The Joker has become an Ace

Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon this past weekend, thrusting him into a tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles overall – they each have 20 major titles.

Several years ago, he wasn’t even in the “best” conversation. It was a two-horse race for the win, and Djokovic was there for show.

He always had talent, but came up a bit short of greatness early in his career. He was 6-7 in his first 13 Grand Slam finals… not too shabby, but not exactly G.O.A.T. material either. But in his last 17 Grand Slam finals matches, “The Joker” is 14-3. He knew that to beat Federer and Nadal, he’d have to get better across the board – as he mentioned in his post-Wimbledon interview:

“Iron sharpens iron” is the old adage. Kudos to Novak for sharpening his sword – not just physically, but mentally and tactically as well. That’s what makes a true champion.

(from this article in Forbes)

It’s also worth noting that Djokovic is the only man ever to win every Grand Slam at least twice. And he’s 27-23 all-time against Federer and 30-28 against Nadal. And back in March, he also passed Federer’s record of most weeks at No. 1 with 311.

Tennis is a young person’s sport, and Djokovic is 34. Father Time catches up with everyone eventually. But here’s hoping The Joker has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

Whatever floats your boat… or paddleboard

Six summers ago, I agonized over spending my hard-earned American dollars on an inflatable paddleboard.

I mean, c’mon, it’s filled with air. How sturdy and durable can it be? I may as well get one of those cheap pool toys.

Eat your heart out, Matt Dillon – I’m the new Flamingo Kid

In hindsight, it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent, even though I only use the paddleboard for one week a year, and I rarely use it as a paddleboard. I take it along on our annual summer trip to the beach. It’s way easier to transport than a regular paddleboard or kayak. And I bought a kayak seat that attaches to the paddleboard and use it every morning to do some kayaking on the ocean (bay, actually).

That hour-plus on the water every morning is so peaceful, so relaxing… and a pretty darn good workout too.

I was focused on price, when I should have been focused on value. The money I spent was a pittance compared to the priceless enjoyment I’ve gotten out of it. The paddleboard maybe filled with air, but it’s been worth its weight in gold.

Don’t Peel Back The Onion

March Madness begins in earnest today. I took the day off from work to turn on (multiple TVs), tune in (CBS, TNT, TruTV and TBS) and drop out (of the Bracket Challenge).

It’s always fun to watch the games. But try not to think about how the players – who are the “content” for the $900 million that the NCAA will rake in during the tourney – aren’t getting a nickel.

According to the reports coming out of the Indianapolis area this week, players are being fed fast food, given free deodorant as a perk, provided with puzzles in the rooms they must isolate, and, on occasion, being given warm breakfast foods that have long since gone cold and no utensils to eat that with. In essence, college age kids are being shut in a hotel and given conditions that would make the average middle aged traveler lodge an endless series of complaints and demands to talk to the manager.

From this post on Banners on the Parkway

“It’s become clear to even the biggest NCAA apologist that we are playing this tournament primarily to deliver content to media rights partners,” said ESPN’s Jay Bilas, a former Duke player. “That’s what this season was about.“

Source: Indianapolis Star article

Enjoy the “redemption” story of Rick Pitino, who has taken his fifth team to the tournament. Pay no attention to the facts about why he left his previous coaching gig at the University of Louisville.

In June 2017, the NCAA suspended Pitino for five games of the 2017–18 season for his lack of oversight in an escort sex scandal at the University of Louisville involving recruits. Louisville’s national championship from 2013 was eventually vacated as well. In September, Pitino was implicated in a federal investigation involving bribes to recruits, which resulted in Louisville firing him for cause.

Wikipedia

Watch #8 seed LSU take to the court tomorrow afternoon, led by guard Ja’Vonte Smart. Don’t think about how LSU Head Coach Will Wade was recorded on a wiretap, talking about making payments to Smart.

I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”

ESPN had reported Dawkins had at least three calls with a number belong to Wade between June 19, 2017, and June 30, 2017. Smart announced his commitment on June 30.

“Dude. I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong,” he said. “The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, it was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit. It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”

Source

Enjoy the games. But don’t peel back too many layers of the NCAA onion, because it’ll make you cry.

A War with Heart

Every year, the men’s basketball teams from Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati square off on the court, in what’s known as the Crosstown Shootout.

There’s no love lost between the two teams… there was an ugly post-game brawl in 2011.

The fan bases can get rather rabid, too. With a bit of perspective, it seems silly for normally-sane adults to get so emotionally invested in a single basketball game between two groups of mostly teenagers. (But as a Xavier alum, I’m duty bound to mention the fact that my Musketeers have won 10 of the past 14… Let’s Go X!)

However, there’s a new XU-UC “shootout” going on right now where there are only winners: the local bar and restaurant workers. It started more than a month ago when a man and his daughter left a $1,000 tip at a venerable burger joint and finished off their note with “Go Xavier!”

Since then, fans of both schools have been engaged in a friendly game of one-upmanship, leaving monster tips at dozens of local restaurants.

This tip war isn’t a war of attrition, it’s a war of appreciation for the local restaurants and bars whose business has been crippled by coronavirus, and the workers who rely on tips to get by.

It’s good to know that folks from both schools have their heart in the right place (and apparently fat wallets too).

Running list of tips from this Cincinnati.com article

Let’s hear it for the old man

I’m not a Tom Brady fan. Far from it. As a Raiders fan, the “Tuck Rule” game that launched his legend still sticks in my craw.

But as a fellow old man, I have to admit that there was a small sense of satisfaction with seeing a 43-year-old top a 25-year-old.

It’s also worth noting that Tampa Bay’s coach, Bruce Arians, who is 68, became the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl. He didn’t get his first head coaching gig until he was 60!

Down with crass commercialism, Up with People… still!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Today I’m posting an “encore presentation” (don’t you dare call it a rerun) of a post that originally appeared waaaay back in February of 2016. That was a whole different decade. A more peaceful era. A time when we could congregate in large groups and see the bottom halves of people’s faces. “Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away…” 

I’m reposting it for three reasons:

  1. So the three people who read it back then can re-read it and chuckle anew (fingers crossed!). 
  2. So I can add the accent aigu to the e in Beyoncé. That grammatical faux pas has been haunting me for five years… neither Queen Bey nor Jay-Z has spoken to me since I published the original post. (OK, they didn’t speak to me before, either, but that was coincidence, and now it’s causality. Facts!)
  3. Because my feelings about halftime extravaganzas have not changed one whit.  (Don’t take it personally, The Weeknd… or is it Mr. The Weeknd? The Weeknd Guy? Sir The Weeknd?) In fact, I’m starting a Change.org petition to bring back Up With People. And I’m counting on all three readers of this blog to sign it. 

Please silence your cell phones, sit back, relax, and enjoy today’s encore presentation:

The Super Bowl to end all Super Bowls (at least until next year) is just a day away… and already I’m sick of the hype. Not the hype for the game – I’m oblivious to that after years of Roman Numerals being shoved in my face XXIV/VII (see what I did there?). I’m sick of the hype for the halftime show. Excuse me, I meant to say “The Greatest Halftime Spectacle In The History of The Universe” or whatever they’re calling this year’s gig. They went with the Chinese Restaurant menu approach this year – one from each column – Coldplay for the aging wannabe hipsters, Beyoncé for the soul sisters, and Bruno Mars for… well, pretty much everybody else. And of course they have a corporate sponsor, because there’s a sponsor for everything. I’m surprised they don’t say “This Geico commercial is sponsored by Bud Light.”

Call me an old fuddy duddy (merely typing that phrase makes me an old fuddy duddy) but I actually miss the early Super Bowls before the greedy tentacles of the NFL and advertisers hijacked the halftime show. For many years, the “entertainment” (using that term very loosely) was Up With People – a group of overly earnest teens singing easy listening versions of the day’s top hits. Sort of like an Osmond Family clone army. Sure they were super cheesy and super lame, but who cares? It’s halftime – time to reload on food and drinks.

Now that was quality entertainment! 

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