Thank you, Tokyo Olympics, for bringing us the ‘beast mode’ we all needed

Many wanted the Tokyo Olympics cancelled, but in the end, they were incredible.

The best.

Pushing past the flimsiest steel barrier ever constructed, into a restricted area he clearly shouldn’t have had access to, Boxall ripped off his required mask and proceeded to… dry hump a fence like The Ultimate Warrior circa Wrestlemania 6?

Like I said. Beast Mode.

The best part: In the background, a Japanese Olympic official, doing her level best to provide resistance, raises her hands like a frightened gazelle and then succumbs. Slowly those raised hands are lowered, evolving into confused claps. OK, she seems to say. You’re here now. There’s nothing I can do about this. I’m just going to try and enjoy this front row seat to Beast Mode, starring Dean Boxall.

In this metaphor, Boxall is the Tokyo Olympics. Both as an event and an idea. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic both probably shouldn’t be here. As the world reels from the effects of the delta strain and global vaccine hesitancy, this is the Olympics no one asked for. Dean, what are you doing here? Bugger off, Dean. Now is not the time.

High jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi gave each other their gold medals. This is too much.

Me? I’m the Japanese official. We’re all the Japanese official. Nervous, unsure how to react, ultimately acquiescing to this moment completely out of our control. Even in Japan, the host country, people were protesting the Olympics. First we collectively raised our hands in passive resistance. Seconds later we were all clapping.

And we were clapping because Dean Boxall is awesome. Reckless, sure. But so awesome. The Olympics were reckless too — but also awesome.

This is what the Olympics delivers: Beast Mode direct to your screen and your heart. It’s in the business of providing iconic moments like Boxall’s. Moments that simultaneously inspire and subvert our sense of what’s possible. Weird shit, displays of pure athleticism.

Two men collapsing into one another’s arms when they realize they can share a gold medal instead of duelling to the death for it. Skateboarding girls cheering each other on, making quick friends in the face of fierce competition. Runners stumbling, falling over in potentially race-ending collisions, miraculously recovering to win races.

Incredible, awe-inspiring moments.

Maybe it’s because we live in a universe where moments like these are worshipped, contorted and shaped into GIFs, tweets and memes in an infinite social media content spiral, but it somehow feels like we’ve had more of these moments compared to previous Olympics. That these Olympic Games have meant more than we ever could have expected when we cynically, reluctantly invited them into our homes.

Personally, as a man living in Sydney, a city wrestling with strict lockdowns that could potentially last for months, the Olympics was been a salve I didn’t realize I needed. It was a welcome distraction as I juggled home-schooling, work and a near-permanent dread at the daily ritual of waiting for Sydney case numbers to drop so we can all go back outside and live relatively normal lives.

There were a million reasons why the Olympic Games shouldn’t have happened in 2021. A million reasons why we shouldn’t have watched and supported what is arguably an irresponsible event run for the wrong reasons. But it’s also equally possible that — this year — the Olympics were more useful than ever.

The Tokyo Olympics probably shouldn’t have happened because of COVID-19. But I’m also happy it happened — because of COVID-19. If that makes sense.

None of it makes sense.

But right now, sport — with its simple rules and digestible outcomes, with its warm blanket of normalcy and straightforward narratives of triumph over adversity — is maybe the only thing that makes sense.

The Olympics, much like Dean Boxall, busted its way into our homes and televisions and refused to leave. An unwelcome guest. But, like the uncertain Olympics official dealing with the uncontainable Boxall as he dry humped a fence, I’m glad the Olympics forced their way into my life. I couldn’t have done lockdown without it.

Preakness Stakes 2021: Post time, TV schedule, how to watch horse racing without cable

You don’t need cable to watch the second leg of the Triple Crown today on NBC.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes takes place later today and will be broadcast on NBC. Here’s how you can watch live without cable.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will attempt to capture the second leg of the Triple Crown at the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

The Preakness Stakes takes place today, Saturday, May 15. TV coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET on NBC. Post time is set for 6:50 p.m. ET (3:50 p.m. PT).

If you don’t have cable, you still have plenty of options. The least expensive that doesn’t require streaming is to connect an over-the-air antenna to your TV and watch your local NBC station. You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials and offer NBC. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area.

Shandful of marketsling TV’s $35-a-month Sling Blue package includes local NBC stations but only in a handful of markets.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

AT&T Now TVs $70-a-month Plus package includes NBC in most markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Baseball and softball at the Tokyo Olympics: Everything you need to know

Baseball and softball are back. Here’s what you need to know…

America’s favorite pastime returns to the Olympics.

Baseball and softball will both run in a modified tournament format. The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the international governing body established in 2013 to merge the International Softball Federation and the International Baseball Federation, will run the competitions.

Each tournament — one for baseball and one for softball — features six teams. The softball tournament will consist of a single round-robin among the six teams, followed by a bronze medal game and a gold medal game for a total of 17 games.

The baseball tournament opens with a group round-robin with two pools of three teams. Each team will play the other two teams in the pool once, with a total of six games played in the group round-robin.

The group round-robin is followed by a knockout round of 10 total games, wherein the first three games feature teams that finished in the same position within their pools (A1 vs. B1, A2 vs. B2, A3 vs. B3). The loser of the A3 vs. B3 game is eliminated, and the rest of the competition ensues in a double-elimination format until there is one team left in each of the winners and losers brackets. Those two teams play the gold medal game.

Baseball’s sister sport, softball, also returns to the Olympics.

The MLB has never halted or interrupted its season for the Olympics, and MLB officials still seem reluctant to do so.

Shortly after the announcement was made that baseball would appear in the Olympics, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said it was unlikely that MLB athletes would play, as it would mean that some MLB teams would play short-handed or the league would shut down for two weeks during the Olympics. The latter half of MLB’s season is the most crucial, as it sets up which teams will make it to the playoffs and ultimately the World Series, so it’s even harder to justify players taking time away from their teams.

In 2008, the last year baseball was seen at the Olympics, the US roster was filled by minor league players and one college player.

So far, it seems unlikely that any big leaguers will travel to Japan.

Both tournaments will begin at the Azuma Stadium in Fukushima, with softball on July 21, 2021, and baseball on July 28, 2021. The finals will continue at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, with the softball final on July 27 and the baseball final on Aug. 7.

Check out the schedule of events here.

The Olympics are back on NBC, with a 24/7 stream online if you verify you’re a cable subscriber. NBCSports Gold will have a dedicated Olympics package — pay an upfront fee and you’ll be able to watch anywhere, uninterrupted by ads.

Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of the West Coast, so watching live should get a good spread of events. It’s a little trickier on the East Coast, where you may have to rely on highlights.

The BBC will cover the games on TV, radio and online in the UK, with more on Eurosport, a pay-TV channel. The time difference there is 8 hours, so you’ll have to get up very early in the morning to watch live.

In Australia, the Seven Network will spread free-to-air coverage over Channel Seven, 7Mate and 7Two. It’s a good year for watching Down Under, with Sydney only an hour ahead of Tokyo.

Tokyo Olympics: The athletes that have tested positive for COVID-19

Some athletes, both inside and outside the village, have already tested positive for COVID-19

A number of athletes have already tested positive and the games haven’t yet begun.

Here are the athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.

Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, both members of the South African soccer team at the Olympics, have both been named as having tested positive for COVID-19. Mario Masha, the team’s video analyst also tested positive and all three are isolating in their rooms in the Olympic village. According to the BBC, 21 players and officials were close contacts.

Ondrej Perusic, a 26-year-old beach volleyball player from the Czech Republic, was the third player to officially test positive for COVID-19 in the athlete village in Tokyo.

Coco Gauff, a 17 year old tennis player on Team USA, announced she was withdrawing from the Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19. She was set to be the youngest Olympic tennis player since Mario Ancic in 2000.

Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of Team USA’s 3 on 3 basketball team, tested positive for COVID-19. She’ll be replaced by Jackie Young, a 23 year old who plays for the Las Vegas Aces.

Samuelson hadn’t yet made the trip to Tokyo.

Neil Powell is the South Africa Sevens rugby coach, he tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan. He is currently isolating with the team in Kagoshima.

The US Olympic Committee (USOC) confirmed that a female US gymnast tested positive for COVID-19, but didn’t name her. (It’s not Simone Biles.) According to the USOC the athlete in question is an alternate and not a member of the main team.

Bradley Beal, a basketball player on the US team, has been ruled out of the Olympics, for health and safety reasons. Jerami Grant, another member of the basketball team was also placed in the health and safety protocol, but some are still hopeful he’ll make it to Tokyo.

Alex de Minaur, Australia’s highest ranked Tennis player, tested positive for COVID-19 and had to pull out of the Olympics. He tested positive on July 10.

Six members of the Great Britain Olympic team had to go into isolation after being exposed to a COVID-19 case on a flight to Tokyo. They are currently training in isolation and will be able to mingle with other athletes once they pass two PCR tests for COVID-19.

We’ll update this post as new potential COVID-19 cases come in.

Tokyo Olympics memes: Snoop’s hilarious horse commentary, diver’s relatable flop

Rapper Snoop Dogg and comedian Kevin Hart are offering uncensored Olympics commentary on NBC’s Peacock network, and it’s a win.

Rapper Snoop Dogg and comedian Kevin Hart are offering uncensored Olympics commentary on NBC’s Peacock network, and they were especially entertained by a horse doing some fancy sideways walking in an equestrian event. (Note: Plenty of swearing ahead.)

“Horses. I like this,” declared Snoop. “This is equestrian… Oh, the horse crip-walking, cuh! You see that? On the set! That’s gangsta as a motherf—–!”

(Crip-walking is a dance move popularized in Compton, California, and associated with the Crips street gang.)

“Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart commenting on the Olympics is the best content NBC Peacock has put out yet,” wrote one Twitter user.

Canadian diver Pamela Ware messed up her dive at the last minute, ending up jumping feet-first and receiving a score of 0. Viewers understood that she had to bail out of the dive to avoid injury, but there was still a sense that here, finally, was a relatable athletic move.

“One of the few times in the Olympics where I have thought ‘Well I could do THAAT,'” wrote one Twitter user.

Ware posted an emotional video on Instagram thanking those who supported and encouraged her after her failed dive.

“My dream is still very much alive!” she wrote in the post’s caption. “This competition will NOT defeat me. This will only make me 10x stronger!”

British gold-medal Tom Daley knits and crochets, even making a little knitted case for his gold medal.

And fans loved it when Daley was spotted knitting away while sitting in the stands watching other athletes compete.

“Nothing to see here – just @TomDaley1994 having a knit at the diving,” tweeted Team GB, the British Olympic team, from its official Twitter account.

“When you gotta win a gold medal at 7, but finish your niece’s hat by 8,” wrote another Twitter user.

Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus won gold, beating legendary American Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle. But it was Titmus’ coach, Dean Boxall, who made the meme list. When Titmus won, Boxall tore off his face mark, screamed and, uh, mimed intimacy with a guardrail. You do you, coach.

Even NBC Sports’ official Twitter account got in on the joke, tweeting, “THAT’S MY SONG, TURN IT UP” with a video of Boxall’s reaction.

And some people felt sorry for the poor Olympics staffer seen in the background, writing, “Thoughts & prayers to the woman trying to keep Ariarne Titmus’s coach from falling over the barrier during his celebration.”

Skateboarding made its Olympics debut, and Peruvian skateboarder Angelo Caro Narvaez took an early fall, landing groin-first into a rail. No medal, but lots of sympathy.

“And he made it to the finals after doing this in the prelims,” one Twitter user wrote. “I would not have made it to the finals after doing that in the prelims, I’ll tell you that. I would have made it to the hospital.”

The US basketball team is packed with pros but still lost to France, 83-76, snapping a 25-game win streak that it had kept rolling since 2004. And while it might not seem fair to make fun of amateur athletes, all bets are off when it comes to poking fun at the professionals.

Wrote one Twitter user, “American teams win an NBA championship and call themselves World Champions until they actually have to play against the world.”

But as one Twitter user pointed out, it wasn’t as if only the US used pro players, tweeting, “You realize these dudes on the other teams are NBA players too, right?”

The memes will keep on medaling; the Olympics run through Aug. 8.

Mint Mobile’s ‘Bobby Bonilla Day’ promotion offers 25 years of service for $2,500

Who knew Ryan Reynolds and his wireless company were such big baseball fans?

Bobby Bonilla playing for the New York Mets in 1994.

You will need to pay $2,500 upfront to take advantage of the promotion. In the fine print, the carrier notes that it “reserves the right to buy back The Bobby Bonilla Plan under certain conditions,” adding that it is “mostly just impressed that you’re interested, honestly.”

Aron North, Mint’s chief marketing officer, says that you can upgrade higher data buckets, with the jump to unlimited running an extra $180 per year at Mint’s current rates. Mint sells its service in prorated three-, six- or 12-month plans. A caveat: You will need to make the change every year as at the end of 12 months the plan will revert back to the 4GB of data listed in the contract.

North notes the absurdity of that quirk and that his company is actually offering a 25-year plan. “We normally don’t have a 25-year plan so people normally pay every year, and then they’re given the opportunity to choose what level they want,” he says. “So it sort of puts a smile on my face now that I’m saying it out loud.”

While he says the company “didn’t really expect to sell any” of these plans, people are taking advantage of the offer. As of 11:15 a.m. PT, the company says that 23 people have signed up for the promotion.

North says the company is prepared to honor its end of the contract and provide service for 25 years. The carrier offers a seven-day return policy and recommends that those who do this plan contact its customer support about options if they decide later on that they don’t want to hang around for the remainder of the term.

Read more: Cheap phone plans compared: 8 affordable alternatives to Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T

Bonilla, who retired in 2001, has received a payment of $1,193,248.20 every year since July 1, 2011, and is set to continue to receive payments every July 1 until 2035. The unusual situation originated in 2000 when the Mets negotiated a buy-out with the one-time star for the $5.9 million he was still owed. Instead of paying a lump sum, the team agreed to make the annual payments for 25 years starting in 2011, with a negotiated 8% interest rate.

As noted by ESPN, the Mets ownership at the time had money invested with the fraudulent financier Bernie Madoff that “promised double-digit returns, and the Mets were poised to make a significant profit if the Madoff account delivered.”

That… didn’t happen, and in recent years Mets and baseball fans have turned July 1 into an internet holiday to mock the overly generous contract.

The virality of the day seems to have appealed to Mint Mobile and the wireless carrier’s owner, the actor and internet darling Ryan Reynolds. The company has even recruited Bonilla to star in an ad, with Reynolds taking to Twitter Thursday morning to note that the company has “actually sold 9 Bobby Bonilla Plans already!”

The deal, which can be found on Mint’s website, will be available until 11:59 p.m. PT Thursday (2:59 a.m. ET Friday).

Correction, 10 a.m. PT: Mint has clarified that customers taking advantage of the deal will have to pay $2,500 upfront, not $100 per year as we were previously told.

Fans take a swing at Cleveland Indians changing name to Cleveland Guardians

“Yup, we named our team after bridge statues,” said one Twitter user.

One of the Guardians of Traffic sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field, where Cleveland’s baseball team plays.

There was some positive social media reaction to the new name, though some people had fun with it, and others didn’t like the choice.

“Yup, we named our team after bridge statues,” said one Twitter user.

The winged baseball logo earned some attention.

Other people also noted that “Guardians” and “Indians” end in the same five letters, and joked that the team’s owners, the Dolan family, could save some money as a result.

Stay tuned for more social media name-change commentary someday soon. The Washington Football Team, formerly the Redskins, has yet to announce its new name.

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS sets impressive ‘Ring time ahead of November debut

The RS is more than 23 seconds quicker around the Nurburgring than the standard Cayman GT4.

What’s hotter than GT4? GT4 RS.

How awesome? Well, ahead of the GT4 RS’ official debut, Porsche took a nearly completed prototype to Germany’s infamous Nurburgring to set a lap time. In the hands of Porsche development driver Jörg Bergmeister, the GT4 RS lapped the ‘Ring in 7 minutes and 9.3 seconds. That’s on the track’s new, longer configuration; the time for the shorter, more familiar ‘Ring setup is 7:04.511. That makes the GT4 RS a full 23.6 seconds quicker than the regular GT4, which is a super impressive feat.

The prototype used for lapping was fitted with a racing seat in order to protect the driver, but was otherwise stock. The GT4 RS ran on ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires, which Porsche says will be optionally available on the production car.

It’s unclear exactly when in November we’ll see the GT4 RS, though the Los Angeles Auto Show is one possibility. In any case, we’re pretty darn stoked to get behind the wheel of one of these. After all, if the normal GT4 is already so good, the RS is going to be a total chef’s kiss.

CDC eases travel restriction on Japan and other countries ahead of the Olympics

The agency says people should be fully vaccinated before traveling.

The CDC’s Level 4 risk assessment advises against all travel to a country and recommends being vaccinated if you must go there. Level 3 is more forgiving. The risk is still high, but the CDC doesn’t strictly recommend against it for vaccinated people.

The State Department has updated its travel recommendations to match.

NFL 2021: How to watch Packers vs. Ravens, Saints vs. Buccaneers, RedZone and Week 15 on Sunday

The NFL action continues on Sunday.

Here’s how to watch Sunday’s games, as well as the rest of the NFL season, with or without cable.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on Sunday Night Football tonight.

Major streaming providers such as YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream offer nearly all the major channels you will need for football. This includes CBS, NBC and Fox, as well as ESPN, which is needed for Monday Night Football.

Sling TV offers NBC and Fox in some markets with its Blue package, but it lacks CBS. It’s also worth noting that to get ESPN you will either need to switch to its Orange package or go for its Blue and Orange bundle.

Those who are fine with watching on phones or tablets, meanwhile, can also use the Yahoo Sports app to stream the games that are broadcast on your local stations for free.

All of those services above, with the exception of DirecTV Stream, offer the option to get RedZone and the NFL Network. RedZone will usually require you to spend another $10 or $11 per month as an add-on.

If RedZone is all you care about, the cheapest option is getting Sling TV Blue for $35 a month and adding the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on. This gets you all the football channels with the exception of ESPN and CBS.

If you do have cable or satellite, here is where you can find the NFL Network on a few of the bigger providers. Note: The exact channel numbers may change depending on your area, so for best results check your channel guide.

Most Thursday Night Football games will be broadcast on Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video. Check out the full Thursday Night Football schedule here and our recommendations for the best ways to watch NFL without cable throughout the season.

Paramount Plus offers live CBS feeds with its Premium tier for $10 a month. Depending on where you live, however, your local CBS station (and those NFL games) might not be available. CBS offers livestreaming services in many markets; you can check if your area has live CBS streaming here.

All of NBC’s regular-season NFL games will be available to stream on its Peacock streaming service, so long as you pay for one of its Premium subscriptions.

There are two of these tiers, a $5-a-month Premium option that has ads (when watching nonlive content) and a $10-per-month Premium Plus option that will stream nonlive content ad-free (and let you download some content to watch offline).

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $11 a month. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Note that YouTube TV is offering a $15 discount, bringing the price down to $50 per month, during its contract dispute with Disney.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $10 a month. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and has all the major NFL channels with RedZone available as an $11-per-month add-on. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, Fox and the NFL Network. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.

Note: This version of Sling TV does not include ESPN. For that, you’ll need to switch to the similarly priced Orange plan or go for the combined $50-per-month Orange and Blue bundle. RedZone is also available for an extra $11 a month.

Read our Sling TV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream’s basic $70-a-month package includes nearly all the major channels for football with the notable exceptions of RedZone and the NFL Network. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

Those looking for CBS games will be able to stream them on Paramount Plus with its $10 per month Premium tier. You can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.

Peacock will show NBC’s full slate of Sunday Night Football games. You will, however, need one of the service’s Premium plans to watch Sunday Night Football live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier.

The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium Plus plan costs $10 a month.

Read our Peacock review.

Most Thursday Night games will be available on Amazon Prime Video. For millions of Amazon Prime subscribers, the Prime Video channel is already included at no extra cost. But if you’re not a subscriber, it might be worth it to shell out the $9 a month for the stand-alone TV service fee.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials (except Peacock, which just has a free tier that doesn’t stream live NFL games), allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.