Groucho Marx was a logical man. During his 1950s quiz show, “You Bet Your Life,” he was told by a contestant, a marriage counselor, that the No. 1 cause of divorce is “incompatibility.”
“Yeah,” Groucho responded, “he has no income and she’s not patable.”
Sunday, while within the last minute of close, thus illogically endless, college basketball games, I gave the NASCAR race on Fox a shot. Twice I arrived with the screen divided in two, several cars in each live panel.
Given that I couldn’t watch both at once — NASCAR fans are so gifted? — I needed at least a hint from Fox as to which panel it preferred I watch. I felt it was a reasonable thought in pursuit of applied logic.
Back to basketball, the modern backward version. With the score tied, the regulation horn sounded in Drake vs. Loyola-Chicago on CBS — just as a missed shot was put up and in.
Was it good — game over — or after the buzzer — overtime? As far as we could see, there was no call made by any of the three refs. They were all en route to a courtside monitor to view replays. Replay, it seemed, would make the only call, nothing to reverse or confirm.
Earlier on Fox, the last minutes of Wisconsin-Iowa, a close one, took the time it takes to cook a 15-pound turkey. It was another of those finishes best put to a DVR and watched via fast-forward rather than sit it out like a rain delay.
Replay, again, struck, as three reviews, all lengthy, were enacted during the final minute. One determined Wisconsin committed a flagrant foul despite zero evidence to support such a conclusion. Another was for a baseline possession that was reviewed at least five times before it was decided by a group shrug.
But what U.S. sport isn’t now overwhelmingly afflicted by the unintended use of replay instituted by a sorrowful absence of foresight?
That college basketball survived and thrived before such illogical systemic destruction — that the ends of close games once favored the better-coached teams as opposed to replays and per-possession timeouts, TV commercials added — defies the good senses.
But it’s too late. This is how it’s going to be.
And the most endurable games will be those won in blowouts, free of unintended endless endings that take the most exciting games and, by design, unplug them. The NCAA Tournament awaits.
Dunphy’s legacy: No fear of telling it like it is
The 50th anniversary of Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier in the Garden was loaded with clips of the steady, sturdy Don Dunphy calling the fight.
ABC on Sunday aired a retrospective that was reliant on Dunphy’s superb, non-theatrical call. ABC also was Howard Cosell’s network. Cosell was the nation’s self-anointed boxing expert, though he relied on genuine experts to tell him what to say.
He once got a ringside tip from ref Chuck Hull as to who won a decision and by how much then spoke it to ABC’s audience as his expert “guess” before crediting himself with getting it right.
The late, great ref Arthur Mercante worked ABC fights with Cosell. Between rounds, during commercials, Cosell, Mercante claimed, would pump him for his opinion on the fight then speak it as his own when the telecast resumed, “Leaving me nothing to say.”
Then one telecast Mercante fed Cosell some nonsense so that when Cosell repeated it on the air as his own thoughts, Mercante totally disagreed.
Anyway, Dunphy was honored at a large dinner in a Manhattan hotel ballroom, circa 1984. One of the speakers was Cosell, who praised Dunphy to the chandeliers as a special man.
Afterward, Cosell held court in the hotel bar where he ripped into Dunphy as a fraud and a fake until Cosell, his audience disgusted by him, emptied the joint.
It remains difficult to hear Dunphy call any fight without thinking of Cosell and that night when he showed me, and not for the last time, how this “tell it like it is” TV legend operated.
The story broke Tuesday morning. Heat center Meyers Leonard, a white man, 28, who was a student-athlete at Illinois, was heard hollering a double slur — of women and Jews — while, of all things, playing a video game.
The next day, however and predictably, the story didn’t make much news or noise. At least two large local newspapers, the New York Times and Jersey’s Star-Ledger, didn’t have a word about it in their first editions. Yeah, no big thing.
Imagine for a moment if Leonard had been heard hollering the N-word or a slur of gays — preceded or followed by “bitch.” That would be Page 1, top of the nightly news broadcasts.
So the pursuit of equality through conspicuous inequality continues.
Time for NBC to forget NHL
With ESPN back in the NHL business for the first time since 2004 — this time as an added-pay streaming offering — the “follow our money” network will no longer have to ignore hockey. In fact, “SportsCenter” has already demonstrated wild enthusiasm for what it long ignored.
And now NBC, the current NHL network, can ignore the NHL.
Steve Lappas, who worked Sunday’s Memphis-Houston for CBS, remains a superb observer and scold for those who want to apply genuine, in-game sense to what they’re watching — especially defense — as opposed to stats and hollow praise for coaches and players.
NBC’s golf bosses still operate under the delusion that analyst Peter Jacobsen is funny. He’s not. And given his on-air contradictions, he’s not credible.
UConn women 84, Villanova 39. Geno “The Humiliator” Auriemma played two starters 33 or more minutes, two subs for three minutes each. On FS1, not a word of wonder, let alone condemnation, was spoken. But Auriemma is no less inclined to humiliate his own kids as his opponents’. He has UConn and the media on a leash.
NBC golf host Dan Hicks continues to speak empty, extraneous nonsense. “Safely in the fairway” and “safely in the hole” mean exactly what, other than that he heard others on TV say it before him?