Random Thoughts, Volume 1
(Beloved AlmostAthletes readers: Here’s a little feature that I’ll be indulging in from time to time)
- The idiot who threw the beer at Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino the other night should have his guts stomped out. I’m talking Robert De Niro on Joe Pesci in Raging Bull style. I love how Philadelphia fans get all the press for being heathens (and it’s often well deserved), but when fans from other cities act atrociously, it’s somehow cute.
- I don’t care what anyone (including a certain colleague of mine) says, Sarah Silverman is ridiculously cute, even with a bald spot… and funny.
- The proliferation of afternoon baseball games during the week is an awful idea. Doesn’t MLB know that people work for a living?
- I was very happy to see Tom McEvoy win the first ever Tournament of Champions at the World Series of Poker this year.
- I need to start distancing myself a bit from Facebook. FB is like the first day of school: I’m excited to see everyone, but after the first hour, I just want to go home. Nothing personal against my FB friends, though.
- I’m not quite sure why, but I’m completely enamored with every female on the current season of Big Brother, especially Jordan.
- While I can’t condone the behavior, if Chicago Blackhawks center Patrick Kane (who should be a Flyer) did indeed punch a cab driver in the face over a couple of nickels, it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. I proudly wear his name on my back, as I’m fully on the Blackhawks bandwagon, but more on that later.
- I have a new favorite show on MTV (no, I’m not a 16-year-old girl). It’s called Is She Really Going Out with Him? (named after the incredibly awesome ‘80s song from Joe Jackson). For all the young gentlemen out there who want to learn how NOT to act, please watch this program. None of those guys are cool.
- Everyone, especially boxing fans, must see the HBO documentary Assault in the Ring. It’s about the 1983 junior middleweight bout between Billy Collins, Jr. and Luis Resto. It’s an absolutely riveting tale that sadly ended in tragedy for everyone.
- The NFL is in trouble if it can’t keep players from using Twitter.
- The recent trend in pornography to produce and endless line of parodies is tremendous, hilarious, and good for the economy.
- I used to be one of his biggest detractors, but I defy anyone to not feel at least a twinge of respect for Iron Mike after viewing the Tyson documentary.
- Anyone who isn’t watching Beef, the eight-part series on hip hop feuds airing on FUSE is missing out.
- For all the Fantasy Football nuts out there, I think drafts across the nation are going to be highly unconventional this year. Stay tuned for draft coverage concerning the league myself and Brian and are sadly involved in.
- Baseball players need to learn how to fight better. The brawl between the Red Sox and Tigers was embarrassing.
- Aside from Lost, True Blood is the best show on TV right now.
- I couldn’t be more pleased that Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black (formerly of The State) have their own show.
- There are rumors of a Soundgarden reunion, and I’m as giddy as a nervous schoolgirl about it.
- Theo Fleury is attempting an NHL comeback. Uh, it won’t be successful. Haven’t we learned anything from Claude Lemieux?
- Oh yeah, and Michael Vick is now a Philadelphia Eagle… Stop the World, I wanna get off.
The Sad State Of Hockey Withdrawal
The 2008-2009 NHL Season has barely ended and already “puckheads” everywhere are clamoring for the drop of the little rubber disc on the new campaign. The summer can be a frustrating time for hockey fans as they impatiently wait for teams to resume play. That’s why, to combat the hockey doldrums, the ten best roles and cameos from NHL players featured in film are going to be counted down here. They don’t necessarily have to be hockey movies (though, most are) given that the list of solid films on the sport is rather short. They just have to be fun. However, players will get special consideration if they play someone other than themselves, or even just have lines of dialogue. Let’s face off:
10. Wayne Gretzky – D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994): Sure, he plays himself, but any time “The Great One” makes an appearance, it’s worth a mention. After all, he is the best player to ever play the game. Also, look for cameos from greats Cam Neely, Luc Robitaille and Chris Chelios.
9. Mike Modano – The Mighty Ducks (1992): Yes, the longtime Minnesota North Star and Dallas Star also plays himself, but he does manage to deliver a few nice lines in a great hockey movie for kids. Minnesota North Stars tough guy Basil McRae also appears.
8. Phil Esposito – Mystery, Alaska (1999): Again, Esposito plays himself in a fun film about a local amateur pond hockey team that challenges the New York Rangers to an exhibition game. However, the Ranger, Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins legend and Hall of Famer certainly deserves to be mentioned on this list. Look for other fun appearances from Jim Fox (L.A. Kings) and Barry Melrose (Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings) among a great cast.
7. Sean Avery, Pascal Dupuis, Vincent Lecavalier, Ian Laperriere, and others – The Rocket (2005): Included here more for the ensemble aspect of the cast, most of these NHL players don’t have lines in the film about Montreal Canadien great Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. However, it’s notable that they all played former NHL skaters, including Tampa Bay Lightning star Lecavalier as Jean Beliveau, and Laperriere as “Boom Boom” Geoffrion. It’s also worth mentioning that current Stanley Cup Champion and Pittsburgh Penguin Pascal Dupuis’s older brother Roy, plays the Rocket.
6. Marty McSorley – Con Air (1997): The first non-hockey movie on the list features McSorley as the co-pilot of the plane carrying Nicolas Cage that gets hijacked by prisoners. McSorley, one of the toughest pugilists ever to play in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, L.A. Kings and others, gets special marks for displaying acting chops as someone other than a hockey player. The consummate tough guy also has turns in Forget Paris and Bad Boys.
5. Ryan Walter – Miracle (2004): Many may miss him, but Walter plays a referee in the tremendous film about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that brought home the gold against insurmountable odds. A hard-working player, Walter played fifteen seasons in the NHL for the Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks. He was a captain for the Caps and even won a Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1986.
4. Jay Caufield – Sudden Death (1995): Sure, everyone probably remembers Pittsburgh Penguin Luc Robitaille scoring the game-tying goal in the seventh game of the fictional Stanley Cup Final between the Pens and Chicago Blackhawks to send the game into overtime during the Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick. However, many may not realize that former Pens and New York Rangers tough guy (and Philadelphia native) Jay Caufield plays the Pens goaltender in the film, has lines, and even gets a close-up.
3. Eric Nesterenko – Youngblood (1986): Many folks remember the late Peter Zezel as the only real hockey player in this fictional tale of a young hockey prodigy. However, most viewers don’t realize that the man who played the father of Dean Youngblood was none other than former Toronto Maple Leaf and longtime Chicago Blackhawk Eric Nesterenko. “Elbows” was actually considered one of the best defensive players of his era and managed to score well over 500 points in his career. He even won the Cup in 1961 with Chicago. The film itself is sometimes hard to defend, as it’s unintentionally silly at times, but it does have its supporters. Look for Keanu Reeves as the goalie.
2. Cam Neely – Dumb and Dumber (1994): That’s right, everyone remembers Sea Bass. Cam Neely, the quintessential power forward for the Boston Bruins whose great career was cut short due to injuries, played the bully who terrorized Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in the hilarious Farrelly Brothers film. Bam Bam Cam is easily the most accomplished actor on this list, also appearing in films such as Me, Myself & Irene and What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
What a long strange trip it’s been…
Let me state up front that I’m a Philly fan to the core. However, I must admit that I was a touch bemused (although, I probably shouldn’t have been) by the current predicament of one Lenny “The Dude” Dykstra. Yes, good ol’ Nails has gotten himself into some trouble. After being profiled on HBO’s Real Sports barely a year ago as a man on top of the world, a recent follow-up piece from Bernard Goldberg purported that Dykstra is now broke. Once hailed as a stock market guru and savvy businessman that made a killing in various ventures, Dykstra is now living in an empty, foreclosed house and is being sued by multiple parties for an incredible amount of money. All of this got me to thinking: What has happened to the ’93 Phillies team? Sure, they were a rag tag bunch in the first place, but they WERE professional athletes. Surely, former players in Major League Baseball would have enough sense to retire quietly into that good night and live a comfortable, happy and healthy life, right? Well, apparently not. This got me to thinking further: Are the ’93 Phillies former pro athletes or cartoon characters? Let’s examine this for a spell.
Alright, back to Lenny for a minute. Looking at him now, he almost resembles a roided-out Elmer Fudd in appearance and speech, but that’s beside the point. This is a man who made millions recently in the market, but when the economy recently tanked, Lenny continued to pour fuel into his private jet, live in a spacious mansion that he bought from Wayne Gretzky, and dump roughly half a million dollars a month into a failing magazine geared towards pro athletes. Now, I won’t go into what a terrible idea the magazine is, but I will say that when all the bill collectors, employees, etc. came looking for payment, Dykstra called them a bunch of liars and said he didn’t owe them anything. Really? Goldberg literally visited him in a furniture-less house that had been foreclosed. Now, everyone listen to me very carefully… I have never taken a real estate class in my life, but guess what? I know that if your house is in foreclosure, you owe someone money. In Dykstra’s defense, his lawyers claim that this is all nonsense, but they didn’t appear on the Real Sports segment. Is that possible? Maybe. However, I will take the word of a slew of business professionals over a guy who slammed head first into Mookie Wilson in that famous Mets collision and has probably never recovered. My point is this: The real world doesn’t operate like Spacely Sprockets, but Mr. Dykstra is now certainly living like Mr. Spacely.
Seriously, if someone back in 1993 had told me after the Joe Carter fiasco (as a recently high school graduated 18-year-old man experiencing his first bit of adulthood disappointment) that the person doing the best on the ’93 team in 2009 was Mitch “Wild Thing, I pitch like my hair is on fire, but must flee the city due to death threats” Williams, I would have said that you were eating a few too many Flintstone chewables. Speaking of the lovable family from Bedrock, remember the Great Gazoo? He was the witty space alien who offered Fred and Barney priceless advice. Don’t remember him? Well, Darren Daulton does. Or at least, he should. You see, that’s because Darren “Dutch” Daulton is most likely crazier than an outhouse rat, and he believes that he can travel through space and time, most likely with Gazoo at his side. Now, I don’t know about all of you, but the last credible time traveler that I can remember is Mr. Peabody (the super smart dog) when he would hop into his “wayback machine” to revisit important moments in history during the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. So, let’s go ahead and call Dutch, “Sherman,” Peabody’s naïve and overly energetic, but well-intentioned young boy who served as his companion. Though, maybe I should leave Daulton alone. After all, it’s not nice to poke fun at the mentally disabled.
Should I really continue? Of course, there’s the Tourette’s syndrome-addled Jim Eisenreich who could be compared to Muttley from Wacky Races. There’s the rumored split-personality of Dave Hollins when teammates would have to call him by a different name on a given day. That sounds something like Blitzwing from Transformers. Who can forget John Kruk, who has admitted to a number of hapless misadventures and silly infractions over the years? Hmmm….Wile E. Coyote anyone? Sure, it’s not all bad. There’s Milt Thompson, the current batting coach for our beloved Phils. Though, he may be the Foghorn Leghorn of Major League Baseball. You know, the character who claims to know everything but really doesn’t. After all, it’s doubtful that he will do much for Jimmy Rollins’ soon-to-be-sub-.200 batting average. He certainly hasn’t yet. I could go on, but I won’t. Perhaps the mental instability of the ’93 Phils was what made them so likable in the first place. Besides, I have the comfort of a recent 2008 World Series Championship to take the sting away. However, I do believe Bugs Bunny put it best when he simply stated, “What a bunch of moroons.”