Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Cure Slice No. 1

I am going to cure this slice if it kills me: Part 1

The lowest moment in my journey so far came last week, when I conducted the following Google search:

“Do any pro golfers scoop?”

You can probably see how I got there—I’m a mediocre golfer (best 18-hole score: 84), I’ve been scooping for literally the entire nine years of my playing life, and it’s so ingrained in me, so firmly entrenched in muscle memory, that at my most desperate moments I think, “maybe it’s fine?” And in these bouts of self-justification, I try to come up with reasons why I don’t actually have to stop scooping, why I can become great at this sport in defiance of the exactly 100% of swing instructors, pros, coaches, and general human population who say that no, you absolutely cannot be a good golfer if you have a scoopy swing. In these moments, I dream of being the poor man’s Jim Furyk of the scoop—a low handicap municipal stud who thumbed his nose at the orthodoxy and followed his own path to greatness. I only needed one example of someone who did it before me.

The Google search turned up zero hits. This is likely because there are, in fact, no professionals who employ a disastrous swing flaw in their arsenal, just as there no pros who—I don’t know—strike the ball with the back side of the club. Who’d have thought?

Before we go any deeper on this journey, let’s define a scoop for those who don’t know. It’s pretty simply: the scoop happens when the proper wrist angle breaks down before impact and you try to literally scoop the ball into the air with your hands. While a player with a good swing has his hands in front of the ball at impact, with full extension to come after the strike, the scooper “achieves” that extension at impact, losing a ton of power and introducing a glaring inconsistency into the motion, making everything harder; welcome to the world of hitting fat and thin, repeat ad nauseam.

Here’s how that looks, from an image taken at my range session two weeks ago:

As you see, this is a really, really bad scoop. Like so much of our human behavior, I can only imagine that it was developed in response to original trauma. I never played as a kid, focusing on baseball, basketball, and football, and only decided when I was writing an actual golf book about the PGA Tour in 2014 that I should probably learn to play, at which point I became addicted. I can’t trace the origin of the scoop with any historical rigor, but in this case I’d have to guess that when I first started hitting, hitting the ball thin frustrated me to such a degree that I unconsciously adopted a sort of cheat code method to get the ball up in the air. And, as you see, it completely ****ed me up forever.

Until now, I never really tried to do anything about it. I knew, instinctively, that to actually fix this part of my game would constitute a major overhaul, take lots of time, and make me miserable in the process. Instead, I adopted the strategy of passively hoping it would go away. Shock of all shocks? That didn’t work.

Now, I’m trying. The reality has set in that although I might be able to get lucky and break 80 one day by my current method, true consistency and my maximum distance won’t be available to me until I get this sorted out. A series of videos by the instructor Danny Maude clarified a few things about the iron swing for me last month, and when I thought I was hitting the ball very well on the range one day, I set up the camera and got the result you see above. That’s when I knew that until I made a conscious effort to rid myself of the scoop, nothing else I did would mean much. It occurred to me at the same time that every day I delayed that work was a day that the scoop would be ingrained in my muscle memory.

It was time to act.

Step 1: The training aids

After some searching, the first thing I did was buy a DST Compressor 8-iron, a well-reviewed training club that is artificially bent backwards along the shaft so that in theory, the only way you can make a clean strike is to have your hands well in front at impact. I took it to the range, struggled initially, and then began hitting some lovely high shots straight down the pipe. Could it be that easy? I set up my camera, and this was the result:

As you see, the scoop is already in effect well before impact, and is, in fact, worse than ever before. Almost immediately, my brain adapted to the shape of the new club, effectively saying, “you think you can get me to stop scooping with a screwy club? Watch this, baby,” and then exaggerating the scoop to get a good result. It was almost impressive, and pissed me off deeply. I don’t for a second think this is any kind of final verdict on the DST Compressor, but it was clear that it wasn’t going to work for me as a first step.

The next thing I bought, on the advice of my pro Karl at Hillandale, was a much cheaper smash bag. Here, the concept is that you fill this bag up with old clothes or birdseed or something, and when you hit it, you can immediately tell where your hands are because the club is going to stop. That way, you can adjust and train your swing. The one negative I kept reading in the reviews is that the stitching tends to break pretty easily, and in fact that happened on the first day I began to use it. But so far, it hasn’t really mattered—it still functions as it’s supposed to. As I found out, it’s wayyyy easier to get your hands out ahead and maintain a wrist angle on the smash bag:

There, the right hand might be a little bit scoopy still, but the hands are successfully out in front at impact. So far, this does not immediately translate to the range, but in terms of training a specific motion and undoing years of muscle memory, I find this aid to be far more useful than the compressor club—even if you can see a pair of old white shorts poking out of the broken seams.

The Videos

I want to mention a few videos I found helpful from the “feel” perspective. First, this drill from Dan Whitaker that focuses on the idea of driving a nail in with the butt of the club, lead by the left hand; I’m somebody who learns by feel, and this was the kind of proprioceptive idea that helps me remember to get the left hand out front.

Second, the drill from Andrew Rice starting at the 5-minute mark in this video, in which a slight bow of the left wrist helps the face impact, and short punchy swings are taken from a parallel position with an emphasis on moving the body through and keeping the hands in front.

Trying this at the range, it astounded how unbelievably difficult it was to actually strike the ball without scooping, even with a simple punch shot technique. Never was the obstacle more clear—muscle memory was so embedded that it was overriding any directions I was giving it. When you don’t care about making a ball go forward, as when you’re hitting a smash bag, it’s easy to do the right thing. When you’ve got that little white hellion of an orb sitting beneath you, though, the hands and body are going to revert. Finally, after a range session from hell, I managed to capture myself making impact with the hands well ahead of the ball:

This shot squirted to the right about 30 yards, my head is completely turned away from the ball with my eyes seemingly closed, the club is almost comically hooded, and it’s just desperately ugly in 100 different ways, but I still felt like I’d conquered a demon.

Where I am now

This **** is hard. I’m trying to get out and hit a few balls every day when the weather cooperates, but when I do, I’m still scooping when I allow myself to take a full swing. And this presents a conundrum: Do I shut down playing actual golf until I can make some real progress, or is it okay to continue my range practice, but allow myself to swing “normally” on the course so I’m not horrible to play with in the meantime? I think I’m opting for the latter, though it does feel like this is an iffy solution; if I’m scooping on the course when it matters, will I ever truly be cured?

Coming up this week is a sorely needed lesson, at which I want to probe my instructor on why the scoop persists, and continue to hammer at this stone, hoping one day that it finally breaks. For now, the plan is to continue thinking about this more than I think about literally anything else in life, and slowly drive myself mad.

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Apocalypse Sports Trivia, Explained

Hello everyone! Welcome to the explainer for Apocalypse Sports Trivia, the head-to-head league taking the nation (read: a few sports nerds) by storm. The simple explanation of our fair enterprise is that for ten days (M-F only), you will face a new opponent each day from within your ten-player division. The individual battles are “games,” and the overall ten-day affair is a “Fortnight” (with apologies to the video game). Along with answering five questions in each game, you will try to stymie your opponent in an attempt to limit the damage he wreaks. If you get more points than your opponent that day, you win the game. If you don’t, you lose. You can also draw! Three points for a win, one point for a draw, zero points for a defeat, just like European soccer. Also just like European soccer, there is promotion and relegation from within your division. At the end of each Series, the top finishers in each division will climb the ladder, and the bottom finishers will be relegated to what lies beneath. New players will be placed in Junior Divisions, and their results will determine which division they enter for the next Series.

Now, some FAQ.


1. What’s to stop us from cheating?

Nothing, except the strength of your character. And really, why would you join a league like this, which features no cash prizes, and cheat? What’s the point? Don’t cheat!

2. Can I look up parts of questions that won’t give me the full answer?

Absolutely not! Questions in Apocalypse Sports Trivia are meant to be answered using only the knowledge that’s already in your head. So, if the question was…

Of the 21 schools to have won a Division 1 national championship in men’s hockey, only two are located south of 40 degrees latitude, including the team tied with the second-most titles. Name either of the two schools, which happen to be located in the same state.

…you would not be allowed to look at a map to see which states fall below 40 degrees latitude, even though this would not give you the answer. Or if the question was…

Fill in the blank from a 2011 New York Times feature: “‘________ are going to bite the thunder out of you,’ says 44-year-old Buster Garrett, who took part in the 12th annual Okie Noodling tournament.”

…you would not be allowed to look up the definition of ‘noodling.’ (In this case, it would give you the actual answer.)

3. Are the questions hard?

Our league-wide average in our first fortnight was 47%, 52% for Fortnights Two and Three, and just over 53% for Fortnight Four, so let that be your guide (the goal is to keep a rate slightly above 50%). In my opinion, the questions are hard but not impossible. Your mileage may vary, but we’ll always keep up a certain standard of difficulty.

4. How long do we have to answer?

Twenty-four hours. The questions will come out at 9 p.m. eastern, and will be due by 9 p.m. eastern the next day, which is also when results will be available.

5. What if someone fails to answer in the time allotted?

That’s a default, meaning the other player gets a three-point victory and the highest possible points for each correct answer. For the defaulting player, it just counts as a normal loss, but too many defaults (the usual standard is two within a fortnight) and you’ll be booted from the league.

6. How are standings determined?

First by points for wins and losses and draws, then by differential of points within a match, then by correct answers.

7. How do points within a game work?

In each game, a correct answer is worth two points…with two exceptions. As you answer, you’ll also mark one question with a K, and one question with an HR—that’s baseball notation for strikeout and home run. If your opponent gets the question marked “K” correct, he or she will receive 0 points—you’ve effectively nullified the question. However, if he or she gets the “HR” question correct, it will be worth 4 points. Clearly, you want to assign a K to the question you believe to be easiest, and an HR to the hardest.

8. What’s with the division names?

Each conference, starting with the original Armageddon Conference, will eventually be populated by 60 players, separated into six divisions of ten players each based on performance in past fortnights. The names of the six divisions—Premiership, Liga Two, Serie Three, Fourdivisie, Deildin Five, Sixligaen—are borrowed from European soccer. New players will be placed in “Junior” divisions for their first fortnight, with their performance there dictating which division they’re placed in for the next fortnight.

9. What’s the format within a fortnight?

The first nine days of each fortnight will feature round robin play within each division, with every player in a division facing every other player in that division in a head-to-head match. Based on the standings after those nine days, players will be matched against each other on Day Ten in battles for championships, promotions, relegations, and honor matches. The first nine days constitute the “regular season,” while Day Ten is known as Championship Day.

10. What if I fail to play defense? 

Playing defense is not mandatory in the sense that failing to do so results in an automatic default, but if any player neglects to play defense, his opponent will get the maximum points for the questions he answers correctly. Even if that opponent only gets one answer right, it will be worth four points (the HR value), and no answers will be zero’ed out (the K value). If only the K is neglected, all correct answers will be worth 2 points except the HR question, which will still be worth 4. If only the HR is neglected, the first correct answer not K’ed will be worth 4 points. So it’s very beneficial to play defense, and neglecting it can only result in a worse outcome.

11. What about spelling, and names, and all that?

Unless otherwise stated, last names are fine for answers. In fact, we’ve had situations where someone unnecessarily attempted a first name, bungled it, and got the answer wrong even though they had the last name right. Beware! Spelling is a little trickier. You don’t have to spell your answer correctly, but it has to “sound” right even with the incorrect spelling. So if the answer to one question was “Jurgen Klopp,” “Yirgin Clahp” would be fine, but “Klopper” would be wrong since it sounds different. Some of this comes down to a judgment call, and the commish has the final call, but that’s the basic rule.

12. Any other minutiae?

Sure—if a question asks for one response, and you list more than one, your first response will count, regardless of what comes after. If a question asks for two or more answers, and you list only one, you will get the question wrong even if the answer you provided is correct—no partial credit.

13. Can defaults be a draw?

No. If you default and your opponent submits and gets zero correct answers, that will be a victory for your opponent and a loss for you. The opponent will be credited with the full three points, but zero correct answers and zero margin of victory.

14. What are the categories for questions?

Glad you asked…

The Categories

Note: As you’ll soon discover, there’s a good deal of overlap between certain categories. Many of the sports covered in other categories are also in the Olympics, for instance. I’ll make sure to balance the questions accordingly, so that, for instance, if there are two tennis questions in the “Country Club” category, there won’t be any in the Olympics category. And if there’s a question about Olympic Hockey, that will likely go under the Hockey category to avoid having too many hockey questions in one Series.

New for Fortnight Two: The categories will no longer be listed in front of the questions. Rest assured that each Series of 50 questions will still contain four to six questions from each category. The reason for this is that some questions are designed to test your knowledge in ways that would be given away if the category was listed.

Sub-Categories: Each set of five questions throughout a Series in a specific category will be separated into broad sub-categories such as history, current events, rules, entertainment, and business.

1. Football – Self-explanatory

2. Soccer – Self-explanatory

3. Baseball – Self-explanatory

4. Basketball – Self-explanatory

5. Hockey – Self-explanatory

6. Obscure sports – For the foreign and the uncommon, and also for general knowledge questions that don’t fit into a specific sport.

7. Racing & Combat – An admittedly odd couple that includes motor sports, horse racing, boxing, MMA, wrestling, etc.

8. The Country Club – For sports we associate with money, from tennis to golf to lacrosse to polo to fox hunting. Expect many fox hunting questions.

9. Olympic Sports – Sports that are contested in the Olympics that generally don’t appear in another category, such as swimming or track & field.

10. Games – Another broad category which can include anything from billiards to chess to video/arcade games to cards.

Official Terminology

To force a draw with one fewer correct answer is called a COTTOM.

To win with the same number of correct answers is a WHIPWIN.

To win with fewer correct answers is called a BUIE.

To draw with two fewer correct answers is called a FLOWE.

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Trivia Questions Series One


1. Soccer

Between them, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi won every Ballon D’Or—an annual award given to the world’s best player—from 2008 to 2017. Who broke their streak, and became the first winner from Croatia, in 2018?

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2. Football

In NCAA football, there are two ways to score exactly one point. The first is a point after touchdown (PAT) kick, and the second is a _______ safety. These latter events, also called “one-point safeties,” can be scored by the offense or defense, and are incredibly rare. (In fact, the defensive variety has never occurred.) What word fills in the blank above?

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3. Foreign Sports

In 1875, the Basque poet Serafin Baroja coined a two-word phrase that translates into English as “merry festival.” What was this phrase in its original Basque?

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4. Individual Sports

Name the golfer who won nine career Argentine Opens and an Open Championship, but is perhaps most famous in America for signing an incorrect scorecard. When notified of this error, he proclaimed, “What a stupid I am!”

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5. Hockey

Less than five months after scoring the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 1951, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Bill Barilko died in a plane crash while on a fishing trip. The Leafs wouldn’t win another Stanley Cup until 1962, the year his body was discovered in Ontario. This story is retold in the lyrics of a Jan. 1993 song called “Fifty Mission Cap” by what Canadian rock band?

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1. Olympic Sports

Since Jim Hines’ record-setting sprint at the 1968 Summer Olympics, the world record for the men’s 100 meters has been broken by ten men who have hailed from just three countries. Name one man from each country who has accomplished the feat. (Note: your answer should consist of three names—no need to label countries).

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2. Fighting

On July 6, 2019, at UFC 239, titles were awarded in the women’s bantamweight and men’s light heavyweight divisions. The losers of those bouts were Holly Holm and Thiago Santos, respectively. Name both winners.

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3. Baseball

What was Theo Epstein’s Halloween costume in 2005?

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4. Entertainment/Business

The Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge, boasts the Trinity College Clock, which takes approximately 43.6 seconds to chime 24 hour times each day at noon. Two men have successfully finished a perimeter sprint of the Great Court before the final chime—the first in 1927, the second in 2007. A third successful run, albeit apocryphal, was depicted in what 1981 film?

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5. Basketball

In 1966, the Texas Western Miners became the first team to win the NCAA University Division basketball championship with an all black starting lineup. The losing team in the final game was led by two different players who each scored a team-leading 19 points. Name either one.

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1. Hockey

In 2000, Larry Robinson became the first interim head coach to guide his team, the New Jersey Devils, to a Stanley Cup championship. Who became the second, in 2019, as interim head coach of the St. Louis Blues?

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2. Baseball

A team with the nickname “Giants” has won the Japan Series—the championship of the country’s top league, Nippon Professional Baseball—a record 22 times. Name the Japanese media group that owns the franchise.

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3. Entertainment/Business

“Howard gratefully claims it. Distribution brilliant…Landon Donovan, are things on here for the USA? Can they do it here? Cross — and Dempsey is denied again! And Donovan has scored! Oh, can you believe this?!”

What were the next three words spoken by ESPN announcer Ian Darke when he called Donovan’s dramatic goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup? “I did feel like an honorary American for a few seconds there,” he’d say later.

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4. Foreign/Obscure Sports

One of the most famous traditional “village football” or “mob football” games is contested twice yearly, on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, between the “uppies” and “doonies” in Kirkwall, the largest city in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. This communal sport, and others like it throughout Scotland, are  commonly referred to by what two-letter word?

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5. Individual Sports

Name the only tennis player to win the “Golden Slam”—all four slams and an Olympic gold—in a single calendar year.

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1. Basketball

Shaquille O’Neal is 8th on the NBA all-time scoring list, and 10th on the combined NBA/ABA all-time scoring list (which compiles career totals of points scored in both leagues). Name the two players who jump ahead of Shaq to place 8th and 9th on the combined list. These men are 70th and 9th, respectively, on the NBA-only list.

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2. Soccer

In 1970, Brazil won its third World Cup, becoming the winningest nation in that competition from South America. Which other South American country did they overtake?

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3. Fighting

Name the professional wrestler who holds the longest single reign as WWWF/WWF/WWE heavyweight champion at 2,803 days. Born in Pizzoferrato, Italy, he passed away in 2018 at the age of 82.

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4. Olympic Sports

Only one American village has hosted two Winter Olympic games, and was the venue for arguably the most impactful moment in U.S. Olympic history. Name that village (which, for the record, is home to exactly zero crocodiles).

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5. Football

Who became the first unanimous All-American in college football history in 1924 when he was selected as a first-teamer by six separate organizations? This player, a halfback from the University of Illinois, went on to win two NFL championships with the Chicago Bears, and was given the nickname “The Galloping Ghost” by Chicago American sportswriter Warren Brown.

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1. Baseball

In September 1948, a short poem by Boston Herald sports editor Gerald V. Hern was adapted into a pithy epigram: “______ and ______ and pray for rain.” Name either of the Boston Braves pitchers who fill out the first part of the rhyming phrase.

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2. Individual Sports

On Sept. 11, 2019, the New York Times broke a story on an apparent cover-up which began in the spring of 2018 in Arcadia, CA (in a location that was once part of an 1845 land grant called Rancho Santa Anita). The story included the following line: “He tested positive for the drug scopolamine.” To which mononymic star does the “he” in that sentence refer?

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3. Soccer

Spain is to “Copa Del Rey” as France is to “Coupe de France” as England is to the ________. Fill in the blank, and don’t say the word “Carabao” or you’ll be banned for life.

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4. Basketball

As the American Dream Team accepted their gold medals in men’s basketball atop the podium at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the bronze medal team stood to their left wearing colorful t-shirts that featured a skeleton dunking a basketball. Name both the bronze medal-winning team and the “sponsor” responsible for the shirts.

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5. Fighting

In the twelfth round of a 1952 boxing bout televised live on ABC, announcer Don Dunphy remarked, “this is probably the tamest round of the entire fight.” Within moments, one of the fighters drove the other into the ropes and battered him with 29 straight punches that sent him into a coma from which he’d die ten days later. Name either fighter in this bout.

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DAY SIX (aborted)

Olympic Sports

In the 1904 Summer Olympic Games in St. Louis, a retired cricket professional named George Lyon won a gold medal as one of just three Canadians competing in an event that included 71 Americans. (No other nations participated.) Who was the next man to win an Olympic gold medal in Lyon’s event?

Foreign/Obscure Sports

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A “marker” produced by Daisy Manufacturing, and designed for use on trees and livestock, was instrumental in the founding of what sport, first played in Henniker, New Hampshire in 1981?

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A tweet by Adrian Wojnarowski on Sept. 20, 2019 broke the news that the NBA Board of Governors had “passed a stricter package of measures to enforce compliance with _______ and salary cap circumvention.” Fill in the missing word, which has been a focus of commissioner Adam Silver and team owners after a particularly chaotic free agency period.

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Since it was commissioned in 1892, the Stanley Cup has been awarded almost every year (and in some cases, multiple times per year), including during both World Wars. The one exception came in 1919, when the championship series was canceled after five games due to a disease outbreak that would lead to the death of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joe Hall and, much later, his coach George Kennedy. What virus was to blame?

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DAY SIX (actual)

1. Hockey

In the history of Olympic men’s and women’s hockey, only nine nations have won a medal of any kind, counting the Soviet Union/Russia/Unified Team/OAR as a single entity, and doing the same for Germany/West Germany and Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic. Of the six remaining nations, name four.

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2. Business/Entertainment

Name the first MLB player to sign a contract worth at least one million dollars per year. This player signed the four-year, $4 million deal in 1980.

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3. Foreign/Obscure Sports

The terms “junk,” “clam,” “chrome wall,” “flexagon,” and “scoober” are all associated with what sport?

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4. Football

Which NFL player, a punter and wide receiver from Harvard who was drafted in the fifth round in 1975 by the Cincinnati Bengals, scored the only verified perfect 50 among NFL players on the Wonderlic Test?

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5. Olympic Sports

Tensions that began with the Hungarian Revolution in October 1956—an uprising that was mercilessly squashed by the Soviet Union within weeks—led to a violent semifinal water polo match at the ‘56 Melbourne Olympics in December that is now referred to by what four-word phrase?

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1. Basketball

Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp were coached in their playing days at the University of Kansas by legendary Jayhawk Phog Allen. Allen also played basketball at Kansas, from 1905-1907. Who was his coach?

2. Soccer

Which country has won the most Africa Cup of Nations titles, with seven since the competition began in 1957? Despite its continental success, this country has never won a World Cup match.

3. Business/Entertainment

When the U.S. men won the 4×100 medley relay at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it gave Michael Phelps his record eighth gold medal in a single Olympics. Dan Hicks called the race live on NBC…who was his broadcasting partner?

4. Individual Sports

No cyclist has ever won all three grand tours in the same year, but three men have won the races consecutively, albeit in different calendar years—a “Tiger Slam” of cycling, so to speak. Chris Froome was the latest to achieve the feat, winning the 2017 Tour de France, the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, and the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Bernard Hinault came before him with wins in the 1982 Giro and Tour and the 1983 Vuelta. Name the man who pulled it off first, winning four grand tours in a row between 1972 and 1973.

5. Baseball

Fill in the blank to complete this historical list, which began in 2006 and is listed here in its entirety: Marcus Stroman (2017), Robinson Cano (2013), Daisuke Matsuzaka (2009), ____________ (2006).


1. Football

Of the 32 current NFL franchises, some—like the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos—passed the 900 games played threshold in the last two seasons. Only ten teams have played more than 1,000 games (in NFL or AFL + NFL competition), and of those, only three currently play in cities located west of the Mississippi River. Name the only one of those three franchises that started west of the Mississippi.

2. Fighting

Born in May 1969 in Hawaii, Chadwick Haheo Rowan became the first American-born man to achieve the highest rank in his sport—an honor bestowed on fewer than 80 men historically. Prior to his promotion in 1993, all others who had achieved this rank came from what country?

3. Olympic Sports

There are five disciplines in the “Modern Pentathlon,” which has been contested at the Olympics since 1912. Three of those disciplines are swimming, running, and riding. Name the other two.

4. Hockey

FoxTrax, which lasted from 1996 to 1998, was an experiment in “augmented reality” by Fox Sports in which a glowing puck effect was used to help viewers follow NHL action on TV. For the vast majority of each game, what color was the glow?

5. Foreign/Obscure Sports

The Australian cricketer Ricky Ponting is second on the all-time list of international centuries scored in a career, with 71. Name the player, nicknamed “Master Blaster,” who tops the list with 51 in the test cricket format and 49 in One Day Internationals, for a total of 100.


1. Football

In an list of the 100 best players of 2019, as voted by the players and published as a preview in July, there is only one first name that appears three times. In this case, one of the three players uses a shortened version of the name but was born with the longer version, and the two that use the longer version play defense for the Saints and Steelers, respectively. Name…the name. (Short or long version is acceptable.)

2. Fighting

Jean Exbrayat, a soldier in Napoleon’s army, is credited with inventing a style of wrestling he named “flat hand,” and it’s thought that he also developed the rule forbidding holds below the waist. It was an Italian wrestler, Basilio Bartoletti, who is generally credited with giving this discipline its current name in the late 1800s. What is that name?

3. Individual Sports

Sebastian Vettel won four straight Formula One World Drivers’ Championships between 2010 and 2013, but his streak was broken in 2014 by an Englishman racing for Team Mercedes who has now won five championships, including the 2017 and 2018 titles. Who is that man?

4. Basketball

San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has the most games coached of any active NBA head coach with 1,820. Portland’s Terry Stotts is in fourth place with 609. Name either of the coaches in a tie for second place at 886, both of whom began coaching their current teams in 2008.

5. Soccer

Since 2000, clubs from five different nations have won the UEFA Champions League. Four of those nations are Spain, England, Italy, and Germany. Name the only CLUB to win from the fifth country.


1. Baseball

As measured by MLB statcast, who was the only player in the 2019 MLB regular season to throw a pitch faster than 104 mph—a feat he managed four times?

2. Hockey

When an NHL player receives a “misconduct” penalty (note: this is different from a “game misconduct,” which results in ejection), the team can substitute for that player immediately while a teammate serves out any accompanying penalty (for instance, a two-minute minor). How long, in game time, must the player who received the misconduct stay off the ice?

3. Olympic Sports

Name the American athlete responsible for the following quote, following a now infamous silver medal performance at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin: “I was having fun. Snowboarding is fun, and I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd.”

4. Foreign/Obscure Sports

The Japanese national rugby union team made headlines recently for a victory against Ireland at the Rugby World Cup. Fill in the blank with the alliterative adjective that completes the team’s nickname (in English): “________ Blossoms”

5. Entertainment/Business

In an ESPN story from 2015 documenting the timeline of a failed unionization effort in NCAA football, the entry for April 5, 2014 reads as follows: “__________ football coach ________ urges his players to vote against forming a union.” Fill in the blanks with both the name of the school and the name of the coach.

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Sergio was wrong, but Kuchar was wronger

It’s not easy to sympathize with Sergio Garcia, even if you really want to…and in 2019, you probably don’t. A career full of blundering self-sabotage has destroyed any lingering benefit of the doubt we might owe him, and his deeply humiliating episode in Saudi Arabia, where he purposefully damaged several greens in a sustained fit of rage, was the last straw for even the most forgiving souls. So when a controversy erupted at the WGC-Match Play on Saturday afternoon, and it involved several displays of petulance and plaintive rage from Garcia, there was no question that the first emerging narrative would be the Occam’s Razor version: This had to be the latest case of Sergio being Sergio. Simple.

And it’s true that he didn’t acquit himself well. This is not a defense of Sergio Garcia, who has slipped beyond defending, and whose reactive nature sparked the entire controversy in the first place. Instead, it’s meant to be a measure of who bears the greatest responsibility. In this case, I believe that’s Matt Kuchar, the man on the other side of the spat and someone whose own reputation has taken an enormous and probably permanent hit after he failed to tip his local caddie what many considered a fair wage following a win in Mexico last November.

Let’s start at the beginning—early in a quarterfinal match, with a putt to win the hole, Sergio did this:

In his frustration, he raked the ball, clearly assuming that the putt had been conceded. Crucially, he didn’t look at Kuchar for confirmation of this fact, and apparently Kuchar had not made a formal concession—even though, as he later said, he would have. Beyond the never-conceders like Jason Day, there’s no situation in professional match play where a gimme of that distance wouldn’t be conceded, and in fact even someone like Day routinely gives putts of that length.

By the letter of the law—and here’s where the most pedantic and officious pundits are supporting Kuchar—Sergio had lost the hole. You have to wait for a formal concession, and if you don’t, tough luck.

However, these things are not often terribly formal, and a situation like the one with Sergio raking his putt arises with some regularity. It’s my contention, and I think the contention of anyone being honest with themselves, that the vast majority of professional golfers would have moved on from the situation without a word. Or, at most, with a private word to the opponent.

Predictably, most of Kuchar and Garcia’s colleagues steered clear of the discussion, but others, like Chris Paisley, chimed in:

On the Golf Channel, Jaime Diaz argued on behalf of Sergio. He made one error of chronology that I think is very important—I’ll get to that in a moment—but I think his point about the “human transaction” is well-stated and worth watching:

As to that sequencing error—in this case, I think it’s absolutely critical to note that Matt Kuchar sought out the rules official himself. If Robby Ware, the official on site, had come to him first and asked whether he conceded the putt, there’s a better argument for Kuchar having to tell the truth, and the process playing out as it did. But that’s not the case, and I know this because Kuchar said so himself in his post-match remarks:

Q. Could you walk us through the situation on 7, what the ruling was and kind of what the fallout was after that?
MATT KUCHAR: I kind of made a mess of things with the hole. Ended up making about a 15-footer for a bogey. Sergio had about a 10-footer, I think, for par. I made my putt, walked to the back of the green. Sergio I saw missed it. And as I looked up again, I saw he had missed the next one. And I saw him off the green, I said, “Sergio, I didn’t say anything, I’m not sure how this works out.” I didn’t want that to be an issue. So I asked Robby Ware, I said, “Listen, I don’t know how to handle this, but I didn’t concede the putt, Sergio missed the putt.” Sergio said, totally his mistake. He knew he made a mistake. I said, I didn’t want that to be how a hole was won or lost. And he said, “Well, you can concede a hole.” I’m not sure I’m ready to concede a hole. And just the rule played out with Robby stating how the rule works. It’s not a — certainly I don’t use any gamesmanship, it’s not a match play tactic, it’s not anything. It was just one of those mistakes that Sergio made. 

So, in fact, it appears that all parties had moved on and walked off the green, and Robby Ware had no idea that anything controversial had happened. Matt Kuchar had to broach the topic himself, which means that he had every opportunity to say nothing.

Now, let me give you two scenarios, and you tell me which one feels more like justice:

1. Kuchar realizes that Sergio missed a putt that was not conceded, but he also knows that the putt was a gimme, and he would have conceded it literal seconds later. Deciding that it didn’t affect the match one way or another, and was just an unfortunate case of missed communication—that, indeed, nobody else is even considering the possibility of litigating what happened—he moves on with the match.

2. Kuchar realizes that Sergio missed a putt that was not conceded, but he also knows that putt was a gimme, and he would have conceded it literal seconds later. Knowing it didn’t affect the match in any way, he nevertheless brings it to the rule official’s attention, understanding from experience that it will cost Sergio the hole.

In my opinion, one of those scenarios adheres to a strict interpretation of the rules, but it’s not the one that is ultimately the most fair. And I agree with James Hahn that the TV announcers did a poor job of presenting the case:

In fact, the second scenario—the one that actually transpired—raises some other interesting questions about Kuchar’s objective. Did he really do it because of a deep devotion to the rules of golf, or, once he realized what Sergio had done, did he spot an opportunistic way to win a hole? And if he really felt badly afterward, why didn’t he balance the scales by conceding a hole?

At that point, it becomes a question of whether you trust Kuchar’s stated reasons for escalating the matter to Robby Ware. I do not, and that’s strictly my opinion. Your mileage may vary, etc. etc. But taken as a whole, this strikes me as a situation where a stringent observance of the rules was not the same as doing the right thing…where, in fact, the rules became a shield for the wrong outcome. Sergio’s lack of restraint hurt him once again, but it was Kuchar who turned an insignificant event into a controversy, and opened the door yet again to hard questions about his intent.

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Dutchmen: The Pilot

A few years ago, Brandon Gardner, Spike Friedman, and I wrote a pilot called Dutchmen. Our idea was “Veep meets the NBA,” with a focus on the front office of a struggling team with a terrible owner in New York City. Click the link below to check it out!



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Protected: Patrick Reed is the Golfer We Won’t Forgive

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Great Satan Rules

RULES for the GREAT SATAN pool:

—You will pick 15 specific Winter Olympic events (ie, “biathlon 12.5km pursuit men,” not just “biathlon”), and choose the country you believe will win that event. You may choose each country only once. You may not choose America. You MUST choose South Korea once. The research is on you.

—You will rank these 15 picks by priority. The one you are most confident about should be ranked 15, and the one you feel least secure about should be 1.

—You should submit by typing your picks into gmail, single-spaced, from 15 down to 1. Do not paste from Word or Excel or anywhere else, because this makes it a huge pain to enter in the spreadsheet. One of you will do this, and we will harass you to the death. Picks should look like this:

15. Snowball Fighting, 12-Hour Melee: Luxembourg
14. Ice Fishing, Bare-Handed: Mongolia
13. Snow Angels, Blindfolded: Brazil

1. Erotic 4-person luge, nude: Italy

—There are 15 disciplines in the Winter Games. In making your 15 picks, you must use 13 of those disciplines.

—If you use all 15 disciplines and never once get Satan’d, you earn the DANTE’S JOURNEY bonus of 15 points.

—If you choose to double up in a discipline (ie, two speed skating events), and you get Satan’d in either event, your penalty doubles for that one event (no extra points for succeeding). If you triple up in a discipline, penalty values triple

Scoring: If your country wins gold, you win 4x your priority value. Silver: 2x. Bronze: 1x. Nothing: 0 pointsNo bonus points if your country has multiple podium placements.

—You may ONLY pick events in which an American is participating. Luckily, the U.S. has athletes in 97 of 102 events, excluding these five:

Freestyle Skiing – Men’s Ski Cross
Freestyle Skiing – Women’s Ski Cross
Long-Track Speed Skating – Men’s 10,000m
Short-Track Speed Skating – Women’s 3,000m Relay
Snowboarding – Women’s Parallel Giant Slalom

THE GREAT SATAN CLAUSE: If America beats your country and makes the medal stand, you just got Satan’d, sonNot only do you lose any points for that event: You lose 1x the value of your pick if America takes bronze, 2x if they take silver, 4x if they take gold. If neither your country or America makes the medal stand, it’s just zero points flat even if America beats you.

THE ROCKET MAN CLAUSE: You must pick South Korea as one of your 15 countries, but if they don’t medal in the discipline you pick, this displeases DEAR LEADER Kim Jong-Un, who has unified with South Korea for these Olympics. He doesn’t have the arsenal of the Great Satan, but he can certainly stage a devastating one-time attack. Should South Korea fail to medal in your discipline, you lose 4x the priority pick.

THE DANGEROUS DONALD EJECTION SPECTACULAR: If you get Rocket Man’d and Satan’d at the same time, you are eliminated from the pool. (Note: In a situation where your South Korean pick wins a medal but gets beat on the podium by an American, this is a Great Satan, but not a Rocket Man, and therefore not a Dangerous Donald.)

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Now I Know What a Portico Is

Hangovers get physically worse with age, but the raw quality of the brain doesn’t change—it’s just the same low-level misery as ever. It’s like having an open psychic wound for a day, where even a light breeze can affect me in ways I’d be fortified against on a normal day. There’s a sad irony here, in that the only time I seem to get drunk anymore is when stress overwhelms me by accumulation, and suddenly it’s over and I’m experiencing something fun, usually something social. And I want to heighten it, to exaggerate it, because I feel deprived of joy for so long that I want it in abundance. And then the next morning, there’s only sadness and anxiety. I’d do better to skip the drink entirely and just go running, read a book outside, go to a museum, do all the things of the idealized day that never quite occurs. It sometimes feels as though it’s been too long since I’ve had the end-of-day feeling of accomplishment, that I was productive in a way that also made me happy. And it seems like such stupidity, such a crime, that I’m letting stress chip away at me in a life that’s temporary. But of course we get swept along in a tide, we have been forever, and just as foolish as succumbing to stress is believing that the point of life is happiness and joy. But at times like these, I could really go for a bit more satisfaction. The reason standing in place feels so bad is that you are never actually standing in place—time is moving, you’re always closer to dying. So any day when you go to bed with a feeling of stagnation is a day that can only be described with the words “time passed.” You’ve lost a day, and gained nothing. I don’t advocate for the mindset that you must accomplish something concrete every single day, because that’s too fundamentally American-psychotic and will only lead to more stress and more failures to meet ridiculous expectations. But spiritual enrichment is a different matter. If I walk around my neighborhood tomorrow for one hour with my architecture encyclopedia book, and learn one or two new terms, it will still be the best thing I’ve done in a week. I’ll forget the new words before I get home, but I’ll settle for the temporary feeling—freedom to step outside the rip tide, to ignore everything, to seize something for myself, to be something other than a life that is speeding toward death while losing control of the story.

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