Book 17 (of 52) – Football For A Buck

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL – Jeff Pearlman

Originally conceived in 1965, the United States Football League finally took shape in 1982, taking the field for the first time in the spring of 1983.  While not a huge success, the fledgling league showed promise.  For the 1984 season, the league, unwisely, expanded and brought in new ownership, including a young, brash real estate developer from New York named Donald Trump.  Angling for a merger with the NFL, Trump pushed the USFL to abandon the concept of spring football and, following that second season, the league announced that it would move its schedule to the fall and take the NFL on head-to-head.  Following a lame duck season in the spring of 1985, the future of the USFL depended on the vision of Donald Trump and the outcome of a lawsuit he thought would pave the way to NFL riches.

Even if you have never heard of the USFL, if you’ve lived through the past 5-6 years of American history, you can imagine how this turned out.  The NFL’s lawyers used Trump’s general unlikability and inability to be truthful against him.  When the dust settled, the USFL did indeed win their lawsuit against the NFL. with damages assessed at $1.  The league had followed Donald Trump into the abyss and, as a result, was out of business after only 4 years.

Jeff Pearlman recaps the strange experience that was the USFL in Football for a Buck.  The players, a mixture of over-the-hill NFL pros looking for one last chance, college players who couldn’t quite make it at that next level, and actual college star who were showered with money in an attempt to legitimatize the upstart league, joined a motley crew of owners, many of whom were not fully vetted and did not actually have the funds necessary to run a franchise, to make an entertaining product in hindsight, even if they didn’t get the full recognition at the time.  The parallels between Trump’s actions as the ringleader of the USFL’s destruction and his actions as president are uncanny.  All told, the story of the USFL is one that deserved to be told, and Pearlman does an admirable job in doing so.


FOX Upfronts

For the third straight year, FOX has delivered a fall schedule that will leave them off of my television screen, with not a single show that interests me.  With a number of shows either pushed to midseason or still waiting to see what how the future unfolds post-pandemic, FOX is moving forward with two new, already in-the-can series and two shows from lesser-seen services.

Monday has one of each of the new types of shows, with John Slattery’s new drama neXt following L.A.’s Finest, which originally premiered on Spectrum Originals last spring and stars Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union.  Tuesday follows the same script, with Cosmos: Possible Worlds, snatched up from Nat Geo, kicking off the night and Filthy Rich, a soap starring Kim Cattrall, closing it.  Ratings star The Masked Singer holds down its Wednesday slot, followed by MasterChef Junior.

Thursdays get turned over to the NFL, assuming the season starts on time, while Fridays belongs to WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown, which resumed taping last month (thanks, Florida).  Sunday’s animated block returns untouched.

At midseason, Fox will bring back 9-1-1 for its fourth season and spinoff 9-1-1: Lone Star for season two, along with new installments of Duncanville and Hell’s Kitchen.  New shows debuting later this year include the Mayim Bialik comedy Call Me Kat, and the animated The Great North and Housebroken.  Scripted shows still waiting on a decision include Last Man Standing, Prodigal Son, The Resident, and Outmatched.

Winter Meetings Roundup

After a lot of build-up leading into the Winter Meetings, things were pretty quiet for the White Sox, with their only move being a trade with the Rangers, acquiring outfielder Nomar Mazara for minor leaguer Steele Walker.  Mazara, who will begin the 2020 season at age 24, has spent 4 years in the big leagues, putting up consistent, if unspectacular, numbers.  While the White Sox hope they can finally unlock the potential that led to Mazara signing what was, at the time, the largest international amateur bonus of all time, the unspectacular numbers he’s put up in Texas would still be a mass improvement over the production the team received in 2019.

Walker, the second round pick of the White Sox in 2018, is only one year younger than Mazara and has yet to progress past high A ball.  He was ranked as the #6 prospect in the Sox’s system by MLB Pipeline, but is probably years away from breaking through to the big leagues, if he ever does.

In other news, the June draft is moving from the MLB Network studios in New Jersey to Omaha, site of the College World Series.  The move allows for more potential draftees to be in attendance, putting on caps and making the television rounds like their counterparts in the NFL and NBA.

Ballpark Tour: Mets

With the offseason underway, we continue our tour of all of the different baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. This week, we look at Apu’s favorite squadron, the New York Mets. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my one game history with Shea Stadium.


Stadium Name: Shea Stadium

Years in Service: 1964 – 2008

Visits: 1

After a delay caused by labor woes and an exceptionally harsh winter, Shea Stadium, home of the expansion New York Mets, opened on April 17, 1964, with the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the Mets 4–3 before a crowd of 50,312. It continued to be the home of the Mets until September 28, 2008, when the Mets lost to the Florida Marlins. Along the way, the stadium was also the home of the Yankees for 2 seasons while Yankee Stadium was being renovated and, for the 1975 season, it served as the home of both New York MLB teams and both New York NFL teams, the first time a stadium has had that many main major tenants at one time.

My one trip to Shea Stadium was for opening day in 2003 to see the Chicago Cub take on the Mets. The last day of March was Tom Glavine’s first appearance with the Mets after coming over from the Braves via free agency. His grace period with the Mets faithful did not last long, as he was booed after throwing a ball on the second pitch. The baseball gods were not on the Mets side that day, as the Cubs, behind 2 Corey Patterson home runs, routed the Mets 15-2. I remember the stadium itself being pretty decent, though we did have some of the best seats in the house, which may have tainted my impression somewhat.

#11 – Bo Jackson

Name: Bo Jackson

Rank: 11

Position: RF/DH

Years With White Sox: 1991, 1993

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson joined the White Sox as a free agent on April 3, 1991 after being released by the Royals following a hip injury suffered in January during the NFL playoffs as a member of the Raiders.  “In making the business decision,” owner Jerry Reinsdorf said at the time, “I assume he will not play this year. If he does, it will be a big bonus.”  Jackson did spend most of 1991 on the disabled list, rehabbing the injury, but did eventually manage to make his way back to the field.  He appeared in 23 games, hitting only .225 with 3 home runs.

Diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip joint and having lost all of the cartilage supporting his hip, Jackson decided to undergo a hip replacement surgery, keeping him on the shelf for the entire 1992 season.  While rehabbing, Jackson promised his mother he would return to the major leagues and hit a home run for her.

Unfortunately, Jackson’s mother died before he could return, but, in his first at bat of the 1994 season, and his first with an artificial hip, he hit a home run to right field against the Yankees at Comiskey Park.  On September 27, Jackson belted a three-run home run off of the Mariners to help the White Sox clinch their first AL West Division title in a decade.  Jackson ended up appearing in 85 games for the White Sox, hitting .232 and hitting 16 home runs while driving in 45.  He appeared in 3 of the 6 ALCS games against the Blue Jays, going hitless in 10 at bats.

Following the season, he became a free agent, ending his White Sox playing career.  In 2014, he returned to the organization as an ambassador, a role he continues to play today.

Jackson’s numbers in a White Sox uniform, both for games I attended and overall, were:

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2018 New Fall Season – Thursdays

old-tv-set1Thursday night is traditionally the busiest night of the week for my television viewing habits. Here’s what’s on the slate for this season.


Grey’s Anatomy – The medical drama enters its 15th season.  A few departures at the end of last season means there will be some new (and one old) face coming to the hospital this season.

The Big Bang Theory – With the NFL moving on to other networks, the show returns to Thursdays for its 12th, and final, season.

The Good Place – I haven’t watched the show since the middle of season 2, so who knows if I’ll even come back to it.


Station 19 – I never got around to watching the Grey’s spin-off last spring, but still have most of the episodes on the DVR.  If I find the time, maybe I’ll go back.


Murphy Brown – The gang, led by Candice Bergen, return to see if they can recapture the magic from the show’s original run.


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CBS Upfronts

Everything old is new this season at CBS, which will have 5 reboots on the air this fall.  The week starts with 3 new shows on Monday night: The Neighborhood, about a white family from Michigan that moves to LA and ends up with Cedric the Entertainer as their neighbor, Happy Together, starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens West as a happily married couple who begin to reconnect with their younger, cooler selves, and Magnum P.I., a modern take on the classic show with Jay Hernandez taking on Tom Selleck’s role.  Bull moves from Tuesday to close out the night.

FBI, starring Missy Peregrym and Jeremy Sisto, is sandwiched between two editions of NCIS on Tuesdays.  Wednesday night stays exactly the same.  Thursday, freed from the NFL, stays mostly the same, with The Big Bang TheoryYoung Sheldon, and Mom, followed by a rebooted Murphy Brown and season two of S.W.A.T.  Friday stays exactly the same.  Sunday adds God Friended Me, about an atheist that gets a friend request from God on social media.

On tap for midseason, along side returning favorites ElementaryInstinct, Man With A Plan, and Life, are The Code, which taps the underrepresented area of legal law, The Red Line, about 3 Chicago families dealing with loss, and Fam, a comedy about a woman whose perfect life is thrown asunder when her sister moves in.

Gone and never to be seen again are 9JKLKevin Can WaitLiving BiblicallyMe, Myself, & IScorpionSuperior DonutsWisdom Of The Crowd, and Zoo.

FOX Upfronts

For the second straight year, FOX has shifted their game plan, abandoning their single camera comedies and, instead, moving closer ideologically with its sister news network.  The end result is a fall schedule with only one show that interests me, and even that 9 unwatched episodes from this season still sitting on my DVR.

Monday has two returning shows, The Resident and 9-1-1, which didn’t pull me in last year.  The Gifted, based on Marvel’s X-Men characters, moves to Tuesdays, followed by a revamped Lethal Weapon.  Wednesday’s lineup remains consistent, with Empire followed by Star.

Thursdays get turned over to the NFL, as the much-reviled game moves over from CBS.  Friday has the revival of Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing and The Cool Kids, about a group of friends in a retirement community, followed by Hell’s Kitchen.  Sunday’s animated block remains mostly the same, with a new comedy, REL, closing off the night.

The second season of The Orville will return to Thursday after the NFL season.  Gotham will also appear at some point for its final season.  Also on tap for mid-season are The Passage, a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Mark-Paul Gosselar, Proven Innocent, a legal drama from Danny Strong, and the return of Cosmos.

Gone and mostly forgotten are Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which was saved by NBC), The ExorcistGhostedKicking & ScreamingThe Last Man On EarthLA To VegasLuciferThe MickNew Girl, Superhuman, Wayward Pines, and The X-Files.