Category Archives: TV

Must See TV Again


Dick Howser managed the KC Royals to their only World Series victory. It is not as well known, however, that he was friends with Burt Reynolds as a youth. They both went to Florida State. I think this was actually before Bobby Bowden was the football coach. That’s how long ago this was. Reynolds played football for the ‘Noles, but he went on to acting. One of his early movies was Deliverance. He was in that with Jon Voight.

Voight sired Angelina Jolie who is married to Brad Pitt. Pitt played Billy Beane in Moneyball. Chris Pratt played Scott Hatteberg. In a sabermetric twist, Pratt’s day job is playing Andy Dwyer on Parks and Rec. Parks and Rec is written by Michael Schur. He was also Ken Tremendous on the Fire Joe Morgan blog. Scott Hatteberg was a pickin’ machine. Morgan was on the Big Red Machine. But before that, he was an Astro. One of his teammates was diarist Jim Bouton. Bouton and Howser were teammates before that on the Yankees.

DC Pierson is a comedian and buddy of Donald Glover who plays Troy on Community. Pierson has appeared in episodes of Community. Not sure if he had a speaking role, but he was involved in the recent war between Troy and Abed. Chevy Chase is Pierce Hawthorne on that show. He was Clark Griswold in the Vacation movies. Jane Krakowski played Cousin Vicki in the first movie. Now she plays Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock. Jenna is friends with Liz Lemon who has had a few boyfriends on the show. Among them is Dennis Duffy.

Duffy is/was played by Dean Winters. Winters is “Mayhem” in Allstate commercials. Another person who appears in Allstate ads is Pierson. He gets into a fender-bender with some business guy. Hopefully, this post ins more entertaining than a car wreck.

PS – The main Allstate spokesman is Dennis Haysbert. He appeared in Heat along with Jon Voight. They weren’t in the same scenes. I suppose that type of connection works in the Kevin Bacon Game, but it is rather tenuous.

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“What Did The GM Know and When Did He Know It?”


Way back ten, eleven years ago, before there were blogs and other social media, my buddies and I would email each other quite frequently at all odd hours. We were friends, once removed, with a bunch of bikers known as the Go Nowhere Gang. They weren’t apathetic losers. To the contrary, they were a smart group of guys with good careers. They just didn’t go far that often. Their idea of a long ride was to the next town.
Even back then, I would occasionally opine on sports. The emails are long gone now. They probably are part of the cyber mist, but I recall writing about Tiger Woods and Kevin Harvick. Around this time, IU fired Bobby Knight and I wrote one with the witty subject line “Indiana’s Knightmare.” The parallels aren’t perfect, but the recently revealed scandal at Penn State reminded me of those days. I probably would have dashed off some email full of bullshit about Joe Paterno to my friends. I’m not smatter now, but I hope that I am wiser.

One thing that that scandal did accomplish is that it got Dennis and Callahan to stop talking about the Red Sox collapse. For those of you who get their power delivered by CL&P, Boston did not make the playoffs this year. Terry Francona is gone. Theo Epstein left for Chicago. Dirty Water turned to vinegar. I knew that Epstein’s grandfather and great uncle wrote Casablanca. I did not know that his sister wrote for the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets. (I once complained that Detective Munch has a longer Wikipedia entry than Richard Belzer himself and someone accused me of Wikigroaning, but I digress.) That show crossed over with Law and Order several times. Epstein helped write an episode called “For God and Country.” Jerry Orbach guest starred as Lenny Briscoe.

Arthur Branch was the Manhattan DA on L&O for a few years. Fred Thompson played him. Thompson actually had some prosecutorial experience and was minority counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee. Another counsel was then Cubs fan Hillary Rodham. She was a Yale Law classmate of Larry Lucchino. Lucchino was counsel on the House committee considering impeachment. He was a protégé of Edward Bennett Williams and would later become Theo Epstein’s boss. BTW, Lucchino was a Princeton alum who roomed and played hoops with Bill Bradley, but that’s a story for another day.

That Senate Watergate Committee and its hearing was my first exposure to politics. I vaguely recall it being on TV instead of whatever kids show I wanted to watch at the time. I’ve had an on and off fascination with it since then. I’ve saved only a few newspaper clippings in my life, but one was a Hartford Courant article from 1999 speculating that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. This was a few years before Bob Woodward and Felt admitted this. I’ve read quite a few books on the topic over the years; the Woodward and Bernstein ones as well as bios by many of the co-conspirators like Liddy, Dean, and Haldeman. At one point, I was sympathetic to Nixon. These days, not so much. Anyways, it is back in the news again. Nixon’s grand jury testimony has been released.

Penn State? That’s not a scandal. Watergate? Now that was a scandal. /Crocodile Dundee

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Media Play


I haven’t written much about baseball lately. Truth be told, I haven’t watched much since the Red Sox collapsed. Maybe I will write a post-mortem on their season, but what can I add that hasn’t already been said? I have been reading about the World Series and it does sound like a classic. Albert Pujols evoked memories of Reggie Jackson over the weekend with his three homer game that was likely the best one game hitting display ever in WS history. Then, on Monday nite, there was the biggest telephonic mixup since last week when Derek Lilliquist misheard TLR. (I have a tendency to think of Carson Daly and Total Request Live when I see Tony LaRussa’s initials.) I’m pulling for Texas to win. They’ve never done it before. They are the AL representative, and Saint Louis has one plenty of times; including five years ago. Bill Lee picked the L.A. Dodgers as the NL’s answer to the Yankees, but I picked Saint Louis when I was in high school and had a fling with the Mets. They were a team to respect, but not like. (I was glad to see Whitey Herzog get inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.)

There used to be a chain of stores called Media Play that sold books, DVDs and CDs. I liked it, but it went out of business around the time Saint Louis defeated Detroit. Today, I wanted to highlight three former baseball players that personify that store’s merchandise; an author, an actor, and a singer.

Before Jim Bouton, there was Jim Brosnan. Brosnan wrote two in-season diaries; The Long Season and Pennant Race. I have yet to read the latter, but I thought that the former was better than Ball Four once I finally read it. Plus, he didn’t have to have Leonard Schecter help him write it. Bouton’s book may have been more historic at the time he wrote it, but I didn’t read it until at least ten years after it came out. Brosnan was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of Eternals four years ago. If you ask me, that is a higher honor than getting a plaque in Cooperstown.

Chuck Connors was an Eisenhower-era Man. He played baseball and hoops and was also Lucas McCain on “The Rifleman.” I’m still in search of the elusive Center of the Entertainment Universe, but he might be it. Dennis Hopper appeared on that Western. And Hopper is The Center of The Hollywood Universe. Connors connects you to the NBA, major league baseball and the Pacific Cast League; which was still big back then. There’s also a football connection. Sid Gillman appeared on the show. He was one of the most influential coaches in football history; practically invented film study. His coaching tree is like a sequoia.

Last but not least, I checked out Dave Marsh’s New Book of Rock Lists the other day and came across Lee Maye. I had heard of The Rifleman even if the show was before my time, but I wasn’t familiar with Maye at all. Phill Millstein argues that this doo wopping outfielder was the best combination baseball player-musical artist. Check the link out.

I was on Monday Night Sports a month ago and he suggested that the reason some players of that era moonlighted in other entertainment fields was because sports salaries weren’t as high as they are now and they needed the money. He may have a point. Ironically, I was talking about Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax and their joint holdout. Chuck Connors helped act as an intermediary between the two pitchers and the Dodgers.

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A Vast Wasteland


I’m watching “Extreme Couponing” with my wife tonite. (I got to watch The Big Lebowski last nite, so this is a fair trade.) What is wrong with these people? I suppose the world’s economic system may collapse, but will these savvy shoppers be able to prosper by bartering all that mustard, toothpaste, and Tic-Tacs that they’re buying? I suppose they get an endorphin rush akin to the one people get from shoplifting or playing slot machines, but this is weirdsville.

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The Food Network Network


Bobby Flay liked to play the ponies growing up. When he became successful, he bought his own thoroughbreds. One of them won last year’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies race. More Than Real won in an upset by two lengths at Churchill Downs. Paid $29. She’s trained by Todd Pletcher. Pletcher apprenticed under D. Wayne Lukas who won a trainer’s Triple Crown in 1995. No horse has won the Triple Crown since the 1970s when Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed won.

Skip Bayless is an ESPN personality, but before that he was a sportswriter. Won an Eclipse Award for covering Seattle Slew’s Triple Crown run. His brother is Rick Bayless; a chef. He was a candidate to become White House executive chef under Barack Obama, but Obama had Cristata Comerford stay on. He also competed on Iron Chef America versus Bobby Flay in 2005 and lost a close decision.

Alton Brown hosts Iron Chef America as well as Good Eats. Before becoming a foodie, he went to UGA around the same time as R.E.M. and majored in drama. He was the cinematographer for the video of the song “The One I Love.” Subtract Michael Stipe from R.E.M., add Warren Zevon, and you have The Hindu Love Gods. They did an album of covers about 20 years ago and are mostly known (if known at all) for their version of “Raspberry Beret.” Zevon is more well known for hits like “Werewolves in London”, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”, and “Excitable Boy.” Also did a song “Bill Lee” about the wacky lefty pitcher.

Lee is lefty in more ways than one. In 1988, he was selected by Canada’s Rhino Party as their first American candidate. Ran for president against Bush the Elder and Michael Dukakis. Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was his running mate. Thompson knew a thing or two about presidential politics. Wrote Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail 1972. This was essentially an anthology of his dispatches to Rolling Stone magazine as he covered the race. He continued to follow politics for Jann Wenner’s mag. In 1974 he wrote an article titled “Jimmy Carter and the Great Leap of Faith.” It was probably the first national exposure that Carter received. The piece also had an awesome digression about breakfast.

Carter went on to beat Gerald Ford in 1976. Once elected, he appointed his crony Bert Lance to head the Office of Management and Budget. The OMB had an analyst responsible for nuclear energy named Ina Garten. These days, she is better known as The Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network.

Warren Zevon also once recorded a song called “Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song.)” It was written by Mitch Albom, of all people. Mitch is in an ad hoc group called the Rock Bottom Remainders along with other writers including Scott Turow, Amy Tan, and Stephen King. King’s short story “Trucks” was adapted into a movie called Maximum Overdrive. Directed by King, it was produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Dino’s granddaughter Giada is a Food Network personality.

As is Sandra Lee. She’s dating New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo’s father Mario was governor. Before that he was a minor leaguer in the Pittsburgh Pirate system. One of Cuomo’s teammates on the 1952 Brunswick Pirates was Fred Green. Green made the majors and was on the 1960 Pirates with Dick Schofield. Schofield was on the 1970 Red Sox with Bill Lee; the very pitcher immortalized in song by Zevon. Enjoy every sandwich.

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Gashouse Hillbillies


I did a piece on Joe DiMaggio and Stephen Jay Gould for the Hardball Times annual (which should be out soon.) To give their readers a taste of my stuff I also sent them Gashouse Hillbillies for their website. It ran today.

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Quarterback Mayhem I Don’t Understand


This ad doesn’t make sense to me. Why is the driver looking at his left towards the football team then crashing into the motorcycles? Isn’t he heading straight into the team and shouldn’t he crash into some offensive linemen forming a pocket? If he’s looking to the left while staring at the team, he’s driving 90 degrees incorrectly down the road, perpendicular to the path of it. In any case, this ad was funnier to me before I figured out that it’s part of a series featuring Mr. Mayhem.

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