It’s August in New York — and, I suppose, everywhere else in the world. It’s humid. I’m helping my wife pack for a trip to New Orleans. It’s 1:30 a.m., a car is picking her up at 4 a.m. I’m still exhausted from a Sunday morning basketball game at a local playground. There’s a phrase that describes these August days, something involving a canine.
All of this adds up to one thing: Instead of offering deep commentary and 1,500 words about Kobe Bryant’s jump shot or the 1982 Lakers or Law & Order or life in Inwood, we’re diving into YouTube and offering up a bunch of clips in an attempt to save some brainpower for when I’ll really need it.
So here now a collection of hopefully entertaining, occasionally bizarre, usually amusing videos of everything from orangutans on Little House on the Prairie to girls basketball in 1983.
Friend of TVFury Dan Murphy — who is also a St. John’s grad (he does have his bad points: He loves Duke and still owes us a guest post for something relating to the Super Bowl) — was bragging one night on Twitter about his exploits in elementary track at Henderson. This led to me looking for old clips about the Henderson girls basketball team winning the state title in 1983. Why would I be thinking about that late at night nearly 30 years after it happened? Well, that 1983 Minnesota girls state tourney is memorable to me because the Janesville gals earned third-place. Girls basketball was not what it is today. Nowhere close, actually. But remarkably, someone has posted numerous old videos of old Henderson sporting events and a couple of the basketball team’s games from state are online. I was hoping to find Janesville – go Golden Bears! – but the squad didn’t play Henderson. But here’s the intro of the state title game, when Henderson defeated Lake City, which had upended Janesville in the semis, crushing a 7-year-old Shawn Fury. The games were at the old Met Center. The crowds were not big. And the action was not always the highest quality. But that Henderson team — which only had an enrollment of 94 — had a lot of talent, led by the Walters sisters. Lisa Walters went on to a dominant career at Mankato State. Check out all of the Henderson videos here. Fans of Minnesota basketball officials will want to listen for one of the names of the refs — Duane Mettler, a veteran referee who was not always the most-beloved official on a court. And just past the 9-minute mark, some bragging about Janesville!
Twins fans have had a tough two years. Times were bad back in the late-70s and early-80s as well after the legendary Rod Carew left the team. Here some of the leftovers — including Roy Smalley — walk menacingly toward the camera and declare that they have something to prove. This was before the 1979 season. The Twins had lost Carew. Fans must have been worried. The glory that was the Metrodome was still three years into the future. And you know what? They played pretty well. The Twins went 82-80, Smalley hit 24 homers and Jerry Koosman won 20 games. I think the commercial inspired the players.
1983 was a big year in Minnesota. Not only did the Janesville Golden Bears win third place in the state tourney, but the Minnesota Golden Gophers won…well, they didn’t win much of anything on the football field. Bad year for the U. The Gophers went 1-10, with the lone victory coming in the opener against Rice. The low point? This 84-13 debacle in the Metrodome against Nebraska, a powerhouse team considered to be among the best to ever play the game, although their season ended in defeat against Miami. Other losses that year? 69-18 against Ohio State (18? Such an odd number). 56-17 against Wisconsin. 58-10 against Michigan. And a 61-10 loss to Iowa. Lou Holtz took over the next season.
A few years ago I wrote about my love of Little House on the Prairie, but also the implausible nature of some of the episodes, most notably the time Ernest Borgnine appeared as a heavenly body while saving Laura on a mountain — in southern Minnesota. But on a messageboard I frequent, a poster brought up an episode I had either forgotten or never watched, one that involved Shannen Doherty’s character and an… orangutan. Huh? Wonder if anyone in Walnut Grove — the real one — remembers hearing about an incident like this in the history books. Had the show’s writers run out of ideas after burning down the school for the blind? Perhaps.
A video titled Top 10 Airballs. Okay.
A recommendation and a clip. I’d read great reviews about the documentary Senna, even though I knew nothing about Formula One Racing and all I knew about Ayrton Senna was that he was killed in an accident in 1994. Last weekend, ESPN Classic aired the documentary several times and I finally caught it. Watch it if you get a chance. Incredible film. And even as you know the ending, you’ll keep hoping for a different one. Senna is so alive in the film — which has an incredible amount of archived footage and no regular documentary-type interviews — you won’t believe he dies, even as you watch it happen. Here’s the trailer. The movie’s also on Netflix.
Okay, that’s it. Wait, is that the car arriving for Louise?