Thank God it's Friday ...
... and thank God the National League Championship Series is over, so we get a temporary reprieve from the Fox pregame show and things like Jeanne Zelasko's circa-1980 red leather jacket. She and Kevin Kennedy have been useless in the minutes before and after games for years.
In other Zelasko news (thanks, google), check out her apology to Tampa Bay Rays fans after calling the team the "Tampa Rays" several times this season (check out the comments below the story -- lest you forget that a city named St. Petersburg and a certain Bay are part of the region).
Fox will be back next week, but help is on the way -- thanks to, of all things, political campaign ads. If there's a Game Six, Obama bumps Zelasko in the pregame. Now that's a game-changer.
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Greatest new commercial featuring football players: LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu going from the womb to the NFL.
Great shots, a great beat and a pretty great message (except for little-kid Polamalu stomping the living room table, I suppose). The ad is a bit bigger at Nike's site.
Most awful new commercial featuring a football player: Brian Urlacher playing down to stereotypes for Old Spice.
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Most bizarre sports-related sight following Wednesday night's presidential debate: During Greta Van Susteren's post-debate show, I could have sworn I saw Mr. Met walking around in the background. Turns out that I did.
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Before Game Three of the NLCS, Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight, ahem, "fame," introduced the Dodger lineup. I'm like, "this is so L.A." But Hart actually was a fan: She was quite visible sitting behind the plate in the bottom corner of my HDTV, yelling and cheering inning after inning. Then she did something very shocking for an L.A. fan: she stayed for the entire game.
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Nice job by TBS, catching Stephen King reading a book in his box seat as Boston fans were bumming during the Red Sox's Game Four loss. Just when I think I'm Mr. Smarty Pants by freezing the screen with my DVR and googling the words I could make out from the cover, Skip Caray spoils my fun by telling everyone that the title is a you-can't-make-this-up "When Will There Be Good News?" (Does the book say the last three innings of Game Five?)
Better job TBS: In the postgame "Inside MLB," the guys had fun with the editing machines, having King reading the latest by noted author (and co-host) Cal Ripken.
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More fun from Inside MLB: As I wrote last week, the show has had some fun with Dennis Eckersley and a certain home run he gave up to Kirk Gibson 10 years ago. In the "Ernie's Neat-O Stat of the Night" after Game Four, they did it again. At least I found a video clip this time (thanks soxanddawgs.com).
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During Josh Brown's game-winning, 49-yard field goal for the Rams against the Redskins at FedEx Field, did anyone notice on replays that the two video screens on each side of the uprights were trying to distract him?
(Check it out at the end of the highlight, which I'd suggest playing with the sound down. Sorry Rich Eisen, you jumped the shark when you jumped off the worldwide leader mothership). The video screen on the left was zooming in-and-out, Wayne's-World style, and the one on the left was a rotating red spiral that came right out of a fun house. Is this legal?
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Speaking of the Rams-Redskins game, it accounted for two of Chris Berman's best lines of ESPN's Blitz:
* After Richie Incognito's mouthing off nearly cost the Rams the game: "When your name is Richie Incognito, you're not supposed to be noticed! You're supposed to be quiet!"
* On the long interception return for a touchdown by the Rams' Oshiomogho Atogwe, Berman filled in some new syllables for a familiar call: "And he ... could ... go ... At ... og ... we!"
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I knew Berman was going to enjoy doing the final play of the Cowboys-Cardinals highlight since Arizona's Sean Morey had the game-winning punt block. I knew this because, while working for the Ithaca Journal, I was in Providence, R.I., covering an Ivy League football game in 1997 when Morey went completely nuts (ok, three touchdowns and 221 receiving yards) for Brown University in a 37-12 rout of visiting Cornell (coached by former University at Buffalo coach Jim Hofher).
Sure enough, proud Brown grad Berman said "Sean Morey," and then set up Blitz-mate Tom Jackson with his familiar leading question "from?" "BROWN UNIVERSITY!" hollered Jackson. Fun stuff.
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From the there's-always-a-Buffalo-connection department:
* When a Redskin was shouting it out on the sideline with Rams coach Jim Haslett, nobody-circles-the-wagons Berman said: "If you remember Jim Haslett as a linebacker for Buffalo, he's not backing down."
* Late in the Chargers' rout of New England during Sunday Night Football, NBC put up the graphic that noted it was the Patriots' largest deficit since their 31-0 loss in the 2003 season opener to Buffalo.
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Late during Sunday Night Football, it seems like the subject matter and verbiage can loosen up a bit.
Al Michaels spoke about the Charger fans' frustration with the officials, especially in the wake of the the Ed Hochuli-gate at Denver, because fans were booing calls late in a game that was already settled.
"They felt like they got screwed," Michaels said. "And this is their way to vent ... and it's partially [because of] the other way you spell boos."
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Someone should get a Web site going to create a database of which NFL players choose not to say their college during the individual introductions on Sunday Night Football, and why.
Ellis Hobbs, who was actually born in Niagara Falls (who knew?), did not say his college alma mater, which is Iowa State. I believe he said his high school, which was DeSoto (Texas). To each their own, but if I'm the Iowa State recruiting/fund-raising department and missing out on valuable exposure, I'm giving Ellis a call.
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One of the best for last. "College Football Final" on ESPN is becoming some Must-See-TV thanks to Lou Holtz's enthusiasm. He thought he got a little carried away last week at the end of a segment called "The Final Verdict" in which Holtz and Mark May debate a topic before judge Rece Davis.
The premise for the segment sounds a little goofy, but it works, especially when Holtz gets so fired up -- in this case, arguing that Florida's Tim Tebow is still the best quarterback in the country.
The segment seemed like it was over, with even Davis taking off his wireless microphone, but Holtz continued to argue his case, prompting an off-camera May to ask "are we doing this again?"
They kept the cameras rolling, thank goodness. Afterwards, Holtz apologized, saying, "I'm glad we're on at 1 o'clock in the morning and all the children are in bed."