It could have been worse. And it was scheduled to be.
If you didn't see the maiden voyage of Joe Buck Live on HBO, you probably heard about it. The end-of-show shipwreck Monday has been a hot topic that's been discussed by media critics and amateur comedians everywhere.
Howard Stern's yuck buddy, Artie Lange, made one funny, over-the-top, uncomfortable joke after another at Buck's expense. It was a little like watching one boxer bludgeon another - you kept waiting for the ring doctor to step in and end the fight. Except when the show was over, the program transitioned to an online segment called "Overtime." That turned out to be more of the same - Lange landed one blow after another while Buck mostly covered up. Overtime lasted 7 minutes, 41 seconds.
It was supposed to run at least 15 minutes.
According to HBO spokesman Ray Stallone, "Overtime" was initially budgeted for somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes - depending on how well the conversation was going. Or how poorly.
"Ross Greenburg decided to cut it short," Stallone said, referring to the president of HBO Sports. "Let's be honest, it wasn't our best TV. It was a regrettable interview. We had to make a decision and we decided to end it early. I mean, we probably won't be submitting that segment for any awards."
HBO apparently would prefer that you don't watch it again, either. Directly after the show, the "Overtime," online-only video was on HBO's Web site. And it remained on HBO's Web site at least through yesterday morning. Then it disappeared.
If you go to the Joe Buck Live page on HBO.com, there's a box that says "Overtime," but there's no video. It's been scrubbed clean and replaced by this message: "Check back soon for info on the next Overtime!"
Stallone said it was his understanding that "Overtime" was supposed to be a one-time-only streaming video, and he didn't know it had been removed from the HBO site. It was also taken down by YouTube. If you go there now, you'll find this explanation: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Home Box Office Inc."
It feels like HBO is trying to make the Lange segment - or at least the extra online outtakes - disappear. That's going to be an awfully tough thing to do considering that you can find the transcript by doing a quick Internet search. And our friends at Deadspin - crafty, nonconformists that they are - archived the "Overtime" video. So you'll be able to watch it there (tinyurl.com/joebuckovertime) at least until HBO's lawyers find out.
Besides, why bother trying to wipe away the "Overtime" debacle when the full show, which featured an equally painful exchange with Lange, can be found On Demand?
If you're wondering what HBO expected to happen by asking Lange - a well-known, raw, profane, pushy comedian - to appear on Buck's first-ever episode, you aren't alone. On the Howard Stern Show yesterday, Lange claimed that before going on the air with Buck, Greenburg encouraged him to "go nuts" if the other two guests were boring. And Buck told The Inquirer that after the show, Lange asked Buck, "Was that OK, buddy? Was that what you wanted?"
By most accounts, it sounds as though Lange was trying to deliver what he thought HBO had ordered. So why is HBO trying to return the jokes to sender?
Only 26 major-league baseball players and managers, combined, have four-year college degrees. The Wall Street Journal counted. . . . I don't understand why some people still boo Scott Rolen. When will it be time to just let it go and move on? . . . Former Detroit bad boy and Sixers antagonist Bill Laimbeer said he quit his WNBA job because he wants to coach in the NBA. I really hope it works out. Listening to Charles Barkley talk about Laimbeer on TNT would make for great TV. . . . The World Series of Poker is under way out in Las Vegas. But if you're still trying to win your $10,000 Main Event buy-in via an online satellite, you might have some trouble ahead of you. ABC News reported that the federal government recently froze $30 million in payouts from online poker sites to players. (Washington is the only state that makes it illegal for people to play online poker, but the actual sites are not allowed to operate in the United States and are all registered in other countries.) . . . TheFightins.com has the video of the best non-awkward, Artie Lange-less moment from Joe Buck Live. (Incidentally, I felt bad for Joe Buck, but the joke about his top two Web sites did make me laugh.) During an interview with David Wright at a New York restaurant, a Phillies fan appeared on camera, got the third baseman's attention, and pointed to his ring finger. That's the kind of comedy everyone can enjoy. (Except Mets fans.) . . . According to Bodog.com, the Los Angeles Lakers (9-4), the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-1) and the Boston Celtics (9-2) have the best odds to win next year's NBA championship. The Memphis Grizzlies are the long shot at 150-1. Your Philadelphia 76ers are near the bottom of the pack at 60-1. If anyone wants to put some real cash on the Sixers, Page 2 will bump those odds up to 75-1. That's a bargain. Think it over.