Death To The NY Daily News

I don’t mean to be crass. Wait a minute, let me correct myself. Yes, I do mean to be crass. THIS IS A FUCKING DISGRACE! There is no other way to describe what happened to the Daily News today. Its’ staff was cut in half. Their sports department was cut from 34 to just 9. That’s right, just 9 bodies managed to survive this horrific bloodbath.  How the hell do you cover sports in the major market of the world with just 9 bodies? I’ll tell you how. You don’t. I grew up on the Daily News and The Post. They’ve been part of my everyday life for my entire life. They are part of the fabric of this city. Not just for sports, but for everything. And now there’s just the Post. The Daily News is now a joke. And a bad joke at that. I don’t care if you agree with views of the Daily News or not. Make no mistake about it. What happened to this 99 year old staple today is bad for all parties concerned. In particular, you the public. When it came to local news, nobody covered it better than the Daily News and Post. They gave you what was happening in the street. You could feel the street, smell the street. My dear friend Denis Hamill was part of a prior bloodbath. Nobody gave you a taste of the street better than Denis. The Daily News still hasn’t replaced him. John Harper is one of the best baseball writers in this country. Same goes for Franks Isola in basketball. Both got whacked today. Both won’t be replaced. Call me old school. I wake up every morning and go out and buy five newspapers. The Daily News, Post, Times, Star Ledger, and The Record. Why five? Because each offers some things differently. View points, storylines. They each give you a different taste. But the only taste I get from the Daily News now is bitter. So for that reason my daily purchase of newspapers has been cut to four. No sense getting ripped off by a paper that can no longer deliver the news the way it should be delivered. The way it was once delivered.

Dumbo de Blasio

When ego gets in the way of common sense, the effects can be damaging. And right now the egos of both NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are getting in the way of a whole lot of common sense. And the effects will indeed be damaging. Their idea of doing away with the longtime entrance test to gain admission into the city’s elite schools such as Brooklyn Tech, Bronx High School of Science, and Stuyvesant is moronic. Their complaint is that despite the fact that 70% of the city’s public school students are black and Hispanic, only 10% are enrolled in these specialized schools. Currently about 62% of students in these same schools are Asian. Here’s what Chancellor Carranza had to say about that: “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools”. What a stupid, classless, and discriminatory thing to say. Would Carranza and de Blasio be saying this if the numbers were reversed with blacks and Hispanics   making up the 62%? You can bet your sweet ass they wouldn’t be complaining. The majority of these Asian kids come from poor families. So how is it that they succeed in the getting into these schools and excelling? They bust their asses, that how. So why is it that the black and Hispanic population in these elite schools is so small? Simple. It’s because the NYC Department of Education is failing these kids. So de Blasio’s idea is to cover this mess by doing away with the entrance exam and dumbing down a wonderful system that has worked for a very long time. de Blasio would do away with the exam and admit the top 7% of 8th graders from each and every one of the city’s 600 middle schools.  But many of these middle schools don’t even have kids reading and doing mathematics at their own grade level. So shall we just let these kids in and put them in a position to fail? Since Carranza talks about ownership, what he and Dumbo de Blasio need to do is take ownership of their failure to take care of these kids and get them the proper help that they require. Instead they’re creating a rift between poor communities. It’s pitting one against the other. It’s creating one more divide that none of us need. We certainly have enough divisiveness to go around. I ‘m extremely proud to say that I’,m a graduate of Brooklyn Tech. Class of 1969. It’s one of the great honors in my life. I’m more proud of that than I am of my college degree. Not only because of the accomplishment of graduating from such an elite school, but because of who I accomplished it with. Black kids, brown kids, white kids, yellow kids. The great majority of us came from nothing but working stiff families struggling to provide. Brooklyn Tech taught me that we were all the same. We were in it together. And we succeeded together. We weren’t divided. We were united. The exact opposite of what Dumbo de Blasio’s idea will do. Just a big fat ego getting in the way of common sense. And because of it his dopey idea will be hurting the kids of all backgrounds instead of helping them.

MLB, Pete Rose, and Hypocrisy

With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, legalized gambling is coming to professional sports. That means more money for MLB, NFL, NBA, and the NHL. These leagues were against it in the past but have now seen the light. What is that light? MONEY! They all want a piece of the pie. But for the time being I’m only going to address Major League Baseball. For years and years we’ve heard from baseball about protecting the integrity of the game. And that meant that gambling was taboo. That’s why Pete Rose remains on the outside of the game looking in. Baseball’s all-time hits leader can’t get reinstated and can’t get into the Hall Of Fame. Rose committed the ultimate sin by betting on the game so that’s that. For years I’ve said Rose should be allowed in, but I’ve accepted the views of those who feel he should remain out. But now I say enough is enough. The times have changed. If baseball can now accept gambling on its sport and reap it’s financial rewards, it can now accept Pete Rose back into the game. And please stop this hypocrisy of protecting the integrity of the game. PED users affect the integrity of the game. Drug addicts and alcoholics have affected the integrity of the game for years and years. Yet, they’re still allowed back in. What Pete Rose did was dead wrong. But again, times have changed. Let the game’s all-time hit leader back in. Stop the Hypocrisy. Enough is enough.

Kaepernick Nonsense

I have supported the NFL players right protest from the very beginning. But I have not been a supporter of Colin Kaepernick. He totally lost me when he wore a Castro t-shirt and socks depicting police as pigs. My feelings haven’t changed. That’s why I think that Amnesty International naming Kaepernick today as it’s Ambassador of Conscience Award winner complete nonsense. In accepting his award, Kaepernick had these gems to say: “Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation–the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex”. Are their problems with some police? Yes. Are there problems with all police? No. In fact, the great majority of policemen in this country do what they’re hired to do. Protect us. Put their lives on the line for us. But Kaepernick paints all policemen as the bad guys. And since he’s such an expert on oppression and dehumanization, maybe he ought to speak to some Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba for those very same reasons. Oppression and dehumanization. Kaepernick went on to say “this is an award I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force”. Human rights violations. Again Kaepernick ought to speak to some Cuban refugees of human rights violations. Castro was a dandy when it came to violating human rights of Cuban citizens. he and his henchmen did one heck of a job. I will give credit to Kaepernick for starting a conversation. What’s fair is fair. But all he’s doing now is creating hate, anger, and divisiveness. We have enough of that in our country. We don’t need anymore. As for Amnesty International, I have one question. What the hell were you thinking?

When Rusty Met Rusty

August 1969 was a rough month for me. I was working as a waiter up at Camp Tyler Hill in Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania getting ready for my freshman year at Loyola College up in Montreal. It was an exciting time for me. Here’s this kid from the housing projects in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn gearing up to go off on his own, really for the first time in my life. And then on the 9th day of August I got the  call I had dreaded. My father’s bum ticker had finally given out. He was dead at 47 years old. But as my father had taught me, you have to deal with whatever comes your way. So I left camp, went home, buried my father, sat shiva for a week, and returned to Tyler Hill to finish my job. That was one of the things my father had instilled in me. A week later I was back in Brooklyn, packing my one suitcase, and hopping a a flight, traveling standby up to Montreal. It was a Friday night. As you can imagine, my head was spinning. My father was dead, I was worried about my mother, and here I am in a strange place. To say that I felt alone those first couple of days up in Montreal would be a big time understatement. But then two days later everything changed. It was Sunday night, I decided to take a walk, check out the neighborhood around the school, and get myself something to eat. So I walk into this restaurant, maybe more aptly described as a joint. Anyway, I go to sit down at a table when a waitress asks if I’m alone. I reply yes and she tells me I have to sit at the counter. I give her a pissed off look but comply. Then all of a sudden I hear a voice say “Hey, hey you. Why don’t you join me?”. I turn around and it’s this big , good looking, redheaded guy sitting by himself. Feeling awkward, I accept. Before I became Russ, I was Rusty. That’s how I introduced myself. As Rusty. And the Big redhead replied, “I’m Rusty too”. He was Rusty Staub, playing in his first season with the Montreal Expos. Being a baseball fan, I was naturally impressed. Not so much that he was a ballplayer, but that he was a kind human being. I wasn’t 18 yet. He was 24, maybe 25. But this big guy from New Orleans reached out to make this stranger, a little Brooklyn wisecracker feel comfortable in a strange place. We ate, we talked, we shared stories. When the bill came I reached into my pocket but big Rusty would have none of it. He insisted on paying. He then gave me two tickets to a game that week, wished me luck and said goodbye. It was an act of kindness I would never forget. Now lets fast forward 19 years. I started working for WWOR channel 9 in October 1988. The Mets were playing the Dodgers in the NLCS. I see Rusty, walk up to him, and say hello. I didn’t have to say anything else. Rusty recognized me, gave me a hug, and we spoke about that dinner in Montreal. He even remembered that my father had died. He insisted on me coming into his restaurant for some ribs and of course I did. We never hung out but always shared a warm relationship whenever we ran into each other over the years. Unfortunately we  won’t be running into each other ever again. While I was driving out to Citi Field yesterday for the Mets opener, I heard the report that Rusty was dead. My heart sank and I had  lump in my throat, just as I do now writing this. Rusty was a great ballplayer. But as great as he was, he was an even greater man. I will miss him dearly. And I will never forget that first time Rusty met Rusty.

STOP THE QUARTERBACK MADNESS

For all of the experts out there with their genius analysis of who’s the best quarterback to pick in the upcoming NFL draft, I have a message for all of them. Calm the bleep down and stop this quarterback madness! Let me remind you of the name of the late, great San Francisco 49ers’ Head Coach Bill Walsh. Perhaps no head coach before or after Walsh has been referred to as a genius as much as this Hall of Fame coach was. Before the 1979 draft, Walsh flew down to Kentucky to work out a fellow by the name of Phil Simms. During his senior year at Morehead State, Simms had a completion rate of 53.2%, throwing six touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 1,229 passing yards. But Walsh was so impressed with Simms, he was planning on picking him in the 3rd round ahead of  a guy by the name of Joe Montana. But the new Giants GM George Young also was impressed with Simms. In fact, Young liked him so much that he he picked Simms in the 1st round with the 7th pick overall. Nobody knew who the hell Simms was. And his selection  was booed loudly and criticized heavily by the Giants’ fans. Well, you know the rest. Phil Simms would go on to be one of the great Giants of all-time. For his brilliant performance in Super Bowl XXI, completing 22 of 25 passes, Simms was named the game’s MVP. But as great as he was on the field, Phil was equally as great off the field. A bonafide leader in every sense of the word. So things worked out well for Simms, the Giants, and their fans, who continue to love Simms  and hold him in high regard. And things didn’t work out too bad either for the 49ers and that 3rd round pick of that guy Montana. And most recently there’s this guy by the name of Brady who was a 6th round pick. I hear he’s worked out pretty good too. So what’s the point of all this? Here it is in a nutshell. Stop the quarterback Madness. Stop the Bullshit. Because that’s all it is. The draft is not an exact science. It’s going to play out the way it plays out. And as hard as they might try, all the experts and geniuses don’t know how that will be.

WHAT DOES THE NCAA STAND FOR?

Many people think that the NCAA stands for National Collegiate Athletic Association. A more appropriate title would be the National Corrupt Athletic Association. Because corruption has permeated this organization for years, dating back to the 60s when Kareem Abdul- Jabbar was still Lew Alcindor at UCLA. If you’re not familiar with the name Sam Gilbert, go google it. To the UCLA players he was known as Papa Sam. A multi-millionaire booster, Gilbert opened up his Bel-Air home to the players, buying them clothes, cars, tickets for shows. Players wanted something, they got it from Gilbert. He even arranged abortions for their girlfriends. He later became a sports agent for some of the players, negotiating a then unheard of $1.4 million dollars deal for Alcindor with the Milwaukee Bucks. What was UCLA’s legendary coach Johm Wooden doing while Gilbert was taking care of his players? Read it and weep folks. Nothing. That’s right, the Wizard of Westwood did nothing. Years later Wooden would say that he may’ve had “tunnel vision” and perhaps “trusted too much”. Perhaps? No. For damn sure is the answer. And so on and so on it went. John Calipari left two schools with violations. UMass and Memphis. While both schools were hit with sanctions, Calipari went on to become the pied piper of Kentucky. Rick Pitino  left Louisville in shame over a sex scandal. Roy Williams’ players at North Carolina were given credit for classes that didn’t exist. Jim Boeheim’s program at Syracuse  has also been hit with several infractions. Calipari, Pitino, Williams, and Boeheim. Four of the biggest names ever in college basketball. All with dirty laundry. But lets be honest here. Corruption in college basketball lays at the feet of many. From school presidents, to athletic directors, to coaches, to shoe companies, to agents, to boosters, to players, and to parents. All of their hands have been dirty in this. But guess what? When March Madness starts nobody will give a shit! It’ll be boola boola as fans of the schools in the tournament work themselves into a frenzy cheering their teams on. Shame on all parties concerned. Everybody needs to look in the mirror. And when they do, guilt will be staring them back in the face. The National Corruption Athletic Association needs to be ripped apart. Immediately.

 

 

WERE THE 17 KILLED ACTORS TOO?

Eight days ago on Valentine’s Day our hearts were ripped out with seventeen innocent people, fourteen students and three teachers unmercifully gunned down and murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parklands, Florida. Our nation has been traumatized by yet another senseless, hideous act of violence. So here we are once again left to debate. Is it guns? Is it mental illness? Is it not paying attention to what’s going on around us? Who’s to blame? What’s to blame? On and on it goes. I want to be hopeful that this tragedy can perhaps be the last straw. I want to be hopeful that all sides will say enough is enough. I want to be hopeful that we can all listen to one another in healthy discussions and come to a solution that will bring these horrific crimes to an end. Hopeful yes, but still not convinced. Not when I see some moronic assholes accusing these articulate Stoneman Douglas students of being actors. Not convinced when I see some moronic assholes criticizing these Stoneman Douglas students for rehearsing their comments. These kids have buried their classmates. They are filled with rage and emotion. They are most articulate in expressing their feelings. And they’re being criticized for rehearsing what they’re going to say on TV? What Television anchor or reporter doesn’t rehearse their lines before going on air? Disgrace has no bounds. And these accusers have no souls. Were those 17 killed also actors? Were those 17 coffins put into the ground filled with actors? How about those students and relatives of the victims meeting with President Trump yesterday? How about those people who’s lives have been broken and will never be the same? Are they actors too? No. The only actors here are the moronic assholes making these idiotic accusations. They’re frauds. Each and every one of them. They pretend to be human beings. But you can’t be a human being without a soul. Disgrace has no bounds.

 

 

 

Where Were The Parents

As a parent myself, now of two grown daughters, I can’t imagine having to hear the horrifying news that your child has been sexually abused. The thought of it is sickening. Not just for my children, but for anybody’s children. It make’s my skin crawl. And that’s what happens every time I read about the some 150 gymnastics girls who were abused by the animal Larry Nasser. I can’t put the words together what I think should happen to this piece of garbage. But this animal is not alone. He’s got plenty of company including USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee. Where the hell were they when these horrors were taking place? I know that they were plenty visible when these girls were winning their medals for the good old USA. There are plenty of enablers to this non-fiction nightmare. But as much as hate to do it, I have to ask this one question. Where were the parents? I’m not trying to be cruel here. But again, where were the parents? There’s one of these abused girls who was dropped off at animal Nasser’s apartment when she was 12 or 13 years old. He was 30. No chaperone! Where were parents asking questions when their young daughters were being examined alone in a room with Nasser? How did the exams go? What was done to you? What is the doctor like? Were you left alone? WHAT EXACTLY DID HE DO TO YOU? These are all reasonable questions to ask. There’s the story of one girl saying something to her father but he didn’t believe her. The father would later commit suicide. I’m not trying to be cruel here. Again, this is a parent’s worst nightmare. But these questions must be asked and must be answered. Answered so that other parents will not have to suffer the same consequences. Was it about your child being an elite athlete and the possibilities of greater glory? If so, does that mean you don’t ask questions? I’m trying to understand this but I just can’t. I remember years ago when Michael Jackson was accused of improper sexual behavior with a child at his home. I remember saying to one of my colleagues how I couldn’t understand how a parent could leave a child alone at Jackson’s Neverland ranch. My colleague looked at me and said in all seriousness, “but he’s a superstar. He’s a famous celebrity Russ. You wouldn’t allow your girls to go?”. I thought my colleague was nuts. I couldn’t understand that thinking then and still can’t. I think it’s moronic. But I’ve come to find that my colleague wasn’t alone in this moronic thinking. Hard to believe but true. Being in the sports business for 35 years I understand the sacrifices athletes have to make to achieve greater glory. I understand the sacrifices parents have to make to help their children fulfill their dreams. But the bigger question is, what price glory? If it means not asking the right questions, then glory isn’t worth it. First and foremost a kid needs to be a kid. And a parent needs to be a parent. So I’ll ask one more time. Where were the parents? This is not applying guilt. It’s applying education. An education that no parent or child  wants to learn from having to suffer such a horrifying experience firsthand.

Nobody Listens

The following is a post that I sent out on Facebook and Twitter this past Thursday:

“Doesn’t matter who’s side you’re on. DeNiro’s comments Tuesday and Trump’s remark today were flat out despicable”. All they’re doing is widening the huge divide that exists in our country. Disgraceful”.

I believe the comment speaks for itself and doesn’t need explanation. Robert DeNiro at an awards presentation  described the President with F bombs and the President in the Oval Office allegedly described African countries and Haiti as s**tholes. Both remarks are disgusting and reprehensible. Neither one can be defended.  Yet the reaction that followed was equally disturbing to me. It became a discussion of who said what, and what was worse than the other. It became a discussion of measuring the degree of awfulness. This is exactly what’s wrong with our country. Everybody hears but nobody listens. Let me correct myself. Nobody listens except to themselves and their own ideals. You can hate Trump and hate what he stands for. You can love DeNiro and whatever he stands for. And vice-versa. But there is no defending either man’s behavior this past week. None whatsoever. Zero. Both men were an embarrassment to our country. And if you don’t think so, think again.