The Perfect Match
I was searching through channels one evening last week and came across the movie “A Walk To Remember,” starring Mandy Moore on TNT. For the next hour, I watched it. (Look, “That 70’s Show” wasn’t on it’s usually hour due to Channel 45 switching it’s time slot with “Frasier.” So shut it tough guys). In the movie, Mandy Moore’s character falls in love with her perfect match. This got me thinking. What other matches in sports or otherwise have been perfect?
Match 1: Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz. Jerry Sloan is a no-nonsense, non-headline making coach. This fits perfectly with the aura that surrounds the Utah Jazz. The last time popular culture got a hold of the Jazz was in 1998 when Webster’s Dictionary officially made “Stockton-to-Malone-for-2” one word.
Match 2: Doug Heffernan and Carrie Heffernan in the “King Of Queens.” Doug is funny and Carrie is hot. Add Arthur Spooner in there and you have one of the best half-hour sitcoms ever made.
Match 3: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and the Super Bowl Halftime Show. First, I will add a disclaimer. Springsteen doesn’t necessarily seem to like the commercial-ness that goes with these things. But there is no one anywhere that will make for a better halftime performance. It won’t be as good as if you went to one of his normal concerts because the halftime show tends to feel somewhat forced, but he’ll be as good as it gets. His instincts will be to play 10 songs even if the T.V. people cut his microphone after 3. He’s that good. I can foresee police officers storming the stage trying to get the band to stop playing and Bruce will still call for the band to fire into “Dancing In The Dark.” The Super Bowl has been smart the last few years with Prince, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and now the E Street Band. Furthermore, has there been a bigger transformation in a single year than the halftime show going from Nelly, Kid Rock, Puff Daddy, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, and Janet Jackson’s breast in 2004 to Paul McCartney in 2005?
Match 4: “King Of Queens” re-runs on Channel 45 in the 6 o’clock to 7 o’clock time slot. It’s right after dinner time and when the time comes, right before Lost and Prison Break.
Match 5: Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Ron Gardenhire and the Minnesota Twins. They are three of the most entertaining players/coaches in the Majors Leagues in my mind and fit the state of Minnesota greatly. Justin Morneau likes hockey and we have a lot of it. Joe Mauer likes Land O’ Lakes Milk and we have a lot of it. And Ron Gardenhire because you couldn’t find a more fitting manager in baseball who’s personality and coaching philosophy fits this well with Minnesota. He’s also an avid bowler and there isn’t too much that sounds more working class than that. Unfortunately, we have lost two other perfect matches in Doug Mientkiewicz and Brad Radke (both of whom love to fish.)
Match 6: Rachel McAdams and “Wedding Crashers.” Without her performance in the “Notebook” (Mentioning the Notebook and A Walk To Remember was not planned), she may not have been known enough and been chosen for her role in “Wedding Crashers,” where she had a great performance and broke into the minds of the male population. Every now and then it comes to our minds that there are some actors/actresses in some shows/movies that we can’t see the show or movie without. For me, it’s Michael Kelso in “That 70’s Show” (or their whole cast), the cast from the “King of Queens,” Sawyer, Jack, and Kate in “Lost,” Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows in “Prison Break,” Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in “Wedding Crashers,” Frank in “Old School,” Hamilton Porter in “The Sandlot,” Sainka in “Cool Runnings,” Tony Perkis in “Heavyweights,” and Adam Sandler in “Happy Gilmore.”
Match 7: Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Throughout their NFL history, the Steelers have been known as a tough, cool team. Once Bill Cowher called it quits, I didn’t think they would find another coach who matched what Cowher gave to the Steelers brand. Then they swept up Mike Tomlin from the Minnesota Vikings and started a new, refreshed brand identity. This is like Burger King refreshing their brand by unleashing “the King.” But if they keep it up with their new “Whopper Virgin” campaign, I take back my analogy. Mike Tomlin chest bumps players running off the field and fires up his team better than any coach I’ve seen outside of Bob Knight, who also has the ability to scare the hell out of his players. By the way, Bob Knight is great on TV. I don’t care if he is monotone. I enjoy watching whatever game it is he is announcing. But Tomlin has refreshed the Steelers brand in a way that I’m sure surprised the people of Pennsylvania who thought Steelers glory was taking a long break after Bill Cowher left. Now we just need to get Cherry Coke to re-make those black cans with the red cherries from a decade ago.
Match 8: Charles Barkley and TNT Basketball. I don’t think there is anyone more entertaining on sports TV than Barkley. If Barkley was at a 6th grade traveling basketball game and overheard a mom telling her kids team “wonderful try today guys” after a loss, couldn’t you see Barkley telling the same kids on the same team that they played piss poor and had their heads up their butts for the whole 3rd and 4th quarters? Hopefully he makes a quick return to TNT. Television needs him back.
Match 9: USC and the Rose Bowl. Every year it seems, Southern California loses to a team that they shouldn’t have lost to and wind up being placed in the Rose Bowl. This is followed by people, including myself, assuring themselves that USC could beat any team in the nation, whatever they may be rated. But everything good comes from this. The Rose Bowl is just too soothing to the senses. And USC feels like college football at its best. I don’t care if Southern Cal doesn’t make it to a national championship game as long as they make it in the Rose Bowl (the bowl system is lousy anyway). What’s better than Brent Musburger starting the Rose Bowl off with “…You’re looking live…?” Keith Jackson was great announcing the game with sixteen “Whoa, Nellie’s!” and Musburger is just as good. The combination of USC and the Rose Bowl is just too good and that’s all there is. It’s the Ray Allen Jump Shot of college football. Speaking of “Whoa Nellie’s,” if you have ever been lucky enough to hear this Keith Jackson expression during a game, you’d know that you can’t go 7 straight days without repeating it. My dad and I once used the “Whoa, Nellie!” at a wedding when I was 10-years-old after the groom kissed the bride. It can be used at any time and almost anywhere.
Match 10: (For the time being), the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Since Boston can no longer be looked upon as the David, the Rays take their place. Now that the big bad Yankees got their way with Sabathia and Teixeira, we have another season of what could be more David vs. Goliath, or John Beckwith vs. Sack in Wedding Crashers where you couldn’t wait for John to kick the hell out of Sack and take his girl. I like watching certain players on the Yankees, but when it comes to the team as a whole, I like watching them lose. But it is weird to see them not in the playoffs. Anyway, speaking of this coming baseball season, isn’t it interesting that every time spring training time rolls around, we feel that we are the ones going to spring training? You go to MLBshop.com and Lids.com to check out the new training camp practice caps and click through pictures of the Grapefruit and Cactus League baseball stadiums on Sports Illustrated while listening to “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. There is a certain romantic feeling you get when baseball season begins. And this all takes place in March. It’s the best month in sports.