Thursday, April 15, 2010

Seriously Chapter 78: In Defense of Cowboy Joe West

When it comes to the sports detective/news game, I lived, I've loved, I laughed and I've lost. I've sat with the good, the great and the not-so-great. I've run a successful business, written a few things and my professional reputation is gold-plated. But I've also lied my way across half the globe. If I had a dollar for every lie I told one of my ex-wives, while sitting in some crummy hotel lobby, I'd have either "Sir" or "Lord" in front of my name. I've fallen asleep in my own front yard, only to wake up with a restraining order stuffed in my trousers. I've let people down in my life so bad - when my son was born, the doctor slapped him and he didn't cry, he just looked at me and shook his head. If only these were jokes, people, this is real
. See how therapy can unburden you? I suggest you try it, especially if you drink like a parched Pelican, like I used to. I used to drink so much, my friends didn't say "Hey, let's go to Seriously's." They'd say "Hey, let's go to Jameson's." But you guys, you wonderful people, you know these things about me, I'm repeating myself. I apologize, it's just that I've come so far.
My point is this;

One thing I've learned in life is that you have to take a stand every now and then, even if it's unpopular. That's why I'm here to announce that I am personally stepping to the plate tonight on behalf of an American League umpire. That's right, an umpire and an American League one at that. Specifically, I'm referring to a large, odious, hog of a man named Joe West; who those of us in the biz call, "Country." Yes, umpires are almost always stereotypically displeasing people and I'm all for ragging them.
Aside from my good friend, C.B. Buckner. That brother's like a brother to me. Ragging umpires is an important part of the game of baseball, it's as American as Mt. Rushmore. But I'll be damned if Country Joe West wasn't simply doing his job in publicly calling out the pretentious Yankees and nauseating Red Sox for stretching their games out to almost 4 hours each. He rightfully called their multi-hour taffy pulls "an embarrassment." It's about time more people said it and the Red Sox players and Yankee players can all go straight to hell; particularly that dickless little pip squeak, Dustin Pedroia who called Country's comments in The Bergen County Record "way out of line." Yeah, Seriously despises the American League but really, watching Andy Petitte stare into home plate with his glove up against his face for 45 seconds to a minute on every frickin', goddamn pitch is enough to make me throw up into my own mouth. Hey, Andy, it's the second inning in the third game of the season.

The average major league game runs 2 hours and 55 minutes. The average running time for Red Sox-Yankee games in this first week of the season was 3 hours and 40 minutes. And don't give me malarky about commercials. How many Red Sox and Yankee Human Rain Delays does it take to screw in a light bulb? Maybe I'll give you the answer around the 50th time one of these players steps out of the batter's box on every single pitch. Forgive me, Red Sox and Yankees, if I don't forego giving my sick toddler his medicine so that I might spend four hours of my life getting steeped in your tradition. I'd rather lose than acquire your respective levels of self importance. Oh, how I can hear my New York/Boston axis right now. "Spoken like a true loser," they're saying, which flashes me back to my Ohio roots - as in my teams losing all the time, that is. While they may have a point, Ohio people do always lose, all Yankees-Red Sox game are not the World Series. We know that every single move in baseball has strategic implications but you guys are ridiculous and I'm glad Country went public with it, even if he's considered wrong in doing so. And why don't you quit worrying out-loud about the impartiality of Country Joe West, Manager Terry Francona; you ugly, whiny, knock-kneed bean pole. Country Joe will stay fair and unbiased, just as he has for decades. Me, not so much. I can't stand you American League people.

Just so Seriously doesn't leave on such a dour note, thank God for baseball and thank God for Joey Votto.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seriously Chapter 77: Those Two Great Ladies

Zenyatta Vs. Rachel Alexandra, Please Oh Please

In his dogged pursuit of a stable, sober life, Seriously's had to give up the ponies. I simply can't go to the race track anymore, even though a chunk of my heart is gone because of it. I probably spent most of the 80's and 90's dozing off at Hollywood Park; on my days off and, yes, sometimes when I was on duty (full disclosure towards amends). And even though I no longer attend, due to all the accompanying bad habits and lowlifes associated with said activity, I always keep up and I still love to watch 'em run. On the split-screen feed from the track, I always stay high but then look down low at the end for the close up; I just love to see the look on the horses' faces. And did I mention I love the smell of horse manure?
While the horse game is a currently like the boxing game, in that there's not enough superstars around, Seriously is still in awe that we're fortunate enough, right now, to be bearing witness to the two greatest fillies the world has seen since Ruffian. That would be the 11-victory, first-girl-Preakness-winner-in-85-years, 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra; and her counterpart, the undefeated (at 15-0) first-female-consecutive-winner-of-the-Breeder's Cup in racing history, that Lady-Leviathan-of-the-Oval, the mighty Zenyatta. Like Ruffian, they said she was too fat.
Rachel, with her famous splotchy face and classic bay body and Zenyatta; long, strong and dark bay/brown. Two beautiful, powerful, lovely girls simply being the best at what they do. (??)
Since the end of 2008, the entire nation has clamored for Rachel and Zenyatta to face off and they're scheduled to do just that on April 9th with the 2010 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The impact of this race is one that will reverberate around the globe and grind this very nation to a halt, unlike any event we've seen since the last great Jack Johnson fight. However, check this out: Seriously just got off the phone with Rachel's owner, Jess Jackson, he of Kendall-Jackson fame. (You know, the shit wine that tastes like ground-up cork?) Jess, fresh off an interview with my friend Marcus Hersh over at ESPN, he proceeds to drop a big fat bomb. He says Rachel's tune-up race this weekend in New Orleans (she finished 2nd) has left her "too exhausted to compete" on April 9th in Hot Springs.
Seriously doesn't know Jess Jackson, so berating him for talking to Marcus Hersh @ ESPN before talking to me was not an option. I had to let it slide. The fact that the cat's a billionaire wouldn't have stopped me from saying something, either. You know how I am, I've lived with kings and paupers alike. I just never met the guy before.
This wildly insane turn of events, the race being off, is burning up the wires as I write this and I want to update you on what's going on behind the scenes; because I care about you like family and you deserve to know.
For the last year or so, Jess and Company (and particularly his stable guys) have openly taunted Zenyatta's owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, about the fact that they won't have their pony race outside of California "due to the potential stress of such travel," they say. Some race people understand this concern, but others have called it, "The Fear of Rachel." Suspicions were also raised on two other occasions when Rachel's people wanted their girl to compete in a couple of Cup races out in So Cal but they simply couldn't get Zenyatta's schedule pinned down. But, too-da-loo, too-da-loo, now it seems the suspicion shoe is on the other hoof. With Jerry and Ann having agreed to send Zenyatta out-of-state to Arkansas, now all of a sudden Rachel doesn't have enough time to recover for a race that she's already committed to? (Hello, is this thing on?) Give us an injury of some sort, don't sight fatigue as the reason. We've all been around the game, we know recovery times. Don't try and shit the shitters. This story's heating up big time and if the parties involved don't watch it, somebody's gonna get burned. Heck, the purse for this Apple Blossom Handicap in Arkansas stood at $500,000 until Rachel and Zenyatta signed on; then it jacked up to $5,000,000. Now it's back to half a mill and a lot of people have a lot of questions. Including certain people involved at a certain level of influence who really don't like it when a certain level of cash flow is expected and then, all of a sudden, it's not happening anymore; they get extremely angry - and that's just the Methodists in Hot Springs.
I'll keep you posted on how this thing's gonna turn out. For now, Zenyatta's in and Rachel's ixnay. Wait a second - oh, look at this. A little bird just happened to message me and the little bird says the match up "is not dead at all" and we're just at the tail end of a secret, tit-for-tat game of equine chess, he tells me. A "tit-for-tat game of equine chess?" Whatever, Professor Plum in the Library With the Wrench. My freakin' sources, sometimes, I swear. Just get me the story, jackass. Get me the info and quit trying to write your way into my stupid life. Sorry about that but in my world right now I have to deal with issues immediately.
There's only one thing we know for sure about the race; the entire country is chomping at the bit to witness this tremendous clash of the titans. Not just because it'll be a great race - it will go down in history as one of the great American cultural events of our time.

So let the girls run. For God's sake, let the girls run.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Seriously Chapter 76: Sights & Smells; Vin Scully Is Exempt

The sweet din of baseball has returned once again, like an old family friend, your most favorite pair of comfortable shoes; or any of that other horse shit writers always write when talking about an upcoming major league baseball season.

Welcome to My World, Friends

Where good people with good intentions do every scribe/journalist in the business a horrible disservice by WAY over-writing the majesty of spring baseball.

Window Into the Sports News Business - You're Behind the Scenes Right Now

Seriously is currently surrounded, via conference call, by three sports media jackasses who shall remain mostly nameless. One is my guy at ESPN, another is the executive producer of a very serious NBC Sports program (and sadly a gambler), and the third is a nearly-retarded individual who runs the sports desk at the L.A. Shrunken Times. Even though a couple of these guys probably make more money than I do, they know Seriously's doing the talking right now. Listen in as he discusses what most sports writers invariably do in the run-up to opening day.


... Let me live my own Field of Dreams, writer
man. I can paint the picture on my own, just
fine. The saccharine angle has been done to
death and in words for more beautiful and
brilliant than anything you could ever come
up with, so spare me the sepia tone and just
tell me about the game, what's on the field,
what's going on in the clubhouse. ...

Some grumble, mumble from a couple of the gathered idiots.


... Forgive me if I don't necessarily care about
your relationship with your dad, and how you
used to go to Brewers' games together, and
have hot dogs and now he's on a breathing tube.
Hell, my old man was on a breathing tube
when he was dying, but he also had his foot so
far up my ass that it was tapping on my chin.
I hated my dad's guts. He kicked my ass and
smacked the crap out of my sister. Does that
make sense to any of you sons of

None of the other three says a thing, just the sound of sips from their respective cocktails.


Yeah, you all drink and I don't, and I know
you want to taunt me and make fun of me.
But all kidding aside; I'm reaching through
the b.s. and calling you to the carpet right
now, boys, so let me get this out before you
guys go in. You, the work you do personally,
and all the baseball writers you boss around
(trust me, I've bossed a few writers around).
The message to your respective people has
simply got to be, "Quit trying to evoke the
`The Boys of Summer' and get the goddamn
stories out." We got rosters full of guys, most
of them have to go, and there's a whole flippin',
frickin' season to cover. Hey, you don't think
I'm emotional or feel moved about the
prospect of baseball? Baseball season starting
once again is like me having my meds just
right. I feel a beautiful, golden hum to depth
of my soul. Seriously's a beaten down hack of
a sports reporter (half my life spent as a
drunk and a lounge lizard) but with baseball
in season, I can survive anything. But that's
not my point. I'm Joe Q. Public, just get me
the information.

A few other choice insults get passed back and forth and it's agreed upon by all four that Seriously has a valid point regarding spring training coverage. Then a few bromides of agreement are tossed, "Less syrup, more steak," and what-not, followed by a few "I'll bring it up in my staff meetings'," etc.

End of Conference Call

There you have it. I get in conversations about crap like this all the time because I care and I know you care.

An Interview With The Cuban

There's a 30 million-dollar rookie pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds named Aroldis Chapman and he throws 100 MPH. I've just spoken with manager Dusty Baker and I hope to be announcing a sit down with this Cuban baseball Jesus (who is blowing the lid off the Cactus League) in the next couple days. I'll keep you posted and let you know if Seriously will be flying to Arizona. The kid's minder is Tony Fossas, my old Cubano hermano, so I know we're going to get this done.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seriously Chapter 75: Closing Ceremonies - All They are is Dust in the Wind

Let's get the beautiful out of the way before anybody digresses.

Beautiful: Miss Kim Yuna, Skating to the Gold for South Korea.

Thursday night's vision of perfection. If ever there were a girl put on this earth by God to be a figure skater, it's this lovely kid and I hope to have an interview with her soon, me dealing out my pigeon Korean. I actually, usually hire Korean translators for stories. I don't speak but a little. I can't tell you how much I love Kim Yuna's legs and hips and the way she spins without sounding creepy and inappropriate so let me be more like a sports ticker and move on.

Beautiful: The Sight of Bill Demong (US) Crossing the Finish Line and Winning Gold

An amazing, astonishing triumph of the spirit from Bill Demong, also on Thursday, as he won the nasty, grueling 10K Men's Nordic Combined. Talk about slobber! It was beautiful AND triumphant, a memory forever frozen in my brain, akin to the likes of what you'd see in books like The Family of Man and what-not. Just beautiful.

Beautiful: The Canadian Girls Celebrating With Stogies and Champagne on the Ice.

I thought it was beautiful, frankly. Didn't like that they beat my beloved Uncle Samettes for the Gold Medal but, what the hay? Girls, when get like that, they're great to be around. So what the hell is wrong with it? They left it all on the ice, why not party on the ice, yo? (Yeah, too old to talk like that) What in the eff is the I.O.C. looking into? Isn't NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman involved in it, even though it's women? Isn't he involved in everything right now? I think Gary Bettman's involved in my mortgage and that's beautiful.

Beautiful: Steve Holcomb Captains the US to First Four-Man Bobsled Gold in 62 Years

Nothing's more old-school than bobsledding and you know how Seriously loves his old-school events; so imagine my joy, Saturday, watching Old Glory take its first Gold Medal in the Four-Man Bobsled since St. Moritz in 1948. And then afterwards, the tears in the eyes of the coach as he tried to talk about the team's victory. That was some manly shit right there and it was beautiful.

Enough Beautiful - The Closing Ceremony, I Never Get It

Seriously's been dispatched to nine different Olympic games' in his career (Yeah, I was in Lake Placid and witnessed You-Know-What) and I've sat on my ass in a leather Barky Lounger watching every minute of those few Olympics that I didn't happen to cover. And yet - even with all those Olympic assignments, the thousands of hours of watchful analysis, the awkward wording and structure of this particular sentence - even with all that - I usually never ever watch the closing ceremonies. I get so busy putting our coverage to bed, even running the whole Olympic apparatus on my own this year, I usually miss out on the whole pomp and puffery of saying goodbye. Every now and then, a summer Olympic closing ceremony will put a grip on you because they'll have crippled people involved and that always breaks my heart, but it's usually just a mutual butt scratch. A self-congratulation festival. "Aren't we so great?! Look what we did!" At least that's what the ceremony's like behind the scenes when you're attending or covering it. Watching it on t.v., I see it as well. "Ooh, aren't we cool?"

Why Wait to the Very End to Bring Up Hockey?

Let's get it straight. I wanted Canada to lose the game because I love my country. Good for you, Canada, you happened to win this time. Take your Gold Medal, enjoy. And while we definitely want you to send our athletes back home, please make sure you don't send your health care system along with it. We don't want your Canadian-style, Socialist health care system here in America and I fear this victory by your hockey team will be seen (by some) as a vindication of your policy, what with the robustness of your athletes and all. 5 out of the 10 most livable cities in the world are in Canada, yes that's true, but I guarantee you it has nothing to do with Canada's health care system! Know this, America, because you won't read it in the "lamestream" media, trust me - I'm hearing countless stories from a variety of sources, countless stories of Canadians falling over dead in the street during these Olympics because of their national health care. Not only that, the same drugs the Socialists in Congress would have us import at cheaper rates, they're dealing out a daily dose of death to the tune of (I'm hearing) seven people per day, just in Vancouver alone! Imagine, thinking you're taking your Lipitor and you just fall over dead. It's happening all the time in Canada, you're just not hearing about it in the liberal media, and it'll happen down here if we import these deadly drugs made in the US by the likes of Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. We don't want your health care, you're longer life expectancy or your deadly drugs imported from here. We don't want it!!!!
My patient and wonderful readers; as you can tell, I'm still angry, heartbroken really, that we didn't win the hockey game. Consequently, I'm lashing out a little. For that, I apologize. I just wanted my guys to get that one last Gold.

Goodbye, Vancouver

I'm sure the closing ceremony was a moving experience, an enduring message of peace, and you obviously did a fine job of hosting the Winter Olympics on the whole. A lot of my friends in the industry are packing for home as we speak and they tell me they're impressed with the great show Vancouver put on. "Kudos to some nice people" is what they're saying. However - and my ma will scold me for saying this because she has a Canadian cousin - if I never hear O Canada ever again, it'll be way too damn soon. I'm normally more crude, far more crude than that; but my ma, I know, will be reading this.

Baseball and the NFL scouting combine are coming up so stay tuned and watch as I'll be handing out information and dealing with a big bunch of problems.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seriously Chapter 74: Yes, Drink the Water In Vancouver

I've been loving these Olympics from the first moment, even with the roller coaster that was the first couple days. Yeah, Gretzky got hung out to dry when the arm wouldn't come up, but look how he ran outside and lit that other torch. Then the Canadian kid won the moguls, which took the monkey off the back of the host country, they could relax. But the kid from Georgia died, and that made me cry, especially that look on his face while they were trying to save him. I've seen that look before.

Uber-Uncle Sam

Seriously gets hyper-nationalistic and is a flag waving S.O.B. when it comes to these Winter Olympics (forever loving Hannah Kearney, getting us our first Gold,) particularly in a year like this when I'm on my leather lounger, eating low calorie meals and not covering the games as a journalist. I'm just a fan and glory be to that. I got no time for other countries. USA, all the way, baby! Yeah, our hockey team beat China 12-1. So f-ing what? Take it to the uglies, get them medals, kick some snow ass! Is that unappealing enough? Can you guess that I'm mostly watching the Olympics by myself? Here's the bottom line on wanting to jam the U.S. flag pole up as many foreign rears as possible. My own psychology and horrific personal/emotional baggage aside, it's the fact that it's cold out, they're wearing lots of gear and you don't see as many faces (as you would in, say, the Summer O's, though I can be a bastard on those, too.) The anonymity factor allows reactionary-types like myself to defy that which is the very spirit of these games. But it's all grand and wonderful, this "human drama of athletic competition."

Bones of Contention

I zone out when I'm watching the Winter Olympics. Or I'll get distracted on the phone with family, agency business or the morons who are my friends, calling me when they're loaded, fully aware of my predicament. Or sometimes I'll even doze quite a bit when I'm watching and let me tell you why. It's because of all these new-fangled events they have now and the way they seem to want to cover them, all MTV-style. (I'm making that last part up.) I know they want to hook in the young crowd but I'm actually not young, dang it, and I'll have to let these Olympic officials know through my purchases and choices. All this snowboarding crap? And the kid who looks like Carrot Top. What am I, an asshole? The winner of Shawn White's event should receive my old Laker bong and that's about it. Yeah, I got a little hitch in my throat when Lindsey J. got DQ'd on her event but, please. If it's not an old school Winter Olympic event, I'm really not that interested.
I'm also extremely saddened by the US men's skaters, how they all seem to move like women on the ice. Be a man out there and 86 the feathers, for the love of Pete. The girls, however, are perfect. I'm thrilled with what they're doing.

Thank You For Putting It To Bed

Thank God Lindsey Vonn's shin went the way of Dwight Freeney's ankle and she won the Gold. I was sick of it. She's a great kid, though, and it's obvious the man upstairs wanted her to win, the weather knocking the schedule around and what-not. As soon as I get back to the office I'm gonna to get that young lady on the blower. I know her and I know her agent, but she's hotter than the Olsen Twins in lingerie, right now, so I can't guarantee an interview, but I promise to do what I can.
These games from Vancouver have been a grand celebration to witness and stand as a testament to the best we have to offer in the world of amateur sport. Granted, the two Koreans taking each other out and slamming into the wall, allowing Apollo to snatch that Silver Medal, that was my biggest thrill so far. But that's just mean old me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Seriously Chapter 73: NBA All-Star Game Report

East - 141 West - 139 - A High-Flying Nail-Biter to the End

Much like this year's NFL Pro Bowl in Miami, sobriety, life and sanity did not allow Seriously to make it, or get to shake it, at this year's NBA All-Star game in Dallas. Yearly one of the world's great weekends. Parties and parties and funnin' with the honey's. Seriamente!
Seriously had a great time himself, back here in Quake Town. With Harmless Keith holding down the fort at the agency, I was home-bound, watching the game while connected to family via Skype. How wonderful it is just being a fan watching Lebron, Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Kobe being Kobe. And I was particularly thrilled with the NBA coming-out party the Clipper's Chris Kaman threw for himself with a cool and deadly, 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist.
The big story coming out of Dallas isn't the re-affirmation of Deron William's greatness, we all know D and his talent, but let's admit we go to sleep on him, him being in Utah and all. The big story coming out of the All-Star game is how uninspiring, bordering on boring, the Slam Dunk contest was. As a witnesseth (??) I can attest to the fact that this once grand competition is in dire need of fresh creativity. Nate Robinson from the Knicks only won it because he's a little guy, getting way up there, and it is awesome, that's why he'd won twice before, but there's a need for new blood. The games great high-flyers avoid the contest for fear of injury and detriment to their teams and guys who are willing to participate were bringing dunks sorely lacking in the electricity of imagination. There was no Superman jumping over a phone booth, no vaulting of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Nobody blew the roof off the joint, nezz pa? And that's what you need for an All-Star game. Shannon Brown and his no-help-helper, Kobe Bryant, looked like they didn't even want to be bothered with it. With the All-Star NBA Slam Dunk contest in bad need of a makeover and a recharge, I hit the phones today, even though it's an off day, and got word to my guy in Commissioner Stern's office. We're not going to let this great slam dunk contest be diminished. It's a critical component to the NBA's All-Star weekend and it's an important event for the American people.

Stay tuned for baseball.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Seriously Chapter 72: Yours, Mine and Ours

Super Bowl Aftermath & Falling on the Grenade

While the Super Bowl did not disappoint, the football season on the whole surely did which is entirely my fault, for those of you who get your news here. Please accept our serious, Toyota-level apology for the way we at Sports Seriously handled our NFL Playoff coverage as an agency. Me, Seriously, I was a slouch with the agency's NFL coverage, the NFL Playoffs being so closely tied to a couple of personal demons I'm currently at war with. Drinking and gambling. It hurt me as a journalist to have to step back and not be out there on the story, slapping the backs of all the guys, (though I heard it was cold as hell out there this year.) And I know every inch of Miami so the Super Bowl would have been great. And on the other facet of what I do, I love my work as a prognosticator, the business of telling everybody which way the games are going to go. I've emerged from this football season, F.Y.I., with a certified, career playoff-winning- percentage of 82.3% via the MGM Grand spreads.
It's all something I love, the NFL Playoffs, and it's put a lot of money in my pocket. And yet I had to step back from it professionally. I couldn't really cover the games and I couldn't help you guys pick them, either. It was for the sake of personal sanity, even beyond my sobriety. But let me report to you the following - Watching the games, just as a fan, for the first time in decades was a joyous and joyful experience. It was like a big, fat continuous exhale. And the big game? Oh, my God. Just being an asshole in a recliner with some O'Doul's and a bowl of hot wings. I felt refreshed and reborn. Just watching two great teams. Watching the guys play. It reminded me of why I fell in love with the pro game in the first place. And then "Undercover Boss" came on right after the game which really made cry. Just being able to be a normal person, not running around like Mt. Vesuvius working the phones, not yelling at people, not getting yelled at. Being able to enjoy my family, even though it had to be via Skype for legal reasons I cannot discuss.
Super Bowl Sunday was great and I'm having a heck of a good time putting one foot in front of the other.

Stay tuned for Seriously's upcoming NBA Mid-Season Report, my interview with NBA Hall-of-Famer Darryl Dawkins and a link to probably the world's most unusual dunking contest.

Don't forget, also, next week means

Pitchers and Catchers