NBA BECOMING AN EMBARRASSING JOKE
So the Brooklyn Nets now have one superstar who’s sat out the last five games in a row without offering an explanation and just acquired another superstar after he demanded a trade from a previous team that had offered him a two year extension worth in excess of $100 million dollars. If you’re a Nets fan and want to be excited about this, be my guest. But remember the wisdom of one P.T. Barnum: There’s a sucker born every minute. When I first heard that the Nets were involved in a blockbuster four team trade to acquire Jame Harden from the Houston Rockets I said to myself, great. The reason being I figured they had to trade Kyrie Irving. But no, not the case. Instead we have everyone going gaga over the prospects of having a a superstar trio of Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant leading Brooklyn to an NBA championship. For Brooklyn’s sake they had better win a championship because anything short of that will not be acceptable.
Here’s what Nets coach Steve Nash had to say about having a superstar trio to play with only one ball: “Basketball is about playing together and being the best you can be. So, no matter who you are, it’s about finding connectivity and balance within a team and trying to be greater than the sum of your parts. So that doesn’t change no matter what your team looks like, and that’s a goal and thread of our team from Day 1”. You’ll please forgive me for being skeptical. Since becoming a Net Kyrie Irving has been anything but a team player. He missed a ton of games last season due to injury. And he also helped a damn good coach in Kenny Atkinson get fired. Fine, that happens all the time in the NBA. But what’s the deal this season? Because he’s offered no explanation for his recent absence, there’s speculation that the reason is because of what happened last week in the Capitol. If that is the reason, it’s bullshit. We’re all upset over what happened. Deal with it. Don’t make like you’re the only one with a deep conscience. What about Kyrie’s coach and teammates? I guess his deep conscience has no problem leaving them hung out to dry.
Now let’s look at James Harden. On paper he’s a masterpiece. Former MVP, scoring champ the last three years, 8 time all-star, and more. A wow to watch play. But couldn’t win a championship with the Rockets. So he turns down a $100 Million dollar two year extension, demands a trade, and quits on his teammates. How exactly does this develop a team oriented mentality?
Having Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving on the same team sure sounds sexy. No question about it. They are three enormously gifted talents. They’re scoring abilities will make a scoreboard explode. But just word to the wise. Be wary of an implosion. Because it’ll come. I believe sooner than later. This trio will not peacefully co-exist.
THIS WOULDN’T BE BASEBALL
Let me begin by saying I miss baseball like all baseball fans do. It’s been a huge part of my life. From playing it, to watching it, to covering it. Baseball has been very special to me and it always will be. I miss it along with many other things during this horrific Covid19 crisis that we’re dealing with. Would I like to see baseball return? Sure I would. And I applaud Major League Baseball for thinking about possibly returning to action in May with all the games being played in the Phoenix area. But from the ideas I see being floated it wouldn’t be baseball. At least not for me it wouldn’t be baseball. The first idea that I can’t stand is an electronic strike zone. I don’t want a robot. I want an umpire calling balls and strikes. We have too much electronics in the game as it is. Then there’s the idea to help with social distancing that catchers and pitching coaches will not be allowed to make visits to the mound to discuss situations with the pitcher. Huh? What about other players. Will the third baseman not be allowed to go over to chat with the shortstop? Shortstop to second baseman not allowed? First and third base coaches not allowed to talk to runners on base? Sorry, this makes no sense. Then there’s the idea of of having seven inning doubleheaders to allow baseball to come close to having a full 162-game schedule. Screw the 162 game schedule if it’s not going to be real Major League Baseball. Seven innings is not real. And no dugouts? Players will sit in empty stands six feet apart. Nice idea for social distancing, but sorry, not realistic. Game situations need to be discussed. It’s part of working as a team. Then there’s to question of injuries. If there are no minor leagues playing where do you get replacements from. If you don’t think this is a big deal just look at your 2019 Yankees. With their rash of injuries where would they have been without the ability to call up players? And how about this? There’s more spit and saliva in baseball than any other sport? Hands are going to the mouth all the time. All the time! There’s no getting away from it. So once again, yes I do miss baseball. But what is being proposed is not baseball. At least not for me.
FACES OVER OPINIONS
Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. And therein lies the problem during this horrific coronavirus crisis. There are too many opinions. Who should we listen to? Don’t get me wrong. Information is good. But this bombardment of opinions is confusing and frightening. When is the curve going to flatten? When will it hit the apex. How many people will die today, tomorrow, next week, next month? When can we expect the shutdown to end? When should it end? When will it end? When will we get back to normal? All valid questions with no definitive answers. We can’t tune on the TV or radio without someone telling us about the coronavirus and what we should do. Whether it’s how it works or how to treat it nobody knows for sure. We’re in unchartered waters. So I’ve come to this decision for myself and my family. I’m going to let what I see dictate what I do. And what I see are faces. Faces belonging to doctors, nurses, first responders, and all of those volunteers on the frontline. Those exhausted faces. Faces of anguish knowing they did their best but it wasn’t good enough. They lost another life. They battle and they battle knowing that their courage is putting their own lives and their families’ lives at risk. But they do it because that’s their calling. All of these faces supply me with all the information I need. So I’m going to help these heroic people by being smart and not selfish. I’m going to maintain safe distance, try to be smart, and wait. Wait till I’m told the coast is clear. Passover is next week. I will not have my children and grandchildren come to our home for the Passover Seder. Will it make me sad. Terribly. Breaks my heart. But I have to be smart. I suggest you all do the same. Whether it’s Passover or Easter, family gatherings must be put on hold. Our heroes on the frontline have enough to deal with. They’re overloaded. We don’t need to give them more. Does this suck? You’re damn right it does. But we have only one choice. Be smart and wait it out. As my old friend Yogi would say, ” It ain’t over till it’s over”. Until then I’ll pray for all of us that it’ll come sooner than later.
DUMP CARRANZA NOW
NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has been a disaster ever since New York’s Mayor, the Dishonorable Dumbo de Blasio appointed him. Carranza has created dissension at every turn. With students, parents, teachers, and his own staff. I have been calling for his ouster for a long time. But the time has come for his ouster to take place immediately. There’s nothing to think about. Carranza must go now. What he recently did at one of the city’s elite high schools is simply unforgivable. Five teachers at my alma mater Brooklyn Tech were infected with the the coronavirus. Five! Yet none of the staff were notified. So some 350 staffers at Tech showed up for work as ordered. This happened in spite of a March 9th directive that any school infected by the coronavirus must be be completely shut down for a minimum of 24 hours. This just proves that Carranza can’t be trusted because he has no conscience. Neither does his boss deBlasio. Dumbo holds press conferences urging common sense with safe distance. Yet he put teachers at Brooklyn Tech at severe risk. Quit frankly what both deBlasio and Carranza did to those teachers at Brooklyn is the height of betrayal. I actually think that both these bums should be charged with High Treason for this betrayal. But for now I’ll settle for kicking Carranza’s ass to the street now. Right now! Dishonorable de Blasio is next.
The Hypocrisy Surrounding Eli
I have no problem with the current criticism of Eli Manning. As former Giants coach Bill Parcells always liked to say, you are what your record says you are. And right now the struggling Giants are 1-5 occupants of last place in the NFC East. Eli is the quarterback and the quarterback gets the heat. The NFL and all pro sports for that matter are what have you done for me lately businesses. Eli and the Giants haven’t done much lately. I get it. And so does Eli. He’s a big boy. He can take all the heat coming his way. I get it. But what I don’t get is some of the bullshit hypocrisy of this criticism. Last season when the Giants were a putrid 2-9, Ben McAdoo benched Eli. The outcry over the benching were screams heard around the world and I thought that was bullshit too. Because many members of the media covering the Giants weren’t as interested in Eli’s welfare as they pretended to be. No, they hated McAdoo and sticking up for Eli was a way for them to stick a fork in McAdoo. So here we are one season later. And those same people sticking up for Eli at 2-9 last season are the same people calling for his ouster at 1-5 now. For crying out loud, they were calling for it after the Sunday night loss in Dallas in the second game of the season. It’s hypocritical bullshit. Yeah, lets put a rookie quarterback behind the same offensive line and have him killed. If not that, lets just have his confidence destroyed. Once again, I have no problem with the criticism of Eli. And if things don’t get better,changes will be in order. I get it. Eli gets it. Pat Shurmur gets it. Dave Gettleman gets it. The entire Giants organization gets it. But lets just stop with the hypocrisy. Because that all it is. HYPOCRITICAL BULLSHIT! And the hypocrites know who they are.
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.
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.