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Monday, February 02, 2004

Super Boob Halftime Show: A Mistake?

During my live-blogging of the Super Bowl, I mentioned the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake strip show that occurred at the end of the halftime show. Apparently, I was mistaken in my initial viewing of the scene, as the NFL, CBS, and MTV have apologized for an unplanned "wardrobe malfunction":

CBS apologized on Sunday for an unexpectedly R-rated end to its Super Bowl halftime show, when singer Justin Timberlake tore off part of Janet Jackson's top, exposing her breast. ... The two singers were performing a flirtatious duet to end the halftime show, and at the song's finish, Timberlake reached across Jackson's leather gladiator outfit and pulled off the covering to her right breast.

The network quickly cut away from the shot, and did not mention the incident on the air.

But there was a sticker over the nipple, as I said during my live blog, and now that I've replayed it on my TiVo, it doesn't appear to be accidental, either. Timberlake definitely reached across and grabbed her costume intentionally -- you can see the fingers flex into more of a fist, and his arm tenses up as he pulls his hand back towards him. Jackson doesn't react very quickly to the liberation of half her rack, either, although if you were being charitable, you could interpret that as shock. TJ Simers says in today's LA Times:

MTV issues a statement: "The tearing of Jackson's costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional," and knowing how weird some of the Jacksons can be, maybe she does wear silver stars strategically placed wherever she goes.

Shock, by the way, which would be shared with the entire viewing audience, although in my house it barely registered except as a crowning example of why the Super Bowl should concentrate on football and skip the ridiculous halftime show. (Watching Nelly continually grab his penis was another good example, and I note that hardly anyone even bothered to comment about that.) It registered with a lot of other people, though, because CBS was flooded with complaints, according to the story. The NFL says that MTV will not be producing any more Super Bowl entertainment, and MTV claims it had no knowledge of it.

Power Line, however, agrees with me that the moment was far from unintentional. (Hindrocket posts a picture of the event, if you'd like to see Janet imitating LaToya.) Hugh Hewitt, returning from Minnesota, notes:

Looks like the blowback from the tackiest Superbowl ever is pretty intense. Good. MTV and the NFL have as much in common as Howard Dean and FDR. Whaddaya think Paul Brown would think about the half-time show? Halas? Lombardi? Here's a suggestion: Hall of Famers pick the music talent next year, not 25 year olds with chin hair and NYU degrees. Tony Bennett, anyone? A great game interrupted by idiots.

On the other hand, with commercials dominated by Levitra and Cialis, this may be the perfect capper to the Erectile Dysfunction Bowl. I mean, if Janet Jackson's exposed breast doesn't turn you on, the commercials might say, you should give us a try. If you think that the Great Booby Affair lacks subtlety, then you obviously didn't sit through endless shots of footballs going through tire swings in an attempt to sell dinghy delights. All that was missing was the stock footage of rockets launching and trains going through tunnels.

UPDATE: The FCC was none too amused by the breast-baring spectacle, either:

The chief federal regulator of broadcasting said Monday he is outraged by the Super Bowl halftime show which wound up with singer Justin Timberlake tearing off part of Janet Jackson's costume, exposing her breast. Timberlake blamed a "wardrobe malfunction," but Federal Communications Commission chief Michael Powell called it "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt." ...

The two singers were performing a flirtatious duet to end the halftime show, with Timberlake singing, "Rock Your Body," and the lines he sang at the moment of truth were: "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song." With that, Timberlake reached across Jackson's leather gladiator outfit and pulled off the covering to her right breast, which was partially obscured by a sun-shaped, metal nipple decoration.

A local radio station, KQRS, reported on its morning-drive show that CBS had admitted to planning the stunt with Timberlake and Jackson. They claimed a wire report as their source, but I haven't seen anything about that at all. My guess is that if CBS 'fessed up to deliberately creating this stunt, it will be the last Super Bowl they see for a long, long time.

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Sunday, February 01, 2004

Super Bowl: Second Half

7:38 - King suggests that "Saving Silverman" was better than the first half of the game. Well, maybe he's right; you don't get to see Neil Diamond on screen too often, and I don't think you'll ever see R. Lee Ermey play a gay football coach again.

7:43 - Streaker on the field before the kickoff. Who said there's no action in this game?

7:58 - The Bud Light chimp commercial was worth a chuckle. The Panthers were lucky that the second-down pass play was ruled incomplete. It was obviously a catch, and the fumble would have resulted in a New England touchdown. Like the two teams, the officiating has been mediocre during this game.

8:06 - Scariest line of the night: "Erections lasting longer than four hours require medical attention." Owwww. That ought to keep you from trying Cialis. What's with all of the E.D. commercials, anyway?

8:11 - Did anyone else think that the Gillette commercial was just a tad overwrought? Using a Gillette is like having an angel by your side? I note that the 3rd quarter looks an awful like like the 1st.

8:19 - No scoring in the 3rd quarter; still 14-10 Pats. The Mall of America ad was pretty good, but I have a feeling that was just regional. If anyone outside of the Minnesota market saw it, let me know.

8:23 - Antowain Smith scores a rushing TD, and the Pats take their longest lead of the game. The PAT was successful, but it keeps looking like the snap is off.

8:28 - James Ph. made a comment about a Carl's Jr. commerical on the 1st-half post, but that one was regional, James. What happened in the commercial? Great catch by Steve Smith, too.

8:31 - Great run by Foster, breaking tackles and tearing holes in the defense for a score. I could have done without the hot-dogging, though. Going for two? How many of you agree with this? Not me ... and that's why. Dumb.

8:34 - Great Simpsons MasterCard commercial. "D'oh! Stupid voiceover!" Speaking of stupid voiceovers, we're back with Greg and Phil.

8:44 - Nice pick! That should fire up Carolina. He should have just taken the touchback, though. (Hindsight is 20/20, of course ...)

8:52 - What a play by Jake Delhomme! That's a Super Bowl record: 85 yards! Now you go for two.

9:05 - That is the second play blown by Manning against Givens on this drive.

9:06 - Nice drive by Brady and the Pats. It should be 27-22 after the PAT. But they've left a lot of time on the clock for Delhomme and Steve Smith ...

9:08 - Yeah, I'm good at math! The Pats went for two and got it, so now it's 29-22 Pats. This has turned into a good game, which is good because the commercials are pretty poor this year. James -- I miss Carl's Jr. I used to love their Super Star burger and the fried zucchini. Mmmm .... fried zucchini ... Nice runback by Carolina, but it's getting called back. Figures.

9:12 - King is right. The lamest commercials so far are the AOL Top Speed commercials. Designed to appeal to your average mouth-breather.

9:16 - There has never been an overtime in the Super Bowl? Carolina's aiming for the first one.

9:17 - The Pats got burned on their blitz! Big mistake, and Jake Delhomme connected perfectly for the TD. PAT good -- it's all tied up now,

9:19 - Kasay kicks the ball out of bounds ... nice job, fool.

9:25 - It's going to come down to Vinatieri, after all ... Brady is doing an excellent job in getting the Pats into field-goal range.

9:27 - HE MADE IT! And the fans go wild ... There are still four second left on the clock, though. A runback could win the game for the Panthers!

9:29 - That's the end of what turned out to be a really good game -- the Pats win it, 32-29. Lots of excitement and great plays, and we watched until the final play. A fan couldn't ask for more, really. The Wang Chung putdown in the Subway commercial was a nice finish to the spectacle.

Big thanks to everyone who hung out with me for the Super Bowl, especially King and James Ph. You guys made this a lot of fun for me!

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Super Bowl: First Half

5:40 - How could Vinatieri blow a 31-yard field goal attempt? It looked like the snap came to the wrong side of the holder, and the timing got thrown off. Speaking of being off, the commercials so far are not impressive. The "monkey on the back" car commercial was exceedingly lame, and the Bud Light commercial was only good for a slight grin. They spend $2 million a minute for these?

5:45 - The Panthers can't get any offense going so far, and the second set of commercials is just as lame as the first.

5:49 - The First Mate liked the Bud bikini-wax commercial. I was cringing. Go figure.

5:55 - The H&R Block commerical with the Willie Nelson advice doll was the first really good commercial so far. The Don Zimmer moment was classic.

5:59 - The Panther's Wil Witherspoon just blew up a reverse better than I've seen in a while, and kept the Patriots from getting a field goal. So far I'm less than impressed with every facet of this game -- the (nonexistent) action, the lack of creativity in the advertising, and the dull commentary from the CBS crew. The only thing making me happy is King's commentary...

6:09 - End of the first quarter. 0-0. The Sierra Mist commercial was cute, but nothing different from what we've seen before from them. And the kid was mistaken, anyway; Mike Ditka comparing football to Levitra is just wrong. (Note to Levitra and Ditka: Guys don't watch football to get sexually aroused, or at least most guys don't.)

6:13 - OK, the donkey who wanted to be a Bud Clydesdale was pretty funny, but somehow I suspect this may be a continuing series of increasingly-stupid commercials. Look for a play on Rudolph at Christmastime.

6:19 - That's a great idea -- let's give kids who steal music prime-time commercials as a reward. Nice going, Pepsi. I think I'll skip their product for a while.

6:30 - I think that was a bad spot, and finally something interesting happened in the game! It won't result in a reversal, though. The Budweiser farting horse was definitely good, but having the Charmin commercial directly follow sort of seems like an ass theme is developing, here, especially after the Bud donkey. Yeah, told you they wouldn't reverse it. I think it was a dumb challenge.

6:38 - So far, this ain't Adam Vinatieri's night, is it? A Starsky and Hutch remake -- I heard about this from Emmett on Hugh's show. Looks like a broad comedy, though; wasn't the original played pretty much straight? Nice Muhammed Ali appearance for Linux, too.

6:44 - Thinker, I'm with you ... neither of these teams look like they belong in a Super Bowl. This is the longest time ever in a Super Bowl without a score.

6:46 - Jeez, finally!! Brady to Deion Branch for the first score of the game, and Vinatieri manages to convert the PAT. It's about time someone did something.

6:48 - Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms. Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms. Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms? This is CBS's A-team?

7:00 - And finally Carolina gets it together, scoring on a third-and-10 bomb to Steve Smith. Impressive drive. This might finally be a game.

7:05 - Now it gets exciting! Great bomb from Brady to Branch. King, I love good defensive battles, but Carolina's offense was just inept prior to their last drive. The Patriots should be up by six points, too.

7:09 - Now that was an impressive answer by the Patriots. King, I love bagpipes, and that Sierra Mist commercial was pretty good, but the Levitra commercial that followed it just took all the fun out of it.

7:13 - Carolina finishes the half with a 50-yard field goal, and after 27 minutes of offensive ineptitude, we get 24 points scored in the final 3 minutes. Now we get to watch the Janet Jackson halftime show and the CBS analysts try to make the first 27 minutes seem exciting.

7:29 - I have new drinking game -- every time Nelly grabs his package, you have to drink a shot. We'll all be tanked by the second-half kickoff.

7:34 - Nice way to celebrate a Super Bowl on Sunday evening -- by tearing off Janet Jackson's bra and letting her flop out into the open. Yeah, I saw the sticker on the nipple, but still ...

7:36 - The NFL Network's "Tomorrow" commercial was cute. Who knew Jerry Jones was that limber?

I'll be starting a new post for the second half.

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Super Bowl Prediction

... because I do so well at predictions -- here's mine:

Carolina Panthers 27, New England Patriots 24. BBD&O, 2 Clio nominations.

I think I will be live-blogging the Super Bowl, mostly to review the ads. We'll see if that works out ...

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

How Can You Keep Them On The Farm ...

Apparently, in the eyes of Minnesota Golden Gophers athletes, Minnesota's natural beauty is a terrific attraction for high school recruits. Unfortunately, some of the student hosts gave recruits too close a look at some of our beauties:

Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi said he will investigate recruiting practices within the football program after learning that high school prospects went to several Minneapolis bars and a strip club during an official recruiting visit in December.

Three prospects acknowledged Tuesday that they were part of a group that visited bars as minors and that several were served alcohol. A group also went to Deja Vu, a downtown strip club that admits patrons 18 and older and does not serve alcohol.

I am certain that high-school prospects would like nothing better than to go to strip clubs and get tanked, but the question is how a public university allowed such a thing to happen. Going to the strip clubs is bad enough, of course, and if I were a parent of one of the recruits, the university president would be getting an angry phone call from me tout suite. But allowing underage recruits to drink alcohol in nightclubs calls into question the liability of the university (and Minnesota taxpayers) had someone gotten injured or killed as a result of intoxication. The state drinking age here is 21, as it is in most states. I suspect even some of the "student hosts" couldn't have bought a legal drink, let alone their guests.

Players and recruits tried their best to protect Glen Mason, the football head coach for the Gophers, and his staff:

"Coach Mason and Coach Browning [assistant coach, Mitch] told the players not to act up and to keep it calm," Kershaw said. "The coaches didn't have any part of it. The hosts really were low-key, too. It was mostly the recruits who went out together."

Sorry, but as a taxpayer and parent of a potential student, I don't buy that. If the entirety of Glen Mason's direction to his student hosts was "Don't act up and keep it calm," then someone isn't taking their jo seriously enough. Coach Mason and his staff have the responsibility to run a recruitment program that doesn't allow for the recruits to be placed in dangerous situations. Simply calling on a few players to show the kids around town with no direction and no supervision is unacceptable to me, and should be unacceptable to all Minnesotans. If Mason can't be bothered to manage his own recruitment program, perhaps the university should see fit to reassign his multimillion-dollar contract to someone else who can handle the responsibility.

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Friday, January 16, 2004

Of Course We're Not Offended, You Sexist Pig

Women's professional sports, with the possible exception of tennis, have always struggled to find a wide audience. The problem goes back as far as the defunct professional women's baseball league featured in the excellent movie A League Of Their Own right through today's WNBA and LPGA. It seems that every time league executives address this problem, some idiot comes up with solutions like the one offered by FIFA president Sepp Blatter for women's soccer:

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has caused an uproar by suggesting women soccer players should wear tighter shorts to bring more attention to their sport. Blatter said women's soccer needed different sponsors from the men's game and should seek to attract fashion and cosmetics companies by featuring "more feminine uniforms."

"Tighter shorts, for example," Blatter told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick. "In volleyball the women also wear other uniforms than the men. Pretty women are playing football today. Excuse me for saying that."

Why is it that when men in leadership positions consider the promotion of women's activities, the first idea that pops into their heads is to tart the ladies up? Uniforms should be designed with the sport in mind, not giving the impression that the players are "sporting women" to dirty minds. It's one thing when women choose on their own to promote themselves in this manner, as golfer Jan Stephenson did in the 80s. Posing partially nude was her own personal choice; she didn't drag the entire LPGA into the photo shoot. When the male president of the league that supposedly watches out for their interests attempts to play mack daddy with their uniforms, it crosses over into the inappropriate and tacky.

Perhaps the time has come for FIFA to find new leadership.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Boswell: Rose Has Changed Nothing

Pete Rose has written a blockbuster new book about his life in which he finally admits he gambled on baseball while managing the Cincinatti Reds, after 14 years of public denials. Charley Hustle no doubt believes that this public admission of guilt will unlock the doors of the Hall of Fame and possibly allow him to manage a team again. Initial public reaction indicates that fans hope for the same thing.

Allowing Rose back in the game is a big mistake, though, and his public admission appears to be not only less than heartfelt but less than complete as well.

Thomas Boswell agrees with this assessment in today's Washington Post, and Boswell reminds us that Rose strung us all along for 14 years of denials and counteraccusations, both from himself and his many proxies:

"I'm sure that I'm supposed to act all sorry or sad or guilty now that I've accepted that I've done something wrong. But you see, I'm just not built that way," wrote Rose. "So let's leave it like this: I'm sorry it happened and I'm sorry for all the people, fans and family it hurt. Let's move on."

No, let's stay right here.

As Boswell notes, Rose uses an odd construction: it happened, it hurt. Not I did, I hurt, as if the gambling was a third-party action imposed on him, or the 14-year war he waged on baseball's management and investigators was something completely separate. This makes complete sense if you combine that with the first part of this statement: I'm not built to feel guilt. This pathology is more commonly known as sociopathy, a lack of conscience and empathy, in which the only person in the world who truly exists is the sociopath and everything else just happens. Rose manages to make his "admission" scarier than anything else he's ever done before.

Rose continues to deny that he bet on the Reds while managing the team, something that John Dowd found ample evidence to prove in his investigation. This is no mere technicality. While gambling on baseball at all risks a lifetime suspension from the game strictly for hygienic purposes, gambling on one's own team -- whether to win or lose -- calls into question the credibility of these games and possibly puts players at risk. As a manager who bet heavily on your team to win a particular game, Rose could have played each of these games like Game 7 of the World Series. Overtaxing key pitchers, such as allowing an ace starting pitcher to go too long or start with inadequate rest or throwing in a reliever too quickly or too soon after a long stretch in a previous game, could cause arm and shoulder problems. Not only that, but it could cause these players to be unavailable in later games unnecessarily. And on games he didn't bet on at all, gamblers could easily have deduced that he would do a lot less to win, saving his resources for another game he thought he could win and on which he could bet heavily. This doesn't even take into account the possibility that by running up significant debt, he could be pressured into throwing games later by criminal elements.

Fay Vincent also agrees with Boswell and counsels Bud Selig to wait for Rose to demonstrate actual contrition and life changes before considering Rose's reinstatement:

So far, Vincent doesn't see signs of a reconfigured Rose life. In fact, he says, there is "every evidence" that Rose is still a conspicuous gambler. "We were misguided [in 1989]. We thought he would be contrite. It just wasn't in him. I wish he were more contrite even now. John Dowd [who headed baseball's investigation] is owed a big apology," said Vincent, adding that Rose even hurt those who tried to defend him. Vincent cites one well-known baseball author who "wrote five pages about how there was 'not a shred of evidence' in the Dowd report" and another "who excoriated us for running roughshod over Pete's rights. Where are those people today?"

Boswell ends his article with a reference to Shoeless Joe Jackson, who still has not been reinstated to the active list so that he can be posthumously added to the Hall of Fame. However, Jackson's case differs in many ways from Rose's. Jackson actually threw games and accepted money for it (not all of his supposed conspirators ever saw a dime), although at the same time Jackson confessed and returned the money, honestly contrite over what had happened. Jackson, along with the other Black Sox and all of their teammates, were being exploited shamelessly by their owner, Charles Comiskey. Most of all, Jackson never operated his entire career under The Rule as Pete Rose did. While I don't think you can compare Jackson's reinstatement to Rose's request, the one thing that Pete can't ever say was that he wasn't warned of the consequences of betting on baseball.

Rose has sullied his reputation, lied repeatedly, leveled false accusations against baseball management directly and through his many proxies, and damaged the integrity of the game. His sociopathic "admission of guilt" should only serve to shame himself and those supporters who claimed that baseball had no evidence of any transgression on Rose's part. If this is the best Rose can do after fourteen years of being locked out -- a smirking half-truth served up with the spin of victimhood, all to make a fortune from the saps who cheered his defiance during his exile -- then let Rose have his profits and continue to watch baseball on TV.

Addendum: The Los Angeles Times also weighs in on this in an editorial today, "No Hustle to Reinstate Rose":

Rose recognizes that his best bet (pun intended) to enter Cooperstown is being elected by sportswriters, because many scribes who saw him play arguably would be inclined to recognize him for his amazing on-field accomplishments. But players only qualify for the sportswriters' ballot for 20 years after their last game — which for Rose was in 1986. After 2006, Rose would face the decidedly tougher challenge of being elected to the hall by his fellow players — some of whom have publicly said they wouldn't vote for Rose.

Whew. Now Rose's timing makes more sense.

To borrow one from Instapundit -- indeed.

UPDATE: Deacon at Power Line also takes a swing at this.

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Monday, December 29, 2003

Speaking of the Vikings ...

... will likely get you assaulted today in Minnesota, after watching the 'Queens blow a 6-0 record into a 9-7 finish, complete with four losses to teams that wound up with 4-12 records, including the Cardinals yesterday. Water cooler talk mostly centers on coach Mike Tice's future with the Vikings (consensus: not coming back) and the stadium initiative, which seems a lot more remote than it did on Saturday.

I was prepared to discuss how frustrating this season was, and how bitterly disappointing it was yesterday to watch the Vikings fail to cover the end zone properly on the last play when that was the only part of the field in question -- next time, get behind the receivers! -- but then I found out that the guys at Fraters Libertas have it covered here. And here. And here, and here, and here and here.

We take our football seriously up here in Minnesota, even if our team doesn't. I can't wait to hear what Hugh Hewitt will be saying on tonight's show ... or maybe I can.

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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Dodgers to Ship Brown to Yanks

Imagine my surprise when I found out -- via Hugh Hewitt -- that the Dodgers were about to close a deal with the Yankees to trade ace starting pitcher Kevin Brown:

The Dodgers agreed to trade pitcher Kevin Brown and his $15-million salary for next season to the New York Yankees for pitcher Jeff Weaver, two minor leaguers and $3 million in cash, major league baseball sources said today. ... The deal would give the Dodgers the financial flexibility they lacked the last few seasons. Hamstrung by Brown's salary, the Dodgers were unable to upgrade a punchless offense last season and failed to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.

Fox made Kevin Brown baseball's first $100 million man, a label he never really lived down in five seasons with the Dodgers. When he was healthy, Brown was brilliant in his surly, intense way. However, he only stayed healthy for most of a season last year, and his brilliance wasn't enough to offset the Dodgers' chronically anemic offense. His $15 million annual salary in years 6 and 7 shadowed their attempts to bring high-powered free agents to Los Angeles.

Somehow, though I think that trading Brown at this point and freeing up the money isn't a bad idea, I doubt that the Dodgers will greatly improve their offense. For some reason, the Dodgers have a perpetual problem generating runs. Even during their last championship in 1988, they were the Improbables, with an offense that may have had trouble with AAA clubs. They won on a combination of brilliant pitching, good defense, thin but timely hitting, and the will of three legendary men: Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser, and Tommy Lasorda. After watching the Dodgers the last couple of seasons, the only one with that kind of legendary will on the team was Brown, and now he's gone.

If the Dodgers go shopping in the free-agent bazaar this off-season, they need to find more than just a good batting average; they need to find a clubhouse firebrand, maybe more than one, who can ignite and inspire a team to play above their abilities, to scratch out runs where none exist, and to throw down no matter who they're facing. 25 varieties of LA laid-back will get them exactly where they've been the last few seasons: watching the Giants and the Diamondbacks on TV in October.

UPDATE: I corrected a line to read "good defense" rather than "good offense" in the 4th paragraph. Mea culpa.

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Worst Damn Sports Analogy, Period

No story to link to here -- I'm watching the Vikings-Raiders game, and the Raiders are running all over the Vikes, who haven't helped the defense out by coughing up the ball at least four time. They're down by eleven in the 4th quarter.

The announcer, Bill Maas, decided that he would be clever about the Vike's lack of run defense. This is what he said:

"The Vikings need a whole case of Immodium, because they can't stop Oakland's runs."

Ha ha, hee hee. Sam Rosen was just about speechless after that crack, if you'll pardon my pun. I'd say Maas needs something to stop his diarrhea of the mouth.

And the Vikes just fumbled again. Oh goody.

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