By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

Gather 'round The Cooler for some NFL draft-free musings, dweller.

Surely, the wide-open spaces of -- where stories can run on endlessly in the ether of the Internet, sort of like the numerical equivalent for Pi -- will cover the vagaries of that mind-numbing exercise in springtime tedium.

Dusty Baker fans
There's nothing better than seeing a fan club go the extra mile.
(And, if pressed for a lack of items, we are never too proud to dabble in variations on a mind-numbing exercise in springtime tedium, so all bets are off.)

Anyway, the topic this morning would be Fan Clubs. Specifically, the epic run of Fan Clubs formed in the bleachers at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, where the comedy has been running particularly high during the last few years.

This all came to mind because the Giants were at the Vet this weekend, and my boy T.C. -- whose brain must be ringed by the Tigris and Euphrates, as it is the Fertile Crescent of Comedy -- started firing e-mails to the crew.

T.C., as is the case with most of our crew, has long admired the comedy and originality of the Wolf Pack, the Randy Wolf Fan Club members who don Werewolf masks and do a Vet bleacher dance in unison. Werewolf masks -- a nice touch. Props are always funny, and I say that as a man who was once part of a two-man horse outfit for a lager-soaked Halloween bash, another idea from the Fertile Crescent. It went over like gangbusters. Ever seen a two-man horse? Big laughs.

Anyway, Vicente Padilla, the seed-throwing Nicaraguan, was on the hill for Philly on Friday. T.C's e-mail wondered: "Doesn't this guy have a fan club, along the lines of the Wolf Pack? I believe they're called Padilla's Flotilla. I would have gone with Padilla's Tortillas."

Padilla's Tortillas. Yes. And, if their man throws a complete-game shutout -- and only if their man throws a complete-game shutout -- you shower the field with Frisbee-like tosses of flour tortillas, not unlike a Red Wings/octopus-type thing.

This only opened a can o' comedy.

T.C. pointed out that the Giants would be pitching a rookie named Jerome Williams on Saturday, and wondered, via e-mail: Would Felipe Alou take the hill before the game, in a leopard-spotted blazer, and shout "Jerome!", only to have the rookie trot out, carrying a full-length mirror?

This, of course, began the talk for a need to develop a Jerome Williams Fan Club at Pac Bell Park. In the plan, you have the P.A. sound system guy in cahoots. He would play The Time's "Jungle Love" whenever rookie Jerome Williams or rookie Jesse Foppert pitched, so a crew of Morris Day-lookalikes in the bleachers could shout out, while dancing in unison: "Jesse ... now, Jerome!''

This is how we use company e-mail, dwellers. I hope you and yours do the same. But I digress.

Morris Day
Why stop at impersonators? Odds are Morris is available.
Our season seats at Pac Bell are down the rightfield line, and marry nicely with the hot start of new rightfielder Jose Cruz, Jr. To top it off, one of our seat-holders goes by the nickname "Junior." It was immediately proposed: We form "Junior's Juniors," in which our man Junior goes shirtless, paints a black 22 on his back, and does an elaborate dance every game between innings. Preferably the smooth dance done by the two brothers from the 1985 Tears for Fears video "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," in which they do sort of a Motown/Temptations thing in front of an abandoned gas station in the desert.

And if we've gone that far, we get the P.A. sound system guy to play the song, and the Fan Club shouts, at the appropriate point:

"Every-body wants to CRUZ!/The world ..."

If there's a moral to this rambling tale, let it be this: Creativity at our ballparks -- always a welcome development. There's nothing better than the quality heckle, the outrageous piece of prop comedy or the cerebral comedy of the Fan Club.

With that, we dive into the Weekend List of Five and -- what do you know? -- stay on our theme:

1. Millwood's magic
Kevin Millwood
Millwood surrenders after his militia stages a coup d'etat.
Caught nearly every pitch of Kevin Millwood's no-hitter on the TV, and was hugely impressed with Millwood's stuff. I was not, however, hugely impressed with his mildly disturbing Fan Club, "Millwood's Militia."

High up in the Vet, a couple of cats dressed in fatigues to form "Millwood's Milita." There was an unnerving sense that if you went up there to hang with them for a few innings, you'd have to show a current -- and paid -- NRA membership card to even get to your seat. Granted, the Constitution was penned in Philadelphia, and they put quill to paper a scant few miles from the Vet to write the Second Amendment. But when I go to a ballgame, I don't really want to be thinking about ammunition, manifestoes or the survivalist kit in the trunks of these guys' cars.

Why not "Millwood's Magicians?" Show up in the David Copperfield sequins, for pure laughs. Produce rabbits out of Phillies hats. Hell, saw a Phillies ball girl in half, just for giggles.

Anyway, nasty stuff from Millwood. And this guy got traded for a backup catcher? Now, he's a legend in Philly. Hell, he probably won't pay for a cheese-steak in that town until at least his next start.

2. The NBA playoffs: Easing in
Weekend 2 is finito, and we've settled nothing in the first round. Hunker down, NBA fans. You might want to call the boys in Millwood's Militia for some survivalist tips.

Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal
Lakers-T'wolves might go 7. In the east ... who cares?
Actually, one thing has been settled. Which is, we cannot shake the feeling that watching a Western Conference playoff game is like watching the NCAA tournament on CBS, while watching an Eastern Conference playoff game is like watching the NIT on ESPN. They might as well cut out the charade and air those Eastern Conference games tape-delayed at midnight, like they used to do the NBA Finals back in the '70s.

Another issue that may require federal intervention: the scourge of the timeout. Over the years it has gone from a mild curiosity to a full-blown outrage, not unlike Michael Jackson's face. Watch an NBA playoff game in the final minute, and try to contain your furor. They're averaging two timeouts per inbound pass. If Havlicek stole the ball this year, we'd never hear Johnny Most's call -- they'd either be in commercial, or he'd be catatonic on press row, cobwebs formed between his lips and the headset mike.

I must add that Kevin Garnett's amped-up takes on Craig Sager's canary-yellow suit after Game 3 in L.A. were rather amusing. "We're like your suit!" he shouted. "We don't care what people think of us ... we're like your suit!" Quality riff from Garnett. Problem is, Sager has turned canary yellow and "Miami Vice" pastels into standard operating procedure. The bold colors have lost their edge. If this guy really wanted to shake it up for a fashion gamble, he'd turn up in a blue blazer and khakis one game.

3. Fred-die! Fred-die!
Few more welcome sights in a sports weekend than Freddie Couples puring balls all over the Houston Open and snagging his first win in five years. What a swing, man! Makes Ernie Els' tempo look like Happy Gilmore's. They should distill Couples' swing into liquid, and pour it over movie popcorn.

Fred Couples
It was more than nice to see Freddie back in the winners circle.
It's been so long since Boom Boom was a factor in the golf world, I heard a fan at this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am shout to Couples, by the second green at Pebble: "Go get 'em, Bam Bam!" Ouch. Couples must have made the walk to the third tee thinking: "I've fallen so far off the radar, they're thinking I'm Barney and Betty Rubble's kid."

When Couples lost it and started bawling on the 18th green during his CBS interview on Sunday, I had to switch the channel real quick, for fear anyone would think I'm getting too soft, or my allergies were acting up. Great story, though. Geez -- between Lenny Mattiace at the Masters and Freddie Couples, the PGA Tour is turning into the final scene from "Terms of Endearment."

Postscript: Don't stop here, Freddie. Win a major, pal. It'd be tremendous stuff.

4. The NFL draft
What, you thought The Cooler had enough material to make it through without leaning on some Draft riffs? You obviously think too highly of this place.

In a related development, I think the Vikings just got their pick in, and they've selected John Elway, a quarterback from Stanford.

Nice work in that Minnesota draft room. Well-oiled machine. If the Viking draft room was really a war room, and was in charge of U.S. forces, we'd have invaded Jamaica instead of Iraq.

Meanwhile, the incredible assault of information from ESPN's coverage this year was unreal. Solving the Rubik's Cube was easier than translating that TV screen of draft data. As for Day 2 of the Draft, all I can say is: Godspeed, dweller. Watching that is like watching C-SPAN during any non-war period, where some Bush Administration lackey is giving the details of a farm aid bill to a half-empty room in the Washington Hilton. Wow.

Old School
Some found "Old School" funny, for others -- a sad wake-up call.
5. The sad fact of getting old
You get old like me, dwellers, you get soft. Finally saw "Old School," and enjoyed some truly low-brow, quality laughs. But at one point, the Luke Wilson character mentions that he's 30 years old, as if he is some sort of fossil. Christ on a bike, I'm 35. What does that make me? Pleistocene era, that's what. Hell, I referenced the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" video, giving away the embarrassing fact that I grew up when MTV actually aired videos.

All this is by way of saying, Madison Avenue now makes me laugh. The new Coors Light "Ode to the Wingman" ad aired all weekend and is nothing short of brilliant. What that means is, after about a week's worth of airings, it will become tired; it will become the "Wassup?" of 2003. I have the painful memory of a Cooler entry about two years ago in which I rejoiced at the Budweiser "Wassup?" ads, calling them a laugh riot. Walk into a bar now and say, "Wassup?" like a Bud guy and you're either going for 110 percent Irony Laugh, or you're a clown, a buffoon who should have his ass kicked immediately, if not sooner.

Sadly, I've also pimped the blood-curdling scream of the guy who finds his fridge empty of Bud Light. The Cooler is a pawn of pop culture, dwellers.

And if there is some sense in the world, the "Ode to the Wingman" ad will run only sparingly, thus retaining its original, pristine comedic qualities. If that's the case, we could even form a Wingman Fan Club -- "Wingman's Wingers."

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



Brian Murphy Archive

Murphy: Life imitating art

Murphy: Masters of our domain

Murphy: Somebody has to lose

Murphy: Welcome to Cooler Day!

Murphy: Spring is in the air

Murphy: Here's to Ew

Murphy: A barren wasteland

Murphy: Tiger gets his Phil

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