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narcissism 07/08/2010

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James is ALWAYS ready to pose

Move over, Brett Favre. There is a new top ego in town.

In an act that smacks of shameless self promotion and inflated ego, LeBron James will announce what team he will grace with his presence on a one hour live special. ESPN will televise the “I love me some me!” ‘event.’ What, did they run out of Australian Rules football games to show? At least there will be an ego on the network for an hour that is even more self-centered than Craig James.

The chalk cloud signals that it is time for the LeBron James show

LeBron James is a great prize. After all, he has more championship rings than any other player in the league. Come on. I have won as many championships as he has. In honesty, there is no doubt that James is a great player. He has won back to back league MVP trophies (don’t ask me why). But this move shows again what the downside to James is. He considers himself above the game. The great ones make their teammates better. Not James. He will mug for the cameras. He will create clever skits to celebrate his birthday. But what has this guy ever won? NADA. His ego is such that everything is about him. He is the King. I have taken to calling him the court jester. All this narcissistic show does is reenforce my take. This guy will never win a title as long as he puts himself above the game. Do us all a favor, LeBron. Shut your damn mouth. And keep it shut until you WIN. Your act has worn thin. Stow the sideline skits and the chalk cloud. PLAY THE GAME and earn back the respect you have lost. Show that you are worthy of the MVP trophies and the gazillion dollar contract you are about to receive.

So far, King James is nothing more than a clown prince who is the dead center of his universe.

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Ramblings 06/07/2010

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I snapped this picture of Ryno coaching 3rd base Sunday in Des Moines.A Monday morning mish-mash….

I spent a BEAUTIFUL Sunday afternoon watching AAA baseball in Des Moines, home of the Iowa Cubs and their current head coach Ryne Sandberg. I grew up a Cub fan, and visited Wrigley Field in most summers growing up. I have seen many Cub greats play in the Friendly Confines. Santo, Banks, Reuschel, Suter, Monday, Jenkins, Beckert, Grace, Maddox. The list goes on and on. I then watched the Cubs when they visited Coors Field when I lived in Colorado for the 90’s and most of the 00’s. I guess I have seen most every Cub great play in person for the past 40+ seasons. To me, the greatest Cub of all during that time was Sandberg. His Hall of Fame Career in Chicago has cemented him as one of the best 2nd baseman to ever play the game. During his career, he combined tremendous range and skill defensively with power at the plate. A rare combination at 2nd at the time. He was a 10 time all-star, won 9 gold gloves and 7 silver slugger awards. He was the NL MVP in 1994 and was elected to the HOF in 2005. In addition, he is still the last 2nd baseman to lead his league in home runs when he topped the NL in ’90 with 40 round trippers. I have been out to the ball yard a few times this season and I must admit it is still a thrill to see old #23 in Cubbie blue. My hope is to see him manage in Wrigley in the future……..

The Flyers allowed 7 pucks into their net in game 5 (photo Jim McIsaac-Getty images)

The Flyers are in trouble. They dropped game 5 to the Blackhawks in Chicago to go down 2-3 in the series. Sure, the home team has won all 5 games so far, but in the 3 games played in the Madhouse on Madison, Philly has had no answer for the energy the Hawks draw from the largest, and perhaps loudest crowd in the NHL. That place gets ROCKING during the National Anthem and the Flyers find themselves down before they gain their legs. Even if they can extend the series by winning a game 6 in the City of Brotherly Love, game 7 will be back in the Windy City. The Hawks WILL win the Cup!………

What a gutsy performance by the Celtics in game 2 of the NBA Finals. After failing to show up in game 1 against the Lakers and getting waxed in LA, Boston

The Celtics rose above the Lakers Sunday, capturing game 2 and sending the series to Boston tied at a game each (photo: Ronald Martinez-Getty Images)

came out and took a big lead early in game 2. To their credit, the Lakers refused to roll over, and took a lead in the 4th quarter. Boston then closed out a 16-4 run over the last 5+ minutes to take game 2, and home court advantage, away from LA. As the series now shifts to Boston, make no mistake about it, this will be a long series. If Beantown wants to prevail over Hollywood, they can not afford to take another game off as they did in game 1……

Finally, as I flipped back and forth between the NHL and NBA games on Sunday, I was reminded of an old addage. While the seconds of the last 2 minutes of the basketball game melted slowly away, the final few minutes of the hockey game flew by. It took twice as long to play the final 2 of the Celtics-Lakers than to play the final 5 of the Flyers-Blackhawks, reminding me that if you only have 2 minutes left to live, you want it to be the last 2 minutes of an NBA game.

The Question 11/19/2009

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If Allen Iverson is The Answer,  what’s the question?

Iverson is free again.  Rumor has it that the New York Knicks are interested.  As are the Orlando Magic.  Why?  Why would anyone pay this guy to be a part of their team?

Iverson was not the answer in Denver

   There was a time when Iverson and his antics would have been welcomed almost anywhere.  He is, after all a 10 time all-star. Rookie of the year in 1996-97.  NBA MVP in 2000-01.   Huge talent.  But with that talent has come, oh, lets say baggage.  He has had repeated run ins with coaches, officials and the league, numerous suspensions and fines.  Philadelphia, the team that drafted him, finally had enough of his act and traded him away in 2006, after a little over 10 seasons.

True to his nickname, Iverson was to have been ‘The Answer’ in Denver.  He was to join forces with Carmelo Anthony and push

Nor was he the answer in Detroit

the Nuggets over the top and deep into the playoffs.  But the experiment failed, and in the two playoff runs of which Iverson was a part,  the Nuggets failed to make it past the first round.  The combined record of those two series for the Nuggets was 1-8.  So early in the 2008-09 season, the Nuggets traded him to Detroit  For Chauncey Billups.  His stay in Denver lasted slightly over a season and a half.  Iverson was to be the missing piece in Detroit.  But while Billups was leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals, Iverson was going down in flames.  Iverson had some back issues, and finished the season having been shut down by the Pistons because of the injury.  It was mere coincidence that just two days before the Pistons placed him on IR he publicly stated that he would retire rather than be moved to a bench role.  The Iverson stint in Detroit lasted 54 games. 

At the beginning of this season, the 34-year-old Iverson signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.  Iverson proclaimed that “God chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career.”  apparently, God forgot to tell Iverson that he would be coming off the bench, and Iverson complained often and loudly that he was better and more deserving than that.  His stay in Memphis lasted 3 games.  That’s right, 3 games!  So here we are.  Memphis and Iverson have agreed to part ways.  Iverson cleared waivers and is now free to sign with any one who wants him.  The question is:  Why would any one want him?

After a 3 game stay in Memphis, perhaps now it is Iverson looking for the answer.

23 09/11/2009

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The game that James Naysmith invented today enshrines its best player in to its place of honor.  Today, Michael Jordon is a Hall of Famer.

Nike told us we all wanted to “be like Mike.”  Air Jordan became not just a nickname, but the kicks every kid had to have despite the price tag.mj5  Jordon became a corporate giant, not just a basketball player.  Heck, he even starred in his own Disney movie with Daffy and Buggs and the gang.  He became powerful enough to get a coach (Doug Collins) replaced before he even won an NBA championship.  And, he was simply the best.  Ever.

There will never be another Jordan.  No one will ever again dominate the sport the way he did.  Not Kobie.  Certainly not James.  Michael emerged from tne shadows of two greats, and and grew to outshine both.  The NBA was the league of Larry Legend and the Magic Man.  Jordon played against both.  For a while, the three of them reigned along side each other.  Then Bird and Johnson retired.  The NBA became Mike’s personal playground.   And he was unstoppable.  He was a defensive star.  He learned to drain the three ball.  And when the tounge came out, he showed that man could fly!   The sheer joy he played with, and the enjoyment he gave to fans will not be matched.

mj4He led the Bulls to three straight NBA ctowns.  Then, at age 30,  he suddenly retired from the game following his father’s untimely death.  He played baseball for two years in the White Sox organization before announcing his return to the NBA in March 1995 with a simple 2 word text: “I’m back!”   And Back he was.  The Bulls made the playoffs a month later, but lost in the Conference Semi’s.  Jordan’s first full season back, however, was one for the record books.  He lead the Bulls to a record 72 wins in the regular season. And then to the first title in Chicago’s second three peat.  Six titles in 8 seasons.  Who knows what would have happened if Jordan had not left the game after his father’s death.

The accolades are all there.  By the numbers, Jordan is a :  6 time NBA champion, 6 time Finals MVP, 14 time NBA All Star, 2 time Olympic Gold Medal winner,  1985 NBA Rookie of the Year, 1988 NBA Defensive player of the year, 9 time NBA All-Defensive First Team Selection; and the list goes on.  But they are a mere sideshow of the fame of Michael.  He became basketball.  He became a one man corporate conglomeration.  He took endorsements to a new level.  And he embodied the pure joy of sports.  Sure, he had his issues.  He was human.  There were gambeling problems, and other things.  And that comeback in Wadhingion.  But when he put the Bulls Jersey on, he took us all to new heights.  And for that we say Thank You, Mr Jordon.

Others may wear the number (Ahem, are you listening Mr. James?) but 23 will ALWAYS be Jordan.  There will only be one Michael.mj3

Nike and the Jester: A Tale of Arrogance 07/22/2009

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It’s out!!  It’s out!!!  YAWN!!

A few weeks ago, Jordon Crawford of  Xavier University dunked on LeBron James at a Nike basketball camp.  That

James probably wishes the whole mess would disapear in a cloud of chalk

James probably wishes he could make this whole mess would disappear in a cloud of chalk

should have been the end of it.  Crawford had a story to tell his teammates when he got back to school.  Perhaps some camp attendees would tell a friend or two.  But the whole thing would have had the life span of a  mayfly.  (Note: the mayfly has a life span of 30 minutes to 1 day.)  A free lance photographer was filming at the camp, and caught the dunk on tape.  Shortly after, and this is second hand so I will not vouch about the veracity of the account, James was seen talking to Nike people, and then the tape of the dunk was confiscated.  Apparently King James could not be seen being dunked on by a camp participant.  As anyone could have predicted, the story of the dunk and subsequent seizing of the tape got out and became a public relations nightmare for James and Nike.  All anyone could talk about is that it had to be an awesome dunk for James to be worried about it.  The thing is, if nothing had been done, the clip would never have even seen the light of day.  Who gives a rats rear end  about some summer camp action?  It was James again acting like a clown, the Court Jester, that drew attention.

And what about Nike?  Why the h e double hockey sticks is Nike doing seizing the tape?  Nike may sell shoes, but

The mayfly has a lifespan of a day or less, longer than this story would have lived if James was king instead of a jester

The mayfly has a lifespan of a day or less, longer than this story would have lived if James was king instead of a jester

apparently they think they invented the game, too!  What a crock of horse dung that decision was!   Nike should stick to designing bad uniforms for the Oregon Duck football team.   Well, Nike relented and released the dunk.  It is nothing, as we suspected.  Less than nothing.  (If you must see it, here is the link:  http://ebaumnation.com/2009/07/22/jordan-crawford-dunks-on-lebron-james   )  You have to ask, what gnat’s brain thought it would be a good idea to supress this?

Of course the dunk took on a life of its own.  And James was raked over the coals again and again by sports commentators, bloggers, and even by Conan O’Brien.  James may have been named the NBA MVP last season.  He may be KING JAMES, but the only thing biblical about him is the arse he made out of himself the last half of the season, during his early playoff exit, and now this episode.  He is no king.  He is the Jester.  As long as he makes himself the centerpiece of all things, he will never be a winner.  The king is dead, long live the Jester!

Wednesday Whimsey 06/10/2009

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Some random thoughts and observations…..

Flipping between game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and game 3 of The Finals of the NBA reinforced my long held opinion that there is more crowd energy at a hockey playoff game than at an NBA playoff game.  I will admit that I have attended many more NHL playoff games than NBA playoff games, but that building in Pittsburgh rocked from the first puck drop.

The rackus "white out" fans in Pittsburgh raised the roof all game Tuesday

The raucous "white out" fans in Pittsburgh raised the roof all game Tuesday

What a game between the Red Wings and Penguins.  Game seven on Saturday should be quite a battle.  I know this series has been all about home ice and the last six game sevens in a finals series went to the home team.  That’s why I’m picking the visiting Penguins to win the Cup in Detroit.  They had more energy in game six.

No such luck in the NBA Finals.  The underdog Orlando Magic won game 3 (their first at home) to make the series 2-1 Lakers.  But If I were a Magic fan, I would be concerned that Orlando shot 62% from the field and still only won by 4 points.  Sure, they sped the game up as they needed to do, and they broke the century mark for the first time in the series, but they can not continue to shoot at this rate.  The Series is in the bag for the Lakers, probably in 6 games.

The way that the MLB Atlanta Braves treated future hall of fame pitcher Tom Glavine last week was disgraceful. 

Tom Glavine deserved better treatment from the Braves

Tom Glavine deserved better treatment from the Braves

 I have no problem that he was given his release.  Baseball is a business.  But all Glavine did for the Braves in his 17 seasons with them was to record 244 of his 305 career wins with them, make 8  all star games and win 2 Cy Young Awards. (He also had 2 All Star appearances during his 4 seasons with the New York Mets.)  This guy gave his heart and soul to the Braves.  He deserved better than to have been released after a rehab stint in A ball.  The Braves organization showed a complete lack of class.

While we are on baseball, has anyone noticed that the hottest team in baseball currently is the Colorado Rockies with 6 straight wins? ……. No, I didn’t think so!  Hey, 6 more and the Rocks will find the .500 mark.

Word out of New York is that the Jets and their first round (#5 overall) pick QB Mark Sanchez have reached a contract agreement.  Sanchez was already in camp learning the system and is battling Kellen Clemens for the starting job.  How refreshing to see a high skill position draft pick actually show that he wants to play, and not miss part of camp for a contract holdout.

Monday Musings 06/01/2009

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Some random thoughts on a Monday.

LeBron James and Cleveland will be sitting it out again in the NBA Finals

LeBron James and Cleveland will be sitting it out again in the NBA Finals

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs lost game 6 to the Magic in Orlando.  LeBron walked off the court at the end without a congratulatory handshake to any one from Orlando, not even his Olympic team mate, Dwight Howard.  Perhaps he was hurting.  That’s the excuse every one gives.  But when asked about it the next day, James prattled on about how he is a winner.  I guess that means that when others shake hands after their loss, they are losers.  Lets not forget that it’s all about LeBron.  Winner?  Just what exactly has James ever won besides a High School Championship?Hell, Al Bundy has more class than James has shown.  Winner?   James again has shown that he has no class.  Ever heard of Sportsmanship, LeBron?  I’m beginning to question if you will ever be a winner.

One good thing about the Magic win.  Perhaps we are now done with those annoying LeBron Kobe puppet ads.

In Baseball, the fans vote for the starting lineup for the all star game.  They are dangerously turning this vote into a joke.  Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez is in the midst of a 50 game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.  (He did NOT test positive for steroids, so please quit reporting that he did, talking heads at ESPN!)  Currently he sits 4th in NL outfield votes.  Top 3 start.  How can you vote for someone that is suspended for drug violations.  Barring rain outs, Ramirez should return to the Dodgers July 2 or 3, just before the all star break.  The Commissioners office has said that if he is voted in, he would be ineligible.  Guess they forgot to read the agreement in place with the players association that says the commissioner can not disqualify  player otherwise eligible for the game based on a positive test. This could get ugly.  I hope it will not come down to this.  Come on, fans.  Don’t vote this guy in.

One final thought.  Since the US taxpayers now own large chunks of GM and Chrysler, two of the biggest employers in the city of Detroit, can we now get the Red Wings to dump those ugly, Soviet Union inspired uniforms?   PLEASE!!!

Ugliest uniform in professional sports?

Ugliest uniform in professional sports?

Mile High and Out of Here 05/29/2009

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The ax fell on Rockies manager Clint Hurdle today.  After seven seasons as the manager for the National League

Rockies Clint Hurdle and Broncos Mike Shanahan lost their coaching jobs in Denver

Rockies Clint Hurdle and Broncos Mike Shanahan lost their coaching jobs in Denver

baseball team, Hurdle was released with a 534-625 record.  It aws just 19 months ago that Hurdle and the Rockies won 21 out of 22 games, including a wild card playoff game win and sweeps of the NLDS and NLCS series to land in the franchise’s first World Series.  The Roctober run ended as the Rocks were swept by the Boston Red Sox in the 2007 Series.  The Rockies followed up that magical run with a 74-88 campaign in 2008 and an 18-28 start this season.

Denver may be a great sports city.  It has one of the best fan bases in the country. But it is a bad time to be a head coach in the city.  Besides Hurdle’s ouster with the Rockies, longtime Bronco’s coach Mike Shanahan felt the ax at the end of the last NFL season.  Shanahan is the only Broncos coach to win a Super Bowl (XXXII and XXXIII), but the decade of frustration since John Elway retired as quarterback claimed Shanahan’s job.  And Hurdle was almost not even the first coach in Denver to fall this week.  The Colorado Avalanche reportedly offered the head coaching position to it’s former Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy.  The Avs had their worst season by far since they relocated to Denver in 1995, and they turned to their two time Stanley Cup winning goaltender to help get things back on track.  (Roy also won 2 Cups with the Montreal Canadiens.)  The trouble is that the Avs have a coach, Tony Granato.  On Tuesday, Roy said thanks, but no thanks right now to the Avs offer.  Granato has to wonder how much longer he will be behind the bench.

Even the Nuggets, having their best season in their NBA history,  almost had a shake up this season.  Coach George Karl was on the hot seat after having lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last 5 seasons.  Karl credits the

Avalanch coach Tony Granato and Nuggets Coach George Karl are still in charge....for now

Avalanche coach Tony Granato and Nuggets Coach George Karl are still in charge....for now

 trade early in the season that sent Alan Iverson to Detroit and brought Chauncy Billups to Denver.  Billups has provided the leadership on the court that the Nuggets needed, and as a result they play the Lakers tonight in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, their deepest playoff run in 24 years.  According to Karl, if that trade had not been made he probably would not have lasted the season as coach.   And the city of Denver would have had potential coaching turnover in all 4 major sports teams in the same season.

Yep, it’s a tough time to be a coach in Denver.

The Jester 05/27/2009

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is a great basketball player.  He is known as the King.  It is a moniker that he enjoys.  But it is also one he has not earned.  As the MVP of the NBA this season, there is no doubt that he is the

The king is always center stage, complete with props

The king is always center stage, complete with props

 current Crown Prince of basketball.  But there are still lessons that must be learned for this man who would be king.

The Cavs had the best record in the NBA this season.  As such, they had home court advantage for the duration of their playoff run.  Had is the key word.  They trail the Orlando Magic 3-1 in the best of seven Eastern Conference finals.  Were it not for a miraculous last second 3 pointer in game 2 by James, the series would be over.  In reality, it is over now anyway.  In the NBA, only 4% of the teams that have been down 3-1 in a series have come back to win the series.  The Magic have beaten the Cavs 5 of the 7 times they have met this season, so it is difficult to see how the Cavs can be only the 9th team to win a series out of the now 191 to have fallen behind 3-1 in a series.  Some call James the best ever.  Others say he is the best in the game today.  But he has yet to win a ring.  Kobe has 3 so far.  Larry and Magic had several each.  Michael had 6.  James needs to win before he can be mentioned along with these greats.

Life can be a harsh teacher.  Remember the last few weeks of the season, when the Cavs were full of themselves?  Mugging for the camera?   The pregame skits? 

The Cavs yuk it up before a game late in the season.

The Cavs yuk it up before a game late in the season.

 The mock home run trots, the mock picture sessions recording the great Cavs?  The boasts of a championship in the bag?  Those were heady times for the James gang.  I have no doubt that the good feelings ran high.  But the memories of those few weeks of good times have faded all too soon.  It is easy to celebrate a championship in April.  But that celebratory feeling has melted away before June.  To make a memory that will last a lifetime, you must wait and celebrate after you have actually won something.  A championship can last a lifetime.  But it must be earned with hard work and effort.  I have no doubt that James will accomplish that at some point in his career.  But it will not be this year.  This year life had a cruel lesson to teach.  I wonder if James has learned it.

It is hard to be a King when you act like a Court Jester.

Fantastic Finish Friday 05/23/2009

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If you are a sports fan, Friday evening was for you.

In the NHL, the Blackhawks return home to Chicago for game 3 of their Western Conference Finals.  After dropping the first 2 games in the best of 7 series in Detroit, the Hawks need this game to stay in the series.  And they get off to a fast

Patrick Sharpe tallied the game winning marker for the Blackhawks

Patrick Sharpe tallied the game winning marker for the Blackhawks

 start.  Midway through the first period, Chicago has a 2-0 lead.  About the time Chicago scores their second goal, the city of Cleveland begins to rock.

In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers are tipping off game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic.  The Magic came from 16 points down to steal game one, and the Cavs are trying to salvage a split before the series shifts to Florida for games 3 and 4.  The Cavs jump out quickly, amassing a 14 point lead at the end of the first quarter on their way to opening up a 23 point lead.

Back to Chicago.  The first period ends with the score 2-0 Blackhawks.  They then add a goal 45 seconds into the 2nd period, increasing the lead to 3-0.  Looks like the Hawks are on their way to an easy victory.   Detroit scores a power play goal with 5:22 left th the period.  Then they score again two and a half minutes later and the 22 thousand folks at the United Center start squirming in their seats.  Finally, with just 59 seconds left in the period, Detroit knots the score at 3-3.  The action is fast and furious in the 3rd period, but there is no scoring and the regulation time ends 3-3.  Overtime is on the way.

As the Hawks and Wings play to a stalemate in Chiago, the Cavs once comfortable lead is slowly evaporating.  The large lead has been widdled down to 6 by the Magic at the end of the third quarter.  That is about the time OT begins in Chicago.

This is the second straight game in this series to go into overtime, with Detroit winning game 2 with an overtime marker.  This time it is the Blackhawks who make short work of the Wings as Patrick Sharp takes a pass just to the left of the Wings net and buries the game winner 1:52 into overtime.  The Hawks avoid the 3-0 hole and now will skate into game 4 with a chance to tie the series at 2.

As Sharp’s heroics are ending the hockey game in Chicago, the Magic are attempting to take a strangle hold on their

The Cavs LeBron James hit the last second 3 pointer for the win

The Cavs LeBron James hit the last second 3 pointer for the win

series against the Cavs.  With just under ten minutes left in the game, the Cavs hold an 82-73 lead.  Things are going to get interesting.  Over the next 3 minutes, the Magic hold the Cavs scoreless and tie the game at 82.  The score remains tight to the end and with one second left the Magic’s Hedo Torkoglu made about an 11 foot jump shot to put the Magic up 95-93.  Cleveland calls timeout, but all seems lost.  The time out allows the Cavs to advance the ball to mid court, but with one second left all there is time for is a desperation catch and shot.  It appears that the Magic will have a 2-0 lead in the series heading home for game three.  Then the miracle happens.  LeBron James catches the inbound pass at the top of the key, turns and lofts a rainbow towards the basket.  The buzzer sounds while the ball is in flight and James finds gold at the end of the rainbow.  His shot finds nothing but net, and the 3 pointer gives the Cavs a 96-95 victory as the stunned crowd of over 20,000, silent as could be just seconds before erupts into bedlam!  The Cavs grab momentum heading to Florida.

There is nothing like playoff action! And the last channel button on your remote.