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Washington Capitals left wing Jakub Vrana, center, celebrates his goal with right wing Tom Wilson, left, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov during the second period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, June 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

We will start this week with a Rushmore-inspired question that sadly we expanded beyond the Rushmore and added some more things. We'll also include this week's Rushmores and a very heartfelt thanks for everyone who shared their D-Day stories with me this week. (I included some of the best ones in Thursday's column here.) 

Normally we end with some hate mail, but when you write a couple of times about the heroism of those who led the charge at D-Day, well, the hate mail fades. Better luck next week, huh? So we will close with one more D-Day email that made us smile and think and be proud to be an American.

Have a great weekend friends.

From Paul

Hope this is in time for the mailbag. If not this week, could you answer it next week because my friend Jimmy and me were talking about this all week. OK, we've now had the Astros, the Eagles and the Capitals win championships in a row.

Who is on your Rushmore as team's that deserve a title?

Thanks and keep up the excellent work — your blog helps us through the day and you and David help us on the ride home.

Paul —

Excellent question and considering the run of first-time, long-suffering winners, even more timely. (Of course the fourth-straight run of Warriors-Cavs makes the basketball winner not applicable.)

Still, great topic. 

First, let's get this out of the way. As William Money told Little Bill in Greely's saloon at the end of "Unforgiven" — "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

As for your request, we will offer two Rushmores for you this fine Friday.

Rushmore of teams that have never won a title and certainly have a starving fan base: Vikings, Washington baseball (be it Nationals or Senators), Utah Jazz, Buffalo Bills.

As for franchises or teams who have a previous title but are currently starving for another, we'd go Indians, Maple Leafs (it has been since 1967 that one of the true NHL blue bloods has hoisted the cup), Lions and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Great question. And, tell Jimmy I said hello.

Rushmore of NBA players 6-feet and under — Iverson, Isiah Thomas, Chris Paul and Calvin Murphy

Rushmore of best athlete mentions in songs — Joe DiMaggio in "Here's to you Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel; LeBron and Dwyane Wade in "Empire State of Mind" by Jay Z; John McEnroe in "Jump Around" by House of Pain; Muhammed Ali in "Mama said Knock You Out" by LL Cool James.

Rushmore of non-singing solo musicians — YoYo Ma, Kenny G, Miles Davis, Joe Satriani (who edged Zamfir, the master of the pan flute).

Rushmore of cheese — Grilled cheese, "Say cheese," "Cut the cheese" and Willie Nelson's excellent life lesson of "Early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

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Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, May 6, 2018.


From Mike T.

Are you going to have a U.S. Open contest?

Did you see the Open pairings? I love how they mix those guys together.

If you had a badge to Shinnecock Hills what group would you follow?

Thanks. Love the 5-at-10.

Mike T —

We'll see on the contest. Check back news week. That said, we have more than a few nine-irons in the fire currently. 

Great call on mixing the story lines at the U.S. Open. 

And while there are a ton of reasons to follow the Justin Thomas-Dustin Johnson — the1-2 players in the world — duo who got paired with some cat named Eldrick, that will be a bleeping madhouse.

Now if you have never followed Tiger before at a major, it is worth the effort to say you have done it and to experience a golf rock concert. Dude is a megastar.

Still, we'd likely tool around with the Rory-Jordan-Phil group and try to figure out ho much Phil has wagered on each shot.

That said, following the Bubba-Jason Day- Brooks Koepka group and betting beers with your buddies about who drives it the longest on the par 5s would be a fun way to spend a five-hourt stroll around Shinnecock Hills too. 

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots a 3-point basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From Chip

Heard you on Press Row (Thursday) talking about the changes in basketball. Were you talking about analytics and what other changes in sports do you think could stick?

Chip —

For the most part we were talking about the analytic changes as well as the math alterations to the style.

The game has adjusted to the mathematical certainty that 3 is more than 2. And the analytics have adjusted to the fact that shooting 40 percent from 3 is much better than 50 percent from 2.

Accordingly, the changes to skill set and player value has also adjusted. Big guys with 3-point range and quickness to defend other big guys with 3-point range. 

That — and the rule changes — have expanded the game away from the basket and into the more valuable scoring area behind the arcs.

As for changes in sports, well, we'll start with some basketball possibilities and explore a couple of potential ones that are already being tinkered with.

In the NBA especially, we certainly see a time when the powers that be explore widening the floor. (The national high school federation has suggested that state high school associations adopt shot clocks and go to the distances used in the international game.) Also, there will be a lot of eyes on the summer league in the coming weeks to see if the coach-challenge-replay system works without dragging down the flow of an NBA game.

As for some others — and let me add this is fascinating topic and an excellent question— well, let's go to golf. Arguably the biggest issue facing the casual golfer is pace of play. Yes cost is a factor these days, but golf is losing a lot of folks who truly enjoy the game because we seldom have five hours to go play 18 holes.

In an interesting move this weekend, the European Tour is using a shot clock. Giant shot clocks on the back of carts followed groups around the course. As for the details, this is from Golf.com:

"Players will be given 40 seconds to tee off on par 4s and par 5s. If they are first to play an approach shot, chip or putt into a green, they will be given 50 seconds. If they are not first, though, they will be given just 40 seconds. Fail to hit within the time constraint and a single stroke will be added to their score."

While no one wants to see the Masters decided because Phil Mickelson took 42 seconds to hit from the pine straw, it's a very interesting idea that has great intentions to address a big issue within the game.

Now let's go to baseball, where there are a couple of trends involving pitchers and pitching staffs that need following.

First there's the Shohei Ohtani follow the leader. And teams are going to look for versatile players who can pitch and hit and be effective doing both.

Because if they do the line-up flexibility is undeniable. And that flexibility could continue the bullpen first trend that is happening at times around.

The Rays, who have cruddy starting pitching, to begin with, have on multiple occasions started their set-up guy. Seems crazy, right?

Well, as the game changes to the fundamental math element that outs not innings matter most, it starts to make more sense. If you figure your set-up guy or your closer are the two must trusted guys in the pen (and maybe on a staff with mediocre to worse starting pitching) why wait to see if you will need them.

And what better time to use them than against the 1-2-3 hitters. Forget the closer in the ninth, set-up in the eight. The game is about getting 27 outs, and the order is irrelevant.

As for Ohtani, his versatility allows teams to keep one fewer hitter and one more pitcher. That makes games like the one the Dodgers had this week — Los Angeles had to scratch its starter and used nine pitchers, none working more than two innings, in a win over the Pirates — potentially more commonplace.   

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Former NFL wide receiver and Chattanooga alum Terrell Owens walks the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game with Alabama and Chattanooga, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)


From a  few of you

Can think of any possible reasons that makes T.O's decision to skip the Hall of Fame ceremony?

Gang —

Nope. Can not think of one thing that makes sense.

What an awful decision. Here's more from TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer. 

The only thing we kicked around a little on Press Row was that maybe, just maybe, he was nervous about the speech.

Either way, it's an awful look for a guy who continues snub his nose at everything.

Great letter about D-Day

Something about your column touched a chord and apparently caused me to misspell your name so this was rejected by the cyber authorities. Too late now but a child's perspective of D-Day might amuse you

Dear Jay 

I appreciate your columns for the good common sense they project. You and Bill Stamps restore my faith in human nature and make reading the paper worthwhile. Your D Day column brought back some memories for me. I was 9 years old, living in Dorchester, a small town 8 miles in from the coast and part of the region where the invasion forces were gathering. The convoys would rumble through town and sometimes the troops would throw candy to us but my mother wouldn't let us pick it up--too proud to pick candy off the street even though her kids would be drooling at the prospect. We had two G.I.s billeted with us and they brought us food that we never knew existed -- fudge ( most of which my Dad ate though he deserved it having been in the trenches in WW!--and fruit cocktail, We'd fight over the special little bright red bits of cherry. They had a poster which even at 9 impressed me, of a Vargas Pistol Packing Mama.

Wow, she was something !!  Their encampment was a block away. Jun 5 1944 they were there. June 6 , they had gone and there was nothing where the camp had been.

They left my brother and me an incredible treasure -- a bicycle, which we christened Chalbo after Albert, from Parkersburg W Va  and Bob from Noblesville IN, and their friend Chas.

At 9 they were heroes to me . For them, probably 18 or 19, I hope they felt they had second parents.

Keep up the good work

Tony Fox

Have a great weekend friends.

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