Friday, October 26, 2007

Story of the Week - Oct 22-26

Sunday Outrages

I was all set to write about this week's NFL venture in London. I was ready to write about how on Friday, the NFL was buried on the BBC sport website, taking a backseat to minor news about a minor team in the English Premiership that few American football fans have ever heard of. About how strangely the American game translates into English sport lingo, but you can read it for yourself.

But then, the fans in London surprised me. They filled the place, screamed and shouted their way through the rain-soaked mostly terrible display. And aside from booing the Giants for running out the last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter, acted as knowledgeable fans of the game. And who wants to see 2 minutes of kneeldowns anyway? Ok, aside from Giants fans who wanted to get the hell out of London before they blew one to the lowly Dolphins...

So my story of the week was spoiled until late Sunday night and early Monday morning, when I caught a double dose of intense outrage. And I'm sure I am not alone. Here are those 2 stories:

1. Another heckuva job

A number of agencies, governments and people earned high praise for their handling of this week's wildfires in California. The general consensus was this: Southern California was well-prepared to handle the disaster. This was not another Katrina.

The scene at San Diego, I mean...Jack Murphy, er... Qualcomm Stadium was one of organization, where volunteers outnumbered evacuees, kids were distracted with art projects and games, pets were pampered, and any and all comparisons to the scene at the Superdome post-Katrina were speedily (forgive me) extinguished.

Even FEMA was praised for its response.

Until they got in their own way.

Tuesday, FEMA held a press conference. Only, they sort of forgot to tell the press. But that didn't stop them from holding the conference. Without the press in attendence, FEMA planted staffers in the crowd to ask questions it "thought the press would ask."

QUESTION: Sir, there are a number of reports that people weren't heeding evacuation orders and that was hindering emergency responders. Can you speak a little to that, please?

QUESTION: Can you address a little bit what it means to have the president issue an emergency declaration, as opposed to a major disaster declaration? What does that (inaudible) for FEMA?

QUESTION: Sir, we understand the secretary and the administrator of FEMA are on their way out there. What is their objective? And is there anyone else traveling with them?

Question: I know you guys were appointed by President Bush, but are you really as stupid as you seem? I can't say it better than CBS' Bob Schieffer already has:

"Fire these people and the people who hired them and then explain to the new people that the best way for a disaster relief agency to get good publicity is to do a good job helping disaster victims."

It gets worse...


Thank you Fox, once again, for dashing my hopes of avoiding a 3rd straight week mentioning the freakin' Yankees. But I can't let this one slide. Why



Must you break the news about A-Rod opting out of his contract for next year when the 2007 season is 9 outs from over? Can we celebrate the end of one of the more exciting, engaging seasons in recent history (that happened to culminate with the most BORING World Series ever, but that's not the point) without having to talk about next season? Does "Wait til next year" mean anything to you?

6 outs away from sweeping their 2nd World Series in 4 years, and all Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and that total tool Ken Rosenthal (you're so cool, have Scott Boras in your Blackberry!) can talk about is what the Red Sox are going to do about Mike Lowell next year and do they need A-Rod. NO! They don't need A-Rod, they're about to win their second World Series since he started playing for their arch-rival! Can we focus, please?

The World Series should be a celebration of the season that was, not the season to come. A-Rod can wait. Sometimes being first isn't as important as being good.

And while I'm at it, shame on the NY Post and the Daily News for thinking the A-Rod story was bigger than the World Series. It's not. Winning the World Series is the biggest on-the-field story of the season.

And shame on A-Rod and Scott Boras. Couldn't you two have waited for the offseason to officially arrive before you set off the biggest story of the offseason?

Oh crap. It's the offseason.

Well, at least the Giants are good. That was rather unexpected.

Jolly good show on the muddy pitch, chaps.


I don't get starstruck often. I'm usually indifferent to seeing celebrities on the street, or at work or wherever. With a few exceptions, including this one:

Aaron Sorkin: You guys are brave to come out to an early preview, thanks a lot.
Me: You're welcome. It was great. We support our fellow Syracuse grads. (that was my in)
Sorkin: (shakes my hand) Oh, really? that's great, all of you? When?
Me: '05
Sorkin: (pauses)
Me: sorry.
Sorkin: (laughs) I graduated from that place 150 years ago. Is it still cold there?
Me: Probably.
Sorkin: (on his way out the door) I don't think they've won a football game since I graduated. Well...Louisville. At least we have that. (Exits)
Me: ok...that made my week...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Story of the Week -- Oct 15-19

History of the Week.

I didn't want to do a sports story two weeks in a row. I REALLY didn't want to do a story about the New York Yankees two weeks in a row. And then I found this out:

What happened to Joe Torre has happened before.

Yep, and in eerily similar circumstances. 47 years ago yesterday, The Yankees announced the resignation/firing/gently nudging out the door of Casey Stengel. Stengel managed the Yankees for 12 years, winning 10 American League pennants and 7 World Series over that span. He was ousted mere days after the Yankees lost the world series on a dramatic game 7 walk-off Home Run off the bat of Pirates' second baseman Bill Mazeroski.

So there is truth to the adage that history repeats itself. And strangely enough, as I discovered, history often repeats itself with an ironic flair for anniversaries. Here are some events that happened this past week, past and present (with some help from the New York Times):

Wednesday, Turkey essentially declared war on the Kurds in northern Iraq. It was just five years ago this week that the United States essentially did the same. President Bush signed the congressional resolution authorizing war with Iraq on October 16, 2002 (of course we didn't invade until March of '03). While Tuesday marked the anniversary of the beginning of a war, Friday marked the anniversary of wars coming to an end. It was on October 19, 1951 that President Truman brought a formal end to the state of war with Germany, when I can only assume the U.S. decided a country struggling to feed itself probably wasn't a threat anymore. It was also on October 19, this time in 1781, that the British surrendered to the Continental Army at Yorktown, VA, bringing an unofficial end to the Revolutionary War.

That came 4 years and 2 days after the Americans won the battle of Saratoga, a turning point in the war, on October 17, 1777.

George W. Bush is well-known for his repetition of key phrases and talking points. This week he repeated history when he announced new sanctions against the government of Myanmar. I doubt the President knows this, but he imposed those sanctions 47 years to the day after the U.S. imposed its still-standing embargo on exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960.

The Fox Business Channel attempted a historical repeat on Monday. Rupert Murdoch's latest venture launched on Monday to, well, can we say mixed reviews? The Times called it "perky", is that good or bad? And I have to say, I'm over the naked cowboy. Over it. As in, not at all interested in an extended feature interview. So I can't say Fox went the distance in repeating history, but it was quick to point out that it was launching 56 years to the day after "I Love Lucy" premiered on CBS. "I Love Lucy" was, of course, funny on purpose. Fox Biz I'd call laughable. I'd also change the channel, quickly.

In Fox's case, I'm guessing the new network won't likely find itself on the same page in history as "Lucy", or even in the same book. And we can hope that the Myanmar sanctions are lifted soon, because that will mean oppressive regime there will ease up or collapse, both of which can't happen soon enough. We can further hope that Turkey doesn't go on to follow in our footsteps and exacerbate the Iraqi quagmire by actually invading the North. Take it from us, Turkey, you don't want to do that.

And as for Torre following in Stengel's footsteps...he probably doesn't want to do that either. Less than two years after being forced out of the Bronx, Casey took a job across the river, managing the expansion Mets. Lovable (and senile) as he was, he wasn't quite as successful. The Mets were 175-404 with Stengel at the helm.

Sometimes history isn't worth repeating.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Story of the Week -- Oct 8-12

More Reasons Why I Hate the Yankees

I hate the Yankees.

I hate that in spite of the fact the Cleveland Indians had a better record during the regular season, won their division and had home field advantage, their dominating 3-1 series win was considered an "upset." The Indians had better starting pitching, a better bullpen, and better clutch hitting than the Yankees. Overall, they are a better team. What about this is an upset?

I hate that no Yankees fan appreciates the fact that his team was dead in the water as late as June, that they had to dig up pitchers out of their minor league system, relying on the likes of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes to come up consistently in big spots and get outs for months in order to charge back and take the wild card, to almost win the division. I hate that they don't appreciate that because they ultimately lost to a better team in the Division Series. I hate that they don't look at this season as a success. Or last season, or the season before that.

On the other hand, the uber-high expectations make it much easier to root against the Yankees. If a great comeback season followed by a postseason loss puts you into hysterics, then a successful season for me is any in which the Yankees don't win the World Series.

I hate that the Yankees made me root for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. I rooted hard in that series, at Syracuse, on a very social floor with a pack of Yankees fans screaming loudly against a pack of non-Yankees fans. And who was I rooting for?
The same team (and by same, I mean except for the stadium has a new name, the colors are totally different and the only person left from the '01 team is on the disabled list probably forever) whose fans put on a terrible display in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Colorado Rockies last night. Arizona fans barely bought up all the tickets available for the first 2 games (On Wednesday, there were 20,000 unsold tickets. WHAT!!??). They hardly Diamondbacks fans are terrible, and I hate that for two weeks in October (and November, remember that?) I was one of them.

I hate the Yankees for even considering firing a manger who has done nothing but win. In 12 seasons, Joe Torre has led the Yankees to the playoffs...12 times. He's won 4 World Series, 6 American League Championships and 11 Division Titles. Let the guy leave when he wants to leave.

For that matter, give the best closer in the history of baseball and arguably the best player in the history of baseball whatever they want.

I hate the Yankees and their fans for almost completely ignoring the season the Alex Rodriguez had (.314 avg, 54 HR, 156 RBI, 143 runs scored) because he went 4-15 in the 4 playoff games. While at the same time they exalt Derek Jeter no matter what he does, even if he goes 2-16 in those same playoff games.

I hope they lose A-Rod. I hope he takes a pay cut and goes to Pittsburgh and takes down the Yankees Mazeroski style.

And finally, I hate the Yankees because even though they've been eliminated from the playoffs, Tim McCarver will continue to find ways to squeeze them into the broadcast, while FOX executives weep about the very real possibility of a Cleveland-Colorado World Series, one that might actually be a well-played grind-it-out seven gamer that people will be talking about for years.

If only they'd watch. And they should, and so should you. Because it's easier to watch the playoffs when you don't have to hate.

Monday, October 8, 2007

And sometimes, it's like this

Me: we're doing the fortune cookie story.
JB: Oh cool.
me: this is from the company's website, first of all.
"Wonton Food Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer of Noodles, Wrappers, and Fortune Cookies in the United States."
me: yes, anyway, it's our kicker story for closing bell and we got video somehow
JB: that's awesome
when's it on?
me: we hit air sometime between 3:55 and 4
JB: cool
me: we're right after "mascot race" and "waffle eating contest"
JB: ....
me: it's a slow news day...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chain Post

My friend BrookLyn GaL sent me this and I'm supposed to write an answer and ask 5 more bloggers to do the same, and then...I don't know something happens. And if I don't find 5 other bloggers to answer the question, then....I don't know, something else happens? So anyway, if you're reading this, and you keep a blog, then do this and tell me, and I'll link you on here. Cause everyone likes it when something happens. Ok, enough. Here's the thing:

TO DO: List 5 things that certain people (who are not deserving of being your friend anyway) may consider to be "totally lame," but you are, despite the possible stigma, totally proud of. Own it. Tag 5 others.

1. I can recite the United States alphabetically, the U.S. Presidents in order, and I'm working on the line of succession of British Monarchs (from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II, with all those Henrys (8) and Edwards (8) in between)

2. In spite of the fact that I work at the New York Stock Exchange and wear a suit like a grown up, I still pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, and chips in a brown bag for lunch nearly every day. And I love it.

3. I sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at every seventh inning stretch of every baseball game I go to. And my brother and I have a special way of doing it that's the same every game. (None of which helped this year, by the way. I attended 16 games at Shea Stadium this season. The Mets' record in those games: 5-11.)

4. I keep a Mets schedule in my planner, and I keep track of every game I go to throughout the season.

5. I love to fold laundry.

All right, fine BrookLyn GaL, 5 random bloggers: Helen at Good Morning Internet , Distracted Spunk, Jon Elliott, Laura Farrell and 27 cents and anyone else who cares to do it, go ahead.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Story of the Week -- Oct. 1-5

The Foxhole

The view from my perch above the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange was altered under cover of night last week. 2 weeks before the self-proclaimed "most powerful name in news" alters the television landscape, they made some improvements (ahem) to the trading floor.

What appeared below, within sure-shot sniper range, is what we are calling "The Foxhole" - a 6 by 4 box squeezed in between a couple of trading posts, an omen that says quite clearly -- Rupert is here.

A few months ago, Rupert Murdoch completed a hostile takeover of Dow Jones. He spent $5 billion on the company, but what he really wanted was the company's crown jewel - The Wall Street Journal. And he got it. And just in time for the launch of the Fox Business Channel. Coincidence? Hardly.

Fox Biz isn't in competition with our business news coverage at all. We're a guppy. They want the Blue Whale -- CNBC. The people I've talked to at CNBC don't seem threatened, but the appearance of the Foxhole can't be comforting.

But it can be mocked. How cute, they're on the floor, in a studio the size of a small bedroom closet. They can look right up into our booth, which is twice the size. Or they can look up at CNBC's studio that practically says "we're the best, don't mess with us." That's adorable, Fox Biz. Now good luck.

Actually, Rupert scares the hell out of me. The Foxhole feels like the first tentacle of the NewsCorp monster, coming in to suck up another sphere of influence and foxify it. The Foxhole can only be the beginning.

BUT...while the monster moved in on Wall Street, it was relinquishing some of its influence in a far more important domain (for me, anyway) - baseball. How nice, for this first round of the playoffs, to have no Jeannie Zelasko, no Kevin Kennedy, no miked bases, stupid graphics, even stupider noises, overdramatized, overdone crowd shots, or uncomfortable up-the-nose pitcher closeups. TBS has taken the baseball playoffs, and simplified. And for a real baseball fan, it's awesome. (also helps that the Phillies are in an 0-2 hole and the Yankees got clobbered) I enjoy watching, instead of endure watching.

Now that I see again what baseball coverage can be, I'm dreading the ALCS and World Series, to be aired by the evil empire. I don't look forward to the shameless network tie-ins, overproduced player promos, wayyyyyy too much music, Tim McCarver, and endless commercials for the Fox Business Channel.

New policy - fear the foxhole, bash the FOX. Get ready.