No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rocking It on Idol

So 'Rocker' David Cook beat out 'Cherubic-and-sexually-non-threatening' David Archuleta on American Idol.

Yes, I watch it. I'm not ashamed (okay, I'm only slightly ashamed). And I did think Cook was pretty good. He did reasonably cool alt-rock versions of Lionel Ritchie's Hello, Mariah Carey's Always Be My Baby and Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean. He gave off the teensiest bit of edge - which on Idol made him the official rocker poster-boy.

Now, on the grand scheme of things, Cook is no more a rocker than Taylor Hicks is a soul singer. Rock is dangerous. And Cook just isn't. Because American Idol is about appealing to the masses (and to Coca Cola, lets not forget). In the end, Cook is way closer to Archuleta than to Iggy Pop on the edgy-rock-god scale. But he had some imagination, didn't remind me at all of Clay Aiken and might make some interesting music someday. All in all, not a bad pick.

Now on to So You Think You Can Dance!

The Tuna Does Not Care For Dancing

So, Bill Parcells is a pretty quirky guy. One of the best coaches in the history of football, Parcells is now EVP of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins. As a coach, Parcells led the New York Giants to two Superbowl wins and led the Pats, Jets and Cowboys to the playoffs but not to the big win. Along the way, he gained a reputation as prickly and quixotic. If a player was one of 'his guys' - a hard-working tough guy with little to say - then he could do no wrong. If a player wasn't one of 'his guys'? Well, welcome to the deep freeze.

Seems it's a bit cold in Miami these days. And the target of Parcells' chilly wrath? None other that the single best player to play for the Dolphins in the last decade (if we pretend Zack Thomas doesn't exist) - NFL Man of the Year, 2006 Defensive Player of the Year, current twinkle toes, Jason Taylor.

Seems Taylor, after 11 seasons in the league is starting to think about his future - and he thinks he sees it in Hollywood. Taylor wants to be The Rock (or, failing that, Howie Long). And the first step to that Hollywood career was a stop at Dancing with the Stars, where he finished second to total ringer Kristi Yamaguchi. On the show, Taylor proved himself to be less of a dancer than Emmitt Smith, but better than Jerry Rice. Not so bad over all. He was charming. He was funny. He was desperately trying to appear manly in sequins (though being a 6'6" defensive end doesn't hurt there). All was good in the world.

But not with the Tuna. Seems Taylor didn't clear the dancing stint with his boss. And making the finals meant missing Dolphins voluntary workouts this spring. The Tuna is not pleased. So when Taylor popped into southern Florida for a visit, Parcells gave him the patented freeze-out. Taylor got pissed and now it seems all but certain Taylor will follow Thomas to play for someone else this year.

So Miami finished 1-15 last year and this what they think their big problem is? Taylor is late to class? Not even class - early morning voluntary tutoring! That's their problem? Not the fact that they have to choose a quarterback from amongst a rookie second-rounder, a second-year second-rounder and Josh McCown?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Baseball as it was meant to be played

Finally saw baseball, really, for the first time this week. Don't get me wrong, I've seen lots of Jays games in person, at the concrete monstrosity formerly known as Skydome. But now, for the first time, I've seen professional baseball as it was meant to be seen.

It's all about the ballpark and this week, I saw my first game at Fenway Park.

Walking into it for the first time - green walls, painted wooden seats, lush, real grass and dirt close enough that you can see and smell it - Fenway feels smaller than it is. It feels inviting, comforting, welcoming. Emerging from the tunnels, I honestly felt something akin to awe. I felt I was walking into a cathedral of baseball.

In row 31 of the grandstands, we were closer to the players than even those in the best seats at Rogers Centre. Sitting around the way from the Green Monster, I could see the expressions on player's faces.

Surrounded by a sea of Sox tee and jerseys and hats, I felt what it was like to be part of a baseball game for the first time. The crowd has a palpable energy - good natured and rowdy. They shouted Yooooook for their first baseman at every opportunity, cheered just a little louder than normal for their slumping Big Papi, stood and hooted at every pitch from closer Papelbon, good-naturedly teased the dorky Canadians in their midst. They ate weirdly pink Fenway Franks and caught bags of peanuts from the vendors. Drunkenly sang along with Sweet Caroline. They were at the game.

See, living in Toronto, we've only seen a pale facsimile of a real baseball experience. Cold. Sterile. Quiet. Boring, really. And what really stymies me is how anyone who had ever been to Fenway could have designed a 'ballpark' like Skydome. Guess we deserve what we got.