Links for Oct. 24
• This is the greatest YouTube accomplishment of all-time: A guy named Marc Delutis re-edited the Gatti-Ward fights and produced a montage in the exact arc of "Rocky II," right down to the beginning, the middle, the ending and all the musical cues in between. I demand that you devote 10 minutes of your life to watching this. It's unequivocally amazing. Make sure you turn the sound on for your computer. Thanks to Travis C. from San Antonio for sending that along.
• In this extended interview with David Chase from Entertainment Weekly, it's pretty clear he believes Tony died right at the end of "The Sopranos," with the tip being his reference to the scene where it took Silvio two seconds to realize Jerry Toricano had been whacked. Glad we got that settled.
• For the third consecutive year, NBA.com asked me to be in their Celebrity Fantasy Hoops league, even though I'm not a celebrity. Here's my post-draft interview in which I tried to stir things up. By the way, I thought D-Wade was only missing the first two weeks, that's why I took him ninth. Now there are conflicting reports, and I'm getting nervous.
• Remember my mailbag from two weeks ago when I hatched my plan for force-feeding Boston games on my next baby instead of kid's DVDs? A company called Team Baby Entertainment makes sports DVDs specifically geared toward babies and toddlers, including this Red Sox DVD. Can't vouch for the quality, but I thought I'd pass the info along.
• Justin from Cleveland sent along a 2006 Tim Kurkjian column that clears up Victor Martinez and the whole multiple handshake thing, and frankly, it's even more convoluted than I ever imagined. Check this out:
"Before every game, after warming up that day's pitcher in the bullpen, Indians catcher Victor Martinez walks into the dugout and shakes the hand of every teammate. Every handshake is different, 24 handshakes for 24 players, all happening minutes before the game. 'It's his way of getting everyone fired up,'' said Indians second baseman Ronnie Belliard. Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia said, 'With me, it's just a high-five because I'm so tall. He said he's cooking up a new one for me. He's so full of energy.' Outfielder Matt Lawton laughed. 'I'm amazed how he can keep them all straight. I'm sure he uses them in winter ball, mine is probably the same as the left fielder on the Venezuelan team. We yell every time we shake hands. I have no idea what we're yelling because it's in Spanish.' "
• The hits just keep coming and coming for the good people of Philly. Now they make up the most unattractive city in America. When will it end????
• Neil Best of Newsday gives me my first bad TV review! I was really excited about this for some reason -- sent it to my parents and everything. I feel like you've made it in life when you can suck on TV, then someone writes a column confirming that, yes, you suck on TV.
• Did you catch this NJ.com article from Sunday about the Jets turning on Eric Mangini? I kinda wish I had seen this before I picked them to cover the Bengals game. I can't wait until he's coaching in the Arena Football League in two years.
• The New York Times goes behind the scenes with Jimmy Kimmel's on-air family. I loved the picture. Did you know that Mighty Mighty Bosstones singer Dicky Barrett is the announcer for the show, or that Dicky has a "33" tattoo, or that the Bosstones are reviving the band for a string of holiday concerts in Boston this December? All of these things are true.
• This story about Kobe in Esquire has to rank among the most bizarre sports-related features in recent history. Does Kobe's wife have a little Jackie Christie potential or am I crazy? What a weird story. By the way, I call BS on Black Mamba's claim that he can look at any picture of himself in a game and recognize the game and the exact situation. That's about as absurd as Mike McD's walking into the judge's game mid-hand and being able to tell what everybody had.
• Did you know there's a writer's strike coming up and there's a chance TV could really, really suck over the next few months? I think they should work this into the plot on "Lost" -- have the writers crash onto the island or something.
• Multiple readers sent along the clever "Shawshank In A Minute" rap parody. There's one bad word in there near the end but that's it.
• Ben from Cambridge, Mass. sent along a funny picture of Dice-K and Kevin Youkilis congratulating each other after the ALCS victory. Multiple readers sent along the funny picture of Jonathan Papelbon pouring beer on the American League Championship trophy. He's a full-fledged lunatic.
• Brad P in Boston sent this along two days before the $14 Million Grand Slam: Thought you'd want to see this after Mike's e-mail in your Game 4 diary ("Do you think we could start a fund? You have the means to reach more people. Start it up. I swear I'll send the first $1,000 and $25 per week. The sad part is, I don't think I'm kidding!"): One of my friends started this during the regular season -- please give it a plug so we can get J.D. on the bench where he belongs before I tear my own head off and kick it around like a soccer ball.
More from the readers ...
• Ryan M. in Minny: The T-wolves are breaking out their secret weapon: Theo Ratliff's expiring contract! Note: Please disregard the 30-point preseason loss to the Hawks.
• Daniel in Australia: Found this 2004 A-Rod piece in the archive section of the New Yorker and it provided a few laughs. The best bit is Randy Levine announcing the beginning of a "new history." Very true, Randy.
• Brian C in San Fran: In response to the "Mitchell Report Fantasy Draft" comment in your Game 4 running diary, here is a great link from cracked.com.
• Mike from Boston clears up some misconceptions about Rafael Betancourt's "steroids" suspension: He never, ever tested positive for steroids. He took an over-the-counter supplement for inflammation in his elbow that contained trace amounts of a banned amphetamine (which is not in any way related to a steroid). He asked repeatedly for MLB to clarify for the public that he did not test positive for any "steroid." I am guessing it was so people like you wouldn't wrongly label him for the rest of his career. Back in 2005, everybody was labeled a "steroid abuser" by journalists who had no clue what steroids or amphetamines were, nor what the differences were. You can't buy steroids over the counter, but you can buy what Betancourt took over the counter. Here is the old article from the WWL archives in case your memory is a little fuzzy.
• Russ in L.A.: This is a test of the extent of Chevy's brainwashing on you ... see if you can still enjoy the "This is Our Country" song when it's set to a montage of the worst disasters and atrocities in U.S. history.
• Diego in Dallas: Just when you thought the best unintentional comedy wrestling promos ended with the Ultimate Warrior, Big Poppa Pump delivers with 'roid rage eloquence!
• Larry in Brooklyn, N.Y.: I think we could all benefit from seeing this movie: The cast of the hit prime-time drama "Melrose Place" reunites for this Sci-Fi Channel original film concerning a remote ski lodge that is overrun by enormous mutant spiders.
(Note from Simmons: Good God, it's a Thomas Calabro sighting!)
• Ryan in Eugene, Ore.: Check out this '80s commercial for "Big League Chew." The realism is startling. Football players grab fists full of shredded gum and stuff their mouths during timeouts all the time, right?
• Raheel in Kenvil, N.J.: Just so you know there were episodes of the Joe Buck show online before they got pulled. Here is a link. It's long so you can find them by putting in "Joe Buck Show" in Google Video. Joe Buck is either drunk or has a creepy man crush on Paul Rudd. Not good times.
• James B. in Lewisville, Texas: If you ever move to Texas, no need to look past Bill Simmons Rd. in Colleyville. Check it out. This is definitely the place to relocate the Sports Guy Mansion. Plus, you will be close to Southlake and its high school football team. Think "FNL" if all the kids drove BMWs.
• Kyle in Brighton, Mass.: Simmons, you're wrong about Chris Chambers. He has put up decent career numbers, but he's not a "great" or "good" wide receiver. Some (like Bill Barnwell) would argue he's the worst in football. I wouldn't go that far, but he's certainly not as good as you make him out to be.
(Clarification from Simmons: I thought it was pretty obvious that I was kidding with the Chambers jokes in the column -- why the hell would the '07 Dolphins make a trade to help out the '72 Dolphins? Also, I've written before that Chambers was overrated, most recently in my 2007 Preview. With that said, he's better than the crappy guys the Chargers had and there's a decent chance his numbers were down because he has never played with a good QB. I thought it was a good trade by S.D.)
• Jonny C. in Denver: I miss Jake Plummer. If you haven't already seen this article in the Denver Post, it is worth a look.
• Gabe G. in Minny: Jason Caffey has now joined the ranks of Shawn Kemp, Kenny Anderson, and Travis Henry. Maybe he should get a loan from Matt Geiger once his helipad house sells.
• Shawn S. in Madison, Wis.: Nice quotes from the Great Jason Caffey in here about why he filed for bankruptcy.
• Adam in Fort Collins, Colo.: While waiting at the deceased Rockies.com Web site, I decided to visit ticketmaster.com and see if they might be used to pick up the slack ... so I went to sports-baseball and here is what I saw. Yea, "N.Y. Yankees: Canceled!" Is that the game or the rest of this decade?
• Matt H. in Birmingham, Ala.: Some time ago, you mentioned falling in love the MTV show "Two-A-Days" featuring football factory Hoover High School here in the Birmingham area. Didn't know if you were aware of this or not, but the school has, for all intents and purposes, fallen apart over the past few weeks. Here's the scoop:
- Head coach Rush Propst has been implicated in a grade changing incident, according to a school report.
- During the investigation into the incident, investigators claimed to find information about Propst's "secret family," a mistress and several kids he is supporting two counties over.
- Those same investigators alleged Propst was having an affair with a Hoover assistant principal.
- Days ago, the state high school athletic administration forced Hoover to forfeit all but two region wins due to the team playing an ineligible player.
And despite all of this, Propst is refusing to step down and the board, which was reluctant to even release the investigative report, is not moving to fire him.
Links for Oct. 16
• Dan from Arlington sent along Tom Verducci's salient column about Dice-K's struggles this season: "Matsuzaka has given major league hitters too much credit, fearful of the superior power in the American game, and nibbling off the corners of the plate and working himself into trouble with walks and high pitch counts. He need only to watch his teammate, Beckett, to understand the value of efficiency."
Follow-up note: I watched Dice pitch all season and that was the one recurring theme: Because he's afraid to challenge hitters for whatever reason, he's always trying to make the perfect pitch... and over the course of seven or eight innings, you can't throw 100-110 perfect pitches. Steve Stone called him a "power nibbler" last week, and I thought that was a great way to put it. Now his confidence is shot, he has lost the arrogance that made him so exciting in that first Kansas City game (here's my running diary about it), and if there's a Red Sox fan who claims to have had confidence in Dice last night, they're lying.
• Dan D. in Boston sends along the single greatest video game development of this decade. Why did we have to wait until 2007 for this to happen? If you don't think I'm buying this game and bringing Jabaal Abdul-Simmons back to life, you obviously don't know me well enough.
• We accidentally deleted the link to my "Best of 2007" iTunes mix last week, so here's the link again if you missed it. Also, the B.S. Report podcasts are available on iTunes, although they haven't added last week's podcasts for whatever reason. Everything else is there.
• Two interesting magazine reads this week: New Yorker has an extended profile of David Simon (the creator of "The Wire"); and New York Magazine tackles the rise of Gawker as a media presence in New York. I subscribe to both of those magazines and they always seem to deliver three or four pieces per month that makes me think, "I'm glad I subscribe to these magazines."
• Amazon.com dropped the price of the "Friday Night Lights: Season One" DVDs to $14.99. And there's still a money-back guarantee. (They're also available on iTunes.) Whatever happens with Season 2, we'll always have Season 1.
• I thoroughly enjoyed Pat Riley's tirade against Antoine Walker's body fat last week. Fifteen percent body fat??? Is it a good idea to be out of shape when you're a 6-foot-9 forward who plays below the rim? I say no. Poor Antoine is about three years away from becoming a 320-pound assistant coach on somebody's bench.
• Liked this New York Times mini-feature about Sedale Threatt Jr., mainly because my buddy Bish and I were flipping channels a few weekends ago, stumbled across a Patriot League game and noticed Lehigh's QB was named Sedale Threatt Jr., causing me to scurry online for more info (and there wasn't much). Is there any scenario where Lehigh can play Tennessee and Threatt Jr. can slap Austin Ainge? Probably not. By the way, Threatt was probably the single most legendary NBA party guy of the '80s and '90s -- let's just say that it's not a huge surprise that he might have as many as 14 kids floating around out there.
• I'm convinced this Joe Buck late-night show is an elaborate hoax. Read this USA Today column about it and tell me that this isn't some sort of belated April Fool's prank. Abebe the cab driver??? It can't be true. It just can't. Also, if Joe Buck was funny, wouldn't we have gotten glimpses of this during Fox's baseball broadcasts over the years?
• Here's a sad column about Boston's pillaging of Minnesota's sports stars. Adrian Peterson, you're next! We're coming for you!
• Couldn't agree more with Jon M. in Dallas: "I know this is a bit odd since it's an ESPN piece, but the ombudsman's latest column was fantastic and a lot of readers may have missed it. In my opinion, she hit it right on the head about what's all too wrong about sports media today."
• Radar Magazine had an extensive and confusing interview with Spencer from The Hills. Should I try to line him up as a guest for my podcasts? I can't decide.
• What's happening to Seattle? In the last two months, the Mariners fell apart, the Seahawks fell apart, the Sonics are threatening to move, and now they have a subway system called SLUT. As soon as ESPN.com editor Kevin Jackson moved back there, all hell broke loose. He might have to leave the state again to restore local order.
Some additional links from the readers ...
• Mark in Australia: I remember reading an old column of yours on the Anna K phenomenon back in the '90s and how skinny she looked today. I haven't seen any photos of her for a while and assumed she might have gone downhill. Well, I saw some photos of her in a bikini online recently (sadly, we can't link to them because of the blog they're on), and she's looking as fine as ever! I hate Enrique.
• Kyle in Philly: I share your sentiments on the Biggie movie, I'm very excited/appalled/randy for it. Well, most of your sentiments. Anyway, there is a rapper whose has been out for a while that sounds the closest to Biggie as I have heard, his name is Guerilla Black. He's obviously not as talented, but it's worth checking out his MySpace page.
• Jon in NYC: Welcome to John Hollinger's world, where Paul Millsap is a better player then Jason Kidd.
• Joshua E. in Charleston, W.Va. had a follow-up to my LeBron/Yankees hat column from last week: "You hit the prophetic nail on the head so to speak in more or less saying LeBron would fall back in line as proven by this quote from this article: "'If he attends an ALCS or World Series game in Cleveland? LeBron says he'll probably wear a Tribe cap." Sports in the 21st Century have become so damn vanilla/safe/predictable it's not even funny anymore.
• Erik in Durham, N.C.: I love this photo from the Celtics-T-Wolves preseason game in London. Not only does it show Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in Celtics green (and it looks so good), but look who's taking a shot over them. None other than Minnesota's starting center, Theo Ratliff's Expiring Contract! Gotta feel for the T-Wolves fans this season.
• Greg F. in Cleveland has a follow-up to the e-mail in the All-Baseball Mailbag about showing your babies sports DVDs instead of the standard kid's shows: "Check it out, these are essentially Baby Einstein DVDs for the Red Sox and Celtics. I've also seen this before for Notre Dame ... crazy.
• Mark from Fort Wayne, Ind.: I always wondered how you dropped a deuce without gravity. Now I know the answer .
• Ryan in Baltimore: Here's a great story about the city "glamorized" by "The Wire". Just so you know, The Block is the seediest section of strip clubs in Baltimore -- home of $14 Ginger Ales. We almost named our daughter Lot of Bottom, but decided against it. And what exactly is it that he does with his trash? Simulate a sex act?
• Tom from Brooklyn, N.Y.: Great article from The Onion capturing the Patriots' dominance this season.
• Derek in Toronto: Proof that NBA players have more money than they know what to do with: Rasual Butler (yes, Rasual Butler) has more than $300,000 worth of jewelry and a personal assistant.
Links for Oct. 9
So long, Yankees! So sorry you couldn't make it for Armageddon III. Enjoy the winter. Just for the hell of it, here's my running diary of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, the night the Yankees Dynasty officially started to crumble.
Speaking of old columns, you might remember me praising "The Wire" in this 2006 column (scroll down to No. 17) and this "Gridiron Gang" review (scroll down to the last third of the column). Since those columns were written, Season 4 went down in the record books as the single greatest season in the history of television (in my opinion, anyway). For everyone who wants to catch up on the show but doesn't want to splurge on the DVDs, Dave B. in Boston sends along a fantastic heads-up:
"HBO has started putting episodes of 'The Wire' on-demand beginning with Episode 1. The first season is available until Oct. 29, and I'm guessing they'll build to the new season like they've done with 'The Sopranos.' For anybody who has never watched an episode (like me), it's a great opportunity to catch up."
• Dozens of readers e-mailed me about the news Fox is considering Joe Buck for a weekly late-night show. Look, don't make fun of Fox about this -- we need the Joe Buck show to happen. I've had a void in my life ever since the "Magic Hour" was cancelled. I vote for Emmitt Smith to be his Ed McMahon. Who'd do a better job laughing incoherently at bad jokes than Emmitt Smith?
• Are you a good gambler? Here's a fun test from Bloomberg.com. Should I be scared that I got every question right?
• I liked this "Who could have been a worse choice for baseball commercials than Dane Cook?" post from Rivalfish.com. Although I would have put Spencer from "The Hills" ahead of Satan and Hitler.
• The New York Times hasn't been a big fan of Chip Caray's work in the ALDS. It's just too bad TBS couldn't have teamed him with Frank Thomas.
• Buried in this basketball column ... Adam Morrison chews tobacco and smokes cigarettes??? Seriously? The guy has diabetes and he smokes cigarettes? Who is his personal trainer, Keith Richards?
• I'm both excited and appalled at the thought of a Biggie movie. How could they find anyone who looks like Biggie AND raps like him? What are the odds? 100,000-to-1?
• Bitter column from a former Jay Leno monologue writer. If you're going to pull a Mangini on Leno, why not blow it out beyond just an op-ed column?
Some good links from the readers ...
• Jimmy Mac in Portsmouth, N.H.: If you are not reading "Big Baby" Davis' blog at the Boston Herald, you are missing some absolutely priceless stuff, such as this gem, filed after a visit to the Vatican:
"Michelangelo is a, first of all, talented man. But he's also crazy, because there's no way I would take six years painting a ceiling that's at least 30 or 40 feet high in the air. But I guess you do what you've got to do, and I just want to commend Michelangelo."
(One criticism for the Herald: Would it be THAT hard to stick all of Big Baby's diary entries on one page? Or would that make too much sense?)
• Mark T. in Grand Rapids, Mich.: I went on my honeymoon to Playa Del Carmen. On the trip I was browsing the Skymall magizine on our incredibly cramped American Airlines flight when I came across a piece of sports memorabilia. Is there anything more disgusting in this universe than seeing Buckner signing this picture?
• Dustin Chinn in New York corrects something from Friday's NFL column: Arsenal shouldn't qualify as proof of the Ewing Theory, as they did win the Premiership title without a loss during the 2004 campaignl, with Henry very much the centerpiece of the offense.
• Shawn in Seattle: You compliment the Patriots continually about their ability to draft well and not overpay for players. Did you know the Pats are the team with the No. 1 payroll in football.
• Check out clip No. 1 and clip No. 2 of Marion Jones dominating the Sydney Olympics. I remember watching them live, thinking what an amazing athlete this woman is. Watching them again, I get a little sick. Remember Cathy Freeman? She never had a chance.
•Joe Y. in Albany: Never mind Jon Kitna's Football Mission from God. I think Roy Williams being a crazy guy makes it more fun. I mean, he calls Calvin Johnson "Megatron", refers to himself as being "Optimus Prime" and, yes, he has nicknames for the other guys on offense as well: Jon Kitna: Professor X ... Mike Furrey: Batman ... Shaun McDonald: SpiderMan ... Troy Walters: Mighty Mouse (he's 5-foot-7). A few other backups have nicknames, too. I'd suggest Roy's weekly appearance on Detroit talk radio should become mandatory listening. The guy is just goofy.
• Kelly K. in San Diego: You missed this in Friday's column -- there's only one item left to check off on the Norv Turner First-Half Collapse Checklist. In a San Diego Union article last weekend, Shawne Merriman had this to say when asked about Ted Cottrell's not rushing him and Shaun Phillips as much as last year: "' 'I just run the plays that are called,' " Merriman said. And that is all he would say, sometimes a smile forming as he spoke, sometimes a shake of the head, sometimes a blank expression."
• Greg in Seattle: I can't recall how many times we've anticipated the rise of soccer in America (by we, I mean those sportswriters who can't get their local NBA, NFL, or MLB beat gig and yet must justify their existence -- or anyone who writes for newspapers in places like Spokane or Greensboro). It's always just around the corner from being the Next Big Thing. This story explains exactly why we will never embrace soccer. It's not the part about the fan getting on the field and confronting the goalkeeper; that part is actually kind of cool (how many Orlando residents wished they had the stones to have a similar discussion with Nick Anderson?). It's the last part, where the goalkeep is touched "lightly" by the fan, takes eight or nine steps toward the fan, and then falls to the ground, writhing around in "pain" as if he has been attacked by O.J. In America, we prize the athlete who, despite his tibia protruding grotesquely from his shin, gets up, shakes off the trainer, gives the "I'm all right, just a flesh wound" hand wave, and stumbles back to the huddle. Not some nancies who, when lightly brushed by an oppponent, flop around on the ground as if they'd been shot by the D.C. sniper, and are then miraculously revived with a couple of sprays from a magic water bottle.
• Kevin C. in Santa Monica, Calif.: I'm shocked Stephen Jackson won this paintball competition. Just shocked.
• Russell W. in Denver: Thought you would enjoy this old Nike Commercial with Randy Moss and Jason Williams. It's amazing how their paths have diverged.
• Brian in Birmingham, Ala.: Here's a link to a Birmingham station where the coach from MTV's "Two a Days" is questioned about grade changing, affairs with fellow teachers and allegations of a second family. It's kind of long but some juicy stuff. Also some unintentional comedy going on with his wife by his side for the duration of the interview, what do you think she's thinking? Also, it's funny to note he never denied the fact he has a second family.
• Brian L. in Pittsburgh: You gotta check out this bizarre article about Jim Tracy, the former Pirates manager who was fired last week. My favorite part is when it talks about his "obsession" with the 2004 L.A. Dodgers. How can that be possible? I guess this makes it easier to understand why the Pirates haven't had a winning record since 1992.
• Simon in Seattle: Check out the clip of Yi Jianlian on Milwaukee's NBA page. I've never heard a less genuine "I'm very ... excited ..." It sounds like he's delivering a eulogy.
Links for Oct. 4
• Burns in Dallas: Thought you might appreciate this tribute song to Tony Romo, based on a classic Survivor tune.
• Jim B. in Dallas: Just ran across a curious employment ad for MSG that was apparently co-authored by Stephon Marbury. The position is "Staff Accountant" and the candidate must have "oral communication skills, with the ability to establish interdepartmental relationships."
• JD in Greenfield, Ind.: Here is a link to an article in this week's New Yorker supporting "Friday Night Lights."
• Chris B. in Gilford, N.H.: Bravo! is having a "Friday Night Lights" marathon this Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. I figured you might want to let all of your readers know they can still catch up before the new season begins the same night. At worst, you can waste the day away in front of the TV like I will. Thanks for turning me on to such a great show.
• Chris J. in Boston: How great is the sports scene in Boston right now?
• Andrew in Philly: Great article in the WSJ about sports and Vegas. Certainly worth a read. A lot of interesting tidbits within. Highlight: One man saying sports betting is the hidden fuel to the unwavering popularity of sports, generally.
• Brett M. in Salt Lake City: I hope you know the link you forwarded on to all of us from one of your readers about Greg Anderson's revelations was a joke. The writers were Nic Foit and Ira Tes -- anagrams for "Fiction" and "Satire." Plus, if you read the last page, it's clear there's no way that stuff is for real. However, it does make an interesting story. Through the first three pages of the story, even though it was a stretch, it was still nearly believable. Has Bonds entered the Tyson Zone? Maybe ...
(Note from Simmons: A surprising number of readers either believed that piece or "wondered" if it was real. Always fun when that happens. I thought the part about him injecting HGH directly into his genitals gave it away.)
• Steven in Columbia, Md.: In your Week 5 podcast, you talked about how easy it is to cheat in school now by dowloading papers off the internet. I now present to you the worst Web site ever invented. It's a college student's worst nightmare. All my professors use it. You submit your paper to this website, which scans the entire Internet looking for matches from other sites. Then it highlights lines from your paper and gives the Web site that it's from. So if I write a paper claiming I made up the Ewing Theory, the site will have the url to that article. Can you possibly get ESPN to buy this Web site and destroy it immediately?
• Sean in Colorado Springs, Colo.: The guys over at www.funnyordie.com have come up with a pretty funny clip that includes a nice Rocky beach hug moment. The video covers three basic tenets of the '80s montage: Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing, and Rocky.
• Noah in New York: You only need to read the first few paragraphs of this piece about Stephen Jackson. That will provide enough material for an Easterbrook length column. Looking forward to it.
• Paul P. in Vancouver, B.C.: Well, I guess the time has come for "black karate kid."
• Marc in Malden, Mass.: You knew that NBC decided to bring back "American Gladiators" as a midseason replacement. You didn't know the host ... Hulk Hogan. I can't even describe how psyched I was when I read that. It's beyond words."
• Ryan in Dover, Del.: I just found this on youtube. I watched it four times last night. If you tell me this doesn't get you pumped up about the final season of "The Wire," then stop watching. Seriously.
• Miguel in Vancouver, B.C.: You might enjoy this link. It explains so much in American politics.
• Shannon in Philly: You wrote Wednesday, 'kudos to TBS for banging out its new HD channel just in time for the playoffs. This briefly renewed my faith that TV networks actually care about their customers." Your lack of faith was well placed, as you'll see in one of the many articles about how this played out. From what I understand, Turner Sports has been negotiating carriage of TBS HD with operators (cable, satellite providers) for months. DirecTV negotiated its deal and got TBS HD on Sept. 26. Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision, Cox and Brighthouse all got it this week, and were able to roll it out in most areas just in time for the division series games. As far as I can tell Verizon (for their FiOS service) and Dish don't have a deal yet, so those subscribers do not get TBS in HD. Oh, and apparently as part of the deal for TBS HD, the operators had to agree to take CNN HD as part of their channel lineups, too. I guess Larry King doesn't look old enough in standard definition?
Links for Oct. 1
• Bob P in Seattle: I know you enjoy Robert Swift. I know you love this guy. There's a new profile with great pictures of his tats on seattletimes.com.
• Brian C. in College Park, Md.: Funny 2003 story about Hideki Matsui on the cusp of making his MLB transition, including his "much vaunted porn collection" (10th, 13th paragraphs). I'm going to laugh whenever I see him in the field or at bat in the playoffs.
• Jon B. in Indianapolis: Actor, musician, martial artist and philanthropist. Ladies and gentlemen ... Steven Seagal! The best is his blues music. I wonder if there is any mention of being shaken down by the Russian mob in there or performing one of the most awkward and unnecessary love scenes of all time in "Hard to Kill"? Speaking of the landmark film "Hard to Kill" check out this dozy of a review from Siskel & Ebert. The best part of this one is when Siskel describes being excited going into this movie because of Segal's "impressive debut" in "Above the Law." Also, toward the end, watch for Siskel portraying how he would act if he had almost been killed. Looks like he is choking on a hot pepper.
• Khurston E. in Worcester, Mass.: Fun article about Ellis Hobbs shooting his Rotman's commercial. I especially like the "we coulda had Tom Brady before he was Tom Brady" claim, and the description of what pains Lowe and Valentin were on their shoot.
• Not a link, but Rich from Philly reminds us of the greatest broadcasting moment of the weekend: During the Phils vs. Nats game Saturday, the absolute highlight was that McCarver said he had a team of statisticians research before the game whether a leadoff home run or a leadoff walk led more frequently to multi-run innings. "You would think a leadoff walk leads to more multi-run innings, but that is not the case." What a shock! The play that actually SCORES A RUN is more effective than the play that puts a guy on first. I can't believe it!
• Chris B. in Boston: Check out the "American Gladiators" application form. Question No. 40 is simply stunning.
• Michael C. in New York: Remember the high school football player from Florida (Willie Williams) who became infamous for the stories of his recruiting trips (including the lavish meals he was taken out to, and Larry Coker picking him up in an Escalade)? What a waste of talent he has become ...
• Pino in Boston: Just reading your 2002 running diary about the Shaq Roast II. Found the video of Jamie Foxx completely cutting off Doug Williams. You weren't lying, this is fantastic and awful at the same time. Enjoy, and beware of some bad language.
• Trent W. in Melbourne: You are spot on with your barbs about Vinnie Chase from "Entourage." He is in Australia at the moment, and the locals are not impressed!
• Alexander T. in Vancouver, B.C.: By now I'm sure you've given up tallying up instances of the Ewing Theory, but let me just add another to the list: Arsenal's current campaign since the loss of its talisman, Thierry Henry. They sit at the top of the Premier League and are undefeated so far this season in non-friendlies.
• Loric in San Francisco: Maybe you've gotten a million e-mails about this already but you HAVE to read this article in the Sept. 26 S.F. Weekly about the crazy stuff greg anderson told his cellmate that bonds did. Seriously out of control. Elk semen???
• Tom C. in Westlake Village: Here are the answers to the questions you posed to Cousin Sal in your Week 4 podcast: The last white RB to start a game before Brian Leonard happened in 2003 with the Bears. The last white CB was and probably always will be Jason Sehorn.
• J. Rose in Baltimore: Here is a link to a Best of Baltimore 2007 award for the "Best Deleted Scene" for the fifth season of "The Wire." Apparently, as they were wrapping up filming for the final season, the writters submitted another round of additional scenes. Everyone on the cast and crew was antsy to get the filming done and not too happy about the additional scenes. The co-creator/executive producer/writer David Simon sent a copy of the additional scenes to the Baltimore City Paper. Check out the script, I think it says a lot about what an amazing show this is! (Warning: Lots of bad language.)
• Nino from Sundaystrategy.com checked in to tell us: Thanks for linking to us a few weeks back. I wanted to make you aware of a new feature we recently launched on the site. You can search the results of any NFL game over the past seven-plus years based on more than 40 statistical categories. If I do say so myself, it is a pretty fun tool to play around with (you can even save searches). For an example of how it works, this link shows how the Patriots have done on turf over the last five years in the regular season (16-2 against the spread, 17-1 overall).
• Christian in Richmond, Va.: Did you see Letterman destroy Paris Hilton? The first six minutes of this are classic.
Finally, three links I enjoyed from the weekend:
1. Jack McCallum weighs in on Shawn Marion's unhappiness.
2. Delmon Young had a fantastic, Dr. Dre-like tirade over the weekend about getting benched. Always fun to see 12-letter, asterisked words in a newspaper.
3. Check out this vintage Holy Cross game-used hoops jersey from the '50s or '60s on eBay! Tragically, it's a size 38. If I were about three inches shorter, I'd be right back in that thing.