Jul. 12—Weekend winners
Camp Jordan. Gang, it used to be a few ballparks and a pavilion. Then came the brief run of Christmas lights and the addition of the walkways. Then came the Red Wolves and the outdoors superstores and the Top Golf and the Chick-Fil-A. We spent almost all of Saturday at a softball tournament out there, and considering the number of cars — and the number of cars that were from places near and far from Chattanooga — I bet Camp Jordan generated somewhere close to half-a-million bucks in economic impact on Saturday. We were at a one-day event — granted that tournament started at 8 a.m. and our championship game ended on the other side of midnight, which caused my son to say, "See, told you it was a two-day tournament" — but there were at least 50 softball teams there. There were multiple lacrosse events and soccer, too, of all ages. Plus, there were swap meets and yard sales and a whole bunch of activity at the pavilion. Heck, $500K, depending on entry fees, hotel rooms, food and all that goes into the $100-plus average a person spends when they come to town, may be low.
Spelling bee winner. We mentioned her on Friday, but Zaila Avant-garde — the first Black champ in the history of the Scripps Spelling Bee — took her well-deserved celebrity victory lap over the weekend. Very cool story, and what a win and a great young woman.
Apple tracking Sunday Ticket. This is the future friends, and while it is not the final frontier — that we know of — streaming and computer- and device-directed broadcast deals are the next one. It should surprise none of us that the NFL is the one going SS Enterprise and looking for a big imprint in that frontier, either. The TV deals will be bigger, but for something like Sunday Ticket — which shows every non-national and out-of-market game — the streaming services and the reach that comes with it seem perfect. And priced right, considering the growth of gambling and fantasy options in the NFL — and how many of those are real-time accessible through hand-held devices — streaming Sunday Ticket could be twice as big as the old version on satellite services.
Luke List. Yeah, we wanted the former Baylor School superstar to win, but an even-par 71 on Saturday turned his 36-hole lead into what felt like a 36-foot hole. He played well Sunday — shot 68 and missed a couple of putts that could have made it really close — but the clichés are true. In fact, most clichés are true because that is how they become clichés. Every time List or anyone looking for their first career win is in meaningful moments on Sunday, the next step is more relaxed, more confident and more doable. And while Luke almost assuredly in private moments would admit his disappointment with not finishing the drill, kinda hard to complain about a weekend playing golf and making $248K, dontcha think? (And kudos to Lucas Glover for his first win in a decade.
Giannis. Dude is delivering. I know the Bucks are down 2-1, but his 103 points through three games — and there were a lot of us who thought his season was done — is fourth most all-time in NBA Finals history. Plus, in a must-have Game 3, Giannis became the first player to go 40-10-5 and have only one turnover since turnovers were kept as a stat in Finals history.
Me. You. Jules. Spy. Sports fans. Entertainment fans. People who love charismatic stars. People who love to watch great artists work at their craft. Puppies. Butterflies. Nature. Everything that is good and decent among us. When Ronald Acuña Jr. went down trying to walk off the right knee injury and had to be removed by a cart, we all knew. We all knew. Torn ACL, and he'll be lucky to be back for the 2021 season opener if we're being honest. (And considering the bad blood between the Marlins and Acuña before Saturday's awful injury, well, the since-deleted social media post celebrating Jazz Whosehisboots' inside-the-park homer on the play was in poor form.)
MMA all-timers. It's a tough sport, a grown man's way of making a living, for sure. And the potholes and pitfalls are plentiful. But this was an especially harsh weekend. Conor McGregor suffered a gruesome in-match leg injury in his loss to Dustin Poirier that makes you wonder how many more fights McGregor has left, and all-time MMA fights leaders Travis Fulton died in prison of an apparent suicide.
American patriotism. We are a little more than a week from July 4th — America's real birthday — and I couldn't help but notice the juxtaposition of the way our flag was viewed over the last few days. In America, our athletes representing our country in the upcoming Olympics turn away from the flag and the anthem — be they soccer players or hammer throwers — to protest how bad things are. In Cuba, protesters draped themselves in our flag as a sign of freedom and of what is good and possible. And if you couldn't help but think of that time that Colin Kaepernick, the George Washington of the flag-kneeling movement, was decked out in Fidel Castro gear, well, you weren't alone.
England soccer fans. The racist slurs and insults at the three Black players who botched PKs in England's 1-1 loss to Italy in the Euro Cup should be ashamed. They are rightly being called out for the slurs and the monkey emojis and all the other things that are simply uncalled for. It's inexcusable and downright stupidly unneeded. There aren't enough curses or insults out there that you need to go to the ones that everyone by now should know are unacceptable. Call 'em chokers or gag artists or string together some cussing combos that could lead to some new insults. Because they did choke and they did gag and if the athletes are going to bask in all the adulation that comes with being the conquering hero, then when you choke your cleats off, the backlash is part of that, too. I can't understand why this is so difficult for some to comprehend, to be honest.
Yankees bullpen. Wow, did you see what transpired Sunday? For real. Go check that out.
We have this conversation a lot. And the names change and the debate details can fluctuate and we can value different things for different sports and different positions and players.
Who's the best, the GOAT (greatest of all time)?
Brady or Manning. MJ or LeBron. Jack or Tiger. There simply are too many in baseball to make a case for, but you get the idea.
Championships play a huge role — arguably too big a role — in these things, because truth be told, of the three pairs mentioned above, the first in each group has more chips or majors, but I would contend that head-to-head, at the height of their physical skill sets, the second name was better at their endeavor.
But those are the parameters and it's why there's never a universal answer. Nor should there really be. Except for men's tennis.
Egad, getting to overlap — granted at the end of the careers of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — has given us a fair amount of context, but Novak Djokovic continues to add chapters to his legacy.
His four-set Wimbledon triumph Sunday put him in position to win the Grand Slam later this year in NYC at the US Open. He's the first guy to win the first three majors of a single season since before I was born. (Rod Laver last did it in 1969.)
The Joker has 20 majors — same as Federer and Nadal — and has won the career Grand Slam twice.
I think he's the best ever — and it's growing by the year — but if he wins in September in NYC, it's no longer a discussion, friends.
(Also, he's just another athlete making the mid-30s look like their early 20s.)
This and that
— Did you see the story that MJ's 1984 gold medal is headed to auction? Did you see it is expected to fetch $70,000? Anyone else expect another digit on that price considering the way sports memorabilia, especially MJ memorabilia, has been moving on the markets?
— British Open contest? Who's in?
— You know the rules. Here's TFP sports editor and prep sports guru Stephen Hargis on Baylor School star Cooper Kinney going in round one to the Tampa Bay Rays. CHA-ching.
— Speaking of the draft, I love the draft. You know this. But the MLB draft does very little for me.
— Home run derby betting? Hmmmmmmmm. What else is there tonight?
— Speaking of the home run derby, I got tweaks I think they should make. Wanna hear 'em?
— Man, Les Miles' reputation is getting less and less likable, you know? After the dumpster fire he left at LSU — he could not be left alone in the room with female students, people — now comes this story that Kansas paid players to leave and keep quiet during Miles' time. Speaking of Miles' time, it's officially up now, right?
So, British Open contest, you game?
Since Cooper Kinney has become the area's first first-rounder in a while, let's open the floor with the best high school baseball player you ever saw.
As for today, July 12, let's review.
Wow, on this day 45 years ago the "Family Feud" debuted. I think we have done the Rushmore of game shows before, but "Family Feud" is a no-doubter for me.
What's the Rushmore of worst game shows? Go.