Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Rick Ankiel, "The Phenomenon"

In 2000, Rick Ankiel was a 21-year-old pitching phenom for the St. Louis Cardinals who had been compared to Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax. But that changed on October 3, when he was pitching in the first game of the National League division series. He threw a wild pitch that hit the backstop. Then he did it again. And again. And again. And again. In five pitches, his world came crumbling down as he was affected by a condition that athletes call The Yips.

Over the course of the next few years, Ankiel went back down to the minors, then returned to the majors for a couple of years, then retired -- until the Cards offered him a chance to come back yet again, this time as an outfielder. Remarkably, he was able to work his way back up from the minors for a third time and spent several more years with the Cardinals, Royals, Mets, Astros, and Nationals, before retiring for good in 2013.

Ankiel writes about all of this in "The Phenomenon: Pressure, The Yips, And The Pitch That Changed My Life." When he joined me in the studio, I asked him:
  • Could you throw a pitch today? Can you have a catch with your kids?
  • When you got The Yips, did your teammates stay away from you, worried it was contagious?
  • Would things have been different if Mike Metheny had been your catcher that night?
  • How important is a catcher to a major league pitcher?
  • What were some of the more bizarre suggestions you got from people who wanted to help?
  • Why can’t most major league pitchers hit?
  • Have you heard from other players with The Yips who wanted advice?
  • When you started again in the minors, did the other players want to know about The Show?
  • Is it true that Tony La Russa once imitated the manager from the movie "Major League" in comments to you?"
Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Showbiz Show 4/21/17

This week on the showbiz segment of my show, Max Foizey and I reviewed "The Promise," "Unforgettable," and "Their Finest." We also discussed the upcoming "Captain Marvel" movie, the PBS documentary "The Last Laugh," and the return of Bill Nye The Science Guy and "Silicon Valley."

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Harris Challenge 4/21/17

This week's Harris Challenge -- the most fun you can have with your radio on! -- includes categories about the March On Science, Earth Day, and Time's Most Influential People. Listen and play along, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Harris Challenges? Click here.

Knuckleheads In The News® 4/21/17

On this edition of Knuckleheads In The News®, I have stories about a love score in tennis, a woman stuck in a toilet, and another criminal on Facebook Live. Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Want more Knuckleheads In The News®Click here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

KTRS Friday

I'll be back on my 3-6pm CT show on KTRS today. You can listen over the air, via the station's free app, or at

In the first hour, I'll talk to Rick Ankiel about his book, "The Phenomenon: Pressure, The Yips, and The Pitch That Changed My Life."

In the second hour, Max Foizey and I will review "The Promise," "Unforgettable," "Their Finest," and other movie/showbiz stuff.

In the third hour, you can test your trivia knowledge on my Harris Challenge and I'll have a new batch of Knuckleheads In The News®.

Picture Of The Day

With the March On Science taking place tomorrow in Washington and other cities around the US, Neil deGrasse Tyson offers what he says are the most important words he's ever spoken...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Random Thoughts

I love the fact that misogynist Bill O'Reilly was brought down by women, including Emily Steel, the NY Times reporter who broke the story of the secret Fox News settlements with several former employees he sexually harassed. She's the one he threatened in 2015 when she reported on lies he told about reporting during the Falklands war, telling her, "I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat." Gee, all she had to use was real reporting and actual evidence.

With so much news about North Korea recently, it's a good time to go back and listen to my interview with Wendy Simmons about her book, "My Holiday In North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place On Earth." Remarkable stories.

Not being a comic book guy, I have no idea who most the characters in the Marvel universe are, but I'm happy to see that Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck -- who wrote and directed my major motion picture debut in "Mississippi Grind" -- have been chosen to direct "Captain Marvel," starring Brie Larson. They'd better hurry. It already has a scheduled release date of March 8, 2019.

No, Trekkies, members of the Enterprise crew who wear red shirts are not the most likely to die. James Grime did the math.

If you're not watching "Brockmire" on IFC, you're missing terrific chemistry between Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet. It's also Azaria's best non-"Simpsons" work since "The Birdcage."

The Alex Jones child custody trial in Austin sounds absolutely wild, particularly the part where he claimed that his memory loss -- such as not being able to remember the names of his own children -- was caused by eating chili.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The O'Reilly Bullshit

In their statement today announcing that Bill O'Reilly will not return to Fox News Channel, Rupert Murdoch and his sons said, "We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect."

I call bullshit.

This is a company that quietly and secretly paid $13 million to several women to settle charges that O'Reilly had sexually harassed them in the workplace. Fox had no qualms about keeping him on the air after those payouts. It was only when those settlements became public, and other women came forward with similar claims, and -- most importantly -- advertisers started withdrawing their spots from "The O'Reilly Factor," that the network panicked.

So, this had nothing to do with morality and everything to do with money. What a surprise.

Don't expect anything about the tone of Fox News Channel to change without O'Reilly. Just as Rush Limbaugh has been imitated by dozens of other conservative blowhards on radio. O'Reilly was the blueprint for every loudmouth hypocrite on television. He felt it was his place to publicly tell the world the right way to act while privately acting the wrong way. He's a bully, a misogynist, and the kind of person who isn't liked by anyone who works with him. O'Reilly set the standard for what Fox viewers expected from the network: pomposity, hatred of the Clintons and Obama, vitriol about liberals, fear-mongering, and lies offered as facts regardless of a lack of evidence. No wonder Trump think he's a great guy who could do no wrong.

There's already speculation about where the toxic O'Reilly will land next. You can rule out CNN and MSNBC. There may be some smaller right-wing cable outlet you've never heard of that wants him, but they could never pony up enough money to make it worth his while -- and who would they get to advertise on his show? O'Reilly could go it alone with a live-streamed internet show he sells via subscription, but that seems pretty low rent for a guy who flew as high as he did for so long with the number one show on cable news.

My guess is that he won't reappear with anything resembling "The O'Reilly Factor." He's almost 68 years old and amassed enormous wealth during his Fox run and with his books (his publisher can't be thrilled with losing the free promotional platform his primetime show offered).

Bottom line: now that the big, bad bully has had the magic carpet pulled out from under him, he'll return to Earth and skulk away, muttering something about how all those women he wanted to screw did exactly that to him.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pick-Up Lines

Here's a piece I wrote in 2000, which explains the no-longer-topical references, but the rest of it still holds up...

In my single days -- a lot of years ago -- I was never one of those guys who could pick up women in a bar. I never had a good opening line and was amazed at some of the men who could do it so smoothly while it always felt so awkward to me.

Whenever I tried anything approaching one of these lines, I got the same chilly reaction that Slobodan Milosevic gave his pollsters this week when the Yugoslavian election results came in.

On my show today, I was talking about this and wondering what kind of pickup lines my listeners could remember. I was also curious about whether any particular lines had been effective for the guys, and how women in the audience had responded to them.

Note that I didn’t ask what pickup lines the women used. That’s because, for most single guys, anything a woman says can be considered a pickup line. She may say nothing more than a simple hello, but the man’s ears somehow process it as a come-on.

That’s a scientific fact -- verify it with any man you know – that has something to do with the structure of the male inner ear. She says: “Would you like fries with that?” He hears: “Won’t you please help me cure my terrible loneliness and longing for close physical contact?”

In reading these pickup lines, you may be as amazed as I was at how brash some of the guys have been. I can’t imagine saying most of these. Even more, I can’t believe that they have actually worked. Yet many men claim success with even the lamest lines below. On the other hand, most of the women I spoke to said that they would have to be pretty drunk to respond to these lines in any kind of positive way. Of course, that may just be the point.

Anyway, here’s the list, broken out into categories of ascending boldness...

Insulin Alert!
“We must have met sometime before, because I have seen those eyes before.”
“Where did you put them? Your wings. Because you look like an angel.”
“Where did you park your cloud?”
“Your father must be a thief, because he stole the stars and put them in your eyes.”
“You’re so sweet you’re giving me a toothache.”
“If I had eleven roses and you, I’d have a dozen.”
“Are we near the airport or is that just my heart taking off?”

Third-Party Toss-Off
“My friend wants to know if you think I’m cute.”

Attempts At Wit
“You must wash your clothes in Windex, because I can see myself in your pants.”
“Are your legs tired? Because you’ve been running through my thoughts all night.”
“Is that a run in your hose, or is it my stairway to heaven?”
“Are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only ten I see!”
“Do you know CPR? Because you take my breath away.”
“If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together.”

For Use Only By Men Under 30
“Your daddy must be a drug dealer, because you’re dope.”
“Is your dad a terrorist? Because you’re the bomb!”
“Are you a parking ticket? Because you have fine written all over you.”
“Is that a keg in your pants? Cause I’d just love to tap that booty.”

First Used By A Caveman
“If I told you that you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?”
“Is it hot in here or is it just you?”
“Hi, I’m new in town. Can I have directions to your house?”
“When does your centerfold come out?”
“I seem to have lost my number. Can I have yours?”

What If She’s Lactose Intolerant?
“I’m like milk. I’ll do your body good.”
“You’re so fine, I want to pour milk all over you and make you part of my complete breakfast.”

Guaranteed Face-Slappers
“I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I sure can make your bed rock.”
“Hey, that dress looks nice. Can I talk you out of it?”
“That dress looks good on you, but I’d look better.”
“Are those pants from outer space? Cause that butt is out of this world.”
“I like your hair that way. But I’d really like to see what it looks like on my pillow.”
“I’d like to buy you breakfast tomorrow. Should I call you, or just nudge you?”
“My mother always said that I had hands that belonged on a girl. Can I put them on you?”

Too Crude To Use Except At Last Call
“Can I tickle your belly button -- from the inside?”
“You have 206 bones in your body. Would you like one more?”
“You look like you have a little Mexican in you, and if you don’t, would you like to?”
“That outfit would look great in a crumpled heap on my bedroom floor tomorrow morning.”

Again, don’t blame me for any of these. I have never used them, and never would. I’d be scared to death of the response. Or that she might think I’m Craig Kilborn.

I’m not alone in my rejection anxiety. One guy told me he tried quoting an early Woody Allen movie to a woman in a bar, asking “Would you like to take me home and hurt me?” She didn’t waste any time. She kicked him in the shins right then and there.

A woman told me that a guy sat down next to her and introduced himself as “Bond. James Bond.” Without missing a beat, she replied, “Lost. Get Lost.”

Several ladies also asked me to pass along a tip to the guys. If you recognize that her name is the same as some famous song lyric, you should not start reciting that song to her. No matter how clever you think you are, you are not the first guy to try to impress her by singing “Oh Susanna,” “Help Me Rhonda,” “Michelle My Belle,” or, fer chrissakes, “The I Love Lucy Theme.”

What kind of approach would women truly welcome? Picture the scene in “Top Gun,” where Kelly McGillis is at the bar and Tom Cruise (with help from Anthony Edwards) strolls up with a microphone and serenades her with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

Caveat to guys: this overt tactic is considered a winner by women entirely due to the fact that Tom Cruise was doing it. It would not have the same appeal if you look more like George Wendt.