Nov 22, 2015

NFL Week 11: $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime

This is $1,000,000. In a moment, Couple A will compete with Couple B as they battle for the biggest prize in the history of television. Just one single word can turn one of our couples into millionaires, all on the $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime!

You want the definition of cheesy 80s game shows! This one sets the standard! The $1M Chance of a Lifetime show was a syndicated program in the mid 80s - I think it was from 1985-87. It wasn't on a network schedule, so stations picked it up and used it for filler in the afternoon. This - of course - were the days before 86 million talk shows were invented, so this show was perfect for independent stations to show around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. For me, this was the perfect show to come home to after a rough day in middle or high school.

Where do I start with the gimmicks here? First, the grand prize was - yes! - $1 million dollars. I'll explain how you win it in a moment. The $1 million dollars was placed on stage during play for all to see - I guess to heighten the suspense. A security guard was positioned by the money during the opening until the host came out . There must have been problems with the studio audience coming up and stealing part of the money, so a Brinks employee was needed.

This was  a couples' game - that adds the fun! Can you imagine playing a game show for $1 million dollars with your spouse? Janice and I can't even play Pictionary without getting into fights. (Who doesn't know where Oregon is? -ed). The main play just needed one of the spouse playing against one of the others....and no help can be given by the non-playing spouse. What was the divorce rates of the losing contestants?

The game play was a bit complex - it was a combination of Password and Wheel of Fortune. Three puzzles were played - a puzzle consisted of a multi-word phrase or thing. Then clues were given one at a time .....and the contestants had to guess the clue when the letters of the clue were filled in one by one. Very much like the speed round of Wheel of Fortune.

Once you got a "clue" - then you tried to solve the main puzzle. The contestant went up to the main computer and picked letters for the main puzzle. The did this literally - letters were lit on the computer that were in the puzzle - plus one "stinger"! that was not included - and the contestant pressed a giant key on the keyboard to choose a letter.

If they could get the puzzle, great! If not, they went back and another clue was given. I love this keyboard. It's like a giant size Vic 20...remember kids, this was the breakthrough technology of the day!

Three puzzles were played - the winner went to the bonus round, where the couples were placed in the "isolation" chamber....they had to get 6 words in 60 seconds; the words were all part of a category that were chosen (like First Aid Items or Summit Conference Colleges). Letters were placed one by one for each word - the couple could blurt out any guess they wanted as the letters appeared. They needed to get all 6 words in 60 seconds to win.

The million was won if a couple can win the main game and the bonus game 3 days in a row. This was a great soap opera aspect of the game - I could watch on Monday, see somebody lose the bonus round, and then I realize I can skip Tuesday's and Wednesday's episode if necessary since no one can win the million.

Our host for the show is Jim Lange. He hosted the Dating Game in the 70s and another show in the 80s that will be coming up. I'd certainly consider Jim to be on the B-list of hosts - friendly, does the job, but there's just something missing. Seems forced at times.

I think I must be the only one to remember this show - it was short lived, and being on independent stations did not help its popularity. But it was a quick moving game show with the suspense of a million always hanging over the show. If a couple was there for the third time, it was required viewing and I had to fight to watch the show over Layup's insistence of watching "Inspector Gadget".

Most of you know my two guilty pleasures are game shows and politics; in doing research for this blog, I came across this episode of the show. You have to watch at around the 4:45 mark - a commercial was not edited out. Wow! How's that for a flashback......

What's the opposite of the suspense of having a coupe go for the $1,000,000 on the third episode? How about any meaningless Browns game from here on out? Thank God they are on the bye this week. This team is unwatchable. The penalties, mental mistakes are frequent and devastating. It's like we are starting over - again. We do nothing well......and this is even taking into account that Johnny may have a future here! He's not the problem! I really want to like Mike Pettine- especially after the 7-4 start last year - but since then, he is 2-13, and the team is degrading each week.

Oh - by the way- do you know the Monday Night Football game next week? you are welcome, America!

On to the games:

Atl 27, Ind 24. Can't figure out this game; both teams off a bye; I don't think there's that much of a dropoff to Hasselbeck.

Bal 27, StL 20. I just don't think the Ravens have it in them to give up. So disappointed in the Rams last week - they are certainly one-dimensional.

Car 26, Was 16. The Redskins are limited against a good D; Car won't outscore them, however, and will control the clock and the game without running away with it.

Chi 24, Den 19. Brock Osweiler's first start in the NFL, and who does he see? His old defensive coordinator on the other side of the field. I think Fox will have a lot of surprises for Brock.

Oak 31, Det 20. Detroit just played their Super Bowl - and it's clear they are not a good team. Oakland can beat bad teams on the road - see week 3!

NYJ 20, Hou 17. Too many injuries to count here. I think Houston's D is finally coming info form and this won't be a Jets rout.

Dal 20, Mia 16. Philly gave the game to Miami last week; I still don't think the Dolphins are very good. Dallas will be able to hold Miami and Romo should bring home the win.

Phi 26, TB 16. Just a feeling here. The matchup is horrible for Tampa; Philly's D will limit them and I think Tampa is not good enough defensively to stop Sanchez. Did I just say that?

SD 27, KC 20. San Diego is off the bye and will put up one last good effort. I think Kansas City is overrated and won't be able to score when needed.

Min 23, GB 20. Can't figure this game out. The Packers will be desperate, and they have to change their offensive strategy - a hurry up offense? If so, can Minnesota respond?

Sea 20, SF 16. The Seahawks should not be favored by double digits over anyone right now. Do people watch the games?

Az 30, Cin 20. I don't think the Bengals are firing on all cylinders offensively, and will have trouble to keep up with Arizona at home.

NE 31, Buf 24. I think this game will be close; NE is not as dominating as they were in teh beginning of the season.

Best bets: 12 of them. Last week: 9-6; overall: 76-59-4
Bal -3
Car -7
Chi +2
Oak +1
Dal -1
Dal/Mia under 46
Phi -6
SD +3
KC/SD over 45
SF +13.5
Az -4.5
Buf/NE over 47.5

Supercontest: Last week: 3-2; overall: 27-22-1
Oak -2
Dal pk
Phi -5.5
SD +3
SF +12.5

Nov 15, 2015

NFL Week 10: $ale of the Century

Today on America's biggest bargain sale, we are offering a 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier worth $8,500 for only $150! A trip to Hawaii worth $3,000 for only $21! Two of the incredible bargains
 on…..$ale of the Century!

I really loved this game show – it was a trivia show with a twist. The general basis was simple – 3 contestants playing a trivia game; they start with $20. Every correct answer is worth $5, and every miss took away $5. The contestant with the most points at the end wins! How simple can you get?

Two little wrenches were thrown into the game play to make it more interesting. First, there were three “instant bargains” during the match. At a random time, someone offstage would ring a bell, meaning it was time for the instant bargain. The leader at that point was able to use their point total to buy something. For instance, a refrigerator was shown and modeled. “Isn’t this nice? You told me offstage you were moving! You need a fridge!” And the host (more on him in a second) would try to entice the contestant to “buy” the prize for $11 or so. The $11 comes out of their point total for the game, however…..The host would throw in cash as well to sweeten the pot. And then he would start the countdown for the sale: “Going once! Going twice…….” Most of the time, it was a “no sale” as the contestant wanted to keep their lead – but later in the game they had nice prizes – trips, spas, etc. – that people bought.

The second wrinkle was the “fame game”. This was a biographical type of a question – and the person who buzzed in correctly with the answer got a shot at the “money cards”- 9 cards on a board; one or more of them would have $10, $15 or $25 bonus for the player. The others had gifts from Ron Popeil, and the contestant would have to look interested in a year’s supply of Lee Press-on Nails.

These fame game questions were not easy. The question always start with “I am ……” and then the host would take a meander through the biography of the person/ “I was born in 1547, in a little farm in Germany. My mother couldn’t read, nor could my father….”. It was like Paul Harvey reading the questions. They were not trivial questions – I really appreciated that in a game show.

The main game ended after the last “fame game” with the “speed round”. 60 seconds of rapid fire trivia questions at 5 points a piece. If you buzzed in, you were expected to answer right away. If you didn’t, a voice offstage would yell (and I mean yell) “TIME!”.; 5 points were deducted and we move on.

Our host for $ale of the Century was Jim Perry. I think Guy Smiley from Sesame street was based off of Jim (although Jim probably came on to the scene after Guy made his debut). Jim was a bit corny, but most importantly he played the role of salesman with excellence. He tired to cajole the contestants into the instant bargains. He had a voice that was perfect for the speed round, and could “act” the part out while reading the questions in the fame game. I liked him a lot, and I think we will talk about him more in another blog (for his hosting of another show).

Oh – the hostess – her name was Summer Bartholomew. That names just rolls off the tongue; apparently she is an ex-Miss America with a graduate degree. Brains and beauty together! She was around for most of the show.

The one weakness of the game was the bonus game. What do you do with the winner of the trivia contest and you still have 8 minutes left and have to create a bonus round for the winner? They tried putting the winnings in a bank – and the person could “buy” a grand prize item with the money – and leave – or keep the money save it for bigger items in the future (or they could buy the whole kit and caboodle with enough money). Then they tried a random match board to give away a prize every game. Nothing really worked nor caught on.

The show was on NBC for 6 years – that’s the black hole for game shows; nobody watched NBC. Sometimes they had this on a 10:30 going up against Press Your Luck; I always chose $ale over the Whammy. Sometimes they had it at 11:00, which made $ale or TPiR a tough call.

The Browns almost had their Sale of the century with this year’s trade deadline; Joe Thomas’s name continually came up but no deal was reached. You never know how close any team was to agreeing on a price. I can’t fault the Browns for trying to see what he is worth. Joe is by far the Best Brown of the past 20 years, and is Hall of Fame worthy…..but he dseres to play for a contender instead of the idiots we have here. Joe is pure class and the model for any future Brown.

On to the games; handicapping them from high in the air aboard a Singapore Airlines flight…

Bal 27, Jax 24. Bal is off a bye and should get a little healthier; Jacksonville is playing well but always gives up the turnovers at the wrong time. Should be closer than the line indicates.

GB 23, Det 17. I’m sure there are plenty of “what’s wrong with the Pack” stories in the US right now; maybe the answer is “well, they’re not that good!”. They are one-dimensional and their defense is getting worse.

Phi 23, Mia 20. I don’t understand how the Eagles can be favored by more than a field goal over any one. They let the Cowboys back in the game multiple times last week.

StL 23, Chi 10. This defense isn’t the Charger defense. I think Cutler will be hassled all game will be forced into multiple turnovers.

Dal 24, TB 16. Tampa Bay is good enough to win offensive shootouts, but I remain impressed with the Dallas D. If the Giants shut down Tamps fairly well, I expect the Cowboys to do even better.

Car 27, Ten 20. How many times have I said that I like Mariota? Why didn’t I pick them last week?

Was 31, NO 20. How many times can I say that New Orleans is a fraud? Outdoors with that shaky defense – I think the Skins will control the lines and have a comfortable win.

Oak 27, Min 17.  I’m just not convince that Minnesota can score enough to keep up with the raiders. Maybe I’m basing this too much on the Raiders playing an awful Steelers D …. But I expect the Radiers to be in the high 20s here, and I haven’t seen the Vikes put those kind of numbers up.

Den 24, KC 17. The numbers say this should be extremely close, but Denver is the kind of team that has a mental lock on the Chiefs. The Chiefs can be 14-1 and still find a way to lose to the Broncos, just because of past ghosts.

NE 31, NYG 24. I am just not interested in this game. Offenses will control the game and it will be decided by a late PI call in favor of Brady.

Sea 27, Az 24. Just think the Seahawks are too desperate to show up flat for this one. Both teams aare off the bye – I expect improvement by the Seahawks on both lines. Should be a classic Sunday night game.

Cin 23, Hou 16. I have to point out that the Bengals are a 7-0-1 against the spread. Wow. I think they are due for a letdown….but do I really have faith in Hoyer to keep it close?

Best bets: 15 of them. Ugh, I don’t like these. Last week: 6-5; overall: 67-53-4

Det +10.5
Det/GB under 48 1/2
Mia +6
Mia/Phi under 50
StL -6.5
Chi/Stl under 42 1/2
Dal +1
Car -4
Car/Ten over 44
Was pk
Oak -3
Den -4.5
Az/Sea over 44
Hou +10/5
Hou/Cin under 47.5

By the way, no one got the game show from last week? It's Layup's favorite slot machine game. 

Supercontest picks: Last week: 3-2; overall: 24-20-1
Det +11.5
StL -7
Dal +1.5
Was pk
Hou +10.5

Nov 6, 2015

NFL Week 9: ?????????

It's a special mystery week here at the blog! I am leaving to go back to the homeland later today - not sure if I will be able to access the blog for a week! With that background, here's a mystery game show for you fans out there.....

This should be easy if you have an encyclopedic memory of game shows from the 1980s; we'll see how many of you are true fans out there.

So - who is this person playing for the Chargers and what game show is he associated with?

OK, is that too hard? Let's see his face ....will that help?

Again, should be fairly easy....

Quick picks for the games; if I have time and access, I will add comments to these. I'm a little despondent after last night's debacle of a 21 point loss to the Bengals....

Buf 27, Mia 17
Car 19, GB 16
Min 20, StL 17
NE 31, Was 24
NO 30, Ten 20
NYJ 27, Jax 21
Pit 34, Oak 20
SF 23, Atl 20
TB 31, NYG 27
Den 24, Ind 20
Phi 23, Dal 20
Chi 29, SD 27

Best bets: 11 of them. Last week - thanks Carolina! - 5-9-1; overall: 61-48-4

Buf -3
Car +2.5
GB/Car under 45 1/2
Was +14
Pit -4.5
Oak/Pit over 48
SF +7
TB +2.5
NYG/TB over 49 1/2
Chi +4
Chi/SD over 49

Supercontest: still undecided as of this writing. Last week: 1-4; overall: 21-18-1.  Leans:

Buf -3
Car +2.5
Pit -4
SF +7
TB +2.5

Nov 1, 2015

NFL Week 8: Love Connection

"Welcome to Love Connection, where old-fashioned romance meets modern-day technology. Where you'll hear all the intimate details of a first date. Sometimes our dates have a happy ending, and sometimes there's just an ending. But it's always unpredictable when two strangers meet and try to make that....Love Connection!"

C'mon - who doesn't remember this show? I guess this should could be summarized as the family version of the Dating Game (which, I recall, we were not allowed to watch).

If you forget how this show worked, it's simple.  Love Connection featured a contestant that got to choose between three "choices" for a blind date. We got to know the main contestant - their background, dating preferences, personality - and then the audience got to see about a 15 second of the video snippets from each of the possible choices.

From that comprehensive personality screen, the audience got to pick what they thought would be the best match for the contestant. The contestant had already picked a choice, and they had gone on the first date before the show. We then see the choice on camera set up in the back room, and then everyone talks about the details of the date.

If the date went well, the lovers come out and meet each other and the show would pay for a second date. If not - well, they don't meet on stage and the show would pay for a date if the audience picked another person. That's it! No bonus round, no chance at $1000 jackpot.....

Chuck Woolery was the host for this show - and I have to saw he was the perfect fit for this type of show. For this show to exist in the 80s, you have to have an "innocent" host - and Chuck certainly fits this bill - but can make sly, subtle innuendos when needed. It can't be overt! I can't see someone like Wink Martindale or Dick Clark being able to do that second part.

I think this was the first show where most of the viewers - especially as a teenager watching - wanted to see the car wreck dates on the show. Who cares if a real "connection" was made and the couple hit it off? No! We wanted to see the arguments, yelling, and crying! It wasn't rare that the date went bad - but most of the times the conversations were civil. However, there were a few episodes when they couple went at each other and Chuck had to step in. That's when Layup or I would call each other to come to the TV room to watch.

One word: mullets. It was the majority of the hair style for the men in the was the late 80s, you know!

The dating profiles of the candidates were always fun to watch. It showed their occupation -"car salesman" was never a good signal - and their marital status. Remember, this was the 80s, so "divorced" was still a stigma. I think the show never offered divorcees to "never been married" folks and for a divorced contestant, they only offered divorced profiles.

The computer generated statistics for the audience choices! Remember that? The high technology involved in tallying the audience votes? It was statistically significant that 43% picked the insurance salesman from Riverside over the 42% that picked the accountant from Bakersfield.

Sometimes, if the first match didn't work out, the contestant would come back on and talk about the second date - the date with the audience pick. If that didn't work, Chuck seemed to get a little suspicious of the contestant and seem to tell him "hey, it's not us, maybe you need to work on things...."

Finally, who can forget Chuck's signature line as they cut away to commercial - we will be back in "two and two"....two minutes and two seconds for the commerical break. Been using that line at the craps table asking for a hard four for 20 years.....

Oh - for those that care - out of the 22,000 or so couples on Love Connection, there were a recorded 31 marriages.....about 0.15%. Not the best success rate....

I think the Browns fans need to stage an intervention and revive the Love Connection game show for....our friend Johnny. Hey Johnny, we've got three dating choices for you. One of them is a Hollywood actress, the other two are quiet single ladies from Waterloo, Iowa and Troy, Ohio. Mr. Manziel has already been on the date with the wild actress - we learned it ended on the highway - and now we, as Browns fans, will pay for him to date a quiet girl to stay out of the lime light. Please, Johnny, take us up on our advice (and Chuck's advice) and tone it down.

On to the games:

KC 26, Det 13. Can't figure out how the Lions will score here, given their complete inability to run the ball. I think the Chiefs will get enough pressure on the Lions to force mistakes and easy scores.

Atl 30, TB 23. Maybe the Falcons aren't all that good after all. That's 3 games in a row now where they came out fairly flat vs. inferior competition. Tampa can score, but there's no defense there.

Bal 31, SD 20. I think the Chargers are done - like 1995 Browns done. It's clear they are leaving San Diego - so it's time to mail it in. I also believe Harbaugh can make the case for the Ravens to keep playing hard at 1-6; their schedule is so easy now....

Chi 27, Min 23. What exactly has Minnesota done so far this year? They have a fairly good D, but have no passing game to keep up with any kind of a shootout - and that's what I expect here.

Ten 20, Hou 17. LeBeau game planning against a limited Brian Hoyer and no Arian Foster? Zach M is not that much of a letdown from Mariota. I like the Titans here.

NYG 27, NO 20. Time for a letdown for the Saints. They've played 2 good games in a row; the Giants have laid 2 stinkbombs. Time for the Giants to take advnatange of the horrible Saints secondary.

Cin 30, Pit 27. No real idea who will win here. Should be a shootout, since I still think Pittsburgh is vulnerable to a good passing offense.

Stl 20, SF 19. I watched the Rams last week - they are very limited offensively; I think the 49ers can shut down the run and keep it much closer than expected.

NYJ 27, Oak 16. The Jets' pass rush vs. Derek Carr should cause major problems for the Raiders. An let's not forget, the Raiders' D is not all that good. I think the Jets win easy here.

Dal 19, Sea 16. I'm sorry, did the Seahawks' record move to 5-2 when I was not looking? They still have multiple problems on each line, and Dallas' O-line strength will take advantage.

GB 26, Den 24. Can't figure this game out, as there are so many questions on both sides. How good is Denver's D, really? Green Bay could only score 27 vs. the weak Chargers' D? How bad is Peyton? Let's sit back and get answers before diving in.

Car 23, Ind 13. Carolina is good, people. Their secondary is excellent and will take away a lot of the Colts' strength. And that front line getting pressure on Luck will force him into mistakes....

Best bets: 15 of them. Last week: 8-5-1 ; overall: 56-39-3
KC -3
Det/KC under 45
Bal -3.5
Chi +1
Min/Chi over 42
Ten +4
Ten/Hou under 43
NYG +3
Cin/Pit over 48 1/2
SF +8
NYJ -3
Dal +4.5
Sea/Dal under 41 1/2
Car -6.5
Ind/Car under 46 1/2

Supercontest: Last week: 2-3. Thanks a lot, Flacco. Overall: 20-14-1
Bal -3.5
Chi +1.5
SF +8.5
NYJ -2.5
Dal +6

Dean Chance 1941-2015

Thanks to Steve for that memorial for the 1964 Cy Young award winner, Dean Chance. For those that can't put the name to the face, here are two pictures.....

One from the Angels - when he was (at the time ) the youngest Cy Young winner,
and one from 2000 during a boxing event.

I never got to meet Dean personally, but felt I knew him through the adventures he and Steve's family had. He is a character in history that will be missed.....

Oct 26, 2015

In case you are getting tired of hearing from only Eric Z, here are some thoughts I have on the passing of Dean Chance:

If you have not heard of Dean Chance, he was a major league pitcher in the 60s and won the Cy Young Award in 1964.  He was from Wooster and would come to Cleveland to play cards.  This is how my father met him.  At some point my father must have mentioned that I was a huge baseball fan arranged a dinner.  Despite the thirty-year age difference, Dean and I hit it off and became better friends than he was with my father.   Dean was involved with high school athletics in Wayne County and started an organization to award scholarships to student athletes in the county.  He would host a fund raiser banquet every year with celebrities from the sports world as keynote speakers and I was always invited.  He usually sat me at a table next to the then-current  Miss Wayne County, with the hopes that a relationship would bloom.  None did.  At one point, for a short time when I was in college, Dean and I were in business together promoting sports memorabilia shows.

I can't tell you how many odd adventures started with an early morning phone call from Dean.  An example:

6:00 a.m. phone call.  Dean:  "Is this The Lawyer?"  [You must read all of Dean's quotations as if they were spoken by Foghorn Leghorn, both in terms of volume and accent.  When I became a magistrate, the salutation would be "Is this the JUDGE?"]

Me:  "Yes it is.  Dean, do you know its 6:00?"

Dean:  "Don't worry about that Stevie.  Now let me tell you . . . I'm here in Auburn Hills, Michigan [I think for a boxing match.  Dean created the International Boxing Association in the 1990s].  There's someone here that wants to see you and I have something for you to do, when can you be here?" 

Me:  "You mean today?"

Dean:  "Shit YES I mean TODAY.  When can you be here?"

Me:  "Well . . . I guess around 10:00 or 11:00".

Dean:  "Great. Here is the address. . .  And bring the Accountant with you.  See you soon".  Click.

The "Accountant" was my friend from Case Western Reserve, Ken W., who Dean had met while we were involved with the sports memorabilia shows and who had a degree in accounting.   I called up Ken and he agreed to go, so were we off to Michigan.   When we arrived at the address I was given, a hotel in suburban Detroit, Dean answered the door.

Dean:  "The Lawyer and the Accountant!  I'm glad you're here!   Uncle Bo wants to see you and he wants some meat!"

"Uncle Bo" was Bo Belinsky, a teammate of Dean's from the California Angels.  Dean and Bo formed an off-field  dynamic duo during their playing days and were famous for their carousing. They were an odd couple - Bo was a street kid from New Jersey and Dean was the classic hayseed, or at least played that part well.    Bo liked starlets and had relationships with Ann Margaret, Tina Louise (Ginger on Gilligan's Island) and Mamie Van Dorn, to whom he was engaged on three or four occasions.   He ending up marring an heiress to the Weyerhaeuser Lumber fortune.  If one believes the rumors, Dean had to settle for Marylyn Monroe.  Uncle Bo was famous for saying "If music be the food of love, by all means let the band play on".  (Despite all of his high profile lovers, I always felt Bo was a bit gay.  Sorry for thinking that Uncle Bo).

By the time of our unexpected trip to Michigan, Uncle Bo was in a bad way.  The heiress had divorced him and, as the result of a sold pre-nup, left him penniless.  He also was dying of bladder cancer, which was not helped by the "Old English Ovals" he smoked in quick succession all of his waking hours.  He was sprawled on a couch in a bath robe propped up by pillows.  He seem to come alive for a moment when he saw me, but was clearly in pain.  Dean was buzzing around him like a worried mother.  There were some other people there, to whom I was not introduced and who I did not know.

Dean:  "Now that you have said your hellos, can you get Bo some meat".

Me:  "What kind of meat?"

Dean:  "You know, meat!"

Me:  "No I don't know, what kind?"

Dean:  "You know, the kind for sandwiches".

Me:  "OK, but what type of sandwich meat . . . salami, baloney, ham . . ."

Dean:  "All those . . . and some cheese and bread and maybe potato salad".

So Ken and I were off to the grocery store where we bought pounds of meat . . . and cheese . . and bread . . . and potato salad.   We went back to the hotel with our bounty and everyone ate. 

Me:  "Dean, did you have me come up here to go to the store for you?"

Dean:  "NO . . . I almost forgot.  I want you to go to Tiger Stadium  . . . there's a guy you may have heard of pitching there today named NOLAN RYAN . . . and see Frank Cashman (I think it was Frank Cashman.  Whomever it was was the GM of the Tigers).  He'll have tickets for you.   Just tell him I sent  you".

We did as instructed.  Mr. Cashman gave us the royal treatment and set us up with tickets behind home plate.   We were there before BP and, I think, before the gates opened to the public.  An old guy in a Texas Rangers uniform was throwing in the bullpen.  The pop of the ball hitting the glove echoed throughout empty Tiger Stadium.  WOW, we thought, Nolan Ryan was really popping those 100 mph heaters in there.  When we got closer, we saw that the pitcher was not Nolan Ryan but the other old guy on the team . . . Charlie Huff!!  The 100 mph heaters were really 60 mph knuckle balls!!  

One last story from this day.  We got to the ballpark early and parked in the second row of cars.  Unbeknownst to us, the parking attendants did not leave space empty between rows but, rather, parked all of the cars in solid mass.  We left the game when Ryan was taken out in the 8th (I think), thinking we would get a head start for our long trip home.  We were dismayed to find our car blocked in.  As luck would have it, a car in the front row just to the left of our car had departed.  There was a VW bug in front of our car next to this now vacant space.  If we could slide the bug over a bit we could squeeze out, drive over the side walk, and be on our way.  We recruited some local gentlemen who were walking by, lifted the bug enough to slide it over and made our way home! 

So this is how I managed to sit behind home plate to witness Nolan Ryan's 297th victory.  I'll miss those crazy calls! 

Oct 25, 2015

NFL Week 7: Blockbusters

"This is the battlefield for our game of speed and strategy....These are the letters that lead to victory on.....Blockbusters!"

This was a fairly unique show back in the 80s because of the contestant teams. This was not a one-on-one battle. This was 2 vs 1! A solo player vs. a "family pair"! Are two heads really better than 1? Usually not, from my experience.

The first part of the game was fairly simple. The board consisted of 20 hexagons, laid on in a 4x5 board. Each hexagon had a letter, which was the starting letter of the answer. For example, the letter could be "C"; the clue is: "What C is the name of a university whose football team will always come up with a timely choke in November?" The players would buzz in, and give the correct response.

To win the game, you have to make a path from left to right or from top to bottom. Here's where I find this game odd and possibly unfair.

As I said at the beginning, this is a 2 vs 1 game. The "Family pair" was the white color, and they had to cross from left to right - and had to make a connection of a minimum of 5 hexagons to win. The solo contestant was red, and he/she only had to win at least 4 hexagons for the game.

Now, for the human psychology questions - is this really fair? In a game show environment, is it really 2 vs 1? What are the dynamics here? With the family pair, are you really getting 100% of each playing partner? Usually, it was a strong partner and a "weaker" that team really is only getting 1.1 of a person. But what if you had 2 strong partners on the team? Then you have an unfair advantage the other way - and they should be forced to make a 6- or 7-length connection.

To me, it seemed that the solo player had an unfair advantage since he was able to buzz in at any time and not worry about possible family dynamics.......on the family pair side, contestant #1 may get an earful from Grandma if he/she didn't let his partner buzz in a fair amount of times....who knows.

By the way - something I learned in digging up pictures for the game. See the game board? What happens if there is a tie and there is no full connection made? Well - I learned that there is no possible way for a tie to happen. A path - either up/down or left/right - has to be made. I can't prove this, but now I'm going to fascinated by this math problem today while watching Buffalo/Jacksonville.....

The bonus game followed the same format as the regular game; a 4x5 matrix of honeycombs, and the contestant has to make a path from left to right in 60 seconds. The clues could be 1-5 letters, meaning the answers were 1-5 words. For instance, the honeycomb may be "DS". The clue is: "What DS is the odds-on favorite to be the Cleveland Browns head coach in 2018?" If the contestant gets stopped, he can try to move around the missed answer and find alternate paths across in 60 seconds.

And that's about it! Maybe this really never caught fire because it seems repetitive. No bells/whistles in the bonus round, no opportunity for trips to the Bahamas in the main game. It lasted for about 2 1/2 years and then died out.

The host of the show is Bill Cullen. I'm sorry, I never saw his appeal. Nice guy and all - very personable - but he seemed to waste a lot of time with the contestant interviews and making corny jokes after every answer. He's the opposite of Dick my opinion, the show is not about the host, but about the game. Bill seemed to host a game show thinking it's a talk show with the game secondary. For a purist like me, that's an offense!

Now - I have to copy this story in. Bill contracted Polio as as a kid and had complete trouble walking. He usually had to use the metal poles attached to his arms to walk. Not many people knew this....including the great Mel's a story from Mel that I find hilarious - this is Mel speaking:

The week of October 17–21 in 1966—that would make me about 40—was a special celebrity week on Eye Guess. Bill Cullen was the host. The game was very similar to Concentration. I was teamed up with Julia Meade. Remember her? Actress, very pretty young lady, blonde... Okay, never mind. I don't think I won, but I did get the take-home game. Anyway, the show is over, and I start walking toward the podium to say good night to Bill, to thank him for having me on. He starts coming toward me cross-stage, and I don't know what he's doing. His feet are flopping. His hands are flying everywhere. He's doing this kind of wacky walk-of-the-unfortunates that Jerry Lewis used to do. So I figured, what the hell, I'll join him. I start doing, I dunno, this multiple-sclerosis walk, flapping my arms and doing the Milton Berle cross legs—my own Jerry Lewis impression... And Julia is whispering, "No! He's crippled, Mel!" I don't even hear her. Finally we meet in the middle, we hug, and he says to me, "You know, you're the only comic who's ever had the nerve to make fun of my crippled walk. Everyone's so careful, it makes me feel even worse." And I realize, Oh, my God, this guy is really crippled! It was my worst moment—and if you weren't me, probably the funniest thing that ever happened.[11]

One of the great champions in Blockbusters was Leland Wung - winning over $100,000 across 20 episodes as a solo player. Notice any resemblance to a reader on the blog?

What a frustrating Browns game last weekend. Ugh. So much optimism, so many things we did right - and then we can't take advantage of multiple opportunties. I wonder what the winning percentage is of NFL teams that get a turnover in opposition territory in has to be 95%, right? Well, last week fell in the 5% category. I asked Steve with about 2:00 left in regulation: "I wonder how we will lose this game"? At the end, after the loss, I concluded: "Ah, it's the run-of-the-mill heartbreak. Nothing special, just a routine crushing loss".

This season is like playing Blockbusters with Steve and my sister-in-law Candace. I'm the solo player facing those two, and the clues all seemed to have a theme, like "19th Century European History" and "Famous Bassoonists". Even if I manage to get a clue, I'll get blocked by obscure questions in these areas. So frustrating... I feel this offense is much better than 2-4, but we don't have anything better to show for it. And now we play Todd Gurley and the Rams. I look for a 30-13 shellacking.

Anyway, on to the games:

Buf 20, Jax 17. The Bills were so unimpressive last week. I'm surprised - maybe I bought into the Rex Ryan hype a bit. I think the Jags will keep this close.

Min 24, Det 17. The Vikes are this year's annual "non-descript" team- can you think of anything they do well? But the Liions are so one-dimensional they should be easy to stop.

Ind 31, NO 20. Saw a lot of good things from Vick last week (in that horrendous back door cover by the Colts), and the Saints won a game in a perfect spot for them. I still continue to  think the Saints are a bottom 5 team.

Pit 20, KC 17. No idea here. You'd think that Andy Reid can game plan against Landry Jones, but maybe that would be overestimating Reid's coaching abilities....

Mia 24, Hou 20. Let's not get too excited over Miami - 2 weeks to prepare with a new coach and fresh attitude. However, I still can't trust Houston on the road yet.

NE 24, NYJ 20. I think the Jets have the offense to take the air out of the ball here and enough defense to slow down Brady. I am concerned about Fitzpatrick on the road and a fatal mistake (or 2).

Atl 23, Ten 20. The Falcons - who may be overrated - outdoors against LeBeau? I know Marcus is out, but I think the Falcons will struggle to move the ball.

Was 24, TB 14. Still not a believer in Tampa. I think this is an excellent matchup for the Skins - a physical team at home vs. a mistake-prone offense. Sounds like a mirror game of the Browns-Rams!

Oak 31, SD 30. A great shootout here; The Raiders have 2 weeks to prepare against the soft San Diego offense; the Chargers have played 2 emotional games in a row and have to have a letdown here.

NYG 20, Dal 17. Can't pick this game when I haven't seen Cassel in forever. I am shocked at how bad the Giants looked last week.

Car 23, Phi 16. Yes, Philly has a good defense, but their offense still is not clicking. Did anyone watch that game on Monday? So the Eagles, off of a big home divisional win Monday, head to Carolina for a fired up Panthers team that people STILL do not believe in.

Az 27, Bal 23. I have to believe that a good coach with a good quaterback will show up on the road on Monday night against a good opponent. Banking on too much pride in the Ravens here...and a lot of points!

Best bets: 14 of them. Last week: 6-8-1; overall: 48-34-2

Min pk
Ind -4
Pit +3
Pit/KC under 43
NYJ +7.5
Ten +6
Was -3
TB/Was under 43
Oak +3.5
Oak/SD over 46 1/2
Dal/NYG under 45
Car -3
Phi/Car under 45 1/2
Bal +8

Supercontest picks: Last week: 0-4-1. Too much time on the Pyramid review, apparently. Overall: 18-11-1.

Ind -4.5
Was -3
Oak +4
Car -3
Bal +7.5

Oct 17, 2015

NFL Week 6: The $25,000 Pyramid

"Ok, I'll give you 5 seconds to get your thoughts together.......

....ok. Concentrate and Relax.

For $25,000, here is your first subject. Go!"

What more needs to be said about the Pyramid? What a game show. Probably the most serious, smartest, and most rule-focused out of all the 80s game shows. It was must see TV, especially at 10:38 and 10:51 for the bonus rounds. Possibly the most perfect bonus round in the history of TV.

For those that may not know, the Pyramid was a partner game, two celebrities paired with two contestants. The celebrities could be well known people - like Betty White, Vicki Lawrence, or Nipsey Russell - or co-starts from nighttime soaps that I never watched, like "Hotel".

The first part of game was more informal, where a giver had to make the guess say 7 related words in 30 seconds - and they could do almost anything to get them to say the word - blanks, opposites, hand gestures, physical somersaults, etc.... 3 rounds were played with a possible total of 21. If there was a tie, a 4th round was played. However, if you said any part of the word, you heard the inimitable "cuckoo" sound, meaning an illegal clue.

The winning pair went to ....the Winner's circle. Here's where the high drama began. The lights darkened and one lone light shined onto the center stage; 6 subjects appeared on the board, and the giver had to give a list of items that fit a subject; once the guesser guessed the correct subject, they moved on. There were various rules in this stage that were never exactly clear, and we can talk about them below.

For the first trip to the winner's circle, the contestant played for $10,000; if they made it there the second time, it was for $25,000 - no matter if you won the first time or not.

This was a fun game to play with a partner at home - many instances I would make Layup sit with the back to the TV, mute the sound, and play the bonus game. After about 35-40 seconds or so, Layup would say "this is stupid" and go play Micro League. I did find a willing partner to play full episodes with another reader of this blog, whom I had to babysit in their home in Phoenix, MD while his parents were out of town.....

Dick Clark was the perfect host for this game. He's very formal, a stickler for the rules, and who can ever forget him running over to the winner's circle after a failed attempt. He'd pick one of the categories after the time was out and give the perfect clue. The contestant would then guess the correct answer. Dick would say "Yes, you got it" and look disapprovingly at the celebrity. "Why couldn't you say that? Idiot..." Dick would seem to mutter.

He would also give words of advice at the beginning of the winner's circle to the pair. I never thought this helped.
"Relax" - as the spotlight shone on them and the big $25,000 is flashing....
"Focus on your partner, get a picture of what he is trying to say" - nice, but when it's Soupy Sales, it's hard to get any pictures from the clues
and my favorite...
" Let me give you a rub down" - a 5 second massage that was mildly creepy and didn't help at all.

Some random comments/questions I have on the show:

- Why were you not allowed to pass clues in the first round but you were able to pass subjects in the winner's circle? That always bothered me.
- If there was a 21-21 tie in the first game, the tiebreaker was played for $5,000 of bonus money. That's the winner of the tiebreaker wins $5,000 and gets to play for $10,000 or $25,000....and the loser of the perfect game gets nothing. Seems fair.
- Love the hand straps in the winner's circle. You were not allowed to use hand gestures there. There would be no way I could play without those. Within 10 seconds I would be all over the place and disqualified.
- The rules in the winner's circle were nefarious. You could only use a list. You could not describe things - although you could use adjectives before the noun. For instance, "old women's breasts" is acceptable, but "breasts of women that are old" is not.   No prepositions. I'm an adult, I have no idea what a preposition is any more.
- The celebrity could either give or receive, but 95% of the time the celebrity gave, as he/she is trying to paint the picture for the nervous contestant. I would have liked to try giving if I made it to the stage.
- The second winner's circle was always harder than the first - which makes sense if the same person made it and the second time was for $25,000. However, if it was the other contestant, he/she got screwed! Playing the board for $10,000 with significantly harder categories.

It's a special Saturday edition of the blog since we - all of us! - are heading to the Cleveland game Sunday! Martin is in first grade, and that's our rite of passage - the Zahn boys attend their first game in 1st grade. We did this in the magical fall of '07 with Freddie, when the Tribe was in the playoffs and the Browns went to 4-2 with a shootout win over the Dolphins. We did this in '09, when the awful Browns took the Bengals to overtime but lost in the last 2 minutes of overtime. And now in '15 with dogs, brats and chili are being made today and we are meeting another reader of the blog up there for his kids' first game.

I feel like we are in the second winner's circle for the Browns here...this is a big game. We just beat the Ravens in Baltimore - hasn't happened in 8 years - and won the $10,000. But now, this is a game against Peyton, at home, to get back to .500.

At 4:00, will the Zahn family be doing this in the aisle of Cleveland Browns Stadium?

or - will the phrase "Cleveland Browns Defense" be a perfect clue for this category on the right?

On to the games:

Buf 23, Cin 17. Saw cracks in the Cincinnati armor last week. I know they made a great comeback, but they can't keep being at an emotional high week after week. Ryan's defense may have something for Dalton.

Ten 24, Mia 20. No clue what Miami will look like here. I think the  Miami defense will be vanilla enough for Mariota to take advantage.

Det 30, Chi 20. If the Lions don't win here, they may go 0-16. I think they will be able to pass enough on the Bears' D and they will get enough rush to hassle Cutler.

Jax 27, Hou 20. I can't pick Houston until further notice. Hoyer does seem to look better, but Bortles and the Jags can move the ball against mediocre D - and that's what Houston is right now.

Min 24, KC 17. How devastated are the Chiefs after last week? That's the question. I think they will be able to run, even without Jamal, but Alex Smith looks horrible.

NYJ 20, Was 10. Cousins is good vs. a mediocre D, but I'm scared of what the Jets will bring - and pressure will be bad for Cousins.

Az 31, Pit 20. Did anyone really watch the game Monday night? San Diego could do anything they wanted on Pittsburgh. And the Pit offense is inconsistent. If Vick has to throw against that Cardinals' secondary, look out.

Sea 20, Car 16. Boy, not sure how this one will play out. The home field advantage will pull Seattle through - barely.

GB 31, SD 24. San Diego keep piling up offensive numbers - and I'm not sure how good the Pack is defensively. They are good, but maybe not elite. I think San Diego will score enough to keep it close.

SF 27, Bal 20. Wow, the Ravens fell apart against us last week. No pressure - so Colin should have a good day.

NE 34, Ind 20. How many points can the Pats score? 34? 41? 51? Not even considering the revenge factor, how will Indy keep up?

NYG 27, Phi 24. Philly beat the worst team (or bottom 3 team) at home last week, after the Saints gave them so many turnovers. Let's not think the Eagles are back yet.

Best bets: 15 of them. Last week: 8-4-1; overall: 42-26-1.

Buf +3
Det -3
Chi/Det over 44
Jax -1.5
Min -3.5
NYJ -7
Was/NYJ under 40 1/2
Az -4
Az/Pit over 45
Car +7
SD +10.5
SD/GB over 50 1/2
SF +2
NE -7 (I got a -7 wager in last Sunday night. I would still take them at -10).
NYG +5

Supercontest: Last week: 4-1; overall: 18-7.

Buf +3.5
Det -3
Az -3
NE -7.5
NYG +4.5

Oct 11, 2015

NFL Week 5: Classic Concentration

"Behind these numbers is a puzzle. Can you solve it? If you can do that, you'll have a chance to win a brand new car as we play Classic Concentration!"

Yes, in the 1980s, NBC aired a remake of the 50's and 60's classic Concentration for 5 years. The old version - from 1958 to 1973 - is still NBC's longest running game show. I'm sure this will be passed soon by American Ninja Warriors. Hugh Downs was the first host!!!

Anyway, the game play is fairly simple - everyone remembers the game Memory, right? Well, 25 cards are shown on the screen; behind each card is a prize. You have to find the pairs of the prizes to win the prize, make a match and keep your turn. The prize cards are removed to reveal a "rebus" puzzle behind the board. You have to solve the puzzle to win the game. If you win 2 games, you go to the bonus round.

Everyone has seen these rebus puzzles, right? Here's an example. It always sucks to have a match on square 1(upper left) and 25 (lower right) - usually these are blanks. Thanks for the help!

The cards also contained "Take" cards, where you can take one of the prizes from your opponent. Crush your opponent by taking the prize that was Martha's dream trip to the Poconos!

Most of the prizes you can win in this stage were not all trips, but more middling prizes like those on "Price is Right"....Sewing Machine! CD player! VCR Machine! Answering machine! State of the art electronics from 1988.

The bonus round is where you really wanted to get to. 8 cars were in the showroom - and 15 cards were on the board; 7 pairs of cards and one "dummy". You then tried to match all 7 pairs of cars in 30 seconds to win a car.....The cars were a wide variety of makes and models; I'd hate to be the poor schmuck who successfully completed the bonus round and ended up with a Geo Metro.

Your host for the 1980s version of Concentration was Medic Alert's own Alex Trebek! Alex seems like a nice guy, but he can come off as smarmy too. If no one could solve the rebus, he's go up to the board and start explaining the puzzle. "Now, here, we have a head of a nail....that means Head....and down here we have a bunch of students near a board....C'mon people, buzz in! This is a class!  Head and class? Let's go!"

When searching for Alex, there were too many pictures of him in 1980s sweaters for me to post. Let me just leave you with an image you can't unsee: A promo ad for Concentration in Toledo. Yes, when I think sex symbols, I think of Alex Trebek.....

Speaking of concentration, is it that hard to concentrate on a defensive play and not jump offsides until the ball is snapped? Finding another way to lose- that's the new Browns mantra since 1999. I bet fans of other teams out there lose 1 game in their lifetime on an untimed down with 0:00 left. This is our 3rd in 15 years!

- we had a pass interference called against us in Detroit in '08; up 6 with :05 left, Detroit threw a semi-hail Mary from the 40; we pulled down a receiver and was called for it. With :00 left, Detroit had a play from the 1; they scored and kicked the extra point and they won, 38-37. I think this was the game where Brady Quinn threw for 400+ yards.
- of course, there's the grand daddy of all losses, the Dwayne Rudd game. I can't relive the details here again.

And now, add the offsides FG to San Diego to that list.

I'm encouraged by our offense, but our defense- supposedly our strength in the pre season - is absolutely horrid. Rob Ryan coaching for us would actually be an improvement.

On to the games:

Atl 27, Was 17.  I really like this Redskins team, but this is a horrible matchup for them. The Falcons are well balanced and can throw, and this is in Atlanta - if the Skins go down 10, you really see them coming back?

Cin 20, Sea 13. I keep thinking Cincy will throw in a stinker - but geez, Seattle is just not good. Chi and Det do not have good defenses - and Seattle can't score on them. If the Bengals play mediocre defense, they win easily.

GB 31, StL 20. I think I will pass on all Rams games for a while. Just not sure what you are going to get from them. Do we really trust Foles to be consisntent?

KC 26, Chi 17. If Cutler is in there- and I think he will play - the Bears are fairly good offensively. I'm not sure if Alex Smith and the Chiefs are built to score 30+ vs. anyone.

Phi 31, NO 17. I'm just shocked at how awful the Saints are offensively. And - bad spot for them; they had their emotional high last week in prime time at home needing a win. Now they go on the road and face a desperate Eagles team.

TB 27, Jax 16. Tampa has been moving the ball recently, and turnovers have been their doom. This is the third road game in a row for the Jags, and they don't have the ball hawking D to really hassle Winston.

Buf 20, Ten 13. I can't stop thinking about how much pressure we - the Browns - got against Mariota. We dominated their offensive line. What will Rex and that D do to them?

Az 27, Det 20. I can't see how the Lions scores many points! They can't run, and Az pass defense is excellent. If the Cards are a Super Bowl contender - I think they are - they should win this game on the road vs. an opponent on a short week.

Den 30, Oak 20. This should be the game where Peyton breaks out....Oak pass D is very bad, and Den should have success airing it out. Only way Denver loses is if they look ahead to next week's key game....

NE 27, Dal 20. No idea here. Seems to easy to think that the Pats will win by 20 here...but they may save it for next week vs. the Colts.

NYG 30, SF 19. San Fran will give up a lot of points to the Giants pass offense, but I don't think the Giants D is good enough to completely stifle the Niners O.

Pit 27, SD 24. OK, before we get to this game, let me get something off my chest. We're going to hear a LOT during this Monday night game about the Steeler fans and how well they travel. I will puke 4-5 times.
Look, we have a first hand account of last week where the Browns fans made up at least 40% of the Q in San Diego. Why doesn't that get any press?  Because our games are not in prime time. We travel just as well as these in bred toothless fans - if not better - but no one hears about since 1% of the nation watches. It makes me sick.
Anyway, I'm not impressed with San Diego at all. They are scraping by with smoke and mirrors. I can't believe I am putting faith in Tomlin to expose this.

Best bets: 12 of them. Last week: 11-2; overall: 34-21
Atl -6 1/2
Cin -3
Sea/Cin under 43 1/2
StL/GB over 45 1/2
Phi -6
TB -3
Buf pk
Buf/Ten under 42
Az -3
Den -4
SF/NYG over 43 1/2
Pit +4

One and only one underdog. I hated this week.

Supercontest: Last week: 5-0; overall: 14-6
Phi -4.5
TB -3
Buf -2.5
Az -2.5
Pit +3


Oct 4, 2015

NFL Week 4: Tattle Tales

"Everyone in this studio has a money stake in one of our famous we play the game of celebrity gossip...Tattle Tales! And now here's the star of our show, Bert Convy!"

I had to search the internet to re-acquaint myself with this game. This was another show that I watched infrequently in the 10:30 am time slot right before Price is Right, and being 11 years old, I never could really wrap my mind around these "celebrities" or the stories they were saying.

There were three pairs of celebrity couples- we'll get to that definition in a bit- that played for real money to be split among members of the audience. The couples were split up to begin, with the men on stage and the women gone to their "isolation" chamber so they couldn't hear the questions. Bert asked the men some questions about their lives, relationships, etc. - very much like the Newlywed Game - and their answers were recorded.

Then - and this was the fascinating part to me back then- a mini TV monitor turned on right below the man on was the woman of the couple wearing these big, enormous, 8-track-like headphones! She answered the question; if it matched, the team won points.

The roles were reversed, the men went backstage, questions were doubled, and the same shtick played out. Finally, the big bonus question was asked - for $300!!!. The overall winning section got an additional $1000........ and that was truly split up among the members of the audience in that section.

I guess I never really understood that growing up - the money for the questions were split up among the audience. How did that exactly work? Some comments about this:

- Let's say the winning section had a pot of $1400 or so. How many people are in each section? Look at the opening picture above. 10 people per row? 15 rows? 150 people? So that's $10 or so each? That's it? I guess fast food meals were $2.59 back then so it's  a dinner for your family at Arthur Treacher's or Burger Chef......  (hey Eric, this would be a good theme for the future...bygone 1970's/1980's fast food joints.... -ed). 

- What if your section didn't win? You are splitting up $375 among 150 of your closest friends... so you win $2.43? Yeah, thanks a lot, Soupy Sales.

- How did they actually get the money? Simple! Have your own check-printing machine on site!

Cash prizes on game shows are typically awarded to contestants in the form of a check, mailed weeks after a show has been taped. Because of the impracticality (e.g., postal costs) of doing this for an entire studio audience,Tattletales kept a check-cutting machine in the studio and distributed the money to the audience members on their way out immediately after the show.

Fascinating. That had to be a job for a horrible intern at CBS in 1981.

"Hey Mark Goodson, can I work on Price is Right this week?"
"No, Chet, you will be working with Mr. Convy over at Tattletales printing out checks for 400 people. And don't spell Mrs. Krzyzchewski's name wrong!!"

- Bert always called the yellow section as the "banana" section. That's so Bert...  and yes, sometimes he played the game himself so he could share stories. So guest hosts were frequently involved.

- Who were these "celebrities" that showed up and participated in this game? Usually, these were other game show hosts at the time....Allen Ludden...Orson Bean...Bob Barker and his wife was on....B-list actors were the main stay. Dick Gauthier....Leslie Nielsen .... William Shatner....even Tommy Lasorda was on.

- I bet you are asking yourself - hey, homosexuality was rampant in the 70's and 80's in Hollywood...did they have gay/lesbian couples on stage? Silly reader...of course they did not have the gay couples on stage; however, they did sometimes match up a gay man and a lesbian woman as a partner.... one example I found was Dick Sargent (from Bewitched) and Fannie Flagg was a team. Charles Nelson Reilly was also on this show at one point....

Obviously, I had to use this game show this week to relate it to all the celebrity gossip going on about my beloved Browns right now. TMZ is now involved! Someone in the Browns locker room is a mole for TMZ! Three - 3!! - unnamed players say they are pissed since they want Johnny to be our starter. Um, I'm sure someone said something about Johnny winning vs. Tennessee and they want to see him play some more to see what he can do. That somehow turned into a big spectacle. Why does TMZ think America cares about this? America's fascination with Johnny is very surprising to me.

I think we will see a good effort out of the Browns this week. McCown moved the ball several times vs. Oakland, and we shot ourself in the foot numerous times last week. If our front 7 can play as well today as they did vs. Tennessee, the Chargers decimated O-line may have an issue protecting Rviers....

(prediction: San Diego 41, Cleveland 3).

On to the games:

NYJ 24, Mia 10. Boy, it's hard to "un-see" the Dolphins game last weekend. Have they played any good halves yet this year? I think the Jets defense will force several Dolphins mistakes, and that's all that is needed.

Atl 27, Hou 17. Houston's offense is abysmal, and while Atlanta won't completely shut them out, the Falcons will score enough to win by double digits.

NYG 23, Buf 20. I still believe in Coughlin's coaching ability, and he will bring this game down to his level and try to out-ugly the Bills.

Chi 20, Oak 17. I just can't see the Raiders playing 3 good games in a row. Check out the Bears' schedule so far: GB, Arizona, Sea. What a start. No wonder people are rating them 32nd..let's wait until they play a mediocre team to see if they are really that bad.

Cin 20, KC 17. Should be a defensive affair, with both teams running for 150 yards.

Ind 27, Jax 26. Not sure yet about the status of Luck. However, the Colts' lines are mess. How will they protect Luck? How do they defend passes? I see lots of scoring here no matter who the QB is for Indy.

Car 23, TB 20. Carolina has not impressed me at all on the offensive side of the ball, but their D should be enough to win this game.

Was 23, Phi 20. I'm not convinced the Eagles are legit. Two bad games and a game where the Jets gave them several turnovers. If Cousins can limit the mistakes, the Skins win easily.

Az 26, StL 16. The Cards wil have to run to beat the Rams, and while that's not their best offensive plan, they should be able to stop the Rams' offense.

Den 27, Min 20. Could be an upset - but then I don't know how much faith I have in the Vikes - and Tedddy - in leading a possible 4th quarter comeback against that Denver D.

GB 31, SF 20. All right, all right, I'm scarred. Never again (at least for a while) will I bet against the Packers.

NO 31, Dal 23. This is the last stand for the Saints. 0-3, at home, on Sunday night, against a vulnerable defense to fast teams.....I can't see the Saints losing no matter who is QB.

Sea 20, Det 10. Two teams that are still overrated. Seattle can't move the ball, and neither can Detroit.

Best bets: 13 of them. Last week: 6-8; overall: 23-19.
NYJ -2
NYJ/Mia under 42
Atl -6
NYG +5
Chi +3
KC/Cin under 44
Jax +9
Was +3
Az -7
Min/Den over 42 1/2
GB -7.5
NO -3
Det/Sea under 43

Supercontest: Last week: 2-3; overall: 9-6. I hate these picks.
NYJ -1.5
Atl -6
Jax +9
Was +3
Chi +3

Sep 27, 2015

NFL Week 3: Press Your Luck

"These three players are after Big Bucks, but they will have to avoid the Whammy!, as they play the most exciting game of their lives!"

This will be one of the rare game show write-ups where I don't have to saw much about the game. Who doesn't know Press Your Luck? The game was always in four sections:

Part 1: 4 questions asked to get spins

Part 2: First time around the big board - prizes were awful at this stage ("a Sewing Machine!"). You use your spins to "randomly" stop the board on a prize square. If it is a Whammy, you lose everything!

Part 3: 4 more questions to get spins

Part 4: The final time at the big board; prizes here were 5x as nice as the first round.

The key square to stop on, of course, was the "BIG BUCKS" square - that sent you to the highest dollar value on the board. That caused a lot of yelling and hollering and jumping!

If you knew nothing about the 1980s, I think this game show explains a lot about popular culture at the time. Bright neon colors everywhere! Big hair for all the contestants! Never ending cash grabs! And the debut of Rod Roddy!

Who could forget the horrible sound effect music played when the board was in movement. "doo doo dee doo doo dee doo doo......" I'm sure this music was the inspiration for the robot dance craze of the 80s.

Peter Tomarken was a good host - I wouldn't call him excellent; he seemed way too smarmy at times. Also, if there was a contestant he didn't like, you could sense some joy in his narration when he said " a Whammy......"

Speaking of Whammy, we all remember the 5 second animation "skits" that were played when the Whammy came up. An animated Whammy appeared on the player's scoreboard and made a cheesy saying ("I cannot tell a lie.... YOU LOSE!") or dressed up as Tina Turner to sing while your money was taken away. I have to admit, this did not go stale, as the writers came up with 30-40 skits at least to use when the Whammy appeared.

Anyway, some more random notes on Press Your Luck:

- You could pass your spins at any time; the person that received your passed spins had to take them. However even I couldn't figure out the rules on who they went to . If you were in 1st, the spins you pass would go to the person in 2nd....if you were in 2nd and you passed, the spins went to the person in 1st....I never understood that. If you were the guy in 3rd, I guess you were just screwed.

- This is one of the very few game shows without a bonus round at the end. I guess the producers thought the final round on the big board was climatic enough that no additional tension was needed. They were porbably right!

- If a contestant got 4 whammies over the two rounds, you were eliminated. So there was some strategy/risk in the first round if someone got 2 whammies. Do you keep going, or pass so you don't risk a 3rd whammy? Would love to have seen how Rich Kotite or Andy Reid would have handled this.

- Did you know someone figured out the "pattern" of the Press Your Luck screen? yes! An unemployed truck driver from Southwest Ohio (!!!!) memorized the pattern of the screen and was able to win $110,000 on an early episode. He is my hero! CBS tried to accuse him of cheating - but, of course, it's not cheating if you figure out the pattern of the lights! Here's the Wikipedia link for more.

- At the end of the show, Tomarken would read a poem sent in by a reader that referenced the whammys and was suppossedly "funny". The author was usually an 11-year old boy from Monkton, MD or a 43-year-old housewife from Peoria, IL.

Some may say the Browns are trying to Press their luck by bringing McCown back to start in Week 3 after Johnny's win last week. Are we going against our week 2 pattern and hitting the buzzer earlier and risk getting a whammy? I am for the decision. If McCown was our starter week 1 - and he was - and he's ready to go week 3, he starts. We are 1-1 , the season is not over, and there's a good chance if we win we will be tied for the division lead. You play the QB that has the best chance to win. It's still September.

Don't worry- this is the Browns - Johnny will have plenty more opportunities to start this year. We will either be 2-7, or McCown will imitate Don Beebe and land on his head and be taken off for precautions, etc. etc. I'm sure, for one reason or another, Johnny will be in there for week 7 and we will be able to evaluate Manziel. And if not, that means we will be 5-2 or so!

On to the games for week 3:

Bal 30, Cin 27.  This has to be a kitchen sink game for the Ravens - lose this, they go to Pit on Thu night looking at 0-4 and then a tough division game after that. I can't see them losing here, alothough Cincinnati is the better team.

Car 24, NO 17. I think all those people who jumped on the Carolina bandwagon when Bree's injury was announced will be shocked at how close this game will be. Where, exactly, is Carolina's offense?

Dal 20, Atl 17. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Weeden and all that. But I'm not sure Atlanta is good offensively. They have Jones - and nothing else.

Hou 23, TB 10. I'm sticking with my gut on a blowout when a good defense meets Winston. And the Texans are desperate.

SD 24, Min 21. I can't get a handle on these two teams yet; I'll pick the team with more offensive weapons.

NE 27, Jax 20. I'm not going to call the upset or anything, but I think NE is a bit 'soft" physically. Pittsburgh ran all over them in the opener. And we've seen this plenty of times before - NE, at home, simply does not get up against inferior teams.

NYJ 20, Phi 16.  Too scared to pick anything here. The Eagles can't be this bad, can they? If the Eagles don't turn it over, will the Jets reach 20???

Stl 31, Pit 27. Let's be clear, Pit's defense is a shambles. StL has the advantage on each of the lines here to win the battle in the trenches. Both teams will score.

Ind 24, Ten 20. Should be a lot of sacks in this game - both o lines have problems. Should be a lot closer than people think.

Az 30, SF 17. As seen last week, I think SF is very vulnerable to a precise passing attack - something Pittsburgh excels at and Minnesota did not have at all week 1. Arizona is very much like Pittsburgh and I think they will move the ball easily.

Buf 20, Mia 13. I'm now on record for 3 weeks with my dislike of Miami. What have they been doing well?

Sea 30, Chi 17. A blah game. I don't think Seattle's D is good enough to shut the Bears completely down, and their offense is not firing on all cylinders yet.

Den 24, Det 16.  I just remember how easily Rivers moved the ball vs. the Lions week 1 - that's the blueprint for Manning here! How will the Lions score against that Denver D?

GB 23, KC 20. How many big games can the Packers get up for? Opener vs. their rival Chi, Sunday night at home vs. Seattle...and now this? Kansas City has the D to put pressure on Rodgers and slow them down.

Best bets: 14 of them. Last week:  10-5; overall: 17-11
Cin/Bal over 44 1/2
Dal +1
Atl/Dal under 43 1/2
Hou -6.5
TB/Hou under 40 1/2
SD +1
Jax +13.5
StL +1
Pit/StL over 48 1/2
Az -6.5
Buf +2.5
Buf/Mia under 41 1/2
Den -3
KC +6.5

Supercontest picks:  Last week: 4-1; overall: 7-3

Dal +2
Hou -6.5
Jax +13.5
Az -6.5
KC +6.5