Leftovers Turkey Trash Talk

Okay, so we all made it through Thanksgiving. I weigh a little more than I used to, and am still eating holiday food. Copiously. We left off on Thursday, and those games went about as expected, though I underestimated how strong the Vikes would be and how feckless the Kittehs would be. Still, no shockers.

Miami and Alabama getting seriously lit up on Friday and Saturday respectively was pretty notable. The race for the final four for the BCS tournament is wildly in the air. On a local note, this morning, ASU fired head coach Todd Graham. I did not like his hiring from the get go,though he did have a decent couple of initial seasons with the recruits he inherited from Dennis Ericson. Downhill ever since then. Cleaned up off the field aspects fairly admirably, but his on the field coaching was, really, not good. There is no idea who is next here, but a very strong appreciation that the Graham era is over and new blood is coming.

Back to the NFL, due to the extended Thanksgiving Day schedule, it is lighter than most. Scribe is going to be all interested in Packers at Steelers. If Aaron Rodgers was on the field, this would be a GREAT game. He is not, and young Brett Hundley is playing behind a compromised line and is flighty in the pocket. Stillers on to next game, and Pack on to next year.

New Orleans at the Rams with all the 25,000 to 30,000 fans that “may” actually walk through the turnstiles, looks pretty interesting. Rams having a hiccup in what started out as a ridiculously good season. But Drew Brees and the rejuvenated Saints defense is on a major roll. My bet is the Saints continue to let the good times roll. Jaguars at Cardinals might be a surprisingly good game. The Cards are not as bad a team as their record reflects, and are tough at home in the Big Toaster. Miami is another team that feels actually better than their record. But they have injury problems and should be no match for Bill Bel, Brady and the lads.

On a parting shot, this morning was the final race in Formula One, and came from the gorgeous circuit at Yas Marina in AbuDhabi. Valteri Bottas won with Hamilton right on his tail in what looked like a team orders give away. Which was fine I guess, both the constructors and drivers’ championships were well locked up. Ferrari behind enough to pick up the next two spots, but not that close. Alonso, again, drove his ass off with inferior equipment. It was a spectacular day on a beautiful day and quality track. Hopefully 2018 will provide more competitiveness, though I say that every year as the circus closes. ON a bittersweet note, Felipe Massa picked up a point with a hard fought 10th place finish in his last race in F1. A consistently superb driver, and one of the truly nicest guys, in fifteen years as a frontline driver in Formula One. I will miss Felipe.

Okay, that is it for the leftover trash. Music today by Rod Stewart and Elton John. And, yes, that is really a very early picture of the two of them together on a pitch.

The Queen Of Soul Thanksgiving Trash Talk

She is NOT dead yet. Aretha is alive and well.

Aretha Franklin has a few choice words for those who think she’s on her deathbed.

“I’m doing well generally, all test have come back good,” the 75-year-old Queen of Soul told Us Weekly. “I’ve lost a lot of weight due to side effects of medicine, it affects your weight… Thanxxxx for your concern.”

On Tuesday, the internet ran wild after a fake Twitter account erroneously announced her death.

I am one of the people briefly snookered by the hoax. So Marcy thought Turkey Trash ought feature the Queen. And so it will!

It is appropriate because Motown Lions always play on Turkey Day. And it is the first game on tap today. The Vikings come on over for the tradition at Ford Field. Has the makings on an uncommonly good Detroit Thanksgiving game. They are not always this, errrr, promising. Not sure the Vikes are all that, but give them their due, Case Keenum and the Norske handed the on a roll LA Rams their ass last weekend. It is a pick em, and I am really looking forward to this game.

Second up is Bolts at ‘Boys on CBS. Jerry Jones is a cartoon character straight out of the Simpsons villain set. Just look at his jawline and picture The Simpsons. Dallas deserves all the bad news they get. What whiny assholes. Interesting that Tony Romo will be on the call. Romo is a little relentless on his color commentary, but has been generally very good so far. Today ought be interesting. This game has nowhere near the actual playoff interest as Lions/Vikes, and no idea where it will go. The Bolts have been extremely uneven this year, but Phil Rivers is still dangerous. Probably gonna regret this, but rooting for the Bolts in an upset.

Last meat on the table is Giants at Skins. Hard to believe this is the grand finale on such a storied NFL day. Yuck. NBC must be dying that this is the dreck they were left with as America goes into an L-Tryptophan snooze. Someone will win. Theoretically anyway. At this point, Kirk Cousins is a far better QB than the Really Bad Eli. So, I’ll take the Skins.

So, today’s Trash is fueled by Queen Aretha. Could have gone with any number of songs, including Respect or, of course, Chain of Fools. But Ain’t No Way is an under appreciated favorite, so that was the choice. Happy Thanksgiving folks.

The Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell Ramjet Blasts Off Trash Talk

I remember watching the Roger Ramjet cartoon as a kid. It was stupid, but, hey, as a kid it was fun. I had completely forgotten about it since then until I got a call one night that a DWI task force had a high dollar good client of my firm, and friend to boot, in custody and wanting to know if I would like to come retrieve him as opposed to him getting booked. Yes, I said I’d be right down.

So, when I get there, I have a chat with the arresting officer about why client was stopped and how bad he did. The punchline here is, when asked to do a common, but non-standard, field sobriety test of counting backwards from ten, the client performed as follows:

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….Roger Ramjet Blast Off!! (Raising arms in the air on the last phrase)

That was not the, er, first clue to the officers, but cinched the deal. Sorry, I just love this story and had to tell it.

But now we have a couple of other cartoon characters blasting off in the world of sports. Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell. If you have not seen it, there was an absolutely fascinating dive into the Roger Goodell/Jerry Jones spat roiling the NFL currently, done by the excellent Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham for ESPN The Magazine (and I believe Outside the Lines too):

The line went quiet. Seconds passed. Goodell’s decision was an unconscionable violation of trust, Jones later told associates, because he believed that the commissioner had assured him this past spring that there would be no suspension. Jones saw in Elliott a genuine opportunity, a player so good that he had made Jones believe that this year he just might win a Super Bowl for the first time since 1996. His anger was palpable. Finally, according to sources with direct knowledge of the call, Jones broke the silence. He aimed his words not only at Goodell’s decision but also at his role as judge, jury and executioner in the case.

“I’m gonna come after you with everything I have,” Jones said. Then he mentioned Deflategate. “If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p—y compared to what I’m going to do.”
….
For years, America’s most powerful sports owner has heaped praise on America’s most powerful commissioner for being a visionary, a “grow-the-pie thinker.” Jones, now 75, uses a cost-benefit analysis to measure the value of many relationships, and as the NFL grew from a $6 billion-a-year to a $14 billion-a-year enterprise under Goodell, their relationship seemed strong. But then Goodell suspended Elliott, and it’s only gotten nastier since, with that decision clarifying Jones’ long-standing worries about Goodell’s leadership, his current total annual compensation of $42 million, and the approval process for a contract extension expected to pay even more, according to documents and nearly two dozen interviews by Outside the Lines with owners, league and team executives and lawyers, and union leaders. Trust among owners and among senior executives inside the league office has all but evaporated. In early November, when Jones threatened to sue his fellow owners and the league to stop progress on Goodell’s next contract, Falcons owner and compensation committee chairman Arthur Blank told Jones, “This is not how we do things in the NFL.”

Trust me, these partial blurbs are just scratching the surface of Van Natta and Wickersham’s work here. Go read it, all of it, it is seriously worth it.

I was among a group of people, including several prominent sports lawyers, who followed Deflategate in minute detail (seriously, like hour by hour!), and, more recently, the Zeke Elliot case that stands at the root of Jerry Jones narcissistic and petulant beef currently. But, when you come down to it, the problem is the binding language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association. The CBA, especially Article 46 thereof, gives the Commissioner, or his designate, ridiculously broad powers that are, especially after the Brady decision in the 2nd Circuit, nearly unreviewable even by federal courts. Deadspin has a piece that delves into the Article 46 CBA power quite well. And, again, well worth a read if you are still interested.

Jerry Jones enthusiastically cheered Goodell on when the commissioner and league were after Tom Brady and the Patriots. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, he has turned on a dime to lash out like Trump on a 3 in the morning tweet binge. Will be fascinating to see how this plays out, and what the other owners will do.

Okay, off to this week’s games we go. But will be framed slightly differently this week. Motorsport is going to lead. If you have been here for a while with us at Emptywheel, and especially Trash Talk, you know Formula One coverage is a staple. I do not follow them as much, but there are actually other forms of auto racing than just F1. There are tectonic changes occurring in NASCAR.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring. Junior never accumulated the overall record his father did, but he is, without question, the glue that kept the sport together and making money hand over fist after his Intimidator father passed away. And, let’s be honest, Junior has a record most drivers would kill for. 26 wins, 260 top ten finishes and 15 poles. Maybe more notably, he won the Daytona 500 twice…ten years apart. But, most important, he was always an amiable and available front man for his sport, and did so over a period when they desperately needed that. There is no way to not love the guy. Be well and enjoy the next phase of your life Junior.

The next is Danica Patrick. She too is retiring from NASCAR, where she has been since 2011. Danica has nowhere near the record of success as Junior, but has had a truly remarkable and ground changing career. No woman has ever reached the sustained run in major motorsports, popular acclaim and visibility. None. Ever. Danica is a truly transformational figure, and ought be remembered as such. I am getting old now, but to my mind, there are only two other women in the history of auto racing that even come close.

The first is the great Denise McCluggage. You have probably never heard of her. You should. Denise was a force of nature and one of the truly nicest people ever. She strapped on a white helmet with pink dots, and raced like hell against “the boys” when, back in the old days, that just was not done. And they respected the hell out of her for it. Some of those names are listed in her NYT obituary, which really paints the picture of an incomparable life, including her time as a journalist, founding editor of Autoweek and….skier par extraordinaire. I had the pleasure of being around Denise a few times, what an incredible woman, what an incredible person.

The second I want to note is Lyn St. James. You probably do not know her either. Even including Danica, Lyn St. James is, for my buck, still the most skilled female auto racer I have ever seen. I am probably getting into the weeds here a bit, but it is important to understand just how far Danica Patrick has taken the concept and normalized it. If Lyn had had the opportunities and sponsorship Danica did, the motorsports world would look quite different now. Yes, she was that good.

Lyn St. James is an American former racecar driver. She competed in the IndyCar series, with eleven CART and five Indy Racing League starts to her name. St. James is one of nine women who have qualified for the Indianapolis 500, and became the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. She also has two victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and one win at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Additionally she has competed in endurance racing in Europe, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Nürburgring; in the latter, her team placed first and second in class in 1979.

That blurb is from Wiki, and cannot possibly relate what a driver, with breadth of experience Lyn was. She was ridiculously good at her craft. Had she been given truly competitive equipment in IndyCar or F1 at the time, she would have been absolutely capable of winning.

To sum up, Junior and Danica Patrick are seminal drivers in the scheme of things. You cannot equate the two on the track, but off track it is a closer call. There will be generations of girls that will come forth because of Patrick, and she embraced that role. Earnhardt seems retired after Homestead. Danica will race in both Daytona and the Indianapolis 500 before walking off to the next phase. I tuly hopes she gets the best equipment possible for that attempt. These are both lions that need to be appreciated for just how significant they are, not just now, but in the annals of history.

So, these are the stories I care about today. Where are you at? This is, as always, an open discussion forum. Thank you for participating.

As almost a PS, Michigan at Wisconsin is important. Not for MI, but if the Badgers want a shot at the playoffs, they have to hold serve here. Shockingly, at this late point in the season, not so many other games that immediately stand out before they start being played.

In the NFL, sometimes the common wisdom is right, in that regard, Pats and Raiders in Mexico City is truly interesting. The other really notable game is Rams at Vikings. Never would have thought it at start of season, but the Rams may be the better team. Not that I am going to sleep on the Vikes at home with that giant Norske horn they blow. In a lesser game, but still important, Ravens at Packers is one to keep your eye on. Ravens are, um, inconsistent. Packers have no Rodgers. Given those things, this is a very fair fight. The Cheesers need this one, and it is Lambeau. If they cannot win here, they are truly done.

Alright, sorry. This ran a little long. Enjoy the games this weekend folks. Hope you all have someone to talk to. And that lovely music message comes this week from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. It is really a great version they do here. Have a great weekend.

Alabama Getaway: Roy Moore’s Little Toy Gun Trash

It is 2017 and here we are. Yep, the greatest country ever. The face of humanity. Elected leaders won’t even admit global warming, much less try to fix it. Hell, they don’t even want the gays to have wedding cakes. “Creative” book schemers like Elon Musk are considered brilliant. But, hey, that is where we are.

No reason to ignore the truth. Unless you are Alabama.

Thirty two teeth in a jawbone
Alabama cryin’ for none
Before I have to hit him
I hope Roy’s got the sense to run.

Reason those poor young girls love him
Promise them anything
Reason they believe him
He wears a big diamond ring (and a little toy gun).

It used to be our little weekend Trash Talk was an escape. From politics. From war. From torture. From the idiocy. There is no escape now.

Welp, at least we know that Alabama football is totally clean and good. And that good old Nick Saban purity will have a test today against Mississippi State in Davis Wade Stadium. Starkville can be tough. It is hard to see anybody slowing the Tide’s roll, but this may be the best shot. Michigan State at the the Horseshoe and the Buckeyes should be really interesting. Not the blockbuster it once could have been, but still a huge game. A sleeper may be Oklahoma State at Iowa State. The best game though is Notre Dame at Miami. The Hurricanes have not had a game like this in a long time. Two storied programs, only one can win, both in effective dumpster fire mode for a long time. I’ll take the Canes. The other huge game is TCU’s Horned Frogs at Oklahoma. I wish FreePatriot were here for this. In his honor, I’ll take Baker Mayfield and the Sooners.

Now for the Pros. Roger Goodell versus the hick Simpson’s like looking villain Jerry Jones. Who do you root for there? Is there some way they can off each other in mutually assured destruction? That would be optimal.

The Cards lost their season on their home turf (yes, it is real grass) here Thursday night. Strange game, with injuries everywhere. Ugly. From there, can the Jaguars hold off the Bolts at home? Seems like a throwaway game, but it is really an interesting one. I have no clue, it is a toss up. There is no reason the Pack at Soldier Field should matter, but it kind of does. Same for Saints at Bills in Buffalo. And ditto for Vikes at Washington.

Vikes are fairly quietly 6-2. Sam Bradford may be fragile, but he is a pretty decent QB if he is on the field. But he is not, Case Keenum is piloting the ship, and doing so very well. Teddy Bridgewater may be back, but this is Keenum’s team right now. Probably I am a dope, but I like the Skins for the home upset win.

This weekend is the Brazilian Grand Prix. Like the Italian, there is just too much history to ever take your eye off the Brazilian. Ham has the Drivers, and Mercedes has the Constructors. What started as a real battle has turned into a yawner. That is not good for fans, and it is not good for F1. For now though, it is what it is. But Ham crashed out in qualifying, and teammate Valteri Bottas is on pole at Interlagos. With Vettel right behind. The Circus may have been decided for the year, but a very fun race may be on tap.

Okay. That is Trash for yet another week. Dumpster dive in with gusto. There is great music this week from both Honey Honey Band and the Dead. Killer tracks, give them a try. Or else I will send the guy with the short fingers and his friend with the little toy gun after you.

Space City Trash Talk

This week’s Trash Talk has to start with Houston Town. Space City.

It was the best of times:

It was the worst of times:

Although the last game was kind of one sided and a bit of a letdown, the Astros and Dodgers 2017 World Series was truly one for the ages. Games two and five were some of the most astounding baseball I have ever watched, World Series or otherwise. Baseball is unique among the major sports in America in that you can get up and get a snack, or go to the bathroom or whatever, and you likely won’t miss anything. It charmingly crawls along. Man, not in these games, they were white knuckle every second of the way. We here in Phoenix have always been a little smug that the 2001 World Series between the DBacks and Yankees was one of the best ever. And it was. But move over rover, 2017 has passed you by. Just wow. And the weird thing is, the Astros trade deadline acquisition of Justin Verlander really supercharged their late season run and through the AL playoffs, but he did not win a WS game. Anyway, wow, what a series. Baseball needs more of that.

In football, however, Houston has just been devastated this year. First, defensive studs JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus were lost for the year. A league leading defense went immediately to only okay. But rookie QB Deshaun Watson was arguably, along with Carson Wentz, in the running for the league MVP award. He had a season line of 19 TD’s, only 8 interceptions and 1,699 yards for an overall QB rating of 103 in seven games. But it was not just the stats, it was the scintillating way he way doing it. Electric. And then he tore his ACL in a non-contact play in practice. The Texans won’t quit, and may even still have a chance in their division, but what a loss, both for them, the league and fans everywhere.

Okay, on to the games. In the student athlete area, UCLA got absolutely blown up by an unusually mediocre Utah team in Salt Lake, and on national TV, last night. Ugly. The Pac-12 is having a very weird year so far, but tonight’s tilt between USC and the very surprising Arizona Wildcats may be the biggest game of the regular season. Watch out for Arizona’s Khalil Tate. You probably don’t know his name, but you should. Take a look at what he has done so far this year, it is ridiculous. If he keeps it up, he will be in the Heisman race. This game is worth the watch just for him alone.

Penn State at the Sparty’s of Michigan State is interesting, I think PSU bounces back behind Saquon Barkley, but never sleep on Sparty. Indiana has an early 10-0 lead on Wisconsin, and that would be a shocking upset if they pull it off. Undoubtedly the best looking game is Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. You just never know what you will get from the Sooners. Their record isn’t bad, but hard to see LSU having anything for Alabama this year.

As to the Pros, The Jets made life easier on the Pats by easily taking out the Bills Thursday night. And the game was not nearly as close as the final 34-21 score. The aforementioned Houston Texans have the good fortune of facing the hapless Colts at home in Houston. That ought to get them a win and a 4-4 record to close out the first half of the season. What is up with Andrew Luck? He is not coming back this year (never really seemed like he was, but it is official now) and people are starting to whisper he may just be done. That would be a shame, truly hope he is back for next year. Kansas City at Dallas looks very interesting. The Chefs had a hiccup, are they back on track? the SNF game of Raiders at Fins looks pretty good too, but no idea how Miami will look after trading away their entire running game, Jay Ajayi, to Philly for a mid-round draft choice. That was a total head scratcher. Lastly, the Kittehs at Cheesers for Monday night will be interesting. Would be a hell of a lot more interesting with Aaron Rodgers though. Have to go with Detroit, but it is almost a must win for the Cheesers. Did the extra practice afforded by their bye week give Brett Hundley enough time to synch up with his offense? He sure wasn’t in their last game against the Saints.

Okay, that is it for this week. Eat some food, tilt a cold one and enjoy the games.

Indictment Weekend Trash Talk

While we spend the weekend wondering and theorizing what Bob Mueller has in the candy store for us on Monday, it is time for some Trash Talk. Who will it be? Are there more than one? What are the “charges”? Exciting times.

Okay, on to the games. In the student athlete portion of the weekend, Wisconsin should roll Illinois, and look out for the Badgers down the road. Same for Georgia against the suddenly average Florida Gators (sorry Jim). The Bulldogs are the only real threat to Alabama at this point, and they may be a real threat. Even with a close loss to Bama in the SEC title game, Georgia might be worthy of a final four bid, they have been that good so far.

NC State and Notre Dame is also another make or break game. The Gamecocks Wolfpack are on a roll behind QB Ryan Finley, has a hard hitting defense and fantastic ball security on offense. If this was a home game for NC State I would take them for the upset; but it is in South Bend, so I’ll take the Domers. Potentially excellent game though. The real cheese this weekend, however, is second ranked Penn State versus 6th ranked Ohio State in Columbus. PSU has been seriously lights out this year. So too has been OSU seemingly forever QB JT Barrett. This game is totally for a spot in the B1G Championship and a likely playoff berth. Win you have a glide path, lose, and you are likely out. No clue on this one, it is a pick em. On overall talent, slight edge to the Nittany Lions, but the Bucks are home in the Horseshoe.

In the pros, Miami got absolutely smoked by the Ravens Thursday night. Ouch, did not see that coming. Vikings should have no issue with the Brownies, nor Eagles with the hapless Niners. Bears are better than anybody expected, but they don’t have nearly enough offense with young Mitch Trubisky to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints in Nawlins. I don’t know why, but the Bolts are really playing better, and have the kind of front line pass rush that can drive Tom Brady crazy. I’ll still take the Pats, but could be interesting! Honorable mention to Texans at Seattle, Dallas against a capable, but thin in depth, Skins, and Steelers at Lions. The last one is a critical game, at home, for the Kittehs, they need a win. The Monday Night game of Denver at KC tow weeks ago would have looked fantastic, but the Broncos offense is dead in the water. I’ll take the Chefs.

Baseball is in full bloom. All three WS games have been excellent to date, but game two was one of the best ever. Wow. Game four tonight in Houston is critical. The Dodgers do not want to go down by a 3-1margin with the prospect of Justin Verlander looming down the road.

This year started out decent in Formula One, but has turned truly shitty and boring. Hamilton basically just needs to finish 5th or better to cling the drivers’ crown, and his Mercedes team has already clinched the constructors’ title. Blergh. But, this weekend is the Mexican Grand Prix from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez. It is maybe one of the finest circuits on the Circus for TV viewing, and the Grandstand Corner is really something. Worth a watch even in a tepid end of the season stretch.

Random Trash

Was out and about much of yesterday, so Trash is late and will be short.

We learned a couple of things yesterday. Thing one: Ed Walker’s Fighting Irish are for real. Thing two: Marcy’s Bo Merlots are not. And, at least here, there was pure shock that the ASU Sun Devils could go up to Salt Lake and roll over an always decent Utah team 30-10. That was….unexpected. Rather uneventful day other than that. Man, Penn State looks good though.

In the pros, the game of the day might not even be in this country. The Rams and Cardinals are playing a rare London night game. Which means it is on regular time here 1 pm in the east and 10 am in the west. Adrian Peterson gave the Cards a badly needed jolt last week, it really changed everything about their offense. The Rams have quietly been playing very solid ball this year though, so this could be a really great matchup. And then throw in that they are division rivals that have a serious dislike for each other.

Other games of note include, of course, the Super Bowl rematch between the Falcons and Pats in Foxborough for the Sunday Night game on NBC and the Skins at Philly for the Monday Night game on ESPN. I’ll take the home team in both. Kirk Cousins has been playing really well, the Skins could make that pretty interesting. The other game that really interests me is Saints at Packers. It is home at Lambeau, and Brett Hundley has now had a full week to settle in as the starting QB. But can he put enough points on the board to top the high flying Saints and Drew Brees? The Saints hung up 52 on the Lions last week, and Detroit may have a better defense than the Pack, so it doesn’t look good for the Cheesers.

In case you missed it last night, the Houston Astros knocked off the mighty Yankees in a thrilling game seven for the American League crown. So the World Series is set with Houston and the Dodgers. I still think of them both as National League teams, even though the Astros have been in the American League for quite a while now. Great pitching for both teams, just what you want in October.

Lastly, this week is the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Unless you follow Sky Sports and the BBC, you wouldn’t even know that Formula 1 is here; it just doesn’t get covered in the States. That is incredibly sad. Anyway Hamilton now has an all but insurmountable lead over Vettel in the drivers points race, and he will, again, start from pole. Followed by Vettel, Bottas, Ricciardo and Raikkonen in P2-P5. Alonso qualified at P8, and McLaren is quietly getting better. The McLaren chassis is actually superb. If they had a Mercedes engine, they would be challenging for wins consistently. Which is why Mercedes refuses to give them engines.

Music today is from the Dead, with one of the better (if not the best) live recordings of Promised Land. Rock, chalk and trash talk peoples.

Spaced In Time Trash Talk

Welp, moving from KIller Trash Talk to the things that are this weekend takes a lot. Insanity abounds, and is all around. Your healthcare? Yes, that is getting screwed hard. JCPOA (the Iran anti-nuke deal) yes, that too. If it affects the world in at least semi-positive way, the current President is blowing it all up. The fact that a black man might have even touched on any subject seems to infuriate the dementia ridden sundowning asshole in the West Wing even more.

It is who and what we life forms are now. And it is sickness in every regard, domestically and internationally. Trash Talk was designed to be a refuge from such things. I just cannot anymore. So, if that is a problem, I am sorry. Hopefully we will not stand by, and will not back down, while assclowns like Donald Trump cravenly politicize even common sports entertainment to soothe the 30% base they so cherish.

Nope.

Puerto Rico is dying in their own streets. Northern California is burning. People are trying to ride out the fire in swimming pools as their houses burn around them. While the Trump Administration and GOP sit on their hands, when they are not actively trying to make the entire situation worse. The fuckers are flying on jets, flying flags and making coins in their own image.

But, hey, the NCAA is moving on. Not sure anybody thought anything different would happen in Chapel Hill. Begging the question as to what happens to Louisville, another legacy NCAA basketball program. The NCAA under the terminally lame leadership of Mark Emmert will never change.

In the pros, it is getting hard to figure who is the bigger asshole. Is it Goodell and the NFL, or is it the, at this point, ignorant scorched earth strategy of Jeff Kessler and the NFLPA? The NFLPA is making an ass of itself in trying the everything and the kitchen sink theory as to Zeke Elliot. The NFLPA had a sympathetic plaintiff, Brady, and a supremely tenuous case by the NFL based on simple physics and chemistry. But then the NFL won in the 2nd Circuit. Zeke Elliot is not an all American kid with multiple championships. He is an abusive punk from Ohio State that is lucky the NFL did not find an aggravating act from when he pulled down a woman’s blouse in public during a parade. If you think Elliot has the better case here, you don’t try cases in real courts.

The thing is, whether under federal or state law, and in this case collectively bargained law, the arbitration rules….and the rules ARE “relaxed”….and control. It is about the process, not the facts. I, and a lot of others, tried to argue in the face of this in both Brady and Peterson. Same in Bountygate prior to those two cases. Those arguments were all made in cases with far more appealing clients than a repetitive malefactor like Zeke Elliot. He will serve the suspension, it is only a question of whether he and Jeff Kessler are smart enough to do so soon, or make it later, when it will really hurt a likely playoff team. We shall see whether the NFLPA scorched earth insanity prevails over the inters of Homer Simpson, er Jerry Jones and the Cowboys.

The games go on. The Natinals really ought to still be around, but the Cubs put them to rest. The Yankees somehow overcame Cleveland. Hard to not think the Tribe was the better team, but they didn’t close the deal, and the Yankees did. That said, the conference championships look truly awesome. I think the Astros are not only a better team, but have some juice right now as opposed to the Yanks. Not betting a lot of real money on that, but I think so. The Dodgers are what the Yankees used to be. The best team that all the money in the world can buy. But Chris Hayes made a Trump for Cubs deal with the devil last year, and I hope it still holds, and the Cubs win. If we “have” to have Trump, let the Cubbies win again.

Syracuse obliterated Number 2 Clemson already. Man, that was ugly. So was the job an average Cal did on Pirate Mike Leach and Washington State. Utah at USC should be interesting. Washington at ASU here might be as well, but Chris Peterson is a light years better coach than ASU’s Todd Graham, so ASU likely to get blown out, even at home.

Back to the pros: Philly already topped the Panthers, thanks to a good game by Wentz and a horrible one by Newton. Won’t always be that way, Panthers are dangerous if they get in the playoffs. Skins host the Niners. Will Kirk Cousins be playing on the other team next year? The Pack at Vikings looked really interesting when it looked like Sam Bradford was returning. Less so now, but Case Keenum can produce and they are in Minneapolise with that damn horn they blow. I’ll take Rodgers and the Cheese, but may be a great game.

My game of the week is the Buccos at Cardinals right here in the Big Toaster. Debut of Anthony Peterson at RB for Phoenix. Carson Palmer has quietly played superb QB so far this year for the Cards….when he is not getting murdered from bad, nee atrocious, O-Line play. If Arizona’s constantly remade O-Line can gel and protect the old man, it will be a hell of a game. Not going to bet on that, but just saying. Rams at Jags might actually be interesting. Glad that matchup is, for once, not in London. Other game of the week is unquestionably Scribe’s Steelers at Arrowhead to see the Chefs. I don’t for one second think Big Ben has lost a step, even if he may finally be maturing. But I am not sure that other forces in that locker room are unified the way past Steeler teams are. This will be a HUGE game for Pittsburgh, and less so for KC. I’ll take the upset on this one.

Okay, that is that. Another week. Another dime. Another dollar. Thank you for being here, and send some love to Puerto Rico and Napa.

The Trump Trash Talking of Puerto Rico

This spot in our week here at Emptywheel is supposed to be a set aside for light hearted banter on sports, especially football and Formula One. That is what we have done since our beginning over a decade ago.

But I just cannot summon the enthusiasm for that right now any more than I could last weekend when the Trump racism and narcissism were already raging.

There are 3.5 million American citizens in the lurch in Puerto Rico, suffering from dehydration, starvation and death. Because of a fundamental lack of fuel to move, and communications to know, the full extent of the damage is still not really known.

So, what is the most powerful leader in the world doing? Tweeting a bunch of racially bigoted trash at the people and leaders of Puerto Rico. Here is what our disgrace of a President blasted off this morning:

That graphic was posted on Twitter by Josh Marshall of TPM, and his annotations are perfect.

Trump’s conduct is disgusting and unconscionable. From a man fiddling golfing while Rome burns Puerto Rico dies. What did the Mayor of San Juan, the largest population center and capitol hub of Puerto Rican government say? She begged for her people via a tearful plea to all of the federal government:

“We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,”

That would be Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. She also had the temerity to call out Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke who made the horribly insensitive and asinine comment that Puerto Rico is a “good news story”. For seeking to keep her constituents from dying and calling bullshit on the actual bullshit of Elaine Duke, Trump now thinks Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is the functional equivalent of Kim Jong-Un. Even insanity has rarely run this far amok.

Where will you find Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz? Perhaps there is a photo somewhere in an office, but since the Puerto Rican crisis began, I have never seen her portrayed by the press, or anybody else, as being anything other than tirelessly out in the streets and flooded destroyed neighborhoods with her devastated constituents. Like a real leader would be. This photo is indicative:

Remember General Russell Honore, who brought some long past due seriousness and reality to Katrina in NOLA? He is in San Juan now. Here is what he had to say when questioned on Trump’s attack on the Mayor:

“The mayor’s living on a cot and I hope the President has a good day at golf.”

Can’t argue with that. Maybe Trump can secretly meet with the Puerto Rican bondholders he so cherishes that put their craven investments ahead of the lives of American citizens, while he is relaxing at his fucking golf resort this weekend. It is simply who he, and they, are. It should NOT be who we are though. This country is better than that.

I would also like to, again, point out that the much ballyhooed by Sarah Sanders and Trump Administration “Jones Act Waiver was a complete fraud and sham on the press, public and, most of all, people of Puerto Rico. There are effectively little more than SEVEN days left on Trump’s bogus waiver and gift to craven bondholders and rapacious shippers. Trump insured he got good press for a news cycle and completely stiffed Puerto Rico of any meaningful assistance via relief from the hideously oppressive Jones Act. Heckuva job Trumpie.

If you want a couple of fantastic pieces of reportage on Puerto Rico today, go see the Washington Post piece “Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria” as well as the superb interactive overview from the New York Times, “One Day in the Life of Battered Puerto Rico”. You will be better for having seen both.

As to the games. Eh, Pirate Mike Leach and Washington State pulled off a serious upset of USC last night. Leach had his usual awesome take. As to the NFL, the focus seems to be more on the pre-game than the real games. I will note that Tom Brady’s first start was 16 years ago today. The Patriots have since won 5 Super Bowls, 14 AFC East titles and 185 of his 238 starts. Kid can play ball. Also, this weekend is the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit. Hamilton takes pole and Vettel starts at back of the grid due to a bad engine. That likely ends the Drivers’ Championship battle for yet another year.

That is it for today. Rock on, and put the thoughts of our fellow citizens of Puerto Rico in your hearts.

It’s Not the Economy, Stupid

Despite Bill Clinton’s famous catchphrase that he rode to two terms in the White House, and despite its echo in the 2016 campaign when Trump voters were described as acting out of “economic anxiety”, politics in the United States in my lifetime comes down, first and foremost, to racism. Yes, in Trump’s case and for most Republicans in office, there is a hefty dose of misogyny mixed in, but the animus against those who are not old, rich, white males unites their hatred.

Russia affected the 2016 contest. Clearly. But one of their primary tools was to stoke racial animus. Another huge impact on the actual outcome of the election was the outright suppression of minority votes by Republicans. It now appears that they may well have tipped the Wisconsin vote through suppression. And all those millions of votes for Trump, in the end, amount to nothing more than a huge endorsement of his outright racism. In the end, they came out on top with a little help from Republican policies expressly developed to prevent minorities from voting.

Trump is America’s racism unmasked and he would not be President if there weren’t a huge racist component to American culture today. The primary home for that racism is the Republican party.

The last few days have shown Trump revealing both his deep-seated racism and his cynical understanding that virtually his only support now is rooted in America’s racism. He tried his best to make his response to NFL protests be about the flag and patriotism. But that is most definitely NOT what Colin Kaepernick was protesting when he started this movement in August of 2016:

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has willingly immersed himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States.

His latest refusal to stand for the anthem — he has done this in at least one other preseason game — came before the 49ers’ preseason loss to Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium on Friday night.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Making matters even worse, NFL teams and even billionaire NFL owners–the very parties responsible for Kaepernick still not being on a roster despite abysmal quarterback play on several teams–came out with what some folks saw as admirable statements and actions in response to Trump calling for owners to “fire the sons of bitches” who kneel during the national anthem. The best response to that development came from Shannon Sharpe. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the entire statement, it is a thing of beauty and something that every American needs to hear:

So what are we to do?

First, those of us who carry the advantage of being old, white males who are at least comfortable if not rich must speak up every time there is an instance of racial injustice. Especially at the local level, when the police treat minorities without respect, make it known that this will not stand. Support larger groups that are working to promote racial justice.

But perhaps it is also worth taking look at our own lives. What aspects of our own lives help to perpetuate racial injustice? Even simple actions can accumulate. The next time you reconcile a credit card statement, take a look at your choices. Do you only eat at faceless chain restaurants? When was the last time you had a meal at a locally owned restaurant with a minority owner? Those are likely some of the best eating establishments in your town if you take the time to look around and try some new cuisines.

How about schools? Do you send your kids to private schools, most of which have been established to get around integration? Worse yet, do you send them to charter schools, which are set up expressly to take money away from public schools?

How about your place of worship? Is it integrated? Does it have any activities or programs aimed at racial justice?

One small action that I’ve decided to take is that I won’t watch another down of NFL football until Colin Kaepernick has been signed by a team.

Trump is the poster child for American racism, but we could all benefit from spending a little time thinking about our own roles both in how he came to be President and what we can do to make sure his sort never gets there again.

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