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Friday, June 17, 2005

Now Playing - Moonrat's top 5 Sports Movies

I recently read ESPN's list of the best sports movies - and I was a little dismayed at some of their conclusions. Especially the fact that some "chick flicks" also masquerade as Sports Movies, and we are supposed to by it. "Bull Durham" for example, you'll find as one of my favorite five movies...period. However, is it a Sports Movie that has "chick flick" elements, or a chick flick dressed in a sports movie. Tough call, right? It was tough for me to get to 5 - but I'll try.

At #5 - 61*
I know, it was directed by Billy Crystal, and his daughter played the female lead, but his attenion to detail and selection of actors, particularly Barry Pepper as Roger Maris, makes this a captivating film.

#4 - Remember the Titans
This film edges out "The Longest Yard" and "North Dallas Forty" as my favorite Football Film. Aside from the fact that it chronicled a great story and captured the moods of the racial difficulties that capsulated the early 1970's in the small southern community, I loved the way it emphasizes what Friday Nights in the fall are like in most communities. High School Football rules in most communities and the true atmosphere surrounding these games. This movie captures this mood as well as any movie I've seen.

#3 - Running Brave
To non-runners and people that have never heard of Billy Mills, you wonder what on earth I am talking about. But this video-biography of 1964 10,000 meter gold medalist Billy Mills is a story you just do not want to miss. The total story of this great Native American runner and ambassador is excellent. Having met the man twice., the movie does not really do justice to this true sports hero. But it is really very well done. Robby Benson is excellent in the lead. (Make a note of that last sentence, it is likely the only time you'll ever see it written by me.)

#2 - Bull Durham
Yeah, Yeah - I know...chick flick. Also a great Baseball movie, edging out "Major League" and "61*" as my favorite baseball movies. There are so many good ones that I almost neeed another list. (Maybe that will be another blog) My favorite scene, when the player tells Crash that they need a rainout to be able to have a chance with the skaters that were checking into hotel. Crash guarantees a rainout and proceeds to create it by breaking into the field and turning on the sprinklers. Great baseball movie. We can't forget Crash's famous monologue - "I believe in the soul...."

#1 - Hoosiers
I have to agree with ESPN on this one. This movie is the best basketball movie I've seen and a great sports movie in general. My father taught in Madras, Oregon in 1952 and their basketball team that year went to the State Finals. I noticed the parallels of the stories that he always talked about. Hickory Huskers vs. Madras White Buffalos - dunno who'd win, but this story tells it. Whenever I see a sports movie that requires some historical reference, I always look for errors, don' you. I only found two in this story. Many of the gyms had glass backboards in the movie. That was only in the biggest arenas in 1952. Same is true of the digital clocks. Most used the large face clocks that had only 8 numbers on them.

From the Hackman to Sheb Wooley, (yes - the role of "Cletus" the principal, is also the same person that gave us "Purple People Eaters") this cast is excellent. ESPN got this one right.

Here are my fav's by sport - in Top Five format.
The @ sign indicates possible chick flick. Acknowledged, with no apologies.

1. Remember the Titans
2. The Longest Yard
3. North Dallas Forty
4. Rudy
5. Friday Night Lights

1. Bull Durham @
2. 61*
3. Major League @
4. Pride of the Yankees
5. Field of Dreams @

1. Hoosiers
2. Blue Chips
3. Finding Pistol Pete

1. Miracle on Ice
2. SlapShot
3. Mystery Alaska
4. Miracle

1. Running Brave
2. On the Edge
3. Personal Best @
4. Athens - 1896
5. Chariots of Fire

Other Sports
1. The Hustler (Can only be couned if Pool is considered a sport)
2. Tin Cup @
3. Rocky @
4. Raging Bull
5. Goal ! (Not a chick flick but its about Soccer!) @

BTW - Here is ESPN's List:

"Don't let the Bastards Grind you Down!"


Monday, February 28, 2005

How to Fix Sports

I want to be the king of sports, just for a little while. Since they are all sucking in one way or the other, here is what I would do if I were King. Tell me I am wrong. Tell me that things wouldn't be better if.....

In the NFL - - -
1> We adopted the College Overtime. I think it has improved the college game 10-fold. Right now a tie is determined, essentially by the flip of a coin.

2> Cut down the Pre-season. No one cares anyway.

3> Get rid of the media week between the Championship games and the Super Bowl. Quite frankly, the press runs out of good questions anyway, and I really do not care what kind of tree Tom Brady would be. Let's finish the season sometime in January.

In the NBA - - -
1> Let's start by only guaranteeing the first year of a contract. With the "capology" that goes on, the team should be able to cut a player without hurting the salary cap, particularly if the player acts like a total dick. The NFL does it. The teams should pay through the nose if they are dumb enough to sign Zach Randolph for $84 mil. But if Darius Miles is dumb enough to call his coach names and berate him in practice, he should go and the team should not have to pay any more than this year's salary. The team should be able to pay off the salary for this year, the player should then be able to go into free agency the following year, and the team can get some cap relief. The player can then take his chances in the market.

2> Cut the playoffs down to 4 teams per conference and make sure the playoffs happen every other night. One night rest between games is plenty. The playoffs should be done in May. First week of June at the latest. Currently, they just kep going like The Energizer Bunny.

3> I like the Sportsguys idea of spicing up All-Star Weekend with a H-O-R-S-E competition. Hey, All-Star weekend can't get any worse.

Baseball -
1> Let's start by putting the weekend playoff games and World Series games on in the daytime. I loved taking the transistor radio to grade school to listen to the World Series through an earplug.
2> Let's make a decision on the Designated Hitter and go with it. My advice would be to dump it. 3> I know this steroid thing is going to end badly, but I love baseball history. I believe that any records that are officially deemed "tainted" are stricken. I'd hate to see the magical "Summer of '98" turn into a pumped-up farce, but I doubt that Barry Bonds was on Jenny Craig this last winter. (I'll also be surprised it he hits 30 HR's this year.)
4> Again work out the playoffs so they are done in early October.

Hockey -
1> I think the first issue can be resolved by playing.......well, just playing. This thing needed to be resolved. I am sad the the Stanley Cup will remain in Tampa Bay, that hotbed of Hockey, for another year. This is what the sport has come to.
2> The league has overexpanded beyond repair. I'd dump at least six teams.
3> Dallas needs to rename their team. The new team in Minnesota needs to be the North Stars. Don't you think it is the right thing to do?

The Olympics -
1> Tell NBC that there are other Olympic sports besides Basketball, Swimming, and Gymnastics. Did you know that the USA had two Olympic Marathon medalists this year? No reason why you should, the race was pre-empted with the quarter-finals of beach volleyball. I'm not even kidding.
2> Let's get back to the amateurs. Tell me that if you took the professionals out of the last Olympics, our college All-Stars would not have been classier and done as well or better. That said...
3> I feel the Men's Olympic team got a raw deal. Sure, they "only"got the bronze and didn't have the best press conferences, but they went and represented the USA, and were fairly classy doing it. Kobe, Shaq, and many of the others didn't even bother to make the trip.
4> I'll say the same thing about Steriods and drugs that I said about baseball. It's going to get ugly. But Marion Jones was perfectly clean this year, and her performance was...well...not enhanced.

A few other things.
1> In Golf - Use the British open tie-breaker. Four holes - no sudden death. The US Open needs to take a lesson.
2> I'd love to see a Match Play major. Maybe take the PGA championship to the final 16 on Saturday, then play them off match play style 2 matches a day. This last weeks Match Play championship was really fun to watch.
3> My favorite - - - NASCAR. Here is what I'd do. After each wreck, I'd make sure the driver is out of the car and safe during the yellow flag. But I'd require that they leave the car on the track, until the end of the race. Now we'd have a bit of an obstacle course. Certainly a little more exciting than having 33 people drive 500 miles in a circle, don't you think?

Anyway - that is what I'd do if I were King.


"Don't let the Bastards grind you down"

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Godfather awards for 2004

I am not starting this BLOG to be like he sportsguy on ESPN. Okay, maybe I am a little. But in the spirit of the new year and paying all due respect to him, I will borrow his format and offer some awards for 2004 using quotes from one of my favorite movies, The Godfather. Granted, one of the stars of the movie, Marlon Brando now "sleeps with the fishes" and it was a big story of 2004, there were many others. (Note: you'll find a few quotes from 'The Godfather - part 2". No explaination - that's just the way it is.) Here are a few:

"Yeah Paulie, you won't be seein' him no more..." - Clemenza

This one was so good I couldn't get it down to one, but here are my favorites:
  • Oscar De La Hoya - Mercifully, he finally went down - hopefully for good. This great champion is headed for Tommy Hearns and Ali land if he's not careful. Hopefully he'll retire now and begin his long-awaited infomercial career. I do not want the image of Joe Montana slipping around the Chiefs backfield to make us forget how good you really were.
  • Anna Kournikova - We'll miss you on finals weekend as if you were never there.....oh, yeah...I forgot...
  • Karl Malone - He should....I think.....I'm thinking.......He's...... - oy!
  • ... "I guess I'm gonna fade into Bolivian." -- Mike Tyson
"Tell her - I love you-a, I miss a-you-a so much-a I'm-a gonna die" - Clemenza never said much, but he always had he good lines.

To the Texas Rangers. They bid farewell to "The Contract" last year, and while A-Rod delivered with the Yanks, it was Soriano - (a.k.a. - the player to be named later) that really got it done for the Rangers.

"I'm gonna make him an offer can't refuse"

I'll give this one to a team you'll see me bash and cheer for as much as the Sportsguy does his beloved Celtics, my hometown, clueless, Portland TrailBlazers. The contract they offerred Zach Randolph is not only obscenely crazy, they did not pursue Garnett and/or Kidd in the off-season either, and they should have. I liked the moves dumping Bonzie and Rasheed. One more thing - I also think that they paid a little too much for Quyntel Woods. A couple of pit-bulls, and a pound of good reefer would have done it!

"In the next 5 years, the Family will be totally legitamate"

Remember, I said this was for 2004. For that year - I give it to George Steinbrenner. His signing of Randy Johnson proves he is all about becoming a regular player, about as much as Michael Corleone was about turning around the Family in 5 years.

"Today, I settled all family accounts - your gonna have to answer for Sonny" - Carlo had the best "oh, crap" look ever in the movies.

Larry Brown get's this one. He now has an ABA Championship as a player and Coach, 2 NCAA titles with 2 different schools and finally an NBA championship. Larry had to tell his story to the Pacers, Spurs, Clippers, and all the other teams he coached for. What else would you ask for..except maybe a Gold Medal.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" - Sonny Corleone at the tollbooth.

This one took some thinking - but I have to give it to the NCAA and the BCS. If look at the BCS at face value it really is fine. It is fair and for the most part balanced , but needs a little tweaking. The NCAA, however, in how the BCS rankings are applied, has it's head so far up its rear in so many ways we need them to take a trip to the tollboth. A few things just have to happen:
  • The NCAA must take the top 8 from the BCS and play them off. First week in December, they play four-quarter-final games seeded by the BCS. New Year's day - they play the Semi's in two BCS bowl games. The following Saturday, the final is played in a large college stadium. How tough is that? It would be bigger than March Madness. I'm not kidding!
  • The BCS needs to go back to including strength of schedule and we should not see any pre-season rankings until the 6th week. (Remember that Auburn's claim that their victories over The Citidel and William and Mary entitled them to the National Final over Oklahoma, who remained undefeated playing one of the toughest schedules of any Div. I school.)
  • Kill the Florida rule. (This is the rule that requires all Florida colleges to participate in New Year's day bowl games if it can in any way be done. The rule also applies to Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and we found out this year - Texas)
  • Give a stipend to players so that they are less tempted from "friends of the program" to be offered extra funding.
  • The NCAA has the very best football overtime. Let's get it into the NFL.
"I have gathered together the heads of the five families..."

To Gary Bettmann and the NHL. In fact just about every permuatation of Hockey people in almost as many rooms to try and decide what seems plainly obvious to you and me. Owners, if you are afraid not to have a salary cap because you want to "curtail spending", then my advice would be to ...hmmm.... not offer as big contracts to players that don't deserve it. Players, if you want more in the retirement fund, you might consider buying one less Rolls and put 100k or so of each years 2 million and place it in an IRA. Am I overthinking this whole thing?

"so...some lawyers wanted me to say some stuff about Michael Corleone, and so I said 'sure' but none of that stuff ever really happened." - Frankie Pantangili

To Jason Giambi and the BALCO boys. This is shaping up to be a bigger story than "Who shot JR?" Everyone is waiting for the Barry Bonds shoe to drop, which I think ultimately will. But all we are seeing now is simply enough stupidity to populate the "Gong Show" for a year. If anything at all shows us the impact of the steriod scandal that is sweeping through sports it was that in 2004, the only year we are relatively certain that Marion Jones was carefully clean, she got her butt kicked. She was lighter and a full step slower.
Note: I am glad that the SlimFast diet is so successful. Mark McGwire seems to be as much a poster child as the obnoxious Jared is for Subway!

I am hopeful that each week, I can come up with something witty and insightful. Please stay tuned for more. Let me offer the chance to respond with comments. I might even attempt a mailbag BLOG at some point.

"Don't let the Bastards grind you down"

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