Posted on: March 29, 2008 11:56 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2008 12:13 am

Saturday Cartoons Blog (Complete)

Let's Talk Saturday Morning Cartoons
I had some time late Saturday night, so I thought I'd blog about the most important thing in my life from 6-12 years old.

I'm 36 years old, which means that I grew up (from 6-15 years old) in the perfect Saturday Morning Cartoon time period of 1977-86. Five years earlier (1971) and there are way fewer cartoons available to watch on Saturday (There wasn't even any electric back then!) And five later (1991), after the cable boom, and I'm the Looney Tunes were already starting to be phased out by politically correct censors. Come on, I still wouldn't know what an anvil is to this day had I not watched those cartoons. They were educational! Sure, a kid would try to do a Wile E. Coyote off a cliff every now and then, but really -- if he was that dumb, wouldn't he have been outwitted by a lawnmower or a garbage disposal later in life? Looney Tunes just helped our lives by getting dumb children out of school and off the roads as adults.

Also, during my cartoon-watching tenure in the late 70s, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour became The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show -- once CBS decided to add 30 minutes to the cartoon block.

Here's how I remember Saturday mornings in the Gonos household in the late 70s: I'd wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning and immediately run to the television. From what I remember, Sunday through Monday was much tougher to get me out of bed. Sure, Inspector Gadget on a Tuesday morning had its appeal, but let's get real, I was 11 or 12 years old at that point and Gadget's voice was Don Adams -- or Tennessee Tuxedo, who often quipped, "Phineas J. Whoopee, you're the greatest!" I realize now in life that I happen to look more like Chumley than I do Tuxedo, and I have no idea who Phineas J. Whoopee is, but I bet he's cool. (Keeping along that same thread, Sherman, Mr. Peabody and the Wabac Machine have already made an appearance in one of my columns over the past couple seasons. That whole grouping of cartoons was a fantastic one. I think they were on in the early 70s, but I don't remember much of them in the 80s.)

Anyway, I'd wake up pretty darn early, eschew breakfast, get the TV going (remember, back then, they were mostly just big console TVs without cable, and you had to click the huge nob to the right channel. I was indeed in red footy pajamas that I had to step into and zip up. Once I outgrew them, like a month later, my Mom took the ol' scissors out and just like that, they were no longer footy pajamas.

Now when you got up that early, you usually had to sit through a good number of crap cartoons before the good ones began. You always had some of those stupid claymation cartoons where they were always trying to "teach" you something. Look, just give me some cartoon animals that talk with speech impediments, a handful of explosives, rejuvenating lives and I'm fine.

Around the time "Overture, curtains, lights! This is it, you'll hit the heights!" was sung by Bugs, Daffy Duck and friends, my parents would slowly begin to wake up from their drunken slumber from the night before. (By the way, am I the only kid that would march around the livign room -- trying to be quiet -- singing the "Overture, curtains, lights" song out loud?) My dad would give me some paint chips to chew on until breakfast was made, and my mom would toss some poorly made toys my way with loose pieces just small enough to fit in my esophagus. How great was it to be a kid in the 70s!?! It was basically an unwritten rule with my parents, they knew that Saturday mornings were the only thing I lived for as a kid, so it was rare that a chore was asked to be done before 11am or so.

As much as I loved Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Sylvester, let's not forget some other Saturday morning favorites:

Fat Albert -- Between this cartoon and Kool-Aid commercials, every fat kid in the land was scared of wearing an orange or red tshirt for fear of hearing someone yell, "Hey! Hey! Hey! It's Faaaaat Albert!" or "Hey Kool-Aid!!!" But why did Dumb Donald have eyeholes cut out of his ski cap? I never got that.
Josie and the Pussycats -- I remember liking this show ... a lot. And not really knowing why. I'd find out a couple years later.
Superfriends -- Let's get something straight. I like the Superfriends. Later in life I learned to love the Superfriends (especially Wonder Woman -- see Josie and the Pussycats). But they happened to be on at the same time as Bugs Bunny, so here I am, looking stupid in my red non-footy pajamas with holes in the knee that have been sewn over two or three times now, with no TiVo or DVR, and I'm forced to make a decision between Bugs Bunny and Superfriends. I learned every Saturday morning, my friends, that life was not fair.
Pink Panther -- He was OK, but really, I loved that Aardvark voiced by Jackie Mason -- that's a classic right there.
The Smurfs -- Look, I know I was too old to be watching The Smurfs at age 11 and 12. I'm not proud of it by any means. But come on, you gotta watch something Saturday mornings when you're 11!
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? -- I remember watching this more after school than on Saturdays for some reason. Either way, it jumped the shark once Scrappy showed up.
Spiderman and His Amazing Friends -- Later, when I was like 20, Marvel came out with an X-Men cartoon Saturday mornings too. AWESOME, I loved them all. But Ice-Man, on this 80s cartoon, was my absolute favorite, hip, cool superhero. Firestar was hot, too.
Dungeons and Dragons -- Dumb game for nerds, but what a great cartoon! My cousin Richard and I would watch this faithfully.
The Wacky Races and the Laff-a-Lympics -- They deserve a blog thread all on their own for making an All-Star game for cartoons -- BRILLIANT!!!

Another point I'd like to make, is that after seeing this webpage devoted to TV I like from this era, is that ABC and CBS were really the only guys that were in serious competition for my cartoon-viewing patronage. NBC tried to compete with "Godzilla," "The Fantastic Four" and "Kroft Superstars." Before I get thousands of emails from the Krofft Superstars apologists out there, let me say I didn't hate it. But as far as that as a Saturday lineup? [Put hand to mouth, make farting sound]

CBS had Bugs Bunny, ABC had Schoolhouse Rock. There were no other channels as far as I was concerned. (Well, literally, there were no other channels, since FOX wasn't invented yet, and our nob was broke and wouldn't reach NBC.)

Wow, doing all these searches online, I just came across this book: Saturday Morning Fever. Here's what the end of the synopsis reads: "Little did you know that this cherished world was also the battleground where greedy toy advertisers, network flacks, cutthroat cartoon companies, opportunistic politicians, and concerned parents struggled for the attention-deficit souls of America's youth.Brothers Tim and Kevin Burke bring us a loving, insightful, and hilarious examination of all aspects of Saturday morning television. Tune in and get ready for some fun." I MUST GET THIS BOOK!!! That sounds awesome! We can get it at Half.com for like $5 ... SWEET!

Here are my Top Five Schoolhouse Rocks:
  1. Conjunction Junction -- It's really in a class by itself.
  2. I'm Just a Bill
  3. A Noun is a Person, Place or a Thing
  4. Three is a Magic Number
  5. The Energy Blues

And now, without further adieu, here are the Top 20 Greatest Bugs Bunny & Friends characters ever (While the Tiny Toons were certainly good, I don't include them in this listing):
  1. Daffy Duck -- Without question, the best character ever. From the voice, to the fact that he went from being Daffy while outwitting Elmer Fudd, to being dastardly when trying to get Bugs Bunny in trouble. Let's not forget Duck Dodgers either.
  2. Bugs Bunny -- The greatest protagonist in the history of cartoons.
  3. Foghorn Leghorn -- A fat rooster that hums "Camptown Races" while pulling pranks on a dumb dog -- what's NOT to love?
  4. Sylvester the Cat -- Again, this is one of the more versatile characters in the Looney Tunes library. Consider that he was the victim when he was in Porky Pig's cartoons, and he was the villain when he chased after Tweety.
  5. Wile E. Coyote -- His work with the Road Runner and Bugs is well documented, but getting to clock in and out with the Sheepdog -- that's pure genius.
  6. Marvin the Martian -- Space Jam made him famous, but you have to appreciate the fact that he needs the Uranium Pu-36 Explosive Space Modulator to blow up Earth just because it blocks his view of Venus.
  7. Pepe Le Pew -- Sexy french cats would get everyone excited.
  8. Yosemite Sam -- Classic case of "Short Man's Syndrome."
  9. Tasmanian Devil -- Emack when the food arrives at a restaurant.
  10. Rocky and Mugsy -- I like Mugsy more than Rocky. Any time a character says, "Duhhhh," before everything, that's good comedy.
  11. Elmer Fudd
  12. Porky Pig
  13. Sylvester Jr. -- "Oh the shame of it all."
  14. Speedy Gonzalez
  15. Gossamer -- How do you make a big, orange alien funny? Give him huge basketball sneakers.
  16. Beaky Buzzard -- "My mama done told me, to get something for dinner."
  17. Spike and Chester -- "Hey Spike, what do you wanna do now? ... Spike's my friend, cuz he's so big and strong."
  18. Goofy Gophers -- Cartoon Gophers + British Accents = High Comedy.
  19. Tweety Bird -- I liked when he drank the Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde potion to get huge.
  20. Pete Puma -- Ask me sometime to do my Pete Puma laugh, it's not bad.
Category: SPiN
Posted on: March 29, 2008 11:00 am
Edited on: March 29, 2008 11:57 pm

Saturday Baseball Blog

It's the last Saturday of spring without regular season baseball. Things are winding down in draft prep mode and gearing up for in-season help. You'll notice our player updates are starting to change a little in their language, going from "Draft him in the later rounds as a sleeper" to "Don't feel bad, J.D. Drew is already killing my team too."

So since this is the last sane Saturday, I thought today's blog would be in honor of "The Bugs Bunny, Road Runner Show" -- the all-time greatest Saturday morning cartoon ever. I'd wake up at seven in the morning on a non-school day, wearing my footy pajamas, get a big bowl of Sugary Sugar O's, or whatever colorful cereal I could find with a cartoon on it, and settle in for the greatest few hours of the week. And that was just two Saturdays ago, when I watched "The Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume I" on DVD.

"I say, I say, I'll reluctantly take Aaron Harang!"
The Sporting News pointed out an interesting fact about Aaron Harang last season. (Doesn't he kinda look like Foghorn Leghorn, at 6-foot-7, 275? Does that make Bronson Arroyo the Chicken Hawk?) The Reds' brutally bad bullpen blew five saves that would have been wins for Harang. Even if they just save three of those five games, that give Harang 19 wins to lead the NL! He's an innings-eating beast that somehow gets away with allowing a flyball for every groundball he induces, yet keeps an ERA under 4.00 in a tiny ballpark. Only six other 15-game winners last season walked fewer batters than him, and he has gone over 200 strikeouts for consecutive seasons.

Those facts haven't gotten past the eyes of Fantasy owners, as they made him the 10th-highest drafted SP in Head-to-Head leagues this season (12th in Rotisserie). But let's be honest, owners are reluctant to make him their ace because of the Great American Ball Park, and the fact that he has allowed 28 home runs in each of the past two seasons. When it comes time to trade for an ace for your team -- or better yet, a stellar No. 2 -- see what you can dangle in front of him for a trade. "You gotta keep your eye on the ball. Eye! Ball! Eyeball! I almost had a gag, son. Joke, that is."

The Bugs Bunny Delivery
I've always thought that Francisco Rodriguez's crazy, Bugs Bunny whiplash delivery would be the cause of injury for him at some point. He's definitely proven me wrong over the past three seasons, going on to save more games (132) than any other pitcher in the game (Trevor Hoffman is just one behind at 131). The Angels' pitching staff is a little banged up this season, but the addition of Jon Garland gives them another innings-eater that can reach the bullpen. Setup man Scot Shields had some tough outings last season in one of his worst years in a while. The Angels went from the 7th-best bullpen in 2006 (with a 3.78 ERA), to 20th-best in 2007 (4.24 ERA).

The Angels have always produced solid setup pitchers throughout the 2000s, from K-Rod (who was behind Troy Percival for a few seasons), to Shields, to Brendan Donnelly to J.C. Romero. But what's interesting is that the Angels' bullpen dip last season comes in the first year of Mike Butcher's tenure as the Angels' pitching coach -- or should I say, the first season without pitching coach Bud Black, who went on to manage the Padres in '07.

Either way, you can pretty much write in K-Rod for another 40-save season in a contract year. The team hasn't locked him up and they are bracing against possibly losing him and his goggles (eat more carrots to improve your vision!) to another team next year. That sounds like incentive for the best closer in baseball over the past three years.

By the way, if you get a chance to read this column about Baseball Bugs, I highly recommend it. It ended up in the 2007 Best Sports Writing Annual.

One Dozen ACME Off-the-Table Curveballs

San Francisco's ace, despite what Barry Zito is being paid, will be Tim Lincecum this season, make no bones about that. In a steady drizzle, Lincecum did his best Wile E. Coyote impression by crafting a plan to strike out nine batters in five no-hit innings. This Giants team will not offer him much run support, that much we're certain of, and his bullpen is going to be below-average again (4.10 ERA ranked 18th lst year, despite pitching in a great pitcher's park), but Lincecum could approach 200 strikeouts this season, depending on how many innings the Giants let him throw (he's just 23). He was sixth in the majors last season with a 9.23 K/9 average among pitchers with at least 100 innings thrown. He's going to climb into the top five in the strikeouts-per-9 innings category this season. Here's who he'll have to surpass:
  1. Erik Bedard, SEA: 10.93
  2. Scott Kazmir, TB: 10.41
  3. Jake Peavy, SD: 9.67
  4. Johan Santana, NYM: 9.66
  5. A.J. Burnett, TOR: 9.56
Three reasons why the '08 Dodgers Make Me Feel Like Pepe LePew:
  1. I have to admit, I'm starting to get a man-crush on Jonathan Broxton. I'm 6-foot-2, 290, and I can't reach the Oreos without pulling a hamstring. So I have to show some love for this right-handed fireballer that weighs in at 288 and stands 6-foot-3 coming into his second full season as the Dodgers' setup man. He picked up his first spring save Friday, but considering Takashi Saito is 39 years old with little injuries starting to take their toll (calf and buttocks soreness this spring already), Broxton could be a great sleeper for saves. If you're in a mixed Rotisserie league, he can be a great help in strikeouts (second only to Bedard in K/9 among pitchers with at least 80 innings in '07) and the Georgian's ERA and WHIP will help you more than some of your starting pitchers. He has a mean attitude that totally befits a closer -- and Dodger Stadium is awfully pitcher-friendly.
  2. Chad Billingsley had just 20 starts last season, but he struck out seven or more batters in five of those games. He struck out seven in Friday's spring game against the Red Sox also. Among all 140-innings-plus '07 pitchers with a dominance (K/9) number of 8.00 or higher, no one had a better command (K/BB) ratio than his 2.20. He was top-15 in ERA as a starter (3.31) and the Dodgers have a much-improved offense this season. He could finish the season as a top-20 SP.
  3. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp could become top-40 outfielders in an outfield that has plenty of potential if Andruw Jones can return to his former self. I've grown up as a Dodgers hater all my life, until I went to a game at Chavez Ravine last season. These youngsters give this club a new look that have little cartoon hearts coming out of my chest.
I ended up blogging more about Saturday Morning Cartoons HERE!
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com