Monday, October 30, 2006
--O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Kill Bill: Volume 1, 2003
It's not my style to come out and say "I told you so", but this is as good a time as any to mention that in our very first blog, the infamous post that suggested Billy C might be the best vacuum salesman in the world but might not be able to coach his way out of a wet sack, I did say there'd be an upset at Oklahoma State, no matter how good or bad the season turned out to be. My feelings were even confirmed as far back as June 13, when college football expert Colin Cowherd predicted the very same thing. "Oklahoma State returns just about everybody offensively and they're good for one upset a year," is how Colin put it. I even suggested a Vegas trip for last weekend where we could even "load up" on such a game.
Whatever. Here's the good news: Billy C has assembled some serious talent on the offensive side of the ball, including an extremely punishing running back in Brandon Jackson who found 182 yards on the ground on Saturday, and a stud receiver in Maurice Purify, who if he gets the ball enough next year has all the makings of a top 5 pick in the 2008 draft (Never mind the fact that he still might not be sure whether or not snow falls from the sky or is something that is planted in the ground -- his early take from an earlier press conference, not mine) . Billy C's offensive line still leaves a lot to be desired, but right now I'm still OK with the move to the WCO.
But if this quote doesn't sum up our hero in the most predictable of ways, I don't know what does: "First of all," coach Bill Callahan said after the Okie State debacle, "our goals are still intact."
That's our guy, ever the salesman, ready to push that handy vacuum cleaner around your house, come on in, clean up all of your floors, hop up on the couches and clean up dust you never even thought existed. He'll show you how the vacuum can even clean stuff off the walls and ceilings and make that house sparkle. And somehow you'll be convinced that dropping $499.95 on that vacuum is the greatest idea in the history of great ideas. Only a week later, the vacuum cleaners explodes, leaving a big mess of dirt and dust in the basement, and when you call the 800 number to get it fixed with the warranty that came with it, you wind talking to Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell from the movie Matchstick Men.
OK -- we get it. You've sold us on the idea that the only goal for this entire season was simply to win the Big XII North. That's it, that's the list. Win the Big XII North, something that if the wheels fall off next week against Missouri or the following week at Texas A&M could happen for KANSAS STATE! Fine, next year's your big year Billy. We understand it all so clearly now.
But that doesn't change the fact Saturday afternoon showed again that you're the king of blue balls. If you were the best looking hooker on the strip in Vegas promising us only the best hand job of our life, you'd come through with 10 good pulls on us and then walk away before anyone could get off. During almost every game -- especially the road games -- the Corn gets the ball and marches down the field like Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush are at the helm. And we got blue balled even more with the Texas game, where afterwards, all of your players went up to Colt McCoy and the rest of the Longhorn players and proudly said, "See you guys in Kansas City (for the Big XII Championship game)". We should have known then that instead of running the table and punching that ticket for KC that your staff and players were going to overlook everything that Mike Gundy and Okie State had in store for you. Now it looks like we're going to have to go all the way to the Colorado game on the day after Thanksgiving to make sure that your "goal" becomes a reality. And it will probably happen, and at that game's post game presser you'll be smug and happier than ever, saying how great everything turned out, even with four losses, because you achieved that one shining goal: To get that rematch against a good Texas team on a neutral field, where MAYBE a trip to the Holiday Bowl beckons. I can already script the press conference for you. "I'm just so proud of our players and our staff," you'll say after slithering through and getting the Big XII North. "Everybody pulled together as a team and I just can't say enough of how proud I am of everyone."
So now it's looking more and more like the Corn could still achieve it's "GOAL" and still wind up finishing the season with 5 or even 6 losses. But as we sit here right now, Kansas State has dreams of playing at Arrowhead in December. And this is progress???
I'm still going to hold onto my $499.95 vacuum with the idea that next year truly is Nebraska's big year. Even Colin Cowherd thinks so (making my cringing Beavis face while typing that last sentence). But if he really wants to buy next year, Billy C has to fire Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove at the end of the season. He has to make a major statement that he's committed to making the defense better, and kicking Cosgrove out of Lincoln would do just that. When Callahan first came to Lincoln, he showed right away that his ego wouldn't allow him to keep Bo Pellini around as Defensive Coordinator (never mind the fact that Pellini probably wouldn't have taken the gig after the way he was treated by Athletic Director Stevie P). He can't let his friendship and loyalty towards Cosgrove stand in the way here. He's got to bring the right defensive mind to this team. He might even want to at least reach out to Pellini, even if Stevie P would be against it. But Cosgrove running the D is simply unacceptable.
And until then, that nice expensive vacuum cleaner just continues to suck. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Nebraska fans loved Texas fans. It didn't matter that the first really big win for the Corn at Memorial Stadium since Eric Crouch caught that pass against Oklahoma in 2001 was snatched away by a horrible third down call and awkward time management. Huskerpedia.com has an entire section where Husker fans are chiming in on what a class act Mack Brown is. You'd almost think fans are done being jealous of Texas becoming the program that Nebraska USED to be, and that everyone has decided to tip their hats and welcome them to Lincoln anytime to hang another L on the Corn.
The Longhorn faithful returned the compliments in a big way. They raved about some of the Downtown Lincoln bars, some of the Husker Hotties, and hospitality from the majority of the fans. The only beef they seem to have is about Memorial Stadium. Turns out Texas fan HATES the place, especially "how it's designed". They also bitched about the PA music and the PA announcer, which of course always makes us rub our hands with glee. Most Longhorn fans are saying the trip to Lincoln on Saturday is only topped by the National Championship trip to Pasedena.
"General observation," one Longhorn fan posted. "When Longhorns lose, the fans are angry. When Huskers lose, the fans are sad."
I'm not terribly surprised by the rave reviews Nebraska is getting for their hospitality over the weekend. It reminds me of The Simpsons episode when Bart asked Homer to describe what it was like meeting God. "Perfect teeth...nice smell...a class act all the way."
It also reminds me of two other very important things regarding the state of Husker Football:
- The program is nowhere near the level that Billy C or the fans want it to be. Could you imagine what losing a game at HOME would have been like in the glory days of the mid to late '90's? When Ricky Williams and Texas ran all over the Corn in 1998, the Husker fans weren't nearly as generous.
- Unlike the other great college football programs, Nebraska doesn't have a true rival anymore. Of course they did have one with Oklahoma back in the days of the Big 8, but now playing the Sooners is on a rotation, unless of course the two schools could meet in the Big XII Championship game (which believe it or not, hasn't happened yet). But since the start of the Big XII (Re: When Texas became an eternal thorn in the Corn's side), Texas has owned Nebraska, going 6-1 against the Corn. That's right, Nebraska has won exactly ONE game in their seven meetings since 1996, and that's not even mentioning that two of those losses cost the Corn from playing in two MORE National Championship games.
So with all of that, Nebraska fans should really hate Texas. They cost Osborne a shot at winning four straight National Titles instead of 3 in his last 4 years (the devastating Big XII Championship game defeat in 1996). They really made sure Solich got shit canned after the 2003 disaster (OK, that one was probably inevitable). And now, on a day when Nebraska could have really gotten a spot back at the executive club table, Texas goes and shatters Billy C's dreams. This was the game he was going to hang his hat on. Who would have blamed anyone from Nebraska for even being remotely pissed off after that game? Anyone think for a minute that if Billy C would have RAN the ball on 3rd and 2 with 2:15 left, that even if they didn't get the first down, Texas still had no timeouts left, and NU could have ran all sorts of time of the clock before punting with the wind and pinning Texas deep in their own territory with something like 1:15 left -- and again, NO TIMEOUTS. Did that slip your mind? A little more pissed off about losing a big one that got away now?
I'm not saying that Lincoln should have gone all Wes Mantooth in Anchorman and started a news team fight with anyone wearing Orange. It's good to hear that most fans weren't dicks to those who came up from Austin (a group that didn't include a naked bongo playing Matthew McConaughey by the way, which was disappointing if only for the fact that he likes to share his can of chew with strangers after a big Texas win). I just wish we had a Michigan to our Ohio State. A Texas to our Oklahoma. I guess we have to settle on Colorado, a team Nebraska actually does play every year (on the day after Thanksgiving no less). It has actually developed into a heated and sometimes hateful rivalry.
Maybe losing in Lincoln isn't as big a deal as it used to be. I just don't want the highlights of our big games to be losing another close game, but damn were we classy to the victors afterwards. The idea is to win one of these games. Not to buy a bunch of free steaks at Misty's for Longhorn fans.CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
- Texas defensive back Aaron Ross on an unknown until 2:30pm CST on Saturday Ryan Bailey, who kicked the game-winning 22-yard field goal.
Don't let anyone fool you. Bill Callahan wanted and needed and damn well should have had that win this afternoon against Texas. After finally getting that win in the Little Apple last week (a place where Frankie Solich NEVER won), Billy C wanted to beat the team that Solich never could in the regular season. In fact, many point to the 2003 loss at Texas as the game that cost Solich his gig. On the same day where Billy C is getting showered with praise for calling a great offensive game (which is a bit much to say -- a brilliant 49-yard run on a shovel pass to Brandon Jackson and the razzle dazzle of the halfback pass from Marlon Lucky to Nate Swift that should have won the game for the Corn are what stick out), he's also got to wear his usual big-game title of "Billy Goat" for pathetic clock management that essentially lost the game for the Corn. "We had an opportunity to close the game, and misfortune occurred," Billy C said, "and victory was more or less swept away."
A more apt description came from a poster Saturday afternoon on Deadspin:
- "Bill Callahan time management 101: throw the ball on third and short with a 1 point lead and 2 minutes left despite no TOs for Texas, Texas drives inside the NU 10 yard line with a minute to go--don't use one of your timeouts till 30 run off, waste a TO on icing a kicker for a chipshot, take your final TO before the drive starts instead of having a play ready to go right after the kickoff. That was something to behold."
That pretty much sums up the afternoon, and Terrence Nunn needs to wear the choke title as well for two inexcusable fumbles. As our whipping boy Tom Shatel noted, there were several dropped passes. There were seven penalties. And of course the two Nunn fumbles. All of which means we got everything we thought about Billy C's 3rd year in Nebraska confirmed. He's recruited some serious talent, he's moving the Corn in the right direction, but he still can't get that major statement victory that finally justifies his hiring. But he's still intact to achieve his ultimate goal of the season, which is winning the Big XII North, which is likely going to happen (Shatel even noted that after the game, players from both teams were saying "See you in Kansas City" for the Big XII Championship game. Which of course means that NU is going to have a major letdown before then, maybe even next week at Oklahoma State). Of course if this happens, Callahan can get a revenge win against Texas -- just like Solich did in 1999 -- and as was the talk after the game, play in a BCS bowl.
- I love the retro look of super-imposing the announcers in front of the crowd for the pre-game. It looks just like the old days of Monday Night Football, when Keith Jackson and Dandy Don and Cosell would give their thoughts on the upcoming game superimposed over the crowd in the background. Only here, Bob Davie and Brent Musburger have to talk into microphones with ESPN flags on it, and the ABC logo is at the bottom of the screen. Enough already, we get it. ABC and ESPN are owned by the same conglomerate. Synergy baby!
- Musberger is officially more amped up than ever. I haven't heard him this excited since he sat next to Jimmy the Greek. Seriously, what's in the water in Bristol? Between Sean Salisbury, Steven A. Smith, Michael Irvin and now a newly energized Brent Musburger, it's all becoming a big shouting match. "COSBY......IS......INSIDE....THE....TEN YARD LINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
- To top it off, Musburger's wore that Indiana Jones hot that George Costanza adorned during the season 3 Seinfeld episode "The Parking Space and Bob Davie looked like he was going to walk down to Love Library and teach a Greek History class. Look guys, we realize it was cold, but no way were you going to wear that awful hat and scarf or a Cosby sweater in that heated booth for the entire game.
- I can't get over how short Billy C is. Does he really have to stand in front of his 6-5 players to run out onto the field? This all makes sense though when you consider he's a war history buff and has a reputation for having a "Napoleon Complex". They should just change the Tunnel Vision theme song to "Short People" by Randy Newman and be done with it.
- Is this how they convinced Vince Young to spend his bye week in Lincoln: "Alright, I'll come to the Nebraska game, but I need it in writing from ESPN or ABC or whoever's doing the game that for every close up shot of Colt McCoy, they gotta show one of me. I'll even give a long in-game interview and talk about how Steve McNair and I are still boys." It sure looked like that was the agreement.
- Speaking of which, I don't care if you cough up a birth certificate, I'm still convinced that Mack Brown recruited his new quarterback to become a Longhorn Legend with the caveat that he'd change his name to Colt McCoy.
- Billy C subs his I-Backs more than Tony LaRussa brings in relief pitchers. First three plays, and three different backs have touched the ball. How having four great running backs who never know exactly how much playing time they're going to get from week to week works so far this season is beyond me. I'm seriously surprised one of the fab four hasn't talked of transferring. At any time during any game, one these four show flashes of absolute brilliance, but none plays the entire game. Marlon Lucky, who was touted as the next big running back to come to Lincoln, had 3 carries for 5 yards, but then had the play of the game with that perfect TD pass to Swift that gave the Corn the lead.
- Part of Billy C changing the entire culture included having all of the players get their pictures taken wearing jacket and tie. Legend has it that QB Zac Taylor doesn't even OWN a jacket and tie and had to borrow one for his photo. I'm thinking he's not the only one.
- One of the things that drives me nuts with the Huskers is that two players can wear the same number. I mean, there are two number 13's (QB Zac Taylor on offense and LB Corey McKeon on defense). At Nebraska, they have this weird rule where they retire JERSEYS but not numbers. There needs to be a rule right now that immediately retires #'s 7, 20, and 30 (for the 3 Heisman winners Eric Crouch, Johnny Rodgers and Mike Rozier), and while they're at it permanently put away #15 for the greatest college football quarterback ever in Tommie Frazier. That's it, four numbers. And nobody gets to "share" a jersey number. You're telling me you STILL wouldn't have enough numbers left over for everyone to have their own? They suit up over 99 kids on Saturdays?
- "Nebraska runs the ball 63% of the time." I can't tell you how many times we've heard this sentence this week, it took maybe three minutes into the game for Bob Davie to remind everyone about this.
- Finally, they get the ball to the best receiver on the team in Maurice Purify, and what do you know, Touchdown Nebraska. This kid's got NFL talent, and he's not even listed as one of the starters. Maybe the Corn really does have an excess of talent, but I'd have this kid out there on every play. Purify's only a Junior, and next year I'm expecting Dwayne Jarrett stuff from him.
- On Brandon Jackson's touchdown run, ESPN/ABC foolishly cut away to a shot of Jackson's excited brother in the stands. Seriously, they almost didn't SHOW Brandon scoring the touchdown. I swear ABC was more concerned about getting in as many shots of Vince Young and Brandon Jackson's brother than they were the actual game.
- A TV reporter asked Billy C if the Corn could use the game to measure their progress: "I don't keep a barometer on the sideline." He also said that he left his "mood ring" at home. So that's where he keeps it.
- I still can't find this anywhere on youtube, but I did get a couple of text messages about it so I'm pretty sure it happened: Five white guys went to the game sans shirts and painted their face and bodies black with letters like "Go Big Red" or "Blackshirts" or something. Gotta support the team. Gotta get your ass kicked on "O" Street after the game.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I knew the second that a high profile talking head like Patrick gave a shoutout to Deadspin, somebody would pay attention. Oh sure, Bill Simmons had been given subtle references to the site for almost a year, but no major ESPN figure had even come close to saying the 8-letter word on air. And wouldn't you know it, first brought to my attention from the local ESPN radio affiliate here in town and almost immediately thereafter posted on deadspin.com, detailing that the so-called worldwide leader would simply ignore the popular deadspin site's existence.
After over 25 years of existence, ESPN really had no true competitor to try and rival it in terms of sports coverage. It looked like Fox Sports might have had a small window to try and break through by hiring the likes of Keith Olbermann, but other than getting the NFL and MLB, they're basically playing Double-A Ball. For the first time probably ever, ESPN has a legitimate threat in the form of an "underground" website called Deadspin. It's become the new sports homepage that everyone who cut their teeth during the good old days of Sportscenter has now bookmarked as one of their top 3 favorites. It's become water cooler talk. It's no longer, "Did you see that on Sportscenter last night" talk. It's now, "Have you been to Deadspin today." Moreover, it's millions of people emailing deadspin links everyday. We can get all of our needed sports news and updates on Deadspin. There are days where Deadspin reports more stuff than I'd want or need to find at ESPN or any other sports sites. Take for example last Saturday. As Game 4 of the ALCS was starting, they went to the announcers, introducing Thom Brennanen, Captain Cub Lou Piniella, and a guy who sure as hell wasn't Steve Lyons. Not having any clue where that nut job was (but gleefully hoping he finally got shit-canned). I immediately went on the computer, straight to Deadspin, to see if they had anything. Sure enough, in something like two minutes, they had the whole story. I didn't even bother to search ESPN first because I knew there was no way in hell they'd do a story on a guy from Fox getting fired -- hell, they still haven't acknowledged Harry Reynolds firing from their OWN network. But it was still a legitimate and interesting news story. Available on Deadspin before any google search could even bring anything. Just like when ESPN first made local sports casts irrelevant as Sportscenter became was cutting edge and became a household phrase, Deadspin is now turning the tables on the former worldwide leader, offering a true outlet for those of us who after ten years, still don't quite understand how the likes of Stuart Scott and Chris Berman are even gainfully employed.
When I wrote my first blog about what a buffoon Billy C could turn out to be (and yes my fingers are still crossed on that one), Deadspin posted it as their first entry on the next day's "Blogdome" section. Over 40 people found it necessary to leave COMMENTS on the blog, and the site visits alone we got from that post were unbelievable to Mackenzie and I. More importantly, I got a ton of emails saying how great and refreshing it was that there was a voice that wasn't afraid to call the Huskers as they saw them and not bow down to the University like every other local schmuck in the papers and TV. So we took off from there, still continuing to tell it like it is about Billy C and the Corn (weekly), picking apart ESPN Radio and even casting the Moneyball movie. In a lot of ways, our takes on Billy C and Husker football fans are in the spirit of what Deadspin is all about.
On one of the first Seinfeld DVD's, Jason Alexander explains what he thought about Seinfeld when it first started. He said that they show was this great garage band that a very small group of people were head over heels in love with, and eventually they'd invite a few friends over to listen to the band and see if they liked it or not. But he never saw the show be anything more than a garage band. My hunch is ESPN never saw Deadspin as anything but some "underground" website similar to Alexander's hunches in the early days of Seinfeld. But like that sit-com, there are much bigger things happening with Deadspin. It's become the go-to site for all of us sports fans who were and are so sick and tired of having to suck from the corporate tit that ESPN has become. It's given an outlet for sites like Kissing Suzy Kolber, The Big Lead, and even this very site of ours to name a few. It all beats the hell out of having to see or hear Michael Irvin and somehow convince ourselves that it certainly could NOT have been HIS crackpipe in that car with him when he was pulled over last November. Or at least that's what ESPN is trying to convince everyone to believe.
Face it ESPN, Deadspin is more than underground. It's GOLD, Jerry, GOLD! To treat it like a non-entity just further confirms what an absolute joke you've become. I can get more substance reading an article of People Magazine at times. Oh, and on the occasion that your website actually DOES have an article we need to read? Don't worry. Deadspin always links to those for us as well. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Monday, October 16, 2006
I had no idea that he put together this rather brilliant spoof of a "Discover North Omaha" campaign that was begging to be spoofed. I still haven't talked to Tom about it, and wouldn't even know it existed if not for the uproar it's caused mostly with the Omaha City Council and Mayor's Office (Sorry Tom, I don't listen to terrestrial radio that much since this new little invention called something like a upod or epod or something like that). I simply do not understand how anyone can interpret this spoof as racist. Steve Lyons probably is just a dumbass, but from stories from people who've worked with him in the past are saying today (I'm looking your way, Mr. Olbermann), he was probably somewhat of a racist fool too. Tom Becka is one of the most fair and NON racist people you're ever going to meet. He's got an opinioninated talk show where his opinions drive ratings. DEAL with it!
What a lot of Omaha has failed to understand (and something that Becka clearly gets) is the simple notion that there are people in LINCOLN, Nebraska (you know, that college town just down the interstate that has a football program that a few people in the state and the country seem to give a big shit about) who won't even think of driving into Omaha -- a city a mere 45 minutes away -- because they fear for "gang violence and shootings". Lincoln residents literally look at Omaha as "the hood". When we left Lincoln for Omaha less than six years ago, I cannot tell you how many Lincolnites looked at us like we were moving to someplace like the Gulf of Mexico or some third world country. Now yes, this probably says more about the small mindedness of a lot of Lincoln-ites, but it also speaks more to a perception that the smaller towns of Nebraska have towards Omaha. They hear of a horrific crime that takes place in North Omaha, and all of a sudden they're afraid to make the trip out to Oakview Mall. It's a silly perception that some people have. Hell, before my family made the move from Lincoln to Omaha, it was such a foolish and misconstrued perception that even WE studied all facets of the city before figuring out which part of the community to live in.
Omaha is becoming a very great place not only to live but even to ADMIT you live in. Tremendous growth throughout the entire city. New landmarks like the Qwest Center which has brought bands that skipped Kansas City just to play here. Hell, they saw that most of the population was moving west but knew that the major jobs were still downtown, and what happened -- an east and west bound expressway to cut down on commute time and give Omaha the much needed big city feel. But Tom Becka is smart enough to know that there are still big problems in North Omaha. Problems that a lot of people in and out of the city still focus on. And with this being an election year, aren't we all lucky enough to have somebody point this out in a satirical way and shake the bigwigs up to remind them that there's a helluva lot more work that needs to be done.
If you want to see racist, go out to some of the small towns in Western Nebraska.
By the way, the entire North Omaha Parody was up on this page on the KFAB website, but with KFAB being a Clear Channel radio station, I'm sure that had something to do with the fact that it's no longer up there. I stil standby Becka's stance and his statement on that page. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
I was going to put a stop on having "Husker Fans" comment on our blogs. But then again, it just exposes them for the small minded dumb ass simpletons that most of them are. God I wish people in this state could put together some sort of a semblance of a life that didn't revolve around a college football team. Either that or maybe some people need to get laid; or now with smoking bans in effect in both Lincoln and Omaha, everyone should just go out and smoke a cigarette. Hell, light up inside a nice restaurant. As Sharon Stone once famously said, "What are they going to do? Arrest you for smoking.
This is a nice photo of Kevin Cosgrove, who wants to make sure that he doesn't lose those defensive schemes anytime soon. This will just be one more thing to irk the fools of Husker Nation. It wouldn't be so bad if the majority of folks who leave comments didn't just out and out bore me to tears. It's a blog people. Go read Tom Shatel if you want constant Nebraska cock sucking. Here, we'll just continue to call them as we see them with no fear of what Stevie P and the muckety mucks think.
And for all of you who have wished me AIDS and a quick death, I will die, just not on your schedule. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
LP never became anywhere near that superstar stratosphere, of course. But in addition to being the most controversial and notorious athlete to come out of the University of Nebraska, you have to mention that Nebraska probably doesn't win their first National Championship under Tom Osborne without Lawrence Phillips.
Following the 1993 season, Nebraska was ranked #2 (only because they were undefeated, trust me, nobody thought anything of them back then) and had a date with #1 with-a-bullet Florida State. FSU and Charlie Ward were so highly thought of that they were SEVENTEEN (17) point favorites over the Corn. #1 vs #2 and the spread is 17 freaking points. And oh by the way, Florida State had one loss! Hell, everybody wanted a rematch between the earlier classic game between FSU and Notre Dame, where the Irish upset Bobby Bowden's bid at a perfect season. What the rest of the nation hadn't figured out at the time is that Osborne had finally figured out that he needed to recruit speed. It was almost like he watched Rocky II one night and heard Mickey repeat, "SPEED, SPEED, get that chicken" in his head for the next 6 months. He had a sophomore quarterback in Tommie Frazier who didn't give a shit about anything but winning. He was finally going to bring in a team with athletes who now could actually hang with Florida State if not beat them. And if that meant there'd be a few thugs in the ointment, so be it. Hell, everyone around Nebraska was tired of winning the old Big 8 then going down to the Orange Bowl and getting their heads handed to them. That's why FSU with one loss was #1 and undefeated Nebraska was #2 and a 17 point DOG.
One of those new kids in town was a running back who former defensive coach George Darlington found in southern California. Most of TO's new recruits were speed demons on defense, but the kid fro SoCal, LP, had too many physical skills to ignore let alone pass up. Osbrone gave him jersey #1 and a scholarship to Nebraska.
And we knew very little about this player until that 1994 Orange Bowl game, where Charlie Ward was going to Heisman his way all over the Corn. Spike Lee was even there, thinking chronicling Ward's career might make for a film that never materialized. Another person who was in attendance, because he was busy doing sideline work for his network televising the game, was none other than one OJ Simpson, who only 6 months later would find himself staring down the barrel of some serious LP-esque jail time. The Corn took a 7-6 lead into halftime, and OJ caught up with Osborne for a quick interview. And I promise you, once I figure how to load VCR tapes to youtube, it'll be up there.
"Well OJ," the always restrained TO said. "We could sure use you out there." Osborne still knew where to find the thugs to fill his team!
But TO had something better on his sideline than an aging and soon to be slashing (allegedly) OJ. He had Lawrence Phillips, who none of us had really gotten to see before, set to debut before the entire college football world. Make no mistake this was Tommie Frazier's team, but enter LP into the 4th quarter, with the Corn down 15-7. Still a close game, and by all indications NU was going to beat that 17 point spread. TO and LP would make sure of it, as Phillips touched the ball 12 times in the 4th quarter alone, finally announcing his presence with authority with a powerful 12 yard touchdown run that was seemingly going to put Nebraska in position to finally win that elusive National Title that TO still didn't have on his resume. That 12 yard run might as well have been a 75 yard scamper. It certainly looked that way.
A failed two point conversion following that touchdown would come back to haunt the Corn, as they'd eventually lose to Florida State 18-16. Which was all well and good because everybody wanted Bobby Bowden to finally win his first National Championship for whatever reasons. It's still one of the greatest and important football games in Nebraska history (no matter how badly Billy C wants us to believe in that 2005 Alamo Bowl win over Michigan), as it announced that TO had stacked a new deck, and none of those Florida schools who loved to push Nebraska around should take the Corn lightly anymore. Not with Lawrence Phillips set to start his sophomore year at I-Back.
Nebraska started off the following year in stunning fashion, ready to run the table and play whoever stood in their way for TO's first National Championship. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Orange Bowl. Tommy Frazier suffered severe blood clots early in the season, and was out, and the very earliest he could come back MIGHT be the bowl game. Without having to worry about Frazier, defenses could key on LP. It didn't matter. Phillips rushed for 1,722 yards that season, and made sure the Corn would go undefeated before Frazier could come back under center. Frazier came back in time to play almost half of the Orange Bowl against a great Miami team, as he and LP and the rest of the new Huskers finally won that first National Championship, fittingly against the Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl 24-17.
Frazier and Phillips came into the 1995 season as legitimate Heisman favorites. There was talk that the two could finish 1-2 in the voting. The season would find LP putting a major smudge on TO's legendary resume, as that Nebraska team is still considered the greatest college football team of all-time, even without LP.
Everybody knows the story, but what a lot of people don't recall is that after only two games that season, LP was clearly the Heisman front runner. On September 9th, AT Michigan State, Phillips ran for 206 yards and four touchdowns in a romp of a win. But that clearly didn't leave LP satisfied. That very night, after he got back home to Lincoln, he got word of his old girlfriend's whereabouts. Scott Frost had just transferred from Bill Walsh and Stanford to Nebraska, and he'd get introduced to one of the most popular Huskers in the worst of ways. But Frost got off relatively unscathed compared to what LP did to Kate McEwan. The details have been discussed in full too many times (dragging her by the hair down three flights of stairs).
Lawrence Phillips should have been kicked off the football team immediately. But in one of two moves that would come back to haunt both coach and player, Osborne simply suspended Phillips for a handful of games. Some immediately looked at it as TO putting winning over everything else (forgetting the fact that true freshman Ahman Green would fill in right away and put up equal numbers to LP). Others jumped on him for babying his players, which he had done repeatedly in previous years. The truth of the situation is that Osborne did not want to simply throw Phillips back out on the streets after he and Darlington found him in Southern California with barely an upbringing. He felt responsible for bringing him to Nebraska, and thought that kicking him off the team would lead Phillips down another wrong rabbit hole.
What TO failed to realize -- or maybe he did, with his next decision -- was that there was no hope for Phillips. There was no excuse for what he did to McEwan. Her life was ruined by this man, and he was still going to get to play for the greatest football team of all-time. So Osborne did eventually bring LP back, to the point where he'd make him a key element in the romp over Florida for his second consecutive National Championship. Many people remember that Florida game for that incredible Tommie Frazier touchdown run. What people don't remember is LP running for 165 yards, scoring 3 touchdowns, and Osborne's worst mistake at the post-game press-conference.
"Lawrence is going to go pro," he said, almost relieved. "I want him to go pro. I've told him he should go pro. He'll go to the NFL."
If TO really gave that big of a shit about Phillips life after what he went through with all of the criticism following the suspension and bringing him back, he would have made him come back to Nebraska for his senior season. He would have made sure LP had one more year under Osborne's influence, and THEN be even more ready for the NFL. But obviously the strain of even having Phillips around had gotten to Osborne, and he eventually said good riddance, go get your money now son but I've done all I can with you. Good night, and good luck.
It turned out to be a horrible mistake, as we've all seen what's happened since. Dick Vermeil made him the 6th pick of the 1996 draft, falling for the same things we all saw in Lawrence Phillips. He'd eventually have to cut LP the following season (of course while supplying the requisite crocodile tears while calling Phillips potentially the best running back he had ever coached). The rest of LP's career and life is a big old rap sheet.
And now, LP is where OJ was that same great year of 1994. Staring down the barrel at 20 years in the can. I have no idea how or if TO would help Phillips out now. I'm sure he now feels like the rest of us do, that somebody who looked as good as LP came with some sort of price.
CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
This is for Pat Daly, who should really be getting ready for some playoff baseball coming his way being that he works for the St. Louis Cardinals. Nine years later and Daly's still pissed off about this. After he pointed this out to me, I had to rewatch it one more time, and it holds up with age. Consider:
- If the Corn loses this game, there's absolutely no final National Championship for TO. Pretty significant, considering that he announced his retirement about a month after this game.
- The NU offense came back and tied this game with 1:02 left, no timeouts, and no Billy C WCO. Worth mentioning.
- Billy C and his supporters bring up the 2005 Alamo Bowl as the wildest finish in recent college football. That game still has nothing on this one, which had much larger implications even though it was a regular season game. Consider: The Corn came into this game against Missouri ranked #1. They pull off the remarkable comeback overtime win...and the following week are ranked THIRD in the nation, mostly because the nation was having a massive love affair with Charles Woodson and Michigan. As much fun as it is to make fun of Husker fans, we'll never understand everyone's interest in the Wolverines that year.
- In their respective Bowl games, Michigan barely got past Ryan Leaf and Washington State in the Rose Bowl, while the Corn absolutely destroyed Petyon Manning in his final game with Tennessee. And after that, there was STILL a debate as to who was the national champion.
And none of this would have happened if not for some 18-year old kid making the catch of his life to escape from Missouri.CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
This is one example of what I love about youtube. Finding some raw gem that you can't get on a DVD. Hell, I have no clue where this came from. I'm just glad that it EXISTS.
The news of the youtube deal with google came on the same night that I went out to one of my favorite Omaha establishments. It's not like they ever had the greatest food, and they didn't serve any special scotch that I couldn't find somewhere else, but the hired help and clientele were always special, and the major reason I kept going there for the better part of 7 years.
Then last week came. At 12:00 AM on Monday, October 2nd, the infamous and somewhat confusing smoking ban took over a majority of Omaha restaurants. But not all of them. In a nutshell, here's what the ban stipulates:
- Any establishment that serves food must now be a non-smoking establishment...Unless you are an official KENO place. You have Keno, folks can smoke. I'm stunned at how many people learned of this loophole back in May and immediately applied for a Keno license just so patrons could continue to smoke cigarettes indoors.
- If you're a bar in Douglas County and don't serve food, you can continue to allow patrons to smoke for the next five years, but after that, smoking is GONE.
- Counties that are still "in" Omaha like Ralston and LaVista et al: You can still smoke anywhere all you want.
- You still can't light up marijuana for medicinal purposes or any other for that matter anywhere, no matter how much Woody Harrelson whines about it.
I should note right here that I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. I've certainly enjoyed the occasional cigar in my life, but that was mainly because David Letterman made it look so fun. So I could have given two shits about non-smoking or smoking. The greatest plus was that I could go someplace and not have my clothes wreak of smoke.
Or so I thought.
Tonight, I went to one of my old haunts, a place that still serves food but didn't go after the coveted Keno license, because seriously who wants to play Keno all that much? I didn't think this was a place that would be affected at all by the smoking ban. It's a bar/restaurant that pours great scotch, serves relatively decent food, is a great neighborhood hangout and oh by the way has a cigarette machine -- STILL.
I was stunned when I walked in with a good friend of mine, who still smokes. The crowd was just so AWKWARD. People I can't even remember seeing out in a social setting before. Young yuppie scum. People with children. Older folks who looked like they hadn't been out since the 1960's. A jukebox that was playing "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard. All of a sudden, it was no place I wanted to be.
I asked the manager, who I've become great friends with over the past 7 years since I started going there, how things were going, and she stared at me for almost 20 seconds.
"I'm going to the hockey game in 5 minutes," she said. "I can't wait to ditch this place."
"That bad?" I asked.
"These people don't even tip 10 per cent," she said. "My wait staff is bitching about how they can't make the money they need here anymore. I'm training a new person (pointing to a new employee who looked like she had no earthly business being there). I've got two more new people starting tomorrow..."
"Change is tough on all of us," I tried to comfort her. Then she tried to bring me into her world over the past two weeks.
"We don't have anymore regulars," she said. "These people order maybe one Bud Light, look around in awe, and almost can't believe that they're OUT. I've never seen anything like this. I don't know what to do."
As she was getting ready to diss the place and head to a collegiate hockey game, I reminded her how much people would come through the woodworks for the fish and chips, how great the location was, and eventually the regulars would get used to the new order, smoke outside when needed. She'd have none of it, point across the street and show how there was a drink only establishment that had a line outside the door -- at 5:30 on a TUESDAY! How her next door neighbor, who got their Keno license just in time before the smoking ban could come into place, was doing major business, even more than before October 2nd.
Again, I told her Omaha was behind the times, that California and hell even Lincoln, Nebraska had smoking bans in place before Omaha even considered such a thing. But I knew better. I knew that even if this is better for the world as a whole, even if I don't smoke, the whole damn lineups changed. This was literally like the gutting of the 1997 Florida Marlins after the won the World Series.
Other than my clothes smelling fine, there's just nothing good about this right now. Who knows what the hell will happen with youtube now. All I know is it's early in the game, but I sure as hell don't like the new fuckers going into my old favorite haunts. It's almost enough to get me to start smoking.CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Monday, October 09, 2006
---Blake (Alec Baldwin) Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992
Make no mistake, Nebraska should have absolutely killed that Iowa State game by a score of 48-17. Maybe even put up 56 points. But this new era, this new mentality, has a Nebraska football team that has taken the same approach that Billy C's old boss used to preach: "Just Win, Baby."
Even after the Corn impressively marched down the field go to up 7-0, only to have Iowa State come back and tie the game, you knew that this wasn't going to be the old fashioned shoot out that Dan Fouts predicted on TV. Billy C and his fake glasses -- which Terry Bradshaw has now borrowed to use on Fox NFL Sunday to make him look smart -- were planning on "just winning, baby" and getting out of Ames with the W. The offense looked like it was going to have that breakout road game on the road that would have echoed the old TO teams opening up the proverbial can of whoop ass to the tune of 56-10. Two running backs ran for over 100 yards, and Marlon Lucky didn't even register a carry (he did have three catches for 28 yards though). Zac Taylor, who's going to be first team all Big XII, completed 17 of 21 passes with no picks.
So why the hell didn't NU steamroll all over Ames on Saturday?
Go back to Billy C's Oakland days, where his team's just couldn't avoid the painful penalties. The Corn had 7 for 70 yards. But more importantly, Billy C was concerned about his defense collapsing like they did last week against Kansas at HOME, and wanted to hold on to the ball for so long on offense that his defense would spend the majority of the game as spectators. That's probably the most logical explanation, because I gotta think this wasn't the real WCO that Billy C wants to run here. He played it safe on Saturday night, just content to find a way to somehow escape with a road win -- which make no mistake, he really needed after almost losing that KU game (again, at HOME). When the Cyclones tied the game at 7, Callahan took every step to ensure the defense wouldn't have to spend much more time on the field.
The Corn has an offense that has the ability to hang 56 at Kansas State, a place they haven't won since 1996 during the Tom Osborne era. Billy C knows the "just winning" at Kansas State, even though the Wildcats are awful, is enough because of that losing streak at Manhattan alone. But he needs to let his WCO run wild at K State and give his defense a chance to get better, because Colt McCoy is licking his chops waiting to come to Lincoln on October 21st.
If NU really wants to make the return to one of the elite programs in the nation they've got to bust one open against a conference foe like the could have -- and SHOULD have -- on Saturday night. Or do so against K State this Saturday. This version of the WCO is ready to explode, and Callahan needs to let it happen. If his defense isn't ready to shut even the bad teams down, then Nebraska football is what it is: Content to win the Big XII North and nothing else. And that's about as exciting as winning the NIT in basketball. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Until Joe Torre, or "Clueless Joe" came to New York. Torre won 4 championships with the Yankees (something they hadn't done since 1978 by the way), and won 10 division titles, and made the playoffs every single year as Yankee skipper. Yes, he had the "best teams money could buy", but Torre's calm and influence were a major factor that his teams played in October every year he was in the big city.
Now Torre's probably going to get cut loose from the Yankees, because you sure as hell gotta blame somebody for not winning a title since 2000 with all of that money being spent on all of those players. You can't trade A-Rod; nobody's gonna take him and anyone who'd even listen to offers would know they'd have the Yankees over a barrel in terms of negotiating. So in all likelihood, Torre's the fall guy and about to be replaced by Sweet Lou Piniella (if you believe the reports). And if I'm Torre, I'm on the phone with Jim Hendry and the Cubs bass immediately at the very least for an interview, because he's the better man for the job than Joe Fucking Girardi.
Torre managing the Cubs is a can't lose for either side. Joe's legacy is firmly intact, his #6 will be reitred by the Yankees, he'll still get in the Hall of Fame as a manager. If he fails at Wrigley Field, he'll just join the long list of great people (Dusty Baker included, and he came the closest rencently) who couldn't get the Cubs over the top. I mean, they're the Cubs after all. If he wins, not only does he get to thumb his nose at Steinbrenner and Company, but he becomes an even bigger legend than he already is for his work the last 11 years in New York. He becomes the most popular Chicago sports figure since Mike Ditka and Harry Carey.
Some say the a manager in baseball isn't worth more than a ten game swing either way. Not in the post-season. A manager in the baseball playoffs makes a huge difference. Who's done a better job, in the new format, besides Torre? Plus during Torre's early Yankee years, he managed the team like a National League team. He pulled the double switch, he played hunches, and worked his bullpen brilliantly. Don't think for a second that Torre would have pulled Mark Prio a little bit earlier than Dusty Baker did in game six of the NLCS. That's alone shows you how managers can affect playoff games. Joe Torre would have made absolutely certain that his team -- with a decent lead -- was absolutely NOT going to lose that game. That's where Torre was at his best. Not at bringing a team back after they were down a few runs, but when his team got a lead early.
all time in New York. He only had to play to get through the 8th inning a lot of times. Fine, you're the Cubs, go out and get or develop the best possible closer you can. I'm sure there are some free agents -- including former Torre players -- who would take a good hard look at the Cubs if Torre were skipper. And after dealing with the New York media for 11 years, even a nice guy like Torre would put that prick Jay Mariotti in his place.
This HAS to happen, because Torre is certainly the better choice over Joe Girardi. I doubt Girardi can deal with veterans at this stage in his career. He's better suited for a younger team (like the Royals, pay attention Dayton Moore). My hunch is this is why Jim Hendry has waited before naming a skipper. He had to figure that a Yankee collapse just might make Torre available. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The first text message I received from a Yankee fan after the Tigers soundly defeated them this afternoon read simply, "Fucking Royals." It's almost as if the Yankees had no idea this Tiger team was this good -- hell nobody had any idea the Tigers were this good. I thought they'd fold like a cheap tent, just like they did on the last weekend of the season, getting swept by the lowly Royals. When the Twins learned that the Royals beat the Tigers last Sunday, thereby giving them the AL Central title and the honor to host the first two games at home against the A's, they celebrated like they already won the World Series. Avoding the Yankees was victory enough, because it was a forgone conclusion that lineup was at the very least ALCS bound.
Meanwhile, Jim Leyland sold everyone on the whole Freshman vs. Varsity thing, and it worked. I still don't know how he got Kenny Rogers to believe he was the Kevin Brown he managed with the Marlins, but somehow the whole thing worked out. Johnny Damon now has to have Tommy Lasorda convince him to watch any of the remaining playoff games. The Yanks have never played a single World Series game since A-Rod came to the city that doesn't sleep. They've only gone to the Series once since signing Jason Giambi. And they haven't won a title with Mike Mussina in pinstripes. Maybe it's age that's caught up with him, or he's still happy enough from the whole four titles in five years thing, but can you believe that Steinbrenner hasn't erupted in the past six years? What happened to the guy Larry David made fun of on Seinfeld? I'm guessing if the Mets make the Series, the old Steiney will come back, and who knows what that guy will be capable of.
I'm guessing next year's Yanks will look something like this:
LF -- Porn Lover (Matsui)
CF -- Damon
RF -- Abreu
1B -- Gumbo
2B -- Cano
SS -- Captain Jeter
3B -- Head Case
C -- Hip Hip Jorge
In other words, the same as this season. The big question is who will Steiney have Cashman run after to fill the DH spot. It's no secret how badly Steiney wants a Big Papi (Hell who wouldn't), but who's out there that they could really get? Maybe they bring back Sheffield, who seems to -- here's a surprise -- have his feelings hurt about sitting out game 3. But hitting -- even though they didn't do any of it the last 3 games -- isn't the issue.
Oh don't worry Mackenzie and the rest of all of you Yankee fans. Signing Barry Zito right away in the off-season is a done deal, and they'll make a big play for Jason Schmidt and just for old time sake, one of Steiney's all-time favorites in Andy Pettite. But Steiney's gonna point some fingers at "the greatest lineup of all-time". OK, they'll all be directed in the area code known as A-Rod. But how do you move his crazy ass? No team would fall over themselves to try and get him, he's got a no trade clause, he doesn't WANT to leave even though he might be the most hated man in the city, and who the hell are you going to get to even pay HALF of his salary?
But you just can't get past the fact that the big elephant in the Stadium wearing #13 is the Yankees version of Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch. For whatever reason, he brings out the worst in his teammates. You can see the discomfort in Jeter just having to share the same side of the infield with him. Everyone else on the Bronx Bombers seems to get along, but you get the feeling that everyone wants Alex to just leave. You can't hide it anymore. For what ever reasons, he just doesn't fit in with that team, and nobody, namely Jeter, seems to want him to.
The last text message I got read "I still can't name a more successful franchise in the last 6 years." I couldn't resist, reminding my friend that the Yankees have as many World Series titles in the last 6 years as the Royals, Indians, Mariners, Braves, Phillies, Giants, Dodgers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Twins and Cardinals COMBINED. And that's leaving out some teams.
Other than that, there have been two lasting images of this year's playoffs so far:
- Jim Leyland. At the end of game 4, before celebrating with his team, he went to the screen behind home plate to seek out some relatives to kiss. After he planted one on two ladies, some drunken fan came running down and Leyland kissed him too. But the best was seeing the Tigers picked the old man up and carry him from the field to the dugout. You NEVER see that happen anymore, not with players and definitely not with managers. Somewhere, Ozzie Guillen had to be jealous.
- Brade Radke. While everyone else was filtering into their perspective locker rooms following the A's sweeping the Twins, Radke just stood in the dugout, still in his uniform, not wanting to leave seemingly ever. Radke's expected to retire, and just seeing him sitting there, not wanting to believe that it's all over made Twins fans all over weep. It was very reminiscent of Walter Payton's last game, when he stayed in his entire uniform, helmet included, for what seemed like hours after the Redskins beat the Bears and ended the career of Sweetness.
It's ironic that on the same day that I suggest that HE should be the one to convince the world to watch the baseball playoffs instead of that blowhard Tommy Lasorda, Buck O'Neil died quietly in a Kansas City hospital at the age of 94 (he was almost 95). There are few that lived more of a happier life than the guy Satchel Paige called "Nancy".
There's nothing new that I can add to all of the wonderful things that have already been said about Buck O'Neil. I am reminded though of a story I read in a Roy Firestone book (well, there's a name, and forgive me for reading a Roy Firestone book, it was printed before Jerry Maguire after all). In the book, Roy tells a story about Tommy Lasorda, away from the camera and glitz, of how tired and cranky he'd be after having to put on the show of having to BE Tommy, waving and smiling to everyone and basically "selling" Tommy (and the Dodgers of course). I can tell you first hand that what you saw with Buck was always the real thing.
On a hot Kansas City day in 1998, after the Royals were again amongst the worst teams in baseball, getting beaten badly by probably the best Yankee team of their great run, Buck O'Neil came out of the stadium and legitimately couldn't be happier to SEE people. Any people who bothered to show up at Kauffman Stadium. He smiled a huge smile everywhere he went, and he didn't want to leave until he literally got a chance to at the very least shake everyone's hands within distance.
Buck O'Neil's enthusiasm and energy was genuine. He was one of the last ties to the great Negro League teams and players, to players like Josh Gibson. He got so excited when he heard the sound of Bo Jackson's bat hitting a ball, because the only other times he heard such a sound was when he saw Babe Ruth and Gibson hit a ball. During all of the horrible Kansas City teams that plagued the 1990's through today, Buck was the only shining light that Kansas City baseball had to offer. I only hope that someday I can enjoy life and people half as much as Buck O'Neil seemed to. Nobody seemed to genuinely enjoy life as much as he did. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Friday, October 06, 2006
Lasorda and his fun-loving Dodger schtick ended on May 14, 1998, the day that Frank Sinatra died and the Dodgers traded Mike Piazza to the Florida Marlins. Since then, he's pretty much been an embarrassment, bragging about how winning the Olympic Gold Medal as manager of the Olympic baseball team was a much greater deal than any World Series title he won with the Dodgers, and trying to sell us on what an incredible idea the World Baseball Classic was. Sure Tommy, whatever you say (Great, now Lasorda's going to get on me for being sarcastic and smart, oh well).
Here are five people who Major League Baseball should have selected instead of Lasorda to do those cheesy promos:
- Vin Scully: Now here's the guy with Dodger ties who would have really classed things up. Just hearing Scully's voice is enough to bring back positive baseball memories to any disgruntled fan who's team missed the playoffs. Vin Scully could convince anyone to watch any baseball playoff game over something like, oh I don't know, Dancing with the Stars maybe? Plus he can calm Dodgers fans down after their inevitable collapse at the hands of the New York Metropolitans.
- Spike Lee: Hey, it worked for Michael Jordan didn't it? Plus you could have saved some money, allowing Spike to write and direct all the spots. We're not suggesting he bring back Mars Blackman, but Spike would have given the campaign an edge and definitely attracted a different audience that the current television audience is certainly lacking, and one that MLB craves. I don't know how a Yankee fan like Spike is going to convince Royals or Devil Rays fans to watch post-season baseball if it wasn't already in their plans, but the guy still lives and dies with the Knicks, so he certainly has some idea of what it's like to root for the worst franchise in your sport.
- NOTE: In one of the saddest and heartbreaking news we've heard all year, Buck O'Neil died earlier this evening. We had Buck already in here at #3 on our top 5 selections, and the cruelest part about Buck's passing is that he didn't live long enough to see himself inducted into Cooperstown, an honor he justly deserved to receive at this past summer's ceremonies. Buck was the best ambassador of the game around, and for all the proof you need go read his "What I've Learned" article in Esquire printed just printed a few months ago, or check out the Ken Burns Baseball Documentary and just watch the segment with Buck. RIP old friend. You would have been perfect for this campaign. In Buck's passing, we nominate Yogi Berra, ever the character who would bring some much needed humor to these spots. Yogi is still the throwback to another era, and his one-liners remain legendary. He could come up with something better than "To the TV!"
- Scarlett Johansson: She just admitted to Esquire that she's a huge baseball fan, and that magazine in turn just named her the sexiest woman alive. Hell, she's even signed a partnership with an athletic apparel company. You're trying to tell me Scarlett in a Cubs hat won't get some attention? You've already tried to put hot women in baseball jerseys walking around with Lasorda in the current promos. Why not go for broke with this little minx? Hell, reunite her with fellow Lost in Translation star and Cubs fan Bill Murray? (NOTE: The only reason Murray's not on this list is because it's our understanding that he doesn't like to do many promotional things, unless these were exclusively about his beloved Cubbies). Plus imagine how proud Woody Allen would be as he was watching one of these promos during a Mets game.
- Denis Leary: And make the promos just like those old rants he used to do on MTV, like when he'd demand an "All Cindy Crawford Channel, all Cindy, All the Time". Even let him smoke cigarettes curing his rant. Let him recreate the now legendary "Sandy Koufax would drill Mel Gibson in the head routine" that he did earlier this season during a Red Sox game. There's nobody that could do a better job of convincing the entire world to root against the Yankees better than Leary. Plus he's already an employee of Fox, doing a little show on F/X.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
On Saturday, August 12, 1995, Johnny Damon made his Major League debut for the Kansas City Royals and immediately looked like he'd be the next face of the franchise, or at the very least, the most charismatic player the team has had since George Brett. Or since Chico Lind came over from Pittsburgh in 1993. That night, he went 3 for 5 with an electrifying triple, one RBI, one run scored and more importantly gave Royals fans hope. He was only 21, said all the right things about wanting to bring KC a winner, and even after one game, you just knew he was going to be something special. The best center fielder the Royals had since Willie Wilson fell in love with cocaine.
Damon would get better every year while patrolling center field in KC, topping with what is still the best season of his career in 2000. During that year, an unbelievable second half of the season saw Damon finish with 214 hits, 42 doubles, 10 triples, 16 homers, and 46 stolen bases for a Royals team going nowhere fast, even though they had an outfield that consisted of Damon, Carlos Beltran, and Jermaine Dye. All the while, Damon, suddenly a family man with a wife and twin kids, talked the talk about staying it out in KC and building them into a winner.
Unfortunately, Allard Baird was selling everyone on his idea that the Royals couldn't compete in this baseball landscape and would have to try to rebuild his team on the cheap, and oh by the way pay no attention to those men in Oakland and Minnesota who somehow were building WINNERS in this market.
In one of his greatest moves, Billy Beane picked Baird's pocket in a big way. On January 8, 2001, Beane convinced Baird that the Royals were just a closer away from winning. He got Baird to trade BOTH Damon and Mark Ellis (yes, THAT Mark Ellis, who's out for the rest of this year's playoffs by the way) to the A's, and in return Billy would get Baird that closer (Roberto Hernandez, who he'd convince Tampa Bay to part with) that would put the Royals over the top. For good measure, Billy threw in Angel Berroa and studly A. J. Hinch, because the Royals also were in desperate need of a shortstop who didn't know the meaning of working a count, but could strike out 100 times a year and make 25 errors to boot. Oh sure, Berroa would win a Rookie of the Year award he didn't deserve in 2003 (over Hideki Matsui of all people), but the bottom line was Damon had signed Scott Boras as his agent, there was no way the Royals were going to be able to sign Johnny after the 2001 season, and oh by the way, Carlos Beltran was going to patrol centerfield in Kansas City for the next decade (Scott Boras hadn't entered Beltran's life at the time).
Damon's numbers fell quite a bit with the A's in 2001, but his stellar play for Oakland in that year's ALDS (.435 OBP and .591 slugging) were a key reason they gave the Yankees all they could handle in that series, where they won the first two games in New York and should have won the series if not for Jeremy Giambi failing to slide at home in game 3. Billy Beane knew Johnny was leaving at the end of the season, but gambled on Damon for that one year for a great Oakland team that won 102 games.
Enter the Passion of the Damon. Johnny got the big bucks with Boston, signing a four year deal with the Sawks, divorcing his Midwest wife in favor of a model, growing out every piece of hair he had on his body, and becoming the toast of Boston while leading them to their first World Series title in 86, or so we're told. If you're scoring at home (or as Keith Olbermann would say, even if you're alone), that's three teams for Damon where he's done everything expected of him and then some.
So when Damon signed with the New York Yankees last December, it was just one more reason for me to despise the Yanks. It was no surprise to me that he cut his hair, shaved like all good Yankees, and once again did everything expected of him (and then some), including having his best year since that 2000 campaign with the Royals, hitting 24 home runs while leading off for Joe Torre in 149 games.
I watched today's Tigers/Yankees game 2 of the ALDS with another Royals fan, and when Damon came up in the bottom of the 4th with two runners on, we both cursed him loudly as we always did, but gave each other a look that said, "You know he's going upper deck right here." So of course, Johnny did just that, just as was expected of him. As he rounded the bases to the thundrous applause of Bronx fans, I said, "He'll come right out after he goes to the dugout for a curtain call."
Johnny Fucking Damon. Again. Still there to remind us of the Allard Baird era. Now he's getting a curtain call in Yankee Stadium, and I'm sure getting in A-Rod's head.
Somehow, the Tigers got the lead and KEPT it going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Enter Johnny Cakes -- I mean Todd Jones -- to try to close out the Yanks. Robinson Cano pops out for out number two with a runner on first, and now Damon comes to bat. Again, we watched nervously, thinking that if Johnny didn't win the game with another clutch homer, he'd at least get the game to Jeter. Somehow, Jones gets Damon to fly out -- I Love You Johnny Cakes!!! -- and the series is all tied up.
And for the first time any of us could remember, Damon finally did something we didn't expect. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Why not run one of those advertisements during Grey's Anatomy, the most popular show on TV right now. Think maybe you might get a few more viewers if you talk to that audience? Maybe throw a few on during the college and pro football games this weekend? Or are you too embarrassed to show the world that the best spokesperson you have is the way past his prime Lasorda?
Why not just run a montage of the many stars who were at Tuesday's Yankee game, which represented all of the major TV networks and the film industry (and in Patrick Ewing, the NBA contingent). Post-season baseball is one of the most compelling television the sports ever has to offer. It's what makes October the best month of the year. You already have people like us and the rest of your cume, why not try to make that cume LARGER??? Advertise to those who aren't already compelled with the great post-season. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
My hatred of Sean Salisbury, wannabe broadcaster, began in 2002, when out of nowhere, the Dan Patrick radio show decided that John Ritter was right, Three's Company. The radio program had included Patrick, and Nasty Boy Rob Dibble, and oddly enough it worked for the most part. Then out of nowhere, somebody suggested the Monday Night Football approach, and there needed to be another nut in the booth. Their thinking at the time had to be that Dibble was only good for baseball takes and they needed someone else to talk about other things, namely the most popular sport in the world otherwise known as the National Football League. Enter Salisbury, and immediately he sounded like the loud crazed uncle who'd show up one holiday but NEVER leave. We didn't just have to suffer through Sean on all things NFL, but he'd weigh in on whatever else was happening in the sports world at the time. He'd step all over Dibble to chime in on BASEBALL opinions. On a slow news day, Sean had to tell us that the movie Pay It Forward was one of his all-time favorite films. It became a truly unlistenable radio program, and it was all because of Salisbury. Imagine having Joe Theisman on every day for three hours, only louder. Salisbury's hyper schtick of having to loudly boast of his all of his opinions made Mel Kiper Jr sound like Tom Osborne. I remember thinking, "How can anyone let this continue?!?" There would be many days that Patrick would take off and they'd bring in a guest host, but Salisbury was ALWAYS there. He was trying to become the Cal Ripken, Jr. of ESPN radio. He'd NEVER leave! Thankfully, ESPN wised up and got Salisbury out of the booth, and his appearances were limited to an occasional phone call to come in and talk about the NFL, and he still had that great ability to make one want to immediately change the radio station.
On Sunday, a friend and I wondered if Salisbury was on coke, because he certainly was acting like it on television. Salisbury was all over ESPN News, breaking out with his loud and boisterous opinions about every game, and we wondered if maybe Salisbury was going to pop up in a Geico commercial to keep spouting off his NFL opinions because he was so amped up. As usual he was driving us bonkers -- and THE SOUND WAS OFF. The place was playing the audio from the NBC telecast. But we kept cringing and looking Salisbury's way.
"He's on something," my friend pointed out. "He's more wound up than Daffy Duck used to be on those really old Looney Tunes cartoons. I expect to see him swim madly across a lake and scream, 'I'm not crazy, I just don't give a damn' anytime now. It's almost like he does lines of blow right before going on."
"I don't know," I said. "Does doing blow make you put on so much weight?"
Then I remembered another period of the Salisbury era and realized he's not on anything, that's just how he is. Or maybe the NFL is such a drug for Sean that it makes him more wired up than a Jets fan on draft day. I believe it was a couple of years ago, around the time when Salisbury didn't take Dennis Green's offer to come be the quarterbacks coach of the Arizona Cardinals. After Denny Green failed to be our savior, ESPN came up with a new shtick for Salisbury. He and John Clayton would argue small NFL issues in a WWF sort of way, constantly yelling and screaming back and forth to each other to the point where you'd think Sean would reach over his side of the screen to body slam poor Clayton, who looks like he weighs 120 pounds soaking wet (and remember, the TV supposedly adds 15 pounds). It was some bizarre point/counterpoint type of thing that resembled some of the Fox News/MSNBC news shows at the time, but these two would scream about who should start at left tackle for the Seahawks. I'm not sure how long Sean vs. John lasted, but it was another one of those rare moments when ESPN came to their senses and stopped the fighting. Now it turns out that Sean and John host a radio show on some Saturdays and they get along like old college roommates.
Since we're right in the heart of football season, Sean Salisbury can be seen on any and all of the ESPN networks everyday, having to tell us that "The Colts will be fine because they've still got #18." I STILL don't get it. You can almost see Sean behind the cameras at times when announcers will breakdown the baseball playoffs, jumping up and down and screaming, "Come on guys! I got some things to say about the Chiefs/Cardinals game!"
ESPN has some great NFL broadcast talent in people like Chris Mortensen, Ron Jaworski and Tom Jackson. Even Trey Wingo is watchable breaking down the NFL. Somebody please tell Denny Green that we have the answer to his problems: Convince Salisbury to come coach fellow USC alum Matt Leinart into the great NFL quarterback we all know he should be. Only problem is, would Leinart dare take advice from a former QB who had a playing career similar to maybe...Heath Shuler? CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
FINALLY -- The Tigers put three on the board and turn this thing into a game. Then out of nowhere, at the end of the sixth inning, Tim McCarver brings up the fact that Marilyn Monroe was once married to Joe DiMaggio for "nine months". He even had to tell the old "Joe, you've never heard such cheering -- Yes I have" story. I'm starting to wonder if even McCarver can name three players on the Tigers roster.
Bottom of the sixth, Ken Rosenthal does a report down on the field to talk about the state of the Yankee bullpen, how tired they might be after being used so much during the regular season, and how they might have to go to Rivera even earlier. You know, actual things that might impact the game for those of us interested in such things. As he ends the interview, Joe Buck asks Ken, "See any stars?" Rosenthal says the only stars in his area are the police officers ("the real stars"), while the cameras again find Denzel again, prompting Buck to say, "Come on, you're right next to Denzel?"
I didn't realize that Fox had begun carrying Entertainment Tonight in primetime. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
We know you'll do the right thing, Turner Broadcasting System. Please don't leave Jim Rose as our only option. Throw Craig Sager on the game if he needs something to do. Don't you want to see how Billy C and Ron Prince are going to act towards one another after the whole text message recruiting debacle of last winter? We're not asking for much here. Baylor/Texas and Iowa State/Oklahoma are both yawners waiting to happen. Let ABC have Missouri/Texas A&M. If you don't pick this game up, well, I guess FSN will an put it on at 11:30am CDT, which means Husker fans will start drinking far too early in the morning, and a Nebraska loss would kill bar business in the Omaha and Lincoln areas from 3pm on.
So to paraphrase Winston Wolfe, pretty please, with sugar on top, schedule the freaking Corn. CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!
Monday, October 02, 2006
Gotta love the so-called experts when they come out with these predictions. Hell, at least we're nowhere near "so-called experts", other than to alert the Gambling Community that everyone's favorite baseball announcer (Well, other than Steve Lyons) Chris Berman has been at the mike for the Division Series of the World Series winner in each of the past three seasons. You'd have to think that ends this year as he and Orel Hershiser have the Cardinals/Padres series. Anyhow, here's how things will go over the next few weeks, along with how we think they should (read: WANT) finish. Oh, and you are aware our fingers were pressed firmly on the sarcasm button when we said "favorite" and "announcer" with the words Berman and Lyons, right?
Yanks over Tigers in 4. This one will be closer than everyone thinks. Not even A-Rod living inside his own head as he does every October can stop the Yanks from getting past a team that couldn't even win ONE game from the lowly Royals...when all they had to win was one game to avoid even starting this series in New York. Could have had the A's at Comerica with just....one...win. (PERFECT WORLD: Tigers in 3 of course, while A-Rod goes something like 10 for 14 in the sweep and tells every reporter, "Hey, I sure did all I could, didn't I? How are your kids doing?")
Twins over A's in 4. The Domers are on too big of a role, they have Johan rested and ready, and they'll probably only need him for one game (I don't know how in the hell the A's can steal one in the Minny-Apple, although I was actually at the only ALDS game in 2002 that they did win at the Dome, with Zito pitching and Jermaine Dye homering). But these A's don't have Dye and out of all of their teams that have made the playoffs this decade, this Twins team can actually hit the ball. Plus we're picking the Twins in 4 because it'll play nicely into how we see the next round going. (PERFECT WORLD: Either team in five. Seriously, I'd be happy with either team moving on, the Twins are such a great story just because their success shuts all Royals fans up who say small market teams can't win, as are the A's, and it'd be nice to see one of Billy Beane's team advance once).
Twins over Yankees in 5. Follow us here. The Twins would have a rested Johan in game 1, which they could steal in the Bronx. They'd probably get blown out in game two by the Yanks, but then they'd have three straight at the Dome, where they could have Johan close things out in game 5. The only thing that worries me about this prediction: As big a choke artist as A-Rod's been in October, he actually tore things up in the Dome for the Yanks in the 2004 ALDS. This could be the series that he finally breaks loose. But we're banking on A-Rod being A-Rod here, and the New York media blaming him for another disappointing Yankee run in the post-season. And lost in all the shuffle is that Mike Mussina, who came to the Yankees wanting nothing but a World Series ring, would leave the team without one. (PERFECT WORLD: Pretty much what I just described)
Cardinals over Padres in 5. Really, both NLDS matchups should be the best of the bunch. The Cards get to throw Carpenter twice, and the Padres have Jake Peavy, David Wells and Woody Williams. They also have Chan Ho Park, who knew? I'm going with the Cards simply because they have the best clutch player in the game at the moment in some guy named Pooholtz or PooJolz or something. He's going to be the difference, he's just that kind of player. But nothing in this series would surprise me. (PERFECT WORLD: Padres advancing, because I already know Tony LaRussa's a vegetarian and an alleged genius. It'd be nice for the baseball world to learn more about Trevor Hoffman and company. But the Cards advancing would make my dear friend Angela and everyone at Deadspin really happy.)
Dodgers over Mets in 5. I don't see how the Dodgers lose this series. The get to throw a legitimate Cy Young Candidate in Game 1 (Derek Lowe) and a rested Hall of Famer in Game 2 (Greg Maddux, who gets to go up against Tom Glavine in a game to could seriously have Leo Mazzone rock right out of his rocker). Don't let the "Maddux can't win in the post-season" myth fool you. He could pitch -- he just could NEVER pitch on three days rest, and those are the games that make his post-season record look less than stellar. Boby Cox, as Keith Olbermann has famously pointed out, used Glavine and Maddux on three days rest far too often, and that's why a lot of those Braves teams had their runs stopped far too early. If Grady Little uses Mad Dog on longer rest -- and I know that's a lot to ask for -- the Dodgers could go places. The Mets without Pedro and a suddenly mortal David Wright aren't scaring anybody. There's always a chance that Carlos Beltran could turn into the Carlos Beltran of the 2004 playoffs when he was an Astro, but there's also a chance Sean Salisbury has a coke problem, the way he acts on TV. I'm betting (and hoping) for the latter. (PERFECT WORLD: The Mets with Pedro in 5 because Pedro just makes October baseball that much more entertaining. And Salisbury getting busted by the worldwide leader with blow.)
Dodgers over Cardinals in 7. Remember, the Cards would get home field advantage in this series because the Dodgers are the Wild Card and the Cardinals believe it or not actually got credit for winning a division! Again, we realize another risky pick as the manager in the Los Angeles dugout is none other than Grady F. Little, and just for a little karma he's got a couple of 2003 Red Sox in Lowe and Nomar to remind him of things like pitch counts and the like. The Cards would get four games at the new Busch (Beavis laughter inserted here), but who knows what sort of state their pitching would be in. It'd still be fun to see old footage of the "Go Crazy Folks" Ozzie Smith homer and the Jack Clark home run while Pedro Guerrero throws his glove on the ground before the ball's even left the ballpark from the last time these two teams met in the NLCS. Oh this has to happen just for those reasons alone. Not even being a Cardinal fan, those are still two of my favorite post-season baseball moments (especially the Pedro Guerrero and the tossing of his glove video, which never seems to get nearly enough play as it should, somebody get this one on youtube STAT). Plus Tom Niedenfuer would have horrible flashbacks. By the way, there's also a wicked rumor going around that Fox could use Dusty Baker as their 3rd man in the booth for this series. (PERFECT WORLD: Tommy Lasorda having a heart attack at some point during the series and Pujols becoming the first player from a losing team since Jeffrey Leonard of the Giants to win the NLCS on a losing team. Leonard did so against the Cards that year by the way. Hell, we'd still be happy if St. Louis advances if only to keep that silly little Berman streak I mentioned earlier alive).
Twins over Dodgers in 7. The AL has home field advantage, which means four games could be played in that godforsaken dome. Just like in 1987 and 1991, the Twins will win all four home games in that dump and lose three on the road. The sight of Noh-mah and Lowe in the World Series will be just enough to cause Red Sawk Nation to panic. If the Twins have the magic left arm of one Johan Santana, to paraphrase that master spokesman Steven A.F. Smith, quite frankly, that's all you need. And no matter what Bud Selig or anyone in baseball says, this matchup would actually be good for ratings. History suggests that a matchup between a team from either the East or West Coast against a Midwest team equals decent ratings. In fact, the highest rated World Series ever was the 1980 Fall Classic that saw my beloved Royals fall to the Phillies. There's no doubt in my mind that had the 2004 series lasted longer, even in the age of 576 channels, that number would have been even higher. But screw ratings, we're predicting a team that Selig wanted to contract out of the game less than 5 years ago to win the whole thing, and nobody's laughing at that suggestion. (PERFECT WORLD: The Royals would have drafted Pujols in the 12th round of the 1999 draft, they'd have him at first, still have the OF of Damon, Dye and Beltran, and they could have at least made this years playoffs. Hell, one of their worst teams ever ruined the Tigers season on the last weekend, is what I suggested to much to have really happened? Actually, a Twins title would be fine, you betcha!) CLICK TO READ ENTIRE POST!