The writing on (and off) the wall: Amazon. Have you bought into it? Can you get out of it?

Tom Hoffarth /

Something to chew on the next time you lazily flip over to Al Michaels bemoaning why he didn’t take an early retirement and is instead stuck trying to quantify a Week 6 Bears-Commanders game on a Thursday night exclusively streaming on Amazon Prime:

Ordering stuff on Amazon isn’t a slippery slope. It’s a slip-n-slide that can confuse us into becoming an existential death spiral.

The sooner one upon another upon another recognizes this mucked-up reality, there is a greater chance we can try to turn this away from the iceberg and survival options don’t have to default to ordering more life preservers from some giant cloud that can be parachuted in for an extra handling fee.

With all the other things in the world we’ve been told to keep an eye on – climate change, the economy, personal freedoms – somehow is not a part of the solution.

Not at all a hyperbolic way.

“How to Resist Amazon And Why: The Fight For Local Economies, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores and a People-Powered Future” by Danny Caine, the owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, is the most instructive take-away we can offer on this tale-of-the-boiling-frog subject.

The first pass was written and published (by Microcosm Publishing of Portland, Ore.) in 2019, well before Amazon got its claws on NFL live product for the 2022 season and beyond.

We find no irony in that offers a first-pass paperback for $3.95 new, $1.46 used. That’s a 20-page version. Ranks #312,137 in books, #316 in business ethics and #99 in retailing industry (books). It has three and a half stars out of 18 ratings.

A mashup of some of the “five-star” reviews read:

Continue reading “The writing on (and off) the wall: Amazon. Have you bought into it? Can you get out of it?”

Yesterday’s news: Why No. 1 in the Top 100 moments in L.A. sports history stays true

Tom Hoffarth /

Kirk Gibson, how great thou still art.

On this day 34 years ago, Dodger Stadium rocked, and a city rolled with it.

The greatest sports moment in Los Angeles history. Saturday evening, October 15, 1988.

We know that to be true.

In 1995, collaborating with the Los Angeles Sports Council, super sports historian Rich Perelman orchestrated the publication of a coffee-table sized book titled “Unforgettable! The 100 Greatest Moments in Los Angeles Sports History.”

Considering all there was to consider, the consensus No. 1 event in ’95 had only occurred seven years earlier. Was it too soon?

Enough time has passed for more context, more events taking place, more to consider.

It made as much sense then as it does 27 years later. Which is also our way of saying the list is overdue for a true Hollywood facelift.

These are headline-rich times for sports history in Los Angeles, officially founded as a city on Sept. 16, 1781. The Los Angeles Coliseum marks its 100th season of existence – its first event was USC’s 23-7 college football victory over Pomona on Oct. 6, 1923. The Pasadena Rose Bowl is about to mark the 100th anniversary of its first college football contest. USC’s 14-3 win over Penn State on New Year’s Day ’23 started it all.

With all due respect to Perelman and his staff, we’re ready for a sequential sequel to quench our thirst.

But first, a refresher on how the Top 10 stood in ’95:

Oct. 15, 1988: “I don’t believe what I just saw!” said CBS radio announcer Jack Buck, likely heard live by no one in L.A. that night (with Vin Scully on the NBC telecast and Don Drysdale on the local radio broadcast). Writes Perelman in his “Unforgettable!” entry: “To this day, there are millions of baseball fans who agree with Jack Buck. They saw it and they still can’t believe it.”

Interesting note No. 1: In the new Tyler Kepner book, “The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series” (released Oct. 11, Doubleday, $30, 336 pages), the New York Times writer is enlightened enough (as confirmed in a Wall Street Journal review) that this moment only happens because the Dodgers’ Mike Davis (hitting .196) somehow draws a rare two-out walk from Dennis Eckersley to make Gibson’s shot a walk-off.

Interesting note No. 2: In the new Joshua Shifrin and Tommy Shea book, “Dingers: The 101 Most Memorable Home Runs in Baseball History” (released in 2016, but updated in May, 2022, Sports Publishing, $19.99, 332 pages), the image of Gibson on the cover is just a ruse. The authors’ top five homers of all time — 1. Bill Mazerowski’s Game 7 walk off for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 World Series over the Yankees; 2. Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” for the New York Giants in the playoff over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951; 3. Hank Aaron’s 715th homer in 1974 that pushed him past Babe Ruth in the all-time list; 4. Joe Carter’s 1993 walk-off homer to bring the Toronto Blue Jays the World Series in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6 as they were trailing the Philadelphia Phillies; 5. Gibson’s 1988 shot. Why not put Maz on the cover then? Also: The 2022 list Top 5 isn’t different from the 2016 Top 5.

By the way: What time did the Gibson homer occur on Oct. 15, 1988?

This illustration, which we found on Etsy, it has a scoreboard recreation with 8:42 p.m.:

It might just be taking info on this by and Mark Yench. But zoom in on this lithograph called “Classic Chavez Clout” by Bill Purdom in 1992, which we have on a postcard purchased from the Good Sports Art Gallery, it shows four minutes earlier at 8:38 p.m.:

Both renditions have scoreboard mistakes. Above, it has the Dodgers’ lineup accurately has the No. 8 and No. 9 spots with “37” (Davis) and “23” (Gibson and a position under them blank, because both were pinch hitters. Davis wasn’t in the game at “SS” as the above graphic shows, nor was “26 P” – Alejandro Pena, pitcher – in the game any more at the moment it happened. But one has four umpires listed, and the other has six. The Goff art also has “35 RF” for the Dodgers hitting cleanup (they had no No. 35; it’s No. 5, Mike Marshall) and in the A’s lineup, it’s “38 LF,” a number that belonged to relief pitcher Dave Otto, instead of “28 LF” which was Stan Javier.
So … if you’ve got the time for more research …

Like these guys:

July 28, 1984 — The 1984 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony at the Coliseum. More than 92,000 in attendance — including President Reagan, Prince Charles and L.A. mayor Tom Bradley. Plus all those athletes marching in. Eighty four pianos playing “Rhapsody in Blue.” Card stunts. A guy in a jetpack flies to start it. Diana Ross sings to end it. Rafer Johnson lights the torch in between (and the Wikipedia entry notes: The ceremony was also the first time a person of African descent lit the Olympic cauldron). Thank you Peter Ueberroth, who recently had his plaque added to its Ring of Honor. Got six hours to watch the KABC-Channel 7 coverage?

Nov. 30, 1974 — USC 55, Notre Dame 24. The Trojans trailed at halftime, 24-6, and then scored 49 straight points in 17 minutes to defeat the Irish and go onto win the national championship. This will be the first paragraph of Anthony Davis’ obituary someday. (That, or the six-touchdown game he scored as a sophomore against Notre Dame in ’72 — which is No. 32 on this list — leading to a national title — which is No. 50 on the list?)

March 31, 1975 — UCLA 92, Kentucky 85. In John Wooden’s final game as a coach, the Bruins win their 10th NCAA title in 12 seasons, at the San Diego Sports Arena. “The Wizard of Westwood” was done after 27 seasons, 766 games and 620 victories at age 65.

Nov. 18, 1967 — No. 4 USC 21, No. 1 UCLA 20. The Coliseum stage before 90,772 provided iconic moments for O.J. Simpson (a 64-yard cut-back TD run) and Gary Beban (16 of 24 passing for 301 yards) in what was to decide the city championship, the conference title, the Rose Bowl representative, the Heisman Trophy and a shot at a national title.

May 16, 1980 — Lakers 123, Philadelphia 107. Rookie Magic Johnson starts at center in the Game 6 NBA Finals win at Philadelphia and scores 42 points to go with 15 rebounds and seven assists in the absence of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar locks up the series MVP award.

Sept. 9, 1965 — Sandy Koufax’s fourth no-hitter. This one is perfect, 1-0, against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium. Vin Scully’s magical call of the Dodgers’ Cy Young Award winning performance seals the deal in the memory bank. But take a look at that other clip — pretty fantastic.

July 30, 1932 — The 1932 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony at the Coliseum. In the depths of the depression, a $1 million profit is made as “Los Angeles Becomes the New Star in the Olympic Movement,” says this entry’s headline.

Jan. 22, 1984: L.A. Raiders 38, Washington 9. Your Los Angeles NFL team wins Super Bowl XVIII in Tampa, Fla. Marcus Allen’s 74-yard reverse-field touchdown run at the end of the third quarter gives carpetbagger Al Davis’ team a title, a first Lombardi Trophy in L.A. history. (The NFL does a great job of not letting anyone use its video. You can find a link here, or just watch this bootleg above).

April 18, 1958 — Dodgers 6, San Francisco Giants 5. The Dodgers play the first MLB game in L.A. with 78,672 on hand at the Coliseum, more than anyone who ever saw a big-league baseball game. (Someone named Juan Goglia posted this video on with the description: “My great uncle Isadore “Izzy” Perruccio attended the L.A. Dodger’s first game … The story goes: Izzy gradually snuck onto the field with his camera. Since not too many people, other than reporters, had video cameras back then, he went unsuspected long enough to get this amazing video, until, eventually, he was kindly asked to go back to his seat. You can see Willie Mays approach the camera, Jayne Mansfield, Edward G. Robinson … I hope you enjoy this historic footage.” We did.

The ’95 list was vetted by the L.A. Sports Council members, area sportswriters and sportscasters, plus more than 5,000 members of the Los Angeles Athletic Club. A special veterans committee was also formed to consider events long ago that might be forgotten.

To be considered for this list, Perelman writes that moments “had to have taken place in the greater Los Angeles area (Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino County) or had to involve a person or team from the area.”

Twenty seven years later, here are 27 more things we believe fit those guiderails for consideration, if not into the Top 10, at least the Top 100, as we list them by year:

Continue reading “Yesterday’s news: Why No. 1 in the Top 100 moments in L.A. sports history stays true”

Yesterday’s news: The lure of the lists, and why we sorta need them (Part 1)

Tom Hoffarth /

In the same pass through a local media service that put out its list of the 11 best spots in L.A. to scream your lungs out, there’s also available the list of the eight most tranquil hot springs in the state to “heal” our “weary soul,” near the list of the eight of the best hikes that will take you through “glorious fall foliage” near the list of the eight places to go pick apples.

They each come with interactive maps, which reminds us, in the list of must-have books, we miss not being able to engage in our most enjoyable page-turner — a new, updated Thomas Guide, which used to be No. 1 on the most-useful thing we could get for family members at Christmas time.

We’ve actually been screaming internally for the last couple of weeks to locate a nice place to have a quality moment of silence in this new post-pandemic existence. Our house of worship has been one of those locations, but we yearn to re-explore, look at cities and freeways and supermarkets and other stuff with a new appreciation. Even if it means picking forbidden fruit.

We might want to dive into that same media company’s current list of the 101 “best California experiences.” But when we noticed one of them was the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Echo Park, we felt another twinge of anxiety. Puppets aren’t our thing. Too many strings attached.

Just as this same source has pushed out lists of Los Angeles’ 65 best bookstores, 41 coolest plant shops, the 38 most classic Mexican restaurants, 10 best places to find Chinese donuts, the 15 best Michelladas, or even the six top vegan taco recipes — and one of our latest favorites was Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 best TV shows of all time — it reminds our mind of the allure of the list and its mental health benefits.

These aren’t “to-do” lists. That’s a whole other activity. This is taking things that exist and, in essence, ranking their value in our own subjective way, then sharing to compare notes and see what others might have on their list.

In that 2020-22 COVID masked-up funk show, we lost control of our world. Our structure and routine was compromised. We got a lot more nutty. We had to re-evaluate.

Continue reading “Yesterday’s news: The lure of the lists, and why we sorta need them (Part 1)”

The writing on (and off) the wall: Let’s be blunt: MLB and CBD can buddy up this October, but who tells the kids?

Tom Hoffarth /

Major League Baseball striking up a new business relationship with a cannabis company is pretty dope.

Add that in with its array of the sell-our-souls partnerships that already exist — sports betting services, hard alcohol, and pharma companies that address erectile dysfunction, hair replacement and how to fix a crooked carrot — Fox’s upcoming World Series will be a nightly between-innings catalyst for the most cringeworthy family discussions in the modern era. If the kids are allowed to stay up late on the East Coast, of course after both the Mets and Yankees disappears.

The latest addition to the convoluted truth-telling equation — the company in the CBD world about to chew on the Manfred-signed horsehide is called Charlotte’s Web.

Some deal.

If you thought flavored vaping companies were a threat to your children’s vapid minds, explain to them how this 100 percent natural and vegan-friendly co-op has nothing to do with a friendly spider, a slaugherable pig and a rat who somehow remains the moral compass in this backward barnyard.

Continue reading “The writing on (and off) the wall: Let’s be blunt: MLB and CBD can buddy up this October, but who tells the kids?”

Yesterday’s News: Pickleball, rise and brine, then recline

Tom Hoffarth /

Pickleball players these days seem to think they’re a really big dill.

Those aren’t our words, but they had to be said. Now it’s on the record.

The one and only time we stepped onto a court with other resistant AARPs, expectations were low, a half hour later confirmed we’re not very good at it, and we exited the facility with no real incentive to get better.

As for the dozens of others whooping it up on their reserved numbered courts, they’ve figured out the ridiculous scoring system (as if tennis is any better), accept the nuances of the Playskool-looking Wiffle ball needed for each match, and embrace its fashionable attire, which makes everyone feel even better about themselves and their average abilities when the hopped back in their supped-up golf carts to go to the local cafeteria lunch area and decompress.

Day after day, the stories about how pickleball – one word, not two as spell-check demands — is the hot new sport/game/activity/pastime/exercise/ego boost never run out of inertia.

Some 5 million Americans do it, compared to 45 million who have student loan debt and 195 million coming to grips with genital herpes. The numbers don’t really add up. The average age of participants is dropping down to under 40. By 2040, it might even get to zero.

Pickleball, as this 21st Century version of racquetball or handball or badminton or paddleball or, God forbid, ping pong, must realize that once someone declares over a Starbucks muffin that this is perfectly trending to be vogush, tony or au courant, it immediately ceases to be.

Somehow, it has its own specialized magazine that says its aim is to cover “America’s fastest-growing sport, follow the latest trends, instruction, gear, new clubs, travel destinations, game strategies, and stories of the people impacting the sport.” It’s something to read in the Urgent Care facility when trying to explain how your elbow just came out of its U-joint as you attempted an overhead smash when catching a glimpse of your spouse on the other side of the net.

It has even been ESPN-plained to us. They might have even referenced this YouTube video. It was posted in 2017 and now looks like one of those educational films they showed us in elementary school. In the ’60s.

We see the sport is going pro and has a YouTube channel and — again, huge assumption on their part — has “investors” like LeBron James throwing good money at it. He must think it’s actually on TV. Like, what … getting slimed on Pickleodeon?

Confession: We saw it played the other day as part of the “CBS Sports Spectacular” anthology series on CBS Sports Net, which we assumed would have already been folded into Paramount+ never to be seen again. It was not spectacular. It was played indoors in Atlanta. Has ESPN+ figured out its financial potential in its depository of desperation yet, with parkour and axe throwing? It is possible it has already been on Bally Sports Whatever and we’ve just assumed the title description made it seem like another infomercial for some kitchen aid deep fryer?

(Hang on, fringe sports fans: Just saw something in the latest Sharper Image catalogue – A $199.999 Backyard Pong Golf set. It looks like cornhole, but with 10 holes per board that have places to put red Solo cups, and then two golf wedges with a dozen foam golf balls to hit off chipping mats. Hold on while we search for our Discover card and …. Swipe left).

This is also not a surprise that more stories are emerging about how pickleball partisans are experiencing those same kind of turf wars with tennis enthusiasts. It’s escalating “on and off the court,” we’re informed. There’s no room in L.A. to play. What are Larry David and Leo DeCaprio to do?

The only way we’d actually consider getting more emerged in Pickleball Culture — if actual pickles were incorporated. Especially the kosher ones, which would make this even more appealing in the Canters-adjacent areas of L.A.

We are huge pickle fans. We have been doing our due diligence on how we could become an absentee co-owner of the Portland Pickles, a college wood-bat team in the West Coast League. Its mascot is Dillon the Pickle. Its hats are the coolest things in the game.

Pickles are what make a pastrami sandwich and are equally delightful on pepperoni pizza.

And now that we’ve gone down this darker path, we can see ourselves as the ones to create the official sports-centric energy drink for these parched participants.

It would be high-end pickle juice. Drink up. Straight from the Vlasic jar. Add vodka if necessary.

Mt. Olive, another rival pickeler, has these tiny 2 ounce containers, packaged like a 5-Hour Energy boost. That’s thinking too small.

Use the larger, aluminum skinny cans, like Red Bull.

We’d offer ours up as Green Bull. Or Brine Time. (Insert your own name here, then delete it, because we’ve already got copyrights and purchased bargain-basement $2.99 URLs for it).

No secret ingredients: Water, vinegar, salt with a variety of pickling herbs — turmeric, tarragon, mustard seed, bay leaf, ancho chili. If you’ve got the thyme, we’ve got the stuff that back in the day, major league baseball players drank before anything called Gatorade was thought about. Suitable for freezing into pickle juice popsicles, if only for the  good potassium, calcium, lactobacillus and magnesium.

Invest today in a cumbersome cucumber farm. Then bring it onto “Shark Tank” and get Mark Cuban to accept a 5 percent share for what we valuate as a $25 billion business.

Then, if someone playing in a televised championship pickleball match someday is accused of cheating — “Just look at him – he’s juicing” — they would be 100 percent correct. Thanks to us.

Rise and brine.