[Apologies for the start-stop beginning to this post. In a bit of self-censorship, I deleted the first version over concern for its tastefulness on a family blog. This second version, then, is merely "R" rated. I apologize to BornBruin and Fox 71 for having to throw out their comments with version 1. And, yes, BornBruin, do pick up the DVD. It's a wonderful movie, having fun with the dog-competition world, but in a loving way. For that matter, I recommend all of the Christopher Guest movies for their hilarious wit and loving treatment of our human foibles.]
We know how entrenched bureaucrats and establishments tend to react to public criticism. So, I would not be surprised if Bill Walton were to be, ahem, "reassigned" to work games of the Peach Belt Conference. If so, the absence of candid commentary on Bruins broadcasts would be a great loss to all viewers (except, of course, for Fox 71 :-) )
But, maybe such dismissal wouldn't be the end of entertaining commentary. Like we do when coaches are on the hot seat, I started thinking of who I would like to replace Walton, should Bill receive a dead fish wrapped in The Sporting News. I would want someone who, Like Walton, would be candid about what he was watching, and unafraid to speak his mind.
And, then it hit me. An obvious choice. Someone who has demonstrated, not only unfiltered candor, but high entertainment value, as well. Granted, this person may not know much about college basketball. But, then again, many of the so-called experts who vocalize the airwaves now often leave me reaching for the Mute button.
My choice? Fred Willard's character, Buck Laughlin, from the movie Best in Show. Buck would tell it like he saw it; that much we know. Buck would pierce the veneer of pretentiousness that prevents commentators from criticizing their employer or the teams they cover. Buck would keep us interested. And, entertained.
For those who haven't seen the movie, Buck is a "color commentator" for a fictional big-time event, The Mayflower Dog Show. Everyone in the movie, save one, treats the event with utmost seriousness. The exception, of course, is Buck, who plays an oafish albatross around the neck of the straight-laced, classy "play-by-play" announcer, Trevor Beckwith (played masterfully by Jim Piddock). Throughout the movie, we get to watch the temperature rise in Beckwith's slow-burn, as Laughlin constantly interrupts his announcing partner with inane, irrelevant, ignorant, and often lewd commentary.
There aren't as many clips on YouTube dedicated to Willard's character as I expected. Here are a few of Buck's lines from the movie:
"Now tell me, which one of these dogs would you want to have as your wide receiver on your football team?"
"Is there some process by which they physically miniaturize the dogs?"
(said during the toy dog portion of the competition)
"He went after her like she was made out of ham!"
(said after a neurotic Weimaraner jumped on a female judge)
"... and to think that, in some countries, these dogs are eaten"
"I don't think I could ever get used to being poked and prodded like that. I told my proctologist one time, 'Why don't you take me out to dinner and a movie sometime?'"
(to which, Trevor responded) "Yes I remember you said that last year."
(said when a dog is on the judge's table, being examined all over, and under)
So, I got to thinking: what would it be like if Buck had been commentator during the recent UCLA-WSU game. For this scenario, I'll replace the real TV announcer with "Trevor," and Walton's possibly vacated spot filled by "Buck." The dialog might go something like this...
Buck: "The guy in the rumpled suit for the blue team seems constipated or unhappy. Or, both. What's his problem?"
Trevor: "Well, Coach Howland..."
Buck: "'Coach Howlin,' is it? Well, that's a perfect name for him. The guy is always yelling."
Trevor: "No, it's Coach How-LAND, as..."
Buck: "Oh, 'land.' Speaking of landing, I remember one time when we were landing in Bangkok, and there's an X-rated city name if ever I heard one. Anyway, I asked this stewardess if she wanted to 'Thai one on' with me. That was right before she summoned the Air Marshall ."
Trevor: "Yes, well, that's very interesting, Buck, but as I was saying..."
Buck: "Back to this Howlin' guy. I think I know why he keeps yelling 'Push!'"
Trevor: "Umm... Well, Coach Howland is trying to urge his players to go fast in transition..."
Buck: "No, no, that's not it. Don't you notice how the blue team just passes the ball around once they get to the other end? I think 'Push' is an acronym: P-U-S-H. It stands for 'Pass Until Something Happens.'"
Trevor: "I..., I..."
Buck: "But, I do notice that the blue team is winning in generosity."
Trevor: "Wha...? Generosity?"
Buck: "Yeah, they keep letting the red team have the ball, after any missed shot, by either team. The blues are a very generous team."
Trevor: "Well, first, the team you're calling the 'blues' are the 'Bruins...'"
Buck: "Brewin's, huh? I like a good brew now and then. Or, ten. I remember one time in Denver when we were holed up for six hours, waiting for the snow storm to lift. I found a pub in the terminal that had Fat Tire on tap. Let me tell you, I did some 'brewin' on that day. I might have set some records."
Trevor: "Back to your point. Rebounding is one area where Coach Howland has admitted his team needs to improve..."
Buck: "To this day, I can't explain how that Denver Broncos pom-pom got in my underwear."
Trevor: "Uh..., Buck, we really should..."
Buck: "I see the Brewins have a player named 'Muhammad.'I wonder what would happen if they also had a player named 'Jesus'? I mean, with two prophets on the team, what if they had different ideas on which play to run? Who would you follow?"
Trevor: "Well, umm..., I don't think..."
Buck: "And, I wonder, when Muhammad brought the stone tablets down from the mountain, did he give them to Coach Howlin to use as clip boards?"
Trevor: "Well, actually, I think it was Moses who..."
Buck: "Or, what about when Jesus was hanging around Mecca, writing the KO-ran. Was that a playbook of KO-plays that they have already KO-run?"
Trevor: "Uhhh..." (sighs heavily) "We'd better get back to the game..."
Buck: "All right. Here's an observation. I've noticed that the Brewins don't like to slow down the red team when the red team goes to the basket. Is that because the Brewins don't want to get their hands sweaty?"
Trevor: "Well, Coach Howland says that they're not athletic enough to play shut-down defense, and that they have to live with being 'out-physicaled' in some games."
Buck: "Out-physicaled? Is that what he calls it? Looks to me like they're just out-interested. You could call the blue team the 'Bystanders,' rather than the 'Brewins.'"
Trevor: "You know, Buck..."
Buck: "But, wait, there's an impressive-looking big guy on bench. He looks athletic. Why don't they use him more?"
Trevor: "Oh, you mean Tony Parker. Well, so far, Parker hasn't shown..."
Buck: "Shoot. I'd put him out there just cuz he's so big. He looks like a basketball player. Know what I mean?"
Trevor: "Well, Buck, I can't believe I'm saying this, but you have a point. Coach Howland has said after several games that he should have used Parker more..."
Buck: "Maybe Parker just can't play bystander defense, and that's what keeps him on the bench?"
Trevor: "Well, I'm sure that Coach How..."
Buck: "By the way, why do they call it a 'bench,' anyway? There's no bench there. Just folding chairs."
Trevor: "Well, the term 'bench' is a hold-over from..."
Buck: "And, they make the same mistake with judges. There's no 'bench' there, either."
Trevor: "Yes, well, I'm not sure how this relates..."
Buck: "I remember, a friend of mine put a whoopee cushion on the (makes air quotes gesture) 'bench' of this one judge in Westlake. Gave new meaning to 'All rise.'"
Trevor: "Buck, we really do need to..."
Buck: "Not now, Trevor. The Brewins' cheerleaders are on."