Winning By Pinocchio’s Nose

Medina Spirit | 2022 Kentucky Derby & Oaks | May 6 and May 7, 2022

With Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win now being called into question after traces of the steroid betamethasone were found in his system, it’s clear the sporting world will stop at nothing in pursuit of glory. Trainer Bob Baffert claimed the horse has never been treated with the stuff because most sports figures are just frustrated politicians.

Pete Rose has been telling and re-telling a thirty year lie that changes with each new book deal. Dopers everywhere- from the four major sports to the Olympics- always play it like that guy in the show Cops who insists the drugs aren’t his. College recruiting reads like an episode of Law and Order. Little leaguers pretend to be smaller while college players pretend to be bigger and the Patriots . . . well, yanno.

Back inside the brutally simple time known as the ’70’s, NASCAR driver Richard Petty issued a sporting proclamation that has proven to have more lasting power than his hat . . or his legendary career for that matter.

“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,”

Without a twenty-four hour social media dragnet to collect every last dangling participle of an athlete’s most innocuously lonesome thoughts, the checkmate of a raging morning after headline was still a twinkle in every sports voyeur’s eye. Petty’s southern drawl was saved the slings and arrows of our current day claw machine which would have issued the “Breaking News” headline at three in the morning. After which Twitter would’ve split in two like the Titanic, sports debate shows would’ve argued over whether Petty should be suspended and Petty would’ve read a PR crafted apology that was about as heartfelt as a zombie flick.

The thing is, his simple syrup was a sporting truth long before he let it pass go. Need some proof? Okay why not . . .

Fred Lorz's lift and the rat-poison runner – Tale Runners

Fred Lorz lapped the field at the 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis by completing the race in three hours and thirteen minutes. Only problem was, he hitched a ride with a passing car for 11 miles of the race. When reading about Lorz, my question was, “There were passing cars in 1904?”

ECC | [New York Giants baseball player John J. McGraw, walking on

Before San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds’ noggin grew to twice the legal limit in the name of bad science, there was John McGraw. The New York Giants third-baseman played the hot corner like a gangster. A middling player who would later make his Hall of Fame bones as a skipper, McGraw was notorious for slowing opposing runners down by whatever means possible; from tripping them to latching on to their belt loops. How much fun would instant replay be with this guy around?

Michael Beschloss on Twitter: "Black Sox Scandal emerged from 1919 World Series, which ended 95 years ago today:"


Several key players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox canoodled with New York mobster Arnold Rothstein, after which they threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The worst part of it is, the infamous Black Sox scandal kept one of the all-time greats- Shoeless Joe Jackson- from reaching the Hall of Fame after his ban. The second worst part of it is they made a movie about it in 1988 called Eight Men Out in which John Cusack proved he is not nearly as good at throwing a baseball as he is at holding up a boombox.

Dora Ratjen - Wikidata

Dora “The Explorer” Ratjen finished fourth in the women’s high jump at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Turned out, Dora’s real name was Hermann. Those fun loving kids known as the Hitler Youth talked Hermann into hiding his balls in order to compete as a woman. I’m thinking their game plan didn’t include a fourth place finish . . .

From Heroes To Villains': CCNY Basketball's Dramatic Fall From Glory | Only A Game

The 1951 CCNY point-shaving scandal involved seven college basketball teams, with the Beavers squad leading the way. The players involved prevented their clubs from covering the spread until one player refused to play along, after which the jig was up. To think, today’s college coaches- whose cheat sheets are part of the recruiting process- would shrug at this quaint little racket.

The East German women’s swimming team dominated the sport from the late ’60’s through the early ’80’s. Which . . I mean . . it took the IOC that long to figure out these gals were loading up on their carbs by filing them with steroids? Of course it did, because they were even dirtier than the culprits!

Like it or loathe it, as long as there are sports to be played, cheating is going to be a part of the equation. Because the risks are always going to be outweighed by the rewards for a whole lot of athletes who don’t care how they become somebody, just so long as they do. And I don’t much give a shit if they choose notoriety over nobility.

Just leave the horses out of it.


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

There’s a reason why time machines are a really bad idea. Oh sure, it’s kitchy to imagine yourself as a modern day Marty McFly. But have you ever stopped to consider how ridiculous the future looks? Just for a moment, imagine telling someone in 2000 what history would look like in 2020. Here are ten items off the top of my head . . . .

  • Liam Neeson will be known as an action movie star
  • The Twin Towers will have been gone almost twenty years
  • Phones go mobile and people can literally do everything on them
  • Movie theaters are still a thing. Blockbuster is not
  • Tom Brady (who?) and the New England Patriots (what?) were the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports
  • A pandemic will thrust the entire world into lock down
  • The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are no longer title punchlines
  • Donald Trump will be President
  • Social media addiction is a thing
  • No one gets lost thanks to GPS, no one goes on a ‘blind date’ thanks to Tinder and everyone remembers your birthday thanks to Facebook

The moral of the story is to remain in the present, because the future is much too crazy a thing to contemplate.



IQ, So You Don’t Have To!

I read an interesting piece in Smithsonian Magazine about how often smart people get things wrong, and it got me thinking. Which is always a risky proposition. So I did a little digging to find some examples, and mango . . they were everywhere!

TESS is our space program’s satellite that searches for exoplanets hiding underneath our cosmic shag rug. They recently found TOI 700 d, which they describe as a habitable-ish planet that is a hundred  light years away. So while the research is kitschy, the reality is that we ain’t backing up the moving vans. And it begs the question as to why all the smart people here at home are sweeping our habitat under the carpet for the next generation to deal with.

What’s that you say? Looking for an example that’s a little less obscure? Okay, how’s about the fact that in 1932, Albert Einstein observed that nuclear energy will “never be attainable,”?

Or how about the Decca Recording Company’s decision not to sign four chaps from Liverpool to a record label back in 1962 because they claimed their sound would never work . . . less than two years before the British Invasion changed music forever.

Variety magazine predicted that Rock and Roll would be gone by June . . of 1955.

In 1830, Dr. Dionysius Lardner predicted rail travel at high speeds wasn’t possible because passengers would “die of asphyxia”.

Napoleon Bonaparte sniffed at Robert Fulton’s steamboat, calling it “nonsense”.

HG Wells claimed that submarines would never work in practice.

I checked out three of the biggest names in the NFL mock draft business, and the ‘winner’ scored twenty two percent on his 2019 picks.

Those mock experts are not alone. To wit, let’s look at five of the all time greatest passers in NFL history as an example. NFL general managers passed over Aaron Rodgers 21 times, Dan Marino 26 times, Drew Brees 31 times, Joe Montana 81 times and Tom Brady 198 times.

Most every sportswriter was picking the 2003 Lakers to win it all, while not a single sportswriter picked the 1969 Mets.

And if you’re like . . it’s sports! Who cares? Okay then, let’s look at a couple of political predictions for a moment.

In 1936, the American weekly Literary Digest predicted Republican Alf Landon would defeat Theodore Roosevelt. Apologies to Mr Landon, but he’s not even the most famous Alf in American pop culture. And do we really need to be reminded why Truman is holding that newspaper?

Image result for dewey defeats truman

And so yeah . . that was forever ago and technology changed everything. So let’s remember back to Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight giving Hilary Clinton a 69% chance of winning the 2016 Presidential Election. Old Nate wasn’t alone . . not by a long shot.

Speaking of technology, smart people get it wrong all the time. Darryl Zanuck was a pioneer of the Motion Picture Industry who helped blaze the trail from silent film to Technicolor. As such, he didn’t consider television to be a threat in the least. In 1946, he said Americans would get tired of staring at a plywood box in no time at all.

In 1966, Time Magazine observed that remote shopping was entirely feasible, but that it would flop. And in 2006, David Pogue of the New York Times predicted Apple would ‘probably never’ come out with a cell phone.

Homer said the world was flat. Mathematical economist Irving Fisher said the economy was a round bubble that would never burst . . three days before the stock market collapse of 1929.

Lots of smart people derided the Wright Brothers idea of flight, and a lot of those same smart people claimed the Titanic was unsinkable when it set sail from Southampton, England.

So the moral of the story is that you’re never as smart as you think you are, but don’t worry. Neither is anyone else.





Damn Patriots

I was talking to a friend after the AB circus was cancelled in Oakland, leaving the deranged diva as the most toxic free agent since Kim Kardashian filed for divorce five minutes after marrying some NBA player.

“As long as Brown doesn’t sign with the Patriots, I’m good,” I joked.

“Dude . . Brown just signed with the Patriots . . ” My friend replied.

Of fucking course he did.

If there was any debate as to the most reviled franchise in professional sports, the New England Patriots just won it, again. Seriously . . gimme a more hated group than the boys from the 508. And no, ISIS doesn’t count.

Once upon a time, my beloved New York Yankees held that title with a seemingly eternal grip. In a swath of history that began with the Murderers Row lineup of 1927 and plowed through war torn lineups in the ’40’s, the golden age of baseball in the ’50’s and expansion in the ’60’s, the Yankees remained the most recognizable symbol of enmity in sports. They were immortalized on stage and screen as Damn Yankees, harmonized in Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson and despised by opposing fans everywhere.

They answered an eleven year championship drought- from 1964 to 1975- with a bunch of mercenaries and sons of bitches when the “Bronx Zoo” iteration won three straight pennants and two World Series titles in the late ’70’s. After which came ever more creative rivals to their most hated throne. The Los Angeles Lakers held a time share for most hated team in sports in the eighties, but Magic buffered any possibility of nuclear enmity. The Dallas Cowboys took up Mickey’s mantle in the ’90’s, but not for long enough a time to breach the gap.

The Russian hockey team was hated whenever the Winter Olympics came calling, but that was a matter of Stalin and Sputnik more than sport. The Edmonton Oilers were hated until Gretkzy was traded to America, after which all was forgiven. The Mets moved out of the Yankees basement in the mid eighties and became a renegade team of hate-worthiness, but their hard partying ways derailed any chance of a long term reign.

By the time the James Gang Miami Heat went Banksy on the Association in 2010, it was too late. The Yankees had already lost their Evil Empire to the New England Patriots. And it wasn’t even close.

The nexus of this changing of the guard came in the fall and winter of 2001-2002. The Yankees were at the height of their villainy entering a campaign in which they had added ace pitcher Mike Mussina from the rival Baltimore Orioles to a team that was favored to win a fourth straight title. When September 11th happened, it muted the national hatred for the pinstripes. Some fans even forged a temporary alliance with the Yanks on account of a city’s gaping wound. When the Yankees lost the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, it signaled both the end of a dynasty as well as their title as the most hated team in sports.

We just didn’t know it yet.

In February of 2002, the Patriots upset the heavily favored Rams in Super Bowl 36. To that point, Bill Belichick had been a middling disappointment as head coach and Tom Brady was a little known backup QB turned starter. The irony is that the Patriots shouldn’t have even made it to the Super Bowl that year, but for the “Tuck Rule Game” in which a Tom Brady fumble was ruled . . get this, an incomplete pass. Oh, and the team they beat in that infamous game? Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. You really cannot make this shit up.

Fast forward seventeen years and the Patriots just screwed Gruden and the Raiders again with their signing of Antonio Brown. Unlike that first Super Bowl victory, the Patriots are no longer a feel good story. They have presided over an unprecedented run of success and scandal in the time since, collecting 6 Super Bowl titles, 9 Conference titles 16 division titles and more -Gates than the poshest neighborhood in Hollywood.

So now the most hated team has the most hated player. It’s the sporting equivalent of the Manson family adopting Pennywise. And okay yes . . Tom Brady is probably going to start acting his age this season and the Patriots can’t possibly make it back to the Super Bowl again and oh wait . . hold on I’ve got a phone call. Hey! It’s me calling, from this time last year!

Hey what’s up? Oh really, I said the same shit this time last year? 

Umm . . . never mind.

It doesn’t seem possible that a team birthed by monarch butterflies on a farm (I read it on the dark web) . . a team that once wore uniforms straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting . . a team that calls itself Patriots, could elicit the sort of rage my Yankees once took for granted.

It’s gotten so bad that after my pal Big Papi’s Orioles were basically eliminated from postseason play back in June, he told me he would be rooting for my Yankees to win it all. To which I replied with “Fuck you,”

I wonder if Antonio Brown plays baseball.





Ashes To Ashes


Robert Louis Stevenson once said that mankind is never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.

And so it was that in 1163, more than a hundred and fifty years before the world would come into full bloom with the dawn of the Renaissance, hope was risen with the first bricks of a timeless symbol that would come to define a city, a nation and the world it would grow up inside of.

The name possessed a gravitas and evoked reverence the world over. It was a symbol which transcended religion. The underpinnings of this wondrous creation of man was a muse to pilgrims and painters and poets and the dreams they had in common.

Deep within the womb of this timeless place, history was birthed countless times. Henry VI was made King of France here, and later, Napoleon was named Emperor inside its confines. And in the early 20th century, Joan of Arc was beatified inside the cathedral by Pope Pius X.

Our Lady of Paris survived the French Revolution as well as two World Wars. And when its health was failing in the nineteenth century, Victor Hugo’s book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” helped usher in a revitalization effort. The medieval spire, which had been removed a century earlier, was rebuilt.

The significance of that spire is testimony to the efforts of a group of people who ventured back inside as the fire was laying waste to the roof of the cathedral. A group of public servants and firemen formed a human chain and retrieved several priceless artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns- believed to have been worn by Jesus on the cross- and the Blessed Sacrament. The roof, constructed from 5,000 oak trees by more than a thousand men, could not be saved.

It was sometime around 8 p.m. when the spire was taken from the world in a heap of ash. A symbol of hope and faith, stolen away by the flames forever. And as the sun set on the city, our Lady of Paris said goodbye to the world.

And Jesus wept.

3 Days in Woodstock

Woodstock Poster

🕊️-Imma be rolling out a series of posts on Woodstock that will appear on the blog each Sunday until I exhaust all the groovy gravy I supped up on my trip. I’m going with the rather unoriginal title of “3 Days in Woodstock” since I also happened to spend three days inside this mesmerizing state of mind. Forty nine years removed but right on time-🕊️

Sometimes history asks for the moments that spiral into legendary tales, and sometimes the moments just storm the gates and make the history that exists in perpetuity. Three days in August of 1969 accomplished both of these things.

Of all the things I thought I knew about Woodstock, the elemental truths proved most elusive. Curiosity provided me with the impetus to get there, after which the education filled in the gaps and provided solvency. The rush to break things into three dimensional congress produced a thread of events which peeled back the layers of all the things I thought I knew, and replaced them with all the things I learned.

Woodstock Festival

Having booked passage to Woodstock New York back in May, you would think I’d have done the requisite homework as to the actual site of the legendary film festival. The fact that I didn’t turned out to be a brilliant mistake. Because it mirrored the event itself; unprepared for what was to come but earnest in the desire to get there.

So it was that a couple days into my trip, I was ready to make the journey to Max Yasgur’s farm. Which ain’t located in the town of Woodstock, or even all that close. The sojourn to music Valhalla covers almost sixty miles in a spindly, winding gallivant of paved roads and unbeaten paths.

Walkill Poster

The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair- billed as three days of peace and music- appeared doomed from the start. The organizers of the three day concert battled the banks, the local townships, the Mayor of New York and even themselves in the lead up to what would become a touchstone moment in the age of Aquarius.

The town of Woodstock became synonymous with the festival due to the fact the investment group that helped finance the event was named Woodstock Ventures. The name stuck, even though the location changed several times. After it was determined that Woodstock could not hold the festival, the towns of Saugerties and Walkill would take turns withdrawing their offers, leaving the organizers with little time with which to find a home.

Woodstock Concert Ticket

Twenty eight days before the concert, Max Yasgur came forward with an offer to rent a portion of his six hundred acre dairy farm in Bethel as the venue. He wasn’t in tune with the counter culture phenomenon of the time, and he would drive a hard bargain on the price he was looking for. It wasn’t out of the kindness of his heart so much as the verity of his beliefs that the event would prove transcendent inside a turbulent period in our nation’s history.

Woodstock Nuns

I arrived at the entrance to this legendary place and was greeted by a sign which reads Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. A short ride delivered me through a labyrinth of special access entrances and several football field sized parking lots. The museum sits off to the right; a statuesque peak that rustles up the roaming hills that surround it as if a storyteller looking to gain the attention of a restless audience from the brightly lit stage.

Groovy Way

The walk from my car to the museum was spent wrestling myriad emotions; excitement, awe, gratitude, melancholy and fear. The excitement was palpable in the steps I took and the buzz of nervous energy that fueled them. The awe is just as obvious, because all the while I was thinking I am fucking here! . . .on a loop. The gratitude was in knowing  I had come to a hallowed place as witness to an experience that could not be replicated any other way. A tinge of melancholy reined in my exuberance as I wondered why in the hell I had waited so long to get here. And fear, the most unwelcome but the most necessary in the time before I knew what to expect. Because fear allowed me to stanch the illusory perspective I had constructed over the course of a lifetime. Fear let me know that if this whole damned thing proved anti-climactic, that I would have to be okay with it even if I really didn’t want to be okay with it.

Woodstock bus

You build these moments up in your head to play out a certain way. I wanted the moments to be plush with flowers of a long lost bloom, and I wanted to get high on the perfume of its original sin. I wanted Jimi to be spilling his guitar through my brain . . Janis to be arranging verbs in moodily wrought crazy quilt patterns . . I wanted Santana to breathe his fire across the tranquil sky . . Richie Havens to break all the rules by getting me to the risen church of melodies and lyrics whose life was seeded in a garden . . this one.

I had already broken all the rules that warned me about heightened expectations. The crush of silence was daunting, as was the modernity that framed the doorway to that cosmic driven time.  All that was left for me to do was step inside.



Finding the power of the press in our search for the Perfect Cuban Sammy

7477_1506724717947The Cuban sandwich is a testament to culinary integration, patience and abiding love. It’s quintessential element is the coalescing of big personality ingredients into one delicious mambo in your mouth.

The exact birth date of the Cuban sandwich is impossible to pin down. Stories date as far back as the mid to late 1800’s, in the cigar factories and sugar mills of Cuba where workers would partake during their breaks. It arrived on our shores during the Cuban revolution. A Cuban population that was able to get out from under Fidel’s ruthless thumb found work in the fields of the Sunshine State and a lunchtime favorite was born.

The original Cuban sammy was made with roasted pork, ham, salami, swiss cheese and pickles on Cuban bread. Upon its arrival in Miami, the salami was removed but the history was just beginning. The present day blueprint calls for pork, ham, swiss and pickles on Cuban bread (think Italian or French bread . . with a Spanish accent).

From there to here, this simple sandwich has undergone more reconstructions than Uma Thurman’s beautiful face. The marielitos who fled Havana in 1980 brought fusion, while America’s sandwich scientists brought sacrilege. The myriad takes on the original have ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.

A couple months back, me and Linds decided to put together an Adventure Playlist: Pick a food and then search for its best example. We decided to start things off with the Cuban sandwich.

Our search for the “perfect Cuban sandwich” comes with myriad considerations and assorted complications. Namely, we live in fucking Lancaster County, Pennsylvania! That aside, we have been quite successful in our scavenger hunt thus far, uncovering hidden gems with ups, hipster cafes with crazy combinations  and corner bars whose soulful renditions brought us to tears (okay, maybe it was the drinks that did that). They’ve all had one thing in common. They were goooood.

Mi Caldero Restaurante in York, Pennsylvania became our first stop. We came up with this location by conducting a google search as follows . . Places in York, Pa where you’re unlikely to be mugged . . . Thank God for technology, yanno?

One bite told the tale. The pork was succulent . . (that’s a big deal). Unfortunately for this particular sandwich, the pork was too good. It actually stole the show. It was the culinary equivalent of Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises. Delicious and sexy and infinitely better than the rest of an otherwise solid cast. The sandwich paid close attention to detail: Its mustard/mayo’ish creaminess was a yummy salve, the pickles provided punch with every crunch and the ham was buttery and sweet. AND . . it was pressed with the abiding love of a chef who totally gets that the press is the thing. 

On a scale of 1-10, we graded Mi Caldero’s Cuban sandwich a 6. Perhaps we were a bit harsh, but hey, this is important work!

This is the first of a series of posts on the Cuban sandwich. We’ll report from the front lines about once a week until we find our winner. In the interim, if you have a take on the Cuban sandwich that you would like to share with us, please do! You can contact us at or you can just leave your recipe in the comment tab. Who knows? We might even try yours out.

Viva the flavah . . .