Winning & Musing…Volume 1.21

Hey sports fans…we’re back. I’ve already been more prolific in January than I was all of last year, and it feels good. I didn’t like much of anything that happened in 2020, so it’s nice getting the new year started off in a better frame of mind. Anyway, let’s talk about balls. Well, you know what I mean 😉.

 

 

 

 

I’ll be honest…I dozed off & missed most of the CFP National Championship Game, and I’m okay with that. Ohio State should’ve never been there after playing only half of a season, and I’m beyond tired of Alabama. You’re mileage may vary & that’s okay.

 

 

A couple of weeks ago on Highly Questionable ESPN talking head Israel Gutierrez actually suggested that it would be “crazy powerful” for Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers to skip his team’s first playoff game in response to the unfortunate events that had taken place in Washington DC a couple of days before. Now I’ve heard some real head scratchers on that channel the past few years (a big reason sports fans like myself & many others have stopped watching as much as we once did), but that statement from Gutierrez might be one of the dumbest things uttered by anyone anywhere in my 40+ years on the planet. He should’ve been fired immediately and dragged out of the building in a straitjacket…it was that incomprehensibly stupid. To suggest that an MVP level quarterback whose team has a very real opportunity to win the Super Bowl should sit out to make a political statement is just…insane?? Ridiculous?? Pathetic?? All of the above?? You tell me.

 

Hot Stove Time…

My Pittsburgh Pirates were in the news recently after signing 16 year old outfield prospect Shalin Polanco from the Dominican Republic. One might assume something like that would elicit cheers from the Pirates’ faithful, but you’d be wrong. Understand, we’ve seen this movie before. One of two things will happen…a) the kid will be a total bust, or b) just as he’s entering his best years as a player Pittsburgh will trade him for a bunch of prospects and he’ll go to the World Series with his new team. Those of us that have been rooting for the Bucs for any length of time suffer from what I call Battered Fan Syndrome. We don’t believe anything great is on the horizon for them and if it is we’re pretty sure they’ll screw it up. You may call it cynical, but really it is just self-preservation. 

 

Y’all may want to record this for posterity because I’m about to say something nice about Tom Brady…

I never want to hear the phrase “Patriots Dynasty” ever again. If this football season has proven anything it’s that the New England Patriots needed Tom Brady a whole hell of a lot more than Brady needed the Patriots. New England went 7-9, while Brady has Tampa (who went 7-9 last season) in the NFC title game. I hope this doesn’t happen, but IF Brady wins the Super Bowl with another team everyone should start using the term “Brady Dynasty”.

 

I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Perhaps I’ve watched too many movies, but I like the idea of an elite player winning a championship then retiring…going out on top. I fancy the notion of a guy hitting a home run in his last at bat or making a buzzer beating three-pointer in his final game. But that’s not usually the way it goes, is it?? Professional athletes often have a hard time recognizing when their skills are diminishing. They want one more opportunity to get a ring, so they stick around for a season or two or three too long. Oftentimes they play those years with different teams than the one that made them a household name. They sacrifice their legacy chasing one last shot at glory. The good thing is eventually we are able to put aside that sad limp to the finish line and focus on the highlights, but how cool would it be if our sports heroes never had that heartbreaking end that we need to erase from our memory?? Unfortunately that’s not how it works.

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.20

Greetings sports fans…what a strange year it has been, right?? No March Madness. The Masters, all three Triple Crown horse races, & the Indianapolis 500 postponed. And now, with COVID-19 spiking again, there are serious questions about whether we’re even going to have a football season. I hate all of it, but atleast the whole mess gives us a few things to discuss.

 

 

 

 

Kudos to NASCAR & the PGA for giving us a little bit of entertainment. To be honest I don’t even miss the live crowd when watching a car race, and golf is almost as entertaining without a gallery, except in those moments when someone makes a spectacular shot & there would normally be a roar from the crowd. NASCAR especially has stepped up, altering their schedule to have races on the occasional random weeknight. Perhaps that doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, and maybe a lot of people actually hate it, but in my particular circumstance at the moment I have really appreciated the distraction.

 

 

So I guess Major League Baseball will be playing a 60 game season beginning in a couple of weeks. That’s cool, and I’ll watch (especially if I can manage to find any Pirates games on where I am), but we’ll need to put an asterisk on the 2020 season. I don’t believe whichever teams make the playoffs and whoever ultimately wins The World Series can ever consider those to be legit accomplishments, but I’ll give them credit for doing something to provide us with some much needed entertainment.

 

 

The NBA & NHL had already played a majority of their season when everything shut down, but both leagues will be concluding their seasons with a few additional regular season games and then the playoffs. I’m not even going to dive into the details because I’m not necessarily sure I even understand all of it, but I will opine that the champions in both sports will aleast be more authentic than whatever goes on in baseball.

 

 

Speaking of NASCAR, I understand why they caved to the PC Police about the Confederate flag, and truly I’m kind of tired of all the arguing. I recognize where we are as a nation, and it’s just not a battle those of us opposed to such pandering & virtue signaling are going to win right now. However, I was disgusted with the whole Bubba Wallace/”noose” controversy. Even after the “noose” was discovered to have been a garage door pulley that had been there for years Wallace & the sports media refused to admit the mistake and doubled down on the whole victim angle, which is pathetic. I hope Wallace enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, because now he’s back to being a mediocre driver who hasn’t actually won anything.

 

 

Strangely enough I don’t even get ESPN where I am right now, but I’m not sure I mind all that much. The last time I was able to tune in they’d essentially abandoned talking about sports and had gone all in on being “woke”, which isn’t why I watch their programs. And now I find out that The Flagship in Bristol is essentially tossing my man Mike Golic aside in favor of a more diverse morning show starring Keyshawn Johnson. Trust me folks…no one was jonesing for Keyshawn Johnson to get more airtime. It’s just another example of how out of touch ESPN has become. Y’all will recall my deep & abiding affection for Mike & Mike and how upset I was when that show ended, but atleast Golic & Wingo was a reasonably entertaining facsimile. Now there will be absolutely no reason to watch ESPN in the morning. Look, I don’t give a damn about a person’s race or ethnicity. If you’re intelligent, entertaining, & good at your job you have an opportunity to earn my fandom. Mike Golic had done that. Mike Greenberg had done that (although he’s far less tolerable without Golic). I’m not a supporter of change for the sake of change. If ESPN had an ounce of sense they’d reboot Mike & Mike, but sadly that doesn’t seem to be their plan.

The 2018 Sammy Awards – Part II

Welcome back to the 2018 Sammy Awards as we continue our fond farewell to the past year. After some amusing observations from host Michael McIntyre it’s time to move forward with the show.

 

 

 

 

 

The Sammy Awards doesn’t shy away from controversy, and we tend to lean in a rebellious direction. So to present our next award please welcome two of the more successful actors in Hollywood. First, he’s a two time Academy Award winner and has come out as gay, although that may have possibly been a weak PR attempt to divert attention from “sexual misconduct” allegations (for which he was fired from his successful TV show House of Cards). Please give a pensive & slightly confused round of polite applause to Kevin Spacey!! Joining him is a young man who has starred in about a dozen lightly regarded & easily forgotten alleged comedies in the past few years. He was all set to host this year’s Academy Awards until politically incorrect jokes that he tweeted several years ago were suddenly discovered by ill-humored old curmudgeons who compelled him to quit. Give a warm welcome to Kevin Hart!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The Twitter Award for Most Interesting Water Cooler Topic

 

Tide Pods

I love Tide Pods…to do my laundry. But in 2018 some folks had a different idea & decided they’d make a good snack. Stupid people are the best job security doctors will ever have.

 

Stormy Daniels

She’s a stripper & a porn star, and apparently she got busy with Donald Trump many years before he ran for President. Those of us with critical thinking skills couldn’t possibly care less, but the media has made Ms. Daniels famous. No one is saying Trump is a saint, but that’s not really breaking news. Everyone knew about his shortcomings from Day 1, and the vast majority of folks outside of the heathen strongholds of New York, California, & Chicago decided he was still a better choice than Hillary Clinton. But kudos to Ms. Daniels for making the most of her 15 minutes.

 

Roseanne Barr

I was never a fan of Barr or her eponymous 90’s sitcom. The reboot of that show didn’t interest me in the least, despite her “coming out” as a Trump supporter. The reboot did monster ratings, but ABC cancelled it in a fit of self-righteous rage after Barr tweeted a comparison between Obama disciple Valerie Jarrett and a character from the recent Planet of the Apes films. The tweet was deemed racist, even though it clearly wasn’t meant to be. Jarrett actually does look eerily similar to the movie character. At any rate, ABC quickly realized their mistake and gave the show new life, albeit without Barr. The Conners has struggled in the ratings and will likely be cancelled, meaning no one in this unnecessary melodrama wins.

 

Mueller Investigation

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election almost as soon as the results were announced. Nearly two years later a handful of indictments & a few convictions have occurred, but as far as the election goes it seems like the best he can come up with is that the Russians may have posted some anti-Clinton propaganda on social media. Oh the horror!! If that kind of thing is deemed “interference” then perhaps all campaign advertisements & TV commercials should be banned. The simple truth is that The Establishment hates Trump and has conducted a witch hunt to destroy him since the day he became a legitimate threat to their power, and the sad part is that someday their plot just might work.

 

iHOB

Last summer people were legitimately stunned when restaurant chain IHOP announced they were changing their named to IHOB. Of course what many seemed to miss was that the restaurant was never actually going to change their name at all. It was simply a marketing campaign to promote a renovated lineup of burgers on their menu. About a month later the chain announced that they were “changing their name back” to IHOP, and still a lot of folks just didn’t get it.

 

Fleetwood Mac

Lineup changes & squabbles amongst bandmates are nothing new to music, so I suppose that it shouldn’t be a total shock that 70’s supergroup Fleetwood Mac recently tossed aside longtime guitarist Lindsey Buckingham after he’d been with the band for four decades. One would expect more mature behavior from 70 year olds.

 

Fortnite

I don’t know. It’s some sort of video game that the kids are into. I don’t care.

 

Bill Cosby

Cosby was nominated for this same award back in 2014, at which time it was stated that “nothing has been proven and it never will be because the things that allegedly occurred happened far enough in the past that statutes of limitations have all run out”. That was wrong, because in April 2018 he was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault and sentenced to 3-10 years in prison. What a sad fate for the 81 year old comic legend.

 

Water On Mars

Back in the summer researchers discovered a lake about 12 miles wide under the south polar ice cap on Mars. Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the Martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day.

 

Papa John

John Schnatter, founder & CEO of the pizza giant, stepped down about a year ago after allegedly controversial comments made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his poor handling of the infamous anthem protest. He then landed in hot water again last summer after using a racial slur in a conversation about the anthem protests. The truth?? Schnatter is a Republican & a Trump supporter, and the things he said wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if he wasn’t.

 

Yanny or Laurel??

Last May social media & other outlets were abuzz due to an audio recording in which a person heard a voice say either the word “Yanny” or the word “Laurel”. I heard “Laurel” clear as a bell, as did the majority of my friends & family, though there were exceptions. The whole thing is an auditory illusion, as both sounds are on the recording. Some people focus on the higher frequency & hear “Yanny”, while others zero in on the lower frequency of the word “Laurel”. At any rate, it was a frivolously fun bit of conversation for a day or two.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Roseanne Barr. Do I care that her show was cancelled? Not at all. Do I care about the fate of The Conners? Nope. However, I do believe it is sad how overly sensitive we’ve become in America. I think Barr should have been smarter, more aware of how tenuous her position was (given her “controversial” political opinions), & mindful of the fact that comedy has…unfortunately…been put under a politically correct microscope. I don’t consider what she tweeted to be the least bit offensive, and it actually has elements of truth, but one must understand how The Game is played in 21st century America. One must be ready to conform or suffer the consequences. Social media is a minefield, and the punishment can be swift & harsh…or even catch up to a person many years later. The rules are rather fluid.

 

 

 

To present our next award we are proud to introduce a young lad who became somewhat famous this past year after being discovered by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. He is a YouTube sensation whose brutally honest videos critiquing odd recipes are absolutely hysterical. Jesus take the wheel…it’s Kalen Allen!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

The DB Cooper Award (For the Person Who Most Needs to Disappear)

 

Don Lemon

Is there a bigger douchenozzle in the media than CNN’s Don Lemon?? Since he’s black AND gay he is beloved by leftists everywhere, but what strikes me is just how angry & bitter he seems. The man is 52 years old, has a great TV gig, & the world is his oyster. What’s his freakin’ problem?? Remember the days when the folks reporting the news were atleast pretty good at hiding their bias?? Those days are gone, and Lemon is the poster child for everything wrong with his profession.

 

Samantha Bee

Full disclosure…I’ve never watched an episode of Bee’s TBS show Full Frontal. However, I watch enough reruns of The Big Bang Theory on that channel to have seen multiple ads for the show, and I just don’t get it. Okay okay…I understand political humor and the fact that Jon Stewart made such shows cool, and I can be as snarky as anyone. I have no issue with any of that, even if I disagree with the views being expressed. But humor…like great music & good food…requires a certain dexterity & finesse. Bee’s brand of bombastic sarcasm seems to be turned up to 11 all the time, and I can’t imagine sitting thru thirty minutes of that is enjoyable for anybody. It’s the same issue that has ruined late night talk shows. You want to go after President Trump?? Okay, that’s fair. But full throttle?? Every day?? At some point the beatdown becomes tedious and people want to laugh at different jokes.

 

The Obamas

Most former Presidents & First Ladies fade away into the sunset, shunning the limelight & letting their successors do their thing, whether or not they agree politically. Not these two. They seize every opportunity to soak in the adulation that people still inexplicably shower upon them, and never miss a chance to criticize & undermine the current Administration. It’s disgusting.

 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

I cannot believe that the people of New York actually voted this imbecile into Congress. Let’s face it…there are two political parties, and depending on one’s education, background, lifestyle, etc. there are going to be some politicians that we agree with & some we don’t…but generally we can all concede the fact that the folks representing us in cities & states nationwide as well as those populating Washington DC are reasonably intelligent people regardless of philosophical differences. I’m not sure that’s the case with this one. She’s the youngest person ever voted into the United States Congress and it shows. She seemingly has a very tenuous grasp on economic reality, common sense, & critical thinking, and appears to have the maturity level of the drunken sorority babes that I used to chat up in bars at 1am twenty-five years ago. I’m not familiar with Ms. Cortez’s district or the circumstances that led folks there to believe for a single solitary second that she was a reasonably good choice, but it is difficult to fathom that they could’ve have had worse options.

 

Robert DeNiro

Not only did DeNiro stop making good movies over a decade ago, but now he fancies himself a political commentator & socioeconomic expert. The truth is that he’s just a foul-mouthed, washed up, angry has-been like so many of his Hollywood friends. Stay in your lane Bobby.

 

Omarosa Manigault-Newman

I don’t watch reality television, and that includes Trump’s old show The Apprentice. Apparently this woman was a controversial contestant on that program over a decade ago, and then she became a staffer on the Presidential campaign a few years back. After Trump won the election he hired her to be part of his staff at the White House, but she lasted less than a year before resigning or being forced out (depending on who you believe). Since her departure from The White House Omarosa has gone completely off the rails, publicly turning against her old boss, releasing tapes of private conversations, & writing a “tell-all” book that the President’s staff has said is basically a load of poppycock. I have always been amazed by how some reality TV “stars” are successful at remaining in the spotlight far longer than they deserve, and in this case President Trump has to share part of the blame for helping the woman retain a shred of relevance before she used his kindness against him for her own gain.

 

Oprah Winfrey

For a brief moment in 2018 there was actually a movement afoot to persuade Oprah to run for President in 2020. Please…give me a freakin’ break. She’d be ten times the nightmare Donald Trump has been at his very worst.

 

Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, & Jimmy Kimmel

I’m over the whole late night TV thing. Oh sure I get a bit nostalgic occasionally & miss the good ol’ days of Carson, Letterman, Leno, Snyder, Costas, & Ferguson. I might even tune into Fallon for 5 or 10 minutes once in awhile. But for the most part I have become quite comfortable spending time after the late local news reading a bit, watching a movie, playing a game on my phone, catching up on whatever I’ve DVRed, chillin’ with some tunes, or even going to sleep at a decent hour. And it’s all because of these guys. Sadly they are all young enough that they’ll probably be hosting their shows for another two or three decades, but it’d be nice if they’d all just disappear from television and be replaced by hosts who would return the format to its former glory and decide that being funny is more important than being a political hack.

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I wish no ill will toward Justice Ginsburg. I hope she lives until she’s 150. But the fact is that, at 85 years old, she no longer has the mental capacity to sit on The Supreme Court. A Supreme Court justice should be one of the sharpest individuals with one of the keenest minds on the planet, and there are very few people that age that meet such criteria, no matter how brilliant they once were. I am a strict constructionist when it comes to The Constitution, so I hesitate to advocate for a mandatory retirement age or term limits for The Court, but one would hope that Justice Ginsburg will do the right thing sooner rather than later, despite what she may think about the current President or feel about his power to replace her with someone with whom she might not agree.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

All of Them. Y’all know the drill by now. These people just need to shut their pieholes. Go away. Get out. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.

 

 

 

 

 

To present our next award we are honored to welcome a big screen legend who began his career on television and has the perfect voice for radio. He is an Academy Award winning actor who has starred in classics like The Shawshank Redemption, Deep Impact, Now You See Me, Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, & Bruce Almighty. Let’s raise the roof for Morgan Freeman!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

 

Favorite TV/Radio Program

 

This Is Us

After winning this award in its first two seasons I feel like This Is Us has kind of slacked off in its third year. Now that the mystery of how & when patriarch Jack Pearson met his demise is in the rear view mirror some of the luster has worn off for me. It’s still a well-written & performed program, but I must admit that I lost interest a few episodes into Season 3 and still need to do a bit of catching up before the show returns from its “winter break” this month.

 

Pardon the Interruption

Tony & Mike continue to represent curmudgeons & cantankerous old fogeys everywhere in the glut of sports debate programming. One or both are absent with some frequency, but “Fill In” Frank Isola has become a decent substitute.

 

The Young & the Restless

I’m really going to be interested to see the direction Y&R heads in during 2019, because this past year was a bit of a roller coaster. Too many new characters, too many familiar characters absent without explanation, and plots that drag on far too long are some of the key issues the show faced in 2018, although it was still entertaining enough for me to DVR on a daily basis and catch up on late at night at a time when I used to be watching talk shows that were once funny.

 

WV MetroNews Hotline

Dave Weekley is back!! The original host of West Virginia’s late afternoon statewide radio show returned in 2018, and he hasn’t missed a beat. The program is still a potpourri of sports, news, current events, entertainment, & whatever else one might deem interesting. I need to make more of an effort to catch the podcast this year…it’s not like I have anything else better to do.

 

Highly Questionable

The only other show on ESPN besides PTI that is worthy of space on my DVR. Dan, Papi, & a rogue’s gallery of co-hosts offer intermittently biting, mostly irreverent, & always entertaining commentary on hot sports topics, and they throw in the occasional goofy video of random people doing something completely stupid. It’s a great formula with the right personalities.

 

General Hospital

I love my DVR, and one of the few shows that I record on a daily basis is GH. A big reason that I have been unable to pull the trigger on giving up my soap operas completely is because GH is still such a well-written & entertaining program with solid performances & compelling stories.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Highly Questionable. This might be considered somewhat of an upset, but amongst the competition HQ has become the most consistently entertaining program on a daily basis. I think what I like best is that it is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The problem with ESPN the past several years is that so many of its reporters & hosts want to make sports more important than it really is. I love sports. Football, baseball, basketball, golf, & all the rest of it has been an essential part of my life, but at the end of the day it’s a game…frivolous fun designed as a distraction from the rigors of real life. Dan, Papi, & their revolving door of itinerant co-hosts understand that. They are comfortable with their relatively low spot on the television totem pole and have fun with it rather than try to convince the masses that the next thirty minutes will be life changing. I respect that, and more importantly, I laugh almost every single day at a goofy video shown on HQ or the hosts’ reaction to it. Shouldn’t that be the goal of a good TV show??

 

 

 

 

 

This seems like the appropriate place to take another break. Please join us soon for the exciting conclusion of the 2018 Sammy Awards!!

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 5.18

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

I don’t necessarily have a dog in the fight on this whole Roseanne Barr situation. I never watched the original incarnation of her sitcom, and wasn’t the least bit interested in the reboot. Her sense of humor just isn’t my cup o’ tea, and I was bemused by the support the new show received from my conservative friends. Roseanne Barr isn’t conservative…but of course I suppose the same thing can be said about President Trump, who has been all over the political map in his lifetime. I voted for Trump a) because I thought he was a better choice than Hillary Clinton, b) I’m all for “draining the swamp” and trying something new instead of the same ol’ out-of-touch politicians who aren’t the least bit interested in actually accomplishing anything meaningful, & c) I knew the hissy fit from the leftist elite in Hollywood, the media, & elsewhere would be delightfully entertaining. Having said all of that, it is undeniable that both manifestations of Roseanne were critically acclaimed & wildly popular, making ABC’s sudden decision to cancel based on a tweet from the titular star quite stunning. The cancellation doesn’t affect my life one way or another, but I am fascinated by the hypocrisy. Truly vile things are said daily on ABC’s daytime talk show The View, and that network’s own Jimmy Kimmel has been a huge contributor to making late night television unwatchable…but that’s okay because their politics toe the company line. In its statement about cancelling Roseanne ABC spouted off some kind of poppycock about her Twitter remarks not being consistent with their values. ABC & ESPN are both owned by Disney, and anyone who has been paying attention knows what those values are. The quick trigger finger displayed in this particular execution indicates that the powers-that-be were just looking for an excuse to cancel the show, just like the reasons given a year ago for axing Tim Allen’s conservative leaning sitcom Last Man Standing were weak at best. Another network probably won’t resuscitate Roseanne like they did Last Man Standing…especially since some of Roseanne Barr’s castmates have already thrown her under the bus…and I honestly couldn’t care less. I just think it’s sad that we’ve come to a point that everyone is so damn sensitive & phony.

 

 

Good information…..

 

 

What is the difference between a cookout, picnic, & barbeque?? Most of us use the terms interchangeably, but they do vary slightly. A picnic is a meal prepared or assembled in one place and enjoyed somewhere else…typically outdoors. Heck, sometimes one doesn’t even prepare the food themselves. Just hit the grocery store for some potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, watermelon, & cold drinks, make a quick stop at KFC for a bucket of fried chicken, then head outside to your favorite spot…BOOM…picnic. Conversely, at a cookout the food is prepared on the spot and eaten right away. A cookout involves any kind of food that is cooked on a grill…burgers, hot dogs, chicken, veggies, steak, fish. It’s all good. A barbeque has a more narrow focus on food that is slow cooked…ribs, brisket, a whole pig or deer. At a picnic you’ll consume previously prepared chicken. At a cookout you might eat chicken breasts that have been grilled for 5 or 10 minutes. At a BBQ there’ll be a whole chicken that’s been smoked or roasted for hours.

 

 

 

Call it…validation…..

A couple of years ago I made a quiet promise to myself to refrain from sociopolitical “debates” on social media. It took me awhile to get the hang of it and for a time I still found myself engaging on occasion, with such “discussions” leaving me with nothing but elevated blood pressure & increased disdain for the human condition. However, this year I’ve been quite proud of myself, having passed on numerous opportunities to jump into the fray, and on the rare occasions when I do comment I keep my thoughts abbreviated & respectful. Last year…when I was still intermittently falling off the proverbial wagon…I “unfriended” & blocked someone who’d been a friend for over two decades. I realize that some may think of such an action as immature or silly, but for me it was a healthy choice. Unbeknownst to my old friend I unblocked him quite some time ago, and his privacy settings are such that I am able to lurk or troll. I recently ran across a lengthy thread on his page that confirmed to me that I had done the right thing. What this person does is purposely post inflammatory thoughts & opinions then sit back and enjoy the show. Inevitably there is atleast a person or two unable to stay within the lines of courteous & intelligent conversation, and that’s when the name calling, foul language, & even threats begin. And then my friend has the unmitigated gall to make a weak attempt at being the even-tempered, “can’t we all just get along” Voice of Reason. It’s a sick game that he’s been playing for years, deriving vile pleasure from all the attention he is receiving & the trouble he has stirred up, all the while trying to present himself as blameless & innocent. I look back at all the times that I fell into the trap, the instances when I was among those acting crazy & saying nasty things in the midst of the fray, and I am deeply ashamed. A person has the right to post what they want (within legal & decent parameters) on social media. That’s freedom of speech. That being said, others can choose if or how to react, and personally I have become more inclined to just keep scrolling. Your mileage may vary.

 

 

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

 

Speaking of phony…..

I mentioned awhile back that I thought the “veracity of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement(s)” were “almost mortally wounded” after a really stupid story about comedian Aziz Ansari. And now surely the death knell has to be sounded after a provably false accusation was made against legendary actor Morgan Freeman by an insipidly idiotic “reporter” on CNN. Here’s a tip ladies: if you’re going to slander someone…especially a person who is respected & revered by millions…you might want to make sure there aren’t any video cameras around. I’ve thought almost from the beginning that for every legit claim of “sexual misconduct” there were probably five more that were absolute nonsense, but of course most of the accusations have been from many years ago and had no witnesses one way or another, so far too many people fell into the trap of just believing the allegations of a “poor innocent victim”, and thus careers have been destroyed. Billy Joel once sang “she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding”, while Ricky Nelson crooned “she’d play around and tease me with her carefree devil eyes…she’d hold me close and kiss me but her heart was full of lies”. Men are finally getting fed up with the garbage being hurled at them by women. Pack a lunch ladies…it’s on like Donkey Kong!! I hope Freeman sues CNN into oblivion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winning & Musing…Volume 2.18

Finally…Spring has sprung here in The Mountain State!! It’s been 80+ degrees the past couple of days, with plentiful sunshine. However, as happy as that makes me I must temper my enthusiasm since preliminary indications are that next week will begin with a “wintry mix”. I am exercising similar caution with the sports calendar because, while some things are pointed in the right direction it is far too early for a victory lap. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

As per usual I haven’t paid all that much attention to the NBA season. Actually I’ve probably been even less invested than usual (if that’s possible) for reasons I have covered previously. However, that all changes with the start of the playoffs, which look like this in the Eastern Conference:

Toronto Raptors                    vs.     Washington Wizards

Boston Celtics              vs.     Milwaukee Bucks

Philadelphia 76ers      vs.     Miami Heat

Cleveland Cavaliers    vs.     Indiana Pacers

Ideally we would see either the Celtics or 76ers emerge to represent their conference in the NBA Finals. All eyes will be on a Raptors-Cavs second round series if/when it happens, and I must admit that, as patriotic as I tend to be (USA!! USA!!) I am more than sick of Lebron James. He is NOT better than Michael Jordan, and some of the things he has said off the court have revealed the kind of person he really is, which isn’t positive. When one lives by the sword one dies by the sword, and since the NBA has spent decades marketing individual personalities over teams they shouldn’t be surprised that many fans react negatively when some personalities are pompous, self-righteous, & tediously egotistical. Which brings me to the Western Conference:

Houston Rockets                  vs.     Minnesota Timberwolves

Golden State Warriors         vs.     San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers           vs.     New Orleans Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder       vs.     Utah Jazz

I am beyond thrilled that the Warriors & Spurs play each other in Round 1, because that means that one of the world’s biggest blowhard coaches will be eliminated quickly (hopefully either Portland or New Orleans will take out the remaining trash in the second round). I’d be fine with the Rockets making it to the NBA Finals, although I think the Pelicans could be a sleeper. A Philly-N’awleans Finals would be fresh & intriguing, wouldn’t it??

 

 

Congratulations to the Villanova Wildcats for winning their second National Championship in the past three seasons. The 2018 edition of March Madness will mostly be remembered for the impressive run to The Final Four of the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, with their Gryffindor scarves and elderly nun Sister Jean, and for the history making 16th seed UMBC Retrievers’ huge upset of #1 Virginia, something that had never happened before. However, though there had been numerous teams atop the polls throughout the season and no dominant force emerged as a clear favorite to cut down the nets, hindsight is 20/20 and Villanova was always lurking near the top and seemed to be the most consistent program thru the season.

 

 

Sunday at The Masters was delightful fun as usual. Though Tiger Woods & my man Phil Mickelson made the cut and played on the weekend they were never legit factors, but luckily for fans & the folks at CBS guys like Rory McIlroy & Rickie Fowler were entertaining, and Jordan Spieth’s -8 final round of 64 was fantastic even if it came up a bit short. Initially I had no issue with winner Patrick Reed, but post-victory stories have emerged that paint him in a rather negative light. Apparently he hasn’t spoken to his own family for several years because they disapproved of his marriage. I’m not married, but I cannot imagine ever choosing a woman over my parents or sibling. From what I’ve read the family seems conciliatory and willing to resume a relationship with Reed, but he (and his wife) aren’t interested. That’s pretty sad in my humble opinion.

 

 

The NHL Playoffs are underway, but y’all know my tepid feelings about hockey. If my Pittsburgh Penguins make it thru the first couple of rounds perhaps I’ll become interested. Somebody keep me posted.

 

 

 

I know I know…pro wrestling isn’t a “real” sport. I get it, but indulge me. My neighbor & I watched last weekend’s WrestleMania 34 event, and it was an enjoyable evening. The “mainstream” media was all over former MMA champion Ronda Rousey’s participation now that she has officially segued into a career in the WWE, and I’ll give credit where it is due…Rousey looked good in the ring. She still needs a lot of work doing promos, and the powers-that-be should keep her as far away from interviews with outlets like ESPN as they possibly can since they’ve proven to be bizarrely detrimental, but inside those ropes she acquitted herself nicely on absolutely the biggest stage she has ever been on in her entire career. People like to make fun of “wrasslin’”, but there were 78k in the Superdome, and millions watching on PPV or the WWE Network. As popular as MMA might be it can’t match those numbers. I was happy that Rousey’s mixed tag didn’t get a main event spot (Lawrence Taylor once main evented a WrestleMania, which was a slap in the face to full time wrestlers) and was instead on the mid-card where it deserved to be. Overall it was a well-constructed show and a great way to spend a Sunday evening.

 

 

I’m not emotionally invested in baseball quite yet, but I’ll get there. I think it’s hilarious that games have already been cancelled because of snow. Several years ago I proposed a plan for a shorter baseball season…maybe it’s time to take such suggestions seriously.

 

 

I’d been watching…off & on…ESPN’s Golic & Wingo on weekday mornings the past few months, but lately have given a fair opportunity to the brand new Get Up, starring Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle, & Jalen Rose, to wow me. Neither show is horrible. Golic & Wingo is predictably chill, while Get Up isn’t as obnoxious as it had the potential to be. Having said that, both are like buying overpriced but watered down drinks at a bar. Greeny & Golic specifically aren’t nearly as entertaining as they were while together on Mike & Mike. Neither mix is necessarily bad now, but the new shows are lacking…something. I stated awhile back that the late night shows no longer interest me and I am more likely to turn my television off at 11:30pm now than watch any of the garbage spewed forth by Kimmel, Colbert, et al. And now I no longer turn on my TV first thing in the morning to check out what Greeny or Golic have to say about sports. It wasn’t broke, but ESPN decided to “fix it” anyway. Way to go morons.

The 2017 Sammy Awards – Part 2

Welcome back to the 2017 Sammy Awards. If you missed Part 1 of the show please take a few moments to go back & catch up. We’ll be right here waiting patiently for your return, and then we will continue taking a fun look back at the previous year.

 

 

 

After a few brief comments from our host Andy Cohen it’s time for our next award. Please give a warm welcome to a 70 year old man who still thinks an app is something one eats before the main meal. He’s a legendary comedian and star of films like The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, & City Slickers, as well as the nine time host of The Academy Awards and a former host of The Sammys. The man is a national treasure, and we are happy to welcome back Billy Crystal!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

App of the Year

 

Words with Friends

Basically it is Scrabble, and I’ve always loved Scrabble. I’m all about word games rather than shooting/war type games. I almost always have three or four games going, and though my record isn’t as good as I’d prefer I enjoy it tremendously.

 

Pinterest

I always thought Pinterest was something thru which women traded recipes, but I was wrong. There are tons of “pins” available on a plethora of subjects…almost anything you can imagine (books, food, history, religion, humor, & a bunch of others). I’m not sure about how much people actually get out of the whole thing since it’s pretty easy to scroll thru stuff, pin something to one of your “boards”, and then move on. That describes my process anyway…others may actually take time to go back and study what they’ve saved. Pinterest atleast has the potential to be useful, and it’s pretty user friendly, which are two great qualities in an app.

 

HQ Trivia

HQ is the new kid on the block, and it’s a bit different than other games one might play on a smartphone. HQ is a live game show that offers its players the opportunity to win real cash. The game is played twice daily…3pm & 9pm EST, and is usually hosted by the self-proclaimed Quizz Daddy, Semitic Sajak, Woke Woolery, & Regis Trill-bin…comedian Scott Rogowsky, who refers to the audience as HQ-ties and seems familiar to me for some reason. There are twelve questions of increasing difficulty, and the prize is generally $1000-1500, which sounds awesome until you realize that there are a couple hundred thousand people playing, which means that even if you win the payout might not even be enough to buy a popcorn & soda to snack on during a matinee. Plus, you only have a very rapid ten seconds to choose the correct multiple choice answer, and the questions are pretty tricky. I love trivia and feel like I’m reasonably intelligent, but I don’t think I’ve gotten past Q6 or 7. HQ & I are on a break right now because the game is rather wonky, with noticeable lag time and occasional crashes. I became dismayed when I answered a question correctly but was nevertheless disqualified, so the app was deleted from my phone in a fit of irritation, but I kind of miss it and will resume playing soon.

 

Word Cookies

In my world there’s not a much better combination than food & word games. The App Store describes Word Cookies as “a fun & exciting word puzzle game” in which the object is to “find hidden words” with the benefit that it will “improve vocabulary, concentration, & spelling skills.” It’s a modern spinoff of Boggle, and you aren’t playing against anyone but yourself. I can amuse myself for hours with Word Cookies, though what usually happens is that I play for a few minutes at a time at halftime of the game or during commercial breaks if I’m watching television.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Word Cookies. One of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed watching the game show Jeopardy! is that I feel like I might have learned a thing or two in that half hour. I’m not sure that Word Cookies improves vocabulary since most of the words you find are rather short & very basic, but I’m on board with the spelling & concentration benefits. It’d be unfair to call it mindless fun. However, it doesn’t feel like there’s unnecessary effort involved…I actually find playing it very soothing. Word Cookies is exactly the sort of time waster that’s not a complete waste of time that all phone apps should aspire to be.

 

 

Before we continue with the awards we have time for another exciting musical interlude. We are turnt to welcome to the stage a five time Grammy winner who has raised the roof during two Super Bowl halftime shows. Get up on your feet and show some love for Bruno Mars!!

 

 

 

That was da bomb diggity!!  Thank you Bruno!!

 

Presenting our next award is a highly regarded comedian and occasional actor who has been known to go off the grid for long periods of time. But now he’s back with two brand new comedy specials on Netflix, which we are contractually obligated to mention as recompense for his appearance on this show. Please give a warm welcome to the allegedly funny Dave Chappelle!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The DB Cooper Award (For the Person Who Most Needs to Disappear)

 

Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, & Seth Meyers

It wasn’t that long ago when I adored late night television. There was nothing better than winding down after a long day with some funny jokes, amusing comedy bits, & vapid celebrity interviews. But things steadily began to change a few years ago. Letterman started going political, but I was willing to overlook it because he was a lifelong institution. And then he retired. After that the incomparable Craig Ferguson left the late night arena and was replaced with James Corden, who just doesn’t cut it. Letterman was replaced by Stephen Colbert, while Jimmy Fallon had been replaced at 12:30 with SNL alum Seth Meyers when Fallon took over The Tonight Show. Jimmy Kimmel has been hosting his show since 2003 and had been reasonably amusing. He was growing on me. And then Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Colbert’s show was straight up political propaganda from Day 1, which is why I’ve rarely watched. It didn’t take Meyers long to become a liberal hack, on occasion campaigning in such a way that one knows that he isn’t even trying to be funny. It’s like watching CNN or MSNBC. In 2017 Kimmel went completely off the rails, using his show to expound on issues like health care & gun control, complete with crocodile tears. Look, I’m sorry that his baby was born with a heart defect and sincerely hope the boy will be okay, but I don’t watch late night comedy shows for political discourse. If I’m in that kind of mood I’ll tune into one of the 24 hour news channels. Fallon was the last holdout…until Monday August 14, 2017. Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA The Tonight Show did a cold open in which Fallon went all in on the divisive rhetoric that has infested our nation. I haven’t watched his show since, and I don’t foresee that changing in 2018. These men killed late night TV with their sociopolitical agenda, and Johnny Carson must be doing somersaults in his grave.

 

The Ball Family

I’m sure Lonzo Ball is a talented enough basketball player, otherwise the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t have selected him with the #2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. But is he transcendent?? Is he on the same level with Magic, Bird, & Jordan?? Is he as good as Kobe, Lebron, & Durant?? I don’t believe he is, and if he’s not then is he worth the hassle since the entire family is a cancer?? Younger brothers LiAngelo & LaMelo have already been banished to Lithuania. LiAngelo was arrested back in November when he was a freshman for UCLA after shoplifting in China. He’d still be rotting in jail there if President Trump hadn’t bailed him out. LaMelo is only 16 years old but has already dropped out of school to play pro ball in Lithuania, and last summer used the “N Word” during an appearance on WWE Raw, although since he used the “street” version of the word ending in “a” instead of “er” perhaps it was socially acceptable. Who knows the rules nowadays?? And of course the patriarch of this clown show is LaVar Ball, a man that makes Darth Vader look like Father of the Year. It baffles me that outlets like ESPN continue to give that man any sort of coverage.

 

Bill Nye The Science Guy

Not only does this “scientist” think anyone who doesn’t buy the climate change hype should be put in jail, but a few months ago he produced a bizarre video promoting the transgender agenda, saying that “sexuality is a spectrum and everyone is on it”. The truth is that Nye has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, making him less of a “science guy” than Star Trek’s fictional Mr. Spock.

 

Steve Kerr & Gregg Popovich

Not only are actors & talk show hosts doing it, but now NBA coaches feel the need to contribute their wisdom to the political discourse. The issue I have with these people is that a) their fanbase consists of people of varied ideologies, so it makes zero sense to alienate a big chunk of them, & b) their opinions are full of ignorance. Kerr, the coach of the Golden State Warriors, and Popovich, longtime coach of the San Antonio Spurs, clearly think they’re smarter than the average bear and enjoy lecturing those they feel are beneath them. Here’s the thing…both coaches are actually good at what they do for a living, and their teams will be amongst the heavily favored title contenders, but unfortunately I and many others will be rooting against them because they refused to keep their big mouths shut.

 

Maxine Waters & Sheila Jackson Lee

Waters has been representing California in Congress since 1991. Lee has been representing Texas in Congress since 1995. My question is…how?? Lee once said “I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen”, and complained that hurricane names were “too lily white”, opining that “all racial groups should be represented” while suggesting future natural disaster names like Keisha, Jamal, & Deshawn. Waters has plainly stated that “this liberal would be about socializing, basically taking over and the government running all of your companies”, a disturbing idea to say the least. She also called the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles “somewhat understandable”, and said that “calling it a riot sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason…so I call it a rebellion”. These are just a few examples of the stupidity these two have exhibited. It seems like every time they’re in front of a microphone they say something that makes one legitimately question their sanity. Look, folks can elect who they want, but come on California & Texas…I’m pretty sure you can do better.

 

Commissioner Fidel Goodell

Roger Goodell became NFL Commissioner in 2006. In the ensuing decade+ we’ve seen his “personal conduct policy” issue a plethora of random fines & suspensions for off field issues, which is kind of like your boss holding you accountable for what you do with your free time off the clock. On the field the game has become a shell of itself, with what used to be perfectly legitimate tackles now resulting in penalties and even more fines & suspensions, and instant replay becoming an albatross that has redefined what used to be the fairly simple process of catching a football. Goodell has bungled things like DeflateGate and the Ray Rice investigation, among other things. In 2017 he lost total control of the league as a bunch of spoiled rich thugs decided that they hate the country that has given them the freedom & opportunity to make a fantastic living using their God given athletic skills. It is simply time for Goodell to go. He has become the story, and the league commissioner should never command that kind of spotlight.

 

The Hollywood Elite

I love television & movies. I always have & always will. But good Lord do they make it difficult. I’ve been aware for many years that morality is in short supply in Tinseltown and made my peace with it, but in 2017 the hypocrisy became too much to overlook. They lecture the masses about gun control while making a ton of violent movies and having armed security protect them at all times. They whine & cry about equality & respect for women, and then we find out that sexual harassment has been rampant in their “community” for decades. They promote the “LGBTQ” agenda while being totally dismissive of anyone who might believe in a book you may have heard of called The Bible. They allegedly stand up for the little guy, but live a life of opulence so out of touch with those in flyover country that it’d be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic. They make speeches about environmentalism & climate change but then hop on their private jets to go home to their mansions, in the process making a larger “carbon footprint” than any ten people. They want you & I to give up our rights & live without modern conveniences while they enjoy the high life and sacrifice nothing. They believe that we should open up the floodgates and welcome all kinds of criminals & miscreants from all over the world into our nation, but rest assured none of them would let a family of refugees sleep in one of their spare bedrooms. And then Donald Trump happened, and the entire Hollywood community has had a yearlong hissy fit that I assume will continue into the foreseeable future. Just like pro athletes that have expressed their strong opinions in the past twelve months these actors, actresses, directors, producers, etc. have every right to their beliefs, but given their hypocrisy and lack of ethics we have the right to not give a damn what they think.

 

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

All of them!! Y’all know the drill by now. These people just need to shut their pieholes. Go away. Get out. Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.

 

 

 

To present our next award it is our pleasure to introduce two of our favorite performers. She is the star of films like Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers, & The Family Stone, while he is an SNL alum who has hosted talk shows, been in a few movies, and has had a long & successful career as a stand-up comedian. Please welcome Rachel McAdams & Dennis Miller!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Most Entertaining Program (Radio or TV)

 

The Big Bang Theory

Is it showing its age after eleven seasons?? Yes. But is it still a well-written & funny show?? Absolutely. It’s odd to think that we’ve now spent over a decade watching this group of characters and all of their zany adventures.

 

The Young and the Restless

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but a year ago I did seriously ponder giving up my soap operas. Alas, I just can’t quit Y&R. My father watches it too, which makes me chuckle. The writing isn’t always as tight as I’d prefer, but the performances are mostly outstanding given the material with which the actors are working.

 

Designated Survivor

I knew when Designated Survivor premiered that it might have a limited shelf life. Once the initial mystery that was the entire foundation of the show was unraveled it had no choice but to morph into a 24/West Wing hybrid in which there’s a different crisis to resolve each week. That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s not as compelling as the original premise. I began to lose interest early on in the current second season and actually need to go back and stream the episodes I’ve missed.

 

MetroNews Hotline

From 3-6pm each weekday afternoon here in WV we have the opportunity to listen to a statewide radio talk show that covers everything from current events & sports to pop culture & the financial markets. It’s comfort food radio, which in my book is a great thing. A year ago the original host stepped down to pursue other opportunities, but the new guy has grown on me. I don’t listen to all three hours every day, but if I happen to be in my truck when the program is on I’ll usually listen. God knows it’s better than the garbage the music stations are playing.

 

WWE Raw

Monday night is still wrestling night in The Manoverse. Sometimes I’ll flip back & forth to the Monday night game during football season, but generally I am all about my wrasslin’ for a few hours, although these days I actually doze off occasionally, mostly because my internal clock is jacked up for various reasons. WWE has made a concerted effort to become more family friendly in recent years, which is a blessing & a curse. Pro wrestling has always had its ebbs & tides, and right now seems to be a bit of a lull. Still though, there are weeks when it’s really fun to be a wrestling fan.

 

Highly Questionable

Dan LeBatard & his Papi (along with whoever is co-hosting) have slowly risen up to become my favorite ESPN talk show. If I’m home I’ll watch, and if I’m not going to be home I utilize the DVR. It’s irreverant, occasionally silly, sometimes informative, & always easily palatable.

 

General Hospital

I can’t seem to quit GH either. I’ve been watching since grade school. There are certainly better things I could be spending time on, but I suppose there are worse things as well.

 

The Rush Limbaugh Program

El Rushbo is still going strong after three decades on the radio. I’m not as into politics as I once was and don’t listen often, but always enjoy the show when I do. I understand that he doesn’t frost everyone’s cupcake, and that’s alright. It’s rather amusing to me that two decades ago he was thought to be so provocative, but these days, amongst the plethora of contentious sociopolitical rhetoric from so many media outlets, Rush Limbaugh has actually morphed into the “harmless loveable fuzzball” that he has always proclaimed himself to be.

 

Jeopardy!

Some may disagree, but I contend that Jeopardy! is the best game show of all time. It actually rewards people for being intelligent, and really, who could have an issue with that??

 

This Is Us

Entertainment Weekly calls This Is Us “a refreshing respite from the relational violence and pessimism that marks other buzz soaps that have bubbled forth from a culture of divisiveness”. In other words, it’s not about violence, sex, or a social agenda. The show is an old-fashioned family drama with a unique twist that is particularly well-written & performed.

 

Pardon the Interruption

In contrast to its ESPN brethren Highly Questionable, PTI is proudly & audaciously cantankerous. Hosts Tony Kornheiser & Michael Wilbon like to shout at each other for no apparent reason, but it kind of works. It’s appointment TV for me, and I usually record it if I’m not going to be home. Every once in a great while Tony & Mike will go political (Wilbon loves to talk about “plantation mentality”), and sometimes I have to change the channel. However, thankfully that doesn’t happen too often so I’m willing to overlook it.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

This Is Us. I rarely get excited about anything on television anymore. Perhaps that is indicative of age, maturity, & refined taste. Or maybe it’s just that Hollywood truly has gone to hell and rarely produces anything worth one’s time & effort. This Is Us is an exception. To call it a home run somehow feels inadequate. The cast is top notch, and the writing is unrivaled.

 

 

Our next award is a very special honor for a long time presence on our show. To make the presentation please welcome comedian & master impressionist Frank Caliendo!!

 

 

 

The Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Mike & Mike in the Morning

November 17, 2017 was a gloomy day for sports fans. For 17 years many had spent atleast part of their weekday mornings with former NFL defensive lineman Mike Golic and nerdy sportscaster Mike Greenberg, as well as an immensely deep roster of in-studio & call-in guests. It began as a radio show and at its heart remained so, but from fairly early on in its run was simulcast on ESPN2. I was a little late to the Mike & Mike party, first becoming aware of it somewhere between 2006 & 2008 (my memory is a little fuzzy), but quickly became hooked. I’ve heaped plenty of praise on the program over the years, and offered some constructive criticism as well. Rumors of its demise began as far back as two or three years ago, but this past spring it became official. Whether it was ESPN’s decision to break up the duo and attempt to double their success with two shows instead of one, or Greeny felt compelled to spread his wings and do something different is unknown to the masses. Perhaps the truth is a concoction of those and other reasons. Greeny & Golic publicly put to rest any rumors of a rift between the two of them, and unless they are gifted actors on par with Al Pacino & Tom Hanks I have no reason to doubt that claim. I think they were more upset about how the situation was handled, which isn’t surprising given how poorly ESPN has dealt with various other matters recently. At any rate, Mike & Mike was nominated for six Sammys over the years, winning four straight at one point. I believe I once called it “comfort food television”, because watching two guys discuss sports (with a healthy dose of pop culture & general merriment on occasion) for four hours was a fantastic way to begin the morning. Golic is now doing essentially the same show with Trey Wingo, while Greeny will be getting a TV only program called Get Up beginning in April with co-hosts Michelle Beadle & Jalen Rose. I like Golic & Wingo just fine, though it is…thus far…a tepid reproduction of Mike & Mike, while I’m not at all excited about Get Up since neither Beadle nor Rose frost my cupcake. It’s all about chemistry, and Mike & Mike was lightning in a bottle. Greeny & Golic complemented one another spectacularly. There were times when the first thing I did when I woke up or returned home from my midnight shift was turn on Mike & Mike to get their take on the latest sports news. Since it ended a couple of months ago my television now usually stays off until much later in the morning. Kudos to all involved for creating great memories and producing something entertaining & informative enough to spend time on at 6am. Mike & Mike is greatly missed, and I feel like ESPN made a huge mistake.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take another break. Stay tuned for the sensational conclusion of the 2017 Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

The 2017 Sammy Awards – Part 1

Before we get too far into a new year it is time once again to take one final look back at the year that was 2017. This is the seventh presentation of The Sammy Awards, the world’s wittiest fantasy awards show. I’d like to imagine that The Sammys would be streamed on Netflix or Hulu, and could be produced efficiently yet in a tasteful & entertaining manner…less bloated & pompous than some awards programs, but more respectful & sophisticated than others. It is intended to be a year in review, an honest appraisal of the previous twelve months…the fun & the tragedy, the heroic & the forgettable, the sublime & the ridiculous.

 

 

 

Our host this year is fresh off a gig co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve coverage that was hotly debated on social media. He is also the host of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, so we’re pretty confident he can handle the Sammy Awards stage. Please give a warm welcome to Andy Cohen!!

 

 

After some humorous opening remarks from our host this year’s show begins with a musical performance. Because we’re not worried about being hip, cool, lit, or woke it is a huge honor to welcome to the stage…singing a medley of some of his biggest hits…rock music icon Billy Joel!!

 

Wow!! Thanks to The Piano Man…that was off the chain!!

 

To present our first award please give a polite golf clap to three time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson!!

And the nominees are:

 

 

Best Sports Story

 

Tar Heels Title

The conclusion of March Madness saw the North Carolina Tar Heels defeat the Gonzaga Bulldogs to win their sixth NCAA basketball national championship.

 

ESPN Downsizing

This past spring The Mothership in Bristol, CT did a massive personnel purge, ridding themselves of over 100 employees. Among the cuts were familiar faces like MLB reporter Jayson Stark, NFL reporters John Clayton & Ed Werder and analyst Trent Dilfer, college basketball analyst Len Elmore & reporter Andy Katz, college football analyst Danny Kanell, and Sportscenter anchors Jay Crawford & Jade McCarthy.

 

Patriots Win…Again

Ugh. The New England Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl in grand fashion. They completed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history (25 points) and forced the game into the first overtime on its 50+ year history.

 

Penguins Repeat

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second straight Stanley Cup (and their fifth since 1990) by defeating the Nashville Predators in six games.

 

Clemson Wins Playoff

The Clemson Tigers played in their second straight college football National Championship, both against the Alabama Crimson Tide. But this time they won the title with a very exciting last second touchdown pass from QB Deshaun Watson to WR Hunter Renfrow.

 

Indians Win Streak

They didn’t end up playing in the World Series, but back in August & September the Cleveland Indians had the attention of baseball fans everywhere when they won 22 straight games, a new American League record.

 

JJ Watt’s Philanthropy

After Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, TX in August Texans’ All-Pro defensive lineman JJ Watt began a fundraising effort to help the city. His initial goal was $200k. The final tally?? Over $37 million. The NFL has been given a lot of grief the past few years…with good reason. But Watt seems like one of the good guys. Well done sir. Kudos.

 

Warriors Win Another Title

The NBA bores me, but I usually watch the playoffs. Last summer the Golden State Warriors met the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third consecutive year in the NBA Finals. The Warriors were just too much for the Cavs and won the championship in five games.

 

Sergio Wins The Masters

Sergio Garcia has long been saddled with the moniker of “best golfer not to have won a major”. He ended that conversation in April when he defeated Justin Rose in a sudden death playoff at Augusta to finally get the monkey off his back.

 

Dale Jr.’s Retirement

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been NASCAR’s most popular driver since he first began racing in the late 1990’s, grabbing onto the impressive coattails of his famous father and holding on for dear life. He became a tepid substitute for his Dad after Dale Sr.’s tragic death at the 2001 Daytona 500, and soiled his legacy beyond repair in 2008 when he sold out and joined the evil empire of Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Jr. won two Daytona 500s and zero NASCAR Cup championships. In 2016 he missed a big chunk of the season with concussion issues, and last spring announced that he would be retiring after the 2017 season.

 

Astros Win World Series

The Houston Astros were a MLB expansion team in 1962. In 2013 they moved from the National League to the American League due to MLB realignment. They lost over 100 games for three consecutive seasons from 2011-13. But slowly they began to build a contender, and it all came together this autumn when the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. It was a great story, especially given the circumstances surrounding the city of Houston after Hurricane Harvey, however we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Houston, TX is the fourth largest city in the United States, so this wasn’t exactly a David vs. Goliath upset by small market little guys.

 

Mayweather-McGregor

My nephews love UFC/MMA…aka ultimate fighting or mixed martial arts. A lot of people do. UFC has grown exponentially in the past decade. But I just can’t get into it for whatever reason. At any rate, one of UFC’s champions & biggest stars is brash & outspoken Irishman Conor McGregor. In 2017 he decided he wanted to test himself in a boxing ring, and he challenged Floyd Mayweather Jr., who many consider the greatest boxer alive and who happens to be just as cocky as McGregor. The matchup was a marketing dream come true. Mayweather made over $100 million, while McGregor was paid in excess of $30 million. The sports media slobbered all over themselves for months. Fans paid $100 to watch the fight on PPV. But all along the talking heads admitted that they didn’t foresee a competitive fight and predicted a fairly easy Mayweather victory, which is pretty much what happened. Mayweather probably could have won in the first round, but he let McGregor hang around for ten rounds before winning with a TKO, thus giving fans the illusion that the fight was worth the money they’d spent and the hype surrounding it. I didn’t watch a) because I had absolutely no interest, and b) there is no way in hell I’d pay $100 for anything on PPV.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Mayweather-McGregor. It wasn’t my cup o’ tea, but I recognize that a lot of people watched it and the sports media did a nice job of hyping it up into an event, even though most understood that it probably wasn’t going to be that competitive. And then lo & behold it went ten rounds. Whether you believe that McGregor is really skilled enough to have legitimately kept up with Mayweather for that long or if you take the cynical view that Mayweather made a conscious business decision to allow the fight to last as long as it did doesn’t really matter. The fact is that everyone involved laughed all the way to the bank, and most fans probably don’t regret the time or money they spent. Everybody wins.

 

 

To present a very special award please welcome an Emmy nominated & Golden Globe winning comedian & actor, the star of television hits Home Improvement and Last Man Standing as well as films like Toy Story, Galaxy Quest, & The Santa Clause…Tim Allen!!

 

 

 

 

The Fred Berry Memorial Award for Excellence in Syndication

 

Frasier

For eleven seasons, from 1993 to 2004, Dr. Frasier Crane and his wacky family & work colleagues…effete brother Niles, blue collar father Martin, live-in aide Daphne Moon, flirtatious producer Roz Doyle, bombastic sports radio host Bulldog, oddball co-workers Gil & Noel, and a host of others…came into our living rooms. Frasier Crane had already been with us for a decade, originally appearing on Cheers. Though Frasier was technically a spinoff of Cheers the two shows are very different, albeit similarly well written & both very funny. It may seem blasphemous to some, but I must admit to loving Frasier even more than Cheers. Whereas Cheers took place in a bar, Frasier was about a family, and specifically about an educated, cultured man dealing with all manner of frustrating madness surrounding him. I always felt very connected to Frasier, so it has been a delight this past year to be able to watch a plethora of reruns, usually very late at night, on Hallmark. And they don’t just air one or two episodes. There is…I believe…a three hour block almost every night. I’m not always up that late (or early, depending on one’s perspective), but when I am awake and in a channel surfing mood it is always a pleasure to run across one of my favorite sitcoms of all time. The show has aged remarkably well, and I appreciate the skillfully scripted dialogue & talented cast even more now than I did two decades ago. I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t feel compelled to check out every new TV show that pops up. Most of them don’t seem like my cup o’ tea anyway. Fortunately I am alive in an era when it is fairly easy to go back and enjoy programs of yesteryear that I know I enjoy. Kudos to Hallmark for introducing a whole new generation to the exquisite charm of Frasier, and a tip of the cap to all involved for creating a show that has stood the test of time.

 

 

We are amped to introduce our next presenter. He’s a former ten time World Heavyweight Champion, and upon his retirement from professional wrestling has starred in films like Be Cool, Get Smart, Baywatch, & numerous entries in the Fast & Furious franchise. Do you smell what he’s cookin’?? FINALLY…Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has come to The Sammy Awards!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

The Twitter Award for Most Interesting Water Cooler Topic

 

Cracker Barrel Fires Brad’s Wife

Nanette Reid was an employee of 11 years at an Indiana Cracker Barrel before she was terminated. Nanette’s husband Brad wanted to know why his wife had been fired, so he made an inquiry on the restaurant’s corporate Facebook page…and things took off from there. #JusticeforBradsWife went viral and lives on.

 

The End of The Circus

After almost 150 years of entertaining the masses Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus put on its last show this past spring. The plethora of 21st century entertainment options as well as politically correct social justice warriors whining about animal abuse led to a decline in profitability and the eventual demise of the circus.

 

Fidget Spinner

I don’t know…it’s some sort of toy for nervous people. I suppose it’s a better option than drugs or homicide.

 

Great American Eclipse

On August 21, 2017 the United States enjoyed a total solar eclipse, the first visible in America since 1979. People gathered in large crowds and some traveled great distances just to see an event that lasted about as long as it takes to go to the bathroom while the ballgame is in a commercial break. I was kind of into it until I found out that viewing the eclipse required special sunglasses or otherwise one might go blind, and by the time I learned that helpful nugget every place was sold out of the glasses so it just became a hassle. However, as I watched the coverage on TV I kind of regretted my laziness. There is another eclipse coming in 2024, so if I’m still around I might make more of an effort.

 

Taking A Knee

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick spearheaded a movement in 2016 by kneeling instead of standing respectfully during the playing of the national anthem before football games. Kaepernick said that he refused to honor the flag of a country that oppresses “people of color”. In other words he was upset about alleged police brutality toward black folks. When Kaepernick found himself unemployed in 2017 (what a shock) other players decided to take up the cause. This upset President Trump, who offered some very blunt opinions on the subject. That caused more players to kneel, so the situation had evolved from protesting perceived racism to a hissy fit by people who don’t like Trump. It became a huge PR nightmare for the NFL. On one hand the United States is built on a foundation of freedom and the ability to express opinions, but conversely these protests are viewed by many as pointless, disrespectful to law enforcement & the military, and a juvenile temper tantrum by millionaires who play a game for a living.

 

iPhone X

Apple’s latest & greatest iPhone…complete with creepy facial recognition technology…went on sale in November (just in time for Christmas!). I’m an iPhone user, but I just upgraded a year ago and the $1000 price point might have finally exceeded my maximum utility.

 

The Royal Engagement

Prince Harry, younger son of Prince Charles & the late deified & beatified Princess Diana, got engaged to a filthy American, an inconsequential & marginally attractive actress named Meghan Markle. Congratulations to the happy couple. I’m sure this will be a bigger story in 2018 as the wedding day approaches this May.

 

United Airlines

On April 9, 2017, police at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago forcibly removed passenger Dr. David Dao from a United flight after he refused to depart the airplane upon the demand of management. Dao screamed as officers pulled him out of his seat, and his face hit an armrest during the struggle. Officers then dragged him, apparently unconscious, by his arms on his back along the aircraft aisle past rows of onlooking passengers. Video & photos of the incident went viral. Apparently the man was one of four passengers selected to be removed from the flight to make room for airline employees needing to get to Louisville. The other three were obviously more…compliant. Dao eventually received a monetary settlement from United. This was not an isolated incident, as similar stories were reported a few other times in 2017.

 

Kathy Griffin’s Career Decapitation

I’ve never found comedian Kathy Griffin funny…at all. She’s not the first person who has built a career out of being obnoxious, and she won’t be the last. Griffin has ticked people off before: she was banned from appearing on The View and Jay Leno’s incarnation of The Tonight Show, got fired from E! after making an inappropriate joke about then 11 year old actress Dakota Fanning, blasphemed Jesus when accepting an Emmy Award, & was banned from performing at New York’s famed Apollo Theater after using profanity. I’m no expert, but being shunned by The View has to be career rock bottom given the loathsome environment that surrounds that show like a noxious gas. However, Kathy Griffin really stepped in it last spring when she posted a video of herself holding the decapitated head of President Trump. The backlash was a little surprising. Since Hollywood hates Trump one might assume that Griffin’s career would reach new heights in the wake of the video, but the commoners in flyover country still wield some influence. She lost marketing deals, was dropped from CNN’s New Year’s Eve show that she’d co-hosted with Anderson Cooper since 2007, and her upcoming comedy tour imploded. Griffin has used social media to cry & moan about how she’s been mistreated in the aftermath of the brouhaha, but the simple fact is that she went too far and it bit her in the tookas.

 

Unicorn Frappuccino

I’ve patronized Starbucks exactly once in my life. I’m not a frequent coffee drinker, and when I do drink a cup I just want a basic, no frills cup o’ joe with some creamer (no sugar). This past spring Starbucks introduced a new addition to their menu…a multicolored drink made with ice, milk, pink powder, sour blue powder, crème frappuccino syrup, mango syrup, and blue drizzle, which sounds absolutely horrifying.

 

O.J.’s Release

OJ Simpson’s arrest & trial for murdering his ex-wife & her waiter friend was one of the biggest stories of the 1990’s. As we all know The Juice was found not guilty and was allowed to resume his dogged pursuit of the real killer. But that life was too boring for OJ, and he was ticked off about having to sell a bunch of his stuff after losing a civil suit brought by the victims’ families, so in 2007 he was arrested after an ill-conceived & poorly executed robbery at a Vegas casino during which he tried to get back some of his sports memorabilia. The following year Simpson was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 33 years in prison. Most legal experts agree that almost anyone else would have been given little more than a proverbial slap on the wrist, especially since all three of the co-defendants pled down to lesser charges. Many opine that Simpson’s conviction & harsh sentence was a “make-up call” after he’d escaped punishment for the 1994 double murder. OJ Simpson served nine years, and this past summer was granted parole. He was released from prison in October.

 

Civil War Monuments

Politically correct whining about Civil War monuments…specifically those erected to honor Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson…isn’t a new discussion. The debate has heated up the past few years. But arguments reached a fever pitch in 2017 after tragic events saw one person killed and 19 injured at a rally in Charlottesville, VA organized to protest the removal of a General Lee statue. My personal opinion is that these monuments were erected for a reason, and in most cases they honor complex yet worthy individuals who lived during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history and were forced to make some very difficult decisions. Thru the prism of time we recognize their mistakes and understand their errors in judgement, but I don’t feel that it is proper to erase our history. None of this was an issue a hundred years ago, fifty years ago, or even ten years ago, but nowadays we are a country full of easily offended social justice warriors who get their jollies trying to destroy everything about the United States with which they disagree.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Taking A Knee. Most sports fans just want to chill out and enjoy watching the ballgame. They want to argue about which team is better, debate who the best quarterback or wide receiver is, and kvetch about dreadful officiating. They do not want divisive sociopolitical rhetoric ruining their fun, but that’s exactly what’s been happening. It’s the reason ESPN is bleeding money and a contributing factor to declining attendance & TV ratings. The fact is that Colin Kaepernick is a marginally talented quarterback who is no longer worth the baggage that accompanies him…baggage that he created. The fact is that, while there are bad cops out there because there is incompetence in any & all professions, the vast majority of police officers do a fantastic job and should be praised for the dangerous work they do protecting all of us. The fact is that, while there are people that are erroneously & tragically killed by police officers, the odds are that anyone…black, white, Hispanic, Oriental, Middle Eastern, & any other hue one can think of…anyone who finds themselves in the presence of a police officer with a weapon has most likely put themselves in that situation. That’s not to say that those people deserve to be murdered…not at all. But you’ll never drown if you don’t go in the water and you won’t get burnt of you steer clear of fire. So if you’re living life right, obeying the law, & not causing a ruckus there is very little chance that you’ll be shot by a cop. There are 32 NFL teams. With 53 Players on each roster that’s nearly 1700 players. Of those, nearly 900 are convicted felons, which is over half the league. So while I admire their skill & athleticism and enjoy watching them play, forgive me if I have very little regard for their opinions on more serious matters.

 

 

 

 

 

This feels like an appropriate place to pause. Please stay tuned for Part 2!!

Fartleks & Giblets: A Melancholy Farewell to ESPN’s Mike & Mike

The spring of 2006 saw the beginning of one of the most difficult stretches of time in my life, a period that I refer to as My Unfortunate Incarceration. At the relatively young age of 33 an ulcer on my tailbone led to six months in a “skilled” nursing facility, a year completely homebound, surgery, another stay in a nursing facility, then some additional recovery time at home. All told, two years in the prime of my life passed by while I was unable to drive, work, or have any semblance of normalcy. During that time I watched ALOT of television. I watched TV shows that I may never have noticed otherwise. I recall watching just about every second of the 2006 NBA Playoffs. I developed an affinity for reruns of Ted Danson’s underrated sitcom Becker, which I had completely ignored during its run on CBS from 1998-2004. And at some point in this lonely, depressing, frustrating two year span I discovered a morning sports talk show called Mike & Mike in the Morning, which had premiered on the radio in January 2000 and began being simulcast on ESPN2 in 2004. I was a little late to the party but was almost instantly hooked.

 

Mike Golic had been a journeyman defensive lineman in the NFL during the late 1980’s & early 90’s. Mike Greenberg was amongst a plethora of virtually indistinguishable ESPN anchors. At best I was vaguely aware of the two. Like so many retired athletes Golic segued into sports media after his playing career was over and eventually landed at ESPN doing a morning radio show with a guy named Tony Bruno. Greenberg got his degree in journalism from Northwestern and spent a few years covering sports in Chicago during the latter half of Michael Jordan’s epic career before landing in Bristol. When Bruno abruptly left The Mothership Greeny was asked to fill in on the radio show, and the rest is history. The show grew into a powerhouse, with Greeny & Golic becoming household names (atleast to sports fans). They did commercials, wrote a book, appeared multiple times on Letterman, and dined with Presidents.

 

On a personal level Mike & Mike became a semi-regular part of my daily routine. Work schedules & sleep habits have changed a few times in the past decade, and I can’t honestly say that I have consistently been glued to my television every weekday for all four hours, but I made an effort to catch chunks of the show as often as life allowed. It has not been unusual for me to wake up or arrive home from work and immediately turn the television to ESPN2 to check out what Mike & Mike had to say about last night’s ballgame, the latest blockbuster trade or unfortunate injury, and whatever else might be happening in the world of sports. On top of that we were regularly treated to discussions/debates/arguments about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie (it is), the relative merits of Batman as a superhero (he is the BEST superhero), hilarious conversations about turkey giblets at Thanksgiving, & other pieces of The Mikes personalities that they willingly cast forth for public consumption. They integrated pop culture into their show without losing focus on sports and didn’t ignore big news stories yet never got bogged down with them. They made the annual NCAA March Madness basketball tournament even more enjoyable with their Sheets of Integrity Bracket Wager, which led to memorable moments like Greeny milking a cow and Golic getting his body waxed. From 2010 to 2013 they won the Sammy Award for Favorite TV Show during my annual fake awards year in review, something that may not mean anything to anybody else but which I assure you I take as seriously as almost anything I post here at The Manofesto.

 

Like so many great duos they were opposites. Greeny is the neurotic, germophobic fussbudget that one is as likely to find at a wine tasting or poetry reading as you would a sporting event, while Golic is the laid back, straight talking, pudgy tough guy that you’d hang out with in a mancave drinking beer & watching the ballgame. That kind of “opposites attract” formula has worked forever, from Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello to Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson or Felix & Oscar in The Odd Couple.

 

A few years ago I read somewhere that the show was going to be relocating from Bristol, CT to New York City, which seemed odd. One important aspect of Mike & Mike had always been its plethora of guests, from various ESPN insiders to former players & coaches to guys like comedian Frank Caliendo. They had also made various members of their staff semi-famous by utilizing them in on-air segments, an idea popularized by David Letterman. Also, if I have had one criticism of Greeny & Golic over the years it is that they seemed to take copious amounts of time off, with one or the other or sometimes both missing days here & there. However that was never a huge issue because there was always a deep pool of talent on the ESPN campus to use as substitute hosts. How was all of that going to work if they transplanted the entire production to The Big Apple?? The story was never addressed by The Mikes on the program or anywhere else that I am aware of, and so the idea just kind of faded into the ether. I didn’t know if it had been a false rumor all along or if someone…possibly Greeny, Golic, or both…killed the plan. I’m a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of guy, so not moving the show was just fine by me. But then…..

 

About a year ago the rumors began swirling again, only this time it was being said that ESPN was ending the show altogether!! And it wasn’t one of those things that I had to question whether I had actually read it or not or if maybe I was losing my mind…the story was everywhere. At one point it was being said that the two had turned against each other and were no longer speaking, that their continued on-air interaction was just an excellent performance. That made me profoundly sad. Eventually The Mikes did address the situation on-air, announcing that Greeny was getting his own show in 2018 (emanating from NY City), and that Golic would continue on with a revamped version of the current show co-hosted by ESPN mainstay Trey Wingo. The situation was clearly uncomfortable for the two men, especially Golic. However, I came away with the impression that the two are legitimately on good terms and that these decisions were not made by them or motivated by any dislike, anger, or negativity.

 

I am still not clear on why the powers-that-be decided to make these moves. Perhaps it is kind of like splitting pairs in blackjack. Someone decided that these two guys are at the top of the ESPN food chain so why not have two shows instead of one. That makes sense to a degree, although as a fan I still hate it. Maybe I am wrong and Greeny did desire to move on. While Golic seems perfectly content to be doing just what he is doing and probably understands that as an ex-athlete co-hosting ESPN’s flagship show is a better outcome than he ever could have dreamed of, Greeny is a “journalist” who has a track record of side projects like writing a couple of novels and hosting game shows on ABC. Did he feel like his career had stagnated?? Did he feel the need to flex his professional muscles and do something different?? Or was this just another head-scratching decision by corporate types who seem hell bent on ruining the remarkable legacy of ESPN?? I don’t know the answers and no one is offering any further explanation. There will probably be a tell-all book in the future, but for now we’ll just have to wonder.

 

Mike & Mike has been business as usual the past few months, even with the end looming in the distance. They have informed & entertained as they always had. They continued to make us laugh and make us think. They dressed up for Halloween as in previous years (Mike & Mike always did Halloween right). The show has been early morning comfort food just as it always has been. I made more of an effort to tune in than I had been making for the past year or two because sometimes you don’t fully appreciate something until it’s gone, but fortunately in this case we all got to say a long goodbye.

 

And now it’s over. I’m an 80’s kid, and because of my physical limitations I have always leaned toward more sedentary pursuits like reading books & watching television. I believe there are two types of people in the world…TV People and Non-TV People. My friend & brother from another mother The Owl doesn’t even own a television and hasn’t cared about any show for decades. Conversely, I watch way too much television and have always had a special place in my heart for series finales, probably because I’m sentimental & hate change, so endings always kind of make me verklempt. I have seen a lot of fantastic TV shows come & go. The Cosby Show. Cheers. Dallas. Friends. Seinfeld. Mike & Mike joins an impressive lineup in the television graveyard.

 

Golic & Wingo will fill the old show’s 6-10am time slot on ESPN2 starting the week after Thanksgiving and then move to ESPNNews next year. I like Trey Wingo well enough, and I’m sure that program will be entertaining…but it won’t be the same. Citizens of The Manoverse know of my fondness for The Andy Griffith Show and may recall that it ran for eight seasons in the 1960s. However, after Season 5 Don Knotts (aka Deputy Barney Fife) departed, and his exit happened to coincide with the show transitioning from black & white to color. It’s not that the final three seasons of TAGS aren’t good…but sans Knotts and produced in color they just aren’t as…enchanting…as the black & white episodes. It’s all about chemistry & balance, and I’m just not feeling the Golic & Wingo vibe quite yet. It’ll be an uphill climb to equal the impact of Mike & Mike. We’ll see.

 

Greeny’s new 7-10am show called Get Up will premiere on ESPN in April and apparently be co-hosted by Michelle Beadle & Jalen Rose. I don’t find that combination appealing at all. I suppose I’ll check it out, but my initial reaction is that it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I could be wrong.

 

So here we are looking into the void once more. Life moves forward. The sun will rise, birds will chirp, & the teeming masses will get on with our lives. In the grand scheme of life the fate of a silly little television show doesn’t amount to all that much. We certainly face more significant concerns. But for those of us who invested so many morning hours in Mike & Mike and looked forward to being entertained, informed, & briefly distracted from life’s bigger problems there is some degree of mourning. We don’t know why these changes have been made and would have preferred things remained the same. That’s not how it went down though. There is a maxim that says “don’t be sad because it’s over…be happy that it happened in the first place”, and I suppose that’ll have to suffice. Kudos to Greeny & Golic for almost two decades of excellence and best wishes for the new shows. Thank you, and goodbye.

Winning & Musing…Volume 6.17

Sorry non-sports fans…there are a few things going on about which I feel compelled to comment. Take heart though…the holidays are coming up soon so there is some fun stuff in the pipeline, and of course there a couple of long term projects that I need to complete plus one or two that I need to actually get started on, so if you’re not into football or basketball stay with me…I won’t forget about y’all.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the Houston Astros for winning their first World Series championship. I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in the Series this year, but a disaster was averted when Houston beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS because a Yankees-Dodgers World Series would’ve had zero appeal for me. I know that sounds strange, but as a sports fan I need an underdog, a little engine that could, to root for. I enjoy a good David vs. Goliath story. I realize that’s not how the real world works. In reality the bigger, better entity with more power, money, & influence wins the vast majority of the time in virtually all walks of life. However, part of the romance in sports is that sometimes the little guy actually wins, and that’s not just a fantasy birthed in 1976 with Rocky. In my opinion it’s kind of weak & uninspiring to jump on the Goliath bandwagon. Before this season the Astros hadn’t won a division title since 2001 and had only made the playoffs once since 2005. They’d played in just one World Series since the franchise’s inception in 1962, losing to the Chicago White Sox in 2005. In the past decade they’d had seven losing seasons, including a three year stretch from 2011-13 in which they were a combined 162-324. So even though Houston itself is the 4th largest city in America the Astros have never been among baseball’s elite…until now. It doesn’t hurt that the games themselves were really fun to watch, and anytime we get to a Game 7 in anything it’s pretty cool. I’m sure the L.A. Dodgers will be back in the thick of things next year. They’ll go out and buy a couple of bigtime free agents or make a blockbuster trade. Same with the Yankees. Second place isn’t good enough for such teams. They think that, because of their huge TV market and bottomless coffers, they’re entitled to a trophy. But all of that just makes me yawn.

 

 

Speaking of yawning…

I guess the NASCAR season is almost over?? Honestly I haven’t watched a race since…the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend…I think. And unlike the past couple of years when I was consciously objecting to NASCAR for various reasons, in 2017 I haven’t even given NASCAR a second thought. I just don’t care. They totally lost me as a fan. Their “playoffs” are stupid, their stage racing is stupid, and their drivers are boring. I’m probably supposed to get all misty & nostalgic about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement, but I don’t care about that either. He’s just a sellout who has never been worthy of carrying his father’s name. Good riddance.

 

 

Dear ESPN: Declining ratings for football has EVERYTHING to do with anthem protests and politics interfering with our enjoyment of sports. Y’all can try to spin things all you want, blaming injuries and weak teams to deflect from the controversy, but just as your ratings have deteriorated due to not-so-subtle sociopolitical propagandizing with which a sizeable portion of the audience disagrees, football is suffering for also promoting a provocative agenda unrelated to the sport that fans tune in to watch. These people are so insufferably full of themselves and impressed with their own intellect that they’ve become totally out of touch with the viewing public.

 

 

It’s still really early in the NBA season, but I can’t help but chuckle at the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers & San Antonio Spurs are off to subpar starts, and the Golden State Warriors have lost more games in the first few weeks of the season than they did before the end of November last year. Perhaps if players & coaches for those teams had spent the offseason appreciating their success and preparing for more of the same instead of flapping their gums and displaying their ignorance about real world issues they’d be winning more games right now. Sadly it is probable that all three teams will be just fine, make deep playoff runs, & battle for the NBA Championship, but I’d like nothing better than for them to struggle all season and make early playoff exits. Just as the NFL is learning, the NBA needs to eventually realize that we just want them to shut their pieholes and play ball.

 

 

As recently noted, I have no issue with the initial College Football Playoff rankings that put Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, & Clemson at the top for the moment. But you can bet that if the final four team field includes two teams from the same conference & an independent and excludes three of the Power 5 conference champions that playoff expansion debates will heat up really quick. We’ve known all along that it would happen eventually. Expansion of the playoff has been inevitable from the beginning. I’d like to see a six team field, with the top two teams receiving a bye, but I assume that what we’ll get at some point is an eight team playoff. I don’t care what the talking heads say…if conferences are going to continue to exist then conference championships need to mean something, otherwise what’s the point??

Winning & Musing…Volume 4.17

I am well aware that some citizens of The Manoverse are not sports fans and skip right past posts like these. That’s okay, I understand, and stay tuned for other non-sports goodness coming your way. I also know that I just published the previous edition of W&M less than a week ago. But I’ve got more to say and I just can’t hold it in, so climb on, strap in, & ride the wave!!

 

 

 

 

In offering thoughts about the NFL Draft I neglected to address one significant topic of conversation…running back Joe Mixon. The Cincinnati Bengals chose Mixon in the second round, and the looks of disdain on the faces of the talking heads could not go unnoticed. In 2014…his freshman year at Oklahoma…Mixon pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for punching a woman in a restaurant during the summer before the school year began. The details of the incident aren’t important and I am NOT here to defend Mixon. His actions were appalling…few would dispute that fact. Having said that, I have two issues with how the situation has been handled & reported. First of all, I fervently disagree with anyone who equates Mixon’s circumstances with those of former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice, who you’ll recall was suspended from the NFL in 2014 after punching his fiancée (now wife) in an Atlantic City elevator. Rice hasn’t played a down of football since and probably never will again. The huge difference to me is that Rice was a 27 year old professional who should’ve known better. I have no problem with the fact that he hasn’t gotten another opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s a privilege to do so, not a right. Conversely, Mixon was a barely 18 year old college freshman. He was suspended for a year from the Oklahoma football program and caused no further issues after his return. Yet there were reportedly NFL teams that didn’t have him on their draft boards at all, and after he was drafted guys like ESPN’s Adam Schefter (who I usually like a lot) looked like they might actually cry, vomit, or do both simultaneously. Where’s the mercy?? Holy cow…if we were all held perpetually accountable for the idiotic things we did in high school and/or college I know a plethora of successful people who never would have gotten a job interview. Granted, punching a woman in the face is much more serious than the stupidity that my friends & I engaged in during our youth, but the point still stands. Joe Mixon did something truly awful as an 18 year old kid. He shouldn’t have to pay for it for the rest of his life. Admittedly it was a bit tone deaf for the Bengals, who’ve had more than their fair share of lawbreaking miscreants don the orange & black in the past decade or two, to choose Mixon, but that’s on them. I assume the young man will be under a zero tolerance policy, and rightfully so. If he even so much as looks angrily at someone he should be waived and forced to get a 9 to 5 job like the rest of us working stiffs, but if he stays on the straight & narrow I think allowing him to pursue a professional football career is proper. The other issue I have with this whole thing is the relatively new idea that professional athletes need to be model citizens. I have opined multiple times over the years that just because an individual can run fast or has superior athletic skill doesn’t mean they are a good person, and it didn’t used to be a requirement. The history of sports is chockful of drunks, junkies, bullies, & criminals of all kinds, from baseball’s Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb to football’s Joe Namath & Lawrence Taylor to basketball’s Dennis Rodman & Allen Iverson and many many other examples from every level of athletics. Some people ultimately ruined their careers while others were just branded as “colorful”, but because they were supremely talented all were given an opportunity…oftentimes numerous opportunities…and no one seemed to mind. However, in the ultra-PC 21st century there are those eager to toss aside someone who made one big mistake when he was barely 18 years old?? Again I ask…where is the mercy??

 

 

Add NFL Hall-of-Famer and favorite Steeler Jerome Bettis to the list of those dismissed in the much discussed ESPN bloodbath. I’m a huge fan of The Bus, but I’m not shedding too many tears for him because I happen to know that he’s involved in various business pursuits and will land on his feet just fine. To be honest he didn’t add all that much to the already copious amount of NFL coverage on The Mothership and likely won’t be missed.

 

 

I wonder if journalist Brian Windhorst gets down on his knees every night and thanks the Good Lord above for Lebron James?? Windhorst has parlayed a local career in his hometown of Akron, OH during which he covered Lebron’s high school games into a gig with the Akron Beacon-Journal, then the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, & now ESPN. He has basically been Lebron’s personal reporter for almost two decades, and now he has written a book that I just finished reading called Return of the King, about Lebron’s homecoming to Cleveland a few years ago and the Cavaliers’ failure then success in pursuit of an NBA title. The book is pretty good if you’re into those kind of books, which I am. Good job Windy!!

 

 

 

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who gutted out a seven game series victory over the Washington Capitals to move on in the NHL playoffs. The Pens will have to take down the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals to earn a shot at defending their Stanley Cup championship.

 

 

 

Some ideas to “fix” the NBA:

*Expansion. It is necessary for my math to work. There are currently 30 teams in the league, but we need 32. Maybe you give Seattle a team back. Ditto for Vancouver. How about Vegas?? The NFL’s Raiders are moving there and the NHL is expanding there as well, so why not?? I’m a little partial to the idea of awarding a team to Pittsburgh. I don’t know…discuss amongst yourselves. All I know is that we need two additional teams.

*32 teams would allow us to reduce each team’s schedule from 82 games to 77. Not much of a decrease, but every little bit helps, right?? I’m tired of all the whining about resting players & such. The league would be split into an Eastern & Western Conference. Divide each conference into North & South divisions if you want…it doesn’t really matter. A team would play everyone else in their conference three times…45 games. They’d play each team in the other conference twice…32 games. 45+32=77.

*I’m not sure how you’d handle scheduling. My vote would be to play as many back-to-back games as possible to reduce travel just as they do in MLB, but basketball players seem to complain a lot about back-to-back games. I’ll leave it up to people smarter than me to figure out logistics.

*Even though we are expanding the league and reducing regular season games we’re still going to go ahead and trim the playoff field from 8 teams in each conference to 6. The top two teams in each conference (you could make these division champs) get a first round bye. Each first round series is just three games, as is each second round series. The conference finals are 5 game series, and the NBA Finals would be the only round with a 7 game series.

*Out of the 26 teams that don’t make the playoffs the BEST five go into the Draft Lottery to see who gets the #1 pick. Well…actually it’d decide the top five picks. If you still want to do the bouncy ball thing then each team’s number of balls would be equal to their number of wins. After that win/loss records would determine the draft order. So the worst team in the league would receive the 6th overall pick. This system would eliminate the ridiculous practice of tanking, which is a stain on the league. Not only would good teams be competing to make the playoffs in the waning days of the regular season, but not so good teams would be competing to get into the lottery rather than purposely losing. It would encourage competitive balance and wise management, because teams that just missed the playoffs are (theoretically) adding the best players, putting playoff teams on notice.

 

 

I said about a month ago that I would postpone offering an opinion on my Pittsburgh Pirates until a little further into the season. Well, we are more than 30 games in and the Pirates are dead last in their division and painful to watch. We Pirates fans endured two decades of losing until a few years ago, then had a couple of years when the team actually made the playoffs as a wildcard. But now it feels like we are right back to square one. I’ve never believed that pitcher Gerrit Cole is a true ace, but he’s the best they’ve got and there is chatter about him being traded. Outfielder Starling Marte screwed the pooch by getting suspended for most of the season for PED use, but I’m not sure his presence would make that much of a difference. There has been talk of trading all-star outfielder Andrew McCutchen as far back as last season, but even if they keep him it feels like his prime years are being wasted. I watch games and don’t even know who some of these guys are!! I am tempted to say that it’s time for manager Clint Hurdle to go, that he is too passive and the players aren’t listening to him anymore. That may be true, but I don’t think changing managers would help that much either. The problem with the Pirates is ownership. The business is profitable and fans continue to fill the ballpark because that’s just how dedicated & loyal Pittsburghers and fans from surrounding areas are. It’s in their DNA. Winning would be a nice bonus, but it doesn’t seem necessary to the powers-that-be. I don’t have any answers. I wish I did.