Thespian John Cusack, last seen in this space accused of baseball bisexuality by Ben Schwartz, recalls Chicago’s demolition of New England in Super Bowl XX (“the Bears were a wondrous team in ’85/’86: full of great personalities, before any originality in sports was reduced to the common rubble of brand”) while describing the event’s halftime show in Tuesday’s edition of Boing Boing :
I remember witnessing the UP WITH PEOPLE halftime pageant terrified, with dilated pupils. It was a time when kids were ordered or bullied into attending high school pep rallies”with all that hateful homecoming gibberish.
As you can see in this video now, watching the performance was like diving into an ocean of bad fashion and forced smiles. Dr. Pepper dancing and Mom Jeans from shore to shore… pre-Prozac in motion…. military ballet… Mandatory cheers and quasi-religious cult patriotics… the glory of the empire. A choreographed tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. A celebration of diversity, unity, and fluorescent leggings.
The idea that America would one day feel homesick for the ’80s was as alien to me then as that vast, choreographed grid of grinning dancers, goose-stepping to synthesizer blasts.
The three grams of psilocybin I gobbled before the game was the only thing that kept me sane.
Sound familiar? Well, it oughta. As New York Magazine’s Edith Zimmerman mentioned last week, Cusack’s been regurgitating his Super-Bowl-On-Drugs story time and time again while doing publicity for the megaplex smash, “Hot Tub Time Machine” Zimmerman found no fewer prior instances recently where Cusack directly or indirectly mentioned the game in question, Up With People’s performance and his own altered state at the time.
Days after HBO mercifully cut the cord on “Joe Buck Live”, USA Today’s Michael McCarthy reports Buck has signed a 4 year extension to continue torturing the American public as Fox Sports’ lead voice on MLB and NFL telecasts.
Fox Sports president Ed Goren confirmed the deal, saying: “We’re thrilled to have the voice of Fox Sports and one of the best broadcasters in the business with us for the next four years.”
The renewal will keep the 40-year-old Buck on the microphone through 2014. The network’s MLB and NFL TV rights run through 2013 and 2014, respectively. Buck says he’s also talking to Fox Sports chief David Hill about developing a show similar to Joe Buck Live, which was cancelled Monday by HBO Sports after only three episodes. The proposed show could air on Fox or a cable network like FX.
With the possible exceptions of Charles Perez, Magic Johnson and Richard Bey, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of hosting a cable talk show than Mr. Buck. And if he could get a post-suicide attempt Artie Lange to make his television return on the debut episode, it could be a rating bonanza for whichever NewsCorp outlet the program is dumped on.
(Pt. I). “My Dinner With Andre”, it ain’t. But I love how we’re assured those turning up for a Nets game wearing paper bags cannot expect similar hospitality. After all, that sale to the Russian billionaire isn’t final yet!
Inter and CSKA Moscow are currently scoreless at halftime of their Champions League quarter-final, said encounter taking place a day after the hosts’ manager, Jose Mourinho (above) —in the midst of a feud with the Italian media — hinted he’d like to return to England. “Over the years, England has taken to her heart lots of foreigners with funny voices,” sneers The Telegraph’s Mike Norrish. “Rolf Harris, Yuri Geller, Lloyd Grossman, Prince Phillip, and, of late, Aleksandr (Compare The) Meerkat…but the most popular member of our foreign legion, the most adored and admired “ the most special “ is currently being forced to live in exile.”
Sky Sports last night interrupted their half-time analysis of Manchester United™s fascinating Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich to bring us an exclusive interview with Jose Mourinho. œI don™t like Italian football, and they don™t like me, said Mourinho, in his funny foreign voice. œSimple.
Richard Keys, the embodiment of our national crush on Mourinho, beamed with excitement at this quote, visibly stirred by the prospect of our hero returning ˜home™. œWe love him, agreed Jamie Redknapp, who, when he™s not doing his studio thing, presents Sky 1™s Search For A Star, the channel™s attempt to turn Mourinho into Simon Cowell. It™s as good as it sounds.
Clearly, neither Jamie nor Richard thought there was anything wrong in devoting so much of their precious half-time analysis slot to a routine Mourinho interview (Indeed, given their excitement, it was a surprise they didn™t can the second half and play endless loops of Mourinho pouting œSimple, with Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background).
ESPN New York’s new addition, former NY Daily News beat reporter Adam Rubin cites unnamed sources as claiming the Mets’ starting rotation looks like Johan Santana, John Maine, John Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, in that order. Pelfrey and Perez — one of the more well compensated no. 5 starters in baseball — have “underperformed” this spring in Rubin’s diplomatic words, though were it not for the club’s lack of depth, you have to figure one or both would’ve been candidates to start the season at Buffalo.
œToday was another good example of us being able to tell our fans, hey, when you want a voice, you™ll get one with us, Yormark said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. œThat™s who we are, the type of franchise we are and we want to be. I think resorting to a brown bag doesn™t do anyone any good and they realize that, and they were very nice and had good things to say about the franchise.
The lunch at the team™s headquarters in East Rutherford was streamed over the Nets™ Web site although the broadcast shut down because so many people logged on, Yormark said.
œI think, in many respects, a lot of good things have come out of this, Yormark said. œWe were able to reinforce our message to season ticket holders. We don™t have any more brown bags in the building, not that we had a lot to begin with before that incident, our players seemed to rally around it and we are playing our best basketball of the season.
œI don™t know if it was a negative, Yormark added. œIt was an unfortunate incident. I try to make the most of any situation and I think I did.
Citing an unnamed source, City Bright’s Zennie Abraham claims Major League Baseball is about to issue an official recommendation the Oakland A’s pursue relocation to San Jose, CA, an edict Abraham takes considerable exception to.
The reasons why MLB would pick San Jose over Oakland will be listed in the report set to be released within three days (unless MLB elects to delay the release of the report after this blog post). But the array of information required and the template that information fits in is not complex or vast. One can guess that San Jose has a more complete stadium development plan. But if Major League Baseball even uses the term “marketing” or “ticket sales” as a San Jose advantage in the report then the stadium committee itself doesn’t know what it’s talking about.
Let’s be more clear. If the stadium committee mentions that San Jose, which is just 30 miles from Oakland and in a smaller population center of the Bay Area (remember, Oakland is at the center of the East Bay, which has 3 million people), but still in The San Francisco Bay Area, and competing with the SF Giants Fan base for ticket revenue, is better for selling tickets, then this blogger will assert that Major League Baseball itself does not understand marketing a stadium product in the 21st Century.
The Oakland A’s fan base is really Worldwide. It just hasn’t been tapped by the Oakland A’s. The Athletics best marketing partnerships are with air travel agents, airlines, convention and visitors bureaus, and hotels. Getting tourists to make baseball-special trips and taking advantage of business travelers who will want to go to MLB rivalry games is the base for ticket sales. It’s as important as local sales. Luxury boxes should be considered as right for a national market, where people in Boston can buy part of an Oakland luxury box for Red Sox games. Multiply that approach times the teams in Major League Baseball the A’s will play and there’s a submarket to go after.
If the key to generating revenue is tourism and “rivalry games” (and I’m pretty sure the A’s have no trouble selling tickets to Red Sox or Yankee games at Network Associates Coliseum), how could any team in MLB be having trouble? Or more to the point, can Abraham name one single baseball fan interested in purchasing a time-share on an out of town luxury box? Deftly dodging Abraham’s somewhat insane argument, Field Of Schemes’ Neil de Mause describes Zennie’s scoop as “barely rising above the level of a rumor”.
That Selig’s Gang of Three would recommend San Jose as an A’s destination, if true, wouldn’t be surprising, given its further-ahead stadium deal and relatively untapped market; the bigger question remains what price Selig will make A’s owner Lew Wolff have to pay to the San Francisco Giants if he wants to get a deal done. Is Rob Neyer right that the commission report won’t be released until Selig has worked out a deal acceptable to all parties? We could maybe find out this week ” unless, as Abraham insists, “MLB elects to delay the release of the report after this blog post.” It takes a clever blogger to take credit for predicting things that don’t happen…
(3/30/10 ADDENDUM : Abraham was previously credited in this post as a SF Chronicle contributor. This was an error on my part ; Abraham’s blog is hosted at SFGate.com but he’s not a Chronicle employee, nor are his posts subject to the Chronicle’s editorial control. Sincere apologies to the SF Chronicle for my suggesting otherwise.)
If the above trailer is anything to go by, filmmaker Bryan Bankovich’s 2009 short, “A Crosstown Classic” might be the Cubs/White Sox version of Jeff Krulik and John Heyn’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”. I’ve read nothing to indicate there are cameos from Ben Schwartz or Rob Warmowski, but I do understand there are sometimes difficulties obtaining a signed release agreement after embarrassing footage has been shot.
You will be relieved to know that Jose Reyes did not dissolve yesterday in a poof of smoke after being hit by a pitch. In fact, people were so enthused by his hitting yesterday that today he’s going to run the bases. Jose Reyes is such a delicate flower that we are complimenting him for basic human functions, like the morose neighbor boy you’re just happy to see out of the house in the sun once in a while.
It remains a mystery why New York Mag feels compelled to employ an avowed Cards fan to come up with the sort of thing that wouldn’t get past “Mike’d Up”‘s call screener on the grounds of redundancy. Would a St. Louis glossy allow a lifelong Mets fan to routinely skewer the Redbirds’ boozed-up skipper or Bunyanesque fraud of a first base coach? Not if they wanted anyone to take them seriously.
“It’s as if somebody decided that speaking English makes for bad broadcasting,” sneers the Stars’ Chris Zelkovich after days observing the NHL and the NCAA men’s hoops tournament. “Or maybe it’s that all these guys heard somebody else use these phrases, figured he must know what he’s talking about and followed suit.” Mind you, this was without any exposure to MSG’s Kelly Tripucka.
A weekend of hockey-watching produced a torrent of mind-numbing phrases. There were references to puck presence, puck support, puck poise, puck pressure and net presence. Outside of an obvious love for alliteration, those who utter these words may have no better idea of what they mean than do the poor saps at home.
On Saturday night, Hockey Night In Canada’s Kevin Weekes talked about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ “neutral zone posture,” which apparently had nothing to with straight spines.
Later in the evening, analyst Garry Galley praised the Florida Panthers’ “comeback capabilities.”
And when did the boards become “the wall” and what the heck is “a saucer pass?”
The mysterious musings of CBS’s Bill Raferty from Sunday’s NCAA coverage will no doubt end up as part of some university curriculum. When a Tennessee player scored a basket, Raftery growled, “Taking his Ritalin.”
When another brought down a rebound, Raftery told viewers the player “provides a little bit of a lift and load-up.”
After a charging call, he offered this: “Those black chargers are bang-bangers.”
And when a player scored while driving to the basket, he thundered: “To the conclusion, with the smooch.”
It would be nice to think that in 2010 an athlete —- professional or amateur — could be judged on their performance (or the content of his or her character) rather than on something as flimsy as whether or not they’ve opted for a tattoo (or 8 dozen). For the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick — presumably tired of bitching about overpriced sneakers, cornrows and doo rags — said alterations indicate (gulp) a lack of smarts. (“I don’t care what your position is on this pop-cultural ‘advancement’ — whether you recognize that it’s another mainstreamed gift from our prison systems and street gangs — but you’ll admit that it seemed half the starters in this year’s tournament were covered with tattoos”)
Until biology and history majors can show and prove otherwise, the most susceptible to modern fashion seem to be on basketball scholarship to America’s most esteemed universities.
Heck, there were three guys who played for Tennessee yesterday whose exteriors looked as if they’d been held down and assaulted by a merciless mob of Etch-a-Sketches.
That makes me wonder. Having covered your arms, legs, chests, backs, hands and necks with permanent patterns and words — some fellas seem to have the Preamble of the Constitution (or Miranda Rights) inscribed down the length of their arms — how do they read what they had written, you know, to check for spelling?
If one is to look down at his tattoo, he sees it upside down. If he tries to admire it in a mirror, he sees it backward. Those grieving fellows who salute in skin art a deceased friend or relative may be startled to look into a mirror and read his memorial as “P.I.R.”
Anyone know, by chance, if Eric Hinske received a basketball scholarship? From this vantage point, it would either seem Phil’s not spent much time out of the house over the last two decades, or he takes special relish in mocking the intellectual capacities of a bunch of young people who just happen to be mostly black.
It’s been quite a whirlwind media tour for Russian zillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, aspiring owner of the Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. Profiled last night on CBS’ “60 Minutes”, Prokhorov answered questions about his pending Owner With A Boner status by saying, “I like women.” Finally, a heterosexual in the ownership ranks of the NBA! Following a Business Week interview in which the one-time stonewashed jeans mangnate professed to checking out the internet only 3 times (and never having set foot on his $45 million yacht), Yahoo Sports’ Trey Kirby calls Prokhorov, “a movie character come to life” . And best of all, he seems to have an amazing sense of humor, at least when it comes to talent evaluation. From the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir :
In an e-mail interview, Prokhorov said he was not confined to one strategy to improve the team. Asked if he will pursue elite players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh if they become free agents, he said, œWe will certainly try to use a large number of free agents over the next two seasons.
He added that the œstarting point of our plan will be the draft picks on 18th May. The league™s draft lottery will be held May 18, with the draft June 24.
œThis year promises uniquely strong draft picks comparable with the draft picks in 2003, when such great players as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade joined the N.B.A., he wrote.
Prokhorov said he did not intend to install a Russian lieutenant to oversee his Nets investment.
œAt the moment, there are no managers in Russia qualified to supervise people at the level of Rod Thorn or Brett Yormark, he wrote. Thorn is the Nets™ president, and Yormark is the president and chief executive of Nets Sports and Entertainment.
But, Prokhorov said, œI do plan to incorporate a young, talented Russian manager with a successful background in European basketball into the team™s management, someone who can develop to the level of N.B.A. basketball over time and fully grasp basketball as a business.
The 35-36 Raptors are clinging to 8th place in the Eastern Conference entering today’s visit to Miami, and with the first quarter nearly complete, underachieving SG Hedo Turkoglu has yet to take the floor for Toronto. The Sun’s Mike Ganter reports yesterday, “Turkoglu walked out of practice early again Saturday looking like he wanted to be anywhere but in a gym.”
That™s a game and a half, a shootaround and two practices now that Turkoglu has missed with what the team is describing as a stomach virus.
œHe just wasn™t healthy enough to continue on here, head coach Jay Triano said.
œIt happened in the game (Wednesday when he didn™t return for the second half) and he couldn™t play Friday night and we weren™t going to get anything out of him in practice either, so rest and get healthy.
Triano said the team had doctors look at him Friday morning, but would not elaborate on the problem or the findings.
œThere™s a fine line between what you can say about a stomach virus without people flooding us and coming in and testing everyone who has been around him and associated with him, Triano said.
Triano was asked point blank if Turkoglu™s illness was legitimate.
œAbsolutely, he said.
Amid whispers that he has been out and about town while dealing with this stomach virus, and with his team in desperation mode, Turkoglu is unavailable.
It is believed that No 10, which has been working secretly on the plans for weeks, has resolved to deliver concrete proposals to tackle growing public disquiet at the level of debt carried by some clubs, the ownership model of others and the dysfunctional structure of the Football Association.
The plans include:
¢ Requiring clubs to hand a stake of up to 25% to fans in recognition of their links with their local community.
¢ Implementing a change-of-control clause that would allow fans a window to put together a takeover of their club if it was up for sale or went into administration.
¢ Giving the football authorities a deadline to reform the FA and remove “vested interests” from the board, and streamline decision making.
¢ Introducing a unified system of governance that co-ordinates issues such as club ownership and youth development.
¢ Allowing professional leagues and the FA additional oversight of club takeovers.
While the government will reiterate that it has no desire to regulate football directly, the prime minister believes the democratisation of football club ownership taps into wider themes about the “mutualisation” of public services and the need for regulatory reform.
On the eve of Wrestlemania 26, a throng of nearly 5000 paid serious loot to attend the WWE’s annual Hall Of Fame induction ceremonies, an event televised by the USA Network and often designed to honor those who’ve either buried the hatchet with Vince McMahon or remained in his good graces. Amongst the Class of 2010 — including the late Stu Hart, Antonio Inoki, Wendy Richter and Ted DiBiase — was Brewers announcer Bob Uecker, named to the Hall’s “celebrity” wing. As quoted by Pro Wrestling Torch’s James Caldwell :
I remember going to Los Angeles to do the promotion stuff (for Wrestlemania III). It was Hulk Hogan, (Andre) the Giant, (Bobby) the Brain (Heenan), Jake ˜The Snake™ Roberts, who coincidentally said, ˜Uke, why don™t you take a picture with Damian?™ I said, ˜Who™s Damian.™ He said, ˜He™s in the bag.™ I said, ˜So am I. Give me a couple more beers.™ So he took the snake out and I put him around me. He said, ˜Don™t worry. He™s big and he’s strong.™ He got his tail around my leg hee and I™m holding him and I™m looking at Jake and he™s got this huge scar right here (on his chest). I said, ˜What is that?™ He said, ˜That™s where Damian bit me.™ I said, ˜Oh, what a great time that must be. I hope he bites me, too.™
I remember the one thing with Jake was Donald Trump™s wife, Ivana. He put that snake down at her feet and she left Wrestlemania so fast, she just left Donald there and she ain’t seen him since.
UT’s Rick Barnes has all but called him a cheat, or at least hinted strongly that he lacks ethics. Bob Knight is said to have angrily confronted him during a Big 12 meeting. Bill Self didn’t like a stunt Drew (above) pulled before a Baylor road game at Kansas.
About all these coaches have not done is offer an ounce of proof. They whisper that they know what he’s up to. They’ll tell you they know, they really know, they absolutely know and they wonder why you can’t see it, too.
Proof? They’ve got none. Zero. Zip. Zilch. And while Barnes and Self are sitting home with their underachieving teams, Drew and Baylor are still playing.
What Drew has recruited aggressively, going after the best players, conceding to no one. He gets there first. He doesn’t take no for an answer. He has gotten close to a line or two, like when he hired a guy close to John Wall apparently hoping he might get Wall.
But he may have gotten Tweety Carter because he worked harder than anyone else and sold the kid on his vision of Baylor.
œI really didn’t get recruited by anybody else, really, Carter said.
I mention the above date because sponsorship of Mr. Randa’s Baseball Reference page is up for grabs. So if you’re an ardent admirer or perhaps a situationist prankster, you might want to sign up, or perhaps just renew the following copy, as forwarded to us by the eagle-eyed Tim Cook.
Though the biggest Knicks related news today probably comes from CBS Sports’ Ken Berger floating the possibility of Kobe Bryant opting out of his $25 million salary in LA to become a restricted free agent and sign with New York (œ’He™s definitely in the mix,’ one GM told me recently. ‘What if they don™t win it this year and what if he™s [ticked] off at Dr. Buss for not re-signing Phil Jackson or he™s sick of playing with whoever and he says, ˜You know what? I™m gonna go put on a New York Knick jersey.™ All of sudden he and Mike D™Antoni hook up in New York and they can talk some Italian.’”), the following item from the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro comes a close second. It seems the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire (above) claims he once attended a high school football game starring Tracy McGrady’s brother, and sought counsel from the (at the time) Orlando star. Coro transcribed the bickering prior to New York being routed in Phoenix last night.
“I’m not a huge Tracy McGrady fan,” Stoudemire said.
As a person or player?
“Both,” he said.
“I tried to reach out to him one time before in high school, really to get some advice on going from high school to the NBA, and he pretty much didn’t say anything,” he said. “So I look at myself now being successful in the NBA, if a kid from my hometown was to come up to me and say, ‘Yo, Amar’e. I’m thinking about going out of high school.’ I would say, ‘Well, you know what, it’s a tough process. College is very important. Education is very important.’ So forth and so on. I didn’t get any of that. I just went off my instinct.”
McGrady not only disputed that such an exchange occurred but said he never went to a high school football game while he was a Magic player and that his brother did not play football. He said he did have a phone conversation on the topic with Stoudemire and watched Stoudemire play against his brother’s team.
True Hoop’s Henry Abbott dived into the events leading to Gilbert Arenas’ conviction and sentence on gun charges yesterday, questioning Agent Zero’s behavior after the story broke, and making the very reasonable point that Gil’s choice of lawyer might’ve been his only smart move in the entire episode.
Sadly, the WWL allows replies like the one above to go unanswered or unremoved for 5 hours (and counting). ESPN staffers have been briefed at least once in recent months on restrictions for their own internet activity. Curiously, the sports media monolith provides its readers with free reign to express the ugliest of sentiments.
After the recent passage of the health care bill, you’d be excused from thinking the days of Americans envying our neighbors to the north were finally over. However, TV viewers in the lower 48 are shit out of luck this coming Sunday and Monday evenings, when “Keep Your Head Up, Kid : The Don Cherry Story” hits small screens courtesy of the CBC and thespian Jared Keeso (above) and Grapes’ screenwriter son, Tim. From Truth & Rumors’ William Houston :
Part 2 on Monday moves the story to Cherry™s coaching career and, appropriately wraps it up with the gut-wrenching Game 7 of the 1979 Stanley Cup semi-final between Cherry™s Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, a game the Bruins probably should have won and ultimately cost Cherry his job.
This contains the best scene sequences of the movie. The now iconic picture of Cherry, standing on the bench, flamboyantly bowing to the braying crowd at the Montreal Forum, is reproduced. Real footage is blended with shots at the bench and the dressing room. You feel the tension building, and the sense of panic and confusion on the ice as the Bruins cling to the lead, fighting off relentless pressure by the Canadiens. The devastating impact of the too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty in the final three minutes of regulation time hits like a fist.
It™s hard to believe that he actually did this, but during the game Cherry left the bench and ran down the hall to the Hockey Night In Canada studio to complain to producer Ralph Mellanby about the telecast replaying the fights that Canadiens players won, but not replaying those in which the Bruins triumphed.
Mellanby looks at Cherry like he™s got two heads. Indeed, the scene does make Cherry look like a horse™s ass. They could have kept it out, but to Tim Cherry™s credit, it was included because, well, it was such an insane thing to do and it needed to be told. It also heightened the drama of the moment, and spoke to how out of control hockey people will get, Cherry in particular, in the heat of battle.
I’ve neglected to take full advantage of MLB.TV’s slate of spring training contests and as such, missed out on what The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jay Posner characterizes as a rather crass sales pitch by the Padres’ broadcast duo.
Producer Ed Barnes put together a pretty good spring-training telecast Wednesday night on Channel 4 San Diego, from in-booth interviews with three Padres executives to showing some great footage of Chris Young playing basketball at Princeton. Too bad he was ordered to go along with what I can only assume was a Padres request to turn the game into a bad version of a telethon.
I would never say having Mark Neely and Mark Grant announce when people had bought season tickets was bush league, because that would be an insult to bush leaguers everywhere.
And does anyone really think the Padres or Channel 4 would have asked Hall of Famer Dick Enberg to participate in anything that pathetic?
By now you’ve probably seen the footage of Florida head coach Urban Meyer — just months removed from chest pains and talk of leaving the Gator program — verbally abusing the Orlando Sentinel’s Jeremy Fowler for having the temerity to….hold a microphone while WR Deonte Thompson praised Tim Tebow’s successor, QB John Brantley? If you found Meyer’s behavior dangerously creepy, you’re not alone, as Sentinel colleague Mike Bianchi suggests, “isn’t it only a matter of time before he goes Zooker and threatens to beat up an entire frat house?”
This is totally out of character for Meyer. He never, ever complains about the media; he just ignores it. And that’s why this unbalanced behavior is so troubling. That’s why Gator football fans must wonder if he is mentally ready to resume being the coach at a suffocating program like UF.
This is almost as tyrannical as when Meyer said former UF quarterbacking great Shane Matthews was not welcome at UF after Matthews criticized the Gators’ offense a few years ago. Did I miss something? I thought Meyer was just the football coach at UF; I didn’t realize he had been coronated king and could banish alumni and media from the program via royal decree.
Is Meyer really such a control freak that he believes he can dictate how people interpret quotes? Good grief, this guy really does think he’s the Pope, doesn’t he? He doesn’t just want to control what we do; he wants to control how we think.