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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
MIAMI (AP) — Gio Gonzalez munched on chicken wings and shrimp scampi at a sports bar in his hometown as he watched Team USA rally to stay alive in the World Baseball Classic.
The next game he’ll take in from the mound. The Washington Nationals’ left-hander will start for the United States in its opener of round two Tuesday night against Puerto Rico.
The U.S. team rallied with seven runs in the last two innings Sunday to advance by beating Canada 9-4 in Phoenix.
Gonzalez wasn’t with the team in Arizona. He left the Nationals’ camp in central Florida before the U.S. game Sunday to make the three-hour drive south.
“I was so confident they were going to win,” he said. “I was ready to go.”
Gonzalez grew up in Hialeah, a short drive from Marlins Park, the site of the second round.
“To be a small town kid from Hialeah, Fla., pitching in Miami and representing Team USA, that says it all,” he said. “It’s a kid’s dream. Don’t pinch me. I don’t want to wake up.”
The second round will start with a split doubleheader Tuesday. The Dominican Republic will face Italy in an afternoon game, followed by Team USA against Puerto Rico.
“At this point, you’re getting the cream,” U.S. manager Joe Torre said. “They’ve all gotten through the first round.”
The Americans almost didn’t make it. They fell behind in all three games in Phoenix, lost their opener and had to rally in the other games.
“It’s March, and we’re playing games that feel like we’re in October,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “That’s the beauty of the World Baseball Classic.”
Hosmer hit a three-run double in the ninth inning to help seal Sunday’s win.
“We want to show the world we know how to play,” he said. “For us not to make it here would have been pretty bad.”
The Americans hit .297 in the opening round, led by David Wright (5 for 11) and Joe Mauer (5 for 12). Wright had the only U.S. home run, a grand slam that helped beat Italy on Saturday.
Eleven relievers have combined for an ERA of 1.93. But Torre’s three starters — R.A. Dickey, Ryan Vogelsong and Derek Holland — have a combined ERA of 6.00.
Gonzalez hopes to fare better. A 21-game winner last year, he’ll be limited to 80 pitches and plans to use them efficiently.
“You want to pitch to contact and get them out,” he said. “You don’t want to save your bullets. You want to go as deep in the game as you can.”
Gonzalez has “Hialeah” stitched into his glove and will be supported by his own cheering section. He obtained tickets for family and friends last year when he pitched for the Nationals against the Marlins, but Gonzalez rooters will be on their own at the WBC.
“I learned my lesson,” he said. “The last time I was here, it was over 600 tickets. I think all of Hialeah came.”
Starting for Puerto Rico will be right-hander Mario Santiago, who has a 36-51 record in seven minor-league seasons and has never made the majors. He said he’ll take his cues from catcher Yadier Molina.
“I’ll follow the best catcher in the world,” Santiago said. “He’ll put his fingers down, and I’ll follow him. Whatever he asks for, that’s what I’m going to pitch.”
The Dominican Republic (3-0) is the only unbeaten team in Miami, and its lineup includes former Marlins Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, both traded during the team’s recent payroll purge.
They said they’re happy to play in Miami again, even though they were part of a dismal 2012 season with the Marlins before the team was dismantled.
“The fans here showed me a lot of love,” Reyes said. “I’m not going to play for the Miami Marlins anymore, but I’m glad to be back here so they can see me one more time.”
Edinson Volquez will start for the Dominicans against Tiago Da Silva and surprising Italy, which is into the second round of the WBC for the first time.
Several major leaguers play for Italy, including Chris Denorfia, Jason Grilli, Nick Punto and Anthony Rizzo. But the other three teams in Miami have a combined 24 All-Stars.
“If you read those lineups, you get scared,” said Marco Mazzieri, Italy’s manager. “You don’t want to really think about that too much.”
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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