The Media Learning Curve: July 24-31

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You’re going to miss July, aren’t you? So are we. We’ve left a little piece of ourselves in July. Our innocence, for one. Our hopes and dreams, perhaps.

Barreling into August, the time when fans of pro and college football can’t wait to get their arms around more media TV information thinking that will speed the process up of the start of the ’09 schedule, we’ve learned some lessons in patience.

Kids today who have no idea how to be still and quiet with themselves, enjoying a moment of peace by shattering it with a cellphone text to no one for no apparent reason because they feel they’ve been left behind on the highway of information, stalled and unable to get around a traffic jam-up of fragmented sentences and run-on icons, should stop and smell the technology’s residue.

OK ….

That was your moment of Zenacity.

Now, to other things we’ve learned this week in Mediaville before Month No. 8 arrives:

== Dave Sims, a voice on the Seattle Mariners, says that other than him, the Dodgers using Eric Collins and Mike Clairborne on St. Louis Cardinals’ radio, there aren’t that many African Americans doing baseball play-by-play (linked here).

== Someone in Britian now cares to watch MLS games? (linked here). Oh, the first live MLS match will be on Aug. 8 when David Beckham’s Galaxy plays New England (do you think England fans know that New England isn’t part of their territory?)

== You got any opinions about ESPN sticking its MLB game analysts in the photographers’ well? (linked here)

== Why is it so weird that a sports writer has inquired about getting a front-office job in a big-league team? (linked here). How do you think Fred Claire and Ned Colletti got to where they were/are with the Dodgers? Can someone point that out to Omar Minaya (linked here)? What is Adam Rubin supposed to do? (linked here)

== Does ESPN have a “do not associate with” list? (linked here)

== Does ESPN has a “do not rehire” list after what this Dallas radio guy did, calling ‘em out for not reporting on Ben You-Know-Who-Berger? (linked here)

== Erin Andrews has a lot of … juice (linked here). And, unfortunately, a reason to call the police (linked here).

== Doesn’t Vin Scully’s body of work literally speak for itself? He shouldn’t have to excuse himself if he decides to hang it up after this season, no matter what he tells anyone in July (linked here)

== Our fake sports story highlight of the week: “Lance Armstrong Inspires Thousands To Come In Third To Cancer” (linked here).

== Our real sports story highlight of the week: “Sportswriter charged in prostitution ring case” (linked here).

== AND FINALLY:

This quote is on page 54 of the new issue of ESPN The Magazine (Aug. 10 edtiion, with Yadi Molina on the cover):

“A casual cafe with a friendly attitude and satisfying, familiar food.”
– Larry Lipson, L.A. Daily News, November, 2007.

That’s the now retired newspaper food critic/reviewer/freeloader, and something he wrote back before hanging up mask when he visted Jeff Suppan’s Soup’s Sports Grill (21028 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills) (www.soupsgrill.com).

The Daily News is finally represented in ESPN magazine — by a food review.

ESPN has done a spread on athletes who own restaurants, and picked the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher (out of Crespi High) as one to highlight.

The story says Suppon, pictured with his laptop, is in constant contact with those running the place during the season, and he responds directly to customer feedback “and logs into a feed of the restaurant’s security cameras from his laptop to check the crowds on Wing Night Wednesday.”

So, next time you’re there, turn and smile, and wave. And drop Soup a note, and he’ll write back. Seriously.

Drinks are on us. Not seriously.

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Our Daily Dread: Where soccer will make a difference this weekend

It ain’t tomorrow night at the Rose Bowl, when the Galaxy faces … whatever foreign team with the American goalie.

It’s this weekend in Washington D.C. — 160 homeless men and women from 16 cities gather for the 2009 Street Soccer USA Cup, stating today and ending Sunday at Washington’s Kastles Stadium.

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Street Soccer USA (linked here), along with umbrella program Help USA (linked here) kicks off the event.

Each team of men and women who are currently homeless or have been homeless in the past year will play four-on-four soccer matches on a small court.

Los Angeles will be represented by Jovenes, Inc., (linked here and linked here), the non-profit near Boyle Heights that started a program for at-risk and homeless youth in the community (linked here). Johnny Figueroa, an orphan from Honduras who played on the 2008 U.S. national team, is coaching the L.A. squad (linked here).

The importance of the weekend, aside from competition and camaraderie, is that the top eight players will represent the U.S. team in the 48-nation Homeless World Cup, two months from now in Milan, Italy.

Says Lawrence Cann, founder and CEO of Street Soccer USA,: “(It) allows players to strive as part of a team towards a larger goal of improving their lives and playing for the Street Soccer USA Cup sustains them in that effort. Likewise, the Cup provides volunteers the chance to engage in a movement that shifts how we address homelessness in our society.”

Cann has also started a campaign called “Be A Number 10″ (linked here).

“In soccer, number 10 belongs to the leader on the field,” Cann writes. “Our players, battling homelessness, have joined our team and decided to change their lives. They all deserve to wear the number 10. Now we need you to be a number 10 by making a contribution of $10 or more so that we can realize their dream of competing in the Homeless World Cup. 10 dollars, 1,000 people, 10,000 miles to Milan. That’s a dollar a mile.”

So far, the campaign has raised more than $1,200.

Contact Cann: lawrence@streetsoccerusa.org

==More on how soccer empowers the homeless, on the blog of CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta (linked here).

== Another story about how a running program called Back on Your Feet fits into this whole competition nurturing (linked here).

== Watch this video, “Love In The Streets” (linked here)

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And, for what it’s worth, this is something I scribbled on the back of manilla envelope as I was riding on the Metro Green Line, after having visited a church in Watts to help out with a program that feeds and clothes the needy and homeless of that community:

It’s the smell of homelessness that really smacks you in the face with a potent punch, stings hardest, and lingers the longest.

The sight of it, we may almost be desensatized to it. It’s a commercial on TV promoting a non-profit that sends aid overseas. A person standing on a freeway offramp with a simple sign: “Please Help, Need Food,” and we drive right past.

The sound of it blends in with the rest of the landscape. The shopping cart wheel rattling against the pavement, full of whatever necessities the person can push around town. The polite request of someone asking, “Sir, can you spare a dollar … God bless.” It can also be the nonsensical blathering of a mentally ill person, talking to himself, angrily, as he walks from nowhere to noplace.

The touch of it — yes, homelessness is tangible. You make contact with someone, maybe by accident, as you pass by them. Maybe you shake their hand, or are brave enough to give them a hug. You are touched — deep inside — by their plight. It can touch you profoundly.

But that smell …

On a hot summer day in Watts, the stank of urine from the bushes next to the shopping center hits the nose like a powerful spray of a skunk. It mixes with sweat, grime, grit. Old shoes and stained clothes. In the people swimming in it, you can smell the desperation with the perspiration. Some try to cover it up with cheap collogne or perfume.

Still, do they live with the smell?

Maybe that’s the signal of the long-term effect of homelessness. It really and truly stinks. Everything about it stinks, enough to make one sick to their stomach.

Our problems, Dorothy Day once said, stem from our acceptance of the filthy, rotten system.

This is clearly evident walking these streets, from the church hall, about a half mile to the public transportation platform.

If you close your eyes, you no longer have to see homelessness’ hopeless stares.

If you stick an iPod chord in your ears, you no longer have to hear the cries.

If you sit alone, or slide away on the train bench, you don’t have to touch it.

But nothing takes away the smell. The filthy, rotten smell.

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The Media Learning Curve II: Above all else, when X marks other spots

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AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
Fans cheer for Sam Querrey during his match against Ryan Sweeting at the L.A. Tennis Open at UCLA on Thursday.

Even more sports media stuff to look over, X Games aside (after today’s column, linked here):

== ESPN2′s schedule for the ATP L.A. Open, with Cliff Drysdale, Darren Cahill and Pam Shriver, includes tonight and Saturday (8 to 10 p.m.) before Sunday’s final (2 p.m.), which follows live coverage of the WTA’s Stanford event (noon). The L.A.-based Tennis Channel, with Lief Shiras and Justin Gimelstob, has coverage today (noon to 4 and 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.) and Saturday (1 to 3 p.m.) before a wrapup of the doubles Sunday at 5 p.m.

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== If something that looks like news doesn’t already travel fast enough, CBSSports.com says it will soon launch something called RapidReports, a “Twitter-style reporting deployment” where writers assigned to every NFL team will file “steady, immediate streams of short reports, usually two to three sentences each” and have it integrated with the network website. CBSSports.com Senior VP and GM Jason Kint says in a statement that this isn’t a direct comparison to Twitter, but tries to clarify: “We’re looking to come up with a faster way to report on teams out in the field without letting go of editorial principles. We see this as something really transformative that will make us even more a must-read destination.”

Because, if you can’t take a couple extra seconds to get whatever smells like news doublechecked, someone else will report on it anyway and you’ll be a full minute behind the news curve. This system will use several former beat writers who’ve been purged from their previous newspaper employers, so at least many are considered more properly trained journalists who just happen to be on the wrong side of the economic scales.

For now, CBS says there’s no plan to use any of this content on its Sunday “NFL Today” studio show as it fails miserable to make any headway against Fox, ESPN or NBC, but that’s probably only a matter of time – and trouble.

See how it plays in Rapid City, South Dakota, and get back to us.

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== Derek Lowe’s appearance for the Braves against the Dodgers on Saturday (and Randy Wolf) is the Fox regional game of the week going to Southern California (and 36 percent of the country, with Kenny Albert and Mark Grace (1 p.m.) More than half the country gets the Yankees’ game at the Chicago White Sox. ESPN also has the Dodgers and Braves on Sunday at 5 p.m. TBS has a special 1 p.m. start Sunday when it carries Philadellphia at San Francisco (with Chip Caray and Dennis Eckersley).

== ESPNEWS has its own MLB trade deadline special from 9 to 10 a.m. this morning, while the MLB Networks goes all hands on deck with plans to devote about seven hours of live coverage today, starting at 8 a.m., from its Secaucus, N.J., studio, with rotating hosts Greg Amsinger, Victor Rojas and Matt Vasgersian along with analysts John Hart, Jon Heyman, Joe Magrane, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Tom Verducci and Mitch Williams. MLB Scouting Bureau Director Frank Marcos and MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo will also throw in their opinions. MLB Network reporter Hazel Mae is traveling with the Toronto Blue Jays tracking updates on pitcher Roy Halladay . And Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal, now working as well as an “MLB Network Baseball Insider,” will check in with his offerings.

Maybe more entertaining, Bob Costas will narrate six editions of “MLB Network Remembers,” looking back at interesting trades in MLB history — including Hall of Famer Lou Brock’s trade to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, Mark McGwire’s trade from Oakland to St. Louis, and the Boston Red Sox trading for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek in 1997.

== What’s up on the Fox Soccer Channel: The live and exclusive coverage of the Galaxy’s friendly against Barcelona at the Rose Bowl, 7:30 p.m., with Max Bretos and Christopher Sullivan.

== What else is up: Fox Soccer Channel has hired Eric Wynalda as the new co-host of “Fox Fone-In” with Nick Webster. The sixth season of the show starts Monday, Aug. 10, from 4-6 p.m. You know Wynalda, right? Former Westlake High star, U.S. National Team player, went overseas with Germany, made the MLS splash, ’94 and ’98 World Cups, retiring in ’00 as the all-time leading goal scorer in American history, went to ESPN to do some stuff before he was uncermoniously bounced from the network. Still probably hates Jim Rome for his kickball bashing.

“As a former player and passionate soccer fan myself, I tuned in weekly to enjoy the lively debate on Fox Football Fone-In, and I couldn’t be happier to now be sitting alongside Nick as a co-host,” said Wynalda in a release. “If there’s one thing I’ve hung my hat on throughout my broadcasting career, it’s that I refuse to bite my tongue. Fox Football Fone-In viewers can expect Nick and me to always tell it like it is, even if that means disagreeing with each other – and our callers!”

== And what was up: Fox Soccer Channel says it scored its highest-rated telecast since becoming a Nielsen rated network in October 2008 with Sunday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico — an 0.8 household rating (267,000 homes nationwide). They say it bested top sports and male-oriented cable channels in the same time slot including ESPN2, NFL Network, Spike TV and ESPN News.

== Mark Rolfing , with Gary Koch, Bob Murphy, Roger Maltbie and Dottie Pepper, follow the every stroke of Greg Norman and Tom Watson at the USGA U.S. Senior Open in Carmel, Ind., on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. (Channel 4).

== Bill Macatee and Nick Faldo are the main voices for the PGA’s Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich., this weekend for CBS (Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3 p.m., Channel 2) with Peter Oosterhuis, Gary McCord, Ian Baker-Finch, David Feherty and Peter Kostis.

== AND FINALLY:

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== Saturday, 10 p.m., HBO debuts its latest sports documentary, “Assault In The Ring,” about the Billy Collins Jr.-Luis Resto junior middleweight fight that is “one of boxing’s saddest days,” says HBO Sports executive producer Rick Bernstein. On June 16, 1983, Collins went to Madison Square Garden to fight Luis Resto of the Bronx. Resto won in an upset, but it was discovered that the padding had been illegally removed from Resto’s gloves by his trainer, Panama Lewis, before the fight. Resto was banned from the sport and sent to jail; Collins, brutally beaten up, went into a tragic downward spiral (this was his post-fight photo).

Lewis is interviewed for the piece, as well as New York state athletic commissioners, prosecutors and jury members of the 1985 trial. This story will undoubtely provide some context to the ongoing debate about the Staples Center outcome last January (linked here) about Antonio Margarito’s team trying to artificially load his gloves before facing Shane Mosley (another link here).

Says Resto in the piece, interviewed from jail: “You know, I think about that fight almost every day. When I work in the gym, I work with the other guys. I don’t see your face, I see Collins’ face.”

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The Media Learning Curve I: What’s up is ‘Up’ X Gamer

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Ever get a chance to take the kids out to see that animated flick, “Up,” in 3D?

We had the chance to see the monsterous “X Games Movie: 3D” a few hours ago at the Nokia Theatre. Probably more of a chance for motion sickness than whatever an Ed Asner-voiced character could provide.

As the Xs and Os of these X Games passes another test of “How extreme can it get?” on the technical side, as our column today tries to examine (linked here), we find more sporting news media notes to pass on to those with a far greater threshold for vertigo-inducing situations:

== More technological upgrades that come with X Games 15:

- A rebranded website with even more stuff. What once was EXPN.com is now ESPN.com/Action, the portal for original news, blogs, video – and already up 43 percent in visitors over what EXPN.com had over a year ago.

- A new deal with an online action sports community called Loop’d, where RSS feeds from ESPN columnists and bloggers on skateboarding, snowboarding, free skiing and surfing are regularly piped in.

- Integration within a rally car racing video game called “DiRT 2.” You know, to make the game more . . . real.

- A digital device called the “huck-a-meter,” to measure the height and distance that an athlete clears in one form or another.

- Real, in-car reporting. At the Home Depot Center, where the rally cars will be racing on a made-for-TV short course, Chrissie Beavis and Jen Horsey will ride along as analysts.

- Even more online streaming. As the technology has improved, so has the demand for it pushed by X Games competition. ESPN360.com has 15 hours of it live over this weekend, including 6 hours that are exclusive.

- Something called instant “quiXscoring,” a system used for posting scores immediately in several competitions that apparently needed quicker information.

With all this, there’s expansion.

The first winter X games outside the U.S. will take place just before the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver — March 10-12 in Tignes, a resort in the Northern French Alps. Canal Plus, the pay-per-view service in the region, will cover TV with Internet and mobile coverage.

One last semi-technological advancement: Tony Hawk, analyst. The king of the wheeled board will be on the skateboard big air, vert, park, street and the inaugural Big Air Rail Jam coverage.

Back in the day, Hawk was the man. He’s so old, they’ve just put up a wax figure of him at Madam Tussaud’s in Hollywood.

And when you can start referring to things on X Games as “back in the day,” it’s time to take a short rest on your laurels.

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Entertain these ideas to fix the LPGA, according to Rawson

One of those “E:60″ news mag features on this week’s episode had reproter Tom Farrey talk with LPGA golfer and former USC star stroker Anna Rawson — with all the goods, despite the fact she’s only 104th on the prize money list.

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Kinda reminds us of how the media once latched onto Anna Kournikova – a story about how the media is all over her despite the fact she never won.

The hook to this piece with Rawson, aside from allowing video shot of her, was to give her a shot at fixing the tour.

Aside from having an entire field of Rawsons play at one time, these are the suggestions she had in a column written for ESPN.com (linked here):

== “Every player should tee off to her favorite song at the beginning of the tournament and have it played again when she approaches the 18th green.”

== “Some LPGA tournaments should be played in conjunction with PGA tournaments. Both tours would play on the same course during the same week — and at the same time — while still competing for separate titles.”

== “Have a fashion designer create a piece of clothing or accessory for the trophy ceremony — a jacket specially made by Donna Karan, a gown designed by Vera Wang, CoverGirl could give the winner a makeover before the presentation.”

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== “Until further notice, all decisions should be made from a marketing perspective. That idea might sound crazy to some, but I say let’s have that discussion when LPGA players reach the point where they can be accused of being over-marketed, overpaid or over-exposed.”

== “Every group should be miked up and followed by its own camera crew, not a hard or expensive thing to do in this era of cheap, portable devices that can send images and audio around the globe in an instant.”

Her conclusion: “We aren’t saving lives here on the tour, so to make a living we need to entertain.”

And so, there. We’ve presented it. And run a complementary photo. So sue us.

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Coming Friday: ESPN’s latest high-wire act — a 3D flick

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Credit: ESPN
Skateboard legend Bob Burnquist performs during filming of “X Games Movie: 3D,” which will debut in theatres in late August.

It grinded to a start in 1995, as something ESPN was trying to figure out how to appeal to a younger demo. In Newport, R.I., it invented an event with some BMX racing, skateboarding, bungee jumping and sky surfing, and then covered it with cameras as best it could.

They lived, and learned, eventually decided it was time to also create something called the ESPN Emerging Technology team.

For these 15th edition of the X Games, again taking place in, around and above Southern California, there are more than 15 things that can be called technological innovations impacting the way the network has been able to turn this thing from a crazy kiddie carnival into a top-ranked sports-edgy telecast, with its own Mountain Dew-over coverage.

Some extreme athletes complain that TV saturation, particularily with ESPN and ABC doing much of it now live and with commercial breaks, has taken some of the soul out the events that don’t necessarily fit into the designated time windows. TV is always guilty in some way of bastardizing a pure athletic endeavor, seemingly for the greater good.
With that somewhat handicap, there’s also no doubt that ESPN has raised the bar in media coverage for those younger, older and Twittering in between.

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The latest bar (and hair)-raiser: The debut of the first 3D sports movie, giving another real-life dimension to the action sports’ founding fathers such as Shaun White, Travis Pastrana and Bob Burnquist.

“X Games 3D: The Movie” had an invite-only sneak peek tonight at the Nokia Theatre, across the street from where most of the main attractions are taking place at Staples Center. It reaches wider theatre distribution on Aug. 21, but only for one week.

We’ll head over there, and have a review of the proceedings with Friday’s media column.

Check out the trailer (linked here)

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Our Daily Dread II: About EA Sportie

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Photo: www.sidelinehotties.com

It’s a list to check out occasionally, this “powergrid” at Mediaite.com that attempts to measure who’s got the most juice in several media genres — TV, print, online.

The last time we checked out the list (linked here) for 290 TV reporters, ESPN’s Erin Andrews is atop the list. Based on its “algorithm” that “weights some metrics more than others.” Such as TV airtime, Google buzz and blog buzz.

There, this mention alone should keep her there.

In Google buzz alone, her 1.25 million hits are as ridiculous high (but actually No. 2 overall to someone named Claire Shipman, a Senior National Correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America”) but Andrews’ blog buzz and news buzz numbers are higher than anyone’s in the category. Yet, she’s only No. 45 in “network/show viewership.”

The rest of the list may put into perspective how out of wack this list really is.

No. 2: Jack Taper, the Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News. Never heard of him.
No. 3: Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC News and on “Meet the Press.” Ditto on notoriety.
Nos. 4 and 5: Morley Safer and Mike Wallace. “60 Minutes” of fame.

No. 14: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
No. 18: ESPN’s Michael Smith (ug)
No. 27: ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio

No. 108: Christiane Amanpour

No. 112: ESPN’s Shelley Smith

No. 140: Luke Russert

No. 141: ESPN’s Suzy Kolber
No. 203: Armen Keteyian

As for the list of radio hosts (linked here), Jim Rome comes in at No. 20, the highest of any sports-related shows.

What does it all mean? Can’t be certain, since we’re only sure about what it says on the side of the pool — 1 feet, 2 feet, 5 feet, 12 feet…. That’s what matters most when you’re trying to pick your lost trucks off the bottom without no one noticing.

As for Andrews, another measure of her “notice” factor was revealed on p2pnetnews.com (linked here).

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Our Daily Dread I: About Scully

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The fact that Vin Scully’s status as a future Dodger broadcaster came up on Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon’s “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN’s Wednesday afternoon show only shows how much can be made with so little information.

Trying to pin Scully down at this point on whether he’ll return for a 61st season really isn’t fair to him, or the Dodger fans who hang on his every word. Meaning that any kind of media mania that might have been stirred up by a Los Angeles Times column this week about him implying that he’s feeling good about returning for 2010 are premature, if anything, and effectively backs the Hall of Famer into an uncomfortable corner.

What if, after this season, he talks it over with his family, doctors and muses, and decides it’s really not in his best interests to return? Does that make it look as if he’s now lying?

Options could change as well – according to sources, Scully could work out a schedule where he does no traveling, only home games, which could realistically allow him to continue two more seasons.

While it may sound just peachy today that Scully wants to return next season, he has factually not committed to anything. To extract a sentence from Scully pondering his future and start running with it is a disservice to him, the team, and the fans.

It goes back to a New York Times story last summer, as Scully went back to his alma mater at Fordham to receive an award, and told a columnist that he could retire at the end of the ’08 season, or maybe he’d come back. The fact that he said he may step down raised the same panic — created by the same L.A. Times columnist, to nearly have a meltdown and go all drama queen with a similar column a year ago.

Ease up on the caffine and let this vintage wine age more gracefully before anyone tries to uncork another half-cocked story.

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Perfect? We respectively object to the term, Buehrle man

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Perfect: \pr-fikt\
Adjective, first definition: Being entirely without fault or defect : flawless.
Source: Merriam Webster (linked here)

The performance that Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had against Tampa Bay last week, and tried to do again Minnesota on Tuesday, was pretty dang special. They’ll have to reprint the MLB record books because of it.

At one stretch, it was 45 up, 45 down, over two games. Johnny Vandemeer wishes he did that.

But let’s not call Buehrle Mr. Perfect. Aside from the fact there may be some copyright complications that factor into that equation.

Perfection has yet to be reached. So why contaminate the term with marketing-type mumbojumbo hype that serves no purpose except to explain to a non-baseball fan why something that’s far from perfect is called “perfect” in the baseball world.

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The fact Buehrle is in the same category as Cy Young, Addie Joss, Sandy Koufax and Jim Bunning – all current or future Hall of Famers — as someone who’s thrown a no-hitter and a perfect game in their career is special.

But again, it hardly makes him, or his feats, perrrrrrrrfect.

According to baseball’s rule lords, the current accepted defintion of what a “perfect game” constitutes (linked here) is when a pitcher (or pitchers) a) wins a game that goes a minimum of nine innings, b) throws a no-hitter, c) throws a shutout, d) does not allow a hit, walk, hit batsman or opposing player to reach base for any reason.

Twenty seven up. Twenty seven down.

Perfect? Not even in a perfect world.

It’s a perfect opportunity to discuss the term.

What Buehrle did was … a very, very, very good no-hitter. Add another very if you wish. But that’s all.

What, for example, would we call it if a pitcher did all of the above, and struck out all 27 batters?

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A sign from God? A point where baseball should stop existing because it can’t get any better?

Now, isn’t that much closer to perfect than the current definition of “perfect”?

Roger Clemens twice struck out 20 in a game (about 10 years apart). Once, Kerry Wood did it.

They were not just seven Ks short of perfection, but they’d also allowed some base runners.

On April 26, 1986 at Fenway Park, Clemens beat Chicago, 3-1 (linked here) and gave up three hits with no walks.

On Sept. 16, 1996 at Tiger Stadium, Clemens beat Detroit 5-0 (linked here) and gave up five hits, with no walks.

On May 6, 1996 at Wrigley Field, Wood beat Houston 2-0 (linked here) on a one-hitter, with no walks, but one hit batter.

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In our imperfect world, perfection can be achieved. It just hasn’t yet. God knows, we’re far from it. Close, but yet so far.

If you need more of a perfect structure to try to get your head around the word perfect, Thesaurus.com (linked here) tries it with substitutes: Absolute, beyond compare, defectless, faultless, pure, spotless, supreme. unblemished, unequaled, unmarred, untained, untarnished and utopian.

But it also offers up: A-OK, excellent, excelling, experienced, ideal, out-of-this-world, paradisiac, skilled, skillful, sound and splendid.

Really? Just A-OK? Maybe that’s our problem. We’ve set the bar too low on what’s really perfect and what’s kinda-perfect.

Mark Buehrle isn’t Mr. Perfect. There is no such thing. If there was, they’d stop making chick flicks.

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Our Daily Dread: A fistfull of mixed martial arts notes

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What was the quote the other day from Stephen Colbert: “Ultimate Fighting has it all, from the occasional moment of action to the 40 minutes of awkward spooning.”

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CNBC wants to knife, fork and spoon with it for a full hour tonight.

The NBC cable channel devoted, mostly, to business news but also Olympic sports when there’s too much for the mothership to handle, has stick a fork in reporter Scott Wapner to go on with an episode called “Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars.” It airs tonight at 7 and 10 p.m. (as well as Thursday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at Friday at 7 p.m.)

A little late, perhaps, to capitalize on the fact that UFC 100 has come and gone — don’t financial news channels preach a capitalizing society? But this apparently isn’t such a new idea for the network — they’re taking a documentary they did in 2007 and adding new interviews.

Thanks for the recycling efforts. We all need to pitch in.

One of Wapner’s new interviews includes Mark Cuban and Donald Trump, who are working together to present mixed martial arts events. UFC hothead boss Dana White tells Wapner that they are just another in a long list of competitors he is ready to take to the mat.

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