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Play Ball! Praise Jesus!
[Posted Sun. p.m., prior to Mets-Braves…]
NBA Quiz: With the season restarting on Thursday, who were the six players averaging over 28 points per game when the season was halted, all having played at least 50 games. Answer below.
--It actually happened…we had Opening Day, and in the very first game, Gerrit Cole threw a 5-inning complete game, the Yankees defeating the Nationals in a rain-shortened affair, Giancarlo Stanton hitting a 459-foot bomb (and then a 483-foot moonshot the next day, a 9-2 loss to Washington). Baseball was off and running, determined to plow ahead, even as Nationals star Juan Soto was held out after testing positive. [He now must receive back-to-back negative test results confirmed by a lab before returning to play.]
As I told you beforehand, I was far from enthusiastic when it came to the 60-game schedule, but watching the Yanks and Nats, the enthusiasm returned (to a great extent). It’s still the same game, with some tweaks in the rules.
Us traditionalists don’t like starting extra innings with a runner on second base, but the games do end earlier, and I’ll accept the DH if it’s the permanent change it certainly appears it will be.
I’m not fired up about an expanded playoff, where everyone gets a trophy with 16 of 30 qualifying instead of ten. But we’ll all be fired up if we get to the end of September and the Boys of Covid are still playing.
--The Yanks ended up taking 2 out of 3 from the Nationals, 3-2 winners today as Washington and Patrick Corbin blew a 2-0 lead, the Yanks with homers from Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit to tie it, and then after going ahead 3-2, Washington had a runner on second, none out in the bottom of the ninth, but pinch-runner Emilio Bonifacio was caught stealing at third after oversliding the bag. Inexcusable, but begging the question, ‘why?’
--Matt Davidson, the Opening Day designated hitter for the Reds, was placed on the 10-day injured list after testing positive on Saturday.
“Definitely worrisome, as it would be for anybody in our organization, but a player who is in our clubhouse, one of our teammates,” Reds catcher Curt Casali said. “I feel like as an organization, we’ve done a really, really nice job of following protocol and being safe, washing our hands and wearing our masks when appropriate and Matt was no exception to that.”
Davidson was in the dugout throughout Friday’s season opener, so there are some anxious Reds players as they await their test results. Players are tested every other day through saliva tests. They must report their temperature twice a day before reporting to the ballpark and fill out a survey to say they don’t feel any symptoms.
In other developments from the first few games….
--Cleveland ace Shane Bieber struck out 14 over six scoreless innings in a historic outing as the Indians beat the Royals 2-0 in their delayed home opener on Friday night. Bieber passed Bob Gibson and Lon Warneke for most strikeouts without allowing a run on Opening Day in MLB history. The 14 Ks were the most in the majors in an opener since Hall of Famer Randy Johnson also fanned 14 on March 31, 1996.
--And I was wrong in saying we wouldn’t have a complete game (the 9-inning variety, not Gerrit Cole’s 5-inning stint) when the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks threw a masterful 3-hit shutout, no walks, nine strikeouts, Chicago beating Milwaukee 3-0 in their opener. Hendricks needed just 103 pitches.
--In the league’s first game with the new extra-inning rule, Oakland first baseman Matt Olson hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th to give the A’s a 7-3 win over the Angels.
But in the top of the inning, Shohei Ohtani – the first player to ever begin an inning on second – was thrown out trying to advance to third on a ground ball.
Having made the last out in the ninth inning, under the new rules, Ohtani then was placed on second to start the top of the 10th with Jared Walsh leading off for Los Angeles.
Walsh hit a ground ball to the right side and rather than going for the easy out, Matt Olson threw to third as Ohtani tried to advance. The throw beat the runner by a long way, Ohtani then caught in a rundown and the A’s didn’t score.
--San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer had two three-run doubles in the sixth and seventh innings, racking up six RBIs, in the Padres’ 7-2 win over Madison Bumgarner and the Diamondbacks; Chris Paddack with six scoreless for San Diego.
--Phillies free-agent pickup Zack Wheeler threw seven strong innings of one-run ball in his debut Saturday, the Phils beating the Marlins 7-1, career bit player Phil Gosselin with two homers for Philadelphia.
--As for my Metsies, they won their opener Friday, 1-0, over the Braves at Citi Field, as two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom extended his scoreless inning steak to 28 with five innings of one-hit, 8 strikeout ball.
But once again it was a no-decision for Jake, the Mets winning on Yoenis Cespedes’ solo homer in the seventh off Atlanta’s Chris Martin. A dramatic development for Mets fans as it was Cespedes’ first game since July 20, 2018 due to heel and ankle injuries, and a battle on his ranch with a wild boar. Thank you ‘universal DH,’ because he’s already proved he can still rake.
But then in Game 2 Saturday, it was the same old 2019 Metropolitans. Steven Matz pitched six strong, allowing just one run, the bullpen again was doing the job, holding the Braves scoreless in the seventh and eighth, but then enter Edwin Diaz.
Diaz, he of the 2-7, 5.59 ERA, 15 home runs allowed in 58 innings, seven blown saves (but it was far worse than that) 2019, had successfully closed Friday’s opener.
But Mets announcer Gary Cohen noted that Diaz did not have back-to-back saves all last season on consecutive days and sure enough with two outs and Atlanta down to its final strike, down 2-1, Marcell Ozuna blasted a tying homer and the Braves won in ten, 5-3.
How much more rope in a 60-game season will new Mets manager Luis Rojas give Diaz? I’m guessing just one more chance. There are other closers in the pen, namely Jeurys Familia and Dellin Betances, both of whom looked strong.
--The Dodgers, who started off 2-1 through Saturday’s play, with Clayton Kershaw missing the opener due to stiffness in his back, thrilled their fans as they reached an agreement with outfielder Mookie Betts on a 12-year, $365 million contract extension that should keep Betts in Los Angeles for the rest of his career. The deal includes a $65 million signing bonus. Betts will make $10 million during this abbreviated season before the new deal begins in 2021.
The deal is the second-largest of all time, exceeded only by the 12-year, $426.5 million extension Mike Trout signed with the Angels in March 2019.
Not staging a season could have meant Betts never would have played a meaningful game for the Dodgers, having arrived in a trade with Boston as a potential one-year rental with free agency looming.
But it’s good for the game to have a player like Betts on a big stage.
Betts made a lasting impression in spring training, arriving every day at 5 a.m. for workouts. His teammates emerged in awe of his work ethic and determination. They instantly viewed him as a leader.
“It’s just amazing,” Betts said Wednesday after removing his Dodgers mask for a Zoom conference with reporters. “An amazing opportunity.”
Bill Plaschke / Los Angeles Times
“In giving their newly acquired former MVP a 12-year, $365 million contract extension – the largest in team history and second-largest in baseball history – the Dodgers hit the equivalent of an Opening-Day, walk-off homer, one that could soar for generations.
“Their best player is now their cornerstone player. Their leadoff hitter with the dagger stare is now the face of the franchise….Betts is now a Dodger for life.”
Betts is off to a 2-for-16 start.
--Other good stories today, Sunday….
Cleveland pitcher Carlos Carasco last pitched May 30, 2019, before being diagnosed with leukemia. He returned today and threw six innings, two runs, and gets the win as the Indians defeat the Royals 9-2, Jose Ramirez with two home runs.
And then there is Nelson Cruz. The Twins slugger turned 40 on July 1st and all he did today was slug two home runs and two doubles, seven RBIs in all, giving him 10 in the first three games, the Twins defeating the White Sox 14-2.
Cruz didn’t become a regular until age 28…yet he now has 404 HR, 1,129 RBI. As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while she fixed his Cream of Wheat, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
I haven’t seen the details yet, but clearly one of the greatest single games by an age 40 player in history.
--As for the vagabond Toronto Blue Jays, who are prevented from playing their home games in Toronto due to coronavirus restrictions, including all the travel between Canada and the U.S. for the team, the Blue Jays have settled on Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., home of their AAA franchise. The team said it would play “the greater part of its home schedule” in Buffalo but did not specify what other sites might be used.
Earlier it had been reported that the Blue Jays would play their games in Pittsburgh, sharing PNC Park with the Pirates, but Pennsylvania health officials would not give permission.
--Pete M. passed on the story of Wei-Yin Chen that I had missed in The Athletic (I subscribe, but don’t read it cover to cover, so to speak).
Chen, a lefty hurler, got off to a solid major league start with the Baltimore Orioles, going 16-6, 3.54 ERA in 2014 and 11-8, 3.34, in 2015. He then parlayed that into a five-year, $80 million contract with the Marlins, after which in his first four years, he went a combined 13-19, 5.10.
Pitching out of the bullpen in 2019 after being a starter his entire career, Chen appeared in 45 games and pitched to a 6.59 ERA, giving up 15 home runs and 87 hits in 68 innings.
So the Marlins then released him, and Seattle signed him to a minor-league free-agent deal over the winter – but also released him.
This then meant the Marlins were responsible for paying all $22 million he was owed for 2020. And that didn’t change, even in this pandemic-shorted season.
Which means that Wei-Yin Chen is the highest paid player in baseball this season! Why? Well the likes of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole would have made more but they will only receive their prorated salaries.
Players who got released before the crisis, though, get every penny.
Jacoby Ellsbury, also released, isn’t far behind, $21.142 million, but the Yankees have filed a grievance, seeking to void the rest of his contract.
--Finally, Dr. Anthony Fauci had to explain his atrocious ceremonial first pitch prior to the Yankees-Nationals opener Thursday.
“I completely destroyed my arm!” he said.
As reported by Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal:
“Two nights before Fauci was scheduled to throw (the pitch), the world’s most recognizable 79-year-old immunologist went to a Washington, D.C. elementary school to play catch with a local high-schooler. It was the first time he had thrown in decades. He felt good. He felt ready.
“Then he woke up the next morning.
“ ‘My arm was hanging down around my shoes,’ he said….
“The last time he played anything resembling competitive baseball was more than a half-century ago. He was rusty. This is why anyone walking past Horace Mann Elementary School on Tuesday night would have encountered the odd sight of Anthony Fauci tossing a baseball for 30 minutes.
“ ‘I was stupid,’ he said. ‘I should’ve warmed up for 10 minutes.’”
His arm was still hurting Thursday.
“ ‘When I saw (the catcher) was so far away, I said I better try to throw a bullet,’ Fauci said. ‘And that was a mistake.’…
“ ‘Instead of doing my normal motion of just lobbing the ball, which would’ve been the best thing to do, I thought: Oh, baby, I better put a lot of different oomph into it,’ Fauci said. ‘And I did. And you saw what happened.’
“What happened was Fauci went into his windup and…bounced a wild pitch to the backstop.
“ ‘It went as a line drive toward first base.’”
*** I didn’t pick a team to win it all this shortened season, but for the record, Shu has Diamondbacks losing to the Twins in the WS*. Not sure if the heat is getting to him in Phoenix, though I know he is largely sheltering in place and has air conditioning.
*My bad...initially had this the other way around.
The NBA is due to reopen Thursday, but Clippers guard Lou Williams is in all likelihood going to miss the team’s opening games after he admitted he was at an Atlanta strip club.
But wait, I thought he was supposed to be in the NBA bubble at the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida?
Well, Williams left with an excused absence to attend a funeral, and then admitted he stopped briefly at Magic City in Atlanta, accompanied by rapper Jack Harlow, who posted a picture of the two of them but later deleted the image saying it was an old photo. Both of them had masks on, however.
Williams then admitted he was indeed there and faces an extended quarantine time of up to 14 days. If a player undergoes daily Covid tests that come back negative, that quarantine could be just four days. New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson left the Disney campus for an excused reason, had negative tests while he was away and is now in a four-day quarantine after returning. But according to the league’s protocols, four days can be extended to ten days at the direction of a physician designated by the NBA.
It is assumed as of now that Williamson will be in the lineup for Thursday’s opener against the Jazz.
--Meanwhile, the Knicks, not involved in the bubble and looming playoffs, settled on a head coach, Tom Thibodeau. He’ll be bringing his demanding style and history of defensive innovation to Gotham.
The hiring was expected since Leon Rose took over as team president in March, but contract negotiations had stalled. Both sides then agreed on a five-year deal.
Thibodeau, 62, arrives with success and baggage. He was tremendous as a defensive-minded assistant coach – first with the Knicks under Jeff Van Gundy, then with the Celtics under Doc Rivers – and he parlayed that to a successful stint as head coach with the Bulls.
But Thibodeau has feuded with management in the past, such as with the Bulls front office, and then when he took over in Minnesota, clashing with both owner Glen Taylor and star forward Karl-Anthony Towns.
One of the criticisms aimed at Thibodeau over the years was he ignored minutes restrictions and overused his starters, though now he says he has a better understanding of how to handle resting players.
--The NFL and its players struck a deal to steer the league’s finances through an uncertain pandemic season that executives project will lead to a multibillion-dollar drop in revenue.
The pact between the league and the NFL Players Association aims to spread the impact of that decline over several years, instead of a precipitous decline I wrote of the other day such as in the salary cap. Another critical part of the discussions was the uncertainty over the season happening in full – with the potential that it could be shortened or even canceled depending on the state of the pandemic – and how much the players would be paid in those scenarios.
The salary cap has risen by $10 million annually for seven straight years, all the way to $198 million in 2020. Teams built their rosters, doled out contracts and devised their strategies based on that figure.
But potentially that figure could fall to $120 million in 2021, a rather important issue with four teams already having more than $200 million committed to the cap in 2021.
The agreement sets a floor for the 2021 cap at $175 million, which will still lead to some roster upheaval, but it is far higher and more manageable than it would be otherwise.
Additional losses will be spread out over the following two years, 2022 and 2023. It’s possible those reductions will be modest given the new round of lucrative media-rights deals that promise to bring in tens of billions of dollars. [Andrew Beaton / Wall Street Journal]
--Jets two-time Pro-Bowl safety Jamal Adams has been complaining nonstop about his lack of a long-term contract that would put him among the elite in the sport, when if he had just been a good team player, which us fans all thought he was his first few years, he would have received riches beyond his wildest dreams (assuming we had a vaccine early in 2021 that people believed in…thus a normal NFL season that fall).
Adams was the best player on the team, with a superb 2019 in which he returned an interception and fumble for touchdowns, had 75 tackles, and 6 ½ sacks. He impacted a game unlike few safeties can, though he strangely only has two interceptions in 46 games.
But Adams bitched himself out of Gotham and was traded to Seattle for a solid safety, veteran Bradley McDougald, and two first-round picks (2021 and 2022) and a third-rounder in 2021.
Adams sealed his fate in just the past few days when he publicly criticized coach Adam Gase and said that general manager Joe Douglas had lied to his agent.
The Jets had maintained they were not going to trade him unless they were blown away by an offer and it appears they were.
Running back Le’Veon Bell, whom Adams had very publicly called for the Jets to sign, tweeted on learning the news: “ppl do all the hootin & hollerin to get you brought in, just to leave. lol like people weird yooo, the internet got these dudes doin whatever for attention, even when they tell you s—t they don’t believe themselves.”
I do like what Bell said when it was suggested he was mad. “I’m not mad, I’m motivated.”
Mike Vaccaro / New York Post
“First, the good: The Jets did about as well as they could possibly have done Saturday, when they finally gave in to the reality of their present predicament and shipped disgruntled safety Jamal Adams (and a future fourth-round pick) to Seattle….
“GM Joe Douglas…got a haul in return for a player who clearly didn’t want to be here. In his first turning-point moment, Douglas does well.
“Century Link Field is 2,839 miles away from the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park. It is clear that by the time the deal went down, that was barely a far enough distance for both sides to retreat to neutral corners.
“But Douglas’ job is only partially finished now. The hard part comes next. The hard part will be maximizing those picks – and the Seahawks, with Adams’ help, aren’t likely to make Douglas’ job easier in that regard by tanking their way into the draft’s top 10 in either 2021 or 2022. And it isn’t just helpful if he does well in those drafts, it’s an imperative.
“Otherwise, what the Jets did Saturday afternoon will be an almost note-for-note replay of what the Knicks did in the winter of 2018 with their version of Jamal Adams.
“On Jan. 31, 2019, after relations between team and player had reached an unbridgeable chasm, the Knicks dealt Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks for, in essence, salary-cap room (with which they hoped to land a max free agent) and two No. 1 picks (which, similarly, are not likely to be all that choice given that Porzingis has already helped turn Dallas into a better team than they were before).
“In both instances, young, impossible-to-replace talents had grown so disillusioned with dystopian cultures for two chronically losing teams that they didn’t just demand trades, they made it all-but-impossible for the teams to choose any other path….
“So within the space of 20 months two gifted kids at the top of their game – Adams is 24, already a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro last year; Porzingis was 23, coming off his first All-Star season – have decided to force their way out of this town, out of New York City, a sporting city that is supposed to be a magnet for stars, not a repellant….
“But the fact is, winning in professional sports means finding ways to make your best players happy. It means acquiring players like Porzingis and Adams, not shedding them….
“What both players wanted was something that ought to be unthinkable: They wanted out of New York, wanted out of a sporting city that can literally offer the world to its brightest lights and biggest stars. The Knicks and Jets ought to be destination spots. This isn’t Stillwater, Okla., after all. This isn’t Bismarck, N.D.
“Maybe Douglas has the goods to make this trade seem like an even greater heist by the time he’s done working the ’22 draft. Like Leon Rose [Knicks president], maybe he can find a star or two, a player around whom you’re supposed to be able to build something. A guy like Kristaps Porzingis, perhaps. Or Jamal Adams.”
--Kansas City offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif announced he was opting out of the 2020 season due to concerns about Covid-19, becoming the first known NFL player to do so.
Duvernay-Tardif, who started at guard in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory, is the only medical school graduate in the NFL and has been on the front lines of the Covid-19 response. He tweeted in part:
“This is one of the most difficult decision I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally.
“Being at the frontline (sic) during this offseason has given me a different perspective on the pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our commitments simply to play the sport that I love. If I am to take risks, I will do it caring for patients.”
Duvernay-Tardif goes into the December file for all the right reasons.
We’ve had good news and bad news. While the coronavirus continues to surge through Southern California, the latest round of testing on USC’s campus yielded some hopeful results. Zero positive cases out of 120 tests this week, with two weeks remaining until the tentative start of its fall football camp. It’s the first round of testing conducted at USC that’s yielded zero positive tests since athletes began returning to campus in mid-June.
But Michigan State’s entire football team is quarantining or self-isolating for 14 days after a second staff member and one athlete tested positive, the team announced Friday. This isn’t quite as serious, yet, as it sounds…though check back in two weeks.
And Rutgers football has halted its voluntary workouts due to six recent positive cases of Covid-19.
As first reported on Rutgers Sports Insider:
“Since returning to campus on June 15, Rutgers football has experienced four positive tests for Covid-19. Today, we learned of six additional positive Covid-19 results in our latest weekly testing cycle,” according to a university statement released Saturday. “As a result, we have paused all in-person team activities, quarantined our entire program and will work diligently with Rutgers medical experts, and state and local officials to determine next steps.”
Earlier, Ohio State, Maryland, and Indiana had stopped workouts due to positive cases.
What’s frustrating is that New Jersey is in great shape these days, relative to other regions, but you don’t know how much traveling has been taking place among players and staff.
The PL has a great tradition of finishing the season with all 10 games played at the same time and we had a number of exciting issues to decide, like who would be the final two entrants into the Champions League, aside from Liverpool and Manchester City; would Tottenham clinch a Europa League slot; and could Aston Villa survive to play another season in the Premier League.
In the end, Leicester City, needing to defeat Manchester United to make it into the Champions League, lost to Man U 2-0, thus completing a total collapse in the second half of the season. Back on February 1st, Leicester led Man U by 14 points, solidly ensconced in third, and ends up in fifth, four points behind. The Foxes lost three out of their last four.
On the other hand, great job by United and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Chelsea beat Wolverhampton 2-0, while Tottenham drew with Crystal Palace, 1-1, Harry Kane with another for the Spurs, so Tottenham secured the second Europa League slot over the Wolves on goal differential.
The Wolves are still in the final 16 of the 2019-20 Europa League, the winner of that gaining a Champions League slot, but if Chelsea beats Arsenal in the FA Cup final, Wolverhampton will also qualify for the 2020-21 Europa League by virtue of Chelsea having already qualified for the Champions League. [This is one way to keep your brain sharp…all the different permutations, but, granted, it’s not as difficult as “Person, woman, man, camera, TV.” Or is it: “Person, woman, man, cable, TB?” I’m not sure, I’m hard of hearing…we move on…]
As for the fight to avoid relegation, congratulations to Aston Villa, which had two wins and two draws in its final four to stay in the big leagues for another year by a single goal, as it turned out. AV drew with West Ham 1-1, thanks to a superb goal by Jack Grealish, one of the more exciting players in the sport, while Arsenal held off Watford 3-2.
Final Standings…38 matches played….
1. Liverpool 38 – 99 points…a final 3-1 win over Newcastle today
2. Man City 38 – 81
3. Man U 38 – 66 ….GD 30
4. Chelsea 38 – 66 …GD 15
5. Leicester 38 – 62
6. Tottenham 38 – 59 …GD 14
7. Wolves 38 – 59 …GD 11
8. Arsenal 38 – 56
17. Aston Villa 38 – 35
18. Bournemouth 38 – 34 …a valiant 3-1 win today over Everton their last gasp
19. Watford 38 – 34
20. Norwich 38 – 21
--This week’s field at the 3M Open, TPC Twin Cities outside Minneapolis, was rather weak, what with a WGC event next week and then the PGA Championship, but you still had Brooks Koepka, who missed another cut, falling to No. 155 in the FedEx Cup standings with just a few tournaments left in which to qualify for the playoffs (top 125).
And Dustin Johnson withdrew with a sore back after a 78 in the first round. At last week’s Memorial Tournament, DJ had back-to-back 80s. This after winning the Travelers Championship weeks prior.
Meanwhile, heading into today’s final round, there was Tony Finau again, just two back of Michael Thompson and Richy Werenski.
But while Finau shot a respectable 3-under 68, Thompson picked up his second career win, the first being way back in 2013, shooting 67 and finishing two ahead of Adam Long. Good on Michael. He deserved it, playing great the final three holes when it mattered most.
Finau was T3, and now has 30 top tens since his first and only win. This has become one of the major side stories on the Tour these days.
--No race this weekend, but we had one on Thursday night, Denny Hamlin racing to his series-leading fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season, passing, who else, Kevin Harvick in the closing laps and holding off Brad Keselowski to make it back-to-back victories at Kansas Speedway.
Harvick ended up fourth, sliding across behind Martin Truex Jr.
It was the 42nd win of Hamlin’s career. Harvick has a two-point lead over him in the overall standings thus far, Harvick with four wins.
--Maurice Petty died, age 81. He was the brother of Richard Petty and a Hall of Famer in his own right, the first to be inducted into the Hall for engine building, Maurice being responsible for most of Richard’s 200 career wins.
--We note the passing of the great Regis Philbin, 88. Just shy of his birthday, Philbin died of natural causes Friday, according to a family statement to People.
As David Bauder of the Associated Press wrote in an obituary:
“Celebrities routinely stopped by Philbin’s eponymous syndicated morning show, but its heart was in the first 15 minutes, when he and co-host Kathie Lee Gifford – on ‘Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee’ from 1985-2000 – or Kelly Ripa – on ‘Live! with Regis and Kelly’ from 2001 until his 2011 retirement – bantered about the events of the day. Viewers laughed at Philbin’s mock indignation over not getting the best seat at a restaurant the night before, or being henpecked by his partner.
“ ‘Even I have a little trepidation,’ he told The Associated Press in 2008, when asked how he does a show every day. ‘You wake up in the morning and you say, ‘What did I do last night that I can talk about? What’s new in the paper? How are we gonna fill that 20 minutes?’’
“ ‘I’m not gonna say it always works out brilliantly, but somehow we connect more often than we don’t,’ he added.”
Philbin started out by parking cars at a Los Angeles TV station and ended up logging more than 15,000 hours on the air, earning him recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most broadcast hours logged by a TV personality, a record previously held by Hugh Downs, which is kind of ironic, the two dying within weeks of each other.
“ ‘Every day, you see the record shattered, pal!’ Philbin would tell viewers. ‘One more hour!’”
Philbin hosted the prime-time game show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” briefly television’s most popular show at the turn of the century. ABC aired it as many as five days a week, generating around $1 billion in revenue in its first two years – ABC had said it was the most profitable show in TV history – and helped make Philbin himself a millionaire many times over.
Philbin’s question to contestants, “Is that your final answer?” became a national catchphrase.
“You wait a lifetime for something like that and sometimes it never happens,” Philbin told the AP in 1999.
“Philbin was the type of TV personality easy to make fun of, and easy to love.
“When his son Danny first met his future wife, ‘we were talking about our families,’ Danny told USA Today. ‘I said, ‘You know that show Regis and Kathie Lee?’ And she said, ‘I hate that show.’ And I said, ‘That’s my dad.’’
“Yet Philbin was a favorite of a younger generation’s ironic icon, David Letterman. When Letterman announced that he had to undergo heart surgery, it was on the air to Philbin, who was also there for Letterman’s first day back after his recovery.
“Letterman returned the favor, appearing on Philbin’s show when he went back on the air in April 2007 after undergoing heart bypass surgery.”
In 1985, after success in morning television in Los Angeles, and then New York, he teamed with Kathie Lee Johnson, a year before she married former football star Frank Gifford, and the show went national in 1988.
Good Housekeeping magazine wrote in 2000 of Philbin’s “sarcastic playfulness” which endeared him to fans.
“He’s the little guy protesting the injustices of life, from crime waves to paper cuts,” the magazine wrote. “The ranting is punctuated with Kathie Lee’s familiar cry of ‘Oh, Reege,’ uttered sometimes in sisterly sympathy and sometimes in teacherly admonishment.”
Kathie Lee Gifford offered a simple, fitting tribute: “REGIS. There will never be another.”
Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest wrote a tribute together: “We are beyond saddened to learn about the loss of Regis Philbin. He was the ultimate class act, bringing his laughter and joy into our homes everyday on Live for more than 23 years. We were beyond lucky to have him as a mentor in our careers and aspire everyday to fill his shoes on the show. We send our deepest love and condolences to his family and hope they can find some comfort in knowing he left the world a better place.”
President Trump tweeted: “One of the greats in the history of television, Regis Philbin has passed on to even greater airwaves. He was a fantastic person, and my friend. He kept telling me to run for President. Holds the record for ‘most live television,’ and he did it well. Regis, we love you.”
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger wrote that he was “heartbroken to hear that a long time colleague & friend, #regisphilbin passed away at the age of 88. Regis graced us with warmth, humor & a self-deprecating wit, always bringing happiness to us all. Our hearts go out to Joy and to his family. Rest In Peace, Regis.”
--Mike Francesa had his final show on WFAN Friday, after announcing the day before he was walking away, again. It is his second retirement from the airwaves; after a lengthy farewell tour, his first one lasted just four months. But as Dennis Young of the New York Daily News noted, “with the coronavirus still destroying advertising budgets across media, and WFAN furloughing and laying off employees, this one seems likely to stick.”
Francesa spent much of his final show (I didn’t listen to it) ripping social media, which has torched him, saying “it needs to be legislated…Fake news comes from the fact that people are allowed to say anything they want or report anything they want as fact in social media, and get away with it. That has to stop. Some of the nastiness and some of the vitriol has to stop, and it will. It will take years for that to happen, but it will happen.”
Dennis Young: “This is a childlike misconception of communications and free speech laws, and not really worth addressing on that front. It is worth pointing out, though, that Francesa has been able to say basically whatever he wants on the air for three decades, and if the loose standard that has applied to him in that time is applied to everyone, we should be pretty safe.”
--Former Wake Forest assistant basketball coach, Jamill Jones, 37, will serve three years of probation, 1,500 hours of community service and pay a fine of $1,000 in the August 2018 death of Boca Raton resident Sandor Szabo.
Jones had faced up to a year in prison after being found guilty in February of assault in the third degree.
Then an assistant to Danny Manning, Jones had slugged Szabo in the head for drunkenly banging on his car in Long Island City.
Szabo was looking for his ride-share vehicle when he knocked on Jones’ window, his family has said. The former coach pursued Szabo and socked him once in the face. Szabo, 35, fell and hit his head on the pavement, causing a skull fracture and other traumatic brain injuries. He died at the hospital three days later.
A tragic story all around. The Szabo family was not happy with the sentence.
--In another test of the potential for sniffer dogs and the ability to detect Covid-19, eight dogs from the German Bundeswehr were trained for only a week to distinguish between the mucus and saliva of patients infected with coronavirus and non-infected individuals.
The dogs were then presented with positive and negative samples on a random basis by a machine.
The animals were able to positively detect SARS-CoV-2 infected secretions with an 83% success rate, and control secretions at a rate of 96%. The overall detection rate, combining both, was 94%.
Good boy…good boy….
--Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green died at the age of 73, cause not immediately known. The influential blues rock guitarist, whose songs included Albatross, was born in London’s Bethnal Green, forming Fleetwood Mac with drummer Mick Fleetwood in 1967, after a stint in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – filling in for Eric Clapton.
Green and Fleetwood wanted John McVie to join the group on bass, and named the band Fleetwood Mac to entice him – a strategy that was ultimately successful.
Under his direction, the band produced three albums and a series of well-loved tracks including Black Magic Woman, Man Of The World and Oh Well.
Green penned the instrumental Albatross, which remains Fleetwood Mac’s only UK number one single, hitting the top of the charts in January 1969. Carlos Santana’s 1970 version of Black Magic Woman, in which he added conga and timbales drums, became one of his biggest hits.
Green left Fleetwood Mac after a final performance in 1970 as he struggled with mental health difficulties and spiraling drug use. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in hospitals undergoing electro-convulsive therapy during the mid-70s.
The band continued with a transformed line-up featuring a core group of Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie and Christine McVie. This phase gave rise to their huge albums Fleetwood Mac and Rumours.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/28/79: #1 “Bad Girls” (Donna Summer) #2 “Ring My Bell” (Anita Ward) #3 “Good Times” (Chic)…and…#4 “Hot Stuff” (Donna Summer) #5 “Makin’ It” (David Naughton) #6 “Gold” (John Stewart) #7 “I Want You To Want Me” (Cheap Trick) #8 “Shine A Little Love” (Electric Light Orchestra) #9 “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman” (Dr. Hook) #10 “The Main Event/Fight” (Barbra Streisand…the less said about this week the better…it’s a ‘D’…)
NBA Quiz Answer: Six averaging 28 points per game or more when play was halted.
James Harden, HOU, 34.4
Bradley Beal, WSH, 30.5
Giannis, MIL, 29.6
Trae Young, ATL, 29.6
Damian Lillard, POR, 28.9
Luka Doncic, DAL, 28.7
Russell Westbrook, HOU, 27.5
Next Bar Chat, Thursday…or sooner.