Happy Fourth of July, wrestling fans.
It's been a slow week in the wrestling world. The hirings and firings that dotted the landscape have subsided and the international guys are poolside with margaritas and the cauliflower kiddos are soaking up some much need rays (Except Ohio State. Are there year-round UV's in Columbus?).
But since I'm on the hook to provide you something, I've opted for a Red, White and Blue Mailbag.
Let's talk about 'Merica.
As I've mentioned before I spend a great deal of time covering international wrestling events. This year has been wild and in the hopes of improving the coverage of these events, I've spent around 220 days on the road. Being outside the states and on the road allows me to form very strong opinions about airline reward programs, the necessity of quality luggage, and where to book hotel rooms online.
Those are all functional, but inevitably the travel also gives me perspective on the relative quirkiness of not just other nations, but our own union.
I love the Stars and Stripes. We have a cool flag and a difficult national anthem. Russia has church bells in their ode to nationalism, but we have lyrics that are as poetic when read as they when sang. We gave the world David Foster Wallace, Ernest Hemingway and Maya Angelou and then without much changing pumped out Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Charlie Sheen. I like that we're diverse, complicated and love to complain. If we didn't maybe I'd be out of a job?
America is complex and depending on your intent we can be a nation of heroes landing on the moon, or warmongers storming the sands of sovereign nations. That's an argument for another time. Today is America's day and on her birthday we should celebrate the good, while acknowledging the bad.
Like any birthday today is the day for introspection and though I'll let you do the heavy intellectual lifting as to what nationalism should mean, I'll go ahead and keep the mailbag on one, singular, flag-waiving theme: America.
To your questions ...
Q: Which of the guys on the current USA team roster would throw the best BBQ? Why?
-- Brian M.
Foley: Brent Metcalf.
Recently unleashed on Twitter and in the media, it's become obvious to many more people just how immensely likable Brent Mecalf is as a person.
Like the Brands brothers, Metcalf doesn't talk much, so when he starts on a topic you hang on his every word. He's sharp, witty and (I think) emotionally attuned to those around him. That makes him an excellent July 4 host.
Tony Ramos and Ed Ruth would be fun, but their too young to know the type of old man stuff that Metcalf understands. Great guests, but crappy hosts.
For example, let's say you walk into Mecalf's home. You're being greeted by him and his wife -- kind and traditional, but in no way stuffy. Big Brent would point you to the bathroom and where he stores the beer, while simultaneously not boring you with the architectural details of his house.
Head outside and his pool is clean and he asks if you want to ride his four-wheeler across the property (Metcalf is a guy that has "property" or "land" – he's not a McMansion'er). After you oblige, he shows you how it starts and sends you out to explore.
Dinner is something he recently killed, potato salad and hot dogs. Oh, and pickles. Everyone loves pickles.
Metcalf is also the type of man who buys the type of illegal fireworks that are illegal for a reason. He drives 300 miles to some stand off a county road and knows each by brand name and tactical ability. He definitely gives kids sparklers, but then also slips them M-80's and watermelons.
No question, Metcalf is my Fourth of July kind of guy.
Q: With the new rules, sans ball draws, it seems like we will send our best guys to Rio in 2016. Nobody will be able to win the first period and then stall their way to a ball draw victory. This seems like a good thing for the United States team, but it also is probably a good thing for the overall strength of other teams as well. Is there any international sentiment out there on how this strengthens rosters for Worlds? Any difference between countries?
-- Tom B.
Foley: The new rules absolutely favor the best-conditioned athletes. Americans tend to be well conditioned and often go whistle-to-whistle, which means the potential for scoring late points on pushouts, warnings and takedowns.
Other countries are in shape as well. The North Koreans will wrestle until they pass out from exhaustion and the Japanese women seem to never breathe hard. The new rules benefit those that work hard more than those who are crafty and looking for single points or the luck of the ball draw. New rules mean more wrestling and that tends to favor those who commit themselves to their goals, so I'd probably agree that the new rules have strengthened rosters around the world.
Overall, I think the Americans could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new rules. We'll need to see way more international wrestling before we know for sure, but my prediction is that we will win more matches and medals in Tashkent than we did in Budapest.
Q: Is it anti-American to throw your boy's gambling skills under the bus in one mailbag and not redeem him in another?
-- B. Muir
Foley: Anti-American? No need to get a tone, Brian. You are a terrible Rochambeau player and that makes you susceptible to losing dinner bets. You also took some bad sides during the season. Winners win.
That written ...
Just when I thought you couldn't be any dumber ... you went and totally redeemed yourself. I risked hundreds on the NCAA wrestling tournament and made a paltry $14, while you raked in enough money to pay for a new king-size bed (sleeps two). You are a solid gambler who understands when there is an edge and often exploits his closest friend's weaknesses for personal gain. That's the mark of a true gambler -- the guy who takes from those closest to him without remorse or loss of sleep.
You recently also showed that you are among the luckiest of humans, cashing in on a modest bet that paid out a few thousand to one. Those are long odds and your Snapchats of laying in a pile of money made me a happy man. I'm always on your team and it pleases me to see you almost break even on your lifetime of gambling.
Second Trailer for Foxcatcher
America, f%ck yeah! (NSFW)
What makes Americans odd to others? Pickles. Your hidden love for pickles.
Q: Most American president?
-- Mike L.
Theodore Rex "T.R." RooseveltFoley: The man from whom I draw all my nicknaming and sartorial advice: Theodore Rex "T.R." Roosevelt
Too many people talk about Reagan, Lincoln, Kennedy and the most recent Roosevelt. Fine, they were sweet but here is a list of things about Roosevelt that you might not have known.
His mother and his first wife died on the same day, Valentine's Day 1884
The SAME day. The immense grief and sadness of losing the women who gave you life and the one for whom you intended to spend the rest of your life both being taken from you on the same day. Roosevelt was only 35 years old.
Roosevelt went skinny-dipping in the Potomac River as president
And you thought that Barack Obama was sweet for taking a dip in the ocean?
Won the Nobel Peace Prize
In 1906 Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation in the Treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War. He was the first president to win the award.
In fact he was the first to do a lot of things.
Teddy Bear is named after him
In response to this cartoon ...
Medal of Honor
Posthumously given in 2001 for his charge up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders during the Battle of San Juan Hill.
Roosevelt was the first sitting president to leave the country
They call him Mr. International. He traveled to visit the Panama Canal construction project in 1906.
The perk of being president in the modern age is that you have Air Force One. Until Roosevelt though no other president made it out of the country. That's partly due to technological restraints, but still, tip a hat to T.R. for what was certainly not an easy sell to his cabinet, or advisers.
Man of many talents
Before taking over the presidency for the assassinated William McKinley, and after his defeat as a Bull-Moose candidate T.R. Roosevelt held many jobs, including: cattle rancher, deputy sheriff, historian, naturalist, explorer, author of 35 books, police commissioner, assistant Secretary of the Navy, governor of New York, war hero, and lawyer.
U.S. Forest Service, Grand Canyon, 42 million acres on public land
He climbed Matterhorn
The Swiss mountain of 15k feet and he did it on his honeymoon.
He volunteered to lead an infantry unit in World War I
"At the outbreak of World War I, the 58-year-old ex-president was eager to return to the front lines. Roosevelt vehemently lobbied President Woodrow Wilson to send him to France at the head of a 200,000-man expeditionary force. Around the country, supporters of the hero of San Juan Hill staged rallies of support, but Roosevelt would not get called to fight in the war that eventually claimed his son Quentin, who was killed in action when his plane was shot down over France in 1918." -- History.com
First in Flight
On Oct. 11, 1910, Roosevelt took a four-minute flight in a plane built by the Wright brothers, making him the first president to fly in an airplane.
He survived a gunshot wound to the chest
Right before delivering what would become the most-famous 90-minute campaign speech in history, Roosevelt, who had hopes of being elected to his second term (third in office) was shot by a local saloon-keeper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bullet passed through a steel case for his glasses and a folded 50-page speech before hitting him in the chest. He kept talking, delivering the famous line:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot," Roosevelt said, "but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose."
He survived malaria and tropical fever
The latter during his South American Expedition which discovered the headwaters of the River of Doubt.
This is not a debate, this is fact: Teddy was the most-American president there ever was, or likely will be.