The world of sports is a winter wonderland
Flying fingers, fleeced fans and fantasy coffins among this week's oddball items of disinterest
Yes, these are warm and fuzzy times for fans and players. You can just feel the love and goodwill flowing like so much eggnog down your chin, particularly in the National Footbrawl League.
Out in Detroit, where hearty handclasps and joyous hoots were on order as the Lions qualified for an EPA Superfund cleanup, a local charity is now $7,500 richer thanks to center Dominic Raiola, who underwent a slight wallet reduction after flipping fans the bird and expressing the desire to invite them over to his house for a nice knuckle sandwich (apparently a favored delicacy of Lions fans made feisty by their team's weekly slapstick routines). Raiola's holiday greetings were in the same varicose vein as as lineman Richie Incognito of the Rams extending an equally defiant hail-fellow-well-hie-thee-hence-to-hell gesture to adoring partisans in St. Louis, and Browns GM Phil Savage expressing his appreciation of pointed criticism in a letter to an admirer.
Exchanges of pleasantries between athletes and fans in all sports have been with us ever since the primordial apes invented lawn darts, but these three recent incidents have one thing in common: they involved teams that are rather malodorous and, heaven knows, fans do not suffer stinkers gladly, not in the best of times and certainly not when they have to cough up handsome coin to suffer them when money is tighter than spandex on CC Sabathia. Meanwhile, winning teams can merrily turn the tables . . .
Fleece: What the devoted fan be wearing these days
If you enjoy being forcibly separated from your long green, it's hard to go wrong being a sports fan in a city like New York or Dallas, where a flagship or reasonably successful franchise dwells, especially if it has a new emporium to play in. Veteran columnist Phil Mushnick of the New York Post has been chronicling the myriad ways pro teams Hoover their customers' china pigs with Jersey docks legbreaker tactics like exorbitant seat licenses, steep ticket price hikes, unwanted must-buys and other legerdemain while dumping big globs of inconvenience in their laps.
One of Mushnick's recent columns concerned a Mets season-ticket holder for the past 25 years who is growing ill at having game times switched from day to night to accommodate TV and being forced to buy tickets to games he doesn't want in order to get tickets to those he does. Kind of makes you feel even more tingly that the Mets and Yankees have their cups out for another dollop of tax-free bonds to fund their new playpens while massive layoffs are blowing holes in city and state budgets.
Meanwhile, the loyal burghers of Buffalo weren't feeling kindly about having to jackass to another city -- one that's said to be gazing lustily at their NFL franchise -- to watch their beloved team play a "home game" against its bitter rival. Then again, the way the Bills have performed of late, maybe their fans were lucky the team went to Toronto for last Sunday's game. But there are also rumbles about the Sabres packing up. Last one out, turn off the lights...
As this space hath noted, one of the benefits of the economic collapse is that teams, especially lousy ones, feel more inclinded to treat you a bit more kindly by giving away, reducing or at least not gouging on tickets. But after you've endured the mud and the blood and the beer, the late nights, the cold and rain at considerable expense for years, many of them galling from a won-lost standpoint, shouldn't your team have the decency to wear a stocking mask when shaking you down?
Speaking of fleece...
If your glazed eyes are regularly glued to ESPN or other fine male-disoriented cable channels, you've no doubt been treated to the repeated sight of that creepy Natural Male Enhancement pitchman with the pixilated smile running around to a whistled jingle that is straight off the funny farm. Never mind the lawsuit or that the founder of the company that manufactures this wondrous emolument -- which apparently enables users to dementedly pilot stock cars without watching the road, hit 500-yard drives off the tee, and attract a department store full of leering ladies -- was indicted and convicted this year on charges including what you call your fraud. Nevertheless, the ads still run 24/7/365 although they ingeniously never make exactly clear just what it is that this stuff enhances. Most guys will assume it's their Louisville Slugger, but it very well could be their gullibility.
Steppin' up to the box
Still a die-hard fan? Then you may be in the market for an official team casket, as reported by this space last January. Apparently, the Red Sox model became available this month -- about 50 days after the team's World Series hopes expired at the hands of the upstart Rays. These babies are also great for burying the mortal remains of your bank account, hedge fund or 401k. Other manufacturers have been digging in to give folks an opportunity to meet their Maker in a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can, a dumpster, a corkscrew and even a sneaker. Now that's what you call going in style.
Plaxico on your teeth
The mirth continues in the wake of The Burress Big Bang. Best story headline after Sunday's loss to Philadelphia (courtesy of -- who else? -- the New York Post): PLAX-LESS GIANTS NOT BULLETPROOF: Big Blue butterfingers shoot selves in foot
The incident also inspired reader Tom Filibuster-boom-boom-P1-Landis of Texadelphia Restaurants in Dallas to introduce The Plaxico-Cheddar Cheesesteak Special.
"My peeps often say my promos are so cheap it's like I'm shooting myself in the foot," Landis wrote to this space using the handy-dandy space/time-bending Epistle Portal (patent pending) at the bottom of the page. "In honor of self-inflicted boo-boos, our chefs created a chicken cheddar cheesesteak, with a side of ketchup. Plaxico is self-explanatory. Cheddar is the name of the idiot in Eminem's 8-Mile movie who also shot himself. Shot of ketchup is drama, baby, pure drama. While eating, or for the visual affect of packing heat, simply stuff the sandwich in your pants, stomp on the ketchup packet and yell, 'Look, ma! I shot myself!' Fun for the whole family!"
Indeed. And cheaper than tickets to the big Giants-Cowboys game in Dallas on Sunday night, although Mr. Landis cautions that the Plaxico-Cheddar special is available during game-time only.
"Limit one per person, unless you are packin' heat," writes Mr. Filibuster-boom-boom. "Then you can pretty much have as many as you want as well as all the money in the till. The $5.00 and a portion of profits go to preventing domestic violence."
Unfounded Rumor of the Week
Father Guido Sarducci had his Find The Pope in The Pizza contest. Now, according to "Oily Ed" our "source" in the boiler room, the NHL will rip a page from the good Father's Good Book.
Apparently, all homo sapiens 18 or older who attend or pretend to watch the Winter Classic game at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day will be asked to spot the one player on the Red Wings or Blackhawks who isn't wearing the logo of a big name apparel designer. Fans at Wrigley will be handed binoculars for that express task and can file the offender's name to Homeland Security via phone or text message. Those staring intently at home in the good old U.S. of A. can file online. All who correctly identify the culprit will be entered in a drawing for valuable merchandise such as a trip for four to a Stanley Cup Final game where they will watch (the game, we presume) with an NHL Legend, said to be Sheldon Kannegiesser or Zarley Zalapski. The winner will also will be treated to a private viewing of the Stanley Cup modeling Victoria's Secret lingerie and a $1,000 shopping spree at NHL.com where Zalapski jerseys are flying off the shelves -- mainly due to a stiff wind and the front door being left open.
The Epistle Portal
Merely pour your bile into the convenient window on the right and click Send. The space-time continuum does the rest. It's like magic, only not as amazing.
Note: All creditors, bill collectors, repo men and the odd shamus are advised to use the back door, preferably in the dead of night. And please remember to wipe your feet. The carpet is new.