Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2007

Keegan: Portrayal offends Reggie

July 12, 2007


Good: ESPN's reality television show in which Bobby Knight selected a walk-on for Texas Tech, whittling the field one cut at a time.

Bad: ESPN hiring Brian Dennehy to portray Knight in a made-for-TV movie.

Good: ESPN Classic Sports showing an old Alabama football game with fedora-wearing Bear Bryant on the sidelines.

Not as good: ESPN adapting Jim Dent's compelling "Junction Boys" book about Bryant, then coaching at Texas A&M;, directing a brutal training camp.

Good: ESPN showing replays of Reggie Jackson screwing himself into the ground on a strikeout and hammering three home runs on three pitches off of three different Dodgers in the World Series.

Bad: ESPN hiring a cast of over-actors to work for "The Bronx is Burning," a new mini-series.

Nobody can compete with ESPN when it comes to sport-specific shows. The more Steve Phillips, Jay Bilas, Tom Jackson, the better. Information, insight, intelligence.

Yet, when it comes to original entertainment, Hollywood knows best, and Bristol, Conn., home office of ESPN, is a long way from Hollywood.

My first reaction was how ticked Reggie Jackson must be about being portrayed by an unathletic-looking actor. After reaching Reggie on his cellular phone Wednesday afternoon, I learned otherwise.

"The worse he looks, the better it will be for me," Reggie said. "People will know that ain't Reggie. I think that's the good part of it."

The bad part?

"It's an embarrassment," he said. "I'm offended. I feel like I've been encroached upon, but people who know me know I'm not the jerk I'm being portrayed as. Oh well, they've got to sell it. My only disappointment is ESPN didn't come to me with this and say, 'This is what we have as what happened. Do you have a side?' And then find the middle."

Reggie wondered what I was up to these days, and when I told him I was living and working in the town Marty Pattin, his 1971 All-Star Game teammate now calls home, Reggie said: "Nice guy. Nice man. : I hit a few home runs off of him."

It's not surprising Reggie would remember that, instead of the ninth-inning single he hit off Pattin to break up his no-hit bid for the Red Sox. Reggie was no singles hitter.

The TV show makes Reggie look like a jerk. He says he's not. Which is it? Well, those who believe it's best to judge a society by how it treats its very young and very old would say no. Nobody ever said Reggie Jackson was a jerk to either children or senior citizens. And nobody ever said he lacked smarts on any topic, baseball included.

Reggie remains affiliated with the Yankees. George Steinbrenner will always have it that way because he doesn't want him as an outspoken enemy.

The Yankees open the second half one game below .500.

"We've got a chance to get there if we get some pitching," Reggie said. "It's really all about pitching. Detroit's got offense, but the focus there is pitching. Ask all the great managers: (Tony) La Russa, (Jim) Leyland, (Joe) Torre, (Bobby) Cox. They'll all tell you it's all about the pitching."

Except when Reggie was hitting. Then it was all about either the home run or the equally entertaining strikeout.


Jaminrawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Reggie is a jerk. Ask any teammate he played with. The guy lived and breathed Reggie.

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