Rackin’ the bats

File this under “Game Called On Account of Life”: Batgirl is taking her blog and going home. Having recently moved out of state and given birth to future Twins star Dash, the demands of a long-distance love affair with her Boyfriends of the Day™ and child-rearing meant the blog was out of options.

I suppose every winning streak has to end sometime but I’ll miss the often surrealistic game recaps and and passion for pluck. Count me among the fans standing and applauding, calling for Batgirl and her contributors to step back out of the dugout for a nod and a wave.

Going, going…gone!

My best round ever

I love golf and have certain positive (and selective) memories I like to share with others. What I’m about to relate, however, details one outing where I never took a swing or even saw a club swung.

I was fully intending to play, however, when I drove out to Minneapolis’ F.A. Gross public course a few years ago to play in my company league. I wheeled my pullcart and clubs up to the clubhouse door and went inside to pay my greens fee and change into a pair of shorts. It took me five minutes, max. When I came outside my clubs were gone. Since it was a company league, I looked around to see if one of my “friends” might be playing a joke on me. There was no one I recognized or who even seemed to be paying attention to me. Certainly, if you were playing a prank on someone, you’d want to be where you could see the look on that person’s face, right? After double-checking the immediate area to be sure my clubs hadn’t been moved out of the way I went back inside and asked the guy at the counter and the ranger standing nearby if anyone had found it necessary to move my clubs.

The guy at the counter said that none of the staff would have moved my clubs, but suggested that someone might have taken them and he asked the ranger to drive me through the parking lot to see if we could spot the clubs or anything suspicious. We jumped into a golf cart and began a circuit through the lot.

I had a strange feeling as we patrolled; normally I might be more than a touch upset by the situation, especially since I had just bought new irons a few weeks before that and I knew my wife, The Finance Minister, was unlikely to authorize another disbursement of that sort. Instead, I felt calm and had a little talk with God. My point, essentially, was that He knew I tithed and that I expected him to kind of keep an eye on my things and finances. I stayed calm and when the parking lot search turned up nothing I headed back to the clubhouse where a thought came to me: if my clubs were stolen it certainly wouldn’t be because another golfer coveted them (new irons or not); therefore the culprit’s objective would be to sell the clubs. I believe that if I had let myself get angry my blood would have been pounding so hard in my head that I wouldn’t have heard that little thought, or wouldn’t have paid attention to it until much later.

I didn’t have a cell phone then (and if I did, it probably would have been in my golf bag anyway), so I got a bunch of change at the counter and went over to the pay phone and Yellow Pages and started calling atll the Play It Again Sports and SecondSwing stores in the metro (after I called the police, that is). I started with the ones closest to the golf course and worked out to the ‘burbs in case the thief was clever enough to try to put some distance between the scene and the sale. With each call I described my clubs and golf bag in detail and then moved on to the next store on the list.

After about 30 minutes of this I was talking to a store out in Burnsville when a police officer walked into the clubhouse and was pointed in my direction. He approached and I hung up. “You might want to hear this, ” he said, pointing toward the radio on his belt. He spoke into his microphone and said, “I’m with the guy now.”

Someone on the other end of the radio said, “Ok. The suspects are still in the store. We’ve got a unit out back, and we’re about to pull up in front and hit the lights.” A few minutes later we got another word: “We’ve got ’em. You want to bring the guy over to identify the items?”

Great! I got to ride in the police car (front seat) over to the Play It Again store in Roseville, the closest such store to the golf course and the first place I had called. Apparently the thief and his buddy had stopped off to pick up a girlfriend and then went to the nearest Play It Again (no one has ever suggested thieves are smart). In the interim the manager had received my call, took my club description and probably thought to himself, “Fat chance.” Lo and behold, a few minutes later these three teenagers had come into the store wanting to sell a set of golf clubs. The manager later told me his heart started pounding when he saw the bag (a distinctive one).

He decided to stall the kids, so he said he had to go look up the putter in his books to determine it’s value. He went back to his office and once out of sight had someone on his staff call the police. He then went back out and started vigorously negotiating with the kids, club by club, trying to stall. He was wondering where the police were and concerned that the kids would get frustrated and leave, when a squad car pulled up to the front door.

When I arrived on the scene the kids were sitting in separate squad cars and my golf bag and clubs were laid out on the asphalt parking lot, along with everything else that was in the suspects’ car. One of the cops was taking inventory and needed me to help place a value on everything. He pointed to my driver; “What’s that worth?” A few negative thoughts came to my mind, but I said, “Hard to say. My brother built that for me.”

“Oh,” said the officer. “Custom-made. That’s gotta be $300 at least!” On we went through the contents. We got to the putter. “Now that,” I said, “Is a known offender. Better take it in for questioning.”

“Yeah,” the cop said. “I had one like that.”

When all was said and done I got my clubs back on the spot and had a chance to talk to the store manager and the officers from St. Anthony (where the theft occurred) and Roseville (where the arrest was made). Everyone, even the police, was charged up about being in on busting a case. I then got to ride in the police car again back to golf course, where it was much too late to get my round in. I went back to the Play It Again and bought pizza for the crew. (The criminal masterminds were all under 18 and were later shunted into an “alernative justice” program).

When I got home my wife asked how everything went. “Great,” I said, “Wait until you hear this….”

Go tell the Spartans Rams

There were two brave, defiant and ultimately glorious campaigns on display this past weekend featuring determined underdogs rising up to give their much larger foes all they could handle and more. One was in the new movie, “300” (see previous post) — the story of 300 Spartans standing against the massive Persian army and the elite Immortals at Thermopylae to defend their way of life. The second was tiny Roseau High School demonstrating its way of life by rising up against greater numbers and big school hockey powers with their monstrous enrollments to win the 2A (highest) state hockey title.

For the Roseau Rams, “The 300” might refer to the school’s enrollment (342 in 2006, to be exact), but like the Spartans they proved that when you get your opponent in a confined space you can triumph through heart, spirit, discipline and skill. What makes it all the more inspiring is that it’s not just a Cinderella story of a small school winning out against long odds, it’s a story of Cinderella saying “Forget about the ball, I want to be on ‘Dancing With the Stars.'” Roseau had the option of playing in Class 1A, created back in 1992 to make things “fair” for schools with smaller enrollments from which to draw their teams. Like the Spartans, they sneered at any such accomodation by themselves or their opponents, especially since in the days of the one-class, all-sizes tournament they had made 29 trips to the state tournament and won five titles.

In “300” Leonidas forcibly rejected the Persian ambassador’s request for a token sign of obedience and submission to King Xerxes. “This is madness!” the ambassador said, seeing the hostile intent. “This is Sparta!” shouted Leonidas as he kicked the man into a pit. Similarly back in ’92 the State High School league came to northern Minnesota with a similar, reasonable proposal to bow to the forces of reason and warm, fuzzy feelings. “This is Roseau!” was the response, with the authority of a slapshot from the blue line, and the small school with the proud tradition insisted on competing against the biggest schools at the highest levels, going on to win the 2A title in 1999 and again this year, persevering over teams in the field with as much as eight times their enrollment.

In ancient Sparta, young boys were taken from their families at age six and sent to the agoge, to learn fighting and endurance, to develop a love for freedom, self-government and responsibility, and to never retreat or surrender. In Roseau the children start skating even earlier, learning to forecheck, backcheck and keep their egos in check and to never, ever stop skating.

There were two brave, defiant and ultimately glorious campaigns on display this past weekend — I hope you enjoyed and appreciated them both.

Gaming the name

Hey, do you know that professional football game that they play at the end of each season? The one with all the expensive commercials and the all-day pre-game show? The one that sounds like something Clark Kent might use to eat two gallons of Rocky Road ice cream? Yeah, that one.

You may already know that the NFL is like Terry Tate, office linebacker, fresh out of law school, going after people and businesses who use its trademarked name for this game. I learned this more than a decade ago when I was writing an advertising and promotional campaign for a brand of microwave popcorn that was being launched in the U.K. Part of the promotional campaign was that by trying the new snack you’d get a chance to win an expense-paid trip to the U.S. for the … well, the Big Game. We had planned to use the real name of the event, but we were threatened with an “illegal procedure” call so we used the BG alternate wording.

Many other businesses have done the same as they annually promote their snacks, HDTVs, adult beverages and recliners leading up to the “Big Game”. Now the NFL is trying to call “Encroachment” on these sideline retailers by seeking to trademark the Big Game audible as well (HT: The Trademark Blog and Likelihood of Confusion).

It’s kind of reminiscent of those NFL commercials from a year or so ago where players such as Jerome Bettis and Daunte Culpepper would suddenly appear, uniformed, in business meetings or warehouses to penalize people who misused football cliches. If this registration goes through you’ll have uniformed NFL lawyers laying crackback blocks on any sports bar putting “Watch the Big Game here!” on their marquees.

I really can’t see how the NFL is harmed by these enthusiastic but unauthorized efforts; referring to the Big Game doesn’t give anyone the impression that the sale, happy hour or sofa are sanctioned or licensed by the NFL or detract from the allure of the game. If anything it probably just adds to the hoopla that has practically turned that Sunday into a national holiday. (It does kind of make me wonder if the real Santa Claus gets a taste from all those copy-cats in the malls and taped to walls). Certainly this move by the NFL could make things a lot worse.

After all, “The Big Game” has a positive connotation. If forced to be more creative retailers and bars might have to resort to saying “Watch the Great Commercials here!” or “Be sure to stock up on drugs before the Steroid Bowl!” or “Your Lame Game Headquarters!”

Weathering the big game

Bad weather usually isn’t a problem for the Super Bowl since the game is always played either in a dome or in some fabulously, and famously, sunny locale. It’s kind of a special treat for me in the middle of a Minnesota winter — I get to watch football and see some nice weather. This year, however, the weather was so bad that it actually started to affect me the day before the game.

Regular readers know that I was looking forward to watching the game on the new High-Def TV I bought last week. I had everything set up and was just waiting for the DirecTV guy to stop by and swap out my standard dish for the HD; the appointment was for Saturday morning. Well, the “high” temperatures in Minnesota the last couple of days were well-below zero with windchills in the area of -40 F. Can you believe DirecTV wouldn’t send someone out to clamber around on my roof and handle stiff coaxial cables? Wimps. Must be some Texas company handling installation for them.

So, no HD for the SB. Ok, I figured, it’ll be “Old School” — just like, say, last week! The new TV is bigger and has a very nice picture even without the HD feed. Bring on the game! Lo, and behold, I turn the TV on around 4:30 o’clock (I don’t have the patience for a lot of the pre-game hoopla and “analysis”) and it’s pouring rain. Not only is the field wet, but so are the players and … the camera lenses! It was foggy as well, making it look as if the game was being played as a weird dream sequence out of a movie. The play-by-play could have been handled by SpongeBob and Patrick from the Bikini Bottom Bowl. The action itself, through the wet and smeary camera lenses, looked as if it had been recorded on an old VCR — and then dubbed off to the eighth generation before being broadcast. Oh well, at least those famous Super Bowl commercials will be sharp.

Unfortunately, the game wasn’t the only thing watered down this year as the commercial offerings were pretty mediocre overall. There were a couple that were funny enough or somewhat interesting but the majority of them were like Rex Grossman — clumsy and trying-too-hard under the pressure. I liked the one with the animals in a pet store trying to get online with a (real) mouse, though I had trouble remembering later who the advertiser was and what I was supposed to be going online for. The Bud Light “Rock, Paper, Scissors” ad where a guy hits his opponent with a real rock was worth a short, hard laugh that immediately after made me feel a little bad.

The GM ad with the fired robot was too creepy and the Snickers “kiss” commercial was obviously contrived for shock value with a clumsy and embarrassing (there’s Rex again!) effort to be funny at the end. I came in late to the commercial where the guy had the beard comb-over, cut-offs and roller skates and never did figure out who or what was being advertised there. Also in the “almost memorable” category was “Connectile Disfunction” commercial for some wireless card provider, parodying ED commercials. I got so distracted wondering who you’re supposed to call if your hard-drive won’t shut off after four hours that I didn’t notice who the advertiser was.

The Garmin “Maposaurus” ad with the paper map morphing into a giant Godzilla type monster that has to be defeated by a Garmin Power-Ranger-Wannabe was visually interesting, but it reminded me too much of the current AMP commercial where a slacker creative-dude — wired on AMP and short on sleep — sees his wadded up concepts come to life out of the trash can. It’s not good when your commercial makes the viewer think of someone else’s commercial —
and kids, energy drinks are not a substitute for proper rest. I did like the Spokes-Lions for Taco Bell, though I’m about to propose a moratorium on talking animal advertisements as the novelty and quality of these has definitely worn off (abundantly demonstrated by all the other talking animal ads yesterday). From past experience, I expect that Taco Bell will be getting a “cease and desist” from Dreyfus Funds any minute now.

Otherwise, I thought the best commercial was Coke’s makeover of Grand Theft Auto for being funny and creative. I will also give special recognition to Revlon’s Colorist commercial; not because it was particularly well done, but because it roused the Mall Diva (herself a professional Colorist) from her stupor in the corner of the couch. She’s normally quite effervescent but yesterday she pretty much stayed curled up in a little ball until that commercial brought her up snorting and sputtering (almost as good as making tortellini come out of her nose).

The half-time show was okay, and made more interesting by the drama of wondering if one of Prince’s back up dancers (who were wearing “wrist-sweaters”, btw) would slip and go flying off of the wet stage. Prince was in good form and paid a Black History Month homage to previous stars such as Ike & Tina Turner (singing “Proud Mary”) and Jimi Hendrix (“All Along the Watch Tower”) — and then pulling off his “doo-rag” to reveal Little Richard’s hair.

Oh well, at least I can start looking forward to next year’s game. Hopefully the DirecTV installer will find weather to his liking by then.

I need a new sport

Carp, it’s that time of year again. Football is almost over and I need to find something else to do with my Sunday afternoons. Unfortunately, the local basketball squads (college and pro) are unwatchable and the hockey team is always playing late on the West Coast – and none of these are usually on on Sundays anyway.

Maybe I don’t have to watch anything; I can get outside and do stuff. Winter in Minnesota — there’s got to be something I can do.


Yeah, that looks real exciting, and I told that guy not to put his tongue on the ice. (Photo by Jim Gehrz, StarTribune)

Oh — how about cross-country skiing?

Wee, doggies that looks like a lot of fun. Actually, it looks like a lot of work. Pass.

Maybe I could go back to Broomball. Slippery, hard surfaces and people flailing around with clubs in their hands. I don’t remember why I ever quit this game.

Oh, yeah. Now I remember.

Hey, maybe I can take up snowboarding. The Mall Diva has been wanting to try that. Why not?

Oh, that’s right, I’m old enough to know better.

You know, I really don’t like winter all that much anyway. Give me sunshine and warm breezes, or at least the chance to see these on TV. Oh yeah, I know what I want to watch:

Wake me up in May.

A whole team of kicking specialists

With all of our Sunday afternoon activities I missed seeing any of the afternoon football games, so I worked the tv remote pretty hard Sunday night, flipping between the Denver-Oakland game, “The Blitz” on ESPN and the scoreboard show on the NFL Network, trying to catch highlights of the games and “my” fantasy football guys. In the process I saw many views of the University of Miami vs. Florida International University football game.

At least, it started out as a football game. You’ve heard the old joke about going to a professional fight and a hockey game breaking out? This was like watching a football game … and jihad breaking out. Either that or it was group auditions for Riverdance.

You can see for yourself here.

Shock and Aw, Shucks

The 1987 Twins surprised me, and that was hard to do. Since ’82 I’d worked as a scoreboard operator at the Metrodome and had seen some fairly mystical things. Things such as a Dave Kingman foul ball literally getting lost in the roof, catcher Dave Engle forgetting how to throw the ball back to the pitcher, and Mickey Hatcher playing the outfield. The bulging, striped Teflon sky had made the Dome seem like our own surreal patch where we had waited each year for the Great Pumpkin, Godot and blue-chip pitching prospects Jeff Bumgarner and Steve Gasser. None of whom ever arrived.

When ’87 rolled around my passions had expanded to include the future Reverend Mother and we started looking around for a wedding date. October 10 looked to be a pretty safe choice. My wedding to Marjorie wasn’t to be the only astounding miracle in Minnesota that fall, however. The Twins snuck into the playoffs with 85 wins, and my friends kept sneaking out of our afternoon wedding reception to try and catch the score of the Twins/Tigers ALCS game from Detroit. (If McFly had come back from the future and shown up at the church in the De Lorean we wouldn’t have been impressed with the car, but we’d definitely have wanted to know more about those cell phones and Internet thingies he was talking about — and who to put our money on, of course, though we probably still wouldn’t have believed it). I didn’t mind my friends’ absence because they were relaying the scores to me while I was stuck cutting cake and grinning until my ears nearly fell off. My bride and I ended up honeymooning through the rest of the ALCS and the first games of the World Series, but I made it back to my Dome job in time for Game 6.

That ’87 team was the most surprising ever for me — until this year. This year began as if we’d all crammed into the De Lorean for a trip back to the early 80s as the team tried to patch together something that might look respectable from a collection of not-ready-yet youngsters and used-up veterans in the handy four-pack size. The left side of the infield had the look and range of Mount Rushmore, and the “professional hitters” that had been added to the squad were as stiff as the Tin Man stepping out of the whirlpool. The results were about as pretty as the floor of the Twins dugout after a game, the spit-out sunflower seed husks commingling with tobacco juice in fetid puddles. Gross, yes, so you tried not to think about them, though the stench was strong.

Desperate plans are sometimes the best ones, though, so when the decision was made in June to stack the deadwood out of the way and bring in the frisky youngsters things began to look up. Manager Ron Gardenhire installed Nick Punto into the lineup, even though the most noise he’d made in the majors up until that time was the sound of his hamstrings twanging or his bones cracking. Gardy put him out there at third and asked him to try not and sprain anything until he could find a replacement. Then they brought up Jason Bartlett from the minors, the kid who’d been thought to be not assertive enough in spring training, to play shortstop — and barely took him out of the lineup the rest of the season. Suddenly balls that were passing through the left side of the infield like it was the U.S.-Mexico border were being caught and redirected to Canada, or at least toward Canadian first baseman Justin Morneau. Perhaps being able to see more balls thrown at him in the field sharpened Morneau’s eye-hand coordination because right about that time he started smashing balls hither and yon at the plate, while Johann Santana and Francisco Liriano began to compete with each other to find the most humiliating ways to make opposing batters take their seats. Meanwhile the young catcher, Joe Mauer, kept stringing together more hits than sentences and the team won 19 of 20 games — and failed to gain ground on the Tigers and White Sox ahead of them.

Well, we thought that was interesting, and that it bode well for next year, but someone had sent the future by Fed Ex and they were looking for somebody to sign for it. The Twins kept up the pace and gradually started to draw closer to the leaders bit by bit. Of course, they were still too far back to even be considered for a wild card spot with the Chi-town and Detroit, and with former Twin Big Papi in Boston plucking a hair out of Twins GM Terry Ryan’s head with every homerun he hit because the Bosox liked him to go yahhd and didn’t care if he used his glove for a doily. Surely the Twins weren’t even going to get a sniff of either of these Sox for the Wild Card, and yet they kept coming. Somewhere up ahead Jim Leyland and Ozzie Guillen were like Butch and Sundance, squinting back into the distance and asking, “Who are those guys?” who kept chasing them no matter what tricks they played or how they tried to run and hide. Then Torii got hurt, and Radke and Liriano, and each time we thought, “Well, that does it, but it was a great run…and wait until next year.” But nothing seemed to throw the Twins off stride. They kept eating at the difference and the teams ahead of them started to choke, their hands so tightly around their necks that they couldn’t adjust their cups at the plate.

First the Red Sox and then the White Sox fell into the wringer and were hung out to dry, and amazingly the Twins were guaranteed a play-off spot with a week left in the season. Sublime, but still not enough and on the last day of the season they won one last game and then sat with their fans inside the suddenly cozy Metrodome and watched the big color scoreboards as the even more unlikely Royals defeated the Tigers in extra innings, putting the Twins all alone in first place in the AL Central Division for the first time all season, nearly one hour after their regular season had ended.

Now it’s onto the playoffs and the unknown players aren’t so unknown anymore. They’ve got the AL batting champ, the probable Cy Young winner, a serious league MVP candidate, the veteran Gold Glove centerfielder showing new-found power and poise in the clutch and, if there’s any justice, the Manager of the Year. They’ve also got a #2 starter named Boof, a game three starter with a torn labrum and stress fracture in his shoulder and a game four starter who sometimes acts like he’s got a stress fracture of the brain.

I’m not betting against them.

All things are possible

Pardon me if I stay on the subject of sports and metaphysics for one more post, but there are tips of the ball cap to be divvied out here on the day after the Minnesota Twins clinched a play-off spot, despite being 25-33 on June 7 (a date that will live in infamy, and which you’ve already heard about over and over). As much as I believed in faith and hope back when spring training began (and berated Patrick Reusse for writing the team off before camp even opened), these guys stunk in April and May and barely showed a glimmer of hope worthy of saying “wait ’til next year”, let alone any inkling of what was to come. For them to come back from the dead, even winning 19 of 20 games at one point, is a minor (but major league) miracle.

While it has been fun to watch them come together and play with spirit and joy, the experience has been all the more pleasureable because this summer I’ve been able to turn to Batgirl for her take on each game. Spirit and joy are just the starting point for her and her assorted contributors, and they are always taking the extra base when it comes to humor and drama. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve wet my pants. She’s introduced me to the BOD (Boyfriend of the Day), the Doctor (Justin Morneau), Chairman Mauer, El Presidente (Johan Santana), Sweetcheeks (Torii Hunter), Naked Batting Practice (Mike Redmond) and Little Nicky Punto. As much as I want to celebrate the Twins’ accomplishment, today it is only fitting to hand you over to the one who never doubted. Enjoy and savor this moment with her!

Some things I would like to “kick-off”

With one afternoon and three nights of football between Thursday and Monday, and a double-header game on Monday as well, I saw quite a bit of football this past weekend. I saw some great plays, some bad plays — and several things on tv that really got on my nerves. If this keeps up, it’s going to be a long season.

NBC sideline reporter Andrea Kremer: Actually, I like Andrea myself, but someone has got to find out what her makeup stylist has against her. When she was on Thursday night’s game I nearly laughed outloud when I first saw her, but I figured it was just a bad night on somebody’s part. When she showed up looking exactly the same on Sunday night I started to worry. I’m talking hair like a shaved poodle, eyes that looked like they came out of a Mrs. Potato-head kit. And the Mall Diva says your blazer doesn’t have to be the same shade and color as your microphone cover. The way her head seemed to float there I thought somebody had replaced her with a bobblehead. Andrea, you’re smart, you’re sharp, you deserve better. Somebody’s out to get you and you need to find out who it is, fast.

Coors Light cold pack commercials: Okay, I’ve sat in advertising creative brainstorming sessions many times, and this series of commercials strikes me as something that would have been funny the first time for about 30 seconds and then the group would naturally move on to better ideas. How these faux post-game interviews — using clips from real coaches insterspersed with doofuses asking fawning questions about the “product” that oh-so-cleverly “match” what the coach really said — ever got made is beyond me. And by the way, isn’t putting the words “Coors” and “Light” together redundant? The only thing this commercial has going for it is that it didn’t resort to using boobs to sell beer — although based on the guys in the commercial, maybe they did.

Fox’s “vroop” noise: I was watching the Packers-Bears game and I kept hearing this strange electronic farting noise just after each play got underway. At first I was, like, “what the heck was that?” After about 20 minutes, I was saying, “what the HELL is that?” I couldn’t figure out what action the stupid sound was related to, though it obviously was meant to call my attention to something, right? Finally, after taking my eyes off the game for several plays, I discovered that it was a little tab at the top of the screen with down and distance information that would “vroop” as it disappeared. Ok, what is the point of calling my attention to something as it’s going away?

Monday Night Schmoozing: Why does the Monday Night Football production try to turn a football game into the Merv Griffin Show? It was bad enough during the pre-season when they had endless, inane sideline interviews that carried on while several plays went by in the background, but at least then you were only missing sloppy pre-season football by a bunch of guys who weren’t going to make the teams anyway. Last night, however, you’ve got your local team caught up in a tense battle with one of the NFC powers and we’re treated to 15 minutes of the camera focusing on Jamie Foxx and the broadcast team stroking each other — while the game goes on in the background ! Don’t make me turn on my radio!

Big name musical openings: Ok, the very first time Hank Williams, Jr. came out and bawled, “Are you ready for some football?” it was kind of cool, and fit the mood. That was 15 years ago, people. The bloom is off the rose, the gild is off the lily, the skin is off the pig. We already get the Star-Spangled Banner before every game, we don’t need you continuing to run this schtick into the ground, no matter how many stars you add to the band. Bocephus, really, playing fat, drunk and stupid might be a good living, but it’s no way to go through life. Stretch yourself, boy, do some Masterpiece Theatre or something. The worst of it is that now you’re not just copying yourself, you’ve got the other networks doing it too. Yo, NBC, just because you’ve been out of football for a long time it doesn’t mean going back in time makes something original. Having Pink come out for 3 minutes of unintelligble warbling while she trys to keep from falling out of her dress does not enhance my anticipation for the game. Look, I love football. I want to watch football. Football is a great game. It has large men crashing into each other at high speeds. If you like that kind of thing, you’re going to tune in and watch regardless. If you don’t like that kind of thing, a cameo appearance by some tarted-up chanteuse isn’t going to suck you in. Get on with the game!

Wow, so much negativity. There was one thing I really liked, however. It was the commercial with all the pro football players, ex-players and ex-coaches cast as high school football players while the dead, solid, perfect “Spirit in the Sky” song played in the background. I loved that every time it came on. I don’t know what they were advertising exactly, but I loved the commercial.