What a bunch of marks
For some people in the federal government, professional wrestling is apparently still very real.
A report from Politico on Thursday detailed efforts by the Trump administration to launch a series of public service announcements aimed at educating people about the pandemic with a theme of “Helping the President will Help the Country.”
The report raises questions about the Department of Health and Human Services attempting to use taxpayer funds to produce campaign ads masquerading as public health PSAs. The proposed campaign (which was eventually scuttled) is the subject of an investigation by the House Oversight Committee.
But this is a sports website, so we’ll just focus on HHS’s inability to distinguish fact from fiction in WWE.
As part of preparations for the campaign, HHS compiled a list of dozens of celebrities who might be good to include in the PSAs. The document, released by the House Oversight Committee, also includes “additional notes” about the celebs’ political leanings and personal history. It notes, for example, that Brad Pitt “slammed GOP and Trump’s impeachment during Oscars speech” and that Reese Witherspoon was arrested for drinking and driving in 2013.
There are a few sports figures on the list, like James Harden, Rob Gronkowski, Mariano Rivera and David Beckham. Ronda Rousey also made the cut, which is where this gets funny. The “additional notes” section next to Rousey’s name notes that she supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary, that she expresses “anti-feminist views at times” and that she was “arrested during [a] WWE event in 2019.”
On the April 1, 2019 episode of Raw, the final show before WrestleMania 35, Rousey, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair brawled with each other in the ring after a match as tensions boiled over between the three women ahead of their main-event match at WrestleMania. When WWE security couldn’t break up the fracas, a bunch of “cops” dressed in extremely official-looking “Metropolitan Police” uniforms, entered the ring to handcuff Rousey, Lynch and Flair.
The melee continued backstage as the women were loaded into police cars. The cops made the mistake of putting Rousey and Lynch in the same car and so, despite being handcuffed, they started whaling on each other with their feet, despite one officer’s pleas to “cut it out.” After Lynch was removed from the car, a still-handcuffed Rousey climbed into the front seat and attempted to get away, crashing the car into another vehicle.
Thankfully, all three women were released from jail in time for WrestleMania.
This was, of course, not a real arrest. It was a segment on a TV show. But the members of this administration have historically had a hard time being able to tell when they’re being “worked” by WWE. The president himself was once infamously duped by a segment on Raw in 2007.
When WWE showed Vince McMahon’s limo exploding, Donald Trump called WWE the next day to make sure his buddy Vince wasn’t hurt.
“What kills me is, so many people called — I mean, the office the next day, people … I’m not kidding you,” Paul “Triple H” Levesque said during a 2008 appearance on Opie and Anthony. “And he’ll probably be mad at me for saying this, but like, Trump called, and was like, ‘Did something happen to Vince?’ It’s just the magic of television, you know what I mean?”
Instead of politically charged PSAs about the coronavirus, maybe HHS should launch a campaign educating people about the difference between a “work” and a “shoot.” It sounds like some people could use a refresher.
The best of SI
Clemson star Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19 and the question of whether he’ll be able to play next week against Notre Dame is a complicated one. ... The cover story of the latest issue of the magazine is about how Bryson DeChambeau is breaking golf. ... There was a fitting symmetry to the first and last MLB games of 2020. ... How an NBA draft prospect can improve his stock during a pandemic. ... Quarterback Michael Penix Jr.’s father didn’t want him to go to Indiana but Penix led the Hoosiers to a signature win over Penn State last week.
Around the sports world
Drew Magary wrote a great profile of Al Michaels for Defector. (Subscribe to Defector! It’s very good!) ... Nebraska tried to make up for this weekend’s canceled Wisconsin game by scheduling Tennessee-Chattanooga but got shut down by the Big Ten. ... WWE has signed a deal with Netflix to produce a multi-part documentary about Vince McMahon with Bill Simmons as executive producer.
I was going to make a Casey Stengel joke but Stengel was actually one year younger than La Russa in his final year managing the Mets
Dallas’s division hopes now rest with a seventh-round rookie from James Madison making his first NFL start in primetime
It’s easy to forget how good the Jets are when you’re watching them play like crap week after week
Not *during the games*
Somebody didn’t hit the mute button
As always, listen to Zlatan
Public pressure can make a difference
(Here’s a good rundown of the Miller situation.)
He put it in the drink
A man standing on a sidewalk in the Bronx suddenly had a sinkhole open under his feet and fell into a pit full of rats. ... A Utah man was arrested on a variety of charges after police found 20 Burmese pythons and 600 rats in his house.
Paul Rudd is a delight
Big Steven Seagal energy
Worst Great British Bake Off contestant ever
Crowd goes wild for elephants crushing pumpkins
A good song
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.