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Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Updated: May 31, 2:15 PM ET
Rambling thoughts of a TV junkie

By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

THOUGHTS WHILE WAITING FOR "GRAND THEFT AUTO 4" TO BE RELEASED AND SUBMARINE THE REST OF MY YEAR ...

Robert Iler
A.J. Soprano
I always believed Andrew Shue was the worst TV actor of my lifetime, that nobody else would ever remotely approach him ... and then the kid who plays AJ Soprano came along.

As soon as I take over ESPN6, I'm launching "The Sports Reporters 3: West Coast Edition," where reporters have laid-back debates about irrelevant sports topics, then get up and leave with five minutes remaining in the show.

There isn't a situation on the planet in which I would feel comfortable getting my shoes shined.

Just in case you were leaning against purchasing the new "Saturday Night Live" book, buy it just for the story involving Milton Berle's dressing room, an open bathrobe and the quote, "What do you think of the boy?"

Hey, when is ESPN rehashing the Tim Couch-Cade McNown-Heather Kozar love triangle on "Sports Century and Beyond: Dumb Things You Always Wanted To Know About"? That was the greatest love triangle since Brandon, Dylan and Kelly on "90210." You think a drunken Tim Couch ever walked into a cocktail party, saw Cade and Heather together and hissed, "My best friend, my best girl, what is this, Blondie and the Boy Scout?"

One thing's for sure: It will definitely be harder to sneak the team bong into the Mets clubhouse next year with Lou Piniella around.

Calista Flockhart
Calista Flockhart
If my mom ever wrote a Ramblings, it would definitely include lines like, "You know what bothers me more than the sniper, al Qaeda or anything else going on right now? The fact that Harrison Ford fell for Calista Flockhart. Calista Flockhart! The girl doesn't eat!"

Here's my vote for the most underrated ESPN Classic: Game 5 of the Knicks-Pistons playoff series in 1984, which features Marv Albert in his prime, Isiah Thomas scoring 16 in the final 90 seconds to send it to OT, Kelly Tripucka's mullet-afro, and Bernard King doing Bernard King things (including the famous two-hand follow in OT). Nothing beats that 18-month stretch in the mid-'80s when nobody on the planet could stop Bernard King. I could talk about this all day.

For God's sake, what has to be done for one of the Boston stations to start airing that "Cheaters" show? A letter-writing campaign? A public plea in this space? An entire column about the show? Just tell me. I'll do anything.

Theo Fleury
Theo Fleury
Why do we always mention Michael Irvin, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Lamar Odom and everyone else in the Pantheon of "Athletes with drug or alcohol problems who always get brought up" ... and yet nobody ever mentions Theo Fleury? What else does this guy have to do? Throw down tequila shots in the penalty box during a game? Can we give him his just due, please?

All right, I'll ask: Why do all the Major League Baseball owners always look like they just crawled out of a cave or buried a body in their back yard?

My imitation of every Fox promo from the World Series: "On an all-new 'Boston Public,' kids are fighting, and Chi McBride says, 'This is about outrage!', and Michael Rapoport looks like he's ready to fire his agent, and the chick from 'Star Trek Voyager' looks scared, and two groups of kids are walking toward one another, and now somebody's getting slammed into a trophy case ..."

Some NBA fantasy sleepers, just because I care about you, the home reader: Richard Jefferson, Shammond Williams, Eddie Griffin, Juwan Howard, Vlad Radmanovic, Darius Miles and Kwame Brown. And let's just say that I could throw out 650 more names before Vin Baker's name entered the discussion.

Nia Varalos
Nia Varalos of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"
Wait a second ... you mean the cast of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" might be available for the spinoff TV show? I can't believe it! They weren't busy? This is unbelievable!

If it were up to me, Vince Coleman should be invited to every Celebrity Golf Tournament, if only because the "If Vince misses this putt, he's throwing firecrackers into the gallery" joke never, ever, ever gets old.

You know those in-game polls when there's some sort of controversy like, "Should the play be overturned?" or "Should Scioscia go to his bullpen?", and they put the question up, and then like 20 seconds later, 45,000 people have voted? Who the hell votes for these things? Are people sitting in front of their laptops, watching the game and saying, "Man, I can't wait for the next poll so I can vote again?" Can somebody commission a study on this?

Just for the record, instead of running "Larry Sanders" episodes with commercials and edited language, I wish Bravo had just ripped out my heart and stomped on it.

Not a day goes by without a reader asking me things like "When will Najeh Davenport start calling himself, "Deuce Davenport?" and "Why didn't you draft Deuce McAllister, Duce Staley and Najeh Davenport on the same fantasy team, then call the team 'Dropping The Deuce'?" He's clearly the runaway Comedy MVP of the 2002 NFL season right now, and that's saying something during a season when Browns fans made Tim Couch cry. Good times.

Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell
Two tidbits about Latrell Sprewell's yacht: The boat is actually docked in Milwaukee, and the name of the yacht is "Milwaukee's Best." Now that is comedy. It's the little things in life, isn't it?

Know what? That isn't even my best info of the week. Doug Christie's player profile on NBA.com includes a tidbit in the "Personal" section that "Doug and his wife, Jackie, have two daughters, Chantell and Ta'kari. ... Mother-in-law Cora Mansfield also resides with the Christies."

(And the hits keep coming! I'm not asking for a new reality-TV show called "The Christies," I'm demanding it. You couldn't drag me away from the TV set for that show with a crane. This week on "The Christies," Doug takes his wife and mother-in-law to Vegas and visits the Hoover Dam!)

OK, where do I cash in my "Marcus Camby and Antonio McDyess will suffer major injuries during the same week that Cris Carter launches an ill-fated comeback" stock?

My favorite NHL Division is the Southeast: Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Carolina and Atlanta. Lotta history there.

Yao Ming
Yao Ming
If NBA.comTV isn't showing live coverage of Yao Ming's introduction to Stevie Francis and Cuttino Mobley this week, could they at least show footage of Wang Zhi Zhi's introduction to Lamar Odom and Quentin Richardson? Is that too much to ask? And could somebody encourage some small talk between the parties while they're taping? Really, I don't ask for much.

Burning questions: Is Natasha Henstridge slowly turning into Luke Perry? ... Couldn't Robert De Niro be the home plate umpire for Game 5 of the World Series at Pac Bell? ... Is there a more underrated movie than "Outside Providence"? ... Does Ernie Johnson Jr. walk into a phone booth, take off his glasses and come out as Joe Buck? ... And is it too early to ask Matt Millen to be in my fantasy league next season?

I have to be honest: I'm not enjoying the Jerry Seinfeld "Heavier, balding and not-nearly-as-funny" era all that much.

If there's anything more fun than a sold-out WWE crowd chanting "You suck!" in synch with Kurt Angle's entrance music, please, let me know.

Personally, I think Terrell Owens is a genius. Nobody since Dennis Rodman has been able to hog the limelight this shamefully and this long, and for so many of the wrong reasons. Well done, Terrell, If you play your cards right, after you retire, you might even take over for Rodman and be host of "Terrell Owens' Strippers Ball" with Jenna Jameson on Action Pay-Per-View in a few years.

(Sorry about that ... I was auditioning for "Sports Reporters 2.")

Free Hickory High!
A number of readers have urged me to start an e-mail campaign to MGM, trying to convince them to release the Director's Cut DVD of "Hoosiers." Here's the best link I could find to e-mail them. They probably won't change their minds, but you never know.

Hey, you know when Fox plants their current stars in the stands during games, then pretends the cameras inadvertently stumbled upon them? Why don't they go the whole nine yards and have some of their failed stars working concessions during the games, too? Then Joe Buck could say things like, "Look at that guy selling popcorn ... it's the former star of 'Ryan Caulfield: Year One,' Mr. Sean Maher!"

Few things are more depressing than a stripper with no self-confidence.

When the producers of the "Real World" interview prospective cast members, is Question No. 1, "Are you open about your sexuality?" and Question No. 2, "Do you have an unsatisfying relationship with your father?" And if the answer to both questions is yes, is Question No. 3, "When can you start the show?"

What's the over-under on Boo-Yeah's from Stu Scott as ESPN's main NBA studio host this season? 500? 750? 1,000? 2,000? Should Vegas get involved?

When will Daunte Culpepper openly start trying to paralyze Randy Moss with every pass over the middle? Whoops, sorry about that, Randy, I didn't mean to lead you right into the strong safety like that. Let's run that same play again, I know I can hit you in stride this time ...

Question: Is it too early to induct the Post-Will Ferrell SNL season into the "Hall of Fame for Bad SNL Seasons," along with the Gilbert Gottfried Season, the Anthony Michael Hall Season and the Janeane Garafolo Season?

Speaking of SNL, when I take over ESPN6, I'm buying the rights to the "Referee Pittman Show" skit and bringing it back with various NBA referees -- just a half-hour show of a serious studio audience asking them matter-of-fact questions like "What's it like to referee with your head all the way up your butt?" and "My boy and I were wondering ... we know you have no soul, but what takes its place, is it human excrement or dog excrement?"

There aren't nine words in the English language that set off a Vegas sports book stampede quite like "Chris Weinke gets the start this week for Carolina."

Does Michael Keaton sit around at home thinking, "Ten years ago, I was Batman ... now I'm making movies for HBO"?

I always thought O.J. Simpson's work in the "Naked Gun" Trilogy was the watershed "I can't believe this is actually happening" retro-movie moment of the past 20 years ... but you forget that Howard Stern made an entire movie celebrating his two-decade relationship with his wife, then they promptly got divorced. I still can't believe that happened.

If the Angels fans ever performed the Tomahawk Chop while banging those Thunder Stix together, I think I would have a seizure in about 45 seconds.

Forget about Emmitt Smith's record ... when is Michael Pittman breaking the record for "Most Career All-Purpose Yards Without Scoring A Single Fantasy Point"?

Finally, to answer your question, no, the "Drew Bledsoe 2002 Resurgence" isn't nearly as painful to New England fans as the "Roger Clemens 1997 Resurgence." Everyone here likes Bledsoe; it's humanly impossible to root against someone who's a good guy. In retrospect, maybe he just needed a change of scenery. Hey, it happens. Plus, he liked being here, he wanted to stay here, he appreciated Patriots fans and made all of this extremely clear on his way out of town. And if that's not enough, he wasn't an ungrateful, selfish, revisionist traitor hick.

(See, it's a totally different situation.)

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine.