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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hungry, Hungry Press Corps

Jim Cryns on Sports

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Golf tournaments are undergoing more name changes than Elizabeth Taylor.

The GMO, I mean the U.S. Bank Championship, has come and gone from Milwaukee. I understand golf tournaments are subject to the demands and orders from the PGA tour, but why is this town forced to compete for time against the British Open, I mean, The Open.The 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational used to be known as the Bay Hill Classic until this year's name change. It probably doesn’t matter much as much to the General as making sure he has plenty of Ensure on hand.

Regardless of the name, it’s not a tournament unless Tiger shows up. Swede Richard Johnson won the U.S. Bank Championship, accompanied by a host of golfers you’d need dental records to identify. This is one of the tournaments that brings golfers out of the woodwork like cockroaches in a New York City apartment. The smell of a possible rare victory tears players away from their jobs at Taco Bell with the hope of a tournament win. Brown Deer Golf Course is easier than Lindsay Lohan at bar time. There are no real hazards, the course is as short as Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. The greens are as smooth as Dennis Krause’s head. The money ain’t bad. Johnson stuffed 720-thousand dollars into his pocket on his way to Mitchell International.

Have you ever noticed how Jason Kendall and Craig Counsell are the only players on the Brewers who don’t use batting gloves? And where did this Under Armor come from? Their logo is everywhere, on the batting gloves, the steel doors in Wrigley Field. The logo has more visibility than Britney Spears’ nether regions.

Kudos to the Brewers for picking up a veteran second baseman in Ray ‘Bull’ Durham. The move will either light an offensive fire under Ricky Weeks unproductive butt-cheeks, or we’ll have a leadoff hitter that couldn’t possibly do any worse. Weeks says he’s not worried about his starting job. Yeah, that’s like camping in a tent in Australia with an infant and saying you’re not concerned about the Dingos.

Culinary Delights and Doug Russell

One of the nice things about covering a sporting event is the food, usually free of charge. Virtually every sports venue will make accommodations to feed the press. Think of it as chumming the sharks. The more food in the belly of the beast, the more content the media feels and they may ultimately be less inclined to sink their teeth into your organization.

The Bucks, Brewers, Packers, Golden Eagles, Badgers and a host of other teams provide meals of some sort, soups, salads and beverages. For shear quality and breadth of items, I would have to hand it to the Green Bay Packers. Granted they only have to provide chow for eight games a year, playoffs non-withstanding, but they by far have the greatest nosh in Wisconsin. A rotating service of entrees, deserts. Of course you have to edge your way past Doug Russell of WSSP, but it’s worth the effort. A quick elbow to his breadbasket is usually enough, just keep your fingers away from Doug’s mouth and you’ll be safe.

The Brewers provide a respectable meal in the press box at MillerPark, but this one you have to pay for. To be sure, it’s still a better deal than you’ll find at any restaurant, but media folks are cheap by nature. Other than a few high-priced talents like Lance Allen or Larry Lapidus, media jobs don’t pay much so you have to stretch your dollar. The Brewers also provide brats, hot dogs, Polish sausage to those who have forked over the cash. In the old days at CountyStadium, meal service wasn’t as polished, but it had a distinct sense of charm. You were served peanuts, pretzels and fresh sausages by Marty and Ed, two guys with less facial animation than Mount Rushmore, but a lot more hair.

The Milwaukee Bucks regularly put on a nice spread. A beautiful buffet replete with well prepared foods such as chicken, fish, pasta. In years past when the Bucks made the playoffs, you’d really score when they opened a dining room adjacent to the usual pressroom. This was high-classed dining with white table cloths, servers and bartenders. Not to be outdone, the Badgers and Golden Eagles each do a great job of feeding the salivating press contingency.

(Truth be told, Doug Russell is a long-time friend and a great sports personality. I bust his chops only because he told me the other day, “if I wrote anything about him, he’d hear about it.” I just wanted to test his hypothesis. By the way, I regularly eat four times what Doug eats, and I’ve got the girth to prove that fact.)

Inane Banter

Regarding the Steve True interview with Greta Van Susteren, I first listened on the Web, then watched “Homer” on the tube piloting the discussion. To be clear I’ve swung both ways on the issue as to which “professional broadcaster” was rude and unprofessional. At first I thought “Homer” to be the whiny, self-admitted non-objective weasel I’ve always known him to be. I thought Van Susteren was gracious to spend time on his impotent show. After watching the same show on cable television it appeared “Homey” was more gracious than he sounded on the Web, and Van Susteren was quite acerbic, less than cordial and possibly a bore. It’s not fair to say “Home-town” was unprofessional ,as I don’t think he’s ever tried to pretend he is objective as the name would imply. In the end, as the late Walter Matthau adroitly stated in Grumpy Old Men, they should both pull their bottom lip over their heads and swallow.