Saturday, November 28, 2009
Memo to All: I Know As Much As You Do
From all the e-mails Seriously's been getting the last couple days (which are now becoming verbal broadsides. Sorry, I needed time to think. Since my bi-yearly, intentional purging of staff, it's been just Seriously and Harmless Keith here at a large office and he's mostly occupied with keeping the computers, phones and machines running, me running the whole she-bang) It's obvious that a lot of you out there are overrating me as it relates certain vital sports scenarios. And while I'm honored by your confidence, let me be clear and up to date. I'm not anybody's go-to-ANYTHING on this whole, entire Tiger Woods story. I know as much as anybody on CNN knows. Sorry, all. You know I love you, all 8,431 of you, but I'll be the first to tell you when I ain't got the rocks. Even on a normal day, Seriously wouldn't be able to get Eldrick "Tiger" Woods on the phone without at least a couple of phone calls. Right now, Seriously can't even reach his people, that's how thick all this crap is getting. But I can throw you some insight, for whatever it's worth, and tell you a little bit about the way it works for us here in the sports business, even for old-timers like myself. Like Phil Jackson, Tiger Woods is what you call a rare-air individual in that, as a journalist, you take whatever he's giving you and you shut your mouth, no matter how many years you've got in the business. In person, Tiger's extraordinarily courteous but he also likes it if you act like you're the one who's running out the door. And while I've had several actual sit downs with Phil (and what I'd like to think is a somewhat of a relationship,) Tiger's always been a chase for old Seriously. We've never had a sit-down and I'd never ask him. Homie is way too private. He's in the echelon of Magic, Michael, Larry and Wayne in that you just want to leave those guys the hell alone. They'll come to you if you stick around long enough.
Seriously will let you know what you need to know about Tiger as soon as I know. Right now, I'm sure, like any citizen, he's got his lawyers busy getting the accident scene in shape and we're likely receive more information when his lawyers brief law enforcement on how things will be proceeding from here on out. Stay tuned.
A Dash Of Sanity From The Pittsburgh Steelers In the Form of a Phone Call
When Seriously refers to "my guy" in any particular sports organization, it's usually assured that the contact is also a friend. But in the case of Cliff Rooney from the Pittsburgh Steelers, (who I've called Zipper since he was eight-years-old,) I'm not so sure. He just called to let me know, before it went public, that, yeah, the Steelers had changed their mind and are benching Ben Roethlisberger this week versus the Ravens, (six days after his forth concussion at age 28.) But instead of taking him to the verbal woodshed, like I should have, I could give a flying rip this punk's the owner's son, I didn't say anything. Even though I was completely, totally, publicly vindicated from my last conversation with him (which I reported on in Chapter 59,) where dude was rude and hung up on me, even though I was standing up for HIS player. Hut ever, irrational representative of a major sports franchise. Nepotism is alive and well, I see. But here I didn't say anything, not a word, not a damn thing. I just said, "Yeah, and?" And the little porker hung up on me, yet again. I hate the Pittsburgh Steelers, I really, really do, but at least Big Ben will be sit down for a week and maybe even two.
Still haven't heard a thing regarding the concussion policy from the Commissioner's office. I'll have to get on the blower.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
For 23 years, I've been turning over tables and pissing in people's bowls of Wheaties, from the first day I ever got into this stupid, stinking sports news business. But not until today had I ever been the recipient of a threatening phone call. Now I'm a normal guy and I can get a little mean. And I've been threatened before and I've been threatening. But never have I been directly threatened (I know that makes sense because I know how you all know me.)
It like this, y'all - Seriously just got off the phone with the son of Steeler's owner, Dan Rooney. His name is Cliff Rooney but I call him Zipper because I've known the little smart-ass since he was a fat little kid. Well now, apparently, all he's got is a fat little mouth. Zipper's threatening death to my face (over the phone) because he heard I had the "galling temerity" to go public with my disgust over the fact that his stupid Steelers were starting Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday, six days after his 4th concussion at the age of 28. "For shame," Zipper snarled at me. "How dare you bite the blessed hand that's been feeding you!!? How dare you!!?" I said, "Fuck you, Zipper. On the sideline Sunday, your man was tweety-bird goofy like he'd been bopped by a passing truck." Now I rarely use four letter words but this chump was pissing me off. I said, "If that was your kid and he had gotten his 4th concussion, would you send him out there next week for a division game against the Baltimore Ravens?" Zipper said nothing and hung up on me. So I can only guess from that exchange I haven't made any new friends over at the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, guess what, America? It's not about me and it's not about the Steelers, they can burn and rot in hell. It's about Big Ben. I've gone from wanting him dead to being worried about the big lug. Anyway, I gotta go. Every time I think I have a conscience, it makes me want to run.
Roger Goodell, where are you?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Though we do originate from Quake Town, we don't endorse the Los Angeles Lakers' brand here at Sports Seriously as this is a Clipper's building. But witness below, in case you missed it, Kobe Bryant's over-the-backboard shot last night against the Thunder. As my dear departed Bessie Mae would say, "Oh my, gidness."
Saturday, November 21, 2009
It Takes Time To Be a Super-Star
15 games into the NBA season and Seriously hears annoying levels of cackle throughout sports media, (particularly from the usual suspect idiots who supposedly run ESPN.com,) about the fact that number one draft pick, Blake Griffin isn't averaging over 20 points a game for this year's Los Angeles Clippers who, oops, sit only 2 games out of the Pacific Division lead. I'll take 16, 8 and 5 every day of the week, thank you very much. And clog-it-up defense all over the court and the decidedly-not-rookie-like play making ability. Not to mention that he's played the 4th most minutes in the entire league. As my dear mother would say "My God, Miss Agnes," what the hell else is the young man from Oklahoma supposed to do? Are you in the media to become a herd of jackals? As the Los Angeles Clippers are heard from in this year's playoffs, patsies no more and contenders for the O'Brian Trophy, the last thing anybody on earth will be worried about is Blake Griffin's points-per-game average which will likely top out around 23 come March. Don't worry about this kid. Just let him "do what he do" and witness.
Seriously had a sit-down with Blake Griffin just yesterday but it ended up being personal in nature as opposed to fair-game, shop talk so I can't deliver as promised in terms of relating what was said between myself and the rookie. I'm just getting to know the kid, I met his wife, Kiki, who's a dish and a sweetheart, but he did promise we'd meet "another time, real soon." I'll keep you posted.
Monday, November 16, 2009
My Sit-Down With Marvin Lewis
Cincinnati is Seriously's hometown, though he's taken to slinking in and out unnoticed these days, having created as many enemies there as he has friends (and that's just talking about his own family.) My love affair with the Queen City itself has never faded, I just have trouble negotiating around all the friendships/relationships I've drunkenly trashed in that town like a big fat idiot.
But here I was downtown, fresh off some scrumptious late morning Skyline, walking across the bridge to Paul Brown Stadium. Kirby, the Bengals' security ape, who I've known since he was a little kid, stomping on wax paper cups after Red's games, he gives me the usual third degree at the desk because he knows I'm wearing my Brooks Brother's trench coat year round when I'm working and they see it as a security risk, though I'm not sure if it has to do with concealed weapons or the fact I haven't had it laundered in years. Whatever, I love Kirby and the guys. So they get me to Marvin's lovely secretary, Becky, who finally walks me into his office, and there, fresh off the biggest regular season win in Cincinnati Bengal's franchise history, was the Grey Haired Teddy Bear himself, exhausted as hell but willing to talk. We get the family stuff out of the way, (Marvin even remembering the names of both of my ex-wives,) and we get right down to business. He tells me how proud he is of his men and how they fought and "how sweet it was to finally bring the gargantuan beat down on Ben Roethlisberger." Later adding, "especially with how many times they've put it up our ass, the last 5 years." I asked him if he was worried about Cedric Benson's hip injury and he said "no," just as ex-Kansas City Chief running back, Larry Johnson, walked by and poked his head in to say "I'll call you" to Marvin, having finished his work out and tour of the facility. Larry and I exchanged a pleasantry before he left, (I had met him in Honolulu in `06,) and I turned right to Coach Lewis point blank, asking him to comment "off the record-on the record" about signing the displaced/disgraced All-Pro as a back up running back due to long term concerns over the injury to Cedric's hip and the balky knee of super rookie, Bernard Scott, he of the fuck-you-right-away, 96 yard, opening play dagger-in-the-chest run back for touchdown against the hated Steelers. Marvin then proceeds to disappoint me, treating me like a pool reporter with the reluctant smile and the full froggy-voice run down - yada-yada, the team's needs versus what Larry could provide in a limited role, repeatedly referring to the All-Pro of 2007 as "the fourth option" at running back. I reminded Coach that I was slipping him cigarettes and treating him like the rolly-polly genius that he is back when he was a lowly, two-bit linebacker's coach at Idaho St. "Give me a break, Lewis." Then Coach closes the door and leans towards me, confessing how "nasty, dastardly" Larry Johnson had looked in workouts. "Who knew a rich guy could be so hungry, going after a job the way he did when we brought him in yesterday. The way he made his cuts, he was jumping out of the building, blowing up our practice squad guys. L.J. would have snapped his femur if we asked him to." "Seriously," he said, "give him about two weeks and he'll be catching balls out of the backfield and about four to have our system in his brain. We're not asking him to be Gayle Sayers, we're just asking him to be ready for anything." I asked about Larry's baggage, "him calling folks faggots and all." Marvin was quick to respond. "Hey, those comments have no place in the NFL and Larry's apologized profusely for that screw up. Everybody knows, or should know, that the NFL has a total open door policy with regards to homosexuality. How could we not, we're all men!?" I said, "Marvin, I agree. From my end, I've got nothing against the gays. I have gays who work for me and I love these goddamn kids. But let's get back to the team. Are the Cincinnati Bengals going to win the Super Bowl this year which, as you know, Coach Lewis, I have gone on record and predicted? There's myself and about 7,900 Sports Seriously followers who want you to address this." Sly dog that Marvin Lewis can be, he ignores my question and launches into a long winded explanation about the elaborate system he and the rest of team officials had devised to keep first round flop, Andre Smith, away from the dinner table. "It's a system of ropes, pullies, pad locks and an entire mobile kitchen that we hide. When we got `Dre into camp he was at 510 pounds plus a bag full of forks, whereupon he broke his foot on the first practice snap. We have him at 350 now and he's running stairs just fine. Andre Smith just needs to recover from that first contract and we feel very confident we'll have him on the field, easily, by the 2012 season." I could tell this interview was going nowhere so we dove in and talked some holy-shit,-your-defense for a few minutes and about how good Carson Palmer would be if he wasn't a one-handed quarterback. Then Marvin shows me a picture of his lovely daughter, Jenny, who is in college and I said to him as soon as I left there I'd be going to go have lunch with an ex-girlfriend, Shenae Foster, who is the daughter of Bengals legend and NFL Hall-of-Famer, Boobie Clark. Marvin knows Boobie, everybody knows Boobie. Then we laughed about a couple of personal things and he promised that he'd come see me at my office in Quaketown as "L.A.'s where the NFL's Competition Committee is meeting this spring." I said, "I don't know, Coach Lewis. I'm thinking I might be seeing you in February in Miami." He said, "Seriously, my man, from your lips to God's ears." Then we shook hands, said a couple good bye's and I was gone.
As I'm walking back across the pedestrian bridge towards my hotel near Fountain Square, I laughed to myself about the fact I was due to fly back in L.A. that night for my much ballyhooed interviews with Jamarcus Russell and Blake Griffin. But those sit-downs have to wait, I'm afraid, I had to cancel that flight. I was to go have lunch with a very pretty lady.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday Sit Downs With Marvin Lewis, Jamarcus Russell and Blake Griffin
Tune In For This Remarkable Trifecta - 11/16/09
Seriously knows Marvin from back in the Idaho days, Jamarcus wants to reflect on his remarkable odyssey from "big fatty" to NFL star and Blake just keeps taking it to the hole as the Clippers continue their remarkable surge to the NBA's upper echelon. My separate sit downs with these three compelling and influential sports figures will take place as of Monday evening, November 16th here on Sports Seriously.
Make sure you catch it.
7,834 and counting. Thank you and God bless you all.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
That seems to be the question here in Quake Town as the Los Angeles Lakers toy with the entire league, so devastatingly good at 7-1 that they've taken to pummeling other teams even without injured front liners, Gasol and Bynum. D.J. Banga', from the far reaches of the bench via some damn place in Africa, even he is swatting balls into the seats and hitting bank shots from all over the place. It's so good at Staples right now, Sasha Vujachic is frickin' absolutely terrible to the point that it's not even worth spelling his name correctly, they're still playing him all the time and STILL winning by 24 points. NBA history is being made with this Laker team right now.
Seriously spoke with Phil Jackson today (on the phone, mind you. Phil only allows Seriously two visits a year as he doesn't like doing non-contractual media) and I tried to make fun of his good fortune and embarrassment of riches. In typical Phil fashion, all he did was smile and say, "We're just running Tex's system." And I said, "Okay, Professor Humble." Phil Jackson, goddamnit, is one of the smartest guys you'll ever meet with one the great laid back senses of humor of all time. He smiles a lot and is way too cool for Seriously (I'll admit it when I'm not in someone's league) but Phil and I happen to connect on the subject of music which is almost always a private subject for Seriously. So congratulations to Phil Jackson and the L.A. Lakers for their mind boggling start to this NBA season. While we embrace the Clipper colors here at Sports Seriously, sometimes you just have to tip your hat.
Monday, November 9, 2009
This Is What Happens When Real Men Coach Football Teams
Going into Friday night's ESPN shootout against West Virginia, Coach Brian Kelly of the 5th ranked University of Cincinnati Bearcats has, once again, shown Founding Father-level, envious, John Wayne-ish character in choosing to start Senior quarterback Tony Pike, back from injury, over Sophomore Zach Callaros, a kid who's literally taking college football by storm. See the story linked below from my good friend Brian Bennett over at Espn.com.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Seriously never knew he engendered so much scorn. Maybe some of you out there can relate. I'm getting hammered from all angles by everybody in town after guaranteeing a Philadelphia romp in the World Series. And by "everybody in town" I'm not talking about the fans who have been nothing but sweet and supportive as hell, I'm referring to the jackasses who pass themselves off as sports news men or commentators in L.A., New York, Philly & Cincinnati.
But this is healthy for a boss. It's what happens in business when you operate without your normal staff buffer. You're outside the corporate cube and you get to see what people really think of you.
I'm out there covering the games myself, expending some shoe leather as I am want to do when operating with an intentionally short staff and people seem to want to take liberties with me, even when they know what the hell I'm doing. I've been doing the same damn thing every year or so (laying my people off) for the last twelve years.
I don't need to be out here, I'm out here because it's important that I do it. I owe it to all the people (7,103 and counting) who follow Sports Seriously and want to know what the heck's going on. What the real sports deal is, from the field to the locker room to the owner's box.
What makes the situation worst of all is that most of these degenerate, hack journalists are blaming me for their gambling losses. And they know full well that Seriously hates nothing on earth more than gambling on sports. To a true sportsman, gambling money on the games is an infamnia. It's like taking a dump in your own oatmeal. I do the ponies (holy schmoly how I do the ponies) but betting on team sports is one of the world's abominations, rivaling what's going on in Darfur. And yet Seriously could give you a list of 11 names from the world of sports right now, names you'd instantly recognize, who are crying, bitching and moaning to me about how I "promised!!!!" that the Phillies would win the Series in 6 games. It angers me to no end. Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times is like a 13 year old girl at this point. I've told them that the Series isn't over yet but they're scared and they know I haven't been wrong in picking the World Series winner since 2000, when I accidentally took the Mets. I understand the trepidation. When someone's right so many years in a row you're naturally thinking, "this might be the year!" But god I hate this gambling of money, I've seen it ruin so many lives.
Yes, down 3-2 in games heading back to Yankee Stadium, it's possible the Phillies could lose this thing. Seriously is a human being, after all.