
--The Knicks won their annual MLK Day game, this one in Brooklyn, 119-104, to go to 5-15 on the road (20-24 overall), as Kristaps Porzingis finally stepped up and had a very solid game, 26 points in 27 minutes, 8 of 14 from the field while getting to the line 11 times. And our first-round pick, 19-year-old Frank Ntilikina, had his best game, 10 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists in 29 minutes. But now it’s six more games on the road before returning home. This is it, Knicks fans! Do or die.
--In another rematch, Golden State won at Cleveland, 118-108, as LeBron and the Cavs lost their fourth straight, 8 of 10, to fall to 26-17 (the Warriors now 36-9). The other seven of eight losses on the road. Growing discontent in Cleveland.
--But Monday night we also had Houston losing to the Clippers in Los Angeles 113-102, the result being secondary to other stuff that took place near the end of the game and after.
Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni accused Clippers forward Blake Griffin of intentionally making contact with him, which then led to a heated confrontation between the two leading to double technical fouls.
With 3:34 remaining, D’Antoni was arguing with a referee over a goaltending no-call on the previous possession, when Griffin veered toward him and made the contact. After getting fouled seconds later, Griffin then made a beeline for D’Antoni and exchanged expletives with the coach.
“Well, after he said what he said, I said the same thing back,” Griffin said.
D’Antoni said after twice mentioning that Griffin hit him, “I’m not going to get into it. It’s no big deal. Really, it’s no big deal. We just didn’t play well tonight.”
But this story is just getting started.
Rockets guard Chris Paul, who was a Clipper for the past six seasons, confronted Griffin immediately after his shouting match with D’Antoni.
“Coach told me he elbowed him,” Paul said. “Then I see him talking crazy to Coach, so I’m always going to have Coach’s back.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he had seen a similar coach-player incident. “It happens, you know. Mike’s probably fighting for his guys, and you know. ...I don’t think a coach should ever get engaged with a player, personally. But I’ve been guilty of it before.”
Griffin then got ejected with 1:03 remaining, after scoring 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, when he drew his second technical foul for a confrontation with Rockets forward Trevor Ariza.
But we still weren’t at the real story yet.
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“For most of the game they played hard but nice, two former teammates trying to act like this was just another game.
“Then, in the final minutes of the Monday homecoming of former Clippers star Chris Paul, the elephant in the room roared.
“In an on-court confrontation that later spilled into a potentially ugly locker room standoff, the world finally saw the fractured relationship between Paul and former teammate Blake Griffin.
“They never really liked each other. In the end of Paul’s tenure here, they barely could tolerate each other. It is one of the reasons Paul forced a lopsided trade to the Houston Rockets last summer, and the reason Monday’s 113-102 Clippers victory became so heated.
“In the first half, Paul could be seen shouting an expletive at Griffin. Then, with 3:34 left in the game, Paul fouled Griffin on a layup, then jumped in his face after Griffin argued the call. The two men stared and hurled a few words at each other before being separated as the Staples Center crowd openly gasped.
“Griffin was so fired up, or maybe just plain mad at six years of pent-up hostilities with Paul, that he stormed through the rest of the game before being ejected with 1:03 remaining after picking up a second technician foul.
“Griffin marched off the court screaming and exhorting the crowd before throwing his jersey into the stands in a display of emotion unmatched in his Clippers career.
“But it wasn’t done yet. After the game, sources said Paul led a group of four Rockets – including James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green – through a back door into the Clippers locker room in apparent pursuit of Griffin and Austin Rivers, who didn’t play but was talking from the bench. Security officials reportedly stopped the men before a fight ensued, but the message was clear.
“Paul is no longer a Clipper partly because he could not play with Griffin, and Griffin could not play with him, and maybe they broke up just in time.
“The incident was a reminder of something about Paul that bothered all of his teammates. Paul was never so much a team leader as a team instigator. He was tough to play with, and tougher to play with when you didn’t play his way. He was Kobe Bryant without the ability to finish. For all his greatness, he was the guy who would lose the game, then look for a back door to pick a fight.
“ ‘We knew this would be an emotional game in some way; we didn’t know how,’ coach Doc Rivers said.
“But who would have thought it would be like this? The Rockets actually coming into the Clippers locker room?
“ ‘We were where we were supposed to be,’ Griffin said. ‘We were in our seats; you have to ask them.’
“The Rockets were unavailable for comment.
“And to think that earlier that night, Paul was actually given a standing ovation....
“(The) Clippers gave Paul what he did not have the grace to give them. They gave him a classy farewell.
“The giant video board played a tribute. It was filled with replays of the magic Paul created during six seasons that altered a franchise’s history....
“And here came the cheers, growing, growing, from the same folks who had just been jeering, cheers that became a standing ovation that Paul recognized with a wave.
“And just like that, the persistent booing ended. The good memories were bigger than the lousy departure. The gratitude was more powerful than the regret. It made complete sense even if it elicited some quiet frustration.
“ ‘Don’t get me started. ...I have no comment,’ Doc Rivers said when asked about the video and its response. ‘but I was proud of our crowd.’
“Afterward Paul acted like he barely heard it, saying, ‘I was talking to my coach about the defense. I had six great years here; great to see a lot of familiar faces. Tough loss.’”
You know my bottom line when it comes to the guy. Chris Paul is the only former Demon Deacon I can’t stand. He has always been a loser.
--Moving on, Tuesday, the Celtics lost 116-113 in overtime to the Pelicans in Boston, ending the Celts’ seven-game winning streak as Anthony Davis had 45 points and 16 rebounds, after scoring 48 against the Knicks on Sunday.
Prior to the game, fans learned Celtics great Jo Jo White had died at the age of 71. Who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015, and in 1968 helped lead the U.S. men’s team to a gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. He helped lead the Celts to NBA title in 1974 and ’76.
The Celtics, in a statement, called White “a champion and a gentleman; supremely talented and brilliant on the court, and endlessly gracious off of it.”
Boston drafted White, a point guard, ninth out of Kansas, where the Jayhawks lost in 1966 to Texas Western (now UTEP) in a game later featured in the film Glory Road. [White hit a 32-foot last-second shot that would have knocked Texas Western out but the referees ruled he had stepped out of bounds. Texas Western went on to defeat Kentucky, becoming the first team with five black starting players to win the national championship.]
White played parts of 10 seasons for Boston, and then some with Golden State and the Kansas City Kings, averaging 17.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds for his career.
He was also durable, playing in 488 consecutive games for Boston, a Celtics record.
In Game 5 of the 1976 NBA finals, White played 60 of the 63 minutes in a triple-overtime thriller often called the greatest game ever played, a 128-126 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The Celts went on to win in six games, and White was named most valuable player.
Gary Washburn / Boston Globe
“(White) was a prince, always walking with class and dignity, never fully acknowledging his greatness, always directing the attention and adulation of those great 1970s teams to his teammates and coach Tom Heinsohn.”
He battled brain cancer the last few years but never felt sorry for himself. RIP, Jo Jo.
--First the San Francisco Giants acquired third baseman Evan Longoria, now they’ve traded for another former All-Star, centerfielder Andrew McCutchan, the face of the Pirates, for two prospects and some international signing bonus money, the Pirates sending San Fran some cash to partially cover McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary.
McCutchen, 31, hasn’t been an All-Star the past two seasons, but last year he still hit 28 homers, drove in 88, and batted .279 (.363 OBP), and for the 7th season in 8 played in at least 153 games (146 in the other). He’s a pro...ditto Longoria. Love what the Giants are doing. As a Mets fan, I would have loved Longoria as my third baseman and Cutch as my centerfielder the next two seasons.
Yes, Pittsburgh fans are depressed, losing the face of their franchise, but after ending their long drought and making the playoffs three straight season, 2013-15, they were 78-83 and 75-87 the last two. It’s time to reboot. Between the Gerrit Cole deal and this one, they are picking up some decent pieces.
--We note the passing of former umpire Doug Harvey, 87. Harvey was a crew chief for 18 years, part of a 31-year National League career, while working five World Series and handling 4,673 games over all. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Fellow Hall of Famer Joe Morgan said: “Doug Harvey was the model that every umpire should strive to be. He was tolerant to a point, yet the players always knew he was in control.”
Richard Goldstein / New York Times:
“He umpired his first major league game on April 10, 1962, and during his rookie year he learned a lesson he would never forget.
“As he told it, he was in St. Louis, only his third game behind the plate, with Stan Musial at bat. It was the ninth inning, bases loaded, two outs and a full count. As the next pitch approached the plate, Harvey raised his right hand, signaling strike three. But the pitch broke outside by three inches.
“ ‘There I am standing with egg on my face,’ Harvey remembered in a 1992 interview with Jerome Holtzman for Baseball Digest shortly after he retired. “Musial never looked at me. He asked the bat boy to bring him his glove. Then, without turning, he said, ‘Young fellow, I don’t know what league you came from, but we use the same plate. It’s 17 inches wide.’’
“ ‘That’s when I realized why they called him Stan the Man, and I learned not to anticipate the call. I introduced timing to umpiring. That’s my gift to baseball. My heritage. My legacy. Before, the umpires were always told: ‘Be quick! Be decisive!’”
--So with everything going on Sunday night, including the Saints-Vikings ending, and my need to watch a few news items, I flipped on the Sony Open in Hawaii a few holes before they commenced sudden death, and then watched the six-hole playoff between Patton Kizzire and James Hahn, won by Kizzire. I thought the coverage sounded a little different, and some of the camera angles were definitely not normal, but I didn’t know until the next day that union video and audio workers had gone on strike for the Sunday round after negotiations stalled over a new contract.
So the primary announcers throughout five hours of coverage were actually sitting in Golf Channel’s main studio in Orlando, not at Waialae Country Club. And the voices of three reporters doing the first three rounds were nowhere to be heard. And you had no on-course reporting.
No word on the talks and this week’s telecasts, including the first Champions Tour event of the season.
Meanwhile, Patton Kizzire picked up his second win of the wraparound season, and second of his career.
I noted last time that I had just learned of Dan Gurney’s death right before I posted and had no time to write anything on his passing. This was a great American, in the purest sense of the word.
Dan Gurney was born in Port Jefferson, N.Y., April 13, 1931, part of a brilliant family; his father a Harvard MBA and Metropolitan Opera singer, three uncles all MIT engineers.
As a teenager, Gurney and the family moved to California, where he became swept up in the hot rod culture of that era. At 19, he built a car that went 138 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
In 1955, Gurney began racing, later becoming the first driver to win in Formula One (4 times), IndyCar (7 times...in just 28 races) and NASCAR (5 times...in just 16 starts...all at Riverside International Raceway, which pissed off the NASCAR cognoscenti), as well as the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Ford GT40 with AJ Foyt. By winning in all four categories, including sports cars, Gurney is one of just three to do so, the others being Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya.
But with his background, and experience designing his own cars, Gurney wanted his own team. After winning the Belgian Grand Prix in 1967 in his own car, the first and only time an American won an F1 race in a car of his own design, Gurney retired in 1970 at the early age of 39, for the sport, and devoted himself to being car maker and team owner of All American Racers.
Mario Andretti hailed Gurney on Twitter: “I was first inspired by him when I was in midgets dreaming of being like him. I was last inspired by him yesterday. Yes, I mean forever. He understood me better than anyone else, which is why he wrote the foreword for my book in 2001.”
Separately, Mario said later: “He was always a class individual and a gentleman and someone I have the utmost respect for.”
Alas, Gurney never won the Indy 500, finishing second in both 1968 and ’69, and third in 1970, his final year. Believe me, I remember those vividly because my brother was so depressed Gurney didn’t win. [Andretti won his lone Indy in ’69.]
In ’67 after Gurney and Foyt won at Le Mans, it’s Gurney who is credited with the first champagne spray to celebrate.
Bobby Rahal said: “Clearly, Dan is one of the sport’s greatest heroes. He made a mark in racing that very few people were able to make...He was the most broad-based contributor to the sport of racing. I don’t know of anybody any better than that. I think Dan is a true hero, for sure.”
Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti thought so highly of Gurney that he flew from Scotland to be at Gurney’s 85th birthday party in 2016.
“What do you say about Dan Gurney?” Franchitti asked. “He won a lot of races in a lot of different cars, but he is more than the result sheet. He is a giant of our sport. He is smart. He is a great person. He is just one of those people that belong on auto racing’s Mount Rushmore.”
Franchitti added, Gurney was a “fiercely proud American.”
Michael Andretti: “So sad to hear about Dan Gurney passing today. He was an icon and blazed the path of new technologies in our sport. But mainly he was just a great guy who will be sorely missed! #RIPDanGurney”
Graham Rahal: “#RIPDanGurney, arguably the greatest American driver of all time. Accomplished so much internationally & helped form Racing into the sport it is today. Thank you Dan.”
AJ Foyt Racing: “VERY Heavy hearts tonight...AJ lost a close friend, Racing a true Legend.”
Foyt himself said in a statement: “I never use the word legend but in the case of Dan, he was a true legend of our sport.”
Darrell Waltrip: “I’ve known and competed against the greatest drivers of all time. Dan Gurney was a hero of mine not just because he was a great racer but because he was a great person. He will forever be missed.”
Wood Brothers Racing: “Sad to hear about Dan Gurney’s passing. The best there’s ever been. Not ‘one of’ or ‘probably the’ but THE VERY BEST.”
Gurney was a crowd favorite everywhere.
Frank Litsky / New York Times
“Good-looking and charismatic, he was, Sports Illustrated once said, ‘the living assurance to every worried mom that hot-rodders do not all grow up bad.’....
“In a profile of Gurney in 1967, the New York Times said: ‘In the cockpit of his royal blue roadster, wearing a gleaming black helmet and white fireproof racing suit, he looks like a Hollywood version of a Grand Prix driver: handsome, slick, terribly sophisticated. Then he steps out of his car, wearing blue tennis sneakers that are torn, dirty and tired.’”
Gurney’s high point would come that year. In June he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Foyt in a Ford prototype, the first time in that race’s 45-year history that it had been won by an American driver in an American car, and then a week after, Gurney won the Grand Prix of Belgium in an American Eagle, a car he had designed and built himself. He was the first American in 46 years to win a world championship race in an American car.
I remember this was also the height of my brother’s fandom...pictures of Gurney were emerging all over his room.
And if you knew nothing of Dan Gurney because you are of a certain age, understand one thing. In this era of today where it’s “America First,” well Dan Gurney was an original in that regard. Together with driver and designer Carroll Shelby, they founded All American Racers in 1965. The company introduced the Eagle after Gurney envisioned a new Indy 500 car and persuaded Ford to develop the engine and Lotus the body. Gurney would go on to develop Eagles for Indy, Formula One, and Can-Am races.
Eagles won at Indy in 1968, 1973 and ‘75.
“Gurney considered himself a careful driver. ‘Race driving is a form of brinkmanship, I suppose,’ he told The Times in 1967. ‘First you use your judgment to determine where the brink is. Then you use your skill to approach the brink and stay at that point.
“ ‘It’s sort of like balancing along a cliff,’ he continued. ‘You can walk three or four feet from the cliff and have no problem, but someone closer to the edge can beat you. You need judgement to tell you where the edge of the cliff is and skill to get there and stay within a given safety margin.’
“Phil Hill, a rival driver, once suggested that Gurney might have been too careful. ‘I don’t think he wants to win,’ Hill said. ‘He’s a great driver, but something always goes wrong and it’s not always just mechanical.’”
Well, I know my brother would say that’s not fair.
“In a 1960 interview with The Times, Gurney recalled that someone had once said to him, ‘You don’t think about crashing, do you, Dan?’
“ ‘Don’t think about it?’ he said. ‘I think about it all the time. That’s the essence of this, isn’t it? To go as fast as you can without getting killed.’”
Manchester United defeated Stoke 3-0 on Monday, so the standings after 23 of 38 matches:
1. Man City 62 points
2. Man U 50
3. Liverpool 47
4. Chelsea 47
5. Tottenham 44
6. Arsenal 39
Yup, it remains the Big Six and the rest, which is a problem for the sport.
--Sad story at Washington State as backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead Tuesday at his apartment, an apparent suicide with a gunshot wound to his head. Hilinski was a redshirt sophomore who started in the Holiday Bowl in place of Luke Falk, who was injured.
--What a disastrous first round for America’s women at the Australian Open on Monday. Fifth-seeded Venus Williams, 13-seed Sloane Stephens, and 10-seed Coco Vandeweghe all going down.
--Uh oh...if you live in Gamagori, Japan, do not eat the blowfish! Repeat...there’s some bad blowfish going around people, but if you want to eat it anyway, it’s your own trip. [Channeling Wavy Gravy.]
The serious story is that a local supermarket sold five packets of fugu fish without removing the livers, which contain a poison that is incredibly deadly.
Fugu (blowfish) is an expensive seasonal winter dish, eaten raw as sashimi or cooked in soup. The fish’s livers, ovaries and skin contain the deadly poison tetrodotoxin and special training and a license are required to prepare it.
There is no antidote to the poison, which as a story on BBC News puts it, affects the nerve system and the poisoning has been described as “rapid and violent,” leading to first a numbness around the mouth, then paralysis and eventually death.
Kind of similar to the effects of Stefon Diggs’ catch on many Saints fans Sunday.
--Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Simone Biles admitted Monday that she too was abused by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Nassar is being sentenced on seven sexual assault charges in federal court on Thursday as part of a plea agreement and is expected to receive life in prison.
Biles joins the 140 women who have accused Nassar of abuse in his roles at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State.
--Johnny Mac first passed along a piece from Anthony Joseph of the Daily Mail:
“A U.S. Army hero dog, who met Winston Churchill during his military duties in the Second World War, has been posthumously awarded the ‘animal Victoria Cross’ for his brave service.
“Chips, a Husky-cross, was recognized with a PDSA Dickin Medal for protecting the lives of his platoon during beach landings when the British and Americans invaded Sicily in July 1943.
“He met the then-British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, at a Second World War summit in Casablanca.”
[The medal was named after the woman who founded the U.K.’s leading veterinary charity.]
“During the U.S.-led mission, called Operation Husky, as Chips and his platoon landed on the shore at dawn they immediately came under fire.
“But as the soldiers headed for cover, Chips escapade from his lead and ran towards the line of fire which appeared to be coming out of a hut.
“His handler Private John Rowell and the rest of the platoon watched as Chips entered the shack and the firing stopped. One of the enemy soldiers then appeared with the dog at his throat, enabling them to push forward.
“As well as his heroics on the battlefield, Chips served as sentry at the Casablanca Conference in Morocco in January 1943 when the Allies were still fighting to clear the Germans from North Africa.”
Chips was a collie-shepherd-husky mix.
--We note the passing of Dolores O’Riordan, 46, lead singer of the Irish rock band The Cranberries. No details were available.
Formed in Limerick, Ireland at the end of the 1980s, The Cranberries became international stars with hits including “Zombie” and “Linger” that fused alt rock with Celtic-infused pop tunefulness.
O’Riordan had some issues in 2014, with medical records given to a court in an assault case indicating she was mentally ill. Beyond this, I’m not saying anything more. She’s gone.
Top 3 songs for the week 1/17/76: #1 “I Write The Songs” (Barry Manilow) #2 “Theme From Mahogany” (Diana Ross) #3 “Convoy” (C.W. McCall)...and...#4 “Love Rollercoaster” (Ohio Players) #5 “Fox On The Run” (Sweet) #6 “I Love Music” (O’Jays) #7 “Love To Love You Baby” (Donna Summer) #8 “You Sexy Thing” (Hot Chocolate) #9 “Times Of Your Life” (Paul Anka) #10 “Walk Away From Love” (David Ruffin)
College Basketball Quiz Answer: Last two schools west of the Mississippi to win the national title: Kansas, 2008 (over Memphis / John Calipari); Arizona, 1997 (over Kentucky).
Next Bar Chat, Monday.