Trash Talk: Kiss My Ash

Hey. Golf widow again, counting down the remaining weekends to the end of the season. Three more to go including this weekend.

It’s quiet here, past peak color. Our first hard frost this past week has done its work on the remaining holdouts – every tree has taken on a golden cast.

Sadly, the lawn loves this weather. The undead golfer came home long enough to cut the grass yesterday between his last round and the long 19th hole. (What a pity.) He’s counting down the weeks as well to the end of grass cutting season – four or five more to go, just in time for Thanksgiving and the end of firearm deer season.

So much to count down these days, including the mid-term elections — 15 days remaining.

~ ~ ~

Bye week for Michigan college football. No, not University of Michigan but BOTH of Michigan’s Big 10 schools were off this week.

I avoided the hardware store yesterday because it was surely packed considering the lack of Michigan college football on television.

States with names beginning with “O” did well yesterday:

Ohio State 54-10 over Iowa
Oklahoma State 41-34 over Texas
Oregon 45-30 over UCLA

I can’t help it – the logic of following certain teams makes as much sense as picking them by the first letter of their name. At least if they’re in your backyard it makes some sense to hope they do well because winning may bring students and revenue to your state.

And yet we place far too much emphasis on sports, especially football, at universities. University of Minnesota avoided a strike by its service workers this week after a tentative three-year agreement was reached yesterday. Terms haven’t yet been published and are subject to ratification.

What’s galling about the situation: service workers weren’t paid a living wage yet the university’s head coach for its football team is the highest paid public employee in Minnesota.

Fleck’s increase in salary of $350,000 annually bumps him from the 24th highest paid coach in the country, and the 8th highest in the Big Ten before, to tied for the 17th highest paid in college football and tied for the 5th highest in the Big Ten going forward. He has the same $5 million dollar salary as fellow Big Ten coaches Kirk Ferentz and Scott Frost. It’s an additional $2.45 million over the course of the contract, so essentially it’s a new 7-year deal worth $35.00 million dollars.


How many service workers could have been bumped to a living wage with the $350,000 Coach Fleck received as a raise?

Our country is arguing over tuition loan forgiveness while 40 states’ highest paid public employees are paid millions to coach sports.

[Map: Highest Paid State Employees, July 2022 via Kiiky]

Last year for the first time the highest paid state employees across all 50 states were coaches. I suspect the map above may be out of date.

In a nutshell, our priorities are fucked up.

~ ~ ~

Major League Baseball took over my Twitter timeline again last night — or I should say, New York Yankees’ fans filled my feed with cries of frustration.

The Yankees have until 7:07 this evening to shake off the doldrums before they meet the Astros again. I’m hedging my bets and doing something offline.

Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Diego Padres last night 10-6, bringing them a game away from winning the National League. The next game in the Phillies-Padres series begins in about an hour.

The one interesting bit of baseball news I read this week — I acknowledge I’m not much of a baseball fan — was about the change in baseball bats over the last two decades.

My entire neighborhood had to switch to maple trees from ash when it was developed nearly 20 years ago, and yet it never dawned on me the same reason for this change also affected baseball.

The same reason I can’t bring firewood from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower or the reverse also affects baseball.

The emerald ash borer has chewed up so many ash tree baseball has moved toward maple bats. Maple, though, is not the same as ash being a much more dense wood, which means some players’ distance and loft may be affected.

Two good pieces worth reading:

Baseball History Is No Longer Written With Ash Bats, by Zach Schonbrun-NYT

How an Invasive Insect Destroyed the Louisville Slugger Forest, by Tanner Garrity-InsideHook

The former is more focused on the trees, the latter on baseball. They’re a nice complement to each other.

~ ~ ~

An American teenager landed his sport’s most elusive move this week. 17-year-old Ilia Malinin took the gold at the Skate America competition after landing a quadruple axel.

Keep an eye on this guy. He is absolutely amazing, Olympic caliber material.

~ ~ ~

This is an open thread with an emphasis on sports. Have at it while I go outside and take advantage of our unexpectedly warm October weather to get some yard work done.

62 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I still can’t get over that quadruple axel. Not a hint of wobble, sticks it on the ice. Appears to ignore the laws of physics as rumor and speculation. Amazing.

    Also made me think of one of my favorite characters in a popular online comic about college hockey, Check, Please.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Rayne for posting. The quadruple axel was STELLAR by Ilia Malinin. WOW! He is just 17 years old and came from fourth to first. I loved his comment about being impressed with himself. He should be because he gave an impressive performance.

      • Doug_Fir says:

        What a remarkable performance! He appears so relaxed, making mind boggling, spinning leaps with seeming ease.

        Thanks, Rayne, for including Ilia Malinin in your post.

    • nedu says:

      Rayne, <aol>me, too!</aol>. Thanks for posting the vid. I’ll always appreciate seeing people who’re top of their class in what they do.

      Switching topics, abruptly, to another one of your recent posts

      Roger. Wilco. Thanks again.

    • mamake says:

      Tears of joy and celebration, Rayne. Wow, what a trip!!
      Thank you so much for posting this…I need boosts of happiness and oxytocin these days. So much to worry about.

      [Rayne, will a dash on each end of my name work for 8 character requirement?]

      [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum — using a dash either side should be fine. /~Rayne]

      • Rayne says:

        I hope folks realize you’re kidding about the alter ego and that Bailey Zimmerman (b. 2000) =/= Ilia Malinin (b. 2004).

  2. Ed Walker says:

    i’m in Paris where college and professional US sports are irrelevant. All the bars here feature French football teams, including the locals, Paris Saint Germaine, and people watch them just like in the US.

    My contribution to the sports news is that the owners of the Tennessee Titans and the Chicago Bears want new stadiums, and want large contributions from the locals. i was in Nashville when the Titans came to town, and my water bill went up to cover the city’s share of the cost. That’s right. They used the one city service that you can’t live without, just to make sure the poorest would make s significant contribution to Bud Adam’s bottom line on his little vanity project.

    The Bears want to move to Arlington Heights. Fine. Go. Just don’t ask me for money.

    Remind me, what do the owners contribute to professional sports? Public funding for bread and circuses? What a salty joke that is.

    • P J Evans says:

      Yeah, if they want public funding, they can make the teams publicly owned. Or they can fund it themselves.

    • Todd Gee says:

      “The Bears want to move to Arlington Heights. Fine. Go. Just don’t ask me for money.”

      Unfortunately, the new stadium would still be in Cook County. And I thought the Packers’ Organization sucked …

    • punaise says:

      You don’t yet have Wembamania?

      French teen prodigy Victor Wembanyama thrills Paris crowd

      “Wembamania” is sweeping France and everyone is trying to get a look at the 18-year-old prodigy widely expected to become an NBA star.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Is that related to Linsanity and whatever the Ball brothers’ media op (run by Dad Ball) is called now? The NBA can be a cruel yardstick but who knows until he tries? Will Wemba stay in France or head to the NBA or G League?

        LeBron and Kobe are two of the very few that made the jump at that age. I’m having a hard time coming up with a third that sustained their value out of the thousands who have tried.

        • B Ruff says:

          Moses Malone and Shawn Kemp are two that come to mind, although Shawn was 20 he never played in college.
          Recently, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons came in at 19 for the Portland Trail Blazers.
          Keep an eye on Sharpe

    • Bears7485 says:

      Lifelong Bears fan here. While a move to AH would cut my drive to games by at least an hour I don’t want a dime of my tax dollars going to the proposed stadium. Let the McCaskeys pay for it.

      If the state or city provides any funds, it should be for infrastructure with the condition that the infrastructure benefit much more than just the stadium complex.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      After the Rams moved to St. Louis, some private financiers wanted to build a stadium to attract an NFL team. The NFL commissioner wouldn’t consider it unless there was public funding included.

      That was decades ago and I don’t know if the new stadium at the old Hollywood Park included public money or not, but at the time, the NFL somehow needed public funding.

      • punaise says:

        I had the misfortune of falling off my anti-NFL bandwagon and watching some of that game. Way too many mistakes on defense, way too many bad penalties. But Jimmy G – sheeesh, that goal-line interception.

  3. MT Reedør says:

    The sportsfan takeover that happens here is weird. I get it. I have spent a lot of time in my life reading about baseball.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      I saw an article this week that in all 50 states, the top-paid state employee is a head football or basketball coach. It points out how skewed the priorities are here.

      • AlaskaReader says:

        I do believe the 50 state claim is false.

        Alaska’s highest paid public employee is not a coach.

    • punaise says:

      Funny strange, or funny ha-ha? It’s a release from the incessant often soul-crushing nature of the serious work at hand.

  4. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Rayne, thank you for mentioning Ilia’s quad axle. Figure skaters have to meet the most demanding athletic standards in the world–and then add “artistry.” The sport has mesmerized me for decades, starting with Peggy Fleming in the late Sixties. I remember watching her skate what they used to call “school figures,” which have long since been replaced by short programs; these involved tracing what looked like infinity symbols on the ice over and over while staying in the exact lines. Yeah, go figure.

    Fleming’s account somehow conveyed her sense of this task’s absurdity without stating it directly because she couldn’t afford to alienate the sport’s overlords. With the acting chops of Audrey Hepburn or Elizabeth Taylor, she inspired thousands of girls to try skating. I could only master skating forward, albeit too fast to control, so my figure-skating future flared out the first winter on our town’s heavily scarred outdoor rink. Never lost my passion for watching others perform, though.

  5. -PeterS- says:

    Open thread, how open? Emptywheel is a wonderful place, Marcy’s posts are always evidence-based and the comments section is usually full of informed and insightful remarks, from people like my namesake – I mean peterr not PedroP – eoh, harpie, BC and Amicus to name just a few.

    But there are a few ideas that are persistently pursued in the comments section and that are driven more by bias than evidence. In my humble (okay, not so humble) opinion, Ew deserves better than that. I’m referring to Ivanka’s trademark applications, Lindsey Graham, and Michael Flynn’s brother.

    Firstly, if a president’s child files TM applications in various countries, and if the president regularly talks to or meets world leaders, then it’ll be just a matter of time before the acceptance of a TM application vaguely coincides with an interaction between the president and the leader of the relevant country. To claim a causal connection between the acceptance and the interaction is classic cherry-picking of evidence, as loved by conspiracy theorists everywhere.

    Most of the news stories about Ivanka’s TMs focused on China. I have handled hundreds of Chinese TM applications and there are utterly mundane explanations for the dates of acceptance of Ivanka’s applications there. Occam’s razor shouldn’t care about politics. The Trump family businesses are corrupt, but the evidence for the corruption doesn’t lie in obscure bits of IP.

    Secondly, in their lust for power, nearly all GOP senators have abandoned their principles to kiss Trump’s ass to one degree of another. Because we’re talking about human beings, it would be extraordinarily unlikely for them all to end up being equally sycophantic; in other words it’s inevitable that one senator will emerge as the most fawning.

    Now, once that senator is known, the conspiracy theorist mindset insists on a special reason why s/he grovels the most, instead of saying “well, someone had to be the worst”. I’ve absolutely no idea if Trump has the means to blackmail Graham, perhaps he does, but I do know you don’t need blackmail as an explanation for the senator’s behaviour.

    Thirdly, all I know about Charles Flynn is that his name doesn’t seem to have come up much in the J6 committee deliberations, that his promotion was approved by Dem senators without apparent objection, and that when Alexander Vindman was asked about him he had not a bad word to say. And yet Charles Flynn has often been found “guilty by blood”, surely an ugly form of guilt by association.

    Furthermore, the conspiracy theory never made much sense to me. Obviously the response to the J6 insurrection was woefully inadequate, though I don’t believe Charles Flynn had the power to make critical decisions by himself. But if he acted nefariously in concert with various other people, then it’s wrong to be calling just him out because of his scumbag brother.

    The passage of time dealt with one or two other silly stories: no, William Barr wasn’t in need of a pardon; and no, Trump didn’t flee the country after Biden’s inauguration.

    Provocative, but rational, stuff? I’ve been accused of trolling and sealioning on more than one occasion so perhaps we’ll have some novel insults this time. And thanks for all the fish.

    • Rayne says:

      Open thread, how open?

      You know what the simplest, most straightforward rule is in commenting here? It’s this: Don’t be a dick.

      Open a comment with provocation as you did and you’ve warned us you may be a dick. Don’t. It’s that simple.

      Provocative, but rational, stuff?

      You know damned well the commenter who started a particular line of discussion was intent on being wholly provocative based on the topic. We’re not going to go there again, get that through your head right now.

      As for your own bêtes noire: so far you’ve blathered but never ask a specific question or offer validated citations. Don’t broach subjects here for which you have not bothered to do your own work. You could also publish your own damned blog for free if you really want to explore a topic for which we simply do not have the time/resources.

      What does not help the appearance of your provocative edge here: You have 18 approved comments as -PeterS- and 671 as PeterS to date, with your first one in November 2019 during Trump’s impeachment hearings. You use a UK email address from a location in the Caribbean and you tend to overlong comments (the one above is 538, 300-400 words above optimum length). You’ve been foolhardy enough to get sucked into a troll’s propaganda in a previous thread. Given these facts, you should expect strong skepticism about your approach to commenting here, especially since you appear to have difficulty understanding this site does not amplify right-wing propaganda.

      Furthermore, you should not expect the community here to give a rat’s ass about your bêtes noire. We owe you nothing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Just as an example, your assumptions about Chinese trademark applications are obtuse, as would be believing that Hu Jintao’s removal from the dais at the party congress was owing to ill-health rather than a theatrical power play.

      Whatever the normal process for applications for trademarks in China, applications by the daughter, who worked in the WH, of a notoriously greedy and corrupt president would never be treated by the Chinese bureaucracy as if they were in the normal course of business.

      • Rayne says:

        Not to mention experience handling trademarks on behalf of entities outside the US may not resemble experience doing the same for US entities as a US citizen.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes, it’s all transactional. Among the basic issues normally considered by the Chinese bureaucracy are what’s the foreign interest and its nationality, and what is its track record for keeping its promises in China?

          What domestic Chinese interests are implicated, and what are their interests in and outside of China? (That includes opaque investors in them, such as heavyweight politicians and, inevitably, the army.) Do those conflict with what the foreign company wants to do in China?

          Always an issue, too, is how well-informed or obtuse are the foreign company’s representatives in China. Have they fucked up for this or another client, which makes them suspect in China?

  6. farmfresh says:

    There hasn’t been much F1 trash talk since the dramatic end of last season. But I just finished watching the US Grand Prix and it was a fantastic race. So many excellent drives up and down the grid. Magnussen, Norris, Alonso, Leclerc, Verstapen, and as much as I hate to say it, even Hamilton, all had great races. But the standout for me was Vettel, who really rolled back the years in his final USGP and finished with his best drive of the season.

  7. pablointhegazebo says:

    Ten days ago was the sixty-second anniversary of the day I became a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. The beginning of my life-long relationship was occasioned by the only walk-off game seven World Series home run, hit by one Bill Mazeroski. So now, after lurking around these parts for I don’t know how long I get to ask: Is that where bmaz gets his name?

  8. Tech Support says:

    My Blazers are not going to be very good this year, but they are not a bad team either, and the Lakers are. Hence we are 3-0 and the L’s are 0-3 as of 10 minutes ago.

    The biggest irony of course would be if the Lakers are really bad and they end up winning the lottery, because the Pelicans own their next draft pick and already have what is looking to be a really dangerous team this year.

    • P J Evans says:

      If the Lakers are bad this season, then we won’t have to deal with a victory parade that requires every cop in town to show up.

  9. Moose #2 says:

    Is Fox (& Lachlan Murdoch) in as much trouble re. attorney client privilege as Semafor seems to think? See for the story.

    According to Semafor, Lacchlan’s top attorney (Viet Dinh), who since 2018 is also Fox’s chief legal officer, was not licensed to practice law in CA until mid 2022. He was licensed in DC, but he and the company are based in CA. And apparently *Fox knew this* since 2018, so may not be able to plausibly claim ignorance.

    At least one Smartmatic attorney seems to think this blows away any attorney-client privilege claims involving Dinh for both Dominion and Smartmatic’s suits against Fox.

    Is this as bad (for Fox) as it sounds?

  10. Bears7485 says:

    Before the Bears’ offense bores me to death tonight, I’d just like to try to express how the green and yellow team to my North losing three in a row has buoyed my spirits. May this just be the beginning of your failures this year, Qaron Rodgers!

    • Bay State Librul says:

      Zappe or Jones?
      Talk radio is abuzz with Belichick’s call.
      At least it doesn’t involve the QB with a welfare scandal.
      The odds are with Jones if we don’t have pouring rain in the mix
      I’m happy with Zappe.
      He has good juju

      • Bears7485 says:

        Having (basically) a rookie QB going into Foxborough and the effusive praise that Bill heaped onto the Bears makes me feel like Ralph Wiggam on the school bus “I’m in danger”

        I don’t watch a ton of AFC East football, but Mac seems to have some spunk, Zappe seems to be a nice surprise too.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Bears win! Bears win! Now that they’re 3-4 they’re gonna shake up everyone’s playoff plans!

      Actually, Monday night’s game did achieve one miracle: an article in the Times’ The Athletic, a place you need to subscribe to separately even if you pay for the Times subscription. This Trumpy move has my teeth on edge … I signed up. For the women’s basketball coverage, which apparently the mothership has no Times for now.

  11. Alan Charbonneau says:

    Using “don’t be a dick” as a guide, this is not about sports, it’s an update on Ukraine.

    Denys Davydov’s channel on YouTube dot .com/watch?v=4gPuPjcAxmI

    at 1:50 Where the Russians are building defensive lines indicates the territory they are likely to cede
    @ 2:12 Russia is building defensive lines in Kursk and Belgorod, both on Russian soil!

  12. -mamake- says:

    Rayne –
    I noticed on your twitter account a contingency plan in case Musk closes the twitter deal on Oct 28.
    It made me wonder if there might be a place (perhaps an open thread here?) to collectively ‘park’ alternative addresses (blogs etc) of those many of us follow or read – in case there is a mass exodus from twitter.

    Or if anyone has any other suggestions I would appreciate it.

  13. Chairborne Nam71 says:

    Burning curb couches this Sat? Maybe more likely in Cedar Village Apts in East Lansing, Mich.
    If the Spartans win or lose here in Ann Arbor.
    At least that location is 47.93 mi northwest of my location on the north edge of Ann Arbor.
    200,000 folks expected here this Sat (stadium plus others).
    The Michigan/Mich State game is more of a cross-town rivalry than the big one with the Buckeyes.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s another excuse to party hearty. Glad my kids are well away from East Lansing.

      Hope the local hospitals are battening down for COVID/flu/RSV upticks within the next 7-10 days.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        And I will be in Ann Arbor, enjoying the sports vacuum. A fall weekend there without a game can be sublime.

    • Tom-1812 says:

      I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about Ted Cruz’s decision to finally come out of the closet.

  14. earthworm says:

    Maybe judicial impartiality is just another one of the American Legends.
    However, the style of legal reporting, mentioning which president appointed the judge sitting on the case, is half annoying, half informative.
    It undermines the principle of fairness and impartiality in the courtroom.
    While it must always be of interest to the principals in legal proceedings, to the general public, doesn’t it imply judicial bias? — at a time when we need to have more confidence, not less, in the rule of law; and when judges, regardless of who elevated them to the bench, must be seen to be bending over backwards to be impartial and adhere to legal norms?

    (Former president Trump’s judge-shopping is an example of the height of judicial corruption; in an ideal government, that Judge Cannon despite oaths of office would be swayed by the identity of the plaintiff in her courtroom should be enough to banish her immediately to — selling condos in Ft. Myers?)

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