The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part I

Awards Season has arrived!!

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the 2020 Sammy Awards!! It is with no small amount of trepidation that we take a look back at a year that most would likely just as soon forget, but after taking a hiatus from these awards in 2019 the decision has been made to press on. We’ll do the best we can to do our little tongue-in-cheek review of all the ups & downs of the past twelve months with as much positivity & mirth as possible, while also treating certain subjects with the respect & gravitas they deserve.

 

This actually seems like the perfect time to bring back The Sammys. After all, it’s a fake awards show, so there is no social distancing or masks required, although if you feel it necessary to get tested for Covid-19 when we are done that is your decision. This year’s show would obviously be broadcast on Zoom and perhaps Facebook Live, although those damn “fact” checkers might be a problem (thanks to that affluent douchebag Zuckerberg). At any rate, as always, we consider The Sammy Awards to be much cooler that The Oscars or The Grammys, and much more relevant than anything presented on MTV.  We originally invited the lovely Hilaria Baldwin (wife of actor Alec Baldwin) to be our host, but unfortunately she is quarantining after contact tracing determined she may have been exposed to The Coronavirus (or, as she is calling it, The “Spanish” Flu). Fortunately we found a last minute replacement (actually a major upgrade), and it is a huge honor to welcome an Academy Award nominated actor and star of legendary films like Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, & Scrooged. Please give a warm welcome to Bill Murray!!

 

After an amusing opening monologue from our esteemed host it is time to present our first award. To do that we are thrilled to welcome back not only a former NFL lineman & Hall-of-Fame broadcaster, but the winner of multiple Sammy Awards who recently departed ESPN (he’s a white male so he no longer aligns with their wokeness) after two decades of awesomeness. Eat a donut in honor of Mike Golic Sr!! And the nominees are:

 

 

The Thrill of Victory Award

 

Las Vegas Raiders

I’m not sure on field expectations were all that high for the Raiders coming off a 7-9 record in 2019, their third losing season in a row. However, everyone associated with the team and the entire fanbase had to be psyched about a change of scenery to Sin City. Then Covid-19 happened, so instead of playing in front of 65,000 screaming fans at the brand spanking new Allegiant Stadium the Raiders got to play in an empty or nearly empty venue (the rules seemingly differed for each team and changed weekly). But while that is sad there is hope for the future. The Raiders finished 8-8, nearly making the playoffs. America’s Playground will bounce back, and there are strong reasons to believe their new hometown football team will be part of the recovery.

 

LSU’s National Championship

It seems like a lifetime ago, but the Bayou Bengals beat Clemson on January 13, 2020 to claim their fourth National Championship in football. Unfortunately they were unable to follow-up on that success this season and finished with a 5-5 record.

 

Kansas City Wins Super Bowl

QB Patrick Mahomes was the 10th choice in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, meaning nine teams passed on him. In just his third season Mahomes made those nine teams look totally foolish when he led the Chiefs to a win over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl to claim their first Lombardi Trophy in a half century.

 

Dodgers Win World Series

The Sickness negatively affected sports in a multitude of ways in 2020, and one result was a truncated 60 game MLB regular season. To be honest I was facing my own challenges last summer and paid very little attention to baseball, but the Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a World Series that no hardcore fan outside of Los Angeles will ever remember with much reverence or respect. Congrats I guess.

 

Brady’s Move

Regardless of what the talking heads say I will never recognize Tom Brady as the GOAT, but I was thankful to see him leave the hated New England Patriots after two decades and six Super Bowl victories. His move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave us the opportunity to find out who was more responsible for the Pats’ success…Brady or head coach Bill Belichick. The result?? New England missed the playoffs for only the second time since 2000 (the first was 2008 when Brady went down with a torn ACL in the opener and missed the rest of the season), while Tampa finished 11-5 and will be making their first playoff appearance since 2007. I have to admit I am somewhat surprised how it all shook out.

 

Lebron Gets Another Ring

The NBA had their season interrupted by The Sickness and had to play the entirety of their playoffs in a “bubble” in Orlando, FL. At the end of the day the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat to win their 17th title. Lebron James is now 36 years old and has played in the NBA nearly half his life, winning four rings in the process. He may not be the greatest player on the planet anymore, but he’s still better that 95% of the league.

 

Tyson’s Comeback

Mike Tyson last fought professionally in 2005, losing to a guy no one had ever heard of. It was an ignoble ending to the legendary career of The Baddest Man on the Planet. Flash ahead to November 2020 when Tyson fought an 8 round exhibition against former Olympian Roy Jones Jr. The bout was scored a draw, but the sad part is that it took place at L.A.’s Staples Center in front of no fans. Under normal circumstances one can reasonably assume a raucous packed house would have made the event truly special, but it wasn’t to be. At 54 years of age it is unlikely that Tyson will receive many more opportunities, but it would be great to see him go out with a big crowd in attendance.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

The Kansas City Chiefs. 2020 was a pretty tough year for sports. Events were cancelled. Players & coaches tested positive for the virus and had to miss games. Seasons were abbreviated. Stadiums were empty. Fortunately KC won their championship before all of that was an issue. And it probably isn’t the last time they’ll be competing in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs look like they could be a team to be reckoned with for many years to come.

 

We feel like 2020 was such a traumatic experience that some cathartic laughter might be a good idea. To help us do that it is a pleasure to welcome back God’s Comic Brad Stine!!

 

 

After Brad Stine has tickled our funny bone with his unique brand of clean comedy it is time to present our next award. To do that it is a pleasure to welcome one of America’s funniest character actors. He has had roles in a variety of television shows, including Hearts Afire (a 90’s sitcom starring John Ritter & Markie Post), Reba, and Boston Legal, but his fame rose to new heights during the pandemic by way of hilarious & heartwarming viral videos, providing us all a chuckle when we really needed it. Please show some love for Leslie Jordan!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Favorite Viral Videos

 

Tipsy Bartender

Skyy John is an actor/bartender from The Bahamas. Apparently he has been doing Tipsy Bartender videos for several years but I am a little late to the party. The videos themselves are pretty short, but they are the perfect blend of informative & entertaining. I knew I was going to like Skyy when he made his affection for blue curacao (an orange liqueur) evident because Blue Hawaiians were one of my favorite drinks back in college.

 

Family Feud

Nothing is more of an indicator of the shifting winds of entertainment than Family Feud. How so?? Well, while I am rarely inclined to sit down & watch an entire half hour episode I’m more than happy to watch brief videos highlighting a particularly amusing question or a totally stupid answer that elicits a hilarious response from host Steve Harvey. I’m old enough to remember original host Richard Dawson kissing every female contestant on the lips…something that would be considered weird & inappropriate by modern standards. Instead, Harvey’s charm & comedic chops make the program entertaining, especially in small bites.

  

BatDad

Back in 2013 Blake Wilson purchased a Batman mask from a Target in Florida and began posting Vines of himself interacting with his wife & children while wearing the mask and talking in the low pitched throatiness popularized by Christian Bale’s version of The Caped Crusader in the Dark Knight movies. Seven years later Vine no longer exists and BatDad is divorced from his seemingly unamused wife Jen, but the videos are still going strong.

 

The Holderness Family

Penn & Kim Holderness used to be talking heads on TV news programs, but soon after posting some videos on YouTube in 2013 they became a lot more famous. Their videos consist of parody songs and other comedy bits poking fun at slice-of-life Americana like Hallmark Christmas movies & of course dealing with quarantine. They are quite talented & funny, and their two children seem to enjoy being part of the show.

 

The Williams Sisters on Instagram

Kimberly Williams-Paisley & her sister Ashley Williams are both actresses. These days they mostly star in television movies, but Kimberly’s very first acting gig was in 1991’s Father of the Bride (one of my favorite movies of all time), while I still remember Ashley from the sitcom Good Morning Miami that only lasted one season almost twenty years ago. During the pandemic they have been going live on Instagram once a week, and it’s just a conversation between two sisters. They cover a wide array of subjects, laughing hysterically the entire time. Ashley especially has an infectious laugh. I have come to appreciate simplicity, and the charm of two sisters just having fun talking to each other and letting us eavesdrop is undeniable.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

Tipsy Bartender. I don’t even drink anymore. I sowed my wild oats in college, but now, more than two decades later, you are much more likely to see me drinking skim milk or iced tea than liquor, and my favorite kind of beer is root beer. Mixology has always intrigued me though, so I enjoy watching various concoctions being created even if I know darn well I’ll never drink it myself. It’s kind of like my affection for The Food Network despite the fact that my own culinary efforts rarely go beyond throwing something in the microwave or cooking spaghetti then tossing a jar of sauce over it. If you enjoy an occasional adult beverage these videos are fascinating and a lot of fun.

 

 

Our next award is a very special honor being given to a person who has been an influence in my life for thirty years. To make the presentation we are pleased to welcome two young ladies who have likely looked to our honoree as an inspiration in their own careers as political pundits and will carry on his legacy for many years to come. Please give a warm welcome to Candace Owens & Tomi Lahren!!

 

 

The Duffer-Herrell Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Rush Limbaugh

 

When I was in college my best friend Greg gave me a book entitled The Way Things Ought to Be. I had heard a little bit about Rush Limbaugh, but I thought he was a shock jock that I’d not find entertaining at all. I was wrong. I read Rush’s book and it was a revelation. He made so much sense, opening my eyes to ideas I’d never known I always believed. Over the next two decades I was an avid listener of his daily talk show, and really enjoyed the TV show he hosted all too briefly in the early 90’s. I am well aware that many people don’t like Rush at all, but I think a lot of those folks are misinformed. Though he has mellowed in recent years I readily admit that back in the day he could be quite abrasive, oftentimes intentionally offensive, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. However, I believe his reputation for being outrageous has always been overblown. More than once I have encountered people who claim they hated Rush but hadn’t actually listened to his program…something I’ve always found to be intellectually dishonest. You might not agree with his political beliefs, but Rush is hardly Satan’s evil minion. To be honest I think he was ahead of his time. People weren’t quite ready for his brutal honesty, refusal to kowtow to opposing ideas, and faux bravado three decades ago, but now everybody is copying his shtick and turning the volume to 11. Rush was a major player in the conservative movement of the mid-1990’s, and the Clinton years when Slick Willie was the perfect adversary for Rush to play off of were definitely the golden age of his reign over talk radio. I haven’t listened to his show all that much the past several years because I am not as into politics as I used to be. I no longer have the stomach for intense debate with people who will never try to see my point of view no matter how conciliatory I am toward them. The ballyhooed mean-spiritedness assigned to Rush pales in comparison to how divisive and malicious people can be these days. He’s kind of like the classic horror movies from the 1930’s…sure they are horror films, but they aren’t nearly as gory & violent as modern horror films. In that same way Rush’s alleged malevolence almost seems quaint when compared to what is presented every day & night on the cable news channels. At any rate, I spent countless hours thru the years learning from Rush, being entertained by him, and awakening to the indoctrination pervasive in so many powerful entities that shape & dictate our lives. Sadly Rush Limbaugh’s time in the public arena is coming to a close. He is battling lung cancer and has already lived longer than expected. I am sure there are people who will celebrate his demise, but I am not one of them. If you are I will say a prayer for you. To Rush all I can say is godspeed and thank you for everything you have meant in my life.

 

 

This feels like a good place to pause, but please stay tuned for Part 2 of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

 

The 2018 Sammy Awards – Part III

Greetings Manoverse, and welcome to the exciting conclusion of the 2018 Sammy Awards. If you haven’t already done so, please go back and check out parts 1 & 2, then we’ll meet back here.

 

 

 

All caught up?? Awesome. Please welcome back the host of our show, British comedian & talk show host Michael McIntyre!!

 

 

 

 

After some side-splitting comedy from our host it’s time to present our next award. It is a privilege for this show to reunite what ESPN never should have separated. For nearly two decades they made early morning weekday hours fun & informative for sports fans everywhere, and along the way they picked up five Sammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award a year ago. They’re still on TV & radio, but the magic is gone, so it is wonderful to have them together again on our stage. Please welcome author, vociferous New York Jets fan, & the host of ESPN’s Get Up, Mike Greenberg, and former NFL defensive lineman & host of ESPN’s Golic & Wingo, Mike Golic!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Best Sports Story

 

The Tide Rolls Again

The 2017-18 Alabama Crimson Tide went 11-1 in the regular season and failed to even make it to the SEC title game…but it didn’t matter. The powers-that-be handed them a spot in the College Football Playoff anyway, and the Tide rolled to their 17th National Championship, their fifth in nine years with head coach Nick Saban at the helm.

 

Dr. Larry Nassar

Dr. Nassar was a physician at Michigan State University and for about 15 years served as the team doctor for USA Gymnastics. During that time he sexually abused over 200 young people, and after being sent to prison in 2017 for child pornography in 2018 he was convicted of sexual assault to minors, so he’ll be spending the rest of his life in jail and one can assume eternity in Hell.

 

Philly Wins The Super Bowl

The 2017-18 Philadelphia Eagles went 13-3 in the regular season, easily winning their division. They proceeded to cruise thru the playoffs and clash with the dastardly New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII (that’s 52 for all you non-Romans out there). What makes the story interesting is that starting quarterback Carson Wentz was lost to a torn ACL late in the season, so the Eagles ended their regular season and faced the playoffs with journeyman backup QB Nick Foles under center. Fortunately for Philly fans Foles was up to the task, and he even caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.

 

The Olympics

There was a Winter Olympics in South Korea last February. Did anyone notice?? Does anyone remember a single solitary thing that happened?? I didn’t think so.

 

The Madness of a 16 Over a 1

Villanova beat Michigan to win the NCAA basketball tournament (aka March Madness), but that wasn’t the most interesting part of the event. Two other things stood out. Probably the most enduring image of the tournament is the 11th seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, with their Gryffindor-esque scarves & 98 year old nun Sister Jean cheering them on, making it to the Final Four. But before that history was made in the first round when the 16th seed UMBC Retrievers upset the #1 seed Virginia Cavaliers…the first time a 16 has ever beat a 1.

 

Tiger Woods

Once upon a time Tiger Woods was not only the best golfer in the world, he was probably the top athlete overall. Of course we all know that health problems & personal issues knocked him off that perch nearly ten years ago, and it’s been a long road back. At one time it was a foregone conclusion that Woods would surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, but in the past several years most began to question whether he would ever win another major…or even a tournament. However, in 2018 Woods began to somewhat resemble his old self on the course, winning the Tour Championship in September, placing sixth at the British Open, & finishing as the runner up at the PGA Championship.

 

Ovechkin Wins The Cup

Alex Ovechkin has been considered one of the best hockey players in the world since debuting with the Washington Capitals more than a decade ago. However, his talent had not translated into post-season success, with the Caps being ousted early year after year. That all changed in 2018, as Ovechkin led his team to their first Stanley Cup.

 

The Warriors Beat Lebron…Again

The Golden State Warriors have faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for four straight seasons. In 2015 & 2017 the Warriors won pretty easily. In 2016 Lebron James willed the Cavaliers to a Game 7 victory. What would happen in 2018?? Well…a sweep for Golden St. It wasn’t pretty, and really not that interesting.

 

France Wins The World Cup

Look, I realize that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. I know we Americans march to the beat of a different drummer. I have tried to develop an interest in soccer, but I just can’t do it. At any rate, Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, and France defeated Croatia in the final. The United States failed to even qualify for the tournament, so any infinitesimal interest some of us might have had pretty much died before the event even began.

 

LA-Bron

After another crushing defeat in the NBA Finals it became clear that Lebron James wouldn’t be spending the last few years of his basketball career wasting away in Cleveland. The fact that he ever returned in the first place is a miracle because it is obvious that James’ relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wasn’t great, and that Gilbert doesn’t really have the means or the alacrity to put together a championship caliber team. Thankfully James’ didn’t make the same mistakes he made back when he initially ditched the Cavs for the Miami Heat in 2010. There was no “Decision” on TV. Whether it is the glitz & glamor of Hollywood, the history of Showtime, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, et al, planning ahead for a future after basketball, or the allure of working with team President Magic Johnson, it came as no surprise when Lebron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers. After a shaky start the Lakers are in playoff contention, although they probably can’t be considered legit title contenders at the moment.

 

Urban Meyer

2018 was quite the roller coaster ride for Ohio State Buckeyes football coach Urban Meyer. He was suspended for the first three games of the season after mishandling domestic violence allegations against a former assistant coach. The team fared well without him and looked like solid playoff contenders, but an October loss to Purdue doomed the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes. Meyer announced that he’d retire following the team’s bowl game due to a cyst on his brain that he’s been battling for years. From what I understand the cyst is not life threatening and isn’t usually a big deal for those that have them, but Meyer’s situation seems to be a bit more than a minor annoyance. He ended his career (for now) with a big Rose Bowl victory, and since he’s only 54 years old who knows what the future may hold for him.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

The Philadelphia Eagles. It’d be tempting to give Philly the award simply for beating the hated Patriots in the Super Bowl, but the fact that they did it with a backup quarterback (who was named Super Bowl MVP) and used a fun little trick play called The Philly Special to secure the victory just made the story even cooler. Can history repeat itself this year?? Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Before we hand out the final award of the evening it is our pleasure to welcome one of the most talented singers in the world. His wheelhouse is old jazz standards made popular by crooners like Frank Sinatra, Van Morrison, Dean Martin, & others, but he has produced some lovely original pop tunes and is a must listen during the Christmas season. To sing a medley of his hits & personal favorites please welcome Michael Bublè!!

 

 

Thank you Michael!! That was tremendous!!

 

 

To present our final award The Sammys are honored to welcome the oldest presenter in our brief history. At 96 years of age she is still making us laugh, as she has consistently done during a career that has spanned eight decades. She has starred in beloved television programs like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, & Mama’s Family, made frequent appearances on game shows like Match Game, The $25,000 Pyramid, & Password, and is a reliably funny guest on talk shows for many years. It is a sincere honor to welcome Betty White to the Sammy Awards. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

 

North Korean Summit

Back in June President Trump traveled to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It was the first ever summit between leaders of the two nations. The two men discussed Korean denuclearization and signed an agreement meant to lead to lasting peace between their countries.

 

Another Royal Wedding

In May Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles & Princess Diana, married American actress Meghan Markle. I’ll give the Brits this much…they know how to make a spectacle out of just about anything.

 

Illegal Immigration, Border Security, & The Migrant Caravan

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”. So goes the poem that is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. It is true that the United States is a nation of immigrants. No one is disputing that. The issue is how & where such immigration takes place. There has to be a system. There have to be rules. There must be accountability. America is a melting pot, and when people come here we expect them to adhere to our laws, pay taxes, become productive members of society, and embrace our culture & way of life. You can’t just sneak in, live anonymously, & take take take take without contributing while breaking any rules you don’t feel like following. President Trump’s promise to build a “big beautiful wall” along the southern border was a cornerstone of his 2016 campaign, and now Democrats refuse to greenlight funding for the project. The majority of Americans are in favor of border security, but it sure seems like certain politicians in DC are putting their hatred of the President ahead of the will of the people, and for a very long time it has felt like those same bureaucrats have cared a lot more about folks from other countries…like the thousands in the “Migrant Caravan” that have been heading for the United States from Central America for several months…than they do about the Americans they allegedly represent.

 

Thai Cave Rescue

In June a team of teenage soccer players toured a cave in Thailand and became trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave, trapping the entire team inside. For more than two weeks the youngsters & their coach were in the cave while a massive rescue effort involving thousands of people took shape. The entire group was eventually rescued, although one diver…a former Thai Navy SEAL…died in the process.

 

Trump-Putin Meetings

Just a few weeks after his historic summit with Kim Jong-un President Trump went to Finland for a similar get-together with Russian President Vladimir Putin. I’m not sure what was accomplished except reigniting media accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

 

Justice Kavanaugh

When Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his intention to retire at the end of July speculation immediately began about his possible replacement. After President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals it appeared that there would be the typical political posturing but a confirmation was assumed. However, what followed captured the attention of our entire nation for weeks. 52 year old professor & psychologist Christine Blasey Ford stepped forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party almost four decades ago. Though her recollections are fuzzy, the story has more holes than Sonny Corleone on the causeway in The Godfather, & she appears to be about as credible as Milli Vanilli, the news media treated Blasey Ford like the star witness at a mafia trial. What should have been a slam dunk confirmation turned into an edge-of-your-seat drama, all based on specious allegations of what Kavanaugh may or may not have done when he was a kid forty years ago. I don’t believe for a second that Kavanaugh did anything to Dr. Minnie Mouse, but even if he made a pass at her or got a bit handsy, a) how come such allegations hadn’t become a thing as he was ascending the professional ladder, & b) should we really focus that much attention on something that a person did in high school?? At the end of the day the United States Senate decided that either they didn’t believe the accusations or that it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of life. Whatever their thought process may have been Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed and now sits on The Supreme Court.

 

Parkland High School & Pittsburgh Synagogue Shootings

On Valentine’s Day a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, killing 17 students & staff members and injuring 17 others. The gunman was a 19 year old former student who had made numerous threats in the past, but everyone from local law enforcement to the FBI completely dropped the ball. In October a mass shooting occurred at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. 11 people were killed, 7 were injured, and the gunman was a 46 year old man who had posted anti-Semitic rants on social media.

 

Hurricanes Florence & Michael

Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 storm that hammered The Carolinas in September. Flooding was a bigger issue than high winds. 55 deaths occurred and the hurricane caused atleast $15 billion in damage. Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm that hit the Florida Panhandle in early October. More than 50 deaths resulted, and more than $4 billion in damage was reported in Florida & Georgia.

 

Mid-Term Elections

The 2018 mid-term elections saw the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and Republicans retain their majority in the Senate. Overall, considering the relentless pummeling President Trump has taken from the leftist media & Hollywood elite since the day he took office it is somewhat surprising that the Republicans fared as well as they did. The next couple of years should be loads of fun.

 

California Wildfires

The 2018 wildfire season is the deadliest & most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 8527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres. The fires caused more than $3.5 billion in damages and over 100 people died.

 

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Justice Kavanaugh. I have said from Day 1 that the biggest reason I voted for Donald Trump was because I trusted him to make Supreme Court nominations more than Hillary Clinton. Nearly everything else a President does can be changed with the stroke of a pen by Congress or the next President, but the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment that can shape our country for decades. There are oftentimes arguments & battles over nominees, but I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything like what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Only two people know what exactly happened at that party back in 1982…if anything happened at all. I didn’t find Christine Blasey Ford to be the least bit believable, and I am convinced that the whole debacle was a political hit job designed to destroy Trump’s nominee. However, IF something did happen to Ms. Ford and Kavanaugh was involved, then questions have to be asked. Why wasn’t this made public many years ago?? How had Kavanaugh gotten this far in his career if he is really such a scoundrel?? Should a middle-aged person be punished for being a creep when they were a teenager?? These are discussions worth having, because we need to decide acceptable parameters for destroying peoples’ lives. The Senate decided…for whatever reason…that, whether or not Brett Kavanaugh did something wrong forty years ago, he deserved an opportunity, based on his professional track record of success, to sit on the highest Court in the land, and now we prepare for the next skirmish.

 

 

 

 

 

evangelist Billy Graham…former President & First Lady George HW Bush & Barbara Bush…physicist Stephen Hawking…legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson… The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin…Hall of Fame pro wrestler Bruno Sammartino…comic book creator Stan Lee (Spider-Man, The X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man)…actress (Laverne & Shirley) and director (Big, Awakenings, A League of Their Own) Penny Marshall… TV chef Anthony Bourdain… retired NBA coaches Jack McKinney (LA Lakers, Indiana Pacers) & Tex Winter (Chicago Bulls) and players Hal Greer (Philadelphia 76ers), Jo Jo White (Boston Celtics), Clifford Rozier (Golden St. Warriors), & Lonnie Shelton (NY Knicks)…TV host Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous)…retired NFL players Jim Taylor (Green Bay Packers), Bennie Cunningham (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tommy McDonald (Philadelphia Eagles), Dwight Clark (San Francisco 49ers), Wes Hopkins (Philadelphia Eagles), Gabe Rivera (Pittsburgh Steelers), Billy Cannon (Houston Oilers), Bill Fralic (Atlanta Falcons), & Ron Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers)…former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne…Pittsburgh, PA meteorologist Joe DeNardo & sportscaster Sam Nover….actors Burt Reynolds (Smokey & The Bandit, Hooper, The Longest Yard, The Cannonball Run), Jerry Van Dyke (Coach, My Mother the Car), John Mahoney (Frasier, Say Anything, Striking Distance), Harry Anderson (Night Court), Bill Daily (I Dream of Jeannie, The Bob Newhart Show), Donnelly Rhodes (Soap, Double Trouble), Louis Zorich (Mad About You), Frank Parker (Days of Our Lives), Mickey Jones (National Lampoon’s Vacation, Tin Cup, Home Improvement), David Ogden Stiers (MASH), Chuck McCann (mostly know for TV commercials), R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket), Verne Troyer (the Austin Powers series), Donald Moffett (The Right Stuff , The Bonfire of the Vanities, Trapped in Paradise), Herb Ellis (The Andy Griffith Show), Tab Hunter (Grease 2), Daniel Pilon (Dallas, Guiding Light), Robert Mandan (Soap, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Three’s a Crowd), Joseph Campanella (Days of Our Lives), & Ken Berry (Mayberry RFD, F-Troop, Mama’s Family) …authors Tom Wolfe (The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities), William Goldman  (The Princess Bride, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men), Harlan Ellison (Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever”), & Philip Roth (American Pastoral, Portnoy’s Complaint)…retired MLB umpire Doug Harvey…Hugh Wilson (creator of WKRP in Cincinnati)…infamous gangster Whitey Bulger…Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman…NFL player Edwin Jackson (Indianapolis Colts)…actresses Margot Kidder (Superman), Charlotte Rae (Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life), Peggie McCay (Days of Our Lives, The Andy Griffith Show), Connie Sawyer (When Harry Met Sally, Dumb & Dumber), Lari White (Cast Away), Nanette Fabray (One Day at a Time), Katherine MacGregor (Little House on the Prairie), Sondra Locke (The Outlaw Josey Wales, Sudden Impact)….former MLB general manager Kevin Towers (San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks)…cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois)…retired pro golfers Bruce Lietzke & Hubert Green…musicians/singers Michael White (Thompson Twins), Vic Damone, Dean Webb (The Dillards aka The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show), DJ Fontana, Vinnie Paul (Pantera), Daryle Singletary, Roy Clark (Hee Haw), Otis Rush, Matt “Guitar” Murphy (The Blues Brothers)…retired NFL coach Chuck Knox (Seattle Seahawks)…Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man)…former MLB players Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants), Ken Howell (LA Dodgers), Red Schoendienst (St. Louis Cardinals), Tony Bartirome (Pittsburgh Pirates), Tito Francona (Cleveland Indians), Bruce Kison (Pittsburgh Pirates), & Rusty Staub (NY Mets)…fashion designer Kate Spade…British distance runner Sir Roger Bannister (ran the first sub-4-minute mile)…disc jockey Adrian Cronauer (the inspiration for Good Morning Vietnam)…UNC Tar Heels basketball announcer Woody Durham…Pulitzer Prize winning political pundit Charles Krauthammer…professional sports franchise owners Tom Benson (New Orleans Saints & Pelicans), Paul Allen (Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Seahawks, also co-founder of Microsoft), Bob McNair (Houston Texans), Wayne Huizenga (Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, & Miami Marlins, also the founder of Blockbuster Video), & Alex Spanos (Los Angeles Chargers)… former U.S. Senator & Governor of Georgia Zell Miller and U.S. Senator & former Presidential candidate John McCain… television producers Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, Doogie Howser MD), John Conboy (Capitol, Guiding Light), & Paul Junger Witt (The Golden Girls, Soap, Benson, Empty Nest, Blossom)…retired pro wrestlers/managers Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, “Luscious” Johnny Valiant, The Dynamite Kid, Big Van Vader, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Jones, Brickhouse Brown, Brian Christopher, Matt Cappotelli, Chris Champion, Jose Lothario, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, & Big Bully Busick…comedy club entrepreneur Mitzi Shore…Pulitzer Prize winning sportswriter Dave Anderson…talk radio host Art Bell…Oscar winning director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Man on the Moon)…retired college football coaches Earle Bruce (Ohio St.) & Billy Brewer (Ole Miss) and basketball coach/AD CM Newton (Kentucky)…political commentator Ed Schultz…NFL coach Tony Sparano (Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins)…Tony Award winning playwright & screenwriter Neil Simon…former Marshall Thundering Herd QB Michael Payton…brewery executive William Coors (grandson of company founder Adolph Coors)…renowned sportswriter Paul Zimmerman (Sports Illustrated, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football)… Audrey Geisel (widow of “Dr. Seuss” Theodore Geisel)…NASCAR Hall-of-Famer David Pearson… infamous brothel owner Dennis Hof (Las Vegas’ Bunny Ranch)… former WV Mountaineers assistant basketball coach Gary McPherson

Winning & Musing…Volume 4.18

So after taking the entire month of June off from publishing anything here (an unplanned hiatus but refreshing nonetheless) I’m back…locked, loaded, & ready to rock n’ roll. The truth is that I have still been writing, but it has mostly been prep work for a project soon to be unleashed upon the masses…stay tuned. In addition to doing the necessary homework for that task, working for Da Man, & living my normal mundane yet blessed life I have…as always…been keeping up with all the sports news, and now I have a few thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My man Phil Mickelson recently found himself in a bit of hot water after losing his cool during the third round of golf’s U.S. Open. A clearly frustrated Mickelson incurred a two stroke penalty on the 13th hole after hitting a ball that was still moving. If Mickelson hadn’t ran to catch up with the ball and hit it back toward the hole it was going to roll off the green and possibly add several more shots to his already dismal score. He made things worse afterward, declaring that he took the peculiar course of action on purpose figuring that the penalty would be better than what was going to occur otherwise. The talking heads & sports media made a big deal out of the situation, as if Phil had committed a grievous sin. A few of his fellow players even suggested that he should have been disqualified from the tournament. First of all, I don’t buy for a second that what he did was a calculated risk. I don’t think there was any thought put into it at all. He was having a bad tournament and went nuts for a minute, then tried to cover by saying it was a conscious decision. In my mind that weak attempt at revisionist history is worse than the act itself. It made Phil Mickelson look like an idiot. Secondly, to those that said that he should have been disqualified, all I can do is shake my head in bemused derision. I realize that golf is a “gentlemen’s game” with a strict & quirky code of ethics, but the man was so far down the leaderboard that nothing he did was going to make any kind of significant difference. The two stroke penalty was an appropriate penance…anything else would have been egregious. There seemed to be some hand wringing about the possibility that this single error in judgment could somehow tarnish Mickelson’s legacy, which I think would be a real shame. The man has won five Majors, including three Masters. He has been one of the best golfers in the world for over two decades and by most accounts is a decent guy. He had a dreadful tournament and a brief moment of madness. Haven’t we all suffered the occasional bad day??

 

 

 

Former ESPN and current FS1 talking head Skip Bayless tends to talk out of both sides of his mouth and says a lot of wacky things with which I disagree. However, Skip has always referred to former All-Pro wide receiver Terrell “TO” Owens as Team Obliterator, and I wholeheartedly occur. Sure TO never ended up in jail, used drugs, or smacked his woman around, but he was a cancer that sowed seeds of discord everywhere he went in the NFL. And now his diva attitude & behavior is following him all the way to Canton, OH. Well…kind of. After the Pro Football Hall of Fame made Owens wait a few years before finally voting him into their exclusive club a few months ago the perpetually disgruntled malcontent found a way to ruin what should have been his shining moment by announcing that he will not attend the ceremony in Canton this August but will instead hold his own ceremony at UT-Chattanooga, his alma mater. No one knows exactly why Owens has made this asinine decision, one that he’ll inevitably regret someday. I realize that it is thought to be cool & hip to march to the beat of a different drum, be rebellious, fight the system, blaze a unique trail, & be a non-conformist, and I agree that there is a time in one’s life when that is a neat option if it can be pulled off. However, Terrell Owens is a 44 year old man that, despite all the upheaval & controversy he was in the midst of during 16 seasons in the NFL, has achieved the highest honor reserved for a football player, one that only the best of the best get to enjoy. It is beyond pathetic that instead of finally acting like an adult and humbly accepting the accolade the right way Terrell Owens is taking one last opportunity to be a self-absorbed, petulant, childish, disrespectful, defiant assclown.

 

 

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t give kudos to trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith for leading Justify to The Triple Crown. Justify is the 13th Triple Crown winner in history. Baffert has won fifteen Triple Crown races (5 Kentucky Derbies, 7 Preakness Stakes, & 3 Belmont Stakes) and previously led American Pharoah to the Triple Crown just three years ago. Smith has won two Kentucky Derbies, two Preaknesses, & three Belmonts. A Triple Crown is a rare & exceptional achievement in sports, but sadly I feel like what used to be “the sport of kings” nowadays gets lost in the shuffle while we indulge arrogant punks whose athletic prowess earns them hundreds of millions of dollars playing football, basketball, & baseball. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons why horse racing isn’t as popular now as it was a century ago, but it’s nice to see it back in the spotlight occasionally.

 

 

 

A few NBA thoughts:

  • I didn’t watch hardly any of the NBA or NHL Finals. Neither series turned out the way I’d hoped, so I really have nothing to add to the discourse.
  • A few years ago when Lebron James was preparing to jump ship from the aging Miami Heat I became convinced that he’d be joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead he pleasantly surprised me and many others by returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He led Cleveland to multiple appearances in the Finals and won a championship, but eventually it became obvious that the Cavs weren’t on the same level as the Golden St. Warriors and had no opportunity to change that. And so now…better late than never…LBJ is finally a Laker. But, while it is undoubtedly a positive development for Los Angeles, I feel like it is a lateral move for James. Perhaps his relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was so bad that he just wanted out. I don’t know. Maybe he is looking beyond basketball and feels like L.A. is a better environment for his future plans. That makes a lot of sense. However, from a pure basketball perspective it doesn’t seem to put him in any better position than he has been in, and it’s probably worse. I just don’t see his new teammates as being an improvement over his old ones, and now he’ll have to contend with the Houston Rockets and the Warriors just to make it out of the Western Conference.
  • Lebron may have been expecting Paul George to join him in Los Angeles, but that’s not going to happen. George stunned just about everyone by re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I suppose a four year contract worth $137 million is difficult to turn down, but I really don’t understand why he would pass up an opportunity to go to the Lakers and almost certainly win a title with James.
  • The lone remaining wildcard in the NBA is disgruntled Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. I’m not a fan of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, a self-righteous blowhard who really should focus on his job instead of pontificating on issues way above his pay grade. However, I don’t think Leonard has handled his situation all that well either. No one in this little drama comes off looking particularly good. Maybe Leonard will end up helping Lebron James win a championship with the Lakers. He could possibly play a significant part of an 18th title reign for the Boston Celtics. The Thunder might figure out a way to bring him aboard and make Oklahoma City a legit powerhouse. Perhaps Leonard could be the final piece of The Process for the Philadelphia 76ers. Who knows??
  • Speaking of the Celtics, a few years ago I offered some thoughts on the hiring of head coach Brad Stevens, opining that there was a “possibility that Stevens will fail spectacularly and end up back in college”, but predicting that “it is just as possible that Stevens will be a solid NBA head coach that leads the Celtics back to the top of the ladder someday”. I also opined that Boston “ended up with the better end of the bargain in the trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Jason Terry (all 35 years of age or older) to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for three 1st round draft picks in the next five years”. Those three first round picks have turned into up n’ comers Jaylen Brown & Jayson Tatum, and helped Boston trade for Kyrie Irving. Now that Cleveland will be an afterthought again the Eastern Conference looks like it could come down to the Sixers & Celtics for the next few seasons, so the possibility of Stephens leading his team to a championship looks good…if they can figure out a way to beat Golden State.

 

 

 

Not only is pro wrestling promoter Vince McMahon bringing back the XFL (which flamed out after one tumultuous season in 2001) in a couple of years, but next spring will see the launch of the Alliance of American Football. I am a huge football fan, and really believe that now more than ever, with so many media outlets available to air the product, spring football is a viable idea. However, something struck me one night as I was channel surfing. I ran across a Canadian Football League game on ESPN and began to ponder. I’ve always rather enjoyed the CFL. There are some differences in the rules between Canadian football and the NFL, but nothing too crazy. Several successful NFL players have started out in the CFL in the past, including Warren Moon, Joe Theismann, Doug Flutie, Rocket Ismail, & Jeff Garcia. The CFL has been around for about sixty years, but their league consists of only nine teams that play 18 regular season games. There were nine other teams that are now defunct, with the majority of those being United States based franchises that only played for a season or two in a mid-1990’s attempt at expansion. So my question is this…why are two other spring football leagues on the horizon?? Wouldn’t it be smarter for McMahon and whoever the powers-that-be are behind the AAF to invest in the CFL and help turn it into the powerhouse league that it could be?? That mid-90’s expansion failed partly because the American teams were located in places like Baltimore, Vegas, Birmingham, & San Antonio. Wouldn’t it be smarter for the CFL to target northern U.S. cities like Portland OR, Boise ID, Rochester NY, Providence RI, & Tacoma WA?? Even Anchorage, AK could be considered. A CFL with 16 teams that plays 14 regular season games and has the power, influence, & financial backing of Vince McMahon makes infinitely more sense than three separate spring football leagues.

Winning & Musing…Volume 3.18

October is often thought of as the best time of the annual sports calendar because the NFL, NBA, World Series, hockey, & college football are all available to us. However, late spring & early summer…with the NBA & NHL playoffs, a little golf, the Indy 500 & Coca-Cola 600 both on Memorial Day weekend, & baseball all happening…ain’t too shabby. Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the NBA playoffs my only wish was that two of three teams not advance to The Finals. Things got off to a good start when the aging San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in the first round. Heading into the Memorial Day Weekend it seemed plausible that my hopes would be fulfilled and we’d get a fresh & interesting championship matchup. Sadly that dream died in two Game 7s, and now…for the fourth year in a row…we’re stuck with Golden State vs. Cleveland. I realize that many basketball fans are excited about this, but I am not your average NBA fan. For a variety of reasons I will not be watching one single second of the series. Maybe next season Philly, Boston, New Orleans, Houston, & Minnesota will figure some things out and break up the monotony.

 

 

I am surprisingly ambivalent about the NFL’s new anthem policy. I once called kneeling during the national anthem a “meaningless exhibition of symbolic rage” and stand by that opinion, but I also opined that it is within players’ Constitutional rights to do so. It isn’t something I would do, the original intent of the protest is foolish, & its stated purpose had been hijacked into a political game of chicken…but as disrespectful as I believe kneeling is I’m not sure the NFL has handled the situation all that well. They did nothing at the height of the controversy last season, and it felt like the whole circus had sort of diminished much like a hurricane eventually loses steam…until the NFL stirred things up again for no reason. Young parents are often taught the Ferber Method in which a crying infant is to be left alone and eventually they’ll quiet down. In the same way, I think if fans & the media would stop paying attention to anthem protests the players would get bored with it and move on…and even if they didn’t stop atleast they & their “cause” wouldn’t be receiving any validation. Unfortunately the NFL decided to poke the whiny, spoiled, & sanctimonious bear.

 

 

Y’all know that I’m a really lukewarm hockey fan, and whatever interest I did have in the NHL playoffs pretty much disappeared when the two time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated. That being said, I am rooting for Vegas to bring home The Cup in its inaugural season. Former Penguins’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury now plays for the Golden Knights, and I also think it’d be fun to see an expansion team win because it would tick off hockey “purists”. There’s also my longstanding love of Las Vegas, a city I hope to visit someday. I’m not actually going to watch any of the games, but for what it’s worth…Go Vegas!!

 

 

How insane is it that we went 37 years between the last two Triple Crown winners, but now we could see another one just three years later?? Of course it must be noted that between Affirmed’s achievement in 1978 and the 2015 trifecta of American Pharoah there were 13 horses that won the Kentucky Derby & Preakness Stakes only to fall short in the Belmont Stakes, so it’d be premature to assume that Justify will wear the proverbial crown. Not only is Belmont the longest of the three races (the Derby is 1.25 miles, the Preakness is 1& 3/16 miles, & the Belmont is 1.5 miles), but there are always fresh horses entered that didn’t run in the previous two races. As a matter of fact, it is fairly common for only a few horses to run all three Triple Crown races, with several in the Belmont field having skipped either the Derby, the Preakness, or both. For this reason the “smart money” might lean toward one of those horses instead of Justify.

 

 

Perhaps I am missing something, but I don’t understand all the hype and/or consternation about The Supreme Court’s recent decision against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. That 1992 law “barred state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions”, making Nevada the only state where it was legal to wager on games, but now all bets are off (pun intended) and it’s a free-for-all gambling frenzy. But wait!! Haven’t we had The Internet for the past quarter century?? I’m not a big gambler, but I have bet on the Triple Crown horse races online for several years, and could have bet on just about anything else if I’d chosen to do so…so what’s the big deal?? Are casinos suddenly going to pop up everywhere now?? I suppose that’s possible. Will all of those little “gambling cafes” that litter the landscape of my small hometown now offer sports betting in addition to slot machines?? That would actually make such establishments somewhat more interesting. I’m not completely obtuse here folks…I get it. But let’s not pretend that this new legality suddenly allows people to engage in some sort of forbidden activity that they’ve been dying to try but have been prohibited from doing. The truth is that gambling has been a huge business for decades, and not just in Vegas or Atlantic City. The Supreme Court has just brought it out of the shadows…probably so the government can get a piece of the action.

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 Claus Wish List

Merry Christmas Manoverse. It’s been a different kind of holiday season thus far. That’s not great, but it’s not bad either. The past few weeks have been low key & uneventful, yet somewhat busy-ish. I don’t like vegging out at home feeling useless too much, yet I don’t enjoy running around like a chicken with my head cut off either, so striking a balance is a nice goal. I’m not shopping as much as I usually do this time of year, for various reasons. I wish, as I’m sure many do, that I could go back to the days of childhood….or atleast to when my nephews were children…and feel the excitement that kids experience at Christmas. Instead I have more of a sense of wistful nostalgia, fondly recalling family, friends, & events that are gone and aren’t coming back. That doesn’t mean there isn’t joy or the expectation of good memories in the future, just that the equilibrium has shifted in another direction. I still get a kick out of watching holiday films, listening to Christmas music, and participating in seasonal activities at church, work, & with other groups I’m involved with, and since the weather isn’t too bad here in West Virginia I might actually set aside some time in the coming days to cruise a few of the local neighborhoods and take photos of the more impressive lights & decorations. At any rate, allow me to refresh your memory about how this Sammy Claus thing works. We’ve been doing it for eight years now and, much to my surprise, some of the presents wished for are actually granted on occasion. The mantle of Sammy Claus wields no special power. That magic belongs to The Jolly Old Elf up north. I am merely an emissary asking for certain gifts to be bestowed to a variety of entities, some of which have been quite naughty and some of whom have been very good this year. Admittedly our list usually skews toward the former rather than the latter. All I can hope for is that ol’ Kris Kringle himself is a fan of this site and agrees with my suggestions. For all who stop by and read the things that are published here, whether it be sporadically or on a regular basis, I wish you tranquility, health, love, & success during this Christmas season and for a new year on the horizon. As you are in the midst of the hustle & bustle these next several days…whether you embrace it or get caught up in it reluctantly…please do not brush aside what Christmas is about and the real reason we should celebrate, that being the birth of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, who would eventually die for our sins so that we may have the opportunity of salvation & eternal life. God bless us…everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Kimmel & Jimmy Fallon

A harsh & rapid fall off the high horse. We know what to expect from Colbert. Conan became irrelevant several years ago. Seth Myers is a Letterman wannabe and terrible at it. Corden has never been more than a blip on the radar. It was supposed to be up to Fallon & Kimmel to carry late night television for the next couple of decades. But instead they both decided to go political, to take a big ol’ dump on half of their viewing audience. Sammy Claus stopped watching months ago, and logic dictates others likely did as well. The only solution is a fresh start.

 

 

Potheads

Discretion & moderation. It seems like we may be on the verge of full blown legalization of marijuana, with opinions all over the map on the issue. Let’s just hope that folks are smart & careful. Health is wealth people.

 

 

Pope Francis

Bible study. Sammy Claus isn’t Catholic and doesn’t put much stock in the whole Pope thing anyway, but for such an important religious figure the current Pope sure seems a lot more like a sociopolitical pundit than a man of God.

 

 

Huntington, WV

Rejuvenation & hope. Once upon a time Sammy Claus spent his college years in this biggish small southern West Virginia town bordering Ohio & Kentucky. The drug epidemic that plagues our nation these days seems especially proliferate in Huntington, with shootings & arrests almost daily. It used to be a great town, and at its heart it still is for the most part. But things have got to change quickly & significantly.

 

 

Brad’s Wife Nanette

A great new job. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, allow Sammy Claus to get you up to speed. 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. Here’s hoping that Brad & Nanette can rebound from the unfortunate circumstance and have a prosperous New Year.

 

 

President Donald Trump

Improved public speaking skills & a keener social media filter. A President who bypasses traditional media outlets and reaches out directly on Twitter is a new concept that everyone is still trying to wrap our minds around. However, President Trump oftentimes doesn’t do himself any favors with his tweets, an issue compounded by the fact that he’s not the most polished public speaker. Any good that his Administration may be doing for the economy or anything else is too often eclipsed by the fact that he’s not exactly the best messenger.

 

 

The NBA

A renewed focus on playing basketball. Sammy Claus has never been as big of a basketball fan as he is a football & baseball fan, but this year he hasn’t watched a single second of NBA action. Why?? More social justice propagandizing. Some of the league’s biggest personalities…Lebron James, Stephen Curry, coaches Gregg Popovich & Steve Kerr…strayed away from their athletic mission to go on unnecessary sociopolitical rants that…much like late night TV comedians…alienate a huge chunk of the fanbase. Do they have a right to their opinions?? Of course. Would it be smarter to keep their yapper shut and concentrate on their jobs?? Absolutely.

 

 

Accused Sexual Harassers

Humility & respect for others. No one…male or female…should ever feel awkward in the workplace or be forced to do anything with which they are uncomfortable to keep their job or advance their career. A laundry list of powerful & well-known people have been accused of inappropriate conduct in the past few months. Matt Lauer. Harvey Weinstein. Congressman John Conyers. Mario Batali. Danny Masterson. Garrison Keillor. Charlie Rose. Senator Al Franken. Louis CK. Kevin Spacey. Most suffered swift & harsh consequences after being convicted in the court of public opinion. Will they learn from their mistakes and be better people in the future?? Can they overcome the situation and get back what they’ve lost?? Is it even proper that they have an opportunity for redemption?? Those are unanswered questions than only time will resolve.

 

 

Alleged Sexual Harassment Victims

Courage & integrity. On the flip side of the inappropriate conduct equation are the alleged victims. Every case is different, and in some instances the aggressors have admitted to the transgressions. They know they were wrong and are just going to take their lumps & swallow the bitter pill of reaping what they’ve sown. However, there are still many questions and reasons to doubt the validity of some of the claims. For example, why does it take an alleged victim several years to come forward?? Sammy Claus grew up with & has been surrounded by women who not only would have immediately reported such perverse behavior, but likely would have kicked a guy in the cahonas for…as Grandma Claus used to say…”getting fresh”. For a “victim” to all the sudden…after 3 or 5 or 10 or 20 years…start making accusations out of the blue somehow feels a little…off. Also, in many of these cases it has become apparent that a good amount of people knew all about the disturbing behavior being exhibited by the alleged creep, yet no one said anything?? That too seems odd. It calls into question how bad the behavior really was. If entire groups of people just shrugged it off for years then perhaps it wasn’t a big deal and mountains are now being made of mole hills. We need to know exactly how “inappropriate conduct” is being defined. Certainly societal norms evolve over time, but are these men losing their livelihood over what used to be called flirting?? Are mere words enough to implode a human being’s entire life now?? Or do these allegations involve seriously hideous…possibly criminal…activities?? And what about the ethical responsibility of an employer?? If “everyone knew” but no one did anything about it until throwing the hammer down became the cool thing to do, then doesn’t that make the company somewhat guilty?? In some of these situations people lost their jobs seemingly overnight. No investigation. No suspension. Just here one day & gone the next. That doesn’t feel right either. “Blaming the victim” is commonly thought to be improper, but when people’s careers & reputations are at stake it is just as wrong to automatically take someone’s word without a thorough examination of the facts. It’s too late for those that have already been caught up in the massive takedown, but maybe we ought to have a conversation about how to fairly proceed in the future.

 

 

The Mainstream Media

Sodium pentothal. It is undeniable that the news media has had a leftist bias pretty much its entire existence. However, it used to be fairly subtle. Not anymore. As a matter of fact, most television & print news outlets in America are almost pure propaganda now, the kind that has existed in places like Russia & The Middle East for decades. They don’t even try to hide their agenda anymore, and it’s pathetic.

 

 

Danica Patrick

Marriage, motherhood, & domestic bliss. Lost in the shuffle amidst the hype of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s premature retirement from NASCAR was Patrick’s announcement that she plans on racing in the 2018 Indianapolis 500 and then moving on to the next phase of her life. Her career on the track has never quite lived up to the marketing machine that she became, but she’s easy on the eyes and someone that most fans couldn’t help rooting for. No matter how much the PC crowd tries to push “equality” and the idea that anything a man can do a woman can do atleast equally as well (and vice versa), the fact is that men & women are different entities with unique strengths & weaknesses. Danica Patrick’s career was never going to be long or legendary for a variety for reasons, but she can walk away with immense pride in what she accomplished and look forward to a happy life beyond race car driving.

 

 

Hollywood

A renewed focus on telling great stories & entertaining the masses. Speaking of propaganda, Hollywood is simply the “entertainment” wing of the same insidious machine that promotes deviance, hatred, & a victim mentality. A psychologist could probably explain whether the chicken or the egg comes first. Is there something about fame & fortune that causes people to go completely off the rails?? Or are ignorant, vile, mentally ill people more inclined to end up in the entertainment industry?? Whatever it is, those of a certain age can easily recall when going to the movies, listening to music, or watching television was engaging, intellectually stimulating, inspiring, and a perfectly valid way to spend downtime & discretionary income. Sadly now it’s mostly about pushing an agenda, endorsing sociopolitical talking points, & indoctrinating an unsuspecting audience.

 

 

The Supreme Court

2 or 3 more retirements. Justice Gorsuch is a nice replacement for the late Antonin Scalia, but there’s still work to be done. President Trump might get a second term in 2020…but then again he may not. In whatever time he has remaining in office it would be fantastic if Trump could make sure The Court leans in the right direction for a couple of decades, and to do that we need to see people like 84 year old Ruth Bader Ginsburg & 79 year old Stephen Breyer step away from the job. Who wants 80 year olds making such important & impactful decisions anyway??

 

 

IPhone X Buyers

Insurance & a cushioned carrying case. A $1000 phone made of glass that contains intrusive facial recognition technology?? No thanks.

 

 

The New York Yankees

A mundane season. The revered Bronx Bombers are at it again, flaunting their deep coffers and using grander-than-most resources in an attempt to buy another championship. It’s certainly not an illegal or unethical strategy. Indeed it is well within the rules of MLB. But the majority of sports fans tend to cheer for an underdog…the little engine that could. There’s nothing inspiring about a team who is simply able to outspend everyone else, especially one who already has more than twice as many World Series trophies as any other club. It is much more gratifying to watch an organization build & progress organically. The Yankees make it too easy for the masses to hope they crash & burn.

 

 

Civil War Statues

Continued existence. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. No one is saying slavery was okay. However, these monuments were erected for a reason. Attempts to sanitize history in a misguided fit of political correctness are foolish.

 

 

 

 

Per established custom I shall end with the traditional quote from the Rankin-Bass animated classic Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town:

 

“Lots of unhappiness? Maybe so. But doesn’t Santa take a little bit of that unhappiness away? Doesn’t a smile on Christmas morning scratch out a tear cried on a sadder day? Not much maybe. But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give…of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.”

The 2016 Sammy Awards – Part 1

SammyAwardeagleAfter an unavoidable…interruption…a year ago we are back and thrilled to present the 2016 Sammy Awards, a Manoverse tradition since 2010. The Sammys are, in a nutshell, a fun & introspective year in review presented as the world’s best imaginary awards show. I like to think of The Sammys as an eclectic remix of real awards shows…classier than anything MTV offers, not as pretentious as The Oscars & Grammys, and more engaging than the plethora of offerings (The SAGs, The Tonys, The ESPYs, The People’s Choice Awards, etc.) that no one watches. The pace is brisk because a show longer than two hours drags and loses the interest of the viewer. There are no acceptance speeches because most of the categories have far too many nominees to have in the audience and many might not consider it an honor to be nominated anyway. I’d like to think that Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu would take a shot at streaming the show. Their people should call my people.

 

Let us begin by welcoming the host for our 2016 show. He’s an award winning comedian & talk show host, and since 2010 sharveyhas breathed new life into legendary game show Family Feud. Please welcome Steve Harvey!!

 

schillingFollowing a brief yet hilarious introduction to the show by our host it is time for the first award presentation. Please welcome a three time World Series winning pitcher, six time MLB All Star, former ESPN baseball analyst, & everyone’s favorite politically incorrect keyboard warrior…Curt Schilling!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest Sports Story

 

Retirements Everywhere!!

One of the more poignant moments in sports is when a player, coach, or other associated personality decides to walk away after a long & memorable career, and in 2016 it seems like we said more than the usual fair share of goodbyes. I was never a big Kobe Bryant fan, but there is no denying that he had a significant impact on the modern NBA. After limping to the finish line the last couple of years on tired legs & surrounded by a very mediocre LA Lakers team, Kobe summoned some of his old magic one last time, scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz in his final game. Peyton Manning rode into the sunset the way everyone would like to. After a legendary & record breaking 18 year career he led the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl championship. Manning certainly wasn’t at his best in his final few seasons with the Broncos, but his place among the greatest quarterbacks of all time is secure. Vin Scully, Dick Enberg, & Verne Lundquist all plied their trade as announcers for many decades. Scully is best known as the voice of the LA Dodgers, but fortunately for us east coasters he also called many nationally televised games in both baseball & football. Enberg is best remembered as a play-by-play announcer for NBC, calling both NFL & MLB games. Lundquist isn’t completely retired, but will no longer be calling college football games. Thankfully we’ll still be able to hear him on golf broadcasts. Kevin Garnett & Tim Duncan both called it quits after the 2015-16 NBA season. Duncan won five championships in 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. In 1995 Garnett became the first player in two decades drafted directly from high school to the NBA, a practice the league would outlaw in 2006. He played for three different teams and won one championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008. He had more individual than team success, winning a league MVP & being named to 15 All Star teams. David Ortiz is a mountain of a man that was the designated hitter & occasional first baseman for the Boston Red Sox for 13 years. He was a big part of the team that finally broke the infamous Curse of the Bambino and brought Boston their first World Series title in 86 years. Two more titles would follow. Big Papi had one of his best seasons in 2016, batting .315 and hitting 38 home runs. Unfortunately various leg & foot problems forced him into retirement. Though I haven’t watched NASCAR for a couple of years for reasons I’ll not rehash, Tony Stewart had become my favorite driver after the tragic demise of Dale Earnhardt. I always appreciated his forthright & decidedly un-PC manner. Smoke won three Cup titles & 49 races in over 600 starts in 18 years. I suppose he’ll still be around as a team owner, which is good for the sport.

 

Cleveland Wins NBA Title

I’m not the biggest NBA fan. I only pay attention when the playoffs roll around, have never had a favorite team, & haven’t cared all that much since Michael Jordan retired. However, the one thing that has drawn me in at all over the past several years is the closest thing we’ve had to Jordan…Lebron James. His departure from Cleveland to Miami and subsequent return has been well chronicled, and in 2016 all the hopes & dreams of every sports fan in Cleveland came to fruition as King James led his hometown Cavaliers to their first ever NBA title, the city’s first professional sports championship of any kind since 1964. It was an exciting rematch of the previous year’s championship series, with the Cavs coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to upend the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a thrilling Game 7.

 

Brady’s Court Battle

In 2016 golden boy QB Tom Brady finally lost his yearlong battle against DeflateGate and was forced to serve a four game suspension at the beginning of the NFL season. Of course he still may get the last laugh, as the New England Patriots finished with the best record in the league and enter the playoffs as a solid Super Bowl favorite.

 

Villanova Wins NCAA Title

The Villanova Wildcats won their first national championship since 1985, beating North Carolina on a buzzer beater in the title game. The Wildcats won 35 games and defeated four straight Top 10 opponents during March Madness.

 

Warriors Wins Record

The 2016 Golden State Warriors, led by point guard Stephen Curry & power forward Draymond Green, won 73 games during the regular season, breaking a record set by the Jordan/Pippen Bulls two decades earlier. They came into the season as the defending NBA champs and dominated the competition…until the finals, where they fell to Lebron James & his Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

Cubs Win World Series

The Chicago Cubs have been the loveable losers of baseball for as long as I can remember. As with the Red Sox, the Cubs had been battling their own “curse”, the Curse of the Billy Goat, on which multiple heartbreaking postseason failures had been blamed since their last World Series title in 1908. All of that changed in 2011, when Theo Epstein, the wunderkind general manager that had helped Boston turn things around a decade ago, took the same job in Chicago. In 2016 his rebuilding plan blossomed and the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in a really fun seven game World Series.

 

Johnny Football

The long sad odyssey of Johnny Manziel finally reached its inevitable conclusion in 2016 when the former Heisman Trophy winner but failed NFL quarterback was cut loose by the Cleveland Browns. Aside from the fact that Manziel is a marginal NFL talent at best, off the field issues with drugs, legal problems, & just a generally selfish, arrogant, poor attitude torpedoed any chance he had at success. When the Browns don’t even want you that’s a huge warning sign.

 

Penguins Win Stanley Cup

I pay even less attention to hockey than I do the NBA & NASCAR, but if my Pens are involved when the playoffs roll around I will generally check it out. 2016 brought Pittsburgh its fourth Stanley Cup since 1990. They defeated the San Jose Sharks in six games, with the awesome Sidney Crosby being named the series MVP.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

The Chicago Cubs. It’s hard to beat a century old drought and an angst ridden fan base that has endured so many painful losses. I’m a Pirates fan, so I obviously cubscheer against the Cubs all season long, but I must admit this was a really cool story and I am glad for long suffering fans in The Windy City.

 

 

 

 

gavinTo present our next award, please welcome three all-time favorites who have one thing in common…they did guest spots on a certain television show backnicholson2 in the 60’s. First, he is best known as Captain Merrill Stubing on 80’s cheesefest The Love Boat. Please welcome Gavin MacLeod. Next, he has long been one of America’s crankiest yet most beloved comedians. He hung out with Sinatra back in the day, spent a good deal of time on Johnny Carson’s Tonight rickles2Show couch, and now he is here with us at The Sammy Awards. Please welcome Don Rickles. And finally, he is an Academy Award winning actor best known for creepy roles in The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman, & A Few Good Men. It is an honor to welcome Jack Nicholson.

 

This is a special award with only one nominee & winner.

 

 

The Fred Berry Memorial Award for Excellence in Syndication

 

The Andy Griffith Show

Even the best television shows are generally cancelled after 6-10 seasons, air in syndication for a few years, & then slip away into the ether, replaced in the hearts & tags2minds of viewers everywhere with the latest & greatest sitcom, soapy drama, or police procedural. Every once in awhile a program comes along that stays afloat in the sea of pop culture prominence for a bit longer, but eventually even those elite shows fade into just an occasionally recalled fond memory. The Andy Griffith Show is different. On any given day of the week I can do a little channel surfing and watch atleast a couple of TAGS episodes. Ponder that. This is a show that stopped airing original episodes nearly a half century ago, but its reruns are still broadcast in 2016 and beyond. Almost all of the cast has left this mortal coil, yet we still watch. I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that TAGS has entertained multiple generations and continues to delight people of all ages even today. Local TV stations have no shortage of syndicated programs to choose from when they need to fill a time slot, but they know that TAGS has retained its popularity and will get good ratings. There are many reasons for this, most of which I have mentioned somewhere in this forum at one time or another. It is the distinct pleasure of The Manofesto to give The Andy Griffith Show one more well deserved victory lap, and hopefully we’ll all still be enjoying it for many years to come.

 

 

 

susannah-lewisTo present our next award we originally contacted singer & emancipated butterfly Mariah Carey, but she declined the invitation and has gone into hiding in an undisclosed location for some unknown reason. We next contacted MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, but when she was told that the presentation would likely take longer than 48 seconds she was forced to say no. Therefore, we turn to well-regarded and very funny blogger, author, & social media personality Susannah Lewis. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

 

Least Satisfying Movie

The Do-Over

So it has come to this for Adam Sandler. After being one of the biggest movie stars in the world in the 90’s with hits like The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, & The Waterboy, he has hit the skids in the past decade, with some of the worst films ever produced (Jack & Jill, That’s My Boy, something about a Zohan). Now his movies aren’t even in theaters…they are being directly streamed into our homes. I didn’t know this until after I saw The Do-Over, but awhile back Sandler signed a four movie contract with Netflix. The first one was released last December when I was in the hospital which explains why I hadn’t heard of it. As for this second project in the deal, it has Sandler & David Spade as two old high school pals who are unhappy with their lives so they fake their own deaths. It’s an interesting premise, and I’ve got to give all involved credit for one thing…they didn’t mail it in. The story has more twists & turns than an Appalachian highway, with an odd mix of comedy, action, intrigue, & pathos. It’s not boring…it’s just not very good.

 

Dirty Grandpa

Robert DeNiro needs to fire his agent, manager, & anyone else that assists him in choosing projects. Seeing him in excrement like this makes me sad. Even Zac Efron can do better and he’s a tool.

 

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

I had low expectations going in because the 2014 original wasn’t good, yet somehow this sequel is actually even more tasteless & unremarkable. I didn’t laugh once. Two hours of my life I can never get back.

 

The Bronze

Fans of The Big Bang Theory get quite a shock seeing their sweet little Bernadette in this flick. Melissa Rauch stars as a former Olympic medalist still living on her fading notoriety in the small Ohio town in which she grew up. The young “lady” is mean-spirited, foulmouthed, & treats her adoring mailman father like dirt. She doesn’t have a job and relies on her fans & friends to buy her things. Oh, and she also steals money from mail she rifles thru in her Dad’s truck. Are you laughing yet?? When Hope (that’s her name…seriously) gets an opportunity to coach an up & coming gymnast also from her hometown she at first attempts to sabotage the young girl, but eventually changes course and guides her to the gold medal. I’m sure there are people out there that find this movie hysterically funny, but I’m not sure I’d want to know those people.

 

Bad Santa 2

If you enjoyed the 2003 original I suppose you’ll like this follow-up, which has Billy Bob Thornton putting the ol’ red suit back on & reprising his role as a misanthropic, drunken, foul mouthed thief who likes to score big during the holiday season. He reunites with his diminutive partner in crime and they team up with Santa’s profane & terminally ill mother to rob a Chicago children’s charity. I’m no prude, but I do believe I have some class and this kind of humor just doesn’t frost my cupcake. I didn’t particularly care for the first film and had no expectations that the sequel would alter my perspective. I was right. If vulgarity & F-bombs tickle your funny bone then, by all means, enjoy…it’s a free country. I will continue to aim higher.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Dirty Grandpa. I don’t know why I continue to subject myself to DeNiro. The Godfather Part II is way way way in the rearview mirror. Even the Meet the Parents facepalmmovies seem like a lifetime ago. In the past decade this alleged cinematic icon has made a string of forgettable and/or outright atrocious films. This might be the absolute worst of the bunch, and could compete for one of the vilest pieces of garbage to ever be on the big screen. Just retire Mr. DeNiro. Leave the memories alone.

 

 

 

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

Winning & Musing…..Volume 4.16

Howdy. Holy cow have we had a lot going on in the sports world. It’s times like the last few weeks that I really feel bad for those who, for whatever reason, never became sports fans. They’re really missing out on so much fun. Of course they miss out on an abundance of frustration & heartbreak as well, so there is that. Anyway, let’s roll.

 

 

 

 

 

lebroncavsA year & a half ago I said that Lebron James would “have the Cavs in the playoffs this summer and in serious championship contention next year.” He exceeded my expectations by leading them to the NBA Finals in 2015 before ultimately losing to the Golden St. Warriors. And this year he finally took them all the way. In a series rematch from last season the Cleveland Cavaliers fell behind against the Warriors 3-1 before staging an epic comeback and winning a fantastic Game 7 to earn the trophy. I am sincerely happy for the fine folks in Cleveland, OH, although I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that between the Browns winning the NFL championship in 1964 and the Cavs winning the NBA title this year…a drought of 52 years and over 200 major professional sports seasons…the City of Champions Pittsburgh, PA won 13 championships among the Steelers, Pirates, & Penguins. Sorry…I couldn’t resist.

 

 

Speaking of the Penguins, kudos to them for winning their 4th Stanley Cup in the last quarter century. As predicted the series did Pittsburgh_Penguins7go seven games. I need to correct an error I made in the last edition of W&M. As it turns out the last several games of the finals were played on NBC proper, as it should be. I’m not sure what the deal was with those first couple of games being shown only on the NBC Sports Network.

 

 

skipFinally our long national nightmare that was the Skip Bayless era at ESPN is over. Bayless is taking his shtick to Fox Sports 1, where I am sure they’ll pair him up with some other obnoxious character and try to duplicate the First Take debate formula. Personally I won’t be watching. How Bayless has any credibility whatsoever remaining is a complete mystery since he has been demonstrably wrong the vast majority of the time in the past decade. I am quite sure that FS1 will see a spike in ratings upon his debut, but I’d be shocked if the honeymoon lasted more than a few months.

 

 

Now that the NBA Finals have concluded the chess match that is the offseason can begin, nbawith the first move being the NBA Draft in a couple of days. It isn’t nearly as entertaining as the NFL Draft, but I suppose I’ll watch. As for free agency, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Kevin Durant will leave Oklahoma City and end up with…the Los Angeles Lakers. You heard it here first.

 

 

usopenAdmittedly I lost a good bit of interest in the U.S. Open Golf Championship once my man Phil Mickelson missed the cut. This was supposed to be Lefty’s year to win the only major that has eluded him, the one in which he has finished second a record 6 times, but it just didn’t happen. That being said, I think the future of golf is going to be just fine. The final round of the U.S. Open was great theater, although it could’ve ended up being quite messy. Early on in his round leader Dustin Johnson had a situation where his ball appeared to move ever so slightly. A few holes later USGA officials informed Johnson that he may or may not incur a one shot penalty. He had to play the last several holes…of a major…not knowing exactly what his score may be. What?? Seriously?? How freakin’ stupid!! It’d be like telling an NFL team that a 2nd quarter touchdown may or may not count once a potential pass interference call is reviewed after the game, or an MLB team that a 4th inning grand slam may or may not have really been a foul ball and that a final decision would be made after the last out of the contest. Of course that would NEVER happen!!!!Decisions in most major sports might be endlessly analyzed & questioned after the fact, but atleast there is a damn djdecision. I know golf is a quirky game, where players are expected to self-report any rules violations and must accurately keep score themselves or else be disqualified, but the situation that occurred at the U.S. Open was shameful. Despite what purists may think there needs to be serious reflection about how to avoid such debacles in the future. Thankfully Johnson kept his cool and won by more than one stroke, leaving the outcome beyond doubt. Otherwise a great game could have suffered a terrible and 100% preventable stain on its legacy.

Winning & Musing…..Volume 3.16

Greetings sports fans. What’s up?? I hope everyone is enjoying the early delights of summer and that those pesky cicadas aren’t annoying you too much. Just think…once we get thru the next few weeks we won’t have to hear that awful noise until 2033. By that time I’ll be 60 years old!! Okay…I just freaked myself out a little. Let’s talk about sports.

 

 

 

 

 

hockeyGuess what y’all…I’ve actually been watching hockey!! No one is more surprised than me. As of this writing my Pittsburgh Penguins are up 2-1 over the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Finals. Two of the games have gone into overtime. I was really hoping the Pens would go up 3-0 which would essentially mean it’s over, but now I am leaning toward my original assessment, which is that this thing could go the full seven games. It’s a shame that the championship series of a major professional sport is being shown mostly on a marginal channel like the NBC Sports Network, which is in 12 million less homes than ESPN, 10 million less than Fox Sports 1, & a whopping 30 million less than NBC itself which is where the games would be broadcast if it were football, baseball, or basketball. There are multiple things that could possibly be blamed for hockey’s lack of popularity in America, but that’s a broader topic than I want to address at the moment. For now let’s just say that I am hooked and will be watching this series. Go Pens!!

 

 

So I guess we have a Summer Olympics coming up?? They are scheduled to get underway in Rio (that’s in Brazil for those that slept thru geography class) in early Rio2016August. Numerous medical professionals have opined that the event should be postponed or relocated because of the Zika virus, which is apparently a rather big issue in South America, but we all know that there is way too much money involved for that. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. As for the games themselves, I am really only interested in basketball. The United States hasn’t announced their 12 man roster yet, but it is anticipated to include guys like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, & Lebron James. Nothing less than another gold medal will be acceptable.

 

 

CCI’m not quite sure what to say about the death of Cassius Clay. He is practically being deified by the sports talking heads and the general drive-by media. Boxing has never really been in my wheelhouse and the fabled career of “The Greatest” was stumbling to a pitiable close by the time I even became conscious of his existence. Inside the ring he was an impressive 56-5 over a couple of decades, won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, and captured professional boxing’s heavyweight title three times. Outside the ring he was doing pro wrestling style promos years before pro wrestling gained pop culture relevance in the 1980s. Cassius Clay might have been successful had he simply been a great boxer, but being a charismatic entertainer is what elevated his status to legendary. The most controversial aspect of his life began in the early 60’s when he became an adherent of Malcolm X and converted to Islam, which led to him “conscientiously objecting” to the Vietnam War and refusing to serve in the armed forces. I sincerely believe in freedom of religion, but my faith tells me that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, & the Life and that no man shall come to the Father except through Him. It also annoys me greatly that when a Muslim uses their faith as an excuse to protest something they are applauded for it, but Christians are not afforded the same respect. I don’t hate Cassius Clay. I feel bad for him. I do not believe that Islam is a “religion of peace”. History…especially in recent years…reveals that idea to be absurd. Yet I don’t believe that all Muslims are bad people. Cassius Clay chose to follow Malcolm X and elected to “dodge” the draft. He paid a price for it, losing three prime years of his career. Later on he gained the sympathy of the masses while fighting a courageous & debilitating battle against Parkinson’s Disease, an awful condition no one should have to endure, and became a kind of goodwill ambassador, even traveling to Iraq & Afghanistan to negotiate the release of American hostages. What’s done is done and Cassius Clay is gone now. I don’t revile him for his choice of religion or anti-American rhetoric in regards to Vietnam, but neither will I participate in hoisting him up on a big ol’ heroic pedestal. My prayers are with his family & friends.

 

 

The NBA Finals are underway as well. As many people expected it’s all come down to the defending champion Golden State Warriors vs. Lebron James and his NBA-FInals-2Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors are up 1-0 at the moment and looked pretty dominant in that first game, but I am hoping this series goes 6 or 7 games too. It would be a huge letdown to everyone outside of Oakland, CA if it is a brief & one-sided sweep.

 

 

espnWhat in the world is going on at The Mothership in Bristol?? Not only are they losing noted blowhard Skip Bayless to Fox Sports 1, but now Mike Tirico is jumping ship & heading to NBC, while ESPN original Chris Berman is reportedly being phased out after his contract expires at the end of the year. I really couldn’t care less what happens with Bayless. He joins fellow windbag Colin Cowherd at FS1, taking that network from its current status of “irrelevant” to “avoid like The Plague”. Hey FS1…if the goal is to increase ratings you’re doing it wrong. Conversely, Tirico seems like a decent dude and he’s great at what he does. I am assuming that his presence will make it easier for NBC to gently push 71 year old Al Michaels into retirement without Sunday Night Football missing a beat. Sean McDonough, a decent enough play-by-play man, is now going to be doing play-by-play on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, but that show is doomed as long as Jon Gruden…the guy who once said that “any team that passes on Johnny Manziel will regret it”…is doing color commentary. He makes John Madden & Charles Barkley look like Woodward & Bernstein. It may seem like Berman is ancient because he’s been there since ESPN’s launch, but he’s only 61 years old. His shtick has worn a little thin with some, but it feels a bit premature to put him out to pasture. Of course Berman’s eventual departure is only part of ESPN’s makeover of its NFL coverage, as they’ve already ousted Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Ray Lewis, & Keyshawn Johnson in favor of new faces Randy Moss, Matt Hasselbeck, & Charles Woodson. Those feel like positive, much needed changes.

The 2014 Sammy Awards…Part III

SammyAwardWelcome back!! After a brief delay (to build suspense…yeah…that’s it…suspense) we have returned for the conclusion of the 2014 Sammy Awards. Please be sure to check out Parts I & II if you have not already done so.

 

 

 

 

After a moving tribute to the late Robin Williams by our host Billy Crystal as well as Whoopi Goldberg, Henry Winkler, Matt Damon, & Garry Marshall it is time to present our next award.

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Please give a warm ovation to a young man who is able to join us because his team stubbornly refuses to revamp a horrendous defensive secondary and therefore bigbenhas been eliminated from the NFL playoffs. Welcome to the stage the two time Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers…Ben Roethlisberger!! And the nominees are:

 

 

Biggest Sports Sports Story

 

 

The Winter Olympics
When the most memorable thing to happen during an Olympics is Bob Costas’ pink eye I think it means they’re doing it wrong.

 

 

Seattle Wins The Super Bowl
The Seahawks defense dominated Peyton Manning & the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for those of you who might be here all night trying to utilize Common Core to figure it out…you’re welcome). Might we see a rematch in the near future?? It’s possible.

 

 

Derek Jeter Retires
I’ve never been much of a Yankees fan. Okay…I despise them for no apparent reason. However, Jeter has always seemed like a classy guy, and to my knowledge he was never accused of juicing unlike ¾ of MLB. He hung up the cleats last fall after two decades…all with the same team, which is a refreshing rarity, and got a game winning hit in his last at-bat, which was pretty cool even if the game itself was meaningless.

 

 

The World Cup
I’ve tried…I really have. But I just can’t get into soccer. Now the Quidditch World Cup…that I’d watch…maybe.

 

 

Lebron James Comes Home
Few have been harder on Lebron James than your humble Potentate of Profundity. The way he left the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years ago for the Miami Heat…with that idiotic television spectacle called The Decision…was asinine. However, I am a forgiving man and Lebron has apparently seen the error of his ways, especially in regard to The Decision. He has returned home to Cleveland, and even though things are a bit rough right now I have no doubt that he’ll have the Cavs in the playoffs this summer and in serious championship contention next year.

 

 

College Football Playoff
After decades of “mythical” national champions and BCS silliness college football finally got a 4 team playoff this season. The specifics & the methodology need some fine tuning, but I have to admit that the playoff committee ultimately chose the right four teams. The two semi-final games got monster TV ratings, and I am sure the title game will do so as well.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Lebron. Homecomings are always cool. I understand why he left even if I disagree with how he did it. He has grown up now and has different priorities. I hope there lebroncavsis a happy ending. The Cavaliers haven’t gotten off to the best start and have made some moves that seem kind of desperate. They aren’t winning a championship this season, and it looks like their current head coach probably shouldn’t be buying any property in Cleveland. I sincerely hope Lebron James doesn’t get frustrated & impatient and leave his hometown a second time. That would be horrible and might send me into the kind of rage that ends with a prison sentence even though I really couldn’t care less about the NBA. Until we get to that bridge though I will remain optimistic and believe that this will all turn out to be a really nice story.

 

 

 

The Charles Barkley Role Model Award

There isn’t a list of nominees for this award. There is only one nominee & winner. Lauren Hill is a 19 year old woman who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain praytumor a little over a year ago during her senior year in high school. The first thing Lauren wanted to know after her diagnosis was if she could still play basketball. She finished her senior year and set her sights on playing college ball. Lauren had already committed to Mt. St. Joseph University, a Division III program in Cincinnati, OH, before her diagnosis. In September 2014 a scan showed that Lauren’s tumor had grown and she was unlikely to make it to Christmas. Her dream was to play in one college basketball game, a goal that she achieved. Lauren got to play in 4 games before her health would not allow her to continue. She also utilized her growing notoriety to start a fundraising campaign for cancer research that has raised over $1 million. And oh by the way, the doctors were wrong…Lauren made it thru the holidays. She & her family are being assisted by hospice care, but she got to see one last Christmas & New Year’s. I don’t know Lauren Hill. I don’t know anything about her other than what I have read and seen on television. But one thing I do know is that Lauren chose life. She chose to battle this evil scourge called cancer to the bitter end. She achieved her goal and took time to do something helpful for others. Godspeed Lauren…I’ll keep you & your family in my prayers.

 

 

 

 

The following awards were handed out last weekend at an abandoned Ramada Inn just outside Detroit:

Most Annoying Song
Happy by Pharrell Williams

Best Commercial
ESPNU’s “Blind Date” and Budweiser’s “Friends Are Waiting”

Idiot of the Year
“Daredevil Naturalist” Paul Rosolie (the guy who was “eaten alive” by an anaconda for a Discovery Channel special)

Most Disappointing Movie
Sex Tape

Funniest TV Moment
Frank Caliendo reads Lebron James’ “Letter to Cleveland” in the voice of Morgan Freeman on Mike & Mike in the Morning

Biggest Mystery
The appeal & continuing success of Taylor Swift

Best Game to Play on Your Phone
Trivia Crack

Biggest Ingrates
Those who had an issue with a free U2 album being added to their iTunes library

 

 

 

 

Our next presenter(s) come to us via satellite. Please give a slightly puzzled welcome to infamous Brat Pack actor Rob Lowe, along with his pals Super Creepy Rob Lowe, Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe, Far Less Attractive Rob Lowe, Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe, Meathead Rob Lowe, & Crazy Hairy Rob Lowe.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

And the nominees are:

Favorite Movie

Muppets Most Wanted
This is a follow-up to The Muppet Movie, which won The Sammy for Favorite Movie in 2011. Unfortunately this one lacks the same magic. Neither Jason Segel nor Amy Adams return from the previous film, and instead we get Ricky Gervais as a sinister criminal and Tina Fey as a German prison guard, as well as cameos from Tony Bennett, Puff Daddy (or is it P. Diddy??), Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, & Ray Liotta. It’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours, but just isn’t as charming as its predecessor.

 

God’s Not Dead
The premise is this…a college student decides to stand up to his atheist philosophy professor. It’s not a horrible film and is somewhat inspiring at times. Here’s the problem with this as well as other “Christian” films though…Christians will like it while non-believers will scoff (as non-believers are wont to do). So what exactly does it accomplish if it is “preaching to the choir”?? I don’t think this movie is going to convince anyone of anything as written. The idea is ripe with potential, but the execution is lacking. Nice try though.

 

Draft Day
Kevin Costner finally decided to do a sports film. Okay okay…I’m joking. We all know that Costner is the king of sports movies. This time he plays an NFL GM whose team (the Cleveland Browns) has the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft (talk about realism!!). He’s not sure which player he wants to take, but we are introduced to three candidates: a cocky QB (sound familiar Browns fans??), a talented RB, & an underrated linebacker. The GM has some drama going on in his personal life too, but it’s really not that compelling. Draft Day is no threat to replace Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, or even Tin Cup as beloved Costner classics, but as a fictionalized behind the scenes look at the NFL Draft it is decently entertaining.

 

Boyhood
The critics are raving about this film. It is a coming-of-age story about a 6 year old boy and his slightly older sister being raised by their single mother in Texas. Their father (played by Ethan Hawke) pops in & out of their lives but is a good Dad. What is unique about Boyhood is that it was filmed over the course of 12 years, so we literally watch these two kids grow up in the space of a couple of hours. The same actors were used the entire dozen years. It is a fascinating & mesmerizing concept. However, there are a couple of issues. First of all the distinctive idea doesn’t have any kind of really interesting plot accompanying it. It is just about the ups & downs of everyday life…love, marriage, divorce, parenting, breakups, drinking, drugs, friendship, loss. It’s not that those things can’t be interesting, it’s just that I found myself asking “what is the point??” beyond the singular way the story is presented. The other issue is that the filmmakers and Hawke…an unabashed liberal…couldn’t resist taking a few political potshots along the way. These jabs were unnecessary and only distracted from my enjoyment of the film. Some things are better left unsaid.

 

A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
I love Christmas movies and I love Robin Williams. I had to check out one of his last projects. I’d be lying if I said that Williams’ demise didn’t have a negative impact on my perspective. The whole time I was watching I just kept thinking how worn down & disengaged he looked. This is not the enthusiastic, energetic, witty, full of life Robin Williams we all knew & loved. The story involves a somewhat alienated father & son taking a road trip back to the son’s house to fetch some misplaced Christmas presents for his children. It is funny in spots, but not nearly funny enough. This isn’t a movie the masses will be watching every Christmas in perpetuity like so many others.

 

Neighbors
Seth Rogan and his wife & kid move in next door to a fraternity house. Hilarity ensues. Mildly funny but mostly forgettable.

 

Million Dollar Arm
This is based on a real life story wherein a hotshot baseball agent mines the mean streets of India for untapped talent. It is somewhat charming but also mostly forgettable.

 

Blended
Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore have teamed successfully before… in 1998’s The Wedding Singer and again in 2004’s 50 First Dates, both of which are the kind of solidly entertaining movies one is apt to watch multiple times, especially if it comes on some random TV channel on a lazy weekend. Will Blended become that kind of “modern classic”?? Ehhh…probably not. The duo portray two single parents whose initial blind date is disastrous, but then both inexplicably end up bumping into one another (with their respective children) during a vacation in Africa. We all know the inevitable conclusion, but we don’t care if the journey is satisfactory. I think there are just too many moving parts here that don’t allow us to focus on the central romance. Blended tries really hard and isn’t a terrible film by any means.

 

This Is Where I Leave You
Take the 1983 classic The Big Chill and cross breed it with 2005’s The Family Stone and you come up with this dramedy about a dysfunctional family forced to sit shiva for a week after their father’s death. I am usually a sucker for the dramedy format, but this one goes back & forth more than a ping pong ball. It can’t decide whether it wants to be funny or serious, and that uncertainty hurts the momentum. The cast (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Dax Shepard, Katherine Hahn, and many others) is outstanding, but probably a bit bloated. Adam Driver may be on the verge of superstardom as the bad guy in the new Star Wars movie(s), but I think his true calling is following in the footsteps of Vince Vaughn as the always likable ne’er-do-well. TIWILY is, overall, kind of a downer, but it has its moments.

 

What If
I love a good rom-com, and this is a good rom-com. Originally released internationally in 2013 as The F Word (no…not that F word), it was finally released in North America in 2014 after the politically correct name change. Daniel Radcliffe sheds his Harry Potter persona quite nicely as a jaded young man who falls in love with a young woman he meets at a party. That young woman, portrayed by the enchanting Zoe Kazan (why she isn’t a bigger star is a mystery to me), has a boyfriend and immediately puts Radcliffe’s Wallace into “the friend zone”. Yes I know…we’ve seen this a thousand times and we all know how the story ends, but that’s okay as long as the script is well written and the cast is good. What If is kind of an updated riff on When Harry Met Sally, which is fine by me. Adam Driver shows up playing the same kind of aforementioned scalawag that seems to be his strength, and another captivating young actress named Mackenzie Davis that I am quickly developing an affinity for has a nice supporting role.

 

Heaven is for Real
This is a stronger effort in the Christian film genre than God’s Not Dead and is based on a true story. A 4 year old child becomes ill and has emergency surgery. After his recovery he begins to act strange and reveals to his family that he went to Heaven and saw God. His father is a minister in rural Nebraska and even he has doubts about his son’s claims. The small community doesn’t like the publicity that the story brings and ponders ousting the preacher. Greg Kinnear is an underrated actor and touchingly portrays the struggle of this minister and how his beliefs are shaken. Again, this is kind of “preaching to the choir” in that it’s the type of movie that will appeal mostly to believers, but unlike God’s Not Dead I think it has the potential to give fence sitters some food for thought.

 

That Awkward Moment
Three 20-something dudes suffering from a severe case of arrested development agree to stay single in solidarity with one another. Of course immediately thereafter they all find themselves in relationships. Complications arise…some of them funny, some of them not-so-much. I haven’t decided if I like Zac Efron or not, but I do know that if he wants to ever be taken seriously as an actor he has to grow beyond these juvenile frat boy parts. I do like up n’ comer Miles Teller, and the aforementioned Mackenzie Davis has a supporting role.

 

Jersey Boys
This is a well-executed biopic about the legendary 1960’s band Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and is based on a Tony Award winning play. The actors are all Broadway vets and do their own singing, which is impressive. I learned a lot about Valli and his pals, which isn’t saying much since the only thing I knew before was the music. It is amazing to ponder what heights The Four Seasons could have achieved if everyone would have stayed on the same page and maintained a laser focus on their collective success. Alas life has a way of interfering and stuff happens. As it is though the foursome ended up with five #1 hits, sold over 100 million albums, and were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hal of Fame in 1990. Not bad, right??

 

Saving Christmas
IMDB users have quickly crowned this the worst movie of all time, which I think is rather harsh, especially considering competition like From Justin to Kelly, Glitter, & Gigli. Look, I realize that Kirk Cameron is a polarizing figure. Even some Christians don’t like the guy. But I have to give him credit for making this effort. I’m not sure I completely agree with all of the theology, but there is some decent food for thought here. Santa was a badass?? Who knew?? Saving Christmas wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and I think the same points could have been made in a more acceptable format, but this is far from the worst film ever made. Haters are just gonna hate I guess.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

What If. I have to be honest…I didn’t go to the movies as often as I would have liked in 2014 and there were several films I didn’t get a chance to see. In a relatively whatifweak field What If stood out. Is it a bit derivative?? Sure. But that can be said about a lot of things. The fact is that the masses enjoy this kind of story and that’s why filmmakers keep churning them out. Many crash & burn, while some are just distinctive enough to carve out their own spot in the crowd. This is the latter. Don’t worry Harry Potter fans…Daniel Radcliffe is going to do just fine as a muggle.

 

 

 

 

To present our final award of the evening The Manofesto is honored to bring back a man that had so much fun presenting in 2012 that he called and asked if he gwbcould participate again. His presence has the added benefit of annoying liberals which is always fun. Please give a warm welcome to the former President of the United States…George W. Bush!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

WV Water Crisis
In the early days of January 2014 there was a chemical spill into the Elk River in the capitol city of Charleston, WV. Nearly 300k residents in 9 counties were without drinkable water for several days. The owner of the plant where the spill occurred, Freedom Industries, filed for bankruptcy within a week of the incident.

 

Malaysian Airliner Mystery
2014 was a tough year for Malaysia Airlines. In March a plane carrying over 200 passengers disappeared mysteriously somewhere in the Indian Ocean. No debris was ever found and conspiracy theories popped up, mostly from people who had been a little too into that TV show Lost. Was the plane hijacked by terrorists?? Was North Korea somehow involved?? Are the passengers alive somewhere on an island hanging out with Gilligan, The Professor, and the dude from Cast Away?? We’ll probably never know. To make matters worse another Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in July, killing nearly 300 passengers. But atleast we know that plane was shot down by a Russian missile. The moral of the story is don’t ever fly Malaysia Airlines…like ever.

 

Ebola in America
Ebola is the kind of deadly Third World virus that we usually read about in National Geographic, but in 2014 it hit very close to home. About 10 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with ebola. Two people died. Most of those contracted the disease outside of America and a couple were nurses that contracted it while treating ebola stricken patients. Some say the concern was overblown, but it is human nature to fear what we do not know.

 

Ferguson, MO Race Riots
Back in August an 18 year old black man was shot & killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. Some say Michael Brown was a nice kid who was gunned down by a racist cop. Others believe that Brown was a thug and that Officer Darren Wilson was just doing his job after Brown had robbed a convenience store then resisted arrest and assaulted the officer. Unfortunately the former opinion touched off violent protests, vandalism, & looting that lasted for weeks. Ultimately Officer Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury but understandably resigned from the Ferguson PD.

 

Same Sex Marriage Spreads
Same sex marriage became legal in an additional 19 states in 2014, meaning that it is now legal in about 35 states. And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Secret Service Ineptitude
Look, I’m no fan of President Obama, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him get kidnapped or murdered. The Secret Service is supposed to protect the President 24/7/365, but in 2014 there were…issues. There were atleast two incidents of unauthorized, ordinary people just waltzing into The White House unnoticed, while an unauthorized and armed security guard for the Centers for Disease Control somehow gained access to an elevator and took a little ride with the President while he was visiting Atlanta. Come on folks…get your stuff together.

 

Robin Williams’ Suicide
I have been a huge Robin Williams fan since I was a kid. He was a brilliant comedian and an even better actor that could do dramatic and funny roles with equal aplomb. I knew he had battled substance addictions in the past, but I wasn’t aware that he also suffered from severe depression. On 8/11/14 that vibrant, talented, complicated life came to an abrupt & all too premature conclusion when Williams ended his own life. I am usually not that invested in any actor/comedian/singer/celebrity. They come, they go. Their stardom shines bright for a short time and then it fades. But I have to say that I was rocked by this tragedy. Oh sure…not all of his movies were winners, but so many of them were and we assumed that there’d be more. I am not an expert on clinical depression, but I find it profoundly sad that someone who seemed to have it all didn’t feel his life was worth continuing. I am sad for his fans who will never be able to look forward to another awesome performance or even a funny appearance on a late night talk show, and I am sad for a family that has lost a husband & father.

 

ISIS
ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. They are a group of Muslim terrorists that have a penchant for kidnapping people and then cutting off their heads. In 2014 ISIS beheaded atleast a couple dozen people, including a few Americans. I am sure the videos are available somewhere online, although I am not sure why anyone would want to see that. But don’t worry folks…Islam is a religion of peace. They mean no harm and there is nothing to be concerned about. And also I have some lovely beachfront property in South Dakota that I am willing to sell for three Hershey Bars and a tricycle. Call me!!

 

Mid-Term Election Republican Sweep
In November 2014 the Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate, increased their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and gained an additional two governorships. Even here in WV Republicans took control of the legislature for the first time in…forever (I think). Unfortunately controlling the U.S. Congress won’t mean a thing as long as Rep. John “Tears” Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell are in charge and willing to bend over to kiss Obama’s…ring.

 

Veterans Administration Scandal
My father is a veteran and has received acceptable care with various issues from the local VA Hospital, but I guess not everyone has been so lucky. Apparently dozens of patients have died while trying to wade thru weeks & months of red tape & waiting lists in the past several years. Investigations are ongoing.

 

Terrorists Kidnap School Girls in Nigeria
In April 2014 nearly 300 teenage female students at a school in Nigeria were kidnapped by a Muslim terrorist group (them again) called Boko Haram. Months later only a few of the girls had been rescued. A couple escaped. A few were killed. Supposedly many of them have been taken to various other countries and sold into slavery. The inept Nigerian government has done basically nothing, and the only U.S. response was to express anger on Twitter (#BringBackOurGirls), as if that’ll accomplish anything.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

Ferguson. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know a few things. I know that Michael Brown wasn’t an innocent kid. It’s simple…don’t commit robbery or ferg1any other kind of crime and the police won’t have the opportunity to shoot you. I know that the reaction was way way way over-the-top. I don’t get looting. People need to mind their own business. If a guy down the street from me gets beaten or shot by the cops…right or wrong…why in the world is that a reason for me to walk downtown, set fires & bust out windows, and steal a TV from the local electronics store?? It’s idiotic. As far as we’ve come with race relations in America in the previous 3 or 4 decades it feels as though we’ve gone backward in the past few years. I am sure that there are bad law enforcement officers out there, but I think the vast majority do a damn fine job. It’s not their fault that black males are about 6% of the American population but are almost half of the prison population in the U.S. ferg2That’s not racism…it’s fact. Yet we have whackjobs like pretty much the entire lineup of MSNBC talking heads that see racism in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and people like “Rev.” Jesse Jackson & “Rev.” Al Sharpton (aka The Justice Brothers) that make a living out of stirring the pot. It’s pathetic and insulting. And while it is tragic that a young man lost his life in Ferguson it is also sad that a lot of other people lost businesses & property because people decided to use that tragedy as an excuse to act like animals and compound the issue exponentially. Can’t we all just get along??

 

 

 

 

 
rip

actor/comedy legend Robin Williams…retired Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll…actor/writer/director Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Groundhog Day, Animal House, Analyze This)…radio personality (and voice of Scooby Doo’s pal Shaggy) Casey Kasem…baseball Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn…SNL announcer Don Pardo…retired boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter…comedians Sid Caesar, Tim Wilson, Joan Rivers, & David Brenner…NBA Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay…former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon…entertainment columnist Marilyn Beck…pro wrestlers Nelson Frazier Jr. (aka Mable, Viscera, Big Daddy V) & Sean O’Haire…S. Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A)…sportswriter Bill Conlin & Bryan Burwell…actresses Lauren Bacall (Key Largo, The Shootist, All I Want for Christmas), Shirley Temple, Carmen Zapata (Santa Barbara, Sister Act), Ruby Dee, Ann B. Davis (Alice on The Brady Bunch), Polly Bergen, Elaine Stritch, Marcia Strassman (Welcome Back Kotter), Elizabeth Pena (La Bamba), Jan Hooks (Saturday Night Live), Carol Ann Susi (The Big Bang Theory), & Mary Ann Mobley (Diff’rent Strokes)…baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner…author Gabriel García Márquez (100 Years of Solitude)…singers Phil Everly (1/2 of The Everly Brothers), Jerry Vale, Jimmy C. Newman, Pete Seeger, Jimi Jamison (Survivor), & Joe Cocker…former Haitian President Jen-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier…WV businessman & philanthropist “Buck” Harless…former mayor of Pittsburgh, PA Sophie Masloff…actors James Garner (The Rockford Files), Mickey Rooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Scent of a Woman, The Big Lebowski, Almost Famous), James Rebhorn (Scent of a Woman, Meet the Parents), Bob Hastings (General Hospital, McHale’s Navy), Russell Johnson (The Professor on Gilligan’s Island), Dave Madden (Reuben on The Partridge Family), Maximilian Schell (Judgment at Nuremberg, Deep Impact), Ralph Waite (The Waltons), Richard Bull (Little House on the Prairie), Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Hook), Meshach Taylor (Designing Women), Eli Wallach (The Godfather Part III, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Charles Keating (Another World), Sir Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park, Miracle on 34th Street remake), Ed Nelson (Peyton Place, Capitol), Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley on The Addams Family), & Edward Herrmann (Gilmore Girls, narrator for History Channel)…retired MLB players & managers Don Zimmer & Jim Fregosi…former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee…producer/writer Arthur Rankin Jr. (Rankin/Bass Productions)…retired U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords & Congressman James Traficant…musicians Tommy Ramone, Paul Revere, & Johnny Winter…Hall of Fame pro wrestlers Ultimate Warrior, Ox Baker, & Mae Young…journalist Garrick Utley…NFL owners Ralph Wilson (Buffalo Bills) & William Clay Ford (Detroit Lions)…former White House press secretary Jim Brady…Ken Forsse (creator of Teddy Ruxpin)…retired race car driver Gary Bettenhausen…poet Maya Angelou…MLB player Oscar Taveras…game show hosts Jim Lange (Name That Tune, The Dating Game) & Geoff Edwards (Chain Reaction)…retired pro wrestlers Billy Robinson & Jimmy Del Ray…TV sports director Sandy Grossman…Watergate conspirator Jeb Stuart Magruder…retired NFL players Earl Morrall, Rob Bironas, Orlando Thomas, & Robert Newhouse…voice actor (Tony the Tiger) & pro wrestling announcer Lee Marshall…songwriter Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith (Dueling Banjos)…former Cy Young Award winning pitcher Bob Welch…former Senate Majority Leader & White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker…former Baltimore Orioles GM Frank Cashen…fashion designer Oscar de la Renta…retired tennis player & instructor Vic Braden…Marshall University President Stephen Copp…crackhead & mayor of Washington, DC Marion Barry…director Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Biloxi Blues, The Birdcage)