The Count is vacationing this week. Too bad. He could have given us all a lesson on the number one. According to The Count’s favorite source, legend, the number one sign dates back to the ancient Romans, where it was commonly referred to as digitus impudicus, or, get your hands off my wife’s toga or I’m going to kickus-your-butticus. Much later, at least three or four weeks, digitus impudicus came to be known as, “flipping the bird.” When I asked Big Bird if this dates back to one of his ancestors, as I was told, he waved hello. At least, I think he waved hello. Can you tell? We count down . . .
In full disclosure, let me start by saying I don’t like Bud Adams. I don’t like any sports owner who tries to hold up his city for a new stadium and then moves the team when he doesn’t get his way. Adams took the Titans (Oilers) out of Houston in 1997 and moved them to Tennessee. But I guess after giving an entire city the finger, he still had a double-barrel salute left in him. Dude must’ve been mixing Viagra and Metamucil again. Have you seen this video? If not, it’s from the end of the Titans’ 41-17 win over Buffalo Sunday in Nashville. The old bitter man flipped a double bird toward the Buffalo sideline. What a dumble-dork. Commissioner Roger Goodell was at the game. Actually, he left before Adams’ performance from the owner’s box but the Middle Finger Police must have brought him up to speed. The NFL fined Adams $250,000. I’m impressed. I thought you could only get fined that much if you dared to get mad at DeAngelo Hall.
All these fingers. Nobody talks anymore. Do these kids today text the finger? Does the I-Phone have an ap for that? This finger thing actually has been around for a while. I wonder what Goodell would’ve fined Nelson Rockefeller. The late really, really rich guy and Vice President of the common people (kidding) once gave the finger to hecklers during a campaign stop in 1976. Seems they didn’t like his stance on Vietnam. And he just thought they were from Buffalo.
Certainly, the middle digit has a rich in sports. Do you own a 1972 Topps baseball card of Billy Martin (then as a Detroit Tigers manager). If so, you’ll find an extended digit from his left hand (and, no, it’s not an accident). Garry
Templeton and Albert Belle are among those who’ve flipped off baseball fans. Jake Plummer flipped off football fans in Denver. Allen Iverson flipped off basketball fans in Milwaukee. Of course, Falcons fans fondly remember Michael Vick’s salute to them a few years ago. Vick should feel happy in retrospect. He was fined only $10,000 — $240,000 less than Adams. Question: Why is it less when you do it to your own team?
If only because it took place in New York, one story in obscene gesture sports history stands out. “Black” Jack McDowell was that rare combination of pitcher, rock and roll junkie and psychotic. When he was pitching for the Yankees in 1995, McDowell was pounded one game by the Chicago White Sox. He was booed by Yankees fans as he walked off the mound, and he responded in kind with a finger (on his pitching hand). The tabloids buried him, and he was dubbed, “The Yankee Flipper.” Here’s the back story: Turns out that McDowell had gone out on an all-night bender with Mike Mills and Scott McCaughey of R.E.M. and Dennis Diken of the Smithereens. McDowell was so drunk he passed out on his bathroom floor. How do we know this? Because McCaughey wrote a song about it for the “Baseball Project,” with my pal Steve Wynn, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Linda Pitmon. McCaughey humorously accepts some of the blame for McDowell’s meltdown. Maestro, if you please . . .
“The Yankee Flipper” by the Baseball Project
A couple of weeks ago, I opened the door to the blogosphere for a contest. I mentioned that I planned to add two or three new entries to my blogroll. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. But I received about 30 entries and most of them were pretty good, which is unfortunate because it just further illustrates how easily I can be replaced. In the end, I picked four. Now, if I didn’t select you, don’t feel bad. My blogroll is “fluid.” Keep working on them and poke me once in a while on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll look at it. The winners were based on information, creativity, presentation and timeliness. Not spelling, though. I have enough trouble with that so it wouldn’t be fair to hold you to a higher standard. And the winners are . . .
Peachtree Hoops is the best overall blog in terms of content and organization, with a mix of fact and opinion. Kudos to Drew Ditzel (or “Hawksdawg”). Peachtree Hoops recently counted down 72 reasons to be excited about the Hawks. About the only thing that disturbed me about the site was a headline on the web front that reads “There is first love, and then there is Zaza Pachulia love.” Georgia fans should enjoy Bernie’s Dawg Blawg, which includes “Monday’s Meatloaf” and “Bark of the Week,” and a blur of links. Blogger Chris Burnette also sent me this email: “I’ll admit I’m at odds with the AJC, but I’m a sucker for a good contest. That and I love my humble blawg. It’s not the best Dawg blog and it’s not born from my mother’s basement, but she does read it on occasion.” The Falcoholic is written by “Dave The Falconer” (of course). It’s well put together, frequently updated and is written for a quick, easy read. Finally, there’s the Monday Morning Point Guard by Andy Rosenberg. Andy frequently e-mail on about any sports topic but mostly the Hawks and the NBA. A snippet from a recent blog: “Just a few years ago the Hawks bench was more like two chairs, as it consisted of really two guys: the departed Josh Childress and Zaza Pachulia. These two reserves combined probably couldn’t average the 17 points per game Jamal Crawford is currently putting up.” Geez. Two Zaza references in one day.
4. What’s the reverse of a minstrel show?
Know how some people can get away with something that NOBODY else could. That would be Charles Barkley. Last week we brought you the scary pictures of Sammy Sosa’s new face. Well, Barkley, the entertaining NBA/TNT commentator, who has never visited the corner of tact and political correctness, jumped on the story. Maybe a little too much. First came the expected mocking of Sosa on camera. Barkley joked Sosa only tried to “go white” so that he could get into the Hall of Fame. Then he had a makeup artist come in to, yes, turn him white. Take a look:
Jerry Glanville just got fired by Portland State. If that’s not hitting bottom, I’m assuming the next job involves either bowling shoes or circus elephants. Glanville, a pretty fair defensive coordinator in his day but a clown as a head coach, as we witnessed here, was fired by Portland State after going 9-24 in three seasons at the 1-AA school. The team also reportedly had its second-worst paid attendance in 22 seasons. Guess that leaving-tickets-for-Elvis thing doesn’t really draw a crowd any more. This was part of Glanville’s defense the other day: “We played Montana, Montana State and Weber State better than we ever played them.” Why do I feel like I’m listening to Evander Holyfield?
The Hawks won again Monday night and they’re now 9-2 and ranked No. 1 on ESPN’s “Power Poll” (for whatever that’s worth). The Thrashers have won four straight and are 10-6-1, despite having played six games without Ilya Kovalchuk. Is this really happening with both Atlanta Spirit franchises, or is this just when we remind ourselves that it’s only November? Also, maybe that one of the Atlanta Spirit owners suddenly is delving into Voodoo.
Asked before Notre Dame’s latest loss to Pittsburgh whether the Irish still was relevant as a national program, an irritated Charlie Weis shot back with sarcasm: “We’re so irrelevant. That denotes a bit of hypocrisy here. If we’re so irrelevant, why are we such a big story?” Anybody have a free finger?