“This is How I Leave You” pretty good flick, but could’ve been better. An incredible PSA about Syrian suffering. And the baseball playoffs get off to an incredible start

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With a fantastic cast and some legit funny moments in the trailer, I figured “This is How I Leave You” would at least be good for a few laughs. Best-case scenario, it’d be great, a real pleasant surprise.

And at times, this movie was really, really good, and had me and the wife chuckling pretty hard.
It was almost a great movie, except it had two major flaws: Everything that happened in the last 30 minutes was totally implausible, and a movie about a dysfunctional family reuniting after a loved one’s death had already been made recently, and it was much better. “August: Osage County” was the film “This is How I Leave You” wanted to be, it seemed, but couldn’t quite get there.

Still, it had a lot of good moments. Jason Bateman, as the seemingly-normal brother of the Altman clan, was excellent; Tina Fey, in a strange role for her was also great, as was Adam Driver and the criminally-underused Connie Britton (I love me some Mrs. Coach).

The movie just relied on way too many leaps of faith (really? A whole Little League team is in the emergency room at that time near the end when the cursing and the brawling begins?), and the story went in too many directions at once, like it didn’t trust the main storyline too much.

Still, it was a 2 1/2 star flick, so probably worth your time.

 

**Next up, with all the attention that the U.S. war on ISIS has been getting, its easy to forget just how miserable it has been for citizens of Syria the past five years.
Especially for children. Check out this remarkable PSA from an organization called The Syria Campaign. Hard to watch, and heartbreaking, but so well-done…

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

**Finally, that was one of the most amazing baseball games I’ve ever seen Tuesday night.

The Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals went back and forth, with the Royals being down 7-3, improbably rallying to 7-7, and finally winning 9-8 in the 12th inning.

Kansas City and Oakland both in the playoffs got me thinking: One of the reasons baseball lost tons of fans in the 1990s and early 2000s, besides the glacial pace of the game and rampant steroid use, is that it seemed like the same teams were always winning and playing for the World Series.
It was the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Braves, the Cardinals… and everybody else. More money was spent by the major markets, and everyone else was playing for scraps.
But it’s been a long time since that was true; just about everyone has a shot to win in today’s MLB, and it’s one of the reasons the baseball playoffs are still exciting to me, even though I barely follow the sport for six months.
Look at who’s in the playoffs this year: Kansas City. Oakland. Pittsburgh. Baltimore. All teams that a few years ago were sad-sack losers, but who now have a chance to win it all.
It was awesome to see the K.C. fans get excited about their team being in the postseason for the first time since “Back to the Future” came out.
In baseball, everybody’s got a shot. And that’s great to see.

The Jets stink again, and more NFL musings. Facebook turns Grandmas into rappers. And the Buckingham Palace guard who just had to dance

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It’s not even October yet, and the New York Jets 2014 season is about to be kaput.

Which is nice, because it would spare me a couple months of angst, and I could just expect losses every Sunday and skip the games and spend time with my newborn son.

Still, it was so damn frustrating Sunday. Geno Smith, I so want to believe, is going to improve this year. But four games I’m in having Sanchez flashbacks; good play then bad play, good play then bad play. Sunday Geno made mostly bad plays, but he was far from alone.
The pass defense was atrocious, and that’s without Calvin Johnson being healthy enough to have an impact. The receivers couldn’t get open, and when they did, Smith missed ‘em. The offense and defense never played well at the same time, and the Jets are 1-3, and they’ve got San Diego, Denver and New England next, and 1-6 looks likely, and this has got to be it for Smith if they don’t win one of the next three, right?
Ugh. Looks like Jets will be QB shopping again next year. That Texas A&M kid looks pretty good, and so does Mariota up at Oregon.
Some other NFL thoughts on a day with only a few entertaining games:

– By the way, you notice how well some of the other young QBs played Sunday? Blake Bortles gave the Jags a spark, Teddy Bridgewater was fantastic for Minnesota… I want one of those type guys in green and white, please.

– To sum up the Packers’ beatdown of the Bears, see this awesome photo I saw on Twitter Sunday night: yeah, that Bears baby ain’t happy. And the Packers are impossible to figure out.

– J.J. Watt. I mean, he’s just ridiculous. You see this interception return he made for a TD Sunday?

– And so much for the Bills being good this year, right? That 2-0 start was a long, long time ago.

– Paging LeSean McCoy? Anyone seen him? Maybe he’s still hurt and shouldn’t have been playing, but he was invisible Sunday.

– 2 quick baseball thoughts: Beautiful job by the Red Sox in honoring Derek Jeter with so many Boston legends like Bobby Orr and Paul Pierce joining the ceremony, and I’m hoping for a Royals-Pirates World Series, those two fan bases have suffered enough the past three decades.

**Next up, if you’ve ever been to England, you know that at Buckingham Palace the guards are famously stoic, and don’t move or react to anything you say to them (I tried cracking a few jokes to one of them when I visited seven years ago, and dude didn’t move a facial muscle. Impressive discipline. Or maybe my jokes weren’t funny.)

Anyway, a 20-year-old guard named Samuel Jones recently decided to have some fun and break up the boredom of the job, performing for tourists in the above video. Sadly, this story says he’s currently being investigated and may face disciplinary action (though it looks like me just be fined).

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**So this story cracked me up: You know how on Facebook when you start typing the first few letters of a name, Facebook suggests and auto-fills a name sometimes?
Well, some Grandmas who’ve been trying to tag themselves on the site have accidentally been tagging Grandmaster Flash, the pioneering rap artist from the 1970s.

Which results in hilarious posts like these:

3.) Now grandma has an even cooler nickname.

Grandma Grandmaster Flash Facebook Tag Accidental Tagging

Grandma Grandmaster Flash Facebook Tag Accidental Tagging

Good News Friday: Derek Jeter writes the perfect farewell. “Blackish” a really fun new show. And Aaron Rodgers does good by some kids.

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We get magical moments in sports all the time, but the joy is that we never know exactly when they’re going to happen.

Derek Jeter played his final game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night. It comes after a full season of hype, publicity, and at times nauseatingly-loving media coverage, coverage so immense that even Yankee fans like me were sick of it by midsummer.

He is one of the greatest Yankees in history, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and a man whose play the last few years has been painful to watch for those of us who remember his prime fondly.
So Thursday night it was finally going to end, and “Jeet” had a couple of nice moments through eight innings: A double off the wall, a go-ahead grounder that scored a run, and in the top of the ninth he stood at shortstop with the Yankees about to close out a routine 5-2 win over Baltimore.
Only then, the Hollywood ending wouldn’t have happened. So David Robertson, a solid closer all year, gave up a couple of homers and the O’s tied the game at 5, and of course Jeter was due up third in the bottom of the ninth, and of course the Yanks got a man to second, and then, this happened…

Some of us got chills. How great is that? A perfect ending for a marvelous career.

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**Next up, there are so few good network sitcoms these days that I think a new one debuting is worthy of a Good News Friday mention. I’d read some good things about the new Anthony Anderson show “Blackish,” so the wife and I gave it a shot Wednesday night.
Really, really funny. The writing was sharp (I especially like the part where Anderson and his wife discuss the O.J. case), the acting spot-on, and the premise seems like it can be carried out humorously for awhile. (Though bad-ass Laurence Fishburne playing a Grandpa made me feel really, really old.)

I’ve seen lots of shows that have had great pilots and then stunk after that (I’m looking at you, “Michael J. Fox Show”), so I don’t want to get too excited about “Blackish.” But it was smart, funny and definitely I show I’ll keep watching for a while.

**Finally, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has a pretty good reputation for being a good guy (his idiotic blind defense of steroid user Ryan Braun is one notable screw-up by him), and he showed again that there are 99 percent good dudes in the NFL, we just hear about the screw-ups.

Rodgers heard about a woman named Annie who’s suffering from spina bifida, and surprised her with the biggest shock of her life. Really sweet, heart-warming video, especially at the reveal at 1:40 mark …

 

The biggest climate change rally ever, and how Congress still doesn’t get it. A mesmerizing video of acrobats flying. And some thoughts from the dad of a 2-week-old

More than 300,000 people marched in New York City Sunday to bring awareness, and protest the massive lack of activity in our government, on the issue of climate change.
It was an important rally for an important cause, and in most forward-thinking nations who give a damn about the future, it would be seen as a strong statement that something must be done about climate change, NOW.

And yet, nothing will happen. Because just last week, as Jon Stewart brilliantly satirizes above, a House of Representatives committee (a committee with the word “Science” in its name, mind you) showed just how utterly clueless many GOP Congressmen are, and how deep in denial they are, about this issue.

Stewart’s bit is hilarious. But so sad, too.

**And now, some awesome “extreme trampolining” from brothers Sean and Eric Kennedy. I thought this was mesmerizing and very cool…

**Finally, I’m about two weeks into this whole Fatherhood thing (I feel it’s important enough of a job to be capitalized, don’t you?), and of course it’s been an adventure: Thrilling, tiring, hard, rewarding, you name it:
Couple quick thoughts on the things I’ve learned, and if you’re a father reading this, I’m sure you can relate:

– Every day brings a new “first” moment, and they’re all awesome. Last Friday was his first “outdoor” outing to the park. A couple of nights ago we read our son a story in bed for the first time, even though we know he’s way too young to really focus or understand anything of what we’re saying.
And Tuesday night was my favorite “first” so far: We gave him his first bath, and then I sung Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” to my boy and he stayed quiet and seemed to enjoy it. It’s the same song my mother used to sing to me as a child, and you can be darn sure my son will be hearing it a whole lot.
Too bad his old man can’t carry a tune.

– It’s amazing how quickly you can lose touch with the outside world when you’re just trying to keep an infant happy and fed, and how what day of the week it is very easily slips your mind. With my wife on maternity leave and me taking a few weeks off from substitute teaching, we’re spending so much time together and in our apartment that one day really bleeds into another. If not for NFL games on Sunday, I would’ve had no idea that it was Sunday.

– This is apparently quite common with newborns, but in the middle of a deep sleep my child will make random noises that sound like squeaky toys, and then continue sleeping. If we could harness that ability, he could be a key member of a rock band one day, just squeaking on cue.

– Can’t imagine how single mothers raise children alone, especially in the first few weeks. As much respect as I had for them before, it’s increased 100 times now that I’m a parent.

– My friend Rhonda told me the sweetest feeling in the world is when your baby falls asleep on your chest. She’s 100 percent right. It’s happened a few times for me, and when it happens, I don’t want to move from that spot, ever.

 

A Super Bowl rematch that was way better than the original, and other NFL Week 3 thoughts. An awesome high school kid interview. And the Chinese make cell phone texting pedestrian lanes a reality

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Last year’s Super Bowl was such a dud, it may have started a downward spiral for the NFL that has continued into this season, with Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Roger Goodell (and was that the worst press conference performance you’ve ever seen on Friday? Pretty horrible) all caught up in the web.
But Sunday’s rematch between Seattle and Denver was pretty thrilling, and almost made up for last February’s egg.
Peyton Manning was held down by the Seahawks’ for 3 quarters, than threw two TD passes in the final minutes to send the game to OT. But Russell Wilson, who would seem right at home in the middle of any chaotic situation you can imagine, led his team down for the winning score.
Great game. Wish it was this good last February when the whole world watched.
Some other ramblings from a pretty exciting Week 3, while I await my Jets’ latest prime-time mishap tonight on Monday Night Football:

– Wow, that Eagles-Redskins game was wild. Looked like an old-time Joe Thiesmann-Ron Jaworski 1980s shootout for a while. Nick Foles is damn tough, Kirk Cousins is for real, and DeSean Jackson is the cockiest NFL receiver we’ve seen since T.O., and he should shut up and just play once in a while.
What a thriller. Eagles are 3-0 and are going to be really tough to beat.
— The Browns, who I have always considered the Jets’ spiritual cousins, positively gave away their game against the Ravens. Cleveland led throughout the fourth quarter, blew two golden chances to put the game away, then lost on a last-second FG.
Cleveland fans, I feel your pain. This Brian Hoyer dude looks like he’ll keep Johnny Football on the bench for awhile.

– What the heck’s wrong with the Saints? They struggled all day to put away a pretty woeful Minnesota team. Drew Brees and Co. just don’t look right. And what’s wrong with the Packers? They looked terrible offensively Sunday.

– Thank you, Rashad Jennings of the Giants: Without you, my fantasy team might’ve scored in negative numbers Sunday. I have no idea how the Texans were 2-0 with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, that guy is horrendous.

– Have no idea if the Cowboys are any good. In fact, they may be the worst 2-1 team in the NFL. But Tony Romo sure can look great at times.

–Lastly, we live in a world where Drew Stanton has won two consecutive starts in the NFL. One more reason I never, ever bet on football.

**Next up today, this totally made me smile. In my newspaper career I interviewed thousands of high school football players after games, and 99 percent of the time you get totally boring, cliched answers or mono-syllabic grunts from kids.
So when you’re a reporter and come across a kid like Apollos Hester of East View (Texas) High, well, you just want to hug him and get down on one knee and praise him to the heavens.
Listen to this fantastic 90-second interview he gives a local TV reporter after Friday night’s game. You go, Apollos.

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**Finally today, remember a few months ago when, as an experiment, a sidewalk in Washington, D.C. was turned into two separate lanes, one for people walking and one for those slowpokes among us who were texting or reading email on their phones while traversing the cement? I thought it was a brilliant idea, but sadly it was just a trial.
However, as is the case in so many things related to technology, the Chinese are ahead of us.  Last week, the city of Chongqing unveiled a lane specially designated for people who want to walk as they use their cellphones. “Cellphones, walk in this lane at your own risk” is printed in the lane in white lettering. The adjoining lane reads “No cellphones,” according to this Wall Street Journal story.

Bravo, China. I hope America copies you, and soon!

Good News Friday: Fewer American kids are in poverty. An actual good-news NFL story! And an awesome ad about books

And a Happy Friday to you all. I survived my son’s bris yesterday and am happy today he’ll never have to go through that again, though I think it was harder on me than him. Luckily our mohel was a little more qualified and professional than in “Seinfeld…”

Three news items/videos to send you into the weekend…

First, there’s very little positive news to report these days about poverty, and income equality. Thanks mostly to the recession of six years ago, and to Republicans who refuse to authorize any increase in spending on poor people and programs that might help them, it seems that more and more Americans are struggling.
But a rare positive report came out this week: According to Census data, the number of American children living in poverty has declined sharply. For the first time since 2006, 2013 saw a drop. The report showed significant improvements for children. The poverty rate for children under 18 declined last year for the first time since 2000, the bureau said, and the number of children in poverty fell by 1.4 million, to 14.7 million.

We are far, far away from actually feeding and caring for all of our kids in America. But hey, anytime fewer of them are poor and going hungry, I’m happy.

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**Next up, a story showing that not all NFL players and coaches are scumbags like Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.
First, you might remember the story of Bengals player Devon Still, whose 4-year-old daughter has cancer. Well, to help raise money for pediatric cancer research, the NFL is selling Still’s jersey. And Saints coach Sean Payton stepped up big time, buying 100 jerseys at $100 apiece, which equals a $10,000 donation.
Way to go, Sean.

**And finally, this ad made me smile. It’s from Ikea, hyping a revolutionary new product called … a book.

I laughed throughout.

A few thoughts on NFL owner idiocy. John Oliver brilliant on the Scotland independence debate. And a dude races the London Tube.

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So with all the personal excitement in my life last week with the baby arrival and all, I realize I’m a little late in commenting on maybe the worst week in NFL history.
Between the Ray Rice beating his wife video, the details of Greg Hardy’s abuse coming out, and Adrian Peterson acting unconscionably by beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, it’s been a period of time where anyone and everyone has criticized NFL commish Roger Goodell, and the culture of this behemoth league.

The one thing that’s struck me that I don’t think has gotten enough attention is just how incredibly out of touch and lacking in common sense and decency NFL owners seem to be.
Specifically, three who were in the spotlight this week: Steve Bisciotti (above left), the Ravens owner who had the audacity to say that if his organization’s complete bungling of the Rice discipline leads to greater awareness of domestic violence, than it’ll all have been worth it. Seriously, that’s basically what he said.

Then there was Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who tearfully claimed that domestic violence was a hugely personal and important issue to him, yet allowed his franchise to suit up a linebacker, Hardy, who had already been convicted on domestic abuse charges, during the Panthers’ Week 1 game (he’s since been inactive.)

And finally, there’s owner Zygi Wilf up in Minnesota, who has decided that Adrian Peterson, who has had multiple child abuse/dangerment charges filed against him, only has to sit out one game despite his recent indictment. (Wednesday update: The Vikings indefinitely suspended Peterson Wednesday morning.)

As Keith Olbermann repeatedly, and devastatingly repeats in this blistering commentary, “A little boy was putting up his hands, trying to stop a professional football player from hitting him with a small tree branch.”

And yet Wilf thinks it’s fine for Peterson to play Sunday.

Three extraordinarily rich and successful men, who apparently are so isolated in their ivory tower that common sense and decency have flown so far over their heads. Three men who have so much power, power to do good, and yet obsfuscate and excuse the despicable behavior of men whose paychecks they happily sign each week.
You want to blame Roger Goodell and rake him over the coals? I’m with you.

But these owners have plenty of power themselves, and yet they shrink from doing the right thing, all in the name of winning football games.

Just pitiful.

**John Oliver has had so many memorable segments during his debut season of “Last Week Tonight,” it’s hard to pick a favorite.

But this one he did on Sunday, about Scotland’s huge independence vote coming on Thursday on whether to secede from the UK, was maybe the best one yet. The line about Mel Gibson and Braveheart alone (at :51) slayed me so much I had to pause the DVR so I wouldn’t miss the next line: (By the way, if Scotland secedes, does Andy Murray’s Wimbledon title last year still count as a British guy ending the enormous title drought?)

**Finally, in the category of “What kind of a brain comes up with a challenge like this?”, I present the guys from Epic Challenges, who decided to race the tube in London from one stop to another, by sending a man out of the station on foot and trying to beat the train to the next stop.

Mesmerizing, and oh so cool…

A child is born, and miraculously, I’m his father.

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Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a few days. Sorta small little life event happened last Wednesday night, at 11:47 p.m.:

I became a father.

It has been the craziest, most glorious, exhausting, roller-coaster-y six days of my life since last Tuesday, when my wife and I were told by her OB/GYN to report to the hospital ASAP to be induced for labor.
All of a sudden, this little person who’s been growing inside of her for 40 weeks would be on the outside, a living, breathing, huggable, kissable, crying person who would be totally dependent on us for everything.
After five final minutes of panic, the excitement set in.
I won’t bore you with the details of the 32 hours of pre-labor, transition and active labor, but suffice to say, our little boy was in no rush to come out. When it got to be 6 p.m on September 10th and my wife was still far from ready for delivery, we began to really worry that our first child would have a September 11 birthday, which just seems like a terrible way to start life.

But thanks to my wife’s awesomeness, some incredibly dedicated nurses, and a doctor who yelled “PUSH!” as aggressively as I’ve ever heard anyone yell anything, our bundle of joy arrived 13 minutes before midnight, sparing him the indignity of celebrating every year on a day when so many mourn and remember tragedy.

It’s funny; I tried to so hard to stay in the moment when he was born; to be in touch with all my feelings and commit them to memory forever like a “good father” would.
But honestly, all I remember was feeling excited when the nurses said “I can see hair on the head” and then squeezing my wife’s hands and reminding her to breathe and then in one miraculous moment, whoosh, the doctor pulled my 7-pound, 5-ounce son out and held him aloft like a sports trophy.

I believe I then uttered the word “holy” followed by a common swear word. Truly, I was stunned that all of a sudden this new person was immediately in the room, a bloody, crying, beautiful person who I will now love forever. The poor analogy I kept making to friends and family who asked what the moment was like? I said it was like watching a magic show and out of nowhere the magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat and you’re kinda amazed.

Since getting to take my boy home from the hospital on Saturday, there’ve been new experiences all over the place: I’ve changed my first diaper, become at least semi-proficient at swaddling, and learned there’s no greater joy than having your child fall asleep in your arms, as he did Sunday while we watched football.

I’ve learned some stuff about him, too: So far he’s not a big fan of burping, taking forever to release gas after eating. I’ve learned he’s really not a fan of being changed, but he’s quite happy being held by anybody and just can’t get enough of his Boppy pillow.

I must admit I don’t yet feel the bond with my son that my wife does; after all, they were together for 10 months, and he and I have just been pals for five days.

But man, I sure do look forward to all the days ahead. Fatherhood, so far, is all that everyone told me it would be, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

Two quick final notes: One, I swear on the life of Inigo Montoya that this blog will not become a one-note song of me reporting every little thing my little guy has done, and I also don’t know how often I’ll be blogging over the next few weeks, as we try to settle into a routine with this new resident of our apartment, and hey, with my sleep deprivation this blog might turn 38 percent stranger than it already is!

But I appreciate your patience and I promise to be back at you with football rants (Don’t get me started on that awful Jets loss to the Packers), political musings and stories of the weird and wonderful in our world.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go stare at my boy sleeping for a while. It’s way better than any TV show or movie I’ve ever seen.

 

The NFL and Ray Rice: What a bunch of phonies and hypocrites. And a most unlikely U.S. Open men’s champion is crowned

I was nauseated by this Ray Rice situation Monday.
Not by the act itself, because we’ve all known for months that Ray Rice beat his fiance unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator, and what a deplorable act that was.
And we’ve known for months that the NFL completely dropped the ball and insulted women everywhere by pathetically suspending Rice for only two games.

No, what made me want to toss my cookies was the shear phoniness and cowardice of the NFL, suddenly acting all tough on Ray Rice once TMZ leaked the video from inside the elevator, which showed Rice just unloading with a huge left fist right to the face of Janay Palmer, then showing no remorse or concern at all while dragging her out of the elevator.

“Oh my,” the NFL and the Baltimore Ravens basically said. “We knew Rice had hit her, and she was knocked unconscious, and we were fine with letting him get away with that except for a measly two-game suspension. But OOOO, when the whole world sees the video of the act, well then we are shocked, horrified and outraged! Get that man out of our league immediately!” (Tweet from the NYT’s Lynn Zinser about sums it up: “We were totally OK with Ray Rice clobbering his wife until you all watched it on video.”

Puh-lease. What a joke. You’re going to tell me the NFL didn’t see this video until Monday? This is a league that gives a shit about players’ sock heights, suddenly they didn’t investigate to see what was on the Rice tape? If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

The phony outrage Monday, give me a break. How in the hell did Roger Goodell, and the Ravens, think Palmer had gotten knocked out in the first place? Suddenly Rice’s crime is worth throwing him out of the league for NOW, but not two months ago?

I swear, the NFL has become harder and harder to take. The hypocrisy is stunning. Keith Olbermann has the best take (above).

(For a nice NFL-related palatte-cleanser, check out this story of one team doing very, very good by a player.)

Cilic.USOPEN

**For so long, men’s tennis has been delightfully predictable. You knew at the end of the Grand Slam tournaments, either Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would be holding the trophy and smiling broadly. (OK, Andy Murray snuck in there twice).
It was glorious, and the tennis was great, but it was pretty much guaranteed that one of them would win.
So I was totally flummoxed Monday night when I sat down to watch … Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic in the U.S. Open men’s final. And unfortunately, despite my expectations of a tight, exciting match, it was as one-sided as the women’s final was. Nishikori was clearly out of gas after a series of epic wins last week, and had no legs left for the final.
Marin Cilic, for two weeks, has been in that indescribable place athletes and sportswriters call “the zone.” Every serve was perfect, every backhand stung down the line, every volley perfectly placed. It was incredible to see a guy who’s always had so much talent finally harness it for two weeks, and reach the pinnacle of the sport.

He’s a great story, Cilic, as he missed the Open last year after being suspended for taking a “banned substance,” which in this case was a glucose tablet his Mom had given him (hey, our Mom gives us something, we take it, right? I actually believe Cilic wasn’t trying to cheat).

Will Cilic keep this up and become a force in the game? I doubt it. I think this was a magical run by him that won’t ever be repeated, and his ranking will linger between 10-20 for several more years.

But man, it sure was a magical run. Bravo to him on finishing off a truly stunning U.S. Open.
(And now I pause for sadness, realizing the next Slam isn’t until January in Australia.)

The Jets dominate and survive as the NFL returns! Ireland’s wacky “Armagaydon”. And Serena cruises to another U.S. Open title

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Football’s back!
Yeah yeah, I know college football started last week, but to me, the first Sunday of the NFL season is the real start of football season.
I love the first Sunday. I love seeing way more people in the sports bar than normal, because everybody’s fired up about their team, they’ve missed the sport, and they’re convinced their favorite team is going to win (hey, everyone’s undefeated at this point!).
I love trying to re-teach my brain how to watch 5 games at once. I love tricking myself into thinking the Jets will be good this year. And I really love the drunk moron in the bar (there’s always one) taunting other fans because he’s drunk and thinks he’s being funny.

Ah, football, I’ve missed you so. Some quick-hit thoughts from a pretty compelling week 1.
— I start with the Jets, of course. That was the most dominating five-point win you’ll see, since my boys shot themselves in the foot so many times the game wasn’t the blowout it should’ve been. Geno Smith looked mostly good (that’s different from mostly dead, right Miracle Max?) except for two killer turnovers, the running game looked fantastic, and the defense was stellar (albeit against a terrible team).

Jets will get creamed at Lambeau next week, I’m sure, but this was an encouraging start.

— It’s always a wonderful day when the Jets win and the Patriots lose. Boy that improved Pats’ D didn’t look so improved on Sunday.
— I’ve never NOT been entertained in recent years by a Saints-Falcons game. They play shootouts every single time. Matty Ryan was sensational on Sunday.

– Ah, Tony Romo, so good to have you back. My great friend Tony put it best about gunslingin’ No. 8, who threw three picks Sunday: “Tony Romo: the man with a Brett Favre mentality without Brett Favre ability.”

– Um, RGIII? What the hell happened to you? Man did the Redskins look awful. Poor RGIII hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee in that playoff game two years ago; he may never be the same again. Mike Shanahan, the blood of his career is on your hands.

– I know they lost, but man, Andrew Luck is some kind of terrific quarterback. Indy fans are so spoiled, getting Peyton and then him back-to-back.

- Did you see the clip of the Steelers player karate-kicking the Browns punter in the face? I mean, come on, that’s awful!

**Next up today, I thought this was very clever. Marriage-equality proponents in Ireland made this ad leading up to a vote for same-sex marriage, about what would “happen” if it were legalized. How do you deal with the “Armagayddon?” Hide all the women and children!

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**Finally today, Serena Williams won a third straight U.S. Open title Sunday, routing Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-3. I’ve said the following on here several times but it’s worth saying again: I strongly dislike Serena as an athlete, for her comportment and lack of decency on the court (not just for screaming at linespeople when she foot-faults), and her arrogance and condescension off the court.

But I also admire the hell out of her career, and marvel at how when she’s playing well, like she did the past two weeks, she’s the best player women’s tennis has seen.
I would love to see her in her prime, up against Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, because for the past decade, when Serena is at her best, she’s miles ahead of the rest. An incredible, one-of-a-kind athlete wbo simply cannot be matched.

As for the men’s final today, shoot, I have no freaking clue who’ll win. I’m still in shock that Djokovic and Federer were so easily dismissed in the semis on Saturday. Kei Nishikori is a rising star, and a Japanese player winning a Slam for the first time would be a great story. But Marin Cilic played out of his mind last week and on Saturday, he’s got a huge serve, and may just be unbeatable right now (I cannot believe I’m saying that about Marin Cilic.)

As disappointed as I am that my man Federer lost, I’m thrilled that men’s tennis has some new blood in a Slam final. I’ll say Nishikori wins in 4.