At this time it is our pleasure to bring to the stage, to sing a duet of Frank Sinatra’s popular hit That’s Life, Grammy award winning artist Michael Buble and the winner of America’s Got Talent, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.
To present our next award, The Manofesto is deeply honored to introduce three members of America’s greatest sports dynasty, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Please welcome NFL Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, and Lynn Swann. And the nominees are:
Biggest Sports Story
Dominance of the Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers went almost exactly a calendar year without losing a game. After squeaking into the playoffs last season as a wildcard team who had a plethora of players out with injuries, they ran roughshod through the field and won The Super Bowl. Then The Pack looked unbeatable and in fact were through 13 weeks of the 2011 season, easily vanquishing their opponents while quarterback Aaron Rodgers made Cheeseheads forget all about that Favre fellow. They had an inexplicable hiccup against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs just a few weeks ago, but still look like the odds on favorite to repeat as champs.
NFL & NBA Lockouts
To most fans these occasional spitting contests between owners of professional sports teams and their players is an annoying battle of billionaires vs. millionaires. However, regardless of the financial legalities involved, at the end of the day Joe Sixpack just wants to be able to sit around in his underwear, drink a few beverages, and cheer on his favorite team. The NFL Lockout had been foreseen for upwards of 2 or 3 years, and it ended up lasting nearly 5 months before being resolved in July, with the only casualty being the annual preseason Hall of Fame Game. The rest of the preseason and regular season were unaffected. I have no idea who is considered to have won or lost the battle…I was just thrilled when pro football was back on my television. Unlike their football brethren, the NBA did lose part of their season, with the first 6 weeks being cancelled and the regular season being shortened from 82 to 66 games. Again I don’t really know who is believed to have won or lost, and I don’t care. I wasn’t anywhere near as invested in basketball’s drama as I was the football story, but I guess it’s nice that they resolved the issue and are playing. Now I can go back to ignoring the NBA as usual until the playoffs begin.
Japan Wins Womens’ World Cup
I couldn’t possibly care less about soccer, but it is the world’s most popular sport and The World Cup is its crowning achievement. Like most Americans I was rooting for the U.S. team, but since the tournament took place mere weeks after Japan was devastated by a horrific earthquake & tsunami their gals were the sentimental favorites amongst most of the Earth’s soccer loving population.
Penn St. Sexual Abuse Scandal
Joe Paterno served 46 years as the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions and is the all-time winningest coach in major college football with 409 victories. The chorus calling for his ouster had started to become louder in the past decade, mostly due to his advanced age and the fact that he hadn’t sniffed the national title picture since The Clinton Administration. However, few really thought he’d ever be fired, and absolutely no one on the planet could have predicted the circumstances of his demise. Back in November former Penn St. defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested for allegedly molesting numerous young boys, some of them on the school’s campus. Then news broke that another assistant coach had witnessed an incident in 2002 and reported it to Paterno, who had then reported it to the athletic director. Apparently no one called law enforcement. After the dust settled Paterno as well as the AD and the school’s President were fired. It was a sad & shocking end to a legendary career.
I’m not sure Tebow is as much a football player as he is a folk hero. Few thought his unique skill set would translate to a successful NFL career, and that presumption has been right…and wrong. Mostly due to financial considerations, the demands of a vocal fan base & the complicit media, and the fact that the Denver Broncos just aren’t a very good team, Tebow ascended to the top of the quarterback depth chart in 2011. Despite the fact that he couldn’t hit water if he was throwing from a dinghy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and looked like the worst QB in the history of football for 55 minutes of almost every game, he somehow lead the Broncos to a stretch of 7 wins in 8 games, with several of those victories due to late game heroics. Off the field Tebow is an unabashed born again Christian who does not run from his faith, a fact which endears him to some and offends others greatly. This mix of popularity, controversial religious zeal, and questionable ability have combined to make Tim Tebow a favorite topic of discussion on every conceivable sports program, especially ESPN’s First Take, where master debater & cunning linguist Skip Bayless practically drops to his knees and fellatiates him on a daily basis.
Ohio St. Scandal/Jim Tressel Firing
With his stoic manner and austere sweater vest Jim Tressel seems more like a professor than a football coach. But numbers don’t lie, and in a career spanning nearly 25 years Tressel won 75% of his games, 6 Big Ten Titles, and 5 national championships. Unfortunately in 2011 he got caught up in the arrogant culture of cheating that has sadly come to define big time collegiate athletics at institutions like Ohio State. A group of Buckeye players were found to have traded memorabilia in exchange for free tattoos at a Columbus shop. The NCAA tends to frown on such things, and they really get upset when it is discovered that the head coach had known about the whole thing and covered it up. Tressel decided to resign and the players involved were suspended for much of the 2011 season. The Buckeyes are now on probation, losing a handful of scholarships and will not be allowed to play in the postseason next year. All things considered they got off pretty easy, except for Tressel, whose career is essentially over.
And the Sammy goes to…..
The Penn St. Scandal. As a fan I hate when issues like crime, sexual abuse, and indictments invade the sports page, but this was a huge story. A beloved, fabled, larger-than-life coach was fired and a hugely successful & seemingly clean program has been left in shambles. And lest we forget, there are numerous young men that must, for the rest of their lives, deal with having been molested by a sick freak who will hopefully be spending the remainder of his pathetic life behind bars being someone else’s bitch.
To present our next award, we are happy to reunite members of the cast of the 90’s Saturday morning staple Hang Time. Please welcome Daniella Deutscher, Megan Parlen, Anthony Anderson, Dick Butkus, Reggie Theus, and Amber Barretto. And the nominees are:
Best TV Show
How I Met Your Mother
It’s a second consecutive nomination for the continuing Friends-esque adventures of 5 New Yorkers, with the question of how main character Ted (a part narrated…in the future…by Bob Saget) eventually meets his children’s mother yet to be answered. Oh we’ve come close a couple of times, but that pursuit has been kind of backburnered as viewers are mostly caught up in the on again/off again romance of pals Barney (played by the sublime Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin.
Big Bang Theory
Another two time nominee, this is the adventures of two uber nerds, their eccentric posse of co-workers & gal pals, and the hot, ditzy neighbor. It’s kind of a counterpoint to the classic 80’s sitcom Three’s Company. Whereas Three’s Company catered to the lowest common denominator, Big Bang Theory embraces the intellectual capacity of its characters while not shying away from their social ineptitude. The writing continues to be witty & sharp, and the expanded cast doesn’t feel overcrowded or excessive.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
In my mind Jimmy Fallon has already surpassed Leno, Letterman, & Conan in the late night hierarchy. His monologue isn’t as solid, but then again he isn’t a stand-up comedian. The strong suit of the show is in the creative bits & audience participation games that usually come after the first commercial break…stuff like Slow Jam the News, Cupid’s Arrow (a parody of a 1980’s video dating service), Cell Phone Shootout, Models & Buckets, Beer Pong (played with a celebrity guest), Charades (played with a celebrity guest & an audience member), and my personal favorite Thank You Notes (a regular Friday night feature). The host himself is a strength of the show as well. One gets the feeling that Leno is kind of an ass & that Conan’s antics might become irritating in short order, and we all know that Letterman is mental. In contrast, Jimmy Fallon seems to genuinely be relishing what he is doing and appears to be the sort of sincerely pleasant fellow one wouldn’t mind hanging out with and enjoying a beverage.
Mike & Mike in the Morning
The 2010 winner of this award is still going strong. The great thing about a show like this is that it is constantly changing yet never really changes. In other words, because it is a sports talk show and there are almost always new stories & issues to pontificate about and examine on a daily basis, the show is always fresh. Conversely, the affable charm and playfully antagonistic relationship of hosts Greeny & Golic creates an easygoing, reliable comfort zone that allows the viewer to just sit back & enjoy their antics. Even when one or both of the hosts are off there is a posse of guests and fill-in hosts like former NFL players Marcellus Wiley, Mark “Stink” Schlereth, & Cris Carter, baseball insiders Buster Olney & Tim Kurkjian, and football insiders Mel Kiper Jr., Adam Schefter, & Chris Mortensen that keep the show going even if they aren’t quite as entertaining as The Mikes.
Loosely based on the 1989 Ron Howard film that starred an ensemble cast headed by Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves, and a young Joaquin Phoenix, this is the second time a television adaptation has been attempted. Needless to say this version is much better than the first effort (which starred Ed Begley Jr., David Arquette, and a young Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s one of those dramedies that I tend to love so much on both the big & small screens, I think because it is an accurate depiction of life…sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh until we cry, and sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying. There are no huge stars, but there are a few recognizable faces…Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Sports Night), and Craig T. Nelson (Coach). As with most shows with a large cast of characters, there are usually a few stories going on, and it’s a hit or miss effort. Fortunately Parenthood seems to hit all the right notes most of the time.
Pardon the Interruption
Readers of The Manofesto know how much I love my ESPN talk shows, and this is the evening book end to Mike & Mike. Starring former sports writers Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, who worked together at The Washington Post, it’s your standard “let’s debate the foremost sports topics du jour” format. However, it must be said that Tony & Michael have been doing it longer & better than anyone else.
And the Sammy goes to…..
Mike & Mike. Congratulations to Greeny & Golic for capturing their second consecutive Sammy Award. This is comfort food television for any sports fan, as well as being very informative & entertaining. I’ll continue to look forward to every weekday between 6 & 10am as long as these guys are on the air.
Biggest International News Story
I will not even pretend to be an expert in foreign relations, but basically what this boils down to is a wave of civil disobedience that spread across the Middle East and resulted in the governments of 3 nations…Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya…being overthrown. The revolution in Egypt that eventually lead to the resignation of their President of 3 decades, Hosni Mubarak, probably got the most attention. 6 months later long time Libyan leader General Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and eventually killed. Each uprising gave courage & energy to the next, and one wonders why the populations of those nations put up with evil dictatorships, corruption, and human rights atrocities for so long before finally deciding to stand up and do something about it.
Japan Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Meltdown
Back in March Japan was hit with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, said to be one of the five most powerful quakes on record since 1900. The earthquake generated 130 ft. tsunami waves. The tsunami triggered multiple nuclear meltdowns at several plants. All told nearly 16,000 people lost their lives and another 10,000 were injured or missing. The earthquake actually shifted the Earth on its axis somewhere between 4 & 10 inches.
The Greek Economic Crisis
I’m not a financial guru either, but apparently Greece is even worse at managing its finances than America. Other European nations banded together to bail out their Greek pals, enacting some strict spending rules in the process. However, it seems like that little trick hasn’t worked and the situation is still a mess. Predictably the citizens bore the brunt of the financial mismanagement by paying higher taxes and having salaries limited, and they didn’t care for that so there were protests and backlash there too.
Bin Laden Killed
On May 2, 2011 the decade long manhunt for the evil bastard who masterminded the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001 ended when U.S. Special Forces raided his compound in Pakistan where he was “caught & compromised to a permanent end”. Giddy crowds of proud Americans gathered to celebrate in places like Times Square, Ground Zero, & outside The White House, which may have been somewhat overzealous and inappropriate but considering the death & destruction Bin Laden had perpetrated & perpetuated over the years was totally understandable.
The Royal Wedding
On April 29, 2011 Prince William, the eldest son of England’s Prince Charles and the late, nearly beatified & canonized Princess Diana, married his college sweetheart Kate Middleton. As usual those wacky Brits can’t just have a quiet, subtle little ceremony. They are still under the mistaken impression that they are royalty. Well…okay…they are royalty, but they somehow still seem to think that the distinction actually means something, which of course it doesn’t. Anyway, just like his Mom & Dad’s nuptials three decades ago, the world went nuts over the wedding of William & Kate, with apparently hundreds of millions of people watching the whole show on TV or The Internet. I just hope the marriage goes better than Chuck & Di’s, which we must recall ended in divorce and her dead carcass being splattered in an underpass during a high speed chase by paparazzi.
Rupert Murdoch/News of the World Hacking Scandal
Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp, which is the world’s 2nd largest media empire behind only Disney. News Corp owns various familiar businesses like Harper Collins Publishing, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox, Fox/FX television networks, Fox News Channel, Hulu, and a 15% stake in the Colorado Rockies, as well as a ton of newspapers in Britain & Australia. One of those newspapers was tabloid rag News of the World. In 2011 it was revealed that employees of this tabloid had somehow hacked into the phones & computers of a wide range of celebrities, politicians, and even victims of crimes & terrorism. If memory serves me correctly they even hacked into the phones of Britain’s Royal Family. Ain’t technology grand?? Anyway, the tabloid shut its doors and Murdoch’s credibility has suffered a bit, but otherwise business as usual carries on.
And the Sammy goes to…..
I hate to do it, but it’s a tie. Both the Japan Earthquake & the Death of Osama Bin Laden captured the attention & the hearts of a worldwide audience, and both events have far reaching implications & consequences that will extend beyond 2011. My heart goes out to the families of the dead in Japan, as well as the millions of victims who were hurt physically, financially, and on so many other levels. We also can hope that the end of Bin Laden’s existence has brought some sort of closure to the families of those lost on 9/11 and the many other heinous acts for which that monster was responsible.
Rarely does a person get to introduce an award named in their honor, but our next presenter will be doing exactly that. Please give an enthusiastic welcome to NBA living legend Charles Barkley. And the nominees are:
The Charles Barkley Memorial Role Model Award
I’m a sucker for “going out on top” stories, and Larussa certainly qualifies since retiring soon after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. Larussa managed in the big leagues for 32 years, but I have a feeling he will not be one of those guys who keeps “unretiring” every other year. He’s actually an attorney, and has mentioned that his post-retirement dream is to manage a book store. As much as I love my sports, I very much appreciate folks who seem to keep it in proper perspective and have the ability & desire to pursue other interests.
Hawkeye the Lab
Most web surfers probably saw the picture back in August of Hawkeye, the beloved chocolate Labrador retriever of Petty Officer Jon Tumilson, lying in front of his master’s coffin. Tumilson, a 35 year old Iowan, was a Navy SEAL whose helicopter was shot down by a grenade in Afghanistan on August 6. The photo of Hawkeye faithfully staying by his master’s side until the bitter end likely put a lump in the throats of most anyone with a heart, especially dog owners.
Coach K. has been at the helm of the vaunted Duke basketball program for over three decades. Before that he was a player and a coach at Army, where he was mentored by the infamous Bobby Knight. He has won 4 national championships, been in 11 Final Fours, and lead the USA to a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. On November 15, 2011 he became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach, surpassing Knight with his 903rd victory. To my knowledge he has achieved all of this success the right way, without much controversy or any accusations of wrongdoing. And much like Tony Larussa, Krzyzewski appears to be an intelligent, well-rounded man of varied interests & solid character.
Navy SEAL Team Six
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group is a Special Forces counter-terrorism unit whose details are mostly classified. On May 2, 2011 two dozen members of the group conducted Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden, the evil bastard who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks that resulted in the tragic, senseless deaths of nearly 3000 Americans, was finally brought to justice. Personally I am in no way reluctant to celebrate the fact that a dirtbag like bin Laden no longer takes up valuable oxygen on this planet, and I would proudly shake the hand of each one of the brave soldiers involved in his demise.
Rep. Paul Ryan
I hesitate to nominate a politician for this award, but Ryan seems to be one of the few out there, atleast on a prominent national level, that is promoting genuine conservative principles. The 7 term Congressman from Wisconsin spent much of this past spring promoting his counterproposal to President Obama’s budget, a plan that would reform Medicare, effectively repeal the horrendous Obamacare fiasco, reduce spending, and lower taxes. Predictably liberals killed the bill in the Senate. However, Ryan still looks to be a rising star that may be shining beacon of hope for conservatives, assuming he doesn’t sell his soul like so many other elected officials.
And the Sammy goes to…..
Seal Team Six. God bless our men & women in uniform. Even though the battles of the past decade seem to be winding down, we know that there are still plenty of soldiers scattered in all corners of the world who put their lives on the line every day and spend months & years apart from their loved ones all so that we can continue to enjoy the freedom too many of us tend to take for granted.
This seems like the appropriate place to take another break. Please join us tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of the 2011 Sammy Awards!!
- The Truth About Tebow (tornbysports.com)
- Scandal, labor woes make 2011 one of sports’ worst (goerie.com)
- Ohio State Football: What Is Jim Tressel’s Next Move? (bleacherreport.com)
- Jim Tressel’s Show-Cause Penalty Means He Can’t Coach For Five Years, Basically (sbnation.com)
- Andy Staples: A modest proposal: Hire Tressel after flimsy show-cause penalty (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Arizona State Football: Jim Tressel Should Consider Sun Devils Job Opening (bleacherreport.com)
- Penn State and Ohio State meet this week amid troubling seasons (fanaticsportsandcards.com)