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Djokovic Bags No. 21
Add-on posted very early Wed. a.m.
The Open Championship
The weather in St. Andrews is going to be mild, mid- to upper-60s, maybe warmer on Sunday, with just a little rain, but as we know, this can change. I mention this because it is at least pretty favorable for Tiger Woods and his balky back (more than his leg).
--Caesars Sportsbook has Rory McIlroy the favorite at 9-1….
Xander Schauffele: 10-1
Jon Rahm: 14-1
Scottie Scheffler: 16-1
Jordan Spieth: 16-1
Matt Fitzpatrick: 18-1
Justin Thomas: 18-1
Defending champ Collin Morikawa: 25-1
Will Zalatoris: 25-1
Dustin Johnson: 35-1
Brooks Koepka: 35-1
Joaquin Niemann: 45-1…I’ll go with him!
Bryson DeChambeau: 65-1
Of course I truly hope DJ, Koepka and DeChambeau royally suck, but no doubt one of them will be there on Sunday, I imagine.
--The last entrant was Trey Mullinax, 30, who qualified late Sunday in winning his first PGA Tour event at the alternate-field Barbasol Championship, Barbasol my shaving crème of choice because it is cheap.
--Greg Norman did respond to the R&A’s decision not to allow him to attend the Open, saying he was unhappy with the move.
“I’m disappointed. I would have thought the R&A would have stayed above it all given their position in world golf. (It’s) petty, as all I have done is promote the growth of the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades,” Norman told Australian Golf Digest.
A rather delusional fellow.
Eamon Lynch / Golfweek
“It’s a sign of how far Greg Norman has traveled on the low road to perdition that the major championships he once elevated with his presence have come to believe that even exhibitions and dinners can only benefit from his absence.
“That sentiment was apparent in April when Augusta National didn’t send Norman an invitation to attend the Masters, which it customarily extends to all living (non-imprisoned) major winners. Now the R&A has declined to invite the Great White Pilot Fish to the Celebration of Champions exhibition in St. Andrews on Monday or to Tuesday’s champions dinner (not a consideration back in Georgia). Augusta Nationial and the R&A are not organizations prone to discourtesies. They don’t do oversights, or at least not accidentally….
“While he’d like to peddle a narrative that the R&A is being picayune and ignoring his past accomplishments, what the governing body is actually doing is acknowledging his present activities. And those activities don’t involve the promotion or growth of golf but rather its wholesale whoring for the purposes of Saudi sportswashing, a difference that might not be as obvious to Norman as it is to folks who don’t conflate the good of the game with their personal enrichment and score-settling.
“The reality is that Norman’s current endeavors have considerably more bearing than his past achievements in determining whether he ought to be invited to events at which many attendees regard him with barely disguised contempt.
“Despite Norman’s insinuation, this isn’t a case of the R&A reflexively choosing sides with the PGA and DP World tours in a commercial dispute with his Saudi-funded LIV Golf. The decision was selfish, sure, but it was made purely in the interests of the R&A, the Open and its ancillary events, not in the interests of Jay Monahan or Keith Pelley.
“Norman has already shown an eagerness to use the 150th Open Championship for cheap stunts intended to raise both his profile and that of his new venture. As when he demanded a spot in the St. Andrews field at age 67, despite his earned exemption having expired at age 60, and gone unused since he was 54. Had he genuinely wished to compete, Norman could have followed the example of Sandy Lyle, the 64-year-old champion from 1985, who entered qualifying this year. Lyle didn’t make it but he tried the only route available. He didn’t demand an exemption to which he wasn’t entitled, but then Lyle isn’t known to have a larger-than-life bust of himself in his garden either….
“The R&A’s decision signals something that, while increasingly evident, has not been stated explicitly. Which is that golf’s most powerful organizations will – when possible, without compromising their championships – impede the stooges who would auction the sport to MBS. Those bodies clearly grasp how ruinous LIV’s success would be to golf’s image and its broader economy as corporate marketing dollars search for safer harbors….
“Decisions have consequences, a lesson learned often by Norman at major championships.
“LIV Golf is a tumor that grows by diminishing everything around it – major championships, established tournaments, tours, formerly estimable venues and, not least, reputations. The thing about ruined reputations is that, at a certain point, the owner of the sullied name becomes impervious to the stain, which instead smears those with whom he associates. It is to the R&A’s credit that it is willing to stiff-arm a man who aims to cheapen the entire sport just to enrich himself at the teat of a tyrant.”
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post
“That fake knockoff handbag known as Greg Norman is not welcome at the British Open, which is as it should be, because the Old Course at St. Andrews is the real thing. The epochal old stones are real, the centuries-deep swales worn by sheep are real, and the stress and stakes as a player approaches the final holes with the claret jug waiting are real. Norman, with his sham cause and counterfeit LIV Golf circuit, simply doesn’t belong in the landscape any more than an imitation Gucci purse.
“ ‘Petty,’ Norman labeled the Royal & Ancient, for refusing to include him in the Celebration of Champions exhibition and dinner. Really? This sour, mean spirited money junkie with his 40-year grudge is calling others small? Norman paints himself as a wronged eminence, disappointed that the R&A didn’t ‘rise above’ and recognize his historical stature. ‘All I have done is promote and grow the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades,’ he told Australian Golf Digest. That’s some magic mirror Norman must look into if he thinks his ugly, predatory work for the murderous Saudi state, his chronic whining and his gimmicky golf should make him admired, much less honored.
“Let’s be frank. LIV Golf is nothing more than a vanity project for Norman and his insatiable materialism – and an exhibition-money scam for early-retiree divas who are terrified of having to fly commercial again someday. By the way, the supposedly hundreds of millions in guaranteed contracts for a handful of stars – has anyone seen the actual written terms the details of what Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson will have to do to collect that blood-spattered coin, or is everyone just taking the word of Norman, and a few agents trying to whip up commissions, that it’s all free ice cream?
“LIV Golf has no meaning. That’s the biggest problem with it. It’s as vacuous and absent of real content as its empty, tinny CEO and promoter, Norman. And the arrival of the world’s best players at St. Andrews for a four-day wind-whipped trial of real substance, and the oldest prize in the game, has highlighted just how empty it is.”
--Tiger Woods, in his Tuesday presser, denounced LIV Golf in his most expansive comments yet on the topic, saying those defecting from the PGA Tour have “turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”
“What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice?” Woods said. “What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.”
Tiger said he agreed with the R&A’s decision to exclude Norman from the festivities. “He tried to do this back in the early ‘90s. It didn’t work then, and he’s trying to make it work now. I still don’t see how that’s in the best interests of the game.”
Most tellingly, Woods hinted at the possibility of LIV players being potentially ineligible for future majors. This is still a plausible scenario if LIV Golf is not recognized as being worthy of awarding OWGR points for competition. In that case, LIV players could see their statuses plummet. Additionally, a major championship like the Masters can potentially outright ban participants.
“Some of these players may not ever get a chance to play in major championships,” Tiger said. “That is a possibility. We don’t’ know that for sure yet. It’s up to all the major championship bodies to make that determination. But that is a possibility, that some players will never, ever get a chance to play in a major championship, never get a chance to experience this right here, walk down the fairways at Augusta National.”
Of his physical condition heading into play on Thursday, Woods said he has been targeting St. Andrews since he realized he could get back into shape to play competitively.
“Once I realized that I could play at a high level (after the accident), my focus was to get back here at St. Andrews to play in this championship. It’s the most historic one we’ve ever had. I just didn’t want to miss this Open here at the home of golf. This has meant so much to me. This is where I completed the career grand slam.”
Aside from the fact the walk at St. Andrews is a lot easier than Augusta and Southern Hills, Tiger said his leg is a lot stronger. That wasn’t the case at The Masters, where he said he just “ran out of gas.”
--Bryson DeChambeau lost his Bridgestone endorsement deal, the company announcing that since it has a relationship with a “highly visible series of tournaments…that (Bryson) will no longer be participating in…Bridgestone and Bryson have agreed to end their brand ambassador partnership.”
Last month, Rocket Mortgage ended its relationship with DeChambeau.
--Lastly, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Department of Justice is investigating whether the PGA Tour engaged in anticompetitive behavior as it battles LIV Golf, the tour confirmed to the paper.
Players’ agents have received inquiries from the DOJ’s antitrust division involving both the PGA Tour’s bylaws governing players’ participation in other golf events, and the PGA Tour’s actions in recent months relating to LIV Golf, the Journal reported.
Both sides expected this fight to end up in U.S. courts at some point.
The PGA Tour said it was aware of the investigation – and was confident it would prevail. The DOJ declined to comment.
In 1994, the Federal Trade Commission confronted the PGA Tour over various practices and backed off the following year.
--Reminder for the All-Star Game…the fans voted in the nine starters, while the players select one reserve at each position, plus the first five starting pitchers and three relievers. That gives the league office open spots for two position players and four pitchers for each league (which more often than not means finding representatives for each team).
I’m not getting into the snubs…and some of them may yet go because of injuries. Or with Gerrit Cole slated to start Sunday, he won’t be eligible to throw Tuesday, so could be replaced by Dylan Cease of the White Sox, who’s been basically unhittable.
The league ended up selecting Clayton Kershaw, which made sense on a number of levels, especially the game being at Dodger Stadium.
There are some gripes over Nestor Cortes being selected. He had a 1.50 ERA through June 2, but is 5.34 in six starts since then.
--On the field, the Mets had a critical opening win of their big three-game series in Atlanta, Monday night, as Max Scherzer, in his second start since a 7-week layoff, was superb…7 innings, one run, 9 strikeouts, and the Mets won 4-1; Edwin Diaz striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth for his 19th save. Diaz, an All-Star for a second time, has a stupendous 73 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.
But then last night, it was a typically desultory 4-1 loss for the Metropolitans as the bottom of the batting order continued to produce zero and Mets management is beginning to panic, recognizing it has to address this.
Critical game this afternoon to wrap up the series, the Mets’ lead 1 ½ games.
--The Yankees were hosting the lowly Reds 3-0 heading to the top of the ninth. New York had a 49-0 record when leading after eight. Game over.
Until it wasn’t as closer Clay Holmes, he of the 0.46 ERA, didn’t record an out against the five batters he faced, Jonathan India with a clutch bloop two-run single that put Cincy ahead 4-3, and that’s how it ended, Holmes’ ERA climbing to 1.37.
--The Phillies J.T. Realmuto will be docked more than a quarter-million dollars in pay, his team in the midst of what promises to be a tough battle in the second half to secure a playoff spot, because the catcher said he won’t let the Canadian government take away his right to refuse a vaccine that’s saved millions of lives.
What a freakin’ jerk, the Phillies playing in Toronto Tuesday and Wednesday.
Third baseman Alec Bohm and starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson were placed on the restricted list as well before the club traveled to face the Blue Jays.
Realmuto added: “I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body for a little bit of money. It’s just not worth it.”
We better not see any stories the rest of the year as to what a great teammate J.T. is.
Into the December file he goes for multiple awards at year end.
Phils lost Tuesday 4-3.
--Entering Tuesday’s game against the Astros, the Angels, who started the season 27-17 (and 24-13), had gone 11-32 since, the worst team in baseball. In the three years they’ve had Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Mike Trout, they’ve sucked, Rendon out with another injury.
So there are actually stories in Los Angeles about trading Ohtani at the trade deadline, or before.
As in, no one should be surprised if he’s dealt. It would obviously have to be a monster package in return for the Angels to consider it, but there are no doubt teams that would pull the trigger.
Meanwhile, the Angels lost again last night to the Astros, 6-5, Mike Trout leaving the game with back spasms. Ohtani is on the mound today.
--The Orioles, whose eight-game winning streak was its longest since 2005, beat the Cubs in Chicago yesterday to make it nine in a row, 4-2, and Baltimore is 44-44…As in, the Orioles are .500!!!!
--Sunday, Dodger Stadium concession workers voted to authorize a strike, which could begin “at any time,” according to a statement from the union. As in, a strike before the All-Star Game.
The union said it represents close to 1,500 “food servers, bartenders, suite attendants, cooks and dishwashers at Dodger Stadium.”
I must say, I can imagine how difficult it is for these folks to keep up these days. They have my sympathy.
--After I posted last time, Chase Elliott took the lead In the NASCAR Cup Series race with just under two laps to go from Corey Lajoie and crossed the finish line under yellow after a block sent LaJoie crashing into the wall Sunday, giving the Georgia-born Elliott his first victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Elliott celebrated in front of the main grandstand, the fans giving him a boisterous ovation, Chase being from Dawsonville, the north Georgia town that produced his father, longtime NASCAR Cup star Bill Elliott.
The Elliotts and some old-time NASCAR drivers from there are known as the Dawsonville Gang (or the Georgia Gang), the headquarters in Dawsonville the Pool Room, where you can get a burger for $4.00! [Fries extra…having checked out the menu.]
But be careful if you Google ‘Dawsonville Gang.’ You’ll get the story of a brutal gang murder from a few years ago, not that I’m saying Dawsonville is a bad place.
--The great four-time Olympic champion distance runner from the UK, Mo Farah, revealed he was illegally trafficked into Britain under the name of another child as a nine-year-old and forced into domestic servitude.
Farah claimed he had left Somalia aged eight to join his father, after his parents made the agonizing decision to send three of their six children to London for the chance of a better life.
But in a new documentary, “The Real Mo Farah,” to be broadcast by BBC on Wednesday, the 39-year-old says that in fact he was trafficked to London by a stranger under an assumed name after escaping war in Somalia.
“Most people know me as Mo Farah, but it’s not my name or it’s not the reality,” he says. “The real story is I was born in Somaliland, north of Somalia, as Hussein Abdi Kahin. Despite what I’ve said in the past, my parents never lived in the UK.”
When he arrived in Britain, Farah claimed he lived with a married couple who treated him badly. His PE teacher at school, Alan Watkinson, rescued him and also helped him to apply for British citizenship using his assume name.
In the document, the athlete also admits that the name Mohamed Farah was stolen from another child and used to create a fake passport.
“When I was four my dad was killed in the civil war, you know as a family we were torn apart,” he said. “I was separated from my mother, and I was brought into the UK illegally under the name of another child called Mohamed Farah.”
Farah and his twin brother, Hassan, were sent by their mother to live with an uncle in neighboring Djibouti for their own safety. Farah said he recalled a woman visiting the house several times to observe him. He was told that she would be taking him to Europe to live with relatives.
He was also informed that he would be renamed Mohamed. “As a kid, you never think beyond what you’ve been told,” he says in the documentary.
However Farah says that when he arrived in the UK he faced a very different reality. “I had all the contact details for my relative and once we got to her house, the lady took it off me and right in front of me ripped them up and put it in the bin, and at that moment I knew I was in trouble,” he said.
Farah said his children motivated him to be truthful about his past.
In the documentary, Farah admits to being worried about his immigration status. However, the Home Office said he needn’t be. He is “Sir Mo,” after all.
And thank God for Alan Watkinson. We all need a Guardian Angel at some point in our lives.
--Finally, before I posted Sunday, I saw the Los Angeles Times had just posted a very extensive piece on USC quarterback Caleb Williams by Ryan Kartje.
Titled “Caleb Williams Inc: How one family and a PR firm helped a USC QB build an NIL empire,” the story basically starts when little Caleb, age 10, is beginning to learn about the game of football and his father, Carl, a commercial real estate developer in the Washington, D.C. area, had big plans for his son.
Young Caleb told his father he wanted to be great and “from that moment forth, his father did everything in his power to propel Caleb to those heights, surrounding him with a team of experts, coaches and mentors, sparing no expense in helping him reach his potential as a quarterback.
“Caleb swam regularly. He did hot yoga. He kept a special diet. He saw a sports psychologist. Anything for him to get closer to his dream.” [Ryan Kartje]
And so the same principle applied to the NIL (name, image and likeness) game. Carl and his business partners sketched out their plans with Caleb’s help while he was still a junior in high school. “They compiled lists of brands, built pitch decks and wrote mission statements, all geared toward not only maximizing Caleb’s marketability but keeping him ‘above the chaos’ they expected was inevitable when pay restrictions finally lifted.”
One of Carl’s partners and a mentor to Caleb said: “We knew he was going to be one of the faces to carry college football. We just wanted to stay focused on what was ahead.”
So the Williams family hired Smith & Company, a strategic marketing and communications firm, to help Caleb succeed as a college football player and an endorsement leader.
Three years later, Williams and three of his USC teammates were part of a digital ad campaign for AC+ION Water, an ion-charged alkaline water brand for which Caleb is now the company’s face.
We break here to remind you that Caleb Williams was a freshman last year for Oklahoma, bursting on the scene in Week 6 when he replaced starter Spencer Rattler and rallied the Sooners to a win over Texas.
But while he would go on to throw 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions, two of the INTs were in a loss to Baylor, when then-No. 4 Oklahoma lost to the 18 Bears, 27-14, and he didn’t get it done in the regular season finale against Oklahoma State, losing that one, so the Sooners didn’t even make the Big 12 title game, which was OSU vs. Baylor.
But then head coach Lincoln Riley suddenly bolted for the vacant USC coaching job, and Williams followed.
This is the extent of Williams’ career.
But since February when he announced he was transferring, Caleb announced a major deal with Beats headphones, inked an agreement with Topps trading cards and became the only college athlete to license his memorabilia with Fanatics, where fans can now purchase a USC helmet with his autograph for $599.99. You’re reading that right. Again, the guy didn’t even guide his team to the Big 12 title game. He’s no legend in Norman…and certainly not now!
Ryan Kartje didn’t get into Williams’ numbers at OU like I did.
“But in breaking new ground, Caleb is still wary of giving the wrong impression. He’s not here in L.A. to improve his portfolio. He’s here to be a better football player – and hopefully propel himself to the front of the 2024 NFL draft, where his dad happily points out, the deals dwarf any he might earn in college….
“NIL, (Caleb) reiterates, had little to do with why he chose USC. Had that been a factor, he could’ve gone to other schools that tried to entice him with an NIL windfall. Instead, he chose USC, a school with no backing from deep-pocketed donor collectives, and Lincoln Riley, a coach whom he says didn’t say a word to him about NIL until after he committed….
“As college football season inches closer, Williams is concerned about finding deals for his teammates. ‘I don’t want money to be a problem for anyone once we get into the season,’ he said.
“Otherwise, he plans to take a step back from his off-field obligations.”
Ryan Kartje adds. “There’s no mistaking his priorities. The pressure is too high for that.”
We’ll see…certainly Caleb Williams has made himself the poster-boy for the NIL game. Father Carl said he was dismayed by the reaction of Oklahoma fans who, soon after anointing him as their savior, suddenly turned on his son.
Too bad, Carl.
Half of Kartje’s massive piece is on the specifics of some of the NIL deals, which bores me to tears. But the Caleb Williams story will be all about the bottom line…not any financial riches, but whether he really turns into a top ten NFL draft pick down the road. The GMs couldn’t give a flying [blank] about anything but Williams’, and C.J. Stroud’s, and Bryce Young’s performance on the field and then how they handle their interviews. Caleb and his father talk a good deal like they know this, but there are already a lot of distractions in Caleb’s world.
Next Bar Chat Sunday p.m.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed.
[Posted early Sun. p.m., prior to MLB’s announcement of All-Star reserves and Yanks-Red Sox, and other stuff.]
Baseball ‘Doubles’ Quiz: [This is tied somewhat to an item below.] 1) Name the only four in baseball history with eight or more seasons of 40 doubles. [All are Hall of Famers, two played roughly 1912-1930.] 2) Name the only player in baseball history with five seasons of 50 doubles. Answers below. [This isn’t easy…but we’re both learning some baseball history at the same time.]
--I’m embarrassed I didn’t know more about women’s 3-seed Ons Jabeur, 27, who ended up being a real feel-good story as she became the first Arab woman and first African woman in any Grand Slam final after she bested good friend Tatjana Maria of Germany in the semis.
So out of nowhere, we had a matchup of Tunisia’s Jabeur vs. Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in the finals.
Rybakina, 23, was born in Russia and took Kazakh nationality in 2018, and in the other semi dominated 2019 champion Simona Halep (who had defeated American Amanda Anisimova in the quarters on Wednesday).
Jabeur said of her performance:
“I want to go bigger, inspire many more generations. Tunisia is connected to the Arab world, is connected to the African continent. The area, we want to see more players. It’s not like Europe or any other countries. I want to see more players from my country, from the Middle East, from Africa. I think we didn’t believe enough at certain point that we can do it. Now I’m just trying to show that. Hopefully people are getting inspired.”
But in the end, Rybakina became the first Kazakh to win a major…3-6, 6-2, 6-2. I watched the entire post-match proceedings and she is a very shy woman, with class. Hopefully she handles the spotlight well. As Chris Evert said after, there is no one woman dominating the game these days, but lots of talent and it’s virtually impossible to pick a winner for any major ahead of time, unlike the men’s game, dominated by a Big Three for years and years.
--Speaking of the men, in a quarterfinal Wednesday, Rafael Nadal overcame an abdominal injury and, after five sets, topped American Taylor Fritz. The injury almost forced Nadal to quit in the first set – his father seemed to be telling him to do so from the stands – but he kept going despite being in clear pain.
So Nadal was slated to face off against bad-boy Nick Kyrgios, who beat Cristian Garin in straight sets, in what was going to be a highly-entertaining semi, the winner likely to face Novak Djokovic. Could Kyrgios get under Nadal’s skin?
Well, we never found out whether or not he would, because Nadal had to pull out Thursday, making Kyrgios the first player to reach the final by walkover in the modern era of Wimbledon draws that began in 1922.
Nadal said he had a tear in the abdominal muscle and that if he kept going, “the injury is going to get worse and worse,” adding “I am very said and it’s been a tough one.”
We all wonder if, somehow, he’ll be OK for the U.S. Open. He has about two months.
And so we had a final of Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic, and Djokovic won a spirited four-setter, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), giving him seven Wimbledon singles titles, four straight, and 21 Grand Slam titles, one shy of Nadal and one ahead of Roger Federer, with Federer having won Wimbledon eight times.
But as for September’s U.S. Open (commencing late August), Djokovic, who remains firmly unvaccinated, seemingly will miss his chance for Grand Slam No. 22, since the U.S. does not allow noncitizen, nonresident internationals to enter the country without a Covid vaccine. With the BA.5 variant circulating heavily in the country, and in Europe, it seems doubtful the policy will change. As in, Novak, get the f’n vaccine, you dope!
As for Nick Kyrgios, he had never been past the quarterfinals in 29 previous Grand Slam appearances, but the boorish one could be a factor going forward.
--I have to admit that while I’ll have the All-Star Game on in eight days, Tuesday, July 19, from Dodger Stadium, I really couldn’t care less about the starting lineups. And in the grand scheme of things (which is all about your baseballreference.com page when you retire…and die), as long as you make the team as a reserve (I’m talking to you, Yordan Alvarez)*, a reward for a great first half, that’s all that matters.
*Shohei Ohtani edged out Alvarez at DH, 52% to 48%, while Manny Machado got the nod over Nolan Arenado at third base for the N.L., 51% to 49%, in two of the closest votes. The third, also 52% to 48%, was Trea Turner over Dansby Swanson at short.
But it was nice that Major League Baseball announced that St. Louis’ Albert Pujols and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera were selected as “All-Star Legends,” a new clause in the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners.
While Pujols has said this is his last season, Cabrera has said he will retire after 2023. So that has to mean they bring him back again next year for another ‘final’ bow, right?
It is pretty special to have the two together in this way because only three players in baseball history have 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles, and Cabrera and Pujols are two of the three, along with Hank Aaron.
This year Cabrera hasn’t been chopped liver. A .304 batting average and 31 RBIs.
Pujols, though, is batting as if it’s his last year, .198, with four home runs in 126 at-bats thru Sat.
--One player who wants to play in the All-Star game is the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw. After all, each year could be the last for him, and he tossed 7 2/3 Saturday night against the Cubs, giving up one earned, striking out 10, in a 4-2 win, Kershaw now a solid 6-2, 2.40 ERA. The argument against Kershaw being named is that he’s only thrown 63 2/3 innings owing to early-season injury issues.
Separately, Tony Gonsolin improved to 11-0 for the Dodgers in L.A.’s 5-3 win over the Cubs on Thursday, Gonsolin allowing two runs in seven innings, his ERA now 1.62, while joining Justin Verlander as the only pitchers in the majors with 11 wins. [Does he start the All-Star Game? Kershaw? Sandy Alcantara?]
And longtime Dodgers scout Mike Brito died. He was 87.
Brito’s work in Mexico over nearly 45 years with the club brought three of the franchise’s most beloved stars and dozens of others to Los Angeles.
Brito signed a teenage Fernando Valenzuela in 1979. He helped secure Yasiel Put and Julio Urias for the organization. And for decades, his Panama hat and mustached grin made him an immediately recognizable sight around Chavez Ravine.
“My heart is very heavy today,” said Fernando, now a Spanish-language broadcaster for the Dodgers. “Mike was a great man and instrumental in my success as a baseball player, on and off the field. No one loved the Dodger organization more than Mike and we will all miss him very much.”
A native of Cuba who played professionally in the minor leagues and Mexico during the 1950s and 1960s, Brito was hired by the Dodgers in 1978 after working as a Mexican League scout. One of his first contributions was his biggest.
Former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley sought a Mexican star to attract more Mexican fans so he had general manager Al Campanis send Brito to Mexico in search of one.
Brito quickly found Valenzuela and convinced the Dodgers to sign the 19-year-old pitcher for $120,000 in 1979. Fernando became a six-time All-Star and one of the most important players in Dodgers history, changing the fan base’s demographics for future generations.
Major league teams had largely ignored scouting in Mexico before then. Prior to Valenzuela’s debut in 1980, fewer than 40 players born in Mexico had appeared in the majors, according to Baseball America.
--The Mets honored a legend, both on the field and, for the past 17 years, in the broadcast booth with Ron Darling and Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, by retiring his #17 jersey on Saturday. The sellout crowd spoke to the love Mets fans have for the lad. Keith joins just Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza and Jerry Koosman as players who’ve had their numbers hoisted to the top of Citi Field, along with managers Casey Stengel and Gil Hodges.
But on the field the current Mets were coming off a dismal 5-2 loss to the Marlins Friday night and were facing defeat Saturday, with the prospects of going up against Sandy Alcantara Sunday and then traveling to Atlanta for three against the Braves.
The Mets’ Adam Ottavino gave up a game-tying eighth-inning homer to Miami’s Jesus Aguilar and Miami scored in the top of the 10th for the 4-3 lead, when out of nowhere, the Mets scored two, one on a Tomas Nido grounder that rolled under third baseman Brian Anderson’s glove for an RBI double to tie the score, and then reliever Tanner Scott bungled a simple comebacker, throwing it wildly off first base and scoring Nido.
The Nido roller under Anderson’s glove reminded me of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and then we learned after that, according to the Mets, it was their first win on an error with two outs in extra innings since that very Game 6. It was huge for us. We could more easily deal with an Alcantara masterpiece.
Well, Sunday sucked. Alcantara and the Mets’ Taijuan Walker matched zeroes…seven innings apiece of scoreless ball…Alcantara’s ERA now 1.73, Walker’s 2.63, but the Metsies lost 2-0 in ten innings, another 0-for-7 performance with runners in scoring position.
And then I watched as the Braves faced the Nationals in extra innings…only with second and third in the bottom of the eleventh, Atlanta failed to close the deal and I’m moving on…
The Mets’ lead over the Braves will be either 1 ½ or 2 ½ as they start their series Monday night in the land of humidity and summer showers.
--The Yankees went to Boston for a four-game series with the Red Sox and a 14-game lead in the A.L. East. Boston needed some magic, certainly 3 of 4, just to throw a postseason scare into New York as the two could easily matchup in October down the road.
But New York won the first two and looked like they would win Saturday night, up 3-2 in the eighth, only Alex Verdugo drove in the tying run off ace reliever Clay Holmes, and then had the game-winning 2-RBI single in the bottom of the tenth after the Yanks had scored two in the top of the frame.
Another Sunday night game this evening, Yanks with a 15-game lead.
--The Angels, 38-48 after losing to the Orioles Saturday, 1-0, have been playing pathetically, losers of 7 of 8. As in even in a recent game, Friday, where Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani each had three hits and a home run, they lost.
But Wednesday night, Ohtani allowed one unearned run while striking out 10 in a 5-2 win over Miami, stretching his streak of innings without allowing an earned run to 28 2/3. He’s now 8-4, 2.44 ERA.
So that Wednesday effort of seven innings, he became just the seventh pitcher in the last 50 seasons to rack up 40 strikeouts while giving up 0 earned runs over a four-start span.
Max Scherzer accomplished this last season, and Clayton Kershaw has done it twice (2014 and 2015).
As for the Orioles, holy cow! They are 42-44…seven in a row! And thanks to the attraction of Ohtani and Trout, they drew 27,000 and 32,000, Friday and Saturday. Good for them.
But wait…there’s more! They won today, 9-5, eight in a row…43-44…goodness gracious, or as my grandfather (on my father’s side…there’s a reason I mention this…see below) used to say, “Gee willickers!”
The Angels blow…what a waste of two of the best talents in the history of the game.
--After two rounds of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick, we had an unimpressive leaderboard….
Cameron Tringale -7
Gary Woodland -4
Doug Ghim -4
But Xander Schauffele, who opened with a 72, fired 65-66 in the next two so after three….
Rafa Cabrera Bello -5
Jordan Spieth -4
Ryan Palmer -4
Jordan Smith -4
And Schauffele closed the deal…win No. 7 on the PGA Tour (remember, this was a joint venture between PGA and DP World tours), two in a row, three in seven starts…dude is hot hot hot heading to St. Andrews.
But I have to mention Rickie Fowler. He was in great shape after two, -2, and had improved his FedEx Cup ranking from 123 to 111…and you know 125 is the cut line for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Well, poor Rickie flamed out, including a 5-over 75 today, and his standing actually dropped from 123 to 125. Huge pressure for him the next few weeks.
--There were some big names missing the cut…Billy Horschel, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Will Zalatoris Viktor Hovland and Hideki Matsuyama, though in defense of Matsuyama, understand something. He learned before he went out Friday for his second round that his close friend, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, had been assassinated.
Matsuyama is a folk-hero in Japan, even before his Masters win, and Abe was a golf fanatic, so you can imagine these two played together more than once. Matsuyama is sporting royalty. Abe was a huge fan. It’s all very sad.
--The R&A announced Saturday that it did not invite two-time Open Championship winner and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman to be part of next week’s festivities at St. Andrews.
Those celebratory events include a Champions Dinner and the R&A Celebration of Champions competition.
“We can confirm that we contacted Greg Norman to advise him that we decided not to invite him to attend on this occasion,” The R&A said in a statement. “The 150th Open is an extremely important milestone for golf and we want to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the Championship and its heritage. Unfortunately, we do not believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend.”
The R&A said it hoped to allow Norman to attend again in the future “when circumstances allow.”
Norman has yet to comment.
In May, the R&A denied a request from Norman for a special exemption to play in the Open Championship. He last competed in the event in 2008. The guy is 67. That would have been atrocious to give him a spot that should go to a regular tour player. The Open allows exemptions for champions aged 60 or under, or for those who have won in the past 10 years.
--Keith Mitchell, on the LIV tour: “I wake up thinking about it, I go to bed thinking about it – it’s legitimately all I think about.”
Mitchell, No. 54 in the World Ranking, considers himself firmly in the PGA Tour’s corner and he feels the same way about LIV as Billy Horschel does, whose comments I recently relayed, as in, “I am one of the 200-plu members of the PGA Tour. I am the PGA Tour. So when you take shots at the PGA Tour, you’re taking shots at us.”
Mitchell said: “These guys going over are taking money away from golf. If they have 14 events, they’re gonna go against the 14 weakest fields on the PGA Tour. Why would sponsors of the PGA tour keep funneling all this money if they’re going to have trash fields? I think it could hurt sponsors, it could hurt overall income of the game. More money going to less players.
“The more this drags out, the more people are picking sides. Before this was all going down, everyone just kind of talked about it. What’s the format? Who’s going to go? It was honestly a naïve rumor that guys were interested in. It piqued their curiosity. And now the clearer it gets, the more guys are picking sides.
“The worst part about it is, I had one of my biggest sponsors call me on the phone and tell me he heard I got $61 million. I asked him what his source was, and it was actually pretty good. Reputable sources are saying these complete fabrications. An exact number and years. I’ve never even talked to the guys.”
And I have to say, as I pointed out, I was the first to note how hypocritical the LIV golfers were when they talked about being able to set their own, reduced schedule, spend more time with their families, blah blah blah. All total bullshit.
Pat Perez said: “I missed my son’s birth last year. August 18, I get a call my wife’s going into labor. I’m in Jersey. I’m getting ready to start the FedEx playoffs. I’m 116 on the list. I can’t leave. I can’t miss it. I can’t get back. I can’t get there and back without spending 150 grand on a private flight. I’m not doing that. So I had to suck on it and I had to miss my son’s birth,” he said. “And, you know. Fortunately, I made the cut and I moved up my status by playing all right, but it still sucked.”
But as Adam Schupak remarked for Golfweek:
“Only thing is Perez didn’t actually have to miss the birth of his son. He chose to play the Northern Trust. He already had wrapped up his Tour card for the next season by finishing in the top 125. If he wanted to qualify for the BMW Championship the following week (top 70) or Tour Championship (top 30), he would have needed to continue on because he hadn’t played well enough that season to guarantee his spot. Tour veteran Billy Horschel took exception to what Perez had to say.” [Ed. Perez would have needed like a top ten or better, actually, to move from 116 into the top 70.]
“PGA Tour says 15 events minimum, all you have to do is play 15 events and you keep your card in those 15 events then that’s fine. If you want to play better or you want to play more so you get a chance to win the FedEx Cup, so be it. No one has made you play that first Playoff event to go miss family obligations. No one had,” Horschel said. “Yes, we are independent contractors; we do sign a contract with the PGA Tour to meet certain requirements of the PGA Tour. But we have the opportunity to make our schedule.”
“Here’s the thing: Perez was an independent contractor; now he’s an employee. This is not an employer you want to anger. He’s signed a contract to play in all eight LIV Golf events. Next year, that number has been announced to increase to 14. Has Norman really achieved this 30-plus-year-old dream of his?”
“ ‘We want to coexist’ with ‘all the current ecosystems within the game of golf, and we want to do that with the PGA Tour,’ Norman told Fox News last month. How exactly would that look in his fantasy world? ‘I would say support the players…and give their members the opportunity to have other places to go,’ he said. ‘They’re independent contractors. They have every right to do that.’
“Except Norman’s circuit prevented Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell from playing in the Horizon Irish Open. Apparently, this notion of his doesn’t work both ways.”
McDowell had agreed to play the Irish Open, a tournament he had played in the past 20 years, but he reneged on the deal because it conflicted with last week’s LIV event in Portland.
Schupak: “And here’s the rub. The same guys who have complained about how hard they had it on the PGA Tour no longer have the luxury of picking their schedule. They have been bought and paid for quite handsomely, and now have to show up when and where they are told (here’s hoping none of the wives of American players go into labor during the two-week swing to Bangkok and Jeddah).
“Had McDowell still been an independent contactor, do you think he would’ve missed his homeland’s national open? When he was growing up, do you think he dreamed of winning the Irish Open or a 54-hole shotgun start in Portland?
“Free agency in golf – before long it may have some players wanting to fire their agents Freddie Freeman style.”
Mastercard announced yesterday it had “paused” its endorsement deals with McDowell and fellow LIV golfer Ian Poulter. McDowell has been with them since 2011, Poulter since 2009.
--Jerry Kelly won the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship, a major for the 50+ set, by two over Steve Stricker and three over the player of the year, Steven Alker, and Ernie Els. That’s a nice leaderboard for this circuit these days.
--Portland and star guard Damian Lillard agreed to a staggering two-year, $122 million contract extension that ties him to the team through the 2026-27 season. His current deal runs through 2024-25. The new money will carry his earnings with the team to more than $450 million, so even after taxes, if you see him, he should be able to buy you a cup of coffee or pay for your arena parking.
The thing is, Lillard only played 29 games last season before he needed abdominal surgery in mid-January. He turns 32 next week, July 15. He’s said his body is stronger now than before, but we’ll see just how smart this move is for management.
--Miami star Jimmy Butler is not happy with now-former teammate PJ Tucker, who opted out of his $7.4 million player option with the Heat to sign a three-year, $33 million deal with Philadelphia.
“F—k you and #joelembiid yeah I brought him into this (shrug shoulders emoji),” Butler posted on Instagram.
Butler has been vocal against the 76ers ever since they traded him to the Heat following the 2018-19 season. He very much wanted Tucker, the perfect role player, to stay with the Heat.
--Baker Mayfield got his wish. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Browns was traded. Only Mayfield didn’t initially want to go to Carolina, who acquired him for a conditional draft pick in 2024 or 2025.
The Browns are paying $10.5 million of Mayfield’s $18.8 million contract for next season, while the Panthers will pay $4.8 million and Mayfield will take a $3.5 million pay cut, which he can make back through incentives.
Carolina isn’t an attractive team, like say Seattle might have been, but Mayfield does have a chance at relaunching his career as his major competition for the starting quarterback job is Sam Darnold, who, unlike Miguel Cabrera, is chopped liver.
For Cleveland, with Deshaun Watson clearly missing a big part of the upcoming season, if not all of it, once the NFL issues its final ruling on his sexual assault allegations, it’s up to Jacoby Brissett.
I like Mayfield, hope he succeeds, though if Christian McCaffrey doesn’t stay healthy, the Panthers are headed towards 5-12, or worse.
Oh, and if Mayfield is named starter for the opener, it’s against…the Browns.
--The Montreal Canadians selected Slovakian-born winger Juraj Slafkovsky with the first pick of the 2022 NHL draft, a bit of a surprise, everyone thinking Montreal would select Shane Wright, who fell to No. 4 for Seattle.
So I just looked it up and Slafkovsky was born in Kosice, and that’s where my grandparents were from (on my mother’s side). Very cool. I’ll be rooting for the lad big time. And glad he’s on a high-profile team like the Canadiens, who desperately need help. As my brother and I were saying, Montreal is like the Yankees…the sport is more interesting when they are good (as much as some of us Mets and Rangers fans hate this fact).
The Devils, with the No. 2 pick, took another Slovakian, defenseman Simon Nemec, who was born in Liptovsky Mikulas.
As in, what a freakin’ day for Slovakia!!! The two highest-selected Slovakian players in history, surpassing Marian Gaborik, who went third overall in 2000.
Slafkovsky, by the way, while just 18, is already a beast, 6-feet-4, 218 pounds.
--Charles Leclerc won the Austrian Grand Prix for Team Ferrari, defeating points leader Max Verstappen at the gorgeous site in Spielberg. Lewis Hamilton picked up another podium finish.
But Verstappen leads by 38 points over Leclerc, six wins thus far in the season to Leclerc’s three.
--In a Washington Post / University of Maryland poll on sports betting, about a quarter, 24 percent, say professional athletes should be allowed to place bets on games in their league if their team is not competing. A 76 percent majority say this should not be allowed. The NFL suspended Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley for at least a year after he bet on NFL games.
As to the question, “How concerned, if at all, are you that the increasing availability of sports betting will lead to games being fixed or rigged,” 73 percent say they are very/somewhat concerned.
--Actor Tony Sirico, aka Paulie “Walnuts” Galtieri on “The Sopranos,” died Friday. He was 79.
Sirico was a legend in the eyes of longtime fans of the show, such as yours truly, loved in New Jersey for sure.
Paulie Walnuts, Tony Soprano’s longtime righthand man, rose from a captain in the DiMeo crime family to become an underboss in David Chase’s iconic HBO series.
The character, which Chase created specifically for Sirico (after Sirico lost out on the part of Uncle Junior to Dominic Chianese), was distinguished by his fidelity to “Tone,” played by James Gandolfini, as well as his tough-guy delivery and the silver-white “wings” that dashed through his dark hair, “making him look like some kind of Mafia superhero…or supervillain,” as Amy Kuperinsky of NJ.com put it.
“Sirico’s raw performance endeared him to legions of ‘Soprano’s’ fans, and for good reason.
“Paulie wore both his heart and his malevolence on his sleeve (though he often went sleeveless). Subtlety wasn’t his thing. But in Sirico’s hands, the character avoided becoming a cartoon. He was as real as real gets. He could be downright terrifying, a stone-cold killer who didn’t flinch. He could also be painfully vulnerable, and got some of the biggest belly laughs of the whole series….
“The actor, who hailed from Brooklyn, played Paulie Walnuts as a man who had long since paid his dues as a loyal Mafia enforcer. But in the show, he’s also a thorn in Tony Soprano’s side, thanks to his perpetual grievances and temper. He can fly off the handle in an instant. And when Sirico channeled rage, you could almost see the steam coming out of his ears.
“Of course, he was always good for a solid one-liner, too. Just the sight of Paulie blissfully sunning himself in front of Satriale’s pork store could get a laugh.
“The steadfast Mafia soldier, famously an advocate of personal hygiene and grooming, is not so much comic relief as a reflection of the show’s wide-ranging territory: no less than life, death and the meaning of it all – even if it’s all just (in Tony’s mother Livia’s words) ‘a big nothing.’”
Sirico also had other gangster roles, such as in “Goodfellas” and “Gotti.”
Earlier in his life, though, it wasn’t an act. He was arrested 28 times – first at age 7 (for stealing nickels from a newsstand) – and spent two different stints in prison before getting into acting. When he took the role of Paulie, Sirico said he’d only do it if David Chase promised him Paulie would never be a rat.
Sirico had been suffering from dementia the last few years and died in an assisted living facility in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. His death was announced by his brother, Robert Sirico, a priest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who will be presiding over the funeral in Brooklyn this week.
--We lost James Caan as well. Hotheaded Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather,” a character that produced some of the most memorable moments in movie history. He was 82.
Raised in Sunnyside, Queens, he was the son of a butcher who had fled Nazi Germany. A wiry boy, Caan was dubbed “Killer Caan” for his use of his fists in self-defense, and he prided himself on never losing his streetwise edge or raspy Queens accent. He remained, he said, just a “punk from Sunnyside,” even as his enigmatic smile and aura of danger propelled a Hollywood career lasting six decades.
Caan appeared in more than 100 film, TV and stage roles, bringing gusto to the dramatic “Brian’s Song,” the thrilling “Misery” and the comedy “Elf.”
He maintained his strut and bravado offscreen, earning a black belt in karate and pursuing hobbies such as powerboat racing and roping steers. “I think I can safely say,” he observed, “I was the only Jewish cowboy from New York on the professional rodeo cowboy circuit.” Admittedly headstrong and at times self-destructive, he endured the tumult of cocaine addiction and four divorces.
Film critic Roger Ebert admiringly called him “the most wound-up guy in the movies,” a description Caan did not dispute.
Caan had gone into acting on an impulse, desperate to avoid “humping sides of meat from trucks to restaurants” with his father in the bitter chill of dawn. He had a talent for making people laugh, a skill he honed one summer as a Catskills resort social director, and bluffed his way into a prestigious theater training program in Manhattan, the Neighborhood Playhouse.
I have to say Caan’s breakout role in “Brian’s Song” was truly dramatic for a lot of us. It had been well-publicized beforehand and attracted a stupendous audience of 55 million, while earning Caan an Emmy nomination for best actor. The story was of Brian Piccolo, the Wake Forest running back and his best friend on the Chicago Bears, Gale Sayers, and little did I know I would go to Wake when this film aired in 1971.
The next year, Caan would forever become best known for his portrayal of the no-nonsense, quick-tempered mobster Sonny in “The Godfather,” which earned him Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actor.
Ahead of the film’s 50th anniversary, Caan told the New York Daily News that he never could’ve imagined the gangster flick directed by Francis Ford Coppola would have such a lasting impact.
“The story, there were a lot of angles in it that had to touch one of us in the audience,” Caan told The News. “Some could have said, ‘Wow, that was a really strong (story) about the family.’ Somebody else could’ve said, ‘See how that works as a gangster? …Whatever it was, there was enough out there to interest somebody, no matter what they did for a living.”
Caan’s character was the eldest son of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and was at the center of several of the film’s most famous scenes, including a brutal beat down of his younger sister’s abusive husband using his fists and a trash can.
To get into character, Caan said he found unlikely inspiration in comedian Don Rickles and his unnerving style of “busting everybody’s chops” in vicious takedowns.
Advising his younger brother, Michael (Al Pacino), on how to kill a mobster and a corrupt police captain, he declares that “you gotta get up close, like this, and bada bing! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.” The phrase “bada bing” was improvised by Caan and “became a mantra for mobsters and aspiring mobsters,” Vanity Fair reported in 2009, and served as the name of Tony Soprano’s strip club on “The Sopranos.”
Sonny gets his comeuppance when he is bloodied in a battlefield’s worth of machine-gun fire while trapped in his car at a tollbooth. The scene took three days to film, Caan wearing nearly 150 tiny explosive charges called squibs. “When they went off, it felt like I was being punched all over,” he told the London Observer. “If my hand had got in front of one, it would have blown a hole clean through. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he added, “if there hadn’t been so many girls around the set to impress.”
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked “The Godfather” only behind “Citizen Kane” on the list of greatest films of all time.
Afterwards, Caan turned down leading parts in dramas such as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” and Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.”
“When Francis called me up about ‘Apocalypse Now,’ all I heard him say was 16 weeks in the Philippine jungle,” Caan told the Washington Post, explaining his rejection. Brando was incredulous when Caan also refused the title role of “Superman” (1978), despite being offered, like Brando, who played Jor-El, millions of dollars for what was literally a cartoonish role. The film launched a hit franchise, with Christopher Reeve in the title role.
Caan’s career teetered, and he pursued a decadent lifestyle as an habitue of the Playboy Mansion. He became a coke addict, lost his life savings and his home after it was discovered he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, entered drug rehab twice, earned headlines for allegedly choking a girlfriend and once for brandishing a gun over an argument for a parking space, and he acknowledged his friendship with reputed mobsters. “I know he’s not a carpenter, okay?” he said of one close associate from his New York days.
Caan began to get some roles again, some good, some bad, the former represented by the box office hit, “Misery” (1990), and he went on to play Will Ferrell’s irritable father in “Elf” (2003), which is in everyone’s holiday rotation these days.
In a career and private life marked by major ups and downs, Caan was grateful for his association with a popular hit in “Misery” and a cinematic landmark in “The Godfather.”
“Look, you only pray when you start in this business that you get to the point where people recognize you,” he told Cigar Aficionado magazine. “I’ve got a lot of people who are, like, ‘Hey, your ankle okay?’ from ‘Misery.’ Or they’ll say, ‘Hey, don’t go through that toll booth again’ or ‘Have the right change.’”
“It means that they remember the picture,” he added. “There’s nothing not to like about it. The only thing that I get a little upset about is when I’m in a restaurant” and people “beckon me with their finger. I get a little sideways. I go, ‘No, you come here! What, am I a taxi or something?” On the other hand, he said, “I hope they never stop.”
--And actor Larry Storch of TV’s “F Troop” died. He was 99 and just last year appeared at Wild West City, a theme park in New Jersey, where he was a recurring visitor.
Wild West City seeks to recreate 1880s-era Dodge City, Kansas, and was said by Storch’s manager to remind him of the F Troop set.
Wild West City said in a statement: “For many years he was an integral part of our family, spending numerous days here talking with – and taking photos with – his fans. We truly appreciate that he enjoyed coming here and being with us, and we are honored that he decided to make Wild West City his last public appearance,” last July.
Storch’s character on F Troop actually hailed from Passaic, New Jersey, which for many viewers served as their introduction to the city.
In 2016, Passaic returned the favor by inviting Storch, then 93, to finally visit the place.
Born in 1923, Storch got his start as a stand-up comedian, which led to decades of TV appearances and voice-overs for cartoons. He guest-starred on a wide range of popular TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s, including Gilligan’s Island, All in the Family and I Dream of Jeannie.
But as for F Troop, fellow Demon Deacon Phil W. reminded me that this show was only on two seasons, Sept. 1965-April 1967…just 65 episodes…but for those of us of a certain age it was a staple in re-runs.
The original tribe in the series, the “Fugawis,” was quickly changed by the censors when they discovered a line in the script, “Where the Fugawi?” So they were changed to the Hekawi. “Where the Fugawi?” became a popular culture phrase, nonetheless.
--The Wall Street Journal had a piece on the return of the fin whale to the Antarctic, such as large numbers of them have returned to their ancestral feeding areas near Antarctica for the first time since hunting of the animals was banned almost half a century ago, scientists reported in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“The unexpected finding offers a hopeful sign not only for efforts to conserve the giant animals, according to the researchers, but also for the health of the ocean ecosystems in which they live. Whale feces fertilize microscopic plants known as phytoplankton. Those are eaten by tiny, shrimplike animals known as krill, which in turn sustain dolphins, seals, penguins and other marine species.” [Leopard seals then eat the seals and penguins, but I digress.]
The population of fin whales has reached 8,000, the study showed, up from about 3,000 when the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on hunting of the whales in the Southern Hemisphere in 1976. Whaling before that time killed an estimated 700,000 fin whales.
The fin whale’s long reproductive cycle – females give birth to a single calf once every three or four years – helps explain why the population took so long to recover.
But with the population still small, fin whales remain vulnerable. Climate change, for one, is a threat, as warmer waters stress the species.
Fin whales can measure up to 85 feet in length and weigh up to 80 tons, the second-largest animal species on Earth after the blue whale. They swim at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, making it hard for research vessels to keep up. So scientists have taken to using helicopters flown from ships on Antarctic expeditions. They have found groups of up to 150 individuals, which is very cool to imagine seeing such a spectacle.
--Qatar’s World Cup stadiums are set to be alcohol-free! Noooooo! Beer sales will be outside arenas only before and after some matches. This is what happens when you hold a World Cup in a Muslim nation with strict controls on alcohol, boys and girls.
This is also going to be a major downer for the hundreds of thousands of fans making their way there…actually, an estimated 1.2 million, most of whom drink beer with breakfast.
Qatar isn’t a “dry” state like neighboring Saudi Arabia, but it’s illegal to consume alcohol in public. So fans will only be able to buy beer during restricted times in certain parts of the main fan zone in Doha, the capital. And alcohol will also be available for 15,000 to 20,000 fans “on a disused corner of the Doha Golf club, some kilometers away from stadiums and the main fan zone,” a document from organizers obtained by Reuters reads. This would be like going to the beach, but only being allowed to drink beer ten miles inland.
And the document reads, the main party zone adjacent to FIFA’s fan festival will be alcohol-free, offering up to 70,000 fans a six kilometer “family friendly” street carnival.
Who wants a family friendly zone for the World Cup?! Who would spend tens of thousands to bring your kids to this?
Just kidding…or maybe not.
You’re reading Bar Chat….
Top 3 songs week of 7/8/67: #1 “Windy” (The Association) #2 “Little Bit O’ Soul” (The Music Explosion) #3 “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Frankie Valli…ahh, “The Deerhunter”…)…and…#4 “San Francisco” (Scott McKenzie… ‘be sure to check…the bottom of your shoes’… ) #5 “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” (Petula Clark…especially not in NYC, Pet…) #6 “Come On Down To My Boat” (Every Mother’s Son) #7 “Up – Up And Away” (The 5th Dimension) #8 “Let’s Live For Today” (The Grass Roots) #9 “Groovin’” (The Young Rascals) #10 “The Tracks Of My Tears” (Johnny Rivers…A- week…)
Baseball ‘Doubles’ Quiz Answer: 1) Eight seasons with 40 doubles: Tris Speaker, 10, Stan Musial 9, Harry Heilmann, 8, Wade Boggs 8. 2) Only player with five seasons of 50 doubles, Tris Speaker. No one has four. Paul Waner, Musial, Pujols, and Brian Roberts, yes, Brian Roberts, have three.
Roberts had quite a good stretch, 2004-09, for Baltimore, including four seasons with 100 runs scored, but his age 31 season was his last good one.
Tris Speaker, I’ve long written in this space, is perhaps one of the more underrated “greats” in any sport…putting him in a category with the likes of Stan Mikita, Nate Thurmond and Billy Casper.
Add-on up top by noon, Wed. Why Bar Chat now hates Caleb Williams, USC and the whole NIL deal even more. And an Open Championship preview.