1st and Five - The Weekly Tendown, a Halfdown Edition September 12-18 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Internet:

Have I been hating the wrong football team?

Last Sunday, here was Randy Moss at the Patriots' post game press conference:

Two years ago, here was Tom Brady courtside at a Celtics playoff game:

I'm sorry for all the times I rooted against the Patriots. 

I was going to law school in Ohio in September of 1993, and when I'm going to law school in Ohio in September of 1993, in the pre-internet world, the number of people who are living with me through the torture that was seeing the best San Francisco Giants team of my lifetime in a daily (losing) battle for a playoff spot was very, very small.  Small enough that, one day, when I saw a young black child at a shopping mall in a Giants t-shirt, I pointed and said "yeah!  yeah!  Billy Swift going today!  Hell yeah!"  Given the way his mother looked at me, I was fortunate that Megan's Law did not exist then, or I may still be introducing myself to new neighbors as per court order.  The woman I was dating at the time suggested that we lived in Ohio in 1993 and that maybe pointing at young black children and yelling "Hell Yeah!" might not be well taken by the boy's family. 

That young boy - turned out to be LeBron James.

True story.

Okay - the tag is not true, LeBron's a couple/three years too old - but it would be good.

I don't have any group identity with my country - to the contrary, most people who identify themselves as patriots would label me anti-American.  I don't have a religion or any particular ethnicity; what I have is sports - the Niners had enough success that their bandwagon was once too full with which to identify and while I went to USC for a minute and a half when I was 18:

I just wasn't there long enough to feel a kinship with those possessing SC degrees. 
But for me - if you're a Giants fan; it crosses all barriers.  Giants fan+Sarah Palin supporter = you and I are cool.  Something has to take priority; for me its not race or class or level of demonstrable brain activity (because to be a Sarah Palin supporter, I mean - come on - she doesn't believe in evolution; I get if you don't understand Keynesian economics or the idea of a living Constitution - but you just can't hop on someone's train who thinks the earth's 6,000 years old) it's mutual support of the San Francisco Giants.

So - go Pats!  Go Brady!  Go Moss! Go Danny Glover and Robin Williams! I am prepared to read your newsletter and will share with you my foodstuffs. 

After the jump - the rest of Tendown 44
1. Giants Baseball.  It's Torture

13 games left.  We're a half game back.  Zito today.

July 26 was the day I joined this season.  For most of the past dozen years, the power of technology has allowed me to watch or listen to at least portions of about 150 Giants games a year- but I spent the first half of the season readying to move, which kept me from purchasing any of the available baseball packages.

I've seen or heard every game since July 26.  A disproportionate number of them have been razor thin.

July 26 - one run loss
July 27 - two run win
July 28 - one run win
July 30 - one run win
July 31 - one run win
Aug 1 - two run win
Aug 5 - one run loss
Aug 6 - one run win
Aug 9 - one run win
Aug 10 - two run loss
Aug 11 - one run win
Aug 12 - one run win
Aug 13 - one run loss
Aug 14 - one run win

That's 14 1 or 2 run games in less than 3 weeks.

I got a break then, no nailbiters until a 1 run loss on the 25th.  Then a 2 run win on the 29th.  And a 1 run loss on the 30th.

Sept 1 - 1 run win
Sept 3 - 2 run loss
Sept 4 - 1 run win
Sept 6 - 2 run win
Sept 8 - 2 run loss
Sept 10 - 1 run win
Sept 11 - 1 run loss
Sept 14 - 1 run loss
Sept 15 - 1 run win
Sept 18 - 1 run loss

We've played 51 games since July 26.   27 of those games have been decided by 1 or 2 runs. 

Giants baseball.  It's torture.

13 games left.  Travel day Monday.  Then 3 in Chicago and the weekend in Denver.  We're not going to catch the Braves - so it's us/Pads/Rox for one spot with two weeks left.  That series next weekend will be painful. 

My NL Cy/MVP is still Wainwright although Halladay is knocking hard on both doors.  AL MVP still Hamilton, with Longoria right behind - and the Cy to King Felix.

Here are the top SFG seasons with two weeks left.  WARP/WAR

1B Huff 6.4/5.3 - the best season for any SFG 1B since 1991
CF Torres 5.3/4.2 -the best season for any SFG CF since 1990
Cl Wilson 4.9/3 - the best season for any SFG closer since 2000
P Cain 4.8/3.9
C Posey 4/2.5 - the best season for any SFG catcher since 1987
P Sanchez 3.7/3
P Lincecum 3.5/2.9
SS Uribe 2.7/1.6
2B Sanchez 2.6/1
P Casilla 2.6/1.2
P Zito 2.5/1.7
LF Burrell 2.4/2.2
P Romo 2.2/1.4

I remain in second in both my AL and mixed fantasy leagues - it looks like I'm going to finish short. 

2. Do Not Pity the Democrats

In a week that saw the Republicans nominate for US Senate a woman who even Karl Rove called "nutty", the best piece about politics this week was by Chris Hedges.:

The failure by the Obama administration to use the bailout and stimulus money to build public works such as schools, libraries, roads, clinics, highways, public transit and reclaiming dams, as well as create green jobs, has snuffed out any hope of serious economic, political or environmental reform coming from the centralized bureaucracy of the corporate state. And since the government did not hire enough auditors and examiners to monitor how the hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds funneled to Wall Street are being spent, we will soon see reports of widespread mismanagement and corruption. The rot and corruption at the top levels of our financial and political systems, coupled with the increasing deprivation felt by tens of millions of Americans, are volatile tinder for a horrific right-wing backlash in the absence of a committed socialist alternative.

3. An Apology in Portland
A Portland newspaper apologized for not balancing images of Muslims peacefully celebrating Ramadan with a reminder that other, different Muslims were responsible for 9-11.  Consider reading Nick Kristoff from
today's NYT.

4. Greeted as Liberators
Recall the conservative criticism of Obama a couple of weeks ago that he didn't give Bush enough credit for the success of the Iraq War?  Let's not say, when the next 9-11 comes, that they hate us for our freedoms.

5. I Watch, I Read, I Write
This was the week I watched movies - the one I'd suggest you see is Greenberg, particularly if you are a 40 year old dude.  I also saw A Serious Man (funny, worth watching), Two Lovers (I'm more interested in the Joaquin Phoenix doc - and Catfish, I'm all the way in on the buzzyness that is Catfish), the movie where DeNiro played a father going around the country to visit his adult children, and a week ago I went to see The Other Guys, which was disposable but not poorly crafted; the feckless police captain was named Gene Mauch, which I assume is a shoutout from southern California native Ferrell. 

I read Chad Millman's The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the '70s, and the Fight for America's Soul which is really just for those unfamiliar with the era; his weekly gambling podcast on is a good listen, however. And I brought the blogging lumber, my Week 2 NFL picks (after a very succesful week 1) were here.. Additionally, in that post I successfully predicted both the 1st and runner-up finish for Big Brother.  My Week 3 college football picks, less successful than is ideal were
here. The latest post in my countdown of the 100 greatest professional football players of all time is
here.  And the latest post in my wrestling Counterfactual is

6. Tell Me What You Watch!

The fall television season officially begins this week; this is what my DVR looks like.  Yes, you should be getting your viewing tips from me.  Yes, yes you should. 

Sunday -
-NFL Total Access (it's the NFL Network daily studio show, I watch it 7 days a week. Former athletes talking is not ideal sports analysis, but you take what you get. Marshall Faulk is good.)
-Outside the Lines (now on 6 days a week, I watch every day; it's ESPNs daily investigative news show.)
-Sports Reporters (the original ESPN "bunch of writers yammering at each other" show, I've watched since the outset.  In 15 years, Lupica's said 7 things that weren't pointless)
-Fantasy Football Now (my lineups are hopefully set by Sunday, but in case something happens that I otherwise am unaware of - here's where I go; in the age of text updates to my phone; it isn't a necessity.)
-Pregame Shows (currently, I'm watching no NFL pregame shows at all; last season, I toggled between the NFL Network show and the ESPN show.  I've never liked Fox and don't watch the CBS show at all. As I write this, the NFL pregame show is on mute in the background as I write this and listen to Tuesday's Stern).
-Redzone (the only way to watch the NFL is through the Redzone Channel; start at 1, watch until 7 - it's free today; you'll never go back.)
-Baseball Tonight (I don't have the MLB Network through U-Verse, so my only baseball highlight show is this one; I watch every day.  As mentioned, I watch each Giants game on the computer, which is also where I watch puroresu and US independent wrestling)
-Football Night in America (NBCs end of the day NFL highlight show)
-Jerseylicious (part of my Jersey Triad, along with the Jersey Housewives and Jersey Shore; I shook Bam Bam Bigelow's hand in Ft Lauderdale back in the late 90s, and I exchanged a couple of emails with DDP at about the same time.)

Sublist - Top 5 wrestlers I've met:
1. Terry Funk
2. Steve Williams
3. Rob Van Dam
4. Kojima
5. Raven

-Boardwalk Empire (I like Steve Buscemi; I'm not inherently interested in a Prohibition era drama, but I'm going to give it a season long tryout.)
-Mad Men (the best show on television, when I'm not saying it's Breaking Bad - I am fitfully fickle when it comes to picking between them.  Were you to read through all of the back issues of Tendown - and you should, and share them with your whole family - you'd find my constant Mad Men/Breaking Bad flip flop. Nothing else is in the conversation.)
-Eastbound and Down (starts next week; its behind only Curb for best sitcom on a premium channel now that Starz dropped Party Down)
-Bored to Death (I didn't love Bored to Death, but it made the cut for a second season. Starts next week. Entourage and Hung just ended - I'm officially out on Hung, I gave it two seasons and don't have another episode left in me.  I'm stuck with Entourage until the bitter end.  It's rare for me to give a show two full seasons and then consciously decide to quit...)

 Sublist - 4 Shows I Quit After Watching At Least Two Seasons
1. Frasier
2. Chicago Hope
3. NYPD Blue
4. 24

-The Amazing Race (starts next week.)
-Bill Burr stand up special tonight only (tonight I'm watching Bill Burr's standup hour on comedy central)
-Last Ep. of Great American Food Truck Race (Food Truck Race replaced Food Network Star as the Sunday Food Channel of choice; it's been a good game, Nom Nom has been a juggernaut and hopefully will finish off their run with a victory)
-Delocated (from Adult Swim, funny enough to watch)
-Children's Hospital (from Adult Swim, you should be watching)
-Sunday Night Rap (U-Verse picks up a couple of shows from Comcast Bay Area; this is a new show - Gary Radnich and Tony Bruno telling jokes, taking tweets - I'm starved for Bay Area sportstalk so I watch, but I wouldn't if I lived back home.  Hey, someone get me a community college gig in the Bay Area so I can move back home.  Or, better yet, a full time online course schedule so I never have to leave the house.  That's a trade I'll take.)
-NFL Gameday (the NFL Network's highlight show - best highlight show on TV)

-Crunch Time (ESPN U highlight show of college football finishes)
-Best of Mike and Mike in the Morning (I really focus less now on this show and more on podcasts; daily, I listen to the fantasy baseball/football podcasts from ESPN, the Kornheiser compilation and weekly, to Millman and Simmons.  I get whatever clips from KNBR and LeBatard's Miami show that interest me; I look at the guest list for Carolla, Maron, Fitzsimmons; I listen to the Smodcasts when I have time; and I haven't missed the Stern show in ten years.)
-Oprah (You're going to Australia!  You're going to Australia! my talk show default is to record when there's a guest I want to see - Oprah's the only daytime show I currently check to see the listings for, and that's because it's the final season.  Jon Stewart's on this Tuesday.)
-PTI (the best daily sports show ever; sports fans should watch every day.)
-Monday Night Countdown (ESPN's Monday Night Football pregame show.)
-MNF this week (The Niners play this Monday night; otherwise, the way I watch football is through the Redzone.  Good to hear our offensive coordinator speaks too slowly for us to get the plays in on time.  Why is the smartest city in the country saddled with dumb sports franchises?)
-Check Please (the local PBS station's restaurant review show)
-90210 (it's not a good show, really on any level, it's just habit that keeps me watching. There's nothing about it that is worth watching, outside perhaps of Naomi's campy performance, really, some episodes it seems like she's on an entirely different program)
-HIMYM (there's no reason to either start or stop watching HIMYM, it's as Funny as Friends, which isn't damning with faint praise; Friends wasn't Seinfeld but that can't be the bar for sitcoms worth watching.  If it were 15 years ago, this would be a significantly bigger hit.  But if you haven't started, there's no need to.
-RAW (I'm not watching the Divas season of NXT, that's the only original WWF/E program I've ever completely opted out of.  WWE isn't one of the ten best wrestling companies in the world in terms of the product (is that true...yeah, absolutely, I can name ten better) but if you're a wrestling fan I don't know how you don't watch.  Anything about RAW you think is dumb, I probably agree with you.  There is no circumstance where I'd ever stop watching.)
-Gossip Girl (I told my Lady Type Friend that I was doing this for Tendown this week - she said "you're gonna tell them about all the shows -- even Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill?")  Guilty.  Fortunately, she stays with me anyway. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about Gossip Girl.  Blake Lively is architecturally sound.)   
-ROH (Ring of Honor is one of the wrestling companies better than WWE; it isn't as good as it was 3 years ago, but the best free match you're likely to see most weeks is on this show).
-Olbermann (I had a stint on an ESPN game show a decade ago that involved multiple interviews; Keith was long gone then, but when I was asked who my favorite Sportscenter host ever was, he was my pick.  His has been a tremendously important show.  And I admire the balls on a guy who ends each week reading a James Thurber story in tribute to his dad. I watch every night.)
-Maddow (The best news show on television.  You should watch every night.) 
-Weeds (My Mary Louise Parker of choice was her lobbyist character on The West Wing; she's held her value extraordinarily well since Fried Green Tomatoes.)
-Chronicle Live (another Comcast Bay Area show; Chronicle is the San Francisco Chronicle, their writers talk about the day in Bay Area sports.  I watch 5 nights a week.)
-Larry King (dependent on the guest)
-Charlie Rose (dependent on the guest)
-Daily Show (Here's the thing - if you had told me 20 years ago when Stewart had his MTV talk show that in 2010 he'd be one of the most significant cultural figures of his time, capturing the anti-establishment political voice of a generation - I absolutely would have believed you.)
-Colbert (The Olbermann/Maddow and Stewart/Colbert pairings are unmissable television).

-Baggage (The Springer game show - it's worth watching on a campy level; there's an element of work to it)
-30 For 30 (The ESPN doc series, it's good, you can skip it - but every episode is worth seeing.)
-Glee (The level of acclaim has outstripped the level of quality, but it's worth watching; it's set in the part of Ohio where I went to college and law school; the aforementioned shopping mall at which I pointed at a young LeBron James was in Lima - the Glee kids should hang out at the Kewpee.  Hamburg.  Pickle on top.  Makes my heart go flippity flop.)
-One Tree Hill (Even without Hilarie Burton I'm locked in until the end with OTH; it's both better and worse than you'd think.)
-Raising Hope (It's the new Cloris Leachman sitcom as she tries to glom onto some of that Betty White juice. It barely made the cut; I'm willing to give it 4 episodes).
-Running Wilde (only new show I'm really looking forward to - Will Arnett and Felicity and David Cross! (his show starts in October on either IFC or Sundance, I've forgotten - I'll be watching it)
-Rehab (Rehab is an outdoor swimming pool based club at the Hard Rock in Vegas - this is a largely bad reality show set therein.)
-Parenthood (Got better in its first season, still a bubble show; I couldn't really recommend that you should start watching.  While I'm thinking about it - Friday Night Lights returns to Direct TV in October for its final season; I'll start watching it when its on NBC at the top of 2011.)
-Rachel Zoe (the final episode of the season is this week; this is a marginal show; Rachel and Rodger have no particularly redeeming qualities.)
-Bad Girls Club (I love the Bad Girls Club - it is the Real World turned up to its filthiest level; if it were trashier, you couldn't watch it - if it weren't as trashy, there'd be no reason to watch it.  It's tremendous.)
-Kimmel (all the late night talk shows are strictly guest dependent for me; I'll watch Conan every night probably the first six months of his new show - and the day Letterman announces he is finishing I'll watch all of his shows until he's done.  Kimmel's got the Modern Family cast on Tuesday night.)
-Fallon (I think Amy Poehler's on Fallon Tuesday.)
-Real Sports (It's Gumbel's monthly HBO sports show.  I watch them all.)
-Flipping Out (my favorite Bravo lifestyle show)
-Family Style (a Food network reality show; not particularly good)

-NFL Films Presents (Weekly open NFL mic show)
-Sound FX (Another weekly open NFL mic show)
-Survivor (never not good - still the best reality competition show on television. I'll probably reference this season's conceit during next week's birthday issue of Tendown.)
-Better With You (the most marginal of the shows I'm sampling to start the season - I'm giving it 2 weeks)
-Modern Family (not better than 30 Rock, but certainly one of the five best sitcoms on the air currently)
-Inside the NFL (not really needed now with NFL Network doing such a solid job at highlights, and the quality of analysis has never been good, but it's a bit of an institution)
-Cougar Town (Don't let the name or the misfires from the beginning of last season fool you - Cougar Town's funny - one of the ten best sitcoms on TV.)
-Real World (I prefer the challenges to the actual show at this point, although New Orleans was a rebound season - I'm probably in until they pull the plug.)
-Letterman (I think Tina Fey is on Wednesday and that's why I'm watching - on any random night, it's Ferguson who has the best late night show right now).
-Tosh (I'm lukearm, as I don't enjoy a lot of the qualities that make a video go viral, but Tosh has been a breakout hit over the past six months.)
-Top Chef (always good, it's a foolproof formula - I'm watching the Dessert Show version as the original series ends its most recent season.)
-24 Hr. Restaurant Battle (a good show - the judges don't add anything to the formula).

-My Generation (this looks to me like a fail; if it's still on at Christmas I'd be surprised)
-Community (got stronger over the course of its first season, it's a step below the elite sitcoms, but worth your time)
-Big Bang (I've watched, maybe every other Big Bang in the past couple of years - it is entirely a one person show, there isn't a scene without Jim Parsons that you need to watch.)
-30 Rock (one of the ten best sitcoms in television history)
-NFL Greatest Players (NFL network is counting down its list of the hundred best players ever, I'm doing a similar countdown in this space.)
-Project Runway (Top Chef took the Runway formula and produces a better show - but Runway's worth watching - hey, did you hear the story from Tim Gunn's new book about taking a secret tour of the FBI headquarters when he was 8 years old and seeing Hoover dressed up like Ethel Mertz?)
-Office (The Office is still funny; it's in its decline phase, and the coming loss of Carrell means, my guess is, the beginning of the deathwatch - but its qualitative decline has been overblown.  Parks is a better show, irritatingly, it's not returning until midseason.)
-TNA (A maddening wrestling company - it's a better product than WWE, but almost intentionally not the level of product possible.  If you take all the free weekly wrestling shows and edit it down, you'd have one really good show. I also watch Reaction, the postshow program - which is good.)
-Outsourced (NBC has earned my automatic full season trust for new sitcoms.)
-Sunny in Philadelphia (The FX sitcoms are inconsistent - but the high points are outrageously funny)
-The League (Sunny/League is the FX version of Office/30Rock or Modern Family/Cougar Town, they've been able to find a twin in tone).
-Apprentice (I've never really enjoyed the Apprentice; I don't like Trump, the challenges are dopey, and the contestants are almost universally unappealing - I'd rather watch an Ivanka reality show.)
-Jersey Shore (Not as good as the Bad Girls Club, but the sheer ability of MTV to find the wavelength of the culture is impressive - I assume you could write a few hundred words on the Hills v. Jersey Shore in the context of the state of the economy.  The Situation should be taught in business class as an example of branding - he isn't really positioned by the actual program ahead of the rest of the cast (and this season it was Vinnie who became the male focus of the show) but he's been able to carve a persona with enough penetration that landed him Dancing With the Stars (a show I don't watch, but my hope is he will knock up Bristol Palin.)
-Real Housewives (DC is on now, Atlanta and Beverly Hills begin in two weeks - I watch them all; Bravo's done a good job at developing this franchise; I guess the analogue would be all the different Law and Order versions)
-Watch What Happens (live tv wins for me - this is Andy Cohen's Bravo show - it's still raw enough, small set, drinks flowing - to be a must watch.)
-Superstars (it's the WWE C show for the week, they don't shoot angles or do much comedy so its rarely unwatchable.)
-Infomania (my favorite of the weekly clip shows; not that E cares, but when McHale leaves at season's end, Conor Knighton would make the best option to replace him as Soup host.)

-NFL Studio Show (I don't know what this is, but it starts Friday on ESPN)
-Smackdown (historically, the best of the weekly WWE shows)
-The Soup

Sublist: Every Talk Soup Host Ranked.

1. John Henson
2. Greg Kinnear
3. Joel McHale
4. Aisha Tyler
5. Hal Sparks

-Fashion Police (Joan and Melissa are back on weekly television - the first two episodes have been extra snarky; I don't know why Melissa replaced Guiliana for the second episode, but it could be that Joan calling still underage Mylie Cyrus a prostitute was a bridge too far. 
-Real Time (Maher's worth watching about half of the time.)
-Best Thing I Ever Ate (I watch first run episodes of about a half dozen Food network shows; this is the one my DVR tells me we're recording this week.  We have a good relationship, me and the DVR.  Keepin' it tight in our old age.)

-Lane Kiffin Coaches Show (there used to be a terrific USC highlight show each week; it's gone now, so i watch this.  I've been able to see almost every USC game for the past decade, including each of them so far this season - I'll get the Washington St. game on Fox Pacific Saturday)
-College Gameday (ESPNs pregame show)
-Book TV (there's at least one author I want to watch each week)
-In the House (Peter Guber now owns my basketball team.  It's an upgrade, but it's disconcerting.)
-The Dish (Topanga turned out good - this is a good clip show.)
-SNL (more product than funny, and has been so for two decades, but funny enough to watch more weeks than not).  Sketch comedy is hard. 

There are also movies.  Maybe two a week.  And if I'm not watching anything else, there's a game on in the background. 


That's all for this time - I'll be back next time, if there is a next time...

Your pal,


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