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…
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.
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.”
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.
American journalist Jill Carroll has been freed in Iraq after being held by kidnappers for nearly three months. She says she was “treated well,” although that doesn’t include the kidnapping and multiple, internationally broadcast death threats. But regardless, wonderful to see that she made it out alive.
“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.