Friday, March 23, 2007

Excedrin headache number 2 a.m.

Paid programming just took a step up on the annoyance scale, just when you thought it wasn't possible.

In dial-flipping last night I went by F/X on my television. I was greeted with a generally static picture of the roman numerals IV, and a clock counting down from six days or so. It also had a Web address:

And here's the good part, every time a second elapsed, a sound effect came on that was like someone using a sledgehammer to pound iron. Boom, boom, boom. It went on for 30 minutes; I could only handle less than a minute of that before running to the medicine cabinet and the remote.

Upon visiting the site, the ad is for the arrival of the trailer of Grand Theft Auto IV, a video game. I didn't know the trailer for a video game warranted such attention, but the last computer game I owned was Super Nintendo.

I don't know if the ad will lead to sell any video games, but it sure will sell some aspirin.

Monday, March 12, 2007

March madness indeed

There's nothing like March Madness for 63 college basketball teams across the country. They get to compete for a national championship in the NCAA tournament. National television audiences follow, alumni are thrilled, and the chance at a memorable upset or a wonderful run (or in the case of George Mason last year, both) await.

Then there are the other two teams that get to participate in the play-in game.

The NCAA used to have a field of 64 teams, which was quite logical and neat. Then another conference became eligible for an automatic qualifier. So what did the NCAA do? No, not drop one of the at-large teams that gets picked on selection Sunday. It takes two of the lowest-ranked teams and has them play off on a Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, for the right to advance to the main tournament.

One of the teams will lose, so their NCAA experience consists of a hurry-up trip to Dayton to play in a game few care about. The other goes to face nearly certain elimination against a top-seeded team, having had little time to rest in the hurry-up week that preceded the game.

The issue has come up a lot lately in Western New York, as Niagara was given the dreaded play-in game on March 11. The Eagles get to go to Dayton on the 13th to face that natural rival, Florida A&M. As we used to say in college, those schools HATE each other.

But it's a bad idea no matter who is playing. Let's say the last at-large team in the field this year was the 18-12 Stanford. Yeah, it's nice for Stanford to get in, but it's not like the Cardinal has any chance of going all the way this month. So Stanford gets an extra game or two, while someone's experience is spoiled. Doesn't seem like a fair trade to me.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A quick note for now...

I was poking around when I saw a thread about a Web site called Sports Media Guide ( So far it contains interviews with several top sports reporters and columnists from around the country.

I have only read a handful of the interviews so far -- gotta check out the people I know or who have met first -- but the questions are really good and so are the answers. For those in the business, or for those who merely like to read those in the business, this is definitely worth your time.

Besides, there may be a subject or six prompted by the remarks that could lead to a column here. And that's always worthwhile.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


There's always a part of me that will be a Buffalo Braves fan. The team started play the year I arrived in Buffalo. I went to several games a year, year after year. My dad always seemed willing to take me down to Memorial Auditorium for a game, no matter how tired he was from work. He gets some serious props for that in hindsight. When I was in college out of town, I went to as many games as I could. One year I think I saw a quarter of the home games -- no small task when living 150 miles away. Gotta love those bargain seats in the end zone.

The Braves were more exciting than they were good. They started out like any expansion team -- poor -- but slowly built up their talent base. Bob McAdoo remains the best shooting big man I've ever seen. Randy Smith got better every year, to the point where he should have retired the NBA's Most Improved Player award. Ernie DiGregorio was always capable of putting the fans out of their seats on a fast break.

The team moved to San Diego in a complicated transaction in 1978, and generally has been forgotten about by everyone who didn't live in Buffalo in the 1970's. Indeed, it's one of the great "What ifs?" in Buffalo sports -- what if the Braves had hung around until Magic and Bird entered the NBA in 1979 and made the league trendy?

Oh well. I'm left with memories. Between that and the Internet, it was easy to come up with a history of the franchise. You can reach it at It's mostly a narrative of the eight seasons, but I've added the covers of the media guides (I don't have the second one -- sorry -- although I'm trying to borrow it) and programs along with the ticket stub from the last home game in history to the site. It was fun to look around the Internet and see what had been posted on the Braves. Who knew Dick Gibbs had substance abuse problems?

Having your favorite team move away will take away the innocence of a sports fan in no time. There are those in Brooklyn who still miss the Dodgers, more than 50 years later. This is a little bit of a substitute.

And with luck, I'll find out who scored the first basket in Braves' history. That fact isn't anywhere.