The Loop / Golf Digest — INDIANAPOLIS — I’m standing in line to get my fancy “American Ninja Warrior” media pass, a red clip-on badge that announces to everyone, “F**k no I’m not doing this, it would aggravate my back arthritis,” but the kid behind me talks to me anyway, glancing quizzically at my snappy blazer/jeans combo before asking if I’m running the course. No no, I say, joking that I’m too old for that kind of thing. “Nah man, it’s OK,” he shoots back with a trainer’s enthusiasm, “Lots of old people run it.” Lots. Lots of OLD PEOPLE. Break an arm falling from a steel trapeze, pipsqueak, and don’t come crying to me in 15 years when all your energy-drink sugar turns into side fat and diabetes.
Now in its 10th season, NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” spends its springs traveling to a half-dozen cities before resolving into its finals in Las Vegas. Tonight they’re in Indy, dropping a giant obstacle course onto Monument Circle and lighting the surrounding buildings with appropriate Hollywood fervor.
Golf Digest — The Indianapolis 500 goes green this Memorial Day weekend, as it has (just about) every Memorial Day weekend since 1911. To pay tribute, here’s a quick refresher lap around two-and-a-half miles of pure, unbridled America.
What is it?
The 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, still the Largest Single-Day Sporting Event in the World, no matter what those jerks from Wrestlemania try to tell you. The race remains the sports pride of the state, although the Pacers basically coming one blown goaltending call away from toppling LeBron is a real good second.
Is this still a big deal?
WE IN INDIANA WILL HAVE YOU KNOW that the 500 remains the biggest event in our state AND yours: More than 300,000 cooler-toting jorts-rocking sunstroke-developing exhaust-sniffing Race Fans will begin streaming into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 6 a.m. on Sunday, when an actual cannon is fired to signal the opening of the gates and wake up every last dog in Speedway (the town containing the Speedway is actually called Speedway, because we are proud literal folk.)
The Loop / Golf Digest — For many people, the RBC Heritage is the official name for That Tournament After the Masters, the one with fewer big names, 100% less Tiger and … more expensive drink prices. (To be fair, after you’ve spent 95 minutes traveling there, $12 Bud Lights don’t look so bad). For those of us who lived on Hilton Head Island, this is dumb and wrong and also dumb! Now in its 50thyear, the RBC (it’s a Canadian bank, we guess) Heritage beautifully fills the post-Masters space with a laid-back weekend in lush Hilton Head, a near-perfect destination for people trying to flee a DEATHLESS WINTER THAT WON’T STOP. If this sounds like you, read on.
The Loop / Golf Digest — For time immemorial, CBS’s Masters theme music has been a song called “The Masters Theme Music,” or, “You Know, the Masters Song, No I Don’t Know What the It’s Called and God Stop Asking Me, Doug.”
As it happens, this song bears an actual title, which is “Augusta.” It also has an actual composer, who is a man named Dave Loggins. And if that name just triggered an endorphin fire in the brain-storage unit reserved for Golf-Adjacent Songs of the Very Early 1980s, you’re alright: Dave is the third cousin of Kenny Loggins, the maple syrup-voiced and impeccably groomed beardsmith who provided the “Caddyshack” theme song, “I’m Alright,” as well as music for the decade’s most iconic films about Tomcat dogfights and underworld arm wrestling. Basically, if you were an adult Caucasian male between 1980-1987, your favorite song was probably written by a Loggins.
And even if not — maybe you were a “Rock Me Amadeus” kind of guy, whatever — how weird is this? Two Logginses, each with his own iconic golf-ish track, in the same epoch. How did these guys get here? And more importantly, how do they stack up against each other? Here, for the first time, we invent AND promptly end an All-Loggins Cage Match, a Golf Song Rumble in the Impeccably Landscaped Environs of an Affluent Golf Club. Wipe on the beard oil and let’s do this.
The Loop / Golf Digest — See this ridiculous picture? This one picture right here is why I’m a Cubs fan, because of this moment, because of Harry, the ghost of an afternoon in Chicago and what is, conservatively estimating, 1983’s largest ball cap. (Seriously, it’s like my parents didn’t know hats came in sizes.) Chance and geography, a happy accident that led to four decades of living, which, it’s nice to remember on Opening Day, is how it goes for all of us.
Great and irrational value is ascribed to being a Cubs fan, because being a Cubs fan announces yourself as a stone-souled viking with the power to weather mythic proportions of loss. It’s a proof of worth, a declaration to other, flimsier folks that you’re made of stronger stuff than they are, that you’re morally superior, trophy or no trophy, to the pink-bellied chumps in Yankees hats. It broadcasts not just fanship but something approaching a complete psychological profile. It’s something so honest and sincere that Eddie Vedder wrote an acoustic song about it, for God’s sake.
But I didn’t become a fan for mythology, or to project the presumed worth that comes with loss, or because I liked their players, or their stripes, or their park, or because I was taken with their early-1900s spell of dominance. I became a Cubs fan for one reason.
The Loop / Golf Digest — Baseball’s 2018 opening day is weird: Instead of the traditional method of staggering their first games, all major league teams open on March 29 — the earliest date in MLB history, and one that will probably find you plopped at work understandably believing the season doesn’t start for another four days. But not to worry, baseball friends! You’ll miss nothing, as we have simulated the ENTIRE DAY already, using sabermetrics and psychotropic research and Theo Epstein’s algorithm-spitting robot from the future and TECHNOLOGY, by which we mean 15 baseball games made for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
LET US STOP YOU RIGHT THERE, because we know what you are about to WHINE: Many baseball teams from 30 years ago contained ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PLAYERS! Many of your favorite squads and also the Marlins didn’t even EXIST THEN! And many video game companies didn’t even spring for MLB RIGHTS so your “Pittsburgh Pirates” might actually be VIOLENT DROIDS WITH ARM CANNONS AND TREADS. To all you haterz we say: This is the INTERNET, where facts don’t stand a CHANCE against cheap nostalgia, so of COURSE much of this is wrong. You can shove your facts into the baseball beat writer at your “hometown newspaper,” hahahaha just kidding, you don’t have one.
To infinity and OH GOD IT’S FALLING RIGHT AT US RUN
The Loop / Golf Digest — Big news this weekend for sociopathically stubborn narcissists, people who misunderstand and thus fear science and Kyrie Irving, whether he was running an experiment or not: A man who’s been trying for years to prove that the earth is flat finally managed to launch a rocket! We will get to why those two sentence clauses go together in a moment, but first let’s pause to pat this guy on the back and get him a Flavor-Ice. We’re proud of you here on the plate-like enormous floating disc on which humans live, work and orbit, somehow.
Meet “Mad” Mike Hughes (nickname self-applied, although take a nice hot look at his picture, he’s just getting out in front of this), a self-declared Flat Earth Researcher, self-taught rocket scientist and, we’ll just go ahead and guess, home-schooled barber. He is also a 61-year-old limo driver, a job for which we assume he was trained.
The Loop / Golf Digest — “One Shining Moment” is not a great song, but you know that already. It’s not required to be a great song, or even a good song. Technically it’s not even required to be a song at all — the people who wrote it (a guy in a bar) and recorded it (according to canon, only Luther Vandross) needed only to lay out some sweet velvet sheets for some hardcore montage-ing. It’s ambient lighting, blithely stirring background sounds by which to recap the passingly important memories you and your TV made in the past three weeks. It’s “arguably the most famous song in sports,” according to the Wall Street Journal(betraying its anti-“Super Bowl Shuffle” bias AGAIN). But it’s also pretty much “The Touch,” a preservative-stuffed platter of Max Headroom-era cheese, and about 85% of its value derives from the fact that it reminds people of the late ‘80s, which is the sole reason anything gets made anymore anyway.
The Loop / Golf Digest — To find baseball from before, the wool-clad, leather oil-smelling, faded-yellow version that predated whatever you feel corrupted it, you go to Cooperstown, and you lope through ice cream parlors and hand-painted memorabilia shops and maybe into Doubleday Field, where a sleepy game of aging locals may be living out unclaimed dreams. Doing it for basketball is a little easier: Drive to Knightstown, Ind., an hour east of Indianapolis, just three miles off the I-70 exit, where the price of basketball Americana is exactly zero dollars.
Knightstown houses the Hoosier Gym, built in 1921, polished up in 1936, shuttered in the 1966 and revived in 1985 for the filming of Hoosiers, where it played the home court of Miraculous State Champions Milan (renamed Hickory in the fictionalized version) and enshrined itself as an evocative hoops-tourism destination, once the cast and crew got over thinking they’d just shot an audienceless throwback bomb.
Writer: GQ, Men’s Health,
the Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Indianapolis Monthly, Golf Digest, Vice, BruceSpringsteen.net,
the Indy 500, Fatherly, etc. Proud owner of a Bruce-related Guinness World Record. Even longer bio/clips.