Adrian Peterson: A Flood and the Fight for a Ring
The Vikings running back reflects on a tragedy in his hometown and his quest to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Minnesota. Plus why the Titans traded down, 10 Things and a looming, Gronk-related issue for the Pats
It’s a big offseason for Adrian Peterson, who spends his off months at his home in Houston. It was all football until the past few days.
He’s spent much of the past week tending to friends and donating money ($100,000, and growing) and clothes and food to those who’ve lost family and property in his hometown, the flood-ravaged town of Palestine, Texas. “That’s my neighborhood, where that happened,” he said Friday, still shaken. “One of the people who died was my high school football teammate. Two of the little kids that died played on the All-Day bantam football team that I sponsor. I’m just shocked, hurt right down to my heart.”
At a time like this, football seems so insignificant, and most of a 50-minute phone conversation the other day with the NFL rushing champion was about the tragedy in his hometown two hours outside Dallas, a place normally dry as a bone. That hometown was still coming to grips with flash floods that killed six people, including a grandmother and her four grandchildren, and Peterson’s former classmate Giovani Olivas. They were swept away by the flooding nine days ago.
“Giovani, man, a great guy,” Peterson said. “Always had a great spirit. When I close my eyes and think of him, I think always of that smile, always smiling. I knew him going back to elementary school. What I heard was he was in a truck, in the back of his truck, family trying to throw a rope to him, trying to pull him in, and the rope snapped. He got swept away.
“I don’t fear much, but drowning—that is a terrible way to go out. Four or five feet of water in a place that just never had that. Just blows my mind.”
Peterson will go to Palestine this week to give some hands-on help. He is partnering with the Salvation Army—text “AP28” to 51555 to donate, or go to this website—to help the families that have lost homes or had homes severely damaged.
Asked if he’s closer to his town because they supported him unwaveringly during the incident of excessively disciplining his son two years ago, Peterson said that’s not why he’s doing this. “The support they gave me then, it was a given—because they know me,” Peterson said. “They knew me at my core. This is more about when tragedy hits, we come together. It’s in me to help—it’s in everyone there to help their neighbors. That’s just what people in Palestine do.”
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There is no appropriate transition to talking football after what Peterson just discussed. So I won’t try. We’ll just get into it.
At 31, he’s trying to stave off what time does to all running backs. Peterson said: “I honestly think I can do this, and do it at a high level, until I’m 40.” That would be historic, obviously. And highly unlikely. But just in case, consider that Peterson starts this season 6,681 yards behind Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing record. That’s five years averaging 1,337 yards per season from passing Smith. He’d have to have a run of unprecedented health to even have a prayer.
That, and other things, in Five Adrian Peterson Football Thoughts:
• On his new teammate, German receiver Moritz Boehringer, who started playing football in his hometown of Aalen, Germany, after watching video of Peterson starring for the Vikings:
Peterson: “I heard about it last week during the draft. Like, We drafted a German receiver? I get home and pull it up on the computer, turn on NFL Network, and after two or three minutes, there he is, talking on the set. He was nervous, like this was his first time in the spotlight. They ask how he got into football, and my name came up. I watched Adrian Peterson, and I was a Vikings fan. The things I’ve been through and what I’ve overcome, it’s good to know I can inspire people and change people’s lives. Here I am, a kid who grew up in Palestine, Texas, and now lives in Minnesota, and there’s a guy in Germany who flips on YouTube one day and gets inspired by me, and now he gets to play alongside the individual that inspired him to get into football. That is amazing to me. Amazing! Look at how God works. This guy is playing football because of my highlights, living across the world, and now we’re teammates. Who can write a story like that?”
• On the newbie high draft picks, the Todd Gurleys and Ezekiel Elliotts, coming for his rushing crown:
Peterson: “Not to be cocky or anything, but I know, at 31, my end is going to be better than my beginning. One thing I know, and will remain true: These young guys will never outwork me. I put my body through the grind. Just knowing how my body remains healthy, age is not really affecting me. It’s my mindset. I don’t get into the 30-year-old running-back thing, that you’re done at 30. I am getting stronger with age. Honest, last year [when he won his third rushing title at age 30, rushing for 1,485 yards] was a disappointment to me, because I know I can do more. Honest, it was.”
• On his change in training from last year to this year:
Peterson: “I can reflect back now, and see how much better this off-season is for me. I opened up a gym closer to my house, and now I have one location where I can pretty much do everything. I used to have to drive to a gym, then get in the car to drive to the hill I ran at, then get in the car again to go to the track at Rice Stadium, and then go to the sand pit I used, and then it was a 45-minute drive home. It was all too much work, just going from one place to the next. Now I have one location where I can pretty much do everything—and there’s a track two miles away. You got the gym and yoga and pilates all under one roof. [The daily workout lasts] three-and-a-half to five hours.”
• On playing until he’s 40:
Peterson: “I can, but will I? Honestly, I don’t think I will. Mentally, I don’t know. Once I get to 38, I don’t think I’ll have the same love of the game. Sometimes I get tired of training camp. I think I can endure five more [camps], but after that, I don’t know.”
• On winning another rushing title:
Peterson: “I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. But it’s a seed planted in my brain, and it’s sticking there. Everything in me is championship, championship and then breaking records. It’s a part of me. I am pushing myself to the max to win a Super Bowl, and then to break Emmitt’s record and Eric Dickerson’s [single-season rushing] record. It is my everyday life, what I think of every day. Mostly it’s that Super Bowl. Then the whole world will remember you.”
One final thing Peterson thinks:
“We are going to have a good chance to win it this year—win everything,” he said of the 2016 Vikings. “Sit back and watch. Sit back and watch. You can be like, ‘I thought you guys were at least a couple of years away.’ Nope. You sit back and watch, this year.”
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A draft thought I want to get off my chest
For virtually every team, we in the media really don’t know who’s going to get picked in the days and weeks before the draft. We might do mock drafts and have fun with projections of who goes where. We might know the top pick or two, because it’s so obvious—as it was this year, and last year too. But as for saying we know where most of the players in the first round are going? Educated guesswork.
I present the Titans in the first round this year as evidence. In the weeks leading up to the draft, the popular sport was to link the Titans to Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil and Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Most in the media thought it likely that the Titans would pick another protector for young quarterback Marcus Mariota—and that protector would be Tunsil.
Now that the draft is over, we can find out what really happened. This is it:
Tennessee never anointed Tunsil or Ramsey number one. Rookie GM Jon Robinson liked both but wasn’t convinced he should hand either one the top-pick mantle. “We just kept plugging through the process after the season and through the combine and pro days,” Robinson said Saturday. “It’s a long process. To anoint a guy in January, or so early … there’s too much to be done. We don’t know. But then when we had a chance to make a trade [out of the No. 1 overall pick], we had to see if that made sense. We had a group of players stacked pretty close together. We decided we could do it, and then have enough ammo to get back up to probably be able to get one of those players.”
Robinson said there were “seven or eight” players in that cluster—presumably both Tunsil and Ramsey, and certainly Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin (the Titans’ eventual first pick), though Robinson wouldn’t talk about how he had specific players stacked. So, Robinson determined before the draft that he would likely have to get into the top nine or 10 of the draft. “Seven or eight,” he said, “plus the two quarterbacks.” So if he could move into the top nine, using his capital from the trade with Los Angeles, he could still take someone from his cluster. The Titans had at least seven in that bunch, which didn’t include a quarterback because Tennessee had Mariota and wasn’t going to pick a passer. Robinson knew quarterbacks were going 1-2, so that pushed down his seven. He’d have been happy with a pick down at eight or nine or 10, because that would mean Tennessee would get one of the players in its cluster.
Robinson felt he had three solid deals he could have made in the top 10, with a fourth that he could have done if he added a little more at the deadline of the night of the draft. The Titans decided to move up with Cleveland at number eight before the video surfaced of Tunsil with the gas-mask bong in the minutes before the draft. It also is true that Tennessee had Conklin in the same neighborhood as the top two tackles on many boards: Tunsil and Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley. Robinson on draft night said he wanted Conklin over Tunsil, and time will tell if that was a wise ranking.
In the end, this essentially is the decision Robinson made:
• Tennessee traded: the first pick in the 2016 draft (Jared Goff) and a second-round pick in the 2017 draft.
• Tennessee acquired: the eighth pick in the 2016 draft (Jack Conklin), defensive tackle Austin Johnson (43rd overall), running back Derrick Henry (45th), plus the Rams’ first-round and third-round picks in 2017.
Considering Tennessee had Conklin very close in grade to Tunsil, and considering Conklin was in the same grading cluster as Jalen Ramsey … getting a punishing running back aligned with the way Tennessee is going to play offensively, plus a rotation defensive tackle, plus an extra first-round pick next year, seemed to be a smart move by Robinson.
Of course, “seemed” is the operative word here. Because nothing is guaranteed in the potluck world of draft forecasting.
I asked agent Leigh Steinberg, who’d been absent from the first round for the past 12 years until his client Paxton Lynch was drafted 26th overall by Denver this year, about the differences in the draft process. “One big thing is the emergence of the draft prognosticators,” he said. “Used to be there was one—Mel Kiper. Now … And the impact they have on heavily influencing the public perception of who will be picked where is huge. I love the growth of the draft as a cultural event. But I’m not sure the endless testing and analysis make for any better draft results.”
* * *
Quotes of the Week
“I cannot believe what Sam Bradford is doing with the Philadelphia Eagles. The impression that I get is this guy here doesn’t want to compete. He’s not interested in playing quarterback … He wants it handed to him on a silver platter. That’s not the way life is. If you think you’re that good, you should be able to beat out a rookie that has no early idea what the NFL looks like … Strap your chinstrap on, put your helmet on, put your jock on, and go out and compete like somebody who wants the job.”
—Joe Theismann, to Alex Marvez and Zig Fracassi on SiriusXM NFL radio Saturday.
[On Monday, Bradford rescinded his trade request and reported to the Eagles for voluntary workouts.]
—Saints coach Sean Payton, giving the traditional instructions to jockeys before Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
“THIS IS ONE OF THE GREAT MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL!!!”
—Mets play-by-play TV man Gary Cohen, a moment after 42-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon, in the 226th at-bat of his major-league career, hit his first home run, a towering fly ball into the fifth row of the left-field seats at Petco Park Saturday night against the Padres.
Colon will be 43 in three weeks. He looks like Jackie Gleason. That was one of the amazing moments I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.
“It took him 31 seconds to circle the bases,” Cohen said.
“I want him to be here playing football and not being a celebrity. I’ve given him a hard time already about being on TV and not being a celebrity. It’s football now, and it’s time to work. The feel-good story is over.”
—Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer on Friday, the first day of Vikings minicamp, on the megastory that sixth-round pick Moritz Boehringer has been in the last week.
“While certain members of my family continue to harass me with negative threatening statements, I continue to plan for the future. Nevertheless, the ingratitude shown by certain members of my family, despite the vast financial and other benefits I have given them, is very hard to accept.”
—Tom Benson, owner of the Saints. Family members, who are objecting to Benson’s exclusion of them from ownership in the Saints or NBA Pelicans, continue to challenge the legitimacy of Benson’s will, via Pro Football Talk.
“Eli was offered Rolex watches and diamonds to wear on draft day. I told him, ‘Dude, you’re an unemployed college dropout. You will not be on TV with a Rolex.’”
—Annie Apple, the mother of Giants’ first-round pick Eli Apple, in a smart and witty column for SI.com on the draft process and its aftermath.
Someone get Annie Apple a forum—a consistent one.
* * *
Stat of the Week
Travis Kelce (in January), Zach Ertz (in January) and Jordan Reed (last week) enriched the tight end market this off-season. Kelce signed a five-year, $46.8 million deal, Ertz a five-year, $42.5 million deal, and Reed a five-year, $46.5 million contract. The performance of all three players is clearly shy of the recent play of Rob Gronkowski, which could become an issue for the large Patriot, who just had his contract option picked up by New England. There’s no way he’s going to like the following numbers (thanks to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network for his help on the Reed contract) from the past two seasons (including playoffs):
|TE||2016-17 Income||2014-15 Games*||Rec.||Yards||Avg.||TD||Age^|
* Includes playoff games. ^ Age as of opening day 2016.
Amazing: Gronkowski has more touchdowns over the past two seasons than the three new Richie Riches combined.
I’ll be interested to see how the Krafts and Bill Belichick handle the Gronkowski contract over the next, say, 10 months.
* * *
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
In his hometown of Palestine, Texas, Adrian Peterson sponsors and funds three select youth football teams. The youngest, the bantam team, wears uniforms with the maroon and white of Palestine High. The next, the junior team, wears the red and white of Peterson’s Oklahoma Sooners. The oldest team, the senior squad, wears the purple and white of his Minnesota Vikings.
Bruce Arians has brought in Byron Leftwich as a coaching intern for the Arizona Cardinals. Interesting move. Really smart guy, and I could see him being a good coach.
In three of his past four starts, Boston pitcher David Price has allowed six earned runs or more.
In two of his previous 63 starts, Price allowed six earned runs or more.
In his last 12 plate appearances of the weekend, covering 2.5 games of the Washington-Chicago series, Bryce Harper had zero official at-bats. His last 12 times at the plate ended with: walk, walk, sacrifice fly, walk, intentional walk, walk, walk, intentional walk, hit by pitch, walk, intentional walk, intentional walk.
Joe Maddon might fear Harper.
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Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Notes of the Week
So I was in Portland, Ore., for a couple of days last week. On my way out of town Thursday night, at the Portland airport (a fantastic, clean place with good food and drink), I lost my cell phone. I was in a men’s room and put my phone down while washing my hands (it was sort of crowded in there), and I then used the air dryer on my hands for 15 to 20 seconds, and turned around and the phone was gone. Stupid me.
I looked in my backpack, thinking maybe I’d put it there before going through security, though I was a pretty sure I hadn’t. Nothing. I looked on the floor and the counters and the tops of the air dryers. Nothing. If someone walked off with it, they were gone; the option was to either go out and yell in the terminal, “HEY! WHO STOLE MY PHONE?,” or to ask the nearest official-looking person about it. So I went back to the security checkpoint and asked if there was a lost and found in the airport. There was, she said, but it was closed now. I said my cell phone had disappeared in the men’s room, and if someone turned it in, where would they turn it in? (Fruitless. Totally fruitless. But you want to try something, anything, when 1,433 phone numbers, luckily password-protected and saved in the cloud, get picked up by a stranger.) I found a TSA woman and said I lost my phone, and it might have been stolen.
“Okay,” the TSA woman said, “Where?”
“That men’s room,” I said.
TSA: “Did you look for it?”
TSA: “And you couldn’t find it?”
(NO! I FOUND IT! AND HERE I AM, ASKING YOU ABOUT A LOST CELL PHONE AND YOU ASK ME IF I COULDN’T FIND IT!)
TSA: Looks for phone by foraging through a drawer. Nothing. “Okay, here’s a card for the lost and found. Call them in the morning, okay?”
Me: “Thanks. Nothing else to try tonight?’’
TSA: “You could try the white phone. Maybe the Port police had it turned into them.”
I did. No luck. No luck the next day. It’s in the ether. But I’ll always remember the person who asked me when I reported a lost phone, “And you couldn’t find it?”
LaGuardia to Minneapolis. Deep in coach.
Machine-gun laugher across the aisle, in the aisle seat.
Window-seat guy shows up. “Excuse me. I got the window seat.”
Machine-gun laugher: "Sure!”
Window-seat guy: “Thanks, buddy.”
Machine-gun laugher: “Okay, bahahahahahahahahaha.”
Later, flight attendant comes by and asks choice of drink. He says seltzer. She asks if club soda is okay. He says, “Perfect.” With a soft, “Bahahahahahahaha!”
Machine-gun laugher: comfortable in his own laughter.
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Tweets of the Week
Dear @PeteCarroll,— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) April 30, 2016
We are thrilled with the new teammates. One condition. Nobody wears #24 for years to come.
Praying for all the thirsty girls sliding in new NFL rookies DMs with heavy booty & cleavage action pics. Only Jesus can quench your thirst— Annie Apple (@SurvivinAmerica) May 1, 2016
This is the aforementioned Annie Apple, mother of Giants draftee Eli Apple.
According to STATS Inc., tonight marks 1st time in history four 1st place teams have played in same city: Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs and Nats.— Sean McAdam (@Sean_McAdam) May 5, 2016
This was on Thursday, reporting from Chicago.
"Cards Ink Toner" 5th Rd pick Cole Toner from Harvard signs 4-year deal pic.twitter.com/7IkcN6mNja— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) May 6, 2016
* * *
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the NFL-as-family thing, which has gotten badly beaten up in recent years, needs some resuscitation. So Roger Goodell sending brownies to Eli Apple’s mother and then the league leaking it and Tweeting about it … smart move. A bit over the top, but not bad.
2. I think that’s a good extension by the Dolphins, signing pass-rusher Cam Wake through the end of the 2017 season. This is a player who’s overachieved for much of his career, averaging 10.8 sacks a year over the past six seasons—while missing 10 games over that period due to injury. Now Miami has Wake and Mario Williams as bookends to rush the quarterback this year and next, and that’s a good combination … assuming Williams brings it. Not sure he will; some in Buffalo think he’s simply lost his love of football. We’ll see. I know Wake, and I can tell you he still loves football.
3. I think Sam Bradford did the smart thing by reporting to the Eagles on Monday. He had zero support in any corner, and he was going to take a pasting for as long as he stayed away. Good move.
4. I think if I may leave a postscript on the inner workings of the Dallas draft room last week … So there’s been some stuff out there in the past few days that really doesn’t represent what happened in the draft room accurately. As I wrote last Monday, the Cowboys offered several teams in the middle of the first round their second-round and third-round picks to move up, and then some teams in the bottom of the round their second-round and fourth-round picks to move up. They would have selected Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch had they been able to move up. But no team would deal with them, and Denver ended up with Lynch. Somehow, this translated to owner Jerry Jones wanting Lynch desperately (which is true) and being overruled by his son and EVP of football operations Stephen Jones (which is not). Recall what I wrote about the passage of time just before the Denver trade to get Lynch, beginning with the Bengals turning down the Dallas overture to move up in the round:
Cincinnati on the clock; the Bengals, at 24, called to say no. Jerry Jones stood at the board near his seat, one observer saying he looked lost in thought as Stephen said to him: “Anything else? Want me to try something else?” Jerry Jones had no answers. The Chiefs called. Said they’d trade from 28 to 34 but only if Dallas included its three, not the four. No dice. Bengals picked cornerback William Jackson III. Steelers up. They never considered trading, and they made a pick quickly: cornerback Artie Burns. Now 9:54. Seattle GM John Schneider back on the phone. The call was quick. Stephen Jones got off the phone, turned to Jerry Jones at the board, and as one eyewitness recalled son said to father: “No way with Seattle. Too much. They want our two and three.” Quiet in the room. “Thoughts?” Stephen Jones said to his father. “Any thoughts?” They had a minute, maybe, to up the offer to Seattle, which was the only fish on the line. But no new offer was forthcoming.
In other words, Jerry Jones was remorseful the next day that he didn’t press for including the third-round pick to do the deal with Seattle that would have made Lynch a Cowboy. But there was no overruling by Stephen Jones. Clearly, whatever Stephen Jones thought, he was inviting Jerry Jones to say, “Give ’em the three!” And Jerry Jones didn’t do it. What would have happened if Jerry Jones had said that? Would Stephen have pushed back? Possibly. But If Jerry Jones wanted it, regardless of the perceived overpayment to get Lynch, it would have gotten done.
5. I think one of the cool things about the media business today is the number of ex-scouts and front office guys working in the media and bringing new ideas to it … such as this one from former Giants, Jets and Eagles scout Dan Hatman. He has a page on the movement of scouts and front-office officials, which is good to follow at this time of year, when there’s traditionally a lot of movement.
6. I think grading a draft a day or two after it ends is asinine.
7. I think I categorically agree with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk: Any legitimacy of the NFL Network’s top 100 players is tarnished badly when Andrew Luck is “voted” number 92. How is Luck seven in 2015 and 92 in 2016? Because he got hurt last year? I pay scant attention to this thing anyway, but the Luck thing makes it certain I will pay it zero attention this year. “The fact that he landed [at 92] is further evidence that the entire process is a waste of time,” wrote Florio.
8. I think this is one reason why Neil Hornsby and Pro Football Focus are pretty darned good: Last September, this is what Hornsby wrote about Jordan Reed, the up-and-coming tight end for Washington, for The MMQB: “It always surprises me no one seems to talk about Washington’s Jordan Reed. Drafted 22 places after [Kansas City’s Travis] Kelce, it often feels like Reed is an afterthought … Keep an eye on him because once Washington realizes what it has, he may not stay hidden much longer.” Reed got rewarded with a five-year, $46.5 million deal on Thursday.
9. I think this will be on the Panthers’ locker room bulletin board, and soon: Bovada LV posted odds to win the Super Bowl last week, and the Panthers were fifth on the list of teams most likely to win, at 11-to-1. New England, Seattle, Green Bay and Pittsburgh all have a better shot to win the big one, Bovada says.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Excellent reporting by Sara Ganim of CNN—the reporter who broke much of the original Joe Paterno-Jerry Sandusky news—on some damning new evidence against Paterno.
b. If these assertions stand up, the narrative of Paterno knowing nothing until much later is ruined, and his legacy will be unalterably and forever tarnished. Deservedly, if true.
c. Now this, by Tim Healey of The Hardball Times, is how to do an oral history. Doesn’t matter if you even know who Doug Mirabelli is. You’ll read this in no time.
d. Story of the Week, by Harriet Ryan, Lisa Girion and Scott Glover of Los Angeles Times: how OxyContin became America’s (abused) painkiller of choice. Vivid quote of how 7 million Americans have had addiction problems with it: “You want a description of hell?”
e. Bonus hockey! Caught part of the three-OT Nashville win over San Jose on Thursday night … and some of the best video was of fatigued players being almost too bushed to go crazy on the Nashville side, and slinking away on the San Jose side. Playoff hockey is so fun. Playoff OT hockey is so fun to watch, but so cruel at the same time.
f. Is there a better player at being in the right place at the right time than Washington’s T.J. Oshie? Great goal he scored to make it 2-1 over Pittsburgh on Saturday night, by being in a perfect spot in the slot and bouncing one home in the second period. Remember Oshie, on the U.S. Olympic team in Russia, scoring all those shootout goals? Clutch then, clutch now.
g. This is why Pierre McGuire is so good, and so smart, on the ice in the Stanley Cup playoffs for NBC. After a great replay of Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray stoning a shot in the five-hole by the Caps on Saturday night, this came to McGuire quickly: “I just saw the new Marty Brodeur. That is brilliant goaltending.”
h. Seriously? May 9 and the Phillies four games over .500? How’d that happen?
i. Phils have a better record this morning, after five weeks of the season, than St. Louis, Houston, Kansas City, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, the Yankees and the Dodgers. Moral of the story: Don’t bet on sports, but of all sports, DO NOT bet on baseball.
j. Gonna Be A Long Season At Turner Field Dept: Braves are 1-15 at home. Five months left in this last season downtown.
k. Definition of dancing between raindrops: Bosox walked nine Chisox the other night, and none scored … Boston reliever Heath Hembree gave up seven baserunners in 1.1 innings pitched the same night, and one of them scored. Sometimes you’re just living right.
l. Rockies-Giants Thursday: 24 runs in the first five innings, zero in the last four.
m. Coffeenerdness: Thanks, Detroit Airport, for putting a Zingerman’s Coffee outlet in there. Very good espresso. Ever been to Zingerman’s, in Ann Arbor? Best deli in the world, on the Peter King ratings list of delis. As Adam Schefter will tell you, a world with more Zingerman’s in it is a much better world.
n. Beernerdness: In Oregon, tried the Crux Saison (Crux Fermentation Project, Bend, Ore.) on tap and wasn’t blown away, but liked it. The best thing was how incredibly fresh it tasted. Lighter than most Saisons I’ve had.
o. When in Portland, you cannot go wrong at the Urban Farmer, trying the Oregon-bred and grass-fed steaks.
p. Saw “Trainwreck.” I guess I’m about two years too late, or whatever. First reaction: LeBron James was really good, really natural, really clever.
q. Great line by Tom Caron of NESN, after David Ortiz got called out on a verrrrry iffy full-count strike by umpire Ron Kulpa at Yankee Stadium on Friday night: “The 45,000 who paid to get into Yankee Stadium to see Ron Kulpa got their money’s worth.”
r. I think strike two was a strike. Strike three was a ball.
s. The brown Padres uniforms are lovely. They wore them Friday night against the Mets. The graphics, the colors … just very cool.
t. The shortstops in major league baseball today—Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts and the absolutely unknown (until about two weeks ago) shortstop-second baseman Aledmys Diaz of the Cardinals, and so many others—are so good and so fun to watch. Great time for baseball with all these shortstops.
u. You know your Rotisserie team’s not very good when, in week six of the season, you’re benching David Price for Adam Conley.
v. Congrats to Nyquist. The horse ran a great race in winning the 142nd Kentucky Derby. But I thought the greatest performance Saturday was by Exaggerator, who had to slide between a few horses before making a mad dash to the finish. If Exagerrator had another 200 yards, he might have won. But that’s the great thing about the Derby: Lots of trainers, over 142 races, can use a lot of ifs. No one remembers the ifs, just the finish.
w. Johnny Weir! Great look at the Derby.
x. Warriors-Cavs would be a good rematch in the NBA Finals.
* * *
The Adieu Haiku
Justin Tuck is done.
Top player. Champ. Better guy.
Hire the man, Rog.
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