THE LOW ROAD 2015, Pt 1

 

Each year at about this time, I extract what I suspect to be the more memorable lines from 12 months’ worth of my newspaper columns. And this year is no improvement. I mean, “exception”. Or improvement.

All the items featured here were taken from my Saturday column in The Age sport section, entitled Devil’s Advocate, and all are from 2015.

Such slight editing as there has been is due to considerations of comprehensibility and the different format.

The numbers following each item are the date of publication.

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At the Asian Cup warm-up game between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain at Kardinia Park, Geelong, reportedly they charged $10 for parking – arguably an act of almost heart-rending optimism.

3/1

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Like life itself, test cricket may see hard graft, good and bad luck, diligent professionalism and long, weary hours at the coal-face all come to nothing in particular. But, on the upside, by and large it doesn’t include Henri Leconte.

3/1

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Serena Williams had a coffee to help her get through a Hopman Cup match.
This is where Serena Williams is, clearly, a champion. It would take something a fair bit stronger than one coffee for some of us to struggle through a Hopman Cup encounter, and that’s just as spectators.

10/1

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“He’s off the fairway in the rough,” observed Hamish McLachlan, of Rafael Nadal earlier in the match. Not a tennis reference, exactly. But Hamish is clearly a man who likes to think outside the prism.

24/1

.
Newk had the final word, regarding Nadal’s game plan in the final set:
“He’s made up his mind he’s not playing any long rallies unless he can help it.”
That is, if he can help it, he will do the opposite of what he wants. That’s pretty darn technical.

24/1

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Not content with bringing to overdue public attention “the incredible skill of the interpreter” during the Japan-UAE encounter, Fox Sports’ Andy Harper adroitly summarised the Australia-UAE semi:
“I think there’s going to be a lot of context put on the performance of both teams.”
As they used to say in the 1960s, “Heavy, man.”

31/1

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Once again, at the Super Bowl, the National Football League went with a Giant Exploding Fandango by way of a half time show. As much as this can be quantified, it was more explosive and fandango-rich than any previous edition.

It almost doesn’t matter who they get to play at half-time anymore. For example, this year it was Katy Perry.

Unlike Australian sport-based entertainment, the fatal flaw with the Super Bowl show was that it kept the viewer awake. However if the NFL folks study our grand final, they’ll soon get the idea.

7/2

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To achieve Super Bowl-level entertainment, the “spend” is around the gross national product of Australia for a quarter-century, except they do it every year.
We’ve all seen the show the AFL puts on. They’ve got a club-lock on their purse that even Superman’s heat vision couldn’t cut through.

14/2

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Of the 14 participant teams in the cricket World Cup, people without major head trauma might figure seven of them to have any real chance of winning the event. The other 50 per cent effectively constitute set decoration.

21/2

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In Australia, if they could get away with having fireworks at funerals and the announcement of total fire ban days, they’d probably do that too.

28/2

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When judiciously deployed by an expert – i.e. at skull fragmenting volume every 80-odd seconds – music clinically removes any lingering residue of the will to live in the hapless sport spectator. Here it oddly seems restricted to about three flyblown dance tracks and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

28/2

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The nine-point goal in the pre-season competition was a creation of an AFL fired up with creativity and possibly an accidental snooter-full of cleaning fluid, as part of an inherently doomed attempt to make the pre-season comp more interesting to humans.

7/3

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Rumours are rife that KISS will play the AFL grand final. To be honest, I’d still pick Hawthorn.

7/3

.
I swear that during one of the NAB Challenge games they said 28 players, two boundary umpires and Ethel running the pie oven had all played for Swan Districts. You know who cares? Not even Jesus. And it’s His JOB.

14/3

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Jason Dunstall, on “On the Couch” ruminated re Carlton’s players, “If we take a look at the demographics of this playing list…”
Sure, let’s find out the percentage of household shoppers, compare the incomes, and check who listens to radio between 4pm and bedtime.

18/4

.
Hawthorn’s new partly spangly change guernsey suggests they might, at any moment, stun opposition and viewers alike by launching into a fervent collective rendition of Journey’s famous antidote to the will to live, “Don’t Stop Believin’”.

16/5

.
Seven’s Saturday night footy coverage, AKA the All Brian Taylor (Then More Brian Taylor) Morning-at-Night Zoo Crew, with Added Brian Taylor.

23/5

.
As it is used in footy commentary, “transition” may be noun or verb, singular or plural, and like the fabled Karma Chameleon, it may come and go.

20/6

.
Port Adelaide is a big deal at home, but as a touring attraction draws like an ice dancing spectacular starring Kyle Sandilands and any given Geoffrey Edelsten wife, entitled “Plague in the Middle Ages”.

27/6

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There is either a silent ‘t’ in Wimbledon, or the ‘d’ is pronounced as a ‘t’ owing to some quirk of the local dialect that linguistic anthropologists haven’t emerged from the pub to scribble in an exercise book just yet. That, or people just can’t read anymore.

4/7

.
One of the most dismaying things that can happen to any idea is that the AFL eventually gets hold of it.

15/8

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Just last Saturday night, out of the blue, St Kilda played Geelong and, shockingly, both turned up in their conventional outfits.
Clearly a howling fashion faux pas in the modern context, but no doubt the league will soon put a stop to it.

29/8

.
Viewers of Fox Sports dedicated US Open channel are encouraged to “hit the red button”, a policy which, in the early going, seems to offer a rare opportunity to catch even more draw-filler folks being toweled up by medium-level pros in a series of early round bedtime endurance testers.
Not to mention the long-overdue chance to witness specialist doubles coaches in their native environment, which is quite something to conjure with at around 2 o’clock in the morning.
Actually, given how dynamic it sounds, you’d think that “hit the red button” would denote some powerful weapon in the hands of the consumer – perhaps something that, when pressed, would instantly conclude Jim Courier or Bruce McAvaney’s Australian Open courtside interviews via a sudden shower of thick soup.

12/9

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“Something” – What strategically-minded football analysts will repeatedly insist teams which are getting beaten need to do. See also, “Something different”.

26/9

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The Brownlow red carpet coverage is murderously hard sledding. There’s only so much rampant hair product, nose-squawking of dress designer names and brain-pulverising small talk that the human mind was built to endure.
Another key issue here is that after pre-match speculative tactical drivel, you get a footy match, whereas, tragically, after the Brownlow preliminaries, you get the Brownlow.

3/10

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Amazingly, whatever pops into Bruce McAvaney’s noggin can be football commentary now.

10/10

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It is important for commentators to outline Key Performance Indicators a team needs to pursue when it is 80 points down, particularly when everybody concerned is staring right down the barrel of roughly two quarters of junk time.

10/10

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QUINELLA – A wager that the first two horses to cross the line in a given race, in any order, will not be the two you had selected.

EXACTA – A guarantee that the first two horses to cross the line will be EXACTLY not the two you had selected.

TRIFECTA – A bizarre mass delusion under which worthy citizens, who generally struggle to pick the preferred option out of two nostrils, are suddenly struck with the notion that not only can they nominate the first three finishers out of a field of 12-24 horses, but can also do so in correct order.

17/10

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While discussing the physical condition of Australia’s David Pocock, a commentator at the rugby World Cup observed:
“When you’re driving into a tackle, that’s when you really need your calf.”
In fairness, there are many situations when you need a calf. Running. Walking. Standing around having a beer. Making any real headway up a stepladder to change a light bulb. The applications are numerous.

31/10

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Looking at the Pumas coaching group, apparently there was a job-lot sale of grey V-neck jumpers at a very reasonable price back in Buenos Aires.

31/10

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Bruce McAvaney cited the tradition of the Melbourne Cup trophy design, then brought something new to the table by calling it “the loving handle cup”. We’ve heard of loving cups before, and even “love handles”, but it takes a resolutely inventive mind to combine these into one expression.

7/11

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In the 1960s and 1970s, Eastern European athletes would take to the world’s tracks and fields apparently having ingested the entire continental supply of horse steroids, gorilla biscuits and what-have-you, to emerge wreathed in muscles, twirling their moustaches, swathed in gold medals, and some of the men were just as bad.

14/11

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Fox Sports News declaimed: “Russia’s anti-doping centre gets suspended – so which athletes are next?”
At least as good a question might have been what athletes COULD be next, given they’d just shut down the dope testing facility.

14/11

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Other popular beach activities the IOC might conceivably find as compelling as beach cricket include falling off skiffle-boards, burying Dad up to his neck in the sand, reading trash novels, and ice-cream eating.

21/11

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There seems every chance that in 100 years’ time, cricket will be demonstrating exactly the same rock-steady grip on US market share as it has for the last 100 years.

21/11

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No psychological study – no matter how probing – may ever successfully analyse the seemingly fanatical, beetle-browed dedication over the years by NewsCorp’s house organs to identify diabolical crowd behaviour at A-League soccer fixtures.
That ratty crowd behaviour must occur at other big-drawing sports is presumably beyond dispute. And yet, on that score by comparison the Murdoch press largely seems as quiet as a cat relieving itself in an owner’s shoe.

28/11

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People today are constantly bombarded by a powerful stream of news, entertainment and communication options, thus enabling millions, as never before in all world history, to watch the trailer for the new Captain America movie.

5/12

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A purportedly well-oiled Dustin Martin returned from a highly convivial day at the Stereosonic music festival, supposedly enjoyed the bar facilities at a Chapel St restaurant, and for want of a more all-encompassing description, acted the goat in a fashion that attracted a degree of attention.
This was no good for other patrons, no good for Martin, and even arguably found a way, against all likely odds, of further lowering the public standing of the Stereosonic music festival.

12/12

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Only recently an Australia v New Zealand test match produced a controversial match-influencing video decision, which commentators moaned about for two days solid until my home TV screen was in more danger of violent disintegration than at any time since the early heyday of the “Big Brother” reality series.

19/12

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Once the on-field umps have Pontius Pilated the call on an incident and sent it upstairs to Doctor Video, the only time they should need to go back to a field-level official is when the cameras were accidentally aimed up someone’s armpit, or all the lens caps were left on.

19/12

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It was hard not to notice that this week’s Big Bush League T-20 woodchop event, in which the Hobart Hammerpants bested the Brisbane Buglers, drew a decent crowd to Footwear Arena, Hobart. Only recently, a test match at the same venue featuring real-life cricket teams seemed to struggle to draw crowds commensurate with the combined totals of Channel Nine commentators, ground staff and security personnel present.

26/12

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The lesson the AFL chose to learn from the lingering death of Monday night football was that it should try Thursday night football instead. One senses an extremely lengthy running gag in development there. Tuesday and Wednesday nights are still unexplored options at this point.

26/12

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One thought on “THE LOW ROAD 2015, Pt 1

  1. Leapster, thanks for another great year of entertaining reading, and all the best for a happy & healthy 2016. Any chance of you being back on the airwaves in the coming year?

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