Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Life is just a Fantasy..."

It's not just a cheesy rock anthem/music video from a Canadian one-hit wonder in 1982. It's a mantra.

Just when you think your double-edged candle has run out of wax. When you're fighting off jet lag, the flu, and your manic kids, you are allowed one day of complete fantasy.

And while my fantasy of white sand beaches, Salma Hayek, and Patron popsicles might be on hold for the time being, my fantasy football team offered me one day of unadulterated bliss.

Read it and weep. Single Coverage just cleaned your clock and set a league record. I can't believe Heath Miller and Larry Fitzgerald didn't join the party and bring it to the house. That's OK, the Jets defense had me covered from all angles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Last Week on a Very Special Curb Your Enthusiasm


Two weeks after Larry David made cancer the centerpiece of an episode of his HBO comedy, he has slaughtered another sacred cow: Physical disability.

Insensitivity has never been so hilarious. Did Larry actually two-time Denise Handicap with Wendy Wheelchair? There’s no way Larry would get busted when they both wound up at the same classical music recital, right? And there’s no way Larry would run up the stairs to flee from disaster…with Rosie O’Donnell chasing him. Crazy you say. Too over the top. Genius.

Especially since Larry is enjoying the benefits that accompanying a paraplegic brings – better parking, favorable treatment, and his friends look at him differently.

But the key added ingredient is Larry’s extended houseguest Leon (J.B. Smoove).

While Larry’s best friend/manager Jeff appeases him, and Richard Lewis and Ted Danson do nothing but argue with him, Leon enables him. Leon tells Larry he’s gotta “Bring the ruckus to that ass.” That he’d “Twist that ass up like a pretzel.”

And after Susie throws Larry’s Blackberry into the Pacific, Leon is there for Larry to help him try and find Denise’s house since Larry had only known her as his phone entry “Denise Handicap.” Leon says it's OK, he's got "Susie Big Tits" in his phone. Larry can do no wrong with Leon, he can even call him “brother,” which amuses Larry to no end.

While the Seinfeld “reunion” arc continues next week, it is these stand-alone episodes that make the show what it is. Pretty, pretty, pretty…intristing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Please come to Boston for the Fall Time

"Hey ramblin' boy, why don't you settle down, Boston ain't your kind of town" -Dave Loggins
Despite snowflakes falling outside my hotel window Friday morning, it was a pretty good stay in New England.

I was actually just outside the hub in Chestnut Hill, and my weekend was all work, so I couldn’t attend the Head of the Charles Regatta or frolic in the fall foliage.

But the performance of BC’s Montel Harris (264 yards, 5 TD) against NC State notwithstanding, there were still plenty of significant events.

I met Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson and his wife in an elevator in Newton, Massachusetts. Now that’s odd. The Heller School at Brandeis for Social Policy and Management was celebrating its 50th year, and that is where Mr. Mayor got his doctorate. I asked when they’d be flying home. They said they’re driving. So no fiscal shenanigans from Mr. & Mrs. HizzHonor.

Cheering on the Yankees to a pair of wins over the Angels in crowded Boston establishments like Legal Sea Foods always goes over well. A scenic shot of a desolate, empty Yawkey Way during our broadcast which elicited a line from our play-by-play man, “You know your producer is a Yankee fan when…”

I had to interrupt my own production meeting because the reggae music from the hotel bar was so good. What house band plays a deep album track like Sublime’s “Pawn Shop?” I later met the musicians and told them they were great.

Even something as mundane as making out my fantasy football roster had an amusing aside. Joe Flacco is my QB, but I was a little nervous about starting him at Minnesota this weekend. Tony Romo is my other QB, and he’s on his bye week. So I scoured the Free Agent list for another starting option.

Brian Griese? He would have been a poor choice, not just because he’s unaffiliated, not because he can’t get it done anymore. But because he’s with the good guys now. I just spent the weekend with him and I doubt he will be trading in a headset for a helmet any time soon.

Just as well - Flacco threw for 385 and 2 TD.

Life is funny. I guess that’s why you have to write stuff down.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This weblog was written before Mark Sanchez's public self-immolation, and comments regarding such will be ignored.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Watching My Yankees Old School

It's rare in a life with kids and flights and work and general responsibilities, that I ever get to plant myself and watch an important Yankee playoff game from start to finish.

But I had a block of time and I dusted off my Bob Carpenter's Scorebook and decided to keep score. It's something I had done hundreds of times in my youth, and occasionally as a professional, but I did it tonight for fun and to take me inside the game.

After an 11-Inning thriller over the Twins, this becomes part of the archives of baseball history. Well at least my baseball history. I have a couple of framed scorecards in my office, that are mounted with my World Series ticket and New York newspaper headline.

Like when I watched Jim Leyritz tag Mark Wohlers in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series. Leyritz had replaced Joe Girardi at catcher, who had been 0-2. Rookie-of-the-Year Derek Jeter was 2-4 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored. I had FOX seats so I sat next to Jerry Glanville, but that's a story for another time.

The scorecard is a historical document. With a good scorecard you can reconstruct any baseball game, and thumb through the pages of history. The previous entry in my third BC Scorebook was from June 11, 2006. Oregon State defeated Stanford 15-0 in Super Regional Game 2 in Corvallis en route to the CWS and the first of two NCAA Championships. Catcher Mitch Canham drove in 5 runs and Pitcher Jonah Nickerson cruised.

So what was the inside dope on just another Yankee walk-off Home Run in the bottom of the 11th?

1) Joe Girardi is still manging very tightly.

Especially his handling of the bullpen. Joe, why on earth do you need 8 pitchers to get through 11 innings? He shouldn't have pulled Joba Chamberlain after getting only 2 outs in the 7th. He shouldn't have pulled Alfredo Aceves after a scoreless 10th. They weren't prepared to fight this out until the 15 or 16th inning. I was wondering at what point Game 1 winner CC Sabathia was going to start warming up.

2) The Yankees were very lucky in this game.

The Twins left 17 men on base, including at least one in all 11 innings. AJ Burnett walked 5 and hit 2 batters in a very erratic 6 innings. But he only gave up one run. The Twins made a brutal baserunning error in the 4th, costing them a run. And Joe Nathan was 3-0 to A-Rod in the 9th, but tried to get him out. Not too effective. It got A-Rod a curtain call and a seat in first class.

3) When the game is on the line, you want Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees' MVP had the leadoff single in the 9th, setting the stage for A-Rod's game-tying HR. Then he made two very strong defensive plays in the top of the 11th to help a very green David Robertson out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam. Then there was this:

And that was that. Close the book on that one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Good Riddance, Homer Dome

Yes the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome will continue to be an eyesore amid the Minneapolis skyline, but fortunately later today it may host its last Major League Baseball game ever.

I'm not just rooting for the Tigers because the Twins are the hotter team, and thus a tougher opponent for the Yankees, but because The Metrodome is an atrocious baseball stadium.

It was a state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility when it opened in 1982, but let's face it - it was never really meant for baseball. And the Twins themselves were always second-class citizens there in their home stadium.

Just yesterday, with a rare jewel of a baseball game - a 1-game Divisional Tiebreak (they only come around so often) against the Detroit Tigers on tap, the Twins were forced to move the game to Tuesday because the Favre/Vikings had a Monday night game.

I was actually witness to this type of mess on October 2, 2004. I was the producer for Penn State - Minnesota at the Dome. It was a 7 PM CT start. The fact that Minnesota won 16-7 to run their record to 5-0 was beside the point. Read: Multi-purpose facility.

Earlier that same day, the Twins, who had secured a playoff spot, were fighting for home-field advantage in the final regular season weekend versus the Cleveland Indians. The game started at 11 AM CT to accommodate the Gopher football game later that same day. But after 11 Innings and a 5-5 score, the game was suspended so that Metrodome personnel could ready the field for football. Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire was irate.

"We're in the middle of a mess now...We don't need a stadium? C'mon."

The Twins wound up winning in the bottom of the 12th, on Sunday.

The way the Twins have been treated by their landlord is only part of the story. While the building has hosted two World Series Championships, it is still a joke as a baseball venue.

There's that ridiculous baggie in right field covering up the folded up extra football seats.

The air conditioning system can be manipulated to create more/less intense wind currents to help/hurt the team that's batting.

And we've seen countless quality Major League outfielders lose the ball up against the Dome roof, which of course is the same color as the baseball.

Next year, the Twins will finally move to their own stadium, and I look forward to my first trip to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis - where the home team will really be the home team.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Before they go anywhere, the Jets need to Fix Six

Here's the Mark Sanchez/Jets timeline

1) The Jets trade 5 players, including 2 defensive starters for the rights to a 1-year Major College QB.

2) Mark Sanchez captures the hearts of the die-hard Jet fans and his veteran teammates while seizing the starting job in camp.

3) Sanchez is praised for his poise and presence as the Jets take off to a 3-0 start.

But there were red flags along the way. Sanchez threw the ball up for grabs too many times, though he was rarely punished by opposing defenses. He also carried the ball recklessly, both in the pocket and on the run. And again, he mostly had gotten away with it.

Yesterday in New Orleans, it all caught up to our Golden Boy. Four turnovers, two of which led directly to Saints TDs. And it's a shame because the defense shut down Drew Brees and the League's #1 offense in a 24-10 loss.

Nobody wants to take away Sanchez's bravado, but he needs to make better decisions. This week his decisions cost the Jets on the road against a tough opponent. If he doesn't straighten out his act soon, it will cost the Jets in a game they're supposed to win. And then it will cost them playoff seeding.

And then he may wind up having to watch and learn from the bench.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ramp Up Your Enthusiasm

It is Season 7 of Larry David's ground-breaking comedy, but unlike other shows which traditionally jump the shark at this point, Curb Your Enthusiasm is still getting better.

Forget for a moment that Larry David and HBO hoodwinked NBC out of a Seinfeld reunion, which begins its story arc this Sunday. Forget we're going to see Jerry Seinfeld act (not Jerry Seinfeld's act) for the first time in years. Forget we'll see the possible redemption of iconic comedy actor Michael Richards.

This would still be Curb Your Enthusiasm's best season ever, and we're only two episodes in. CAUTION - SPOILERS.

First, Larry's quest to break it off with Loretta while she's undergoing cancer treatment has been brilliant. And just because Loretta just left Larry, taking her kids and Auntie Rae with her, doesn't mean "LD" has seen the last of her.

Especially since Larry's real soulmate Leon (Loretta's brother) isn't going anywhere. Leon said they were Leggos (interlocked). Leon will surely be goading Larry into confrontations, to "get up in that ass" for some time.

Meanwhile, Larry's best friend/manager Jeff Green, who we always knew was a sex fiend, has gone beyond the bounds of the conventional comedy. Two weeks ago he bedded Marty Funkhauser's sister, who was a mental patient. Larry was traumatized by the cries of "Fuck me fat boy!" while he was in the house.

Then last week, Jeff's intolerable wife Susie went down on him in the car on the way to party, causing a wreck that Larry happened upon.

But the best individual exchange, what the show is all about really, was when Larry broke a pair of glasses while hugging his former next-door neighbor in the cancer doctor's waiting room.

It wasn't just typical of what happens regularly to our protagonist, but was able to weave in money, insensitivity, guilt, shame, disgust and cancer.

Conventional wisdom is that George Costanza channeled Larry David on Seinfeld. I really think Larry's character is a mix of Jerry and George, the unwitting and the unscrupulous, the shlameel and the shlamazel.