Thursday, March 31, 2005
Friday, March 25, 2005
Hypocrites and Fools
So...Mark McGwire has now been convicted of using steroids in the court of public opinion, because he exercised his fundamental legal right not to incriminate himself. The right not to incriminate onself is a enjoyed by every American, by the way, but it certainly is interesting to see a nice white guy being held to the same ridiculous "guilty until proven innocent" standards usually applied to blacks and Latinos. Even sports-talk radio hosts might want to invoke that right some day.
Not that the more childish of the sports-talk radio community understand the subtle distinctions between the presumption of innocence and the assumption of guilt, of course. It is fascinating to see all these supposedly hard-boiled radio, TV, and press members treating McGwire's steroid use as if it were proof that the Easter Bunny didn't exist, as if their very worlds would crumble if they saw Daddy laying out the chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday.
Gary Thorne covered himself in fertilizer just the other day in the middle of an otherwise sleep-inducing Braves/Mets ESPN spring training telecast, advising McGwire (yes, advising him, as if he needed more crappy legal advice) that he could fix all his problems by simply telling the world, "I did not use steroids."
I'm sure that McGwire was grateful for the free advice, but does that mean that Thorne wants McGwire to lie if he indeed did use steroids? Or does he just want more than anything for the Great White Hope to be purer than Ivory Snow when he might not be? (By the way, Thorne is a lawyer, and we know he'd never advise anyone to lie.)
It's bad enough, of course, for all of these sportswriter/broadcaster types to be waving their disappointed fingers at Big Mac, but now we have at least one old ballplayer weighing in with his utterly ridiculous and ill-informed opinions of how baseball records should be kept.
Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), formerly a 224-game winner in the majors and currently a half-crazed, sclerotic, race-baiting loony, was quoted in an irresponsible George Vecsey New York Times story this week that all current home run records should be "wiped out" because some hitters might have been using steroids.
Now Bunning, as an old fart ballplayer, shouldn't necessarily be expected to know the facts of record-keeping, or to understand history. But Vecsey, writing in the most influential newspaper in the country, took a remarkably charitable viewpoint towards the old fool, and invoked the old anger card--you know, the one that says we all have a right to be angry at baseball players who don't act the way we want them to. It's one of the most ridiculous baseball stories I've read in years, and Vecsey should know better.
But back to Bunning, and his crusade to save the record books from cheaters...Hey, I'm all for that, Senator. Let's expunge the records of all players who cheated. Just to be on the safe side, let's start with pitchers who threw spitballs, like those great Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson, Don Sutton, and of course Gaylord Perry, who treated the rules as if they were a joke, fashioning a career around not only throwing the spitball but also delighting in making fools of umpires who tried to enforce the rules.
And, by the way, Senator, you've often been accused of throwing scuffed and wet balls yourself. Would you like to comment on that?
Didn't think so.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
In the Whale
Gary Gillette and I are both in Washington to discuss business for the next year. He also came to town to do a radio interview to help promote the 2005 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, of which he is co-editor (and I am an associate editor). Gary invited me along to the interview yesterday afternoon.
We drove through the area of DC close to the Senate office building. Perhaps the Heritage Foundation being across the street from the radio studio should have tipped us off, or maybe the VFW headquarters down the block. We parked and walked to the studio, which was located in a nondescript three-flat on Massachusetts Avenue, and were buzzed in. Walking up to the second floor we stepped into an office labeled "Graham Williams Enterprises."
This slightly-above-ramshackle office featured mismatched art, funky (and not in a good way) carpeting, and a harried office manager who sat us down. Suddenly I noticed the portrait on the wall...it was of a well-dressed black man who I knew I'd seen before.
I began to feel queasy. I looked at one of the rooms in this small office. The sign on the door said, "Armstrong Williams, CEO and co-founder."
Armstrong Williams. The conservative commentator who was in the news recently because the Bush administration paid him $240,000 to promote their No Child Left Behind Act on the air.
Shortly after we had our stunning realization, Mr. Williams ushered us into his office, from where he was doing his talk show. (His co-host was in a New York City studio. Apparently this is how a lot of radio is done these days.) He was polite and genial and bade us to sit down.
I noticed several pictures of Mr. Williams and his wife along with such figures as the Bushes, the Chaneys, and Oprah Winfrey and Steadman Graham (who, I quickly realized, is the "Graham" of Graham Williams Productions).
The interview went off fairly well, although Mr. Williams appeared to know as much about baseball as he does about liberal politics. He left most of the questioning to his co-host; she was very well prepared and asked excellent baseball questions.
The whole thing was pretty creepy, folks. Mr. Williams' topic before we were interviewed had been marital infidelity, and he asked Gary and I both , at the end of our interview, to state how long we had been married and that we had never cheated on our wives.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Maybe There's Hope for Ron Santo yet
...as a player. I'm listening to the Tigers and Astros right now and 37-year-old Mike James, who hasn't been in the majors since 2002, is pitching to 35-year-old Chris Tremie, who has a career average of .146.
And he just walked him to force in a run.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
From today's Indians/Astros game
Alan Ashby, Astros announcer: "Here's Coco Crisp, Indians leadoff man...Cap'n Crunch waits on deck."
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Following up on Monday's Mediocy Post...
The Tigers released Alex Sanchez today. Clearly there was more going on here than anyone was letting on.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Media Idiocy, Spring Training Style
Must be spring training for announcers, too.
Yesterday on the Cincinnati Reds' broadcast from Sarasota, Reds announcer Marty Brennaman ripped a new orifice for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, questioning his commitment to the game because he let a fly ball go over his head. Meanwhile, Joe Randa--a nice white guy--threw a ball into right field, pitcher Matt Belisle didn't get anyone out, and catcher Jason Larue committed a passed ball. Brennaman said nothing critical about anyone but Pena. Maybe it isn't racism, but it's noticeable anyway. Brennaman is a cranky, "tell it like it is" guy, and that attitude doesn't always do it anymore.
Meanwhile in Lakeland, Tigers announcer Dan Dickerson--who's usually good--was all over center fielder Alex Sanchez, complaining that he wasn't swinging hard. ("That looked like a 'let's get this game over with swing.'") Dickerson should have--must have--known that the previous morning, Sanchez had returned from driving nonstop from Miami after reuniting with his mother and brother, who had just defected from Cuba. Perhaps a little bit of weariness on Sanchez' part could be excused.
Of course when announcers talk about players in an evaluative fashion, they are often simply relaying the beliefs of the front office. It's no secret that the Reds want Pena to improve his outfield play, and no secret that the Tigers think Sanchez needs to improve his on-base ability to stay in the lineup. But that doesn't excuse cynically pointing out someone's errors without pointing out the errors of others, and you can bet that if a well-liked white player had a family emergency, Dan Dickerson wouldn't have been ripping him if he looked a little tired a day or so later.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
From Hunter S. Thompson, as quoted by Julian Cope:
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I was lucky enough today to be interviewed on Champaign/Urbana's AM NPR outlet, WILL radio 580. The interview will be soon available in real audio at this site: http://www.will.uiuc.edu/am/focus/default.htm
Hope you're all well.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The New Mix CD
Well...it's getting a little lonely here. Maybe if I post the tracks on my newest mix CD, someone will weigh in...
The Ronettes--Be My Baby
The Stairs--Weed Bus
The Yardbirds--I'm Not Talking
The B-52s--Dirty Back Road
Bob Marley & the Wailers--Could You Be Loved
Daft Punk--Something About Us
The Beatles--You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
Dionne Warwick--Anyone Who Had a Heart
Fountains of Wayne--Mexican Wine
Jimmie Rodgers--Blue Yodel (T For Texas)
Sam Phillips--I Need Love
The Upsetters--Bird in Hand
Buffalo Springfield--For What it's Worth
The Smiths--Girl Afraid
Steely Dan--Razor Boy
The Doors--Touch Me
Detroit Cobras--Putty (In Your Hands)
The Monkees--Daily Nightly
Peter Gabriel--Love to Be Loved
United States of America--Love Song for the Dead Che
Tommy James & the Shondells--Crystal Blue Persuasion
The Beach Boys--I Went to Sleep