Tag Archives: ESPN

Major League – Another Sequel?

As my team craps the bed with the worst record in baseball, thoughts turn to happier rawhide moments. I don’t know of any baseball fan who doesn’t love the movie Major League. There are several great baseball movies, from Fear Strikes Out to Bull Durham, but none is as quotable.

Talk now centers around another sequel, either the second or the third, depending upon whether you count Major League III (sorta the Godfather III of the franchise). Many of the major actors are not only available, but willing. Let’s face it, Corbin Bernsen and Tom Berenger aren’t getting a lot of A-list offers, and Charlie Sheen has some time on his hands. Dennis Haysbert – and don’t you wish you had President Palmer handling our problems in 2011 – has given thumbs up as has Bob Uecker.

I found it hilarious that director David Ward hired Uecker as the announcer based upon his funny Miller Lite commercials, not realizing that Uecker was the announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers. Just goes to show you that when ESPN thinks only two teams matter, many Americans follow suit.

I’m hoping they do this. Baseball is such a rich subject, with so many in-jokes as low hanging fruit, that making a funny script should be easy. The trick will be finding actors who look convincing playing baseball. Things like this just won’t pass muster these days.

But damn, I’ll miss James Gammon.

Click here to read Sports Illustrated’s oral history of the film.

Click here for ten revealing facts about the original film.

Lou Brown plays for the angels now...


Filed under Comedy, Film/TV

R.I.P. Bill Gleason

One more cigar - for the wordsmith

I don’t talk sports on this blog, by design. It’s not that I try to avoid an unpleasant topic (like politics and religion) but more that I try to focus upon music, comedy, television, books and film – pop culture and the arts. (I post about sports here.) 

But I guess I can qualify this RIP today since when I first got basic cable back in the day, I stumbled across four cantankerous cigar-smoking guys sitting around the table talking sports –  Sportswriters on TV

An extension of a popular Chicago radio show, the TV version was the same show with a couple of cameras filming the action. Important topics of the day would be topic fodder, but these guys could run off on an entertaining tangent in a heartbeat, and that’s when the show got really interesting. One of them, Bill Gleason, passed away today after a full 87 years on this mortal coil. 

(Ironically, it was another Chicago show featuring two film critics named Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel that inspired me to look outside my own peer group for film discussion. And like with any great critic, I didn’t always agree with them but I understood them enough to know when to take their opinion seriously or take it with a grain of salt. But I digress…

So I would catch this sports show at the oddest of hours, but watch fascinated on that tiny living-on-a-prayer sized television and mesmerized that I was a fly on the wall with these old salts. In fact, I seem to remember how Rick Telander (now 60-ish) was like a young pup when he joined Gleason, Bill Jauss and Ben Bentley, all twenty years or so older. For Telander, it must have been like moving from the kid’s table to the adult table at Thanksgiving. And initially he did defer, although he had the credentials to be there. 

I grew up in New York City. We didn’t get the New York Times in my house, we got The Daily News and later Newsday, so I didn’t realize what a non-tabloid newspaper was until I was in High School. Watching this show proved to me that Chicago was filled with the same intensity and mania for sports that we had, and in fact, so many other cities have. Boston. Philadelphia. Pittsburgh. Blue collar hearts.

Gleason was – as one commenter put it –  “a shot and beer guy in a shot and beer town”. He was like you, except he had your dream job. But he invited you along for the ride. In the early days of cable wasteland, you have to understand what a find this was.

Sportswriters was the forerunner for every sports talk show since. Unfortunately, sports is now a business, and sports coverage is a predominantly a myopic cesspool. Most of the pinheads getting air time think it’s all about them, not the topics. Fools. These old veterans had fame, they were all accredited writers, but they understood that they were not the important part of the show. You were the fifth barstool

But all things must pass. Gleason, as Telander says in his tribute, “has gone to the great typewriter in the sky”. I’m a lot younger but appreciate an old-school sportswriter like him and a classic voice like Jack Buck or Vin Scully. Soon they will all be gone, and frankly, sports will never be the same. 

I feel sorry for a generation growing up on this and this.

But if you settle for it, maybe I don’t

I’m going to figuratively don a Panama hat or a cabbie cap and light up a stogie. Thanks, Bill. 

Chicago Tribune obituary 

Rick Telander remembers Bill Gleason 

a 1990 Telander piece for Sports Illustrated about the show 

2009's NFL MVP. No contest.

(And if I was going to post about sports I’d post about this force of nature – Chris Johnson, the Manimal. But I’ll save my Titan love for another place and time.)

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Filed under Editorials, Features and Interviews, Film/TV

Opening Day, 21st Century $tyle

Bud Selig screws up another tradition.

Bud Selig screws up another tradition.

Once upon a time, one cathedral was lit before all others, and it was in Cincinnati…the reward for the Reds being the very first franchise. Now because it’s not about the tradition but only about the broadcast contract, the advertising dollars and the marketability of the product (nee “sport”), the season opens with ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. How sick is it that on only four hours prior to the first official game of the season two other teams are playing an exhibition game? On the same day! Equally ridiculous is calling Sunday “Opening Night” and Monday “Opening Day”. Feh.

But yeah, I’ll watch. I’m an addict. And for all the coddled millionaires (A-Rod) who flock to cameras like moths (Schilling) or act like they are above reproach (Clemens) there are amazing new stars in the making (Lincecum) and great stories (Tampa Bay Rays).

But this isn’t a sports blog; I do that in the Houston Chronicle here and here. Yes, although born and raised and always residing in New York, I root for the former Rainbow Warriors – now the Blood and Mud – the Houston Astros. And in New York…no, that’s not easy to do.

(There’s a hush in the room as Bill enters the meeting, stands at the podium and speaks…) “My name is Bill (Hi, Bill!) and I’m a lifelong Astros fan. They have broken my heart often, but especially in 1980 and 1986 and 2005.”

Diamonds truly are forever.

Diamonds truly are forever.

But baseball is wonderful. Follow your team’s season here and look up any stats you want herePlay ball!

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Filed under Features and Interviews

Blast From The Past: The Montgomery Cliffs


I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

I believe "Andiamo" means PLAY THIS LOUD!

“If I were in a band and had to follow these guys onstage, I’d demand to have the room hosed out and a fresh audience brought in. Nuff said.”


First of all, that name…The Montgomery Cliffs. How cool is that? When I reviewed Andiamo, the Cliffs’ debut album – my #1 Record of 1997, by the way – I proclaimed it “a low-budget, high voltage masterpiece” and I wouldn’t take back a syllable of that today. If anything, my opinion has been validated by the passage of time.  Produced by the great Andy Bopp (Myracle Brah) and released on the small RPM label, this three piece NYC band understood that The Who were both power and pop, and having a a sense of humor didn’t hurt either. Joey’s voice is occasionally reminiscent of Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens) or Elvis Costello (Ol’ Declan would be smart to cover “If I Were You”), and the songs on Andiamo aren’t far off from the early records by either.

But more importantly, the band and album were pure unadulterated impact. We’ve all been knocked sideways by a great band when we weren’t expecting it…meeting someone at a bar, arriving early for a concert and not knowing the opener, and then… POW…floored! When recapping 1997’s best later that year I added “The Cliffs  parlay the guitar-bass-drum formula into something much greater. Great songs, whip-crack musicianship and a sense of humor that rocks your world and still makes you think. And the best part? They’re better live. This disc kept getting back in the player all year long, and how better to measure your favorite?”

They were better live. They were amazing live. When I saw them at Fletcher’s in Baltimore later that year, I was absolutely gobsmacked and wrote this. (And yes, I know Patsy Cline didn’t write “Crazy”…) It wasn’t just Salvia’s charisma, although the guy had buckets of it; Wayne Thomas Kurz was the only guitar player but sounded like two, and Dennis Carollo mastered the art of propulsion without ego. Truly a power trio.

Joey Salvia might now be better known to some NYC area fans from his work on The Michael Kay Show (along with various appearances on FOX Sports and ESPN).  Salvia engineers and helps produce the show as well as singing songs for guests, wreaking sonic havoc and bantering with the host. He also wrote the theme song and the other original/parody tunes you hear each day. Salvia continues to record under his own name; his latest album Long Lost Weekend features a song that Bostonians will surely hate…”Derek Jeter“. (And to Dennis and Wayne, wherever you are…isn’t it about time for a reunion??)

Maybe this video was recorded for ten dollars, who knows…but I think you’ll get the point.

The Montgomery Cliff’s MySpace page. “Wednesday Girl”  rules.

CD Baby features several Cliffs and Salvia titles here… I also highly recommend the self-titled Cliffs record.



Filed under Editorials, Music, Reviews