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Friday, November 2, 2001
Britney, don't lose
that number


By Chris Connelly
Special to Page 2

Understand, I'm born and raised in New York City, so I'm just trying to monitor my sugar intake and not bliss out too much after the last two nights. So let's riff a little, shall we?

Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake
Britney Spears didn't have Justin Timberlake to pass to on the Park Lane Panthers.
A few weeks on this new job, and already it's like Britney's lost my number.

But hey, no hard feelings. I'm sure she'll call later. She's been busy dropping a new record that's perfectly timed to the start of the NBA season.

Why? Because after a few preteen years in the shadow of Disney World performing on the "Mickey Mouse Club," Britney returned home to Kentwood, La., where, I can state from personal observation, the local high school has a life-size painting of alumnus Michael "Hee-Hee-Hee" Jackson -- the wide receiver, not the singer -- on its outer wall, and where, as a ninth grader, Britney played in the backcourt for the Park Lane Panthers in McCombs, Miss. I guess that means that she's one guard who's had a better post-Orlando career than Penny Hardaway.

As for Michael Jordan, I'll know he's in peak form when he remembers to sit on the back of his incredibly great looking jacket at the postgame press conference. It's a trick they teach you when you start doing television -- sit down on the tail of your jacket, so you pull the jacket tight across your shoulders. MJ, however, is still sporting that unsightly collar bulge behind his neck. It's the sort of camera-ready stuff that was almost a plot point in "Broadcast News," a movie written and directed by the estimable James L. Brooks, who for some reason lost to history once told me during an interview that he'd recently attended a Clippers game and yelled to the perennially underachieving Benoit Benjamin, "Benoit! You're gonna do it." Hmmmm. Maybe he was trying to tell me that it was easier motivating the said-to-be-difficult-at-times Debra Winger -- who, by the way, was originally supposed to play the Geena Davis role in "A League of Their Own." Or didn't you wonder why the Peaches' tallest player was the catcher? Doesn't the rangy Davis look more like a first baseman to you?

And would it be too confusing to add that years before Penny Marshall took charge of the project, "A League of Their Own" was supposed to star Laura Dern and Jim Belushi (fresh from the baseball-themed "Mr. Destiny"), and was going to be directed by the man who brought you "Rudy" and "Hoosiers," David Anspaugh?

What is it about "Hoosiers" and smart guys from the Boston area? Our man Bill Simmons isn't the only guy who's obsessed ... so were those nice fellas who wrote and starred in "Good Will Hunting." Oh, and remember Robin Williams' riff about Pudge Fisk's Game 6 homer from the 1975 Series? Neither Ben Affleck nor Matt Damon had actually watched the '75 Series -- they were too young, of course -- so the original script had Fisk hitting his homer in the 10th inning. They did, however, give Robin a tape of the game to watch the night before ... and so it was Williams who came on the set to shoot the scene and told Damon, "12th inning, Chief."

Carlton Fisk
Hey, Matt, "12th inning, Chief."
Twelfth inning. Wow.

If I were a Diamondback fan, Games 4 and 5 of this year's World Series would remind me of Lady Bracknell's line about Jack's lost parents in "The Importance of Being Earnest:" "Both? ... That seems like carelessness." But I'm not, which under the circumstances, saves me from accusations of appalling pretension. And more to the point, keeps me from weeping uncontrollably, like those Orlando-adjacent kids from Florida at the end of this year's Little League World Series, which, if anyone ever asks you, provided the most painful moments of sports television since the 1965 AFTRA strike. And while I am a wild-eyed New York fan, I do have compassion for Byung-Hyun Kim. I wish Bob Brenly had sent his pitching coach out to talk to the young man in Game 4, so I could have turned to my family and said, "See? That's Bob Welch. He used to go out with Charlotte Caffey from the Go-Go's."

I did like Emmylou Harris singing "God Bless America" at the BOB, though. Did she seem like an unusual choice? Check out the "Down from the Mountain" documentary -- a concert film featuring the bluegrass icons from the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack -- and you'll discover that Emmylou gets inning-by-inning baseball updates on her pager.

"O Brother" and its Soggy Bottom Boys (sounds like a Florida ballclub, doesn't it?) came courtesy of filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, whose new film, "The Man Who Wasn't There," sounds like a Buck Showalter noir. The Coens snuck a Sandy Koufax paean into their bowling noir, "The Big Lebowski," even though their most vivid memory of Koufax was a heartbreaking one: Game 7 of the 1965 Series, when he threw a two-hit shutout to beat Jim Mudcat Grant and the Twins on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Speaking of which: My Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot finally found its way to my new office in Anaheim, Calif. I may have filed too late this year, but here's how I voted:

1) Sex Pistols
2) Jackson Browne
3) Ramones
4) Talking Heads
5) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
6) Lynryd Skynryd
7) AC/DC
8) Gram Parsons

The "where the hell is Pedro Martinez?" of my list is Patti Smith, in case you were wondering.

You were, weren't you, Britney?

Chris Connelly writes a weekly column for Page 2. "Unscripted with Chris Connelly," the TV show airs at 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday on ESPN.