George Steinbrenner, when confronted by unsavory intrigues of his own design, was among those who would often say, “Things often are not what they seem.”
Yet, it seemed, those “things” were exactly what they seemed.
Phil Mickelson last week spoke out about a what he felt was an egregious wrong done him by The Detroit News upon his return to play in the PGA event near Detroit: His link to a reputed Michigan mobster, among the city’s most notorious gamblers.
Apparently, Mickelson was part of a group that years ago won a $500,000 bet, but was stiffed by the illegal bookies. Apparently, Mickelson felt immune from a newspaper revisiting such regional history.
Mickelson didn’t deny the story, but took great umbrage that it had been resurrected, threatening to never return to play in the Detroit area. Additionally, his agent questioned the relevance and intent of repeating such an old and sordid story.
Yet such posturing does nothing to diminish what TV’s PGA networks and other media have for years assiduously ignored about Mickelson: He too often radiates the gambling “creeps.”
Much more recently, financial and legal experts were amazed that Mickelson was able to avoid an indictment in the 2017 criminal case against two-fisted Vegas gambler Billy Walters, a pal of Mickelson’s who was sentenced to five years for insider stock trading.
Not that NBC’s Dan Hicks or CBS’ Jim Nantz would ever bring it up, but in a related civil case, Mickelson — “Phil” to TV — was forced to pay back $1 million in profits from his investments.
In other words, what Mickelson seems to be who he is — a gambling wheeler-dealer who plays outside the out-of-bounds stakes.
Similar is America’s new pride of track and field, Olympic hammer-thrower Gwen Berry. She also seems pretty accomplished at throwing the worst kind of bull — the racially inflammatory variety.
In what quickly backfired on her to become a photo of a petulant child throwing a fit on the medal stand during the national anthem, Berry, 31, turned away from the American flag, stood with a bouquet of flowers at her side, a hand on her hip and pout on her lips.
“My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports,” Berry explained. “I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part.”
Specifically? She offered no specifics. But would she include the 650,000 Civil War dead in response to systemic racism? How about the hundreds of urban blacks annually murdered by urban blacks, murders met with silence by those otherwise decrying unspecified systemic racism?
And a disproportionate number of attacks on American urban Asians and ultra-orthodox Jews are being committed by whom, white supremacists? Or are a larger percentage of those crimes committed by other minorities?
Yet she’s the latest to let us know that the United States is an irredeemably, insufferably racist country. Her proof? She cited the third stanza of the national anthem for its open-to-interpretation reference to slavery.
At that point, she became a target for comedic ridicule, as the third stanza, as well as the second, have rarely, if ever, been heard or sung since Francis Scott Key ran out of ink and the sun rose on red-glaring ramparts.
If any school district chooses to ban the third stanza, I’m good with it! I stopped singing it before I even started.
But it was as it seemed — a creative attempt to maintain balance on shaky ground. After all, there will always be those who believe that the truth is what they wish it to be.
I learned the game years ago, but I refuse to play by its rules. When I wrote that the Jets’ Mark Gastineau was a showboater who didn’t care what the score was as long as he did his attention-starved me-dances, no one disagreed. But when I wrote the same about Deion Sanders, I became a racist.
Consider all the “woke” media who bought Serena Williams’ preposterous, revisionary claim that her 2018 ugly hassle on behalf of herself with a U.S. Open court official actually was on behalf of women’s rights.
Among those who also seem to be exactly what they seem is new Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who arrives in the NFL after a brief stop at Fox Sports and longer stops at Florida and Ohio State — where his successes seemed predicated on being allowed to recruit student-athletes who had less legitimate business being in college than in police lineups.
The Jags haven’t yet played a game under Meyer, yet last week were fined for violating preseason practice rules.
In 2018, Meyer was briefly suspended by Ohio State for hiring an assistant coach he knew to be a recidivist wife-beater. Later that year, Meyer began to teach a course at Ohio State titled “Leadership and Character.” Satire-proof.
Thus, what again might be explained as “not what it seems” is often exactly what it is.
Shocking! Player scores career high in first start
I remain convinced that TV’s graphics departments are where executives place their lay-about nephews rather than have to suffer the continued pleas of sisters-in-law to hire them.
How else could one explain TNT’s graphic, during Thursday’s Hawks-Bucks Game 5, about Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis, who’d played 38 minutes: “Playoff Career-High 22 Points In First Career Playoff Start.” (Thanks to reader Andrew Eckman for the screen shot.)
But Turner has a big-game knack. During an MLB playoff game in 2012, a TBS graphic identified No. 24 of the Giants as “Willie Mayes.”
By now it’s clear that the Mets and Yankees play reliably bad baseball against teams that, on any given day, are slightly worse or slightly better.
That brings us to our Game of the Week. How long should an 8 ¹/₂-inning game, 2-1 final, eight total hits, run? Even by today’s absurd standards, no more than 2:45, right?
Tuesday’s Cubs-Brewers totaled 10 pitchers, 11 walks, 22 strikeouts, eight hits and three runs over 8 ¹/₂ innings. It ran 3:40.
Man of the Week is Doug Eddings, the home plate ump in last Saturday’s Phillies-Mets game. In the second inning, James McCann appeared to slide in safely at home, by a lot, to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. But Eddings called him out. What!?
A replay showed that McCann slid over catcher J.T. Realmuto’s lead foot, never touching the plate. It was a superb call, one for which Eddings deserved a gold star. But neither Gary Cohen nor Keith Hernandez was in a giving mood.
Observe Tour of ‘idiots’
This Tour de France has been wrecked by a woman who caused a massive wreck and bloody injuries when she stepped into the road to display her sign for TV cameras.
Greg Gumbel years ago nailed it when he called TV cameras “idiot magnets.”
And unless TV golf voices stop the pandering to condemn the escalating numbers of those — many likely drunk and increasingly with PGA-encouraged bets on players — who disrupt events with idiotic shouts designed for TV microphones, civilized, professional American golf will be lost.
Incidentally, a media release promoting a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev., this week, first and foremost listed the betting odds. John Smoltz, for example, is 8/1, Tony Romo is 3/2.
I’ve got Pete Rose and Allen Iverson in a reverse, if-action/bet parlay to be tossed for insufficient funds. Promo code: Ancient Rome.