Don’t Cry for Jacksonville
Before we get to some real news—the heartbreaking loss of the first defensive player picked in the draft, by a team that desperately needs him—I want to tell you what a lousy cheater (he said tongue-in-cheek) Tom Brady apparently is.
Since the NFL allowed all teams to condition footballs the way they wanted for use in both home and road games in 2006, the idea was that quarterbacks could play with footballs in the same shape for 16 weekends, not eight. (Previously, road quarterbacks played with footballs broken in in whatever way the home team wished.) But road teams do not bring their own ballboys to games. So, if a home-team ballboy was doctoring the footballs in any way before the game, that’s not something that could happen on the road. Brady, of course, is suspected of having the balls doctored for him in the AFC title game, and it’d be naïve to think that this was the first game in which two longtime club employees messed with the footballs for Brady.
But if John Jastremski or Jim McNally have done any funny business with the balls over the past few years, the results sure don’t show it. Some telling numbers for Brady in the nine regular seasons between 2006 and 2014:
|Home Games||Road Games|
|Passing Yards per Game||271.8||274.3|
Wouldn’t you figure that if Brady was getting such an edge by having footballs doctored before home games—and by the simple factor of home-field advantage—that, more probable than not, he’d be markedly better at home?
That’s what you’d figure. And you’d be wrong. I’ll get to more of the confusion on Page 2, after the stunning story of the weekend.
* * *
Dante Fowler Jr.’s a better man than I
Thirty minutes into his first practice as a pro football player Friday afternoon, Jacksonville pass-rusher Dante Fowler tried to speed-rush right tackle Watts Dantzler. As Fowler juked to the outside, Dantzler nudged him—it was little more than a soft block, but caught Fowler a little off-balance—and Fowler went down in a heap.
Jags new Leo pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr tweeks knee at rookie mini camp. Was walking with trainers and carted later. pic.twitter.com/nkl8aoqC6x
— Chad Weeks (@cweeks85) May 8, 2015
The show must go on. While Fowler writhed on the ground, clutching his left knee for a few moments, the drill was moved 20 yards upfield. The fans on hand to see the first practice of their defensive savior craned their necks to see Fowler. They all just knew it didn’t look good. And it wasn’t. Two hours later, in an MRI tube at a nearby hospital, the damage to the knee of Fowler—who’d never had a significant injury of any sort in his football career—was confirmed. Torn ACL. Out for the season.
On Saturday, I asked Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley how he has handled his team, his star rookie and himself over the previous 24 hours. Bradley’s always been an optimistic sort and now has to be the all-is-well conscience of his team and his fan base. I thought he’d be bummed. Short with me, clipped, snippy. He was none of that.
The Bradley monologue:
“I wasn’t watching the play when it happened, but I was right there. Dante went down, and he stayed down. We moved up the drill, away from Dante. Then I went over to him, and he was like, ‘I’ll be fine, Gus, I’ll be fine. I think I got my foot caught.’ Then he went to the trainers room. We came in after practice. He was going to the hospital to get an MRI. So I went over to the hospital, maybe 10 minutes away. I just figured, He’s 20 years old, he just got here, he doesn’t know anyone, this is where I should be.
“We were at the hospital and Dante basically said, ‘Whatever we find out, don’t worry about me, I’m good. I’ll come back stronger.’ ”
“The concern at that time is, ‘How is he?’ I can only imagine what was going through his mind. This kid, his spirit, just unbelievable. He felt bad—but he felt bad for us. He is a pleaser, and his attitude was, Gus, I don’t want to let you down. We were at the hospital and he basically said to me, ‘Whatever we find out, don’t worry about me, I’m good. I’ll come back stronger.’ To handle it the way he did, I don’t know what the word is, maybe inspirational. Whatever it was, he gave me a lift. I stayed there. He went into the MRI.
“The doctor told him. And this is what he said: ‘Okay, I am going to come back bigger, stronger, faster. This is gonna make me better in the long run.’ Who says that, as a 20-year-old? An unbelievable mentality. The book on him when we studied him was that he was young, maybe a little immature. And he’d never been hurt before, right? But his mindset was so good, and he told me, ‘I’m gonna take this year and learn. I know I can’t help this team on the field, but I want to help any way I can. I am going to learn the game so I can be better next year.’
“Maybe the fans, the media, felt Dante was the savior. That is not the way our team looked at it. The draft picks were great additions, but we didn’t look at him, or any rookies, as saviors. We challenged our veterans to have their best off-season ever, and I checked off that box on player after player this off-season—they came back so ready. So we adjust, and we move on.
“I’m not one to just say, ‘Next man up.’ I say, ‘Hold on.’ It’s the same thing when [defensive tackle] Sen’Derrick Marks got hurt. I am not gonna downplay it. Paul Posluzny, Roy Miller, they had big impacts and were hurt. And I want those guys to know how valuable they are to us. But there will be a story somewhere on the roster. [Third-year pass-rusher] Ryan Davis will get his opportunity and do well. I believe something good is coming. This is not gonna affect the mindset of our team, I guarantee you. We handle adversity well. We will handle this well.
“We all feel bad for Dante, really bad. He was so excited. He couldn’t wait to go out there. And damn, this happens. That is a tough deal for him. Your heart pours out for him.
“But look what we have—Julius Thomas and Clay Harbor and Bernard Pierce new, Denard Robinson and Blake Bortles and so many other enthusiastic young guys. So many good things happening here. I’m not going to lose vision on the good things.”
I asked Bradley: You had to have a couple of down moments, like, “How can this be happening to us?”
“Maybe on the way to the hospital,” he said. “But after meeting with him and seeing how he’s handling this, I’m more at peace because I know he’ll be fine. We’ll be fine.”
* * *
And now for the toughest decision of Roger Goodell’s nine years in office.
That’s what this is—tougher than anything Goodell had to officiate during Spygate (Patriots were caught in the act) or the CBA deal (a fairly normal hard negotiation) or Bountygate (Gregg Williams spilled the beans) or cleaning up the Ray Rice mess with new domestic violence strictures.
This is why Goodell should spare the rod:
1. Brady’s one of the greatest players of all time, an NFL golden child and ambassador for the game. There is no definitive proof in the Wells report that he ordered footballs to be doctored to his advantage.
2. Robert Kraft is a favored-nation owner, and he’s helped make the league a juggernaut.
3. Reading between the Johnny Knoxvillesque humor and texts from two Patriot employees, there is still no smoking gun among the 243 pages of the Wells report.
4. The league knows Brady will appeal any punishment that would take him off the field. Given the NFL’s recent record in appeals that happen outside Park Avenue (Ray Rice won, Adrian Peterson won), and given that there’s no smoking gun, I wouldn’t put much money on Brady having to miss any games. A suspension keeps the story in the headlines. The NFL always says it wants people to pay attention to the action on the field. Well, a suspension for Brady would put the attention, for multiple months, on a likely Brady appeal.
5. As Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston pointed out Sunday, there have been two recent violations regarding fair play with footballs. One happened last November, when TV cameras at the Minnesota-Carolina game in frigid Minneapolis caught footballs being warmed up by sideline heaters. That’s a rules violation, but the teams were simply warned not to do it again. In 2012, the Chargers were found to be using towels with stickum on the sidelines, presumably for players to be able to grip the footballs better. The team was fined $25,000. Is the presumption that Brady was using footballs about 1 pound per square inch under the minimum limit worth a multigame suspension compared to the other two violations? The other two violations were proven. This one is “more probable than not,” according to the Wells report.
6. Officials used two gauges at halftime of the AFC Championship Game to measure the air pressure in 11 New England footballs and four Indianapolis footballs. On page 113 of the Wells report, after a description of the scientific Ideal Gas Law (eyes glaze over), Wells says the Patriots footballs should have measured between 11.32 psi and 11.52 psi. The average of one gauge for the 11 balls was 11.49 psi, on the upper range of what the balls should measure. The average of the other gauge was 11.11 psi, clearly lower than what the balls should have measured. Average all 22 readings, and you get 11.30 … two-one-hundredths lower what the Ideal Gas Law would have allowed for balls that started the day at 12.5 psi. You’re going to suspend someone—never mind a franchise quarterback, never mind without a smoking gun—for an air-pressure measurement of 11.30 when the allowable measurement would have been 11.32?
This is why Goodell should come down hard:
1. As commissioner, he can’t treat the best player in the league any differently from the 53rd man on the roster if there’s been a rules violation.
2. It doesn’t matter that Kraft is a cornerstone owner.
3. Brady should have handed over his phone, with a Brady/Patriots lawyer on hand to figure which texts/emails/calls are applicable to this case. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Sunday, high-level staffers in the NFL office—and presumably Goodell—handed over cell phones to be forensically examined during the Robert Mueller investigation into whether anyone in the league office saw the Ray Rice domestic violence video before it aired on TMZ.
4. The weight of the circumstantial evidence against Brady and the two Patriot employees is heavy.
5. The other 31 teams are watching to see if Goodell treats the Patriots with most-favored-nation status, or like any other one of the NFL franchises.
Goodell will be a piñata regardless what decision he makes. (I know the league says it’s Goodell and executive VP Troy Vincent making the call, but this one’s going to have Goodell’s name on it. It has to.)
I continue to feel this way: I feel strongly that a suspension for Brady is coming this week, because of the time and energy and “more probable than not” evidence in the Wells report. But I keep coming back to the fact that there’s just too much gray area here, and too much doubt. I’d slap the Patriots with something, but not a potential season-altering suspension for the franchise quarterback.
My call: I’d give Brady one game, two tops, for failing to turn over his cell phone and the evidence within. This is too important to rely on half-truths and maybes. Goodell, who I believe will come down harshly, can’t listen to the noise. He has to listen to the truth, and the proof.
* * *
You were really good, Ed Reed
The Ravens safety, who always had a knack for being in the right place at the perfect time—and who could knock your block off too—retired Thursday. He didn’t play in 2014, and his 2013 season (with the Jets and Texans) showed he stayed a year too long. But that’s not what you should remember about Reed. What I’ll remember is one of the most instinctive players I’ve ever seen. Rarely was he out of position; most often he was in a better position because he could feel what the quarterback was aiming to do at the snap of the ball.
He wasn’t Ronnie Lott in physical terms. But I found it interesting that, statistically, he played 18 fewer games and had one more interception (64 to Lott’s 63), though that often can be a misleading number for safeties. Check out the best years statistically that each of these greats has had:
Reed averaged 39.8 yards per interception return, including a 106-yard touchdown return, in 2004.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, when Troy Polamalu retired, the voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which has moved glacially in admitting safeties, are going to have a touch time over the next five years, with Brian Dawkins, Reed and Polamalu joining a cadre of good safety candidates.
* * *
Imagine my surprise …
...when, footnoted on page 34 of the Ted Wells Report was a story I’d written nine years ago about Tom Brady and Peyton Manning successfully petitioning the competition committee to allow every team to condition the footballs it would use on offense the way that team wanted—instead of being subject to the ways the home team wanted to prepare football. Before 2006, the road team had no say in what kind of football its quarterback would be using. It’s in the report to show how concerned Brady was about getting the footballs to be prepared just so … and the lengths to which he and Manning went to get the job done. A portion of that story:
A few quarterbacks, such as the Jets' Chad Pennington, prefer the balls to feel nearly new. Most, like Brady and Manning, want that sheen rubbed off so they can get a better grip and make the ball feel broken in. “Imagine if Derek Jeter were handed a brand-new glove just before the start of every game,” says Brady. “Baseball players break in their gloves until they feel perfect to them. It's ridiculous to [be forced to] play with new footballs. I can tell you there've been nights before road games when I have had trouble sleeping because I'm thinking about what kind of footballs I'll be throwing the next day.”
So last February, while having dinner together in Miami Beach, Brady and Manning decided to approach their fellow quarterbacks about petitioning the NFL competition committee to change the rule. Brady proposed that the visiting team have access to a certain number of the allotted game balls—the number turned out to be 12—so it could prepare them the way it wanted. All 20 quarterbacks Brady and Manning spoke with agreed to sign the petition.
The committee approved the idea in March. “It's the first time I recall something put in front of the competition committee by players,” says NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira. “It quickly became apparent that there were no negatives to it.”
This was just one more brick in the wall in the case Wells and his crew built against Brady—about how he was so driven to get the footballs exactly the way he wanted them. Not sure I take it very seriously, but it does provide a glimpse into Brady’s state of mind about how important grip on the football is to him.
Quotes of the Week
“I read most of the Wells report, and it looks damning, if not quite definitive. Brady is getting killed in the press. Rich, handsome, supermodel wife, four-time Super Bowl champion: He makes as perfect a villain as he does a hero.”
—Mark Leibovich of the New York Times Magazine, who wrote a revealing piece about Tom Brady for the magazine in the Patriots’ Super Bowl run last winter, in a follow-up piece for the Times the other day.
“You’re good, man. It’s just football.”
—Jacksonville rookie pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr., the first defensive player picked in the 2015 draft, to Jags right tackle Watts Dantzler, who made contact with Fowler on a pass-rush in Friday’s first pro practice of Fowler’s career. Fowler’s left knee caved in, and he suffered a torn ACL on the play. He’ll be out for the season. Dantzler relayed the conversation, which was reported by ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco.
“For the balls to have been deflated—that doesn’t happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen. I can assure you of that. Now the question becomes, Well, did Bill Belichick know about it? This whole comment by Roger Goodell based on the Saints when Sean Payton got suspended for the year, and he said, ‘Hey, ignorance is no excuse.’ That’s gonna come back and haunt [Goodell] again. It haunted him during the whole Ray Rice situation. And now it’s going to haunt Roger Goodell in terms of what the punishment is for the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick. If ignorance is no excuse, and it wasn’t for Sean Payton, and I think it’s going to be severe. Now twice under Bill Belichick—and possibly a third time—they’ve cheated and given themselves an advantage. And to me, the punishment for the Patriots and/or Bill Belichick has to be more severe than what the punishment was for the New Orleans Saints.”
—Troy Aikman, on radio station KTCK The Ticket in Dallas, on what he thinks the sanction in the Patriots’ case should be.
Whoa. As part of the Saints’ 2012 bountygate penalties, Payton was suspended for a year. So Bill Belichick, absolved of involvement in the case by the Ted Wells Report, should be suspended for longer than a full season if the NFL rules that some members of the Patriots’ staff let some air out of footballs? Presumably, that would mean Brady, the alleged mastermind, should be suspended for longer than a year.
I think in the old wild west, Aikman would have been called the hangin’ judge.
“If you’re a quarterback studying film on Ed, you might as well quit studying because it won’t look like that in the next game. That’s what’s unique about him.”
—Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees, on the occasion of the star Baltimore safety Ed Reed's retirement Thursday.
Stats of the Week
Why The Dante Fowler Loss Hurts So Bad Dept.:
In the past eight years, the leading sacker for the Jaguars has had 7.5, 4.5, 3, 5, 8, 3.5, 7.5 and 8.5 sacks.
Bear with me on this one. It’s about an eight- or nine-minute gap in the chain of security for the footballs that were used when the Patriots were on offense in the AFC Championship Game. It’s from the Wells Report. I think it’s important.
The day before the game, Colts GM Ryan Grigson emailed league officials with a warning for the following day. He said he wanted the officials to watch for the Patriots to possibly be using balls that were deflated below the 12.5 psi minimum limit. The next day, the number two man in the NFL officiating department, Alberto Riveron, met with game referee Walt Anderson and told him, according to the Wells Report, that “concerns had been raised about the game balls, and Anderson should be sure to follow proper pre-game procedures.”
This was the timeline in the Wells Report, about the minutes leading up to the 6:50 p.m. ET start of the game:
- Approximately 6:30 p.m.: Patriots locker room assistant Jim McNally leaves the officials locker room with two bags of game balls.
- 6:30.35: McNally is seen on videotape walking through the tunnel in Gillette Stadium on the way to the field.
- 6:30.47: McNally enters a bathroom in the tunnel. (Not in the Wells Report, but figured out based on the one-minute, 40-second time the report said was how long McNally stayed in the bathroom.)
- 6:32.27: McNally exits the bathroom.
- 6:35: After some officials leave for the field, Anderson looks around and cannot find the footballs. The report said he is upset, and said this is the first time in his 19 years as an official the crew was not in control of the footballs consistently before the game.
- 6:36: Anderson and the NFL security representative in New England, Richard Farley, leave for the field. Once they get to the field, Farley asks an NFL official if he has seen McNally or the footballs. The league official, John Raucci, says he has seen neither.
- Time not recorded, but probably about 6:39: Anderson and his crew notice McNally and the game balls are on the field.
- 6:42: Farley returns to the field with the alternate game balls, but seeing McNally and the regular balls are there, Farley returns the backup footballs to the officials locker room.
So, for eight or nine minutes, from 6:30 until at least 6:38, Anderson and his officiating crew lost track of the footballs. Hours after being warned that “concerns had been raised about the game balls,” for the first time in his 19 years as an official—according to Anderson—he couldn’t find the game balls for a period. And even with properly checked backup game balls on hand, Anderson didn’t use them. He used the footballs that had gone missing for eight or nine minutes.
I know that’s not the main point in this story, nor should it be. But it’s very surprising to me that Anderson didn’t heed the warning from his officiating boss about being extra careful with the footballs.
There’s no guarantee that McNally deflated 13 footballs in the 100 seconds he was inside the bathroom. But it’s clearly the most likely scenario raised by the report. And if Anderson had used the alternates, there’s a good chance none of this ever would have happened.
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
If Tom Brady is suspended for four games—Vegas oddsmaker Bovada.com lists the over-under on a possible Brady suspension at 3.5 games—there might be a little something extra motivating Brady upon his return, courtesy of the team that turned him in to the league before the AFC Championship Game.
This would be his first game back: at Indianapolis, Sunday night, Oct. 18.
Including Sunday's 4-3 win over the Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the New York Rangers have played 12 games this playoff season. All were decided by one goal.
The referee in the Ted Wells Report game in question, Walt Anderson, is a retired dentist.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Leftover from my trip to the draft in Chicago last week:
I got in a city cab early Friday morning to go from downtown to O’Hare Airport; I was traveling to Tampa that morning for a Jameis Winston piece for the top of last week’s column. When I got in the cab, I noticed a fare card on the back of the front seat, facing me. On the menu of charges was this:
Vomit Clean-up Fee $50.00
“That happen much?” I asked the driver.
“Not that much,” he said. “But it did happen to me three times in one night once. And of course they don’t want to pay.”
“What do you do then?” I asked.
“Make ’em pay,” he said.
Tweets of the Week
Too bad for all of us. I thought @dantefowler was the best player in the draft this year. Speedy recovery.
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthNBC) May 9, 2015
Well Well Wells
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) May 6, 2015
McAfee is the punter of the Colts, the Patriots’ victims in the AFC Championship Game, the game that prompted the league to hand off an investigation of the Patriots’ footballs to attorney Ted Wells and his investigative team.
Make no mistake: Bill Simmons invented a writing genre. About 5 sportswriters in my lifetime have done that.
— Tim Layden (@SITimLayden) May 8, 2015
ESPN announced last Friday it would part ways with Bill Simmons at the end of his current contract in September.
I need some attention. What's the better contrarian play? An "I support Isiah Thomas" column or a "Stalin was misunderstood" thinkpiece?
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 7, 2015
Isiah Thomas, who once cost Madison Square Garden $11 million in a sexual-harassment case, was hired to run the Garden’s New York Liberty women’s pro basketball team.
Funny when media people grade drafts based on how well a team filled needs. They don't know players well enough to base it on anything else
— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) May 3, 2015
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think it’s all well and good to get your draft picks on the field and have them run around and get into the swing of what you’re doing on offense and defense. But the more you ask your players to go 80 to 90 percent, with or without pads, the better chance there is of injury. Everyone knows that, of course. But, in the wake of season-ending injuries to the first-round pick of the Jags, Dante Fowler, and third-round pick of the Broncos, Jeff Heuerman, just hours into their professional careers, it might be time for teams to re-think exactly why they’re having players cut hard and try hard on May 8 and May 9. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I am saying if I ran a team, I’d ask the coaches whether we wanted to hold off on any real football activities until training camp—and if they said no, I’d want a good reason why.
2. I think it’s fine to have strong opinions about the Ted Wells-Tom Brady case, and it seems most of America does. But keep in mind the following points:
a. Ted Wells had no preconceived notions about whether to find the Patriots guilty or innocent when he started his investigation. Though it took way too long, there’s no evidence, anywhere, that he knew which way the investigation was going at the start and made it head that way. Silly stuff.
b. Tom Brady may be innocent. But in this case, he certainly should have offered to have either a neutral party or his agent or attorney present when the relevant Patriot-related emails and text messages were examined. I know Wells does not have subpoena power. And I know the precedent of having Brady, a named plaintiff in the 2011 case that was the precursor to the new CBA, hand over his cell phone is not something the union or Brady would ever have wanted to establish. But if there was nothing in the phone other than the texts and calls to John Jastremski, and it could have helped exonerate Brady, I’d have surrendered it if I were him.
c. You honestly think Roger Goodell wants to put the screws to Tom Brady? Are you crazy? He wants another scandal for his scandal-plagued league? Sheesh. Where does this stuff come from?
3. I think, for those keeping score at home, the Tom Brady interview with the Ted Wells teams lasted about three hours and occurred March 6 in Foxboro.
4. I think I just saw Leonard Williams was handed number 62 by the Jets. What is he, a guard?
5. I think if you want to hear some real TV, it didn’t get much more real than when Tedy Bruschi and Damien Woody, former Patriots teammates and teammates of Tom Brady, went at it on ESPN the other day. Bruschi said no way Brady would order the deflation of footballs; he’s too honorable. Woody said yes he would; he’s too competitive. Here's video of the exchange.
6. I think Jon Stewart (man, will he be missed) had a great riff on Deflategate the other night on “The Daily Show.” Stewart, a Giants fan, said what the fans of most teams would say when it came to their feelings about Tom Brady: “If you think I would not chastise you if you had committed these acts while in my team, the New York Giants, uniform, that would be correct.”
7. I think if you missed this thoughtful piece from our Andy Benoit about why the NFL even has ball-inflation rules, I’d recommend it. Writes Benoit: “A quarterback can only deflate a football so much. Eventually the ball becomes completely flat. No quarterback would choose to play with a completely flat ball. So why does the NFL have to tell Tom Brady how much (or little) air can be in the football when the laws of physics already do? Just about every recent rules change in professional football has centered around making the game more comfortable for the offense. Fans want to see big gains and points. A ball that is easier to throw and easier to catch is a great avenue to this—and an avenue that in itself is not intrusive to the integrity of the game.” Interesting, and cogent.
8. I think the outcry over Frank Clark isn’t over, Seahawks. It’s going to have to be addressed how the investigation before drafting him left out so many of the people who claim to have been there the night he allegedly struck a girlfriend last fall.
9. I think, in response to Pewter Report, which covers all things Buccaneers, saying that I had the list of top five men on the Tampa Bay draft board incorrect, I say: I absolutely stand by my list. That list, in order: Jameis Winston, Leonard Williams, Dante Fowler, Marcus Mariota, Todd Gurley. Pewter Report said Mariota was actually number two on the list. The truth: My list is correct. But the Bucs were going to take one of the two quarterbacks number one. It didn’t mean they had the quarterbacks 1-2 on their board. Teams don’t always take the best player available, and the Bucs had decided long ago to take a quarterback number one. But they had Williams and Fowler over Mariota on their big board.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. What a story, by Amina Khan of the Los Angeles Times, about a NASA technology device that rescued four Nepalese people buried by the April earthquake—just by finding their faint heartbeats.
b. Another great story, from Kate Fagan of ESPN.com, about the suicide of a depressed college student-athlete from New Jersey. Let me say it really hits me, and deservedly so, for wrongly calling the mental-health issues of Randy Gregory, the ones that helped push him down to late in the second round of the draft, “character flaws” in this column last week. Depression is no character flaw. It’s a serious health issue. Fagan does a tremendous job of fleshing that out, and teaching people like me about the reality of depression.
c. Reading stories like that one just show how educational good writers, and good writing, can be.
d. One of the best “Tonight Show” scenes I have seen happened the other night. Jimmy Fallon took U2, all in disguise, into the Grand Central subway station, and these disguised four guys started playing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” like they were some subway band playing for quarters, and most bystanders just walked on by. Then they took off their disguises and started playing like real U2, playing “Desire,” and it was one of those New York moments that if you’re a New Yorker who loves U2 (such as this writer), you ask yourself, Why don’t you have any pull to find out when U2 is going to be in a subway station you’re in once or twice a week?
e. I love Razzball.com. Some of the funniest people writing anywhere, and always smart rotisserie baseball advice. In recent Montclair Pedroias news, I dealt Andrelton Simmons, my backup shortstop (I start Starlin Castro), for pitcher Mike Leake. When you start the season counting on Strasburg and Kluber, mid-May is about the right time to call for reinforcements.
f. What, you didn’t know my team was the Montclair Pedroias? Even though my second sacker is Kolten Wong?
g. Allen Craig to Pawtucket after one month of the baseball season. What in the name of Bernie Miklasz is going on?
h. Bryce Harper, six home runs in three games. David Ortiz, four home runs in 26 games.
i. Not sure if this is a sign of global raining, but the Rockies have had four home games rained out in two weeks.
j. The Canadiens-Lightning series is fun.
k. Congrats to a very good man and former newspaper peer of mine, Bob Herzog of Newsday, on his election into Long Island’s Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame. A tremendously versatile guy with a great writing touch and a better soul.
l. Coffeenerdness: New Starbucks in the neighborhood, on the East Side of Manhattan. Been open about 10 days. Walked in for the first time Friday. Big place. Totally mobbed. I counted 78 people in there, at 3 in the afternoon. Either New York is large, or people drink coffee voraciously in the middle of the afternoon, or both.
m. Beernerdness: In Boston the other day at a bar I miss dearly—Bukowski’s, a few long fungos from Fenway Park—I saw a Brewmaster Jack (Northhampton, Mass.) tap, and asked what it was. “The Mosaic. Double IPA,” the bartender said. I said I’d try it. As you know, I’m a sucker for most things Brewmaster Jack. This was a fantastic IPA—more orange in color than most IPAs, with a big head and a fruity, piney finish. George Costanza on “Seinfeld” once said about his ex-girlfriend, “I don’t know what she put in those eggs!” I don’t know what Brewmaster Jack put in that beer, but I will be in search of a six-pack on my next trip to the Bay State.
n. For those keeping score at home, I ran five miles in Central Park on Saturday (the 6.2-mile loop, minus the hill at the top of the park) in 45:55. And only a few old ladies passed me.
o. Steve Yzerman turned 50 Saturday. That’s a mile-marker on the Boy Do I Feel Old Highway.
p. Unless Jim Zorn turning 62 today makes you feel even older.
q. Good luck in your next life, Bill Simmons, although luck is not something you’ll need. Whoever employs Simmons next (maybe he’ll employ himself) gets a seminal talent in modern media, someone so good and so versatile that it’s intimidating to the rest of us trying to be good at different jobs in the media.
r. Yogi Berra turns 90 Tuesday, and the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, N.J., is coordinating a social media campaign to have President Obama award Berra the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Go here to learn more and sign the petition.
The Adieu Haiku
Kraft love for Goodell
overblown, quite honestly.
Partners, not big pals.
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