Pulling for the Underdogs

Since my alma mater, Ohio University, is considered a so called mid-major in the world of college athletics, I am ecstatic that Butler and Virginia Commoweath are in the Final Four. The dilemma is which one to pull for in this evening’s national sem-final. I have to lean toward VCU because one of my best friends in the world, Denise White, is an alum. Many years ago, Denise was a student at VCU and happened to be interning at the station where I was the weekend anchor. Many of her fellow students also interned or had graduated and had been hired by the station. It can be argued that BIG TIME college athletics has been corrupted by well intended boosters (or perhaps ill intended) who grease the palms of recruits to play for their respective alma maters. Those same recruits then leave early for an even more lucrative deal in the NBA. So, here’s to the little guys who could! I only wish the brackets had worked out differently so that VCU and Butler would be playing for the national championship.

Class Act

In a world arguably devoid of class and dignity, there is a glimmer of hope. I read a short blurb in Saturday’s edition of the St. Pete Times that impresses me no end. A high school basketball team in Eugene, Oregon had lost one of its players when he was swept out to sea with another teenager. When the team took the floor for the first time after his death, the coach only put four players in the lineup against five on the other team during the first possession of the game. Even more impressive was the fact that 2,500 fans in the stands were wearing the young man’s number 35 jersey. These symbolic gestures transcend sports and can serve as a reminder about how we should conduct ourselves in business and life in general.

Major Gaffe or Minor Mistake

Former and perhaps future Tampa Mayor Dick Greco is taking some heat for a comment he made during a televised debate about civil/racial unrest in the late 60’s. He compared the demonstrations to “panty raids.” At first blush, that sounds really outrageous and the kind of remark that would spark outrage. From the reports I’ve seen, there’s not much of the latter. The former Mayor now says he didn’t mean to trivialize the racial tensions of that era. He claims he meant that, like panty raids, organized protests were replicated around the country in an almost copy cat fashion. They were in vogue. It was a fad. Dick Greco is one of the most savvy politicians I have ever met and I’m surprised he let the “panty raid” comment slip. Whether it will cost him remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure though. In politics at any level, anything you say or do is magnified ten times over. I’d love to hear what you think. So, you leave your comments here.

Acting Builds Confidence

You’ve probably heard it before. The number one fear of most Americans is speaking in front of live audience. To be honest with you, I’ve always been more jittery before a crowd than I ever was in front of a television camera. So, for me, acting has become a real confidence builder. Granted, it is much different learning a playwright’s script that presenting your own material. Acting on stage, however, teaches you a great deal about presenting yourself before a live audience. I am very fortunate to be opening tonight in “The Man with the Plastic Sandwich” at the Venue Theatre in Pinellas Park. I’m working with three very talented actors in Michael DuMouchel, Kathy Richter and Betty Jane Parks along with an extremely gifted director in Midge Mamatas. Our show runs on a Thursday through Sunday schedule between today (November 4th) and November 21st. The Venue Theatre is on U.S. 19 just north of Gandy Boulevard at the Mainlands intersection. Come see us if you get the chance. To reserve tickets, call 727-822-6194.

“I’m Teed Off” Radio Show

Please tune in tomorrow (Saturday, August 21st) for the debut of the “I’m Teed Off” golf show on 620 WDAE-AM. I’ll be joining my buddy Joey McGrane each Saturday morning between 8 and 9am. We are very grateful to our friend Mark Prucnell and “Little Caesars” for stepping up to the plate as our title sponsor. Even if you’re not into golf, we promise more than a few laughs and a chance to win some great prizes.

The Boss Would Be Proud

George Steinbrenner was one of those rare individuals about whom everyone had an opinion. To say he was difficult to work for is a huge understatement. At the same time, he was among the most generous people the Tampa Bay area has ever known. Yet, he never sought attention for his philanthropic activities. When I think of his legacy, the Gold Shield Foundation comes to mind immediately. Gold Shield was created to assist the families of law enforcement officers who die in the line of duty. The primary focus is providing a college education for the children of those officers. I think Mr. Steinbrenner would be pleased to know that Fox Hollow Golf Club will donate every dollar from golfers who play the course next Tuesday, July 20th to the Gold Shield Foundation in memory of Tampa police officers Dave Curtis and Jeff Kocab. A minimum $50 donation will get you a round golf, a lunch buffet and unlimited soft drinks. You can call Fox Hollow at 727-376-6333 to make a tee time or go to http://www2.cybergolf.com/sites/courses/custom.asp?id=919&page=56057 for more information. I’m sure “The Boss” would be proud of the commitment made by Fox Hollow owner Bill Sandri and Head Professional Matt Cote.

The Cruelest Game of All

To be honest with you, I knew little or nothing of PGA Tour player Robert Garrigus until this past weekend. He was ranked 377th in the world, but stood on the precipice of winning his first PGA Tour title at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Unfortunately, he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a triple bogey on the 72nd hole. Garrigus still managed to squeeze into a playoff, but bowed out with a bogey on the first extra hole. It’s another example of why so many of us have a love/hate relationship with golf. Here’s the cool thing. When a lot of players would have been tempted to storm off under such circumstances, Garrigus agreed to be interviewed by CBS analyst David Feherty. Not only that, he handled his devastating defeat with class and dignity. Robert Garrigus may never sniff a tour victory again, but I sincerely hope he does.

Are you kidding me?

In my opinion, Major League Baseball has a number of credibility/integrity issues. Can you say performance enhanching drugs? How about the absence of a salary cap that allows big market teams to outspend their smaller counterparts by double or more? But, to me, the biggest credibility issue right now is horrible umpiring. We saw another glaring example of it last night during the Rays game when a pitch that was clearly a foot or more off the plate was called a strike against Carl Crawford. CC went off on the umpire and was promptly tossed out of the game as was Joe Maddon who went out to defend his player. It seems the strike zone has been expanded to include any area on the field of play. If MLB intends to hold its players accountable, it needs to do the same for umpires. When players don’t perform, they’re either sent down to the minors or given their walking papers. It seems to me that the same should apply to the umps!

Personal Evolution

I was in a play called “Later Life” recently and, in the final scene, my character said these words: “People don’t change Sally!  We are who we are only more so.”  Well, I take issue with that and here’s why.  My mother kept every report card I ever had from first grade through my senior year in high school.  I happened to be going through some files a couple of days ago and ran across all those hideously embarrassing report cards.  If you had judged me by my academic performance during those  formative years, you would have projected well, let’s just say, a less than stellar career in just about any profession.  Truthfully, I’m still amazed I made it into college.  Once I got there,  however, I was able to pursue my passion which was broadcasting.  It launched me into a career that’s lasted four decades.  In fact, it gave me the confidence to give acting a try.  “Later Life” is really the first theatre work I’ve ever done proving that we can change, even in later life. By the way, all those old report cards are now in the trash!

America’s Best Loved Personal Brand, Betty White

Betty White may the biggest and best loved brand in America right now.  The 88-year old’s  hosting of “Saturday Night Live” was nothing less than brilliant. 

What I have always loved about Betty White is that she can be both naughty and nice at the same time.  Going back to her days on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” when she played Sue Ann Nivens, she’s always been to display an incredibly sweet demeanor combined with liberal doses of sexual innuendo.  When Betty first appeared on television in the early 50’s,  married couples couldn’t even be depicted as sharing the same bed and the censors would have  had a fit with any humor  considered risqué.  SNL really changed the television landscape back in 1975 and it hasn’t really looked back ever since.  The beautiful  thing about Betty White is that she’s not looking back either.  She’s going full steam ahead!