Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Thong Bandit, Bree McMahon comes home, and a very cool Halloween costume

Thongsong

A weird story, an uplifting story, and a cool-ass Halloween costume for your Saturday pleasure:

**So we’ve written a few times in this space about Bree McMahon, the remarkable young soccer player from Orlando’s Freedom High School who had one leg amputated in a horrific accident at a school car wash fundraiser in September.

Well, if you need some more inspiration in your life, I highly recommend this latest column on Bree from the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi, who has been chronicling Bree’s recovery. This young woman has shown such remarkable courage and optimism through her ordeal, and now she’s finally been released from the hospital.

She’s already talking about how quickly she wants to play soccer again, once she gets a prosthetic leg. Such a great kid; the kind we all hope to have.

**The Smoking Gun delivers another glorious story to my inbox today. Let me introduce you to Kendra Clem, a 23-year-old woman who decided to steal from Intimate Apparel, a Kentucky store that sells, well, intimate apparel. Apparently Miss Clem decided to shoplift Monday night, and she did it while wearing only a hoodie and two pairs of stolen thongs (Why two? I wondered the same thing).

But alas, Miss Clem was apprehended, and the thongs were returned. Boy, I really hope the store doesn’t try to re-sell them.

***Finally, in honor of Halloween, perhaps the coolest costume of all time. Seriously, if this were around when I was a kid, I would’ve begged and pleaded for it. Watch to the end, it’s only 1 minute long.

 

Friday grab-blog: The power of David Stern, the glory of Kevin Spacey, and the hell of John Sterling

NBArefs

So I think it’s pretty obvious to most fans who the most powerful man in sports is, but just in case it’s not, let me make yet another case for a vertically-challenged Jewish lawyer who works in New York.

His name is David Stern, and he’s the commissioner of the NBA.

David Stern could’ve made Mother Teresa attack someone with a knife. He could’ve gotten Noah to bring the animals on to the Ark one at a time. He could have convinced Thomas Edison: “You know what? People like it dark.”

Stern can do absolutely anything he wants, I am completely certain. His fingerprints are on every decision made by any commissioner in the last 25 years.

And in the last few weeks, Stern decided that there was no way in HIS green earth that disgraced referee Tim Donaghy was going to publish a book further tarnishing his officials’ integrity.

You remember Donaghy: He was the guy who was caught gambling on NBA games, and making calls that affected the point spread in games he bet on and was refereeing. He was disgraced, and he said he wasn’t working alone, and yet, after initial outrage (especially from Sacramento and Phoenix fans, who could finally say “A-HA, I knew we got screwed in the playoffs”) the tumult died down. No more refs were implicated, the fans moved on, and King Stern had his league back to normal.

Only now, Donaghy has written a book. And man, does he spill the beans. In excerpts published on the popular sports blog Deadspin, Donaghy dishes all sorts of explosive details. He talks about he and his fellow striped shirts making wagers on who can go the longest without calling a foul. He talks about noted homer referee Dick Bavetta intentionally trying to let the Lakers win Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Finals, and about how Steve Javie had a personal vendetta against Allen Iverson.

Could Donaghy be making all this up? Perhaps. But read that excerpt; this is a guy who has a ton of details in there, details that would be hard to make up.

This book was going to make huge waves in the media and with fans, and David Stern couldn’t have that. And so, curiously, Random House has decided not to publish the book after all.

The NBA says it never threatened a lawsuit. And sure, it’s possible that Random House, after reviewing the final draft, full of uncorroborated accusations, veiled threats, and other possibly-litigious material, decided on its own to yank the book.

But I’m not buying it. This is David Stern’s work. Of course I have no proof, but I have little doubt he and the league brought pressure to bear.

He’s just that powerful.

**Covered a high school volleyball game Thursday night. I really enjoy covering the sport, mostly. The points are fast and exciting, the players are the happiest athletes during their competition I’ve ever seen, and there’s great athleticism on display.

But man, the shrieking. The players shriek. The fans shriek. Everyone seems to shriek at a volleyball match. Admission should come with two Advil.

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***ESPN is now 3-for-4 in my book in its “30 for 30” documentary series, scoring another great one this week with “Muhammad and Larry,” a film about the 1980 Larry Holmes-Muhammad Ali fight. This was the fight that never should have happened, as a way past his prime Ali was just pulverized by the heavyweight champ, Holmes. Great behind the scenes footage from before the fight, and some great interviews from the present day with Holmes and Ali’s friends.

It’s on again Sunday, I think, at 3 p.m. on ESPN.

**Finally, a few thoughts on Thursday night’s World Series game, won by the Yankees (whoo-hoo!)

1. I’ll tell you what one circle of Hell is: Driving home in the car, the only radio broadcast of the game I could pick up was the WCBS 880 feed from New York, with John Sterling doing the play by play. Absolutely the worst announcer of any sport working today; even lots of Yankees fans don’t like him. He’s so pompous he makes James Lipton look humble, he constantly gets his facts wrong, and often blatantly misrepresents the action.

2. Why did FOX hire Ozzie Guillen to be a commentator? The man is pretty unintelligible.

3. It was fun booing Pedro Martinez one more time. As much as I hated the guy throughout his career, I think he’s the best pitcher of my lifetime. Better than Clemens. Better than Maddux.

Well, since I was talking about James Lipton earlier, I stumbled upon a few minutes of genius here, as the great Kevin Spacey perfectly impersonates some fantastic acting voices:

Why I love Gladys from “Ellen,” Cliff Lee makes me sad, and a Sarah Palin poll

So you know what I love? A good Accidental Celebrity.

I’m not talking about people who are nobodies who try to be celebrities, like those fools on reality TV shows, or that idiot Joe the Plumber from the 2008 election cycle.

I’m talking about people who, because they catch lightning in a bottle at one exact moment of the universe, become famous and get to show their talents. I don’t care if it’s a singer, a dancer, or just a funny person, I love it when fame is temporarily thrust upon someone who just gets it, and enjoys the moment.

Clara Peller, the old Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” lady, she was an Accidental Celebrity. Susan Boyle, the fabulous singer who blew everyone away on that “Britain’s Got Talent” show, was an Accidental Celebrity. (I just watched that clip of her again, for about the 50th time. Every time I watch it … chills.).

My new favorite A.C. is Gladys Hardy. If you don’t know Gladys, she’s an 88-year-old woman from Austin, Texas, who has become semi-famous for calling in to the Ellen Degeneres show. The clip above was from her first visit; fast forward to the 3:50 mark if you want to hear her famous line that made Ellen completely lose it.

Gladys and Ellen talk all the time, I learned from Gladys’ website, where you can learn all kinds of fun things.

They’ve chatted about “American Idol,” the annoyance of getting gas, and other stuff. She sounds like a delightful 88-year-old woman, and clearly Ellen likes her, as they’ve chatted about 20 times. Gladys is funny, she’s wise, and she just seems like a wonderful woman.

Now, a little research on the old Internets shows me there’s some doubt if Gladys is real. Some think it’s a hoax, that she’s just some local comedian. I don’t buy it. Gladys sounds real to me, and if you need a laugh, check her out.

P.S. If she does turn out to be a fake, I don’t think it makes it any less funny. But it would sting a little.

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***Boy, that Cliff Lee sure shut the Yankee Stadium crowd up pretty quickly last night, huh?

Man, he was dealing out there on the mound for the Phillies. Total control of his pitches, the ball was darting all over the place like a 9-year-old in a suit he wanted to get out of, and the Yanks had no chance.

On the cold, wintry night, Lee reminded me of a guy who we’ll get to see again tonight, when he was in his prime: Mr. Pedro Martinez.

Two quick thoughts about Pedro’s start tonight, which could give us an electric atmosphere at the Stadium: 1. Can we get Don Zimmer to sit behind the dugout and heckle him? 2. Just for fun, can someone find Grady Little and get him to the game? Just to, you know, remind people of this (come on Sox fans, you can let it go. You’ve won 2 Series since then).

**Finally, more troubling news from CNN: Apparently 71 percent of Americans believe Sarah Palin is unqualified to be President.

I’m extraordinarily troubled that 29 percent believe she IS qualified. Twenty-nine percent. Sigh.

The enigma that is Alex Rodriguez. And a few words about Larry King

arodcigar

He’s just so hateable.

That’s always been my reaction toward Alex Rodriguez. There are so many things you could dislike about the highest-paid player in baseball.

He’s smug. He’s arrogant. He cheats on his wife. He’s selfish. He takes steroids. He shamefully, and without any real remorse, accused a highly-respected reporter named Selena Roberts of sneaking around his mansion in Florida and stalking him, a completely baseless and disgusting charge.

Then, though … you see him play baseball. You see how effortless this game is for him.  You see his beautiful stroke, his solid glove, how he seems to be a pretty good teammate. And then you watch him struggle for five years to gain acceptance from Yankees fans, maybe the most spoiled and hard to please folks in the world.

I truly never thought of A-Rod as a Yankee; as a fan of the Bombers, I took him the same way I took Roger Clemens: I hate that I have to root for him. But I root for a team, and if he’s on that team, then I guess I have to bite my tongue.

Still, I never thought he’d truly be accepted. He just was not a clutch player, as evidenced by his horrible playoff career as a Yankee. He hit .258, .133, .071, and .267 in the playoffs from 2004-07. That’s Hensley Meulens bad.

Only this October, Yankees fans have embraced him. He’s getting cheered as he’s smacked big hit after big hit. It was like, as many have pointed out, a giant weight (or a large bag of syringes) has been lifted off of him, and he can finally play as free and easy in the pressure moments as he does when it’s 9-3.

Now, A-Rod gets his first World Series shot. Is he still a jerk? Probably. Am I pulling for him? Yes. Do I wish he was on another team? Certainly. Does he enter the Yankees pantheon if he leads them to a title? I’m not sure. He’s got a long way to go on that contract of his.

Rodriguez is a hard guy to like. But for the next 10 days, I like him. That’s life as a sports fan.

***So the World Series starts today, and it could be one of the best in a long, long time. For my money (which isn’t much; hey, I’m a journalist), the most memorable World Series that I’ve ever seen was the 1991 classic between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves, won by the Twins in a 1-0 Game 7 classic. Coming in second was the Yanks-Diamondbacks 2001 Series, what with the exciting games and all the other outside world issues swirling around.

My prediction? The Phillies are absolutely loaded offensively, and in starting pitching. Cannot wait to see Pedro Martinez pitch in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are loaded, too, with a slightly better offense.

These teams are so close, but I give the edge to the Yanks, in 6 games, for 1 reason: They have Mariano Rivera, and Philly doesn’t.

**Another of my random musings: Was at a high school volleyball playoff match tonight, between two local high schools. It was a good match, exciting and it went the distance, but that’s not what got me thinking. I kept noticing how incredibly happy the Deltona High assistant coach, Laura Smith, seemed. She was pumped up when her team was losing. She was pumped up when they were winning. She was constantly exhorting, smiling, and cheering. Several times during the match she turned to the scorers table and said “Isn’t this so exciting?”

Rarely do you see someone so happy about their job, while they were doing it. It was kinda cool to see.

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**Finally, my man Larry King had Hulk Hogan on his CNN show Tuesday night. I was oddly compelled to watch it for a few minutes, whereupon Larry, God bless him, called Laila Ali Muhammad Ali’s wife, not his daughter.

Larry King should be in a museum one day, stared at and puzzled over like an old fossil. The man has been on TV since there’s been such a thing, he always manages to entertain himself and his guests, and he’s never once asked a tough question. He’s truly a marvel.

Also, talking about Larry King allows me to link to this hilarious piece from Jon Stewart, written long before he was the host of The Daily Show. It’s from his first book, and the essay is called: Adolf Hitler: The Larry King Interview. Truly hilarious stuff; give it a listen, it’s only 5 minutes long.

The hilarious Brian Williams, a big product endorsement, and a little Barry M.

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When you think of great funny men of our time, we all can agree on the same basic list.

Jerry Seinfeld. Chris Rock. Billy Crystal. Brian Williams.

Yes, the same Brian Williams who hosts the “NBC Nightly News.” Seriously, dude is really funny. I’ve seen him on “The Tonight Show” a few times, and then this past weekend he was on my favorite NPR show, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell me.”

Guy just has great comic timing, is smart and self-deprecating, and just comes off in a funny way. Here, take a listen for yourself.

***My own tennis update! I maintained my undefeated record in the Greater Volusia Tennis League Men’s 4.0 division Monday night. My partner Keith and I, who I’ve only played with a handful of times, totally destroyed our doubles foes, 6-2, 6-2. I’m now 5-0 in doubles on the season, thank you very much. Tennis players out there, you know when you’re in the zone and you expect every shot to go in, and you’re genuinely surprised when they don’t?

I was there Monday night. One other thing: The guys we played seemed nice, but even though we repeatedly praised their good shots, they never once said “nice shot” or anything when Keith or I hit a winner. That’s just poor court manners.

**OK, you may be asking yourself why there’s a picture of Arnold’s Whole Grain bread up there. I’ll tell you why. Not only is this stuff fantastic to eat, but my own accidental little experiment over the last few weeks has proven one more thing: This stuff does NOT go bad.

I accidentally bought a loaf of this delicious bread a day after thinking I was out, only to discover that I had a whole full loaf already in the fridge. Well, let me tell you, I figured it’d be a race against mold (bread’s arch-enemy, like The Joker is to Batman) with my bread. I figured there’s no way both loaves would survive.

But let me tell you my friends, it’s been more than three weeks and this bread is still going strong! I’m nearly finished with it and not one drop of green stuff anywhere.

Arnold Bread people, I bow to your fresh greatness.

**OK, two things in this week’s Sports Illustrated I’m compelled to share. One, Joe Posnanski’s excellent profile of Joe Paterno. I’m biased because I think Joe Pos is the greatest thing since, well, since Arnold 12 Grain Bread, but this truly is a great story about an old lion of a football coach.

The second thing, and this completely cracked me up: Remember the clip of that 9-year-old hockey kid in Boston who scored that crazy goal? Anyway, his name is Oliver Wahlstrom, and he was asked if he’ll honor the sudden autograph requests he’s getting.

“I don’t know. I’m still printing.”

Classic.

Finally, I realize that I’ve been doing this blog for three months and have yet to share one my all-time musical favorites with you. I’ve been roundly mocked for loving this man, but dammit, listen to this and tell me he’s not incredibly talented!

Jets beat the hell out of the Raiders, a “Little House” spoof, and the Yanks go back to the Series

Jets Raiders Football

For a while in the early part of this decade, it seemed like the Oakland Raiders ripped my heart out every year.

They beat the Jets big, they beat them small. They beat them in the regular season, they beat them in the playoffs. OK, no more Dr. Seuss-like pronouncements. But basically, the Raiders owned the Jets.

That’s why Sunday was so sweet for me, and for, I’m sure, all the Jets fans out there. Sunday, against one of the worst NFL teams I have ever seen, Gang Green beat the ever-loving stuffing out of the Raiders, 38-0.

Except for one horrible injury to Leon Washington, who suffered a broken fibula and about whom a teammate said “I could see blood spurting out. I’ve never seen anything like that before” (lovely), it was a sensational day for the Jets.

They finally did what they should’ve done last week: run, run, and run some more, and throw the ball only when absolutely necessary.

Thomas Jones looked terrific, as did rookie Shonn Greene (though, unlike the Mets’ Shawn Green, I don’t think is Jewish), who replaced Leon Washington.

Mark Sanchez did just enough, though I have no freakin’ idea why he was still in the game to take a couple of hellacious hits late in the fourth quarter. Sanchez was poised, confident, and made the throws he needed to make. And really, that’s all we should ask of the kid. These Jets fans who are ready to throw him out after a few bad games are morons. The kid has now started 23 games since high school.

The Jets defense was outstanding (welcome to the season, Calvin Pace, you of your two strip sacks), and JaMarcus Russell, God bless you for being so awful. He basically gave the Jets their first two touchdowns. I was legitimately sad when the Raiders pulled him.

Losing Leon is a huge blow; his dangerous kickoff returns alone make him a big asset. But with this win, the Jets stay a game back of New England, and have a chance at some Dolphins revenge next week.

Man, this Jets team is hard to figure after 7 weeks: Three straight wins, then three straight losses, now a resounding win. Ask me around Thanksgiving and I’ll be able to tell you if they’re any good or not.

Some other quick-hit thoughts on this NFL Sunday:

**Good God the Saints are explosive. Down 24-3, they scored 43 points in the last two quarters and the last minute of the first half. Forty-three! Couldn’t happen at a better time, against the hated Dolphins. Thanks, Drew Brees. If the 4-3 Jets can beat 2-4 Miami next week at the Meadowlands, that could just bury the ‘Fins’ playoff hopes. Lovely.

**Ah, that’s the Brett Favre I remember from last season. A fumble in the fourth quarter in the red zone against Pittsburgh, returned for a touchdown, then an INT that wasn’t his fault a few minutes later.

**So someone please tell me how JaMarcus Russell is still a starting quarterback in the NFL. If he’s an NFL quarterback, I’m Manute Bol.

**Go ahead, you figure out the Cincinnati Bengals.

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**As for the New York Yankees, I of course am thrilled to see them finish off those poor-fielding Angeles of Los Angeles, 5-2 Sunday night. It seems like it’s been a lot longer than six years since the Bronx Bombers have been in the Series, but that’s probably just something obnoxious Yankee fans like me think sometimes.

Couple thoughts:

1. This will be a longer post this week, but the Yankee fans’ adoration of Alex Rodriguez is something I never thought I’d see. Much like with Bill Clinton, I’ve always been so conflicted about him, myself.

2. It amazes me what pressure can do to human beings. The Angels were a fantastic defensive team in the regular season. But in the pressure cooker of October, they melted like an egg on a sidewalk in Florida in July.

3. Also, memo to FOX baseball directors: We really don’t need to see a fan reaction shot to EVERY out. And why do we care if Giuliani’s at the game anymore? He hasn’t been the mayor since 2001.

**Finally, I was watching a Rangers game Saturday night through the NHL’s free preview of its Center Ice Package, and the telecast was a “Hockey Night in Canada” production. Always a good time. Anyway, I heard a promo for something that I couldn’t believe was real, but apparently it is.

There’s a Canadian sitcom called “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” Seriously. According to the show’s web site, it’s an internationally-acclaimed comedy about Muslims and Christians attempting to live in harmony in the small town of Mercy, Saskatchewan.

This brings to mind all kinds of jokes in my head (would Laura Ingalls Wilder ever go to Mecca?), but I’m sure many of them would be offensive.

Anyway, here’s a clip of the show, from the first episode: I found it interesting.

The idiotic nature of NFL fines, my 82nd Airborne question answered, and a funny hoops video

First, a quick laugh to start off your Sunday. I offer maybe the funniest Youtube clip in my “Favorites” section. I truly have watched this 75 times and laugh each time. I know it seems mean but it’s hilarious (and I’m sure the kid was OK):

**OK, now to some NFL stupidity. It has always boggled my mind how unbelievably nit-picky the NFL is when it comes to fining players about their uniform. Like, guys get fined for their socks being 1/2 inch too high. Last season a Pittsburgh Steelers player, Ryan Clark, was fined $5,000 for wearing eye black with the No. 21 on it, a tribute to his slain friend, Sean Taylor. Seriously? Eye black is a fineable offense?

Well, the NFL uniform Nazis were at it again this week. Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him Ochocinco), who has deserved PLENTY of the fines he’s gotten in his career, was fined this week because in the Bengals’ last game, (wait for it), he wore a different colored chin-strap than he was supposed to.

They also fined Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma $10,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit in Eli Manning.

So let me get this straight: A dude wearing a different colored chin strap is fined the same amount as a guy who went head-first into a quarterback, possibly causing him severe head trauma and, theoretically, ending his career.

Sounds about right to me.

God the NFL is so moronic with these uniform fines. And yet nobody in the media really questions it. It’s like everyone’s SO afraid of the NFL.

82ndAirborne

Finally, a bit of old business. I asked in a blog past last week how come we always hear about the 82nd Airborne Division, and not, like, the 37th, or 56th. Well, my old friend Tim Maese, once a co-worked at Rainbow Video in Commack, N.Y. (ah, those were the days, $4.25 an hour and all the popcorn we could eat! One day I’ll blog about my glory days as a video store clerk) has found an answer for me.

Read this informative article to learn the reasons behind the 82nd’s prevalence in the media. Thanks Tim.

A tiny glimpse of justice at Guantanamo. And a cool Bon Jovi concert.

Guantanamo-Bay

Sometimes it’s the smallest news, the kind that gets buried under the celebrity headlines and the political shouting and the sports scores, that really makes a difference.

Especially when it comes to how our country is viewed by the rest of the world.

This story got pretty much lost in the shuffle this week, but I think it’s a very big deal. Tuesday night, very quietly, the U.S. Senate passed a measure allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to enter the United States to stand trial.

Apparently, the Supreme Court, over and over again, ruling that the United States simply cannot hold people indefinitely for no reason and with no trial scheduled (suspending habeas corpus, too) finally had an effect on people.

This is the beginning of the way back from the nightmare of Bush-Cheney. It’s a long, slow road. It can’t be zoomed past at 90 miles per hour, like so much of us would like.

But now, the United States of America is going to try alleged “enemy combatants” in a court of law, in a civilized matter. With lawyers on both sides, evidence presented, and witnesses.

It’s stunning that it’s taken this long. But thank God, finally, the rule of law in this “war on terror” is regaining the upper hand over torture and guilt by suspicion.

*** On a slightly different note, I’m still a Bon Jovi fan. I loved them when I was a kid; “Slippery When Wet” was worn out by your humble correspondent during the late 1980s, as I truly identified with the music of a bunch of guys from New Jersey who lived to rock (Yeah, that sounded like a VH-1 “Behind The Music” intro, I know.)

Anway, the boys did something very cool recently. They invited 5,000 fans to the Meadowlands parking lot in East Rutherford, N.J. and held a private concert there.

Here’s a clip of it, with Jon and Richie singing “Wanted Dead or Alive.” For the record, my 3 favorite Bon Jovi songs of all-time are “Runaway” (the song that launched it all), “Livin’ On a Prayer” (duh, the greatest karaoke song ever), and “Never Say Goodbye” (such a good love ballad).

Fired by Google Alert, and hired from a crazy question: 2 employment stories

Economy Jobless

***Big, exciting news here on the blog before I begin today: I seem to have finally figured out a way to let readers subscribe to the blog, through the fancy-pants little RSS feed icon, down on the right side of the screen (under the search bar).

I’m not 100 percent sure how it works, but I think it’s like other RSS feeds, in that you can get each post emailed to you when I post it here.

OK, maybe it’s not that exciting for you; I have no idea of the excitement level of your day so far. Maybe you found 20 bucks in your pants pocket, or somebody smiled at you at work. But dammit, it’s exciting for me!

We live in crazy times. And in this economy, with unemployment at huge numbers, you wouldn’t think a story about someone being fired, or someone else being hired, would be that interesting.

But wait. I’ve got two stories that may make your head dizzy, like they did mine. (By the way, totally underrated fact about being a kid? Spinning round and round and making yourself get dizzy is considered a legitimate fun activity? As an adult? Not so much.)

Our first story comes from (drum roll please) the fine folks at Fox News, where truth never gets in the way of a good conspiracy theory. Fox had hired a liberal political analyst named Marc Lamont Hill, apparently so they’d have a punching bag lying around the set.

Well, Hill was fired last Friday. And he found out … thanks to a Google Alert email he got that’s tagged to his name.

Here’s Hill’s quote, according to ThinkProgress.org:

Yeah I eventually – I got a Google alert at 11 o’clock [a.m.] that it had been announced that I’d been fired. After that, I guess someone followed up later in the day, you know because I was sort of trying to figure out what was going on. … I found out that it was true but other than that I don’t have any other information. … I haven’t had any thorough conversation with anyone.

Yep, fired by Google Alert. That’s a new one on me. I’ve heard of fired by text, by email, by voicemail … but not this one.

Thing Sergei and Larry, while they were dreaming about starting Google, ever thought one day their invention would be used for this?

Then there’s this, um, slightly less strange story. A trucking company in Indiana was looking to fill a $13 an hour administrative assistant job. After going through candidate after candidate, winnowing it down to two, the interviewer asked the two women the same question, one we all get on job interviews: If she were in the stands at a baseball game and a foul ball came her way, would she stand up to try to catch it, or wait in her seat and hope it fell her way?

One candidate said she’d wait. The other said she’d go for it. The aggressive one got the job.

Hilarious. I give the employer credit for trying something different, but it’s still kinda weird. The whole story can be read here.

**OK, so this annoyed me Thursday night, and always annoys me when I watch a baseball game. Major League teams, because they’re always looking to squeeze another dollar out of fans, has decided in recent years to let some organizations sell seats in this newly-created area right behind home plate, basically at field level.

And every time, like Thursday night, you see those fans behind the plate, they’re not paying attention to the game and/or look completely disinterested. Thursday night every one of the people behind the plate was either looking away, playing with their phone/Blackberry, or doing anything but cheering.

And it was a great game! Can’t wait for Game 6.

Just pisses me off.

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***And speaking of things that piss me off: Dick Cheney, shut the hell up already.

A day in the (not so glamorous) life of a sportswriter, and why I love pennant celebrations

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So every now and then on the ole’ blog I’m going to try to give you a little snapshot of my life as a sports writer. Lots of people think it’s a very glamorous and cool and sometimes it is, yes.

But other times, well, other times it’s like Wednesday morning.

Let me preface this by saying I’m not complaining or whining about my job; I know how fortunate I am to get to do what I do for a living.

OK, so … Wednesday. My co-worker Buddy picks me up at 9:30 and we drive from Daytona Beach to Orlando for an Orlando Magic practice. Our job today is to interview new Magic star Vince Carter (a Daytona Beach native) and some other players for our combined NBA/Magic preview stories running next week.

Buddy and I had been told by the helpful Magic p.r. people that practice was from 10-11 a.m., and since we’re not allowed to watch practice from inside the gym (sports coaches are extremely paranoid about letting the media watch; as if A, we understand half of what they’re doing, and B, like we’d really give all the secrets away to readers), we were asked to show up at about 10:45, and we could interview players at 11.

Well, we’re there at 10:45, and we wait. 11 a.m. comes and goes. Then 11:15. Then 11:30. Practice is running long, apparently. Hey, it happens.

Finally, at 11:45, we’re let into the gym, but all the players have vanished into the locker room. So Buddy, myself and about 10 other media types stand around and wait. We’re told the players will be about in a few minutes. Meanwhile, we get Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, who chats with us for 10 minutes. Stan, who bears an uncanny resemblance to porn star Ron Jeremy (seriously, check out this pic of Stan and this one of Ron and tell me they’re not related!), gives us a few quotes we need.

Then we stand around and wait some more. The players we need to talk to are back in the lounge area, just hanging out. There’s no reason whatsoever that Carter and Dwight Howard and the others can’t come out and speak to us for 10 minutes. They’re not curing cancer or solving world hunger back there.

And yet, because this is all part of the dance, they don’t come out. The P.R. guys, who know that all we need is 5-10 minutes with a few players, do nothing to expedite the process. So we waited another 45 minutes to an hour, just standing around the gym looking at each other, waiting for tall, talented athletic men to come outside and grace us with a few pithy sayings like “We’re coming together as a team,” and “we’ve got to sacrifice if we want to win.”

Finally, at about 1 p.m., Carter and Howard emerge. We talk to them for 10 minutes, and then they’re gone. So if you’re keeping score at home, 3 1/2 hours of waiting time, 10-15 minutes of work.

This is a strange, strange job sometimes.

***I’m a sucker for a lot of things. Movie montages. Sappy endings on TV shows. A kid being nice to another kid on a playground.

And most definitely, I love me a good sports celebration. One of my favorite things about the NCAA Tournament (and really, I have about 4,679 favorite things about March Madness)  is when a huge underdog starts beating a high seed, and the bench guys on the underdog team start jumping up and down like crazy in the final seconds, waving towels and hooting and hollering as loud as they can.

I also really love the immediate aftermath of joy after a championship or title. I love the look on players’ faces when they realize that nine months of hard work has actually paid off in glory.

So Wednesday night, I turned on the end of the Phillies-Dodgers game that was a blowout, and watched grown men act like little kids, charging the mound and whooping it up. It always reminds me that these guys are all still playing a kids game after all.