Monday Morning Update: July 18

Punk rock and basketball, Phil and the British Open, and emo rock and bro-tunes. Don’t call it a comeback.

  1. Bats and balls with Benny Horowitz

In case you missed it, I spoke with Benny Horowitz, drummer of the Gaslight and Bottomfeeder, and like I said in the description of this episode, it was a bit different than I expected. We open the conversation talking about what it’s like trying to follow your favorite team while on the road with the band, and how the internet has changed all of that.

While I expected to talk more about his life in Gaslight, Bottomfeeder and other bands and other music questions, the conversation stayed firmly in the realm of sports. We talked about some Yankees and Nets stuff in detail, some MLB and NBA as a whole in general, and touch on a bevy of topics from local rivalries to the psychoses I may or may not have developed in my life as a sports fan.

Obviously, you should listen to every episode of the Chin Music Podcast. But I’d recommend this one especially.

  1. The Yankees are not back (and they won’t be)

I’m not a big fan of this year’s Bronx Bombers squad, in case you haven’t guessed. And as difficult as it was to watch the Red Sox thoroughly outclass the Yanks this weekend, here’s hoping it was final the dose of medicine the Yankees needed.

I’ve believed they should be and will be sellers for a while now, but ya boy Randy Levine is killing me by refusing to acknowledge what every Yankee observer, from Jack Curry to Benny Horowitz to my dad, can plainly see. Every time I have a deep sigh of relief after Cashman speaks in the most rational voice I’ve perhaps ever heard the GM speak, Levine comes flying in insisting that this team can compete this year.

They can’t. Yes, we’ve seen teams make up these 5 to 6 game differences before, but this is not one of those times. There are too many teams in the way. There is no messiah coming off the DL. There is no trade that can transform this team. There is no quick fix. It’s time to tear it down and build it back again.

Maybe Levine is just posturing, trying to protect his team’s assets, and drive up value. It’s a hope, but I’m doubtful. It’s time to let it go.

  1. Wrastlin’

I was informed by my good friend Robert Doud (a minor wrestling Twitter celebrity) that the WWE brand draft (yeah, I probably didn’t call that the right name, so it goes) is this week, and not only that, but its being held not too far from my stomping ground, in Worcester, Mass.

I’ve flirted with an interest in the WWE for a while. I love a good story and dramatic devices, and wrestling is nothing if not full of those. A scripted athletic competition allows for some really cool narrative developments, and it definitely appeals to that end of me. On the flip side, though, its obviously quite often remarkably immature or insensitive, even just downright dumb.

I’m torn. Still come down on not being a fan of it, but I’m open to the argument. Someone convince me.


  1. Phil comes up just short

Almost all weekend, the stage seemed set for the perfect performance. Royal Troon, already home to a number of American British Open winners, would serve as the backdrop for perhaps Phil Michelson’s true swan song and finale. One more major victory, this time coming off an impressive, perhaps even dominant performance in the elements.

Except, a Swede named Henrik Stenson a different idea. He played one of the best rounds a player has ever played, given the pressure and all it took to wrestle that tournament from Phil’s hand.

It’s been a great year in golf so far. While the Master’s may have disappointed some Jordan Spieth fans, it was no doubt a highly exciting finish. Dustin Johnson conquered his demons on Father’s Day weekend at the U.S. Open. Now Phil says he played “the best he’s ever played and not won,” in the year’s third major, and rightly so.

I cannot wait to see what the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup have to offer.

  1. Sheriff’s a comin

Can the Rio Olympics become even more of a circus? That’s my biggest question in sports coming in to this week. With all the political corruption, human rights abuses, environmental depravity and all the other wonderful news items that have come out of this summer’s games, we’ve almost forgotten about the Russian doping scandal.

We’ll more than likely find out some time this week, or maybe a bit later, about the fate of many prospective Russian Olympians, who are in quite the purgatory right now, waiting to find out if they can compete or not.

To me, this feels like a lose lose situation. Ban the Russians, and athletes who haven’t doped or felt they had no other choice are punished for the actions of some (pretty seriously) bad actors. Let them compete, and you run the risk of having to strip athletes of medals after the fact, or allowing dopers a way around the rules. You also open yourself up to even more shouts of corruption.

I love the Olympics. I was excited for the 2016 games last July and August. I anticipated them in December and January. I tried to keep up my enthusiasm up in May and June.

I don’t think I’m so enthusiastic anymore.

  1. Super Sager

I like to think I’m good with words, but I’m nowhere near this guy. Craig Sager was what a sideline reporter should be for a long time before battling cancer. He’s funny, smart, informative, and adds to the broadcast without becoming convinced of his own importance. He knows he has a great, fun job, and he tries hard to do his best at it.

Since he’s been diagnosed, his stature has grown, and for very good reason. He’s a true inspiration, whether you’re a sports fan or not, whether you’re battling an illness or some other adversity or not.

I’m going to shut up for now. Just listen to Sager…



  1. Any given Wednesday website

Credit where credit is due. Bill Simmons’ show is moderately entertaining, which is about the kindest way I could find to say that its thoroughly boring. I’ve loved Simmons’ writing for a long time, but his on camera presence just doesn’t do it for me, or for many others, it would seem.

But, the Ringer, like Grantland and 30 for 30 before it, is fantastic. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again—Simmons has undeniable ability to find great talent, collect and curate them in one space, and giving them room to do what they do best. The Ringer is just another example of that.

But seriously, dude, shut up about ESPN already. We get it.

  1. Is it safe to come out now?

Seriously, can I go live a normal life in Massachusetts now that Brady isn’t going to the Supreme Court? Probably not right?

Ok, cool, great, just checking….

  1. Celebrate we will…

I saw a few very different bands this weekend, Modest Mouse and Brand New on Thursday, and a double helping of Dave Matthews Band on Friday and Saturday.

While I’ll refrain from recounting the shows in the excruciating detail I know you all crave, I did take one thing in particular from the weekend. Specifically, I was impressed by the diverse and wide web of influence music can have on our lives.

On Thursday, I saw two bands I’ve held in high esteem for quite some time, Modest Mouse and Brand New. Those bands are critical darlings, and you can get a certain “cred” for dropping those names in the right conversation. Strip all that away, though, and I’m left with a pair of groups that have emotionally intense songs that beg you to pay attention to them. Call the screaming and dissonance unnecessary, obnoxious, difficult to listen to, whatever you’d like. But they make those songs impossible to ignore. There’s a sense of immediacy to them, a feeling of urgency that I’ve always loved. While both bands had their highs and lows at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, that sense was there once again, and I was reminded of just how powerful of a vessel music can be.

Fast forward to this weekend. Instead of the rafters of Madison Square Garden being aurorally over-stimulated by crashing, screaming loudness, I’m in an almost idyllic, Woodstock-esque field in upstate New York, seeing everyone’s (least?) favorite jam band, Dave Matthews Band. That band, too, draws its fair share of detractors, for being sometimes too broad, too vanilla, too watered down. Their fan base is dominated by some unappealing people for a reason, critics attest. But if you looked around the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Friday or Saturday, there was no “one kind of person” there. Sure there were lax bros, and stoners and hippies and drunk high school kids who just came to party. But there were ALL of those things, and so much more. People who brought their whole family to the event. People who make annual trips. People seeing it for the first time. So many different people.

As I looked out from the back of the general admission section on Saturday, that’s what struck me the most. Not the impressive musicianship of the members of Dave’s band (which can be lost in the sometimes fair criticism they take), not the strange lyrics Mr. Matthews comes up with. I was struck by how this guy, from South Africa, was able to bring so many different kinds of people, to share the experience, sing the same words, to a field in Saratoga, New York.

I’m quite sure what the point to all this rambling was, but the contrast between the concerts reminded me of some truths that all bands, from Dave Matthews to Brand New and everything else, share. For whatever you turn to music for, it can give it to you. Sometimes it’s an emotional release, sometimes it’s the background for a good time, and sometimes, it’s a unifying force. How blessed we are to have it around.

You can follow Brendan on Twitter at @MurraySportTalk


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