Saturday, March 31, 2012

Musical Interlude: Who'll Be The Fool Tonight (1980)

After years of session work, the Larsen-Feiten Band scored their only Top 40 hit in 1980 with "Who'll Be The Fool Tonight". Appropriately, Andrea Herrera uploaded this clip from Solid Gold, with intro by then-hosts Dionne Warwick & Glen Campbell. Mind the Spanish subtitles.



Just as appropriate, don't you think, since April Fool's Day is tomorrow?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrestlemania 28 Predictions

Wrestlemania 28 takes place in Miami on April 1 (April Fools' Day), but the theme of the evening seems to put more emphasis on the "Attitude Era" of the late 90s-early 00's in 2 main events. The title bouts are being relegated to the undercard, and you can blame that on senile Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon, but that's another story for another time. Let's run down the card:

Intercontinental title: Cody Rhodes vs. The Big Show.

The angle around this match centers on Show's poor track record at Wrestlemania. Well, McMahon keeps putting him in a position where he can't win, and that's because of the simple fact that Show (Paul Wight) gained his first big break in WCW 17 years ago. McMahon believes that if he didn't "create" you, you're not going to get a fair shake with him unless you've earned your stripes. Rhodes, the youngest son of Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, defends the title only when Uncreative deems it necessary, which isn't very often, and, again, the blame falls on McMahon, who calls the shots for his cast of scribbling idiots. A win here allows Show to join an elite group of superstars who've held all of the active championships in WWE (on the men's side, anyway). However, it doesn't look like McMahon is willing to take a chance, and, well, that's his loss. Rhodes' inactivity with the belt will be his undoing.

Who should win: Big Show.
Who will win: Big Show.

WWE World title: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus.

It's funny how things work out. These two were matched last year, but the bout was knocked off the card at the last minute. With Bryan now the champion, and Sheamus having won the Royal Rumble in January, this makes up for last year's oversight. The x-factor is AJ Lee, Bryan's storyline girlfriend, who cut in front of Sheamus on Monday to prevent him from hitting the Brogue Kick on Bryan. The champ is misusing AJ, and, in this writer's opinion, this is McMahon's way of honoring the memory of the late "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who passed away 10 months ago, with Bryan in the Savage role of the bully mistreating his lady. This time, it's going to backfire, as Bryan's run ends after  3 1/2 months.

Who should win: Sheamus.
Who will win: Sheamus.

WWE title: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho.

The issue is more about who's really "the best in the world". Daniel Bryan could lay claim to that title if he weren't on Smackdown and on Raw instead, since, as Bryan Danielson, he was doing just that in Ring of Honor 3 years ago. Jericho, who will be going on tour with his band, Fozzy, in June, has made this personal with his irresponsible, tabloid-bait attack promos on Punk. At best, it's certainly more entertaining than anything else on the card, and it will be a total shock if Jericho, whose last title reign was on Smackdown a couple of years ago, wins here. I just don't see it. The only way Jericho wins is if Punk gets out of control and gets himself DQd, and that isn't happening, either.

Who should win: CM Punk.
Who will win: CM Punk.

Randy Orton vs. Kane.

The "Big Red Machine" has gone back to a variation on the mask & wig combination he wore in 2002-3, claiming to have expunged all of his humanity, and that the journey will be complete with a win over Orton. Wrestlemania, however, is supposed to be about closure to feuds, not continuations, but try telling that to the creative team. Orton, however, has had the upper hand in this feud so far, so Kane needs to win this to advance this issue forward to the Extreme Rules show at the end of April.

Who should win: Orton.
Who will win: Kane.

Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres vs. Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos.

Extra co-hostess Menounos is pulling double-duty these days, as she's also competing on ABC's Dancing With The Stars. During training, she suffered two cracked ribs, and so her actual participation in this match is questionable.

Phoenix, the pride of Buffalo, and the current Divas champion, should be defending her belt in this spot, but of course McMahon wants the mainstream attention, and isn't satisfied with getting it with one of his main events. Add to this the fact that Torres, a former champ herself who recently turned heel, can't be trusted, as she covets the championship. With McMahon's track record with celebrities at Mania, well.........!

Who should win: Phoenix & Torres.
Who will win:
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos.


Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, Mark Henry, & Drew McIntyre w/John Laurinaitis & Vickie Guerrero) vs. Team Teddy (Santino Marella, Great Khali, Booker T, Zack Ryder, R-Truth, & Kofi Kingston w/Teddy Long & Hornswoggle).

Laurinaitis, the former Johnny Ace, has been acting GM of Raw since October, and covets the whole enchilada. Flagbearer Guerrero tried that 3 years ago, and quit after 2 months when she couldn't handle the pressure of a live audience working back-to-back nights, coupled with the relentless verbal abuse heaped on her by the faces. Her act hasn't changed since her return in October 2009 at all. McIntyre's a late replacement for Christian, who reaggravated an ankle injury earlier this week. Miz may be in there because a more likely pick, Alberto Del Rio, is still not 100% recovered from a winter groin injury. Laurinaitis' act is just as bad as Guerrero's if not worse because he lacks charismatic presence. He's a poor man's McMahon, and tha's what he really is there for, to be the on-camera analogue for the insane chairman, who's been forced off the air in part because of advanced age and perceptions of premature senility, among other things. However, the heel administrator act is tired, moldy, and needs to be expunged. Long has been GM of Smackdown, for 2 terms (2004-7, 2009-present), and has had to deal with Guerrero and her power-coveting schemes in the past. He's been the good soldier, and deserves to be rewarded, rather than forced out of office again for the 3rd time in the last 4 1/2 years. Given the championship resumes of both teams, this should be a show-stealer, but it won't.

Who should win: Team Johnny.
Who will win: Team Teddy.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H: Hell in a Cell (Special guest referee: Shawn Michaels).

Billed as the "End of an Era", namely, the Attitude Era, this is the 3rd Wrestlemania clash between Undertaker & Triple H, but they are making people forget the first one in 2001. Undertaker didn't compete again in 2011 after Mania, and has had wife Michelle McCool nursing him back to health. I shan't be surprised if the camera focuses on McCool, who hung up her tights last year after 7 years with the company, during the match. Some speculate that HHH & Michaels, collectively DeGeneration X, will try to screw over the "Deadman", but I don't see it happening. Much as DX fans want that to happen, the streak goes on for one more year.

Who should win: Triple H.
Who will win: Undertaker.


John Cena vs. The Rock.

This has been building to a fever pitch for a year. Rock interfered in Cena's title match vs. Miz last year, which has become an afterthought, considering that Miz has been plunged to the undercard since then. Cena is being portrayed as the wrestling lifer who, despite making three movies in the last 6 years, has vowed never to leave the company or its fans behind. Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is in between movie projects, but says his heart is still in the wrestling business. Some say there will be a sequel to this one, but Rock doesn't really have anything to prove. It's all about McMahon overmilking this match to maximize the profit margins. Will someone hand him a book on Santayana already? It's the Rock's hometown, and there's the matter of hometown stars losing in front of the homies when it comes to the Raw brand. Cena can relate to that, of course. It's been 8 years since Rock put over Randy Orton in a tag match at Wrestlemania 20 in New York. Will he do the honors again? I believe so.

Who should win: The Rock.
Who will win: John Cena.

I just can't see Cena losing two in a row at Wrestlemania. Period.

Of course, I could be wrong.........

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Weasels of the Week: George Zimmerman and Westboro Baptist Church

Let's just get the predictable out of the way first.

The Westboro Baptist Church Wack-Pack has struck again. Instead of protesting a celebrity's funeral for a change, the Phelps family and their mindless congregation turned up at a recent Radiohead concert. The following, obtained from an article on MSN.com, was in turn quoted from the church's website:

"You have stolen the Word of God from your people and children, and as a sorry substitute, you prop up lightness and lies. You try to get the people to look at the nonsense and not at the wrath of God that abides upon them. "Look at the circus monkey over there and the fluffy setting, blah, blah..." Meanwhile, God is undoing this nation and effecting all of your lives, with the moth that quietly eats the very fabric of your national garment. Radiohead is just such an event. Freak monkeys with mediocre tunes keeps you busy and focused by lightness. It changes nothing, God is undoing and digging up and throwing down this nation."

The Phelps family just doesn't get it. God is a loving, caring, protective God, but it seems that the Phelpses and their misled flock have ignored much of the New Testament in favor of revisiting the Old Testament, where the Almighty was often wroth with anger toward His people because they repeatedly turned their backs on Him. That, folks, was the clearest definition of tough love that I've ever read.

Meanwhile, George Zimmerman walks free today, despite the fact he should be behind bars for killing Florida teen Trayvon Morgan last month. Zimmerman, backed by his legal counsel and his father, claims Morgan attacked him, but video evidence disproves this. The New York Post earlier this week splashed on their front page the phrase, "race hustlers", in reference to Revs. Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson, who led peaceful protests in support of the deceased's family. Sharpton is also a talk show host these days on CNBC, and has found himself not only discussing current events, but being part of those events himself. Jackson can relate, as he's been there, done that, having had a past gig with CNN back in the day. The police claim there wasn't enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman, who has insisted that Morgan jumped him first. And you thought the Westboro Weirdos were delusional? There's something in the water down there in a sleepy little town few had heard of until the last month. The police chief in Sanford has been placed on administrative leave, and that should be just the beginning.

Clearly, someone has something to hide, trying to throw blame onto Morgan. Veteran journalist Geraldo Rivera, on Fox News,---and he should know better----claimed that Morgan's hoodie might've been a root cause. Bulloney! I've seen plenty of folks wearing hoodies up here in my district, and most are average, normal, unthreatening types. What are they trying to do down there, set race relations back all the way to the silent film era?

The Westboro flock now gets an unlimited supply of weasel ears, paws, and tails. Meanwhile, Zimmerman and his circle of apologists are getting some, just for trying to lie to the world when the evidence is pretty obvious, so much so that even a blind man could tell you the truth better than those clowns could be willing to.

Rockin' Funnies: When The Radio Is On (1989)

Paul Shaffer is best known as David Letterman's bandleader, and has played with a wide range of musicians, from Todd Rundgren to the late Earl Scruggs. In 1989, Shaffer released his debut CD, "Coast To Coast", which produced one hit single, "When The Radio Is On". Shot mostly in black & white, Shaffer gets some lyrical aid from rappers Kool Moe Dee and Will "Fresh Prince" Smith. Pop legend Dion also appears. In fact, Shaffer basically is borrowing the look Dion sported for his own CD, "Yo, Frankie!", released around the same time.

Uploaded by Bronxroll. Forgive the brief defect in the middle as there was a tape issue in the course of uploading the video to YouTube. Can't be helped.



Shaffer has only released one more CD of his own since, busy as he is with his other gig......

Earl Scruggs (1934-2012)

News has just come across the wires of the passing of bluegrass icon Earl Scruggs at 88.

Originally a member of Bill Monroe's band, Scruggs spun off into an equally iconic combo with Lester Flatt, with whom he recorded a version of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett", otherwise known, of course, as the theme from The Beverly Hillbillies. Flatt & Scruggs would appear on Hillbillies on at least a couple of occasions, while another artist sang "Ballad" over the show's open.

Flatt & Scruggs ended their partnership in 1969, and Scruggs continued as a solo act or with his group, the Foggy Mountain Boys. He most recently headlined in LA in November, and there didn't seem to be any news of failing health at that time.

In recent years, Scruggs re-recorded one of his most famous songs, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", along with his sons and an all-star backing group that included country & bluegrass stars Vince Gill & Marty Stuart and actor-comedian-musician Steve Martin, who has reinvented himself as a bluegrass artist of late.

Turion2005 uploaded a performance video of "Breakdown", which also features Paul Shaffer, from The Late Show With David Letterman. Shaffer & Martin are off to the sides, away from the rest of the band.



Rest in peace, Earl.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bert Randolph Sugar (1937-2012)

Chances are, you can't watch a documentary on boxing or baseball without seeing Bert Randolph Sugar, noted author and boxing historian, being interviewed on either subject. Sugar, out of his 88 books, wrote the vast majority about baseball, but more people will recognize him, with his omnipresent cigar and fedora, as the go-to guy for trivial nuggets about boxing. It seemed as though Sugar would be around forever, but it is not to be.

On Sunday, Sugar passed away at 74, and with him goes a lifetime of knowledge of the two sports he was most passionate about. He was frequently interviewed on ESPN, most recently, I think, when Joe Frazier passed away a few months back. When Fox Sports Net had their short lived series, The Sports List, he was often seen discussing various topics pertaining to either boxing or baseball. The next boxing broadcast on either ESPN or SNY (Broadway Boxing) or elsewhere will likely pay special tribute to Sugar.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Union College hockey comes of age

Until a couple of years ago, if you asked a sports fan about Union College in Schenectady, the response almost automatically would have something to do with the Dutchmen's Shoes, which is at stake each fall during football season when Union plays RPI. Until a few years ago, you might've laughed if you thought Union could compete with RPI, Clarkson, Cornell, et al, in hockey. All of that has changed.

It has been 27 years since RPI, with future NHL stars Adam Oates & Joey Juneau, won the NCAA championship. On April 5, Union is headed to Tampa for the NCAA Frozen Four, capping off the most successful season in the history of the school's hockey program. Mind you, this is a team that lost their head coach when Nate Leaman, the architect of the current Dutchmen team, left for Providence after last season. Current coach Rick Bennett simply picked up right where Leaman left off, and took it a few steps further. The Dutchmen won the ECAC regular season title, then the post-season tournament, knocking RPI out in the 2nd round en route to advancing to the NCAA's. One player from last year's team, goaltender Keith Kincaid, has already had a taste of the NHL, playing for New Jersey briefly this season before returning home to the AHL's Albany Devils, who are fighting for a postseason berth of their own.

Over the next few days, the local papers will be flooded with the predictable, inevitable comparisons between the '85 Engineers and the '12 Dutchmen as the hype builds toward the Frozen Four. Local fans had gotten accustomed in recent years to basketball teams from Siena and the University at Albany reaching the NCAA or other postseason tournaments. In fact, the Albany women's team went to the Big Dance for the first time in school history earlier this month, but went one-and-done, losing to Texas A & M in the first round, mirroring the men's first round ouster vs. Virginia just a couple of years ago. Now, Union has provided hope that between them & RPI, March Madness can extend to the ice a little more often.

The WWE bills next week's Wrestlemania match between John Cena and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as "Once in a Lifetime", when rumors claim that really won't be the case. In 1985, there were the pessimists that believed RPI's miracle run to the championship was once in a lifetime. The Engineers' up & down fortunes since then bear it out to be true. You have to believe Rick Bennett and the Union Dutchmen will try to build on this year's phenomenal success and build a winning tradition, so that it isn't once in a lifetime after all.

On DVD: Shotgun Slade (1959)

The success of Blake Edwards' Peter Gunn prompted writer Frank Gruber to create a Western version.

Shotgun Slade debuted in syndication in 1959, and lasted two seasons. Veteran Western star Scott Brady top-lined as Slade, a private detective based out of Denver who took on various cases, and often with the distraction of a beautiful woman or two the only hinderance.

Platinum released a 2-disc set a few years back, and billed Slade as a "Mercenary of the Old West", which in fact mis-stated the whole point. How many other Westerns do you know that have a jazz score, such as the one created by Gerald Fried for Shotgun Slade? Not many, if at all.

There are some familiar faces that pop up during the series' 2-year run, including Paul Picerni (The Untouchables), Connie Hines (Mister Ed), Howard Caine (Hogan's Heroes), and character actor Vito Scotti, whom most baby boomers might recognize from frequent appearances on Gilligan's Island and The Flying Nun. The AllisonHayesChannel uploaded "The Laughing Widow" to YouTube:



Today, a Western with a jazz soundtrack would be ripe for parody in the wrong hands. In the right hands, it could revive the genre anew for a new generation.

Rating: A-.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dunce Cap Award: Pat Robertson

Rev. Pat Robertson, host of the long-running 700 Club, has been making headlines in recent years for all the wrong reasons, and the latest example of his being out-of-touch has netted him a Dunce Cap.

Commenting on the Denver Broncos' decision to trade QB Tim Tebow to the New York Jets earlier this week, Robertson came down on the Broncos' new signal-caller, Peyton Manning, suggesting that maybe if Manning suffered an injury upon returning to action after missing all of 2011 with a neck injury, it would serve Denver right for trading Tebow away.

This isn't so much Robertson defending a fellow Christian in Tebow, but rather the televangelist again showing his age and letting most of America know that he is out of touch with the world at large. The biggest challenge facing Tebow, who will enter his 3rd NFL season, is adjusting to the relentless media scrutiny in the city without compromising his faith. He doesn't need Robertson, or anyone else, condemning a fellow player just because the team that drafted him displaced him on a whim based on a perceived need to upgrade the position.

At worst, Robertson's comments make Tebow look bad, and paints a very bad picture of Christians in general with some parts of the media. As sports fans, we're rooting for both Tebow AND Manning to succeed in 2012. Manning because he is making a comeback from an injury that would've ended his career had he been playing years ago before all the modern advances in sports medicine. Tebow because he is now playing in the toughest media market in the league, where just about everyone has an opinion, whether they've formed it themselves or they're following the sheep mentality of the scandal-obsessed media.

Once upon a time, when 700 Club was in general syndication----it's been in and out of my local market over the last 30 years---Robertson was a genial host and interviewer. Today, however, he's another one hanging on when he should be passing the baton of his ministry. Picture Vince McMahon with a Bible in his hand, and you get Robertson, let's put it that way. Now, Robertson & McMahon have one other thing in common. Both have gotten Dunce Capped.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Michael Bay

Everyone knows the story behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who were a comic book phenomenon first before breaking into TV in the late 80's. And, you know what they say. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.

Someone had better pass that homily on to filmmaker Michael Bay ("Transformers"), and quickly. Bay took a ton of heat when it became public on Wednesday that he intends to tweak the Turtles' by-now familiar origin for a feature film due next year from Paramount & Nickelodeon. The script isn't finished, but what has leaked out so far has fans in an uproar. You see, what Bay and his writers intend to do is suggest the Turtles are actually..........aliens. You know, like Superman, who just happens to also have a movie out next year. Hmmmmmm.............!

I first read this in a wire service article that appeared in today's New York Daily News, as well as a smaller piece on Yahoo!. In both, actor Robbie Rist (ex-The Brady Bunch), who voiced one of the Turtles in the first of their live-action feature films in 1990, was quoted as saying that if Bay goes through with what has been documented, it would be tantamount to "raping our childhood memories". In the wire service article, another actor, Brian Tochi (ex-Space Academy), who had played another of the Turtles, gave his approval of Bay's plans.

Too often lately, Hollywood creators have been too quick on the draw to put their own stamp on cherished cartoon & comic book icons, and the result has usually been disaster. Fans prefer to have a more faithful adaptation of their favorites brought to the screen, not some silly, let's-blow-the-special-effects-budget-and-see-what-happens, misguided mistreatment. Under the right circumstances, and script, some adaptations succeed better than others, like, for example, last year's "The Smurfs", which hit #1 despite mixed reviews. 2002's "Scooby-Doo" was a clear case of playing to the internet, and showing little respect to the franchise's history. Sure, it made a good chunk of money, but it could've been better.

The Turtles' last big screen go-round was just a few years ago in an animated movie, after 3 live-action films in the 90's. Bay wants to, in a sense, reinvent the wheel by reinventing the Turtles, and he claims that one of the creators (he didn't specify) is working with him on the project. Apparently, whomever is writing the script did one heck of a sell job, but, to use another time-honored cliche, if you play with fire, you're bound to get burned.

That all having been said, we bestow the Weasel ears this week on Bay. Just because he revived one 80's franchise, doesn't give him license to mishandle another.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ernie Williams (1935-2012)

New York's "Ambassador of the Blues", Ernie Williams, passed away earlier today at 87 after a heart attack.

Williams was born in Virginia, and relocated to New York sometime in the 60's, forming his first blues band then, but it wasn't until the mid-90's that I had even heard of him. Williams and his band, the Wildcats, released a CD, "Sun Goin' Down", which was a bonafide classic, including the locally-released single, "World I Used To Know".

Blessed with an infectious smile and good, gentlemanly nature, Williams was showing no signs of retiring. According to an article on Fox affiliate WXXA's website, he was scheduled for gigs this summer.

Following is a concert clip of Williams from 2006 in Scotia, performing "For Your Precious Love":



I've had the privelege of seeing Williams in concert on a number of occasions, and I have to tell you, the man was a fantastic talent.

Rest in peace, Ernie. They're going to be playing the blues for you in Heaven. Yes, yes, yes.

Where is the next link in the chain?

It has been crazy in the NFL this week, and the annual draft isn't until next month. Perhaps subconsciously, the player movement in the league in the last 48 hours is the league's way of stealing some of the thunder from the NCAA basketball tournaments, which is supposed to be priority one fare for most sports junkies this time of year.

On Monday, Peyton Manning, set adrift by Indianapolis 2 weeks ago after sitting out the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, signed with Denver. The fawning media hordes followed his every move, and almost everyone agreed he would stay in the AFC and avoid going to an NFC team that would probably play against brother Eli and the Super Bowl champion Giants. Oh, sure, San Francisco was a player, along with Tennessee, and the only real selling point for the Titans was that it'd have been a homecoming of sorts for Manning, who played his college ball at the university. The 49ers re-signed their QB, Alex Smith, once they realized they weren't getting Manning.

Once the deal was done, the speculation turned to Denver's incumbent QB, Tim Tebow, who, when last on the field, was royally toasted by the Patriots for the 2nd time in as many months. The media began to guess where Tebow was headed next, because it was clear he wasn't going to be mentored by Manning, although common sense would've suggested that should've been the plan. Instead, within the last hour, Tebow was sent to the New York Jets for 4th round pick in next month's draft.

The Jets' Antonio Cromartie, quoted in today's New York Post, claimed the Jets didn't need Tebow and his adoring followers. Mark Sanchez, the Jets' incumbent QB, had just signed an extension for 2 more years, but the truth is he has been rather inconsistent in the three years he's started for "Gang Green", despite two AFC title game appearances. Not only that, but the Jets were one of the teams Tebow beat during the regular season, so now he'll be on their sideline, but will Sanchez share the spotlight with him?

The ensuing duel in training camp this July will make for some juicy back-page headlines, the kind usually reserved during the summer for the Yankees & Mets. It wouldn't surprise me, then, if Sanchez pouts in private, it gets out in the media, and they'll call for him to be traded before the draft. If the Jets are actually smart about this, they won't take the bait. Former Miami coach Tony Sparano is the new offensive coordinator and the creator of the "Wildcat" offensive schematic that has been in vogue in recent years. The Jets have needed a "Wildcat" QB since Brad Smith left for Buffalo after the 2010 season, so Tebow would fit in there, to hide the shortcomings that have been exposed since his pro debut in '10.

Kevin Blackistone, on ESPN's Around The Horn on Tuesday, had suggested that New England, of all places, would've been a fit for Tebow, but there, they'd be toying with the idea of converting him into a fullback. Uh, no, I don't think that'd work at all. Some online pundits were suggesting the same thing. The last thing everyone else wants to see is the Patriots getting richer than they need to be. They just picked up another Colt, Anthony Gonzalez, and welcomed back Donte Stallworth to shore up their receiving corps in the last few days. So, essentially, the Jets traded for Tebow so New England wouldn't get him. Kind of like the Yankees trading for someone to keep him away from the Red Sox. It's part of the business of the game.

If anything, Tebow vs. Sanchez in training camp should motivate the latter into getting his game focus back in gear, so that they're both in sync come September. Then again, this is New York, where the obsessive media is bound to cause things to get screwed up anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Get ready to play ball!---MLB 2012 predictions

The 2012 baseball season officially starts mere days before Easter, but the real fun begins in 9 days when Oakland & Seattle travel to Tokyo for a 2-game series, the first one in more than a decade. As per usual, some players have been shuffled and shuttled here, there, and everywhere via free agency or trades, and the pre-season guides don't always have all the information by their deadlines. Neither do baseball cards, but that's another story.

Let's take a look at the six divisions.

American League:

East: The New York Yankees picked up Raul Ibanez (Philadelphia) & Hiroki Kuroda (Los Angeles Dodgers) as free agents, and traded away prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda. Funny thing is, Topps included rookie cards of both players in this year's set, printed before the trade. Joe Garagiola was right. Baseball is a funny game. Last week, Andy Pettite decided to end his retirement and return to the Bronx so he can get one more ring. Oh, please, give me a break. Wait 'til he gets shelled by the Mets. In Boston, the Red Sox lost closer Jonathan Papelbon (Philadelphia) and shortstop Jed Lowrie (Houston), but heisted Vincente Padilla from the Dodgers. They wanted to move Daniel Bard out of the bullpen, where he could've been their closer, and into the rotation? Huh? Well, there is the issue of Tim Wakefield retiring, along with catcher Jason Varitek. Tampa Bay, Baltimore, & Toronto all looked like they stood pat, which means it'll come down to the ancient enemies again. But, then, what did we learn last year?

Projected order of finish:

1. Yankees
2. Tampa Bay
2. (tie) Boston
4. Baltimore
5. Toronto

Central:

Defending division champion Detroit upgraded their offense by signing Prince Fielder (Milwaukee) as a free agent. Prince's father, Cecil, played most of his career in Detroit, so this was virtually a no-brainer. Why it took so long can be blamed on Fielder's agent, Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras, who was looking for an excuse to fleece the Tigers yet again, but, hey, they could've paid Prince in Little Caesar's Pizza stock. Miguel Cabrera goes across the diamond back to third base to make room. Carlos Guillen retired after returning to Seattle as a free agent. The big news that I could discern out of Cleveland was the Indians signing Derek Lowe (Atlanta). Weren't they paying attention last year when he was getting shelled? Returning to the AL isn't going to save Lowe's career, but end it instead. The Chicago White Sox welcomed back former star Robin Ventura as their new manager, after Ozzie Guillen fled to the NL (Miami), taking ace Mark Buehrle with him. However, Robin ain't gonna be rockin' if the Pale Hose, or the "Good Guys" as Ken Harrelson calls them, get off to a slow start. Look for Minnesota & Kansas City to follow their usual form, which means the Twins will make their usual run after the All-Star Break, and the Royals will tease early, and fade just as quickly.

Projected order of finish:

1. Detroit
2. Minnesota
3. Cleveland
4. Chicago
5. Kansas City

West:

The balance of power will shift from Texas to Los Angeles. Not only did the Angels pry CJ Wilson away from the 2-time defending league champion Rangers, but they also bagged Albert Pujols (St. Louis) and his 2 championship rings. If Kendry Morales finally returns from injury, he'll be a DH almost exclusively, unless he platoons with Pujols both at DH & first base. The Rangers shouldn't sweat so much as they have enough pitching to compensate for Wilson's defection. The two games in Tokyo will be a homecoming for Ichiro, and maybe this spurs the Seattle Mariners into finally getting back to the postseason. Oakland won't surprise anyone. No, really. Like, who hasn't already predicted that they might be bringing in "Moneyball" stars Brad Pitt & Jonah Hill for opening day?

Projected order of finish:

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2. Texas
3. Seattle
4. Oakland

Wild cards: Texas, Tampa Bay.

National League:

East:

The Miami Marlins broke the bank in the offseason, signing Mark Buehrle (White Sox), Jose Reyes (Mets), and Heath Bell (San Diego), and bringing in former player Ozzie Guillen (White Sox) to manage. Sure, the Atlanta Braves virtually stood pat, but they will be there at the end, which is more than I can say for the Philadelphia Phillies, whose stranglehold on the division is finally going to break. The Phils open the season without Ryan Howard, who tore his Achilles tendon making the last out of the division series upset loss. Raul Ibanez (Yankees) is also gone, and Jonathan Papelbon (Boston) replaces Brad Lidge (Washington) in the bullpen. However, if last year's collapse taught us anything, Papelbon's best days may be behind him. The New York Mets not only need to avoid the cellar, but also the infirmary. The pre-season injuries threaten to carry over, giving more credence to the belief that Citi Field may actually be cursed. As for Washington, they can't call Bryce Harper up soon enough to satisfy. They have the pitching, as well as a youthful nucleus defensively, but they're still a year away from playoff contention.

Projected order of finish:

1. Atlanta
2. Miami
3. Philadelphia
3. (tie) Mets
5. Washington

Central:

For the Houston Astros, their 50th anniversary season is also their last in the National League, as with new ownership comes a shift in leagues to the AL as of 2013. Sorry to say, even with an increasing number of Tri-City Valleycats alumni making it to the big club, the 'Stros are still a ways off from contending. Milwaukee & St. Louis absorbed some major losses in the offseason, as both teams lost marquee sluggers. The Cardinals welcomed back former catcher Mike Metheny as their new pilot after Tony LaRussa retired following the World Series, winning his third title. Replacing Albert Pujols (Angels), on the other hand, is a much more difficult chore. Matt Holliday & World Series MVP cannot carry the offense by themselves. The Brewers have to replace Prince Fielder (Detroit). Good luck getting back to the playoffs. With those major obstacles gone, Cincinnati could vault right into the division title, and their star first baseman, Joey Votto, could land his first All-Star start. I liked their pitching last year, and they'd be served to move Aroldis Chapman into the rotation, or make him the closer. Scary good. Pittsburgh is also on the rise, and it's just unfortunate that they peaked a wee bit early last year. As for the Chicago Cubs? Well, what about the Cubs? Seriously.

Projected order of finish:

1. Cincinnati
2. St. Louis
3. Milwaukee
4. Pittsburgh
5. Chicago
6. Houston

West:

If there's one thing Don Mattingly forgot when he signed on with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it might've been some of that Yankee mojo, because the Dodgers were almost awful last season. A few breaks going their way, and maybe they make the playoffs. However, the road to the division still runs through Arizona, where another ex-Yankee, Ian Kennedy, came into his own last year and is the ace of the staff. San Francisco rented Carlos Beltran last summer, then let him walk (St. Louis), so what did they do? They grabbed another outfielder from the Mets, Angel Pagan. What? All I can see is the offense is still Buster Posey, Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval, and not much else. The pitching can only carry them so far, but closer Brian Wilson better not be counting his Taco Bell royalty checks at game time. Wouldn't it be nice if  "The Beard" shaved it off and concentrated on what got him to the dance in the first place? San Diego needs a new closer, with Heath Bell gone (Miami). Colorado is the NL's answer to Minnesota. Enough said there.

Projected order of finish:

1. Arizona
2. San Francisco
3. Los Angeles
3 (tie) Colorado
5. San Diego

Wild Cards: Miami, St. Louis

Talk to me in the fall about the playoffs.

On DVD: The Red Skelton Show (1951)

Clem Kadiddlehopper. Freddie the Freeloader. George Appleby. Sheriff Deadeye.

Those were just some of the memorable characters created and performed by entertainer Red Skelton, who made the transition from radio to television in 1951, and began a 20 year run, most of it at CBS. Skelton began his series at NBC from 1951-53, and finished there in 1971. I barely remember seeing the show at the end of its run, when NBC suits tinkered with the format, hoping that Skelton could reel in the same audience that was watching Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, but it didn't work out that way.

Amazingly, much of the series is in the public domain, and in 2002, Madacy Entertainment released a 2-disc DVD compilation that was entirely from the CBS run, mostly from the mid-to-late 50's.

The disc opens with a December 1954 show with Red hosting the Look Magazine Awards, featuring Bing Crosby, Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Lemmon, Walt Disney, & Judy Garland. Bear in mind this was before Disney began his own television show on ABC. The rest of the set features the following:

*"The Original Da Vinci", a Freddie the Freeloader tale with guest stars Vincent Price & Jackie Coogan.
*"Shipwrecked", with Buster Crabbe and an early appearance by Jamie Farr, well before M*A*S*H made him an icon in his own right.
*"Oil", in which Clem Kadiddlehopper becomes a millionaire after striking black gold.

Uploaded by Turbo Toilet, and featuring guest star Carol Channing:





There's also Mickey Rooney in a Freddie-centric show, with Mickey as a spoof on Perry Mason, and, in another Clem-centric tale, John Carradine appears as a painter whose work is overshadowed by Clem's surrealistic abstractions.

The Madacy package is heavily edited, and some of the episodes, sad to say, were badly preserved. Some sponsor tags were left off and closing credits left incomplete. Art Gilmore, better known for his work on Dragnet, was the announcer for much of the run.

Personally, I wouldn't mind finding a collection that includes the later, color episodes.

Rating: B-. Have to take points off for the packaging issues.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Musical Interlude: Next Big Thing (2002)

Vince Gill's "Next Big Thing" was a celebration of past trends, as illustrated with clips of hula hoops, Slinky, and even a GAF ViewMaster. I don't really think the latter was so much a trend, but an accessory that ceased production. I had one of those when I was a kid. "Thing" landed in the top 10 of Billboard's country chart in the winter of 2002-3. Uploaded by the artist's VEVO channel.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Even kids are filling out brackets

Yahoo! Sports is reporting the story of an enterprising 5th grader in Omaha, Nebraska, who was sent to the principal's office for-----get this----starting an NCAA tournament bracket pool among classmates. Since he was charging money, it was, of course, constituted as illegal gambling.

What is weird is that this is going on in an elementary school. While there isn't a stated age limit on a lot of tournament pools, even though it's understood in some cases you'd have to be 18 at the very least to play, you have to give the young man, Max Kohll, some credit for trying. His mother knew what he was doing, because she loaned him $5 to start, and he assured her he was handling the money himself.

The bracket was closed per principal's orders, but you can bet this kid'll be at it again off-campus another time. The way Yahoo! described it, his organizational skills might make certain pro sports team owners jealous just on principle alone.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Weasels of the Week: James Dolan & Carmelo Anthony

Earlier today, Mike D'Antoni resigned as head coach of the New York Knicks, mired in a 6-game losing streak, and in danger of missing the NBA playoffs. A month ago, the Knicks were the toast of the town, thanks to the emergence of second year point guard Jeremy Lin. However, "Linsanity" has given way to the same old, tired, malaise of losing.

Critics can point to the return of veteran stars Amar'e Stoudamire & Carmelo Anthony from injuries as a turning point in Knick fortunes. The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, just two weeks ago, had urged owner James Dolan to refrain from making any unnecessary moves with the trade deadline looming. As it turns out, Dolan may not have heeded the warning. According to a Yahoo! article published earlier today, unnamed sources said that Dolan, predictably, was blaming D'Antoni for the reversal of fortune. Problem is, Anthony, the former Syracuse star who had been acquired in a trade from Denver a year ago, had reportedly been sulking on the bench and not taking part in a late-game team huddle recently. See how the pieces start to come together?

Anthony had said all the right things in the press upon his return, showing a willingness to work with Lin. It was Dolan, acting on the advice of former coach-GM Isaiah Thomas, who pushed for the trade that brought Anthony to New York, and while the press was reporting today that Knicks brass were pushing for Dolan to send Anthony on his way, perhaps to Orlando in exchange for Dwight Howard, the owner, demonstrating again that he has the business acumen of a broken staple gun, opted to stick with his struggling star, placating Anthony by perhaps putting the heat on D'Antoni. The veteran coach must've known that the end would've come by the end of the week anyway, so he decided he was better served if he left now on his own accord.

Assuming, of course, the decision was really his to make, and you know some people will think it wasn't.

Nothing destroys team chemistry more than a veteran suddenly jealous and/or afraid for his job when a younger player suddenly becomes an overnight sensation. Other teams have studied game films on Lin and have adjusted their defenses accordingly, which means Lin has to adjust in return, and if he can't get the ball to Anthony, who's supposed to be the man with the game on the line, what can you do? The press has also said other players have complained, but the heat is on Anthony, the prodigal son, who supposedly hasn't backed up his verbal support of Lin and D'Antoni.

The heat, rightfully, should also be on Dolan for not recognizing the real source of the problem and addressing it. Instead, he decides to channel the late George Steinbrenner and scapegoat the coach out of town. Mike Woodson, a former player whose last head coaching gig was in Atlanta a few years back, is the interim coach for at least the remainder of the season. You have to figure he has to keep his head on a swivel, because he may be the next to go if the Knicks don't reach the playoffs. For now, Anthony & Dolan get the weasel ears for misplacing priorities and putting ego ahead of the best interests of the team.

Then again, we can just shrug and say, what else is new, right?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rockin' Funnies: It's All About the Pentiums (1999)

3 years after he'd skewered Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise" (from "Dangerous Minds") with "Amish Paradise", "Weird" Al Yankovic decided to give hip-hop another try, this time taking on Sean "Diddy" Combs' "All About the Benjamins", which was released a year or two earlier, by releasing "It's All About the Pentiums", taking a swipe at the then-burgeoning information super-highway. Al, hot babes, and special guest star Drew Carey (like, you were expecting maybe Tom Arnold?). Enough said.

From Al's VEVO channel to you.

On The Air: Are You Serious? (2012)

The second WWE-YouTube series we're reviewing is Are You Serious?, which takes a look back at some of the promotion's more ridiculous moments, and those of WCW and others that are in the company's voluminous library. Josh Mathews, the busiest guy on the roster these days, teams with former tag team champ Road Dogg (Brian James), and the gimmick is that these two are being forced to watch these clips due to some as-yet-unrevealed offense committed by the D-O-Double-G. Somehow, they managed to convince the Muppets to create a Triple H puppet as a sideshow attraction.

Uploaded by WWEFanNation:



Sometimes, it's good to look back at this silliness and laugh.

Rating: A.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On The Air: Dan Vs. (2011)

We've all run across the occasional oddball, the delusional paranoid who thinks the whole world is against him.

The Hub launched a primetime cartoon 14 months ago about just such a man. Dan Vs. must've generated enough of a following to warrant a second season, which is underway at present. Dan (Curtis Armstrong, "Revenge of the Nerds", ex-Moonlighting) is always venting about something or someone, which would explain why he doesn't have many friends, other than best pal Chris (Dave Foley, ex-Newsradio) and his wife, Elise (Paget Brewster). Dan's pet cat, Mr. Mumbles, which is actually a female (Brewster), may in fact be his closest friend.

The Hub's YouTube channel offers up a sample of this past week's episode, "Dan Vs. The Gym":



In the episode, we find that Dan can chew through metal, which might explain why he has such pointed, and probably filed, teeth. The series also replays at various times, including now on Fridays in the early evening, and on Saturday afternoons, hours before the next episode is to air. Whether or not it earns a 3rd season or more remains dependent on the ratings, of course, but it wouldn't hurt to see them tweak things by giving Dan someone else he can relate to, so that he can actually go on a double-date with Chris & Elise. After all, you can only take the basic premise just so far.

Rating: B.

Siena makes a change on the women's side

It wasn't so long ago that Siena College's women's basketball team was one of the dominant forces in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). However, that seems so far away now, as the Lady Saints were eliminated in the first round of the MAAC tournament last week, and haven't had a winning season in 8 years.

On Thursday, coach Gina Castelli stepped down after 22 seasons. The 5-time women's Coach of the Year in the MAAC hadn't forgotten how to win games. It was just a case of the changing fortunes in the league having an adverse affect on Siena. The Lady Saints' chief nemesis during this lean period has been Marist, which has taken over as the top team in the league, and has beaten Siena 17 consecutive times. Of course, there were the usual cliches about needing to make changes, but consider the fact that during Ms. Castelli's 22 years, they've changed coaches on the men's side at least a half dozen times for one reason or another. According to the Albany Times-Union, the decision was a mutually agreed upon one, and that Ms. Castelli wasn't fired. With Siena a sub-.500 team for 8 straight seasons, a change was inevitable, and needed.

The task now for Siena is to find a coach that can take the Lady Saints back to the top of the MAAC, which won't be that easy. Now, too, might be the time to make another change, and that would be to move the women's games out of the school's Alumni Recreation Center, and into the cavernous Times Union Center, home to the men's team, which routinely averages anywhere from 6,000-9,000 fans for home games. If Siena can raise the profile of its women's team and try to market it as they do with the men, it would help the recruiting process tremendously. Even though the men were also below .500 most of the season, they still had their loyal fan base, which never wavered.

It wouldn't be too much of a surprise if Gina Castelli landed with another school, or was given a shot at coaching a WNBA team. It isn't about what has been done lately, but rather, the body of work as a whole should be given some consideration. I shan't be shocked, however, if she lands a broadcasting job instead, say with ESPN. I don't think it's out of the question, but rather, it's a consideration that may be the path of last resort.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where does Peyton go from here?

On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Colts released quarterback Peyton Manning, who sat out all of the 2011 season due to neck issues in what would've been his 14th season with the team. Naturally, the media speculation on which team will take a chance on him for 2012 has begun, but in all honesty, you can rule out a vast majority of teams because of the simple fact that they are already set up at QB and don't need any pre-season drama, especially with the draft next month.

To the surprise of no one, the New York Post splashed on the back page today that the Jets were already in contact with Manning's agent about a deal. Didn't they learn anything from signing Brett Favre 4 years ago? Didn't the Post and their media brethren learn anything from openly courting LeBron James on behalf of the Knicks two years ago? Apparently not.

To Manning's credit, he doesn't believe it's in his best interest to be playing in the same market as younger brother Eli, who now has 2 Super Bowl rings with the Giants. Local sportscaster Rodger Wyland, writing in the Albany Times-Union today, doesn't believe Manning will go to the Jets, either, and realistically, what would be the best place for Manning, anyway?

The only reason the Jets would take a serious risk on Manning is the fact that they may be giving up on Mark Sanchez after 3 seasons. However, the excessive, obsessive-compulsive media scrutiny in New York may be more of a detriment. Too many know-nothing gasbags on either side of the sports talk phone lines, most with uninformed opinions. You can cross off the Jets as a contender for Manning.

Recognizing that most teams already have stability at QB, there are very few options, some obvious, others not so. Let's consider:

AFC East:

Miami: Ownership doesn't want to take a backseat to the hyped-to-the-max Heat & Marlins too much longer. The downside is that the over-hype already hurt the Heat in the playoffs last year, and they could wilt again this summer. Manning would only be a short-term fix when a long-term answer is more likely.

Buffalo: The Bills could use a tourist attraction for their home-away-from-home game in Toronto. Enough said.

AFC South:

Tennessee: Manning played his college ball at Tennessee, so they're already beating the drums for a "homecoming". What would that make Matt Hasselbeck, signed as a free agent last year? Chopped liver? I don't think so. You also have a 2nd year QB in Jake Locker who's playing sponge, learning on the job.

Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert was thrust into the starting job last year after the Jags foolishly let David Garrard walk. The Jags have new ownership and a new coach, but do they want to go all the way with a clean slate?

NFC West:

San Francisco: Alex Smith finally came of age in his 7th season, leading the Niners to a division title, but they were KOd in the playoffs by the Giants. Jim Harbaugh, remember, was the veteran QB that was phased out in Indy for Manning many moons ago.

Seattle: Tavaris Jackson & Charlie Whitehurst weren't exactly the answers last year, even though the Seahawks did beat the Giants at the Meadowlands. The 'Hawks would gain instant cred if they can lure Manning out west.

NFC North:

Minnesota: Christian Ponder & Joe Webb could use a mentor after Donovan McNabb was future endeavored before the end of last season.

Personally, I don't think Manning should take a chance on playing. What if he injures his neck again so soon upon returning?  Look, I get that he wants one more ring, but no matter where he goes, there are going to be some hard feelings somewhere. I say, take another year off, make sure the neck is 100%, as well as the nerves that go with it, then start shopping for a comeback. The last thing that needs to happen is another Hall of Fame-bound QB ending his career in disgrace, like Favre. Of course, if they're casting for a remake of Gomer Pyle, USMC, Manning would be a perfect fit.......

Weasel of the Week: Joseph Cordes

I have not forgotten how a Philadelphia Phillies fan took it upon himself to use a laser pointer to distract some St. Louis Cardinals players in a nationally-televised game in 2009. The fan escaped, thanks to his fellow fans refusing to hand him up. If this dweeb was in Massachusetts, however, he probably would be in jail within seconds.

I bring it up because there was another laser pointer incident recently, this time in a high school girls hockey game between Medway-Ashford and Winthrop. According to Yahoo!'s Prep Rally blog, Joseph Cordes, 42, an estranged father of one of the Winthrop players, began using the laser pointer to distract some of the opposing players, including their goaltender, who complained of headaches the next day. Winthrop won, 3-1, but despite the protests of Medway-Ashford parents, the result is being allowed to stand. Cordes, however, was arrested Wednesday and charged with disturbing the peace. He was caught at the game and ejected, but why it took so long for them to haul him off to jail after the game is beyond me.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, oh, by the way, should also be considered for Weasel status for refusing to do the right thing and replay the game. Cordes' actions affected the outcome of the game, soiling the efforts of the players on both sides. Granted, these ladies tried to play through the distraction, and that's the argument the Association is using, suggesting that Cordes, trying to make good to his daughter for being an absentee parent, was acting as an independent party.

While Cordes was caught and ultimately will be brought before the court, the MIAA's refusal to act leaves the door open for copycats who figure that if they can pull a similar stunt to help their teams, nothing will ever be done to change the outcome. It's not underhanded if it's out in the open where hundreds or thousands of witnesses can see what's happening. The right thing to do is replay the game, and erase the record of last week's contest. In the 21st century, you're going to have more of these goofy little Weasels with access to the latest technology who can affect the outcome of a game for any reason, and it doesn't even have to involve gambling.

The time to act is now. The question is whether or not the Association has the collective cajones to try.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Musical Interlude: Vehicle (1970)

History tells us that Julius Caesar was warned about the Ides of March, but in that case it had to do with an assassination attempt on him.

Music history tells of another kind of Ides of March, a 1-hit wonder who broke through in 1970 with "Vehicle". Jim Peterik would later spin off from the band and hook up with Survivor, who had a string of hits in the 80's, beginning with the theme from "Rocky III", "Eye of the Tiger". Cattman2 uploaded this clip, taken from the little seen 1970 series, Something Else, hosted by actor-comedian John Byner.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It was a great game, but..........!

Normally on Mondays, I stay home and watch WWE Monday Night Raw, and I'm used to seeing the bad guys take shortcuts to win, and only occasionally do they get caught.

Pro wrestling's theatre of the absurd, however, took a backseat to a real-life screwjob last night in Albany.

Troy High & Christian Brothers Academy, meeting for the third time in the 2011-12 season, played at Times Union Center, and for a while, it seemed as though Troy was out to prove that their upset at CBA in January was anything but a fluke. They led, 18-6, after the first quarter, but CBA chipped away at the lead, bit by bit. Troy saw their lead shrink to 8 points, at 28-20, at the break, and down to three after three quarters.

What really rankled me, and virtually every Troy fan that was at the game, was what happened at the end of regulation in the 4th quarter. CBA's Chaz Lott, one of their stars, was called for a foul with what appeared to be about a tenth of a second left. That would've sent Troy's Dyare Holt to the line with a chance to win the game and the Section 2 Class AA title. The referees conferred and suddenly decided, no, there was no foul, and time expired.

Troy coach Richard Hurley was irate, and had every right to be. However, Troy was accessed a technical foul, and CBA's Joe Krong sank two free throws before the start of overtime. CBA then used that to start a 11-0 run in the extra session. Troy fought back and got within four, but that was as close as it would get before CBA won, 62-57.

Hurley said all the right things after the game, even offering some game films of CBA's next opponent, but also hinted that this was business as usual for CBA, that they get all the key calls. I had a fellow sitting behind me who said both game officials were alumni from----wait for it----CBA. Another CBA alumnus was honored with a lifetime achievement award at halftime. The bottom line is that Troy got screwed. They allowed that 11-0 run because they were still reeling from the non-call at the end of regulation, and didn't realign their defense fast enough.

CBA has long been regarded as one of the elite teams in Section 2 basketball, and you'd think they do things the honest, honorable way. The fan I talked to said that the non-call was one of the reasons why people hate CBA. It's all about protecting their reputation, which means it's no different than it is for a pristine college program, such as Duke, for example.

It's never a good idea to mix politics in sports. We see the same teams get favorable calls over and over in pro & college football & basketball. The same thing happens at the high school level, as it turns out, and it shouldn't.

Where Section 2 fails in this case has to do with the video screens on the overhead scoreboard. They're always in use when Siena plays and when the Albany Devils play hockey, but not for a high school game? Say what? Video replay would've verified the exact amount of time left in the game when Lott fouled Holt, and we wouldn't have had to see a good game ruined by a political snow job.

When Troy & CBA meet next season at Troy, you know the Brothers will now be booed out of the building for soiling what should've been the game of the year in local high school basketball by playing politics. What Section 2 must do is assign game officials with no ties to CBA for all of their games, especially at home. CBA returns to Troy to play a regional game at Hudson Valley Community College on Saturday against a team from Utica. You can bank on this. The Troy partisans at the game will have a rooting interest, but it may not be the one you'd think.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

On The Air: WWE Download (2012)

WWE has set up their own YouTube channel, filled with a roster of new series, mostly because their much-hyped WWE Network won't be ready for its intended April 1 launch (now delayed until at least the fall).  Over the next few days, we're going to take a look at the shows.

First up: WWE Download, hosted in character (unfortunately) by Dolph Ziggler. On the plus side, this 5-6 minute weekly show is exhibit A proving that Ziggler no longer needs to have a heat parasite like Vickie Guerrero managing him. The man can talk, and is telegenic enough such that he can graduate from this tribute to David Letterman's "Stupid Human Tricks" and take over ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos if they ever decide to give Tom Bergeron (Dancing With The Stars) his walking papers. Of course, that would have to require Ziggler either moonlighting from WWE, a la Chris Jericho, or leaving the wrestling business altogether. On Download, Ziggler comes across as equal parts Dennis Miller and former Home Videos host Bob Saget. We can do without his being in character on this show, which is one huge flaw with this program.

The following was uploaded by WWEFanNation:



Once the WWE Network launches----if it ever does---you can bet this show will be a vital part of its programming, albeit in a much longer format.

Rating: A.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weasel of the Week: Rush Limbaugh

Fellow blogger Sam Wilson over at The Think 3 Institute nominated radio gasbag Rush Limbaugh as an "Idiot of the Week". I'll go one step further and hand out the dreaded Weasel of the Week award to Limbaugh for doing what he does best. Being an unrepentant jackass.

Oh, I'm sure you've all read or heard by now that Limbaugh went off on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke because she took a stand on contraception, and defamed the young woman by calling her a "prostitute", among other thngs. As usual, this kind of vitriol has gotten Limbaugh in very hot water, and not just with the usual women's rights groups. President Obama, it's been reported, reached out to Ms. Fluke before she was to be interviewed by Andrea Mitchell of NBC. The usual spin doctoring has already started. Limbaugh hasn't backed down, but insists that he doesn't hate women in general.

Let's face facts. Limbaugh peaked 20 years ago. His TV show tanked, but his radio show rolls on, despite the fact that his act went stale around the time he used the William Kennedy Smith case as an excuse to use music from Jeopardy! on his show. Remember the "Kennedys in Jeopardy" sketches? That got old real fast. What Limbaugh should be doing now is stepping back and taking another look at the landscape. Fellow gasbag Don Imus got himself in trouble a while back for making some ill-timed racist remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. While Imus has counter-balanced some of his negative antics with charity work, what has Limbaugh done to counter his penchant for foot-in-the-mouth disease? Not much. Sam Wilson used a word more closely associated with actor Alec Baldwin to describe Limbaugh. A bloviator. It seems so appropriate, doesn't it? Much of Limbaugh's stock in trade is blowing hot air like he was making balloons. Sooner or later, the balloon of popularity of his radio show will deflate, and we'll be lucky if he fades into obscurity. For now, Limbaugh gets the weasel ears, and should take the hint and go into sensitivity training, like, yesterday.

Sometimes, wishes can be fulfilled

As the high school basketball regular season drew to a close a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that it would be in the best interest of New York's Section 2 to have Troy High & Christian Brothers Academy play a 1-game playoff, if it came to that, for the Big 10 title at a neutral site. The playoff never materialized, as CBA walked right into a trap game against city rival Bishop Maginn, three days after beating Troy, and lost to the Golden Griffins. Troy won its final two games and claimed the league title.

Thursday, I had every intention of being at Times Union Center for the Section 2 Class AA semi-finals, but weather & safety concerns and time constraints prevented that from happening. I will, however, be in Albany on Monday for the finals. Wednesday's snowstorm forced Section 2 officials to reschedule some games in the lower classes, and knocked the Class AA finals out of the Glens Falls Civic Center, where the game was to be played tomorrow night. Instead, the finals will be in Albany, which makes traveling easier for students and families for both Troy & CBA. That means, in all probability, a packed house at the TU Center, equivalent, perhaps, to a Siena home game. While under normal circumstances, CBA would be the home team, since the game is in Albany, Troy is the higher seed, and thus is likely to be designated as the home team.

As we've seen in college basketball and pro football over the years, it's hard playing the same team 3 times in a season, harder still if you had won the first two meetings. CBA split their regular season meetings with both Troy & Maginn, and settled their issue with Maginn on Thursday while Troy completed a 3-game sweep of Suburban Council schools by beating Shaker in the nightcap. CBA won the last meeting vs. Troy, so now revenge may be on the minds of the Flying Horses, who will again be without one of their stars, Javion Ogunymeni, lost for the season with an ankle injury vs. Bethlehem in the quarter-finals. Both regular season meetings were thrillers that came down to the final buzzer, and this should be no different.

One thing will be certain for Troy. Come June's Flag Day parade, it will surprise no one if the basketball team marches in the parade in a spot often reserved for their football brethren, who were eliminated in the semi-finals of their sectional tournament back in the fall. With baseball season soon to start, there's every possibility that the momentum that started on the gridiron and moved to the court could carry over onto the diamond. For CBA, it would be business as usual. For Troy, a win on Monday means a complete change of the guard. You can't script this kind of drama.