Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

A Texas high schooler, in the course of transitioning from female to male, took treatments of testosterone to accelerate the process, if you will, while competing in a sectional wrestling tournament. Unfortunately, the fact that Mack (short for Mackenzie) Beggs won the tournament in his/her weight class only brings up controversy.

Texas high school rules state that you have to compete against athletes of the same gender that you were born with. Translated, Beggs had to compete against women, which was sure to generate controversy no matter what happened. Beggs, 17, attends Trinity High in Euless, and was set to face Madeline Rocha of Coppell High. However, Rocha forfeited the match due to a predictable lawsuit filed by an ambulance chaser representing Coppell and a parent of another Coppell wrestler. Said parent, Jim Baudhuin, admitted he respects what Beggs wants to do. His problem is the testosterone, which gives Beggs an unfair advantage. He also said that his daughter wasn't in the same weight class as Beggs, and the two wouldn't have met in the tournament. Baudhuin was looking out for the other athletes.

The simplest solution, from where I sit, would've been for Beggs to withdraw, due to the transitional phase. Assuming he/she's a senior, this would've been Beggs' last chance for a sectional championship.

Oh, what a tangled web.........
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On the home front, Troy High's boys basketball team is one-and-done in the Class AA sectionals, as Albany avenged a loss on their home court two weeks ago, upsetting the 6th seeded Flying Horses, 49-44, last night. Daniel Buie was held to 11 points. Elijah Davis had a game high 13 points. The bad news for the Falcons, however, is that their next opponent will be Bethlehem on Saturday at Hudson Valley Community College. I don't think Cinderella will stay with them much longer.

Something tells me that the Troy women won't be around long, either, headed into a match tonight against Shaker. The Lady Bison & Lady Horses split two regular season games. As the boys had won 6 of 7 before losing last night at home, the girls have a modest three game winning streak on the line tonight.
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In the home district, there is some sadness this morning with news that Harry Gully, long synonymous with the Lansingburgh Pop Warner Football program, passed away Monday at 82. While I don't think I've ever met the man, I have read of the yeoman's work he put in for many years working with kids in the North end of town. He will be missed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Old Time Radio: Gang Busters (1936)

I've often referenced the fact that in the home district, a local radio station began airing reruns of classic old time radio shows back in the early 70's. WQBK-AM (now WGDJ) would run The Bickersons in the morning during morning drive host Bill Edwardson's program. Then, there was an afternoon block that featured The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, and our next subject, Gang Busters.

The radio version of Gang Busters began as G-Men in 1935, but lasted less than a year. You might believe it may be because then-FBI head J. Edgar Hoover had the final say on scripts for the show, which created tension with series creator-producer Phillips H. Lord. A year later, the show was retooled, the scope expanded to cover true crime cases from across the country, and the series was rechristened, Gang Busters, which would go on to last for 21 years (1936-57). In contrast, the television version, which we've previously covered, ran for just 1 calendar year as a twice-monthly entry, alternating with Dragnet during 1952. Only 12 episodes were produced for television.

Right now, let's go back to 1948, and the episode, "The Case of the Chicago Tunnel Gang":



The success of Gang Busters also spawned a comic book version, published by DC/National Periodical, which ran for nearly 70 issues in the 40's & 50's.

To be perfectly honest, I can't give a fair rating. This was the first time I've heard a radio episode of the series, and there's not enough to judge at this time.

Sports this 'n' that

From the "What was he thinking?" file:

Yankees president Randy Levine wasn't satisfied with the team winning an arbitration case over reliever Dellin Betances the other day. Levine took to the media to take a cheap shot at Betances' agents, who work for a lesser known sports management firm, who tried to elevate Betances' salary to the level of a closer. While that didn't work, you can't fault them for trying in this case. Even though Aroldis Chapman is back after winning a World Series with the Cubs, who's to say Chapman won't disappear again if the Yankees fall out of contention this summer? Maybe the agents can be held for thinking too far ahead, but I get their logic in this case, and that for me is rare, given how much I've shredded the biggest agent in the business, Scott Boras (Badenov) in this space over the years.

What holds me back from bestowing Levine a set of Weasel ears or a Dunce Cap is that his affronts aren't worthy enough to merit such consideration. How the Steinbrenner brothers have kept this goof around for so long is a real mystery. Good thing he doesn't own a stake in the team. Then, we'd be in trouble.

All that being said, with pre-season games due to start at the end of the week, we'll see if the Yankees have enough offense to complement their pitching, especially with Mark Teixiera (ESPN) and Alex Rodriguez having retired. Don't be surprised come June-July to see Chapman's name in trade talks again.
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The "Frozen Four", if you will, in the high school hockey playoffs are now set after Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa defeated defending champion Saratoga on Saturday night. For the Spartan Scotties, that's the good news. The bad news is that up next is top-seeded LaSalle, which has already beaten them twice this season. The winner gets the winner of CBA-Shenendehowa on February 28.

Over the last year, we've seen teams and cities end championship droughts. First, it was Cleveland (NBA), then Chicago (World Series), then Troy High & Cambridge (high school football). Could LaSalle, which last won a sectional hockey title in 2000, be next? We'll know within the next 8 days.
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Meanwhile, Troy High's women's basketball team won their first round game in the AA sectionals on Friday, beating Colonie, 53-47. The Garnet Raiders had hoped to avenge a loss on the same court where Troy had won their season opener 2 1/2 months ago, but it didn't happen. After splitting two regular season games (one non-league) earlier this season, Troy will get a 3rd crack at Suburban Council blue division champ Shaker on Wednesday night in Latham. The boys' team will play their first round game at home tomorrow vs. Albany, having just beaten the Falcons on the road two weeks ago, with the winner likely to play Bethlehem at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday afternoon.
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As we've documented over at Saturday Morning Archives the last couple of days, a pair of wrestling legends passed away at the end of last week.

Ivan Koloff, real name Oreal Parris, and originally from Canada, passed away at 74 from liver cancer. Koloff had retired from in-ring competition in 1989 after a lengthy stint in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where a lot of fans rediscovered him via cable television (TBS) after he'd left the then-World Wrestling Federation for the final time in 1983. Just a guess, but I think Koloff will eventually enter the WWE Hall of Fame, as virtually all of the promotions champions, save for current stars John Cena, Triple H, and Randy Orton, are already in.

George "The Animal" Steele (William James Myers), a mild mannered school teacher & football coach in Michigan by day, adopted the guise of the neanderthal heel with a taste for turnbuckles and parlayed it into induction into the Hall of Fame in 1996. Steele turned babyface in the 80's, and memorably seconded Rick Steamboat in a classic bout vs. Randy Savage for the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania 3 30 years ago. Steele also landed his only commercial endorsement during this period, working with actor Tony Randall in a bit for Minolta.

Both Koloff & Steele were also born again Christians, Koloff converting in 1995 and becoming an ordained minister. Both were called home within a space of 24 hours. May they both rest in peace.
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On the positive side of the wrestling tip, Ring of Honor is giving two men with ties to the home district an opportunity to unseat three-time champion Adam Cole next month.

Bobby Fish, already 2/3 of the way to the ROH Triple Crown as a TV champ and multi-time tag team champion, will likely have support from family & friends from Albany & Saratoga when he faces Cole in New York on March 3. If he succeeds, Fish would advance to face Christopher Daniels at ROH's 15th anniversary PPV event a week later in Las Vegas. After that, former radio personality Dalton Castle awaits at Supercard of Honor in Lakeland, Florida, on April Fool's Day. Castle spent a few years with WQBK-FM, even doing a video talk show, before turning to wrestling full-time. Heh, Jerry Lawler started in the radio business, too, before becoming a mat legend many years ago. When Dalton was in town last year for Dynasty Pro Wrestling, I asked him if he missed being in radio. He does. That said, Ring of Honor, give the Peacock a talk show ASAP!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Classic TV: Rhoda (1974)

For the first four seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Valerie Harper had proven to be a more than capable second banana, if you will, as Mary Richards' BFF, Rhoda Morganstern, a transplant from the Bronx who'd moved to Minneapolis. Rhoda proved popular enough, too, that CBS green-lighted a spinoff, which lasted almost as long as the parent show did.

Rhoda was set up in the middle of CBS' Monday night lineup when it bowed in September 1974. Rhoda had returned almost completely to her New York roots, moving to Manhattan instead of back to the Bronx, and at first, had settled in with her sister, Brenda (Julie Kavner). This meant that Rhoda actually had at least two sisters. Viewers were introduced to Debbie (Louise "Liberty" Williams) in a 1-shot in season 4 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but Debbie was never heard from again, perhaps forgotten by David Davis & Lorenzo Music, who'd developed Rhoda into a series. Anyway, it didn't take long to establish that Rhoda would have its own unique, distinct identity. That is to say, Rhoda wasn't going to be a swinging single for too long.

In the very first episode, we meet Joe Gerard (David Groh), Rhoda's future husband.......



After a few appearances on Mary Tyler Moore while concurrently working on McMillian & Wife, Nancy Walker returned to the role of Ida, Rhoda & Brenda's mother. Upstate NY native Harold Gould (from Schenectady) played the father, but left the show after 2 seasons to co-star in ABC's short-lived Feather & Father Gang. Groh left after season 3, as apparently, Rhoda & Joe would be divorced.

Rhoda, in turn, spawned a 1-shot spinoff, as Lorenzo Music's voice-only character of Carlton was given an animated special. The doorman, however, didn't graduate to his own series. Music, though, parlayed the gig into a long running role as comic strip feline Garfield, and spent 2 seasons on The Real Ghostbusters, inheriting Bill Murray's role as Peter before leaving in favor of Dave Coulier. Speaking of cartoons, that's what's keeping Julie Kavner busy these days, as she's closing in on 30 years of The Simpsons.      

Rating: B.                                                                                                  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Forgotten TV: Buckskin (1958)

Wal, howdy-do again, podnuhs. We're stayin' out West a wee bit longer today, so pull up a log and take a trip back in time to the 19th century and the town of Buckskin, Montana.

Buckskin was a 1-season wonder for NBC (1958-9), largely  because there were so many Westerns on the air at the time, a glut that wouldn't break for another decade or so. Revue (Universal) was responsible for much of the glut, y'see, since they produced so many. 'Tis a shame that Buckskin ain't on the air right now, although channels like Grit could do something 'bout that right soon.

Right now, let's take a look-see at "The Ballad of Gabe Pruitt". Comes complete with them commercial things.



Co-star Mike Road (Marshal Sellers) is better known for later work in animation, mostly as the voice of Roger "Race" Bannon on Jonny Quest, but also came to Hollywood after a successful run on Broadway as an actor and director.

Rating: B.

Classic TV: The Range Rider (1951)

In the early days of television, there were five distinct genres of shows in primetime. Game shows, sitcoms, variety shows, crime dramas, and Westerns. If some of these programs couldn't make a network schedule, producers didn't hesitate to offer to stations in a syndicated package.

One such series was The Range Rider, which ran for 2 seasons (1951-3), and while the show was credited as a Range Rider Production, it was actually from Gene Autry's Flying A Productions. Jock (Jack) Mahoney toplined as the Range Rider, who had no alter-ego, but traveled from town to town with his young aide, Dick West (Dick Jones).

The plots are basic cookie cutter, such as "Two-Fisted Justice", in which the Rider & Dick try to sort out who's the real villain when a vigilante group steps between some homesteaders and a railroad magnate......



Twelve years after the series ended, Range Rider landed on ABC as filler fare on Sunday afternoons, as it wasn't hip anymore to run Western repeats on Saturday mornings. In 1983, The A-Team paid homage through Murdock (Dwight Schultz) wearing a paper cut-out mask of the Rider's face on a mission after watching a rerun one day.

Jock Mahoney's other series, Yancy Derringer, wasn't quite so fortunate, lasting one season, as we previously documented.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Bret Maverick (1981)

For the 2nd time in a four year span, Warner Bros. decided to revive Maverick, this time on NBC, under the title, Bret Maverick, with James Garner, not too far removed from The Rockford Files, reprising the first of his iconic roles.

NBC slotted Bret Maverick on Fridays, not at the same exact time as Rockford, but they figured that Garner's drawing power, assuming he had any left, would be enough opposite CBS' Dukes of Hazzard, a WB stablemate. Wrong! NBC made the same tactical mistake they'd made earlier in the year with the sitcom, The Brady Brides, thinking that the sequel to The Brady Bunch, airing on the same night as the original series, would find the same audience. Apparently, program mogul Fred Silverman never read the works of George Santayana.

The other problem was this. The original Maverick was in syndication in some parts of the country. Local cable viewers could find it on WSBK in Boston, for example. This time around, Bret is going solo, as brother Bart (Jack Kelly) & cousin Beau (Roger Moore) aren't around. Moore, of course, had long moved on, and had starred as James Bond in "For Your Eyes Only" earlier in '81.

I seem to recall my parents sampling Bret Maverick, but I didn't see enough of the show to give it a rating. Following is a sample teaser and the intro. Co-star Ed Bruce, otherwise a prominent country singer of the period, performs the title song.



Bruce & Garner recorded a version of the theme song for an album. Bruce does sound a wee bit like a cross between two other country singers, Waylon Jennings and Don Williams, at least to my ears, and as we've previously noted, Garner later recorded a duet with Jennings.