City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Is Ralph Friedgen Now the NCAA Heavyweight Champ?

Photo_766We were told last night that President Obama "has taken us beyond black and white in our politics."

Oh, for somebody to do the same for Georgetown basketball!

(Full disclosure: Repeatedly bringing up the role of race in the Hoyas basketball history will only do wonders for the value of my Tom Lang trading card collection. I love that photo of my Lang stack. I might run it every day, or at least until I found out whatever happened to Tom Lang.)


So much for the smooth transition from Abe Pollin to Ted Leonsis. The Washington Post's Thomas Heath reports that Washington Sports now plans to put the whole Pollin Estate shebang — controlling interests in the Washington Wizards and the Verizon Center, plus the local franchisee rights to Ticketmaster — up for bid on the open market.

The Ticketmaster portion of Pollin's holdings always intrigued me. He was the first arena owner to have his own computerized ticketing system. His stake in Ticketmaster was something neither he nor the parent company ever discussed. But there's got to be a story on how he was able to hold onto that through all the company's mergers and acquisitions as the ticketing realm consolidated over the last two decades. Last time I checked, Pollin was the last franchisee, with every other territory in the U.S. owned by the parent company.

Here's one example of why Leonsis would want to get in on the ticket-fee scam: A friend of mine recently bought one ticket to the Vampire Weekend show at Constitution Hall.

(AFTER THE JUMP: How much does a $28.50 ticket to Vampire Weekend cost? Really? Who remembers Parkington? How about a retrospective of all WUSA sportscasters between Glenn Brenner and Brett Haber? Who still remembers Ken Broo? Nostalgic for a Fridgen/Weis matchup that never happened? Would that have been a heavyweight bout or what? London Fletcher's the only guy happy about this year's Pro Bowl?)

The cost breakdown:

Ticket face-value – $28.50
Facility Charge – $1.50
Convenience Charge – $8.55
Order Processing Fee – $4.00
TicketFast Delivery (to print ticket at home) – $4.75

So, the total cost of a $28.50 ticket is....$47.30!

What a racket! When I was a little dirtball waiting all night in line at the Hecht Company at Parkington to buy tickets for Jethro Tull at the Capital Centre, the service charge was 35 cents! (I saw Tull there five summer tours in a row. What the hell was I drinking?)


Ever since Brett Haber, the current sports director at Glenn Brenner's old stomping grounds, WUSA-9, gave a sweet homage to his predecessor, I've been on a bit of a Brenner bender, looking up old clips on youtube and reading about a guy who everybody loved. Haber, speaking off the cuff after his station ran a package on the George Michael memorial service, told a viewing audience, "As a guy who sits in Glenn's chair every day, I aspire to live up to his legacy."

And from my Brenner readings, it became clear how much trouble the folks who've sat in that chair since his death at the peak of his popularity in 1992 have had.

A compendium of how we got from Brenner to Haber:

Warner Wolf, a local product and legend when he left DC for New York in the mid-1970s, was the first Brenner replacement to get crushed by his ghost. He came back to his hometown in June 1992, but his once robust "Boo of the Week" seemed stale and frail in Brenner's wake. Wolf's return engagement at WUSA ended in August 1995 with a spat over whether horse racing results should be given out as a part of his nightly sportscast — Wolf said yes, management said no. Wolf gave out the feature winner from Laurel anyway, and he lost his job.

Ken Broo was next to be done in by the dead guy. Broo, who came here from Cincinnati, got off on bad footing right away. His start at Channel 9 in the spring of 1996 came the same week that the station was sponsoring the Glenn Brenner 5K, a memorial race that that year attracted more than 4,000 runners. The station had commercials for the Brenner tribute running in heavy rotation, but nothing promoting the new sportscaster. I spoke at that time with Broo about how hard it was to fight the past. Broo, who hadn't yet found a place to live in DC, asked me "You think I should rent?"

“I guess anybody who does sports at Channel 9 is going to feel Glenn Brenner’s ghost,” Broo said. “But it’s like Glenn Brenner isn’t even Glenn Brenner anymore.”

Broo, despite trying out Brenneresque vehicles like his lighthearted weekly "Broo View" segments, never caught on here, and lasted four years before going back to Ohio.

Then came Jess Atkinson, a real nice guy and local hero for being a star kicker for the University of Maryland and the Redskins (Atkinson was a perfect 7-7 on FGs with the Skins — the best kicking percentage in team history — before his career was ended on a cheap shot by Andre Dirty Waters.)

But by the time Atkinson got Brenner's old job in 2000, WUSA's news operation had all but abandoned sports, thinking any viewer looking for scores or highlights would be turning to George Michael. Some nights, Atkinson's sports slot on the nightly news was just a minute long. He quit WUSA in 2002 to form his own production company. Atkinson now produces shows around University of Maryland athletics, something Glenn Brenner never tried.


The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland and Notre Dame are talking about holding a football game at Dan Snyder's FedExField next year. Too bad they couldn't get this done during the Charlie Weis Era in South Bend. Firstly, that would have given the Terps a wonderful chance of whupping up on the Fighting Irish, since Weis' teams went 15-24 in his last three years of "outscheming" the opposition.

But more importantly, a Weis/Friedgen matchup would surely smash the record for combined weight of the head coaches.

With Weis and Mark Mangino gone, is The Fridge now the King of the Hill in the NCAA?


We read earlier this week about London Fletcher's ecstasy over getting to play in his first Pro Bowl, despite backing into the lineup like a Green Line Metro train that overshot the Petworth station. Fletcher by now appears to be the only one celebrating anything about the event.

The Pro Bowl moved this year from Honolulu to Miami and from a week after the Super Bowl to a week before, both moves in hopes of defibrillating a game that had lost its pulse. And that latter change means Pro Bowl selections from Super Bowl teams won't be in the lineup.

Fletcher, who has been dubbed "The Susan Lucci of the Pro Bowl" for being on the cusp of an invitation so many times in his 12-year career, benefited from the alterations. He gets to go to the game only because Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was voted in as a reserve, found out Sunday evening that he and his teammates will be preparing for a game that counts.

There's so many defections for so many reasons now that even folks in the host city are blasting the game as a joke. This from the Miami Herald, in a piece headlined "Pro Bowl is an embarrassing waste of time":

The Pro Bowl has gone from being something benign and easily ignored to something begging scorn.

Kicking off Super Bowl Week with the Pro Bowl is like kicking off your vacation with rain...

[T]he main problem isn't where you put the game.

The main problem is that players continue to want to be selected to the Pro Bowl (think bonus check) but not actually play in it.

The co-main problem, the new, colossally dumb one, is that having the game before the Super Bowl automatically eliminates Pro Bowl players from the two Super Bowl teams — meaning, the best players from the best teams.

Raise your hand if you think that makes any sense.

Already built in are the many players bowing out every year with lame excuses and made-up injuries. Now you also eliminate the players that fans most want to see. In this case, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

The result is that only 63 percent of players originally selected by fans, players and coaches actually are competing Sunday at It's-Still-Dolphin Stadium-to-Me.

I mean, so many actual stars have dropped out that two of the AFC quarterbacks are Vince Young and David Garrard. Seriously. C'mon!

But, good for you London. Hell, I'll probably watch anyway.


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  • superintendent chalmers

    Rick Majerus would be in the conversation on Weis and the Fridge

  • Reid

    Wait, wait...people race horses?! That's weird.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Parkington! Every year there were fewer and fewer toy soldiers on the sign, and then suddenly the Putt Putt was gone and I was old.