Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

2 of the best tips ever for improving your mental health

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“Chycho” is one of my favorite subscriptions on YouTube. I started listening to him for the ASMR but soon figured out that he’s a smart dude and cool cat.

I’m a huge believer in his first two points.

  1. Eat healthfully. You are what you put into your body. Period.
  2. Declutter. Space is energy. Clutter is bad energy.

There’s more than just that. He’s totally worth the listen. And give him a subscribe if you’re into YouTube!

Browns should consider cutting Myles Garrett altogether

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I didn’t feel great Friday night.

Maybe it’s allergens, or maybe it’s some symptoms from visiting the chiropractor Thursday. He’s super creative but aggressive, and my body might be ridding itself of all sorts of toxins because of his handiwork. Or it might be that he gave me his cold. It could also be that I’ve been running six out of every seven days for four weeks now, and maybe my sleep-deprived body just wants a break.

We watched “Free Solo” (woo-hoo, Disney Plus!) from the couch tonight with all the lights off and a fire on, and it makes my complaints seem like the ramblings of a lazy man.

But I can actually trace the moment I started not to feel great to the end of Thursday night’s game between the Browns and Steelers, when with :08 left on the clock, defensive end Myles Garrett lost his mind and decided to assault Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with his helmet. I’m a sports tweeter, so of course, I was part of the immediate over-reaction.

Except that my reaction, even in retrospect, wasn’t an over-reaction.

But what had been an extraordinarily boring game by all other accounts (21-7, ho hum) became incredibly stressful right at the very end.

I started rooting for the Browns the day they drafted Baker Mayfield.

I don’t root for uniforms. I root for people.

That goes for the Oklahoma Sooners, whose 2019 football edition for me has been hard to support. They haven’t done anything bad, but they’re being led on the field by a brooding, humorless quarterback who’s just difficult to get behind. He doesn’t even seem, to me, like he really wants to be here so much as he’s in a year-long job audition for the NFL.

Alas, the people I root for in this case are my fellow Okies, as much as anybody else.

Speaking of whom: when Charlie Kolar caught the last TD for Iowa State against the Sooners, I let out a, “Charlie!”

I had mentioned him to a colleague earlier in the week as somebody to watch out for. Kristi and I had watched him when he was with Norman North a couple years before, and the first thing I noticed were how good his hands were. His sideline routes were terrific, and I thought that surely he was being recruited by OU.

Nope. In my opinion, somebody at OU dropped the ball. I mean, they *did* bring on Drake Stoops, who was on the same high school football team, so it’s not like Charlie Kolar didn’t have Sooner eyes on him.

I won’t recite the Seinfeld routine on rooting for laundry, but I’ve often commented that if my brothers, my nephew, niece, stepdaughter, you name it, were to play a sport at the University of Texas, I would be wearing burnt orange at least the entire time they were there, at least for that sport.

When I pulled for the Toronto Raptors in last year’s NBA playoffs, aside from our honeymoon visit that I say brought the team luck, I was drawn to the entire organization. Led by Masai Ujiri, the Raptors and their quest to globalize the sport of basketball, combined with the guys they had on their 2018-19 team were easy to love.

So, too, were Baker Mayfield’s Sooners, unless you were a Buckeye, I suppose.

With all due respect to the memory of Arkansas legend Brandon Burlsworth, Baker’s the greatest walk-on to ever play college football. Brandon was by a mile the more humble human, but Baker’s skills and grit win out 1 million to one over virtually anybody to play the college game the past generation, aside from maybe Tim Tebow or Vince Young.

When Mayfield was selected by the Browns with their No. 1 pick, that was it. Color me a Browns man.

For what it’s worth, I’ve also watched most of Kyler’s games and root for the Cardinals, too.

But when Garrett ripped the helmet off of the former OSU quarterback, a Bedlam bad-ass in his own right, paternal instincts kicked in.

“Oh, no, you don’t.”

It’s like if an outsider comes in and messes with the kid down the street. Maybe that kid is a rival of your kid, but he’s still from the same neighborhood. He’s one of yours, in the macro, and that’s what Mason was in this case.

“But he started it,” many have said about Mason.

Not true. Garrett’s sack was way over the top to begin with.

In fact, the whole “but, but, but what about …” to me, is like having to deal with whiny children.

But rehashing Thursday night isn’t why I write.

The reason I write is to try to explain why it’s important that the Cleveland Browns get serious about character and culture. Most sports teams pay lip service to it. Periodically, they get lucky when a cancer leaves, such as when Bryce Harper decided not to re-sign with the Nationals.

I don’t hate Bryce at all. In Philly, he’s a good fit. In Washington, he was ultimately a poor one.

The Dodgers had to get rid of Yasiel Puig. He refused to do what his coaches told him to do, and it played a role in L.A. losing the World Series. Why? He wouldn’t position himself where his coaches instructed, and then he’d throw a fit like a teenager when he misjudged a ball.

The Cleveland Browns need to start making plans to part ways with Garrett.

And they need to cut bait with Freddie Kitchens.

Garrett has shown signs all season long of having zero discipline after plays are over. The hit to the face after the play versus the Titans. Ending Trevor Siemian’s season. Todd Haley said Friday morning that this kind of behavior is either coached or glossed over — not that we can listen much to Haley. The former Cleveland assistant proved to be the biggest of asshats during the 2018 season, politicizing a locker room whose chemistry was already poor.

In fact, watching last year’s “Hard Knocks” and the entire NFL season play out, I was struck by just how much politics goes on between coaches in the NFL. There seems to be a lot of back-stabbing and sabotaging, and it makes me wonder how any organization’s culture ever really gets going.

Every assistant is gunning for the head coaching job, and it’s virtually without fail unless the coach has the full command of the room.

Bill Belichick. Mike Tomlin. John Harbuagh. Pete Carroll come to mind.

When Jimmy Johnson coached the Dallas Cowboys, he was famous for cutting even good players for small indiscretions. Now, to be fair, he also let great players slide for big ones. That era of Dallas Cowboys football eventually got out of control fast.

Freddie Kitchens doesn’t have command of the room, and he doesn’t appear to have either the support or the intestinal fortitude to address problems or problem players — and make no mistake, Myles Garrett is officially a problem for Cleveland. Forgetting the sheer violence of his on-the-field act, Myles single-handedly derailed the Browns’ playoff run.

It’s over. And it was because of Garrett’s incredibly selfish act.

It’s unfair to every other man on that squad. To every person in their organization. And to every Cleveland supporter.

But let’s don’t stop there. This team signed Kareem Hunt, whose character is extraordinarily questionable given that the Browns signed him after video showed him attacking a woman.

Let’s back it up further to when my beloved Sooners allowed Joe Mixon to stay on the team after he decked a woman at a local restaurant. And now he’s the Bengals’ problem. He should have been dismissed immediately.

Barry Switzer was known to have said back in the day that he didn’t think he had to tell his players not to rape, among other things.

And I would argue that as an NFL head football coach, you actually have to communicate everything. All expectations.

Address it or bless it.

And don’t assume.

Myles Garrett cost his team a chance at the playoffs and embarrassed his organization during a nationally televised game. His reputation is permanently stained. Cutting him or trading him would send a proper message to the rest of the team and to every kiddo who idolizes them.

We will not put up with this.

There’s a lot about Odell Beckham Jr’s antics that I dislike, but I would categorize most of it under showmanship. Jarvis Landry, too.

For my taste, Baker Mayfield has talked way too much in his first two years, and a down sophomore campaign is rightfully injecting him with some humility.

It’s the little things that galvanize a proper understanding of what’s expected:

  • Dress codes
  • Curfews when on the road
  • Penalties for being late

This should go for coaches, too.

Players in all sports have long complained that these little things are just about a manager or coach exercising control. Except that it’s the exact opposite. The discipline of details equals big-picture freedom because it minimizes distractions, improves behavior and leads to better chemistry and on-field performance.

And that success begets success.

The first time Myles Garrett got his team a 15-yard penalty for hitting his opponent in the face after the play, my message would have been: Do it again, and we won’t wait for the league to suspend.

Two more strikes and you’re gone.

Freddie has to have the power to do that with full support from John Dorsey and Jimmy and Dee Haslam. I guarantee you that Garrett’s behavior wouldn’t fly at Pilot-Flying J.

The thing is: Cutting your best defensive player loose would be a message to the rest of the team that winning the right way is way more important that winning at any cost. Truth be told, chaotic behavior like what Garrett displayed Thursday night isn’t conducive to winning in any way.

It’s highly counterproductive, and it makes the entire organization extraordinarily unlikable.

Baker got it right after the game by saying Myles’ behavior was “inexcusable.” More players should be saying it.

It’s time for somebody to man up in Cleveland and take control of the Browns organization.

They don’t need a buddy. They need a boss.

They don’t need a buddy. They need a boss.

Tweet it, Post it: Sooner or later, theater etiquette will be digital-friendly

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I am super opinionated and passionate about this topic because I love and support the performing arts, but I also work and live in the digital world.

In fact, I’ve written about it before.

Whether it’s a play, a musical, a concert, it’s a fact: sooner or later the seal will be completely off, and smartphones will become integrated with the experience. And it will be glorious because it will cause unreasonable theater snobs to seize in agony.

That’s an exaggeration, and I don’t actually want anybody to experience pain.

I also get it.

I don’t want to be bothered by somebody’s flash. I don’t want somebody to be holding their phone up in front of me for the full two-hour duration of a performance. Then again, the worst behavioral offense I’ve ever encountered at a show had nothing to do with technology. It was two women sitting behind Kristi and me who would not stop talking during what was a fantastic Kenny Loggins show.

People asked them to stop, and they responded, “We paid for the tickets. We can do as we please.”

Nobody is suggesting that the performing arts become a digital free-for-all. However, it is completely reasonable to accept that not everybody enjoys the arts in the same way. One person’s “the theater is meant to be experienced by the whole of the person” is another’s “I want to document this amazing experience forever.”

One response is not superior to the other, and to suggest so is supreme snobbery.

It will soon be antiquated.

The New York Times writes about it in its Oct. 6 edition, “Filming the Show: Pardon the Intrusion? Or Punish It?” And I’m not interested in arguing with anybody on this topic because I don’t intend to upset anybody’s theater experience with my phone. But, also, I’m ultimately on the right side of performing arts history on this one.

Alas, I am going to root on and support anybody who challenges these norms.

And I’m going to declare “I told you so” when theater companies start creating “digital-friendly” shows. Eventually, “digital-friendly” shows will be the norm, and the outlier performances and concerts will be “digital-free.”

The Times’ article says it’s already happening.

But others are trying to embrace the digitally tethered: Some orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, have experimented with letting people keep their phones on during some concerts and offer an app to guide people through the music. The Boston Symphony Orchestra does this, too, at select “Casual Fridays” concerts, in certain designated seats.

And then there are the compromises: When Bruce Springsteen was on Broadway in 2017 and last year, the production put an insert in the Playbill, urging fans accustomed to rock concerts not to use their phones during the show, but promising that Mr. Springsteen would stay onstage during the curtain call long enough for people to take pictures. The Metropolitan Opera offers similar advice on its website: “Tip: Snap a pic of the cast during curtain call!”

To me, this is a wonderful compromise. Let folks go to town before the show and toward the end of it. But did you read what the Philadelphia Orchestra is doing with the app to guide people through the music?

That’s marketing 101, people.

There will probably always be enough theater nerds to fill Broadway shoes in New York. But I’ll tell you: when RENT came to Oklahoma City, the place was less than half full. And tickets were cheap.

Sad.

Promoting the arts isn’t merely about endlessly advocating for more public school dollars. It’s about introducing the masses to talent and beauty, skill and precision, through the devices we carry in our pockets.

And that happens when you allow the true believers or at least the admirers to share their experiences digitally. The smart thing to do would be to create digital content around the art and to designate certain portions of the performance as being phone-friendly.

It will happen whether you like it or not. Might as well regulate it.

 

Standard time is (much) better, so says science

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This blog post is not going to make me popular.

I turned back time like Cher this morning, and like many of you, I’m for abolishing the twice-a-year clock switch-a-roo. However, I strongly advocate for keeping standard time and eliminating Daylight Saving Time — and so does science.

For what it’s worth, I understand why many folks prefer Daylight Saving Time. It’s about the illusion of more light per day (the result of summer and not DST). There’s a sense that you can go home from work and still have much of the day to come. You can get in a workout or go to the beach or have some patio time with family and friends, watching the sun set 2-3 hours after you get home.

However, this is not how the human body is wired — and that is the most important argument for either time standard. We should keep the clock schedule that scientifically is best for the human body.

And it’s no contest.

Read also: “Why Standard Time Is Better”

First, the return to standard time means it will be lighter earlier. Light is needed to get the body going, and for folks who have depression, especially seasonal depression, you want that light to happen in the morning. Light is not equal; it is much preferable in the morning if you have to pick one or the other.

Second, the return to standard time means it will get darker earlier. When it gets darker earlier, your body starts to get tired sooner — and that helps you get to sleep earlier and helps you sleep better.

And sleep is a factor in everything from heart health to car crashes. It impacts decisions at the highest levels, and it impacts how we treat each other each day. Better sleep would make the world a better place tomorrow.

I love it when we fall backward every year because it’s a return to what the time should be year-round. My hunch is that the overwhelming public support is for year-round DST and that scientific intervention into legislative matters on this topic will be met with the same disdain as we get with topics like climate change.

Sigh.

This topic is very much of an “eat your vegetables because they’re good for you” issue. But while the personal, anecdotal evidence might delude you into thinking that DST makes you happier and healthier, science is pretty clear that it does not.

So, you want to get rid of the twice-a-year clock change?

I agree. But pick the right schedule.

Standard time.

Ryan’s Playlist No. 5: Nothin’ But Damned Great Music

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The month of October has came and went, and just like that we’re faced with the onset of 2020. What a wacky year it’s going to be.

But it’s another chance to offer up some good music, perhaps something you hadn’t heard of or hadn’t listened to enough. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a chronic Shazam-er. I Shazam everything.

And then I go back and listen to what caught my ear and pass the most interesting along to you.

My first selection is a song from Cincinnati band The National. It’s called Rylan, and it first caught my attention because that’s the name of the daughter of a friend of mine. It’s such a unique name that I had to listen to it — and it’s quite an odd song.

But it draws me in. I’m not sure that I get it. But I think I have to acknowledge that I quite like it.


This second song is one of the most depressing I’ve ever heard, and it’s a brilliant example of the power of storytelling. It’s The Unifics, a late-60s band from Washington, D.C., and this is “Beginning Of My End,” a tune that peaked at No. 36 in 1968.

I’ve got SiriusXM Soul Town, Ch. 49, locked in on my car stereo, and I find that it’s an education on a bevy of lower-charting tracks from the 60s and 70s. The  lyrics are desperately mournful, and the music fits it like a glove.

Heretofore, I had thought the saddest song ever was Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again,” but Lord-have-mercy does this tune take you to a sad place. This is some lyrical mastery right here.


Sufjan Stevens
is hit-or-miss for me, but on 2005’s “The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts,” he’s sounding like a hipster Dan Fogelberg, and I’m here for it.


This next one is from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, one of the best bands on the planet right now. Paul Janeway’s vocals and the horns from Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Amari Ansari (saxophone), and Chad Fisher (trombone) have this Birmingham, Ala., octet at the top of their blue-eyed soul game.

Here’s “LivWithoutU:”


Speaking of musicians who turn my head every time they come on the radio, there’s Maryland’s own Maggie Rogers. Discovered by Pharrell Williams as part of a class at NYU, Rogers has leap-frogged into critical acclaim if not worldwide popularity. Anytime I hear one of her songs, I’m walloped by how much talent she has. Great ear. Great production. She’s like a modern-day Nicolette Larson, a reference that totally confirms my age. #Olds Yeah.


Sometimes when I see songs pop up on the SiriusXM, I don’t know which is the title and which is the artist. Such was the case with “Sofia” by Clairo. The artist is Claire Cottrill, the daughter of a marketing exec from Boston. I like to read the stories behind artists and musicians mostly to find out what base they were born on.

But I think this is groovy as heck, so there.


California trio Sir Sly shows off their funky stylings and Beck-styled sensibilities in the 2017 track, “High.” Needs to go onto my running playlist. BTW, this dude totally listens to Beck. I’m sure of it.


I’m a sucker for an awesome music video. Hey, I’m a child of the 80s. I remember when MTV was born! And this 2015 tune from British band Nothing But Thieves doesn’t strike me until the chorus, but it’s an earworm after that. And an eyeworm.


It seems like a lot of the tunes on this list are from 2015. I’m late to the party, but even with a blog post like this, you don’t know when somebody will hear or see something. “Postcard” is a 2015 track from Washington, D.C., trio Jukebox The Ghost. I don’t know that I love this one, but it’s catchyAF and I’m not sure why they’re not huge. As a musician, I sense that this one is a fun one to play live, too.


And now I save the best for last from The Avett Brothers. It took me so long to come onboard their groove, but “High Steppin’,” I think is sheer brilliance. Listen to the lyrics. Watch the video. This is fantastic songwriting, and I think they’re one of the most interesting bands on the planet.

4 business takeaways from the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals

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When the Washington Nationals saw Bryce Harper escape to Philadelphia, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to expect the Nats to slip. Most baseball people said that the club was still quite talented, but I don’t think anybody expected this.

When the Washington Nationals were 19-31, it would have been easy for the team to go into sellers’ mode, looking to shuffle some pieces around and plan for 2020 or beyond.

Instead, they decided to Stay In The Fight (#StayInTheFight), as manager Davey Martinez implored them to do.

There are so many lessons we can learn from the 2019 World Series champs, whether it be in baseball or in life. I rooted for the Nats throughout their playoff run largely because I grew to like them during the regular season. Much like the NBA champs from earlier this year, the Toronto Raptors, baseball’s new kings were comprised of a bunch of good guys. My opinion, of course.

I root for people more than I do uniforms, and I sensed that the Nats could make a run, especially when their bullpen finally got its act together. Heck, I even predicted it on Twitter.

 

That’s not to pat me on the back, that’s to say that I don’t believe the Washington Nationals were that much of a surprise or a fluke. They had some important characteristics of winners and winning teams from all walks of life. I want to detail some truths we can take away from the World Series champs.

1. Great chemistry beats good talent. I look at the Dodgers and the Yankees, two clubs with extraordinary talent. I see them as a collection of supremely talented individuals but without a strong team vibe. The Nats were 25 guys pulling on the same rope.

To be fair, I think the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays also have great chemistry — although I also think there is something to be said for the whole Houston, Russell Osuna, Brandon Taubman situation being a massive karmic meteorite crashing onto Planet Astros. But nobody had the good-guy chemistry that the Nats had, and I think that chemistry was set in motion with the departure of Harper.

2. Age is just a number. The Nationals were the oldest team in baseball, and only Hunter Strickland had ever won a World Series with any team. I believe that experience led them to work smarter and not harder throughout all their series. Plus, experience gave them peace in understanding what was possible when they got behind, which they did often, so that they wouldn’t panic.

Age isn’t about being stale and slow. It’s “been there, done that” and got the proverbial t-shirt.

Teams (of all types) are always looking to get younger, and I’m not sure that’s the wisest strategy.

3. You need to be able to have fun as a team. Did you see the Nationals’ home run celebrations? They were the equivalent of orchestrated touchdown dances. My favorite was the revving-the-cars celebration in the dugout. Did you hear their team anthem, “Baby Shark?” Started by Gerardo Parra, the ‘Baby Shark’ thing started much earlier this year, and it grew sea legs. Having fun together builds chemistry and alleviates pressure.

4. Keep your head in the game. That’s the essence of the Stay In The Fight mantra. It means doing the little things. It means staying focused. It means persevering, even in the face of long odds. Best piece of advice from a boss I’ve ever gotten was to keep my head in the game. She told me, “The main thing I ask of anybody on this team is to ‘keep your head in the game.'”

It helped that Davey Martinez encapsulated it in such a pithy phrase: Stay In The Fight.

For the business team, it might be something like, “Put The Customer First, Always.” Or it might be “The Deadline Is Now,” as it is in our Tulsa newsroom.

Anyway, if I were a baseball GM, I’d be moderately concerned about on-the-field talent, but I’d be obsessed about individual EQ, team chemistry and organizational culture. I’d have a “no jerks” rule, regardless of talent. And my manager would be a world-class communicator, not somebody who obsesses over all the analytics.

Sure, the production has to be there.

But if you nail the intangibles and the production is worthy, you’ve got a chance to have something special.

Building momentum is the most important goal for new runners

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I’ve had a hard time getting my road legs back. 

Two years ago, I would have called myself a hardcore runner. A slow, hardcore runner, but definitely an accomplished one. I had run several 5Ks and three half-marathons. And then life got in the way. 

I gained back the 25 pounds I had lost. 

And worse yet, I lost all my momentum. 

While walk-running the other morning, I was listening to an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience. Joe’s guest talked about the importance of building momentum, stating that small, regular achievements done consistently were more important than big ones done sporadically. 

I’ve applied that to my workouts. 

Instead of trying to battle through 5-6 miles on the weekend after two years of barely working out on the regular, I am focused on 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there. This morning, I upped it to 40 minutes, but my top speed is 5.0. My average running speed is more like 4.5. 

My current routine is to do 30-40 minutes of walking/running every morning. The goal is to get back to Saturday long runs come January in hopes of again doing the Oklahoma City Memorial half-marathon come April. 

A list of preparatory 5Ks are coming soon.

3 reasons why the Oklahoma Sooners fell flat against Kansas State

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The last time the Sooner Schooner tipped over, Oklahoma lost. To Kansas State.

Deja vu.

And the Sooners totally deserved it. The final was 48-41, but I’m here to tell you that this was a butt-kicking. I thought Oklahoma was out-coached and out-classed in every department.

The defense was obviously terrible.

Special teams couldn’t figure out pooch kicks.

And the offense had zero spark.

My wife asked me what I thought went wrong, and the first thing I thought was that the Sooners just aren’t nearly as good as we thought. I didn’t think they were that great against Houston, and it appears that both Texas Tech, West Virginia and Houston are beyond terrible.

But I came up with three specifics:

  1. The Sooners defense has suddenly lost depth. The injury to Jon-Michael Terry apparently cannot be understated. Where was the rush today? Where was the aggressiveness? And then Parnell Motley lost his mind and kicked a Kansas State player, getting himself disqualified.

    I don’t believe these are the only injury issues on the team either. My understanding though is that, today, OU had a whole bunch of second- and third-teamers playing.

  2. Oklahoma abandoned the run game. This one is baffling to me, and it’s 100 percent Lincoln Riley’s fault. The innovative play-caller was anything but today. Check out this box score:

    a. Jalen Hurts: 19 for 96 yards
    b. Trey Sermon: 3 for 9 yards
    c. Kennedy Brooks: 3 for 2 yards

    Riley is well-known for being able to memorize all his play calls and cite them on his radio show. Well, he should forget today’s batch because they were John Blake-era trash.

    I’ve read some folks comparing Jalen to Vince Young. I can see it a little bit in terms of his running style, but I can also see why he ended up second-string at Alabama. The drop-off from Baker and Kyler to Jalen, to me, is pretty significant.

    That Kennedy Brooks only ran three times, and that Rhamondre Stevenson didn’t even touch the ball is baffling. Unexplainable.

  3. Grant Calcaterra’s absence.

    Going back to the start of the Bob Stoops era at OU, the tight end has been a huge part of Oklahoma’s success.

    No tight end caught a pass today for the Sooners.

    Calcaterra has been out for three weeks with an “undisclosed injury,” and his absence today was killer. No tight end? No running game?

    Anyway, them’s my thoughts. The good news is that Oklahoma has been very resilient after losses in years past, and they lost at a good time of year.

    Win out, and the Sooners will be in the playoffs.

    My hunch though is that this team has 1-2 more losses in them.

NBA 2019-20 predictions: Can Toronto repeat? How bad is OKC??

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There was so much change in the Association this summer that watching Tuesday night’s Lakers-Clippers game was like watching a futuristic movie. The Clippers didn’t just look good. They looked bad-ass.

I’m biased. Kawhi Leonard is my favorite player in the NBA, and I think he’s the best player in the Association. He also led the Toronto Raptors to a title last year. For those of you who know me, I rooted for Toronto in association with the honeymoon my bride and I took to the city.

So, to my first question: Can Toronto repeat?

Yes, as Eastern Conference champs.

Pascal Siakam is a budding star, and the Raptors have chemistry oozing from their pores.

  • Milwaukee is still terrific
  • Philadelphia *I think* takes a step back minus Butler

Let me explain that. Yes, I think the Raptors take a step back without Kawhi. D’uh. However, Siakam is so good that the gap is closing. If you remember the Toronto-Philadelphia series last year, that was heavy on Jimmy Butler, who signed with the Miami Heat in the offseason.

I love Butler, and I love the Heat. They’re my sleeper to win the East. Tyler Herro is going to make a run at Rookie of the Year, even with Zion in the NBA. If he can stay healthy.

In the East, I like Toronto / Milwaukee / Philadelphia / Miami as a Final Four.

In the West, I think it’s Clippers vs. Denver for a spot in the Finals.

What about Houston?

As an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, I got to watch Russell Westbrook play for more than a decade. Harden, too. With Chris Paul’s departure, Houston’s defense will be even worse. Houston will go 57-25 and eventually get smothered by Kawhi and the Clippers.

To me, that’s it for the West. And, no, I don’t think the Lakers have a chance. Their roster, top to bottom, isn’t all that great. The Clippers are a wonderfully crafted team: skill guys, niche guys, old and young.

If I had to pick an NBA Finals, give me Clippers – Heat.

My dream is a Toronto – Clippers final. With the Raptors winning.

As far as the hometown Oklahoma City Thunder go, I think as long as Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari are on the team, the Thunder will have a shot to win. Give me 38-44 for a final record.

 

SiriusXM’s Johnny Carson channel is the best thing they’ve created in years

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I’m a devotee of all-things SiriusXM, and even if I were considering dropping the subscription ($44.99 for two vehicles), my mind would have been changed at the beginning of October.

That’s when the Johnny Carson channel debuted on SiriusXM 105.

They’re playing 1970s and 1980s episodes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for the entire month. We’re talking monologue, guests, comedians, the whole enchilada — 90 minutes in the ’70s, the greatest era of Carson.

It’s a joy.

I find myself listening to the interviews as if both Carson and the interviewee were still alive. Much of the time, neither are. Tim Conway told a story about being a Little League dad, and I sighed when I realized that Tim’s grown kids are likely older than I.

But also, it was much less politically correct back in the day. Carson every once in a while would say things that I don’t think folks could get away with in 2019.

I remember my folks watching Carson most every night, at least during the 70s. During the pre-cable era, that’s all that was on aside from a late movie.

Of course, as with many SiriusXM specialty channels, this one ends come Nov. 1. I sure wish they’d reconsider. I could listen to Johnny for hours upon hours. Such terrific nostalgia.

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