Monthly Archives: March 2006

Bret’s Back

Wrestlemania is this Sunday, and while it looks like the least inspiring lineup in WM history, longtime fans can be gladdened that Bret Hart will finally return to WWE events, in order to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
One of the bigger stars in wrestling in the ’80s and ’90s, Hart has not appeared in the organization since the famous “Montreal Screwjob” of 1997, when he was (legitimately) conned out of the world championship in his final match with the company. The induction will take place Saturday and will be broadcast that night on USA; also entering the Hall this year are the late Eddie Guerrero, and “Mean Gene” Okerlund.
After many years of all but ignoring both history and other companies, Vince McMahon in recent years has finally wised up to the fact that a large percentage of wrestling’s appeal comes from nostalgia. Myself, and probably about 95% of the people watching, are much more excited about Hart’s appearance than any of the actual matches.
And speaking of wrestling… I never thought I’d see Andrew Sullivan link to anything involving the Iron Sheik, but here he has. I never could’ve guessed what the Sheik wanted to do to B. Brian Blair…

Three Phillies Notes

1. PAT THE BAT STRIKES BACK: Phillies leftfielder Pat Burrell, who finished last year tied for second in the NL with 117 RBIs, caused quite a stir earlier this week when he told Inquirer columnist Jim Salisbury that

“I’m never going to be good enough here,” he said of Philadelphia. “It doesn’t bother me. That’s just the way it is. It’s the nature of the city. They obviously want the best out of everybody.”

Burrell came to Philly with super-high expectations, as the #1 overall pick the year he was drafted. He struggled mightily in 2003, but has produced big-time in each of the last two seasons. Including last year, when he had the same amount of RBIs as the consensus Best Player in Baseball, Albert Pujols.
But why hasn’t he caught on with Philly fans? One, as an easy-going California surfer type, he’s not a “Philly guy,” and some in this town would rather lose with a team full of “Philly guys” than win with outsiders. Some still haven’t lived down his atrocious ’03 season, and others argue that he strikes out too much and isn’t “clutch.” He gets booed pretty regularly, and I heard at least 5 talk show callers over the offseason offer to “drive Burrell to the airport” were to get traded.
I’m with Pat on this one. He’s a player who produces, and deserves more respect than he’s gotten. And in a town where fans take undeserved shots at athletes every single day, why the hell shouldn’t an athlete turn it around on them once in a while?
2. ANOTHER ONE IN THE WIN COLUMN FOR THE COCKFIGHTIN’ PHILS: My favorite story of the whole spring: a promotional highlight video sent out by the Phillies organization to 4,000 season ticket holders- but some fans mistakenly received not a Phils DVD, but rather a Spanish-language video featuring cockfighting. Unfortunately for the Phils fans, Ed Wade did not appear in the highlights.
Inquirer reporter Todd Zolecki: “There have been no reported complaints from cockfighting fans who have been sent Phillies highlights by mistake.”
3. OPENING DAY: I’ll be at the Saturday afternoon exhibition game between the Phils and Red Sox at Citizen’s Bank Park (a preview of the same matchup that I’m seeing at Fenway June 25). But unfortunately, forecasts call for rain, which brings to mind the old Bob Uecker joke:
Q: What do Philly fans do when the game’s rained out?
A: Go to the airport and boo the landings.

Baseball: The Year in Preview

I got my favorite magazine of this and every year today- the Sports Illustrated baseball preview. But an even better preview of the season than that comes from this blog, which previews each major league team by comparing them to people we knew in high school. My favorites are the depictions of the Yankees and Red Sox as dueling, bitchy teen princesses, and the White Sox as “last year’s undeserving prom queen.”

TV Critic Quote of the Week

The Keystone Kops antics of Silvio and company also neatly illustrated how much smarter Tony is than the rest of his army combined. These are dumb, dumb people, and a world without Tony telling them what to do would be a grim future indeed.

John Sepinwall of the Newark Star Ledger, in his weekly “Sopranos” column, making a trenchant observation about last week’s episode.
Sepinwall is also pleased that his paper made its annual appearance on the show. Usually Tony walks out to the driveway to pick it up in the first episode of each season, but this year we see Silvio reading it on the john.

Quote of the Day

“When I think of Minneapolis, I think of Prince.”

-Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III, on the city where his team played its Sweet 16 game. If there’s any truth to Chris Rock’s old observation that “there ain’t no black people in Minnesota except for Prince and Kirby Puckett,” then I guess now we’re down to just Prince.

And Again, Not a Word About Him in the Brandeis Alumni Magazine

News Item: Jack Abramoff Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison
And this is only the Florida fraud charge; he’ll get more time for all the other charges.
And in other Abramoff news, check out this outstanding Weekly Standard cover story in which a young writer talks about the dinner he shared with the disgraced lobbyist at Signatures. Abramoff actually pitched the idea of a “making of” book about the Dolph Lundgren movie “Red Scorpion,” which he produced.

“Sopranos” Thoughts

Another very good episode, I thought. And while the Tony-in-a-coma thing served its purpose, I’m about ready for the show to get “back to normal.” And may I venture a prediction? The final scene of the final episode of the series will have Tony walking into that house.
A few other observations:
– Was Tony’s vision of Los Angeles as purgatory/hell part of his fear about Christopher someday betraying him and going into the movie business? Someone pointed out that “Crystal Monostery” sounds a lot like “Christopher Moltisanti.”
– Speaking of which, there’s no way this movie-pitch idea could possibly end well. No one who willingly brings in Little Carmine as a partner deserves to succeed as an investor.
– Lots of wonderful little moments, my favorite being an angry Vito binge-eating carrots. He’s all-but-certain to be whacked, whether it’s for being gay, or just because he’s generally an asshole, one who’s almost comically un-self aware. Who else would describe themself as a “healthy man,” after going from 350 pounds to 300? I bet he gets clipped by Phil after he finds out about Vito cheating on his cousin.
– Paulie’s “conversation” with Tony was priceless as well. We know Paulie’s not too bright, but did he really not notice the rising heartrate, and the beeping?
– I’m very, very glad we were spared the scenes of Janice nagging Bobby over the money he lost (after Silvio’s ruling, RE: Vito). I guess the writers realized Janice couldn’t possibly be more loathsome than she already is, and left it at that.
More to come next week; those upset with the lack of bloodshed the past two weeks should be gladdened by the image in the preview of Paulie whacking someone with a pipe.

Quote of the Day

From an excellent New Republic editorial on the false conflation between “angry” and “liberal”:

To be fair, not all Democrats are as affectless and disciplined as [Hillary] Clinton. [Howard] Dean really is angry, as are demagogues like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan. But the problem with the Moores and the Sheehans is not that they’re angry; it’s that they’re wrong. The Republicans have substituted a temperamental category for an ideological one. When they fail to demonstrate a philosophical failing, they try to demonstrate a human failing.
That’s the true damage extracted by this Republican attack. They have defined anger down. A good, honest emotion has been trashed in pursuit of cheap political points…
There are also obvious commercial reasons for conservative commentators to expend so much energy denouncing anger. Rage, after all, is an essential part of the Fox News ethos, where Bill O’Reilly makes Howard Beale look like Dag Hammarskjld. Pretty clearly, these conservative commentators will denounce Democrats as angry, because that will make their audiences angry, generating even larger angry audiences. And you know what that makes us.

Coming up next on Fox… angry Democrats! You’ll be outraged!