Posted: Wednesday July 27, 2005 4:03PM; Updated: Wednesday July 27, 2005 7:59PM
Eight In The Box
1. Some final thoughts on the World Series of Poker, which I covered for seven years of my life earlier this month. First, sorry, but it's not a sport. Name me a sporting event, which, no matter how many entrants you have, none of the world's top 36 players advance to the final. If I spotted you the top 36 golfers in the world at the British Open, for example, don't you think at least one of your 36 would finish in the top 10? I do. But at the 2005 WSOP's main event, none of the world's 36 best players (as ranked by pinnaclesports.com, which gave odds on the event) advanced to the final table. The players ESPN is touting in its promos (Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey and Annie Duke) were all long gone by then. That says something about luck playing a role in the outcome. Other thoughts:
The folks at the Rio could charge admission. People would pay $5 a head to watch the action, especially at the final table, where fans waited up to four hours to get a seat. Basically, if you were in attendance and had to leave the room to use the can, you surrendered your spot and had to return to that 4-hour line. This did nothing to improve the odor in that room, by the way.
Organizers need to create a way for fans to see the cards turned over on the flop, turn and river. A close-up camera, perhaps, in conjunction with some sort of big-screen TV would work.
Tournament director Johnny Grooms is a natural behind the microphone. He coordinated a complicated event (again, 5,619 entrants!), often with good humor.
I love that you can drink, get a massage, talk on your cell phone and even watch a DVD while sitting at your table and competing, but you are in HUGE trouble if you smoke or drop an F-bomb.
2. Finally, here's my favorite moment from the WSOP that I neglected to blog about earlier: It's the final table. Every person seated there has guaranteed themselves at least $1 million in earnings. The cocktail waitress (and Binion's staffed the same lone cocktail waitress for the entire 14-hour final session; she's my early Sportsperson of the Year nominee) comes around to deliver drinks, which are free for the players. Derrick "Tex" Barch pulls out a pair of $5 bills and tips her. Another player pulls out a single $1 bill for her tip. Dude, you've just earned a cool mil and you're tipping the overworked cocktail waitress eight bits? Nice.
You go, Kaiser! I'm hoping to hit you soon with "John Walters will be off this month, so filling in for him is SNL alumna Robin Duke." Oh, like she wouldn't accept the gig?
4. I spent three hours interviewing Mohr a few years ago on the porch of a beach house he was renting in Seal Beach, Calif. He was very cool -- and caffeine-addicted -- and shared a number of hilarious Chris Farley tales (Farley taking a dump out a window of the GE Building, for example). As I was leaving he said, "I hope you got some good material. They're the same exact quotes I gave the guy from Parade magazine."
5. Boy, there certainly is a lot more diving coverage on television this week. Ever since Chelsea "Crash" Davis did a Wile E. Coyote face plant last weekend in the World Swimming and Diving Championships, it's been all over. I don't know if Davis will need reconstructive facial surgery, but if so, here's hoping she has a board-certified surgeon. Thanks. I'll be here all week.
6. This was Stuart Scott's intro to ESPN SportsCenter's Sunday Conversation with Venus Williams a few days ago:
"Critics and haters look at each other in the mirror and see themselves slamming Venus Williams for not playing like a four-time Grand Slam winner because, what, she's been battling injuries? Because one sister became the world's best tennis player and another sister was killed?
I mean, come on, to criticize an athlete because that athlete is well-rounded and has a well-rounded interest in things like interior design?
Watch Venus Williams. Watch her genuine, inspirational, spontaneous, winning celebration after her fifth Grand Slam and third Wimbledon. And you're going to question her desire? (shaking head)"
Where do we begin? First, if you look in the mirror, no matter if you're a critic, a hater, Venus or even the host of Teammates, aren't you always going to see yourself? Second, exactly who was slamming Venus for not playing better because her sister was murdered?
Rarely does anyone criticize Scott -- at least not in print, or publicly -- because, I assume, they fear the backlash. "You just don't like Stu because he's ... a Tar Heel." No. That's not it.
A few weeks ago Scott and I believe it was Matt Winer were hosting a SportsCenter. Winer described a certain hitter as being "explosive" of late. When they cut back to the studio shot, Scott interjected. He referred to Winer's use of the term "explosive" and said he would have used the term "phat" instead.
And so here's what I'm wondering: If Scott had voiced the highlight and used "phat," and then Winer had corrected him by saying, "Where I'm from, we'd call that 'explosive,'" might someone have interpreted Winer's comment as being racist? Or just rude?
7. If the studio producing The Dukes of Hazzard couldn't find anything funnier than the "Throw another shrimp on the barbie" line to include in the trailer, then why should I go see it? I can watch Foster's commercials for free.
8. Speaking of trailers, the best trailer I've seen of late is for a new MTV show entitled Trailer Fabulous. It's a send up of Extreme Makeover where the experts re-do mobile homes. A trailer for a show about trailers: That's bonkos!