Category Archives: “Classic” Scratchbomb

Own Horn Tooting, 2012 Edition: The Year in Me

cover_9350105At the end of the year, one’s thoughts inevitably turn to the unstoppable march of time. And by “one,” I mean me. As 2012 draws to a close, I initially had a sense of failure (my default setting, really). Another year come and gone, and what had I done with it?

So, I took inventory of what I wrote this year, and it turns out I did a lot more than I remembered. I have little memory of writing some of these pieces, so I can now look back at them as if they were composed by someone else. For other posts, I was sure I’d written them much longer ago than this year, but timestamps don’t lie.

In short, I wrote a poop-ton of words in 2012, in a lot of different places. Not all of it was gold, of course. When you write in this kind of volume, it’s impossible to avoid mediocrity. Looking back on it in total, though, I was pleased with my batting average, and the fact that my output was a roughly even mixture of serious analysis, personal reminiscences, and goofy nonsense.

The only thing I found disappointing, really, was the fact that my online writing tailed off precipitously in the last few months of this year. But the main reason for this is because I took that time to finish my novel (for real this time). So even when I wasn’t writing for immediate public consumption, I was still writing. Before the year ends, the novel will be finally, totally complete, which is another star I can put on 2012’s ledger.

Below the jump, I’ve gathered together what I consider the best of the online writing I did in 2012, broken down by location (Around the Interwebs, at Amazin’ Avenue, and here at Scratchbomb). This is more for me than anyone else, a reminder that I shouldn’t be so morose and remember that this year I made some things I can be proud of, on top of writing a WHOLE DAMN NOVEL (*drops mic*).

I will rest on these laurels for only a minute or two, because I’m already hard at work on some great things for 2013. This includes ramped-up work on Yells For Ourselves, my scholarly fantasia about the 1999/2000 Mets. I’m also toiling away on another super awesome project I’m crazy excited about, which will be announced shortly after the new year (tease).

Everyone who read my stuff in 2012, thank you. Everyone else, there’s still room on the bandwagon.

Excelsior!

Continue reading Own Horn Tooting, 2012 Edition: The Year in Me

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Variety Chronicles Frank Sinatra’s Failed Biker Movie

A few years ago, I put together a series of posts on Frank Sinatra’s failed attempt to make a biker movie, as chronicled by Variety magazine. You see, Ol’ Blue Eyes had seen his daughter Nancy in The Wild Angels and decided to give the biker movie genre a try with all his Rat Pack buddies. The results were not good. You may not remember this because it was a long time ago, and because I completely made it up to amuse myself.

For some reason, these posts recently crawled out from the deep recesses of my mind. It occurred to me that I’d done them so long ago, virtually no one had seen them the first time, and I thought they shouldn’t lay dormant and unseen. They deserved to be seen by barely anybody, at least! So now I present to you this post that collects all the Frank/Hells Angels stuff together in one place. If you missed them the first time around, here’s your chance to miss them all over again!

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Scratchbomb Christmas Comedy Classics!

Around this time o’ year way back in 2009 and 2010, I did a series of posts under the banners of Holiday Horrors and Holiday Triumphs, with at least one example of each for every day in December leading up to Christmas Day. I chickened out trying to do that again this year because I feared running low on material, but I think there are still some gems buried in the earlier posts that could do with some new exposure, if I do say so myself.

In that spirit, please enjoy any and all of these Holiday Horrors/Triumphs of years past, whether you’ve just been hipped to Scratchbomb or you want to reread these classics of yesteryear because they’re so awesome. Hubris!

Continue reading Scratchbomb Christmas Comedy Classics!

A Thousand Clowns, Now Available in Non-Imaginary Form

A tweet from Jesse Thorn alerted me to the fact that A Thousand Clowns is now available as a DVD-on-demand from Amazon. This is one of my favoritest movies ever, despite the fact that it’s been nigh impossible to view or purchase over the years. If I’m not mistaken, this is the very first time it’s been made available on DVD. You should probably buy it before someone at Amazon changes their mind.

If you want to know why you should buy it, check out this post I wrote earlier this year (also prompted by Mr. Thorn) on the origins of my obsession with it. Yeah, I was obsessed with something. Hard to believe, I know.

“Classic” Scratchbomb: A Million Little Pieces of Crap

Right back atcha, pal.

A few tweets from funnyperson Julie Klausner yesterday and today concerned Oprah Winfrey turning over two whole damn shows to professional monster James Frey. This reminded me that I hauled off on Mr. Frey and his gutless, soulless, predatory business practices last November. If you wish to revisit that carnage, click here to drink it in.

If you want the short version: He’s a creep. Actually, I take that back. Sorry, Creeps. Didn’t mean to besmirch you by comparing you to James Frey.

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Olympics of the Mind Meets Freedom of Drunken Speech

With Marched Madness back in action, I thought some folks might enjoy this post from last year, in which I relate my first encounter with Bobby Knight, kid-helmed anarchy, and public obscenity. It also involves Syracuse, and yes, I realize Syracuse is already done. Just go along for the ride, okay? If you don’t like it, ask for your money back, fella.

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Skitch Hanson on Instant Replay

Thumbnail image for galaragga_joyce.jpgYes, I took a cheap shot at umpire Jim Joyce, whose blown call turned Amrando Galarraga’s perfect game into a one-hitter. But that’s because I’m a jerk who has no pity or shame. The real ire should be directed not at Joyce, but Bud Selig, which has idiotically resisted replay against all technological advances and common sense.

Jim Joyce is considered one of the better umpires in Major League Baseball. We have no reason to believe Joyce would have sabotaged a perfect game to drive an agenda or for personal gain. There was absolutely no incentive for him to blow the call, unless he is secretly the world’s biggest masochist. After the game, he addressed the press (a pretty rare thing for any umpire to do under any circumstances) and sounded completely heartbroken about what had happened.

In other words, a top professional acting at in good faith and with the best of his abilities can still mess up very badly in a very big spot. And technology has advanced to the point where every single person watching the game immediately knows how badly he blew it. Which is why it makes less than zero sense to not have replay available in baseball.

In the absence of replay, everyone wonders how this injustice can be overturned while somehow retaining the game’s “purity”. Because going into a booth for one minute (which is how long it would have taken to overturn Joyce’s call) ruins the game’s magical mystical sepiatone Field of Dreams Wonderboy bullshit aura. By Bud Selig’s logic, a seatbelt ruins the mystique of driving, even if you’ll fly through the windshield without it.

What is truly “impure”: Having instant replay to correct officiating mistakes, like every other sport does, or asking the commissioner to wave a magic wand and declare that Galarraga pitched a perfect game, as if the blown call never happened?

Here’s how you institute replay:

  1. Issue one challenge per team per game. When used, the challenge is expended regardless of whether the team “wins” the challenge or not.
  2. Umpires have the right to refuse a challenge if it appears to be total BS. Otherwise, you’d have managers wasting them to allow a pitcher to warm up or just to be dicks.
  3. Challenges can only be used for fair/foul and safe/out calls. No strike calling.

You can argue on the particulars, of course. But after last night, can you tell me that replay would be any worse than what we have now? Because what we have now is essentially crossing our fingers and hoping everything works out okay. Why not just ask Santa Claus for no umpiring mistakes next year? It makes about as much sense.

However, in the interest of fairness, I felt I should have an opinion from the other side of the fence. So I point you to this op-ed longtime contributor Skitch Hanson wrote during last year’s playoffs, entitled “Making the Right Call on Wrong Calls”. Enjoy!

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Pouring on the Jay Leno Haterade

leno.jpgWhile we’re on the subject of hating the manipulative back-stabbing hack, let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way to last year, when Jay Leno was desperately trying to recruit an audience for his horrible, horrible 10pm show.

Jay Leno Says Watch The Jay Leno Show! (09.09..09)

Jay Leno Would Really Like You to Watch The Jay Leno Show! (09.10.09)

Jay Leno Wants to Know if You’re Going to Watch The Jay Leno Show (09.14.09)

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Don Shula, Mythbuster

shula_time.jpgAs a fan of the Jets, of course I wanted them to beat the Colts on Sunday. But as a fan of non-douchebags, I wished Indy could stay undefeated. Because that would mean they had a chance to win all 19 games, and thus threaten the sore winner tyranny of the 1972 Dolphins. Up until two weeks ago, I hoped both the Saints and Colts would go undefeated in the regular season and win the AFC and NFC championships, thus ensuring there would finally be a completely undefeated team to knock those old crabs off their cheap throne.

In every other sport, when a record falls, the previous record holder (or his family) is on hand to congratulate the new champ and wish him/her well. Even Hank Aaron begrudgingly tipped his cap to Barry Bonds when he beat the all-time home run record. If anyone ever had a reason to flip off the guy who supplanted him in the record books, Aaron did. But Aaron decided the game was bigger than him and paid tribute to Bonds, because he’s not a huge dick.

The ’72 Dolphins don’t suffer from such humility and perspective. They’re like mountain climbers who’ve scaled Everest, and decide to take sniper shots at anyone else who attempts the feat. Each year, they literally pop champagne when the last undefeated team takes a loss–and brag about such poor sportsmanship, on top of it all. And make commercials about it, too.

They insist to whoever will listen about how they’re the best team of all time, which, considering how much football has changed in the last 37 years, is borderline insane. Athletes are conditioned so much better in every single sport now, but especially infootball. Can you imagine the ’72 Dolphins trying to block the linebackers of today? Just look at these guys. They’d be mashed into the ground by the Lions, let alone a decent team.

Oh, and they played one of the easiest schedules in NFL history. Not in the NFL that year. In NFL history. Their opponents that season had a .396 win percentage. They are in the 99th percentile in terms of ease of schedule, all time. An NFL team is less likely to play such an easy schedule every again than a person is likely to be born with a dorsal fin.

Two years ago, when the Patriots were in the midst of their undefeated (regular) season, Don Shula got all a-snitter about how Camera-Gate invalidated their accomplishments. He conveniently neglected to mention that his ’72 Dolphins were not without their own ethical missteps.

He also tried to poke holes in many other grand achievements, on this very web site. It was quite a coup to get him to open up, I must say! You can take a trip down memory lane and read all about it here.

“Classic” Scratchbomb: Benny Agbayani, One of the Good Ones

99_nlcsgm6_benny.pngYesterday, Benny Agbayani retired from the Japanese major leagues (NPB) where he’d been playing for the last six years, occasionally under the skipper-hood of ex-Met manager/Scratchbomb nerd-heartthrob Bobby Valentine. Benny will always hold a special place in my heart, as I’m sure he does for most Mets fans.

Every fanbase in every sport has a guy like Benny: beloved for performing way over his head, despite a seeming total lack of physical gifts. Benny was built like a fireplug, had a boyish, pudgy face, and ran like he was mad at the ground beneath him. Fans like guys like him because it makes them think that any slob can play the game. Of course, even a guy like Benny has physical gifts better than those of 98% of the population. Regardless, he’s the kind of player whose appearance allows for the amount of identification and self-delusion necessary to be a Sports Fan.

Benny toiled in the minors for five years before finally getting a call up in 1998, thanks to Valentine, who’d managed him at triple-A Norfolk. After getting called up again early in 1999, he blasted 10 homers in his first 73 at bats, a Ruthian pace that, of course, could not be maintained (he waited until September before finally hitting his 11th homer of the season). In the postseason, he was somewhat eclipsed by the emergence of Melvin Mora, but he did have a few key moments. In game 4 of the NLDS, he hit a double to put the Mets ahead, and in game 6 of the NLCS, he got on base to lead off two late innings, and came around to score both times to give the Mets the lead, though his bullpen could not hold the lead in any of these cases.

In 2000, he became a more permanent fixture in the Mets’ lineup, and contributed many huge hits on their road to the World Series (one of which we’ll get to shortly). He also mistakenly tossed a fly ball he caught into the stands, thinking it was the third out (it was only the second) and had to frantically retrieve from the youngster who snared it. Such was Mets’ fans love for the guy that the blunder only made him more loveable somehow.

Unfortunately, loveability does not always equate to ability to play in the big leagues. Benny fell back to earth, as players of his type often do. He was traded to the Rockies in 2002, wound up on the Red Sox briefly, then went to the Far East, where he won a championship with Valentine’s Chiba Lotte Marines in 2005 (along with another ex-Met, Matt Franco).

Apparently, he was just as beloved in Japan as he was in Flushing, as this video will attest. This is footage from a Chiba Lotte Marines game, where the local fans are reciting a Benny Agbayani chant en masse. This is not unheard of in Japanese baseball, where fan folkways are a lot less like their American counterparts and more like European soccer supporters. But the Japanese baseball fans do not develop choreographed chants for everyone.

When I heard he retired, I thought immediately of game 3 of the 2000 NLDS, possibly the greatest game I’ve ever seen in person. I reminisced about that game way back in January of this year. Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we? (Original post here.)
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