Monday, July 24, 2006

Put Up or Shut Up

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDo you ever watch a Game Show, and think that you are exponentially better than the contestants currently in the studio? This happens to me alot, and even happened again this weekend while watching Norm MacDonald, doing Burt Reynolds, insisted on being called Turd Ferguson on SNL's send-up of Celebrity Jeopardy!, then how much of a Pop Culture aficianado are you really?

Well, time for speculation on my Game Show worthiness is quickly drawing to a close. This week, I am flying to New York City to be a contestant on the ESPN Show, Stump The Schwab. If you haven't seen it, the show pits 3 contestants against ESPN's long-time Head Researcher, Howie Schwab. I enjoy watching the show, and have often felt I would do well on it. I've at least been proved partially correct by passing the audition.

No pressure, of course. After all, I haven't named my blog after a trivia game or anything. Depending on what transpires up there, I may have to start calling this place Chutes and Ladders. Let's hope I can keep the name I currently have.

The amount of information I have tried to take in over the last few weeks has been staggering. I think if I had studied this hard in college, I might actually have a job where I don't have time to write in my blog during the middle of work. Nonetheless, this is finally an opportunity to put to use all those years of seasoning on my high school's Quiz Bowl Team, and all those nights out at bars coming up with clever team names like "Cynthia McKinney, Ultimate Fighting Champion", while furiously scribbling answers on little notepads - all for the glory of free burritos/beer/pizza/Hooters wings.

Since this is only a taping, I'll keep you in suspense until the show actually airs. My plan is to do what I guess you could call a "tape-delayed blog" later on.

It won't be easy, though. To put it lightly, The Schwab knows his stuff. How well does he know it? Well, I decided to e-mail Jeopardy! Legend Ken Jennings to see if he had any advice, this is what he wrote:

I wish I could be more help, but man, the Schwab is pretty good. I'm no
sports trivia expert, so I couldn't begin to tell you what the right
books are to study, but when I watch that show, I'm pretty impressed
with that guy. Good luck.


Well, at least I can endeavor to lay waste to my fellow contestants, before being humbled by a bigger bastion of useless information than I. As long as my Game Show experience doesn't turn out like this, I think I'll be okay.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chasing McGraw

They said no one could ever touch it. They didn't plan on Bobby Cox. As the Atlanta Braves engage in a pivotal series with The St. Louis Cardinals, Bobby Cox stands on the cusp of greatness. After getting the heave-ho against the Padres on Sunday, he is only 8 ejections away from tieing the venerable John McGraw for the highest number of said exits in Major League history.

Surely, it is an achievement to be marvelled. The ability to incite the infallible, reasoned men who act as baseball's on-field arbiters is nothing short of art. To do it over 120 times is something few can hope to accomplish in their lifetimes.

Sadly, though, some feel Cox's pursuit of McGraw's ghost is tainted by the modern game. Witness, if you will, the thoughts of one of my fellow Braves fans...relayed via e-mail this afternoon:

It's just not the same as in the old days. I mean, nowadays there's all that watered down umping going on. Plus, with all the vitamins and extra fiber that old people are getting...I saw a picture of Bobby from his rookie year, and he looks nothing like it. I mean he didn't fill out that Yankees uniform at all, but he looks huge in the Braves one. Can we say juicing?
- G. Mac

I really want to disagree, I want to scream that I am not looking at the world through Braves colored glasses. The damning evidence, though, is plain when presented in photographs:

Bobby Cox with the Yankees, circa 1967

Here, we see the young, spry Cox as he starts off his Major League journey. Free of Ejections, and yet unknowingly poised to make his mark on the record books.

Now, we take a look at the man who is primed to be tossed more times than Tom Cruise in Key West:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Bobby Cox Today

Based on the visual evidence, it's certainly a compelling argument. One that Bob Ley is sure to address on Outside The Lines in the near future.

As for me, I'm taking Bobby's side. We've become so cynical as baseball fans, that we refuse to believe that a manager can get the gate solely on dogged determination, and a single-minded focus on his craft. After all, this is a man Ozzie Guillen lists as a major influence in his managerial career.

He has never tested positive for these alleged "performance enhancers", and has there is nothing tangible to prove he would test otherwise. For now I say, don't let the naysayers get you down, Bobby - go get your record! This fan just hopes he's able to break it at home.