Takes almost as hot as the weather here in central Indiana.[1]


Wow, the Yankees have made Alex Rodriguez a sympathetic figure, something that seemed impossible.

I love to hate A-Rod, but I also admire his comeback. It would have been easy after his last injury and suspension to just retire and disappear into the void. He could say goodbye to the media, to fans booing him at every at-bat, and to all the drama that has surrounded the last part of his career. I bet he could make a healthy sum if he wrote a book about his years in baseball, too.

But he sucked it up, worked hard to come back, showed up and not only won a spot in the Yankees lineup, but is likely their best player. The cynic will say he’s juicing, popping pills, or doing something else to fuel his hot start. And maybe he is. He certainly has a history of multiple offenses. But, like Barry Bonds, he was also a peerless player before he ever started putting outlawed substances into his body. Maybe this is one last burst of his pure athletic genius coming through.

For the Yankees to continue to grouse about his presence and to insist that they will not pay him the contractually-obligated bonus for passing Willie Mays on the all-time home run list is asinine. Right now, he’s the best story on one of the most surprising teams in the league. He’s driving attendance and the news cycle, for good reasons. He’s making people pay attention to the Yankees. Which is exactly what they wanted when they resigned him.

Shut the hell up and pay the man.

Steph Curry NBA MVP

I don’t know why I’m still surprised by things that Steph Curry does. He’s been amazing us for seven years now.

I think most of us expected him to, maybe, in the best possible case, be a spot shooter in the NBA. He was slight and didn’t appear to be a great athlete. Where Reggie Miller was 6’8’’, Curry checked in at just 6’3’’. No way does his effectiveness in college translate to the NBA, right?

He answered that question quickly, and has been getting better every season since. A perfect shot, that he needs just a millisecond to get off. Amazing dribbling. Astounding passing. When you put his skills with the other guys on the Golden State Warriors, you have one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the NBA.

Just as important, in a year when Kevin Durant was injured and surly, Steph gave us another completely likable NBA superstar. Unless he’s ripping your team’s heart out, of course.

Tom Brady

As I said when Deflategate first broke, whatever was done with the balls during the AFC championship game did not affect the outcome. The Patriots running roughshod over the Colts’ defensive line was as big as any passes Tom Brady completed that day.

I’m fascinated by the transition in the image of Brady, though. He began his career as the underdog hero, someone you could admire even as he was carving your team up. He grew into perhaps the most complete quarterback in the game, and one who always came up big in January.[2] Then he was a brand, or A Brand, complete with supermodel wife, obligatory appearances at ever big event, and cautiously guarded words any time a microphone was near.

Now, though, he’s turned into a first class villain. His petulant screaming at refs anytime he doesn’t like a call. His smugness on and off the field. And now, bending the rules to gain an advantage. I don’t think most people really care about whether the Patriots messed with the air pressure of their footballs. I do think a lot of people look at Brady, though, and think, “Why does he need to do that?”

So I used to admire Brady, and now I dislike him. And I used to hate A-Rod, but now I kind of like him.

What a world, what a world…

Late Breaking: ESPN Does Not Renew Bill Simmons’ Contract

Whoa! Their relationship had obviously been strained over the past couple years, especially surrounding Simmons’ vocal criticisms of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. But you figured they would find a way to make it work, right?

I rarely read Simmons’ columns anymore. I don’t watch movies or much TV, so his newer pop culture references are lost on me. And it got tiring reading through 5000 words that he had likely written before, just in slightly different form.

But the dude changed sports writing for the better. There are more voices now, is a more relaxed tone in general, and are better outlets for finding sports discussion. He (and Will Leitch when he started Deadspin) made sports writing fun and more like talking with your buddies over some beers than like reading the tired, old columnists who dominated most papers and national magazines. His early ESPN years were phenomenal. It was always exciting to see another one of his columns hit ESPN.com. Or see a link to the latest in your inbox from someone else who got to it first.

And while I overlooked his more recent writing, building Grantland was a fantastic accomplishment. There is no better source for quality sports writing – and pop culture writing – right now than Grantland. I hope it continues in the same spirit even without him as head.

Oh, and I bet he lands on his feet somewhere.

  1. Just missed setting a record high yesterday, and in the midst of the longest stretch of temperatures over 80 in May since 2001.  ↩
  2. Unlike Peyton Manning, for example.  ↩