Category Archives: Random
LOS ANGELES — Two years ago today, “Macho Man” Randy Savage was killed in a car accident in Florida, and as he was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up, I instantely called my good friend VA (@ChrisRosie22) for an tribute podcast (back when I did episodes of The Crossover frequently) to talk about Macho Man’s life and his impact on ours. We had a great time walking down memory lane two years ago.
If you have a few minutes, please dial it up and enjoy our thoughts (click on arrow below).
Here’s what a wrote in my posting on my old tumblr page back then:
As everyone knows, Macho Man passed over last weekend at age 58 following a single-car accident in Florida, and so VA joined me to remember and pay respect to the life of one of our favorite WWE Superstars.
It seems everywhere you look, sports statues are popping up all over the place these days. Out here in SoCal, hoops legend Kareem Abdul-Jabar has been complaining the Lakers haven’t put one of him out front of Staples Center yet.
Seems ridiculous, but let’s be honest: statues are cool. So, after VA and I paid our respects with another solid podcast effort to the fallen Macho Man, we had a post-show conversation centered around bronze.
VA asked me if there was a statue put up of Macho Man how far would be too far for me to visit? I said that a statue of the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time would be pretty awesome — given that it displayed his colorfully eccentric attire — but considering I’d never seen Michael Jordan’s statue in Chicago and he’s my favorite athlete ever, the chances would be quite low. I did add, should something be going on in Vegas, and he was still alive to give a speech and I could muster up a crew to roll with, I’d make an exception.
Alas, that’ll never happen but we can still enjoy all the YouTube clips of Macho Man’s insane promos, the epic match with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3 and, of course, a Slim Jim.
So, enjoy us talking about the life of Macho Man, what we think he’d been up to before his death, what it’d be like if he was our high school baseball coach, going as him for Halloween this year and much, much more.
Oooooooooooooooooooh yeah!!! DIG IT!!!
LOS ANGELES — Sportscaster Tim Brando went on what could classified as a Twitter RT rant Monday night. Sprinkled throughout it were bizarre tweets about a sex tape and what the definition of a “hero” is. He apparently took some issue with NBA player Jason Collins being referred to as such by members of the mass public following Collins’ revealing in a Sports Illustrated article that runs this week he is gay.
This is major news – Collins’ remarks, not Brando’s – not regulated to only the sports pages. Collins is not the first professional athlete to come out and he won’t be the last. He’s not even the first active professional athlete to do so – women’s basketball player Brittany Griner did the same just recently in the coolest and most nonchalant way possible – but he is the first among the four major sports; NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and that is why it’s major news. Someday we’ll live in a world where it isn’t and I hope I’m around for it.
For now though, when an athlete who looks like Collins makes this announcement this grand it’s an A1 story in every newspaper and on every television talk show in the country. But no matter how progressive a direction our country moves the Chris Broussard’s and Mike Wallace’s of the world hide behind the Bible and machismo when speaking about homosexuality, and their opposition makes the rest of us look bad.
But does it really matter what they think? Yes, because they have a public platform in which their reaction is deemed newsworthy; and no, because they are shortsighted. People are entitled to their opinion, as wack is it may seem to others. And while I might have in the past, I won’t tell people what they should think. I’ll disagree with them, but that is my right, as it is theirs to think and believe what they choose. But this is an issue that shouldn’t be up for debate. You shouldn’t have to live your life in fear. Sadly, many do.
Folks will say Collins’ declaration will open doors and make it easier for others – pro athlete or not – to follow suit. He’ll be their lead blocker on this issue which has a stranglehold on our society despite the building outcry of support from those well-thinking individuals. However, there are still too many who won’t be OK with this. But like I said, it doesn’t matter. All that matters his Collins’ happiness and peace of mind, and it appears he finally has both. Collins said he’s been boo’d before, and surely he’s heard slurs of all sorts and couldn’t react. I don’t know how well I would’ve done had I been in his shoes. What restraint that must have taken.
To paraphrase my high school football coach and history teacher: you can’t deny an idea whose time has come. And the time has come for open gay athletes and it’s not too soon. Though I wonder just how much impact this will have. Collins is not superstar. He’s not even an all-star. He’s a respectable, tough and dependable team player in his sport whom no one probably expected to be gay. But is he this social movement’s Martin Luther King Jr.? I don’t know.
Around two years ago, I started posing a hypothetical scenario to friends in regards to this issue. It went something like this: suppose you knew that Player X, a super duper star athlete with a perfect image, was gay, but he wasn’t out until well after his Hall of Fame career was over. How disappointed would you be in him that he never came out during his playing days and became the face of the gay athlete and leader of the social movement? Everyone is usually puzzled by this and doesn’t offer a thought one way or the other. I, however, would be fairly disappointed. Surely the hypothetical burden he’s already under is great, but being the best of the best in his profession, there are already great burdens, so you’d think he could handle that as well. Plus, you’d have to think a majority of the sports community would be beyond supportive.
Just a thought.
On TNT’s postgame show Monday night Charles Barkely called Collins’ revelation “a huge deal.” And added, “I’m happy he can be himself. We all played with gay players.” And he’s right. We’ve all worked with gay people, know someone who is gay – out or not – and probably have a gay family member. It doesn’t matter. Who they are as people is what matters.
By all accounts, Collins is a man’s man. A stand up guy and someone anyone would be lucky enough to spend their life with. Does that make him a hero? His decision to come out now, while an active player is courageous. But Brando’s point was that it doesn’t make him heroic, just brave. My hero is my dad. The toughest guy I know and someone whom I always know I can turn to in time of need. Collins hopes to someday have a family and no doubt when his kids read about the week he’s had, they’ll think he’s a hero. And I’m guessing that’ll be enough for Jason Collins the man.
LOS ANGELES — A lot of weird things happen at the gym. Everyone except you is strange. I get it. I’m the only normal person at my gym, too. Today something really bizarre happened. I was in between sets on a back machine when I noticed this hummingbird fluttering INSIDE next to a large window. Clearly, it did not intend to be on the other side of the glass and was trying to get back outside to its natural habitat. I thought it was different. A door is commonly open so it’s not out of the ordinary that it flew in and got lost. It happens. What happened next was not common. And it was awesome.
This guy just came out of nowhere behind me and started yelling at the bird. “What are you doing?! … Come on, get down here!” He was holding a mini-trash can and it dawned on me he wanted to save it. He was trying to catch the bird. Noble. I dug it. That he also had long, bleached-blonde hair and a black T-shirt that said “I Need More Cowbell” on it only made him more insane. I joked on Twitter that he looked like Phil Spector‘s brother.
So I did what any normal person in 2013 would do: set my iPhone to video mode and started recording! Here’s what I managed to snag. Pretty impressive performance by Brother Spector, I might add.
I loved his wife (?) in the background making sure he didn’t hurt it. And how did he just snag that bird Miyagi style?! Somebody get this guy a reality TV deal STAT!
LOS ANGELES — Back in my sports writing days, my favorite column to write each year was my “Guide to March Madness.” In it, I always gave my Maine readers tips for optimally enjoying their NCAA Tournament experience, whether it was ideas for party food or face painting, and I even threw in some sleeper choices for their brackets. It’s been four long years since I’ve put this piece from my brain to computer screen, and guess what?
That’s right, without further delaying you reading my genius, here’s the 2013 edition of “Your Guide to March Madness.”
1.) Get your viewing situation in order — Obviously, this is the most important element to March Madness. You need to figure out how you’re going to watch the games. There are 67 of them over the course of 3-plus weeks. That’s a lot (though a slow month for @Farbaro picking up chicks on Match.com), so you have to make sure you’re setup is ideal. If you’re going multiple TVs, I recommend a 3-box, that way you can have the best game of the session going in the middle and then your sub games on the side. You can also fire up a laptop, as all the games will once again be streaming online live at MarchMadness.com. Also, you’ll want to make sure you know where to quickly find TruTV, TBS and TNT on your cable provider (if you can’t find CBS, then you’re pretty much beyond help at this point). I don’t know about you, but I literally only watch TruTV during these couple weeks, and couldn’t even find it on DirecTV if you paid me right now. I’ll be following my own advice on this one. If you’re going to a bar, make sure you get there early, as it’ll probably be packed with morons who clearly don’t know as much about college hoops as you do. Speaking of…
2.) Don’t be the obnoxious guy at the bar — We all want our teams to win, that’s a given, but there’s a fine line between rooting and being that freakin’ annoying-ass poser we all hoped would get eaten by Bigfoot on the school camping trip. If you’re going to physically be at the game, it’s OK to paint your face, but not at the bar. I don’t need your Jayhawk blueface dripping into my buffalo wings. Leave the pom-poms at home, too, before you knock over my milkshake. If you have to bring items with you, then you didn’t need them in the first place. Your cheers and loud claps are enough. It is appropriate to wear a shirt or jersey, team hat or headband and even break out some appropriate knee socks but don’t get carried away. There’s no need for themed sunglasses (hello, you’re indoors), foam fingers (how are you supposed to eat loaded nachos with one hand?) or signs. And when your best player knocks down a big 3 in the first half, go easy on the chanting. No one cares that you remember your fight song. In fact, unless you’re at an official sponsored event your college is throwing, no singing or chanting whatsoever is appropriate.
3.) Only fill out one bracket — This is a change from my previous years columns, where I used to tell everyone to fill out as many as you could get your hands on, and make sure you had your highliters and abacuses and charts handy to know how you’re doing. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that one bracket is the way to go, no matter how many different “office pools” you’re in. With one bracket you don’t have to worry about rooting for Butler AND Bucknell to win. You’ll be happy when you take Ole Miss to upset Wisconsin and they do just that when Marshall Henderson goes nuts from beyond the arc. It just simplifies your life, which is really what enjoying March Madness is all about. The less time you have to spend worrying about who’ve selected to survive and advance, the more time you can focus on devouring one more slice of pizza. Ya know, the important stuff.
4.) Stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep — March Madness is a marathon, not a sprint, that’s important to remember when you’re stuffing your face with quesadillas and $3 pints at happy hour on Thursday and Friday. There’s 32 games played on those first two days and you want to make sure you’re well rested and properly hydrated so you can enjoy each one to his maximum. You don’t want to pass out or cramp up before the late games either day. And with another 16 games over the weekend, that’s a lot of basketball and too many opportunities for failure. Fortune favors the prepared. For every couple of beers, make sure you pound a water. During that lull between morning and evening sessions, grab a power nap. Don’t let Mother Nature be the reason you missed another Valparaiso miracle or UCLA coast-to-coast buzzer beater. You’d have only yourself to blame if Bucknell is again Cinderella and you were face down in tears like Adam Morrison.
OTHER MARCH MADNESS THOUGHTS
Stone Cold Locks: By now, you’ve spent Monday and probably the better part of Tuesday ignoring a 83% of your workload and trying to find as much “inside” information as you can on who to take. As most of you know, you can’t win your bracket in the First Round but you can definitely lose it. One thing you don’t wanna do is have a Final Four team fall on the first day (thanks a lot, 2011 West Virginia) or any of your Sweet 16ers. But you can be safe riding these teams: (EAST) Indiana, Marquette, Miami; the top three seeds have easy roads to the Elite 8 in this region. (SOUTH) Georgetown, Florida, VCU should all advance to the Sweet 16. (MIDWEST) Louisville, Michigan St., Saint Louis appear to have the best road in by far the toughest bracket. Be careful of Duke. It has the talent to win the whole thing or lose in the first round to Albany. (WEST) New Mexico and Ohio St. are the only two locks in this region. It’s a shame they’ll meet as early as they will in the Sweet 16.
Sleepers: A lot of little guys got into this year’s tournament, which hopefully will pave the way for a slew of upsets and busted brackets (not mine, of course). In order to ensure yours stays in tact you’ll want to take a hard look at these possible darkhorses: Oregon (12) and Cincinnati (10) in the Midwest, Minnesota (11) in the South, Bucknell (11) and Cal (12) in the East, and Ole Miss (12) in the West. I also like just one 9-seed and one 10-seed to win, it’s up to you to figure out who. And lastly, I know every year it seems like a 13 beats a 4, so I’ll give you one of those too; take South Dakota St. over Michigan (come on, you don’t think I’d actually tell you to take Montana over Syracuse, do you?).
Final Four Picks: When it’s all said and done, here’s who I like to meet in Atlanta on April 6: Louisville (1) vs. New Mexico (3), and Georgetown (2) vs. Miami (2).
Players who could be this year’s Harold Arceneaux: For those too young to remember the Weber State great, let me learn ya’. Arceneaux and the Wildcats won the Big Sky Conference in 1999 and faced third-seeded North Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. All that happened over the course of the next 40 minutes was the hotshot guard’s coming-out party. Weber State upset the Tar Heels, 76-74, as Arceneaux scored a game-high 36 points, 20 in the second half, including the game-winning steal in the closing moments. The image of the Wildcat players lifting their coach became part of CBS’s coverage year after year and Arceneaux vaulted into national spotlight. In the Second Round, Arceneaux scored 32 points as Weber State pushed Florida to overtime, but fell 82-74. He returned for his senior season in 1999-2000 and finished 5th in the nation in scoring, averaging 27.0 ppg in league play, but the Wildcats finished 18-10 and did not qualify for the tournament.
So, who could have a meteoric tournament and find themselves an overnight sensation? Well, I mentioned Henderson earlier, who is a prime candidate given his huge SEC Tournament. But don’t sleep on Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff, San Diego St.’s Nate Wolters, Cal’s Allen Crabbe, Iowa St.’s Tyrus McGee, Belmont’s Ian Clark and Montana’s Kareem Jamar.
STREAKY SYRACUSE IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.
As I watched Selection Sunday and Greg Gumble rattle off each region, it became clear there was a solid chance Syracuse would be playing out west here in San Jose, which is only a 5-hour drive from Los Angeles. Quickly, I began thinking logistically and calculating financially what it would take to get me up there to watch our First Round matchup against Montana and it wasn’t as crazy as you’d think. While my decision to hope in the Joffrey and make the trip will be a game-time one, I don’t think it’s one I’d regret. One thing making this a simple no-brainer is the fact that in the last month the Orange has played some of the most inconsistent basketball I can remember as a fan. I tweeted out this was the most inconsistent team I could recall and was notified of the disaster Donte Greene year of 2007-’08 in which Syracuse went 21-14 and missed the NCAA Tournament. I did indeed black that year out.
To close this season, the Orange lost four of its last five games and I was telling anyone who would listen it was destined for an opening-round loss in this year’s Big Dance. Then Madison Square Garden happened and a run to the Big East Championship game that reminded the country why we rose to No. 1 for a week this season. The talent is there. The ability to put it all together for a string of games is there. Shots were consistently falling, defense was being played and we even made free throws. Then, of course, the second half of the Louisville game took place and I went back into panic mode, but that’s besides the point. Could Syracuse win it all? I’m going to go that far. A return trip to the Elite 8 would be be a very successful conclusion to this roller coaster season. And it all starts with Montana on Thursday.
Enjoy the Madness, everyone.
You know it’s funny what a young man recollects? ‘Cause I don’t remember bein’ born. I don’t recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don’t know when I went on my first outdoor picnic. But I do remember the first time I heard the sweetest voice in the wide world.
- Forrest Gump
LOS ANGELES — I don’t remember the first time I ever saw Michael Jordan play basketball. I suspect it was sometime during the 1987-’88 season. I was living in Virginia at the time in Coast Guard housing, a development with other military families, and have a vague recollection telling one of the other kids – we were both in the elementary-school range – that Jordan was the greatest ever. That he never missed a shot. I may have been imitating his jumper on a mini hoop when I said this, tongue out. As luck would have it, I was onto something with my 7-year old assessment of Jordan. He was otherwordly that year, averaging 35.0 points per game to lead the league. He also was tops in the NBA in minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and steals, and shot 53.5% from the floor. He won the first of his five MVPs that season but the Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 5 games to the Pistons.
Since then, he was always my favorite player. It helped that, because our cable TV provider carried WGN, I was able to see nearly all of his games and listen to Johnny “Red” Kerr’s blatant homerism. Call me a front-runner, I don’t care. I was 10-years old, no one knows what that even means at that age, plus I don’t think I was alone in my open-faced loving of No. 23. I had every poster, basketball card and wanted every shoe. I recorded games religiously, imitated him on the playground (tried to at least) and wore black socks and baggy shorts.
Calling Michael Jordan an “icon” doesn’t really do the word justice. Sure, we all wanted to Be Like Mike, but there was so much that encompassed that. To write about just one Jordan trait didn’t seem right and how could I possibly pick from the lot? Jordan has given me some of my greatest sports memories, decorated my walls to no end and been the name brand on my feet for countless miles traveled. As he turned 50-years old over NBA All-Star Weekend it only seemed fitting to think back on his life to this point, how impacted mine and reflect on some of my favorite moments.
- I never saw Michael Jordan play in person. It’s probably my biggest regret as a sports fan along with having never been to Old Yankee Stadium. I never went to the Old Boston Garden or saw Joe Montana play in person either, but I wasn’t of true sports intellectual conscious during their respective heydays. But I didn’t need to see him play in person to appreciate his grace and power, domination and competitive drive, and the impact he had on his teammates with a single death stare. Basketball fans of this generation think Kobe invented that move, but he just copied all of Jordan’s. Only he doesn’t do them as great. I’ve seen hundreds of games on TV but seeing him in person just once would’ve been enough. Thankfully, I’ve been able to see some of the current greats but I’ll always regret never seeing 23.
- My birthday is the 23rd and for this reason I always felt a kinship to MJ, and whenever I’m playing roulette I always load up the chips on 23 Red.
- When my family lived in Alaska, my friend Jared Burdette-Gross had a pair of Jordan 5s, the ones with the purple trim, and he let me wear them once and it was the greatest thing my feet had ever had covering them. I knew I had to have some someday. So I saved. And saved. And finally bought some 10s at the Ocean City, Md. mall. It was summer and we were visiting my grandparents at their condo and I saw them. It was love at first sight. That was my first pair. I’ve bought 4 others. Hope to buy at least lots more some day.
- For the “Shrug Game” against the Blazers in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals, I had a Little League game. We lived in Alaska at the time and I played for Coastal Tire. I was 11 and either pitched or played shortstop that day, but I never got to see it live because of the game. But my dad had to work and then came later and told me all about it. It was amazing. I must’ve watched SportsCenter a half dozen times that night and morning. Dan and Keith killed it, I’m sure. Always get goosebumps seeing that clip and it conjures up that memory.
- When Jordan retired for the first time we had just moved to Maine and were living in a cottage-style hotel in Scarborough while we waited for our house to be ready to move in to. It was freezing cold in that place. And then Jordan retired. Held the press conference. Sold the story of when he has nothing left to prove in the game basketball, it’s time to move on. I was crushed. I still have the USA Today from Oct. 6, 1993; it was a thing I did as a kid, collect newspapers and clippings from big stories. I don’t know why, but I always had to have them. And they’re all in a tupperware at my mom’s house. I once made a Rickey Henderson posterboard after he broke the stolen base record. That was fun.
- Of all my Jordan posters, and there have been many – Jordan with all his rings, one with him, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the ’88 dunk contest slam from the free-throw line – my favorite has to be “Wings.” I used to have it hanging above my bed at my mom’s house. It was like sports jesus blessing me before I went to sleep each night. I bought it for around $12, which was twice as much as posters went for in those days, and while I thought it was steep (it’s doubtful I had a “job” at the time) clearly it was worth it. Do kids even have posters on their walls these days? The poster rack was always the first place I went to at Wal-Mart and when a Prints Plus opened up in the Maine Mall, I’d spend an hour in there browsing the racks.
- On March 19, 1995 Jordan made his comeback to the Bulls official with his fax that simply stated: “I’m back.” He took to the court against the Pacers and I couldn’t have been more excited. Not only do I have the game on VHS tape somewhere, but I even kept stats and have that sheet somewhere as well. What can I say, I was an enormous nerd back in the day.
- I learned to really play basketball on the playground of my elementary school in Ketchikan, Alaska; Valley Park Elementary. A group of us, when not playing football or kickball or some other form of ball sport, would play hoops. The nets were chain link and it was a struggle to get shots off on the full-size rims, but I always remembered these games because our friend had a Michael Jordan red and black ball that we used. I loved that ball and desperately wanted one of my own. Never found it, though.
- I was a sports card collector. And that’s putting it lightly. From the ages of 8 til about 14 I was into it as much as you could be and accumulated a vast collection. Every Saturday as a kid I would make my way to the grocery story or Wal-Mart or even the card shop on the main drag when we lived in Ketchikan and scope out new releases and decide what packs to spend my money on. I’d trade with friends and even had a subscription to a couple price guides to check the value of my investments. Of course, the bottom fell out of the sports card market some time ago but I’ve still held onto everything. They’re all neatly tucked away at my mom’s house in Maine, and among them are 50+ Jordan cards from as far back as, I think, 1988. I even have a few of his Upper Deck baseball cards when he played for Birmingham. I remember exactly where I was when I opened the pack to find those, now that I think about it. Right next to the light by Sam’s Club on the Holmes Rd. in Scarborough, Maine. Yes, ladies, I am available.
I could go on and on with insignificant, yet specific memories I have of Jordan, like where I was for his Game 6 winner against Utah in the 1998 Finals (my upstairs living room jumping up and down like a mad man) or his infamous Hall of Fame Speech in 2009 (watching streaming online in our tiny ass apartment in West Hollywood), but simply put, I’m a fan and always will be. In opinion he’s the best basketball player who ever lived and the game’s ultimate competitor. No one wanted it more and no one pushed his teammates to levels not even they thought they were capable of. Jordan trusted them and they trusted him and his teams won because of it. It’s not something you see often in today’s sports landscape.
I’ve never met Michael Jordan him and not sure I want to. Often when you meet your hero you leave disappointed. I’ve read everything there is to read about the man and so far, that’s been good enough for me. Maybe someday our paths will cross and you can bet I’ll remember it.
LOS ANGELES — There aren’t two more iconic figures in their respective sports than Derek Jeter and Ray Lewis. Consistent staples in a business overrun by constant changes, where players trade hats and jerseys like children exchange … what do kids trade these days? It’s not baseball cards anymore, is it? Emoji messages? STDs?
Jeter and Lewis are legends, and that’s an understatement. First-ballot Hall of Famers, who five years after their retirement will be rightfully celebrated in Cooperstown and Canton. And the best part about the festivities is there won’t be a debate as to what cap or jersey the two will be recognized in. For this generation of sports fans, you can’t think of the Yankees without the dignitary of the dugout, or the Ravens without the gargantuan of the gridiron, coming to mind. Literal faces of their respective franchises.
Both were taken from their teams and sports fans over the weekend in the form of potential career-ending injuries; Jeter with a broken ankle and Lewis in the form of torn triceps muscles. Jeter, already hobbled in the post season, suffered his injury in extra innings of Game 1 of the ALCS diving for a Jhonny Peralta groundball which proved to be the game-winner for the Tigers. Lewis, who was declared lost for the year on Monday, meanwhile, went to the infirmary doing what he’s always done: chasing down a would-be touchdown maker.
The duo are the last of their breed. Superstar athletes who’ve played their entire career with one franchise and did so at the highest possible level; the championship stratosphere. Jeter was the backbone of five Yankees World Series titles; Lewis was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens 35-7 victory over the Giants.
While some have said Lewis’ play has slipped in recent years, he’s still been the unquestioned leader of a perennially top-ranked defense, and showed no signs of slowing down this season. He was on a 152-tackle pace at the time of his injury, which would’ve been his highest since 2003.
Jeter had a spectacular 2012 season in leading the Yankees to another AL East division crown. He played in all but 3 games while going to bat the most times in his most career; his 216 hits were his most since 1999. Jeter was 9-for-27 in the postseason at the time of his injury.
On the field, with a combined 35 years of professional experience in two cities, Jeter and Lewis share adjectives that define their playing style: warrior, leader, charismatic, gamer, clutch. They’re quintessential plays are also quick to come to mind: Jeter’s postseason flip against Oakland, diving into the stands against Boston, a home run for his 3,000th hit, the jump throw and his arms raised in victory; Lewis’ pregame dance, the rousing sideline speeches, punishing hits, his Super Bowl interception and playoff sacks of Tom Brady.
Off the field, their lives couldn’t be more different. Jeter’s bachelorhood is the stuff of legends, the idolization of wannabe teens and playboys everywhere (even A-Rod). The New York penthouse apartment, wooing of Hollywood’s biggest stars and of course, the gift basket. Lewis has several children, is big in his South Florida community and preaches in his spare time. His transformation from potential inmate to pillar of faith and inner strength is what personal redemption is all about.
Phenomenal players and better men. The debate will rage in the coming weeks and into their sports offseasons as to what their futures hold. “Should they retire?” is the question you’ll see on NFL and MLB Networks, on ESPN and in magazines and online articles. I told anyone who would listen I thought Peyton Manning should’ve retired this past summer rather than risk further injury to his neck by playing another football season, but the case for Jeter and Lewis are different. Surely, a broken foot will heal and doesn’t affect the shortstop’s ability to hit a baseball, such torn triceps can be repaired and won’t slow the linebacker’s path to the running back.
Do I think they should come back? Both are playing at a high level, so sure, give it one last go. Major League Baseball and the National Football League are better with those two men in them, competing, representing all they have to offer. But don’t drag it out. Announce at the beginning this is it, a la Chipper Jones and let the fans pay their respects throughout the season. Then walk away gracefully. Like icons.
LOS ANGELES — By a show of hands, how many of you wanted to be President when you were younger? That’s it? Weird, I thought it’d be more. Anyway, part of the “American Dream” appeal is the belief anyone can become President; to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and lead the nation like no one has before. With a wink and a nod, we all know that’s not really the case. Only certain individuals will ever have the opportunity to host Easter Egg Hunts on the South Lawn and have sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom.
There are rules to being President, and even having the chance to be President, and despite what anyone says the first rule is: You Have To Look The Part. That’s why we have the two guys we’re left with now. It’s why in movies the president is always played by a handsome or stately-looking gentleman like Michael Douglas or James Cromwell.
Sticking with the superficial theme, I watched Wednesday’s first Presidential Debate from Denver with a keen eye and closed ears. Because who cares about what’s actually being said when most of it is complete B.S. to begin with. I want my President to pretty much be James Bond, which, unfortunately, leaves us S.O.L. in 2012 (but Skyfall comes out November 9!!). However, that didn’t stop me from keeping score and determining an unbiased winner.
Here’s how I broke it down.
Talking Time of Possession: Barack Obama. CNN had a lower right clock counter that tallied the total time each candidate talked. Naturally, the more you talk, the better you performed in the debate. Barack Obama is the winner here by speaking for 43 minutes, to Mitt Romney’s 38-and-a-half.
Who Wore It Better: Barack Obama. The best part of the Academy Awards, or any awards show, really, is seeing what all the “stars” wear and then decide who looked great and who should fire their stylist. For debates, conservative is generally the name of the game, so I was expecting the navy suits. However, I was disappointed neither candidate went with a skinny or rocked a tie clip. Obama wins this round for the sharpness of his solid true blue neckpiece.
Best Hair: Mitt Romney. When you don’t have any hair, you get to know a thing or two about admiring others’ locks. Now, I can respect the President’s high-and-tight look since it’s what I’ve rocked most of my life. However, Mitt Romney has some fantastic hair. Presidential hair, one might say. Though, if he gets elected he might want to clean up the gray. Can’t be having the most powerful man in the world looking like Paulie Walnuts.
Best Honey Boo Boo: Ann Romney. Now I’m not saying the First Lady doesn’t look great. She certainly knows how to rock what she’s got. And her pipes are some of the finest around. I’m sorta jealous of them, to be honest. But Wednesday night wasn’t just a bad night for her husband. Michelle had better step her game up for the second debate. Ann Romney brought her ‘A’ game to Denver, complete with pearls. You know I’ve got a soft spot for pearl necklaces.
Most Random Cities Mentioned: Barack Obama. The best part of any debate, in my mind, is how specific the candidates try to be. Sure, we all care about numbers and percentages and trillion this and Whatever Act that; it all sounds great. But I want to know how people like me are going to be affected if you get elected; how is my life going to be better. And that’s when great stories like the electronics store owner in Des Moines and the dairy farmer in Little Rock and the fisherman in Wasila come into play. Joe Sixpack, if you will. And nobody does that better than the President, who not once, not twice, but at least THREE TIMES referenced his grandmother. Well done, sir.
Size of Lapel Flag Pin: Mitt Romney. This is simple; the bigger your flag pin, the more you love America. This is all the proof I need.
Best Way To Blame China For Killing Big Bird: Mitt Romney. In the upset of the night, Big Bird basically got killed by a mormon. Romney said that should he be elected he’d cut funding for PBS, claiming he didn’t want to fund programs as an excuse to owe China more money, or something like that. And then claimed he like both liked Jim Lehrer and Big Bird, before saying they had to go. Now, I don’t think anyone would notice if Jim took a hike, but a 9-foot yellow bird doesn’t just go away without some 5-year olds noticing. It also spawned one of the best fake Twitter accounts since the Bronx Zoo Cobra.
Best Walking Over of Jim Lehrer: Barack Obama. This was really a toss-up, since both candidates did a great job of basically ignoring everything the moderator had to say or any ground rules he laid out beforehand. There were interruptions, answers that way far longer than they should have; you name it. However, the best butt-in came from the President, who noticed that one Lehrer chime cost him 5 seconds of answer time. No one cuts the President off with 5 seconds to spare might be my new, “no one puts Baby in a corner.”
Best Use of Aggression To Make People Think You Know What You’re Talking About: Mitt Romney. My mom used to say just because you talk loudest doesn’t mean you’re right or have control of the conversation; well, clearly she was wrong because that’s just what happened in this debate. Mitt came out swinging, knocked the Prez on his heels and never looked back. I don’t know if anything he said was accurate but that’s not what debates are all about. It’s about making people think you’re right. Mission Accomplished.
Debate 1 Winner: Mitt Romney. My extremely scientific and analytic breakdown have this 4-3 for Romney. There you have it. See you for the second debate, October 11, from Danville, Kentucky.
LOS ANGELES — There are hundreds of way to describe golf. John Feinstein called it “A Good Walk, Spoiled.” Roy McAvoy said it’s, “the greatest game ever invented.” Others call it a testament of will, determination and focus, with a little bit of skill and luck mixed in. I say, if you can play golf, you do anything. I’ve played countless sports at all different levels and golf is the only one that brings such frustration and joy from one athletic move to the next. Concentration is key, perfection is unattainable. One shot can be perfect and the next a disaster. It’s glorious.
On Tuesday, Esco, The Zach Daddy, Buy Or Sellz and myself hit the links for some off-day golfing at Rancho Park. Divots were made. Snacks were consumed. Curse words were yelled from the hilltops and no records were broken; only our egos. Laugh at our terrible swings, be inspired (to do what, I don’t know) and enjoy. But mostly laugh.
Here is our story.
LOS ANGELES — Late Spring is arguably the best time for sports. With the unpredictability of the NBA and NHL Playoffs, interleague baseball, the randomness of big boxing matches, tennis and golf Grand Slam tournaments, and even horse racing; if the sports planets all align there’s the chance for something special. So when the Devils beat the Kings last Wednesday to avoid a sweep in the Stanley Cup Finals, and then the Heat beat the Celtics to avoid elimination in the NBA Playoffs the next day, the intergalactic sports Gods set up a potentially epic day like Saturday, June 9.
As it turned out, there wasn’t just two or three of the previously mentioned events planned, but all six. I mean, why wouldn’t there be. It isn’t often you get a horse going for the Triple Crown, a tennis great trying to complete the career Grand Slam, your favorite baseball team playing against the best young player since Junior Griffey, a potential Stanley Cup deciding game, an NBA Playoffs Game 7 and a big-time prize fight featuring who many consider the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. All in one day!!?! A sports guy’s dream.
However, when I’ll Have Another’s trainer Doug O’Neill pulled the horse, who already had a pair of stunning come-from-behind wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, on Friday morning after noticing signs of arthritis/tendinitis in its leg, the Gods proved they had other plans. We now know those were nightmarish ones, especially for those with northeast rooting interests, like myself.
We’ll start with the Red Sox, who are on the precipice of a disaster .500 season (seriously, Adrian Gonzalez, you suck). They got things going in the southern directional with a 4-2 loss to the hotshots from Washington (who would later sweep Boston after Sunday’s win). While I failed to watch a single inning of this contest, I didn’t have high hopes after Stephen Strasburg (6 innings, 2 runs, 13 Ks) and Bryce Harper (3-for-5, 3 RBIs and a HR) dominated the squad the day before. You know it’s a bad sign when I just expect a disastrous performance before a pitch is ever thrown; 2004 and 2007 seem soooo long ago.
Shortly there after Boston’s “L,” the rest of the field that would’ve been an asterisk to I’ll Have Another’s historic Triple Crown (he was going off at 4-5 odds as late as last Thursday) took to the track at Belmont Park before a less-than optimally hyped crowd of over 85,000 (who bet over $15M). There was a group of us watching at The Daily Pint in Santa Monica for our friend Joe’s birthday or perhaps I would’ve skipped the race entirely. Back in the day, I wouldn’t have missed a big race. There was a harness racing track near my house in Maine and my buddies and I would roll over and lay some action down; always made it more interesting. Alas, I had zero interest, but the historic mile-and-a-half jaunt ended up being a dramatic race despite the favorite’s absence. Union Rags came from behind to claim the victory but will be a distant memory to what might have been. Legendary trainer Bob Baffert once again had his horse Place, as Paynter came up just short.
Now, I’m not a hockey fan, but the hometown Kings being a game away from clinching the first Stanley Cup in the franchise’s history, and with the puck dropping on Game 5 a half hour before Heat/Celtics Game 7, was enough to garner at least 30 minutes of my viewing time. Our now 5-man crew shifted over to Busby’s where we’d be able to watch both events and then possibly the Bradley/Pacquiao fight later on. The move proved to be a smart one as we posted up right in front of a TV with the basketball game on, with the hockey on directly behind us for easy viewing. I turned my head every now and again to check the score; we were updated on what was happening by the groans/cheers from the other patrons. There were mostly groans as the Devils extended the series with a 2-1 win.
Of course, my focus was solely on the Celtics, who were seeking their 3rd NBA Finals appearance in the five years of the Big Three Era and a revenge victory over Miami, which took out Boston in 5 games in last year’s Eastern Conference semis. It was a torridly-close affair but the Celtics managed to have a not-so comfortable 7-point lead at halftime, however, with just 12 minutes left to play it was dead even. The way Miami came back didn’t leave a good feeling in my gut, and as the time on the game clock dwindled it became apparent that the new golden era in Boston was coming to an unceremonious end. The Heat finished off the 101-88 win to advance to the NBA Finals against the youthfully athletic Oklahoma City Thunder and their dynamic and questionably fashionable duo Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. What made the loss even more obnoxious, was that suddenly we were surrounded by Heat fans, fans who were noticeably silent for the previous 36 game minutes. All that was left for me to do was lick my wounds, and devour my turkey burger, and prepare for the pugilistic showdown.
I suppose we should have taken this has a sign of weird things to come, but the fight’s start was delayed by nearly an hour as 1) Manny Pacquaio, apparently a huge Celtics fan (finally, something to like about him) refused to get ready until the basketball game was over, and 2) Pacquiao, after getting ready, had to walk on the treadmill for a lengthy period of time to loosen up his calves, which he’s had problems with tightness in throughout his training camp. Meanwhile, the HBO announcing team was running out of things to talk about as everyone waited. It was beyond bizarre. Meanwhile, Bradley was gloved up and ready to go, pacing around backstage while Pacquaio went on with his shenanigans. The whole scene was bizarre, to say the least.
Finally, just after 9pm pacific time — only an hour or so after it was supposed to get underway — the boxers made their way to the ring, Michael Buffer did this overpriced thing (did you know he gets close to $5 million to be a boxing announcer for big fights?) and the dance began. It was clear from the get-go that Pacquiao was there to fight and quell the thoughts his 12-round triumph over Juan Manuel Marquez some months back wasn’t earned. The WBO champ was aggressive and closed rounds strongly, while Bradley tried to fight off Pacquiao’s his flurries. The challenger didn’t do a good job of it. Midway through the fight I tweeted out that a knockout was looming in the coming rounds. It never came.
Bradley, who we later found out broke his foot in the fourth round, fought admirably to close the bout, but by then most assumed it was a forgone conclusion he was the big loser. When it was finally over and Bradley’s cornermen lifted him up, Jim Lampley commented on the irony, since it appeared he was soundly defeated. It was even reported Bradley told promoter Bob Arum that he gave all he could but even then couldn’t defeat Pacquiao. It wasn’t until Buffer read the first score of 115-113 that I knew something was up. And even though the round went to Pacquiao, that someone could even think the fight was that close was ludicrous was not a good sign if he hoped to continue his 7-year unbeaten streak.
Then Buffer said the second judges scores; “115-113 for Bradley” and you knew right then Bradley was going to win. The final judge’s score of 115-113 for Bradley didn’t even need to be read but when it was there was a good 15-20 seconds of silence inside Busby’s while we all soaked in what we just heard and what that meant for Pacquiao, a sitting-in-jail Floyd Mayweather and the sport of boxing. What it meant for Bradley was a rematch (one that was already predetermined, ironically) and a bigger payday and a still unblemished record. Twitter was aghast with notions of a fix and it was tough to argue. Inside Busby’s, some clown in a LeBron James jersey was running around yelling his outrage to any one would listen. Many did not. On my drive home, I wondered what Mayweather’s reaction must have been when learning of the outcome. Surely a smirk was involved.
In the end, only Maria Sharapova was able to come through to win the French Open and complete her career Grand Slam. Still, she’s getting married to former Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic so a complete victory is not awarded in my book. On top of all the sports brokenheartedness, it was the first weekend in nearly three months without “Game of Thrones,” and it was the last for probably a year with a Mad Men episode.
So much hope, so much promise when the sun rose that day all for not. Sometimes stars shine bright but their alignment is a little off. Maybe next time.
LOS ANGELES — This week, another professional athlete joined the not-so exclusive, moronic but ever-growing club of celebrity DUIers; you know, the ones too dumb to call a cab, limo, school bus, agent, bicycle, hipster with a skateboard, groupie, team mascot, SOMEONE to drive them home after a night of boozing.
Justin Blackmon, newly drafted of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Adonis-like wide receiver from Oklahoma St., recently blew a .24 (three times rhe legal limit) while driving home early last Sunday morning in Oklahoma from wherever he thought was a better place to drink than his couch. It’s Blackmon’s second arrest in the last 20 months and puts the spotlight on himself and a team in much need of a turn in the right direction after an abysmal 5-11 campaign in 2011 for all the wrong reasons. Blackmon was (and still is) supposed to be the new focal point of the Jags’ passing attack with whomever new head coach Mike Mularkey decides to trot out there at quarterback for Week 1 at Minnesota.
The Jaguars, as @AndrewPerloff of the Dan Patrick Show predicted they would on this week’s Rich Eisen Podcast, have a chance to make the playoffs in the AFC South with the Texans weaker, the Colts starting a rookie QB and Titans doing little to improve themselves this offseason. Unfortunately, it all hinges on who wins that starting QB job. It could be Blaine Gabbert, who couldn’t start in my flag football league after his performance last season, or perhaps former Dolphins starter Chad Henne, who’s coming off a season-ending injury a year ago. No matter who it is, they’re going to need Blackmon, as well as Maurice Jones-Drew, who took a beating last year and still managed to lead the NFL in rushing by over 200 yards (and he’s one of my fantasy team’s keepers next year. Cha-ching!)
Blackmon has a chance to be an immediate impact receiver but not if he keeps doing bonehead things off the field. He’ll find himself Charles Rogers’d in no time. For this latest incident he could be fined, though he’s yet to even sign his rookie contract, but it sounds like he won’t be subject to the league’s personal conduct policy. We’ll see.
But this goes to the larger point with celebrities and athletes (we sort of expect this behavior from rock stars, right? how preposterous is that?); why do they routinely get behind the wheel intoxicated when they clearly have the means to avoid situations such as these? Seriously, how stupid are these people? How many before them need to get arrested and have their reputations ruined before someone wisely decides an alternative means? I’m not saying that there aren’t some who probably do this; there might be many and we only hear about the doofuses, but come on. Former NFLer Leonard Little killed someone doing it, then went out and did it AGAIN. Same with ex-MLBer Jim Leyritz.
Just in the last month, actress Amanda Bynes got busted TWICE! And she even Tweeted to President Obama to have the arresting officer fired. Charlie Sheen. Lindsay Lohan. And on and on. That’s what’s wrong with these people; the sense of entitlement. It’s the only explanation on why it keeps happening. Look, Joe Shmoes get hammered at their local watering hole, do drugs, whatever and then drive home all the time, all over the country. It’s reckless, irresponsible and beyond dangerous. But they can’t afford car services or have “people” and “handlers” to see to their every need to ensure it doesn’t happen. So why does it?
The guise of invincibility that’s come from years and years and being told how great you are and how everything is taken care of and nothing wrong will ever happen has these people believing it, that’s why. Look, if I was one of those guys and my life was pearls and caviar for me from a very young age, once I got to be somewhat of an adult I’d pretty much do whatever the fuck I wanted, too. But I hope I’d have the wherewithal to not drive myself anywhere while and after I did it. I don’t even drink and I’d have someone drive me all over creation, even when I was bored. My gym is literally a half mile from my house and I’d call a service to take me there.
It’s hilarious to me when the public gets shocked Ashton Kutcher had sex with some 20-something, that Allen Iverson is broke and Axl Rose flips out at a show. Why do we think virtually all of celebrity relationships are dysfunctional and fail, or they go broke when their playing days or acting days or rocker days are over or have substance abuse problems? They think the party never ends and nothing sticks to them. They are never told “no” because those who should be doing the telling are invested in their success.
Only John Gotti was the Teflon Don but even he went to jail. And died there. Unfortunately, I don’t think even that will slow this culture down.