Thanks to TiVo, it was a good day
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

It's a tough life under the fluorescents, Cooler-dwellers. I understand.

Terrell Owens
TiVo or no TiVo, Terrell Owens' Niners still came up short.
Hey, you don't think I want every day to be a day caressed by the warm Maui winds on the company dime? Of course I do, fool.

Which is why I have settled on a Life Lesson as we gather 'round on another mainland Monday morn. The lecture at hand: Make sure it's a good run, boys. Make sure it's a good run. Smell the roses. Smell whatever herbs you'd like. Just enjoy.

Here's what I'm getting at.

Sunday morning broke sunny and clear by the Bay. I had two things on my docket: 1) Niners-Packers playoff game; 2) Company winter league softball game.

I had a problem on my docket, too -- which brings up the question: How's your docket? You carry your docket with you every day? Or do you sometimes leave your docket at home? What sort of docket do you have, and if you like it, would you recommend your docket to another?

Anyway.

The problem: Niners kickoff at 9:30 a.m. This meant I could have a serious heat on by 11 a.m, which is never a bad thing. That was not the problem.

Problem was: Company winter league softball game was 10:15 a.m., first pitch.

Your solution is simple. Blow off company winter league softball game, begin applying heat from couch of local living room.

But I am a man of ethics. You don't get to run a Sparkletts tap, unless you possess the highest moral fiber. I would not bail on the company winter league softball game. See, I'm the sucker who signed up to manage the squad. So I'm the guy responsible arranging a side of nine (never easy), for writing out a lineup card (pissing off somebody) and for showing up (never easy).

My answer to the problem was four letters long: T-I-V-O.

Armed with the Christmas gift to end all Christmas gifts from the girl to end all girls, I proceeded confidently with my Sunday. I watched the first two series from Lambeau, pressed one lousy button on the Uber-user-friendly TiVo, and set off for softball.

Here's the beautiful part: We got waxed. Seriously. Blown out so badly, they had to call it after five innings on the Skunk Rule. We were down 21-3, and league rules prohibit any further action in such cases.

Hey, you ever tried to assemble a squad of ballplayers in a newsroom? You're lucky to get a team that doesn't have nine virgins on it.

So, anyway, here's what it all meant. I could cruise home early!

The collateral damage regarding the ongoing Niners tilt was minimal. Only one time at the diamond did I hear some jackass with a hand-held bark out a score during the softball clash, and he said, "Niners 7-6!" ... so I knew I would cruise home to catch a worthwhile tilt.

Here's where it got good.

I had manned some muddy NorCal outfield turf on a spotless Sunday morn, feeling young again. The city's skyline shimmered. The winter air was fresh. I directed my sled to the nearest Safeway on the way home. I scooped up a sixer and a bag of chips. I directed my sled home.

My girl was at the gym. I had the Strat-o-lounger to myself. I had the sixer. I had the chips. I had TiVo working like a day laborer, taking care of business. The game in real time must have been in the fourth quarter, but I hit one simple button, settled in, and picked up the clash from the first quarter on, drama intact.

I gazed out the window occasionally to ponder my day: Ballgame with the boys from work. Gorgeous January morning. A sweet radio set driving home that produced some Zeppelin, some Skynyrd and some Who. A Car Radio Moment when the playing of J.Geils Band's "Centerfold" took me right back to pregame layup lines from high school basketball in 1982.

My boyhood grid squad giving their all at Lambeau.

I gotta say, Cooler-dwellers. It was a good day.

Now, the poet Ice Cube suggests that his good day involved the Lakers beating the SuperSonics.

My good day did not need such NBA heroics from the purple-and-gold. Instead, it just needed a little sun, a little beer, a little NFL playoffs, and a little splash of reverie.

On that good vibe, to the weekend List of Five:

Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice flipped the giant foam finger to every single one of his doubters.
1. J.R.: Still the one
My job allowed me to have a serious sitdown with Jerry Rice one May morning at the Stanford track last spring. The topic: His imminent departure from the 49ers. His take: The 49ers were in error, as No. 80 believed he had a full tank. My take, as I swilled some water, trying not to laugh my ass off: It took all I had not to pull a Danny Thomas spit-take.

I'd seen the guy -- Rice, not Danny Thomas -- look old and tired in his final season at Candlestick. I didn't think he was done. I knew he was done.

Saturday night against the Jets, wearing silver-and-black, J.R. flipped the giant foam finger to every single one of us doubters. Dude was running routes like his pants were on fire. Dude was hauling in balls like his children's lives hung in the balance. Dude was coming up big like he was the greatest football player in the history of the NFL.

Um ... which I guess he kinda ... sorta ... is.

Fair play to you, J.R. Long may you run.

Shaquille O'Neal
You wouldn't like Shaq when he's angry.
2. Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!! Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!
Oh. Sorry.

I just had a vision that a 7-foot-1, 330-pound man was winding up and trying to hit me in the head as hard as he could.

Aaaaaaaahhhh!!! Holy Mother of ...... ahhhhhhhhhh!!! Sweet Jesus, Nooooooo!!!!!

Geez. There's that vision again.

Is there anything that can make you go Jack Woltz from "The Godfather" more than the idea of Shaquille O'Neal trying to lay you out? I mean, Brad Miller of the Bulls tried to look all hard, like he was ready to rumble and all that nonsense.

Please, dude.

If Shaq's fist had been on target, you'd be giving the Woltzian Howl like you found Khartoum's head in your bed.

Let's just say all of humanity was spared by the fact that Shaq's bunker bomb of a right fist only glanced off Brad Miller.

Tiger Woods
Something's wrong when Tiger Woods finishes tied for sixth at the New Zealand Open.
3. Tiger Woods: I'm a little worried
Is this how it's going to be for the Ben Hogan-meets-Jack Nicklaus-with-a-dash-of-Gene Sarazen-and-Johnny Miller-when-he-was-hot golfer of our generation? That he only performs when it's a big stage?

Our guy Tiger went to New Zealand to play against a field of Steinlager-swilling louts who only brought their bags to the course because the All-Blacks weren't playing this weekend. Tiger finished, like, eighth or something.

We understand golf is a fickle game. Putts lip out. Swing thoughts get distracted by the thought that your MasterCard bill is two weeks late. Or, in Tiger's case, swing thoughts get distracted by the fact that you can't decide who you're taking to the ESPYs: Halle Berry or Jennifer Love Hewitt.

But come on, dude! You go to New Zealand, you're supposed to roll out your business!

Guy hasn't won a major in eight months. I'm a little worried.

Brett Favre
Brett Favre would be right at home on stage with Topo Gigio.
4. Brett Fav-ruh: Approaching god status
We all know the Cooler is a den of overstatement. Doug Flutie wore a hero's cloak here for more than a year, for cripes sake.

But can you please clear out a little room to officially Give It Up for my guy Brett (The Joy of Football) Favre? His third-down efforts in the fourth quarter were daggers in the hearts of the Bay Area. He scrambles one way, the other, shoves a linebacker down, then fires a dart through traffic to the only place in Donald Driver's hands that is visible to the naked eye.

Man, this guy is like some sort of kick-ass magician from an old "Ed Sullivan Show," throwing javelins at balloons over his assistant's head, 15 feet away, while blindfolded.

Hey, how's that for an analogy? Javelin-throwing magicians from an old "Ed Sullivan Show"?

Yo, Patty Summerall, Johnny Madden -- feel free to use it.

Rico Hines, Kirk Hinrich
It was a good day because of Rico Hines, left, and the Bruins.
No credit line needed.

5. The Doings in Pauley Pavilion
Since we already know how every surfer-stoner feels about the quality of ball on the West Coast (yes, it applies to basketball season, too); and since we already know the puerile leanings of this particular Cooler-dweller to his alma mater; and since we already know which gutty little Bruin team got its ever-lovin' act together on Saturday afternoon and crafted a fine afternoon of artistry against the Kansas Jayhawks, The Associated Press' choice for the No. 1 college basketball team in the nation ...

    I won't go any further, then.
    I'll just say:
    I can't believe ... it was a good day.

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every week for Page 2.





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