Category Archives: sports

Super, How About You?

Three things.

Terrible game. Even though I wanted to see the Seahawks win, what I was really rooting for was a dramatic and competitive contest. Thanks for ruining the Super Bowl, Denver!

I was called “old” for being dismissive of Bruno Mars. Yes, I’m old, Old enough to have seen his act done by other people — and done better. The only saving grace were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were hilarious.

The commercials? Can we finally put the hype to bed? There was some solid work, but nothing spectacular. I could show you twenty better spots that aired in the past year that were better than anything that ran on Sunday.

Having said that, here’s a great spot from Adobe that advertisers should think about:

Craptacular

I love the Super Bowl, but I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate hate Super Bowl halftime shows. There has never been one that I’ve ever wanted to watch, even if a band that I like is performing.

The halftime show is the crown jewel of the mind numbing excess that threatens to smother the game itself — and nothing would make me happier than to see it eliminated.

And it’s not just about hating the show — even though the music usually sucks.

A normal NFL halftime is twelve minutes long — but you can expect Super Bowl halftime to last upwards of 30 minutes. This is objectionable because all year long players get a short breather between halves; why change this for the most important game of the year?

OK, maybe that’s extreme. Perhaps we should allow some time to accommodate the eating and socializing folks like to do at halftime, so let’s compromise and say 20 minutes. BUT NO MUSIC! Instead, let’s have more analysis. More replays. More heartfelt features. Yes, make halftime more like pregame — which in my opinion can never be too long.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I love those I’m Going to Disney World commercials as much as I hate halftime. Here’s the first one, with Phil Simms in 1987:

Hoop it Up

The area that I consider my neighborhood covers about 60 acres — and has 38 basketball hoops.

There are basketball hoops everywhere; some of them the portable type you can wheel around and others set in a footing of concrete next to driveways and along the road. And only very rarely have I ever seen anyone playing basketball.

So yes, I was curious enough about this to go through the neighborhood and count them. In my days as a Times Union blogger, some helpful reader would have inevitably commented, “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time, Madeo?” Well actually, no. No I don’t.

Anyway, we had basketball hoops when I was a kid, but let me tell you, there were a lot fewer — and those we did have were usually attached to the front of a garage, something you rarely see anymore. Maybe because of all the broken garage door windows?

There’s certainly no harm in every kid having his own hoop, but here’s the thing:  if there were less of them, maybe our suburban youts would play basketball together more often.

Of course, one could devise an amazing game with so many hoops. Imagine a contest where two teams go on a loop through the neighborhood and stop at each of the 38 basketball hoops. The team in possession of the ball gets to shoot until they make a basket or lose possession — and then it’s a race to the next hoop. By my reckoning, it would be a 1.75 mile course.

It would be a spectacle — but I suppose I’d be satisfied with just seeing a single ball being tossed up at any one of those 38 baskets.

They’re Off

Note: This originally appeared two years ago, but I thought you might enjoy it — and I’m too lazy to write something new.

Back in the TV days, I used to love shooting things at Saratoga. It was a great place to get man on the street sound because everyone was in a good mood and talkative. True, sometimes there might have been a little alcohol involved, but I assure you, only a little.

The best thing about this was you could get people to say pretty much whatever you wanted, which is golden. We’d go back and slam something like this together:

 

Sometimes people wouldn’t want to talk. Here’s what I heard all the time: “No cameras! My boss might see this and he’ll know I wasn’t really sick today!”

I’d try to explain that it would not actually be on TV for several days and his boss would never know when we taped it. No dice.

Other people at the track had even stronger objections to being videotaped. Years ago a big swrthy fellow approached me at the paddock rail. “Hey, see that table in the tent over there? If you point your f***ing camera at them one more time, I’m gonna come over here and break your arm.”

I looked over to were he was pointing and observed several well coiffed gentlemen wearing sunglasses and smoking cigars. I did not point my f***ing camera at them one more time.

Keeping Score

When my father took us to ball games at Shea Stadium we always had pretty good seats, but the ultimate was the time we sat on the press level.

This was before the age of luxury boxes, so the accomodations were not plush, but it certainly felt special. We rode up the elevator and stepped out into and exclusive hidden corridor where we nearly walked right into Mets announcer Lindsey Nelson. I’d have asked for an autograph, but I must have been blinded by his plaid sportcoat.

As it happens, we were not far from the broadcast booth where Nelson and Ralph Kiner sat, so for much of the game I was distracted by what was going on down there with the cameras and all. I’d recently been bitten by the TV bug, so all that was more fascinating than the action on the field.

My father? He was a big fan and religiously kept score in his program. He followed the action with great concentration, and fortunately, always found time to keep me primed with hot dogs and peanuts.

These days there are apps for those who wish to keep score and they tap it out on their phone — but some people still do it the old fashioned way, scratching away with a pencil and program. This from a recent story in the New York Times:

On July 4 at Citi Field, Kevin Hogan, 54, of Richmond, Va., said keeping score by hand “helps fuel my anal retentiveness.” But he also thought the system, venerable as it is, could be better.

“I just asked the vendor, how come there’s no eraser on the pencil?” he said.

The vendor replied, “Don’t make any mistakes.”

I tried keeping score a few times, but it always got in the way of my eating and drinking, so I never made it through an inning or two.

Art History

There was something compelling about the widely distributed photo of New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez being led away by police. The picture even spurred an instant internet meme of people Hernandezing,  aping the pose on social media.

Then I realized it: the Hernandez photo is oddly similar to many depictions of Saint Sebastian, hands bound, studded with arrows, looking toward heaven.

hernandez sebastian

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting Hernandez is any sort of martyr.

The Saint Sebastian pose is often referenced in pop culture, maybe most famously in this Esquire magazine cover from 1968:

GQ 2-GQ-ES01.32

Wikipedia does not mention if Saint Sebastian played any sports.

Trust, But Verify

Parents know what it’s like to rush from work to ball games and school events. Maybe you don’t have to be there, but it’s the right thing to do.

I was already destined to be late for a lacrosse game this week because it was all the way in Amsterdam and scheduled to start at 4:30. It didn’t help to get out of work an hour late, but I said I’d be there. After driving like hell to get there, I rolled in with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But my son’s team looked a bit smaller for some reason — and the coach, who can usually be heard from the parking lot, seemed oddly reserved. Maybe some of the kids couldn’t make it. Weird. And did the coach finally give himself laryngitis. Could be.

When the clock wound down and the PA announcer intoned, “And the final score… Amsterdam 6, LaSalle 9.”

Wait… LaSalle? I’m at the wrong game!

I’d been told early that morning that it was in Amsterdam — and don’t you know that Amsterdam’s uniforms are the same purple and gold as our own? It looked like I was in the right place, and I was so blissfully ignorant that I even took some pictures.

I have no idea who this kid is...
I have no idea who this kid is…

So… eventually I figured out that the game was actually in Schenectady.

The take away here is always check and double  check and check again. No big deal, though. I was at somebody’s game, and I guess that’s worth something.

Reeking Havoc

The warmest room in our house is the half bath on the first floor. The heat pours into this closet-sized space like nobody’s business — and even when the rest of the house is freezing, the tiny bathroom is delightful. Could I put a TV in there, maybe?

This has also become our go-to spot for drying gloves, hats, and soaked running shoes, so naturally when my son came home drenched from lacrosse practice, I neatly arranged his gear in front of the heating register.

The next morning I opened the door to  stench so horrid I nearly retched. For a second I though maybe one of the cats peed in there — or ALL of the cats —  but no, this terrible smell was wafting up from the lacrosse gear.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Under normal circumstances the stuff doesn’t smell great, but it’s acceptable; the application of heat unleashed a monster.

I’ve finally shaken that stink out of my head and learned a valuable lesson about drying athletic equipment: if you put wet, sweaty things in a hot little box don’t be surprised when you open the door.

The Fortune Cookie

I remember the afternoon that my freshman football coach, Mr. Redden, yelled at me, “Madeo! Do you want to be a lawyer?” This was after I tried to explain  why I’d done something stupid like missing a block or forgetting a play.

To Tom Redden, high school gym teacher and officer in the Marine Reserves, a man who could climb the gym ropes upside down with his feet pointing at the ceiling, this was what lawyers did, stood there and tried to explain doing something stupid. And he didn’t really want to hear it.

But what he said struck a nerve. I stopped by my guidance counsellor’s office and borrowed his copy of the LSAT study guide. For a month or two I browsed through the thick book, trying to work through its complicated logic and reasoning questions. Eventually I kind of forgot about it.

The truth is, I never got much in the way of career advice, and that’s how I ended up working in TV. Fast forward to 2013.

fortuneBroccoli in garlic sauce is my go-to meal when it comes to Chinese takeout. I figure the healthful benefits of broccoli balance the oily goodness of the brown sauce and we come out even. Like most people, I shrug off what I find in fortune cookies, but this one took me aback. Suddenly, I was standing in the huddle at practice and Mr. Redden’s voice was echoing in my head. “Madeo! Do you want to be a lawyer?”  Holy crap, did I miss something?

You can’t expect teenagers to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and maybe trying to talk to them about careers is a waste of time. But now it seems the only solid career counseling I ever had was from Mr. Redden and a fortune cookie. Better than nothing, I guess. Pass the soy sauce.