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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I didn't get to edit it this because of work but I wanted to get it up to be timely so just enjoy it in all its messy goodness.

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One year ago today Curt Schilling took the mound in Yankee Stadium with sutures in his ankle.

There would have been enough drama involved if all he was pitching against was 86 years of pain and futility to a team and fan base that could only find sufficient comparisons in phrases like "passion play" or "Shakespearean." The opponent alone would have provided the necessary drama to make it more than a game. Not just a rival, but the most bitter rival in all of sports, a rival that epitomized all that was wrong for Red Sox fans. A history between two teams so awful and so one-sided that it defied logic and reason, probability and statistics, fairness and God, or better yet, Grady Little. Of course, two days prior the Sox trailed these tyrants 3 games to 0, a deficit no baseball team had ever even forced a game 7 against.

But here was Curt Schilling, trying to do just that on the mound of Yankee Stadium in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. All of that history would have been enough. Instead, Curt Schilling gingerly made his way to the mound of Yankee Stadium amidst the ghosts of 86 years with a few stitches holding his foot together, bleeding enough to turn his sock red. The poetry of the moment would have been too wonderful to take had it not been all too important and real for too many people.

Even one year later, it all seems so improbable: beating the Yankees, coming back from three games down, winning the World Series. And right in the middle of it arguably the most amazing, clutch performance in sports history.

(What else could possibly measure up? Willis Reed? Scored the first two baskets and that was it. If Wilt wasn't afraid to be the bad guy the Lakers win. Bill Russell would have MURDERED Willis Reed in this game; Russell even said so. Maybe Jordan's flu game? Schilling had a medical procedure done that had been invented a day or two before and had never been done on a human, only a cadaver. I think that easily trumps anything that can be treated with chicken soup and sleep. Kurt Gibson? In terms of sheer drama, nothing might ever top it considering it was a 2-out pinch hit homerun by a guy who couldn't walk, and off the best closer in the game. But there's no way it is even close to Schilling performance considering Gibson had one at bat whereas Schilling had to PITCH every pitch for 7 innings. And that's it, right? That's the list? The only other major injury I can think measures up is Bobby Baun in the 1964 Stanley Cup finals who played on a broken leg. But I think people have to know it happened for it to count, so tough luck Bobby. At least some of us know and care.)

It wasn’t like he was gutsy and the Sox scored enough runs to win. It was 3-1. He dominated a team that just a few days before had scored 19 runs at Fenway Park and was a live fantasy baseball lineup. If Schilling struggles in one inning of that game and gives up 3 or 4 runs, that’s it. Nice effort by the Sox, tough luck again and one more year of waiting.

But the man said he was coming to win a damn World Series and no damn ankle was going to stop him.

(Something I am afraid will be lost about this game and this series, Mark Bellhorn, who had been booed so loudly at Fenway and had to endure constant chants of “Pokey Pokey”, hit the game winning homerun on a ball initially ruled a double before the umps got it right. Then they called A-Rod out for interference, correctly, and even though we couldn’t have known it then, that was the series.

In fact, looking back, this game was far more entertaining than either 4 or 5 because in Game 4 we were pretty comatose from being firebombed down 3 games to 0 and were pretty close to death, and Game 5 almost caused me to die. I really thought my chest or head was going to explode by the thirteenth when knuckleballs were bouncing off Varitek like super balls.

But Game 6 had goofy stuff happening that had ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS gone against us, including the demise of Alex Rodriguez as a man, the redemption of Mark Bellhorn, and the heroics of Curt Schilling.)

One year later it still brings tears to my eyes to see clips from any point in Game 4 of the ALCS to Game 4 of the World Series. I wondered if the feeling would wear off at all and it hasn’t. And every year from now I’ll think back in October to 2004 and recall how all it took on the 19th was a guy wearing a red sock to push the Sox that much closer to the impossible.

I can’t believe after 86 years it was that simple.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Their was once a time when Boston was known as Loserville. Not exactly an easy thought to hold here in Championship City these days, but it was true only five years ago. Before Adam Vinatieri kicked the Superbowl winning field goal as time expired in New Orleans against the "Greatest Show on Turf" (and a 14 point spread), Boston was a source of great disappointment and letdown for fifteen years. Following 1986, which saw the Pats, the Celtics, and the Red Sox all compete for a world title, the Boston sports trophy case sat and collected dust.

What happened? The 86 Celts, maybe the greatest basketball team of all time, won another title, and then it all started to happen....

Len Bias died. Then Game 6 happened. Then the Oilers came to town. Then Dave Stewart started for the A's. Then Wesley missed the net. Then Bird's back gave out. Then Ulf Samuelson happened. Then Reggie was gone. Then Clemens left for Toronto. Then Desmond Howard returned. Then Parcells left for the Jets. Then Carroll was hired. Then Pitino showed up. Then the ping-pong ball fell for the Spurs. Then the Yanks celebrated at Fenway. Then Bourque hoisted Stanley wearing snow.

It wasn't just that it seemed like everyone but us was winning, it was that we just kept losing. Losing playoff games, losing players, losing championships, losing coaches, and worst, losing hope.

Why bring this all up now? After another championship and dynasty? Because those agonizing, hopeless, and fruitless years make it so much more special now.

Just think of how bad it was. How you questioned why you cared, or why you were so sick after another loss. Think of all the times you swore to never watch again, only to keep watching and keep yelling at the screen. Think of the tears or the dented walls, or the late-night calls to friends cursing the same dead dream.

Think of all the times you questioned if it would ever be worth it.

Then think about the last four years. Think about the glorious tuck rule, Troy Brown on special teams, Adam Vinatieri always, Tom Brady's poise, Bill Belichick's sweatshirt. Think about 20-17, 32-29, 24-21. Think about Curt Schilling's sock, Varitek's glove in A-Rod's face, Dave Robert's being called safe, David Ortiz in extra innings, a groundball to Pokey from Sierra.

Think about an easy chopper to Keith Foulke.

Sports is never easy; it wouldn't be worth if it was. For a city as proud and as passionate about its sports teams as Boston, it was hard to imagine what we had done to deserve fifteen miserable, loser-filled years.

I never believed in the Curse of Babe Ruth. I always thought if there was something sinister going it was more likely the Curse of the 86 Celts. Maybe they were so damn good that the sports gods felt we had gotten more than our fair share of sports greatness for awhile. We had seen the pinnacle, and it was our time to feel what it was like to be on the other end.

How stupid of me.

The sports gods were not punishing us. Instead, they were preparing us for a run of unprecedented and unimaginable greatness. They didn't move Mookie's grounder away from Bill's glove to punish us, they did it to set us up. And they kept setting us up, for fifteen long years, because they knew they were going to make it worth it for us. I guess that fifteen was enough, that they had done all the setting up they needed. They knew that no other group of people could handle it, even if they complained the whole time, like we could. And they knew that no one would appreciate it like us when it happened.

And then, on a snowy Saturday night, when an old, decrepit stadium was on its last legs, a referee looked into a tiny TV and recalled some small rule that no one knew about, and changed fifteen years.

It's a better story that way.

So if you think it's curious to dredge up all the bad moments at a time like this, I'd say it's curious to forget about them. It is those times of bleakness and soul-searching that make the euphoria of accomplishment that much sweeter to savor and appreciate.

And if the sports gods ever decide to set us up again, it will be these new moments that will carry us through. They have forever answered our questions of whether or not it is worth it. What we have seen the last four years has been not just a re-affirmation of our sports dreams, but of our ability to hope, to persevere, and to achieve.

Enjoy being Championship City Boston, but don't forget that they used to call us Loserville.

It makes it that much better.



Thursday, October 28, 2004

October 27th, 2004

The impossible, the improbable, the unbelievable - they all came true.

My God.

It really happened.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I can honestly say that I am at such a loss for words to describe what is taking place right now.

I am so caught off guard about what might take place very soon.

I always figured I would know how to feel, or what to expect. But the truth is I am so bewildered that I actually appear calm. Almost like these games are being played in April.

I always hoped this day might come, but I always feared it wouldn't. I always said, "It will be amazing when they do it," but in the back fo my head rested thoughts like, "How could they ever do it?"

I can't even imagine what I might feel like tomorrow.

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One quick Game 3 thought. I was happy for Pedro. Pedro was a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, and watching those skills slowly fade over the last couple years hasn't been easy. But last night, in the biggest stage, and his biggest game as a Red Sox player, he came through beyond what we could hope and ask for.

If it was his last game in a Sox uniform - well it certainly is a nice way to remember him.

Go Sox.



Saturday, October 23, 2004

Forget the 3-0 deficit, forget the incredible extra inning games in 4 and 5, or Schilling's Lazarus-like performance in 6, even Johnny Damon's grand slam in the 7th, by the end of the series one very simple but very incredible fact was true: the Boston Red Sox had beaten the New York Yankees.

There it was. It was over and the Boston Red Sox had beaten the New York Yankees.

One year after a lost so devastating it seemed as though sports would never offer anything so good to be comparable to its bad. And yes, the loss was that bad. It made you question why the hell you even cared in the first place, let alone why you cared so much at the end. People walked around Boston for weeks with broken spirits. And it never quite went away, just like it had never gone away after 78 or 86.

And now it is gone. It's gone. And in its place something so good you couldn't possibly begin to describe it, so why try?

Instead, just know that in the early hours of Thursday, grown men cried because of how happy they were. Sons thought of their fathers, fathers thought of their fathers, and generations thought of generations.

Being a Red Sox fan, whether age 10, 20, 50 or 80, you don't hold your history on your shoulders, you hold the entire history of the team on you. Fans of the 67 team didn't just feel a loss then, you feel it now with them. Bucky Dent might have hit a homerun before you were born, but it's one of the worst moments of your life.

So when Alan Embree induced a Ruben Sierra grounder to Pokey Reese, you didn't yell or cheer because you had seen it, you yelled or cheered because the team had seen it. Boston had seen it. WE had seen it. Almost nine decades of us had seen it, even if we weren't all here together, those of us who were saw it for the them - and we remembered.

Actually, if you were like me, you didn't yell or cheer at all. You welled up, smiled, shook your head, and hugged the closest person to you. You couldn't describe what you felt, so why try?

Maybe, like me, you've welled up over the last few days as ESPN and WEEI played montages, reminding you of Ortiz heroics or of a Bellhorn opposite field home run.

All I know is that the Boston Red Sox have beaten the New York Yankees, in the most improbable of ways possible, in the most inspiring of ways possible. And while no one is ready to say we're done, or that we don't have a long journey left, no one will ever be able to take it away from us.

We beat the New York Yankees.

I mean, we beat the New York Yankees.

I won't try to describe it, but I sure as hell won't ever forget it.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I might have a new entry in me.

Haha.

Just the most incredible thing I've ever seen in sports in my lifetime.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Just A Quickie

Watching Dave Andreychuk win his first hockey championship EVER (yes, ever, as in not just the 22 years he spent in the NHL, but the 35 total years of his life he spent playing hockey) last night was the type of payoff sports fans live for, or at least I live for. What a wonderful moment to watch. He was even humble after being awarded Lord Stanley's Cup, trying to pass it to another deserving teammate instead of skating around with it as is the custom with team captains.

His teammates wouldn't take it from him, forcing him to take the shortest, easiest, and most gratifying steps in his life long journey. A beautiful moment.

Too bad hockey might not have another one for 2 years. But if that was the last moment the NHL will offer me for a long time, I can' think of a better image to go out with.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Best Sports Town In America

Last night's Red Sox game had one of those moments where I am completely awed and proud of where my allegiances lie. In the 8th inning of a 12-2 Sox blowout, 28-year-old Andy Dominique came to bat for his first major league at bat. They put that up on the scoreboard and 30,000 plus fans stood on their feet and started chanting Andy. I felt nervous for him, but at the same time it was literally one of my favorite moments as a Boston sports fan. Where else do they do that? What other fans have the presence of mind and respect for the moment to do that? The fact that the at bat ended in a strikeout was of little consequence. For one moment, possibly the one moment he had looked forward to his entire lifetime, Andy Dominique was the most important man in baseball.

That's not why I love Red Sox fans, that's why I love Boston.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Booooooooooooooooo

There has been a very stupid discussion going on today among the sports media.

Should Texas fans boo Alex Rodriguez tonight?

Have I missed something? Did I make up this past offseason? Did the entire sports media take a vacation from November to March?

Of course they should. They should boo Alex Rodriguez until he cries. I don't care if it takes 10 years, they should boo him until it happens.

Let's review Alex Rodriguez and his time with the Texas Rangers. It can be broken down into three parts: his signing, his playing time, his departure.

Remember when you heard that the Rangers gave him a 10 year, 250 million dollar contract? Did you think it was a good idea then? If so, then your name is Tom Hicks because NO ONE ELSE THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA. The only player in the history of sports who might have been worth that kind of money was Babe Ruth and I doubt even he would have been worthy of such a contract.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame A-Rod for taking the contract, but I do blame him for being nieve enough to think it was conducive to playing for a winner. This is something else that has been totally ignored, but his contract alone did not prevent the Rangers from putting a winning team on the field. I blame Chan Ho Park and those massive contracts for bad players for the Rangers demise. If you have a $75 million dollar team payroll, you can find 24 other guys for 50 million to compliment A-Rod. Hell, Oakland wins with less than 50 million and they don't have A-Rod. But, that contract left Texas with no margin of error. They couldn't screw up with any other signings or they were all done. And that is exactly what happened. And for that I blame A-Rod for not realizing how dangerous his contract was.

Then Rodriguez played brilliantly for three years. I don't know how much more you could have asked from Rodriguez as a Ranger. He played hard, he played all the time, and he might have been the best player in the AL all three years. And it got Texas all the way to last place in the AL West all three times.

Then, in his last season him and new manager Buck Showalter didn't get along, and the playoffs were exciting, and maybe the best shortstop ever took out his pacifer and whined and whined and whined and begged his way out of Texas. Believe me, even when he was coming to Boston I thought Ranger fans had a right to be pissed. He was telling all of them, the organization, and his teammates "Screw you, I am too good for all of this." He acted as if he had no responsibility for the pathetic place of the Rangers and he got what he wanted, even sacrificing his potential title as best shortstop ever to leave.

Even if the sports media forgets, remember, A-Rod wasn't graceful in his exit. Not to his teammates or the fans, the two groups that matter the most. He literally ditched them in a blazing glory of selfishness.

He was cheered when he was there. He was rewarded for his good time with Texas. Those times are gone. He left them, not the other way around.

So tonight, the fans should boo him. They should boo him long and hard and until the crybaby does just that, cries just like he did all off-season. Pay-Rod reminds me an awful lot or Roger Clemens, maybe the best ever and now he gets booed in three different cities. And when they go into the Hall of Fame they will both wear the same cap.

Not the Yankees cap. Instead, it'll be a hat with a dollar sign.

Funny, one is The Texas Con-Man and the other pulled a con on Texas.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Perfection

Randy Johnson just pitched the 17th perfect game in MLB history. Even more remarkable is that he was the oldest pitcher ever to do so at age 40. Here's a Hall of Fame pitcher, maybe the best left-handed pitcher of all time, who was left for dead last year after a subpar season in which he had knee surgery.

This is why you never count out great athletes. They operate at a different level and are able to pull off the seemingly impossible.

Just an incredible feat by an incredible athlete. And the best part was it was on TBS because the Diamondbacks were playing the Braves, so even more people across the nation got to witness something that really is special in the world of sports.
The Longest Season of The Longest Journey

We're only six weeks into a six month long season and it already feels like the 2004 season has been going on for about five years.

Actually, it has only been about two and a half.

Let's understand something right now. The 2003 season never ended; the 2004 season never began. Instead they merged into one long existence in which the Red Sox and Yankees continued to play every other weekend while trying to trade for Curt Schilling and Alex Rodriguez inbetween.

Please do not misunderstand me. My heart was ripped out in October. In fact, that game hurts more with age because the further removed I get the more I realize how close we were. It's May and to get back to being that close feels like an eternity away and too many achilles injuries from happening.

What in fact happened was that the single most entertaining season of Red Sox baseball since arguably the 1967 Impossible Dream ended in the most horrific of fashions, and then a bunch of other things happened that just kept prolonging baseball season to this point.

First, the anguish. Remember what it was like here? I wish I didn't. If it was possible for an entire city to erase its memory, Boston would have done it. People walked slower, their heads bowed a little more than usual, a sadness sweeping across their faces. It was awful. Not like someone had died, but rather the city had almost died. And yes, it was THAT bad.

And then came hope in the form of a loudmotuh pitcher from Arizona. Curt Schillings don't come to Boston. Those type of pitchers usually go to the Yankees. But we got him, not them. And with Curt Schilling came the hope of a starting rotation that Darth Steinbrenner couldn't match.

And with all the hope in the world we simultaneously got the greatest of distractions and the greatest of reminders, the Patriots won another Superbowl. Believe me, people LOVE the Patriots. Boston loves winners. And especially winners who do it with class and the letters T-E-A-M tattooed on their foreheads. But you know you heard it, maybe you said it. "Imagine what this place would be like if the Sox ever win it."

I know I followed that up with, "F&%#ing Grady!"

Then came the biggest off season story that we might ever experience as Red Sox fans, or that we didn't experience. The A-Rod deal.

We know how that worked out - it didn't.

Not for the Sox at least. No, the Yankees instead are paying the best shortstop (possibly in the history of baseball) to play thirdbase. Makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

So there it was. Anguish that seemed like it would never end was replaced by boundless hope, with a hell of a rollercoaster in between, and all of a sudden it was February and spring training started.

We didn't have an offseason. We had spring training last year following a winter in which we almost got the best general manager in baseball, only to end up with some kid named Theo. He put together a team that could come from 8 runs back in the 7th inning, or blow an 8 run lead in the 7th. That team was a blast to watch. Nerve wracking, entertaining, and damn good.

Now here we are, waiting for our shortstop that we collectively kicked in the ass over the winter to come back and finally end this two and a half year season that has been an 86 year journey. If it seems like it will never end, believe me, it will.

And I don't mean the season.

Friday, May 14, 2004

My Favorite Ever & Now

Hanging above my bed is a home-white, game-worn Boston Bruins jersey. It's an older jersey, the kind that every Bruins fan wishes the team still wore as they did for decades prior to moving into the FleetCenter. This jersey is special; this jersey played in the Boston Garden. The spoked-B faces the wall, showing not the team but rather the name and number of the man who wore it. The letters are black, trimmed with gold set against a faded white that only comes from shifts logged against Canadians and Sabres. Below the name, in the same black and gold lettering, is the number eight. It is the number of Cameron Michael Neely, my favorite hockey player of all time.

The Bruins retired his jersey this past year. It was a fitting honor for a man who wore a Bruins jersey with as much honor and heart as any other player to pull on the sweater.

At the time I planned on writing a big long entry about why Cam Neely was my favorite player and what he meant to me and to the game of hockey. I started writing it and couldn't get through it. I just kept fumbling the words, incapable of doing what I deemed a worthy job of my own feelings and his greatness. But I did save what I wrote at the time and here is a little of it:

Unlike some sports where intangibles aren't necessarily all that important, hockey is a game predicated on passion. You could have all the skill in the world but if you lace up your skates and walk on to the ice lacking a desire to play, to play well, and to play hard, then none of it matters.

That's why most hockey players and hockey fans are passionate people, because the very nature of the game weeds out those who lack the necessary desire to be a part of it. Hockey might be a distant fourth in the United States as far as its popularity goes, but ask most people and they'll tell you hockey fans are the most devote, dedicated, and loyal fans in the country. That's not just what the game asks of you, it's what it demands. Every time he played the game of hockey, Cam Neely played as hard as he could. He played passionately, and not on a grand scheme, but from every game, to every period, to every shift.


Cliché terms such as heart and passion are often thrown around in sports like Kordell Stewart passes - wildly and without much thought.

But Cam Neely was all heart and all passion. And he was talented - immensely. He scored some of the prettiest goals I have ever seen. It was his combination of skill, smarts, and passion that made him special.

They created a term because of him: power forward. He was the first real power forward and still the best to this day. How do you defend against a player who can stickhandle around you, run over you, put you through the glass, punch you out in a fight, and score at will? No one could - not legally at least. It took severe injuries to slow down Cam Neely, another in the long line up of brilliant players cut down too early by cheap shots and there own bodily harm brought on by their unforgiving, relentless play.

Fact is, no one was more fun to watch and no one was ever quite like him. He played clean, he played hard, and he played the way every hockey fan hopes.

Why a Cam Neely column now, in May? Because for the first time ever a hockey player has reminded me of Cam Neely. It is the nicest compliment I could ever pay a player. He might not be the best I have ever seen, but he comes closest to rekindling the feelings I got watching number 8.

In a league devoid of stars and public interest, Jarome Iginla, the 26-year-old captain of the Calgary Flames (who also happens to be half black), is the perfect candidate to be the league's face for the next decade.

The NHL, if it can avoid shutting down for a year, has a huge opportunity to cash in on a whole new generation of stars that it hasn't had in about 10-15 years. And Iginla is the best option of the bunch. He plays mean, but clean. He plays smart and hard. He can score, pass, check, fight, and wears his huge heart on his sleeve. He embodies all of the same great traits of number 8.

So what he is in Calgary. He has helped his team reach the Western Conference Finals this year and they have a great chance to actually win the Stanley Cup. He is like a huge check that the NHL hasn't realized they can cash.

If nothing else, his team's playoff run has allowed me to see him play more than ever before and appreciate how he goes about doing such. It's been a long time since Number 8 hung it up, and although I will never see anyone like him ever again, it is nice to be reminded of it. And not just from a jersey that hangs above my head while I sleep.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Duh-Duh-Duh, Duh-Duh-Duh

When I was a younger, summer vacations meant three to four hours a day watching SportsCenter when I woke up.

Yes, three or four hours. I would just leave ESPN on and let the same episode air over and over again. By the third episode I could recite along with the anchors as they called highlights and I waited to see the best highlights from the previous night.

I was a dork then too.

Now though, SportsCenter is hardly worth watching once, let alone three or four times.

The reason? Let's call it the "Stuart Scott-izination" of SportsCenter.

Craig Kilborn wasn't always just a pompous talk-show host; he was the first real "modern" SportsCenter anchor in the sense that he is the first one attributed with really sprucing up his highlight calls with jokes/funny phrases. He was the first, but he wasn't the best.

That title was shared by Keith Olberman and Dan Patrick. Watching a Keith Olberman and Dan Patrick hosted SportsCenter was nirvana. They were that good. The perfect mix of jokes, funny phrases, and most importantly, good highlight calls.

They had it nailed down perfectly. They knew how to play off each other, how much was enough, and what really mattered most - the damn results of sporting events. It wasn't about them, but they just made it that much better.

Then, it got worse. It wasn't enough to just host a show - you had to BE the show. While Kilborn spawned a few other good, funny hosts (most notably the comedic genius Kenny Mayne, Trey Wingo, and the now gone Rich Eisen), for the most part, he created a generation of unfunny, over-the-top, showboats who feel that every Hawks-Hornets highlights need his or her stand up routine.

The chief culprit: Stuart Scott.

Stuart Scott knows sports, he can write well, and he knows how to act properly. However, he doesn't do any of these things anymore. This is not a highlight call; hell this is not even English:

"He says 'break me off a little something something' because the Lord says you got to rise up - BOOYEAH.'"

When I reach the 5th gate of Hell, it will be playing the words "BOOYEAH" on continuous loop while I watch woman basketball players miss easy lay-ups while I wear a Roger Clemens jersey.

I will not apologize for this, but I have no desire to hear Ebonics coming from ESPN anchors.

In a way, I can't blame any of these guys (another example is the frustratingly unfunny John Andersen) for trying to be bigger than the show because that's how you get noticed and that's how you make it. I mean, Chris Berman has literally made a career out of being loud, obnoxious and over the top. The difference between Berman and some of the others is that I never think Berman is disrespectful of the sports he is covering. He might be a blowhard, but he cares. These other guys are too young to have established that level of trust.

All of this has led to the worst development in the sports broadcasting world: Max Kellerman. I refuse to even write about him because I may become illogical and break my computer. When it comes to boxing I trust his opinion as much as anyone in the world. When it comes to everything else, most notably being the host of a sports show, I think he might be the anti-Christ. This is what SportsCenter has created.

In fairness, just about everyone (Stuart Scott, John Andersen, Chris Berman, etc) are incredibly talented. If you want to see how polished they are, go back and see how unpolished the idiots vying for "Dream Job" were. The people on SportsCenter are there for a reason. I just wish they understood that they are good enough to do the job without making it all about them. That, and if I want to hear stand up I'll go see a comedian. Or Kenny Mayne.

The other big problem with SportsCenter is with the damn, stupid gimmicks they've now employed for the show. The Ultimate Highlight is the WORST THING EVER on the show. The Budweiser Hot Seat is a joke. The stupid trivia games they play with athletes are terribly uninteresting. Someone was sitting around and said "Hey, people want to see highlights, right? Okay, well what if instead we talk to Jamie Fox?" And then someone said, "I like it."

All of this is related to the selling off of SportsCenter. Every part of the show is an advertisement for something or someone. I am not one of those people who claim "sell outs" at everyone who makes some money, but I hear you can now buy space on Linda Cohn's forehead.

If I want sports and entertainment I can watch any of the other numerous shows they offer. But I watch SportsCenter for sports. That's it. Give me a story from Tim Kurkjian and some interesting numbers. You want to use gimmicks, Nick Bakay is your man. I can always use some more gambling in my shows.

So short of bringing Keith Olberman back to sit alongside Dan Patrick, what can the show do to save itself? There's a term hockey coaches use to relay a message to their players who are doing too much and being ineffective because of it: Keep it simple, Stupid.

Now if you excuse me I am on summer vacation and I have to go watch SportsCenter. Think they are taking applications?




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