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Squawking Parrot Tweaks Beaks of TV Guys

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Oh, what a lovely war! Fox’s Keith Olbermann, springing to the defense of former ESPN teammate Dan Patrick for doing a beer commercial, says critics include “squawking parrots of sportswriting . . . [who] do no reporting nor thinking but who just want to take a shot at a TV guy.”

Olbermann exempted the New York Post’s influential TV critic, Phil Mushnick, but called the Chicago Sun-Times’ Ron Rapaport “a hypocrite” for ripping Patrick, while the Sun-Times runs a link to a book written by Rapaport on its Web site.

Striking back for all us squawking parrots, Rapaport rejoiced, “My very own feud! And with none other than the most self-important man in television, at that. . . .

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“Watch it, Keith, or I’ll start telling people about that local news show in Los Angeles where you used to stop giving the scores so you could get on a scale and weigh yourself.”

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Trivia time: Who was the first to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bobby Bonds, Mickey Mantle or Kenny Williams?

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Oops: Proving again that dreams are nice but the marketplace rules, the WNBA, which put in strict cost controls and outlasted its rival league, is struggling in more places than Los Angeles.

The Sports Business Journal reports that NBA Commissioner David Stern is urging WNBA teams to increase marketing efforts in the wake of sagging attendance, off 4% from last season.

“It is clear there are people who are looking for a reason why a start-up women’s league cannot succeed, so we have to redouble our efforts on the attendance side,” Stern said. “I expressed concern with the fact that the media is so focused on the WNBA as a start-up that they don’t give any credit whatever to the fact that the WNBA season was delayed and the Women’s World Cup naturally cut into attendance.”

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It’s not just Fox: On the other hand, not all marketing efforts work.

Take baseball’s weird “Turn Ahead the Clock” campaign, in which everyone wears supposedly futuristic uniforms. Last week, the New York Mets went so far as to show Rickey Henderson on the scoreboard with Yoda ears.

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Said Henderson, “Everyone looked silly, but they went overboard on me. The umpires were laughing at me.”

Of course, the umpires needed a laugh. So did the New York Post’s David Waldstein, who described the futuristic Met logo as “a cross between some kind of demonic woman’s symbol and the Tinky-Winky character on Teletubbies.”

Noted traditionalist Orel Hershiser, “If we can’t sell the product the way the product is, let’s just give it a rest.”

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Trivia answer: Williams, an outfielder with the St. Louis Browns, who did it in 1922.

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And finally: That old player’s trick of unwinding with his hometown press worked better before the rise of the Internet.

Take Pittsburgh Penguin star Jaromir Jagr, who recently told the Czech newspaper Blesk that he “would never take an American woman. I would rather remain single until death.”

Jagr also said that returning to Pittsburgh after two months at home was “like going from heaven to hell.”

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