Thursday, April 19, 2007

Off The Bench (The SANJAYA! Edition)

I’m not going to kid you. Just because the Imus furor has died down, doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue to write about it. In case you’re interested, this site contains contact info (some of it admittedly outdated) for the blowhards who fired the I-man in the first place. Meanwhile, over on Power 105 here in New York (a Hip Hop station), they hosted a round table of sorts (including Reverend Al, natch) and the determination was that they would stop playing “that type of music. Not that we played that much anymore.” And oh, this had nothing to do with Imus, they said.

Puhleeze. They finally realized that they couldn’t organize a witch hunt for Don Imus’s head and not do more to satisfy the side that was now ripping the rap industry.

The truth of the matter, for me, is that I don’t necessarily want “them” to do away with the raunchy hip hop music. This is a free country, so stop being so puritanical. As with anything else on the radio, if you don’t like it, then don’t listen to it. I like plenty of R&B and hip hop, but Power 105 wasn’t a station that I listened to. Conversely plenty of people didn’t listen to Imus. What Imus said was satire. He was parodying the speech of the hip hop industry, which they had been doing for years. Funny how people laugh at me whenever I utter some “slang” reference like “I hear ya’ humming, yo” or something stupid like that. Folks found it funny because that kind of speech sounds strange emanating from me. That’s what was supposed to be Imus’s shtick. It had nothing to do with him being a racist, which I still believe he is not.

But enough already. As I said last week, we have much bigger fish to fry. For instance, we have a national tragedy at Virginia Tech. If you’ve been under a rock, then you might not know that 32 people were killed in a shooting on the college campus. VA Tech officials and police have some explaining to do for the timeline of events, especially after the gunmen killed two people around 7:15 AM then killed the other 30 over two hours later. The campus was never shut down so more students were permitted to be in classes and roaming the grounds.

I’m blaming Imus for it. After all, he was responsible for New Jersey Governor John Corzine’s car accident, right? Never mind the fact that the good gov’nor thought he was above the law and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Apparently, the gov thought he could buy his way out of it…just as he’s bought his elections.

Back to the radio. Mike and the Mad Dog, along with Charles McCord are carrying on in the I-man aftermath on WFAN and the affiliates that are still carrying the show. Despite what writers like Bob Raissman say, the trio is doing a remarkable job. Monday’s show had a lot to do with the hypocrisy of the entire situation, including taking shots at CBS and NBC for their mishandling of the affair, and at former “I-faves” who have not come off well in the post-nappy-headed era. Tim Russert, I’m afraid, is front and center on the hit list, along with Senator Christopher Dodd, Mike Wallace, and Harold Ford, Jr. Then there was Ana Marie Cox, David Brooks, and even Newsweek people like Evan Thomas who questioned why they ever went on the show in the first place.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Question – Chuck is working with Mike and the Mad Dog. Lou Ruffino is serving as their engineer. Tracy Burgess is still doing traffic and Chris Carlin is doing sports. In other words, the whole Imus crew is there, with one notable exception (other than the I-man). So where the heck is Bernard McGuirk?

I have a funny feeling he’s there, and even serving as producer, but not saying a peep. Regardless, all of this is why I think that Imus will be back on WFAN, as soon as within two weeks. CBS Radio has a new boss. WFAN still lists the Imus show on their website (including archives). Maybe guest hosts will keep the chair warm until Imus returns, probably after the summer.

He’ll be back, I’m telling you.

UPDATE (Friday, 4/20) - Bernard has been fired, and apparently was not at WFAN.

And sitting there, patting themselves on the back, are the fine folks at Media Matters for America a so-called “watchdog” group that got the Imus ball rolling in the first place two weeks ago. Twenty-six year-old Ryan Chiachiere gets the booby prize, as it was he who listened to the “nappy” comment and put the machine in motion. Guess that’s his job, and I suppose their mission is noble in theory, but I’ve also heard plenty of rhetoric about them as well. I’ll reserve judgment, but Rush Limbaugh (who I am NOT, repeat NOT, a fan of) called them “Stalinist” and part of the “Clinton machine agenda.” I’ll leave this subject at this: like I said, we have a national tragedy on our hands today, and Media Matters is more concerned with the ongoing Imus story, among other things. You’ll have to scroll a bit before you see a mention of the coverage of Virginia Tech.

OK, let’s move along again. So, I guess the great Mariano’s career is over, right? I mean if Marco Scutaro can hit a game-winning homer against you, then we’ve begun the decline of civilization, right?

Scutaro was hitting .059 when he stepped up against Mo. He’s now hitting .095.

It seems that people fell into two categories this week: those who were cleaning up post-storm messes and those who weren’t.

Media reports made New Rochelle out to be like a war zone, with a state of emergency existing in the Queen City. It would stand to reason that my office would have been closed, and that it would have been very hard for me to get to work, right?

Wrong. They were opened, and many said that roads (the right ones – like I-95, 287, and 684) were passable. A little patience was needed.

Oh well, a day’s pay got lost on Monday, but I look like a good son for cleaning out my mother’s basement and building a new trench for her.

As for my own fun, it began at 1:15 AM with the sound of raining pelting the roof of The Wife’s house (it’s not mine, of course. If she reads this, please know, dear, that it is sass).

Believe me, I am hardly complaining; just telling a story. In places like New Rochelle and Mamaroneck, it was bad. Really bad. My heart goes out to those people.

So Bernie Williams, how does that decision to not go to spring training look now? You could have been playing a whole lot with the various Yankees injuries. Instead, the only thing you’re playing is a guitar.

I frankly have never liked reality shows, but I’m loving the Sanjaya controversy. This guy apparently has the talent of your average Karaoke singer and he continues to survive week after week. It’s driving the AI faithful crazy, and that’s what people like me are enjoying about it. That being said, they’re absolutely elated now that he’s gone. Adios.

Personally, give me “Deal or No Deal.”

When I’m not watching, “The Sopranos”, of course.

The NHL playoffs are off and running and the entertainment value is high. You probably wouldn’t know because you’re probably not watching. And that’s too bad.

I’m not going to tell you that I’m watching every game, but I’ve definitely got my finger on the pulse.

Yet with the Rangers sweeping the Thrashers out of the Garden, watch out for Rangers mania. Unfortunately that’s the bandwagon mentality, but the loyal Rangers fans have been there all along, and they might be the best in New York.

Oh, and you can listen to NHL games for free on their website.

The Wife and I tried a new “hang out” last Saturday (OK, it’s a bar, but I didn’t want to call it that). It’s called Vintage, and it’s in White Plains. In theory, it was OK, but I wasn’t totally blown away by it. It had a good collection of taps, and cover (which I’m not a fan of but understand why it’s charged) was a reasonable five dollars. Still the band was just so-so. Nothing more than a nice-sounding bar band, which is another way of calling it “background music.” None of their stuff made us want to get up and dance. Then again, there wasn’t a dance floor anyway.

I’d go back, but I wouldn’t make a special trip for it.

The 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers was this past Sunday, and there’s no way to ever downplay the cultural significance of that moment, or the grace with which Robinson conducted himself. That is the reason that Robinson was chosen by Branch Rickey to be the player to cross the color line in 1947. There were other Negro League players that were better (Josh Gibson and Satchel Page both come to mind) but few could do it with as much class as Jackie. I don’t think he is the most significant person of the 20th Century, as some has tried to say (Dr. King’s name springs to mind, along with a few others), but there’s no doubt that he was the right man for the awesome responsibility.

You know there’s a “but” coming here, don’t you?

But…I stay strong in my belief that Robinson’s number 42 should have never been retired across baseball. Not so long as Babe Ruth’s number 3 is still used, for instance (not by the Yankees, of course). Plus it creates a politically correct precedence that can be dangerous. Puerto Ricans, for instance, want to retire Roberto Clemente’s number 21. Where does it stop?

I think it probably stopped with Robinson, to be honest. On Sunday, players were allowed to wear the number 42 as it was unretired for the day. The Dodgers, Brewers, Cardinals, and a few other teams wore the number en masse. Others had a few representatives. Willie Randolph will wear it for the Mets (their game was rained out). Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera wore it for the Yankees (Rivera, it should be noted, is the only active player who continues to wear the number). I thought the tribute might have gotten a touch watered-down but unfortunately, as we’ve learned, if you go against the popular PC opinion, you’re condemned. Only Peter Abraham in The Journal News dared to say that he disagreed with the way the tribute was handled as well. Baseball has the most glorious history of any sport, despite the travesty of the color barrier. Yet when it has a chance to do something noble, the sport seems to botch it up.

Incidentally, Rachel Robinson, “Jack’s” wonderful widow, was initially not in favor of the number retirement when it happened in 1997. Now she likes it, and feels that Sunday’s tribute was fitting and well-done.

The ceremony at Dodger Stadium, attended by Rachel Robinson, was largely perfect, but a few things stand out to me. First, because it was broadcast on ESPN, we had to endure Stuart Scott. Joe Morgan, frankly, would have been a better choice. Secondly, while people were interested in the ceremony, Dodger Stadium had a lot of empty seats during the tribute. Third, and this is most interesting to me, was who got the loudest and longest standing ovation. Not Mrs. Robinson and not even Hank Aaron or Frank Robinson, who threw out ceremonial first pitches. The person who got the loudest ovation was none other than Vincent Edward Scully, the long-time legendary Dodgers broadcaster, who seemed downright embarrassed by the attention.

Oh, one postscript to the ceremony was Jennifer Hudson, who cracked windows at Chavez Ravine with her rendition of our National Anthem.

All of this, while being so PC indicates that we have a lot to do with regard to race in this country. And that, friends, means work from BOTH sides. Not just whites, or blacks, but everybody, and not because we need to just eliminate racism but every “ism.”

Oh, nice of the Rutgers coach, C Vivian Stringer, to say that she’s signed a book deal. I know her story is quite unique, but could she maybe say “no” to an interview request once in a while? Will she give a cut to Imus, or let him write the forward?

Solidarity, Sanjaya fans!

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