“The Take” for Monday August 8

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And the big winner so far in Rio is…

Courtesy: New York Post
Courtesy: New York Post

Rio itself. With all the talk of crime in the streets, incomplete construction, Zika, pollution and the like, Rio has looked like the winner so far in these Olympic games. The opening ceremonies may have been too long, even with a 7:30 p.m. Eastern start, but they were memorable, from Gisele Bundchen’s catwalk across the stadium floor to the Tonga flagbearer (he’s a takwondo athlete, by the way) to the global warming lecture, it was must see TV. And, they did it on a budget that was 12 times less than in London and 20 times less than Beijing.

Why we care…

With all the doom and gloom coming into these games, Rio needed to start strong, and organizers have delivered. Security is visible and plentiful, but once the games got under way, the complaints seemed to quiet down. Let’s hope it stays that way for the next two weeks.

Football Hall of Fame Induction

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Marvin Harrison, coach Tony Dungy, quarterback Brett Favre, linebacker Kevin Greene, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, quarterback Ken Stabler and offensive guard Dick Stanfel make up the NFL Hall of Fame class of 2016. Yes, it’s football time already, with the Hall of Fame weekend the annual chance to celebrate the game without controversy (although the cancellation of Sunday night’s game because of a rock-hard paint job was a bit of a blip). As for the pre-season schedule (the NFL hates it when we call it ‘exhibition’), most everyone else is in action this coming weekend.

Why we care…

The multi-billion dollar machine that is the NFL is ready to crank up again, but this year some significant retirements may change the landscape of the league: Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson, to name a couple. And then there’s Peyton Manning, riding off into the sunset with another Super Bowl ring while Denver tries to figure out who will take over the signal-calling duties there. Lots of backstories and intrigue, as usual, as the NFL heads toward Super Bowl LI.

Speaking of retirements…

He came into the league as a can’t miss bonus baby…he leaves with awards but under a cloud of drug investigations and scandals. Alex Rodriguez will play his last game as a Yankee this coming Friday: After that he’ll be released by the Yankees from his player contract in order to sign a contract to serve in his new role with the organization through Dec. 31, 2017. Rodriguez, 41, has won three MVPs and has made 14 All-Star teams during his 19 full seasons in the big leagues. He is fourth on the all-time home run list with 696, trailing leader Barry Bonds (762) by 66. The Yankees will pay Rodriguez the remainder of his $21 million salary for this season and the $21 million he is owed for 2017, the final season of a 10-year, $275 million contract that was the baseball’s largest when he signed it.

Why we care…

A-Rod was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame but he may never get in now because he was suspended a then-record full season in 2014 for performance-enhancing drug use. It was the second time he had admitted to using PEDs. The shadow of drug use is keeping several players out of the Hall already (Clemens, McGwire among the most notable) and there’s no reason to think it will be different for Rodriguez.

Is Dale done?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains sidelined from Sprint Cup driving as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms, and Jeff Gordon continues to drive Junior’s 88 car. Is it for the rest of the season? Junior won’t speculate, although he did talk with reporters last week for the first time since he benched himself. Gordon will be driving at least through Bristol on August 20th, then Junior, and his doctors, may have an update for the rest of the year’s schedule.

Why we care…

Believe it or not, Dale Jr. is almost 42, and while he and team owner Rick Hendrick have talked about extending his contract, it probably would be his final one in Sprint Cup anyway. NASCAR without its most popular driver isn’t something the circuit wants to think about, but it’s a very real possibility, very soon.

Spygate? Or something more?

The Oakland A’s have suspended a team employee after it was discovered that he hid a camera inside the weight room at the O.co Coliseum. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Henriques was sent home when the A’s were on a recent road trip. Henriques said he set up the camera to watch players working out and rehabilitating from injuries. He is in his fifth year with the team.

Why we care…

OK, I get it, cameras are everywhere, but anytime you talk about violating the sanctity of the clubhouse, questions are raised. What was the video being used for? Was it to share for instructional purposes or something else? We haven’t heard the last of spygate, camera-gate or whatever-gate you want to call it.

This week’s record congratulations go to…

PGA Tour veteran Jim Furyk for shattering the seemingly unbreakable low round of 59, set first by Al Geiberger. In fact, Furyk was one of six players to shoot a 59 in PGA Tour competition before he topped himself Sunday in the final round of the Travelers Championship, posting the first 58 in tour history.

This week’s condolences go to…

The family of Bryan Clauson. The Indy-car and sprint car driver who had competed in three Indianapolis 500s, died Sunday night from injuries suffered in a midget car crash on Saturday at the Belleville (Kansas) High Banks. He was only 27 years old.

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