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A Review of ESPN Films’ 30 For 30 “Charismatic”

October 20, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, Sports

charismaticIn my past blogs, I have written about a couple of my favorite spectator sports, the NFL, and professional wrestling. I have even blogged about my favorite rock band, KISS. I love the action, the excitement, and even the drama.

Trust me. The off the field stuff in the NFL rivals what the so called Creative Team in WWE puts out on both Raw and Smackdown. Drama over the QB controversies, trades, trash talking by players and coaches, and even post game handshakes just give me enough entertainment to enjoy that I almost don’t even NEED to turn on Raw, and put up with Johnny Laryngitis. Trust me. I had more fun watch Gene Simmons and his girlfriend of 28 years, Shannon Tweed getting married, then I did watching poor Jim Ross getting humiliated for the 1000th time.

All this being said, I have yet to blog about my all time favorite sport. It is the sport known as the “Sport of Kings.” I am talking about thoroughbred racing. I am a horse lover. I have been a fan of the sport since I was about 8. The first sports hero, or any hero I ever had was a racehorse named Seattle Slew who won horse racing’s Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes) in 1977, and was undefeated to boot. Just loved him as he was bought for 17,000 by this couple and their partners from Seattle. Back then, 17 grand was very small for a yearling. Seattle Slew went on to be one of the greatest horses ever, both on the track, and at stud.. My all time favorite racehorse is a horse that came along as a three year old the following year in 1978, a horse named Alydar. Unfortunately for him, a horse named Affirmed was born in the same year (1975), and the two met 10 times between their two year old and three year old campaigns, including all three Triple Crown races. Affirmed won 7 , including the Triple Crown, and Alydar won 3. Alydar became the first and only horse, so far, to have finished 2nd in all 3 Triple Crown races. Their head and head battle in the 1978 Belmont is legendary. Since 1978, no horse since Affirmed has yet won horse racing’s Triple Crown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apBIGFWMFr0

This leads me to the subject of this blog. Yesterday, ESPN FILMS debuted their new film, an hour long documentary called “Charismatic, ” directed by Steve Michaels. Michaels is the son of sportscaster Al Michaels (known famously for the “Do you believe in miracles??” “Yes!” lines at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics when the US Hockey Team beat Russia.). The story covers the comeback of the late jockey, Chris Antley who spent 1998 in drug rehab, and a horse named Charismatic, who despite being trained by one of the best trainers in the business, D. Wayne Lukas, and owned by the late Bob and Beverly Lukas who were two of the most prominent owners in racing at that time was
described as fat and lazy. The horse was so mediocre on the track, that a couple of months before the 1999 Derby, he was put in claiming races. Former Jockey great and friend Gary Stevens, and two of Lukas’ assistants at the time, and Antley’s dad, and his then agent tell the story of the unlikely pairing of jockey and horse, and how Antley and Charismatic took the racing world by storm and won the 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, only to lose the Belmont where Charismatic broke down, and Antley saved the horse’s life.

I thought the documentary was very well done, and very touching. I nearly cried a few times. It starts where former jockey Gary Stevens talks about Chris Antley’s demons getting to him as he became a very successful jockey. A narrator also highlights some of Chris Antley’s big races, one being his first Derby win on Strike the Gold in 1991 (my personal favorite Derby). The pressures of being in the racing business is brought up, and it is very tough for a young jockey like Antley who showed brilliance as a rider. Unfortunately, according to his parents, and Stevens, Antley caved into his demons. First Antley was suspended, but then folks didn’t trust him, and he wound up in rehab. His mom said he wanted to stay there as he felt he wasn’t being judged.

His dad discusses how when Antley came out that Antley’s weight ballooned to 147 pounds. Despite his mom’s trepidation, Antley lost the weight, and went back to races. In the meantime, the documentary covers Charismatic’s issues. The film goes into how good a horseman Wayne Lukas was via interviews with his assistants. The films goes into how the horse was fat and lazy and didn’t show much, until Charismatic ran in claiming races. Charismatic’s run in the Santa Anita is shown, and his win in the Lexington is show with the great Jerry Bailey up. The film then discusses how a lot of people thought the horse was a fluke, and how he had different riders on him, and only won 3 of 14 starts. The documentary revealed that people didn’t think Lukas could get a top jockey like Chris McCarron to commit to the horse.

In the meantime, Chris Antley was building up his business. He was getting former clients to trust him again, and his former clients were trusting that he would show up for his mounts. The film talks about his desire to be in the Kentucky as he said that in his last experience, he was “messed up.” Antley was approached to ride Charismatic and jumped at the chance. Gary Stevens reveals that Antley took the red eye from California to ride in the Derby. Antley told Stevens he was going to win. Stevens said “Yeah right. Good luck.”

Well, when the gates opened on that first Saturday in May of 1999, and the horses got to the top of that long stretch at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, Charismatic made his one big move from mid pack, and had a slight neck and neck battle with Cat Thief (also trained by Lukas), and wound up (holding off a hard charging Menefee) with the blanket of roses. Charismatic’s odds were 30-1. Two weeks later in the Preakness, there were still non believers as Charismatic went off at odds of 8-1. Well, the horse won the Preakness even easier than he won the Derby. The horse and his jockey had developed a following,and it was on to the Belmont.

The document did a good job covering the high pressure atmosphere that Antley faced going into the Belmont Stakes. The race is run at Belmont Park, in Elmont, NY out on Long Island. New York is a very tough place as far as being a celebrity, or being an athlete. If you ask a fan of any of the teams who play in that area be it the NY Yankees, the Mets, the Jets, the Giants, the NY Islanders, the Rangers, etc. If any of those teams LOSE, boy do the NY Media go bananas. Imagine how it must be for a jockey like Chris Antley who just came out of drug rehab the year prior who is going to ride a horse going for the Triple Crown. The three weeks of pressure had to be hard on him. Chris’ psyche was a concern for trainer Wayne Lukas who was concerned that Antley was not focused. Lukas was thinking of a jockey change, and asked the Lewises who owned Charismatic about the idea of a jockey change. Bob Lewis, ever the standup guy, wanted to stick with Antley. There was news going around that Antley was missing appearances, and may have relapsed. Antley denied he had relapsed and said he was sick and was taking cough syrup. Gary Stevens and Antley’s agent were thinking that it was possible that Antley had relapsed. Lukas got a report that the night before, Chris Antley had been partying. It was a concern to Lukas, but he didn’t make the jockey change.

Well, now we are at the Belmont Stakes. Champion trainer Bob Baffert had entered the top 3 year old filly that year, Silverbulletday in the race. When the gates opened, surprisingly, Silverbulletday went to the front, and took the lead. What was even more surprising, and to the dismay of Wayne Lukas, and his assistants, Chris Antley took up the chase. Charismatic’s usual style of running was settling around mid pack or so, and then he would make a huge run at the end. The pace got really fast, and in mid stretch, Charismatic took the lead for a brief moment, but two horses went by him, Lemon Drop Kid, and Vision and Verse. Lemon Drop Kid would wind up being the winner by a head over the long shot “Verse,” and Charismatic’s dream of a Triple Crown went down the tubes.

However, that was not the end. Charismatic had broken down around the 8th pole, and after the race, Chris Antley pulled him up right away. Dr. Larry Bramlage, a top veterinarian said that Antley had saved the horse. If Antley had not pulled the horse up when he did, the horse would have had to have been euthanized as a lot of times, the bone would have pierced the skin, and the vets would not have been able to get antibiotics to the area due to lack of circulation. However, according to the documentary, there were some, according to Lukas’ assistants who felt it was the way Antley rode the horse that caused Charismatic’s injury. Wayne Lukas to this day feels that Antley’s ride caused the horse to break down. The theory behind this is that instead of riding the horse the way the horse usually runs (stalking the pace and then making the big run at the end), Antley got the horse in a speed duel with Silverbulletday, and that caused the breakdown. After the race, Antley was very distraught. Eventually, he would continue to ride top horses such as River Keen per the documentary.

However, due to a knee injury, and his desire to be married and have a family, and some hard feelings about Charismatic, Chris Antley retired in March 2000. He and his wife (she appears in the documentary) have a daughter together. Sadly, according to his wife, his demons seem to take over. Tragically, on December 2, 2000, Chris Antley is found all bloodied up. The firemen tried to revive him, but it is no use. Antley was dead. At first, police thought it was a homicide, but further investigation revealed it was a drug overdose. Gary Stevens then talks about how he still misses him.

My thoughts: I thought this was a very well done documentary. Watching all the footage brought back a lot of memories, and a lot of sadness. I hate seeing a talented guy like Chris Antley throw his life away due to drugs. From watching the film, it is quite obvious that he was a young man who effected a lot of people. He seemed to be a fun guy. I guess the trappings of fame hits people differently. I know fellow horse fans who love Charismatic. From watching the documentary, one can see why. For me, this triple crown series is a bit more sad for me when I think about it. Eight days after Charismatic’s Preakness triumph, WWE wrestler Owen Hart died tragically in that accident at Over the Edge.

As for why Charismatic broke down, let me start with Wayne Lukas. I could write a blog about my disdain for Lukas. In a nutshell, I admit he is an awesome trainer. The guy has had a lot of success as a trainer. As the documentary said, he trained ten winners of Triple Crown races. He has trained a ton of champions. However, the guy is just one of the most arrogant people in the sport. I find him to be callous. He treats horse racing like a business. Quite a few of his horses break down on him. Let’s put it this way. If you look at his track record, there is a reason he rarely had a horse that he started training as a 2 year old, that raced past 3. I mean, for Wayne Lukas to put the blame for Charismatic’s breakdown on Antley is just ludicrous. I mean, the horse took a bad step. Period. The break down was going to happen. Should Chris have ridden the horse like the horse normally runs? Yes. However, Chris’ ignoring instructions had nothing to do with the break down. You should be thanking Chris, and not condemning the guy.

Overall, I totally recommend this documentary. Jockeys, heck, everyone who works in the racing industry, are under incredible stress and strain to perform at their best. They are very much like top NFL players, NBA players, etc in that they have to answer to tough bosses, and have to constantly perform at a high level. The film shows the ups and downs of the sport of racing. However, and this is what is at the heart of the film, the film shows that what is so wonderful about the Sport of Kings is that even the underdog can triumph, and touch people’s hearts.

Chris Antley aboard Strike the Gold in the 1991 Kentucky Derby (Pink silks)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATgn_HEGVq0&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLC829330486A2A22B

Chris Antley aboard Charismatic in the 1999 Kentucky Derby (Green and Yellow Silks)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=LnD5jN03s40

Chris Antley aboard Charismatic in the 1999 Preakness Derby (Green and Yellow Silks)
(at 6:45 mark)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ1qY3nEuLc&feature=related

Chris Antley aboard Charismatic in the 1999 Belmont Stakes (Green and Yellow Silks)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlB_N1DrwoI

Dr. Larry Bramlage and Chris Antley discussing the Belmont Aftermath

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ddAvRGfm4Q&feature=related

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

ESPN Films 30 For 30: Charismatic DVD

Hank Williams, Jr/ESPN Controversy: Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Consequences

October 10, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, News & Politics, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Hank Williams Jr. MNFCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.- Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution

As the large majority of Americans know, or SHOULD know, and as most people in other developed countries know, the above mentioned statement is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It is the first of the the first ten amendments of the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. As it states, United States citizens have a right to belong to any religion they want to. In other words, the US government can not establish a state religion. Americans can get together peacefully, and more importantly, have the FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

Freedom of speech is one of the greatest attributes of being an American. You are allowed to speak your mind about anything. I am allowed to write this blog without government censorship. It is absolutely wonderful. However, what needs to be understood is that just because one has freedom of speech, one is not absolved of responsibility for one’s speech. If you say something, you have to own it, and take responsibility if what you say gets you in hot water, especially if you are a celebrity, and you are associated with a large corporation.

The latest celebrity to get himself in some rather hot political water is Hank Williams, Jr. Most NFL fans who have watched “Monday Night Football” over the past two decades are quite familiar with his “All Our Rowdy Friends” song that kicks off the “MNF” broadcast, with it’s famous chorus, “Are you ready for some football….a Monday Night Party………” Well, on Monday morning, October 3, 2011, Hank Williams, Jr, who is an ultra conservative, went on the Fox News show, “Fox and Friends.” He , unprompted , was talking about President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner going golfing togethers, and stated, “It’d be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu.” He then was asked to clarify , and said that they (meaning Obama and Biden ) “were the enemy.” Well, ESPN yanked his “All Our Rowdy Friends” intro from that night’s “MNF’s” showing of the Indianapolis Colts vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

ESPN made the following statement: “While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.” Hank William’s made a statement on Monday night via his publicist with the following: “Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me — how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president.” Williams made an apology again on Tuesday with the following: “The thought of the leaders of both parties jukin and high fiven on a golf course, while so many families are struggling to get by simply made me boil over and make a dumb statement,” Williams wrote on Facebook and his website. “I am very sorry if it offended anyone.”

Now, there is, of course the debate of whether ESPN did the right thing, and the issue of censorship. There were quite a few people on the conservative side saying ESPN censored Williams. What I found interesting about that is that these are the same people who preach responsibility. These are probably some of the same people who slammed the Dixie Chicks for expressing THEIR free speech rights. Of course, there were people on the liberal side saying that ESPN did the right thing because Williams criticized Obama, and compared him to Hitler. Well, morons called George W. Bush “Hitler” also. No one should compare anyone to Hitler, but that is not the point I am trying to make right now (more later).

ESPN is a business. They are a very large business, and they happen to be 80% owned by Disney. Disney has a corporate, and a certain public image to keep. I don’t care about one’s politics, but it does not take a genius to figure out that if a celebrity, or anyone working for a conglomerate like ESPN says something so controversial as what Williams said, or says something that ESPN or any huge corporation disapproves of, ESPN has every right to disassociate themselves with said celebrity. Does Hank Williams have a right to say what he wants? Yes. It is in the Constitution. However, he is not free from responsibility for what he says. Hank is not being censored. ESPN is not censoring him. They are not stifling free speech.

ESPN fired Hank Williams, Jr on Thursday, October 5th, and released the following statement, “We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr.,” ESPN said in a statement. “We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”‬‬ However, Mr. Williams claims he “quit” and said the following on his website, “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.” — Hank Williams Jr

Well, I see a couple of things going on here. It seems to me that Mr. Williams does not fully understand the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech. He seems to think that he can say what he wants, which is true under the First Amendment, and just because of that fact, he should not receive repercussions for the words that come out of his mouth. After all, he is a celebrity, and he shouldn’t have to follow any rules. As WWE wrestler Edge once said, “Wrong. Wrong. Wrong Wrong Wrong WRONG!!!!” People who are saying Williams is being censored are also having a hard time with the following concept: Freedom of speech does NOT mean freedom from responsibility for what comes out of your mouth. If you say it, own it. If you get bad backlash, then you have to take responsibility. Hank Williams, Jr’s comparing Obama to Hitler is something that would likely upset ESPN’s corporate culture. ESPN is NOT the Federal Government.. ESPN is a private company that is allowed to hire or fire anyone it wants.

Some time in the mid-1960s or so, Beatle member John Lennon made a statement to the effect of “The Beatles were more popular/bigger than Jesus Christ.” The Beatles suffered a huge backlash. People destroyed their records. There were protests. Beatles records were burned. Now, did Lennon mean the Beatles LITERALLY were bigger that Jesus? No. He meant it as a metaphor, but people got upset, and he and the band suffered a back lash. Did the government come in and censor them? No. The Dixie Chicks suffered a terrible backlash from fans and such for their anti Bush statements.

Sports personalities like Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, and Al Campanis have lost jobs because of racially charged statements. The rock band KISS was removed from a Michael Jackson Tribute show due to take place in October, 2011 because a couple of years ago when Jackson died, Bassist Gene Simmons made some silly remark calling Jackson a perv and a molester. Well, KISS was supposed to be featured on some Michael Jackson tribute show, and because the Jackson Estate or the promoters found out about Simmons’ statement, they removed KISS from the show.

The point is, just because Hank Williams has a right to say whatever he wants, and he DOES, he is not free from any consequences. Besides, I loved how he said “All my rowdy friends are out of here.” Seriously, Hank? How much of an ego does he have to have to think that millions and millions of people are going to stop watching Monday Night Football just because ESPN yanked his stupid little song that takes 2 minutes? Sure, there will be those who don’t understand how the First Amendment, and those who are Obama haters who will follow suit and will stop watching Monday Night Football because of ESPN’s firing Williams, but people are going to continue to watch Monday Night Football regardless. I am just amazed at his audacity, and his failure to understand that the First Amendment applies to the Government in that the Federal Government can not censor free speech, NOT a company like ESPN. It is not a hard concept to grasp.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

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ESPN Catching Hell Review & My Thoughts On The “Bartman Play”

September 29, 2011 By: Category: Entertainment, Major League Baseball, Sports

Steve BartmanOn Tuesday, September 27th, ESPN Films debuted director Alex Gibney’s documentary, “Catching Hell” as part of their excellent “30 for 30″ film series. Before I continue with this blog, I want to say that I have lots of beefs with ESPN in general, but this “30 for 30″ series of documentaries is one thing they do very well, producing great films about such subjects as The University of Miami and their controversial reputation, Southern Methodist University getting the Death Penalty from the NCAA and the aftermath, and about Ricky Williams, and many others. “30 for 30″ is a great film series I do admit.

That being said, “Catching Hell” is about one of the most infamous scapegoats of all of sports, a young Cubs fan named Steve Bartman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was Game Six in the 2003 NLCS at Wrigley Field between the visiting Florida Marlins and the Chicago Cubs. Now, before I go further, the Chicago Cubs had not won the World Series since 1908, and were considered “cursed,” when in 1945, Chicago tavern owner Billy Sianiswas was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the Tigers because he had his Billy goat with him, and Sianiswas said because of that, he cursed the Cubs and the Cubs would never win the World Series ever, which they haven’t.

The 2003 season for the Cubs, was a magical season, and fans were very excited to see their “lovable losers” on the precipice of a World Series appearance. Pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were having great seasons. Sammy Sosa hit for 40 homers that regular season. The Cubs had a great post season, and here they were, on the brink of an appearance in the World Series, and the following occurs: As I said previously, it was Game Six in the 2003 NLCS at Wrigley Field, the Florida Marlins are down 3-0 to the Cubs, and down 3 games to 2 in the Series, and were five outs away from going back to Florida for their off season. Marlins’ second baseman Luis Castillo comes to the plate, and eventually hits one of the most notorious foul balls in MLB history.

As most people know, several fans reached out for the ball as Moises Alou coming in from right field tried to make the catch, but could not because the ball was deflected by a fan. Alou then had a Fred Sanford like hissy fit, and was very irate. Pitcher Mark Prior was upset, and the Cubs wanted “Fan interference” called. The umpires refused because they ruled that the ball crossed the plane and was not in the field of play. Thanks to the TV producers replaying the incident over and over, it was eventually revealed that the fan who deflected the ball was a Cubs fan named Steve Bartman.

I think everyone knows by now what happened next. I have seen collapses in sports (Dolphins/Jets on Monday Night Football in 2000 comes to mind), but this one was crazy. Mark Pryor walks Castillo on a wild pitch. Ivan Rodriquez hits an RBI single, and the score is now 3-1. What happens next is very baffling. Cubs SS Alex Gonzalez misfields a ball , which would have been a sure fire double play which would have gotten the Cubs out of the inning. Derek Lee doubled, and Pryor was done for the night. I won’t go through everything, but a total of 8 runs scored, and even Sammy Sosa screwed up on a defensive play as well during this fiasco. Cubs eventually lost Game 7 even though they lead 5-3 at one point. Marlins went on to beat the Yankees 4 games to 2.

As for Steve Bartman, a lifelong Cubs fan, his life was destroyed. Fans outside the stadium eventually found out who he was thanks to a guy with a TV on his head , and the TV producers repeatedly showing the incident over and over. They started chanted ***hole, and then the chant permeated through the stadium. He had to be removed from his seat, and put in a room to be shown what he did, as he was sitting there all game with earphones listening to the broadcast. The media put out his home and work address, and he is now pretty much a recluse, all because he did what MOST FANS would do.

The movie itself was pretty well done. The director Alex Gibney, who is from Boston, tries to use two incidents of scapegoating, and try to show some correlation. At least, that is how I saw it. The large majority of the piece did discuss the Bart incident, but he tried to also tie in the infamous Bill Buckner incident also. As most sports fans know, in the 1986 World Series, Bill Buckner was the scapegoat for Boston fans when he mishandled a ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson of the Mets. I think he did get his point across somewhat. The Unitarian Minister’s explanation was very good when she talked about how back in Biblical times, the Priest would have a goat, and the people would put their sins on the goat, and then the goat would be taken away, or in some cases, the goat would be thrown off the cliff.

As fans, and by the way, fan is short for fanatic, we sometimes get so into our love for our team, athlete, wrestler, etc, that sometimes we get blinded, and rational thinking goes out the window. I think Gibney’s bringing up Buckner is that Boston fans wanted that Curse of the Bambino off their backs so badly , and that they were so mad that the Sox lost (especially to a New York team at that), that they could not think straight, and that someone had to take the blame, and that someone was Buckner. They didn’t care that before the play , the pitcher had given up some singles, and I think a run came in. They didn’t care that Buckner had bad knees and the manager should have known better than to keep him in there. They didn’t care there was a game 7 and the Red Sox should have tried to win that. All they could think of is that their Sox lost and it was Buckner’s fault.

Gibney tries to tie Buckner’s story and Bartman’s story together. Both have a lot in common, I admit. Both incidents involved “cursed” franchises. Both incidents happened late in game sixes of series. Both guys were blamed so badly that they had to put themselves in exile. Bill Buckner and his family moved out of Massachusetts.Steve Bartman continues to live in seclusion in the Chicago area. Buckner played for both franchises. The ACLS, and the NCLS of 2003 featured both “cursed” franchises, Boston Red Sox and Cubs. In both of those series, the Red Sox would lose to the dreaded New York Yankees on a home run in an infamous game where star pitcher Pedro Martinez may have been left in too long, and reliever Tim Wakefield gave up the winning home run to Aaron Boone of the Yankees, and once again be haunted by the Yankees, and the Cubs would also be haunted by the Marlins in the aforementioned Bartman incident game.

I thought though that it seemed like it was a bit too much like a documentary. The director was in it too much. I thought someone else should have narrated it. I understood why he brought up Buckner , and the Red Sox, and I know the guy was from Boston, but if Mr. Gibney was going to make a documentary about Bartman, he should keep it about Bartman. He could mention Buckner in passing as another example, but I really didn’t need about 30 minutes of the film dedicated to Buckner. The lack of an interview with Steve Bartman, although considering the circumstances it is understandable, hurt the product. I certainly understand though.

What I DID like was that the director talked to people who were sitting in the surrounding seats, and get the Bartman story from their perspective. I liked hearing their side of the story how they were also going for the ball. The director also showed different footage from other video cameras of the incident from different angles. You also saw his seat. They show from a different angle how the ***hole chant got into the stadium, and the whole scene became a lynch mob. The TV producers did confess that they may have shown it too much.

They felt that it was such an important play. The director also pointed out that they didn’t repeatedly show Alex Gonzalez’ screw up over and over. The movie also went into how Cubs fans are so used to the team losing that they were waiting for something to go wrong, as that night they were very tense. When Bernie Mac sang “Take me out to the ball game, ” he sang “Root root root for the Champions” or something like that…..that is when , according to the documentary, that fans started thinking that they were doomed. I enjoyed how they got different perspectives on what Bartman did. I loved how they showed his little league team who stood up for him. Overall though, I think it was a good study on human behavior, and well worth watching the repeats on ESPN or any of the ESPN affiliates

I am going to end this by giving my opinion on the Steve Bartman incident. I remember when it happened, and watching the documentary just reinforced my beliefs, so here it goes:

I thought the whole Steve Bartman incident, and especially the overreaction to it was ridiculous, and “Catching Hell” did nothing to change my mind. In fact, all the film did was reinforce my beliefs. I mean this guy’s life was destroyed. The Chicago papers put his name and his home and work addresses out in public. The guy got death threats. When he was being escorted down the hallways, some idiot bully took his sweatjacket off his head, and said that he wanted everyone to know who the person was who cost the Cubs a trip to the World Series. My beliefs then as they are now is that I was embarrassed as an MLB fan and as an American.

How can people treat a human being like this? I mean, over a baseball game? Good Lord. People better get their priorities straight. There was no excuse to ruin the guy’s life. Bob Costas really irked me on the film saying Bartman made “a mistake.” What mistake? Going for a ball like some of the OTHER FANS were doing? The TV producers should be ashamed. That “play” wasn’t so important as they thought. The Alex Gonzalez play was much more important. It was a shame that Bartman had to apologize when it should be that then idiot Governor Blogavich who said “If Steve Bartman commits a crime , he won’t get a pardon from this governor.” and those idiot Chicago Cubs fans who should apologize to Bartman. Funny that Blogavich is learning about what a bitch Karma can be. I just thought Bartman didn’t deserve that horrible treatment he got, and still don’t.

As ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd says, “Let’s take the emotion out of it, and calm down.” Let’s examine what actually happened in the game after the incident, and even during the incident, and maybe get this guy off the hook, shall we?

1. The wind, other fans going after the ball, and Moises Alou.

One thing the movie brought up was that as Castillo’s foul ball was going towards the stands and headed down into the stands was that the wind was blowing the ball back towards the infield. The movie also brought up that Alou was not the greatest fielder on the planet. If you watch the Incident, you can see quite a few other fans going for the ball. People who blame the loss solely on Bartman evidently ignore the other fans going for the ball. There was a part in the movie were several circles were drawn around people going for that ball. Moises Alou wasn’t all that as a fielder that I remember. The wind could have blown the ball past Alou’s glove, even IF Bartman had pulled back. Let’s supposed that Bartman pulled back, and Alou does NOT catch the ball. I just what happened next was going to happen. No one told Alou to lose his temper. Can’t blame Bartman. I wonder why the other fans weren’t blamed in this as well. Can’t blame one and not the others. I mean, Bartman can’t be blamed for the wind. He can’t be blamed for the others going after the ball. It is easy to act like God Almighty and tell a fan what they are supposed to do. Until you are in that situation, you do not know what you would do.

2. Mark Prior’s meltdown.

After the incident, Mark Prior started a meltdown which led to him walking Castillo with a wild pitch, and a couple of batters later, giving up a double to Derek Lee which got him out of the game. Well, I would like to know how could Bartman be blamed for that? Prior got THAT distracted by Alou’s hissy fit, or whatever that he could not control his pitches? I don’t see how Bartman can be blamed for that.

3. Alex Gonzalez’ misfielding the ball.

If ANYONE should the so called “Goat” in this game, it should be Gonzalez. Let’s see, he gets a routine grounder that he messes up, that would have been a sure fire double play that would have gotten the Cubs out of the inning? Wow. Instead of THIS error being replayed ad nauseum, it is this poor Bartman guy’s going for a ball. Steve Bartman is the cause of this, how?

4. The 8 run explosion in totality.

The Florida Marlins eventually scored 8 runs after the Bartman incident. The Marlins were there to win the game (and the Series). They kept on hitting, and kept on trying, and took advantage of mistakes made by the Cubs. I just think that the Cubs can’t be that mentally weak that they let some fan in the stands distract them that much. If they are that weak, then they deserve to lose. In other words, the CUBS made the mental mistakes, and such, not Steve Bartman.

Therefore, to paraphrase Vincent Kennedy McMahon, circa 1997, “Steve Bartman didn’t screw the Cubs. The Cubs screwed the Cubs.”

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

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Is NFL Head Coaching becoming a Short-Term Gig?

February 08, 2011 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

If Jon Gruden comes back how long will he coach in the NFL?Bring a team a Super Bowl and you are hero for a year. Don’t return and quickly your name pops up everywhere in rumors of leaving, firings, etc. We know how the NHL and NBA work, in that the second a team sinks, booting the coach seems to be easy. We never really saw that as a common practice in the NFL, where a head coach comes in and tries to put a “system” in place, and usually has a few years to see if the team can succeed within it.

We have seen some NFL head coaches like Philadelphia’s Andy Reid, and the recently fired Jeff Fisher from Tennessee that had lasted 10+ years with the same team. Then we have some like Mike Singletary, who seemed to have the Niners growing one year, bad the next, and then he was gone. Coaches in the NFL breed from so many places like college, and all types of coordinating positions on the 32 pro clubs. A hot team can have its coordinators become valuable to lots of teams really quick.

This NFL season gets even trickier in that the league currently has no bargaining agreement with the players union, so everyone is watching dollars and cents. We saw San Francisco bring in Jim Harbaugh as the new head coach, and we saw Jon Fox get a new job already, but the usual huge names like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden not getting many looks. Yes, they are excellent coaches, but with dollars tight does anyone want to give them a big contract only to go into a lock-out? Or do teams just love the new wave of coordinator or young gun college coaches?

No, I don’t have all the facts as to how or why these moves get made, but being a sports fan and a guy who always has his nose in the news, you see more than enough rumors, and hear more of the same old stories of who is going where, who could be drawn to leave and who wants what job. What I did here is give you some names, and the recent things that have been going on as potential rumors etc.

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles: Andy has had tremendous regular season success with the Eagles, and always has them playing near the top of the league. However the city and its desperate wanting of a Super Bowl can have Reid in hot water. Over the past few years you could hear Eagles fans asking for Reid to be let go. His relations with players such as Donovan McNabb, and his recent QB mess with Mike Vick and Kevin Kolb could prove that Reid may be out of ideas, and out of love with this team. With former Eagle coaches like Jon Gruden, Jeff Fisher and Brad Childress roaming around without head jobs, a move could be possible next year if Reid can’t get this team on track. Moves like naming former Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo as new Defensive Coordinator could be the type of thing to doom Reid.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints: A recent leak on ESPN by reporter Ed Werder gave us the scoop that Payton is moving his family to Dallas, Texas. Already the rumblings have started: “Is Payton leaving the Saints for the Cowboys, where he was an assistant in the past?” or “Is he going to be distant from the Saints now?” Well Payton is a good coach and a smart one as well so I think the Saints are in good hands, but now-a-days some owners, like Jerry Jones, are willing to pay anything to get the fans what they want.

Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football: Jon Gruden is still under contract with ESPN this year, so it is safe to assume he won’t be going anywhere this season, but his name is always a hot topic. Why, you may ask? Well Gruden has won a Super Bowl, and has had good success. Plus Gruden is also a good sell as a younger, excitable coach. Being in the Monday Night booth keeps him on top of what is going on in the league, so it is not like he will be stale. Random blogs have him linked to Dallas, Philly and just about any big time college team. He is a certain asset, but his asking price may be way too high, eh hem, Washington.

Jeff Fisher, Free Agent: Fisher had a good run with the Titans, and despite what we first heard about how he was fired in favor of Vince Young, is not all that true. The Titans also have been heard to be looking to trade Young. Fisher is a hard-nosed coach that also seems to always have pretty good relations with his players. Many were buzzing about him being a great Defensive Coordinator candidate, but he will most likely take at least a year off. He seems to be very much on top of the game and his style has not gotten stale. As much as the Titans thought it was time for a change, it may have been needed for Fisher as well.

Some coaches are still hanging on to jobs and we cannot help but wonder for how long. Marvin Lewis is still hanging on in Cincy, but it may have been the surprise run of 2009 that may have saved him for another season. Gary Kubiak continues to get the Texans to play decent football, but they still can’t get a good enough defense on the field to make the playoffs. Yet his good offensive skills keep him on board. And of course, we always have an eye on Eric Mangini, who is always on the chop block.

Than we have the guys who are back in coordinating, like Charlie Weis and Josh McDainels. McDaniels had a very short run as head coach of the Denver Broncos, but shortly after losing that job he took the spot as the Offensive Coordinator of the St. Louis Rams. Weis was the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010 after a 5 year run as head coach for Notre Dame. Instead of looking for a pro spot, he opted for the offensive coordinator spot at the University of Florida. How long before he opines for a head job will most likely be determined by his success.

The off-season in the NFL is always loaded with fun rumors, exciting changes and new surroundings, so stick around because before you know it, you will have football on your lips again.

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected].

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Inside The Wheelhouse: Are we writing off Peyton Manning?

February 15, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Peyton Manning CommercialThe media loves stories. They just love to sink their teeth into something, make it sound so much sweeter and run with it. As with anything that comes out of the Super Bowl you need to have that story that can lead you into the 2010 season.

The New Orleans Saints shock the world, rebuild and become world champs…check! Will Brett Favre return in 2010…check! Will we have football in 2011…check! Now the story that is making me scratch my head now is the story the media has developing for the Super Bowl XLIV runner-ups, the Indianapolis Colts.

Now the media needed to develop something for the Indianapolis Colts because the day after the Super Bowl…scratch that, HOURS after the Super Bowl…scratch that too, MINUTES after the Super Bowl they need to give a story to lead into next season for the Colts. Now I am not an Indianapolis Colts fan, I don’t like them, I don’t hate them but the story the media developed for them going into the offseason made me ask my television if it still had integrity. My television of course did not respond.

Moments after the Super Bowl, I tuned into the great four letter network located in Connecticut. The network had a good NFL analyst on who at one time (I can’t believe I’m going to write this) lead his team to a Super Bowl Championship. His name is Trent Dilfer.

The story he brought up that the media would run with the next day on the Indianapolis Colts is something weeks prior we would never even consider. He asked: “Could Peyton Manning win the big one again?” I feel like I have heard that questions asked before…hmmm…let me go back a couple years back prior to the Super Bowl that pitted the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears and people were asking the same exact thing. How would this game affect the legacy of Peyton Manning?

Peyton Manning and the Colts ended up winning the Super Bowl. Peyton’s quest was complete as he could officially say he could win “the big one.” So now we are asking ourselves whether or not the only 4-time NFL MVP can make it back to the Super Bowl and win another Championship. We are asking ourselves now whether or not Peyton’s legacy will be remembered for the 4 NFL Championships or not being able to rack in massive amount of Vince Lombardi trophies.

I get it. The NFL analysts love to compare Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. They are the two top Quarterbacks in the NFL…wait a second, now all of a sudden people are putting Drew Brees into that exact same category. Remember when Drew Brees was fighting for his job in San Diego and people were questioning what was next for Brees? Now all of a sudden (and rightfully so) Drew Brees popularity is higher then that of President Obama following his inauguration. Republicans should run Brees in 2012.

My personal opinion is Peyton Manning is one of the best Quarterbacks of all-time, if not the best. Can you ever remember a Quarterback who could truly affect the performance of his team every Sunday? Peyton has carried that franchise on his back since he was drafted. He made receivers like Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Dallas Clark into great players; one of the reasons why Manning is such a good player, he makes the players around him better, similar to that of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

So here we are again trying to develop some sort of pressure upon the shoulders of the best Quarterback/player in the NFL today. Screw asking ourselves whether or not Peyton can win a Championship…he’s already done that! We should now ask ourselves whether or not we will see #18 on the field on Super Bowl Sunday ever again. Let’s create some pressure so we keep an eye on Peyton throughout the rest of his amazing, first ballot hall-of-famer career.

Will we see #18 back on the field on Super Bowl Sunday? Who knows, I’m a Green Bay Packers fan that was convinced in 1998 after losing to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl that Favre would be back in a Super Bowl someday. As we know, that has never happened since. One never knows what will happen to a career but I wouldn’t bet against Peyton Manning.

To try and define someone’s career on whether or not they can reach the pinnacle of their sports is something we all understand. To be the man, you must beat the man. Peyton has climbed that mountain before and it will have it struggles, but to ask ourselves whether or not someone can do it again is a little much. The sports media needs to look at the negative of a situation and create an obstacle for a team or an athlete.

Manning and the Colts will be motivated going into 2010, it’s a young team, a different version of the Super Bowl Championship team and I’m not going to put money down on saying Manning will never get there again. When it’s all said and done Manning will probably hold just about every Quarterback record, making him statistically the greatest of all-time. The argument of who is the greatest is another story but when it comes to reaching that championship pinnacle again how could you bet against a 4-time NFL MVP, the only one in the history of the NFL?

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

You can visit The Wheelhouse’s official website where you can download “high quality” shows and see all the latest happenings with the show at www.wheelhouseradio.com

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Inside The Wheelhouse: ONLY…bikini soccer

January 07, 2010 By: Category: Entertainment, Sports

Bikini SoccerThat is the only – the ONLY – reason for any TV channel anywhere to promote a 3D technology! That’s it. Point blank.

Why on Oprah’s green earth would we find it necessary for the likes of ESPN to begin programming in 3D? Do we really need to see Chris Berman’s disturbing jowles and equally disturbing pinky ring jumping through my flat screen while he bellows yet another creative (like a second grader) tie in to an athletes name? Really? That’s what’s been missing? We are all supposed to make that jump with you from HD to 3D?

No. Hell no.

Colin Cowherd taking a gay-punch from an ancient play-by-play announcer. Ooooohhhh…amazing. The complete transformation Of Suzy Kolber to woman-hood….to be fair: 3D may be the ONLY way to truly know those truths…but I digress…

Ladies Bikini Soccer. That is it! Perhaps followed by an hour of bikini/lingerie dodgeball…but until that progrming becomes available, save your damn money and buy an opinion or two for Mike & Mike!!

The last thing I need is basketball with Stuart Scott’s good eye shooting off my screen towards the kitchen and the other actually stating at my livingroom wall.

Only Erin Andrews anchoring ESPN “The Bikini Channel” can make that technology work…or that crazy hot track and field chick…

Love you all. Hard.

Bower is the co-host for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at http://www.wheelhouseradio.wordpress.com

You can visit The Wheelhouse’s official website where you can download “high quality” shows & see all the latest happenings with the show at http://wheelhouseradio.wordpress.com.

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Have A Sporty Halloween

October 26, 2009 By: Category: Halloween, Sports

Brady QuinnAh, Halloween. Not many other holidays can simultaneously conjure up the fun of getting free candy, as well as the idea that a crazed man in a William Shatner mask may hack you to pieces if you’re caught in the act of pre-marital coitus. Funny how these two traditions seem to go together.

Speaking of traditions, this brings me to my personal favorite tradition: the clever costume. Nothing gets a guy noticed like thinking outside the box and catching the eyes of all the other party-goers. I remember being 12 years old and dressing as “The Unabomber”, and nobody in my neighborhood seemed to mind. Man, things were so simple in 1996. I can recall a friend, and I use that word with concern, coming to a party with a bald skull cap and a coat hanger and….well, for the sake of keeping this column PG, as well as respecting Eric Gargiulo’s desire to have a sanitized web site, let’s just say that said costume drew either guffaws of unbelieving laughter or disgusted expressions of shock.

But being that I make sports my main topic, I think now would be a good time to combine the two themes and present some costume suggestions that pertain to the world of sports. After all, what are the odds that somebody else at the party you’re attending will have these same ideas? May as well stand out and be topical.

So here we go.

PLAXICO BURRESS
Needs: Giants jersey, jeans/slacks with giant hole in the right thigh, fake wound for exposed flesh on said portion of thigh.
Additional mannerisms: Try to push off of people if they get too close for comfort.

MANNY RAMIREZ
Needs: Dodgers jersey (while it’s still accurate), dreadlocks, do-rag, pants too baggy for the occasion
Additional mannerisms: If you’ve ever faked an illness to leave school guy, conjure up how disoriented you had to be to be convincing. Also, proclaim your loyalty to the other party-goers and then duck out without telling anyone. See if you still have friends the next day.

BRADY QUINN
Needs:
Browns jersey, headset, clipboard
Additional mannerisms: Look bored, sit down a lot. Lament openly where your life is headed.

CHAD OCHO CINCO
Needs:
Bengals jersey, whatever attention getting device you can find to apply to yourself.
Additional mannerisms: Just bother everyone in sight. Don’t relent. DON’T!

MICHAEL PHELPS
Needs:
Swim trunks, fake gold medals, box of Froot Loops, something vaguely resembling a bong, but not an actual bong (no sense in going to jail for the sake of a funny costume)
Additional mannerisms: Remember when you were a kid when you and your friends use to make fun of retards by mimicking their faces? Try and remember how you did that.

TIM TEBOW
Needs:
Florida Gators jersey, stigmata wounds, ESPN sponsorship patches (optional)
Additional mannerisms: Be really nice and cool, but bring 12-15 people with you to endlessly speak about how great you are. The trick is the get the other partiers to hate you, even though you’ve done nothing wrong.

PETER KING
Needs:
Fat suit, framed photo of Brett Favre, permanent hard-on
Additional mannerisms: This is all you’re going to need.

KIMBO SLICE
Needs:
Big black beard, fighter trunks, swollen eye
Additional mannerisms: Whatever it takes to disappoint anyone that believes in you.

TONY ROMO
Needs:
Cowboys jersey, crap-eating grin, trophy slut (may be additional expense, depending on quality)
Additional mannerisms: Be amazingly charming for the first 3/4 of the night, then screw something up near the end and cry about it. For months.

JOE BUCK
Needs:
Three piece gray suit, librarian glasses, hideous combover.
Additional mannerisms: Act like you’re better than the proceedings. Make sure there’s at least 20-30 seconds between your sentences. Tough as it may be, you also have to show no emotion if something incredible happens. It’s harder than it sounds, so you may want to keep some Zoloft handy.

LAMAR ODOM
Needs:
Lakers jersey, friend who is hairy, dumb, and at least 6’3″
Additonal mannerisms: Assuming your friend has a sense of humor, ask him if he a) wants to go to a party, b) doesn’t mind wearing a dress and c) will answer to “Khloe”.

THE CHANCES OF THE TENNESSEE TITANS
Needs:
Just don’t show up to the party.
Additional mannerisms: Because you don’t exist, bro.

JIM ZORN
Needs:
Redskins polo shirt, slacks, headset, no clipboard (privileges suspended)
Additional mannerisms: It’s risky, but allow one friend to run you over with a car or four wheeler before attending the party. This gives the impression that someone threw you under the bus.

JOBA CHAMBERLAIN
Needs:
Yankees jersey, insect bites on face
Additional mannerisms: Successfully eat a potato chip? Tie your shoe without fail? Take a piss without making a mess? Celebrate, dude! It’s what you do!

ANDY REID
Needs:
Stomach padding, Eagles polo shirt, glasses, headset
Additional mannerisms: A look of utter confusion. If you’re an Eagles fan, remember how dumbfounded you were when they lost to Oakland recently? Remember that face! That’s the Andy Reid face! Also, cough a lot.

VENUS WILLIAMS, SERENA WILLIAMS, JENNIFER LOPEZ, AND MARC ANTHONY
Needs:
We all know what they look like
Additional mannerisms: And you know what they act like. Just try to name drop “Dan Marino” and “that Zonk-uh guy” to show you care about the current Dolphins team that you proudly own for sporting reasons, and not reasons of glory.

ERIC GARGIULO
Needs:
Tuxedo, microphone, ability to add dignity to glorified jello wrestling
Additional mannerisms: Can you work the phrase “How about some fruit with that cottage cheese?” into everyday conversation? Why aren’t you running CCB then? (Just kidding Eric, please don’t axe me from your site.)

When he isn’t watching WWE, TNA, or his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, Justin Henry can be found writing. It is his passion as well as his goal in life to become a well-regarded (as well as well-paid) columnist or author. He tweets at twitter.com/notoriousjrh and facebooks himself at http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh.

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ZOMBI-ESPN

October 10, 2009 By: Category: Entertainment, Major League Baseball, NFL | NCAA Football, NHL, Sports

ESPN FunnyAfter I left work on Tuesday afternoon, I had two thoughts in mind. One was getting home to see the Minnesota Twins-Detroit Tigers one game playoff, in order to see who would snag the American League Central crown. The other was the movie ‘Zombieland’, which I had watched the previous evening. It was a rather amusing little zom-com (zombie-comedy) about post-Apocalyptic America where four survivors of the zombie plague travel the ravaged landscape, having adventures while dealing with the reality that they, too, may be bitten, and forced to join the undead army.

I smiled at the thought of being like Woody Harrelson’s character, Tallahassee. He was your typical Southern-boy hellion with sunglasses, cowboy hat, and an array of weapons at his disposal that would make the Gotti family drool with envy. With an ice-cold disposition, he slaughtered his way through the hordes of flesh-chompers, all with the goal of finding the one thing that can make him happy: Twinkies.

Well, it’s not like I took the movie seriously.

But I do take my baseball seriously, especially such an important game between two evenly matched teams, with a chance at glory at stake. So as I made it to my truck, and unlocked the driver’s side door, my tunnel vision was set on this game. But just before I could stick my first leg over my seat, something caught my attention.

There was a man down in the parking lot.

Fearing that he was struck by a car, or had a heart attack, I went rushing over to see if he could lend assistance. My heart racing, I rolled him over to make two horrifying discoveries!

He was a zombie! A Brett Favre zombie!

I slowly backed away and begged off, as this hideous man, spewing this viscous and vile liquid, lumbered toward me with a bug-eyed expression across his aged and weathered face.

“Don’t….watch….baseball….watch….ME!” he muttered.

In a panic, I pulled out my safety blade and jammed the razor clean into his forehead! As Zombie Favre fell to the ground, I struggled to catch my breath, all while trying to make sense of the situation. But then he lurched back to life! As he made a move to bite my ankle, I stomped his head into the black top, his cranial innards gushing out across the pavement.

I lurched back toward my truck, not really wanting to let anyone know that I just killed anyone, let alone Brett Favre, the athletic parasite. But I stopped dead in my tracks, just ten feet from my ride. For another zombie stood in front of my driver’s side door!

It was zombie Sidney Crosby!

I only recognized him because 93% of all hockey highlights aired on ESPN are of him. I have a better chance of seeing ESPN hire Rae Carruth as an analyst than I do seeing footage of my beloved Devils on SportsCenter. Crosby was also disheveled looking. What would Gary Bettman think of his unflattering protégé?

Crosby made a move at me, and before I could react, he was decapitated by a football! Favre was still alive and had thrown one at me, but overshot it and nailed hockey’s golden child!

So much for’safe passes’.

I jumped into my truck and drove off, past a staggering Favre, speeding through the parking lot. It was then that I was cut off by an erratically-driven SUV! I screeched to a halt, but it was to my horror and astonishment when I saw who emerged from the vehicle.

Zombie Tank Johnson! Zombie Pacman Jones! Zombie Delonte West! Zombie Plaxico Burress!

And they had guns!

They seemed angry. Angry that I would want to watch a baseball game filled with class, integrity, hard work, and gamesmanship rather than watch ESPN and be bombarded with stories about criminals! I mean, I know controversy sells, but leave me alone!

I backed up my Chevy Blazer and then rammed full speed ahead, mowing down Pacman, making him fumble his guns. As I tried to leave the lot, I realized that there was a whole army blocking my escape! And they were all hideous creatures!

In one group, you had Zombie Terrell Owens, Zombie Chad Ocho Cinco, Zombie Tony Stewart, and just about any annoying and obnoxious spotlight-hog you can imagine!

I was not about to give them the satisfaction of making me pay attention to them, over a tremendous baseball contest.

That’s when Johnson, West, and Burress began shooting! They missed me completely, but they mowed down the cult of look-at-mes! I guess if you’re a crazed athlete with a gun, it doesn’t matter who you shoot. You’re going to be on ESPN anyway.

Before Roger Cossack could provide analysis of what all of this would mean, over the hill came a pack of wild dogs, attacking the gunmen and ripping their zombie limbs apart! I turned and saw Zombie Michael Vick, standing at the south exit, dragging his feet behind them. Then the dogs, after enjoying their meal of criminal zombies, all turned to me.

I may be an Eagles fan who loves the’Wildcat’, but I’m not stupid.

“Why don’t you kill Michael Vick?!” I screamed. “He’s only going to hurt you!”

In a moment of canine lucidity, the dogs seemed to agree, and that’s when they ran down and chewed up their’master’ in the ultimate act of irony. I’m sure Vick wouldn’t mind. It’s part of his culture, you know.

I ran over and grabbed an AK-47 from Tank Johnson’s cache, prepared to see myself out of this jam. I was going to need it, because over the hill came the worst kind of zombies: the zombies that ESPN promotes for being superstars and good people, even though you’re sick of hearing about them!

Zombie Lance Armstrong! BLAM! Knocked off his misshapen bike! I don’t care about cycling, ESPN!

Zombie LeBron James! BANG! Call me when you win something, you overpaid schmuck!

Zombie Tim Tebow! RAT TAT TAT! Don’t worry, I’m sure your judgment will go fast!

Zombie Tiger Woods! KA-BOOM! All that heart you have is splattered on the pavement!

Zombie Erin Andrews…..wait.

How can I kill one of the most beautiful employees in ESPN’s history? The sideline reporter with the amazing body who is the object of desire for millions of horny sports fanboys? Even as a zombie, she’s kind of cute. Can I really bring myself to slice and dice her entrails with bullets?

Then she spoke

“WHAT HAPPENED TO ME WAS WRONG! I JUST WANT MY LIFE BACK! I DON’T WANT TO BE KNOWN AS THE WOMAN WHO WAS TAPED! I WANT MY LIFE BACK! AND I’M GOING TO GO ON EVERY TALK SHOW UNTIL MY LIF—”

BANG! BOOM! BLAM!

If I had martial law and carte blanche, the hypocrites die first.

I surveyed the landscape, realized Favre was still alive, and shot him again. He never seems to go away, now does he?

The police arrived, and it looked like I was in trouble. It may have been self defense, but I was responsible for the deaths of many. Two officers stepped out of their squad car, and the driving cop had his gun drawn.

“Hands where I can see them!”

As I dropped my assault weapon, I prepared to surrender, when the passenger cop responded to his radio

“Yes, Captain?”

“Leave that Henry kid alone. According to the latest ESPN Sports Nation poll, 97% of all fans and viewers would not mind seeing the overhyped and overrated athletes die painful deaths if it ends the media overload.”

The first cop holstered his piece. “You got lucky this time, kid. But I’ll be watching you!”

I smiled. “Speaking of watching, I’d rather be home watching the Twins-Tigers game….”

The second cop smiled also. “Yeah, so would we. Want a ride to Hooters? We’re on our way too.”

So I hopped in the backseat of the squad car, prepared to enjoy what any sensible sports fan would enjoy: great action, competitiveness, hard work, and no bad apples creating controversy just to plug their CD or clothing line. Turned out that it was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever seen in my life. 12 innings. False finishes. Close plays. Players giving their all for a chance to go to the playoffs. It’s no surprise that something that special wasn’t squandered on ESPN.

After all, the game was zombie free.

When he isn’t watching WWE, TNA, or his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, Justin Henry can be found writing. It is his passion as well as his goal in life to become a well-regarded (as well as well-paid) columnist or author. He tweets at twitter.com/notoriousjrh and facebooks himself at http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh.

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Call The Faith Healer! Tebows Down!

September 30, 2009 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

 alt= ESPN, Saturday, September 26, 2009

Anchor: “We have breaking news to report out of Lexington, Kentucky this evening. Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Florida Gators, and the possible second coming of our Lord, has been taken to a nearby medical facility after sustaining a concussion. Again, Tim Tebow, Gators quarterback, and a better man than all of us, has just been taken to a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky after sustaining a concussion in tonight’s game at Commonwealth Stadium. We go live to our stereotypical airhead reporter, who is live at Commonwealth Stadium with the latest. What’s the situation?”

Reporter: “Well, it’s a very somber scene here, as you can imagine. Despite it being after sundown, it appears just a bit darker here in Lexington. A candlelight vigil is taking place here in the parking lot, as thousands of Florida fans are gathered in collective prayer for Tim Tebow, possible son of God.”

Anchor: “I understand we have the footage, is that correct?”

(Video airs of the ambulance with Tim Tebow inside, leaving for the hospital)

Anchor: “Do you have a video of the actual injury?”

Reporter: “We do, but who wants to see that? That’s too upsetting to watch. No one wants to see Tim Tebow, savior of humanity, getting his skull cracked.”

Anchor: “I concur. I’ve seen the video of President Kennedy’s assassination. I watched on September 11 a scant eight years ago when the second plane slammed into the World Trade Center. This sounds, at the very least, just a little bit worse. Hang on, we have our stereotypical Southern football analyst on the line. Sir, what can you tell us about what you saw here this evening?”

Analyst: “Bear with me, please….I….I don’t know…..if I can…..if I-”

Anchor: “I know this is very traumatic, and if you can’t-”

Analyst: “Tim Tebow is a truly wonderful human being! I’ve watched every one of his games since he came to Gainesville and I tell you, I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone more noble.”

Anchor: “I understand your sorrow-”

Analyst: “One time in my playing days, I took a nasty hit and was unconscious for twenty minutes. During my infirmed state, I tell you, I actually talked to God! He was a wonderful man, so benevolent and stately and amazing, and he showed me his Kingdom of Heaven. And let me tell you something, compared to Tim Tebow and his greatness, it was like a hobo showing me his tin can collection!”

Anchor: “I concur. What happened in the actual injury to Tim Tebow, healer of sick and homely children?”

Analyst: “That heathen Taylor Wyndham of Kentucky sacked Tim Tebow, and spiked his head into the knee of Tim Tebow’s lineman, Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert, first of all, should have done a better job of blocking for Tim Tebow, greatest person that has ever lived. Secondly, I fully expect for Gilbert to have his scholarship revoked upon his return to Gainesville. One day, maybe Tim Tebow will forgive him, but the rest of us common folk aren’t as nice and forgiving!”

Anchor: “Which brings us to our poll question on ESPN.com, which is “Who is to blame for Tim Tebow’s injury?”. The choices are Marcus Gilbert, Taylor Wyndham, poor playing surface, and breakdown in divine intervention. We now go back to our reporter on the scene, who is with a drunken Florida fan. What’s the scoop?”

Reporter: “Sir, what can you tell us about what happened tonight involving Tim Tebow, Christ reborn?”

Fan: “We’re not leaving yet! Lexington, your city will burn! We got gasoline, we got matches, and we’re angry! Tim Tebow was on a holy mission to protect the world…..through throwing a football….and we’re not going to let you punks get away with this!”

Reporter: “Sir, don’t you feel this is a bit extreme?”

Fan: “Extreme?!? Tim Tebow’s in the hospital!”

(Pause)

Reporter: “Back to you in the studios. GET ME A GAS CAN!!! I HAVE A LIGHTER!!”

(Aerial footage is shown of Tim Tebow’s ambulance leaving the stadium)

Anchor: “If you’re just joining us, folks, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, our holy spirit, has been injured. He sustained a concussion in tonight’s game against the University of Kentucky and has been rushed to the Chandler Medical Center. We’re joined in studio by our NFL expert. Given the fact that he has a concussion, possibly severe brain damage, and that the NFL is more physically demanding than NCAA football….what does this do for his draft day status?”

Expert: “Well, I’m sure he’ll be in attendance so that the ESPN cameras will be on him approximately 800 times during the first hour, but as far as his draft projection goes, it’s up in the air. He still just might be the first overall pick. It’s believed that to have a man like Tim Tebow, who makes all of our lives worth living, on your team will make things brighter and will likely lead the club to as many Super Bowls as they want.”

Anchor: “And if he’s not taken first?”

Expert: “Then we go to ‘code blue’: ESPN will ignore whoever gets drafted first and spend the entire pre-season gushing over the pretty white guy. The debacle with JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn comes to mind.”

Anchor: “Debacle?”

Expert: “I mean ‘understandable situation’.”

Anchor: “Preliminary results are in for our poll, and it’s a dead heat between Marcus Gilbert and Taylor Wyndham for the near fatality of Tim Tebow, The Chosen One, this evening. We’re also getting e-mails, asking us to tone down the excessive coverage of this story, but what do these people know? They must be self-loathing atheists who derive pleasure from the sinful aspects of this mortal coil that we call ‘life’. Back to Lexington, where our reporter is standing by. What’s the latest?”

(Footage is shown of the reporter, several Florida fans, and local clergy firing flame throwers at Commonwealth Stadium while cackling maniacally.)

Anchor: “We’re going to take a commercial break, but when we come back: continued coverage of the injury to Tim Tebow, Modern Messiah.”

(Hubble telescope footage of Tim Tebow being rushed to the hospital is shown)

When he isn’t watching WWE, TNA, or his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, Justin Henry can be found writing. It is his passion as well as his goal in life to become a well-regarded (as well as well-paid) columnist or author. He tweets at twitter.com/notoriousjrh and facebooks himself at http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh.

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Herm Edwards’ NFL Man Crush Is Vickening

September 04, 2009 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Herm EdwardsMove over Brett Favre and John Madden, the NFL has a stalker in the booth. Herm Edwards has proven to be a bigger joke as an NFL analyst than he was a coach. As the Eagles analyst, Edwards constant gushing over Michael Vick this pre season has gone from annoyance to just downright disgusting.

Edwards has been calling the Philadelphia Eagles pre season games for the Eagles Television Network. The former coach is also a regular on ESPN’s NFL Live. Edwards lobbying for Vick goes back to the NFL draft and has continued all pre season. If you didn’t read the stats and just listened to Edwards during the Eagles-Jets game you’d think Mike Vick was ready for Canton.

The man-love became official when Edwards and the crew named Michel Vick Star of the Game at halftime. That’s right. He was officially named Star of the Game. For those that didn’t watch, Vick threw an interception on his first pass of the game. He did scramble for a 2-yard touchdown but to call him the Star of the Game was just a little too over the top.

The man love got worse throughout the game. At one point I wondered if I was watching the Michael Vick Redemption Story. Whether it was an incomplete pass or a sack, it was never Vick’s fault. Oh no. According to Edwards, it was not Vick who was at fault for getting sacked but it was the Jets fault for blitzing. I couldn’t have made this up if I tried.

The Star of the Game had an absolutely awful second half. In all fairness, I don’t take much away from it. Vick was playing with guys who won’t even make an NFL team. On the other hand, he was also playing against guys who won’t make an NFL team. Regardless, Edwards had an excuse for everything. Vick was sacked in the third quarter and Edwards responds, “That’s okay.” Even my girlfriend who was casually watching looked at me as if to say, “Is he serious?”

I understand that analysts have their favorites but there comes a time where you need to do the job you are being paid to do. Yes, this was the Eagles Television Network but I have never heard an announcer as partisan for one player on Eagles TV or radio in my life. For Edwards to criticize the Jets for blitzing and not Vick for poor play is absurd. For God’s sakes Herm, there are players on the field playing for their jobs! No wonder Herm’s camps in New York were regularly called Club Cupcake.

My feelings on Michael Vick have been made. I have moved on and I am at the point where I can put my anger aside and just enjoy the games. However, the last thing I want to hear is anyone going out of their way defending him. He has a job, now it’s his turn to prove whether he is ready to play in the NFL or not. I don’t need to listen to someone tell me that someone is a great football player when he can’t even elude a fourth-string pass rush. You can shine it, but it is what it is in the end.

Herm Edwards is truly a disgrace to the NFL, a disgrace to ESPN, and a disgrace to anyone in sports journalism. Why would ESPN or anyone in the NFL put this guy on television as an analyst when he has an obvious agenda? Maybe he is just a moron? He did claim that Tony Romo was a better quarterback than Eli Manning and said it with a straight face. Does Herm Edwards really believe this stuff or is he just going out of his way to take over Emmitt Smith’s spot on the sports blogs?

New York Jets fans should read this with a sigh of relief. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that if Herm was still coaching that the Jets wouldn’t have drafted Mark Sanchez and Michael Vick would be your starting quarterback this season.

Michael Vick’s Week 4 highlights vs. New York Jets. Thanks to 700level.com for the tip!

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