While it was widely reported Wednesday that the A’s had signed a 10 year lease extension at the oft-ridiculed O.co Coliseum, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carolyn Jones writes there’s not actually a done deal :
Mayor Jean Quan said any celebration is premature, as the A’s – as recently as Tuesday night – gave the Authority a counter-offer that officials have not reviewed in depth.
“We are still negotiating, so were surprised by the announcement of an agreement,” she said. “We plan to meet (Thursday), continue negotiations, and hope there will be an agreement soon.”
Fans had mixed reactions on Wednesday. The A’s – who have the best record in baseball and won their division the past two years – deserve a permanent home, not an endless series of lease extensions, said Garth Kimball of Baseball Oakland, a fan group dedicated to keeping the A’s in Oakland.
“Lew Wolff has been trying to get them a permanent stadium since 2003. Here it is 2014 and we’re still talking about it,” he said. “I think people just want this resolved once and for all. We want the A’s to stay in Oakland, period.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE : Earlier tonight, the New York Mets chased their former prospect, LHP Scott Kazmir en route to a 10-1 victory over the AL West leading Oakland A’s. Kazmir, famously swapped for Victor Zambrano in one of the worst trades in Mets history, allegedly ran afoul of veteran teammates while preparing for the 2004 season in Port St. Lucie, most prominently, starting pitcher Al Leiter. Said incident is recalled in this post from July 9, 2006 – GC)
Tomorrow’s sports pages will be filled with accounts of Chien-Ming Wang’s tremendous performance against Tampa Bay. As though that were the most important storyline.
Though the Yankees’ 5-1 win helped the Bombers keep pace with Boston in the AL East, I’d rather focus on things far more crucial. The issue of respect. Feelings. Defering to a veteran. Knowing one’s place in the pecking order.
You might not agree with his politics, you might wish his final year in a Mets uniform saw him reach 100 pitches in less than 3 innings per start. But you’ve got to acknowledge that Al Leiter has always been a quality individual.
After everything Leiter has done for baseball, if not the city of New York, was it asking so much that he be allowed to play the music of Bruce Springsteen on the clubhouse boombox during Spring Training 2004? Is there something inherently wrong with Leiter misinterpreting the Boss’ populist themes for some kind of ultra-patriotic anthems? If there were, you’d have to lock up much of the Tri-State Area.
So how was Leiter supposed to react, when that young punk Scott Kazmir arrogantly strode into the Port St. Lucie clubhouse and snapped Leiter’s ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ CD into pieces, and then replaced it in the player with Solger’s “Raping Dead Nuns”?
I know how I’d have reacted. I’d have used every bit of influence I’d build up through years of golfing and glad-handing to have that little creep shipped off to the baseball equivalent of Siberia at the earliest possible opportunity.
Al, if you’re reading this, not all Mets fans hold a grudge. Kazmir lost tonight, a game he might’ve won with any sort of top-flight team with a ten-figure payroll playing behind him. Sure, he’s going to the All-Star Game on Tuesday, and soon, he’ll be making enough money to have the members of Solger reunite at his 23rd birthday party. But for tonight, he’s a loser.
As most of you know, from time to time, I like to make fun of my adopted hometown. But the fact of the matter is, whenever I’ve been in hot water, the good people of Austin, TX have been awfully quick to help out. Whether it was my
Toblerone addiction house burning down or needing to have my eyeballs replaced after seeing the Venus Illuminato’s appearance on “Good Day Austin”, my friends and neighbors have always been there for me.
Now, however, it’s time to ignore my problems (for one night only, please) and focus on the situation facing Hex Dispensers bassist Rebecca Whitely. In the Autumn of 2013, she underwent a medical procedure that her insurance carrier has declined to cover. On Saturday, June 28 at Red 7, a bunch of Whitley’s friends including the reunited Sugar Shack, Simple Circuit, Bangaar and Houston’s amazing Weird Party are playing a fund raiser that’ll hopefully make a dent in the outstanding bills.
If you can’t attend, the ‘Phantominom-VGS’ EP by Espectrostatic aka Whitley’s bandmate, Hex Dispensers guitarist/vocalist Alex Cuervo, is still available via Bandcamp, with all proceeds going towards said medical expenses.
Of LeBron James’ announcement early Tuesday that he’s opting out of his Miami contract to become an unrestricted free agent — and potentially leaving money on the table in the process —- Ball Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer takes a tact slightly opposite that of Heat President Pat Riley, writing, “he’s not less of a man, or with less of a legacy, for wanting to go work with other All-Stars.”
He’s afforded the same rights we all are, to pick amongst employers that want to pay for our services. To turn up our nose at LeBron James choosing to wear yet another NBA uniform, and I apologize for being haughty, is borderline un-American. And you don’t want to be some kind of damned Bolshevik, do ya?
Bill Russell was traded to a team with Bob Cousy already on board, in the same draft that gifted his Celtics Tom Heinsohn and K.C. Jones. Jerry West joined a team with Elgin Baylor on it. Wilt Chamberlain was traded twice and even tried to switch leagues toward the end of his career. An obscenely lucky amount of cap maneuvering and outright theft helped place Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish on the same team. Magic Johnson was drafted to a team that already featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he retired from that team (the second time) just months before it acquired Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, players that were originally members of the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets, respectively. Tim Duncan has always had a fabulous supporting cast.
The outlier here is Michael Jordan, who had to wait for years for the All-Stars (four in total, at various times either with or without MJ, in Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong, and Dennis Rodman) to find their roles around him. And even before his father’s tragic murder in 1993, Jordan was outwardly talking about an early retirement while dragging his legs to three straight Finals appearances.
James has now done four in a row, and he’s tired. And he needs help. And it seems odd that some basketball fans would prefer him to play things out like Allen Iverson, who has but one NBA Finals game win to his credit, and an overtime squeaker at that.
“He understands that this is a team game, and that even the greatest need help,” Dwyer muses, “why this is an anathema to people is beyond me.” While I’d not question James’ work ethic or his devotion to the game, I can totally get why this is an anathema to people. Those who’ve grown up buying into the concept/cult/whatever of T-E-A-M struggle with James’ agenda continuing to be about, well, himself. As opposed to a jersey (he wasn’t born wearing) or a city (he’s lived in for all of 4 years). In prior generations, there’d be an expectation that a franchise’s millions + fan adoration would = some loyalty. But that’s a quaint notion in 2014. You’re invited to download LeBron’s smartphone app — as opposed to say, a Miami Heat app that prominently features LeBron James.
It’s not enough that LeBron James is the greatest active basketball player on the planet. Some would like to see him be a leader as well. After a discouraging defeat to San Antonio, said leadership might come in a number of ways ; LeBron guaranteeing the Heat will return to the finals in 2015. LeBron inviting teammates to a summer-long boot camp with hot tub/karaoke bonding at the end of the day! LeBron attending Heat Summer League games and taking rookies and scrubs under his wing!
I know, corny shit. James isn’t gonna turn into Tim Duncan simply because you wish the best player was also the classiest. And it’s equally hysterical to vilify a player who prioritizes winning above money. The rub is, it’s about his victories, not a team’s. And if you’re a bigger fan of a team than any single player, this takes some getting used to.
While the finger-pointing is in full steam following England’s inauspicious showing in Brazil, the Guardian’s Barney Ronay won’t hear of making the national team’s stars apologize to their long-suffering fans. “It is we – the public, empowered component parts of a society that continues to produce game but under-skilled footballers – who should be apologising, both to the players and to each other,” argues Ronay. “To demand an apology for this from the current group of players seems a bit like raising a child without teaching it to cook and then demanding that child hurl itself at our feet in contrition at the age of 18 for being unable to bake the perfect soufflé.”
Quite frankly there is a decent case for doing it properly, for the government to step in and organise special camps in parks and open spaces where members of the public can queue to file past Fraser Forster and Gary Cahill to apologise personally for the playing field sales, for the lack of proper public facilities, the absence of artificial pitches, all enacted by successive local and national governments. Lads, Roy – we’re sorry. This is, in part, why you aren’t better at all this.
Perhaps a million-signature petition could be delivered to Jack Wilshere’s house apologising for the disorientating effects of early overexposure, from too much concussive big-game football, a gruelling celebrity culture, to vast windfalls of disorientating lucre offered at an early age.
Maybe Gary Barlow could record a charity song to raise money for a memorial in Maidstone town centre apologising to Chris Smalling for all those people – yes, us – who used to yell on the touchline and tell him to get rid and who applauded whenever he sent it long into the channels because big, son, big, it’s got to go big.
Unfortunately, there’s no Craigslist category for “Gullible People Who Like Unloading Valuable Shit”
Today marks the 76th birthday of American treasure Boruch Alan Bermowitz aka Alan Vega. I can only hope that when I’m his age, I don’t have to put up with internet jerks bringing up stuff I did 37 years ago instead of sending a card or a gift, like a civilized person.
(this is what Clint Dempsey looks like when he’s having an epiphany)
DATELINE MANAUS BRAZIL :
Despite being just one draw away from advancing in the 2014 World Cup, the entire US Men’s National Team has announced they’re quitting the tournament.
“Giving up the last second goal to Portugal was disappointing, sure,” explained captain Clint Dempsey, “but when we learned that Doug Hart didn’t give a shit about America or soccer, that’s when we looked at each other and realized this is a complete waste of time.”
“Right now, we could be getting high, beating off or working on harsh noise tapes,” Dempsey complained to a roomful of stunned international sports media. . “Instead, we’re explaining ourselves to a bunch of assholes who wouldn’t know a 4-4-2 from a Front 242. Who sucked, by the way.”
“To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports,” claimed NCAA President Mark Emmeret earlier this week while testifying in former UCLA hoops star Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust suit against his organization. “We know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience,” claimed Emmeret, though the independent league St. Paul Saints — the same folks who brought you the Senator Larry Craig bobblefoot — had their own pithy response in press release fashion :
ST. PAUL, MN (June 20, 2014) – Since 1993 the St. Paul Saints have provided fans with no memories, tons of depressing times and promotions that have fallen flat. As a matter of fact, no one outside of the Midway area has ever heard of the ballclub. The Saints, will continue their sad existence as they attempt to give fans “the worst experience” in the franchise’s history in hopes of gaining no support from their fans.
On Monday, August 18 the Saints will open their gates, but instead of charging their regular prices of $14 for infield reserved tickets, $9 for outfield reserved and $6 for general admission prices will be $70 for infield reserved, $45 for outfield reserved and $30 for general admission. For those die-hard Saints fans that have been around since the very first season they will receive a scholarship to enter the game for free. However, the scholarships will be taken away from certain fans if they aren’t cheering loud enough after each inning. Fans will also be given the NCAA rule book and must follow each and every regulation or they will not be allowed in.
The Saints are well known for their ushertainers, actors and actresses in character that interacts with fans throughout the game. The Nerd, Karaoke With A Real Japanese Guy, The Chef and the entire ushertainer team will be asked to stay home.
The Saints food and beverage department will serve a limited amount of meals and fans can only consume a restricted amount. Fans can consume bagels with butter, but are not allowed to add cream cheese, pasta will cost $3.83 and crab legs will be on hand.
Finally the Saints reserve the right to use all their fans name and likeness on the video board, in marketing materials and for commercial use, but no fan will be compensated.
For more information please contact the Saints automated answering machine at 651-644-6659.
Presumably, you caught Heat President Pat Riley on television Friday, strongly hinting that LeBron James would go down in history as a coward if he chose to opt out of Miami (“you have to stay together and find the guts…you don’t find the first door and run out of it”). Considering the events surrounding James’ exit from Cleveland, the Boston Globe’s Tony Massarotti writes, “Dear Riles: You are a hypocritical fraud.”
You were a terrific coach, remain an excellent executive, would be an asset for any team, including the Celtics, who might ever want to hire you. But on this one, especially, you are as phony as a polyester suit. During James’ final five years in Cleveland, the Cavaliers won more games than any team in the NBA Eastern Conference. They went 9-5 in playoff series and made a trip to the finals. The people in Cleveland appealed to James the same way you are appealing now – please stay, LeBron, and please finish what you started – though they did so in a far more whiny, pathetic and shameless manner.
You? You are smarter, at least. You appealed to James’ manhood, which is a clever little trick. It’s just as transparent and superficial as the people to whom the Heat sell tickets. LeBron has never been about fighting the fight, Riles. He has never been about digging in. He is about LeBron, about the business of King James, and the fact that you have now resorted to essentially calling him a chicken confirms just how desperate and scared you are.
Attaboy, Riles. Change the argument to fit your needs.
As seen at today’s Pirates/Cubs tilt. You might think I’m exaggerating but it really feels like everytime I attend a game at Wrigley, the WGN booth is invaded by either James Belushi, Billy Corgan or Tom Fucking Morello. I don’t need any karmic payback for past misdeeds, I’m a Mets fan, remember?
(l-r : Hayes, Gordy, Roberts)
“I remember Nick Gulas suggested we were on marijuana pills,” Michael “P.S.” Hayes tells Canoe Sports’ Marshall Ward, the “we” in this case being the trio of Hayes, Buddy Roberts and the late Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy. Collectively known as The Fabulous Freebirds, their southern rock affectations not only presented a stark contrast to the toothy goodness of the (doomed) Von Erich clan, but also presented Hayes with a memorable, if brief recording career, one highlighted by the video below.
Recently honored with the Cauliflower Alley’s Lou Thesz Award (and noting the irony — there’s not many stylistic similarities between himself and Thesz), Hayes spoke with Ward about attempts to revive his musical sideline :
Historian and writer Steve Johnson said his friend Dr. Tom Prichard calls you the David Lee Roth of wrestling — in a complimentary manner — as sort of the entrepreneur who created opportunities where none existed. Is that a reasonable analogy?
Yeah, it is. It really is. I kind of fancied myself that same way a long time ago. And speaking of Dr. Tom, I have known Dr. Tom for a long time and he’s a great guy. A funny guy, he’s got a little weird sense of humour, but if you know him he’s a really a good guy.
And speaking of music, I’ve got a new CD coming out probably in the next month or so with some really new tunes that I’m really proud of. I’m not releasing this thinking, well, I’ll be at the Grammys in February (laughs). I don’t give a damn about going to the Grammys. I give a damn about releasing these great tunes, and writing a song and expressing it, and letting people hear it.
Two of the songs are probably as polar opposite as possible, and I think they both have a lot of potential. One is called “Why Can’t the Children Pray in School” and the other is called “I’m Gonna Drink ‘Til You Start Looking Good.” So I mean, that’s what makes me tick, it’s not just one element, it’s all the elements of life, and I’m really happy to be above ground and still swinging the bat.
Whether you’re planning on making the scene in Midtown Manhattan, Money Earnin’ Mount Vernon, the
mean gentrified streets of Williamsburg or on the front steps of Lake Como’s Bar A this summer, you’re gonna want to look your best. And if you can’t afford to do so, you might want to settle for this t-shirt salute to Mike Zaun’s inspired take on what New York’s Number One might’ve sounded like in 1776.
Detroit skipper Brad Ausmus was asked after the Tigers’ 2-1 home loss to the surging Royals how he’s coped during his club’s recent slide. The Detroit Free Press’ George Sipple carefully scribbled down the answers :
“Yeah, it’s not fun,” he said. “Like I said, once I get to the field, I’m always in a good mood, especially if I’m driving and it’s sunny out. Once I’m here, I’m ready to go, I feel like I’m the exact same person that you would have seen on Day 1 of spring training.”
And when he goes home, someone followed up.
“I beat my wife,” Ausmus said. “I’m just kidding. No, luckily my wife and kids are fantastic. I do get a little mopey at home, but my wife and kids are good. They’ve seen me be in a bad mood after a loss, so they’ve been great.”
His joke drew some hearty laughs and some nervous laughs from the media and, after answering another question, he came back to it.
“I didn’t want to make light of battered women,” Ausmus said. “I apologize for that if it offended anyone.”
In the wake of Wednesday’s landmark decision by the U.S. Patent office to revoke trademark registration for the NFL’s Redskins, DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg has published one of the documents supplied by the case’s plaintiff ; a 1972 letter to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle written by former Redskins co-owner Edward Bennett Williams after discussing the nickname with Native Americans.
The concepts of depth and sharing the workload also seem to be lost on the Italian striker, but on the bright squad, Cesare Prandelli will have no trouble getting his entire squad on the same page (SORRY).
If you’re thinking the US Men’s National Team’s victory over Ghana or the robust TV ratings World Cup 2014 has garnered for ESPN and Univision are an indication The Beautiful Game is approaching CRITICAL MASS in the hearts of minds of Americans, hey, maybe you’re right. Would an all-knowing observer of relevant sports activity like WFAN’s Mike Francesa be taking such a keen, critical interest otherwise?
While SI.com’s Richard Deitsch hails ESPN’s use of Everton manager Roberto Martinez as a studio analyst for the 2014 World Cup, the Guardian’s Simon Brunton is far less impressed with UK TV commentary thus far :
Twelve years after Gareth Southgate complained about Sven-Goran Eriksson’s World Cup half-time team-talk, saying “we were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith”, the nation would have been perfectly happy with Iain Duncan-Smith and instead got a small and unremarkable pebble, viewed from a distance, in thick fog. As England v Italy kicked off on Saturday night, commentator Guy Mowbray turned to the man beside him. “Shall we just try to enjoy it, Phil?” he asked. “It’s always difficult. As an English supporter. To enjoy these occasions,” jawed Neville. And they were probably the truest words said all night.
The following day on ITV, Countdown-contesting PFA brainbox Clarke Carlisle glowingly informed us that Ecuador’s attack must be good if a talent as bright as Porto’s Jackson Martínez can’t even get in the team, forgetting that the team he can’t get into is Colombia’s. Despite their brilliant attack, Ecuador fell to a dramatic defeat at the hands of Switzerland, Haris Seferovic finding a way past Alexander Dominguez deep into stoppage time. Which is incredible when you think about it, because Dominguez is so good even Lev Yashin can’t get in the team. To complete a bad weekend for British television commentators [and Richard Keys – O Fiverão Ed], during France v Honduras the BBC’s Jonathan Pearce totally failed to grasp the fact that when the ball crosses the line between the posts and under the bar, it is not widely considered controversial if the referee then awards a goal.
For FIFA, the Brazilian Football Confederation, broadcast and sponsorship partners around the world, World Cup 2014 is obviously a money-printing enterprise unparalleled in the sporting universe. The event, while a competitive spectacle like none other, is occurring amidst massive public protests over matters including but not limited to stadium construction costs measured alongside limited funding for hospitals and schools.
(by Paulo Ito)
Street Art Utopia has collected a number of public murals that address the imbalance. Check ‘em out here :
Tuesday (June 17) marks the 20th anniversary of Germany & Bolivia kicking off the 1994 World Cup at Solider Field, a match attended by Bill Clinton, Diana Ross, Oprah Winfrey and myself (their seats were a little better than mine). Perhaps more spectacularly, the 17th was also the night Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Knicks and Rockets was reduced to a tiny corner of NBC’s screens as OJ Simpson and Al Cowlings attempted to reenact the Charlie Sheen / Henry Rollins star vehicle, “The Chase” (traveling at a far slower speed, however).
All of the above were the subjects of a combined ESPN documentary, but there’s a pretty crucial event that has yet to be chronicled. That was also the night I paid to see Liquor Bike at the Empty Bottle thinking I was going to see Liquor Ball.
Paul Greengrass will soon be directing a film loosely based on these events (the World Cup, ’94 NBA Finals and OJ chase excepted).
Who amongst hasn’t attended a Old Timers Game at Yankee Stadium, witnessed a paunchy Shane Spencer negotiating the outfield, Kevin Maas weakly dribbling out to the pitcher or Chad Curtis being led away in handcuffs and thought, “man, these guys are really tarnishing some wonderful memories?” Really? Nobody? Well, lucky for me Robin Yount used the occasion of the Brewers’ Wall Of Honor ceremonies to make the point far more elegantly than I can manage. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob Wolfey (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory) :
“I think it (the Brewers Wall of Honor ceremony) was far better than any old timers game you could ever have,” Yount said. “I am not a fan of old timers games, in all honesty. And I’ll tell you why. Some of these kids will recognize names and not ever have seen them play. Old timers games when we played were fairly common.
“And I will tell you what,” Yount said. “When somebody is very recognizable in a certain organization, a player the kids have heard their parents talk about. This individual and that individual. ‘What a great player this guy was. Yadda, yadda.’ Then you have an old timers game and this guy hasn’t touched a ball or bat for 10 or 15 years. He’s out of shape. And you ask him to go try to play baseball and the youngsters say, ‘Dad, that’s the guy you told me was so good?’
“And I know that’s funny, but I am being very serious,” Yount said. “I don’t think you want to have that memory put into that kid’s mind. They’re disappointed. They thought nothing but how great these people were. That’s just me. I’m not a fan of old timers games. I’m a huge fan of bringing guys back like we did (Friday). Put ’em in a uniform. Some guys will look better in uniform than others. You walk around. You say hello. You wave to the fans. You sign some autographs. And let the best high school teams go out there and play each other. We’ll watch.”
There’s only 15 of these shirts remaining in stock at Trailer Space, but in sizes XL and XXL only. Lance Stephenson’s already ordered his.
A little more than 11 months ago in this space,it was suggested that “the newly formed Inspire Pro Wrestling could well raise the bar for what Central Texas has come to expect from an independent wrestling promotion”. Nearly a year later, after Inspire Pro has showcased a stunning array of regional and international talent at Austin’s Marchesa Hall, it felt like a good time to catch up with the promotion’s creative director, Max Meehan to assess what’s gone down and what’s on the horizon on the eve of Clash At The Bash.
(*- DISCLOSURE – NOT JUST AN ARTIST I WOULDN’T LISTEN TO ON A BET : the author has on many occasions done (non-wrestling) business with Meehan).
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months since Inspire Pro’s debut. Though I’m hesitant to say I’m surprised at the promotion’s rapid growth — you guys were clearly pretty ambitious from day one — this doesn’t have the vibe of a company that’s only a year old. The fan reception has been wildly enthusiastic, but how do you guys feel about where you’re at right now?
Thanks for the kind evaluation. We’re all incredibly pleased to see our little girl growing up to be very pretty. We knew we had to break the whole dozen in the first year to make our mark. We have a lot of incredibly talented people from different corners of the world interested in working with us right now, which is a surreal honor. The NWA affiliation wasn’t necessarily a goal, but I’m shocked and proud that we are working together. We have become a company that creates moments. At “In Their Blood,” I was standing in the back of the room with Mr. Brandon Stroud watching Jojo Bravo and Tadasuke put on a total joy of a match, and I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe we’re doing something at this level.” We’re doing wrestling that the fan in me is excited to see. While we didn’t necessarily hit every goal we had on paper for the year, but we did aim high, and we cleared maybe 75% of what we set out to do. I’m extremely proud of where we are at and what we have become in such a short amount of time.
Though the blend of veteran talent and new has been pretty masterful (much like the mix between regional talent and international stars), you can take special pride in the development of several roster members who were largely unknown out of the state. A few of ‘em — and I’ll let you fill in the gaps — weren’t necessarily earmarked for success by other Texas promotions. If you don’t mind, tell us a little bit about the process behind establishing a Sammy Guevara or a Ricky Starks and elevating them to the point where they’re as synonymous with Inspire Pro as a Mike Dell?
When I first saw Ricky in Austin, he had been relegated to an odd and unsuccessful tag pairing. He has an undeniable charisma. It didn’t take much digging to discover that the guy was a phenomenal talker with a big personality. He just hadn’t and wasn’t being given much of an opportunity to be that guy here. Ricky’s success is inevitable. He just has to be given the opportunity to show people what he can do. Sammy is another guy who is no secret in his respective neck of the woods. We all watch matches from all over, and if we see someone who catches our eye, we’ll try to bring them in and give them an occasion to rise to. Andy Dalton is another guy who’s well-known in North, Texas, but many people down here hadn’t had a chance to see him. All he needed was an opportunity to shine in front of a crowd. He’s undeniably talented. Every single person on our roster has the ability to succeed. I like to think we maybe make better use of some of these guys than others do, and challenging them is part of that. I’m grateful that a lot of these phenomenal talents have given me an opportunity to have any hand in what they do.
(Sammy Guevara in flight against ACH, “Light The Fuse”, February 16, 2014)
I won’t pretend that I’ve done a scientific survey of every paying customer, but it feels like as the crowds at the Marchesa have grown, you’re beginning to draw from more neighboring communities if not surrounding states. Has there been any discussion about taking Inspire Pro to other cities?
We have nearly tripled our audience since July, 2013. It’s really humbling to have people drive from hours away to see what you do. We had about eight people drive down from Alabama for the last show. I love that guys who are on the roster, but not booked, will drive from out of state just to WATCH our shows. That is an extreme honor. We’re going to be testing the waters very soon on a co-promoted event in another city. We’ll see how that goes. But right now, we’re focusing on our home turf.
Over the past 12 months, relations with other promotions have not been totally harmonious. Things have been said publicly and privately about Inspire Pro and a lot of it runs contrary to the goodwill you’ve established with wrestling fans and the workers. Are these just isolated instances of sour grapes, or is there an especially steep mountain to climb when dealing with other promoters/bookers who consider themselves lifers?
I’m grateful for the opportunity to address this issue, honestly, so thank you. I must preface by saying that since day-one, our primary interest was in CONTRIBUTING to Texas wrestling rather than competing against anybody. We’re working with Mr. B at TCW. We’ve worked with Brandon Oliver at RCW – a relationship that Sammy Guevara crushed, unfortunately. We’re working with Jax Dane at BOW. We’ve just opened up a working relationship with Tony Brooklyn and Bruce Tharpe of NWA. As my business partner Justin Bissonette always says, “When we all succeed, the business succeeds.” I think I even said during last year’s interview that we just wanted to create another place where guys can polish what they do and make money. At the end of the day, it’s more ring-time for these guys, and that’s integral to their success. I think we’ve made it very clear that we’re open to working with anybody that we can to heighten the profile of Texas wrestling. However, there is some acrimony on the part of one Austin promoter, and I think a lot of that stems from his past relationships with some of the people who are involved with our product. He’s spent a lot of time disparaging us both publicly and privately, and it’s been very difficult to sit by and watch this guy belittle the efforts of people who are simply working hard to make their dreams come true. That’s what it comes down to: Brandon Stroud, Eamon Paton, Josh Montgomery, and Justin Bissonette all work incredibly hard for this company, and so it really bothers me to see someone belittling that effort. Everyone’s entitled to try and realize their dream, and no one has the right to be negative toward anybody who’s trying to create something positive. No one’s out to get this guy or his company. No one wants to see him fail. In the end, if he does fail, it’s one less place for these guys to go and work. I think it’s very clear to anybody with a brain that he’s bitter toward us. Every time he publicly posts something directed at us, or something he’s said gets back us, it’s very clear that there’s something personal there. It’s bizarre and oddly humorous to watch him try and deny it. The reality is there to anybody who’s even half-literate. All I can say is, if you’re upset you can call me, dude. Let’s talk like Alexander Graham Bell intended: as human beings. Anybody who knows me knows that I am a very reasonable and friendly guy, but there’s still a limit.
Many of the folks reading this are probably familiar with the National Wrestling Alliance from prior generations, but not so versed on what the NWA means in the post Jim Crockett era. Can you explain how the affiliation came to be and what it means for Inspire Pro going forward?
What I am most excited about is exchanging ideas and learning from a lot of great promoters who are obviously very successful at what they do. I am endlessly impressed by Mark Vaughn of NWA Main Event, and Aaron Presley of NWA 360. What I love about these guys is that they are embracing new ideas and new methods of promoting shows. So many people have this antiquated mentality about what pro-wrestling is that’s based on a template that was forged in the 70s, but time marches on, and you have to march with it, or you become a memory. You have to try new ideas to stay relevant. The NWA has had its fair share of stormy weather over the last several decades. The company’s been around for some time. It has a valuable legacy that won’t ever die, no matter the blows it’s suffered in the past. Tony Brooklyn and Bruce Tharpe are doing their best to restore its honorable reputation. I want to be a part of that, and we’re all going to be a part of that. I like to think that Bruce and Tony recognize that we’re bringing something unique to the company in terms of flavor. I believe they recognize our work ethic. The partnership means a lot of exciting things, such as broader access to NWA talent, and the opportunity to host sanctioned NWA title matches. We’re very proud to be able to be a home for Barbi Hayden and her NWA Women’s Title. We think we can help make that title even more exciting and help raise its profile.
The Marchesa’s been a terrific venue. Are there any plans to go elsewhere in town?
It’s getting pretty tight in there. Our goal was always to outgrow our venue. If you’re just sitting in the same place, catering to the same number, and your goal isn’t to grow your audience, then you’re not helping out anyone on your roster. Yeah, we’re looking into other venues, but we have several good months left at Marchesa. It’s going to be near-impossible to find an equal in terms of its quality. But even if we have to move, I’d love to do special events there, and I know Tony Brooklyn thought the place had tremendous potential as a TV taping venue. It has a lot of technological capabilities that a lot of people aren’t aware of that make it prime for that sort of venture.
There have been a handful of suspensions or other punitive actions in Inspire Pro’s short history, but it does seem as though the performers have tremendous free reign when it comes to establishing their personas (though some were more previously established than others). The “Jensentivity” promo was pretty amazing but has anything come up — either at your suggestion or someone else’s — that simply couldn’t be employed?
We have had some ideas that some people thought were too crazy. We’re really excited to innovate and try new things. We had one angle we were going to run that was so outrageous that it caused several roster members to quit. I’m more determined than ever to make it happen now, just to prove that it can succeed. I just have to rebuild the pieces now, which will take time. Generally any idea that leaves our staff uneasy winds up being a great call. We’ll do something that everyone thought was a really bad idea, and it will get over, and I’ll hear, “Don’t ever let me doubt you again.” Sometimes, you gotta put convention over your knee and give it a good whack. Luckily, we have some bold collaborators on our roster. We’re trying to be a fun company. Not just fun for fans, but fun for the guys working there, and I think we’ve become that place that’s a smooth experience for everyone involved. No doubt, this is a hard job for everyone involved, but there are no trivial or petty differences that get in the way. It’s not high school.
Greatest achievement in Inspire Pro’s first year? Biggest disappointment?
Biggest disappointment? Well, it could have always be bigger than it is at this point. But I’m not disappointed in what we have accomplished. We didn’t quite hit our target, but we came pretty close. Close enough to where I’m excited about what’s coming in YEAR TWO. Greatest achievements have been hosting Chris Hero vs. Ray Rowe, striking a deal with Smart Mark, launching a real women’s wrestling division, and seeing the crowd grow with every show. We’ve seen a lot of people who viewed wrestling as this super alien thing become enthralled by it. In the end, that’s the primary goal: turning people on to having fun watching good pro wrestling.
OF Quintin Berry’s Major League resume is rather slim ; though he stole 21 bases in 94 games with Detroit two years ago, there’s little int he 29-year-old’s background to indicate he’d respond to getting tossed from a game by running the bases and sliding into home plate. As you’ve probably guessed, that’s exactly what Berry did during the 9th inning of Norfolk’s 5-3 loss at Syracuse. From the Syracuse Post-Standard’s Lindsay Kramer :
“I ain’t never seen that in my life,” said Syracuse left fielder Destin Hood. “I didn’t know what happened. Then I saw him chirping and I was like, he’s just trying to be funny.”
What’s clear is that Berry singled to Hood in left field. As he was running to first, he said something back to Honec. By the time Berry hit the bag, Honec had tossed him and waved him into the dugout.
Tides manager Ron Johnson pinch-ran Cord Phelps. But instead of heading for the dugout, Berry broke for second, headed to third and splashed feet-first into home plate. He bounced up, tossed a few more thoughts Honec’s way and jogged off.
“That was a first for me,” said Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr. “Obviously, he said something to the home plate umpire he didn’t like, and he got rid of him.”