A surprise and awesome marriage proposal, and some wins for “The Americans” save a painfully awful Emmy Awards. And a pretty incredible soccer goal from Zlatan

They moved the Emmy Awards, always my favorite awards show, to Monday night this year. I’m not sure why, but it apparently has gone down as the least-watched Emmy telecast ever.

Having sat through the whole thing, I can say that it deserved to be. Except for a few moments of awesomeness which I’ll get to in a minute, this was three hours of drab, boring, painfully unfunny television show.

The hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost from “Saturday Night Live” were just not any good. Their monologue jokes fell flat, they had no energy, and they never really gave a good reason why they were chosen as hosts. Just boring, vanilla stuff.

— OK for one thing, they spent the first 20 minutes of the show, in the monologue and after, talking about how these were the most diverse Emmys ever, it’s so amazing we have this diversity, etc. And then the first EIGHT major awards went to white people.

I mean, the writers of the Emmys broadcast couldn’t have known it was going to happen that way, but it was pretty hilarious and embarrassing.

— Is there a rule that Fred Armisen still has to be on TV a lot? I cannot for the life of me understand why people think that dude is funny.

— Yeah I may be the only person ever to say this and complain about it, but the speeches felt rushed and way too short. This is the moment of a lifetime for these winners, I’m all about giving them a few minutes of shine time.

–OK, on to the good stuff. Well of course the No. 1 highlight was when Glen Weiss, who won for best director of a variety special, shocked the audience and his girlfriend, Jan, by proposing live on air during his victory speech. (video above) Can’t decide which shocked reaction I liked best: Jan’s, Leslie Jones in the audience, or Sterling K. Brown’s up on stage. So, so great.

— Hallelujah, praise Jesus, and all the rest: Finally, finally, FINALLY, “The Americans” won some Emmys. One of the greatest dramas of all time was long overdue, and after its final season it was finally given some props.

The show’s creators, Joe Fields and Joel Weisberg, won for best writing, and Matthew Rhys won for best actor. It’s a crime against humanity that Keri Russell never won best actress for her fierce, phenomenal portrayal of Elizabeth Jennings, but what can you do. She knows, and the fans know, that she was amazing.

But man, everybody said “Game of Thrones” was down this year, and if “The Americans” could’ve won Best Drama, hell, I would’ve ignored how bad most of the rest of the telecast was.

— Betty White is 96 years old, came out on stage, and spoke and was grateful, and everyone applauded. It was beautiful.

— Thrilled “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” won a bunch, and that Amy Sherman-Palladino, who should’ve won a whole lot of Emmys during the “Gilmore Girls” era, got to give a victory speech.

— Henry Winkler seems like a hell of a nice guy. And I loved this photo of him and Richie Cunningham (I mean Ron Howard) backstage. Someone call Potsie and Ralph Mouth, please.

— The only bit from Che and Just that I really thought landed great was the “Reparation Emmys” gag, where Che gave out awards to talented black actors on shows from the past. Seeing Marla Gibbs and Kadeem Hardison get honored was hilarious and I was happy to see them get a few moments in the sun.

— Finally, the fashion was stellar. Regina King looked amazing, Thandie Newton, wow, and from the wife, Sterling K. Brown always looks fabulous.

 

**Finally today, saw this soccer goal over the weekend and it kind of blew my mind. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an international superstar now playing for the L.A Galaxy in MLS, scored his 500th career goal in spectacular fashion. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a goal scored quite like it.

Amazing athletic play.

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Hello (and goodbye) Cleveland: a weekend spent in a cool Midwestern city was fun. The hurricane weather reporter who deserves an Oscar for fake acting. And the Jets crash, the Jaguars soar, and kickers, oh kickers.

Good morning y’all, as I wait for the Emmy Awards tonight to hopefully finally (FINALLY!) give “The Americans” the recognition it deserves for its amazing run and even more amazing final season, I write to you from the beautiful Rust Belt city of Cleveland.

It’s my first time here in the land of the Browns and Indians; one of my wife’s cousins got married here on Saturday and so for 48 blissful hours, we have been without children and free to go nuts (which, since we’re old, isn’t that nuts).

I have to say, having read native Cleveland Joe Posnanski for decades about this city, and watching “Major League” a few dozen times, I always had a good impression of it.

And now that I’ve been here? It’s terrific. Granted, I’ve only been here for two days and have mostly been downtown, but I like the place. Progressive Field is beautiful, the Browns stadium, if you don’t mind 80,000 orange seats, looks terrific, and the people couldn’t be friendlier.

Some Cleveland thoughts as I prepare to leave, but certainly hope to return.

— We of course went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while here, and it’s fabulous. I’d been once before when I drove through the city about 10 years ago, but it’s gotten a whole bunch more and different stuff since then.

We spent about four hours there and could easily have doubled that. So many great pieces of memorabilia (I particularly enjoyed the Guns N’ Roses pinball machine), so many great old music clips, including a wonderful short movie highlighting Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” through the years, and so much wonderful rock history.

Couple things struck me more than others: 1, There’s a machine where you can vote/nominate for artists who are not yet in the Hall, and much to my amazement, neither Cher nor Def Leppard are in yet. Excuse me, how is this possible? And Pat Benatar isn’t in either! Who else ran with the “Shadows of the Night?” Come on Rock Hall voters, get it together.

2. Prince. Prince, Prince, Prince. There are so many examples of how amazing this performer/writer/do everything man was, but just one clip that I saw at the Hall reminded me just how transcendent he was. Check this performance out, from 2004, of Prince on stage with Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty performing the Beatles’ classic “As My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and watch how Prince just positively blows everyone else away. Amazing.

— Couldn’t count the number of Cavs 2016 championship shirts and hats I saw on people walking around downtown. Man, Cleveland fans were waiting a LONG time for a championship, and I’m guessing every single citizen bought something when it finally happened.

– OK this isn’t so much a Cleveland thing but a problem with hotels all across America. Dear hotel managers: We don’t need or want those gigantic, 14-pound pillows you have now decided every hotel must have. Nobody can sleep on those! I’m a simple man with simple needs, is it so hard to just give me a nice, small, rectangular pillow that I can rest my weary head upon? At least if you insist on giving us ones that weigh more than my children, give us at least one normal-sized one to substitute out.

I swear it’s like every hotel decided to give us these impossible pillows, and it makes me annoyed. OK, end of rant. Loved Cleveland.

** Next up today, Hurricane Florence is absolutely no laughing matter; the death and destruction it caused in the Carolinas is awful.

But I did get a pretty good chuckle out of this video of a Weather Channel anchor trying really, really hard to tel you how windy and dangerous conditions are… while 2 dudes in the background just walk by like everything’s fine.

You, sir, deserve an Oscar for that performance.

**Finally today, some thoughts on the NFL Sunday that was, including a totally predictable stinker by my New York Jets, a dominating performance by the Jags over the Patriots, and oh, those kickers…

–First, of course, we start with the Jets. The hype over their Monday night win should properly fade away now, and the realization that Sam Darnold is still a rookie and not quite ready for the Hall of Fame should set in.
The Jets played abominably Sunday, making turnovers, missing tackles, managing the clock like Herm Edwards was still coaching the team… and still had a shot to beat the Dolphins.

The kid, Darnold, still has exciting potential; he’s definitely going to be exciting to watch this year. But until they get a better running game going, and cover receivers better, they’re not going anywhere this year. Which is what we expected.

— How good are the Jaguars? I don’t know, but they whipped up on the Patriots Sunday, 31-20. I still can’t believe Blake Bortles can win a Super Bowl, but he’s looking damn good.

— Kansas City’s Pat Mahomes has 10 touchdown passes in his first two NFL starts this year. I’m no expert, but I think that’s good.

— Kickers. Kickers, damn kickers. Two of ’em cost their teams wins this week. The Browns, God bless ’em, led almost the whole game and looked poised to finally, finally win a game for the first time in two years. But their kicker, Zane Gonzalez, missed two extra points (including one that would’ve given them the lead in the final minutes) and two field goals, so of course the Browns lost.
Then in Green Bay, Vikings kicker Matt Carlson (above) missed two field goals in overtime, and for the second straight week we had a tie in the NFL, 29-29 (I think as many suggested Sunday night, the NFL ought to go to shootouts in OT to prevent ties. Or play 3-on-3.)

If either of those kickers has a job Monday night, I’ll be stunned.

— Somehow it got worse for the Bills Sunday. Not only did they get crushed again, but one of their players, defensive back Vontae Davis, retired. At halftime. During the game! Truly an unbelievable story, but check out the details here.

Poor, poor Buffalo.

— Finally, like I said I was in Cleveland Sunday and watched football at a sports bar downtown. So many Browns fans were so pumped up at every little good thing that happened for Cleveland, that it was alternately heartwarming and sad to see how little it took to make them happy.
When the game was winding down and it looked like the Browns might finally win, three TV camera crews set up shop, getting ready to film the euphoria these long-suffering fans would feel.

People streamed in from outside, as a well-publicized promotion held that when the Browns finally won, free beer would be served to everyone.

I had to leave to make my flight before the end of the game, but that beer stayed un-poured, and those TV cameras had a lot of wasted footage.

Poor Cleveland. One day, the Browns will win again.

Maybe.

Good News Friday: Ellen DeGeneres and Michael B. Jordan embarrass and thrill Naomi Osaka. A cockatiel plays an adorable game of hide and seek. And Jeff Bezos steps up with huge $$$ for homeless people

And a Happy Friday to you out there, and most importantly by far, to all of you on the East Coast from Delaware on down, hoping and praying you all stay safe during Hurricane Florence. Hurricanes are no joke, so I hope all of you in those areas are safe and sound.

We begin Good News Friday with Naomi Osaka, the 20-year-old who won the U.S. Open less than a week ago and whose life has changed forever. Just one way it’s changed? Ellen DeGeneres got her a message from her celebrity crush.

It started when Osaka, an adorably shy woman, was on “Ellen” and the host asked her who her dream crush was. She answered Michael B. Jordan (good choice), and of course Ellen being Ellen, well, just watch this …

So of course, the star of “Creed” and “Black Panther” got Ellen’s message, and because he’s cool like that, decided to send a video response back to Osaka. I would have given anything to be in the room and see how much she blushed when she saw that. Very, very cool by everyone all around, just made me smile a lot.

**Next up, nothing earth-shattering here but it made me giggle as I watched it seven or eight times. True story: We had a cockatiel when I was a kid, named Sunny, and god bless him he lived forever but never did anything this cute; he just squawked and flapped his wings and the feathers got over everything.

But this guy is great.

**And finally today, Amazon founder and Washington Post rescuer Jeff Bezos stepped up in a huge, huge way philanthropically on Thursday. Bezos and his Foundation have pledged a staggering $2 billion (that’s billion with a B) to help homeless families and create a network of nonprofit preschools in low-income communities.

The Bezos Day One Fund will focus on two initiatives, the billionaire announced in an online post Thursday. The first will fund existing nonprofits and issue annual awards to organizations doing “compassionate, needle-moving work” to shelter and support the immediate needs of young families. The second will operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools. The fund’s vision statement comes from nonprofit Mary’s Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside.

“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon,” wrote Bezos. “Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”

Excellent news. Supporting homeless people isn’t sexy or splashy, but it’s hugely important, and I’m thrilled Bezos is addressing it, as well the chronic need for better educational opportunities in low-income area.

Say what you want about Amazon, this is a huge, positive step by its founder.

Jeff Pearlman’s new book on the USFL is wildly entertaining and great. A marching band member with the best air drums ever. And 17 years later, remembering 9/11

OK, in case it hasn’t been clear before when I talk about his books, let me state straight out that I cannot possibly be unbiased when I talk about my man Jeff Pearlman’s books, which I’m about to do.

For one, he’s one of my closest friends in the world, and one of the finest human beings I know. He and his amazing and talented wife Catherine have an incredible marriage, two great kids, and I love them all to death.

Two, as with Jeff’s other books I’ve had the privilege of helping shape it in its early incarnations, editing/proofing/suggesting what parts are good, what could be better, and what a “normal reader” might have questions about and need clarification on. He’s amazingly dedicated and has been so good to me as a friend and colleague. (hell, he dedicated his last book to me.)

And three, I know how incredibly hard he works on his books, and this one, especially. Why did the world need a book about a long-gone pro football league that existed for three years in the 1980s, then faded away?

Because there were a million great characters in that league, including an owner named Donald Trump who almost-singlehandedly ruined the league.

There were future stars in the USFL like Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Herschel Walker … and there were also a bunch of also-rans like Greg Fields, aka “Big Paper,” who tried to kill his coach and that’s only like the fourth-craziest thing you learn about Greg Fields in this book.

The idea for a spring football league was a terrific one, and the USFL was, by 1984, slowly developing a fan base and an identity: The “fun” league, with two-point conversions and crazy offenses and playing in cities like Memphis that the NFL never would come near.

But then a certain cocky New York City real estate developer bought the New Jersey Generals, and decided he’d convince all the rest of the USFL owners to move their season to the fall, and take the NFL head-on. This was an awful idea for many reasons, namely, who’s going to go to a Philadelphia Stars game when the Eagles are playing the next day?

But Trump, as Jeff explains in the book, was able to convince his brethren to take the NFL on, then sue them for antitrust violations. The USFL won the lawsuit, but gained only $1 in damages (hence the book’s title).

I don’t want you to think this book is about Trump, although there are so, so many precursors to his behavior as a politician that were evident back then (read this John Bassett letter for a good idea).

“Football for a Buck” has the most entertaining, impossible to believe stories you’ll ever read. Like the player who slammed his penis in an equipment truck and missed a few games (Ouch). Or like the genius schemes of Jim Bob Morris of the San Antonio Gunslingers, who loved his out-of-town girlfriend but loved local women just as much.

So to have his cake and eat it too, Morris had a second phone line put into his apartment, had a maintenance man drill a hole in the wall and embed an answering machine within the wall.

“So I had a regular phone line and I had a phone line for my bitches,” he said. “We’d be laying in bed, me and my girl, and you could hear the answering machine in the wall, beeping. I’d pile clothes against the wall so she couldn’t hear.”

The man was a regular Hugh Hefner!

But seriously, “Football for a Buck” is a fabulous read. It’s got egos and greed and men playing the sport they love and putting up with awful conditions to do it.  It’s Jeff’s most hilarious book yet, and if you know any football fans, I guarantee they’ll enjoy it. The book is getting fabulous reviews but it’s a really hard thing, selling a book, so if you buy it for someone you like, you’d be doing something very worthwhile.

Football for a Buck,” the USFL book the world needed.

Now, if we can just get ONE Donald Trump tweet about it, it’ll go straight to the top of the bestsellers list.

**Next up today, a small video that gave me a smile: A man in the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band is clearly a fan of 70s rockers Rush, and their fantastic song “Tom Sawyer.”

Watch as he perfectly nails the drums in this part of the song during Sunday’s Ravens beatdown of the Bills, in the rain.

You go, air drum hero!

**Finally today, yesterday was of course 9/11, the 17th anniversary of the worst day of so many of our lives. We watched the names of those lost being read out loud from Ground Zero on TV, and I took a few minutes to look at the most powerful thing I ever saw about the tragedy, this wonderful video montage put together by a man named Jason Powers.

Seventeen years seems unfathomable. To think a child born that year is preparing to graduate high school now… seems impossible. All we can do is not let the passage of time dim our memories of the heroes, and tragic figures, of that day.

And take a few minutes to think about the sacrifice so many have made, trying to protect our freedoms since that horrible day.

Seventeen years. Hard to believe.

Oh, I have some thoughts on Serena, Osaka and the U.S. Open finals debacle: Ms. Williams was almost completely wrong. The annual FOJ gala has me feeling wonderful and grateful. And Week 1 NFL sees the Redskins look great, oh those Browns, and the Bills look as bad as ever.

Alright, there was a huge U.S. Open controversy this weekend and let’s get right to it, in the mixed doubles final Bethanie Mattek-Sands…

Wait, hang on, that’s not the one you mean?

I kid, of course. The younger sister of Venus Williams was once again the center of an enormous brouhaha Saturday night, in a women’s final that was being talked about all over the media world Sunday.

Look, I’m always thrilled when MSNBC and CNN and NPR talk about tennis in any way, because it gives exposure to my favorite sport. But it seems like a lot of times tennis is talked about because of a reason like this.

OK, so there’s a lot to unpack here, I have lots of thoughts, I’m going to try to organize them but after talking and synthesizing all of the “hot takes” over the past 24 hours, I hope my thoughts are coherent…

1. Absolutely the first point I must make: Naomi Osaka 100 percent earned and deserved that championship. The poise, skill and strength she showed throughout the two weeks was outstanding, and this 20-year-old is absolutely a future star. So happy she broke through at the Open, and I’m so bothered that her triumph is marred by what happened. That she had to hear boos rained down on her during her U.S. Open trophy ceremony is appalling.

2. Serena Williams was 90 percent to blame for what happened (I’ll parcel out the other 10 percent in a minute). That a 36-year-old woman who’s been playing pro tennis for nearly 20 years would act that way on a court, still, is deplorable. Especially a woman who has a long history of unsportsmanlike behavior at the U.S. Open.

Forget about whether she even knew her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was coaching her when the violation was given; her gross misunderstanding of the rules (the umpire, Carlos Ramos, could’ve diffused things a little by explaining he wasn’t accusing Serena of cheating, that her coach was cheating, and she the player is responsible for anything her coach does) and how she behaved when given a point penalty was terrible, and sadly so many media apologists (Sally Jenkins’ column was particularly repulsive to me) seem to focus completely on Ramos, and ignore that it was Serena’s behavior that led to the problem in the first place.

3. The other 10 percent of blame for the situation goes to Mouratoglou, who absolutely later admitted he was coaching and then gave the excuse of “everyone does it” as if that should absolve him, and Ramos gets some blame, too. He could’ve diffused the situation by explaining why Serena got the first violation, and he could’ve given her a “listen, you’re getting very close to a game penalty” warning when she started ranting at him, calling him a liar and a thief. Other umpires have done that with other players. But it’s by no means required.

4. Ramos did his job; Serena or her coach committed three violations, and in tennis that means: warning, point penalty, game penalty. The rules were enforced exactly as written.

5. The sexism card and the racism card has been pulled out this weekend, of course. The racism charge is ridiculous, this had nothing to do with race. The sexism charge has more merit; there certainly have been men’s players like Jimmy Connors and others who have behaved abominably and not been given penalties as severe as Serena’s. (Connors famously called an umpire “an abortion). Roger Federer cursed at an umpire once and wasn’t penalized.

Then again, John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase and many, many other men have been fined, suspended and defaulted from matches.

Are men and women treated differently on the tennis court? Yes, sometimes. Does that excuse what Serena did? Not in my book. Not at all.

6. Osaka was pulverizing the ball and was probably going to win that match, regardless of the game penalty enforced at 4-3 in the second set. Anyone who saw a huge Serena comeback coming, you’ve got better vision than me.

7. Serena’s entire reaction/explosion from her belief Ramos thought she was cheating. Her pride and moral compass were triggered, and she couldn’t live with the idea someone thought she was cheating. Most players who get warnings let it go, and return to focus on the match. Clearly, she couldn’t.

8. Lastly, history matters. Reputation matters. If this were the first-ever incident of Serena behaving this way, maybe she gets more leeway and sympathy from others. But this is an athlete who had made great, great strides the past few years with her behavior on and off the court. She was no longer so discourteous when she lost, nor when she won. She was comporting herself with more maturity on and off the court.

But this was disgraceful and deplorable behavior Saturday night. I do give Serena credit during the trophy ceremony for trying to get the crowd to stop booing, and to give Osaka her due.

But man, was that too little too late. Naomi Osaka was a worthy champion. On Saturday night, Serena Williams was far from it.

**OK, let me move on to something that filled me with great joy. Saturday night was the annual Friends of Jaclyn gala, an event I look forward to every year because I get to see so many people involved in this fantastic charity. As I’ve written many times in this space before, my wife and I are heavily involved with this wonderful organization that pairs children with pediatric brain tumors with high school and college sports teams across the country, allowing these children to be showered with love and companionship at a very difficult part of their lives.

We all go to a lot of annual events but this one is special to me because it’s so gratifying to see the same people every year, specifically the kids who are fighting their disease bravely and seeing them annually lets me know that they’re still here, fighting, doing all they can. We’ve lost more than 150 kids to this horrible disease since FOJ’s founding in 2005, so seeing the smiling, shining faces of kids like Sterling Bachman and Grace Leva every year reminds me that some are winning this fight.

The Murphy family, and the two women who run FOJ, Erin Perkins and Alicia Greenstone, are so compassionate and have such huge hearts, and they do a phenomenal job raising awareness of FOJ and pediatric brain tumors.

I haven’t posted the original HBO Real Sports story about Friends of Jaclyn in a while, so I felt like today would be a good day to do it. Here’s FOJ’s website if you’re interested in getting involved.

**Finally today, football is back! Every year I get less excited about watching NFL football, for a variety of reasons, but week 1 always gets me excited. Everyone’s undefeated! New players are on new teams and anything’s possible! The Jets might not stink! The Browns might not stink! Maybe the Patriots WILL finally stink!

Anyway, my green and white boys don’t play their first game until tonight so I had a stress-free football Sunday, but lots of other interesting stuff happened, namely…

— Aaron Rodgers went down in the first half of the first game for the Packers Sunday night against the Bears, and millions of Packers fans (and fantasy owners) had to be thinking, “He’s not hurt AGAIN, right?) Well, he was, but only for a little while, and he led a stirring comeback and the Bears, after an amazing first half by Khalil Mack (hey Raiders, good job trading him, that looks great so far!), blew a huge lead and lost.

It’s good for the NFL to have Aaron Rodgers healthy

— The Washington Redskins were supposed to be terrible. They’ve got a new QB and seemingly not much talent around him. But they came out and whupped the Arizona Cardinals. One of the reasons I love Week 1: Now Skins fans are all excited and thinking their team is great. But what if the Cardinals just stink?

— The Browns. Oh, the Browns. After going 0-16 last year, they fell behind the Steelers 21-7 Sunday. Then they rallied to tie the score, forced the last of six Pittsburgh turnovers at the end of overtime, then had a game-winning field goal blocked. And so they ended the game in a tie.

But they did give us absolutely the best stat graphic of the year, nothing will top this, ever.

I mean… how sad is that? They tied their opener and it’s their best start in 14 years!!! Oh, the Browns. I love them so.

— There can’t be a more depressed fan base this morning than the Buffalo Bills (and to my Bills fan friends, of who I have several: I’m sorry). They lost 47-3 on opening day. Forty-seven to three!!!! That’s beyond bad. That’s pathetic.

Oh, the Bills. Gonna be a long winter in Buffalo.

Let’s go Jets. Let’s go Darnold. And Happy New Year to my fellow Members of the Tribe.

A letter to my son Nate on his 4th birthday: Such a great big brother, and such a big boy in so many ways

Dear Nate,

Hi! It’s Daddy again. You know, Daddy, the guy who hasn’t been around much lately as per usual, as we are right in the middle of the U.S. Open, where Daddy takes a break from chasing you around to watch boys and girls and men and women hit yellow tennis balls and then write about them. Maybe one day I’ll be watching YOU hit tennis balls at the Open and holding the championship trophy (no pressure, though).

I can’t believe it’s been another year and I’m trying to sum up all the amazing changes that have taken place over the past 12 months. You’re turning 4 on Monday, so grown up in so many ways that I just want to freeze time for a little bit.

We are so, so proud of all the things you’ve accomplished, and how you’ve grown in the past 12 months, and how you’ve adjusted to the two huge life changes that have been thrown your way.

First, you have been such a wonderful big brother to Theo, born last Halloween. Nate, you have gone above and beyond in helping us take care of him, playing with him, and loving him with your huge heart.

You make me smile all the time, whether it’s making funny faces at him, or getting down on the floor to play with him while he crawls, or helping us change his diaper or give him a bottle.

As great of a helper you always have been to Mommy and Daddy, you’re even better with Theo.

We laugh hysterically when you find an old toy or book of yours and say “We have to start teaching Theo his colors” or “I have to make sure Theo knows his numbers!”. You are (almost) always so gentle with him, and the look of pure delight Theo gets on his face when he sees you warms our hearts.

You and Theo will have such fun together in the coming years, and we can’t wait. (As soon as he stops touching your toys, of course. Right now that’s your biggest pet peeve with him. Who said he was allowed to start crawling and touching your stuff, am I right?)

The other major change in your life this year happened in June, when we left our apartment in New York City and moved to a house in Port Washington. We were worried how you would adjust to such a big change, but after the first few days (when you asked Mommy at one point “how long are we going to stay here?”) you’ve done amazingly well.

You love having your own room, with a nice big-boy bed, and having a basement where all your puzzles, trucks and toys can go has made all of our lives better (my ankles and feet are much happier!).

We know it’s been a big change for you and you miss your city friends and our old neighborhood hangouts, but you’ve really come to love Port Washington, and picking Mommy up from the train has become a highlight of your day.

Let’s see, what else has happened this year… you started and finished your first year of preschool, and that was so much fun. Your teachers were all so impressed by how nicely you played with other kids, your manners, and your sheer enthusiasm for all activities. When they told us at our first parent-teacher conference that you sometimes shared your snack with other students, we beamed.

You also learned to ice skate this year, taking to lessons with gusto, and by late spring were even falling on purpose because, as you said “falling down is fun!”

You had so much fun at day camp this summer, riding a pony for the first time and slowly but surely, getting less afraid of loud noises (when you watched Ana use the vacuum in June and declared “Daddy, I’m not afraid of the vacuum anymore!” I was thrilled. That was only my second-happiest moment of the year, though, the first being when someone asked you, seeing your Yankees hat, who your favorite Yankee was and you answered “Roger Federer.”)

Your diet is still pretty much pizza, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets and fruit, and our attempts to broaden your horizons (hey, meat is good!) have failed so far.
Don’t worry, we’re gonna keep trying.

We can’t wait to see what adventures await, as you enter a new preschool and make new friends. You amaze us every day, with your intelligence, kindness and general good cheer.

Happy birthday, my beautiful boy. I wish you nothing but happiness this year, and always. Mommy and I love you so, so much.

I leave you with two requests: Please stop growing up so fast, and try to wipe the toilet seat when you pee on it. Mommy would appreciate it.

Love,

Daddy

Nike with a brilliant marketing move, putting Kaepernick front and center. A 99-year-old man honors his wife, beautifully. And a Scottish guy romantically proposed to his girlfriend, on a cow

There are a lot of reasons to criticize the sportswear and sneaker company Nike.
Their record on human rights in third-world countries, places where much of their sneakers and clothing are made, is pretty abysmal. They have mostly always been about “cool” more than anything else.

Also? Their sneakers, most of us can agree, aren’t that comfy.

But their ad campaigns have almost always been phenomenal. And they’ve hit another home run with this new one: You’ve got to give credit where credit is due to the Phil Knight-led behemoth up in Oregon: They’ve timed their new ad campaign perfectly.

To re-introduce their old “Just do It” slogan for it’s 30th anniversary, they’ve decided to feature Colin Kaepernick. You know, the guy who kneeled for the national anthem to protest police brutality against minorities and racial inequality in the criminal justice system, and now has spent two years without a job in the NFL while people like Nathan Peterman (Nathan Peterman!) are starting in the league.

It’s a terrific idea for Nike, and is particularly bold considering how in bed with the NFL the company is, and how much of a pariah Kaep is to NFL owners, who refuse to employ him even though he’s pretty good.

“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, told ESPN.

“We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes,” Fisanotti said.

Well done, Nike. Well done.

**Next up today, I would normally save this next story for Good News Friday but this week’s GNF will be a little different than most, an annual column I take great joy in writing.
So I wanted make sure I shared this today: A 99-year-old man who walks six miles every day to visit his wife in the hospital.

Pure love and devotion.

**Finally today, if this isn’t the most romantic thing you read today, well, OK maybe it won’t be. But it still made me laugh out loud.

A man in Aberdeenshire, Scotland named Chris Gospel came up with a unique way to propose to his beloved, Eilidh Fraser.

He asked her to marry him by popping the question. By writing on the side of her favorite cow.

Mr Gospel went down on one knee after his girlfriend read the message. She said yes.

Man, I totally wish I had done that with Shelley. If only she had HAD a favorite cow.

Thoughts from a week at the U.S. Open: Heat, more heat, and the men’s draw has been awesome. Labor Day memories of Jerry Lewis. And an amazing story of a son, a birth mother, and his real father

The first week of the U.S. Open is through, and all of my sweat glands are just about dry.
Let me tell you about how hot it was in New York this past week (and yes I sound like David Letterman in my head right now): I bought some ice cream at the Ben and Jerry’s on site and it was already melting when the salesman gave me my change.

It was insanely hot for the first four days of the Open. But the tennis was amazing, the new amenities are outstanding, and it finally cooled off over the weekend so we could see some great tennis.

As usual after a week watching/covering the final Grand Slam of the year, I have many thoughts, only some of them actually tennis-related…

— First of all, every year for the past five the USTA has made improvements to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and this year the final touch was put in place: The new Louis Armstrong Stadium is phenomenal. It seats 14,000 but feels intimate, it has a roof in case it rains, it has tons of shade for spectators, and it gets all kinds of loud during big matches. During the best match I saw the first week, the Kevin Anderson vs. Denis Shapovalov five-set classic, was at Armstrong and was as loud as I’ve heard a match at the Open in many years. It’s a wonderful new stadium.

— Every year the prices for food and drinks get more and more outrageous. Do you know how much a Pat LaFrieda steak sandwich costs at the Open this year? Nineteen bucks. Obscene.

— There is a lot of hand-wringing about what’s going to happen to men’s tennis once Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic retire. No need to worry: The next generation, all 22 and under, are going to be spectacular. The Canadian kid Shapovalov, Australia’s Alex de Minaur, Germany’s Sasha Zverev, and our American boys, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe, all will fill the void just fine. They’re all phenomenal now, and going to get so, so much better.

Although, this shot from Federer will be hard to ever top…

— I don’t know if this is a result of the Williams sisters, or many other factors, but the crowds at the Open are less monolithic than in the past. Oh sure, it’s still predominantly white people, but it’s much more diverse than it used to be. Let that be one of 900 ways the sport is better now than in the past.

— Speaking of diversity, it struck me more this year than others, the incredible swath of countries who’ve produced great tennis players. There are 16 players left in the men’s draw, and they’re from 15 countries. It’s beautiful to see, especially in this era of the world when there’s so much antagonism toward others not like ourselves, a Ukranian playing an Argentinian on a tennis court in New York.

— Finally, I think Madison Keys (above) is going to win the women’s tournament and, despite some tough matches lately, Rafael Nadal is going to win the men’s. But I’m excited for what will hopefully be the match of the tournament, Wednesday night, Federer vs. Djokovic. I am so, so, hoping it happens and I can be there live to see it.

Don’t worry, my kids still remember what I look like. My wife shows them my picture every night.

**Next up today, I think every year on Labor Day we should give thanks to all the hard-working men and women out there in the world, who make our lives easier. I think we should grill up some burgers, hang out with loved ones, and of course, think about Jerry Lewis, whose annual telethon for Muscular Dystrophy raised millions for a great cause.

I know Jerry Lewis wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, he had some retrograde views about women (stupidly once saying that “women aren’t funny” so they shouldn’t be comedians) and other flaws. But the man did so much for so many kids. So here’s Jerry, on Labor Day, singing as only he could…

**Finally today, I don’t want to give away too much about this next story, because discovering the secrets of former pro football player Deland McCullough, his adoptive parents, and his search for his biological Mom is so much a part of the joy of this story, by ESPN’s Sarah Spain.

There’s a jaw-dropping detail that changes the entire tale about 2/3 of the way in, and I mean that literally: As I was reading it Sunday and came to that part, my jaw flew open and stayed there.

This is beautiful storytelling from Spain, and from the participants involved. So much love went into Deland McCullough, and so much love has poured out of him.

What a wonderful, wonderful story. Please read it.

An awesome photo exhibit honors Arthur Ashe, 50 years after winning U.S. Open. An awesome video of a girl being told she’s being adopted. And a little girl loves garbagemen, and gets rewarded

And a happy Friday to you out there in Webville, or Internet-land, or wherever you live online. I’m knee deep in U.S. Open goodness so of course Good News Friday this week will have at least one tennis-related note.

And it’s a great one: Among the many U.S. Open anniversaries this year is this one: Fifty years ago this month, an African-American kid from Virginia named Arthur Ashe won his first Grand Slam championship, beating Tom Okker in the men’s singles final in Flushing Meadow.

Ashe was, of course, an amazing man: An athlete, a civil rights activist, and a human rights leader throughout his all-too-brief life, which ended in 1993 at age 49.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ashe (for whom the main U.S. Open stadium is named), there’ve been lots of tributes around the grounds: Exhibits set up to look at his life, a very cool virtual reality “ride” that lets you experience what it was like to be him, and a new book that shows never-before-seen photos of the legend from the ’68 Open.

The book is by John Zimmerman, a photographer who spent 36 hours behind the scenes with Ashe at that historic tournament, and it shows him on the NYC subway, goofing off with friends, and of course on the court. 

Really, really cool photos here; Sports Illustrated ran a story with some of the photos; check them all out here.

**Next up today, this video went viral and is awesome. A woman named Paige Zezulka and her husband

Paige and Daniel Zezulka, of Athens, Ga., have been the foster family for a little girl named Ivey for several years, but no one was sure if the arrangement would be able to be permanent. Ivey and her brother had bounced around in foster care for a long time, but finally, they’d be finding a real home.

Until recently, when the Zezulkas found out they’d be able to adopt Ivey. How did they decide to tell her? On her birthday, with a note in a box that she opened. The little girl’s face… priceless.

**And finally today, a simple good deed done by a sanitation worker made a little girl very, very happy. From The Good News Network website, comes the tale of a little girl in Ireland who loves garbagemen, and garbage trucks.

She watches them every day they pull up to her house, and her father mentioned to the workers how much his child loves seeing them work, and could they maybe wave to her when they come by.

Well, they did a little bit more than that. Watch the video above; it takes so little to make somone’s day, and be a little nicer. Her squealing about getting presents just makes me so happy.

 

The boxer who decided after the bell rang to say “no thanks.” A taekwondo team does a jaw-dropping routine. And the newspaper feature that just prints what people had to eat that day.

Boxing is inherently a dangerous sport, of course. But one would think that if you’re crazy enough to sign on to fight a professional match, you’ve thought things through and are prepared to go through with it.

That way, when the bell rings, you go out there and do your best. Well, apparently a last-second change of heart can actually come at the last second, when you’re preparing to slug another man into unconsciousness.

Meet Curtis Harper, who last Saturday night was preparing to fight another fellow named Efe Ajagba.

After the boxers touched gloves and the bell rang, Harper suddenly forgot he left his stove on. Or he remembered he had a dentist appointment. Or he had a bus to Cleveland to catch.

Whatever it was, Harper stepped between the ropes, and simply walked away. Never seen anything like that in my life.

According to this BBC story,journalist Jordan Hardy – who works for Premier Boxing Champions, which was broadcasting the fight – said Harper told her the walkout was because of money.

“He walked out of the ring because he’s not getting paid enough to fight and that he wants respect,” she wrote on social media.

Um, Curtis? Were you unaware of the dollar figure in the contract you signed? Did you think they just forgot a couple zeroes, my man?

Regardless, on behalf of Curtis Harper’s brain cells, I say, thank you, sir.

https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2018/08/23/korea-taekwondo-demonstration-video

**And now, something from our “Please don’t try this at home” file, I present a team of South Korean taekwondo experts from the Kukkiwon Demonstration Team, from a recent performance.

My feet hurt just watching what these incredible athletes do. My goodness. I wonder how many broken toes and such it took to do this stuff right.

**And finally, any excuse I have to write about cool newspaper features, I will do it. This was just brought to my attention the other day: The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier has a daily feature where local residents get to write exactly what they ate in a recent day, verbatim.

Literally, that’s it. Here’s what I ate, where I did it, was it good or not good, the whole thing. No frills, no fluff, just a human being and what they ate.

I would absolutely, positively read that every day if I lived in Charleston. Here’s one entry (above), the part about his sister-in-law is my favorite.