Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I watched, snickering most of the time, the comical effort put out by MLB on Fox TV last night. Game 5 of the freakin' World Series played in 30-degree temperatures and blowing rain for at least an hour-and-a-half before Carlos Pena of the Rays was thoughtful enough to get a game-tying hit to make it easier for the Commissioner's office to suspend the game to be finished at another time. Had Pena not gotten that RBI single, Bud Selig would have had to suspend the game with the Phillies leading saying that the game wasn't over (contrary to standing rules), award the Phillies the world championship based on a six-inning victory, or continue to play in those ridiculous conditions. In each instance, the sport comes off looking foolish. As it was, a new rule instituted in '07 allowed the Commish to suspend the game and not start over from the beginning. I thought I definitely detected in the voices of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver...(because they were understandably reluctant to say it directly)...their disgust for the conditions, and that the game was even being played on the 27th of October in Philadelphia.
All that aside, let's go back to the real problem. You can't expect to have baseball weather in late October. You just can't. Not unless you invent some new control over Mother Nature. And not in most cities that have baseball teams. My list above doesn't include any teams in the southern part of the country, or cities with domes. But look at the list of cities where 7-10 days of good weather is unlikely in October...especially late October. MLB needs to play the World Series earlier in October...but even better would be September. In September, when the World Series was played in the "good old days", you may fully expect to have enough good weather to play these games without creating a farcical situation such as last night. And when you do, and you have good baseball weather, you would be presenting your sport in such a way as to truly attract new fans...not chase them away. You would have, in most cases, a comfortable, and probably beautiful, setting in which to present your sport. Especially if you could also manage to have the good sense to play the games in the warmth of the day.
I remember as a kid having to sneak peaks...or quick listens...to the World Series while in school during the day. I also remember my dad excusing me from school in order to take me to Cardinals World Series games in 1964, '67 and '68. As a kid, it was wonderful...getting out of school to go to the World Series with dad...memories I'll always cherish. And when at school, even if you got caught, the teacher would at least understand why your attention was diverted for the day...or a moment. It's the World Series for crying out loud! Who isn't going to understand? And who isn't going to find a way to watch or listen if they are really baseball fans? Does anyone really think that a couple of World Series games on a few workdays will lessen productivity more than computer games...or instant messaging?
But, of course, now it's all about the TV ratings, and the dollars that drive them. You can't...oh nooooooo...you just can't play the games in the daytime. Too many people would have to work. Too many young people would be in school. You'd be depriving the national audience of a chance to be involved. Hogwash! Do what's right for the players, the managers, the teams that have fought for the chance to win the championship, and the fans of your sport... you greedy owners. Play the games in September...and at least one in each host city during the daytime! Two if you have Saturday/Sunday games back-to-back. How about this potential schedule...
Game 1- Saturday 1pm
Game 2-Sunday 1pm
Game 3-Tuesday 3pm
Game 4-Wednesday 7pm
Game 5-(if needed) Friday 1pm
Game 6-(if needed) Saturday 1pm
Game 7-(if needed) Sunday 1pm
A lot of folks in baseball would say...Oh..you can't do that. (And they would be encouraged to think so by the TV executives). Too many conflicts with college and pro football and all the other things. Well, how about knowing that your event is more important to a large segment of the population than all those other things? (Like the folks with The Masters golf tournament who do things by their own rules...insisting on a certain quality of presentation from the TV folks...and maintaining enough confidence in the value of the event to do so.) Have some confidence in baseball, and your championsip event, as a product. Schedule it when it's the right time for the players and fans...not around all of those outside influences.
One other suggestion. Cut down spring training by at least a month. Baseball players don't work second jobs anymore to need spring training to get in shape. They're in shape all year. They come ready to play. Start spring training in February if you want. Start the season in March by scheduling most of your games in southern cities...or domed stadiums. If you lose a few March games to weather, remember the good ol' double-header. Then you'll be able to keep the same number of regular-season games...and play the World Series in September...when it makes much more sense. Use your noggin Mr. Commissioner. Make it happen.
Oh, by the way...Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, there's a chance the World Series will be still going on in NOVEMBER of '09. Sheesh..Gimme a break!!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
We weren't very far into the game at Scottrade Center last night before the talk became heavy in the penalty box (where I work)...and on my clear-com headset that the Palin Puck-drop Curse had been transferred. You see, Governor Palin had dropped the first puck in Phildelphia earlier to start the Flyers season. In the wake, the Philly hockey squad had lost 6 straight games and lost star forward Daniel Briere for a month due to injury. The so-called "hockey-mom" was blamed by legions of Flyers fans for the tailspin and Flyers owner, and GOP donor, Ed Snider was held in contempt by many of Philly's hockey faithful for scheduling Palin.
Philadelphia media were all over the situation when it was announced that Palin would perform the same function at Friday night's Blues-L.A. Kings game. They knew it was a shot at getting rid of the dreaded curse and restoring sanity to the Flyers who were thought to be a contender for the Atlantic Division title before the season. Flyers faithful were no doubt watching closely last night to see what sort of fate the Blues decision would hold for them.
Before the ceremonial puck was even dropped last night at the barn on Brett Hull Way...Blues star goalie Manny Legace slips and injures a hip-flexor muscle (many are at least relieved that he didn't blow out a knee having had knee surgery in the off-season) while attempting to negotiate the carpet laid out for Palin's on-ice trek. We all saw Manny go down. We all saw Manny in some sort of obvious pain. We all cringed. He lasted one pain-filled period and gave way to Ben Bishop who made his NHL debut as a result.
It's interesting to note that not once in the 20-plus years that I've been doing the p.a. for Blues games has a pre-game ceremony participant entered the ice from the same entrance gate that the players do. I've seen many a ceremony like this...and not once do I remember the puck-dropper and entourage entering from the players gate. There are three others...not counting the Zamboni gate...for someone to access the rink. Two would require the guest to deal with fans in the stands though. So I'm guessing that the Secret Service and building operations decided that this gate was the quickest and safest entry to the ice for Palin and they would deal with the carpeting issue when the players came out for the game. Well, they tried to deal with it...but stuff happens.
The game itself...well... it's easily...real easily...the worst the Blues have looked so far this season. There seemed to be no life to their game. They gave away the puck like candy at a parade. They got nothing going that looked like an offensive attack. They seemed disinterested. They, of course, weren't...it's just how they looked. Final score: Kings 4, Blues 0. The Note managed only 15 shots on goal in the whole game. 3 in the second period...sheesh. If you didn't know better, you could have been convinced they were all "slipped a mickey".
Palin, for her part, stayed for the first two periods and enjoyed the game from owner Dave Checketts' luxury suite. Checketts and much of the ownership was in from New York to take in the night's star attraction. By the end of the first period I would think Palin, likely not being oblivious to superstition in sports (she once did sports on TV for an Alaska station), was already thinking about the so-called curse. She probably knew full well that the Blues were taking a pretty good whipping from the Kings. She likely also had info about Legace's pre-game injury on her puck-drop carpeting. I'm guessing she probably won't be asked...nor would she accept...another such "opportunity" prior to the election.
By the way, congratulations to the St. Louis fans for showing how a person nominated to be a national leader should be treated in such a situation. There may have been a few boos, but they were overwhelmingly drowned out by the positive reception accorded the night's special guest. Philly fans weren't...and never have been...nearly so classy.
So, if you're a believer in black cats, ghosts, UFOs, and not stepping on a sidewalk crack, then I guess you can put as much credence into the Palin puck-drop Curse as your little noggin will allow. Becuase after last night, there's plenty of stuff to work with. Now we wait to see if "the curse" continues into future games. Let's hope it's all a bunch of interesting, election-year coincidence.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
-Stewart W. Calhoun offers the closest thing to comic relief, competently wending his way through all the confused and defeated boys and men in Cissy's life.
UPDATE--More reviews in:
Jeff Favre-Backstage.com--There are several fascinating moments in this new 90-minute one-act, thanks mostly to four impressive actors and Casey Stangl's seamless direction. full review
Charlotte Stoudt--LA Times--There are some wonderful moments: Butch educating Cissy's first boyfriend (Stewart W. Calhoun) on the facts of fatherly life; and Johnston's monologues for the guilt-stricken Butch, beautifully underplayed by Denton, are the show's highlights. full review
Jonas Schwartz--Theatermania.com--Stewart W. Calhoun is given little to do as the several boys in Cissy's life; yet he manages to be spellbinding and seductive as Cissy's New York lover and pensive as her boyhood friend. full review
In the wake of the opening, Stewart informs us that he is excited to begin a relationship with the management company of Michael Abrams. The Michael Abrams Group will now be in search of appropriate and effective acting assignments for our guy. Stew tells us Mr. Abrams is extremely highly regarded in the business and the folks back home are tremendously gratified that he has taken a professional liking to the kid from Millstadt. Onward and upward!!
-Joe...thebroadcaster--not plumber. Congrats to dear friend, and long-time voice of the Gateway Grizzlies, Joe Pott. Joe's been tabbed as the new voice of the Cougars at SIU-E. Details here and here. As I've said here before, there isn't a more professional young broadcaster around than this guy. I know he'll do a great job for my old alma mater as the athletics progam moves to Division 1 status. But more importantly, wife Emily and young daughters Madeline and Katie will have a better future with their extremely proud husband and father.
-So V.P. candidate Sarah Palin will be at Scottrade Center to drop the ceremonial puck for the Blues-Kings tomorrow night. Should be interesting to hear what sort of crowd reaction she gets. Kinda hard to judge the make-up of a hockey crowd...as to socio-economic status and political leaning that is. I'm guessing there'll be a smattering of boos...but nothing outrageous. I guess I'll try to say hello if she enters the rink from the penalty box where I sit. I'll definitely try for a photo...and if successful it will be seen here.
-I haven't been so disinterested in a World Series in a long time. But I am pulling for the Rays because of my friendship with their TV voice Dewayne Staats. I know how much it would mean to him to be associated with a champion.
-The Blues got behind in a game with the wrong team last night. Their habit of doing so hasn't been a problem with some of the other competition they've had so far. But the Red Wings have too many world-class players to find yourself in a 3-0 hole against. It was exciting for yours truly to announce the first NHL goal for Blues star rookie T.J. Oshie. The fans seemed to get a charge out of seeing his first pro goal too.
-What's going on with David Duchovny? Submitting to re-hab for sex addiction...rumors of an affair with his tennis coach...and other insundry rumors. Seems like the Hank Moody character he plays in Californication might be more true-to-life than he'd like to admit. Duchovny has an undergraduate degree from Princeton and two daughters with the extremely hot Tea Leoni. Sounds like he must be one of those guys who can't be happy with a "regular life".
-Good to see that the Rams will be adding Dick Vermeil to the team's Ring of Honor at the EdJones dome. Vermeil, for most of us, represents the only true association with a chamionship feeling in pro football that we've ever known. Nobody in the Bill Bidwill era of Cardinals football, or Rams football before or since DV, has given us that king-of-the-hill feeling.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
James Denton (best known as Mike Delfino on ABC's Desperate Housewives) and wife Erin O'Brien are the stars in the world premiere of the play How Cissy Grew which debuted Saturday at the El Portal Forum theatre in North Hollywood. Stewart is joined by Liz Vital in the supporting roles in the four-member cast required by playwright Susan Johnston's work. Casey Stangl directs the show. (Cast photo-->) While reviews aren't yet available as of this writing, Stewart tells us that all feedback he has received so far for the show and the performances has been very positive. UPDATE--click here for the review by Variety's Julio Martinez.
Because of Denton's heightened celebrity and affiliation with a hit TV show, there was a much higher level of media attention, glitz and glamour surrounding the show's opening night than is normal for a play...even in Hollywood. A number of the Housewives cast, including Terri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman were on hand to lend support and take in the show. Producer Mark Cherry was also seen on the red carpet Saturday. A goodly number of other non-Housewives actors and industry insiders stopped by as well. One in particular, William Fichtner (bank manager in Dark Knight--also seen in Fox TV's Prison Break--pic below) offered Stewart some very encouraging words after Saturday's world premiere performance.
Obviously, this show offers Stewart the chance to rub elbows with high-level working actors and producers in the Hollywood professional community. This type of exposure and networking opportunity is priceless in the super-competitive field our guy is attempting to crack. As you no-doubt already know, it's not enough to have enormous talent and/or looks. You also must be able to play the business game that it takes to land the big parts. And, of course, that all starts with getting smaller parts with the help of someone who can make that happen. We are also given to understand that How Cissy Grew could eventually be transformed into a film. Prospective producers were supposedly on hand Saturday to begin the process of deciding if that will happen. Stewart, one would think, would have a leg up on the competition if it does. So if our kid is to make it in the business, it's obvious that he will likely look back on this project as a major step in that direction.
Of course, Barb and I are thrilled that Stewart's talent is beginning to be recognized and that he is steadily climbing the ladder of success in his chosen field. As I've stated here before, we've always known he's had an exceptional gift. Now, it appears, that it is also being recognized by the professional world in which he wants to participate.
All photos (with the exception of Mr. Fichtner) taken opening night and courtesy of wireimage.com. Cissy runs through November 23rd.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Last night's 6-1 win over the Dallas Stars...the Stars--not some schmucks pretending to be hockey players...was a blowout in every way. If it had been a little-league baseball game they would have invoked the "mercy rule". If it were a boxing match, it would have been stopped on a TKO in the second round. The Blues were the quicker, more physical, and much more ready-to-play team. Afterward, I found myself thinking about seeing Brett Hull, now GM of the Stars, in the press lounge prior to the game and wondering what must have been going through his mind while watching that "beat down". The StL boys actually could have won the game by a more lopsided score if a few of their early golden chances would have gone in. Stars goalie Marty Turco must have felt like he was in a shooting gallery at times. While The Note didn't outshoot Dallas by a lopsided margin, it seemed they had many more quality chances and quite a few of their shots just missed the goal and didn't count in the totals.
When you can put out a couple of lines with the physicality that the Blues did last night, you're going to keep the opposition looking over it's collective shoulder for sure. Keith Tkachuk and David Backes got some "physical turnovers" that were turned into goals. And you've got D.J. King and Cam Janssen on the "crap-disturber" line making life miserable for the opposition too. Not too many think of the Blues as an overly physical team, and that's OK, because what they think as opposed to what they get sometimes will work to the benefit of Andy Murray. It sure did last night.
So far, you're not seeing a ton of scoring from the new kids. T.J. Oshie is playing quite a bit, as is Patrik Berglund, and not setting the world on fire. But, I still think there's plenty of reason to be excited by the start they're having. Berglund has a goal and a few assists...while Oshie has an assist next to his name after four games. Alex Pietrangelo doesn't have a point in the three games he's played. But the thing is they are putting in quality minutes at the NHL level and none of them looks "out of place". Oshie is getting the defensive end of the game down while playing on the penalty kill. Berglund isn't going to be your number one center this year but is still getting in the mix while acquitting himself well at both ends. Pietrangelo has had a few shaky shifts but for the most part has been quite good. None has been embarassed in any way. That's a major statement for the future of the Blues. The kids are NHL players! And it's just a matter of time before they fulfill their destiny as star players. At least, that's how I view it.
Meanwhile, other young players such as David Perron, David Backes, Roman Polak and Steve Wagner are already solid performers that it appears can be counted on for years to come. So, after four games, we can allow ourselves to be excited about the '08-'09 edition of the Blues. We can't afford to go overboard because, as we know all too well, injuries and other unpredictable things (i.e. today's appendectomy for goalie Chris Mason) tend to happen in sports. But, we can go to the games knowing that A) we'll get a good look at the future, B) we'll get our money's worth, and C) we just might be seeing a team that's time has arrived a little earlier than predicted.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Firstly, I decided long ago upon entering the field of broadcasting, that if I was to have any credibility in delivering the news I would have to keep the specifics of who I support in any election to myself. To be considered a real journalist...even though this idea has gotten lost in the battle for ratings lately...one must preserve personal views for very private discussions that can never be available for public consumption. I don't even think a true journalist can succumb to the temptation of supporting a particular candidate financially..no matter how unbiased their on-the-air presentation might be. Political donation records are made public and if someone really wants to know your leanings they can find out that way.
Secondly, I also made a conscious decision when I was much younger...high school age I think...to not align myself with one party or the other on anything approaching a regular basis. It is obvious to anyone who pays attention that when one party dominates an elective office, bad things happen. And the Constitution works to our benefit much more effectively when we keep the elected officials on their toes. For the life of me, I don't understand why any elected official should be allowed to stay in office for more than a few terms...any office. Elected officials would be much more inclined to go to Washington to accomplish the goals they have for their constituents, represent their ideals to the fullest in the limited time they have...and then move on. Wouldn't that be more beneficial to the population than when someone stays in an elected office...and can expect to be...for multiple terms? When that happens the person and his/her office become much too powerful in the grand scheme of things. When an elected official gets too comfortable in his/her office, it's time to move them into a new line of work.
Thirdly, I think we'd be much better off if there were more than two parties that were viable on the national level. The donkeys and the elephants are often much too cozy for my taste, and for our good. When I voted for Ross Perot back in the 90's it was more in the hopes that he would be able to establish a viable third party than that I wanted him to run the country. Other countries seem to get along nicely with more than two parties involved in setting policy. Coalitions and alliances are formed to further legislation that is deemed important. Why should a democrat have to stray from the party line and be considered a maverick to cast a vote for a bill that he considers important to his constituents? Why does a Republican from California have to support the same ideas that one from Mississippi does? But it's obvious right now that you have to have either an R or a D next to your name to get elected in the good 'ol USA.
As to the two men running for President...I will say that I admire anyone who gets to where they are and sincerely want the job. Barack Obama has a level of charisma and fluency that we haven't seen in a candidate in a number of years. John McCain is perhaps the closest thing to a war hero that we've had as a candidate since JFK...some would say Eisenhower. Both of them would likely be good at the job. Obama is certainly more representative of his buzzword "change" than is McCain. The Senator from Arizona though, offers a comfort level that Obama doesn't. He's been around long enough for us to really get to know who he is...and for what he stands. So, before I go on too long stating the obvious, I'll say that I look forward to the next few weeks in the hope that I will get a sign from one of these gentlemen as to which I should support with my single, solitary vote. As yet I'm not sure...and wouldn't say here if I were. Either way it goes, I think we're in for an interesting next four years.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
- I'm excited about the Blues prospects for '08-'09. No, I'm not saying they're going to win The Cup...but I am excited about the make-up of the roster with the young kids (Oshie, Berglund, Pietrangelo) playing a prominent role. Like all Blues fans, I can only shake my head at the bad luck the team continues to suffer. Erik Johnson blowing out a knee while driving a golf cart?? Holy mackerel...what other team in pro sports has had more whacky things like this happen to them over the years? Anyway, the veterans appear to be re-energized and the youngsters seem to have injected a new life into the roster. If we keep adding key players over the next year or two...look out.
- The Albert Pujols surgery appears to be a "comfort thing" and did not address the torn tendon. We'll still be worried about that. Especially if he doesn't have the pain to remind him that he's throwing with a bad elbow.
- The Rams, as we expected, are a bit better than their 0-4 start. With Sunday's win at Washington, it proves to me that they had tanked for Scott Linehan. This bunch likely won't win more than 2 or 3 more games this season. But you have to be happy for Jim Haslett that he was at least able to get that win in his first try. And, by the way, do the Rams have a team psychologist that might consult with Richie Incognito on a regular basis?
- I wrote here a few months ago that I was surprized that no major league organization had picked up Gateway Grizzlies catcher Charlie Lisk. He was hitting for average and power..and was an excellent receiver/thrower behind the plate. Well, the Detroit Tigers caught notice and his contract was picked up by them yesterday. Good luck to Charlie in making the climb through the Tigers minor-leagues.
-As to the Presidential race... It appears that unless Barack Obama makes some sort of uncharacteristic major speaking gaffe between now and November 4, he will be our next President. The polls just don't lie...that much. Although, I read the other day that some pollsters are worried that the polls don't reflect certain groups (cell-phone only households, whites who won't admit racist tendencies etc.) But, unless John McCain pulls some kind of rabbit out of his fedora soon, Obama-Biden appears to be the next team in charge. But an extended run of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin would have been fun.
-If you're like me, you don't fully understand the current economic meltdown, bailout and re-structuring. I don't know if anyone who doesn't work with these economic equations on a full-time basis can. It seems...at least temporarily...that the folks in charge have gotten something of a handle on the worst of it. But most experts that I've read feel that there's a long way to go to fix the original problems that created the situation in the first place. I guess the question I come back to is.."Is capitalism really capitalism when the government has to play such a large role in oversight and, in this case, ownership?" I suppose the economics professors all over the world are having fun with this one.
-I've been gratified by the reaction I've gotten to hosting Total Information AM-Weekend on KMOX. The show is one of the most highly-rated in St. Louis radio in comparison to it's competition in those dayparts. It seems everywhere I go someone mentions to me that they are listening, or heard something we've broadcast. That's when being on the radio is both fun and rewarding. Working with co-host Maria Keena has been great as well. She's a strong news-oriented broadaster with a great voice, and is fun to be around.
Come back again soon. I'll try to be more regular with updates.