Monday, November 10, 2008

Scott Boras: The Fool Waha Interview

DISCLAIMER: Under no circumstances did the following conversations take place. Legally speaking, we have to say that this is a work of highly imaginative fiction – nothing else. But if they had...

[Baseball super-agent Scott Boras and a tall, female assistant enter the opulent "Club 19" at the lavish St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach, California. At a secluded table, Boras sits with Bill Friday. The assistant greets Friday with a brief kiss and a shiny, Red Delicious Apple. The agent, dressed in a silk, red-on-red, Westmancott suit, smiles confidently.

After a long week at the Major League Baseball General Managers meetings in and around South Orange County, the mood of the participants spotted milling about the hotel was guarded, and the expressions on the faces of the teams' representatives, tight.

Standing at the agent's shoulder, the assistant looks with furtive hope in the journalist's direction. He carries a digital recorder in one hand, and a near-empty crystal glass of Tennessee Whisky and slowly melting ice in the other. The journalist sets both on the table in front of him. Pressing the "rec" button, he speaks.]

Bill Friday: If you have no objections?

[The agent tilts his head graciously.]

Friday: Scott Boras, thank you for your time.

Scott Boras: We'll see if you're thanking me when this is all over. You've met my assistant, Evie?

Friday: Yesterday... by the pool.

Boras: So she said. She's a huge fan of your work.

Friday: So it seemed.

[The journalist shifts nervously in his chair.]

Friday (cont'd): Anyway, the big news here at the meetings, as always, seems to surround you and your clients. This year, that buzz is being heard about one client in particular - the Dodger's Manny Ramirez.

Boras: Bill, I must correct you... Free Agent Manny Ramirez.

Friday: Sorry. I guess it's true you are in the details. Free Agent Manny Ramirez. According to the rules of Major League Baseball, Manny's most recent team, the Dodgers, have until November 14 to tender a contract offer, before he may pursue offers from other teams...

Boras: Already, I tire of this subject. The Manny deal is done. My minions in the Dodger's front office have shown Frank McCourt the error of his mendicant ways, and even now he is willing to fill our coffers with the overflow of his sacrificial love...

[Evie leans over the agent's shoulder, whispering something in his ear. The agent nods.]

Boras (cont'd): ...What I intended to say was that like any elite athlete in this sport, Manny's elite qualities will prove to pay for themselves. I believe both parties will come to a mutually beneficial agreement that will have the Dodgers in the World Series and Mr. Ramirez in the Hall-of-Fame before a single snowflake can descend upon my kingdom.

Friday: This off-season, the list of your clients numbers sixty...

Boras: Sixty-two.
Friday: ...with twenty of them...

Boras: Twenty-one.

Friday: ...with twenty-one having filed for free agency. So many...

[Friday hesitates. He looks up at the assistant. She twirls a lock of her long curls between her fingers while looking deeply into the eyes of the journalist.]

Boras: Do not cower. Ask your question, insolent one.

Friday: I'm curious. It's being said that, during the course of these negotiations with many General Managers that somehow, you've been seen in several different places simultaneously. Exactly how is that possible?

Boras: It's not. I merely convey the illusion of omnipresence. Much like the shortstop turning the "phantom double-play", I cannot, of course, be both on the bag and half-way down the right field line at one-and-the-same time, now can I? It's simply a matter of perception. And yet this little parlor trick also serves a dual purpose, as do all who serve me. That this belief gives my clients such great faith in my abilities, engenders a lifetime of unwavering loyalty, which is of great benefit to me during prolonged contract negotiations.

Friday: And the other?
Boras: It scares the holy bejeebers out of the GM's. I believe the world is a better place for those of us who learn to make fear our friend.

Friday: According to the available figures, as an agent, you receive upwards of $150 million annually in commissions alone from your sixty...

Boras: Sixty-two.

Friday: ...sixty-two clients. Now that you seem to have conquered Baseball, do you have any other plans?

Boras: Plans? Men plan... I laugh.

[The agent laughs.]

Boras (cont'd): In the past, Major League Baseball has done well to serve me, as it has my clients. Yet I am transcendent. Shortly, I shall move beyond the petty schemes of those who think themselves rich but are poor, into that for which I have prepared myself, lo these many years.

Friday: So, you'd like to be the next Commissioner of Baseball?

Boras: Blasphemy!!!

[Silence fills Club 19 after the echo of the agent's primal cry fades.]

Boras (cont'd): Forgive me. I... I don't know where that came from. Evie Dear, could you fetch me a Single Malt... you know the one. And something for Mr. Friday?

[The journalist lifts the near-empty, crystal glass, jiggling the ice cubes.]

Friday: I'm fine.

Boras: As with all men Bill, I have goal... aspirations. My vision is beyond the childish idylls of sports and entertainment. The administration of my vision will be the consummation of all that is called great in this world's realm.

Friday: Did Obama's people call you too?
Boras: I have never been one for politics, Mr. Friday. Politics is the playpen of grown men who have yet to see they still wear diapers. My vision is of a greater future for all who swear allegiance to my eternal...

Evie: Your Single Malt, Sir.

[The agent leans close to the journalist.]

Boras: She can be yours, you know?
Friday: What?

Boras: I'll give her to you. All you have to do is become my voice among...

Friday: Your voice?

Boras: Don't be coy, Bill. You knew that's why I invited you here. I can give you everything you ever desired. Fame... wealth... Evie... everything. And all you have to do is tell the world of my beneficent plan... beyond sports... beyond politics... for all humanity!

[The agent takes a drink of Single Malt.]

Boras: Ech! Evie, you know I take a little ice in my Scotch! I have a good mind to turn you over to A-Rod and Madonna for what you've done!

[The journalist holds up his glass. Smiling, he shakes the remaining ice at the bottom.]
Friday: Allow me?

[Boras smiles as Friday drops two cubes into the Single Malt. The agent swirls the drink in the glass, the melting ice becoming one with the Scotch. He drinks... deeply.]

Boras: With you and Evie at my right hand, no puny power on Earth will be able to stop... aghh! Will be able to stop... Aghhhhh!!!

[Gagging, the agent's eyes seem to bulge in his head. His face becomes as red as his Westmancott suit.]

Boras (cont'd): Deceiver!!! You have betrayed me!!!

[Smoke begins to rise from the agent's ears. The room appears to lose its light, growing darker as the face of the agent glows brighter. Quietly, Evie strokes the skin of the Red Delicious Apple with one long finger.]

Boras: How...?

Friday: It's the ice. Made from the finest, imported Italian Holy Water. Darren McGavin taught me that one... or was it Sarah Michelle Gellar? I forget.

Boras: Gellar?!!! She belongs to me!!!

Friday: Apparently not anymore.

Boras: But... my plans...

Friday: It's just like you said, "Men plan..."

[In the corner of the now empty room, the agent's body slumps to the table. His face is now a ghostly white above the red of his $100,000 suit.]
Evie: Am I free?

Friday: If that's what you want. Getting free is easy. Staying free...

[The assistant takes the Red Delicious Apple and shoves it into the mouth of what once was the agent. She looks with gratitude... and something more... at the journalist.]

Evie: Come with me?

Friday: I can't. I'm expecting a phone call.

Evie: You have my number.

[Evie leaves. From behind the journalist, a voice...]

Maitre' D': Mr. Friday? It's your call from Mr. McCourt. Will you take it here or...

Friday: I think I'll take it poolside. Is Mr. Ramirez at my table?

Maitre' D': He is, Sir.

[Friday rises from the table. He gestures toward the body of the agent.]

Friday: Take care of this, will you?

Maitre' D': As you wish, Sir. That was Third Base Field Boxes... correct?

Friday: That was our agreement. And complementary parking.

Maitre' D': Of course, Sir. It would be my pleasure.

Friday: And have someone keep an eye on the young lady. I don't want to lose track of her.

Maitre' D': Anything you say, Sir.

[Friday makes his way poolside. An athletic looking man with long, black dreadlocks gives him a wide, slow smile. He greets the journalist with a bear hug.]

Manny: Now about that contract for Rafael Furcal...


ONCE AGAIN: This work is FICTION!!! Under no circumstances did the above conversations take place!!!

[You would think that after this much time...]

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Monday, October 6, 2008

October's Featured Contributor - Bill Friday

(Believe it or not, and article written about me. David Cohn - Digidave - the editor in chief of the Citizen Newspaper made me the "Featured Interview for October". Cool, huh?)

The thoughts and observations of Bill Friday. You know him from around the Broo - but who is the man behind the name (possibly one of the best names here on Broo! Check out October's featured writer.

Digidave: How does where you live influence who/what you write about and how you go about doing it?

Friday: I was born in Inglewood, childhood in Bev Hills, Torrance and Marina Del Rey (Yeah, imagine a ten-year-old kid cruising the streets of Venice/MDR alone all summer – that was me), a dozen years in Orange County, and now, the last six years in Redondo Beach. I work six days a week on my laptop and five nights at LAX. All of L.A. is my home. I wish I could say I wrote more local stories – it’s that first-person, hands-on perspective that should drive Citizen Journalism – but it’s also what makes Citizen Journalism such a difficult and vital form of expression. I wish I was that kind of writer.

Who is your favorite Broowaha writer (besides yourself)?

There are a few writers who, when they publish, I make it a point to read as quickly as possible. I love the film reviews of D.L. Ferguson. From his reviews I discovered his website, where he gives longer, freakin’ hilarious reviews of all things movie and TV. Another obvious choice is the mayor of San Francisco Broo, Ed Attanasio. I love the POV reporting of the Girl-Next-Door (to Danny Trejo), V. She’s a lot like reading Hunter S. Thompson but without the paranoid delusions. And V’s a lot better looking. And alive. Whether or not it’s the popular thing to say, I still look forward to the articles of El G. But without a doubt, the one Broo author I would read every day is Jen and Tonic. Her combination of soul-searching honesty and slapstick commentary is rare in the Broo world. I’ve written this before… she’s the only writer I’ve ever read who can use the words “donkey punch”, “dutch oven”, or “shocker” in a sentence and still sound like a lady.

You've been part of Broowaha for a long time. What brings you back?

Broowaha was the first place since college where I received feedback on my writing that wasn’t from friends or family. And it’s the first place I received criticism as a writer. Apparently, college professors are a lot kinder than the general reading public. Admittedly, not everything I’ve written here is particularly worth reading – and some of it’s a lot worse than that – but Broo has been a place where I can try anything and not lose a job doing it. And this’ll sound weird, but I think it’s the one-star ratings that keep me coming back more than the five-star ratings. When what you want to do for the rest of your life is to write for a living, a few anonymous “F*** you!’s” does more to prepare you than a bunch of friendly compliments. But keep the compliments coming because a writer’s ego is a fragile thing.

What is the favorite story you ever written here at Broowaha and why?

It’s got to be the series of “Fool Waha Interviews”. Since there’s no way a real celebrity, politician or athlete is ever going to grant me an interview (the Lakers’ John Ireland notwithstanding), I decided the only way to do it was to make it up as I go. And the responses have been interesting. For my interview with Adnan Ghalib, apparently some people took me seriously and gave me a couple of one-star votes. Then I did pretty well in the popular vote with a sports theme. Finally, I interviewed the most-likely choice for the Democratic VP nominee (before the pictures) John Edwards, and got hammered for it. Politics is a funny business. Writing about it should be funny too. It’s amazing how much shrinkage a sense of humor goes through when it’s your political party taking the public ice bath.

I’m thinking of interviewing Sarah Palin just to get a boost in my ratings points before Election Day.

In the time you've been part of Broowaha, how have you grown as a writer or interviewer? Maybe you can tell us about your first article, your favorite article to write and your most recent.

You mean since most of my “interviews” have been fiction?

My first article, “Your Popularity Is 0”, was written at work (a former job) a couple of days after finding Broowaha on Craigslist. The feedback I got only reinforced what the title said about me as a new contributor. My favorite article is probably “With This Muse You Lose”. I was researching the idea of an article on “writer suicides” (seriously) when I got a message from another new contributor who wondered about the harshness she encountered in the comment thread of her first article. Two weeks later, “With This Muse…” was my response. To date, it’s the only piece I’ve ever written that has gotten feedback from people where they actually opened up (anonymously) and expressed the same feelings these dead writers felt before they ended it all.

Lately, the idea of a webcast just seemed like the next logical step for a career going nowhere. Exposure, exposure, exposure. And if other, more talented people want to jump on board with me, at least I won’t be the only one who sinks the ship… right?

If you could write about anyone or any situation, what would it be?

I don’t think I’ve encountered that person or situation yet. Maybe in not knowing, I’ll keep writing about what’s right in front of me, rather than chasing something that, when I finally do it, will leave me with nothing left to do. Then there’s that Fool Waha interview with you
I’ve been planning. And seriously, I’m developing a TV pilot. So what if nobody in Hollywood knows me. With 5,611 independent production companies in Greater Los Angeles, anything’s possible.

What artist (musician, author, painter etc) inspires you?

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Particularly Boy and Dog and later Ten Punching Bags (with Warhol). His unintentional example of expression through graffiti should be used as motivation in the world of Citizen Journalism. By taking a hated symbol of expression, forcing it into the everyday view of the 1980’s mainstream, and (ultimately) seeing it accepted as a legitimate voice should be an example of what Citizen Journalism can do through another hated symbol of expression – the blog. By our often blunt, sometimes blurred, but accurate presentation of the facts right in front of us, we will be viewed as a legitimate voice for today.

That and watching the artistry of Manny Ramirez keep his swing short and his bat long and level through the hitting zone as he makes National League pitchers look like rag-armed, thirteen-year-olds.

Art has many forms.

Of our topics (city life, night life, culture, sports, etc) what is your favorite? Is there a reason why you tend to write/read more articles in that section?

When I was little, I wanted to be the Dodgers’ center fielder, and replace Vin Scully when he retired. Now, all these years later, I’m not in broadcasting and Vin Scully still hasn’t retired. But I do still play slow-pitch softball. For me sports, like writing, is an addiction. And I keep coming back to it as a topic for the same reason I come back to writing. I’ve always had a love/addiction with the written word – and the spoken word – as delivered by Vin Scully. It was always equal parts reporting and poetry. Some kids are raised on comic books, some on the classics…I was raised on Vin Scully. Every writer is a product of a lifetime of experiences, and all of them, in some way, shape and inform what we write. Chris Carter was raised in Bellflower on baseball and Vin Scully and all he was able to make out of it was The X-Files. Quentin Tarantino worked in a video store in Manhattan Beach and all he could turn that into was Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. All we, as writers, should expect from ourselves is to write what we already are. That’s what lies at the core of Citizen Journalism. If you see it, write it.

And always remember to use the spell check.

Copyright © 2008 Digidave

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Alyssa Virus: Can It Be Stopped? Is There A Cure?

As the Major League post-season begins, experts gather in Los Angeles, Boston, New York and San Francisco to put an end to the sport's most deadly virus.

Carl Pavano, Josh Beckett, Barry Zito, Brad Penny, Tom Glavine, Russell Martin. Between them you have a World Series MVP, 3 Cy Young Awards, 18 All Star Game appearances, and at least one future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet all of these pro athletes - these Major League Baseball players - have at least one more thing in common.

All have all contracted the Alyssa Virus.

In existence for only 36 years but seemingly only active for about the last 20, the Alyssa Virus has unleashed catastrophic destruction upon those who have come into close physical contact with it. Actors and musicians were the first to know first hand the result of unprotected contact with this unchecked destroyer of the American male. However, within the last 5 to 6 years, the Virus has spread to the last untouched outpost of the entertainment world - the world of professional sports, in particular the world of Major League baseball.

Ask any reputable cell/molecular biologist, The debilitating effects of the Alyssa Virus are undeniable, palpable, cutting men down in the prime of their professional lives, as the ravages of the disease bring about the sad, sudden end to the careers of these very public people, as they all are left to suffer their fates in silence.

The following is a chronicle of the lives of these men, and a timeline of the cautionary consequences of their ignorant involvement with the Alyssa Virus.
Fall, 2003: Florida Marlins pitcher Carl Pavano (Patient Zero) become the first known Major Leaguer to come in contact the Alyssa Virus at an unnamed club in New York City. His close contact continued until June of the following year when, inexplicably, the Virus disengaged with the pitcher in the spring of 2004.
Spring, 2004: The Virus is isolated in Central and South Florida, predominantly in the Marlin's spring training camp. Josh Beckett (The Carrier), Carl Pavano's teammate, who at the time was known to be dating lingerie model Leeann Tweeden, was infected when he came into close contact with the Virus while it was believed to be dormant. Unfortunately for Beckett (and for Tweeden, who's career went south at about the same time), the Virus flared, and the unsuspecting Beckett and Tweeden became its next casualties.
Summer, 2004: Dormant again for the first 50 games of the '04 season, the Virus flared again, this time in Hollywood, in Oakland A's left-hander Barry Zito. Reports indicate that The Virus remained active through late fall when, on the sidelines of a USC (Zito's alma mater) football game, only the quick thinking and brilliant second half adjustments made by Trojans coach Pete Carroll kept an outbreak from overtaking the entire team (including possible high-profile infectees Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart), and spared all of Southern California its devastating effects.
Because of the actions of Carroll, the Virus was temporarily arrested, and USC went on to an overwhelming victory in the BCS Championship game over Oklahoma, 55-19. The long-term physical and financial effects on Pavano, Beckett and Zito (now called The Lab Rat by most Major League players) from their exposure to Alyssa Virus will be discussed at the end of this report.
Spring, 2005: After an unexplained winter hibernation, the Virus once again became active, resurfacing in Los Angeles near where it had in 2004. This time, it was another former Florida Marlins pitcher, the Dodgers' Brad Penny. The 6'3" 260 lb. Penny (labelled The Unwitting Victim in reports) seemed physically strong enough to withstand an attack of the Virus, yet was also unable to fight its effects. After almost three years of battling the Virus - and its debilitating symptoms which include "tired arm", weakening and tearing of various tendons and ligaments, and mysterious, random Auto Accidents - during which Penny was place on the Dodgers disabled list 6 times until he was finally able to expel the Virus half way through the '07 season.
Sadly, after battling the Virus longer than any other Major League player, Penny now finds himself on the team's 60-day disabled list, and left off of the 2008 play-off roster.
Mid-Summer, 2007: On a bright , sunny Monday afternoon in San Francisco, the Alyssa Virus again re-surfaced, this time for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It was there that a less-virulent strain of the Virus seemed to infect its first, and only, non-pitcher. Playing in his first All-Star Game, Penny's Dodger teammate, catcher Russell Martin came in contact with this particular strain while repeatedly text-messaging the Virus during the two day All-Star festivities. (This is the first incident where indirect contact with the Virus, however slight, caused an outbreak of this less-virulent variety).
Though contact was brief and maintained at a great distance, Martin would experience unexplained intermittent slumps at the plate and an ever-increasing wildness while throwing to second and third base (possibly a mutation of "tired arm", known as "wild arm"). To date, this is the only time a player, having contracted the Alyssa Virus, has not come into a full-blown case of late-stage Alyssa, called by some, "The end of my f****** career".

August, 2007: Flushing, New York. This is the site of the last known outbreak of the Virus , and possibly the most devastating. Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, 41, came face to face with the Virus in the Shea Stadium dugout on a Saturday afternoon, two hours before the team would take the field.
The Mets were a team on its way to the National League Playoffs, a strong team led by rising stars Jose Reyes and David Wright, and veterans Carlos Delgado and Pedro Martinez. The Virus, in just a few weeks of casual contact with Glavine, embedded itself within the very infrastructure of the team. Possibly made more adaptive due to Glavine's advanced age (the Alyssa Virus usually attaches itself to late males in their mid-20's), and also from the long weakening of Glavine from his then 21-years of Big League ball. Whatever the case, the Mets held a 7 1/2 game lead over second-place Philadelphia with just 17 games left to play. By late afternoon on September 30th, the entire Mets team had suffered a total collapse, young and old alike, losing their lead, and their season, to the Phillies.
The team failed to make the post-season in one of the worst mass-failures in the history of the game. Glavine himself was the losing pitcher in the final game, giving up 7 runs in the first inning while retiring only one batter.
The Aftermath:
In the five years (2003-2007) that the Alyssa Virus was active in Major League Baseball, the careers of six Major League ball players went from the penthouse to the outhouse within a matter of months. All six saw their once-superior abilities diminish rapidly. Only one, Russell Martin, retained any semblance of their previous status as stars in the sport they loved.
In December of 2004 Carl Pavano signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the New York Yankees. In the four seasons, Pavano won only 9 games. He spent all of 2006 on the disabled list, suffered two broken ribs in a side-impact car crash, and was force to undergo season ending Tommy John surgery after the Virus took control of his weakened right arm.
On September 26, 2008, the club declined an option for 2009 - worth $13 million - and waived him, effectively making him an unemployed free agent.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2005, Josh Beckett was traded to the Boston Red Sox. Since that time Beckett has experienced both the highs (a 2007 World Series MVP with the World Champion Red Sox) and the lows (on the disabled list three times so far in 2008), and he enters the post-season in questionable health. His brush with the Alyssa Virus was so brief that the Virus even denies coming into contact with Beckett. Only time will tell if the effects of this limited exposure will have any long-term effects.
As an aside, Beckett's contract with the Red Sox paid the pitcher 6 million, 666 thousand, 666 dollars in 2006. Coincidence?
In 2002, Barry Zito won the American League Cy Young Award. In late 2006, after a full year in remission, Zito signed a seven-year contract with the San Francisco Giants worth $126 million, with a club option for an eighth season worth $18 million more. But it was too late. Zito's reccord before signing with the Giants was 102 wins, 63 losses. In his two seasons in San Francisco, 22 wins, 30 losses with a combined earned run average of almost 5.00.

For a time this season, Zito was even demoted to the bullpen to keep him from losing 20 games. In the two years Zito was in full-time, daily contact with the Virus, he lost 5-10 mph off of his fastball and was no longer able to throw his once-devastating 12-6 curveball for strikes. According to reports, Zito even considered switching political parties in an attempt to ward off the effects of the Virus.

Zito is a registered Republican.

The Dodgers' Brad Penny lost his battle with the Virus on July 11, 2006. That day, Penny was the starting pitcher for the 2006 National League All-Star team. In the top of the first, Penny struck out all three American League hitters (Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter and David Ortiz). By the top of the second, he was gone. After giving up a home run to the Angels' Vlad Guerrero, Penny left the game at the end of the second inning.

Except for a brief remission in 2007, since that All-Star start, Brad Penny has won only 18 games. In late September, Penny was on the disabled list four times in 2008, was placed on the 60-day DL before the start of the '08 post-season.

Tom Glavine's career ended that fateful day in New York when he first contracted the Virus in the Mets dugout. After the season-ending loss to the Florida Marlins, New York chose not to sign the 42-year-old left-hander, attempting to purge their roster off any possible lingering medical or emotional effects the Virus may have had on the team. Unfortunately, while Glavine toiled in relative anonymity in Atlanta in 2008, the Virus continued to hold the Mets in its grip. With 8 games left in the season, and holding onto a late-season lead over the Phillies for the division and the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Wild Card, the Mets faded sharply in the last two weeks of the season, failing to make the play-offs for the second time in the Alyssa Virus era.

Russell Martin is truly the one ray of hope Major League Baseball has in combating the Virus in the future. Martin, the Dodger captain and emotional leader of the team, seems to have developed a resistance to the acute symptoms the Virus has had on all other players who have come in contact. Experts have several theories as to why the twenty-five-year-old catcher has been able to fight off several periods of visible outbreak over the last two seasons.

1) The possibility that the Virus has no immunity to technology. Martin's initial contact with the Virus was through text messaging, not through other more traditional forms of contact (clubbing, publicity photo-ops, etc.) as with Pavano, Penny and the rest.

2) The fact that Martin is Canadian may show clues into a possible Geo-immune barrier not available to the others suffering from the Virus. It should also be pointed out that Martin spent almost three years living in France with his mother prior to returning to Canada for good at the age of 11.

The possibility that some form of immuno-enhancement experienced while living in Europe may be the reason for Martin's as yet unexplainable ability to fight off the worst of the Virus' debilitating effects.

And there you have it. Major League Baseball has no official statement on the Alyssa Virus. No sources deep inside the Commissioner's office will comment on it - on or off the record. It is as if none of the incidents in this report ever happened.

As for the Alyssa Virus, according to a Major League Baseball blog, the Virus is no longer in contact with Major League Baseball players, and has remained out of the spotlight since the resistant Russell Martin incident of 2007-08.

With an uncertain future for America's Pastime, and the men who call it their livelihood, the future is yet to be written. And what about the Virus? Word is that PETA, in support of the Alyssa Virus, may bring protests against any Major League team that attempts to eradicate the Virus, reminiscent of those against the Atlanta Falcons at the height of the Michael Vick dog killing controversy.

The possible financial losses by Major League teams in the face of these protests could climb into the billions.

Now what about you. Are you safe from the Alyssa Virus? Did you ever watch Who's The Boss as a child and say to yourself, "What are my chances of contracting the Alyssa Virus?" And what about a whole new generation of children, guiltily watching Charmed, wondering... or all those ballplayers on those long road trips, with nothing to do with themselves but read old hotel copies of FHM, and watch all those episodes of My Name Is Earl on DVD and Blu Ray. Wondering... wondering...

So now, it's up to you. What will you do when the Virus knocks on your door? What will you do to protect your friends and loved ones from this unseen killer of careers now that it has mutated into a line of professional team sports apparel for women, sold on the Internet, with the full approval of the mighty

Are you safe? Is Baseball safe? Is America safe?

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Coming To The World Wide Web... It's Always Friday: The Show

Just in time for 2009... It's Always Friday: THE SHOW!

In the works (as if the stories of Bill Friday weren't enough) It's Always Friday is going LIVE!

Coming in 2009, tune into the live, weekly Web Cast of It's Always Friday: THE SHOW. Keep looking at It's Always Friday and for updates and air times.

Best guess, look for It's Always Friday: THE SHOW on the first Friday of Spring, '09!

And while we're on the subject, It's Always Friday: THE SHOW is looking for contributors, correspondents (anyone recently fired by Harvey Levin), pretty much... YOU. All the fun of citizen journalism, but with considerably more face time.

You all know where to find me.

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Trojans Win Highly Hyped Home Opener Over Ohio St. 35-3

Hype is always overrated. On a day when USC dispels more doubts about the legitimacy of their National Championship plans, the Trojans put down a challenge from back-to-back runner-up Ohio State.

Hype is so overrated.

Everyone from talking heads on TV with large opinions, fueled by likely facts and figures told the story to butter-fed fans of Midwestern, smash-mouth football found reasons to believe that their team could overcome on the West Coast.

Hoping to become only the second team in the last seven years - the other being Stanford, just last year - to defeat a Pete Carroll team on the floor of the Coliseum, Jim Tressel's team took the field in the late afternoon, Saturday sun.

And then came the coin toss.

Stanford won their coin toss. Ohio State didn't.

They should have seen it coming.

From then on, in a game that only lived up to the hype from Heritage Hall, the #1 ranked USC Trojans methodically dismantled the #5 Ohio State Buckeyes 35 to 3.

In the first quarter, the Buckeyes mixed in two distinctly different looks on offense, alternating Senior quarterback Todd Boeckman and true Freshman Terrelle Pryor, sometimes every other play. For almost the entire quarter, the Trojans were held scoreless just by being kept off the field.

After the first 10 minutes, USC had only run three plays from scrimmage, and Ohio St. held a 3-0 lead. Three minutes later, the route was on.

Fullback Stanley Havili scored on a 35 yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez on a wheel route - a hold over from the days of Norm Chow. Then, after a quick change of possession in which Boeckman looked like a quarterback looking over his shoulder at his 18-year-old replacement, failed to move the ball. Another change of possession and quickly it was 14-3 USC.

Then, with just inside three minutes left in the first half, a Boeckman interception, thrown right into the hands of linebacker Rey Maualuga resulted in a 48-yard return for touchdown.

And on, and on, and on it went.

About the only interesting story in this highly-hyped blow-out was the scratch of Ohio State's pre-season Heisman Trophy candidate, injured running back Chris "Beanie" Wells. Unable to play courtesy of a sore toe, hurt in a non-contact play in the team's opening game, coach Jim Tressel decided against any last-minute emotional heroics. Put simply, no Beanie - no chance.

Despite the score, the Trojans' execution on offense was spectacularly sporadic. For every Joe McKnight run or Damian Williams touchdown catch, there were as many sloppy moments, as Sanchez ended the first half by throwing an end zone interception.

On the other side of the ball, the SC defense was as overwhelming as advertised, getting five quarterback sacks and, after allowing the first score of the game, nothing else.

Oh yeah... almost forgot... the hype.

For a game that most of the country believed would have been the match-up for last year's BCS Championship - if Stanford hadn't gotten in the way - this game had nothing to offer. Nothing except the same kind of speed-over-slow-motion, big-game, open-up-the-can-and-let-the-whuppin' begin that THE Ohio State University has had to deal with in the final game of each of the last two seasons.

For USC, this game only served to motivate them to remain focused on the last thing that can stop them from rolling into a BCS Championship of their own... themselves.

By the numbers, the only statistical victory for the Buckeyes was found in Time of Possession (32 minutes to 28 for USC). The Trojans out-gained Ohio State in total yards 348 to 207, and by game's end Mark Sanchez was being touted by ABC/ESPN heads as the next big Heisman pick after his 4-touchdown performance.

As for Tressel's Buckeyes, they play next week at home against Troy (maybe that name alone will cause flashbacks) University, while the Men of Troy (not Troy University... more hype, remember) are at Oregon State in two weeks.

And if you've learned nothing from today's game, remember this. Hype, like Ohio State, is overrated.

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ocho Cinco Changes His Name To... Ocho Cinco

Has Chad Johnson, the Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver and NFL fine magnet, made the ultimate end run against the pro football establishment... or joined it?

In 2006, Chad Johnson was fined $5,000 by then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for violating the League's uniform dress code when he took the field in pre-game warm-ups with his legal name, "JOHNSON" covered up with his self-designated nickname, "OCHO CINCO". It should also be noted that, later in the same season, Johnson was fined $10,ooo by Tagliabue for holding up a sing during a game that read,

"Please don't fine me NFL".

In a sport so tightly governed, where every player must conform to the point where even accidental deviation from the League standard for sock length is met with a fine, Chad Johnson has become the standard-bearer for (staged) non-conformity. As the days till the start of the 2008 season became fewer and fewer, the sports world wondered if there was anything left in Johnson's creative repertoire.

Until today.

This afternoon, the National Football League was informed by Johnson through his attorney that Chad Johnson was no more. Today, #85 is legally to be referred to as...

Chad Javon OCHO CINCO.

But has Chad Ocho Cinco just taken the next step in his development as the ultimate football free spirit, or is this merely the first step in the mainstreaming of Chad Johnson, taking him from raw, unfiltered odd-man, and turning him into something as predictable as homogenized whole milk?

Obviously, with the legal name change, the NFL will have to find another ATM when it needs a quick five grand late on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe the competition committee could look into developing alternative revenue streams by doing something about Jessica Simpson's pink Tony Romo replica jersey she likes to wear at Texas Stadium. Maybe they could levy heavier fines against coaches like the Patriots Bill Belichick whenever he's in the mood to butcher another gray hoodie. Or how about dropping a solid $100K penalty whenever Melissa Stark, Erin Andrews or - God forbid - Michelle Tafoya, shows some cleavage during any interviews.

Ocho Cinco's coach, Marvin Lewis, who has repeatedly referred to the player as "Ocho Psycho" during interviews, may have seen this one coming. In a Q & A with an Associated Press reporter, when asked if the name change may have come about from Johnson being mentored by Baltimore Ravens linebacker and one-time football bad boy Ray Lewis, Marvin Lewis responded,

"That's a very good question," he said. "We're going to figure Chad out now?"

Till now, no one, not the Bengals, his coach, teammates, the press or the NFL, has been able to figure out Chad Johns... err, Ocho Cinco. And now they won't have to.

Please don't fine me!!!


With all the marketing options that will become immediately available to him in the wake off today's news, Ocho Cinco will be able to pay any and every fine that may come his way.

All because now, Ocho Cinco is one of them.

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama, McCain All Even - Let The Real Games Begin

Enough with the Olympics already! Michael Phelps is speechless (just ask him), China can't count to 16, and Kobe is more popular than Mao. BORING! This Monday, let the real games begin.

This is America.

Yet for two weeks, every four years, a small group of network executives sitting in a glass tower in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza, believes that we as a nation will choose to lose sleep over tape-delayed coverage of doubles table tennis on the Oxygen Network.

What America really wants for two weeks, every four years, is what we as a nation all embrace as The Real Games of summer. Live, in prime-time, and lacking any sign of gymnasts with baby teeth smiling for a panel of judges so their own government won't take their family's house away.

After the latest Reuters/Zogby poll, Barack Obama and John McCain are (plus or minus 3 percentage points) in a virtual dead heat.

At last, let The Real Games begin!

According to Zogby, McCain, who as recently as last month seemed as out of the race as the U.S. men's 4 x 100 relay did before Jason Lezak hit the water, now holds a 5 percentage point lead over Obama.

Of course as everyone knows, this being a game, leads are subject to change. And with Obama's highly anticipated "e-nouncement" of his Vice Presidential running-mate only days away, any perceived lead change in McCain's favor could be short-lived.

And with the NBC family of networks freed-up from the tyranny of covering women's freestyle trampoline, men's BMX, and mixed tens, team ultimate paint ball (yeah, and baseball got dropped from the program for 2012 - go figure), it looks like The Real Games will pull the real ratings a Jack Donaghy could only dream of.

And should Ralph Nader require equal time at any time during the two weeks of The Real Games, the NBC owned Sci Fi Channel has cleared space in it's schedule for televised rebuttals.

So for the remainder of this week, as you're watching Telemundo's coverage of the men's 30 kilometer walk, a vignette of Mary Carillo eating grilled scorpions on-a-stick while lying on an Accupunturist's table, or the phenomenally beautiful CGI enhanced closing ceremonies, remember...

The Real Games of Summer are almost here.

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jeff Kent Shoots His Mouth Off Once Too Often

In an interview with the L.A. Times T.J. Simers, Dodger second baseman Jeff Kent says the unthinkable. Will his words become career suicide in Los Angeles?

Five simple words from the mouth of future hall-of-famer, Los Angeles Dodger second baseman Jeff Kent. Five words that, even if he wanted to, he will never get back. Let them echo in your mind one more time.

"Vin Scully talks too much."

The reason for Jeff Kent telling Simers - and anyone else who will listen - why Vin Scully, hall-of-fame broadcaster and play-by-play voice of the team since 1950, talks too much?

Well, since the 40-year-old became the lucky Dodger to hit 3rd in a line-up that has newest superstar Manny Ramirez batting 4th, Kent has seen his offensive statistics magically return to his pre-Dodger glory days when, as a member of the San Francisco Giants, Kent experienced the same good fortune batting next to Barry Bonds in the Giants' order.

Coincidence? Don't tell that to Jeff Kent.

"Kent's batting average has increased by more than 20 points in the past 10 days since hitting third," Simers said in his column of August 17. "Manny being Manny has rejuvenated Kent [and] it's so much fun telling him that."

Kent's response was classic red-ass.

"It's so pathetic," he said. "You guys write about things happening in a week's time. That's why we don't like you. Baseball is a six-month game."

And if that weren't enough, Kent went on to tell everyone why they shouldn't listen to Scully.

"I've been here four years and I have never seen Vin Scully down here in the clubhouse," Kent said. "How does Vin Scully know me? How does Vin Scully know Derek Lowe?"

Oh, I don't know, the way play-by-play guys have been figuring it out since before the turn of the last century? As Simers said to Kent one more time:

"Scully is making the same point everyone else is making. He says the stats indicate you are having success hitting behind Ramirez - tell me that isn't the case."

To which Kent, exercising his ability to state the obvious, responded:

"See my answer to the first question. Listen, I'm so tired of talking about this stuff. It diminishes my whole career and all the hard work. I take it as an insult."I'm 40. You don't get better when you are 40."

Or, apparently, smarter.

When asked by Simers for a comment on Kent's thoughts, Vin Scully, as expected, declined.
In Kent's defense, throughout the interview, you can tell he thought he was being funny. Other famous people who thought they were being funny include King George III of England who, on July 4, 1776 wrote:

"Nothing of importance happened today".

And of course who can forget the words of the ancient Egyptian astrologer Ptolemy, who said:

"The earth is the center of the universe."

Or in Jeff Kent's case...

Just for the record, right now, in triple-A Las Vegas, the Dodgers are at work turning rookie third baseman Blake DeWitt into a second baseman. Kent, in the final weeks of his contract with Los Angeles, has for some time been expected to make this his last season as a player.

And if Kent, as pointed out by Scully, weren't hitting .500 since being dropped in front of an unconscious Man-Ram in the batting order, well...

Jeff Kent talks too much.

Don't let the club house door hit you on your red-ass as you go.

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Monday, August 11, 2008

John Edwards: The Fool Waha Interview

The former Democratic Presidential candidate did not, under any circumstances, not even for a moment, sit down for this exclusive interview with BrooWaha's Bill Friday.

John Edwards, so glad you could be here today.

For the moment, let me say thank you for having me here today. I am here right now, aren’t I?

Not as far as I know. First, let me tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the tour of your home. Just how many square feet is it?

28,200 on 102 acres.

Wow. I guess it’s true what they say about the size of a man’s carbon footprint.

It even has a 600 square foot guest bedroom over the guest garage.

You don’t say?

Yeah, well… lately I do.

Right, so… first question…

If you don’t mind Mr. Friday, before we begin, I’d like to read from a prepared statement if I may?

Well, I can’t say I was prepared for that but…

(Edwards clears his throat… whispers to Bill Friday)

Do I have time to fix my hair?

There are no cameras sir.

Hmm. Alright then. Here we go. It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am…


…sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic…

Senator Edwards!

If you want to beat me up - feel free…

I’m thinking about it…

Mr. Friday, you cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself.

Have you ever considered witness protection?

More and more every day.

Getting back to the questions… Mr. Edwards, in light of recent events… the allegations about this affair, your wife’s cancer… how do you respond to statements like this from your former campaign manager, David Bonior, who told the Associated Press that your supporters had, “been betrayed by [your] action[s].”

Mostly by ignoring them, Bill.


Seriously Bill, what I’ve found recently is that the best way to move forward is to never look back, because some might be gaining on you.

Wasn't that Satchel Paige?

Of course it was, of course it was! I’m glad you noticed that. Thank you, Bill.

Mr. Edwards, let’s get to the reason for this interview… on July 21st you were in Los Angeles for a press conference with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. At 2:40 the next morning, a reporter and staff photographer from the National Enquirer identified you coming out of a room at the Beverly Hills Hotel…

Aw c’mon now, Bill…

…then followed you into a restroom where, according to reports, you waited for fifteen minutes in one of the stalls until hotel security came and escorted you out of the hotel. What exactly were you doing in a public restroom for fifteen minutes?

I was on a conference call with Senator Larry Craig. It took a bit longer than I expected.

It seems as though you and the Mayor Villaraigosa have much in common. During your stay in L.A., did the Mayor have any words of advice for you in your time of personal disclosure?

He said, “Do your best to keep your mother-in-law away from the media.”

Mr. Edwards, you told ABC News that you personally never paid Rielle Hunter, yet Fred Baron, your former finance chairman, admitted on Friday that he made "regular payments" to Rielle Hunter, and that though unemployed, she lives in a $3 million home in Santa Barbara.

Like I have told everyone who will listen, I have never knowingly compensated this woman for anything, nor will I ever knowingly admit to such.

But you do admit to paying $114,000 to Ms. Hunter for her work on various campaign videos?

No, I do not! That’s just another Tabloid accusation, Bill. If Ms. Hunter was paid for services rendered to my campaign I will continue to maintain that I have no recollection of that until proven otherwise.

The question of a paternity test has been the subject of much speculation. Has a date been set yet for any such paternity test?

August, sometime between the 25th and the 28th.

During the Democratic National Convention?

I'm afraid so.

Is that a factor in why you’ll not be attending the convention?

That, and the Cabinet post I'll be receiving in exchange for my non-participation. The test is set for the Cayman Islands. Andrew Young and I had already made plans to be there at that time anyway… company time share, already booked. My people say if I don’t go, we’ll have to forfeit the deposit, you know. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be able to make good use of the situation.

Staying on the subject of paternity, the birth certificate of the child…


Right, um… Frances. The birth certificate lists no name for the father. Mr. Edwards, do you know who the father is?

Not yet.

Given the age of the child…


Given the age of Frances, it would appear that you and Mr. Young were seeing Rielle Hunter at about the same time.

Bill, were you ever in a… fraternity?

But couldn’t you…

Mirthala Salinas was busy.


Bill, please… call me “John.”

Alright then… John, doctors now say that your wife Elizabeth’s cancer is terminal - she is dying. Mr. Edwards…


John… your wife is dying. What do you think her dying thought of you will be?


Bill, may I finish reading from my prepared statement?


“… I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything I have to help my family and others who need my help.”

(crumples paper)

John Edwards… thank you.

Copyright © 2008 Bill Friday

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny Being Manny Hits Los Angeles At The Trading Deadline

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing... Manny Ramirez!

Far be it from me to tell you, "I told you so", so instead, let me just say...

I told you so!

Manny Ramirez is a Dodger.

Thanks to the help of the Pittsburgh Pirates (more on that in a minute), the Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired the services of perennial All-Star and future Hall of Famer, outfielder Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for the equivalent of a plane ticket and two bags of used baseballs.

The two bags of balls, part-time third baseman Andy LaRoche and minor league pitcher Bryan Morris. The plane ticket is the Dodgers' willingness to pay for the remainder of Ramirez' 2008 salary, or about $7 million through the end of the season, which the Dodgers now feel will be extending itself into the latter-stages of October.

For its trouble, Boston will get Pirates' outfielder Jason Bay and, for their own stretch run, an even more valuable commodity... peace of mind. Over the last several weeks, the Red Sox have grown increasingly unable to tolerate any longer the New England phenomenon known as "Manny being Manny", that is, the unexplainably wacko behavior of their highly unorthodox slugger.

For the Dodgers' trouble, they get baseball's unquestioned best right-handed hitter of the new millennium, and a clubhouse chemistry experiment that most observers see doomed to explosive failure. How "Manny being Manny" will play in a team already divided between a core of highly talented, "directionless youth" (Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin) and a pair of once-great, former stars (Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra) who's veteran leadership skills seem more closely related to a kinder, gentler version of the ones once employed by Barry Bonds.

Now stir in just a little Manny and (tick, tick...).

Hey, on paper this is a great deal for the Dodgers, especially in the wake of the Angels pick-up of star first baseman Mark Teixeira from Atlanta. If the team can ride Manny being Manny - that is, the great-big, clean-up hitting slugger - into the World Series, the stadium revenues alone will pay for the 7 million dollar bump in the budget from now till the end of the year. Even if the team chooses not to exercise the player's $20 million, 2009 contract option, the experiment would be considered a stunning success. But like they say, games aren't won on paper.

But paper can catch fire if your team chemistry happens to explode along the way to the end of the season. And for the Dodgers, fire extinguishers at the ready, that road begins tonight, as they host the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Where all eyes will be focused squarely on Manny being Manny.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angels Finally Make Deadline Deal - Teixeira Is Newest Halo

With the July 31st trade deadline fast approaching - and after years of not pulling the trigger - the Angels make their move, getting slugger Mark Teixeira. Can Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers be next?

It's about stinking time!

The Angels, after days if telling the baseball world they weren't ready to empty the cupboard for a temporary fix - and a shot at a possible 2nd World Championship - didn't. And yet the team sees itself as L.A.'s team did set itself up as the team to beat down the stretch, acquiring power-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephen Marek.

If all the excitement the deal is generating around the Major Leagues seems a bit premature, one thing is for sure, the Angels, who seemingly never could pull off a last minute deal during the regime of former general manager Bill Stoneman pulled off what looks to be the deal of the year in getting Teixeira. In only giving up a relative career journeyman in Kotchman and a pitcher with a losing record and an ERA approaching four at AA Arkansas, it looks like the post-season excitement will once-again remain in Anaheim this October.

Although in the final year of his current contract - and as a client of often vilified super agent Scott Boras - the bringing in of Teixeira for little to no long-term player personnel cost begins to look like a genius move for the leaders in the American League West. Even if he walks at the end of the year (and any client of Scott Boras is likely to do just that), the Angels have upgraded considerably without losing the one thing the team was unwilling to part with. Any part of what is thought to be, top to bottom, the best pitching staff in the big leagues.

With Teixeira comes one thing the Angels have not had in a season that finds them maintaining the best record in baseball... a bat in the line-up to protect Vladimir Guererro. Now, with Teixeira projectded to bat behind Guererro in the order, when the play-offs roll around, teams will no longer be as likely to pitch around the man who had been the team's only legitimate power threat.

And if all things go according to plans, with all that additional World Series revenue the Angels hope to collect come October, maybe owner Arte Moreno won't hesitate to pay the going rate for the player who is expected to be worth between 15 and 20 million a season in 2009.

Yes, it's about stinking time!

In a related story, The Los Angeles Dodgers have been mentioned repeatedly today as possibly the team to step up in the Manny Being Manny Sweepstakes, now the the Boston Red Sox are seriously shopping their on-again/off-again head case and perennial all-star, left fielder Manny Ramirez. According to a report by ESPN's Peter Gammons, future Hall-Of-Famer Ramirez has officially worn out his welcome as Boston's lovable loon, and is on the block for any team willing to make the Sox a semi-credible offer.

Of all the teams interested in Man-Ram, the Dodgers have as much to offer as any almost-contender in the hunt.

What would the Dodgers have to give up to get a power-hitter of Ramirez' caliber (and oft-questioned) character? Pitching, hitting, defense... probably all three. It is the Dodgers' hopes that the Red Sox would settle for less talent and more peace of mind in the removal of Manny Ramirez from their plans for another World Championship. In July of 2004, the Sox set the precedent for chemistry over chaos when they traded a disgruntled Nomar Garciaparra, then the face of the franchise, at the trading deadline and went on to win their first Series since Babe Ruth was a pitcher.

Maybe they would be more interested in the same kind of a move for Manny. After all, he's sure to fit right in with a clubhouse lead by wound-tight second baseman Jeff Kent, a bunch of talented youngsters who haven't yet figured out how to win at the big league level, and of course that former Boston favorite, yep you guessed it, Nomar Garciaparra.

I can't wait to see how this all plays out.

Chino Hills Feels The Earth Move During Magnitude 5.4 Quake

Just before 11:42 a.m. this morning, a moderate earthquake registering 5.4 on the Richter scale rumbled through a wide area of Southern California. Centered 29 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles.

Chino Hills, CA

The effects of the quake were reportedly felt as far south as San Diego and east all the way to Las Vegas. Graded as "moderate to strong" by the U.S. Geological Survey, the shaking was not the first felt today in California.

In the pre-dawn hours, a small quake, centered in Barstow and registering 3.1 was felt at 5:04 a.m.

An interesting, if not somewhat alarming possibility reported by CBS 2 news reporter Kent Schocknek (no stranger to earthquakes in Southern California) is the notion that 1 in 20 earthquakes reported are classified as a "fore-shock" of an imminent, larger quake. The incident of this morning's 3.1 Barstow quake, followed less than 6 hours later by the 5.6 Chino Hills quake, tends to corroborate this theory as it was reported.

However, if the Barstow and Chino Hills quakes are not related, there remains a 1 in 20 possibility of another, larger quake yet to come.

On a personal note, in Redondo Beach, this reporter was on the third floor of a structure that sits approximately one mile from the Pacific Ocean. My initial observation was the thought that a worker for the building was on the roof above, walking heavily and quickly from one side of the building to the other. At that point lights in the building flickered and flashed, followed by a swaying of the room complete with curtains moving on the curtain rods for the next 10 to 15 seconds.

By 12:30 p.m. a total of 10 aftershocks had been felt, registering as strong as 3.8.

As usually experienced at the time of a stronger quake, cell phones were rendered useless, however regular land-line phone service remained on.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Malice At The Palace - 2: The Sparks - Shock Brawl

Deeee-troit Basket-baaaaall!!!!! Has equality finally come to the WNBA?

The WNBA has finally arrived!

In a game seen live by tens of hundreds of viewers on ESPN 2 Tuesday (and thousands more than that today on YouTube), the Los Angeles Sparks and the Detroit Shock played an otherwise meaningless regular-season game in Auburn Hills.

Meaningless until only 4.5 seconds remained when, after a brief, under-the-basket scuffle between Shock forward Cheryl Ford and Sparks rookie Candace Parker. Immediately after the second of two free throws by L.A.'s Marie Ferdinand-Harris made the score 82-78 in favor of the visiting Sparks, Detroit's Plenette Pierson initiated contact with Parker, causing last year's college player of the year to fall to the floor.

Then it was on.

Pierson then delivered a walking hip check to the head of the downed Parker while she attempted to regain her feet, stepping knees-first into the face of the Sparks forward. Benches emptied, including members of the Detroit coaching staff Rick Mahorn and head coach Bill Laimbeer, both former players with the NBA's Detroit Pistons, as well as Sparks coach - and former Laker - Michael Cooper.

Mahorn and Laimbeer, along with Dennis Rodman made up the core of what was known as the "Bad Boys", helping the team to two championships in the late '80s and early '90s.

As referees and players restrained other players, Mahorn actually shoved Sparks center and face of the league Lisa Leslie, with Leslie falling, and another Sparks teammate, DeLisha Milton-Jones, shoving Mahorn and even striking him from behind. While this was taking place near the teams' benches, another conflict, this between Ford (the daughter of former NBA all-star Karl Malone) and Shock teammate Pierson. While attempting to restrain Pierson from further involvement in the melee, Ford sprained her right knee, and had to be taken off the court in a wheel chair.

Damn the Equal Rights Amendment. As of today, women's equality is here to stay.

It was just four years ago that, in what was then called "The Malice at the Palace", the Pistons and Indiana Pacers rumbled on and off the court in an incident that became the symbol for all that is wrong with the sport.

And now, right or wrong, the WNBA has blazed a trail toward equal rights that Hillary Clinton, or a long-dead 27th Amendment to the Constitution could never do.

By the way, the Sparks won the game, 84-81.

A few unintentionally humorous, post-game comments by some of the principals involved to explain what happened in this ground-breaking moment:

“The game was getting out of hand physical-wise, and I warned [the ref] about that and she gave me a warning,” said the local Palos Verdes high school graduate Laimbeer. “But it started to escalate, and players are going to get emotional, and it happens sometimes.

“It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

Ejectee Rick Mahorn saw the happening this way:

“I was trying to protect the whole game, the integrity of the game,” Mahorn said.

Despite video evidence to the contrary, the former "Bad Boy" elaborated on his version of the fight.

“The WNBA is very special to me because I have four daughters," Mahorn elaborated. "I don’t even raise my hand to them, and I would never push a woman. This game, I love this game too much.”

Candace Parker, the new face of the WNBA, explained her role in what happened this way during post-game comments:

“I don’t even recall what happened — I’ll have to look at the tape. I don’t really remember any of it.”

Finally, Milton-Jones put all things into perspective like this:

“This isn’t what we want to happen. We are trying to demonstrate class and integrity and the good things about basketball. This was unfortunate, but sometimes these things happen in basketball."

Except that, before yesterday, these things never happened in a WNBA game.

All things now being equal, let's see if this is as Milton-Jones wants us to believe, that this is just an unfortunate anomaly, and not just the tip of a soon-to-be fully-exposed iceberg of the way things really are.

All things being equal, Let's hope not.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bill Friday Is On Assignment

As seen in the pages of, Bill Friday is taking a few days off to recharge...

Aw c'mon, who am I trying to kid. Writers block is a terrible thing, afflicting millions of otherwise-creative souls with its gripping, clenching (it sounds like the symptoms of something that could really use a little more fiber in the diet), roll over and play dead malaise.

That would be

Okay, so I haven't reinvented the screenplay, or written an article for Broowaha in the last couple of weeks. So what?

What I have done is...

I'll have to get back to you on that.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Happening: Could A Village Make Sense Of These Signs?

"THE HAPPENING", the latest film by the former genius M. Night Shyamalan, begs many questions. Maybe the biggest question of all is, "Mark Wahlberg?"

The Sixth Sense... Unbreakable... Signs...

In the early days of the career of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, these films were like the breaking of the day after the long cinematic darkness. Phrases like, ..."not since Hitchcock..." and, "...if only Orson Welles..." were thrown as loosely around Hollywood as company credit cards at a strip club south of Downtown.

In these motion pictures, a twenty-something outsider took three larger-than-life box office stars (Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Mel Gibson) and somehow caused these big-dollar, name-above-the-title giants to fill the everyman persona of ordinary folk, till movie-goers couldn't wait for more.

Even as the shiny new was rubbing off of Night's bright career with the appearance of The Village, followed by Lady In The Water, the day for Night, though increasingly cloudy, still had patches of brilliance (like when the movie critic gets eaten by a fairytale wolf while hiding in the laundry room in Lady), you still knew that as studio execs grew tired of the same old stories, the only thing keeping good Night from straight-to-DVD hell was an Academy Award and Shyamalan's ability to get Hollywood A-listers to line up to work for him.

Not only were there the Willis/Jackson/Gibson connection, but Shyamalan continued to attract a fresh wave of newer talent in multiple Oscar nominees Haley Joel Osment, Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Giamatti, even 2002 Best Actor winner Adrien Brody. From 1999 to 2006, it seemed like the toughest club in Hollywood for getting past the velvet ropes was the "Lead Role by an Actor in a film by M. Night Shyamalan" club.

Which brings us to today.

The word is out. First whispered by agents, then carried along the wind on cocktail napkin memos and mom's basement bloggers all across the country and beyond. "Avoid this guy like the Ishtar", and "You're better off doing the sequel to Superman Returns." Even Kevin Spacey passed.

So today, June 13, 2008, we welcome the premier of The Happening... a film by M. Night Shyamalan... starring...

Mark Wahlberg.

Mark Wahlberg has worked with some of Hollywood's best-known directors. The list includes Best Director winner Martin Scorsese, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights; There Will Be Blood), Tim Burton, Jonathan Demme, Wolfgang Peterson and John Singleton. Yet, he is still remembered more as a former underwear model and one-time musical star(?). In fact, Mark Wahlberg has yet to be a part of any film that has generated big numbers that didn't have George Clooney's name on it.

So why would the has-been director turn to the never-was actor to resurrect each other's careers? My guess is that the now-veteran director may have pulled a fast one on his star.

In interviews leading up to the premier of The Happening, Wahlberg has said,

"Night described this movie as Kramer vs Kramer meets The Birds."

Which explains it all. Wahlberg probably hasn't seen either movie, so it must have been simple for Shyamalan to drop this used tea bag of a script on the actor best remembered for playing opposite Helena Bonham Carter in chimpanzee make-up.

Then there's that R rating thing. This is the first M. Night Shyamalan film ever to have earned an R from the MPAA. So important is The Happening's R that is the over one month of t.v. ads for the picture, the R is displayed in blood red while an announcer tells you about it over pictures of well-edited depictions of violence. The R campaign takes on an even more heightened sense of marketing urgency when you hear the director himself say in an interview,

"One of the things that I said to everybody, the cast and crew, I said, 'This is a B movie. Let's get ourselves straight here. This is just a great B movie. We're making the best B movie we can here. That's our job. We're making a B movie'."

Nothing like lowering expectations on the success of a project with production costs estimated at around $67 million.

So what will become of The Happening? Will it return M. Night Shyamalan to the top of the food chain in Hollywood? What about Mark Wahlberg? Will his new picture prove that he, like all of Shyamalan's other lead actors is, in fact, a stand-alone box office draw?

If it doesn't, I just hope that I, as the critic of Shyamalan's apocalyptic fairytale, won't meet as untimely an ending as the cranky film critic in Lady In The Water.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tim Donaghy and David Stern: The Fool Waha Interview

Convicted former NBA referee Tim Donaghy and long-time NBA commissioner David Stern did not sit down for an exclusive interview with's Bill Friday.

Bill Friday: Before we begin, I would like to thank both of you gentleman for being here today.

David Stern: My attorney tells me I'm currently not here.

Tim Donaghy: My attorney isn't returning my phone calls. Fire away.

Friday: All right then. Commissioner Stern, within the last 48 hours, Mr. Donaghy has leveled some incredible accusations against the NBA. Some have said that, if they are true, could in fact cause the utter collapse of the League as a sports entity in America. How do you respond to these accusations?

Stern: My attorney tells me that Mr. Donaghy is not currently here either. If neither I, nor Mr. Donaghy is currently here, then I find his allegations groundless and not worthy of a response by me, or anyone else not here at this time.

Friday: I see. Mr. Donaghy...

Donaghy: Call me Tim.

Friday: Alright then, Tim. According to court documents posted last week on the website The Smoking, it is alleged that you, "... compromised [your] objectivity as a referee because of personal financial interest in the outcome of NBA games". Yet yesterday, through your attorney, you say in essence that the League is in the business of fixing the outcome of games for the purpose of increased t.v. ratings and revenues.

Donaghy: What's your point.

Stern: His point is, NOBODY BELIEVES YOU!

Friday: Well, not no one, exactly. Just this morning, in an article on, L.A. Lakers coach Phil Jackson is quoted as saying, "There's a lot of things going on in these games and they're suspicious...".

Stern: Obviously, Phil Jackson was talking about that recent prime-time human cockfight between Kimbo Slice and James Thompson on CBS.

Friday: Actually David...

Stern: You will address me as Mr. Commissioner.

Friday: Mr. Commissioner. Actually, he was talking about the play-off games game in 2002 between the Lakers and the Sacramento Kings in which...

Donaghy: Mr. Commissioner stole the series from the Kings and gave it to the Lakers!

Stern: My attorney, if he were here, would say that this accusation is somewhat groundless, and completely unprovable in a court of law.

Donaghy: Oh yeah? Well my attorney says I have nothing left to lose and I better start singing to anyone who'll listen before my sentencing takes place on July 14th.

Friday: One other thing before we move on. Mr. Commissioner...

Stern: Call me Your Majesty.

Friday: Your Majesty, in 2005, the League fined then-Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy $100,000 for comments he made claiming that a "League official" told him that referees targeted Rockets center Yao Ming, causing the team to lose a play-off series to the Dallas Mavericks.

Stern: The fact that coach Van Gundy received a $100,000 fine should prove that the NBA takes the irresponsible peddling of groundless accusations about the League seriously.

Donaghy: Ask him what else it means.

Friday: Okay. Commissioner, what else does it mean?

Stern: It means nothing. The League did not fine coach Van Gundy because of a so-called "conspiracy" among officials in League office. The League fined coach Van Gundy simply because he is short, bald and white.

Friday: That's fair. Shifting gears, how happy is the League with the Finals match-up between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics?

Stern: We are extremely satisfied with a return to this historic Finals pairing as we also are with the outcome of the series as well.

Friday: What do you mean "outcome"? Right now, the series is only guaranteed to go 5 games, and game 4 doesn't take place until tomorrow night.

Stern: On the contrary, the series is already scheduled to go back to Boston for games 6 and 7 next week. As far as the t.v. ratings are concerned, those two games should produce the highest rated programming for ABC television for the entire summer season. At least as soon as The Bachelorette ends its run later this month.

By the way Mr. Friday, it's my understanding that when the play-offs began, you picked the Celtics over the Lakers in 6 games.

Friday: That's correct. But how did you know...

Stern: I know many things that have an impact on our League. Tell me, do you have anything riding on that prediction... Mr. Friday?

Donaghy: I'm still HERE people!

Stern: We've already established that nobody is here my friend. Least of all you.

Friday: Before we close, do either of you have anything you'd like to say to the tens of readers who will be seeing this story?

Donaghy: I expect to write a book about my experiences while serving my debt to society. Also, I'm hoping to establish some form of visitation rights with my 4 children - just as soon as my ex-wife answers the subpoena. Other than that, my calendar is pretty clear for the foreseeable future. I guess my one regret in all this is that, as a convicted felon, I will no longer be able to vote for change in the next election. Therefore, I will be working as a volunteer in the 2012 Arkansas Gubernatorial campaign of fellow gambler Charles Barkley.

Friday: Your Majesty?

Stern: From now on, you will call me "Betty". After the conclusion of the NBA season, I am anxiously looking forward to this year's summer Olympics in Beijing. I can hardly wait to see just how this years' version of "The Dream Team" will fair against the rest of the world. Hopefully the foreign exchange rates will be favorable enough for the League to afford those cash payments the international referees are expecting to assure that Team USA will bring home the gold medal.

Donaghy: See! SEE!!! It's TRUE! It's ALL TRUE!!!

Stern: So, Mr. Friday, do you have any plans for later in the year?

Friday: Nothing concrete. After my unemployment runs out I was thinking of looking into opening a hot dog cart in Redondo Beach. I hear it's what all the creative types are doing these days.

Stern: Too bad. Someone with your special talents and abilities could always find a place for himself in the League Office. Here... take my card. My attorney will be in touch.

Friday: I bet he will be.

Donaghy: You said "bet"! Don't say "bet"! They're listening , you know! They're listening! THEY'RE LISTENING!!! Hand me that aluminum foil hat! Hurry!

Stern: And he wonders why his attorney won't return his calls.

Friday: David Stern...

Stern: Betty!

Friday: Tim Donaghy... Betty... Thank you.

Note: No attorneys, convicted felons or NBA Commissioners were seen, interviewed or injured in the writing of this article. Any resemblance to persons living, dead, famous or infamous, fictional or real is purely coincidental and should not be taken as a license for litigation.

After all, Bill Friday isn't even a real person. And even if he was, he's just an out-of-work, freelance writer working on a website that pays him no money to write nonsense like the piece you've just read.