Thursday, May 26, 2022

Nestor Cortes delivers another gem as Yankees stymie Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees entered Tropicana Field to face their stiffest AL East competition battered and bruised and on Thursday night, it didn’t matter.

Just as he has all season, Nestor Cortes pitched like an ace, which allowed a makeshift Yankees lineup — that didn’t get a hit off Ryan Yarbrough until the sixth inning — enough time to break through in a 7-2 win over the Rays.

It was the first of 19 games between the teams this season, with 10 of those meetings coming in the Yankees’ next 25 games. And the win extended the Bombers’ AL East lead to 5 ½ games.

Cortes took a shutout into the ninth and threw a career-high 109 pitches.

He allowed a two-out single in the first to Harold Ramirez and then got Randy Arozarena to fly to left and Manuel Margot to line out to left, where Miguel Andujar made a diving catch.

He retired 14 straight before Isiah Kiner-Falefa made an error to lead off the bottom of the sixth.

Nestor Cortes allowed one run in eight-plus innings in the Yankees’ 7-2 win over the Rays.
AP

By then, the Yankees had built a three-run, all in the top of the inning.

Yarbrough entered with a 2.41 ERA against the Yankees and retired 15 of the first 16 batters he saw, with only Anthony Rizzo reaching on a one-out walk in the first.

Facing a lineup that was without Giancarlo Stanton (ankle), DJ LeMahieu (left wrist), Josh Donaldson (COVID IL) and Aaron Hicks (hamstring), the Yankees won their third straight game after suffering their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Aaron Judge belts an RBI single in the sixth inning of the Yankees' win.
Aaron Judge belts an RBI single in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ win.
AP

Newly signed Matt Carpenter led off the sixth by getting hit by a pitch and the light-hitting Marwin Gonzalez followed with the Yankees’ first hit of the night, a single up the middle to bring up the top of the order.

After a visit from pitching coach Kyle Snyder, Aaron Judge singled up the middle to score Carpenter from second and give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Rizzo flied out to right for the first out, with Gonzalez moving up to third.

With Ryan Thompson in to face Gleyber Torres, Judge stole second.

New Yankee Matt Carpenter scores on Aaron Judge's RBI single in the sixth inning of the Bombers' victory.
New Yankee Matt Carpenter scores on Aaron Judge’s RBI single in the sixth inning of the Bombers’ victory.
AP

Torres popped out before Andujar hit a grounder to shortstop. Taylor Walls stumbled and then bounced his throw to first, where Ramirez didn’t get a glove on the ball and it got away, allowing a second run to score on the play, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

The Yankees threatened in the seventh, with Kiner-Falefa leading off with a walk against Ralph Garza Jr. and Jose Trevino reaching on an infield single. Both runners advanced on a groundout by Carpenter. After Gonzalez popped out, Garza threw a wild pitch with Judge at the plate. and Kiner-Falefa scored to make it 4-0.

Cortes finally gave up another hit with two outs in the seventh, as Manuel Margot’s shot to right-center just eluded Judge.

The lefty got Isaac Paredes to ground out to get out of the inning.

The Yankees tacked on three more runs in the ninth courtesy of a Judge sacrifice fly and a run-scoring double by Rizzo.

It was a promising start to an important stretch for the Yankees, who built much of their early success against sub-.500 teams, including going 9-4 against the last-place Orioles.

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Uvalde Mom Says She Was Handcuffed While Begging Cops To Enter School

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A Uvalde mother said she was handcuffed and nearly arrested while imploring law enforcement to enter Robb Elementary School during Tuesday’s shooting, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Angeli Rose Gomez told the newspaper she and many other parents were waiting outside the Texas school, encouraging law enforcement to act, as a gunman raged inside. As her calls grew more urgent, she said, U.S. Marshals handcuffed her and told her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.

She persuaded local Uvalde police officers she knew to free her, before jumping the school fence, running inside to grab her two children and sprinting out with them.

“The police were doing nothing,” Gomez said. “They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals told WSJ its marshals never handcuffed anyone while securing the school’s perimeter and that they “maintained order and peace in the midst of the grief-stricken community that was gathering around the school.”

The U.S. Marshals office did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.

Questions over the police response have swirled since 18-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire in Robb Elementary, killing 19 children and two adults in a rampage that authorities say may have lasted nearly an hour.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Gomez said she also saw a father get pepper sprayed and another get tackled to the ground by police at the frantic scene.

Once law enforcement had shot and killed the gunman, Gomez described seeing police use a taser on a father who was approaching a bus to pick up his child.

“They didn’t do that to the shooter, but they did that to us. That’s how it felt,” she said.

The shooter, an 18-year-old male armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, killed 19 children and two teachers before he was taken down by a responding Border Patrol officer.

The police response has drawn increasing scrutiny as more details and timelines of the attack emerge. Multiple videos circulating on social media show parents pleading with police to do something as they waited outside the building.

“There’s a f**king shooting at the school and these f**king cops are telling everybody to leave, dude, while everybody’s here trying to pick up their f**king kids,” a man can be heard saying in a livestream he filmed on the scene. “They’re just all f**king parking outside, man ― they need to go in there… The cops ain’t doing s**t but standing outside.”

Another video shows a chaotic scene outside the school, with some people shouting at police while others are heard crying and screaming. Officers can be seen restraining a man on the pavement, while another stands in front of them with a taser and a woman is screaming “he’s a parent!”

Authorities faced questions and backlash Thursday over how much time elapsed before law enforcement burst into the classroom to put an end to the rampage.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that after the shooter opened fire on a school security officer, a full 40 minutes to an hour passed before a U.S. Border Patrol team fatally shot the gunman. A different spokesperson said they were still working to confirm the timeline.


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Josh Donaldson Apologizes To Jackie Robinson’s Family

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NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Donaldson has apologized to the wife and family of Jackie Robinson for referencing the pioneering Black baseball player in remarks that led to a confrontation with Chicago White Sox star Tim Anderson.

The New York Yankees third baseman was suspended for one game and fined on Monday by Major League Baseball. The league said Donaldson’s comment on Saturday was “disrespectful and in poor judgment.” Donaldson has appealed the discipline.

“First and foremost, I have the utmost respect for what Tim Anderson brings to the game of baseball,” Donaldson said in a statement Thursday issued through his agency, MVP Sports. “I stated over the weekend that I apologized for offending Tim and that it was a misunderstanding based on multiple exchanges between us over the years. My view of that exchange hasn’t changed and I absolutely meant no disrespect. In the past, it had never been an issue and now that it is, we have a mutual understanding.

“I would also like to apologize to Mrs. Rachel Robinson and the Jackie Robinson family for any distress this incident may have caused. Jackie was a true American hero and I hold his name in the highest regard.”

Anderson did not speak with reporters before Thursday’s game against Boston. Scott Miranda, a spokesman for the Jackie Robinson Foundation, said the family had no comment.

Donaldson said after Saturday’s game that he twice called Anderson by “Jackie.” Robinson broke MLB’s barrier in 1947. Benches and bullpens emptied as tensions escalated.

Anderson has said Donaldson was “trying to provoke me” with the comment. White Sox manager Tony La Russa called Donaldson’s comment last weekend “racist,” adding, “That’s as strong as it gets.” Anderson agreed with La Russa: “Same, along that same line, yeah.”

Anderson, an All-Star and the 2019 AL batting champion who is among the leading Black voices in baseball, told Sports Illustrated in 2019: “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson … because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.”

Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, said that early in Saturday’s game, “I called him Jackie.” The white ballplayer also said he has “joked around” with Anderson in the past using the same reference and mentioned that Sports Illustrated interview.

Anderson said after a brief conversation in 2019 in which Donaldson called him “Jackie,” he told Donaldson: “We don’t have to talk again. I won’t speak to you, you don’t speak to me if that’s how you’re going to refer to me.”

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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Karine Jean-Pierre pressed on Biden actions after Texas school shooting

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Journalists on Thursday pressed new White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on why President Biden hasn’t done more to address mass shootings following the murder of 21 people Tuesday at a Texas elementary school.

Jean-Pierre said Biden would “leave the mechanics” of crafting a bill to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — drawing challenges from reporters on why he’s not taking a more forceful role after emotionally demanding new gun control laws Tuesday night.

“There are people out there, I saw several of them on TV today, who say that this president needs to do more,” New York Times reporter Michael Shear said at the press briefing.

Commentators, he added, want Biden “to declare a national emergency, he needs to create task forces, he needs to create a czar of gun things, he needs to say he’s not leaving this building, cancel his vacations, tell members of Congress to get in a room and not leave until they have a solution.

“I guess the question is, why isn’t he doing any of that?” Shear asked.

New York Times reporter Michael Shear asked the White House why President Joe Biden hasn’t taken more action on guns.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“On the public health, on the emergency, he has already done that,” Jean-Pierre replied. “The president has already declared gun violence to be a public health epidemic. He has done that already. And he has mobilized our federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Health [and Human] Services to respond. So that is has been done.”

She also noted that Biden chaired the Obama administration’s gun task force after the 2012 murder of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“Look, this is a president, as I’ve said already, who has been working on gun violence, gun reform, comprehensive gun reform since he was a senator,” Jean-Pierre said. “And he also was there, as you were talking about, when President Obama had to deal with [it]. He was there, he was his partner in that and took on that portfolio of dealing with gun violence. He was there at the table.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre listens to a question during a daily press briefing at the White House on May 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre argued President Joe Biden is already working diligently on bringing gun control following the Texas school shooting.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Shear pressed, “Isn’t that more of an indictment than it is a plus — to say that the current president has been involved in this for more than a decade and it’s not being fixed? These things are happening over and over again.”

Jean-Pierre replied, “We are frustrated as well. We are angry as well. I said this earlier, and I’ll say it again, this is a president who has done more via executive actions… than any president in their first year.”

Shear challenged the reply, saying, “But many of those are not directly related to the issues of mass shootings. They may be directly related to guns, and that’s important. But they are not directly related to [mass shootings].”

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden slammed gun lobbyists during his initial response to the Texas school shooting.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“This is why we’re calling on Congress to act,” Jean-Pierre countered. “The president is doing what he can right from here, from the White House. … And he has said he cannot do this alone. He’s been very clear. We he understands we need to do more, but Congress also has to act.”

Last month, Biden said his administration would attempt to ban “ghost gun” kits via regulation to close a loophole that allows businesses to sell most AR-15 semiautomatic rifle parts without a federal background check along with a partially complete “lower receiver” part that buyers then finish off at home.

Ghost guns are increasingly seized from criminals, authorities say, but have not been used in recent massacres.

White House Press Karine Jean-Pierres peaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on May 26, 2022.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre recently replaced Jen Psaki.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

NBC News reporter Kristen Welker picked up Shear’s line of questioning, saying, “the president campaigned on a promise of being able to bring Democrats and Republicans together to get the hard things done. Why has he not been able to bring them together to make this a legislative priority to even get a small measure done?

“Well, I think that’s what Sen. [Chuck] Schumer is trying to do,” the press secretary replied.

“But why not do that in the early days of his presidency?” Welker pressed.

“Well, we have been talking to Congress before these two shootings that have been clearly very publicly very devastating and horrific in this past two weeks. We’re doing it now. Look, we know that this is not easy. We’re not saying that this is easy. And the president is doing everything that he can to get this done,” Jean-Pierre said.

People gather for a vigil at Uvalde County Arena after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that claimed the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers on Wednesday, May 25, 2022
People gather for a vigil at Uvalde County Arena on May 25, 2022 after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
James Keivom for New York Post

Legislation in Congress remains a steep climb. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that Republicans are open only to a narrowly crafted bill that “directly” addresses the Texas attack — potentially indicating a willingness to raise the age to buy a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21.

“I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre,” McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) said Thursday he would delay consideration of gun-control bills to June to allow for bipartisan negotiations. He said that if those talks fail, he would call floor votes on a pair of House-passed gun control bills that would expand background checks to private sales and prohibit the sale of guns during a pending check, neither of which would directly address the Texas shooting.

Texas authorities say 18-year-old Salvador Ramos legally bought two AR-15-style semi-automatic weapons before using one to murder 19 students and two adults at Robb Elementary School.

The massacre in Texas followed the murder of 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store on May 14 by 18-year-old suspect Payton Gendron, who also used a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle.

A law enforcement personnel lights a candle outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
A law enforcement personnel lights a candle outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, 2022.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Congress rarely passes major gun legislation, but lawmakers in 2019 did agree to raise the national tobacco age from 18 to 21. Congress voted in 1984 to force states to raise their alcohol ages to 21.

Then-President Donald Trump in 2018 endorsed raising the age limit to 21 to buy a semiautomatic rifle following the murder of 17 people at a Parkland, Fla., high school by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who used a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) mentioned Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that she sponsors legislation to raise the age limit for AR-15s. She noted that 18- to 21-year-old adults cannot even legally buy a beer.

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Tampa Bay Rays And New York Yankees Scrap Game Coverage And Instead Offer Facts About Gun Violence

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The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees official Twitter accounts aren’t covering their game but instead are dedicating themselves to offering facts about gun violence.

The Rays official account tweeted:

The Yankees account tweeted:

The Rays and the Yankees are fierce AL East rivals who are both potential World Series contenders, but for one night, they are putting aside baseball and focusing on educating people about the impact of gun violence.

It doesn’t get much different in the world of sports than the small budget Rays and one of the biggest global sports brands in the entire world, the New York Yankees, but for one night, they both have a common mission, and that is to rally America to do something about gun violence.

This isn’t a mixture of sports and partisan politics. There is nothing partisan about wanting children to stop getting shot in school.

The Rays and the Yankees are still playing a baseball game, but the safety of children is bigger than baseball.

The two teams are doing the right thing and calling attention to a solvable crisis that could be fixed with a little political will to put the safety of children ahead of the gun lobby.


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Niecy Nash on ‘The Rookie’ spinoff, ‘Don’t Forget the Lyrics,’ and marriage

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Emmy nominee Niecy Nash is all over primetime: she’s currently hosting the Fox game show “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” and is gearing up to star in a spinoff of the ABC hit, “The Rookie.” 

“We were coming out of such a tough time, with the pandemic and everything, and I thought, ‘What a great way to give people bags of money for just doing what they do driving in the car on the way to work, or in the shower,’” Nash, 52, told The Post about “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”

Airing Mondays (8 p.m.), the series follows contestants as they test their musical memories for the chance to win $1 million in prize money. For Nash, who married musician Jessica Betts in 2020, there was also an extra element that appealed to her.

“My better half was able to be in the [the ‘Don’t Forget The Lyrics’] band, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I get to flirt while I’m at work? This is the dream!,’” Nash said. “We had a good time, and we don’t get tired of being around each other. You ride in the car together going to work, then you work together all day. Some people would say, ‘Enough already,’ but not me, I’m like, ‘Give me more!’ ”

Niecy Nash hosting, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”
FOX

This is the third iteration of “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” which aired from 2007-2009 (Fox) with host Wayne Brady and ran in syndication (2010-2011) with Mark McGrath handling the hosting chores. Nash said she was a fan of the show before she got her turn as the host, but she’s not sure how well she would do as a contestant.

“My genre would be ’90s R&B, I think I could do pretty well at that. The other categories, not so much,” she said. “And in terms of specific songs, I don’t know, because one of my favorite songs is ‘Pony,’ the one that they played in the ‘Magic Mike’ soundtrack. And I thought I knew all the lyrics to that one and I just found out I was singing that song wrong for years. So, you just never can tell.”

Niecy Nash laughs onstage with a microphone.
Niecy Nash with contestant Fletch on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics.”
FOX
Niecy Nash stands with a woman onstage, smiling.
Niecy Nash with contestant Nicole on “Don’t Forget The Lyrics.”
FOX

Nash, who’s been an industry mainstay for years (“Reno 911!,” HBO’s “Getting On”) was a regular for all four seasons of TNT’s “Claws” and snared an Emmy nomination for her role in Ava DuVernay’s 2019 miniseries, “When They See Us.”

“For some people, the journey is greater later, and I guess I’m just one of those people,” she said. “I am having a very good time. I am indeed living my best life, and it doesn’t matter that it happened later in life – it just matters that it happened.”

It’s also an area in which she can relate to her character on “The Rookie: Feds,” a spinoff from ABC’s “The Rookie,” where Nash played Simone Clark in Season 4.

Airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. this fall, “The Rookie: Feds” will follow Simone, a single mom and the oldest rookie training for a role in the FBI. 

Nathan Fillion and Niecy Nash hold flashlights.
Nathan Fillion as John Nolan and Niecy Nash as Simone Clark on “The Rookie” Season 4’s backdoor pilot to the spinoff series.
ABC via Getty Images

“Simone Clark was experiencing what you’d call ‘a dream deferred.’ She never lost sight of it, though,” said Nash. “And so, at 48 years old, she has a small window of time to complete the FBI training academy, and says, ‘I’m going to go for my dream.’ Her journey is going to be so much fun to watch. It’s that journey where you course-correct and chart a new experience but you already have so much life experience. She gets into a lot of trouble, because there’s two ways of doing things — the FBI way and the Simone Clark way — and they’re not the same.

“But she gets out of the trouble because she still ends up getting it done.”

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FBI Investigation Requested After Texas Officials Admit They Lied About Good Guy With A Gun At Uvalde Shooting

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Texas officials admit that there was no good guy with a gun who confronted the Uvalde school shooter, and now an FBI investigation has been requested.

There Was No Good Guy With A Gun In Uvalde

CNN’s Victor Blackwell tweeted:

No one confronted the shooter. The killer was able to hop a fence with his assault rifle and enter the school through an unlocked door.

It appears that the police were more active in trying to restrain parents than they were in trying to stop the shooter:

There was no good guy with a gun. The scene at the school does not look controlled by law enforcement. Reporters still can’t details from authorities on which law enforcement agencies were there, and there are two troubling time gaps of nearly two hours from when the shooter first fired shots outside of a funeral home to when police entered the school.

Texas officials are either overwhelmed, or they are hiding key information to cover up a botched response to a mass shooter.

Rep. Castro Requests FBI Investigation In Uvalde Shooting

All of these questions have led to Rep.  Joaquin Castro (D-TX) formally requesting an FBI investigation into the shooting.

Castro wrote to FBI Director Wray:

The people of Uvalde, of Texas, and of the nation deserve an accurate account of what transpired. However, state officials have provided conflicting accounts that are at odds with those provided by witnesses, including: 

  • Whether the school security officer and the gunman exchanged fire outside the school.
  • How long law enforcement officers were in adjoining classrooms while the gunman barricaded himself in a classroom with students and teachers. 

Moreover, a block of time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time has yet to be fully accounted for. Onlookers allege that parents unsuccessfully urged law enforcement to enter the building during this time and confront the shooter.

I urge the FBI to use its maximum authority to thoroughly examine the timeline of events and the law enforcement response and to produce a full, timely, and transparent report on your findings. Your agency must ensure that the American people have a complete and comprehensive account of how this tragedy occurred.

The people of Uvalde deserve answers, and they clearly aren’t getting them from officials in Texas.

Something is wrong with this investigation, and it may take the FBI to find what is being hidden.


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How ‘Hacks’ Turned A Cow Giving Birth Into Something Deeply Profound

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This story contains spoilers for Season Two, episode five of HBO Max’s “Hacks.”

One of the best things about “Hacks” is when a scene or plotline starts out wickedly funny — and before you’ve even recovered from the belly laughs, you’re gut-punched by some devastating truths.

It’s a microcosm of the show itself. At its outset, ”Hacks” is a dark comedy about the mismatched partnership between legendary comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and her writing assistant Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder). The show’s cutting wit is a lead-in to incisive and moving revelations about the ways women in the public eye are often unfairly maligned and turned into punchlines.

That seamless blend of comedy and pathos especially crackles in two Season One episodes that deepen Deborah and Ava’s creative partnership, and the show as a whole. In “New Eyes,” Deborah, who is high after getting eye surgery, reveals that one of her signature jokes was actually based on a lie, because she realized making herself the butt of the joke was what audiences wanted from her. In “1.69 Million,” Deborah offers a sexist and boorish male comedy club host $1.69 million never to set foot on stage again.

The fifth episode of the show’s second season, “Retired,” is another encapsulation of what makes “Hacks” one of the best shows currently on TV. On its face, the episode’s premise is hilarious. Deborah, who has spent the season on tour after her Las Vegas residency ended, is out of her element. Her latest gig: performing at a state fair in the Midwest, where she is upstaged by a cow giving birth. That crushing disappointment, plus Deborah encountering an old acquaintance who retired from comedy and ended up with a simpler and more content life than hers, leads to several profound moments.

In an interview, “Hacks” creators and showrunners Lucia Aniello, Paul Downs and Jen Statsky explained what inspired the episode, which premiered Thursday on HBO Max.

“We talked about being bumped by a cow at a state fair,” Downs said, describing the process of brainstorming story ideas with the show’s writers and consultants at the start of the season. “We knew that was one really great indignity. Deborah Vance was having her dates cut in Season One. Season Two, she’s starting from scratch. So if she thought that was a low, she’s really hit rock bottom.”

“Hacks” co-creators and showrunners Jen Statsky, Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs.

The other main topic they wanted to explore was how, “in doing creative work, it’s interesting when you encounter someone who hasn’t continued to do it” ― particularly for Deborah’s generation of comedians, “when there was really only one spot for one woman,” Downs said.

Enter Susan (Harriet Sansom Harris), who came up in comedy at the same time as Deborah. But she quit after a big competition, where Deborah advanced to the final round and she didn’t. At the start of Thursday’s episode, Deborah runs into Susan at Lord & Taylor, where she now works in the shoe department, and invites her and her grandchildren to the state fair.

The usually unbothered Deborah seems shaken by the interaction. She tells Ava she always feels a sense of guilt “when I run into one of the ones who didn’t make it.” Then, she reveals she may have been responsible for Susan’s retirement: At that competition, Deborah erased Susan’s name from the list of finalists so Deborah would be the one woman chosen to advance.

At the state fair, Deborah compartmentalizes her guilt, in typical Deborah fashion. When Ava suggests Deborah apologize to Susan, she says, Lucille Bluth-style: “No, no, no. I’ll treat her and her family to a day she’ll never forget. I mean, how much could that cost? Forty-seven bucks?” But instead of just letting Susan and her grandsons have a nice time, Deborah gets overly competitive at a squirt gun game and gloats when she wins.

Later, over funnel cake, Susan tells Deborah that her decision to quit comedy wasn’t about that one competition. It was because she realized she didn’t want Deborah’s life, and didn’t think she had the stamina for it.

“We thought that was a really interesting thing to explore, both from Deborah’s point of view — someone who was a shark and so devoted to her craft — but also from the perspective of someone who said, ‘I just didn’t want to do it. Maybe I couldn’t have,’” Downs said. “It’s also that thing of, what is behind the choices one makes in one’s life? What does it take to ‘make it,’ and does that mean you are doing good — or does that mean you’re mentally unwell? What are the sacrifices we all make, in any career?”

Deborah runs into Susan (Harriet Sansom Harris) in "Retired."
Deborah runs into Susan (Harriet Sansom Harris) in “Retired.”

According to Aniello, in building the dynamic between Deborah and Susan, the show’s writers were thinking about people in their own lives who quit comedy for various reasons, “and wondering who made the right choices, and [who] made the wrong choices.”

“It does beg the question of, ‘Am I happy with how things turned out for me?’ I don’t think for everybody, having success, or professional success or commercial success or whatever, necessarily equates to ‘Oh, I’m happy now,’” Aniello said. “It is something that every person in the writer’s room was like, ‘Oh yes, this is something I have experienced: the people who don’t do comedy anymore. Here’s how I feel about it.’ Everybody had a perspective.”

When Deborah asks Susan if she ever misses comedy, Susan says she occasionally thinks about it ― like when one of their peers has a guest spot as the patient of the week on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I think, ‘Well, I could have been funnier than that,’” Susan says. (In response, Deborah notes that the famously wrenching medical drama isn’t known for its comedy. But Susan points out: “Sometimes they use the guest actors for levity.”)

“I think it’s so relatable that every once in a while, she’ll be like, ‘What would my life have been like in some alternative timeline?’” Downs said. “Same with Deborah, who’s like, ‘Wow, would I have had a normal relationship with my daughter, and have two grandchildren? But instead I have my career’ — which she cares a lot about, and says later, ‘I like the work.’”

Devotion to one’s work is a major theme of the episode. Trying to kill time before Deborah’s set, Ava and Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins), Deborah’s indefatigable, workaholic CEO, get their caricatures drawn. In search of some inspiration, the caricature artist asks them what their hobbies are. Both of them struggle to come up with an answer that does not involve their jobs. For better or worse, Deborah, Ava, Marcus and everyone who works for Deborah can’t untether their identities from their work. It’s who they are.

Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) and Ava (Hannah Einbinder) getting their caricatures drawn in "Retired."
Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) and Ava (Hannah Einbinder) getting their caricatures drawn in “Retired.”

It all comes together beautifully in the episode’s last scene, when Deborah and Ava are unwinding at their hotel’s pool. Ava tries to reassure Deborah that being upstaged by a cow giving birth “would have happened to anyone in your position.” Deborah devastatingly points out that “nobody at my level would be in that position” ― a legendary comedian having to start from scratch and perform at state fairs. She wonders if she should have just quit while she was ahead. Ava tells her that’s preposterous: Deborah will never stop working.

“I’m the same way. I can’t turn it off either,” Ava says. “And nothing matters more, even if it should.”

Case in point: They can’t stop racking their brains for a better punchline to a joke about Deborah’s business manager embezzling from her. Deborah suggests they take a break and clear their minds by teaching Ava how to float — and of course, that’s when they finally figure out the perfect punchline.

Ava’s remark is “something that, to me, is really personal, and that I relate to a lot, and I’m sure people will relate to, whether they’re in comedy or any other creative industry,” Downs said. “In having that moment, they do have a breakthrough. For them, that’s a really powerful thing. So I hope people relate to that, because it certainly speaks to me.”

Deborah teaches Ava how to float.
Deborah teaches Ava how to float.

In the episode’s final moments, Ava has her own breakthrough. When Deborah goes to write down the punchline so they don’t forget it, she lets go of Ava — who discovers she’s successfully floating. It’s funny and very typical of Deborah to just leave Ava hanging. (In Season One, she abandons Ava when their car breaks down in the desert.) But it’s also a deeply moving end to the episode, which Statsky hopes is “a metaphor for what the show is.”

“Their relationship is that Deborah is teaching Ava how to exist on her own, and Deborah’s not there to help her when she’s sinking,” she said. “Then, she’s going to have to make sure she can float.”

Season Two of “Hacks” is now streaming on HBO Max, with two new episodes airing every Thursday.


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Meghan McCain Attacks Beto O’Rourke For Confronting Texas Republicans On Guns

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Meghan McCain had the nerve to call Beto O’Rourke a washed-up two-bit politician after he dared to confront Republicans in Texas on guns.

McCain wrote in The Daily Mail (UK):

I know there are many people on social media applauding Beto, but remember, as Dave Chapelle once said ‘Twitter is not a real place.’

I found the entire stunt to be a cheap political ploy, disrespectful to the victims and their families, the community of Uvalde and completely missing the point of the moment.

People need to grieve, heal and yes, look for solutions.

They don’t need two-bit, washed-up politicians creating a circus in their hometown.

Meghan McCain has never accomplished anything in her life. Her claim to fame is that she is the daughter of the late Sen. John McCain, which she never lets anyone around her forget for a second.

McCain tried to claim that the days after 19 innocent children were slaughtered is not time for partisan politics, but when one political is responsible for the enabling of mass shooters in the United States, the moments after they helped to get children killed appear to be the perfect time to talk about why Republicans keep blocking common-sense gun laws.

It takes an unfathomable amount of delusional entitlement for Meghan McCain to call anyone else two-bit or washed up. Meghan McCain should take it as a compliment if she is ever called washed up because it will mean that somebody somewhere thought that she had a peak.

Steve Schmidt recently exposed Meghan McCain for the nasty piece of work that she is.

Beto O’Rourke cares. The same can’t be said for Meghan McCain.

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Police Response To Texas School Shooter Prompts Call For Federal Inquiry

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New details about police officers’ actions during a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers are raising questions ― and calls for a federal inquiry.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) on Thursday asked Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray to examine local law enforcement’s response to shooting at Robb Elementary School, noting in particular that state officials’ accounts of what transpired conflicts with what parents and witnesses say actually happened.

That starts with a hazy timeline of the attack itself. While Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez said officers responded to the scene “within minutes,” what happened next is unclear.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that after the shooter opened fire on a school security officer, a full 40 minutes to an hour passed before a U.S. Border Patrol team burst into a classroom and fatally shot the gunman.

A different spokesman disputed that account, however, suggesting the “40 minutes” began when the shooter shot his grandmother earlier in the day, then stole her truck and drove to Robb Elementary School.

Agonizing video from outside the school shows distraught parents pleading with police officers over the seeming lack of action.

“We were wondering, ‘What the heck is going on? Are they going in?’” Derek Sotelo, who works at a tire shop near the school, told The New York Times. “The dads were saying, ‘Give me the vest, I’ll go in there!’”

At one point, federal marshals reportedly handcuffed one of the parents ― a mother whose two children were inside the building. Once freed, she proceeded to hop the school fence, enter the building and sprint out with her kids.

Official statements have also varied on whether or not the gunman exchanged fire with the school security officer outside the school, and how long the gunman was barricaded inside a classroom before police could gain entry, both of which Rep. Castro mentioned in his letter to the FBI Thursday.

The congressman added that an additional block of time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. also has yet to be fully accounted for.

Asked to account for the gap at a press conference Thursday, Victor Escalon of Texas Department of Public Safety offered only, “We will circle back on that.”


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Nestor Cortes delivers another gem as Yankees stymie Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees entered Tropicana Field to face their stiffest AL East competition battered and bruised and on Thursday night, it...