This message from Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson about a pre-Rose Bowl media event at Disneyland arrived recently in my electronic mailbox:
"Following the ceremony at Sleeping Beauty's Castle, there will be a brief period of media interviews in front of the Castle with Coach Paterno."
"Geez, Nelson, where the heck are we? Barry Switzer's house?"
"No, we're at Disneyland, Coach."
"Disneyland. It's a famous amusement park."
"Disneyland. Schmiznyland. What do I know from amusement parks? Back in Brooklyn we had Coney Island. My father, who was a Democrat, would take me and George and the Bisconti twins there on Sundays when we should have been at Mass. Did I tell you Vince Lombardi lived a block away? Kids today don't read The Aenid. What the heck is that goofy-looking thing with the big ears?"
"That's Goofy, Coach."
"That's what I said. Rip and I recruited a lineman out of Shamokin in '52. He had big ears too. What was his name, Nelson?"
"Don't know, Coach."
"You know when I got to State College, it was a hick town. There was no place to get a good plate of spaghetti. Where you takin' me now, Nelson?"
"We've got to meet the writers over at the Casey Jr. Circus Train."
"Casey Jr.? I think I played with his old man at Brooklyn Prep. Big, strong Irish tailback. Did I tell you we ran the shotgun there back in '43?"
"Aww geez, look at all those writers. Get me out of here, Nelson. I've got work to do. USC - or is it UCS? I don't even know - is an outstanding football team. Maybe one of the two or three best in the history of the game. I know the guys are tired of hearing me say this, but if we don't work hard in practice this week, we're going to get licked. Where's the film room?"
"They don't have one here, Coach. This is an amusement park not a practice facility."
"Is there a weight room? When I was at Brown we had one set of dumbbells. I was the quarterback and my brother George was the fullback. Did I ever tell you we'd have licked Dartmouth if that referee, who was from Brooklyn too, hadn't fouled up that call on the onside kick?"
"Nelson, what are all these little people doing running around? Get 'em out of here. We've got work to do."
"Those are children, Coach. They paid to get in."
"Children? You mean like Pete Carroll? I think my wife and I had children. She's German. Well, they better get some meat on their bones, or they're going to get licked every Saturday. Did I ever tell you my father wanted me to be a lawyer?"
"Where's the rest of our team, Nelson?"
"Don't know, Coach. Last I saw they were in George Jetson's Astro Bar brawling among themselves."
Seen the people lining up to purchase Phillies memorabilia this holiday season? Ninety percent appear to be what I call Phaux Phillies Phans. They're easy to spot. They're the ones who . . .
. . . whenever a game is on Fox or ESPN, complain that the announcers are biased in favor of the other team.
. . . believe all umpires are out to get the Phils.
. . . wear replica jerseys of players who are young enough to be their own children. C'mon guys, you're adults, not 6-year-olds.
. . . can't watch an entire game until it's Sept. 15 and the team is fighting for a playoff spot.
. . . prefer 15-1 routs to 2-1 nail-biters.
. . . know Randy Jackson but not Randy Johnson.
. . . buy expensive seats, then spend at least six innings on Ashburn Alley.
NFL pregame shows. Big guys in mobster suits yucking it up. What a concept.
2. The Citizens Bank scoreboard. This digital distraction provides noisy commercials, silly gimmicks, meaningless facts, but only rarely the score.
3. Pro-team cheerleaders. The concept of choreographed cheering went out with Amos Alonzo Stagg. They sell sex, not team spirit. If we can't get rid of them, let's at least call them what they are, leer-leaders.
4. The heaven-point. Why do Jimmy Rollins and all those other athletes point to the sky after doing something they're expected to do on a regular basis? Are they testing the barometric pressure? Or acknowledging that the only way they're capable of succeeding is through divine intervention?
5. Versus. Watching hockey is bad enough. Watching hockey on Versus is like being water-boarded.
Forty-four thousand Eagles fans were injured this week attempting to leap back onto the bandwagon. Police used riot guns and Coors Light to quell the stampede.