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30 May, 2011

U.H.G.

by Gus Ramsey

  Do you work in a place where you are constantly walking down hallways? I do. You know what happens every day in places like this? You pass someone in the hall you don't know. When this happens you may offer a "Hey" or "What's up?" or a simple nod and you go on your way. (In the northeast you can also get the other person looking straight ahead and not acknowledging your existence. I'm told this never happens in other corners of the USA).
 Now, moments later, here's what happens. You are walking down the hall and down at the other end, oh no, could it be... really? The same person I just passed a few minutes ago??! Ugh, this sucks. This is more awkward than the first time in the 6th grade locker room when everyone notices the one guy who plowed into puberty over the summer. With every step you take, the moment of the awkward second encounter is bearing down like a TMZ crew on a Charlie Sheen open house. What am I supposed to do now? Do I say hi again? I can't ask what's up again, I just asked that. He said "nuthin'." What could have possibly happened in the last 30 minutes that they care to tell me about anyway? They're getting closer! I'm reaching the point of eye contact or no eye contact.... I know, I know, how about a "hey, it's you again!" joke. No, those work about a often as Albert Haynesworth. What do I do?
  Well, I am here to save us all. UHG. That's right, just say UHG. It stands for Uncomfortable Hallway Greeting. Saying it conveys the dread that you are both feeling by having the awkward repeat encounter but also allows for a jovial acknowledgement of both the person and the moment. "Uhg!" "Uhg!"
  Now, again, I'm told in places like the south and the midwest everyone is happy to see each other all the time, so maybe it's not a problem for you. But if you are a little anti-social or moody like I am, then UHG is the way to go. Now I just need to find a way to spread the word around the office.
 

27 May, 2011

Links for 5/27

Derek Rose is going to need some help
http://tinyurl.com/3vhd8om

Drew Brees says labor game changed when Upshaw died
http://tinyurl.com/3uq6gu7

Rex Ryan turns to Joe Gibbs for post-lockout help
http://tinyurl.com/3he6tls

MSG gets a whole new look
http://tinyurl.com/3reynuk

Ex-Falcons cheerleader, chop shop, "epic proportions."
http://tinyurl.com/4ys5ksw

Mariners young talent hitting stride
http://tinyurl.com/3knev6l

Ray Fosse feels for Posey
http://tinyurl.com/3n5h77o

Jose Bautista's historic clip
http://tinyurl.com/3jotle8

Lakers consider Bynum untouchable
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/os-lakers-bynum-20110526,0,4996707.story

Blazers may ask Roy to retire
http://tinyurl.com/3bels9x

23 May, 2011

20 May, 2011

The Macho Man

  Sad news today about the death of Randy "Macho Man" Savage. He was my favorite WWF superstar in the 80's and 90's. He was athletic, charismatic and funny. He's one of the few guys who didn't try out a bunch gimmicks when he broke in to the WWF. He entered and remained The Macho Man. He also had the lovely Elizabeth by his side, who was America's sweetheart.
America's Royal Family
  His signature leap from the top rope was his indelible maneuver. But he also had his trademark song, Pomp and Circumstance, which always seemed a slightly absurd choice for Macho Man, but it worked. He had his "OOOOOOHHHHH-YEAHAH!" catchphrase that was, like his voice, often imitated but never duplicated. He was also one of the first wrestlers I remember as being very entertaining on the mic. His promos were must see. Lex Luger may have been called The Total Package, but Savage was the total package.
   He was a showman in the ring who could carry matches with the less gifted athletes. Consider, that at his peak, the WWF was more about size and steroids than athletic ability and acrobatics.  Look at the list of guys Macho usually was pitted against: Hulk, Andre, Warrior, Honkey Tonk Man, Big Boss Man, George The Animal Steele, Ted DiBiase, Greg Valentine, Jake the Snake Roberts. Compare that group to the athletes of today who climb ropes, jump off ladders and tables and turnbuckels as easily as they walk. In a world of bulls in the china shop, Macho Man was a gazelle.
the match many call the greatest ever 
  That, in part, is why the Macho vs. Steamboat match at Wrestlemania 3 was such a classic and remains one of the greatest matches ever. Macho Man was in the ring with an athlete of equal ability. Someone who could sell the moves that much better, help Macho leap a little further, land a little harder and didn't need 5 minutes of holding moves to catch his breath. Hulk vs Andre was the headliner at Wrestlemania 3, but Mach and Ricky stole the show.

Here's part of that match.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_sT9He21xQ&feature=related

Here's a very interesting interview with Steamboat talking about working with Macho Man
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4D6sY7UEQk&feature=related

  A few quick personal stories on Macho Man.
  When the Royal Rumble came to Orlando in 1990 I had a chance to interview Macho the day before the event. I asked him "Randy, how excited are you for the Rumble?" and he took about 5 minutes to answer the question. It was enthralling to see him "work" up close like that and it remains my favorite interview I ever did.
  In the late '90s Bill Simmons and I teamed up to do a USA Today fantasy football league team. Our team name was The Mega Powers. We won our 25 man league and our 250 team division. Never underestimate the power of the Mega Powers.
  At my wedding reception, in 1992, it was time for the exchanging of the pieces of cake. My wife went first and did the typical "kind of shove it in your face" routine. When it was my turn I acted like I was going to return the favor but at the last second I brought the cake back in and took a bite out of it for myself. Immediately, after taking the bite, I put one hand on my hip and raised the cake high above my head with the other hand, striking the traditional Macho Man pose. Then I gave it the Macho Man turn about, to boot. There were only a few people there who recognized what I was doing, but I'll always remember it.
  Just like I'll always remember Randy "Macho Man" Savage as a great wrestler and a great entertainer. OHHHHHH-YEEEEAHAH.

17 May, 2011

Very Superstitious...

by Gus Ramsey

"Very superstitious, nothing more to say..."
               Stevie Wonder

The date is January 25th, 1998. I am watching Super Bowl XXXII in my condo. My Broncos, 4-time losers of the big game, are playing the Green Bay Packers. For the occasion I have banished my wife upstairs so I can watch the game with no interruptions. She is the root of Pulling a Jackie, so it was justified. (she's actually pulling a Jackie as I write this blog!)
With about 8 minutes left in the first half the Broncos lead 17-7. I was cautiously optimistic. So when Jackie asked if she could come down to the kitchen for a minute, I put my guard down and said "fine."
17 plays, 95 yards and 7:26 later, Brett Favre tossed a gorgeous pass to Mark Chmura in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Denver 17- Green Bay 14.
  "Sweetie. I love you. Now get your ass back up stairs!"

  I am not a superstitious person. I can walk under ladders. I don't fear black cats. Heck, I was married on Friday the 13th. But when it comes to sports, things change. I watch sporting events thinking that somehow, some way, my rooting karma effects the outcome of games. If I am wearing a shirt or a hat of one of my teams in a big game, and things are going poorly, I change. When I was a teenager and the Broncos were on Monday Night Football, I would decorate the family den with all the Bronco paraphernalia I owned. If things weren't going well, I would re-decorate the room in a mad scramble like Tom Cruise in Risky Business trying to clean up before his folks got home. Karma had to be changed and it had to happen quickly. And with John Elway pulling off come-from-behind miracles all the time, it was hard not to believe these alterations didn't have some kind of impact.

  The date is October 19, 1999. The Mets and Braves are playing game 6 of the NLCS. The Mets were down three games to two and had allowed five runs in the first inning. I was in my condo watching on TV and had turned my attention to my computer. I had my back to the TV and the game was basically background noise. In the top of the 6th the Mets got a rally going. Alfonzo double, Olerud single, Piazza sac fly, Ventura double. After the Olerud single I had started watching again. When Piazza flew out, it hit me, "Don't watch!! You look back for one batter and they made an out. Don't watch!" So I turned my back to the TV again and listened to the rest of the inning without daring a single peek. The Mets scored three times and cut the lead to 5-3. Watching again, the Braves scored twice in the bottom of the inning. For the top of the 7th I had gone to the bathroom. As I sat on the throne I could still hear the TV. Matt Franco doubles, Rickey doubles. Another rally is underway. I have completed my purpose in the bathroom, but I remain seated on the john, pants around the ankles and everything. I am leaning forward, craning my neck out the door, if not to see, then to at least hear, better. Alfonzo and Olerud single. Smoltz is on the ropes. I haven't budged. I haven't even flushed. (why would I? The noise of the flush would drowned out the TV) And then.... Mike Piazza goes deep! The game is tied 7-7. A 4-run-trip-to-the-can-induced rally! Eventually the Mets lost the game 10-9 in 11 innings. I blame myself. I should have never gotten off the toilet. That's the biggest issue when flirting with the fickle finger of fate, what works one moment may not the next. It's an ethereal game of cat and mouse.

  I took an informal survey of some of my co-workers and asked them if they were superstitious sports fans. All but one said they were. Some were more involved than others. Nick admitted that if he drank 3 Cokes during a Mets game and they won, he would drink 3 Cokes every Mets game until they lost. He also said the last two years when the Jets were in the playoffs, he and his friend dressed exactly the same and went through the same game day routine the following week. When his wife didn't replicate her wardrobe from the prior week both he and his friend gave her grief. My pal Kevin said that when he was 12 he never allowed his mother to enter the living room when the Eagles games were on. The entire season! So clearly I'm not alone.



  In conversation once with a former G.M. I was explaining to him my superstitions. He basically called me an idiot in a polite way. He's probably right. What impact could where I sit or what I am wearing possibly have on a game? It's easy to remember the dramatic moments of victory but there is a sea of repudiation swelling around me with every failed, ludicrous attempt to alter fate.
  But what if he's wrong!? It's a risk I can't take. So I'll keep changing shirts, switching seats, using my special whammy on the opposing players, whatever it takes to feel a little bit like I have a say in the thing that I invest so much time and emotion. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find my Mr. Met hat.

(what about you? What are your game viewing superstitions? Share them in the comments section.)

The Time Machine takes us back to 2004

by Gus Ramsey

In searching for an old Bill Simmons column, I stumbled across this sidebar he did with me prior to the '04 ALCS. Kind of fun to look back on it now, knowing what we know.
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/cowbell/041012

11 May, 2011

A brush with Mitch "Blood" Green

by Gus Ramsey

   In 1993 I was working at the NBC affiliate in Orlando. Our anchor, Marc Middleton, had a weekly bit called Marc's Monday Matchup, where viewers would send in challenges for Marc and we would take them on in those challenges.
   One day Marc gets a call from a boxing promoter who is offering a chance to spar with Mitch "Blood" Green as a Monday Matchup. Yes, the Mitch Green who fought Mike Tyson in a ring in 1986 and in a Harlem street in 1988. But, the potential for a good bit was more important than any accidental punch that could knock Marc into la-la land, so Mark accepts.
   When we get to the "ring" it's in the middle of a big bar in Daytona Beach. There are 4 actual fights on the card to go along with Marc and Mitch's exhibition. The dressing room for the fighters is the office of the bar manager and it's not much bigger than 20x12.
   About an hour before the festivities begin all the 9 fighters, the trainers, Marc, me and our photographer are in this room. Kevin Rooney, a former trainer for Mike Tyson, is among those present. So, shortly after entering the room, Mitch starts messing with Rooney, asking him when Tyson is going to give him his money. (Mitch claimed that he never got all his money for his fight with Tyson.) Rooney was smart enough to realize that Mitch was just running at the mouth and wasn't interested in engaging Mitch in an actual conversation. But Mitch persisted. "Where's my money??! Tell Mike I want my money. He owes me. You know he owes me. Tell Mike I want my money! Tell him I want...my...money!!"
There's one number Mitch doesn't have in his rolodex
   Well, after a minute or two of this, one of the other trainers pipes up and says to Mitch, "If you want your damn money so bad, why don't you call Tyson and tell him to give it to you."
   Without skipping a beat Mitch replies, "Cuz I don't have the number for the h@*o hotline!"
   While Mitch was laughing at his quip, the trainer didn't think it so funny and moved in and jabbed Mitch on the nose, hitting him flush in his wrap-around sunglasses. The glasses cracked and cut Mitch. When "Blood" saw blood, he lost it and went after the trainer. So now the nine fighters, the 4 or 5 trainers, and 3 dudes from a local TV station are in the middle of a donnybrook in a bar managers office. I thought about working my way to the mass of bodies and try to play peace maker. Just then a middleweight fighter, who was built like an Adonis, grabbed some guy by the shoulders, lifted him and moved him like a crane moving trash off a pile. It was at that moment I decided to let the guys settle themselves down. Who was I to intervene? It wasn't my quarrel. Meanwhile, Marc is in full blown anchorman mode and asking our photographer, Ricky, if he is rolling on the action. It may have been the only time in Ricky's life he wasn't. The problem was rolling on the action required Ricky hitting the record button on the camera and when you are too scared to move, that includes your fingers.
  After the dust settles Mitch says he's fine and is cool to go ahead with the sparring. Marc, however,  is a little concerned that Mitch is too amped and may have a Tyson flashback when he gets in the ring. Not helping things is Marc putting on his Don King wig when we get in the ring. (anything for a good bit!) They spar for 3 rounds, thankfully Mitch maintains his composure and they put on a good show.
  I'm not sure if Mitch ever got his money from Tyson, but I got moneys worth of entertainment that night and a story I never get tired of telling.

07 May, 2011

TV Theme Songs

TV theme songs have always held a special place in my heart, lodged somewhere between 1980s WWF wrestlers and Daisy Duke. It's probably because I'm a TV-aholic. Back in the day the themes were pretty long. Most would be around a minute, which is a huge amount of time. Nowadays most of them are as short as :10 to allow more time for the actual show content. Look at the comparison between Happy Days (ABC's hit show of the '70s) and Modern Family (ABC's hit show now).





I have plenty of favorites. In the 70's it was The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, The Muppet Show, Laverne and Shirley and Gilligan's Island. All catchy tunes that were easy to sing. The themes for MASH and Hawaii Five-0 were cool instrumentals. In the 80's some of the themes were main stream hit songs on the radio, like the ones for Miami Vice, The Greatest American Hero, Hill Street Blues and Cheers. Most recently the theme for Friends had an extended run on the billboard charts. I love the themes for The Odd Couple and The Jeffersons, but they didn't crack my top 5. Without further ado, here now are my top 5 TV theme songs.

#5 The Theme for Taxi


I think the reason I like this one so much is it's simplicity. I watched this show a lot in syndication at 11pm and at that time of the day I didn't need anything blaring at me. Plus, the song gives you a sense of comfort, like the gang of the garage did. It just feels like a perfect fit.

#4 The Theme for The Mod Squad
Mod Squad was the first cop show I watched on a regular basis. It seemed very dramatic and the music to the theme really sold me on the drama. With everyone running through the streets it seemed like chaos would ensue at any moment and the music took the tension to another level. On a related note, I always wanted to be Linc.

#3 The Andy Griffith Show
It's my dad's favorite show, so I've seen every episode dozens of times. Every single time I hear this song I either smile, feel a little bit better or just start whistling it myself. It's an all-time great.

#2 WKRP in Cincinnati Theme
As I was listening to these songs and got to this one my wife started singing it and said "Some songs you never lose." She's right and this is one of them. The song itself smacks of nostalgia with the line "just think of me once in a while..." As someone who lives in the past lane, this song is right up my alley. Also, I had about 39 Loni Anderson pictures on my wall in high school, so it gets boner, I mean bonus, points for that.

#1 The Barney Miller Show
This song is just cool. It makes me play air bass, air guitar and air trumpet. If they ever made a Rock Band TV Theme Shows (hey, that's a great idea!!! somebody get that done) I would play this song over and over and over.
What are your favorites? Share them in the comments box.

04 May, 2011

NHL Playoffs

by Gus Ramsey

 I'm not a big hockey guy. Nothing against the sport. I usually watch some playoff games because I admire the intensity. I have just one suggestion that perhaps Commissioner Bettman consider that would increase the ratings and draw more average Joe eyeballs to the TV set.
   The Stanley Cup playoffs would be awesome if one player turned heel each round. Player scores a goal against his own team, or levels the best player on his team, at the worst possible time. Then he takes off his jersey to reveal the jersey of the team they are playing. The drama would build with each game, waiting to see what series and what player produces the heel turn. It would be awesome and I would watch every game waiting to see it happen.

Two fun videos

in case you missed my tweet of these links

Will Ferrell does President Bush again in regards to Bin Laden
http://tinyurl.com/3tbm5d7

Dude gets plastered by the Fenway Park security. The office linebacker would be proud
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgfDKRNT654&feature=channel_video_title

03 May, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

by Tom McConville

Full disclosure. I tend - even at 41 years of age - to still see things as black and white. There's really never been a gray area when it comes to my likes and dislikes. My likes- in no particular order - include: Steve Martin. Any Gatti/Ward fight. Tootsie Rolls. Water parks. Former Met Edgardo Alfonso. Taylor ham. Dislikes include: Progressive Insurance spokeswoman Flo. Coconut. Cranes. People driving with dogs on their laps. Heat rash.

I bring this up because there are a few things that I know I shouldn't like and yet, I kinda do. You know, guilty pleasures as the kids say. So here's a few of mine. Feel free to add on or tell us some of yours. If you're not sure you want to divulge such potentially embarrassing secrets, don't worry. The ones I'm throwing out below should make you feel pretty good about your choices forevermore.

GP #1: Y&T "Summertime Girls" - hair band extraordinaire, I remember this tune back when a.) I had hair and b.) when my hairstyle made me look like Ricky Schroeder during the "Silver Spoons" era.

GP #2: Roberto Cabanas goal. So I played soccer my entire life. Even went to college for it. Loved playing it. Watching it? Different story. I'd rather sit through the duration of Henry Kissinger reading the unabridged book on tape of "Ulysses" than watch a soccer game. But this goal has been a YouTube staple for many years. It's almost 30 years old for crying out loud and I've still never seen anything like it.


GP #3: Paula Abdul "Rush Rush" I am not one of the 76,908,341 people on this earth who thinks Paula Abdul is bat-guano crazy. I'm one of the 28,190,845 people who finds her to be incredibly annoying. So I take no pride in saying this song gets to me - not for the lyrics, not for her singing and certainly not for the Keanu Reeves appearance. It's the stupid violins that get to me every time.


GP #4: "Richie Says Goodbye" Two things. Happy Days had long seen better days when they aired this. The shark tank - and the subsequent jumping of it - were at least two seasons prior. But I remember getting dusty watching this at an age where I should have known better. And I distinctly remember thinking it would be a brilliant piece of television if this was the exact time Chuck Cunningham - Richie's older brother for the first 6 episodes - showed up. Even now, all I can say is, Damn you Henry Winkler.



All right - now it's your turn. What GP's do you have?

02 May, 2011

Bobby V and 9/11

Nice piece about Bobby Valentine's emotions Sunday night, capped by an outstanding quote at the end
http://tinyurl.com/62sdqon

also, my father pointed out that when they announced the news on the game, it was the 9th inning and the score was 1-1, aka 9-1-1

01 May, 2011

Fun videos

I tweeted a bunch of fun videos this week. in case you missed them, here they are

Obama enters to the Hulkster's music and then leg drops Donald Trump
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9mzJhvC-8E

A4-year old takes aim at a golf ball collector at the driving range
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvGgM7Tq_iw

DJ Steve Porter's Dirk Nowitzki song. I've been singing it all week
http://www.youtube.com/user/djsteveporter

Brian Wilson continues to make me laugh
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwYZ3LHHERI

Brock Huard does his trick shots on the ESPN campus
http://es.pn/mk1iW8