Jeff Pearlman

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You fell for it

Alleged photo of Rudolph after he was found.

 

Earlier this evening, while working out at the gym, I found myself reading the post-inauguration comments of certain people from my hometown of Mahopac, N.Y.

It was stuff like this, in relation to the protesters …

That’s what liberals do and that’s who Obummer and KILLARY supports. That’s why they lost BIG !!!!!

And this …

I’m so proud that we the people spoke up and reclaimed our country. I have goosebumps !

And … I’m sick.

Truly sick.

I don’t know what to make of Donald J. Trump; whether he’s the end of America as we know it or merely an ugly little blip on the radar. Perhaps we’ll look back at his seven months in office and say, “Thank God we went through that necessary eye-opening nightmare.” Or perhaps we’ll look back at his eight years in office and say, “That’s when we became a military state.” What I am certain of—truly certain of—is that we will not look back and say, “Boy, he brought this nation together” or “Boy, that was a prosperous time.” He’s turned those statements into impossibilities, with his divisive rhetoric; with his hatred; with his stirrings of Hitler-esque cries for nationalism.

I digress.

The people from my hometown don’t seem to get it. This isn’t their president. He’s not one who looks out for the little guy; who has shown an interest in small businesses; who wants people to rise. His calling has always been greed; has always been narcissism. To expect those to change is illogical.

To expect anything but a nightmare is nonsensical.

 

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Tom Bosworth

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Tom Bosworth is a race walker.

He placed sixth in the 20K at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He’s openly gay.

He proposed to his boyfriend on the beach.

But, while all those things are riveting, here’s the kicker: Tom Bosworth once ate 22 Chicken McNuggets in a single sitting—and lived to tell about it. Why? You’ll have to read below. How? You’ll have to read below. When? You’ll have to read below.

Regardless, meet the Quaz with fire behind his shoes and processed meat in his stomach.

Tom Bosworth, you are Quaz No. 292 …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Tom, I ran track at the University of Delaware back in the day, and I’ve always been riveted by race walking. Specifically, how one becomes a race walker. I mean, you don’t hear many kids screaming, “Let’s walk! Really fast!” So how did this happen for you?

TOM BOSWORTH: When I was 11 I joined my local athletic’s club, where my sister tried race walking through a friend. So I tried it as well at the age of 12. It was just another athletic’s event to me at this age, which I think if more clubs included race walking this view would become more common. Most people forget that race walking is part of Athletics …

J.P.: During the Olympics you Tweeted, “52 days on the road … and still loving every second of it. I don’t want this experience to end, end!!” Wife and I talking about this at the time, so you’re the perfect guy to ask: When one is done with his/her Olympic events, does he leave the Village? Like, do most athletes hang around until the Games are over? Hang around a few days? Bolt ASAP? Does it feel anticlimactic after your event is completed? Or is it a chance to lather in the joy?

T.B.: Some people head home, due to competitions coming up, or family they want to get back to. Most stay in the village and enjoy the Olympic Games and take the time to relax. I did! I watched some sport, partied with friends and just soaked in the atmosphere. There’s nothing like the Olympics, after all.

J.P.: So while you were at the Olympics you asked your boyfriend to marry you on a beach in Rio. Questions: How long were you planning the proposal? How nervous were you? Did you have some doubt to whether he’d say yes?

T.B.: I planned it for well over a year, I’d been looking at finding the right ring for a long time, as he was very specific over what he wanted. I finally found the right ring and asked Tiffany’s in Heathrow to reserve the ring for me to collect after I flew down from altitude training in Font Romeu in France on my way to Rio. I wasn’t nervous until that very moment and I knew he would say yes as we spoke about moving our lives on together for a while.

J.P.: Last year an American basketball star, Elena Delle Donne, came out—and the news was greeted with an indifferent shrug. You came out publicly a year ago, and you expressed how nerve-wracking it was at the time. I’m wondering: How was the news received in England? Was it what you expected?

T.B.: Here it was a bigger deal than I expected, however, it still was totally positive. A few said that, “This isn’t news,” and I agree it shouldn’t be. However, for those few days it still was in the news. So it shows out sportsmen and women are still a new thing. However, with time I’d hope to see more and more athletes just living openly rather than having to come out.

J.P.: Maybe this is dumb, but are race walkers great runners? What I mean is … could you—if you devoted all your energies to it—run a really kick-ass mile? Could you run a 2:40 marathon? Is there a direct correlation between one’s walking speed and running speed?

T.B.: I think the marathon would be more my thing than the mile. We are incredibly fit athletes, however, the body is trained for race walking so the muscles would be different but the aerobic side of things would be fine. I’d like to run a few 5ks or 10ks in my off season just to see how fast I can go,—after all I can walk 5k in 18:54!

J.P.: You placed sixth in Rio—and I am fascinated by this. Like, on the one hand, you’re an Olympian! You placed sixth among the best of the best, on the biggest stage. That’s amazing. On the other hand, you didn’t medal. And I ask—does that matter? Is the Olympics about being there, more than placing? Were you thrilled? Disappointed? Both? Neither?

T.B.: Firstly, let’s never forget that being an Olympian is the pinnacle of sport. What people don’t realize is that I was ranked 37th. So many have said, “You must be disappointed with sixth.” I said, “Are you crazy? I set a new British 20k record and finished 31 places higher than expected!” In the UK we are used to winning medals but we need to travel along the journey to get there. I’ve done that and now at future world championships and Olympics I can be competing for medals as a favorite.”

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J.P.: Right now things are super weird in America with the rise of our own nutjob, Donald Trump. You’re British, and you’re surrounded right now by the world’s community. How is this whole Trump thing playing elsewhere. Because—Jesus Christ—it’s terrifying.

T.B.: It seems to have become more of a joke for many watching this man conduct himself. Not a single person takes him seriously.

J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest?

T.B.: Greatest—sixth at the Olympics with a new British record. Lowest—missing out on London 2012. I needed to walk 1:24:30 over 20k and I walked 1:24:49 in Spain in June 2012. This has since become a turning point for my career. It drove me on to become a greater walker, and since then I have walked 1:20:13 for 20k and own every British record from 3k-to-20k. I never dreamed of achieving what I have.”

J.P.: Do the Olympics meet the hype? You work four years to get there; sweat, blood, toil, etc. And then it happens. And then it ends very quickly. Is it all worth it? And why or why not?

T.B.: Yes it’s worth it. I can’t explain the buzz around it because there is nothing like it in this world. It can’t last forever because otherwise the buzz would die. I already miss every moment of it. I’m inspired by Team Great Britain’s incredible performance to go out there and smash the next four years once again.

J.P.: You ate 22 Chicken McNuggets in one night. Um … what were you thinking? 

T.B.: I’m really not a fan of McDonalds, but after two years without a break or without the chance to just be a normal person and enjoy myself I treated myself to lots of McDonalds in the village, just to eat something different. After all, I knew I’d be back on my strict schedule of maximizing training, eating and sleeping soon enough.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH TOM BOSWORTH:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Adam Sandler, Ginger Spice, iPhone 6, Kid Rock, Starbucks, 22 Chicken McNuggets, Holland, your left ear: My left ear, iPhone 6, Starbucks, Holland, Adam Sandler, 22 Chicken McNuggets, Kid Rock, Ginger Spice.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Yes. Leeds Bradford airport is placed in a very high and exposed to part of the country where winds get incredibly strong. When I looked out the window as we came into land I could see the runway out in front of me and I realized we were coming into land sideways to counter the wind. It was the only time I grabbed the front of the seat in front of me. There were plenty of sighs of relief once we had landed.

• Three memories from your first date?: 1. Being very late—the motorway was closed due to an accident meaning I was nearly 90 minutes late; 2. Pizza—asking questions about one another over a pizza; 3. The hug—at the end of the date, Harry went to shake my hand and I smiled at him and went in for the hug and gave him a kiss. He was such a shy and nervous guy when I first met him.

• Who wins in a boxing match between you and Harry from One Direction? How many rounds does it go?: Harry wins, and it wouldn’t make it past round one. I’m not a fighter at all.

•Three reasons one should make Sevenoaks his/her next vacation destination? Easy—stunning countryside, great pubs and some stunning old houses and beautiful buildings.

• One question you would ask Jay-Z were he here right now?: Can you race walk? Give it a go, this could make a hilarious video!

• Five all-time favorite athletes?: Paula Radcliffe (track/marathon), Paul Scholes (football) , Jared Tallent (50k race walker), Lizzy Yarnold (skeleton), Jenson Button (F1)

• Best joke you know?: Most of my jokes between friends are quite crude, so it’s best I leave it between me and them!

• You do freelance massage work. My lower back is destroyed by disc decay. Can you help?: I could help you to a certain point, but you’d require far more specialized support for it.

• All-time favorite word?: Absolutely

I just humiliated my daughter

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My daughter Casey is 13, and her favorite band is Green Day.

She knows all their songs.

She owns a couple of Green Day T-shirts.

She loves Green Day.

A few moments ago I dropped Casey and a friend off at a bowling alley. There was a kid standing outside the bowling alley, maybe a few years older than Casey. He was wearing a black Green Day T-shirt. Casey’s window was open. “Hey, great shirt!” I yelled. “That’s her favorite band.”

I looked at Casey. She was mortified.

“Did I just embarrass you?” I said.

“Yes,” she said, climbing out of the car. The guy in the T-shirt was still there, looking nearly as horrified as my daughter.

“OK,” I said, yelling quite loudly. “Sweetie, have a great time!”

I love the power of fatherhood.

Kicking a guy when he’s down

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There’s a guy on Twitter named Nate Wade. This is him, taking the selfie.

Earlier tonight, Nate was apparently quite angry over the Chiefs’ loss to Pittsburgh. Specifically, he was angry with Eric Fisher, the Kansas City offensive lineman whose holding penalty nullified a successful two-point conversion that would have tied the game. So he Tweeted this …

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Now, here’s where things get interesting. In ripping Eric Fisher for screwing up, Nate Wade, eh, screwed up. @ericfisher isn’t actually the Chief, but a Boston-based meteorologist who had this to say of Wade’s pathetic little rant …

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“Ridiculous” is an understatement. Callous. Pathetic. Lame. Cliched. Pick a word—any word—and it applies to antics of folks like Wade, who make certain to kick a public figure when he’s down from the comfort of afar, but would never do so in person. My favorite part of this wacky little story is that, ultimately, Wade did the right thing and apologized. He clearly felt bad, and wanted to make amends. Only, well, he apologized for the wrong thing. He wasn’t sorry for being a complete asswipe to a man at his lowest moment …

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He was merely sorry for being an asswipe to the wrong guy.

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You lost, get over it

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I’m sure many people here have either taken part in, or witnessed, a dialogue like such …

Person A: “God, I hate Donald Trump!”

Person B: “You need to get over it. He won.”

I, for one, have heard this a solid 10,000 times, and it never makes me feel particularly soothed. And here’s why: I am not upset, literally, by the actual result of an election. I mean, I get how these things work. Someone wins, someone loses. I despised George W. Bush, but after he was declared the victor in 2000 I moved on. Same with most John McCain and Mitt Romney backers I know. They were upset afterward, but then life continued forward.

So, again, this isn’t about win-lose. Truly, it’s not.

The reason so many of us can’t get past the words “President Donald Trump” is because we know—in the way you know the sky is blue and the ground is solid—that he’s a conman. It’s not a guess, or a perception. It’s the legitimate reality of his years upon years upon years in the public domain. Believe it or not, I can deal with leaders who are, say, pro-life, or anti-gay rights, or skeptical to climate change. Their ideas sicken me, but at least they’re true to a core set of beliefs and opinions. Ted Cruz is the perfect example. Nothing that comes from Ted Cruz’s brain makes me feel calm or content. But I know—truly know—that at least he’s being sincere in his misguided takes. Cruz may well be an asshole (as many peers have said), but he’s not a conman asshole. You get what you get with Ted Cruz, just as you got what you got with Barack Obama.

Trump lies. And lies. And lies. He has no moral compass. He’s pro-choice until it’s beneficial to be pro-life. He says Hillary Clinton is a tremendous secretary of state, until he needs to declare her awful. Barack Obama wasn’t born here. Oh, wait, yes he was. We need to deal with climate change … or, it’s a hoax. Yes! It’s a hoax! I saw people celebrating after 9.11. Wait, no one was celebrating after 9.11? Maybe I didn’t see it, per se …

He is not merely dishonest. He is ruthlessly callous to truth, decency, integrity. He belittles people not because of their beliefs (which certainly wouldn’t be OK), but because they dare disagree with him. Or they dare question him. He is a bully, in the most classic sense of bullying. A thug. The worst symbol of a dark side we all have, but try—generally—to contain.

So I am not upset that Hillary Clinton lost, in a literal sense. I am upset that we, as a people, have handed this amazing nation to a fraud.

If you don’t see it yet, trust me.

You will.

The guy next to me

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This is the hand of the man next to me in a crowded coffee shop.

He is Skyping (or Facetiming) with someone, and the conversation is on speaker for all of us to hear.

Can someone explain the thinking here? Please, explain. You’re in a place with other people. Lots of other people. We’re eating, sitting, talking, drinking, chatting, studying. And now we’re catching every word of your chat with Steve.

Why?

I’m being serious—why? This happens all the time, and I don’t get the social numbness. It seems like such an obvious one, no? If you’re on your cell phone in a public place, speak quietly. Hold it to your ear. No speaker.

What am I missing?

Me and my cup o’ pee

My and my little pee cup.

My and my little pee cup.

A few minutes ago I hit up the local Quest Diagnostics lab to have some blood taken. The employee who worked there jabbed a needle into my arm, removed what she needed then said, “I also need a urine sample.”

“OK,” I replied.

She handed me a cup and two small white pouches. We were in a hallway. There were people two feet away, waiting.

“Here’s what you do,” she said. “You take the little pouch, open it. There’s a moist swab. Wipe the tip of your penis with it. Then open the big pouch, take the big moist swab, wipe the tip of your penis with that. Then urinate in the cup.”

“Where’s the bathroom?” I asked.

“Grab the key at the front desk,” she said. “Go out the door, turn right, go about 10 feet and there’s a public restroom.”

Um.

I followed the instructions. There was one stall and a urinal. The stall was occupied. I waited and waited. The guy was clearly in deep poop mode. Finally, I stood at the urinal, cup and cell phone in one hand, two pouches in the other. I put my cell in my pocket, tore open a pouch, placed the other pouch in the cup, put the plastic cup beneath an armpit, pulled down my shorts, swabbed, waddled over to the nearby waste basket (shorts around my knees, cup still wedged in armpit), tossed the penis-tip swab, returned, swabbed again, did the whole waddle thing again, pissed into the cup. The cover was ill fitting, so while trying to wedge it atop the cup some of the pee spilled on my hand. (It was warm and soothing)

Finally got the damn thing on, then had to return 10 feet and through the front door with my cup o’ pee shining bright yellow and my pride back in the waste basket.

Happy Friday.

The loss of decorum

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It would have been so easy.

So.

So.

So.

Easy.

In case you missed it, earlier today Barack Obama presented Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was a surprise for the outgoing vice president, and the ceremony was, well … as the wife just said, it was the stuff of movies. Just an emotional moment for an emotional man who has experienced great loss while maintaining an eternal sense of optimism and hope. There’s a lot of hate and mistrust in Washington, but little of it seems to be directed at Biden, who counts John McCain among his closest friends.

I digress.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was a big deal. And it provided an easy, no-brainer moment for the incoming president to Tweet out something along the lines of this …

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But, of course, Trump Tweeted nothing of the sort. The above is a fake. He didn’t mention Joe Biden, just as he didn’t mention Barack Obama on the night of his farewell address. Instead, we got this shit lineup …

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And here’s the thing that so many Americans are missing right now: Decorum matters. It matters more than a wall. It matters more than Planned Parenthood. It even matters more than ISIS and Syria. Truly, decorum and decency are what keep us together and allow us to go forward, political differences be damned. Barack Obama is a president of tremendous decorum. George W. Bush was a president of tremendous decorum. Bill Clinton, and George H. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford—all presidents of tremendous decorum. You may well have loathed them. You may well have loathed their ideas. But they weren’t in this to mock you; to belittle you; to pretend they had all the answers while you had none.

I fear a great many things over the next four years. But what I fear most is that, with this awful man guiding the way, the United States will lose its heart.

Will lose its decorum.

A letter from The Media

Lovejoy

Lovejoy

Dear Supporters of Donald Trump:

It’s me—The Media.

Please, stop yelling. Seriously, stop. I have some things to say, and I’d appreciate if you listen.

First, I’m not a collective. I know you think “The Media” is this giant thing, but it’s really, really, really, really not. The New York Times and Washington Post are “The Media.” Sports Illustrated and National Geographic and People and Us are “The Media.” Fox News, CNN, MSNBC—”The Media.” So, for that matter, is Breitbart. Is your Uncle Marty’s blog. Is PBSkids.com. “The Media” isn’t a thing. No, it’s 100,000,000,000 things. It’s people providing information in myriad manners. So, please, stop grouping all information providers under one tent. It’s fucking stupid.

Second, you need me. You don’t realize it yet, because the orange straw monster has convinced you I’m the enemy. But, come day’s end, you’re going to be faced with a very interesting choice: A. Take everything the orange straw monster tells you as gospel, or B. trust reporting. Trust digging. Trust the extra phone call. Trust seeking out documents the orange straw monster doesn’t want you to see.

Right now, the orange straw monster is playing to your worst impulses. That’s what orange straw monsters do; they sell you on an enemy, then attack and attack and attack until your emotions are numb and your curiosity has been worn to a nub. The orange straw monster desperately wants you to see me, the media, as “The Media.” He wants you to never believe me; to only believe him. He wants to be your father and your mother; your nurturer and your provider. He wants you to trust him—and only him. That way, his power lasts and his sway proves eternal.

But here’s the truth: The Media, with rare exception, isn’t what you think it to be. It’s not some monolith, itching for power and money. No, it’s a young girl who grew up in Bethesda, dreaming of one day covering government for the Washington Post. It’s the boy who decided against law school so he could track down lobbyists for the Wall Street Journal. It’s individuals who believe the coverage of Watergate prevented a power-hungry president from getting away with a felony; who believe reporters on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan swayed (rightly) public opinion on Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, we’re not all great. Some of our reporters suck, and that Buzzfeed thing was an embarrassment.

But when Donald Trump mocks “The Media,” and you mock “The Media,” you’re not merely making noise. You’re saying that people like Daniel Pearl and James Foley and Bill Biggart died over nonsense; you’re saying that people like Walter Cronkite and Gwen Ifill wasted their days. In 1837, a journalist named Elijah Parish Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois, during an attack on his warehouse to destroy his press and abolitionist information. According to you, he was worthless; his work was worthless.

Well, here’s the truth. I’m “The Media,” and if you continue to ignore me … to bash me … to believe the orange straw monster when he says I’m no good, you’ll be setting yourself up for a future of no accountability, of no repercussions, of no defense.

You’ll miss me—but you’ll be too uninformed to realize it.

Love,

The Media.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life