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Sports Then and Now



Cartoon Sportscaster Tank McNamara and the “Norts Spews” 2

Posted on February 09, 2016 by Mike Raffone

Tank McNamara

With a name that perfectly captures his comic strip persona, Tank McNamara barrels into Sports Then and Now with the “norts spews!”

Boasting a 40 year run as a syndicated comic strip character, big mouthed, broad shouldered broadcaster Tank McNamara easily bogarts his way into today’s blog with his “norts spews” or sports news.

Sure, I may have personally given Tank a mulligan – or two – or thirty when considering this bumbling, brash and bumptious local television reporter of comic strip fame.

But, his inclusion in today’s blog as well as in my sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters stems from the brilliance of two men who brought this imperfect talking head on sports to life.

Creators Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds

Until his 2012 passing, writer Jeff Millar and artist and now writer Bill Hinds gifted the American sports loving public with this magnificent creation.

Since 1974 Millar and Hinds have employed the overly confident Tank McNamara to lampoon the absurdity of sports.

However, the square jawed reporter, famous for his fumble mouth pronunciations like “norts spews” instead of sports news, quickly and frequently gets cut down to size.

Millar and Hinds expertly crafted the seemingly self-assured sportscaster into a buffoon of a former football player, beloved by readers of as many as 300 American newspapers.

In spite of his warts and easily deflated bravado, Tank McNamara remains a fan favorite. Loyal readers can easily recite the brute’s football bio from his fictional alma mater – Enormous State University – to the same #55 jersey number he wore as a college Sandcrab player and later as an NFL defensive lineman.

Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, the Tank McNamara character seamlessly weaves commentary and illustrative artwork into American culture while furnishing a biting satire of today’s sports world.

Tank McNamara Pricks Societal Ills

From gambling to steroids, domestic disputes to felonious arrests and from breaking news on DUIs to sexual misconduct stories, Tank McNamara poignantly pricks all societal ills.

Tank McNamara’s snarky humor reaches its annual peak when creators ask readers to nominate their choice for Sports Jerk of the Year.

In the less-than-perfect world of sports entertainment, there is usually no shortage of candidates.

And, with a flawed former football player named Tank McNamara reporting on the winner of Sports Jerk of the Year, it’s easy to understand why this likeable lunk finds his way into my sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters.

Click above to download the book from Amazon to read about Tank and other “norts spews.”.

MIKE on sports!

FREE MIKE Sports Comic Book: Worst About Sports 2

Posted on December 21, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Yellow Cover FREE Worst About Sports

A best selling book on my top 25 picks on what’s best about sports wouldn’t be complete without a complementary book on my top 25 choices on what’s worst about sports.

As I penned in my previous book – Best About Sports – the subject of sports always triggers debate.

Pick a player, celebrate a team or remember a championship moment, regardless of the sport, and I guarantee that a lively discussion will quickly follow.

In a relative’s living room, at a neighborhood bar or around the office water cooler, the mere mention of a certain player or team will instantaneously ignite colorful conversation and more than likely ruffle some one’s feathers.

Sports fans not only articulate what they like about an athlete, a team or a game, but they also love to pontificate about what they dis-like about them.

We can all agree that it’s our constitutional right, privilege and duty to vent over what we dis-like in the arena of sports just as much as we celebrate what we do like about sports.

I, for one, feel it’s my obligation to speak up and share about those players, teams, mascots, sounds or situations in sports that stoke my personal embers of distaste. I’ve accumulated my own list of the top 25 things that agitate me the most.

In Worst About Sports, you’ll probably agree with some universally irritating dis-likes that figure prominently on my list. They include spitting in baseball, grunting in tennis, stoppage time in soccer, non-sport sports like NASCAR, pool and curling and the once mega-rich, but now retired, broke athletes.

However, some entries that squeezed into my top 25 Worst About Sports may surprise you, but they disturb me nonetheless and have warranted a chapter in my book. They include Twitter, steroids, tattoos, adjusting the fellas, whining in the NBA, spitting in baseball and the University of Notre Dame’s leprechaun mascot.

Remember, this is my book chronicling my collection of the top 25 things I find worst about sports. It’s a reservoir of my personal angst.

The book overflows with my very own vituperative views on things I dis-like in sports. These are my opinions and personal picks.

If you disagree and want to share what and who irks you in the world of sports, then email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com.

Otherwise, enjoy the book. And, it’s FREE! So, share it with friends. Just click HERE to safely download.

MIKE on sports!

FREE MIKE Sports Comic Book: Best About Sports 3

Posted on December 14, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Yellow Cover FREE Best About Sports

The subject of sports always triggers debate.

Pick a star player, celebrate a title winning team or remember a championship moment, regardless of the sport, and I guarantee that a passionate discussion will quickly follow.

Animated, verbal altercations about any accomplished athlete or team embroil sports fans everywhere. They foster lively conversations about what happened “way back then” as well as what is happening “now.” And, that’s what I believe is Best About Sports

Once again, I bring to life about what I know is best about sports in the updated second edition of my FREE sports comic book.

In a relative’s living room, at a neighborhood bar or around the office water cooler, the mere mention of a certain player or team will instantaneously ignite colorful conversation and more than likely ruffle some one’s feathers.

Reference the New York Yankees & impassioned Boston Red Sox fans will be eager to engage in an animated verbal altercation.

Criticize Kobe and Los Angeles Lakers lovers will immediately compare the Black Mamba to MJ as well as list Bryant along with Magic, Wilt, Kareem, Shaq and even Mikan in their long line of NBA titles.

Praise the Pack and surely Steelers, Saints and Patriots faithful will some how seek to metaphorically kick you right in your Cheesehead.

Wear a FC Barcelona jersey in public and you’ll quickly feel the glaring eyes of Manchester United hooligans lurking ominously nearby.

Sports chatter stirs the embers of conversations from yesterday’s big game as well as from championship games played decades ago. Read the rest of this entry →

The Zamboni: Baddest Maintenance Vehicle in Sports! 4

Posted on November 30, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The ZamboniMy guess is that the look and speed of the sports world’s most famous maintenance vehicle is the same now as it was back then, making it a perfect entry for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Driving this clunky ice resurfacing machine on wheels would satisfy nearly every hockey fan’s fantasy.

Who hasn’t yearned to climb behind the wheel of this giant tractor and take charge on the ice?

Perhaps the baddest maintenance vehicle in all of sports, whose top speed runs at just a mere 9 miles per hour, the Zamboni cruises in

The boxy Zamboni tractor scrapes, collects, washes, resurfaces and smooths the ice for hockey games and skating competitions.

In addition, the monster machine sprays and then squeegees 140 degree water and transforms once rutted and scarred ice into a shimmering surface that mirrors polished glass.

Founded by Frank J. Zamboni in Southern California in 1949, the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine has become the standard throughout arenas around the world. Approximately 200 custom made machines, at a price of $75,000 each, are manufactured each year.

The Zamboni’s iconic fame has extended beyond the boards of the hockey rinks it resurfaces. In the classic sitcom Cheers, Carla’s husband Eddie supposedly got run over by a Zamboni.

And, in a Peanuts comic strip, a fictional miniature Zamboni once cleaned the ice in a birdbath for Snoopi’s pal Woodstock

This heavy duty “bad to the boni” machine is dear to all who have watched it perfectly restore chunks and grooves in previously pock marked ice during intermissions at NHL, NCAA an biddy league games.

All the while these same hockey fans were dreaming they were ones behind the wheel of the Zamboni chugging down the ice at a speed most people walk…backward.

Now what fan could possibly argue that the Zamboni ranks as one of the best things about sports?

MIKE on sports!

Stop the Spitting in Major League Baseball 5

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Spitting in Baseball

This cheeky comic may make your toes scrunch, but it speaks volumes about a vile habit that remains unchecked in America’s favorite pastime.

It started way back THEN in the 1800’s when baseball first blossomed and chewing tobacco was all the rage. Unfortunately, spitting in baseball has continued til NOW in 2015 as the sport thrives.

So, it’s about time someone like me addresses this scourge in sports by writing about it in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Spitting in baseball is a major league problem.

While watching this weekend’s ALCS and NLCS playoff games, I once again found myself disgusted by the disturbing discharges emanating from eminent National and American Major League Baseball players.

These orally induced actions seriously sully my spectating enjoyment and probably yours, too.

My guess is that all of America agrees with me on this issue. Baseball players, coaches and managers spit waaaaay too much. Read the rest of this entry →

The Heckler: A Big Mouthed Sports Fan 3

Posted on September 28, 2015 by Mike Raffone

The HecklerBecause I enjoy his antics, this big mouthed sports fan is an easy choice for today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

This big babbler has been barking from the stands at sporting events since the first chariot races in Rome and original Olympic Games in Greece.

He’s that garrulous guy who plays the role of the annoying fan at games. He’s been seen and heard at every pro game in every sport for as long as fans can remember.

Many observers would say he’s just as bothersome, or entertaining, “now” as he was back “then” at sports events!

The colorful and, at times, irritating big mouth sits court side at NBA games, in the end zone at NFL games or behind home plate at Major League Baseball games and creatively maligns the opposing team’s players. His duty is to toss barbs at the other team and their fans.

Universally known as the Heckler, this super fan ironically may not boast too many fans of his own.

Some fans may find him insulting, but I like him and think he’s an expected, entertaining part of attending a professional sports event.

He’s pretty funny, especially if he’s rooting for the same team.

Plus, I can handle his non-stop heckling – provided he’s seated far enough away and doesn’t make the little hairs on the back of my neck stand at full attention with his non-stop jibber-jabbering.

And, I get a kick out of watching rival fans deal with the Heckler during a game. The guy’s entertainment factor wears off quickly, especially when he’s not cheering for their squad.

Soon, opposing fans within earshot realize this guy has a bullhorn for a voice box and no off switch for his grating trash talk.

During the rest of the game, these same rival fans are constantly on edge, much to my delight and that of all of my fellow fans.

For the rest of the game, I’m entertained by watching these rival fans try to keep themselves in check.

In a fight to the end, they struggle to restrain themselves from dumping their beer on this loud mouthed Heckler.

Because of the entertainment factor he has always provided at games since fans can remember, this timeless irritant and big mouthed sports fan secures a spot in today’s Sports Then and Now blog.

Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite Heckler line?

Let us know. Just keep it clean and leave everyone’s mother out of your response. Lol

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

 

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    • George Musso: From Longshot to Hall of Famer
      August 5, 2017 | 4:52 pm
      George Musso

      George Musso

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month went from small college long shot to Pro Football Hall of Famer.

      When George Musso finished his college career at Millikin College in 1933, Chicago Bears coach George Halas offered the 6-foot-2, 265 pound lineman a tryout and eventually a $90 per game contract, but had serious doubts whether he could make the transition from small college football to the NFL.

      It took a year for Musso to adjust, but by 1935 he was an All-Pro tackle. Two years later, he moved to guard and again earned first team All-NFL honors. He became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-League honors at two different positions.

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