Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m about to cross off the No.1 item on my sports “bucket list,” and I’m insanely excited. And the NBA’s D’Angelo Russell show his humor in a great commercial

finaltry.wimbledon

I’ve never written a blog post on speed, and don’t intend to, but you’ll forgive me if I ramble a bit. I’m just so freaking excited, maybe as excited as I’ve ever been about a trip.

I’m headed to London tonight, to fulfill a lifelong dream.

We all carry around, mentally in our heads or on paper, a “things to do before we die” list. Once that Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson movie “The Bucket List” came out, people started calling it that.

I’ve got one of those, and because I’m a sports fanatic, some of the things on my list are sports venue-related.

I’ve crossed off quite a few: I went to Wrigley Field,  I went to Dyersville, Iowa to see the Field of Dreams, covered NCAA Tournament games, and seen a few ballgames at Fenway Park.

But the No.1 sports item on my list has always, always been going to Wimbledon to watch “The Championships.” Ever since I first saw it on TV in 1981, when I was 6 and saw McEnroe and Borg slug it out, I’ve been in love with the place.

The beauty of the courts, the grass, the surroundings, the history involved with the most famous tennis tournament in the world… it’s been intoxicating to me.

I didn’t know if I’d ever get there, just to walk around and take in the place, see if I could feel it in my bones. It is tennis heaven, it’s a cathedral, it is magical.

In March, 2008, my ex-wife and I spent a week in London on vacation. I did, of course, go to the All England Club for a tour. I bought some souvenirs, I tried to pilfer a blade of grass from the grounds (I was politely told not to), but it wasn’t quite as great as I hoped. Center Court and Court 1 were closed to us because of construction, and of course there was no tennis being played there.

It was a taste of Wimbledon, and I was happy I got to go, but it wasn’t quite the same as being there for the main event.

Eight years later, I’m going. Really, truly going.

My wife has a work conference in London every other year in late June, so I’m flying over to meet her this weekend, and God bless her indulgent soul, we splurged for a travel package of two tickets to the first two days of Wimbledon. Monday we’ve got Court 1 tickets, and Tuesday we’ll be in heaven, sitting at Center Court with the Queen and Prince William and whoever else we get to see.

Our little guy is staying with the grandparents and yeah it’ll be hard not seeing him for five straight days, the longest I’ve ever been away, but you only live once and he’ll understand (when he’s older and I’ve made him into a fellow tennis nut, of course!)

In my head for the past week I’ve kept saying “I’m going to Wimbledon! I’m going to Wimbledon!” Trips never seem real to me until I’m actually on the airplane, but this time, I think until I walk through the gates and smell the grass, it still won’t be real.

Wimbledon. Me. Hopefully Roger Federer. So damn excited.

If you hear a news report on Tuesday about a crazy American man who chained himself to the gates of the All England Club and refused to leave, well, you’ll know it’s me.

Wimbledon!

**Finally today, this made me laugh. D’Angelo Russell had a really rough rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, low-lighted by a scandal in which he secretly recorded, with his cell phone, teammate Nick Young talking about two-timing his girlfriend.

The video became public, and for a few days sports folks lost their mind decrying Russell for “breaking the code of the locker room” and other ridiculous things like that. Was it stupid what Russell did? Sure. Was it the crime of the century for a 19-year-old? No.

Anyway, Russell and some other NBA players are in a new Foot Locker ad, and it’s hilarious to see Russell poke fun at the whole situation. Enjoy.

Google thanks the 86-year-old woman who always says please and thank you. A few more thoughts on the incredible LeBron James story. And Stephen Colbert eviscerates Trump

Google.grandma

Couple of quick “one-off” thoughts before we get to the three stories on today’s post:

Finally got a chance to watch “All The Way,” the Bryan Cranston as LBJ HBO movie from last month. Man oh man, Cranston is one hell of an actor. I thought the movie was wildly entertaining, with fantastic performances by Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey, Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover, and Frank Langella as legendary Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. But Cranston right now is like Federer from 2003-07: Just on another level. His LBJ’s mixture of rage, sarcasm, amusement and paranoia was pitch-perfect. Incredible portrayal of a deeply complicated man. I hope he gets an Emmy.

— Lionel Messi is the best soccer player in the world. Tuesday night he played in America, and his Argentine team kicked the crap out of the U.S. This goal was kinda awesome.

So this is the kind of small story that makes me think not all huge companies are evil. And that even on the Internet, there are people with manners.

An 86-year-old English woman named May Ashworth uses Google like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, though, when she typed in queries she thought she was talking to an actual person at Google HQ, who would help her with her questions.

So every time she performed a search, May would say “please” and “thank you” before and after. For example, one time May asked “please translate these Roman Numerals MCMXVCIII thank you.”

Her grandson discovered that she did this, and Tweeted out a photo of one of her requests. Google UK got wind of it and Tweeted the following:

“Dearest Ben’s Nan.
Hope you’re well.
In a world of billions of Searches, yours made us smile.
Oh, and it’s 1998.
Thank YOU@Push10Ben

Such a small thing, a little courtesy like that. But in a world of rude and impolite people, this story made me smile. Good job, Google.

**Next up today, you know, if he wasn’t such a sexist, racist, xenophobic, arrogant pig, I might almost be starting to feel sorry for Donald Trump.

The “vulgar, talking yam” as Charlie Pierce calls him, is having one hell of a bad month. His campaign is apparently broke, with less than $2 million cash on hand, he just fired his campaign manager, none of the rich Republican billionaires want to give him money nor have anything to do with him, and he’s alienating people at a faster rate than I thought possible.

But again, whereas 99 percent of people might engender some sympathy here, this a-hole gets none.

Stephen Colbert, whose late-night show, I must admit, has been kinda underwhelming so far, did a magnificent, blistering piece on Trump a few nights back. It was, I might say, rather “Daily Show-esque” when Jon Stewart was running things.

Stay till the end, the best part is in the final minute. Bravo, Stephen.

LeBronCover.SI

**Finally today, a few more thoughts about LeBron James and the incredible comeback he and the Cleveland Cavaliers made to win the NBA title Sunday. I thought about this briefly Sunday night but my thoughts were so jumbled after that fabulous game I didn’t get a chance to write about it then.

This story, this “LeBron wins one for Cleveland” story, is really unlike anything we’ve ever seen in sports. Consider: Phenom is born and raised in Northeast Ohio, with huge expectations placed on him at age 16. His hometown team, which was down in the dumps, gets the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery the year LeBron graduates high school (2003).

He represents the hopes and dreams of an entire region’s fan base. He leads them close but not quite to the elusive title. Then after seven years, he goes on national TV and humiliates those fans and that team. Snubs them so publicly, and announces he’s going to play somewhere else, so he can win a championship.

The fans burn his jersey; they curse his name, they hate him with every fiber of their being. The phenom wins two titles in Miami, and he’s still hated in Cleveland. Those were supposed to be OUR championships, is the cry.

Then, after four years away, the prodigal son comes home. This NEVER happens in sports; you never see a star go back to where he’s from after such a brutal and hostile breakup.

But LeBron came home. And he promised he’d win a championship for a city that hadn’t seen one in 52 years. And then, with his team down 3-1 in the Finals this year, he orchestrates the biggest NBA Finals comeback ever. And wins. And is a much bigger hero than he’s ever been to the people of his hometown.

I mean, could you sell that script to Hollywood? Could you imagine that actually happening? They’d laugh you out of the room.

Just a sensational sports story. One we’ve never seen, and probably never will again. Lee Jenkins’ cover story on LeBron in this week’s SI is a must-read.

LeBron James brings Cleveland a most improbable title. An awesome old movie dance scene remix. And a cute puppy commercial that leaves me perplexed

LeBron.tears

Yeah, I got nothing.

I’m supposed to write coherently about maybe the most improbable sports championship I’ve ever seen? I’m supposed to be coherent writing about the best basketball player I’ve seen in my lifetime, and that includes Bugs Bunny’s co-star in “Space Jams?”

A guy who did THIS last night, in a Game 7 with the score tied and the pressure of the world on his shoulders?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA champions. The city of Cleveland, which has not seen a sports team win a title since another LBJ (Lyndon Johnson) was in the White House, is going crazy today and probably will for the next several months.

Down 3-1 to a Golden State Warriors team that’s an all-time great in history, an Akron native son led the Cavs to their first-ever NBA title. He dominated this series, he humiliated Steph Curry and all the cocky Warriors, and he did what he set out to do when he came home two years ago.

I don’t care what anyone says: LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time. To lead his team to this comeback… I mean, he should just announce his retirement at the championship parade in Cleveland. Because he’s never, ever going to top this moment.

Fifty-two years of frustration, of John Elway and Earnest Byner and Jose Mesa blowing Game 7 of the World Series and Art Modell stealing their team and LeBron leaving the first time … it’s all gone. It’s washed into Lake Erie now, replaced by joy.

The joy that Kyrie Irving (Duke!) brought with that game-winning 3-pointer. The joy of Kevin Love, basically useless for the first 6 games of this NBA Finals, coming alive in Game 7 and playing huge defense on Curry. Tristan Thompson, a man among men on the boards. Even Richard Jefferson was tremendous Sunday night.

I’m just so happy for the fans in Cleveland. I know sports isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things, and I know life as they know it isn’t going to change just because some tall men with “Cleveland” on their jerseys won a championship.

But psychologically, man, what a boost. Just tremendous.

Couple other quick thoughts on a magnificent Game 7:

— So glad we got a nail-biter after six blowouts. It just had to come down to the end like it did.

— Lot of people going to say Curry and the Warriors choked, that a 73-win team couldn’t get over the finish line and was overrated. I don’t know, that Oklahoma City series took a LOT out of them physically, and when jump shooters like Klay Thompson and Curry miss shots like they did, it’s usually because they’re tired.

Also, the Draymond Green suspension for Game 5 was a big blow, and maybe, just maybe, they didn’t take the Cavs as seriously as they should. Curry shot 21-for-60 in the last three games. His reputation will take a while to recover.

— That LeBron block will be in the first 10 seconds of his Hall of Fame induction highlights video. Guaranteed. I mean, look how FAR he comes to block it. The athleticism, the timing, just incredible.

— I really thought LeBron broke his wrist on that fall with 10 seconds left, when Green fouled him. He landed so hard and looked to be in so much pain. And that would’ve been the most Cleveland way to lose, ever: Cavs up by 3, 10 seconds to go, LeBron gets seriously hurt, his replacement misses both free throws, Curry hits a three to send the game to OT, and with no LeBron, the Warriors win.

I guarantee you at least 25 percent of Cleveland fans watching that had that fleeting thought.

— Craziest stat I saw Sunday night: With the Warriors losing, none of the teams in all four major team sports who set records for most wins in a season won a title that year. (2001 Seattle Mariners, 2007 New England Patriots, and the 1996 Detroit Red Wings).

— Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop This Feeling” is everywhere these days, and even me, who hates most current music, finds it infectious.

**Finally, this is a very cute commercial from Amazon that aired in Japan, with a dog and a baby, but the ending leaves me perplexed: Wouldn’t the baby be totally freaked out and scared by what the dog looks like at the end?

Maybe the baby thought the dog was a lion all along.

“The Daddy Chronicles” returns, as my almost 2-year-old boy gets obstinate and “no” becomes his favorite word

34B58D6A-2637-4F4F-A876-085BC1FC9188

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there on the Interwebs. It’s Friday but it’s also Father’s Day Weekend (is that a thing?), which for the second year in a row has special meaning for me.

Been a little while since I’ve written a post about my little guy who’s not so little anymore, so I thought today was the perfect time for it. As my boy gets closer to being 2 (he turns 2 in September), he’s changing all the time, some for the better, some for the, eh… not so much better.

But he’s still the best, sweetest, most lovable boy in the whole world, and I’m still the luckiest guy in the world that he calls me “Daddy.”

Without further ado, the latest “Daddy Chronicles…”

— So I wrote a little bit about Nate’s behavior on our recent two-week trip in previous blogs, but one thing I forgot to mention was the freakiest thing he did.

Our second-to-last night in Seattle, we were walking back into our hotel from dinner. I was walking about five feet ahead of my wife and Nate because I needed to ask the front desk a question. As I walk into the lobby I see a small dog, off leash, and an owner walking right behind him.

As I got to the desk, all of a sudden I heard this Barry White-like gutteral “woof, woof” coming from behind me. I turn around and my little guy, who has seen 100 dogs in his life and never made a sound, is suddenly barking over and over at this 10-pound pooch. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be frightened that my son’s body was being inhabited by an animal. He kept barking for, like 10 seconds, the dog seemed fine with it, and then walked toward Nate and rolled over, so he and my wife could scratch his belly.

Ten seconds later, the whole thing was over and we looked at each other like “What the hell was that?” He has yet to bark at another dog since.

— The “Terrible 2’s” haven’t quite arrived, but they’re definitely on the radar. Nate is getting very obstinate and throws mini-fits when he doesn’t get his way, usually when Daddy closes the refrigerator before he’s done taking everything out and shaking it. He for some reason hates getting changed lately, and he really doesn’t like it when he wants to run somewhere and we don’t let him. But happily, his tantrums last about a minute, then he gets placated by something else.

BB3ADEFE-5F72-4EF0-84E5-C561CE656C09

— My child loves pizza, but somehow the pizza he ate in Portland, which he devoured completely, is the best he’s ever had. It’s the only time he’s ever finished a whole piece. I’m sorry, but if this kid thinks Oregon pizza is better than New York pizza, we may have to exchange him for another.

— It’s been really funny watching his verbal evolution on what he calls us. First he only said “Da”, and not Ma at all. Then it was both “Da” and “Ma,” and occasionally “Da-da.” Now he’s evolved to only saying “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

— His morning routine now includes him walking over to his mother’s iPhone, pressing the home button for five seconds, then happily shouting “Hi, Siri!”

— Unloading the dishwasher continues to be, by far, his favorite activity. I literally say the word “dishwasher” and he takes off sprinting at full speed. He gets SUCH joy out of handing me forks, knives and plates. I have no idea why, but he does like to be helpful. He also still loves helping load the washing machine, and bringing everyone their shoes when it’s time to go outside.

The other day he tried to bring me his shoes AND my shoes at the same time until realizing his little hands aren’t quite able to do that yet.

When he dropped two of the shoes, he looked down all disappointed. But it was a good effort and hey, he just wanted us to get outside quicker!

 

President Obama and Anderson Cooper with 2 powerful, human responses to Orlando tragedy. And Jimmy Kimmel’s NBA “Generation Gap” cracks me up

There was a fantastic running sketch on the great “Key and Peele” show on Comedy Central about Luther, Barack Obama’s “anger translator.”If you don’t remember it, Luther served as a stand-in for Obama’s rage, poking fun at the fact that Obama is so even-keeled all the time, and that he never lets himself get angry. Luther, therefore, was there to say what Obama couldn’t.

It was a hilarious sketch. But it’s not really needed anymore, sadly, because President Obama has just about reached his tipping point. And he’s really freaking pissed. Maybe what put him over the top was the vulgar, talking yam Tweeting just after the worst mass killing in U.S. history, bragging about how he was right to propose banning all Muslims, and calling for Obama to resign.

(Quick aside: Isn’t it interesting how Republicans always blame Democrats for “politicizing” a tragedy by calling for stricter gun laws after a mass killing, yet after Sunday’s tragedy their Presidential nominee immediately made it a political issue, and no one on the right seems bothered by that? F’ing infuriating.)

Whatever it was, Tuesday afternoon our President gave a stinging rebuke of hatred and intolerance. I encourage you to watch his whole speech embedded above, but if you only have time for a part of it, watch the five-minute clip I’ve embedded above.

It’s powerful, it’s important, and it’s the voice of one man saying “Enough!” Stop!” You are killing people with your insane, racist rhetoric. You think you’re being entertaining and firing up a mob, but you’re actually dangerous, incompetent, and causing more hatred toward America.

Enough. E-fucking-nough.

**Next, someone who actually took the time to memorialize and think about the victims of this tragedy, instead of shamelessly using death to promote an agenda. Anderson Cooper spent seven minutes at the start of his show Monday night, reading the names of the 49 people killed in the Orlando massacre, and giving a few small details where he could about each of their lives.

I found this incredibly compelling; the few details like “he always had a smile on his face,” about one guy, and “she always was such a hard worker” about another give you just a tiny insight, but really go a long way.

Cooper, who is openly gay, chokes up several times reading this. But it’s incredibly important that he did it, and I urge you to watch if you can, emotionally.

These were people, not political pawns.

**Finally today, wanted to end on a lighter note, after all this sadness. The NBA Finals are still going on, which means ESPN/ABC are doing all kinds of cross-promotion, which gave us this hilarious Jimmy Kimmel “Generation Gap” sketch last week, wherein 1970s NBA legend (and insanely bad dresser) Walt “Clyde” Frazier went head-to-head in a trivia game with current NBA star Anthony Davis.

It gets better as it goes along; poor Walt, he just couldn’t keep up. The “Welcome Back, Kotter” question did crack me up…

The Orlando nightclub shooting and the Tony Awards: Love will always beat hate. The Penguins win the Cup, and Gordie Howe, remembered. And Billy Crystal beautifully eulogizes Muhammad Ali

rainbowflag

I woke up Sunday morning around 7:30, and within minutes I was filled with rage.

Rage at once again, a mass shooting on American soil, by a person using weapons only military should be allowed to possess. A man raging against the world, against gay people, against our values, and mowing down more than 100 people, killing 50.

Last time there was a mass shooting I wrote in this space that I was numb to it, and trying to remain hopeful. Two mass shootings ago I was angry and pissed off, and that’s where I was Sunday. I don’t care if the perpetrator of this heinous act did what he did at Pulse nightclub because he hates gay people, or because he sympathized with ISIS

And my rage barely subsided all day when I thought about the horrible tragedy, and how incredibly frightening it must have been to be in that club. And my rage reached new levels when I read “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” statements from men like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, who absolutely demonize and spew hatred at lesbian and gay people constantly, yet now more than four dozen of them are dead and suddenly they give a fuck.

So I was mad, and feeling helpless, and knowing that once again, absolutely nothing will change in America even after the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.

Then at 8 p.m., the Tony Awards started. And host James Corden did a fabulous opening number talking about inclusion, and how diversity is a good thing, and for the next few hours a theater community that welcomes and becomes a safe refuge for so many gay, lesbian and transgender people was a cornucopia of joy, and good feelings.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind “Hamilton,”  gave a fantastic acceptance speech that ended like this:

“We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger,
we rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that
hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love…
It cannot be killed or swept aside.”

And awards were handed out and heartfelt speeches made, and tributes to the Orlando victims were offered, and I smiled through much of it.

On such a tragic day, a day that usually leads to feeling such helplessness, it was wonderful to be reminded, by brilliant actors and actresses on the Beacon Theatre stage, that love ALWAYS wins over hate.

Every damn time.

PhilKessel.Cup

**Next up, there was a hell of a Stanley Cup finals hockey game played Sunday night, which I watched during Tonys commercials and then saw the whole third period.

The Sharks and Penguins played the whole game like their hair was on fire, and if only the choppy ice had cooperated (it’s June in San Jose, can’t really expect good ice) the score could easily have been 6-5. Pittsburgh is the new Stanley Cup champion, and man it

Couple quick thoughts on the Penguins’ Stanley Cup win:

— Sidney Crosby, hated by so many hockey fans (including me), is just a sensational player. His puckhandling, his vision, he’s been so good for so long that you take him for granted. But this guy almost had his career ended by concussions a few years ago, so to see him playing at this level again is something else.

— Mike Emrick. I mean, what more can you say about the best play-by-play announcer in any sport? He was just so much fun to listen to Sunday night.

— The Sharks have just about put to bed their reputation as playoff chokers, right? What a fantastic playoff run they had. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

— Gordie Howe, maybe the second-greatest hockey player ever (some blonde dude named Gretzky was better), died on Friday. So many great stories were told by the hockey writers who knew him; I loved this Michael Farber essay on Howe on SI.com, and Canadian hockey legend Roy MacGregor also had a great story and video here as well. In McDonald’s piece, we hear a wonderful anecdote about Howe once picking an opponent up off the ice by his nostrils. And oh yeah, Gordie was still playing pro hockey at age 51. Fifty-one!

Rest in Peace to a legendary player.

**Finally today, wanted to end on an uplifting note. Friday was Muhammad Ali’s funeral, and as you expect, so many luminaries were in attendance.

Billy Crystal gave one of the eulogies, and he was just pitch-perfect. His humor, emotion and words were outstanding. Watch this and again, appreciate how much love and goodness there is in the world.

Billy’s the best.

Good News Friday: An incredible flag return tradition from America to Japan. The Holocaust survivor who sang the anthem at a Tigers game. And James Corden’s Tonys-themed Carpool Karaoke is great.

And a Happy Friday to you all! Summer seems to have arrived, we’ve got all kinds of “Kumbaya” unity on the Democratic side (and did you see Joe Biden’s fantastic letter to the Stanford rape victim? Love that Joe Biden), and Donald Trump is tweeting stupid crap and alienating more people every day. God bless America…

Three great pieces of media to share with you today. First up, a fantastic and emotional story done by the stellar crew at “CBS Sunday Morning,” and for once, it’s not a Steve Hartman story I’m sharing.

You’ve probably heard a lot in the last few weeks about World War II, and the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as President Obama visited the historic Japanese site of Hiroshima. Seven decades later, the healing between American soldiers and Japanese citizens is still ongoing.
Well, an Oregon couple is doing its best to give closure to the descendants of Japanese soldiers killed in battle; they’re sending back the “good luck” Japanese flags used during the war.

It’s an emotional, beautiful thing to see the reaction of the Japanese people when the flags are returned. Watch, and realize that it’s never too late to do good.

**Next up, Sunday is the Tony Awards, which if you’re like my wife, is one of the highlights on the calendar every year (seriously, she loves the Tonys almost as much as she loves me.)

James Corden is hosting this year, and so of course he did a special and awesome version of “Carpool Karaoke,” starring Jane Krakowski, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the amazing Audra McDonald, and Lin-Manuel Miranda from some little off-Broadway show called “Hamilton” or something.

This is terrific.

HerminaHirsch.Holocaust

**Finally today, this is a wonderful story from a few weeks ago that I missed while we were away. Eighty-nine year old Holocaust survivor Hermina Hersh dreamed of one day singing the national anthem at a sporting event, and a few months ago her grandson videotaped Hersh singing it at home and put it on YouTube.

The video went viral locally, media attention followed, and then the Detroit Tigers gave her the chance to do it a few weeks ago.

With her family all watching from the stands, Hersh knocked it out of the park. What a wonderful moment for her. Hear Hersh’s story in more detail here.

An incredibly brave rape victim makes a powerful statement in court to her rapist. It’s Hillary, and a pretty historic moment. And “The Americans” season finale tonight, I can’t wait!

brockturner

The words “courage” and “hero” are thrown around far too easily in our society. An athlete, or a singer, or a businessman, does something a little different or out of the ordinary, and we laud them with those words like they landed at Normandy or something.

Let me tell you what I think courage is: Courage is a rape victim standing up in court last week, after her convicted attacked received the pathetically light sentence of six months in jail, and speaking powerfully, emotionally and honestly about everything she has gone through.

A victim who has the horror of that night seared into her mind and body forever, while Mr. Brock Turner (above), the Stanford swimmer who met the victim at a party in 2015, got drunk along with her, then sexually assaulted her behind a dumpster, sat there and listened to it.

If you haven’t been following this story, it has happily gotten huge play over the past few days.

The victim’s speech in court has gotten more than 6 million views on Buzzfeed, where it was first published. CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield read the entire thing on live TV Tuesday. What this young woman did took so much guts, and so much courage, that when I finished it my jaw was on the floor. I am in awe of her.

I could not encourage you more strongly to read the whole thing. It speaks to the power of the human spirit.

Rape is a disgusting, hideous crime which so often gets covered up or excused by our court system. Here, in plain English, we see what it really looks like.

Here are just a few passages from this incredible speech.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize.

This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings…

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming…

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. 

hillary.nomination

**Next up today, Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech Tuesday night as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. For President of the United States.

And she’s a woman. I feel the need to point that out because so many Bernie supporters seem so angry, so bitter, so unwilling to acknowledge the game is over and she won.

I’m not one of those people. I was surprised at my own reaction Tuesday night, as the most famous woman in America bounded onto the stage in Brooklyn to give a speech, and I got a little emotional for a few seconds.

It’s been more than 200 years of democracy in America, and we finally decided to give a woman a chance at the top job. For all the things Hillary Clinton is (and is not), she’s a symbol to young girls everywhere that you really CAN do anything boys can do, that there’s no longer any barriers to achieving the ultimate prize.

And as much as I’ve railed against her, as much as I don’t trust her and as much as I doubt her sincerity on many of her positions, it’s a pretty wonderful thing for the U.S. to finally nominate a woman. And she is going to be President, and with a Democratic Senate, she may even turn out to be a pretty good President.

It was a historic night. My fellow Bernie backers need to suck it up and realize she’s the nominee, and get her elected.

THE AMERICANS -- "Glanders" (Airs, Wednesday, March 16, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings. CR: FX

*

**Finally, tonight is the season finale of “The Americans” and I am as amped up for this finale as I have been for all the others on the best show on TV. This season has been, in a word, magnificent, probably their best yet (SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU’RE NOT CAUGHT UP, STOP READING).

Just about every episode this season has ratcheted up the tension, whether making Paige Jennings just a little more aware of how cunning and deadly her parents are, or Phillip and Elizabeth both having major second thoughts about their operations, or poor clueless FBI agent Stan Beamon trying desperately to stay relevant and with a step or two of the Russians.

Last week’s last few minutes stretched credibility a little for me (come on, within a few days of Oleg’s tip they already had found William and where we worked) but damn if I am psyched for tonight. So many plotlines to wrap up, including Gabriel and his future, whether Henry Jennings will EVER come out of his room and hear what he’s missing, and if Don and Young Hee get divorced (that storyline killed me. So, so heart-wrenching.)

“The Americans” is as good as it gets on American TV. So thrilled it’s been renewed for two more seasons. And I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.

Farewell to Muhammad Ali, the most famous athlete in world history. And Novak Djokovic completes a career Grand Slam in Paris.

Aliphoto.Leifer

“You know I’m bad, I have murdered a rock,
I injured a stone, and hospitalized a brick.
I’m so bad, I make medicine sick.”

— Muhammad Ali, 1974

I have never in my life felt more utterly inadequate as a writer than right now, trying to sum up and analyze the life of the most famous athlete in world history.

Cassius Clay, who became Muhammad Ali, was more than just an athlete, of course. He was a trailblazer, an icon, a pioneer and a humanitarian, though we never saw that last attribute until long after his boxing career was over.

I’ve read so many tributes and obituaries to the “Greatest of All Time” over the past 48 hours, since I learned of his death late Friday night, and so many of them have been great (I’ll link some below).

It seems a criminal understatement to say Ali changed the world we live in. From the time he burst onto the scene in 1960 at the Rome Olympics, until his last major public moment, lighting the torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, he has been the most intriguing figure in all of sports.

I’m glad that most of the obituaries haven’t whitewashed his flaws; Ali was far, far from a saint. His philandering in regards to women, his horrendous, criminal verbal treatment of decent men like Joe Frazier and Ernie Terrell, and his race-dividing comments on behalf of the Nation of Islam from the 1960s should be as much a part of his legacy as his remarkable personality, his devastating skill in the ring, and the way he became a symbol of hope and courage in dealing with Parkinson’s Disease the last 30 years of his life.

As a writer I loved that Ali loved reporters, using them to entertain, and often inflame. What other athlete, ever, has written poetry like the one I quoted up top? He was an incredibly smart man, something he rarely got credit for.

I never got to meet Ali, which is a huge regret. And I was certainly born too late to have any real memories of him as a fighter. But I remember getting goosebumps seeing him up on that podium in Atlanta, a symbol of America in all its messy, complicated glory.

Before I leave you with the best I’ve watched and read over this weekend, I want to tell one more Ali story that’s always stuck with me, and always made me smile. The story may be apocryphal, it may be true; no one really knows.

The champ was on an airplane once and ignoring the flight attendant’s request to put on his seat belt.

“Superman don’t need no seat belt!” Ali exclaimed.

“Superman don’t need no plane, either,” the flight attendant replied.

Rest in peace, Superman. And thanks for taking so many of us on such a wonderful ride.

**The best on Ali’s death: This column by Jerry Izenberg, legendary sportswriter and Ali’s longtime friend, was excellent.

Robert Lipsyte was one of the first sportswriters to “get” Ali and what he was about, and has spent decades chronicling him. He wrote the New York Times obit, and it was outstanding.

And Dave Kindred, another legendary sportswriter, also covered Ali for almost his entire career, and wrote probably the best thing I read this weekend on the champ: 

— HBO, which always does the best sports tributes, put together this fabulous 8-minute piece on Ali’s life, with some of his most memorable quotes as well.

— And finally, I embedded the famous 1979 Billy Crystal roast/tribute to Ali, called “15 Rounds,” above. Damn, Billy Crystal is talented. His monologue/impression is just perfect.

djokovic.rolandgarros

**While Ali’s death was by far the saddest sports news of the weekend, Sunday brought me and other tennis fans great joy, as Novak Djokovic finally won the French Open title that’s long eluded him.

I’ve written many times of my admiration of Nole; he’s my second-favorite player, I admire his generous spirit and genuinely good heart, and am thrilled he’s completed the career Grand Slam.

His match Sunday with Andy Murray wasn’t one of their classics; Djokovic started slow, then steamrolled Murray until the end, when at 5-2 Djokovic got tight and dropped two straight games.

I thought it was sweet how after he finally won, Djokovic seemed totally confused about how to react; he’d been thinking about this moment for so long that it was like he didn’t know what to do first.

He ended up painting a heart in the clay (a move Gustavo Kuerten first did at Roland Garros), then summoning a bunch of ballkids to salute the crowd.

He was gracious and classy as usual in victory, and I’m glad crowds finally seem to be responding to him.

Djokovic is up to 12 major titles now, and I can’t believe I’m ever writing these words, but he’s got an excellent shot to pass Federer’s once-unassailable total of 17 Slams.

I mean, Nadal’s body is cruelly breaking down, Federer hasn’t been able to beat Nole in a Slam in years, and Murray just can’t quite top his rival in big matches anymore.

Barring injury, who’s going to stop Djokovic? We are so, so spoiled as tennis fans, seeing three of the all-time greats playing in this era.

Win Wimbledon and then the U.S. Open this year, and Djokovic will have the calendar Slam that eluded Serena in 2015.

I think he’s going to do it.

Good News Friday: A teenage girl gets to see “Hamilton,” and her Dad writes about it. Mother and daughter find each other, 80 years after adoption. And a Children’s Village in Tanzania is absolutely inspiring.

Hamilton.GNF

And a Happy Friday to you. Been a couple weeks since I’ve done a GNF so the good news stories have happily piled up. Have three here that really moved me and I think you’ll enjoy.

First up, the great Joe Posnanski is never better than when writing about his family; I don’t care if he never wrote another sports column, I’d read anything and everything he wrote about his wife and kids.

This piece might be his best ever.

It seems Joe’s 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth has, like millions of other Americans, become obsessed with the huge Broadway musical “Hamilton,” and despite ticket prices being astronomical (seriously just for the heck of it I checked “Hamilton” prices on StubHub and about fell out of my chair), he took her to see it in New York recently.

This essay, partly about why “Hamilton” has struck such a chord, why it’s so good, and about his daughter’s passion in seeing it, is just sensational.

An excerpt:

The thing about seeing Hamilton RIGHT NOW at its peak moment is that even before it begins, the entire theater is filled with wonder. Every single person would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. As a sportswriter, I often feel that sort of energy at the biggest events, at the Masters or the Super Bowl or the Olympics, but it’s even more pronounced in this theater. People look at each other with the same wide-eyed expression: “Can you believe we’re here?”

And then the show begins, Aaron Burr on the stage, talking about that bastard orphan Hamilton, and within about two minutes you realize the thing that makes Hamilton magical is this: It’s going to be even better than you had hoped.

How do you know only a minute in? You just do. The charms of Hamilton are so overwhelming and come at you from so many different directions that it’s hard to pinpoint. The music is fantastic, of course, and of every style. The actors are all thoroughly wonderful. The set, which is so simple, is ever changing as people bring things on the stage and take things off, almost without notice. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are so fun and surprising and joyful and glorious …

Here, the Marquis de Lafayette is the “Lancelot of the Revolutionary set.”

Here, George Washington is not the white-haired truth-teller known for annual white sales, he is the only hope when the Colonies are “outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned.”

Here, the Revolutionary War is not some bloodless classroom lesson, but the answer to the question: “How does a ragtag army in need of a shower, somehow defeat a global superpower?”

The column gets better and better as it goes, and the postscript Joe added a few days after the column went viral? The perfect ending.

Separatedatbirth

**Next up, this incredible story from the Chicago Tribune was sent to me by loyal reader Sanford, and it blew me away. More than 80 years ago, a 16-year-old girl named Eileen Wagner was raped on her way home one night and became pregnant. She was sent away by her parents to a “special home” for teenaged girls who became pregnant, and after delivering the baby in 1933, the child was given up for adoption. That child, Dorien Hammann, was adopted after being in a ward of the state for two years, and Eileen never saw her again.

Until this past April, when now 83-year-old Dorian called Eileen and said two incredible words: “Hello, Mother.”

After eight decades, Dorien and Eileen have reunited as daughter and mother. It’s a wonderful tale from journalist Vikki Ortiz Healy, and well worth your time.

I almost gave up on ever finding her,” said Wagner, who added that she has thought about the baby girl she had given up every day “from the day she was born.”

“It is still so hard to believe that at my age, my birth mother is still alive,” Hammann said. “I get chills and goose bumps all at the same time when I think of this.”

Eighty years. Can you imagine finding your mother after all that time?

**Finally today, a “60 Minutes” piece I finally got to watch on our flight home Tuesday night really hit me. It’s about an American woman named India Howell and her business power, a Tanzania native named Peter Leon Mmassy, and the children’s village of nearly 100 kids they’ve created in a remote part of the world where so many kids were orphaned or abandoned.

What these two people have built over the past 20 years is nothing short of remarkable. Together, Mmassy and Howell have transformed so many lives in so many ways. Watch the full story here.