Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks that don’t have pus-filled Band-Aids nearby


A story coming up on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” (Sunday, 6 a.m.) asks: How safe is the food sold at your favorite ballpark or stadium?

This can never be good.

The show says it pulled health department inspection reports for concessions and restaurants at all 107 MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL venues in the United States and Canada operating in 2009.

Guess how many had “major” or “critical violations” reported? Nealry one in three.

When Outside the Lines requested to shoot video of a health department inspection, every stadium and company asked denied it.

In a piece for that will be posted Sunday, reporter Paula Lavigne quotes one supervisor of food at an MLB park, speaking on the condition of anonymity: “I was taking chowder out of a big container to put into a smaller container to put out in the service area, and as I was spooning it out, I see this puss-filled band aid inside of the chowder. It was red, bright red center with all the yellow puss around the outside of it.”

Chowder? Does that kind of limit it to Fenway Park and … Fenway Park?


“Food-borne illness is more than just a stomachache,” says Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, in the story. “It really could have serious repercussions. Stadiums may be a very overlooked area where public health departments need to focus some resources to make sure that all those vendors are meeting food safety requirements.”

With that, I’ll go back to reading my copy of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” Not to mention this story by’s Patrick Hruby (linked here) from last year about how ballparks hijack your brain into thinking you’re hungry for some comfort food.

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Jimmy Johnson may not survive a return trip to the NFL Fox studios


Jimmy Johnson’s career after leaving the NFL and college football sidelines has included a nice run with Fox’s NFL pregame show, some college bowl game telecasts, an endorsment deal with ExTenZe male enhancment pills and a scam-leader with the Better Trades “options trading” company.

You could call him a survivor. Depending on his sense of convincing others he’s loyal to their needs.

That quality will be tested on the upcoming season of “Survivor: Nicaragua,” as the Dallas Morning News reports (linked here) that the 67-year-old Johnson is currently one of the contestants on the reality show shot this summer.

What’s next, Charley Steiner as a guest telling others to follow him to freedom?

The filming of the show, which started in June, is scheduled to end in time for Johnson to return to his Fox NFL job this September. That is, if he’s not been eaten by canibals, got lost in the woods or can’t avoid being arrested upon his return to find out he’s been a drug mule.

“Survivor: Nicaragua” will air on Wednesday nights this fall (switching from Thursday) and will go as scripted in past seasons — a cast of people are thrown into the wilderness with few supplies and food, told to perform tasks and stay around if they’re not voted off by their competitors. The winner will have survived 39 days on the trip and win $1 million.

Or enough to invest plenty into male enhancement magic pills.

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What’s your opinion of Paul Olden’s performance as the Yankees’ PA man?


AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
Retired New York Yankees players applaud as former team public address announcer Bob Sheppard (shown on video monitor) is remembered during Old-Timers’ Day ceremonies at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

Having seen the passing of legendary New York Yankee figures George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard in the last 10 days, Paul Olden has had a chance to size up his own mortality.


“There’ll be two distinctly different obituaries when that time comes,” the 56-year-old said. “I’ve come to terms with that.”

In New York, Olden will be known as the one who replaced the legendary Sheppard as the Yankee Stadium public address announcer. Sheppard’s passing on July 11 at the age of 99 came a year and a half after he had already resigned to failing health and gave up the microphone to Olden.

In Los Angeles, Olden’s legacy won’t be forgotten, either. Aside from a run as the radio play-by-play on the Rams and UCLA football and basketball, he was the radio stringer who, on Mother’s Day 1978, asked Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda the question: “What’s your opinion of Kingman’s performance?”

Lasorda’s profane-laced answer can still be heard reverberating around the Dodger Stadium clubhouse after Dave Kingman’s three home runs gave the Chicago Cubs a 10-7, 15-inning victory.

(In 2004, created a list of the top 10 list of the most embarrassing TV/Radio interview moments, and the Olden-Lasorda moment was No. 3, behind Joe Namath drunken interview with Suzy Kolber on ESPN in 2003, and Jim Rome’s ESPN2 interview with Jim “If you call me Chris to my face one more time” Everett in 1994. Except, like many, had the date wrong, citing a June 4, 1976 date when Kingman, then with the Mets, also had three homers and eight RBI against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.)

Olden had been taking television productions classes while writing and taking pictures for the school paper at L.A. Valley College, trying to explore new avenues for his career, when the Yankees came calling on him to replace Sheppard two years seasons ago – he compares himself to the Chevy Chase character on the NBC sit-com “Community.”

Olden’s career had included a long run of doing the public address announcing on the NFL’s Super Bowl, so his voice was recognizable in that capacity.

Since pulling up his L.A. stakes and settling in New York, Olden has been apart of another Yankees World Series championship and become the voice associated with the new Yankee Stadium.

We caught up with Olden prior to the Yankees-Angels series that ends this afternoon for an update on how life was treating him these days:


Q: Has it been a pretty emotional week for and the city of New York the last week?

A: Very emotional, very wild but very satisfying with the tributes we’ve seen. It’s just been wonderful. And my role in the proceedings hasn’t been that indepth, but with the little I’ve had to do, there’s been a good reaction to it.

With Mr. Steinbrenner’s passing coming just days after Bob’s, that was a big one-two punch. I had a relationship with Bob on the phone over the last year. I’d call him every couple of weeks, not necessarily to talk about public address things, but topics on life in general, families. Here’s a man who would have been 100 this October and a couple of people told me he was really looking forward to making it to 100.

Q: Did Bob ever hope he was going to return to the PA position?

A: I think he realized it wasn’t going to happen last year, so he didn’t get his hopes up. He never got a chance to see this public address announcer’s suite in the new Yankee Stadium. His wife, Mary, on Oldtimers’ Day last Saturday, was recognized on the field and she came up to our booth and said, ‘He’d love to have worked here.’ They’ve named the press restaurant after him here.

Q: How did listening to Bob Sheppard shape your own delivery of the lineups and announcements? He seemed very precise and nimble but hardly calling attention to himself.

A: I’m just glad management doesn’t want a screamer or a carnival barker for their PA person. For anyone growing up in L.A., I was raised on John Ramsey’s style – a great voice that just cut through everything, very straight forward, with no theatrics about a player’s name, like a Michael Buffer extension of a name. The only one in the Yankees’ lineup that lends itself to that kind of introduction is Robinson Cano, who’s name is already so lyrical. “Second baseman, No. 24, R-r-r-robinson Cano.” That’s one I can play with and it’s within the template that’s acceptable as a Yankees public address announcer.

The first thing I will say before a game is ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Yankee Stadium,’ and then try to billboard the name ‘Yankee Stadium,’ because to me, coming here to a new stadium, it’s a special place, so you pause when you say the name and the crowd always gives a nice reaction. But those are really the only two things that you might do different. Otherwise we’re on the same plane in terms of the desire not to be a showman or anything like that.

Q: Does the Yankees PA job pay enough to sustain as a full-time job?

A: The Yankees take very good care of me and in exchange, I do a lot of other things – spring training in Tampa, which is great since I worked there seven years (with the Devil Rays) and I know my way around there, fantasy camps, public appearances with players at a school. And I’ve been doing a magazine show on ‘Yankees on Demand’ for the local cable system that allows me to do a segment with my photography that I continue to shoot during a game, then we pick eight to 10 of them and discuss the photo, along with the game video from that moment.

Q: Do you miss the play-by-play jobs you’ve had and think you’ll ever gravitate toward that again?

A: Not really. I’m happy with what I’m doing, and it seems the less I tried to get jobs the more opportunities would come my way. After spending so much time in my 20s and 30s trying to make contacts, work with agents, make auditions tapes and interviews, I think of how Bob Carpenter has got a job with the Washington Nationals at age 53 – usually if you get past 50 you won’t get a major-league job for some reason. I’m thankful someone was interested in hiring me. I tried for the Dodgers’ (open play-by-play job) before Charley Steiner got it, I tried for jobs in Oakland and Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and San Diego, but I really wasn’t on anyone’s ‘hot’ list. So if something comes along like this, where you can make a nice living and you don’t have to travel and I feel appreciated and respected, this is the perfect job for me. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

I found lately that I really started to enjoy writing – game stories on football or basketball or women’s soccer, writing them for the website and the paper (at Valley College). Now on occasion they’ll give me a script with bullet points and trust me to write the material that I read (as the PA). Instead of editing it, they allow me to ‘sweeten’ the script. That underscores they trust my judgment not to do anything stupid. That’s appreciated.

Hopefully I can put in half the career that Bob did in his 57 years as the PA guy. I don’t think I’ll last as long as he did, but then, he was working until he was 97. That’s an amazing achievement anywhere.


AP Photo

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What took USC so long to convince Pat Haden to be the new AD?


It doesn’t take a phi beta kappa like Pat Haden to figure out that USC’s athletic department in general, and its football program in particular, will be in much better hands moving forward with the apparent decision that Pat Haden will be in charge.

The Rhodes Scholar and one of the most respected people in the Trojan family of athletic heritage completely changes the attitude, temperment and vision in one felled swoop of a sword that finally lets Mike Garrett return to solitude and removes him from all that’s connected to the school in light of its current appeal of an NCAA sanction that focused a spotlight on institutional self-destruction.

Maybe this move now, rather than later, will be part of the strategy in the NCAA’s decision to lighten its punishment — the cancer, in its eyes, has been removed. If I’m on the NCAA appeals committee and am prepared to grand some leniency to a program where the sitting AD made public statements about how envious the ruling body seemed to be about USC’s success, I’m not that receptive to a compromise.

So, all hail Haden, the little quarterback who could back in his day, a two-time Academic All-American who seemed to have it all figured out once John McKay allowed him to run his offense, with his son, J.K., on the receiving end.

We speculated a couple of weeks ago (linked here) that J.K. McKay could make the most sense as the new AD — assuming that the 57-year-old Haden wouldn’t give up his profitable business ventures that included NBC analyst for Notre Dame football games as well as a partnership in an investment firm with former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan.

We suggested, as a compromise, that McKay be granted the head spot and figure out a way to employ Haden as his point man — fundraiser, public speaker, etc.

Seems Haden was the one to seize the moment and call an audible after huddling up with incoming USC president Max Nikias .

NBC Sports chief Dick Ebersol, who employed Haden the last 12 years on the exclusive Irish package, said that it is “absolutely unsurprising and typical that Pat would want to be there for his beloved alma mater in a time of need. His integrity, his talent and his engaging manner are just what the Trojans need.”

And Haden’s first move will be to bring McKay on in a role of associate AD for football, to make sure Lane Kiffin has more oversight in his new role as Pete Carroll’s predecessor.

Haden and McKay, teammates at Bishop Amat High School before coming to USC, combined on a 38-yard TD pass to give the Trojans a 18-17 win over Ohio State in the 1975 Rose Bowl.

This completion will go much farther in the aftermath of one of the most defelating periods in the Trojan athletic program history.

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