Before we get going, I'll have the NFL picks and the Intimidator Pool stuff around lunch.
Thanks for bringing humor along with good reporting and interesting thoughts on a daily basis. I typically read your column during my lunch break and have written on a couple other occasions.
Haters will hate, but I wanted to let you know that your column IS important and does have an impact.
Today you said there was an open slot in the mailbag. I was hoping you could share a funny sports story for some levity at a time when it's much needed. Sports are our escape and your column helps with that!
Thanks so much for the kind words — they mean more than you likely know, especially this time of year.
And mostly thanks for playing along with the silliness. And that goes for all of you knuckle noggins, be you a daily visitor, an occasional visitor or a first-time visitor.
My pleasure. In fact, why don't we end every mailbag entry and answer with a different sports story. Not sure they're all funny, but let's roll with it.
OK, we're playing in the Cobb County Christmas Tournament at the Cobb County Civic Center my senior year in high school. At the time I was second in the county in scoring at about 21 per and thought I was a pretty big deal. (Zip it Spy.)
So we're playing Wheeler in the semifinals, and I go baseline midway through the second quarter and try to score over Jim Morgan, their 6-11 center who went on to play at Stanford. I thought he was going to try to block my shot. So I'm going with a full head of steam and low and behold this behemoth sets his feet and tries to draw a charge. I thought it was a block (of course), but the ref called charge.
I was hot. It was my third foul early in the second quarter. Well, the ref was none other than former Braves catcher Bruce Benedict. Benedict was still with the Braves at the time, and who knew he would go on to be a major college referee.
The horn sounded and I knew I was sitting for the rest of the half, and since Benedict was a career .240 or so hitter as I was leaving the floor I offered the following critique of his side gig.
"Benedict, you call a game like you hit a curveball Terribly!"
He T-ed me up and eventually fouled me out of the game. So there's that. I finished with 11 points and we lost by 6.
Stupid Bruce Benedict.
This is a little off beat but so is your column and show so I'm submitting.
As far as I can observe, the Baseball Hall of Fame is the toughest to enter. NFL and NBA have some questionable members but still a very hard row to hoe. Can someone please tell me the criteria to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? The Doobie Brothers are just now getting inducted and acts like Velvet Underground, the Ramones, Parliament, The Stooges (Moe, Larry and Curley?), Zombies, Green Day etc went in years before the Doobies. I'm no huge fan or groupie, but they had 10-12 Top 10s in the 70's. What gives and do they have to wear yellow blazers at the ceremony?
I am unaware about the attire for said induction — it's the NFL that has the gold blazers right? — and you bring up an interesting question among myriad wonderings about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which will induct its newest class this weekend.
OK, first the name is misleading. It's called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the acts and the artists are across all genres, including some of the ones you mentioned above. But in this class alone, along with the Doobie Brothers, there's Depeche Mode (shocked they got in), Whitney Houston (more on her in a moment) and the Notorious B.I.G., who is an all-time rapper but who in a million years associates Biggie Smalls with Rock and Roll? (Side question: Rock and Roll has to be a proper noun in this context, right Spy? Capitalized for sure, don't ya think?)
And that's fine if you open it wider than Rock and Roll, but at that point isn't the Music Hall of Fame? Because if Whitney is eligible, then why was Whitney not already in? Heck, her 1992 national anthem alone was HoF worthy.
As for the sports HoFs, yes the baseball one was the toughest to enter, or at least it used to be. The recent watering down additions of guys like Ted Simmons, Harold Baines and Alan Trammell are downright embarrassing additions if Dale Murphy and Andruw Jones do not get included. (Side note: We had the always awesome Tim Kurkijan on Press Row this week, and Paschall asked the esteemed MLB expert that very question. His answer and the rest of what turned into a very enjoyable interview — seriously gang, it's worth your time — can be found here.)
Heck, who's next Bruce Benedict? Got a better shot at Cooperstown than the High School Officiating Hall of Fame, though.
Which leads me to my next story. OK, I had just got into the sports writing BIDness and was still a little intimidated in certain scenarios. (Side note: Folks who say they weren't — at least a little in the beginning — when they talked to or interviewed some all-timers, well, I think they are fibbing. But that's me.)
So I'm pretty new to this gig at the Newnan Times Herald at the time. How long ago was this? Well, it was in the 1990s and the Times Herald hired me because the newspaper had expanded from two days a week to six. Yeah, when newspapers were expanding and dinosaurs walked the Earth.
Anyhoo, so I'm at Turner Field — it had not been open long covering my first Braves game, and it was on ESPN. I go to the bathroom and am at a urinal when Reggie Jackson — Mr. October himself — pulls up in the urinal next to me.
Reggie Jackson, who broke my Dodgers-loving heart when I was a kid. Reggie Jackson, who put the flame in flamboyant in a completely different era. Reggie Jackson, maybe the coolest athlete ever to wear glasses. Reggie Jackson, movie star in Naked Gun.
My eyes got big, and let's just say grown men in a public bathroom need not get the big eyes. Regardless I could not help myself and right after I finished I extended my hand and said, "Sir, I'm a huge fan. You're Reggie Jackson."
He paused, looked at my offered arm, and sat, "Yeah, son, I am Reggie Jackson, and I will still be Reggie Jackson in about five minutes when I don't have my bat in my hand. Can we do this outside?"
I am not one that gets embarrassed too often, but I could feel my cheeks turning red.
From Another satisfied customer
Wyoming -2.5. You cost me $10 jack wagon. Yes I bet Wyoming on your advice. Not mad just note to self to avoid your picks in future. Love the 5@10 and PressRow. I didn't hear it last two days on radio but DraftKings and FanDuel offering moneyline at boost for Vols vs Arkansas. I bet $1 for $100 on DraftKings and $5 for $125 on Fanduel. Don't know if you can advertise that with Action 24/7 being a sponsor but listeners need to know.
Completely and totally fair, and no one would blame anyone right now for fading my picks. (Side note: "Fading" gambling term that means bet the other side because, well, because my picks have become 100 percent Mush.)
(Side note on the side note: Few gambling characters are as great and frequently referenced like Eddie Mush from "A Bronx Tale." Mush of course was the most-cursed gambler ever and become a synonym everywhere for a betting loser.)
And while ASC did not ask a question per se, his points were valid. Yes, my picks stink.
And yes, all four of the betting operations in Tennessee are offering crazy deals right now to get people to sign up. And all four are advertising in some way or another on Press Row, which kind of limits what can be said and by whom on our show.
He mentioned the DraftKings and Fan Duel offers, and you can get more if you sign in and use promo code WAVL. If you use BetMGM and use the code Greeson100 you can bet $1 on either team in a slew of games to score a TD — yes, just score a TD — and you win $100 in free bets.
I know the Action247 folks also have an assortment of sign in bonuses too. If you are interested, I highly suggest looking at all of them and shop offers.
And ASC is also correct that you can get insane odds on Tennessee straight up over Arkansas at almost every site.
It's worth noting too, that when they crafted this idea — Saturday will be the first college football Saturday with legalized sports betting — I'm sure they thought Tennessee would be a two-TD favorite (at least) over an Arkansas team that has superseded every expectation possible.
OK, story time, and I was not there for this one, but when Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Jim Foster was a regular on Press Row, Paschall got him to retell this one and it's a classic.
Henry Davenport was a fixture in the Chattanooga area sports community. He was mentally challenged grown man and while he was universally known in and around sports — and a fast friend with a slew of the old-school News Free Press sports department, especially then-sports editor Roy Exum — he was a basketball fan extraordinaire and a beloved friend with Foster.
The two had a great relationship and when the SEC tournament was here and Foster was coaching Vandy, Henry would frequently sit on the bench or even come in the locker room.
As the story goes, Vandy was about to play Tennessee at the Summitt of Pat Summitt's powers with the Lady Vols. The Vandy team was tight before the game, Foster said, and it was pouring rain outside, and in comes Henry soaked to the bone.
Using a northern term for a rain suit, Foster casually asked a soaking wet Henry, "Hey, don't you have any rubbers?"
And Henry, shocked face, started yelling, "Oh Coach you know I don't do that I don't do that. Coach you're dirty."
The room exploded in laughter and Foster said he thought it helped his team relax, and helped them beat the Lady Vols that day.
Are you even still a sports fan?
This question is way better than most will realize, unless you have been done this for a living.
In some ways, I wonder if golfers feel this way about their job, because I'd love to take a vacation and play a lot of golf. Bet they wouldn't view that the same way, you know?
Because don't get me wrong I have been amazingly blessed to have the life I have and make the living I do doing what I do. It's great. Truly.
But I don't watch as many sports as I used, and I don't cheer for my teams or favorites like I once did.
That's a good and a bad thing, I suppose. Maybe I have a little more perspective. But I miss some of that old-school passion too.
There are a lot of things that I still love about sports, but they are more singular and specific rather than rooting interests and personal favorites.
I love to watch Aaron Rodgers play quarterback.
I love to see how the pressure and the meaning of what winning at Augusta National makes golf's best seem human.
I love to see truly great middle infielders take grounders. Seriously, it's poetic the way they move their gloves.
I love the sound of a pure swish and sneakers squeaking in an empty gym, metal cleats on concrete, ball meeting bat, a professional tee shot quietly screaming by, and the word Amen collectively being said before teenage boys break the huddle and make a lifetime memory on a Friday night in the fall with the rest of their lifetimes in front of them.
I root now for stories more than scores, for people more than pennants.
And I still love to share my thoughts on it, so yeah, Lisa I still am a sports fan.
Sports in general though.
OK, one more funny story. Where to go on this one. I've shared the Tom Seaver story around here before. I shared the Humberto Quintero story on the radio just yesterday.
Not that long ago, we had Otis Nixon at a fund-raiser at the Signal ball park, and when he walked in I offered, "Otis, my man," like the knuckleheads in Animal House. He gave me the same look Otis Day gave Boone.
There also was a family interaction with Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff, but that's not my story to tell.
Don't tell this one often but it's the reason I can't even smell tequila to this day. I was pitching for a pretty good high school travel team, and my dad was the coach.
We came back from our senior cruise, and some of the older guys we hung out with had a shindig for us. Two of them Gary Steeley and Joe McDermott challenged me to a tequila shot contest.
So there we go, and I learned many years later they were slinging them over their shoulder and/or doing water.
I've never been so sick. Threw up everywhere and on some people to be honest.
Next morning I was a wreck. A wreck. Met my mom for breakfast at Bill's and threw up after eating half a biscuit. I drive to the ballpark and I'm pitching that day in 100-degree heat.
I did not get an out, and the last pitch I threw was to the other team's No. 9 hitter and he hit 370-feet foul. Dad walks to the mound, pauses at the foul line because he could smell me, and looks me i the eye and says, "Not sure why, but I guess you didn't have it today."
"No sir," I offered thinking only about getting in the shade of the dugout and trying to keep some water down.
As I take a step toward the dugout, Pop stops me and says, "Why don't you play center field for the rest of the game?"
I threw up in the outfield too.
Not sure Pop and I ever talked about that game after that day, but I know neither one of us ever forgot it.
Or the smell of tequila — and how bad Bruce Benedict was that night.
Have a blessed weekend friends.