Sunday, February 27, 2011


The Super Bowl of Hollywood is tomorrow night. I refer, of course, to the 82nd Academy Awards. Perhaps you'll be watching as over-egoed drama queens and kings step to the dais and thank everybody they have ever known for the statue, but the long suffering fan will not. I might be persuaded to watch if Natalie Portman wears a completely see-through dress or if one of the acting divas thanks a producer for allowing her to do her screen test on the casting couch, but since neither will happen, I'll watch something else.

I understand that some of you will take one for the team because of a wife or girlfriend who has been waiting for this show since last year's - which I also missed. Sorry if you have to watch it, but do what you have to do to both keep the peace and maybe get a piece. Any straight man forced to watch this godawful drivel should get something out of it.

I lost interest in it when I discovered that I hadn't heard of the majority of nominees or had seen any of the nominated films. Another reason for me to watch it would be if I thought Charlie Sheen was going to OD on national TV but he probably won't so, again, I won't watch. I could care less what designers have created which ugly dress for some actress who couldn't carry Katherine Hepburn's sanitary napkin belt, or what the next country Brad and Angelina will adopt a kid from might be.

I AM interested in who gets the lifetime achievement award so that I can add the lucky recepient to my dead pool list, but I can read who it is in the paper.

Because I won't watch the show does not mean that I don't like movies. I have been a movie buff ever since I was a kid when I would beg to be allowed to watch The Million Dollar Movie which was shown every night after the 11pm news on channel 6. If my parents said no, which they always did, I would wait until I thought they were asleep and then sneak downstairs to watch some of my favorite movies. They were usually in black and white, and I could count on at least 2 WWII movies every week. John Wayne was a regular on the Million Dollar Movie, and it wasn't until I grew up that I learned that the closest he ever came to a shot fired in anger was on a Warner lot.

This past month has been a bonanza for watching great movies on the tube since TCM and others have been running Oscar-winning films. They do it every year and I look forward to it every year. It is Robert Osborne's time to shine. The other night I was watching Jaws for the umpteenth time and got to hear one of the greatest lines of all time, "You're gonna need a bigger boat." In fact, that got me to thinking about all of the great lines from films that we never forget and in some cases become part of the language we use everyday. The long suffering fan loves to make lists, so I started making a list of my favorite all time lines from the movies I love, which I won't bore you with. My list may not jive 100% with yours, especially since my list fizzles out in the 21st century. Some of my favorite films are those made in the 30's and 40's thus my list is filled with tasty tidbits from that era. You younger people can feast on the newer techno-filled special effects films like Avatar, but the long suffering fan prefers a good story line with a great script. I'll take great dialogue over great special effects any time. That's another good reason to skip this year's Hollywood circle jerk... unless, of course, you actually LIKE the ouvre of Michael Bay...

By the way, there are no lines from John Wayne on my list. Please keep his lines to yourself if he is one of your favorites. As the great director John Ford once said of the Duke after seeing one of his rarely passable performances, "I never knew the sonofabitch could act."

Friday, February 25, 2011


We have all been waiting all winter for spring training to start. Now that it is in full swing, I for one could care less.

I've never been a big fan of pre-season anything, and that baseball. I don't pay attention to the Eagles pre-season and I don't watch their pre-season games. I generally don't watch Phillies spring training games either, I just don't care to watch guys who will never make the big club nor do I care about the preparation the regulars go through to get ready for the season. Once the season starts I'll be there.

My attitude about pre-season games may have come about because of how much I hated pre-season football practice when I was playing. I thought two-a-days were a remnant of the Spanish Inquisition. I played for the typical high school coaches who acted as if they were born assholes and used ridiculous expressions like "Katy-bar-the-door" incessantly. I also never understood why they made us run a mile after each practice. I was a lineman - I was not trying to be a cross country runner, so I never understood the point. I thought these guys were sadists, especially when they wouldn't allow us any water during practice. "Water is for faggots," one of the coaches used to say when it was 90 and humid. He was usually drinking water when he said that.

My college coaches were no different except they allowed us a cup of water halfway through practice. Back then, they didn't know that the lack of water could kill you - they were concerned about toughening us up. In any event, I never did get into pre-season anything.

Spring training press conferences are stupid and filled with platitudes and cliches. Every once in a while one of the players does distinguish themselves with a comment so stupid and vacuous that it makes me shake my head and hope that the guy has a season where he hits .237 with 42 RBI's and a torn muscle in his brain. Jason Werth made the cut the other day with his comments of how, if the Phillies would have played their cards right, they could have had him and Cliff Lee and all the lost prosptect. Duh. Werth sounded as if he had replaced the saliva in his mouth with sour grape juice.

We all remember how fucked up it was when Ruben traded Lee away after acquiring Halliday. We all bitched and moaned, but at least the guy made it alright with the acquisition of Oswalt and then Lee. He may be pissed off that he is now playing for a team not yet ready for prime time - where he will have to be the "man". No Howard to protect him in front and no Ibanez or Ruiz to protect his back. Let's see how he handles that situation before we listen to any of his bellyaching. The next time Werth wants to say something, he should first take a deep breath and count to 126 million.

Since I've had the Wayback Machine reconditioned and souped-up, going back to earlier days of glory is both a pleasure and quick. The 8-track works beautifully and the AM radio is tuned to my favorite Top 40 station. This is the year of the pitcher for us Phillies fans, so lets climb aboard and visit the days of Eisenhower, hula hoops, and coonskin caps and take a look at one of our HOF hurlers - Robin Evans Roberts.

Robbie was everyone's favorite Phillie, even topping Whitey for our affections. He was a class act through and through and did a lot of work in the community like attending Cub Scout banquets, which is where I met him. It was a thrill that has stayed with me till this day. After his playing days ended, he became a stockbroker for the firm Benning & Scattergood. I met him again at an investment seminar, back when I played with other people's money until it disappeared, and he was as gracious as he could be.

Robbie finished his career with a record of 286-245 with an ERA of 3.41. He was elected to the HOF despite having given up a record 505 HR's. He appeared in 676 games, starting 609, completing 305 of them. Robbie, like Carlton after him, didn't know when it was time to quit and bounced from Balto to Houston to the Yanks and finally to the Cubs. It was sad to see.

From 1950 through the 1955 season, he won 20 or more games in each of those six seasons. From 1948 (when he broke into the bigs) through the end of the '55 season, he had a record of 161-102. For the rest of his career, he came in at a rather ordinary 125-143. Now let's remember that the Phillies of the late 50's and early 60's were about as bad as a team could get. They were their generation's version of the current Pirates, so his record was helped by guys named Futility, Choker, and Can't-Hit-For-Shit.

His great season was 1952 when he finished with a record of 28-7. His record that year against the NY Giants was 3-3 and 2-2 against the Cubs. He was 23-2 against the other 5 teams in the NL, and that includes the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers. That amazes me.

In that year of 1952 the greatest city in the world was treated to another outstanding pitching performance with the AL MVP going to Bobby Shantz of the A's. Shantz was a little guy, but he could pitch, and was such a good hitter that the A's used him as a pinch hitter on days when he wasn't pitching. My dad was an A's fan and the first Phillies game I saw wasn't until the A's left for KC after the '54 season. Roberts used to do a post-game show for kids once a week and I still remember Shantz as his guest on one of the shows.

That's enough for now, so let's climb back into the Wayback Machine and head on back to today. By the way, the Wayback has been customized to look like a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Convertible, so we dazzle time with tons of chrome, wide white-wall tires fitted with spinner hub caps and a beautiful 3 color interior. It's been fitted with glass packs so she makes all the deep throated muffler noise the galactic cops will allow. Til next time - see ya.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Chinese have the year of the dog, cat, tiger, etc. For the Phillies, the Year Of The Pitching began when pitchers and catchers reported to the Phils spring training complex. Writers have earned their pay writing about it, pundits have had hours of talk because of it, and Phillie fans have had a collective attack of the giggles and for some a case of terminal smuggness knowing that we now have the greatest starting staff in the entire galaxy.

Not so fast, this long suffering fan has tried to tell his friends. What if one of the Aces gets hurt? What if the Phillies starting eight goes on a month long slump and the team does the swan dive thing? The baseball gods might be pissed that Rollins has stated that the team will exceed 100 wins and will work their black magic to insure a greater collapse than we saw in 1964? My warnings have mostly gone unheeded as sales of red kool-aid have soared. How can we lose, I've been asked, mostly by those too young to remember the oft-broken hearts we have suffered due to loving the candystripers the way we here in the greatest city in the world do.

Even those who would insult or deride the long suffering fan agree that it has always been about pitching - and always will be. Well since we can all agree on that (if you can't - I suggest that you wear an orange sweater and walk around saying aboot instead of about while you look for the 4th quarter) I thought it might be worth a trip on the newly-restored Wayback Machine to September 1965 when a pitcher from Chatham, Ontario made his MLB debut with the Phillies.

When it comes to pitching trades made by the Phillies, let's assume we all put the acquisition of Steve Carlton from the Cardinals on top of the list. The Carlton trade may have been the best trade acquisition the team ever made. I will now offer what I believe is the worst pitching trade our guys have ever made.

The kid from Canada appeared in 7 games for the '65 Phils going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.19. In '66, this lanky hurler again was a late season call-up pitching in 16 games. So far the guy hadn't shown the Phillies braintrust much, and they clearly didn't see what the guy had in him so on April 21, 1966 they traded him to the Chicago Cubs along with Adolfo Phillips, and John Herrnstein for pitchers Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl. The Phils needed arms and both Jackson and Buhl were veterans who could eat some innings in what was, back then, always a losing cause.

Jackson had won 24 games with the '64 Cubs and would play three seasons with the Phils going 41-45 with the club. He retired after the '68 season. Buhl, who had been one of the mainstays of the '57 Braves championship club went 6-8 for the Phillies in '66 and then retired.

In 1966 the Cubs used Fergie Jenkins mostly in relief roles and he appeared in 60 games, though he did start 12. His 6-8 record and 3.31 ERA in 182 innings to go along with 148K's convinced the Cubs management that he should be a full time starter come the 1967 season. They never regretted that decision.

From '67 through '72 Jenkins won at least 20 games a year. If you're counting - that's six consecutive years of 20 wins. After an off year in '73 he came back to go 25-12 in '74. During his streak he completed at least 20 games per year with the high mark being 30 in '71. He regularly threw 300 plus innings a year and was always among the league leaders in K's.

In total, Jenkins spent 19 years in the show and is now in the Hall Of Fame.

There ought to be a law against the Phillies trading guys to the Cubs. As you know, the Cubs also acquired another future HOFer from the Phillies in Ryne Sandberg. Amaro needs to be told that he will be drawn and quartered if he even speaks of trading with the northsiders. I've often asked why the hallowed Phillie GM at the time, Pope Paul Owens, could have made such blunders and the only conclusion I can come up with is that he made those deals while on one of his legendary drunken sprees which came and went (mostly came). Owens and Harry Kalas were bosom buddies and drank the town dry together on many occasions.

Over the years the Phillies have made some horrific trades other than the obvious Sandberg and Jenkins deals. There was the the late 50's trade of rookie-of-the-year pitcher Jack Sanford to the Giants for Ruben Gomez and Valmy Thomas, a battery duo who lost their charge as soon as they hit town. Or, who will ever forget the 5-for-1 deal that brought Superbum Von Hayes here for what was a rather pedestrian career? There were other fiascos as well, which include letting Dave Stewart and George Bell slip away for nothing in return. Although we did have Juan Bell for a few seasons...

Some decent trades or free agent signings were made by the losingest pro team of all time as names like Jim Bunning and Pete Rose come to mind. Bake McBride, a member of the champion '80 squad, also has to be given a plus grade. The current Phillies braintrust, led by Ruben Amaro (a man who lies more than Chris Christie) have so far done a good job on the acquisition front but, for my money, the worst trade of all time was the Jenkins deal.

Jenkins has always been one of my favorite pitchers - especially after he was arrested in his native America Lite for possession of marijuana. That arrest caused some writers to not vote for him when he appeared on the HOF ballot, but he finally made it despite the ignorance of the moralists.

There hasn't been much news of note coming out of Clearwater as yet and, who knows, Amaro may have a deal up his sleeve. I just hope that whatever deals are made - they are not made with the Chicago Cubs.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I just finished watching the 135th Westminster Dog Show. It was fucking awesome!

Really, it was, and not just because of the dogs. It's the people who are involved in this elitist activity that are worth the price of admission. The crowd includes some of the whitest people on the planet with lots of money, roman numerals after their name, and the common usage of a last name for their first name.

The dog owners are a breed unto themselves. They spend a gazillion dollars a year training and primping these animals and give them names that should require that the owners be put to death at the hands of a hungry pack of crossbred pit bulls who have been trained to dislike white folks.

Now, for a real treat, focus on the dog handlers. The owners do not ever walk their dogs in the ring. They have professional dog handlers. The female handlers, almost to a handler, are chubby (I'm being kind), horribly dressed, plain, or even ugly women who don't look good in clothes - no matter how expensive the clothes might be. The real fun begins when the judge tells them to run the dogs. To watch these lovelies run is not a very pretty sight.

The male dog handlers are also mostly grossly overweight and get laid only when they pay big money to a pro of another kind. Some of these guys make the appraisers on Antique Roadshow look like members of the Packers. There was one guy who was handling some kind of lap dog - the lap dogs paw was straighter than the guys wrist. Hey, they are who they are and any kind of love is a beautiful thing. I'm not making any value judgments - I'm just telling it like it is.

Then there are the judges - a group of prima donnas who are treated like rock stars by the crowds to the point where they get standing ovations. You can't even imagine Dana DeMuth getting a standing O at the Bank but at the Garden tonight, the Best Of Show Judge Paolo Dondini was given an intro like he was a Roman Consul. They gave the guy the spotlight thing and read his credentials like Michael Buffer would read the record of a champion heavyweight. Dondini, a silver-haired gentleman with a wife half his age strutted to the center of the ring and bowed to the crowd as if he was a great tenor. The first time he saw the final 7 dogs was when they were brought in to the ring by their handlers.

For the Best Of Show Round, the winners of the 7 groups entered like a sports team would at an all-star game. You know, "playing 1B for the National League, Ryan Howard" - followed by Howard running to the NL baseline. Here, the dogs are introduced the same way and they enter one at a time under both a spotlight and an ovation.

The whole event is produced like a sports event. There are two anchors, a ring announcer, and a sizzling hot sideline reporter - so we can say that the dog people have their Pam Oliver. The anchors do a play-by-play of each dog being judged, and one acted like he was John Madden. This blue-blooded asshole had cutesy stories about the dogs and knew more than any man should know about lap dogs. After the Best of Show was awarded, they even had interviews with the winning handler (like they did last week with Mike McCarthy) and the owner - a real prune-faced wasp who loves animals and probably hates people.

There were some really cool dogs at the show. Some of my favorites were the Chinese Shar Pei, the Bull Terrier, the Boxer, and the St. Bernard. They all live better than many people I know. America, what a country [editor's note - in Soviet Russia, dog walks you blah blah blah].

I howled when the Scottish Terrier was described as having a strong sense of fair play. Huh? Excuse me, but it's a dog. It may be a very expensive dog, but it is a fucking dog and dogs don't know a thing about fair play. If they did, they would not only realize that the only fair thing to do for the people who feed it would be to open the door, walk itself, and use the scooper and plastic bag the way you have to. That would be fair. The real scary thing to me is that the announcer who said it seemed to believe it. A dog with a sense of fair play - give me a break.

The Best of Show Winner was a Scottish Deerhound. They come out of the beagle group even though they are big enough to allow a child to ride them. They are mostly grey with a lean muscular frame and, when standing on their hind legs, can reach 6 feet. They are truly magnificent dogs. There is a lady who lives near Cobbs Creek Park who owns and walks three of them twice a day. She is a slightly older white woman and one of the few who never ran away when black families moved in. She lives in the house she grew up in on Spruce St and uses the park and the Rec Center ballfields to exercise her dogs. Everybody knows that the dogs are very protective of the woman and they will give you a snarl if you get too close. Nothing is more clarifying than having those dogs snarl at you - it kind of makes your life flash before you. Hell, I've seen the meanest Pit Bulls cower behind their owner's leg when they see the three deerhounds who get their name from being bred to chase, catch, and kill deer.

Monday, February 14, 2011


It's here! The time has come to begin turning down the flames on our Hot Stoves and for some it is the time to order vast quantities of Red Kool-Aid. Throughout the states of Florida and Arizona pitchers, catchers, and those trying to continue their careers are stretching, throwing, and running in the outfields of the spring training sites. That the game we love so much starts the 2011 season on Valentines Day is only a coincidence but the baseball gods may still be sending us a message. The message may be that, just like a relationship, the baseball season will both be uplifting and heartbreaking. However, for one day even the fans in KC, Pittsburgh, and other baseball wastelands can have hope.

Before speaking to what is going on at the spring training sites I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to thank those who have given us stuff to occupy our time between the demise of the Eagles and the day the Four Aces start to sing and hum.

Thanks are in order to Fat Andrew for giving us an offensive line coach as our new D-coordinater. This move ranks high in a long list of Andrews Follies.

Thanks are also in order to the 76ers for actually winning while playing some decent basketball. Doug Collins may have a breakdown before the season is over but, barring a collapse or a major injury, the team looks like it is headed for the playoffs and a first round exit.

Many were able to wait out the nuclear winter of no baseball by watching the Flyers (who I'm told are having another good season). I still can't watch this "sport," and won't until they start playing a 4th quarter, but if you must - enjoy.

Also due for a round of applause are the Villanova Wildcats. The Cats started the season ranked very high and have of late given every Nova hater the joy of watching them get torn up in Big East play. Thanks!

To the north we must thank our NL East rivals in New York for all the joy in learning how involved the Mets owners were with Bernard Madoff. Bernie(now serving 150 years) apparently was the Wilpons' numero uno financial wizard and, due to litigation started by a lawyer named Irving Picard, the Wilpons may end up paying a billion to a fund for Bernie's victims. Nice! Because of this, I have decided to change the name of the team from the Mets to the New York Madoffs.

In Clearwater today the Four Aces are cranking it up. On paper, it would appear that the Phils have one of the top two rotations in baseball (the other being the Giants). Add in Blanton as the fifth starter and I understand why people are starting to play the game of "which Ace will win the most games." I have no clue who will win the most games but, assuming no injuries shorten anyone's season, it won't be Hamels. As a long suffering fan of the candystripers, I do like the hand we have but I don't see any of these guys equaling the greatest season I've ever seen from a Phillies pitcher. Trust me - it won't happen.

To catch a glimpse of the greatest performance by a Phillies pitcher we must use the reconditioned Wayback Machine. The Wayback has a new engine, more chrome than a '58 Buick, and a state of the art 8 track system which will allow us to enjoy the sounds of Al Alberts and his Four Aces. I've set the machine for 1972. Come along for our first trip of the new season as we explore the great Steve Carlton and his magnificent season of 1972.

On February 25, 1972, the Phillies traded Rick Wise to the Cardinals for Steve Carlton. It was a one-for-one trade that had many back in the day scratching their heads as to why the Redbirds would move their lefthanded ace to the Phils for only Wise. Wise, who enjoyed an 18 year career finished the '71 season 17-14 with a 2.88era for a pathetic Phillies team. Carlton had turned in a 20-9, 3.56 era season for the Cardinals in '71 and, when combined with Bob Gibson's 19 wins, gave the St Louis team the best one-two pitching punch in baseball.

Perhaps the Cardinals didn't want to deal with Carlton's eccentricities or perhaps they thought Wise would be a better fit - I don't know - but, in making the trade, the Cardinals gave the Phillies the lynchpin of their rotation who would contribute in a major way to the Phillies' first title in 1980.

The 1972 Phillies sucked big time. They couldn't hit very well, had trouble playing defense and their pitching left everything to be desired - with the exception of Lefty. The team managed to hit for a combined .236 average with an OBP of .302. Led by Greg Luzinski's 18 HR's the team managed to hit 98 round trippers. Under the tutelage of managers Frank Lucchesi (fired after a 26-50 record) and the Pope (Paul Owens 33-47), the team finished '72 buried in the cellar with a marvelous 59-97 record. The only pitcher to have a winning record was Carlton who led the league in wins with 27-10 record.

That's right, Carlton won nearly 46% of the games won by the Phillies that year. Last year, the Phils won 97 games. To equal Carlton last year, someone would have had to win 44 games.

In today's game, managers worry about the pitch counts and number of innings pitched. I guess those worries didn't apply to Lefty in 1972. In '72, Carlton started 41 games and pitched 346.1 innings while recording a 1.97 ERA. He struck out 310 batters while issuing 57 walks. He tossed 8 shut-outs and completed 30 games. Today, most TEAMS don't record 30 CG for a season.

Do the math. He won 27 games, but completed 30, meaning that he even tossed 3 CG's in games that he lost. Can you imagine Charlie Manuel allowing Hamels to finish a game where he had given the other team a 4 or 5 run gift? Of course not. Manuel would pull the hairdresser out early, just as he would with any of the other Aces who didn't have it.

Perhaps one reason Carlton was allowed to finish his losing games was the lack of any real quality in the '72 bullpen. Other than Carlton, the staff was littered with guys who were either long past the time when they could pitch (Woodie Fryman, Chris Short) or guys who were getting the proverbial cup of coffee like Bob Terlecki or Bob Downs - neither of whom played long enough to appear on a baseball card. More common were guys like Tinicum's own Ken Reynalds who started 23 games, finishing with a 2-15 record. Or we can mention the misnamed Billy Champion who, in 22 starts, managed a 4-14 record to go along with his 5.09 ERA. Rookie Mac Scarce was the staff saves leader with 4, followed by Dick Selma who had 3. Seattle Pilot refugee Bucky Brandon managed a 7-7 record in a combined starting relief role.

If you agree that, aside from Carlton, the staff stunk up the Vet his accomplishments that year are even more insane when you look at the starting 8.

Behind the plate was John Bateman who in 82 games managed to provide a .222 average with 3 home runs. This was Bateman's last year in the show. Tim McCarver was Lefty's personal catcher and in 45 games hit a lusty .237. While playing for the Cardinals, McCarver went out to the mound to talk to his pitcher, Bob Gibson. Gibson, according to McCarver, told him, "Go away, the only thing you know about pitching is that it is hard to hit!" Bob Boone was a September call-up in '72 and only played in 16 games.

The '72 infield was led by Larry Bowa at SS, Denny Doyle at 2B,Terry Harmon & Deron Johnson at 1B, and Don Money at 3B. Money hit 15 round trippers, but managed only a .222 avg. Mike Schmidt was a Sept. call-up hitting .206 in 13 games. Safe to say that Lefty got little offensive production from the infield.

The outfield was where offensive production came from, led by Greg Luzinski. The Bull hit a solid .281, had 18 HRs, and drove in a team-leading 68 runs. After Bull, Willie Montanez produced 64 RBI's. The rest of the OF was populated by the likes of Oscar Gamble and Bill Robinson who later played on the great "We Are Family" Pirates teams of the late 70's & early 80's.

Given how futile the '72 team was, Carlton's performance that year is all the more amazing. Despite the talent on the current roster, it will never be matched. To date, Steve Carlton must be considered the greatest Phillie pitcher of all time (Sorry Robin). He must be included as one of the best left handed pitchers of all time as well. In my lifetime, only two other southpaws deserve mention with Lefty - Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax. Say what you will about Lefty, but despite his quirks and special training methods and his vow of silence, the 1972 season will forever be the greatest single season performance I have ever seen.

Our time in 1972 has come to an end so let's get back in the Wayback Machine and return to the present. I've put the Four Aces Greatest Hits in the 8 track so sit back, enjoy "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing" on our Valentine's Day trip home. On this first day of Spring Training I won't worry about who will play RF, or about the lack of quality middle relievers, I'm just gonna enjoy the fact that IT'S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I wasn't going to write about football again until next football season, but an article I just read in the Washington Post begs to be commented on.

In the article, sportswriter Sally Jennings basically says "no mas" to the NFL and the Super Bowl. Jennings doesn't have any problem with the game itself, which she thought was a decent one to watch. Her problem is with the ridiculous excess that this annual event has become - especially the one played in Dallas Sunday night.

She points out that if you wanted to enjoy a Margarita at the game it would cost you $19.00. For $19.00 I want the margarita to have jet black hair, beautiful brown eyes, an amazing body and an attitude. You don't do margaritas - okay, then how about forking over $10.00 for a beer? No, you don't get a six-pack of Bud Lite or a nice microyuppie brew - you get one fucking plastic cup of cheap suds. At Big Tommy's beer store, that same $10.00 will probably get you a case of Milwaukee's Best. Of course, if that's Milwaukee's best offering, I'd hate to be the schmuck who has to taste their worst. It's probably a good thing that I don't drink beer.

Can't afford the price of a ticket? For $200.00 you can stand outside the stadium and see the game on a screen. Oh, and if you need to park your car and want to be close to the stadium - it'll cost you $900.00. Nine hundred fucking dollars to park your ride! Obscene doesn't even begin to describe it. Just think how pissed you would be to get in your car after the game only to discover that some asshole had sideswiped your rear fender and didn't leave you his/her name and insurance information. For this, you paid 9 Benjamins.

It gets better. They sold over 100,000 tickets to the game, but that wasn't enough. Some NFL exec decided that erecting temporary seats would make the event even better. They sold somewhere around 1,200 of those seats only to be told by the fire marshal that they weren't safe and couldn't be used. Those 1,200 people came to Dallas expecting to see the game and were turned away. No effort had been made to save them the expense of the trip or the aggravation of the airport security routine. The people found out about it when they showed up for the game. That would be enough for me to go postal. The next day, the league offered these folks a refund of three times the cost of the seats, and tickets to next year's game. I smell litigation with this one.

As is customary at these kind of events, the Navy did a fly-by over the stadium at a cost of $450,000. When asked about this, the Navy said that this was good for recruiting. So much for cutting the military budgets. Oh, and did I tell you that the roof was closed so the only place you could see the fly-by was on the big screen that Jerry is so proud of?

Sally Jennings is 100% right-on in her opinion that the NFL has finally gone over the top. The whole thing has gotten out of hand and, in my opinion, some people should be shot.

Roger Goodell gave an interview on Sunday where he spoke of the necessity of the owners getting more revenue so that the league can continue to grow. Huh? Does that mean $1,000 to park next year? Roger Goodell and the 32 owners just don't have a clue.

As for the product, the games are mostly boring and this long suffering fan can just about get through most of the puke they show on TV. The networks do a lousy job of covering the games and it is getting harder and harder to distinguish one announcing trio from another.

My message to the NFL is simple: $19.00 margaritas, $10.00 beers, $900.00 parking fees, $15.00 hot dogs -P.T. Barnum was right. Watching the game on the sofa with real friends and great homemade mac & cheese - PRICELESS!

Monday, February 7, 2011


So, last night I watched the game with some friends and there was not a Packer fan in the room. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone since we were watching the game in Pennsylvania and I have found that most of us from this area have a fondness for the men in black and gold. Those of us old enough to have seen the great Steelers teams of the 70's and early 80's - when the Eagles sucked - would have preferred a different outcome.

I prefer watching games where I can assign good and evil based on a variety of factors. For instance, I always root against teams who wear silly looking uniforms - as in the Bengals or the Oregon Ducks. So, if the Ducks were playing USC, the Trojans would get my loyalty at least for the day. Evil is always assigned to teams like the Cowboys or the Colts. (I am still pissed at the way they screwed the city of Baltimore). When two evil teams play - I root for injuries. So, if two teams from the deep south are playing, an outbreak of cholera in the stadium would give me a reason to cheer.

With all of that said, there were no villains for me in yesterday's game. Both teams were original NFL franchises, both wear traditional uniforms, and neither team is owned by an elitist asshole like Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder. While I was rooting for the Steelers, I didn't hate the Packers, and I enjoyed the game enormously.

Aaron Rodgers showed that he has the right stuff. The Packer defense played a marvelous game, and the outcome could have gone either way late in the 4th quarter. Because of the noise of the crowd I watched with, even Troy and Joe didn't annoy me with annoying commentary - telling me what I already knew. The game turned out to be won by the team who made the fewest mistakes. The Steelers turned the ball over three times to the Pack who scored 21 points after the turnovers, and they deserved to win the game.

I hope that Fat Andrew was watching. Both teams used the RUNNING GAME! The Steelers were able to run all day, and the Packers did so as well especially at the end of the game. I thought that Andy might have been calling some of Pittsburgh's plays with the Steelers going to Andy's favorite pass to the sideline for no gain at least three times. I hope he noticed that neither teams defensive coordinator had been an O line coach. (Wonder why?)

Despite being hit at least 18 times, Rodgers gave us a display of accuracy that impressed the shit out of me, and he did deserve to be named the games MVP. Congrats to him and the Packers.

For many the reason to watch the game were the commercials. Every year, a big deal is made of them in an attempt to keep us glued in front of the TV instead of gorging ourselves during the timeouts. Overall I thought this year's commercials were average at best and left me wishing that Coke had rerun the Joe Greene spot instead of the drivel they went with yesterday.

The Dorito's spots showing a guy licking another guys finger, and then ripping a third guys pants off so he could lick the cheese dust was not only stupid, but could cost someone a broken nose if tried in real life. If someone ever did that to me (unless it was a beautiful woman) I would pick up the nearest blunt object and rearrange the molecular structure of the dude's face.

There were lots of ads for movies that won't be shown until September or later. The Fast Five spot featuring Vin Diesel was particularly annoying if only because it featured Vin Diesel. He hasn't done anything that wasn't dumb and stupid aside from Saving Private Ryan, in which he played a character who was dumb and stupid.

The Teleflora spot where the guy's love message was to tell his lady that she had a great rack amused me. Just what the lady needs to be told for Valentines Day.

I won't be drinking Lipton Brisk any time soon now that I have seen the commercial with Eminem. I would buy any product that executes Eminem in their spot. The other clown, Justin Beiber, should also be executed. Just what IS a Justin Beiber? Does he get beat up a lot? I certainly hope so.

I am not a beer drinker, but I did sit up and pay attention to the Budweiser spot with the dogs. No, I'm not into dogs - but the sizzling sister in the ad did catch my canine eye.

I've saved my favorite commercials for last. Pepsi Maxx won the commercial contest hands down, and I'd like to tell you why. In their first spot, we see a guy sitting on a bench with a rather attractive lady. In the middle of the brother's rap to the lady an extremely hot white girl sits down and catches the brother's eye, whereby the sister hits the white girl upside her face with the can she had been holding. Just awesome. For their next spot, we see a complete loser named Werner being bullied by a group of much-too-pretty boys. Werner then gets a can of Pepsi Maxx in his hand and throws a perfect Randy Johnson fastball into the groin of one of the bullies, who will now be able to audition for a soprano's role in any New York Opera Company performance. Werner will still not get laid, but at least one bully won't either proving that (once in a while) there is justice.

Finally we see a couple sitting at a table - each with a Pepsi Maxx in their hands. As they look each other over we can "overhear" what each is thinking. The guy, a sort of nerdy thing, keeps repeating that he wants to sleep with her while the babe is wondering about his net worth. The perfect commercial in that it reveals the truth about men. Yes ladies, that is what we think about all of the time. All men are truly dogs and while you sit there wondering if the dude is rich and sensitive and kind, the dude is thinking about doing you. He could care less about your net worth or if you have read anything more serious than Cosmo - he cares only about doing you.

So, football season is now over. No more Chris Berman or Chris Collinsworth or Jimmy Johnson to listen to and loathe. For me it means that the FOX network will not pollute my TV until next football season save for an occasional Saturday baseball game when the Phillies are being shown. The time to deal with Fat Andrew and rules designed to emasculate the defense is over for yet another year. In one week it will be time to hear the sounds of baseballs hitting catchers mitts, followed by the most beautiful sound in the world - the ball being struck by a wooden bat.

This long suffering fan can't wait and I will devote the next post to what I think is the best single season performance by a pitcher that I have ever seen in my lifetime. Until then, don't slip on the ice and stop wishing that they would have shown Danica Patrick really naked because if they had done that they would have also had to show a full frontal shot of Joan Rivers.

Friday, February 4, 2011


It's here! For those of you who have been on Mars, escaping a harsh winter, I'm talking about the game. You know, that celebration of American marketing called the Super Bowl. The game, as you know, is normally played in a stadium located where the weather can be expected to be balmy and mostly sunny. After all, how could a game that was designed to be played in all kinds of weather - unlike baseball - have mother nature get in the way of the joy of watching the best of the best play some football in between attempts at selling us everything from soda (to ruin our teeth), to fast food poison (designed to kill us slowly), to various cars of the future that we are told get a gazillion miles per gallon on the highway - never mind that most of our driving is not done on the highway.

Well, this year the gods of football took a look at the teams playing and saw that both of them were based in cities that normally are not thought of as winter vacation spots and decided to make the teams feel at home. Today the Super Bowl host City of Dallas is expected to get 3 to 4 inches of snow, something that will paralyze this southern metropolis until April. In Pittsburgh and Green Bay people wear shorts when they only get such a small amount snow, but in Dallas the city should come to a screeching halt bringing the gods much joy as they watch the limos driving the big shots to the game slide off the highways as they careen into a ditch. Hopefully, the gods are planning an ice storm for Sunday that will force the league to cancel the half time show, sparing us from having to watch mediocre talent interfere with our half time gluttony. Personally, I think they ought to show a replay of the 2004 Janet Jackson performance which would certainly keep the desired 19-34 male audience in front of the TV instead of at the dip bowl. [Editor's note - They went with the Black Eyed Peas this year. Where's that dip bowl?]

The weather will also affect the millions of us who plan to place a wager on the game. I do mean millions - since the Super Bowl is the biggest day of the year for the sports betting industry by far. It is Christmas, New Years, and Arbor Day all rolled into one day and there are estimates that over a billion dollars will be put on the line.

Nowhere will the action be any stronger than at a beer distributor in Strafford, PA (suburban Philadelphia), the home of Johnny Dollar, a man who would bet on high school games if there was a line for it.

I don't know how old Johnny was when he placed his first bet, but I'll bet that it was before he could walk. He didn't grow up to be the degenerate gambler that he is without help. His older brother Big Tommy and his mother set the example for the young Johnny - they too will bet on just about anything.

I met the dollar man around 1992 when some friends and me would eat lunch at the restaurant owned by Big Tommy. The food was good and the conversation was about sports - perfect for the male bonding experience. Our lunch bunch could have been created by Damon Runyan as we were certainly a colorful bunch of characters. There was Big Tommy, a hulk of a man who had once played football at Villanova, and showed no evidence of having a neck. There was Chootz, a successful stockbroker skilled at separating seniors from their life savings. There was Pauly Espo, a not-so-successful insurance man who dreamed of winning the lottery and finding the perfect Nubian beauty for his edification and pleasure. There was Doc, a Main Line dentist who loved nothing better than to look at someones mouth (where he saw next year's new BMW). My favorite was Mrs B, the lovely mother of Big Tommy and Johnny Dollar who would put your lunch tab on the house if you gave her a can't-miss pick. If she won on your tip, lunch was free for at least two weeks. If she lost, well then she would tell everybody that you didn't know anything.

The restaurant was sold and the family opened up a beer store, which became the place where we all hung out on Friday nights. It replaced the corners that we all had when we lived in the city. Everybody checked in on Friday night, especially during football season when the talk always revolved around point spreads. My role was to review the college spreads with Johnny Dollar. Johnny could not watch a sporting event without having action on it, and he enjoyed watching his football on Saturday. Since he knew that I watched a lot of college ball he came to depend on me to help him decide which games to bet on. We would review 20 or 30 games and the Dollar man would bet on at least 10 of them every week. Given my horrible habit of picking losers I look back in amazement that he would come to me for advice, but he did.

Johnny would bet on games like Montana State vs Idaho, especially if those kind of games were televised. He always thought that the late TV games could help him make up his losses from earlier in the day, giving him momentum going into Sunday's NFL schedule where he would play every game - every single one. He loved long odds and believed that parleys were invented to give him joy. Bookies love parleys since they win those sucker bets 80% of the time.

Johnny Dollar and his brother Big Tommy never seemed to agree on what games to bet and their arguments became the stuff that legends are made of. Big Tommy believed that it was better to play fewer games with a great deal of money on each one. Tommy's minimum bet was a dime ($1000), while Johnny would take the same dime and divide it ten ways to bet $100 on ten games. (On games that he cared about Johnny would up the ante and sometimes would have 5 dimes riding on the outcomes)

Once Johnny Dollar decided on how he was going to play it was time to call Jackie Da Bookie. Now Jackie was a guy who had grown up with Chootz the Stockbroker and at the time was affiliated with a local organization where most of the members last names ended with a vowel. He was an up and coming member of this organization who, besides running his own book, was used as a mediator of debts. By that I mean that Jackie specialized in debt collection for his bosses, and when Jackie went collecting you either paid what you owed (sometimes with money that Jackie would lend you) or you went to the ER with various broken bones. Jackie employed two large gentleman to help collect. They enjoyed their work. Most of the time, they didn't speak aside from an occasional grunt. The only English I ever heard was when on a Friday night they showed up at the beer store to discuss why Johnny hadn't met Jackie Da Bookie on Tuesday to settle up. The English I heard went like this, "Wheres the fucking money? You owe, and you gotta pay."

Johnny Dollar had overextended himself by placing bets with bookies other than Jackie Da Bookie, and now owed Jackie and the other guy, a local tavern owner. The matter was resolved when Jackie Da Bookie threatened to cut the entire family off - a situation that Big Tommy and Mrs B could not tolerate. Mrs B came up with the money and the family was back in business.

Johnny Dollar was such a degenerate gambler that even when he had to do 6 months in the county slammer he continued to bet. He has smashed a beer bottle upside the head of some guy at a local watering hole when the guy looked at him in a manner that Johnny characterized as "funny." Johnny's claim of self defense didn't cut it. Big Tommy would visit Johnny every week and take his bets for Jackie Da Bookie.

Football was not the only sport the Dollar man would bet on. Baseball, basketball, hockey, and the horses were all areas that Johnny had interest in - and were all areas that he had difficulty in picking winners. He also enjoyed "going down the road." Wednesday nights were road nights, and his midnight runs to Atlantic City were legendary. He went every Wednesday after the store closed, and tried to make the trip in under an hour, which meant that he traveled at a very high rate of speed. Johnny always had guys go with him - but in separate cars. Johnny was so crazy that nobody would ride with him. He thought they were pussies.

I haven't seen Johnny for many years but, as sure as I'm sitting here, Johnny has all kind of bets already placed for Sunday's game. His first bets would have been placed at a sportsbook in Vegas. Every spring, Johnny and Big Tommy would do the Haj to Vegas where they would lay down proposition bets - legal in sin city. Now that the game is at hand he is preparing for the call to Jackie Da Bookie, who I'm told is back in the business after a 37 month stay at a federal facility. The brothers are probably still fighting over how to bet. Big Tommy was always a big Packer fan and the Dollar man, well he wears a lot of black and yellow. Good luck guys!

As for myself, I haven't bet on anything for many years but I do have fantasy pick for you to consider. Going into this game, my playoff fantasy record is 6-4 and I expect to end up at 7-4 by taking the points and the PITTSBURGH STEELERS! What do the oddsmakers know anyway!