Hurricane Matthew, creepy clowns and I think there was a vice presidential debate

A lot has been happening over the past few days, between creepy clown sightings across the U.S., a rather boring presidential date, and the threat of a historic hurricane threatening to wipe out the entire eastern coast of Florida.

But before I get to that, I must express my grief and heartbreak over my beloved New York Mets, whose season came to an abrupt end with a devastating 3-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants in N.L. Wild Card Game on Wednesday night.

The Mets defied expectations this season by making the playoffs even after several key players went down with injuries. They overcame adversity and fought tooth and nail and every single night, and I could not be prouder, even if the sting of defeat has yet to wear off.

Also, it officially nullified my preseason prediction. But hey, it’s never to early to call for them to win it all in 2017, is it?

Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard summed it up perfectly in a tweet: “Baseball has a way of ripping your heart out, stabbing it, putting it back in your chest, then healing itself just in time for Spring Training.”

Well said, Noah.

But let’s brush through a few topics here quickly.

Sticking with sports, my girl Maria Sharapova will be making her return from hersharapova-celebratingsuspension sooner than expected after the world’s highest sports court shortened her punishment stemming from her failed drug test earlier this year.

Her initial suspension was way too severe considering the body that sentenced it acknowledged she wasn’t intentionally trying to cheat. So I’m happy for her.

And I promise my admiration for her has more to do with the fact that she is a strong, independent, successful and talented woman than that I enjoy watching her beautiful, long-legged sweaty self running up and down a tennis court for two hours. I swear.

OK, next. The vice presidential debate. Hot moderator Elaine Quijano notwithstanding, I honestly have to willfully urge my brain to remember that I watched this on Tuesday night. Both men are seasoned politicians and skilled debaters, and basically canceled each other out with their blandness and scripted responses — especially in comparison to the strong personalities and unpredictable nature of the candidates at the top of their respective tickets.

kaine-pence

Analysts say Mike Pence “won” the debate, but I don’t really see how you win anything when he basically spent 90 minutes denying quotes by Tim Kaine of Donald Trump, which basically were recited verbatim.

News analysis the next morning basically went like this:

Tim Kaine quoting absurd Trump statement.

Mike Pence: He never said that.

Video footage of Trump saying exactly that.

In all seriousness, considering the man Pence was forced to defend, he did do a pretty decent job — even if I didn’t agree with basically anything he said. And also, shame on Tim Kaine for not digging into Mike Pence, an ultraconservative, on his religious liberty bill debacle last year.

Oh well. Those looking to be entertained need to wait only three more days until the next presidential debate. I’m sure it will lend us plenty of fodder.

creepy-clownAnd finally, these creepy clowns. There have been stories across the U.S. of bizarre sightings, crimes, hoaxes and other weird incidents involving clowns. Heck, 12 arrests have been made in association with clown sightings and there’s even been one death.

Here’s my theory: there’s a film adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” hitting theaters next year. It’s all one big publicity stunt. We’re all scared of clowns to begin with, right? So why not plant these “creepy clowns” across the states to unnerve people people even more, adding a more frightening aura to a film that has a scary clown as its antagonist. That’s definitely something Hollywood would do.

Alright, that’s all I got.

But to the good people of Florida, do try to stay safe this weekend. The forecast looks pretty grim.

Plus, you don’t want to be the city that gets destroyed by a hurricane with a wimpy name like Matthew.

At least wait until we hit the letter ‘W’ for the big storm.

Because Hurricane Weinblog is coming for you, bitches.

Say it ain’t so, Maria Sharapova

Before I begin a whiny rant about my favorite tennis star, allow me to follow up on yesterday’s topic regarding the Stanford rape case.

The embarrassing sentencing notwithstanding, the most important thing is that it’s at least reignited a national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, which is a conversation that we need to have.

I said it yesterday, but it’s worth repeating: one in five female college students are victims of sexual assault. One in five! Think of five of your female friends. Odds say that one of them engaged in a sexual encounter during college of which they did not grant their consent.

That’s frightening.

Magnifying the conversation today was none other than our vice president, Joe Biden, who in 1994, drafted the Violence Against Women Act, which funded billions of dollars for the prosecution and investigation of violent crimes against women, among other things.

Joe Biden.jpgBiden issued an open letter to the unidentified rape victim at Stanford University, and the full transcript was posted on Buzzfeed. It’s powerful and absolutely worth reading. In all honesty, reading it this afternoon gave me chills.

And it reinforces my firm belief that we have taken our current administration for granted in extravagant fashion. But I digress.

Allow me to transition now to another women who was stripped — of her tennis career.

I will be submitting that last line to the 2016 Bloggie Awards as the most tasteless transitional sentence of the year. Just so you know. It might win. Too bad those awards don’t actually exist.

Actually … apparently it does exist. I just Googled it. Where the hell are my trophies?! This is an outrage!

Oh well. Anyway, I can’t possibly end this week without discussing the love of my life, Maria Sharapova. I have been in a 10-year, unrequited love affair with the tennis star. I have devotedly followed her career for nearly a decade, sometimes staying up very late to watching her compete in the Australian Open, and was her staunchest defender when, in March, she admitted to using a banned substance.

The drug, Meldonium, was only added to the banned substances list in January. It is not Maria Sharapova2.jpgsold in the United States, and Sharapova used it to manage health problems, including a family history of diabetes.

A tribunal of the International Tennis Federation ruled that Sharapova took the substance without the intention to cheat — meaning that she unintentionally committed a doping violation — and yet, still banned her from tennis for two years.

And just like that, I no longer have any interest in women’s tennis for two years. Sharapova is appealing the ruling, but those pretty much never work.

It’s fair to wonder if Sharapova, 29, may ever compete again. Tennis players usually begin their decline once they hit 30, given how young they begin playing professionally, and the subsequent wear and tear they put on their bodies.

But any one who has followed Sharapova’s career knows she keeps herself in tremendous shape, and I have no doubt that she will come back, if the suspension stands.

It’s a dark day, no doubt.

But what kind of unrequited lover would I be if I gave up on her now?

Maria, you have no idea about any of this, but I’m the perfect husband you’ll never have.

(I really wish I didn’t start this post by talking about rape.)

Maria Sharapova, I still love you.

Let’s talk sports today.

After all, I am a man of many hats. It’s not all politics and pop culture around these parts. I’m also an avid student of athletics, history, horticulture, quantum mechanics, seismology and, of course, bugs.

But I’ll save those latter categories for a rainy day. After I move somewhere where it never rains. California, I’m coming.

Anyway, most sports fans woke up this morning expecting the sports news narrative to center around one person: Peyton Manning.

Peyton ManningThe legendary, generation-defining quarterback who was known as much for his marketability off the field as his prowess on the field, called it quits. He walks off into the sunset having won his second Superbowl in his final NFL game.

For some people, like me, who’ve grown up watching sports, and watching the same people dominate those sports throughout their entire life, it’s a weird feeling to see these greats say goodbye. Derek Jeter. Kobe Bryant. Now Peyton Manning.

It’s a reminder that time is the ultimate equalizer. No one is immune; not even the world’s greatest athletes.

Although, Peyton does walk away from football following allegations of performance enhancing drug use, and a rehashed story regarding sexual assault during his college days, but, most people will probably just choose to remember him screaming “Omaha! Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage at the top of his lungs as their ultimate takeaway of the man.

Hey, you throw 539 touchdowns in your career, and you kind of get to dictate the narrative.

But it turns out this wasn’t all that happened on this Monday. Maria Sharapova, the most glamorous tennis player of the last decade, admitted she failed a drug test.

Long story short: she’s been taking a specific drug — legally — to ail several health issuesMaria Sharapova for the last 10 years. On Jan. 1, that drug was added to the banned substance list. She didn’t know that, and failed a test a few weeks later.

Disappointing, sure, but hardly scandalous.

This brings about mixed emotions for me. Actually, no it doesn’t. I love Maria Sharapova. And I’ve never been afraid to admit it.

She’s likely facing a suspension, possibly a lengthy one, but if anything, this makes me like her more. It gives her an edge. She’s mischievous. And not afraid to bend the rules.

In all seriousness, though, it was refreshing to see her be forthright and admit that she screwed up. So many athletes play the ignorance card and act like they did nothing wrong. They pretend they are the innocent victim even when the evidence is staring them right in the face.

Maria didn’t cower. She didn’t hide. She owned up to her mistake.

And Maria, if you want to continue down this road and make another lapse in judgment, then how about you let me take you to dinner on Friday night?

I mean, honestly, what’s one more bad decision? You can’t sink any lower then the place you’re at right now, and I promise it will not be the worst date you’ve ever been on in your life. Though I can’t guarantee it won’t be in the bottom five.

Most of all, the only drug that I’ll supply you with is my loving affection, which, last I checked, is not on the International Tennis Federation’s banned substance list.

Oh wait. It is? Crap.

Damn it, ITF, will you never let me find love?

Snowpocalypse, deflated footballs and the hottest tennis match known to man.

Crippling.

Devastating.

Record breaking.

These are the words being tossed around not to describe a tsunami, or a tornado or even a hurricane. But snow. The white powder that falls from the sky and is used to make snowmen.

I understand it’s better to overreact than to underreact, but can we save the doomsday vernacular for meteorological blizzard-2015events that actually kill people, and not ones that can be totally avoided by staying inside?

What’s next? A paralyzing rain? A
calamitous fog?

It’s snow. Any one who lives in a region that is capable of receiving a blizzard knows how to handle it. The way meteorologists, news anchors and government officials are describing this current Nor’easter, you’d think this was some type of acid snow.

Which would actually make for an awesome movie. Someone call Michael Bay. Actually don’t, because then he’ll ruin my masterpiece idea with excessive special effects.

Not to say that a snowstorm isn’t still pretty bad. But it’s an inconvenience more than anything — not a natural disaster. Although, it’s definitely not weather you want to run in, as one jogger learned the hard way.

But speaking of natural disasters, how about those New England Patriots? The team has become the whipping boy of the NFL after they were accused and found guilty last week of intentionally under inflating footballs to a degree that’s not allowed by the league. And since they’re in the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in America, the story has taken on a life of its own.

It’s the constant focus of talk radio and sports television shows. Saturday Night Live featured it in its opening sketch last weekend. It’s even been given its own conspiracy name: Deflategate.Tom Brady defaltegate

The problem is that the team has a reputation for bending the rules. Several years ago, they were accused of illegally filming opposing teams’ sidelines. So NFL fans who don’t root for the Patriots are rightfully annoyed that they continue to challenge the integrity of the league, and on top of that, keep winning. It’s not fair.

Their coach Bill Belichick has denied involvement, and Tom Brady is simply smiling and charming his way out of blame. And now, reports say that a Patriots locker room attendant may end up being the scapegoat. It’s all one big mess, and the NFL better hope that the Patriots lose to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, or else you’re going to have a lot of angry people.

But let’s transition the topic from deflated balls to tennis. Where the balls are green and hoppy.

Maria Sharapova, who at one point in my life I may or may not have been deeply in love with, is playing against Eugenie Bouchard, who is basically is the next Maria Sharapova — in terms of attractiveness and skill.

Sharapova BouchardSharapova, 27 — who once rejected my autograph request  — is nearing an age where tennis careers typically begin their downward slide, which is probably much earlier than most professional sports. She’s already achieved the esteemed career grand slam, and is still in impeccable shape and succeeding on the court. Her beauty has been well documented, and she’s one of sports’ rare emblems of looks and talent.

Well, in comes Bouchard, 20, of Montreal, who appears to share a similar package after reaching the Wimbledon final last year.

The best part? The two play each other on Tuesday in Australia — which means it’s happening late Monday evening stateside — in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. One can call this match the passing of the torch. A really, really hot torch.

For men who appreciate beautiful women who excel at their craft, this is our Super Bowl.

In fact, because I like both of them so much, I’m willing to take the loser of the match out to dinner and drinks. As a consolation prize.

I’m just that kind of guy.