Monthly Archives: August 2014

Good News Friday: A freed American journalist offers thanks. Jimmy Kimmel’s awesome “Friends” reunion. And the NFL, belatedly, takes a strong stand against domestic violence.


Well, a few days ago I was going to lead Good News Friday this week with the heroic tale of Southern California football player Josh Shaw, who told his coach and the media that he injured his ankles jumping off a balcony trying to save his 7-year-old nephew from drowning. What a sportsman! What a guy! Let’s celebrate his … screech! Hold that thought.

Turns out Shaw made the whole thing up. A good friend of mine who knows things about USC said the real story he got is that Shaw was being chased by his girlfriend and leaped off his apartment balcony to escape, which makes a whole lot more sense than the fiction he told.
Finally Wednesday, Shaw admitted he made the whole thing up, but Newsweek’s John Walters got the scoop on how deep the deception went. Crazy, crazy story.

OK, onto some legitimate good news, news we’re pretty sure is true. As horrifying as the story of journalist James Foley’s death at the hands of terrorists was, this week we got a 180 degree turn as Peter Theo Curtis, an American reporter, was finally freed after two years of being held in Syria by Al Qaeda.

I was listening to the audio of Curtis’ welcome-home interview Thursday, and was struck by the sincerity of this quote:

“I had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf,” the journalist said in his first public comments since he was kidnapped in 2012. “I suddenly remembered how good the American people are and what kindness they have in their hearts.”

Remember that every once in a while, that for all the Ferguson awfulness and so many other horrors, America is filled with good-hearted people who are kind. Not an exciting message, but a true one that always needs repeating.

**Next up, this was fantastic: While he had Jennifer Aniston on as a guest, Jimmy Kimmel staged 1/2 of a “Friends” reunion this week, and it’s worth watching if only for the exactreplica of Rachel and Monica’s apartment kitchen.


**And finally, it may be too late (OK, it is way too late) but it appears the NFL has finally decided to get serious about its players committing domestic violence. After a hail of criticism came down on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s head for his minuscule two-game suspension of Ray Rice this year, he apparently got the message, and Thursday announced that first-time offenders will be suspended for six games, and second-time offenders will be banned from the league for life.

Now, will this rule have unintended consequences, as some on the Web suggested Thursday, and mean spouses of NFL players will be less likely to report their abuse? Perhaps.

But it finally sends a strong and clear message from the top that the NFL is taking this problem seriously.

A 15-year-old star is born at the U.S. Open, and it was glorious. And a great new Gatorade ad starring Peyton Manning


Remember age 15? I sure do. I was in 10th grade, a shy, geeky-looking kid just hoping to make the varsity tennis team, maybe get Christina Leone to like me, and desperate to avoid failing math.

I’m guessing 15 was like that for most of us. But 15 was a little different Tuesday for Cici Bellis, a teenager who went from curiosity and upstart with potential to the major story of the U.S. Open in just a matter of a few hours.

I saw a lot of great tennis live at the U.S. Open Tuesday; I saw Kei Nishikori and Eugnie Bouchard and dozens of others. But a 15-year-old homeschooled kid from San Francisco, and her incredible poise and shotmaking is what I’ll remember years from now.

Bellis was on an outer court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Tuesday, a court that could hold maybe 400 spectators, and there were no TV cameras present at the start of her match.
She had gotten this opportunity to make her Open debut years ahead of schedule, by winning the U.S. nationals earlier this summer.
But she was due to play No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who was a former Australian Open finalist and a much more seasoned player. Clearly, the moment and the opponent would overwhelm Bellis.

Only it didn’t. Different performers respond to first-time pressure in different ways. Some shrink from it, cowed by the expectations and the stage. Others… they embrace the hell out of it.

Bellis was spectacular in her first major “stage” appearance. She raced out to a 6-1 first set, faltered in the second set, 6-4, then fell down 3-1 in the third as the crowd swelled to a mass of people.
It looked like she was gassed. But she rallied, and tied the set at 3, and suddenly the crowd was going nuts, and this 15-year-old sprite of a player with powerful strokes and a bigger-than-you’d-think serve was nailing winners, adorably pumping herself up with both arms fist-pumping at once, and grabbing a 4-3 lead.
All of a sudden ESPN cut live to the match, and Bellis went on to a 6-4 win, and she jumped up and down after match point, and we all hooted and hollered, and Bellis ran over and hugged her parents and her coach (she didn’t have far to go, it was a small court!), and now Wednesday she’ll be all over the sports pages and websites as America’s newest tennis sweetheart.

And she’s 15 years old. She was still in diapers when 9/11 happened, just for some context.

You hope this isn’t the highlight of her tennis life, that she continues to improve and maybe wins a Slam one day.

You hope that Tuesday was Day 1 on a remarkable tennis career. I feel lucky I was there to see it. Because it was so cool to be a part of.


**Finally today, Peyton Manning’s football talent is equalled by his awesomeness at acting. He’s always great on SNL, always great on commercials (I still laugh at his “Tommy, you’re my favorite accountant!” ad).

I saw Manning’s new Gatorade ad yesterday, and it cracked me up, as he and a gas station attendant decide if a woman has “sweated enough” to deserve to buy a Gatorade.


Thoughts on an Emmys show that was all “Bad.” And an Australian hockey player with the weirdest goal celebration you’ve seen


While trying to forget that I ever saw Lena Dunham’s dress, I thoroughly enjoyed Monday night’s Emmy Awards. Sure, there weren’t a ton of surprises, and it seemed like just being a movie star made you royalty at the Emmys, but I thought it as a real fun show.

As usual, my wife joined me in the peanut gallery and so some of these reactions/comments are hers.

—  So glad “Breaking Bad” was so successful: Anna Gunn was amazing in the final season of BB, and despite everyone in the world saying McConnaughey was going to win Best Actor,  Bryan Cranston so deserved it. As so many implored me to do a year ago, if you haven’t watched “Breaking Bad” yet, it’s really time to start.

— Was waiting to see who would do a Robin Williams tribute,  and how sweet it would be. Billy Crystal hit it out of the park. You could tell how choked up Billy got at times, and he was warm, funny and terrific.

— Biggest upset of the night? I think it was Julianna Margulies beating Claire Danes, Lizzy Caplan and Robin Wright for best actress in a drama. And Margulies’ speech was sweet, too. (Wife’s comment: “Damn her husband looks young.”)

— Shouldn’t Stephen Colbert be hosting the Emmys or Oscars sometime soon? He’s fantastic. And his bit with Jimmy Fallon after Colbert won was pretty hilarious.

— Aaron Paul’s acceptance speech = perfection. Classy, humble, appreciative, just great. Man, I’m going to miss Jesse Pinkman.

— Seth Meyers, who I don’t normally think is all that funny, did a really good monologue. His jokes about HBO being the friend you should’ve been nicer to as kids was really good, and I loved the “Duck Dynasty” is the most VCR-taped joke, too. Thought it was a little weird that he seemed to keep trying to justify that the Emmys and TV are important; sounded a little needy.

— Wife and I were both completely puzzled by Alison Williams’ dress. No idea what the hell was going on there with the “Girls” actress, but it looked like a white animal had strangled her body.

— “The Normal Heart” thankfully got its kudos by winning Best Movie, and I love that Larry Kramer, sick as he looks, got to go on stage for that moment. The movie got totally hosed in the acting department, though; definitely  Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo should’ve won in their categories.

— What the hell was that mustache on Cranston? But his full-on makeout session when Julia Louis-Dreyfus won was hilarious.


— Sarah Silverman winning over Amy Poehler/Tina Fey and Billy Crystal? Yeah, that was a shocker.

— Is there a reason we need to have the accountants announced at these awards shows? I mean, are we really in need of reassurance that these things aren’t fixed?

— Tweet of the Night came from Huffington Post, attached to this photo: “Who wore it Better?”

— Apparently red was the color every actress agreed to wear, my wife said. Hey, every woman looks good in red.

— Umm, what was under Kerry Washington’s dress? It looked like black metallic underwear.

— Yay Allison Janney winning for “Mom.”   It’s really a wildly funny show you should check out if you haven’t yet. What an awesome career Janney has had.

**Finally today, it’s late August so of course you’re looking for an awesome hockey highlight: This is Australian hockey player (a phrase I’ve never written before!) Ric Del Basso, scoring a game-winning shootout goal and then trying to skate backwards on his head.

I think the announcer said it best: “Win the game and try to give yourself a brain injury!”


The Emmys are here! I make fearless predictions. And a 9-month pregnancy video in 6 seconds


So it’s a great and happy Monday for two reasons: The U.S. Open starts today (yay!, always my favorite event of the year, and I’ve got tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday, provided my wife doesn’t go into labor on either of those days), an d at night, for those of us who love TV, it’s the Super Bowl of TV: The Emmys, seemingly forever held on Sunday nights but for some reason this year being held on a Monday.

The major categories seem even more impossible to predict than usual this year, partly because there was so much fantastic TV in the past 12 months, and also because there’ve been lots of new winners in recent years who are nominated again.

Herewith, my totally amateur handicapping of the Emmys, with who will win and who I hope will win:

Best Drama Series:
: “Breaking Bad”
WHO I WANT TO WIN: “Breaking Bad.”
A brutally tough category. As someone who just finished the entire run of “Breaking Bad” (probably going to be a blog post on this epic series sometime this week), and considering how much amazing press the show got from critics and fans when it ended, I can’t see how anyone beats it. “Mad Men” was terrific this year, and I know lots of people loved “True Detective,” but it’s Heisenberg’s world and we’re just meth customers looking for the blue stuff.

Best Comedy Series:
: “Orange is the New Black”
WHO I WANT TO WIN: “Silicon Valley.”
This really wasn’t that great a year for “Modern Family,” and “Big Bang Theory” is on a major decline, so I expect the hot Netflix show to win (I didn’t love OITNB as much as I thought I would). “Silicon Valley” has zero chance, but I loved it.


Best Actor in A Drama:
: Bryan Cranston
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Bryan Cranston
Incredible performances by all the nominees; Kevin Spacey will get some love, as will Jon Hamm, but there is no way on freaking Earth that Cranston doesn’t win this. Walter White was one of the best TV characters of all time. I know everyone is giving this to Matthew McConaughey, and I’m sure he is fantastic on “True Detective.” But it’s got to be Cranston.

Best Actress in A Drama:
: Kerry Washington
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Lizzy Caplan
If Claire Danes from “Homeland” wins again I may hurl objects at my TV. Caplan is sensational in “Masters of Sex,” but I don’t think enough people watched it for her to win.

Best Actor in a Comedy:
WHO WILL WIN: Jim Parsons
Parsons is practically an Emmy institution by this point, though his Sheldon character is long past his expiration date.

Best Actress in a Comedy:
WHO WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
I could see Lena Dunham or Amy Poehler winning here, too.

As for the other categories, Aaron Paul will definitely win for supporting actor in a drama, while Anna Gunn or Christine Baranski should win supporting actress.
Comedy supporting nods will probably go to Ty Burrell (though Tony Hale is awesome on “Veep”) and the incredibly awesome Allison Janney for “Mom.”

**Finally today, I rarely post Vines on here because most of them are pretty entertaining but not usually worth sharing.
This one, though, I love love love, and not just because I’m living with a person who has just gone through nine months of being pregnant.
It was posted on Vine by a man named Ian Padgham and a woman named Claire Vasquier, and it’s just fantastic. Enjoy.

Good News Friday: Hundreds of Starbucks customers pay it forward all at once. A 99-year-old grandma knits clothes for girls. And dogs frolicking in a pool.


And a Happy Friday to you all out there in Internet Land, summer’s winding down but Lewis Baby Watch is just heating up; yep, we’re about two weeks out from my wife’s due date, a.k.a. the day my life changes forever. In the meantime, I read these stories Thursday and immediately felt better about the world. (Also, that picture above was foisted onto the world by my sister in a Throwback Thursday post on Facebook. That’s me on the right, about age 4, and already dressing impeccably. Seriously, what the hell is going on in that shirt? Way too much.)

First up, a terrific story of one kindness leading to hundreds of others. At about 7 a.m. Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla., a woman drove up to the drive-thru, paid for her iced coffee, then said she’d pay for the drink of the customer behind her as well.
That customer, touched, did the same, and the one after that did too, and it kept going all day, for 11 hours, for 378 people in total.

So simple. Yet so beautiful.


**Next up, more tales of nonagenarians doing amazing things: The other day I wrote about a nearly-100 year old woman running a 100-yard dash. Today, I give you 99-year-old Lillian Weber, who every day of her life makes a new dress for a child in need.

According to this Huffington Post article, Weber has made more than 840 dresses for a Christian non-profit group that gives dresses to poor girls in Africa.

“It’s just what I like to do,” Weber said to the Quad City (Iowa) Times.

You go, Lillian.

**And finally, just because you can’t watch this video and not smile: Two minutes of dogs frolicking happily in a pool.

Have a great weekend.


Tales from 2 awesome days at U.S. Open qualifying. Letterman remembers Robin Williams, beautifully. And a terrific speech from a Little League coach to this team


I’ve spent the last two days out at the National Tennis Center in Queens, watching one of my favorite events in sports, and the ticket didn’t cost me a dime.

I’ve written in this space before about the awesomeness of the U.S. Open qualifying tournament, when 128 men and 128 women compete for 16 spots in the main U.S. Open draw (for those not familiar with it works at Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the top 110 or so players in the world rankings automatically get into the main draw of the tournament, while the rest of the spots go to players who get wild cards (usually up and coming players for the host country, or older players whose injuries have made them drop way down the rankings) or those who make it through qualifying, where you have to win three matches in a row to reach the coveted main draw).

It’s free to the public, you get hour after hour of competitive tennis (there are rarely any lopsided matches in “qualies,” because there’s not much difference between players ranked No. 145 and No. 165, for example), and you can get even closer to the court than you can during the regular U.S. Open:

Some scattered thoughts from my heat-fried brain after two days of tennis nirvana:
— My biggest takeaway from the two days was how physically brutal tennis is. I’d say in at least 50 percent of the matches I watched, at least one player took an injury timeout (in one match Wednesday, both players took simultaneous injury timeouts, which I’d never seen before.) Tuesday a promising young American woman named Sachia Vickery hurt her knee late in the second set and tried really hard to keep playing.
She managed to get the match to a third and deciding set, while barely able to move between points. During the points she ran and played her best, but she was in agony for a good hour out there. She finally lost and had to be helped off the court.
This sport just punishes your body when it’s played at a pro level.

— Got a real good look at the two most promising young American men to come along in a while, though calling them “men” really isn’t accurate yet; 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov (above, who looks about 12 if you just see his face) won his first-ever adult qualies match, while 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe, who I’ve written about here before, lost a close night match before a raucous crowd cheering him on vociferously. Both are outstanding talents that could win the Open one day.

— Another cool feature of qualies week is you never know when you’ll stumble upon major stars practicing to get ready for the Open, unannounced. Wednesday around 3 p.m. I wandered over to the Grandstand court, just to see if anyone was over there, and No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka was practicing with No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych. Two of the top 6 players in the world, playing a practice set just 20 feet from me.

— Maybe my favorite thing I saw in 2 days? A teenager walking around with a “Commack Tennis” t-shirt on. That’s my old high school! And man, we never had T-shirts advertising our Commack pride. I was totally jealous.

**Next up, David Letterman always is funny, but he also does a fantastic job with sad news on his show as well.
The other night Dave gave a moving speech about Robin Williams’ death, followed by a terrific short montage of the comedian’s finest moments on Letterman’s TV shows.

Watch and enjoy… Dave’s the best.

**Finally today, the Little League World Series has been going on all week, with Wednesday night seeing new Sports Illustrated cover girl Mo’Ne Davis and her Philadelphia teammates lose to Las Vegas.
As always, there are winners and losers in Little League, where millions of kids learn how to do both. But it’s losing with class and grace, and seeing the positive in defeat, that’s often hardest for kids to learn.
Which is why I loved this speech from Rhode Island coach David Belisle, who had to try to console his players after they were eliminated from the World Series. His words are beautiful, uplifting, and exactly what we want all coaches to be.

John Oliver gets the Ferguson disgrace just right. The female Little League pitcher is awesome. And a 99-year-old woman runs a 100-yard dash


I could write a few thousand words on what’s going on in Ferguson, Mo. over the past week, about the police acting like they’re in Baghdad, not St. Louis, about how journalists are being treated (excellent summary of that here, pointing out that if this is how the police are acting when the cameras are on, how horrible are they acting when the red light isn’t on!), and about the complete militarization of local American police forces post-9/11 and how ridiculous that is.

But HBO’s John Oliver says in just a few minutes, way more eloquently and a lot funnier, a lot of the things I would say. So watch this and shake your head like I did at the insanity of what’s going on:

**Next up, amid all the bad news going on this month, it’s wonderful to see a happy, inspirational story like Mo’Ne Davis at the Little League World Series. The 13-year-old female pitcher from Philadelphia has helped her team win two games in Williamsport, and she threw a shutout last Friday night.

She’s only the 6th girl to ever get a hit at the LLWS, and she’s shown herself in interviews to be a humble, sweet kid who’s kind of overwhelmed by all this attention. (Major leaguers like Mike Trout are even shouting her out on Twitter.)

She’s due to pitch again Wednesday night, and I for one will be watching. Check out more from her here.

**Finally, you just don’t see 99-year-old women sprinting too often, much less in a race in the Gay Games competition.

So I feel I must share this.  Great-great grandma Ida Keeling, from New York City (representing!), finished the 100 meter dash in 59.8 seconds, which is damn impressive, in a race last Tuesday.

“I’m running from old age and arthritis,” Ida quipped. “Believe me!”

You go, Ida Keeling. What an awesome woman.

So this is 39? Yeah, I’m good with that. And Ferguson explodes in tear gas again

Billy Crystal and Jack Palance in "City Slickers." Photo by Bruce McBroom

So I turned 39 on Sunday, and it was fabulous.
Birthdays used to depress me. I’d look at my receding hairline, my occasionally stalled sportswriting career, and realize time was slipping away in that great hourglass of life (now having written that, I’m thinking of the “Days of Our Lives” opening, a soap opera I once loved. Go ahead, judge me.).

But now birthdays do the opposite for me: I’m generally excited when they arrive, as I feel lucky I’ve made it through another year. Sure, this year’s birthday lead-up was a little stressful, with the last-minute preparations to our apartment for our impending baby going on, and me realizing last week while flipping through the channels and finding “City Slickers” on that I’m now the exact same age as Billy Crystal’s character when he starts his mid-life crisis and goes to the cattle drive. (What a freaking great movie that still is; I still laugh out loud when Daniel Stern yells to his wife, “I hate you more! If hate were people, I’d be China!”)

But I just had a fantastic birthday weekend, filled with all kinds of life events: Saturday we went to a family friend’s house on Long Island to celebrate the baby naming ceremony of their daughter’s triplets. Triplets, my God, I can’t even imagine. All three babies were super-well behaved for being only seven months old, though one of the boys fell asleep during his baby-naming ceremony (hey, he was entitled, it was hot out).
Then we had a surprise 70th birthday party for my stepmother, who put new meaning into the word “surprise.” Seriously, she was as shocked as I’ve ever seen someone at a surprise party. My father deserves major kudos for keeping it such a secret, and the food was outstanding.

Sunday my wife and I used our joint birthday presents to each other (her born-on date was last Sunday) and got massages, hers a pre-natal one, of course.
Never, ever a bad idea to get a massage. My new favorite person Gina de-stressed my back and shoulders completely, and made me laugh when I asked her if new fathers come in a lot.
“Yeah,” she replied, “and they usually fall asleep within the first five minutes.”

Spent the rest of Sunday relaxing, doing one of my annual birthday traditions, corny though it is (I re-read “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” every year, and love it every time. My favorite maxim is No. 68: “Be Brave. Even if you’re not, pretend t be. No one can tell the difference.”), and we had a super dinner out at Atlantic Grill, one of my favorite NYC restaurants.

So yeah, 39 is pretty good so far. It’s going to be a year different than all the others, filled with sleep deprivation, diaper changes galore, and a new “roommate” who will require constant attention and be completely dependent on us.

Can’t wait!




**Just when it looked like things were finally calming down in Ferguson, Mo. Just when it looked like the police had stopped using tear gas indiscriminately, arresting journalists for no apparent reason, and the town was no longer a tinder box of violence as thousands peacefully protested the shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American named Michael Brown.

But no, Sunday night, hell broke loose again. A full three hours before the town-mandated curfew, police fired a shitload of tear-gas on protesters. Journalists like Robert Klemko of were arrested. There were reports of gunshots, and Molotov cocktails being fired at the police as tear gas rained down (the police said that, at least).

Absolutely like nothing I’ve seen in America since the Rodney King riots in L.A. back in 1992.

Just horrifying. How can this continue? Do the police feel like they just have free rein to do whatever the hell they want? If there are protesters being violent and threatening police, then they should be arrested.
But from the video and pictures I’ve seen, it just looks like massive, overwhelming police force against citizens.

The world is watching. And this is how an American police force reacts.

Awful, awful, awful.


My annual tribute to the great Jim Murray, the best sportswriter who ever lived. Two very different-sized dogs happily play together. And the Royals are in first place (finally!)


And a Happy Friday to you all! I’m happy for many reasons today, one being that both my first child and the U.S. Open tennis tournament will be arriving in the next few weeks (if the baby can hold off being born until after the U.S. Open, that’d be cool. Relax, I’m (mostly) kidding), that I’ve survived another year of life (I turn 39 on Sunday, and I’m already dreading the big Four-Oh), and that it’s time to celebrate Jim Murray again.

Every year on or about August 16, the anniversary of his death, I salute in this space the work of the legendary Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. I still read his old columns sometime, for inspiration, or for a laugh, and the all-time best email I got as a result of writing Wide World of Stuff was from his widow thanking me for remembering him.

And so once again, on the 16th anniversary of his passing, a little bit of Murray greatness. The man who once wrote “Rickey Henderson’s strike zone is smaller than Hitler’s heart,” and “Elgin Baylor is as unstoppable as a woman’s tears” was truly a legend. So many hundreds of sportswriters (me included) tried to copy his style over the years, but it was like trying to sing like Sinatra, or paint like Picasso.

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

**Next up, this cracked me up: A tiny dog and a giant dog spend about a minute scrapping lovingly, before finally giving up and embracing. Too funny. Little dogs always think they’re so tough.

RoyalsAthletics JFS 8-14-14 0924

**And finally, the Kansas City Royals, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since “Back to The Future” was in movie theaters (1985), are in first place on Aug. 15. And I am really happy about that, because maybe it’s the Jets fan in me, but I’ve always had a soft spot for fans who’ve suffered mightily.
The Royals play in a small market for an owner who won’t spend money, and have been miserably awful for most of the past 30 years. I root for franchises like that because I know their fans have endured so much, that it’s so extra-special when the team starts to win.
And these Royals are legit good. They get great pitching, just enough hitting, and those powder-blue uniforms sure do look swell.

I really am pulling for them to make the playoffs; the baseball postseason is so much more fun when new teams make it. Just listen to fan named Joy Jackson Bess on Facebook:

“This is so much fun! Baseball is fun again and it’s tastes like a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot KC August day. We’ve been too thirsty for too long.”

Go, Royals, go.

Matt Taibbi’s blistering new book is fabulous. The best ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” you’re going to see. And Billy Joel serenades Christie Brinkley (again).


**Just got home and am watching some of the disgusting and disturbing video of the Ferguson, Mo. police firing on peaceful protesters, arresting journalists (and tear-gassing them, above), and turning the town into a military state. What country are we living in, again?

Long, long ago there used to be a great newspaper tradition of the “muckraking journalist,” guys like Upton Sinclair and Mike Wallace who would expose corruption, fraud and the incredible double standards that exists in the law between rich and poor, black and white, etc.

Matt Taibbi is probably the best “muckraker” working today; he has written incredible stories for “Rolling Stone” and other publications for years, and his latest book, “The Divide,” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for months.

I finally got around to reading it this week, and it is sensational. It made me angry, sad, made me laugh and shake my fist, sometimes all in the same paragraph. This is a really, really important book.

Taibbi takes on several different topics in the book, including the appalling behavior of the police when dealing with minorities, immigration laws and discrimination, and the 2008 financial crisis that saw so many financial institutions commit crimes, yet no one went to jail.

What runs through every section is the incredible divide between the haves and have nots, that the same crime committed by a Hispanic man in Los Angeles will be punished differently than if it’s committed by a while middle-class professional in Chicago. The world poor people live in and rich people live in isn’t even in the same universe anymore, Taibbi argues.

Using personal stories that will shock you (the most shocking one comes at the end, involving a white musician and police brutality) and make you think, Taibbi’s reporting is terrific, and he breaks down complex financial crimes so that even non-money whizzes can understand them (his work on the Fairfax financial scam is the best part of the book).

It’s appalling how certain groups are treated in America. I knew it was bad, I knew as a white middle-class guy I had it pretty good. But this book showed me just how very far we have to go to achieve any sort of justice and equality for all.

You can buy “The Divide” here. Definitely recommend it.


**So this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge thing has gone viral super-fast; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m guessing you haven’t been on the Internet this week, but a quick explanation: In a brilliant attempt to raise money and awareness of the awful disease (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), the ALS Association has gotten celebrities of all stripes to take the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which consists of a person allowing another person to dump a Gatorade jug of ice and freezing cold water over their head.

Football players are doing it, actors are doing it, hell, some 9-year-old friend of my nephew’s at day camp did it too; the other part that keeps it going is that after you suffer the freezing cold, you challenge three other people to do it too.

This one I embedded above, though, has to be the coolest one yet; hockey player Paul Bissonnette on top of a mountain, getting glacier water poured on him, from a dude in a helicopter.  So great.

The ALS Foundation reports the challenge has raised more than $2 million already; if you would like to donate, please click here.

**Finally, it’s great to be Billy Joel sometimes. Last week the music icon was doing a concert at Madison Square Garden and spotted Christie Brinkley, his ex-wife and the woman about whom he wrote the song “Uptown Girl” back in the 1980s, sitting in the crowd.

So of course he then launched into “Uptown Girl” and had his video cameraman film her reaction (at the end you can see her). So, so cool.

And how the hell does Christie Brinkley still look so amazing at 60-plus?