Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DANCING WITH 'THE FREAKS'

Interesting cast for the upcoming edition of "Dancing With the Stars".
It's clear the producers of the show went for a theme that was based
on characters who have been dumped, dinged, and saddled with
borderline personality disorder. Here's a breakdown.

Every good story needs a lightning rod or villain, and Nancy Grace
is it. Just looking at her makes my lip curl. Just listening to her
makes the hair on the back of my neck (when I don't shave it) rise.
The host of whatever show she does on "HLN" is abrasive, annoying,
and tough to like. Do you think Casey Anthony will tune in, hoping
that Grace falls flat on her face.


Chaz Bono is the freak in the circus that you just won't be able
to take your eyes off of. He/She is the real life "It's Pat" character
that used to rule "Saturday Night Live". You know the one we had
trouble telling if it was a boy  or girl. Bono has been both. Was
a woman, is now a man. If she/he didn't like being a woman, how is
Bono going to do while dancing with one?


Interesting how they invited Carson Kressley to be on the same show
as Bono. He's the host of the award-winning show, "Queer Eye for the
Straight Guy."  Safe to say, Kressley is going to be putting the radar
lock on Bono. Wow, you just can't make this up.

Every good show needs some eye candy, and DWTS has it with Elisabeta
Canalis and Kristen Cavallari. Both are hot enough to ignite a five-alarm
fire, but they are bringing some baggage to the dance floor. Canalis
was dumped by George Clooney, while Cavallari got the the Sabastian
Janikowski boot from Bears QB Jay Cutler, which actually could be
a blessing in disguise. Does anybody really want to live with a
petulant,  spoiled-brat of a quarterback who bails on his team. And
Cavallari really shouldn't have been surprised. If Cutler quit on his
team when things got tough, dumping a fiance when things got a little
difficult was expected.


Is any show anywhere on television these days complete without a
Kardashian? By the way, how many  Kardashian's are there anyway?
Mrs. K, you are a champ. Rob gets his 15 minutes in the spotlight.
He's just like his sisters: no talent and never did anything but be
a Kardashian to get rich and famous.


Hope Solo on Dancing With The Stars? We saw this one coming for
a long time, didn't we? She is sexy, beautiful, mysterious, and athletic.
Not sure if she can dance, but does that really matter? It will be
interesting to see if the goalie for the U.S Soccer team will sell out
her dance partner just as she did to her coach during the World Cup
soccer tournament four years. After not starting against Brazil, Solo
called out and embarrassed her coach, thus becoming ostracized by
the rest of the team. She made a nice recovery , though.


Ron Artest. He certainly puts the freak in the freak show. The NBA
start ignited the "Malice at the Palace" brawl years ago and was suspended
for more than 60 games by David Stern. He is tough, volatile, and has
admitted that he's a little whacko. Remember that post-game press
conference after the Lakers won the NBA Title two years ago? Wow.
Artest likes to show off his six-pack, so expect a lot of shirtless dances.

Should be an interesting year on Dancing With the Freaks.

Monday, August 29, 2011

NEW CANAAN'S MARK REARICK: AN APPRECIATION.

Last January, when the digital numbers on my scale slowly and painfully turned over
from 249 to the perfectly round number of 250, I texted my good friend and former
teammate Steve Tonra, who was an excellent baseball player in high school. I wrote:
T-Man, I'M NOW THE SECOND MOST FAMOUS 2-5-0 FROM NEW CANAAN.
Truth be told, there is only one, and there will always be only one 2-5-0 in that ritzy town
of Connecticut, no matter what anybody's scale says.


2-5-0 is the nickname of Mark Rearick. He was extra large coming out of the womb and grew
 to be a mountain of a man. He put the barrel in barrel-chested, and even though he is light
on his feet for a man his size, 2-5-0 is like the dinasours in Jurassic Park, you can hear him
coming from a mile a way.

2-5-0. Rearick hit that magic number as offensive lineman as a senior in high school. Even by
today's standards, any 18-year old kid tippin' the scales at 250 is large, especially when he's
6'3. That  nickname stuck to Rearick like the tattoo on  Mike Tyson's face. It's on, and it's
never coming off. He was never Mark, Mr. Rearick, Coach, or  Dude. It's always been 2-5-0,
even when the scale spit out a number that was much greater than that.

But there's more to 2-5-0 than a perfectly suited nickname. 2-5-0 is Mr. New Canaan baseball.
He was teaching kids how to play the game going back to the mid-1970's. 2-5-0 was the
president of Babe Ruth baseball and coached every kid who came through the program. A well-spoken, intelligent man, 2-5-0 had more knowledge about the game in his right pinky, than
most of us will ever know.

2-5-0 has worked at New Canaan High School for so long, he's seen the kids of some of the
kids he used to coach, graduate. The man is an instution like IBM, Harvard, and Budweiser,
although 2-5-0 has never even sipped an alcoholic drink. He is "old school" and a straight-
shooter who arrived long before the Rubix Cube, Internet, Facebook, and Twitter. In this day
and age of "look at me" and "what can you do for thee", 2-5-0 is unselfish, genuinely caring
about his players, and always doing what was best for the team.

For many years, 2-5-0 was the varsity baseball coach at New Canaan High School. His teams,
as you might've expected, were intelligent and well-coached. He helped make average teams,
good and good teams, great. 2-5-0 was never one to keep track of his records and he probably
couldn't tell you the exact numbers of years he even coached. He just coached for the pure love
of the game. Oh, that may seem like a glitzky cliche in this day and age, but 2-5-0 lived and
breathed the game. It was his true passion.

A few years ago, the game was wrongfully taken away from him. He coached in a town where
every CEO thought they could manage better than Tony LaRussa and coach bettter than Bill Belichick. His assistant coach threw him under the bus and the new athletic director wanted
to have "his guy" running the team. If was the "perfect storm" that led the Rams to make a change atop the baseball program.

After all his hard work, dedication, and loyalty, 2-5-0 was no longer the baseball coach at
New Canaan High School. Baseball in New Canaan would never be the same. Legends
like 2-5-0, and he is a  legend, should decide when they are leaving, not some buttoned-up
adminstrator who uses too much starch in his shirts and doesn't have a pulse of the town.

But life isn't fair, after all, even Tom Landry, who built the Dallas Cowboys from scratch
and turned them into "America's Team," was unceremoniously dumped by Jerry Jones
when  he took over the team. That's sports, and that's life.

2-5-0's former players, coaches, and even umpires in the area, honored him a couple of
years ago, celebrating his contributions to the game. 2-5-0 is truly loved, admired, and
respected, and the number of people who turned out for the event supported that.
My friends reading this like Tonra, Timmis, Burke, Stevens, and Nanai all know what I'm
talking about.

We all go through school learning from a thousand different teachers and getting  instructions
from a hundred different coaches. There are only a handful that we really remember, and
perhaps just a couple you can say actually had an impact on your life. 2-5-0 is one of those
people and coaches that you never forget. He is a true legend of the game and a great friend.

Thanks, 2-5-0.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

CHANNELING MY INNER AL ROKER.

When bad weather breaks, it's 'Go Time' for news reporters and weather people, both certified and certifiable hacks, around the country. As Bill Evans, chief meteorologist of ABC in New York said,
"it's our Super Bowl". Television stations cover hurricanes and blizzards like ESPN covers college
football, all-out, all the time. Updates, news alerts, breaking news, this video just in, continuous coverage. It's really quite fascinating, yet comical.


It seems like every reporter in the country is auditioning for "Good Morning Today, Tomorrow, and
Next Week." They make sure the DVR's are rolling when the wrath of Hurricane Irene smacks them
in the face and blows off their hat. Sometimes it appears to be just another edition of ABC's "Wipe-Out", where contestants are falling all over the place while trying to get to the promised land. Can we see
another shot of the fearless reporter holding onto a tree or a pole as he tries to talk with a gallons worth
of water getting shoved down his throat by a tropical storm?


This year's coverage was both nauseating and entertaining. I mean, why do we tune in and stare for
hours at the television? It's as if some people are waiting to see a reporter get sucked up in the eye of
the hurricane like Augustus Groop got the hydrovac treatment in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory."

My favorite memory from the coverage of Hurricane Irene was the moment an "intreprid" reporter knew
that his get-me-to the-network live shot was ruined by a streaker strutting his stuff.


Television stations, especially the local ones, put most of their eggs in one basket when it comes to
weather. Their crack-staff consultants stationed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by absolute failures as news
anchors and reporters, say that weather drives the ratings. It's all about the  weather. "First weather",
"Fast weather," "Guarateed accurate weather." The latter didn't last long considering the average
weather person hits on only about 25 percent of his forecasts.

If Tom Brady connects on 25 percent of his passes, he's JaMarcus  Russell and he's out of a job. But
if you're a weather anchor, you can be wrong as often as LeBron James and his "posse" are  in a Think Tank. Just as long  as you have personality and do stupid things like this Tucker Barnes guy in the video below.


Seriously? How stupid was that? What did we learn? That good old  Tucker is a self-absorbed idiot
who can get covered in layers of Baby Ruth bars? These live shots are never about the weather, but
the reporters themselves. How can we outdo the next guy? How far can we push  the envelope? Do
these reporters ever say anything meaningful? Yeah, we can see that it's raining as much as Brad Steinke
of Fox Sports Arizona cries when he doesn't get his way. At least  these ego-laden acts are entertaining. Sometimes.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

TOP 5 ATHLETES/COACHES WHO CREATED NATURAL DISASTERS

5. "HURRICANE" MIKE PRICE. The former coach at Washington 
     State blew into Tuscaloosa December of 2003 to take over at
     Alabama. His stay didn't last long. Five months later, Price played
     in pro-am golf tournament in Pensacola, FL. He got all liquored
     up and went to a strip club that night. Price was seen taking a
     woman not his wife back to his hotel room. She promptly rang
     up $1,000 in room service. Hello! And good-bye Mike Price.
     That school with the strong moral compass (wink, wink) promptly
     fired Price before he ever coached a game for the Crimson Tide.
     Price got a second chance a year later when Texas-El Paso hired
     him, but he's been in college football's black hole ever since.
    
4. TIM WELSH On the sideline after getting bounced out of Providence
    College as their head basketball coach, Welsh landed on his feet
    with Hofstra University. He signed a 5-year contract that would
    pay him an average of $600,000 per season. Yes, a basketball
    program at a commuter school that most of the country has never
    heard of, can dish out that much money for a basketball
    coach. Do the the "Pride" ever play on ESPNU or perhaps, ESPN3?
    Welsh was living it up one night in the Big Apple and when a
    police officer noticed a nice Lexus stopped at a green light with
    the car running, and the driver sleeping at the wheel. Welsh
    was in trouble. He failed the breathalyzer and somehow hoped
    no one would find out he got arrested for DUI. In New York?
    OK. Welsh didn't tell his bosses who found out through the media.
    Kiss that $600,0000 per year job good-bye. Welsh was promptly
    fired. Oh, but he did land at his feet at SNY as a commentator.
    Great credibility there. Guess one of the executives there needed
    a drinking partner.
   
3. MIKE TYSON. The self-proclaimed "baddest man on the
    planet" tsunamied his career, reputation, and fortune worth
    more than half-a-billion dollars. After Iron Mike left Kevin
    Rooney and the management team that helped make him
    the youngest heavyweight championship in the world and one
    of the globe's wealthiest people, Tyson tossed it all away
    with erratic behavior, bad decisions, and a relationship with
    Robin Givens. What the heck was that? She and her mom
    torpedoed Tyson and took a lot of his money. Then came
    the rape, the bite, and that great tattoo on his face. What do
    you mean, I thought you said it was removable? Tyson
    became a joke and a punch-line with all those pigeons.
    What's up with the pigeons anyway? Tyson did make a
    comeback with his cameo appearance in "The Hangover".
    Man, he was good on the air-drums.

   
2. MICHAEL VICK.  In 2007, Vick had it all: A $130 million
    contract, endorsement deals, great commercials, herpes, and
    the adoration of everyone in south. Then came the dogs, the
    fights, the torturing of them, the lies, and then prison. No
    athlete in the history of the game had every fallen so hard
    and so fast from grace. Before Vick went to the big house,
    he went into bankruptcy. However, Mr. Electric made arguably
    the greatest comeback of any fallen superstar. He has a great
    job with the Eagles, is adored in Philadelphia, and he's actually
    become a lot more likable. Plus, he's out of the red, financially.

   
1. TIGER WOODS. Eldrick didn't waste much time taking the
    baton from Vick in terms of suffering the biggest fall from grace.
    Before that ambien-fuel drive into the fire hydrant a few years
    ago, Tiger was the man. His reputation, at least with sponsors,
    the fans, and media, was impeccable. His father, Earl, once
    said Tiger would have as big an impact on the world as the
    Dali Lama, or was it Gandhi? I forget. Doesn't matter. Tiger
    was making $100 million a year in endorsements alone. He
    had a beautiful wife and two kids, a ridiculous yacht, and mansion.
    What didn't he have? Tiger had everything and appeared to
     be a lock to break Jack Nicklaus' record for most majors
     in a career. Now Tiger has nothing. No friends, very few
     endorsements, and his reputation has been shattered, possibly
     for good. For what? Over some sleaze-bag strippers and porn
     stars? Wow.

Friday, August 26, 2011

DEREK JETER SPLITS WITH MINKA BUT FINDS HIS STROKE

Derek Jeter has gotten old and lost his bat speed....Crickets, I'm
hearing nothing but crickets. Jeter's skills have eroded and they
should release him in the off-season and sign Jose Reyes.....What
was that? Did I just hear a pin drop?

My have things changed. All those critics and so-called experts
on talk radio who never broke a sweat or turned around a 95-mile
an hour heater aren't being so loud about Jeter's "demise" anymore,
are they? Vinny from the Bronx doesn't call WFAN and tell
Mike Francessa that Jeter's washed . Nobody's saying he's
all washed up.


Once again, the Yankees captain has navigated through all the
negativity with class and dignity even though people were treating
him as if he were Derek Lee instead of guy who long ago became
one of the greatest Yankees in franchise history.

After going 3 for 6 in Thursday night's game, Jeter is hitting .299.
The 28th player in MLB history to reach 3,000 hits has only 29
players ahead of him in batting average this season.

Why were people doubting Jeter after so many years of solid
production? Why do they always think there's a better option
than the future Hall of Famer? Why do they think their opinion
on the matter, even matters.

Yes, he is is 37-years old and got off to a dreadful start
but nobody ever gets the stats stamped on a baseball card after
May, June, July, or August. No player who winds up hitting
.237 for the season will say, "Yeah, but I was hitting .302
at the all-star break.

It's why they play 162 games. It's why the season is called
a marathon, not a sprint. And once again, Jeter is showing
the baseball world, that at the end of the race, he'll cross the
line among the elite.



It's a beautiful thing to shut up the critics the way Jeter has.
He goes 5-for-5 on the day he notches career hit 3,000 and gets
the Cooperstown clincher with a home run. Then he asks out
of the all-star game and the critics, including myself, bashed him
for not showing up in Phoenix to tip his hat and say thank you
to the fans.

Jeter wanted the break to rest up his calf and be strong
for the second half. And of course, Jeter has looked pretty smart
in his decision. In August, he's hit .422 and his on-base percentage
is an eye-popping .475.

It still amazes me that Yankee fans, who watched Jeter
come in as a rookie and develop into a Cooperstown quality
player, always think there is someone better out there (Reyes)
or someone in the farm system (nobody) that can take Jeter's
place. There is not. People will understand after he is gone
when his replacement melts in the Big Apple spotlight and
boots everything hit his way in the post-season.

Jeter is the smartest player in the game. He does all the things
that don't show up in the box score, but help his team win games.
And the Yankees have done a lot of that since Jeter's arrival.
He has five world series rings, more than 3,000 hits, a .313
average and the respect of everyone in the game.

Appreciate Jeter, don't bash him. You'll never see the likes
of him again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A GORILLA WEEKEND AND THE FAT GUY NEEDS A GPS.

Last Sunday, I interviewed a runner who had just won the woman's
division of a 10-mile road race. She told me she would've had a
better time except that she "made a wrong turn and went out of
(my) way a bit."  I chuckled to myself and wondered how anyone
could make a wrong turn on a course that is marked with other runners
ahead of you.

Three hours later, I wasn't laughing. I had gone down to the site
of the triathlon I will be competing in on September 11th. I wanted
to test the bike course and get my "strategery" down, as George
Bush famously said. I wanted to know where I could cruise down
hills, the pot holes to avoid, and locate the best fast food joints
in case I get famished, which there is a good chance I will. Extra
value meal to go, please.

As I followed the directions on my printout of the course which
were barely visible to this 47-year old dude, I came to a turn I wasn't
sure of. I stopped a motorist as he was coming out of a 7-Eleven
and he told me there were two ways to get to where I wanted to go.
I, of course, took the wrong route. I went two miles out of the way,
which meant I had to come back two miles to return to the course.
A great way to start a 56-mile journey.

Pounding my way through the rolling hills of Hudson Valley, New
York, I was on a pretty good pace, or so I thought. Another cyclist
blew past me as if I was standing still. Getting passed like that is
demoralizing, but when I noticed the perfectly-defined diamond
shaped calves of the rider, I didn't feel so bad. That guy rides his
bike as often as Bruce Pearl lies, a lot. Last summer, during a
triathlon I was competing in, I was climbing a steep hill when this
woman on a pink bike peddled furiously by me. The big numbers
stained on her arm gave her age away and when I noticed a 6
and a 2  side-by-side, I almost quit right there. Big guys aren't
built for speed on a bike. I sometimes think the department of
transportation is going to tag me with a red flag and put a sign
on my back that reads, "Over size load".

There was no quiting on my Sunday ride which got supersized
to 60-miles after my earlier mistake. It was a pretty comfortable
ride until I got to the 58-mile mark. I had cotton mouth and was out
of water. I thought for sure I'd pass a convenient store, but there
were none, making them not so convenient. I spotted a pizza
joint who's name I could not pronounce or even understand.

But I'm smart enough to know when that neon sign is glowing
and says "open", that's the only thing that really matters. I
dismounted my  bike and the pain strangled my body like G.I
Joe's Kung Fu grip. I let out a primal scream as if an alien was
stapled to the bottom of my stomach while pumping napalm through
my intestines. Yeah, I know. Don't tell you about the pain, just show
you the baby. This is the second consecutive week that I stopped for
a slice. It's become a tradition unlike any other for me. When I got
my slice of Sicilian pizza and 32 ounces of Gatorade, I was relieved
and in heaven.


I still had a few miles to go, but after completing the required
56 that I'll need for the race, I put it on cruise control. With the
finish to the ride in a park by the Hudson River, I envisioned
what I was going to do when I was done. Strip down to my biking
shorts and sprint for that big body of water and take the Nestea
plunge.

When I got there, it sure seemed like a Cinco de mayo after, after
party. I was in the minority and when I approached the water
I could of sworn I heard people saying, "El pez grande! El pez
grande!"  Interesting. When I got home I went on to Google translate
to figure out what they were saying. "The Big Fish, The Big Fish!"
is what they were saying.

Less than 21 days to go. I'm down to 234lbs and feeling a bit better
about my chances of finishing the half-ironman

Monday, August 22, 2011

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FIGHTING? AN NFL FAN NATION OUT OF CONTROL.

The hardest hits of the NFL's preseason have been occurring in the stands.
From Baltimore to the Bay area, football fans have been far more
physical than the players going through the motions in another
meaningless exhibition season.

Fans are showing off their inner Ray Lewis, taking out fellow
fans with blind side hits and haymakers that would make Mike Tyson
proud. In San Francisco last weekend, 49er and Raiders fans, who
will never take any trips to wine country together, put on the ugliest
display of pugilism since Ron Artest went postal in the "Malice at
the Palace" several years ago. What is going on with fans these days?
Are they juicing like the players and experiencing 'roid rage? We've
seen fights in the stands before, but never at this rate. It's gotten
out of control.


Where is all this anger coming from? The economy? Unemployment?
Getting "de-friended" on Facebook? Or are these people just being
fueled by alcohol and behaving badly? And it's not just high testosterone
levels of males that are instigating fights. A bunch of woman produced a
melee of epic proportions in the parking lot before that game between
the 49ers and Raiders.


Oh, and I forget to mention the shootings that occurred after that game in
San Francisco. Guns, fists, and foul-mouthed adults? Is it even safe to go
to a game anymore? Most of the time these brawls are incited by a bunch
of adults outfitted in their favorite players jersey yelling an insult at
another bunch of adults outfitted in an opposing players jersey. There
is a "Yeah, Eli Manning stinks!" And a response, "Well, Michael Vick
is going to kill your dog and I'm going to enjoy it.". Then it escalates
to mother's, her momma's momma, and swimmin' with the fishes.

(Note: I'll never understand why  adults dress up in jersey's, paint their
faces, and act like they are 7th-year seniors in "Animal House." For a
football game? Please)


Is the NFL on the verge of becoming like European soccer games? Are these
just hooligans in disguise or Brian Urlacher jerseys? This could become
an epidemic that the NFL will have trouble dealing with. They open the
stadium parking lots three hours before the games so people can get
liquored up and then, because they feel they purchased a ticket, it gives
them the right to act like a total jerk.

Problems like these, usually get worse before they get better. Every
low-life in need of his 15 minutes of fame, will make sure the cameras
are rolling before he sucker-punches some wise-ass fan who fired off
one  insult too many. Sad as it may seem, that's the way things are
going these days, especially with cellphone cameras and YouTube.

The question is, how many people have to get shot or beat into a
coma before the NFL teams and league do anything about it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

IT'S TIME TO SHUT DOWN 'THE U'.

"Ray Lewis...Linebacker...The U"
"Clinton Portis...Running Back...Thaaaa U."
"Vince Wilfork..Nose Tackle...The UUUUUUU."

No matter how all the U-sers introduce themselves on Sunday Night
Football and proudly state where they went to party and play football,
it's all the same. They all came out of the cess pool of college football
known as the University of Miami.



The recent allegations that a former "booster" named Nevin Shapiro,
who is serving 20 years in the big house for concocting a ponzi scheme,
gave cars, gifts, prostitutes, and other goodies to 72 players, is hardly
surprising. After all, we're talking about "The U".

"The U"  has been an outlaw program ever since Jimmy Johnson and
his helmet head road into town in the mid-80's. You remember his
teams don't you? In 1987, they got off the plane in Army fatigues,
embarrassed themselves at banquets, and then promptly got their
butts whipped in the Fiesta Bowl and national title game against
Penn State.


There was the Pell Grant scandal in 1990 and the outlaw image they
created and reveled in during that same decade. They talked trash,
ran up scores, and celebrated as if they were filming a rap video with
Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur. And that crotch grabbing thing after
touchdowns? Stay classy, Miami,  staaaaay classy.

Oh, sure. They won national championships with Johnson, Dennis
Erickson, and Larry Coker, while producing top-tier NFL talent.
But the way they did it wasn't exactly textbook or with a good image.
ESPN dedicated a 30/30 program and it was an embarrassment to the
University and the rest of the NCAA.

Now comes the Shapiro scandal and this won't be pretty for the University.
All the administrators are doing what most do best when the hammer is
about to come down: plead ignorance. What? No? We had noooo idea
this stuff was going on?  No, we didn't see the players driving Hummers
and Beamers with Mr. T starter kits dangling from their necks.

Everybody's going to play stupid at Miami, but the smart thing the NCAA
should do is shut down the program for a year. All those other messages
the NCAA sent to South Beach over the years apparently never got past
the Clevelander. Miami kept doing as they pleased, damn the rules an the
NCAA.

Once a dominant force in college football, Miami can't even control the
ACC anymore. The program didn't get back to an elite level with Randy
Shannon, and Al Golden isn't going to have a chance with Doomsday
just over the horizon.

Miami is not alone in bad behavior. North Carolina, USC, Tennessee,
Ohio State, Boise State and a few other programs are all dealing with
the old, "lack of institutional control" allegations. However, Miami has
been playing with the devil for a long, long time and the NCAA may
have had enough. With schools running out of control and seemingly
laughing in the face of the NCAA, the governing body of college sports
may feel that it's time to send a message to the rest of the country and
make an example out of "The U."


Some may defend Miami, saying college football needs the Hurricanes
like the NFL needed the Oakland Raiders when they were good. Nobody
really cares about the silver and black anymore, basically because they
aren't any good. Every good story needs a villain and Miami has filled
that role for many years.

But really, the program has gone downhill and it's not really a major player
in college football anymore. Major programs don't get their butt whipped
in The Sun Bowl by Notre Dame. And that never would've happened under
Johnson.

It is time for the NCAA to step up and make Miami an example. The
ogranization has been pussy-footing around for years with big programs
because they are cash cows for the NCAA. Forget about that. When
is all this garbage in college sports going to end? There has NEVER been
an off-season like this in college football. It will only get worse unless
they turn the lights out on "The U" for a year. This has to be done.
It's time to say good-bye to "The U".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FAT MAN COMETH: LESS THAN A MONTH TIL RACE DAY.

Three weeks into my Gorilla Fitness program, I hit the proverbial wall.
I've grown tired of salads, steamed vegetables, and endless gallons of
water laced with lemon. (Dr. Oz says the citrus is a good fat-burning
accelerant).

My long, lonely jogs have turned into battles between me and my knees.
Those days of catching in bullpens along Tobacco road and in the
Carolina League finally caught up with me. When my feet hit the pavement
with the grace of a Water Buffalo, it feels like 100 daggers are piercing
what's left of the cartilage around my patella.


As I cringe, my knees look up at me and scream, "Hey, lard ass.
When you were eating all those Krispy Kreme donuts, did you have to
eat the entire box?!" But I endure, even though my knees are whining and
running is my least favorite activity in life. My pace is somewhere between
Fred Sanford and Re-Run (hey, hey, hey!).

I'm pretty much resigned to the fact, that on September 11th, the
tournament organizers of the triathlon are going to "Motel 6" me. They
are definitely going to keep a light on for me as I try to complete a
13.1 mile run, which comes after a 56-mile bike ride, which comes
after a 1.2 mile swim.


I signed up for this brutal test of endurance because my weight had
gotten out of control. I needed a goal and something to help push
me away from the dinner table and toward a weight that didn't begin
with a 2 and a 5.

Through my Gorilla Fitness program and  strict diet, (wink,wink)
I've slimmed down to 238 lbs. I still find it hard to believe that I weighed
in at 208 just three years ago. Losing 30 more pounds seems as realistic
as Reuben Stoddard becoming a Chippendale.

There have been a couple of days where I had the "screw its", times
where I ignored my good conscious that was telling me to work out.
I even cheated on my diet once, ok, maybe twice. I helped a friend
move from her mansion in New Canaan to a regular-sized home
in Old Greenwich. I helped unpack the thousands of boxes littered
across her homestead. After I  worked non-stop for almost 8 hours,
I crashed on the couch and woke up famished at 3am. I definitely
could eat a cow.

I went to the refrigerator and really wasn't expecting much because,
after all, nobody has a stocked fridge when they just move in. I opened
the freezer and there it was, in all her glory. A box of "Skinny Cow" ice
cream cones. It was like finding two, $20 dollar bills in the pocket of
a pair of pants you haven't worn in awhile. My face must have looked
like Indiana Jones' after discovering the Holy Grail. I hit the jackpot.
A Skinny Cow for a hungry fat guy. As that beer commercial once
stated, "it doesn't get much better than this."


Guilt ridden and in need of a work out, I went for a 60-mile bike
ride the following day. It was only 85 degrees but the humidity was
close to 90 percent. I was sweating like Phil Mickelson on the final
day of a major. (No man-boob jokes, please)  Unlike my last
long-distance ride, I brought a lot of energy-boosters, including
fruit and GU, those mini-packets filled with some type of gel that taste
like Elmer's glue and chalk.

With four miles to go in my journey, I stopped off at a pizza place
to get a drink. God, that slice of pepperoni sure was enticing.
Hmmm. Discipline or instant gratification? I said yes to the latter
and ordered up what seemed like half the pie. I justified it by
saying that I had already burned about 5,000 calories and remembered
somebody had told me the metabolism rate keeps churning after
a long ride like that. And I basically said because I had endured
so much pain during the ride, I deserved to have some pleasure.

While sitting on a bench outside the pizzeria, a little man resembling
Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" got out of his large Mercedes
and walked by me with a quizzical look. He said, "Are you going
to eat that whole thing." Ever the wise-ass, I refrained from firing
off a suitable comeback. After all, I was in the midst of eating one
of the best slices of pizza's I had ever tasted.

26 days to race day. Am I ready? Not right now. But while time
is winding down, so is my weight, and that's a really good thing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

CARLOS ZAMBRANO: THE WORST PERSON IN SPORTS

Carlos Zambrano has one of the greatest jobs in the world. The history
of it. The Cubs pitcher makes $18 million dollars a year and he's only
asked to perform 30-35 times a season. He lives and works in one of
America's great cities, Chicago, Illinois. First class is the only way
he travels and he gets to stay in the best hotels in the world. He
never picks up his luggage, and to top it all off, Zambrano comes
to work to find his shoes shined every day. Man, that's a good life.
But man, Zambrano has to be the worst person in sports.


Zambrano, who was recently suspended by the Cubs for 30 days for
acting like a spolied two-year old after not getting the toy he wanted,
is starting to make Milton Bradley look like Tom Brady. He's starting
to make Casey Anthony look civil. The guy has turned into the human
volcano, threatening to erupt every time he has a bad outing, which
has become as common as Pac-Man Jones getting arrested.

The "Big Z", as he's been called, is the biggest spoiled child the
game has ever seen, and boy, haven't we seen a lot of them. Zambrano
throws a tantrum when he gets lit up like a christmas tree on the mound,
yells at teammates, and goes postal on umpires. Last year, when he
didn't like a call at a play at the plate, he got ejected and then tossed
the ball into the left-field bleachers. It was his best throw of the season.


In the last two years, Zambrano has been suspended twice, sent to
anger management, and dressed down every teammate not named
Starlin Castro. The "Big Z" was sent back to his dog house after
threatening to retire---again. After getting roughed up in his last
outing, Zambrano told clubhouse personnel he was retiring and
cleaned out his locker. His agent later said Zambrano was frustrated.
Too late and too bad, the Cubs suspended him

The Cubs truly hope that he does retire. They've paid him almost
$100 million dollars in his career and Zambrano can't be a leader,
good citizen, or even a good pitcher, for that matter. As Bill Parcells
once said, "You are what your record says you are." Zambrano has
won only more than 11 games once in the last 5 years. If you pay a
guy $18 million dollars a year, shouldn't you get a little more than
what rookie Dylan Gee gives the Mets?


Zambrano threatenening to retire is laughable. Nobody leaves that
kind of money on the table. Nobody. Zambrano is a disgrace to
himself, the Cubs, and everyone in baseball from the kid at the end
of the bench in Little Leaague, to Albert Pujols.

To make that kind of money and have a life that people can only dream
of having, and to act like a complete idiot, is a full-fledged disgrace.
Zambrano acts as if he's actually done something in his career. Oh, yeah,
he threw a no-hitter, but even AJ Burnett has done that and Dallas
Braden has thrown a perfect game. So the Big Z got lucky once
in his career.

Zambrano is just another athlete who's been poisoned by entitlement,
and as Tiger Woods once said, "normal rules don't apply" to Zambrano,
or so he thinks. I'll never understand why a person who can throw a
baseball 95-miles an hour feels he's entitled to act like a complete
and utter jerk.

Carlos Zambrano is bad for Chicago, bad for the Cubs, and a black-eye
for baseball.  He's almost certifiably nuts, loco, pyscho, or any other adjective
you can think of to describe a person who is a loose cannon. Commissioner
Bud Selig should order Zambrano into extensive re-hab and therapy.
The Big Z is a mountain of a man that's ready to erupt again. The next
incident might be one that leaves a black mark on the game for awhile.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

IMAGE MAKEOVERS: TIGER WOODS VS MICHAEL VICK

When the jail cell door slammed shut behind Michael Vick in 2007,
it put an exclamation point on the greatest fall from grace of any athlete
in the history of professional sports. No one had ever napalmed a
career, financial empire, and reputation like Michael Vick did.

Then came Tiger Woods.

When the most recognizable athlete in the world outside of Muhammad
Ali ran over that fire hydrant in an ambien-fueled haze three years ago, a
lot more than hundreds of gallons of water came out it. Sordid details
of Tiger's romps with porn stars, pin-ups, prostitutes, and just about
anything with a pulse, came spewing out. His squeaky-clean, family man
image was gone quicker than a shot of Jack Daniels in front of Lindsay
Lohan.

Woods and Vick fell from the highest of walls and broke apart in
far more pieces than Humpty Dumpty ever did. But we are a nation
that loves to forgive, hand out second chances, and become engrossed
in a great comeback story.

Despite their despicable acts, Woods and Vicks both got a chance
to put themselves back together. To this point, the Philadelphia Eagles
QB has done a much better job than Tiger in resurrecting his career
and re-habbing his image. Both of these incredibly talented athletes
had money, intellectual resources, and a good support systems at their
disposal, but it's been Vick who has made much better choices
and decisions than Woods.

ADVISERS
Vick's first move on his comeback trail was, perhaps, his most
important one. He called on Tony Dungy, the former NFL coach, to
be his adviser. Forget about coaches, Dungy is one of the most respected
and well-liked men in the history of professional sports. He is intelligent,
well-spoken, and a devout Christian. Dungy has endured and overcome
incredible hardships, like losing one of his children to suicide several years ago.
This move by Vick was universally praised throughout the country
and a sign that Vick was serious about atoning for his actions.


Woods was managed by IMG, the most powerful marketing and
representation agency in the world. They were responsible for making
Tiger a marketing machine and hundreds of millions of dollars, but crisis
management and image rehab are far from their expertise. For that,
they hired Ari Fliescher, the former press secretary of George Bush, who
is well-connected at IMG with super-agent Sandy Montag. Fleischer was
good at putting out fires within the Bush Administration, but he was clearly
out of his league when it came to sports, and out of touch when it came
to taking the pulse of a skeptical nation.

MEA CULPAS
Vick initially lied to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about his involvement
in a dog fighting ring and tried to rinse his hands of it. But once Vick got
out of prison, perhaps with the guidance of Dungy, he owned up to everything
and put the blame squarely on his shoulders. Vick didn't point fingers at
his posse, the one who was bilking his fortune and acting like thugs while
they rode his coat tails in Atlanta. Vick accepted responsibility for everything.

That was in sharp contrast to Woods' carefully orchestrated apology where
he came out from behind a blue curtain and read from neatly scripted notes,
and acted as if he had been coached by Fleischer for a presidential address.
What came out of Tiger's mouth reverberated around the country, leaving
viewers shaking their heads and shouting obscenities at their televisions.

When talking about his philandering, Woods said, he "felt entitled...normal
rules did not apply."  To paraphrase Forest Gump, I'm not a smart man,
but I do know what stone-cold arrogance looks like. That statement was one
of the dumbest I've ever heard from someone trying to gain forgiveness.
One thing our country can't stand is utter arrogance. Fleischer and his
"advisers" were soon no longer working for Tiger. I wonder why. How
that was allowed to pass the mustard test is beyond me.

TREATING OTHERS
Since getting out of sex re-hab, another bad decision by Team Tiger,
because it left himself open for more lampooning and criticism, El Tigre
didn't treat his "inner circle" very well. He left his long-time
swing coach, Hank Hanney, twisting in the wind, he cut ties with IMG,
and fired his caddy, Stevie Williams. Tiger had total disregard for
the people who supported and helped him along the way. Firing
many of his people, was in a way, blaming them, and for a guy who
people had come to  really despise, this was not helping his
image at all.

Michael Vick praised everyone once he got out of prison and signed
with the Eagles. He thanked the owners, coach, Tony Dungy, and all of
his teammates. Vick was especially thankful to then-QB Donovan
McNabb, who went to bat for Vick and encouraged management
to sign a player who would eventually take his job.

In his second year, when he took over for an injured Kevin Kolb,
Vick downplayed any thoughts of a controversy and said Kolb was
still the starting QB, which earned him big points in the locker room.
When Vick was in Atlanta, he'd be the last one to practice and the
first to leave. He did a 180 in Philadelphia, becoming the most
committed and dedicated member of the team.

There are people who will never forgive Michael Vick. We are
a nation of dog lovers and killing them was a reprehensible act.
Some owners treat their canines better than their kids. But Vick,
in his tough road to recovery has,  in many ways, become likable,
or at least more likable than Woods. He has clearly been humbled
by going to prison and losing everything.

But his career is back on track and even the endorsement contracts
are starting to return.  Nike, who abandoned Vick when he went
to prison, came back with a nice contract in hand. Vick is respected
by his teammates, opponents, and a majority of fans in Philadelphia
and around the NFL. Vick hasn't been perfect, but he and Dungy
carved out a solid game plan for his comeback and Mr. Electric has
followed it brilliantly.

Tiger Woods has become more unlikeable with every pink slip he
hands outs and every club he slams to the ground.  He remains defiant,
somewhat petulant, and unrepentant. Woods seems to be working a
snowball that just seems to be getting bigger with his bad decisions and
choices. For a guy who seemed to do everything right on his way to
mega-stardom, Woods has made an awfully lot of bad moves.

The only thing that needs more polish than Woods' swing, is his image.
Perhaps, it's like his mechanics with the club. It's going to get worse,
before it gets better. Woods has a long way to go in his image rehabilitation
and now might be a good time to consult with Vick on how to improve it.





Thursday, August 11, 2011

BRIAN BILL: A NAVY SEAL REMEMBERED

I never knew Brian Bill and unless you were a member of his family or went to school with
him, chances are you didn't know him, either. Bill was one of the 30 American troops killed
when the helicopter they  were traveling in, was shot down by the Taliban with a rocket-propelled
grenade in Afghanistan. The Stamford, CT. native was a Navy SEAL and just 31 years old.


When I saw his picture which was accompanied by a story about his funeral,  I couldn't help
but notice how young, happy, and vibrant he  looked. It was as if Bill knew the world was
his oyster and he could  accomplish anything he wanted to.

Bill accomplished a lot during his short life. He played soccer and hockey  at Trinity Catholic
High School in Stamford, home of the great Bobby Valentine. He earned a college degree and
went to military school. Bill also earned a commercial pilots license, spoke French fluently,
and was an accomplished mountaineer who climbed Mount Elbus in Russia

As a precocious teenager, Bill, according to his friends was hell-bent on serving his county.
And he did, with the same passion, commitment, and dedication  that he showed when he played hockey and soccer in high school.


Bill then became a Navy SEAL, perhaps the toughest and most respected soldiers in our military.
He earned three Bronze stars, among his many other decorations. Bill was a member of SEAL
Team 6, the unit responsible  responsible for hunting down and killing Osama Bin Laden. The
government doesn't release information on the specifics of who did whatfor SEAL Team 6 for security purposes, but after those SEAL's  turned the lights out on Bin Laden, they shined brightly 
in our country, didn't they?

Seemingly, every news organization was doing features on just how tough, brave, smart,
courageous, and physically fit these SEAL's are. Even though we didn't know exactly know
who they were or what dangerous  places they went into, the SEAL's became like cult heroes
in our country.

It's just sad and unfortunate that SEAL's only really get recognized when they die. Sounds
harsh, but its true. Nobody on the vaunted SEAL Team 6 was  honored for the bravery they
showed in taking down Bin  Laden. They never will, either, because of security purposes.


I sometimes get annoyed when sportscasters, analysts, and other journalists use all the
euphemisms and metaphors when describing teams and players. They say a team is "battle
tested" because it goes up against top 10 teams every week. Really? Try going on foreign
soil to battle a faceless enemy where every kid who walks up to you on the street could have explosives strapped to himself to kill you and your entire platoon. How's that for battle
tested?

I remember hearing Joe Buck calling Brett Favre a "warrior" because he got driven into the
turf by a 300lb lineman, then got up to throw a 50-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
Warrior? Brian Bill was a warrior. He parachuted behind enemy lines under the cover of only darkness  and battled against soldiers with bazookas and bayonets.

Ray Lewis has been described as so tough, he eats nails for breakfast. Bill was so tough, he
was trained to eat maggots, cockroaches, and just about anything that moved in the desert,
ocean, and snake-infested swamps to survive.

The eccentric reliever of the San Francisco Giants has been fawned over because he has
"the guts of a burglar".  How bout having the guts of a Navy SEAL like Brian Bill. Fighting
for your country and your life every single day.

And one of my favorites when teams face off in Game 7 of the playoffs or championship.
"There is no tomorrow", the broadcaster will say. In sports, there always is a tomorrow. Even
for guys like Bill Buckner and Jean Van de Velde.

There will be no tomorrow for Brian Bill, and that is really a sad, sad thing. People will soon
forget about Bill because unfortunately, that's how life works. We mourn and move on. But
people like Bill, who fought to help our country slow down terrorism, while experiencing a
great amount of terror himself, should never be forgotten.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DALLAS COWBOYS OF '70's: AMERICA'S TEAM OF GREAT NAMES

When I was growing up in the late 1970's, the Dallas Cowboys were truly
America's Team. Everything about them seemed to be really cool. The
uniforms, the star on the helmets, even that giant opening in the roof of
Texas Stadium was unique. Tom Landry created the "Flex-Defense"
and the offensive lineman used to do that up-and-down shift before the
ball was snapped. I wasn't a fan of the Cowboys, but they did seem,
in many ways, to be bigger than life, especially for a 12-year old kid.


Before cable came along the Cowboys seemed to be on national television
every week. For some reason, it felt like they were always playing the Steelers,
Redskins, or Giants. I'd tune in every Sunday at 4pm EST, to hear
the legendary voice of Pat Summerall call the games. He was joined by
his long-time sidekick, Tom Brookshier. Both of them seemed to have
about three gin and tonics before kick-off.


If Bob Sheppard had the voice of God, then Summerall possessed
the pipes of Moses. There was no better play-by-play man in the country
than Summerall, and that voice helped make for great theatre.
And when he was calling Cowboys games in the late 70's, there wasn't
a team that had a better collection of names than America's Team. That
voice and those names, made every Sunday seem like the Super Bowl.

It seemed like their names were created by a Hollywood producer,
who's job was to come up with unique, memorable names. Heck,
even the Cowboys General Manager had a great name. Is there
a better name for the architect of the Cowboys than Tex Schramm?


Then there was Golden Richards, a speedy-receiver with long-flowing
blonde hair, who always seemed to be on the other end of a brilliant
pass from Roger "the dodger" Staubach. The offensive unit also had
Billy Joe Dupree, Robert Newhouse, Preston Pearson, Tony Dorsett,
Rayfield Wright, Butch Johnson, and Tom Rafferty. "Bullet" Bob
Hayes and Lance Alworth came before Richards and Pearson, but they
had the great names to go along with the talent that earned them a spot in
the Cowboys Ring-of-Honor, which was also cool and unique to every team
 in the NFL.


The best of the best names on the Cowboys came on the defensive
unit. How bout Dexter Clinkscale? Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy "the
Manster" White, Everson Walls, Harvey Martin, Jethro Pugh. Jethro?
There hasn't been a great Jethro before or since Mr. Pugh. Lee Roy
Jordan, Bob Lilly, Bob Breunig. Love it.

The Cowboys have had some great names since, like Nate Newton,
and DeMarcus Ware, but there has never been a collection of great
names like there were on  America's Team of the late 1970's.

If you have any great names you'd like to mention, go for it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

UNWRITTEN RULES: DO THEY MEAN ANYTHING IN LIFE AND SPORTS?

I've heard a lot about "unwritten rules", lately. After watching Stevie
Williams go all gangsta on Tiger Woods during an interview after
which the player he was carrying a bag for actually won the tournament
and not himself, a friend of mine said Williams broke the caddy
code of: show up, keep up, and shut up.


Ten days ago, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers was
working on a no-hitter in the eighth inning when Erick Aybar of
the Angels tried to bunt his way on and break up the no-no.
Verlander was charged with an error on the play, but he also charged
Aybar with smashing the unwritten rule that you don't bunt to try to
torch a no-hitter. Verlander also shouted something about
splitting Aybar's ribs with a 100-mph heater the next time
he got to the plate.


What's up with all these "unwritten rules" and does anybody
ever do anything about them when they are broken? Is it really
any different than our society today? There are "unwritten rules"
that say you shouldn't lie about your co-worker, throw them under
the bus, and try to ruin them, but it happens all the time in the work
force, doesn't it? Some people feel that if they don't actually break
company rules but shatter the "unwritten" ones, then they'll take
their chances of being called a dirtbag, just as long as they come
out on top or get that promotion or extension of the contract. The
unwritten rules say it's "dog eat dog world",  right?

To a lot of people in the sports world, what Stevie Williams
and Erick Aybar did was "bush league" or classless. Williams,
who never sank a  white-knuckle, knee-knocking putt for 1.5
million dollars, sure took a lot of joy out of ripping Tiger Woods,
a guy who made him rich and famous, all for carrying a 50 pound
bag and saying, "you da man" over and over again.

But hey, that's  what our society rewards these days. Talk smack
about someone and you'll be the lead on SportsCenter or get
plastered on the front and back page of "The New York Post."
To heck with the unwritten rules, Williams believed that if he
wasn't violating the statutes of the PGA Tour, then he should
get a slice of the spotlight. A caddy getting interviewed after
his boss won a tournament? Hilarious.


Aybar could care less about the "unwritten rule" of bunting to
break up a no-hitter. If he could fool everyone and get his base
hit to raise his batting average, then screw etiquette and Verlander.
If he didn't face a fine or suspension, then throw caution to the
wind, even if your teammates hated you for it by putting them
in jeopardy of getting drilled in the head for retaliation.


Breaking the "unwritten rules" is just a microcosm of what our
society has become. Get what you can get, to hell with the
unwritten rules and acting with some class and dignity. Life
has become one big money and attention grab. If I get mine,
then the heck with everyone else.  Bernie Madoff believed that
for years. He thought nothing of destroying the lives of others,
until he got caught and had to pay the price. Until others have
to pay the price, we'll keep seeing this type of behavior from
athletes over and over again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

THE DAY I MET DR. HEIMLICH'S MANEUVER

August 9, 2001. It's not a birthday, holiday, or lord knows, the
date of my wedding. 10 years ago, I nearly choked
to death. At work. On a grapefruit. In my office. It could've been
one of the worst ways of saying good-bye to life on this planet.

I sometimes wondered what the headline would've been the
following day. "Sports Anchor dies after choking on a Ruby Red"
might've worked. "Anchor gets all choked up, News at 11" is
kind of catchy. But catastrophe and all the announcements were
avoided thanks to the quick actions of my co-anchor.

I had been working at Fox Sports Net in Atlanta where we
not only produced shows for the South, but also for Arizona,
as well. Yes, it's crazy and I don't have enough space in this
blog to accurately explain it. The duel regions meant the anchors
would have to do four shows a day at 6:30, 8:30, 11:00, and 1 AM.

Yes, it was slave labor, but I loved it. The challenge of doing
four shows alternating between Atlanta and Arizona was an
adrenaline-fueled rush that I became addicted to despite working
15 hour days. It wasn't for everybody.

In between shows, we really didn't have much time to eat, so
I went to the break room to get my grapefruit from the refrigerator.
This was a super-sized Ruby Red sucker, that was a meal in
itself. I was peeling it like an Orange and eating it like one. Now,
those who have seen me chow down, know that I don't just
eat food, I inhale it. It's a bad habit that I picked up while
working in smaller markets where sports anchors had to do
everything themselves and eating on run was standard if
you wanted to make deadlines.

On this evening, I was eating on the run because I had
to write and anchor four, 30-minute shows. We did have
a few producers, but they could never break away from
their fantasy drafts long enough to be of much help
crafting the show.

As I walked from the break room to the studio at a quick
pace, I was peeling and eating, peeling and eating. Man, that
Ruby Red grapefruit was pure, a perfect blend of sweet and
sour that produced a natural high. However, as I got halfway
through the studio, I noticed something wasn't right. That
gi-normous slice of grapefruit wasn't making it down the
trap door.

Panic started to set in as I went through a door back to
my office. An intern, whom I had never seen before, raised
his hand and said, "Hi". The guy wanted to exchange pleasantries
as my face was turning purple while gurgling sounds were
emitting from my throat? Really? I later found out the intern
was asking, "Heimlich". My memory might be good, but my
hearing sucks.


I was wondering if this was really the way I was going
to die. Choking on a grapefruit? At my job? Why couldn't I be at
Ruth's Chris steakhouse tearing into a big side of beef and
choking on that instead? A grapefruit? That's not a good ending.

As I turned into my office, I pointed to my stomach and
made some kind of primal grunting sound, kind of like
the noise a Gorilla in the mist makes after discovering
someone swiped his bananas. Matt Morrison, who was
writing his show, promptly got up, went behind me and
did the Heimlich maneuver.


Morrison, who is a salt-of-the earth kind of guy, reacted as if
he had done this many times before. Calm, cool, and on a
mission to get that thing out of my throat.

With what seemed like a giant bear hug, Morrison knocked
the wind out of me, and out came the slice of grapefruit.
Pam Oliver, the sideline anchor for Fox Sports, was working
on a report at her desk with her back to us, oblivious to
what was going on.

Needless to say, Oliver was quite stunned when the projectile
went over her shoulder and onto her desk. Oliver is a smart, sweet,
beautiful woman, but if you cross her, she'll kick your ass up and
down Main Street. I don't think she was happy with what was
now a slime-like amoeba resting on her desk. She rolled back
from her desk and blurted out, "what the.....?"


After disaster was avoided and I got my breath back, which was
followed by an apology to Oliver, Morrison and I high-fived and
quickly got back to writing our show. With a new show at the top
of the hour, we acted as if nothing happened. However, my heart
rate told me that I had almost checked out at the age of 37. Choking
on a grapefruit. At work. In my office.

As we we're sitting on the set as the show opened, I deviated from
the script by saying, "I'm Paul Devlin, and this is Matt Morrison, the
man who saved my life." The viewers had no clue what was going
on but everyone in that studio certainly did.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

GAME ON! STEVIE TAKES A SHOT AT TIGER.

He punctuated victory with his fist frozen in air, his bicep
bulging like a bodybuilder striking a pose. He flashed a mile-wide
grin filled with shiny white chicklets, a signal to his sponsors
that the money they dropped into his back account was a good
investment.

The magic was there too, with long, treacherous putts
seemingly pulled into the hole by a magnet . Even the caddie was
the same, the hulking New Zealander looking over his masters
shoulder, giving a read on an important putt.

The only problem was, this wasn't Tiger Woods, but Adam
Scott, who rinsed away Tiger's Sunday red, with his powerful
black, the new color of money and part of a wardrobe signifying
dominance.


Scott's four shot victory over the field in the WGC-Bridgestone
invitational was as a complete as the one's Tiger used to author
on this very same course

And while Scott was basking in his glory, a surreal scene was
playing out as Steve Williams, Tiger's long-time caddie who got
the pink slip just a short time ago, was being serenaded by the
fans with chants of "Stev-ie, Stev-ie".

Williams even got interviewed by CBS after the round. Are you
kidding me? When was the last time a caddy ever got interviewed
after his pro won a tournament? When you get dusted by Tiger
after 12 years and 67 wins, America wants to know what you're thinking
and what you're going to say.

Williams said "it was the best victory he's ever had in 33 years of caddying."
Yes, better than all those majors with Tiger and all those millions that
Tiger made for him. This was just a great shot at Tiger, no if's, ands
or butt's. A scorned caddy taking a big swipe at the man who made
him rich and famous.

Golf  NEEDS this. The PGA NEEDS drama. If America is going
to tune into some ridiculous "Jersey Shore" and "Housewives,
wherever" episode, then this should pull some new viewers in.
The PGA Tour needs drama because up until this weekend, it's been
a giant snooze fest.

I can't wait to see Tiger, Stevie, and Scott in the same pairing.
How awesome will that be? Tight-shots of Stevie celebrating
ever so slightly after Tiger misses a big putt. Tiger giving Stevie
the death stare as he walks in his line on the green. Scott just
laughing. The PGA Tour's new slogan should be changed from,
"these guys are good", to "these guys are going to go at it."

During his big interview, Williams took the time to say Tiger
fired him over the phone, which, if the case, would be the most
gutless move since former Reds GM Jim Bowden called then
manager Tony Perez in his hotel room after 44 games and fired
him. A player of Perez' stature getting the classless treatment
like that? Brutal.

Anyway, Tiger's agent, the same one who told him to come
out from the ridiculous blue curtain and apologize to the country
(his sponsors), got on his blackberry and said that Tiger did
fire him face to face and that Williams just couldn't handle this.

This is great stuff. The PGA Tour has a pulse again. Stevie,
and Tiger's agent now arguing like some 7th grade school girls
in the cafeteria about whose Facebook page is better. CBS better
start hyping these guys and their dislike for each other like
HBO does its 24/7 with its boxers. Bring it on.

And by the way, Tiger, what's that saying about Karma?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A-ROD: A MAGNET FOR DRAMA

Has there ever been a player in the last 30 years who has
created as much drama as Alex Rodriquez? Dennis Rodman was
controversial but his tattooed, body-pierced, wedding dress act
played out for about eight good years. Shawn Kemp was either
coked up or producing kids at a record rate, each with a different
woman.

But neither the Worm nor the Human Sperm Cell could
hold a candle to A-Rod. He's the ultimate drama queen, the magnet
who draws controversy like Tiger Woods collected porn stars

The Yankees 3-time MVP now has to answer questions from MLB
about his involvement in a high-stakes, underground poker game.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes because it's just a card
game, but MLB takes gambling very seriously. Oh, sure, they turned
their heads  and looked the other way when players were pumping
fraud into their bodies during the steroid era, but A-Rod in a card game?


MLB has no choice but to investigate A-Rod's role in it because a
high-stakes card game brings more than just big money and celebrities
to the table. Seedy characters have a way of hanging on to players like
A-Rod, and MLB doesn't want them anywhere near the game for
obvious reasons.

I'm sure MLB has had just about all it can take from the highest-paid
player in the game. They don't like seeing A-Rod on the front/back page of
the New York Post for things other than hitting home runs. And they
certainly have. Since arriving in the Big Apple in 2004, A-Rod has been
one big vacuum that sucks in controversy.  Here's the list just from
his career with the Yankees.

Photographed with a stripper going into his hotel in Toronto.
Dated Madonna.
Divorced his wife.
Got a facial from Jason Varitek.
Slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove like..like nobody else.
Lied to Katie Couric during an interview on "60 Minutes".
Identified as a steroid cheat on MLB's list of 103 players who failed a test.
Accused of giving signs to friends on opposing teams during games.
Photographed for a magazine kissing himself in the mirror.
Linked to steroid-guru Dr. Galea.
Admitted he's not best friends with Derek Jeter and no longer has sleepovers.
Captured being fed popcorn by Cameron Diaz on national television
during Super Bowl (Most guys wouldn't have a problem with that,
but because it was A-Rod, the critics pounced)


You can't make this stuff up. I'm sure I omitted a few other things
where was A-Rod front and center, but you get the drift. Where there
is A-Rod, there is usually controversy.

How did A-Rod acquire this ability to attract all this attention, most
of it negative? First of all, he was probably doing some of the same dumb
things in Seattle and Texas where they were either buried under the rug
or just ignored. As we know, New York City has the biggest and most
powerful microscope in the world. Nothing is missed, nothing is ignored.
And the New York media has a way of sensationalizing things, don't they.

In some egotistical way, one has to believe A-Rod enjoys the attention
whether its good or bad. A-Rod used to be so protective and obsessed
with his image that he used to ask reporters what people thought of him.
After his first few years with the Yankees, he discovered that a lot of
people didn't like him and he couldn't control what they thought. But
just as long as they were talking about him and he was on the pages
of the New York Post, he was happy.


People who want to stay out of controversy, usually do. People who
want to dip their toes in it, usually drown in it, especially
when they feel they are bulletproof or untouchable.

A-Rod has so much money, power, and fame, he has gotten to the
point where he could care less about rules, card games, or whether
or not people think he's a steroid cheat and all his numbers are tainted.

Is it just plain arrogance and/or ignorance? Yes, there's a good chance
that it's both. A-Rod will get a slap on the wrist from MLB and told
to quit playing high-stakes poker. But that will be about it.

At one time, A-Rod was considered to be the best player in the game
and one of the best of all-time. But we don't really think much of that
anymore. With his body breaking down at an alarming rate, breaking
the all-time  home run record seems out of reach for A-Rod. Trouble
is the Yankees are still on the hook for another seven years with A-Rod.
Seven more years. That sure is a heck of a lot of time for more drama,
don't you think?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

FROM FAT TO FIT: GORILLA STYLE

August 3, 2011. 39 days until The Toughman Half-Ironman triathlon.
Fat man triathlon would be more up my alley. The application for the
event required that I mark down my weight. Anything over 210 lbs is
called a Clydesdale. Over 240 should be categorized as a Hippo. I'm
over 240.

After just three weeks of training, I've shaved five pounds off my
6'3" frame. I'm down to 241. Am I ready to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56,
and run 13.1 on September 11th.? Was Tiger Woods a good family man?

I've stepped up my training program. It's called "Gorilla Fitness", which
means going as far as you can, for as long as you can, for as fast as you can.
Now, anybody who saw me run during my illustrious baseball career,
can tell you I never got anywhere quickly. My speed was somewhere
between a tortoise and a tortoise's grand ma-ma.  But I have great endurance.
However, I'm still 25 pounds overweight, which has forced me to train
incognito. The embarrassment of a double-chin flopping from side-to-side
as I ran was simply too much to bear.


The bag over the head works, and I actually look a little younger, if
not thinner. The brown bag has a good slimming effect. I didn't think I
was getting hefty. Perhaps,somebody traded out the mirrors in my bathrooms
for the ones at the carnival  that make overweight people look skinny.

My goal is to get down to 225  and just finish this half-ironman triathlon
on September 11th. I've been  gradually increasing the mileage during
my daily, or in reality, weekly runs. The course near the Hudson River in
Croton is expected to be hilly, so I've been doing a lot of hills with  plyometrics
and calisthenics mixed in. This will help me during transitions and burn more fat cells.



This past Saturday, I seriously miscalculated my "Gorilla Fitness" program
and it cost me two days of much-needed training. It was around 4:30pm
when I got home from work. I needed to bike, but in all honesty, I just
wanted to scarf down about three Klondike bars and lay on the couch
and watch television until it was time to eat again.

Instead, I motivated myself to go on a long ride. I left at 5:00pm and felt
there were about 3 1/2 hours of riding time left in the day. My  first mistake
was not packing a lot of food, or any food to be honest with. On a ride
that long, I'd burn a  billion calories and need to replenish the  electrolytes
and all those other things Dr. Oz says we need  to function properly.
Without proper nutrition, I malfunctioned.

Long story short, I was dehydrated after my 46-mile ride. During the
last eight miles of my journey, when it was dark and I was out of water,
I thought of James Franco's character in "127 hours". He was that hiker
who got his arm caught between a rock and a hard place and eventually
he had to cut it  off.

He also drank his own urine. I certainly wasn't going to do that, but I 
was motivated to finish my ride without passing out or hallucinating. I
made it home through the cover of darkness. But I was cooked from the
sun, exhausted from the ride, and ridiculously hungry because I didn't
have anything to eat during the entire trip. Not exactly brilliant.


Sapped of my energy, malnourished, and dehydrated, I couldn't move
for two days. It felt like somebody had drilled a vacuum into my back and
sucked out my kidneys. I jumped, or at least I thought I jumped out my
bed the following morning,  convinced that I had  lost 10 lbs from the
ride and dehydration. Christ, I got on the scale and I had gained a pound.

What is up with that? Two  things I'm starting to understand. One, it's a
lot harder to drop weight at  47 than it is at 37. Two, I cannot recover
like I used to. Where is Brian McNamee and Miquel Tejada when you need
them? I think I need a few shots of B-12.

Next week I have just one goal in mind: get under 240lbs. Damn, I read that
and realize, that's a lot of weight.