|Those golf hats are not old school|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
This column hath declared the exalted status of other Sports Weekends.
There is Cooler Day -- the NCAA basketball final and baseball Opening Day on a Monday in April (alas, the hoops final is a week later this year). There is The Best Football Day of the Year -- NFC and AFC championship games, back-to-back.
And then there was this past weekend.
Or, as it might be known, The Cooler Runneth Dry Weekend.
What was there to grab your sports fan Jones?
MJ against the Mavs? Yeah. Great and all. But it's February, man.
Tyson-Etienne? Please. Dude took a fall like an off-Broadway actor flailing in his attempt to recreate the Jack Johnson sun-in-his-eyes 1913 dive in Cuba, trying out for the James Earl Jones role in "The Great White Hope." If I was the casting director watching Etienne, I'd bark out "Next! ... then make my production assistant run out for a pastrami sandwich and a black coffee.
College hoops? Granted, there was some there, there. Cat from Michigan State made 10 treys in one game -- a feat not seen since Jimmy Chitwood silently buried all those J's when Gene Hackman's Norman Dale tried to talk him into joining the team. Nice. It was like he was playing Pop-a-Shot in a tavern, a frosty mug of Bud delicately balanced on the shelf nearby.
The Grammys? Now, you're talking. There was some definite Cooler material percolating there. Hell, I didn't turn the Grammys on until after 10 p.m. and I was immediately rewarded with the sight of Cyndi Lauper in the crowd. Cyndi Lauper! At what point do the Grammys invoke their Statute of Limitations on Horse Manure? Best I can tell, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" peaked in 1985. That's 18 years ago. So, at the '85 Grammys, was the red carpet rolled out for Sgt. Barry Sadler, on the 19th anniversary of his chart-topping "Ballad of the Green Berets"?
I sort of consider myself the Cyndi Lauper of Page 2, so I'm banking on that ESPY invite in 2021, baby.
Also, I'm not sure, but I think I saw Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" fame introducing an act. I also thought I saw Bradley sporting an earring.
Setting aside the sheer horror of the George-Michael-Wham!-U.K. look Bradley was sporting, I could only wonder: What would Andy Rooney think?
Aw, hell. Who are we kidding? Andy Rooney was asleep at 7 p.m., shortly after the "Murder, She Wrote" rerun on Lifetime.
See what I mean? It was a dry weekend, dwellers. Without further ado about nothing, then, to the Weekend List of Five:
1. Golf, anybody?
The Nissan Open -- which sounds so much better when you call it the L.A. Open -- produced the hard-to-watch fade from young Charlie Howell III, a good kid who all dwellers should root for. Bottom line: Howell gets it. He's funny. He's cool. He's a hell of a player. Only weakness in his game: he doesn't drink beer. But hey, what's a drinking buddy, if you can't toss him your keys?
Anyway, tough to watch Howell blow that three-shot lead when he made the turn. Moreover, he lost to Mike Weir, who has the curse of being both Canadian and left-handed. I always heard you couldn't trust a man with two first names. So what are you supposed to do with a Canadian left-hander?
I was reminded of that old MTV game show that featured a category "Dead or Canadian?" Host Ken Ober would toss out a name, and the contestant would have to I.D. the name as Dead or Canadian. The highlight came when the name was "Guy Lombardo" and the contestant coolly answered, correctly: "Both."
2. Speaking of The Tour: How about those hats?
This vanity stitching is not relegated to top players. Following Robert Gamez at Pebble Beach recently, I noted his Titleist hat featured his nickname -- "Grande." Nice, but Gamez hasn't won an event on Tour since he was "Pequeno." Dennis Paulson, always amusing, features "Chief" on the back of his Titleist hat. Lately, though, Paulson's play has suggested more "Squaw."
Anyway, we need this trend to spill over to other sports -- namely, baseball.
Can we fit Kevin Brown's Dodgers hat with a stitched "Stiff" on the back? Or how about Jose Canseco's last hat -- what was it, a White Sox lid? -- with the words "Cuffed and Stuffed"?
The list goes on: For Vladimir Guerrero's Expos hat, in case an MLB exec is watching a game on TV from Montreal -- "Help!" or "SOS!"
For Edgar Martinez's Mariners hat: "AARP discount: 10 percent." For Lou Piniella's Devil Rays hat: "Hey, It's a paycheck, and I'm closer to home." For Mike Piazza's Mets hat: "I dig chix."
I think we're on to something here.
3. Staining the memory of the great ones
The outrageously bad reality show "host."
Reality TV is a tragedy for so many reasons. Prime among them -- my babe and I wind up pissing away way, way too many nights watching them. Also, though: the so-called "host."
I don't have to get specific here. They know and you know.
And to think -- the role of game-show host used to be an exalted one. Remember? Whether it was Jack Barry guiding you through the $200 "Cheeses of the World" question on "The Joker's Wild" or Bob Barker smoothing you through a sick day from school -- only to retire backstage to shag a "Price is Right" model about 40 years younger -- the cats were smooth. Legit.
T.C. heard the theory and shot back immediately: "Yeah, to me, there's really only one example of Host in our TV history."
I didn't miss a beat. "Exactly," I said. "Gene Rayburn."
T.C. nodded authoritatively, images of "Match Game '78" still strong. "The pinstriped suit, the pencil-thin, 36-inch long mike, the capped teeth," he said. "Rayburn, dude. He was the gold standard."
I dare any of these reality show hosts to pull a 4x6 baby blue card from a slot, turn to the audience, and turn the sentence "Naughty Nora was so naughty ..." into poetry.
4. While still pondering pop culture
Man, that flick has some serious potential.
Will Ferrell remains comic gold. His scene sequence of "I promised my wife I wouldn't drink" into "OK, I'll just do one" into "HEY, EVERYBODY, LET'S GO STREAKING!'' is your basic three-steps of comedy, played to perfection by a man who does shirtless love handles better than anyone since Chris Farley.
My only fear: A flick of such promise can let you down so hugely. I remain frozen in limbo: Do I just rest on the potential of the trailers, walk around secure in the knowledge that Vince Vaughn and Ferrell and Luke Wilson as the comic straight man absolutely cannot miss? Or do I go see the flick, and have those lofty expectations morph into horrifyingly unfunny stretches of silence?
Are life's anticipations better than life's realities? I think poets have addressed this topic. Wallace Stevens once wrote something about the "beauty of innuendo."
Then again, Stevens never saw Ferrell streak.
Something to ponder in this February sports desert, dwellers.
5. Dale Jarrett: Sign on the line for your package, sir
All that said ... caught the sight of Dale Jarrett after his NASCAR win on Sunday. Guess he's spnsored by UPS. I deduced this by the giant UPS logo on his hat, and on the chest of his brown jumpsuit.
Isn't there a way to float your sponsor's logo without actually looking like the Employee of the Month? Jarrett's look cast a whole new light on his hard-driving win. You could see him trying to make turns on the inside, furiously steering, as you imagine boxed packages riding shotgun. You can almost see Jarrett's thought bubble: "I gotta get these J.Crew trousers to the guy at the finish line -- he ordered over 72 hours ago!"
Hey, whatever it takes to get a paycheck, right?
If any place knows that sentiment ... it's The Cooler, dwellers.
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.