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Thursday, July 26, 2007


NBA refs are fixing games. Michael Vick is going to jail, where Barry Bonds and half the Tour de France will apparently be his cellmates.

And yet, the most stunning thing I've read on this week came from a puff piece about The Simpsons.

Page 2's Jim Caple did a retrospective on the legendary Homer at the Bat episode. You've seen it, probably more than once... Mr. Burns hires a bunch of major leaguers -- Darryl Strawberry, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, etc., as ringers for the power plant softball team... but all the players except Strawberry are knocked out of action in a series of bizarre mishaps.

Don Mattingly was one of the ringers -- banned from the team because of the unseemly length of his sideburns. For more than fifteen years, I'd assumed that Matt Groenig and company were poking fun at Yankee management, after they famously threatened Mattingly with a benching due to the length of his Indiana farmboy mullet.

Not so, says Donnie Baseball.

"Homer at the Bat" aired in February 1992 after the players had performed their voice-overs in the sound studio when they were in Los Angeles and Anaheim for games the previous season. "The weird thing," Mattingly said, is that he did his scene about Mr. Burns benching him for his long sideburns before the Yankees benched him for not getting a haircut in July 1991. "Everyone thought they wrote it in later but they didn't."
That's just shocking. Makes me think that, perhaps, Steinbrenner has been looking to ol' Monty Burns as some sort of role model.

Nearly as stunning -- ran this article, which is obviously pegged to this week's release of The Simpsons Movie. Cross promotion from "the worldwide leader?" Not surprising.

Cross promotion of something that isn't a Disney property?

I suspect George Bodenheimer is getting ready to "release the hounds."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Five Men Out

Interesting take on the NBA point-shaving case from The Wages of Wins. Their very well-reasoned point: the Black Sox scandal of the 1919 World Series (chronicled in the excellent movie and even better book Eight Men Out) didn't actually hurt baseball attendance any.

I'll buy that. But is it really an apt comparison?

After all, the public didn't even learn about the Black Sox until the next year. At the time, baseball didn't have one-one-hundredth the competition for an entertainment dollar that the NBA faces today. And just a year or two after the Black Sox, baseball's popularity exploded due to the emergence of a certain larger-than-life outfielder who played his home games in the Bronx and hit a lot of home runs.

A more apt comparison comes from TrueHoop, which discusses the last time NBA figures were implicated in point shaving. Yikes. Between that and the CCNY scandal, I'm getting the impression that basketball in the '50s was more staged than a Broadway musical.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tim Donaghy's Greatest Hits

Tremendous work by "calo2006" over on YouTube, cutting together all of Tim Donaghy's most questionable calls from Game 3 of the Spurs/Suns series.

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