Posts Tagged ‘Green Bay Packers’

Manufactured Mania

February 6, 2014

Sunday February 2nd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I have wanted to see a Super Bowl in person since I was a kid, and I still do. My reasons are no longer the same, but if I ever get the chance I’ll definitely go. I used to want to go only to see my beloved Green Bay Packers win the ultimate prize, but now I’d like to observe all the marketing.

It would be great if the Packers happened to be in it, but it’s not necessary. I want to experience the manufactured mania for myself, and see what I can learn. That’s the biggest single event that I can think of, at least in the United States. I’m sure the World Cup and Olympics are also giants, but they’re both spread over time and space. The Super Bowl is a one day shot for a single city.

There are events the whole week, but the main event is the game. I’d like to see how the people in charge run everything, and I’m sure it’s much more complicated since 9/11. As a rule I usually don’t like big crowds, but for that I’d make an exception. That’s an experience I’d like to have.

I went to see the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and I’m still glad I did. I was already working in Nashville anyway, so it wasn’t that far of a drive. I bought a ticket from a scalper to see the track and field events, and it was worth every penny. I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but it was significant. I think it was maybe $200 as I recall, but the experience I got is with me today.

The $200 would have been long spent on something forgettable like rent or car repairs, so I am glad I made the investment. I had the opportunity to go to a World Series game in Milwaukee in 1982, and I passed it up. The ticket would have cost $50, and I wasn’t about to pay it at the time. I assumed I would have plenty more chances to see my hometown Brewers in the World Series.

Right. And what did I do with that $50? Nothing I can remember, and certainly nothing that is close to experiencing a World Series game in person. Life is to be lived, and I completely wasted that particular opportunity. Should it come up again, I’ll choose more wisely. Who says it will?

I suppose I could go to the World Series any year if I wanted, but I don’t really want to unless it’s to see a team I happen to like a lot. Maybe if I’m in a town that happens to be hosting a game and I get a chance to go, I’ll do it. But it’s only one game. A Super Bowl is THE main attraction.

I really wanted to go a couple of years ago when the Packers were playing the Steelers down in Dallas. It was a brand new stadium, and there were tickets available. The weather was especially nasty and I didn’t have a plane ticket, so I decided not to go. Was it a correct choice? We’ll see.

This wasn’t the year, as I had no interest whatsoever in sitting outside in New York. I can have all the ugly weather I want right out my front door, I don’t have to pay big money for it. I’ll wait until it’s in a warm weather location, and go from there. Hopefully I can rustle up a free ticket or better find a way to get paid to be there. Whatever the case, I’d love to see one before I cash out.

Spectacle and showmanship are extra difficult to pull off effectively because there are all kinds of elements that need to come together at once – not the least important of which is the throng of people required to make anything that big that big. Dress rehearsals are fine, but when the curtain is raised for real there’s no turning back. I’d love to have an opportunity to be part of that energy.

I have wanted to see a Super Bowl live since I was a kid.

I have wanted to see a Super Bowl live since I was a kid. I still do.

In a perfect world, the Green Bay Packers would win by several touchdowns.

In a perfect world, the Green Bay Packers would win by several touchdowns.

The halftime show would be George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic.

The halftime show would be George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic.

Since I'm dreaming already, she'll be my date.

Since I’m dreaming already, she’ll be my date.

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Passing On Football

January 8, 2014

Sunday January 5th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I’m still floored by the news of my roommate’s health, but unfortunately I have to keep living my own life. Not to be selfish, but this throws a complete change of plans into everything, and I am still fuzzy on what I’ll need to do. According to what I’m hearing from Sheri’s friend Debra, Sheri is going to be in the hospital for at least a couple of weeks. That’s never a pleasant thought.

I don’t know about strokes or what to expect, but I do know that football player Teddy Bruschi suffered a major one but is back working as a TV analyst and appears to have made a comeback. Pro wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart also had one, and he has since wrestled again. I hope those are positive signs for Sheri, and she will be able to get most if not all of her quality of life back.

This just stinks so badly on so many levels. Not that I would wish something as horrific as this on anybody, but especially not Sheri. She is as harmless and sweet as anyone I know, and would not harm a flea. She’s a dented can herself, and all she wanted was to have fun. Is that so bad?

The house was eerily silent all day, as nobody was in it but me. Sheri had another room rented to a woman named Tracy, but she just moved out before the end of December. Actually, Sheri let her live rent free because she’d just survived breast cancer surgery and needed a place to recover.

That’s the kind of person Sheri is, and that’s why I’m so saddened by this sour turn of events. I just don’t understand how these things happen to good people, while unscrupulous weasels seem to slide through life problem free. It doesn’t add up, and if there’s a lesson to be learned I for one am failing to see it. It leaves a very sour taste in my mouth, and I’m trying hard to stay positive.

I shut everything else out of my mind and went to work all day. I was invited to several parties to watch my beloved Green Bay Packers playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, but I was not in a mood to watch football – even the Packers. I didn’t need the stress of three hours with a possibility of them losing at the last second – which they eventually did. I’m glad I didn’t see it.

Even if they had won, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it much today. My heart wasn’t in it, and my mind was thinking off much deeper things. I normally love football, but today it seemed boring, trivial and far far away. I was thinking of more spiritual things, and that’s what matters.

How can I give more of myself as a human being, and really make a difference in somebody’s life or lives? That’s all that has any meaning whatsoever, and all I aspire to for as long as I am on this cosmic plane. It may sound corny or sappy, but why would I lie? Football doesn’t come close to scratching this itch, and never will. It’s a fun diversion on occasion, but not where real life is.

What Sheri is going through in that hospital has to be sheer torture. Depending on how clearly she is able to think, it has to be scary beyond words to think of what she may have to face. I can remember when I had my own hospital scare and thought I was going to lose my genitals. That’s a hilarious comedy bit, but it wasn’t funny to think there was a chance of it actually happening.

What can I do to serve my fellow humankind more? I see more than ever how important it is to bring laughter and smiles to as many people as possible. People like Sheri could really use it.

Normally I'd have to watch a playoff game when my beloved Green Bay Packers were playing. Today I didn't, and I didn't miss it. There are a lot deeper things in life than football. Really.

Normally I’d have to watch a playoff game when my beloved Green Bay Packers were playing. Today I didn’t, and I didn’t miss it. There are far deeper things in life than football. Really.

Just A Beer

December 18, 2013

Sunday December 15th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI

I have a friend I have known for probably thirty years who is unfortunately an alcoholic. He’s a nice person and we get along well, but after all these years he’s still drinking. He’s tried to give it up countless times, but he always goes back. It will probably end up killing him, and he knows it.

On one of his attempts to dry out years ago, he made a point to let everyone know how he was bound and determined to quit once and for all, and it was the most gung ho the rest of his friends and I had ever seen him. We all hoped he would be able to turn his life around and quit boozing.

About a month later I saw him at a restaurant with a beer. I couldn’t help seeing it in his hand, and he saw the puzzled look on my face and tried to explain himself. “Oh THIS? It’s just a beer. Those don’t count.” I didn’t say another word, and he has since slid back into his old lifestyle.

It’s not up to me to judge him or anyone else, but from where I sit I don’t see him ever making a permanent change. He might stop and start and pretend as if he is going to give it up once and for all, but he always goes back. He may be able to fool a few people, but never really himself.

That’s how I feel about my addiction to the Green Bay Packers. I go weeks without watching a game, but then I get an invitation to a friend’s house and I’m right back where I don’t want to be. It kills me when they lose, and despite all my attempts to not care I can’t help it. They’ve got me.

Everyone has left them for dead this year, and I see why. They have had devastating injuries to several key players including star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and they have been humiliated by several teams they likely would have ground into soup meat had they been playing at full roster.

My friend Mark Gumbinger lives in Kenosha, WI and has one of the best man caves anywhere. He’s got a basement that has a huge screen TV with Surround Sound, and there’s a fridge packed with food and drinks behind the bar. There’s a bathroom within 20 feet, and he’s a fabulous host.

That’s about as good as it gets for football watching, and he always sends out invitations for all his friends to show up whenever there’s any kind of sporting event going on. It really is a blast to hang out there, and I often go just for the company. I’ve grown to know and like the main core of guys that tend to show up, and it’s laid back and relaxed. Any guy would feel like he fits right in.

I spent the night in Milwaukee after two performances of “Schlitz Happened!”, and had to pass right by Mark’s house on my way home so I decided to stop and say hello. It was a late game and I ended up getting there right on time. They were playing Dallas in Dallas, and that’s a team they have traditionally had trouble beating. I didn’t hold out much hope, nor did the rest of the guys.

The first half was beyond our worst nightmare as the Packers got smoked like a picnic ham. It killed us to watch, but we’re all hooked so we sat there like idiots and stewed. I intended to leave at halftime, but we started talking and before we knew it the second half was starting so I stayed.

It was like two different games as the Pack came out like gangbusters and took it to the Cowboys from the start. They ended up winning by one point, and it was one of the most exciting halves of football any of us could recall. Just when I thought I was out…I’m IN. It’s “just a beer”. Right.

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and Darth Owner lose in humiliating fashion it's a good day - but it's especially sweet when it's the Green Bay Packers. This is a game for the ages.

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and “Darth Owner” lose in humiliating fashion it’s a good day – but it’s especially sweet when it’s courtesy of the Green Bay Packers. This was a comeback for the ages.

Dez Bryant is another smug punk I couldn't enjoy seeing it get stuck in his face any more. He walked off the field early - good riddance.

Dez Bryant is another smug punk I couldn’t enjoy seeing get it stuck in his face any more. He slithered off the field early like a crybaby. Good riddance!

First it was "The Ice Bowl" in Green Bay. This was "The Ass Bowl" with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. What a comeback! It was one for the ages.

First it was “The Ice Bowl” in Green Bay. This was “The Ass Bowl” with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. The villains get foiled, what a happy ending.

Packer Pathos

November 30, 2013

Friday November 29th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

The Green Bay Packers are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory, and I find it to be a fascinating case study in human behavior whether someone is a football fan or not. They are completely unraveling as the season goes on, and have slid from heroes to bums in a few weeks.

It all started when their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a fractured clavicle on November 4th in a game against the archrival Chicago Bears. It didn’t appear to be that violent of a hit, and fans weren’t in a panic assuming the usually durable Rodgers would bounce right back.

Then in the next game against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 10th, backup quarterback Seneca Wallace went down in the first quarter with a groin injury. Again, it didn’t look to be that bad but he too was out of commission. That brought in Scott Tolzien, a third stringer that played in college at Wisconsin so a lot of Packer fans were familiar with him. He performed admirably.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to win either of the two games he started, and the spoiled fans of the Packers who have been one of the elite teams in the NFL since the early ‘90s were starting to grumble from within. An entire generation of fans has grown up assuming the Pack would win.

Last week they blew a golden opportunity to beat their most bitter rival of the last twenty years the Minnesota Vikings. They are having a horrific year themselves, but no Packer fan alive feels the slightest bit of sympathy for them. They’ve also had a great run, and when I was a kid they’d traditionally thump the Pack twice a year. Any day the Packers beat the Viqueens is a great day.

Too bad it wasn’t this particular day, as the best they could muster was a tie. They had a shot to win it in overtime, but they weren’t able to pound it into the end zone from a few yards out to get the win. Fans had grown accustomed to them being automatic in those situations in recent years.

Well, this isn’t recent years, and hope is fading like the paint job on a Yugo. Yesterday was the biggest all out ass kicking they’ve gotten in decades, and it looked like they’ve completely given up in every aspect of their game. The offense, defense and special teams played like Girl Scouts.

I have been a loyal (read: stupid) Packer fan my entire life and I have to say I am not pleased to see how this year has unfolded, but on a personal level I can totally relate. I wish I couldn’t, but I absolutely do. It’s very similar to my life, and I find it fascinating to watch how it’s playing out.

Unforeseen circumstances have been the cause of the downfall, mostly devastating injuries that have wiped out their best players. It has been uncanny how many important players were lost this year, but that’s the luck of the draw. It wasn’t planned on, but now they have to suck it up and try to salvage the season with what they have left. It’s not pleasant, but nobody has a choice. It’s life in the NFL, and life in general. The fans are growing restless, and the coaches are on the hot seat.

Three years ago the same coaches won the Super Bowl and were considered geniuses. That’s a long time ago in football, and now they’re bums. I find this interesting, and it’s a character test to make due every week with depleted resources. This is exactly how my life has been since I was a kid, so I’m finding an even deeper kinship with the team this year. They’re living my existence.

It's been a rough year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers - but at least they're getting paid. We fans are getting screwed for free.

It’s been a rough year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers – but at least they’re getting paid. We fans are getting screwed for free.

Scott Tolzien Syndrome

November 12, 2013

Sunday November 10th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

The Green Bay Packers are living my life. They are being bombarded by one unexpected crisis after the next, and it’s all coming at once and totally out of the blue. That’s been pretty much the blueprint of my entire life, and I’ve gotten used to it by now. It’s fun to see someone else squirm.

What’s even more fun is to watch the fan base panic. Aaron Rodgers has been very durable as a star quarterback, but he suffered an injury last week and now he’s out for at least a few weeks. They were shaky at best in the backup position with Seneca Wallace, but Coach Mike McCarthy gave him his full vote of confidence last week. The team spent all week trying to band together.

Then wouldn’t you know it, Seneca Wallace goes down in the first quarter with a groin injury, and a hush fell over Lambeau Field as former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien took the field. He’d only been activated from the practice squad the week before, and was a last resort.

Lo and behold, he came in and did a spectacular job under the circumstances. He looked like a seasoned pro, and totally belonged out there. He made a couple of mistakes, but nothing to incite mass panic either with the coaching staff or the beer swilling masses who think they’re coaches.

That was no easy feat, but Scott Tolzien went in there and got it done when everything was out of control. He exceeded everyone’s expectations, and when he got his chance he was prepared to deliver. That’s very impressive, and even though the Packers lost the game it doesn’t bother me.

Life has a way of throwing curveballs, and sometimes things get hairy very quickly. I know it’s not just me, but I’ve felt like I’m the third string quarterback for most of my own life. I’ve done my best to hang in there the best I could, but there is never any sympathy from one’s opponents.

No team is going to take it easy on the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is out. In fact, they will go out of their way to make life as miserable as possible for Scott Tolzien just like they did when Seneca Wallace was in that spot. The rules of the jungle are unforgiving, and I am living proof.

I was born into a crisis situation, and had to resort to Plan B from the start. My mother took off when I was five months old, and I was sent to live with my paternal grandparents. Their plan was to find an orphanage to send me to, but they decided to raise me themselves because they were at each other’s throats and they thought it would keep their marriage together. I was their project.

Their marriage eventually ended anyway when I was twelve, and Gramps died when I was 18. Grandma had kicked me out of the house when I was 17, and I have been on my own ever since trying as hard as I can to piece together whatever a ‘normal’ life might be. I’m still wondering.

I’m not looking for sympathy, and never did. All I’ve ever wanted is a chance to pave my own way in the world and get ahead on my own merits. I’ve sincerely tried with all my might to be a quality person despite what poker hand I may have been dealt, and I haven’t always succeeded.

Warts and all, my life has been what it has. Much like the Packers, it wasn’t what was planned on but there was no choice on my part. Scott Tolzien is a man after my own heart. I can relate.

Scott Tolzien stepped onto a mine field, and left with both of his legs. Kudos to his achievement.

Scott Tolzien stepped onto a mine field, and left with both of his legs. Kudos to his achievement.

Art Appreciation

October 30, 2013

Sunday October 27th, 2013 – Springfield, IL/Madison, WI

I took a detour home from Springfield, IL today and drove up to Madison, WI to hang out with my friend Art Hinty. Art is a seasoned sportswriter by trade, and has an extremely creative mind. He has done standup comedy for years, and was part of Doug Stanhope’s inner circle for a while.

Like me, Art is originally from Milwaukee. He moved to the suburb of Sussex as a kid, but it’s not all that far from the city so he is very familiar with all things local. He totally gets where I am trying to go with my “Schlitz Happened!” show, and I wanted to pick his brain for my next run.

He’s already been very helpful with input, and I give him total credit. He’s the one that thought of the tag line “An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” after I told him what my title was. He’s the perfect sounding board to bounce ideas off of, because he gets both comedy and local flavor.

Art came out to see the show when I was at Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino last April, and took the time to write out a detailed three page critique and make suggestions of how I could grow it into a local hit. He was dead on with his observations, and I appreciate his interest.

I never thought I was smart enough to pull this project off by myself. I knew going in I’d need plenty of help and support, and I’ve gotten it from a lot of talented people. Vicki Quade of “Late Night Catechism” and many other successful plays has been very supportive, and she drove up in April from Chicago to not only see the show but bring a friend with clout who could help sell it.

Bob Rech and the entire staff at Northern Lights Theatre have been unbelievably supportive, as has Joe San Felippo from Bonkerz Comedy Clubs. He books the comedy shows in the theatre on Saturday nights, and gave me the thumbs up for the trial run in April. I’m grateful to everybody.

I’m going to need a lot more help and support, but I feel supremely confident that it will come. I have another run set to go in December, and I’m gearing up to make major improvements. I am still in the very beginning stages, and smart decisions need to be made as the show gets rolling.

Eventually I want to have local corporate sponsorship and a line of merchandise to sell, but for now I need to keep fleshing out the show and making it solid. I experimented a lot in April, and I also learned a lot. The audiences were there, and they got what I was talking about. That’s great, but now I need to take it to the next level and craft an actual set show that I can polish for years.

Art is the perfect choice to consult for this, and I bought him dinner at Longhorn Steak House as appreciation not only for his time and ideas, but for a really nice thing he did for me years ago when I was going to do my appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS TV. He passed the hat and asked local comedians to donate for my trip to LA. What a sweet gesture.

Getting money out of comedians for anything is nothing short of miraculous, and I never forgot how kind it was for him to do that. Art is a wonderful and talented person, and that alone made it worth my trip to thank him for doing that. As an added bonus, we watched the Packers stomp the purple out of the nefarious Minnesota Vikings and that was the perfect way to end the day. Steak and football can never go wrong, nor can comedy and friendship. http://www.schlitzhappened.com.

Art Hinty - sports writer, comedian, creative sounding board

Art Hinty – sports writer, comedian and creative sounding board

Football Fasting

October 8, 2013

Sunday October 6th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I love football. I love the action, excitement and drama of a well played game and I’ve loved it since I was a little boy. I loved playing it then, and even after I stopped it has remained an annual staple in my autumn schedule. I especially love the NFL and the Green Bay Packers in particular.

I have written in detail of my inability to stop being a Packer fan, and at this point I consider it a hopeless addiction. It should make no difference whatsoever to me – or anyone else that doesn’t actually play or coach for them – if they win or lose five minutes after a game, but it totally does.

I’ve resigned myself long ago to the embarrassing fact that I will always care somewhere in the deepest part of my existence whether the Packers win or lose even though I know it carries a zero effect or less on how my life turns out. Even though I know it means nothing, I know it still does.

Instead of seeking the years of intense therapy I probably should for this deep rooted condition, I have chosen instead to take a different route and wean myself off of watching games whenever possible. It was damn near impossible at first, but now I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding them.

One thing that helps tremendously is that I live in a place where they aren’t the prominent team on television. They weren’t on this week, so I would have had to drive to Wisconsin to watch the game which I didn’t feel like doing. I did drive to a flea market and walked around all afternoon.

I mainly did it for the exercise, and it felt good to take a brisk walk on a fall day. A few people did have radios playing both the Packers and Bears games, so I caught up with the scores of both whether I wanted to hear them or not. I didn’t mind in small doses, but I didn’t want to waste the afternoon in front of the TV riding that emotional roller coaster one more time. I don’t need that.

What doesn’t help is that I’m in not one but two fantasy football leagues. I should keep a closer grip of what’s happening, but my friend Jim McHugh is my co-owner in both and he does a more thorough job of combing the waiver wires than I ever could. He’s the perfect man for that job.

I am not saying I won’t ever jump back in with both feet, but for the immediate future I choose to participate in what I’m calling a “football fast” and use at least the three hours that the Packers play to do something much more productive. I will hear the final score soon enough, but nothing of my personal doing will have had a thing to do with it. Whether I watch or not doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I get at least one of my own flailing projects off the ground. The NFL isn’t going to miss one lone nut that chooses to do something else for a while, but I will cease to exist if I don’t figure out a way to get some legitimate steady income flowing in my direction. A three hour chunk of time to work on that comes in handy right now, and I don’t want to waste it.

I didn’t spend all three hours walking through the flea market, but it didn’t take long to realize I’m not going to haul in much money there. My idea of being a picker of collectibles and turning a profit has been a lot less consistent than I imagined. It’s too high of a time outlay for too tiny of a return, but at least I can do it on my own schedule. The smart thing to do is keep working on all my ideas like The King of Uranus, “Schlitz Happened!” and the rest. Football can wait a while.

The NFL is a drug - with 32 varieties.

The NFL is a drug – with 32 varieties.

My personal drug of choice since age 8. Is there a 12 step program for NFL addicts?

My personal drug of choice since age 8. Is there a 12 step program for NFL addicts?

Punting The Packers

September 17, 2013

Sunday September 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Sorry, O mighty Green Bay Packers. As much as I’d like to give you three hours of my Sunday afternoons five months a year, I’m choosing to cut you loose. I’ll still cheer for you and care a lot more than you do if you win or lose, but I’ve got other things to do than piss away valuable time.

I didn’t get to watch the game last week, but losing to San Francisco just like they did last year was all I needed to hear. When I heard they had lost, I was delighted I didn’t invest all afternoon watching. Does that make me a fair weather fan? Too bad. My life is hard enough without that.

As a productive alternative, I chose instead to use my afternoon to get some work done for me for a change. I’m always running around doing something for someone else, and fail to attend to my own needs. That’s why I tend to be so painfully behind in so many areas. I need time for me.

Today I spent those three hours I would have been watching the Packers play posting a master list of articles I wrote about starting out in standup comedy on Facebook groups of local comics all over America. I’d been meaning to get to it for a while now, and today I finally got it done.

The articles are posted at http://www.maxwellmethodcomedy.wordpress.com. They are designed for the beginner in their first year or two of the comedy journey, and I put a lot of effort into writing them these last few months. For those who choose to read them, they can provide valuable help.

I’m not charging one penny for the articles, and I’m sure some will think they’re worth exactly that or less. That’s to be expected, but smart eyes will read them and immediately know that I’ve been through the wars and can offer insight that’s relevant and spot on to someone starting today.

It took a while to get it all done, but by the end of the day I’d posted articles on about twenty or so Facebook comedian group pages all over the United States and Canada. I introduced myself to the group and explained that I’m a veteran comic with decades of hands on experience that didn’t receive much help when I started out so I’m offering it to others because I think it’s good karma.

That’s exactly why I do it, even though most veteran comedians think I’m a complete imbecile for giving away so much information without charging for it. I think it’s smart business, as it will get passed around a lot more than if I sold it and in the long run it helps make the business better.

Hopefully, it will help make opening acts better a lot faster so when they work with headliners the whole show will be better. That’s the goal, and it felt great to send out those articles and have all kinds of newbies write back and say thanks. I would have killed for this when I was starting.

I’ll keep cranking these articles out, and hope I develop a following of up and coming aspiring comedy writers and performers for years to come. I want to be an inspiration to people after I’m dead, and today was a nice way to start. I made a lot of headway, and got my name out to many.

The Packers ended up stomping the Washington Redskins 38-20, but I’m fine with missing all of it. My friend Mark Gumbinger has a man cave in Kenosha and invited me over as usual, but it takes 45 minutes to get there and back, not counting the game. I can’t spare that time right now.

Sports Munsters

June 14, 2013

Thursday June 13th, 2013 – Geneva, IL

   I attended a Kane County Cougars baseball game tonight with my friend Mark Fenske. Mark is a fellow comedian, and like a lot of comedians he’s a huge sports fan. There’s usually no middle ground with comedians when it comes to being a sports fan. Either we’re rabid or not interested.

   I have been consumed by sports since early childhood, but nobody in my family other than my grandfather followed it even casually. Gramps liked sports, but he didn’t live and die with it like I did other than with his beloved Green Bay Packers. The other sports weren’t on that same level.

   My father, uncle, grandmother and siblings all couldn’t stand sports and would laugh at me for the way I’d follow my teams so closely. My step mother thought it was funny to taunt me when a team I followed lost, and that was another reason I couldn’t stand her on top of the ones I’d had.

   It was a lonely existence growing up the only sports fan in a family of ‘Sports Munsters’ but as I grew up I met a lot of friends who were into it as much as I was. There’s a bond between sports fans, as we’ve all gone through the same emotions with our teams. There’s also an entire field of knowledge we share that takes a lifetime to acquire that can’t be faked. One knows it or doesn’t.

   It becomes especially personal when we happen to have played any particular sport in question. I wanted to play any sport I could, but was always discouraged by my grandparents because they thought I would get hurt. I don’t think it was so much about me, but the affect on their insurance.

   I wanted to be a baseball pitcher more than living life itself. It was all I trained for as a kid, and being left handed was finally an advantage. I still picture my grandmother and stepmother saying to me one day “You don’t think you can be a baseball player and make a real LIVING, do you?”

   Golly jeepers, NO! What was I thinking? A left handed pitcher would never be in any demand in baseball. Why don’t I just mop floors like the rest of the monkeys who live in our family tree? I couldn’t squeak by on several million dollars a year. I’ll be a total loser like the rest of our clan.

   I never listened to the deluded wisdom of the family, but Gramps was already gone so I had no encouragement in my corner. I played in city leagues in Milwaukee, and eventually had a tryout with the Kansas City Royals. They came to all the Major League cities looking for talent and my coach at the time suggested I give it a shot so I did. It was in Milwaukee, not far from my home.

   I got a second look from the scouting crew, but I didn’t get signed. They told me I could come try out again at one of their other camps in the state, but by that time I was 18 and on my own. It would have been impossible to make it to the camp because I had a job. It wasn’t in the cards.

   Not long after that, I got started on the comedy trail. I wish the rest were history. It’s personal history, but that’s about it. Nobody else cares, and that’s fine. Everyone has broken dreams, but the only time anyone else wants to hear about them is when another comes true. Then it’s legend.

   Mark Fenske talked about how his father never supported him either. He wanted to be an actor, and actually had some success in LA in the 70s. He was on Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley and he said his dad told everyone about it then – but never supported him getting there. That’s so typical of an entertainer and we talked about it as we watched the game. How many of those kids will make the big leagues? Not many. Years from now they’ll look at this as their life’s pinnacle.

Catching A Draft

April 26, 2013

Thursday April 25th, 2013 – Niles, IL

   What is it about the National Football League that has addictive powers? It’s frightening, but if I could figure out that secret ingredient I’d use it myself and get rich. Something about that sport has turned hundreds of millions of Americans into brain dead zombies who are hooked for life.

   Unfortunately, I find myself in that category and no matter how hard I fight it I seem to always come back – and I’m sure that’s exactly how they want it. I am a lifer, and my drug of choice has always been the Green Bay Packers. There are 31 other flavors available, but that one is mine.

   Once again as I have for too many years to count, I purposely blocked out my evening to watch ESPN TV coverage of the entire first round of the NFL draft. I’ve done it as long as I can recall it being televised, and I have to say ashamedly that I really enjoy it. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

   Talk about your quintessential non event being overhyped, pumped full of hot air and force fed to a shallow stupid public – this is absolutely it. It’s such a brilliantly slick marketing job I wish I would have thought of it. Part of me is embarrassed I like it so much, and another part is jealous.

   The modern day King of Ballyhoo Vince McMahon himself couldn’t have pulled an event like this out of thin air, and I’m sure he’s probably jealous too. The NFL really put one over on all of us, and we’re thanking them for doing it by showing up in droves to watch it like a Super Bowl.

   My friend Marc Schultz is as hopelessly hooked as I am, and he invited me over to watch it at his house. It’s become an annual tradition that his wife Audrey cooks us steaks and we sit around in front of the TV from opening pick to the very end. It’s a total geek fest, but we both live for it.

   Marc is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, and even that doesn’t stop me from going there each and every year. We actually have intelligent conversations about what each team needs, and we try to predict who each one will take. We’ve never been right yet, but it’s still fun and we will probably keep doing it as long as they keep televising it – but why would it stop? Halfwits like us watch it.

   All the whole overblown thing boils down to is just a glorified version of picking sides as kids, but there’s something about it that attracts millions of mooks across America that should have all kinds of better things to do. I can’t tell you for the life of me who represents me in Congress, but I do know in what spot my Packers were drafting (26) and that’s embarrassing. I am SO hooked.

  The NFL knows this, so they’ve stretched the whole thing out over three days. Now it’s a whole weekend I have to set aside – and stupid me I probably will. I tell myself I’ll just put it on to find out who the Packers get in the later rounds, but who am I kidding? As always, I’ll end up getting sucked in once more by Mel Kiper Jr.’s hypnotic hyperbole and before I’ll know it it’s Monday.

   There were actual games going on in both baseball and basketball tonight, but I didn’t pay any attention to any of it. Why would I want to watch actual GAMES – some of them playoff games – when I can eat steak with a friend and watch as pampered oafs get chosen to rake in zillions?

   There’s just something not right about any of it, but I can’t deny I had a total blast from as soon as I walked in the door to the minute I left after the last pick of the first round. The food was very good, and the company was better. Marc and I watched every single pick and it was a pleasure to do it. Not one down of football was played, but the NFL still made money. THAT’S marketing!