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May 24, 2002

by Bill Hogan



I won't pay a nickel to watch Mike Tyson fight on Pay-Per-View. But Fox Network's Celebrity Boxing is a pugilistic masterpiece worthy of my attention (at least for three minutes).

Flipping through the channels on Wednesday, I landed on Fox's one-ring extravaganza just before the start of the Screech ("Saved By the Bell")-Arnold Horshack ("Welcome Back, Kotter") bout.


Television's nerd of the nineties versus the popular dork of the seventies. This couldn't miss. Screech devoured the smaller, older Horshack and the fight was stopped midway through the second round.

Arnold looked dazed, confused and hurt. His eyes were swollen and his nose bloodied. Screech strutted around the ring like a geeky Mr. T. (I wonder if he'd have been so cocky had he stepped in the ring with Gilligan or Barney Fife).

My wife felt sorry for Horshack. So did I. He was clearly overmatched. I think the Fox producers should have at least chosen an opponent from the same generation - Potsie from "Happy Days" maybe, or J.J. from "Good Times".

I think Celebrity Boxing could become the next great made-for-television sporting sensation. Fox wouldn't have to look any further than the sports world to find enough interesting match-ups to sustain the show for a season or two.

The line of willing opponents would be out the door (up the block and around the corner) for the opportunity to go three rounds with John Rocker. And now that it looks like his flash-in-the-pan pitching career is in the dumper, he may be open to a new line of work.

You can probably scrounge up a couple of volunteers from among the guys sitting in the same bullpen as Rocker.

After being misidentified in nude photos circulating in the latest issue of Penthouse magazine, I'm sure Anna Kournikova would love the opportunity to throw a few jabs in the direction of publisher Bob Guccioni.

For this fight, I'm sure the referee can overlook the low blows.

(Of course it would be a real ratings bonanza if Fox could pit Anna K up against the woman that actually appears in the nude photos).

Rather than air their differences at press conference after press conference, it would be much more constructive to have Philadelphia 76er's player and coach - Alan Iverson and Larry Brown - strap on the leather and settle their dispute between the ropes on national television.

Kobe Bryant should justifiably have a beef with the Sacramento room service chef who prepared the bacon cheeseburger that led to a bout of food poisoning prior to game two of the NBA Western Conference finals.

Give Kobe three rounds with that meathead to settle the score.

And for the main event:

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig versus MLB Players Association head Donald Fehr. Put these two idiots toe to toe, bolt them to the canvas and let them go at it until there's a labor agreement in place that will settle both side's grievances for the rest of my life.

If Arnold Horshack can leave the ring with two shiners and a bloody nose, these morons can hang in there long enough to come up with a long-term solution to stabilize the game of baseball.

If they can't resolve this matter without a "work stoppage" at least we can watch them pummel each other on national T.V.

On a lighter note:

Sixty-seven years ago, on May 24, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt flipped a switch in Washington, D.C. and the lights went on at Crosley Field in Cincinnati for the first ever night baseball game.

The Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 under the artificial light provided by 632 1,500-watt lamps.

The first World Series game played after dark was October 13, 1971. (Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 4-3.)

The 2001 series never saw the light of day. And with games starting later and lasting longer, many fans were fast asleep before the outcome was decided. Last year, in particular, there were a few games won in the ninth inning or extra innings with the results remaining a mystery to the slumbering masses.

I'm sure that wasn't the intention when the Reds took the field in 1935. Night games have an important place in baseball. But once in a while they need to start a World Series game after school, or after work. After dinner is fine, but not when a winner isn't determined until after Letterman.


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