BUSINESS/OTHER Grantland on the National

If you haven’t yet checked out Bill Simmons’ new ESPN-backed website, you should. The site has taken its share of mockery, partly due to the hazing that comes with new, risky ideas, partly because Bill’s success (a recent NY Times profile labelled him ” the most prominent sportswriter in America”) has spawned a natural backlash, partly because of the eccentric decision by ESPN brass to name the site after long-dead 1920s sportswriting icon Grantland Rice. The site is mainly geared towards long-form sportswriting, and of course it makes me nostalgic for the days when Bill was running his own small, scrappy regional site back in Boston, where I was one of the very few regular contributors.
Anyway, it is fitting that one of Grantland’s inaugural features is a two-part oral history/remembrance (here and here) of The National, America’s first and only national daily sports newspaper, which ran from 1990-91. The profile is chock full of hilarious detail, lovingly remembered by the many talented writers who worked there – it’s worth the read just for the vicious potshots taken by the interviewees at Mike Lupica, who used The National as one of his many platforms but, unlike most of the others, didn’t commit his heart and soul to the project. You can tell reading it that most of the people involved felt, and still feel, that The National was the most exciting thing they’d ever be involved with. The tale of its rise and fall, complete with extravagant spending, a fantastic product, and a complete failure of practical business planning, strongly foreshadowed the dot-com mania that arose later in the decade, although ironically it was the technology of the late 90s that the paper most desperately needed and lacked. But as the retrospective points out, the paper may not have been a success, but it had influence on the sports-media world that persists to this day.
I remember fondly reading The National, on those occasions when I could lay hands on it and it had timely boxscores, always a dicey proposition. Some context on the times, and on why I confess I didn’t myself read The National as often as I’d have liked: we think today of the college years as a time when young people are deluged with access to the Information Age, but in 1990-91 I was in my sophmore-junior years in college in the days before the Internet; I didn’t own a television until my third year of law school, I could only sporadically get WFAN, I couldn’t afford a daily newspaper (as often as not I went to the library to read the papers)…and at the time, I was writing a weekly political op-ed column for the campus newspaper, the lead sports columnist job being filled by Bill Simmons. When I went to spend a semester in DC in the spring of 1992, I actually had to put a 3.5″ floppy disk in the mail every week to publish my column. When I started writing again for Bill’s site in 2000, it was a revelation to be able to email him a column and have it posted the next day. Now, of course, anything but instantaneous publication seems archaic.
Anyway, set aside some reading time – it’s a long profile but worth the read.

One Sporting Event

Tom Bevan passed along on Twitter this column asking what one sporting event you’d go back in time to attend in person if you could, and making the case for the first Ali-Frazier fight.
It’s a tough question. I’d immediately discount any event I actually did watch live on TV, like Game Six of the 1986 World Series, the 1980 Miracle on Ice, or the Giants’ three Super Bowl victories. My first reaction was to pick Game Seven of the 1960 World Series over some of the more impressive individual achievements like Don Larsen’s perfect game or Wilt’s 100-point game (of which film doesn’t survive), or classics like Bobby Thomson’s home run, but I think after kicking this around with some others on Twitter I’d probably settle with Game Seven of the 1912 World Series, which just had amazing team and individual drama and a chance to watch some of the greats of the pre-film era (Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, Smokey Joe Wood) in their primes.


WSJ looks at misspellings on the Stanley Cup:

This iconic silver trophy, which is handed out each year to hockey’s champion, carries with it the marks of another, quieter history — decades of botched spellings, spacing gaffes, repeated words and the unsightly results of attempts to fix them.
Over the years words like “Ilanders” (Islanders), “Leaes” (Leafs) and “Bqstqn” (Boston) have found their way onto the cup, while more than a dozen players and coaches have had their names butchered. Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante had the misfortune of having his first name spelled four different ways in the span of five years.

BASEBALL/ President Obama and the National Pastime

Lester Munson at ESPN has a long and interesting look at what Obama’s election means for baseball and the world of sports in general, including his likely strong support for the 2016 Olympics in Chicago:

Japanese Olympic officials already have expressed their concern that Obama could turn the tide in favor of Chicago when the IOC votes in October.
“Mr. Obama is popular and good at speeches, so things could get tough for Japan,” said Tomiaki Fukuda, a senior Japanese Olympic Committee board member.
If Sen. John McCain had won the election, the U.S. bid to play host to the 2016 Olympics might have been negatively affected. Many IOC members remember McCain’s scathing investigation of the bribery scandal involving IOC members who helped award the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City. Two members of the Salt Lake City bid committee were indicted, and McCain’s investigation led to major changes in the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Many IOC members remain bitter over McCain’s aggressive efforts for reform.
An Olympics in his home city of Chicago in the late summer of 2016 would be a grand finale for an Obama presidency that would be about to wind down if he were re-elected to a second term.

(OK, I didn’t have to include that paragraph about McCain, give me more than a day on that reflex…the irony is that the bribery investigation led to Mitt Romney taking over the Salt Lake City Games, which led to Romney’s political rise – talk about your chains of unforeseen consequences).

What makes an MVP?

Posted by Ricky West

This will be my final post as the Crank is returning from his much
deserved vacation.  I want to thank him for allowing me this opportunity to
reach a new audience and reignite the vigor for political debate that I’d lost a
few months back when I went into virtual hibernation.  I’m truly not worthy. To all who felt like looking me up on google & pummeling me: I truly enjoyed it, it was a blast, and I wish you all the best….don’t take this politics stuff too seriously.  Oh, and I was right and you were wrong. 🙂

The year 2002 gave us Miguel Tejada as the AL’s MVP.  In 2006-2007, the
NBA gave us Dirk Nowitzki as its league’s MVP.  To me, both decisions were
ludicrous and simply reinforced the oft-held notion that sportswriters are lazy
and simply vote for the best players on the best teams. 
gave his arguments
against Tejada almost 6 years ago, before the award was

The usual argument, then, erupts over whether you can give the award to
Rodriguez, who played for a last place team, as opposed to Thome – no,
scratch that, as opposed to Giambi or Miguel Tejada, both of whose teams
made the playoffs, despite the obvious fact that neither of them was the
best player in the league at his position. Some people have also mentioned
Soriano as a candidate, but while Soriano was clearly among the top 10
players in the league, he wasn’t on the same elite level as the others
offensively (because he was just a point above the league on base
percentage) and didn’t compensate with especially dazzling glove work (Soriano
is no better than, at his best, an average defensive second baseman, and
probably less than that).


as Mel Antonen of USAToday notes
, it’s often the players who prefer to
look at the numbers and the writers who go with the argument that
"intangibles" that make "winners" are an important factor.)

An argument can most certainly be made against giving an award to the person
who simply had the best numbers.  NFL teams with horrific defenses often
have quarterbacks who throw for more than 4,000 yards simply because they’re
always playing from behind, for example.  I agree that it would be a bad
precedent for adopting the practice of simply awarding personal achievement that
may come at team expense.  Then again, if you just look at the top teams
and eliminate the players that have the misfortune to be surrounded by
excellence that the front office acquired, you can end up with laughable
decisions like giving the esteemed Bill Russell the MVP during the season when
Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points and 27 rebounds.  And, before anyone
retorts that Wilt simply shot it every time he got it that season, keep in mind
that he was 3rd in the league in FG percentage that season. I’m sorry, when
someone has the greatest offensive season in league history, the greatest
rebounding season in league history and is the 3rd most efficient field goal
shooter, they’re the MVP.  It wasn’t Wilt’s fault that Russell was
surrounded by 8 future hall-of-famers (not taking anything from Russell, the
greatest winner in sports history…he just wasn’t as good as Wilt, period). 
Or, Joe Dimaggio winning the MVP when Ted Williams is the triple crown winner.

In the case of A-Rod & 2002, you had Rodriguez having arguably the greatest
offensive season for any shortstop in major league history:

G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB  BB  BA   OBP   SLG  OPS  TB  HBP
162 624  125  187  27  2  57  142   9  87 .300 .392  .623  1015 389 10

And, for anyone who says that it was just a case of
Rodriguez putting up offensive numbers, he also won the gold glove that season. 
So, you had a player who was not only the best offensive shortstop that season
(he was the best offensive player in baseball) but he was the best defensive
shortstop that season.  Who got the MVP?  Another shortstop.  One
who wasn’t as good offensively or defensively.  Yes, clutch hits and
intangibles are huge, but they don’t erase the sheer dominance that A-Rod
displayed that season. 

Likewise, let’s consider the case of Dirk Nowitzki. 
Truly, the best player on the best team in the NBA that season.  Yes, he
faded in the playoffs, but the voting occurs before the playoffs.  Let’s
ignore Kobe Bryant’s statistical dominance over Nowitzki, substantial as it is. 
It’s quite simple: Kobe Bryant was the scoring champion that season.  Kobe
Bryant was 1st team all-defense (Marcus Camby was the defensive player of the
year).  Much like A-Rod winning the gold glove, Kobe Bryant was the best
defensive player at his position.  Dirk Nowitzki, on the other hand, was
neither the best offensive nor defensive player at his position.  Nowitzki
wasn’t among the top 4 defensive players on his own team, by the way. 
Again, you have the best offensive player in the league and best defender at his
position being denied simply because he played on the ‘wrong’ team.  With
the passage of time, we know that Bryant wasn’t the cause of the Lakers’
mediocrity last season, but rather it was the rest of the team getting
better as they made the NBA finals this year*.

Summation: No, don’t give out the top awards to the guys
who put up the best numbers.  However, you don’t ignore those who are
obviously the best and most valuable in the league simply because their
teammates aren’t quite up to par with the top franchises.  Or, in the case
of Wilt & Teddy Ballgame, the sportswriters hate you.

Thanks, again, Crank! 

*Note: I most certainly do not bring Kobe Bryant into
the discussion because I’m a Laker fan or Bryant fan.  Currently, the NBA
player I dislike the most is Kobe Bryant. Thus, this is purely an argument based
on the merits, not the personalities.

Finally, note to self: Something you believe + the words “Rush” and “Limbaugh” pasted at the top = blog comments gold!

PERSONAL: Trust me, I’m aware of my circumstances

Posted by Ricky West

Today, my little girl turns 11. 

My, how time flies.

So, a few weeks back I ask "what do you want for your birthday?"

Her answer: "I want you to take us to see the Braves".

With all the choices out there; a Hannah Montana CD, a trip to some play
zone, a dinner at her favorite restaurant, some video game or toy,
clothes….my little princess wants to go see a major league game with her
Daddy.  As she slowly moves from little-girl into budding-young-lady, I
keep thinking back to that lil’ pumpkin that introduced me to parenthood. 
All the dads out there know, you don’t just love your daughter simply because she’s
your daughter, they cause you to fall in love with them.  Sure,
there are tons of love songs about a man and a woman, but when a daughter blinks
her little eyes at her dad, that is the true epitome of a melting heart.  She’s my
little girl, my princess, my first born and along with her brother & mom, make
what is my world something to look forward to each and every day.

So, while you’re having dinner or watching the Olympics, I’ll be viewing the
Cubs likely pummeling my Braves (the Cubs are my #3 team, behind Atlanta & the
BoSox).  However, the actual outcome of the game isn’t important at all, as
I’ll be sitting beside my little girl, my little middle-schooler, watching
a major league baseball game at her request.

Yeah, I’m that lucky.

6/15/08 Quick Links

*The idea of a steroid blacklist is not implausible, but it’s not the simplest explanation, especially where Barry Bonds is concerned: it seems more likely that no team wants the PR headache and distraction of the disgraced, indicted Bonds. And with guys like Jay Gibbons, there’s the double issue of “will he still be any good if he’s not juicing?”
*Will Carroll on Secretariat:

Here are the important numbers:

Big Brown (2008 Kentucky Derby): 2:01:82
Affirmed (1977 Kentucky Derby): 2:01 1/5
Secretariat (1973 Kentucky Derby): 1:59 2/5

I don’t need the advanced numbers like Beyer Speed Figures to see what’s at work here. Big Brown won two legs of the Triple Crown, possibly aided by steroids, but he wasn’t as fast as the last Triple Crown winner, and he wasn’t as fast as horse racing’s Babe Ruth. Steroids didn’t make a horse into Superman. Horse expert Michael Hindman said it better than I could:
Secretariat would be Babe Ruth if Babe Ruth had once hit 90 homers in a season and no one else has ever hit more than 50. The gap in physical ability between him and all other thoroughbreds is unlike anything else in sports history. Put it this way: Secretariat was capable of hitting 600-foot homers. Secretariat’s 35-year-old Kentucky Derby record time still stands, and nobody has ever come close to it. His 35-year-old world record time at a mile and a half set in the Belmont has never been challenged by any horse ever, anywhere. He ran his mile and a half in 2:24. No other horse–anywhere, ever–has broken 2:25.3. That means that the second best time at a mile and a half, ever, would have been eight lengths behind him. Secretariat also set the world record at a mile and an eighth. He ran once on the grass and set a track record at Belmont Park (again at a mile and a half) that still stands 35 years later. Secretariat ran against and beat the crap out of at least five other Hall of Fame horses. Big Brown is beating one of the worst crops of three year olds ever. By the way, we’ve used Winstrol and Equipoise on horses from time to time over the years, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t do much for them other than run up the vet bill.

*Drill, drill, drill. It’s not the long-term answer, but it’s appalling that the U.S. insists on preferring to import Saudi and Venezuelan oil rather than do the sorts of routine oil exploration and development that’s done everywhere else in the world. Note Gingrich’s point about offshore drilling in enviro-conscious Norway.
*The NY Times on the dangers of an inexperienced candidate for president. You know, a lot of Bush-hating liberals respond to questions about Obama’s experience by noting Bush’s relative inexperience compared to some past candidates…but even if you insist on ignoring the advantages Bush had over Obama, I have to ask: are you saying now that Bush worked out just fine? Because that wasn’t what I heard from you up to now.
*Yes, McCain’s been busy already in key swing states.
*Excellent 3-part interview with Justice Scalia here, here and here. One excerpt:

In the course of writing the book, you and your co-author, Bryan Garner, consulted more than a dozen judges. Did you learn anything about the habits of your colleagues?
We learned an awful lot from them. Stuff that I didn’t know. For example, the part about judges who retro-read.
Read the briefs in reverse.
Yeah. If you’re really in a hurry and you don’t care about how the lawyers have slaved to make sense out of stuff, it saves time because, as the case goes along, it gets narrower. You pare down. It’s good if you really want to find the kernel of a dispute. I didn’t know that a lot of judges did that. I don’t do it. I don’t think it’s fair to the lawyers.

I’d have to think that would be counterproductive in a lot of cases where the briefs are loaded with references back to complex facts and defined terms in the beginning, but it’s a caution to lawyers to consider how a brief looks like from the back to the front.
*Free speech is so un-French.

HOCKEY: Hasek Hangs Em Up

Dominik Hasek has retired, after being part of his second Stanley Cup title team. I don’t profess to follow hockey that closely, but surely given his amazing longetivity and some of his eye-popping numbers (since they started keeping track, Hasek is the career leader in “save percentage”), I’d assume he has to be a significant part of any conversation about the greatest goalies in NHL history.

OTHER Italy Wins the World Cup

Coming back to Queens from my in-laws in Westchester today, we saw many cars on the road honking and waving Italian flags. Somehow, had the French won, I doubt we would have seen that.
My lone observation on the World Cup: I did not pay much attention to the World Cup and only saw one game, the U.S.-Italy match.
But let’s not let it pass unremarked that the Americans played the eventual champions to a tie.
UPDATE: If you are looking for some thoroughly gratuitous French-bashing, Ace is your man.

OTHER The Hughes Machine

I have to feel sorry for the other US women’s figure skaters, trying to compete for press first with Michelle Kwan and now with Emily Hughes. Maybe it’s a New York thing, since Hughes is a local girl, but with her sister having won the last gold medal, she’s definitely the media darling. And it’s not just that: like her sister, Hughes is approachable, infectiously enthusiastic, and seems normal – she’s even built like a normal teenager. Sasha Cohen, by contrast, is frighteningly thin and wound up tight as a drum, and her freakish flexibility (her signature move is standing on one leg with the other one pointing directly skyward, a standing split that few gynmasts could manage, let alone while spinning on ice) only makes her seem more inhuman. And pity the poor third girl on the team, who apparently is quite good but gets completely overlooked.

OTHER Not Bode Well

In sports, when you talk the talk, you gotta back it up. When Joe Namath guaranteed victory for the Jets in Super Bowl III, or when Davey Johnson in 1986 said that the Mets should “dominate” the NL East, they had to win.
Bode Miller has been running Nike ads during the Olympics preaching against the importance of winning in sports. And so far, Miller has backed up his talk, failing to win any medals in four events (with one to go).
In competitive sports at the highest level, the guy who says it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, usually loses.

OTHER Title IX Loosens Up

Eric McErlain has news about a new move by the Department of Education that could significantly loosen Title IX restrictions.
What’s debatable is whether Title IX even serves any purpose in college athletics at this stage. If the idea is to create opportunities for women in college athletics, that exists now, and it wouldn’t dry up and blow away without government coercion. The main source of resistance to Title IX has nothing to do with discrimination as such and everything to do with money and specifically with football: specifically, the fact that many schools would prefer to have equal numbers of male and female scholarship athletes in non-money-making sports, but because football teams are enormous and have no analogue among female sports teams, a whole host of male sports have to suffer to meet the 1:1 ratio. And because football is the #1 moneymaker even at many small schools, you can’t get rid of it to solve the problem, even if you otherwise wanted to.

OTHER Season on Ice

I haven�t been following the NHL lockout very closely at all, so I was kind of struck by what kind of financial problems the league must be having when the Players� Association is making proposals to cut their own salaries by 24% (up from their 5% September proposal). Apparently, the main dispute is over whether to have a luxury tax or a salary cap. Scott Burnside has some more-informed analysis.
I�m glad I don�t have Gary Bettman�s job.

OTHER A Word From Joe Louis

Until John Hinderaker at Powerline pointed it out, I hadn’t realized that the “he can run but he can’t hide” line that President Bush has been using on the campaign trail and in Friday night’s debate was actually coined by boxer Joe Louis. Another example of how sports shapes our language and view of the world. Go read Hindrocket’s whole writeup on Louis and the phrase’s origin.
(Of course, for historical accuracy it’s not quite right to call Louis just “the Bomber” – he was known as the Brown Bomber (it was the 1930s-40s, after all; no need to sugarcoat the world Louis lived in and had to contend with)).

OTHER Band of Ruggers

Eric McErlain takes apart one of the stupidest political arguments I have ever seen, this Bob Harris post at Tom Tomorrow’s place showing a still photo of George W. Bush playing rugby at Yale and trying to make out Bush as some sort of dirty rugby player. I’m no expert on rugby, but it always seemed like one of those sports where the technical term for someone who never played dirty was “loser.”
Anyway, I emailed Harris some time back – he never responded – to point to this David Pinto post:

[Peter] Gammons and Kerry played hockey against each other in prep school, and Peter told me once that Kerry was the dirtiest hockey player he ever saw.

Lesson: maybe you don’t want to make this an issue. Although McErlain links back to a post where he quotes Denis Leary making Kerry out to be a weak-minded, vascillating showboat as a hockey player, at least in his later years. So who knows?
Anyway, the best line about the whole Bush rugby thing comes from a commenter at Michele’s place back in mid-August:

It seems like absurdly too much effort to spend on a stupid 35-year old rugby picture, but I saw a post somewhere yesterday saying that, like a lot of sports action photos, it might not even be what it looks like at first glance. The implied physics of the picture (assuming Bush to be throwing a punch) would have Bush and his fist moving in opposite directions, not a great way to hit someone (but, hey, Bush is dumb, so that would fit, I suppose!)
And, of course, it’s a devastating picture, ruining Bush’s rugbycentric strategy, which he planned to kick off at the end of the convention when he’d be joined by a dozen former Yale rugby players, his “Band of Ruggers.”


OTHER The Long Road Back

NY Newsday reports that Olympic figure skating champ Sarah Hughes, who’s something of a folk hero in these parts (she lives two towns over from my house), is considering returning to competition. Judging from recent photos, though, Hughes will probably be fighting the uphill battle against competing after puberty that has done in so many female athletes in sports like figure skating, gymnastics, etc.

BASEBALL/OTHER SPORTS etc.: Great Sports Moments

Michele asks for greatest sports moments. I’ll repost my thoughts here. I’ll agree with some of the moments cited by her commenters – Jose Canseco getting hit in the head with a ball and turning it into a home run is still the funniest thing that’s ever happened. Bill Mazeroski’s homer – ten years to the day before I was born – is tough to top for sheer instant drama and finality, especially when you consider the aura of invincability of those Yankees and the back-and-forth nature of that game and that series. And yes, I once had a poster on my wall of the famous Starks dunk over Jordan.
My personal favorite, of course, is still the bottom of the tenth inning of Game Six, 1986 World Series, specifically Bob Stanley’s game-tying wild pitch. Close behind are Robin Ventura’s “grand slam single” in the rain in 1999 and virtually every minute of the 1991 Super Bowl.
Probably the most electric moment from a sport I don’t follow or, ordinarily, even like that much was Sarah Hughes’ gold medal winning figure skating performance, because she single-handedly did what I thought couldn’t be done in figure skating: overcome the expectations and grab victory through the sheer brilliance of a single performance. In other words, for one night, she actually made figure skating a real sport.
The most memorable ones I’ve seen in person: (1) Game Six of the Knicks-Heat series in 1997, when half the team (including Patrick) was suspended and the MSG crowd just tried to will the skeleton roster to victory; (2) Brad Clontz’ wild pitch in the last scheduled game of the regular season in 1999 to send the Mets to a 1-game playoff with the Reds.

OTHER The Wrong Way Out

Two years ago, I wrote:

Whatever you think about the merits of a gay man in baseball coming out publicly, I can’t possibly imagine a worse situation than ‘outing’ the star of a contending team in midseason against his will.

Obviously, this was a failure of imagination on my part, given the murder-for-hire story swirling around Mike Danton of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues . . . if the stories around Danton are true – and they may well not be – there can’t be anybody to be happy at this being the first public ‘outing’ of an active gay athlete in major team sports. See here for an example of a press release trying feverishly to spin this story as one about “homophobia” to get a sense of how unpleasant this whole thing is, or look at how hard some of the news stories are straining to avoid explaining the “relationship” Danton is purported to have had with his ‘roommate.’
Anyway, I won’t be following this bizarre saga, but Eric McErlain’s all over it.

OTHER Lewis-Klitscko

My wife and I finally broke down and decided to try HBO about two months ago, and one of the few dividends has been that we got to watch the Lennox Lewis-Vladimir Klitschko fight, which my brother-in-law had asked us to tape. Since that meant we couldn’t change the channel (our cable box, displaying the soul of a monopolist, sabotages all efforts to record one show while watching another), and it was the night before we left on vacation, we wound up watching most of the fight.
I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. I’m not much of a boxing fan, and due to the migration of major prizefights to premium cable and pay-per-view, I hadn’t actually seen a title fight live in maybe 20 years. But this was really a good fight, between two very tall heavyweights. What you ask for in any sporting event is suspense: a sense that the outcome is not entirely predetermined. This fight had it, and it also had action: these guys were actually landing a lot of punches, most of them to the side of the head (there were remarkably few body blows, perhaps due to the height of the two fighters), unlike my memories of heavyweight fights as orgies of gripping interrupted only sporadically by some fighting. Klitschko came out swinging early, and led in points throughout the fight. Lewis really looked out of it early, totally unprepared for the barrage, but around the third round he started to rally, and wound up opening a nasty gash over Klitschko’s left eye that eventually led to the fight being stopped after the sixth round.
This fight was arranged on fairly short notice, and maybe that accounted for its unpredictability, but I’d definitely want to see the expected rematch.

OTHER Sorenstam’s Gamble

I just don’t see the point in the PGA trying to ban women in response to Annika Sorenstam entering a PGA event, or in Vijay Singh refusing to play against her. This isn’t Billie Jean King playing a washed-up has-been and declaring “victory” in “the Battle of the Sexes,” and it isn’t about a woman demanding a right to special treatment. As long as she hits off the same tees as the men, she has every right to play. Phil Mickelson said it best: “I look at the PGA Tour as being the tour for the best players in the world,” not just the best men. Men will always dominate the PGA anyway; where’s the harm in letting the best woman see how far she can go?

OTHER The Masters

I guess the whole Masters protest story turned out to be a big dud:
What appeared to happen here was more evidence that dissent on the left is a dying lifestyle. It is firmly the era of Nobody Wants to Hear It. While tens of thousands more antiwar activists were not turning out to protest the Iraq war (or to call for an end to all war-occupation-aggression-racism-injustice) on the same day in Washington, hundreds were not disembarking from buses to join the attack against Augusta National’s old-boys club.
Protest organizers grumbled that too much media showed up, and they were miffed that 100 police cars were parked nearby — enough extra fuzz to film a Burt Reynolds car chase extravaganza. Eleanor Smeal, of the Feminist Majority Foundation, took to the microphone and let out an emotional war whoop straight out of some other era, circa 1974; Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) fumbled through her speech in a nasal Manhattan accent, and people laughed, as if a Yankee caricature had been special-ordered to entertain the crowd.
Some sorority sisters from Georgia Tech, who drove over to see “the crazies, the weirdos,” hopped out of their car, hugged each other and made perfect smiles for a group picture atop a knoll with the anti-Augusta circus playing out behind them. Around the same time, a man with dark, short hair and a self-satisfied grin started waving a bright orange sign while Burk spoke. The sign said “Make Me Dinner” on one side and “Iron My Shirt” on the other. A desperate media pounced on him — not to stop him but to get any kind of sound bite from him.
He gave his first name as Haywood and a last name that would have made it obscene, an old trick you think nobody would fall for anymore, and yet, many
reporters carefully wrote H-a-y-w-o-o-d in their notes and then asked him to
spell his last name.

BASEBALL/OTHER, the gossipy website for anonymous chitchat by sportswriters about their trade that had its big moment in the sun during the whole Piazza-Travis-Matthews controversy, has gone on to the Big Server In The Sky. There’s probably a good inside story here, but I’m not the guy to get it. I’ll say this: in any business, anonymous backbiting on a public website will be unpopular with management. Are such sites a good thing? Is it hazardous to your career, or legally dangerous, to post there? I’ll leave that to the reader.