I do not profess to understand this phenomenon, or what it might mean for Republican politics. I do know that if Donald Trump runs for president, it will be incredibly entertaining, in the way Hank's Look-Around Cafe was entertaining. Here is what I know: Among other things, Donald Trump's rampant egotism once murdered a second-tier professional football league. If the Houston Gamblers still existed, perhaps I would see a reason to take him seriously.
Back when I was a cub reporter in Akron, I wrote a long profile of Manny Ramirez, in which I discovered that when the O.J. Bronco chase took place, Manny thought people were talking about his teammate Chad Ogea. Manny misplaced uncashed paychecks in his locker; he left stacks of hundreds in the glove compartment of his car. I realize nothing is certain, but I don't think Manny took steroids back then because Manny did not need steroids back then, and Manny only took what he needed. I think, as he got older, as he came to realize that he could not live in a state suspended adolescence, he probably panicked and turned to artificial methods. But I think it's ridiculous to disquality him for the Hall of Fame because of this. If nothing else, Manny wasn't savvy enough to do these things without getting caught, and since we seem to condemn the guile behind steroid use more than the actual steroid use, that should count for something.
3. The F Word
I have meticulously detailed the ignominious history of Penn State basketball on this blog. I admit that there is little to be proud of, save a flukish NCAA tournament victory approximately once every two presidential cycles. But there is a prominent exception to that rule. His name is John Amaechi. He played center back when I covered the team in the early 1990s, and he remains one of the most perceptive and likeable athletes I've ever interviewed. He also happens to A.) Have played several largely unremarkable years in the NBA, and B.) Be gay, which is how he's become one of the most prominent--one of the only, for that matter--voices speaking up for the gay athlete in the big three American sports. Amaechi wrote an excellent and eminently reasonable piece for The New York Times about Kobe Bryant's use of a gay slur here. Though I fear that what Kobe's outburst signals most of all is that while there is certainly more societal condemnation of homophobia than ever before, we are nowhere near the point where an NBA, NFL, or MLB player will feel comfortable enough to out himself while still active in the league.
Any neanderthal who doesn't believe PBS contributes to the public good probably wouldn't appreciate this show in the first place, but I happen to believe it produces some of the best journalism anywhere, as it did with this week's program about the perils of high-school football. It's a show that manages to frame issues in a unique and accessible way. And its narrator has one of the five greatest voices in television.
5. David Grann
Seriously. This story is amazing.