Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eff These Effing Effers

The numb nuts at Fox News are at it again.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I heard of the latest Ruppert Murdoch outrage last Friday on one of the best websites in America, Jesus’ General

This time, these assholes have gone too far.  This time they made fun of the Canadian Forces who are helping us in Afghanistan.  The details of this story can be found in, of all places, the pages of the ridiculously right-wing Washington Times, another media outlet run by a foreigner, in this case the religious nut Sung Young Moon or whatever the hell his name his.

At any rate, according to the paper, here’s what the Fox News idiots said (and if you don’t believe it, the video can easily be found on YouTube and elsewhere):

The show's host, Greg Gutfeld, mocked Canadian forces as he opened a discussion into reports that Canadian Lt. Gen. Andrew Leslie noted that his troops might need a year off after their mission ends in Afghanistan in 2011.

"The Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white capri pants," Mr. Gutfeld said, during an episode of the show last week.

Another panelist, comedian Doug Benson quipped, "I didn't even know they were in the war. I thought that's where you go if you don't want to fight. Go chill in Canada."

The panelists on the show, which airs weekdays at 3 a.m., also mocked Canadian troops needing a break for "manicures and pedicures." They joked that Canada should be invaded and made fun of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Canada has lost 116 Canadian soldiers in the war against terrorism in the south Asian nation since they deployed to Afghanistan in 2001. Four were killed last week in a roadside explosion near Kandahar in the violent southern part of the country.

I happen to get the CBC national news on my cable system and while as we all know the loss of four Americans soldiers might merit a brief mention -- a line or two deep into the NBC Nightly News, I can assure you the Canadian media take their military losses much more seriously.  The night those four men died, The National , The CBC’s nightly hour-long 10pm Eastern newscast, devoted at least 8 minutes to the story, much of the information supplied by their own correspondent in Afghanistan.  The next night featured footage of the caskets of the dead being carried to the plane which was to take them home.  The pallbearers were their fellow soldiers.  Several of them were weeping as they performed their duty. 

I am not proud of my country when we permit dirtbags like the dirtbags on Fucked News to mock the service of these brave men.  They died, you dumb fucks, for our security and our freedom.  Which means, of course, for your security and your freedom.  How fucking stupid can you fucking be, anyway?

Here in the states, we don’t see our dead come home in caskets and we don’t see their remains being lowered into graves.  When Nightline dared to merely show the pictures and the names of our war dead on-air a few years ago the right had itself a fit. 

By contrast, here is how Canada honors their fallen heroes.  And keep in mind, this is how they do it during broadcasts of hockey games:

 Fuck you, Fox.  And thank you, Canada.  When I pray for our troops I pray for yours as well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Musical Interlude

With apologies for stealing my friend Dave von Ebers deal, I post this in memory of Dan Seals who passed yesterday of cancer too young, at 61.  He had a couple of songs I liked so I thought it would be the right thing to do…


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


If you want to understand the Wall Street meltdown, you could do worse than to read the latest great piece my Mike Taibbi who is fast becoming one of my favorite writers. Taibbi was on The Rachael Maddow Show last night on MSNBC and while I missed that, I did not miss his article in Rolling Stone and I don't think you should either. You can link to it HERE.

There was what I considered to be an interesting take on the AIG bonuses in today's New York Times. It's a letter of resignation from somebody who worked in the division of AIG (AIG Financial Products or, AIGFP) which was responsible for the collapse of the insurance giant and, by extension, the collapse of the U.S. (and World) economy. Democommie's not buying it but I'm not so sure this guy isn't on the level. You can decide for yourself HERE.

Democommie (with whom I hate to differ because, let's face it, he may well be the brightest guy in America) suggests that if the guy smelled something rotten in Denmark, er, AIGFP, he "should have manned up back in September and went to DoJ and spilled the beans. " It's hard to argue with that.

Unless he didn't know.

I don't know how things worked over at AIG, but I've heard that in a lot of companies the work is highly compartmentalized and you don't always know what the guy in the next cubicle or in the office down the hall is up to. I'm inclined to give the guy who resigned the benefit of doubt but if I'm wrong, well, it won't exactly be the first time.

Read up, Everybody. I notice a lot of you have new posts today and I'm excited about getting to them so we'll see you soon with many a difficult-to-understand posting in all of your "comments" sections.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

George Kell Dead at 86

I know not all of you know the name George Kell, but if you lived in Detroit from the mid-1940's through the early 1990's, you knew George Kell well. He was the Tigers starting third baseman from 1946 until he was traded to Boston in 1952--hitting .300 every year and edging out none other than Ted Williams himself to win the American League batting title in 1949. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. From 1959-1996, Kell broadcast Tigers games on radio and television.

In my capacity as the president of the organization, I wrote the following upon hearing of his passing on behalf of my fellow members in the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association:

George Kell was a great ballplayer, a great broadcaster and, most importantly, a great man. While the members of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association mourn his passing, we celebrate his life. Mr. Kell's accomplishments on the field were rightly recognized by his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. His accomplishments in the broadcast booth should have merited him similar acclaim via the Ford C. Frick award. He was that good. Mr. Kell, in a very real sense, touched the lives of millions of fans in his six decades of service to the Detroit Tigers. He touched the lives of more of our members than we can count. We are proud that George Kell is a Honorary Lifetime Member of our organization. We in the DSBA send our condolences to the Kell family. We were lucky to know him.

The Frick Award to which I alluded is given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a deserving reciepient. Ernie Harwell and Vin Scully are among the winners. Without a doubt Mr. Kell was deserving of the honor. Had he won it, he would have become the only person ever to make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame twice. I've got a couple of favorite George Kell stories and I will try to share them with you over the next few days.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Big Ten (Gets a) Beatdown

I've been asked for my thoughts on the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, aka "The Big Dance," "March Madness," etc.

Sadly, I am, through no fault of my own, not qualified to speak to this most important of all present-day American issues.

The fault, dear Brutus, lies not with me but rather with my DVR.

The Family, as demanding a group of two women as you will ever see, requested my presence at the Detroit Zoological Park (henceforth to be known as "The Zoo") yesterday afternoon when they knew that by all rights I should have been doing what everyone in America who still has a Far-See device was doing which is watching college basketball on TV. Also and furthermore, they knew I did not want to go to The Zoo, of course, but they also knew that if I didn't go I'd start asking myself what kind of father was I who didn't suck it up and go along? A pretty shitty one, right? And who wants to live with that? Talk about having no good options. Besides, we got some terrific pictures of the Tigers and a couple of nice shots of the family standing in front of some camels, so how 'ya gonna beat that?

Upon departure, I set the DVDVO to record the game I cared about the most, the one involving my Michigan State Spartans and the spoiled, fancy-pant Trojans of the University of California. I thought MSU might be in for it. I know a lot of people were putting them down this year but I think the PAC-10 is a quality conference and as you know, the Trojans and Spartans have been having at it since the Peloponnesian War. So, how could this not be a great match up?

When we got home and once the bickering subsided I got ready to watch the big game. (Bickering is all part of Family Fun, I don't have to tell you that. In fact, we say around here that it's not Family Fun until somebody is either bleeding or crying or both.) I went to what used to be the video tape but which is now Digital God Knows What inside the remote box and began to watching. Actually, I prefer to watch most of my sports on DVD these days. The ads and the stupid halftime show? You can flash through them while at the same time spending as much time as you care to freeze-framing or slow-mowing those lovely USC Song Girls, who, if you ask me, did not in my view rack up nearly enough air time on the CBS broadcast. Hell, if they'd have put those gals on a split-screen from start to finish, I, for one, would not have bitched in the least. But, the bottom when it comes to the DVD is this: If it's a sporting event, if you want to make sure you get the whole thing, make sure you record the the program which appears after it on the program guide. It's the only way. The machine doesn't know the game is running beyond the time alloted and the maching doesn't give a damn.

So there I am in a 65-65 tie, 5:51 left, and all of a sudden I'm watching 60 Goddamn Minutes. W.T.F? I mean, I'm as big a fan of Andy Rooney as the next guy, but did I mention the Song Girls and the game being tied late in the second half?

All I could do was switch to ESPN, wait for the crawl, and hope for the best. Turned out to be good news, MSU won 74-69. I wonder if it was exciting. While I was waiting I did notice that the US was getting in butt kicked by Japan in the penultimate game of the World Baseball Classic so tonight it's gonna be Japan against One of the Korea's in the Championship game and I wonder why in the hell we're getting whipped by a country whose ass we whipped in WWII which happened to have really counted as opposed to baseball which really doesn't, but that, I suppose, is another topic for another time.

What is distressing is to see the Big Ten go 6-5 in the first two rounds of the tourney while seeing five of their seven teams in the NCAA fail to advance beyond the second round (three of them KO'd in the first). Most disappointing of all, to me, was Illinois. I really thought they'd have a bit of a run. The Illini finished near the top of the Big Ten (ur, 11) and played MSU the last week of the season in what was a hell of a game, one which could have gone either way. So to see Illinois humbled by Western Kentucky the way they were was a surprise.

Also, Gus Johnson sucks. He was the CBS announcer for each of the two MSU games and spent most of his time Friday night creaming all over himself hoping for a Robert Morris upset. Everything the Colonels did they did in ALLCAPS. When Robert Morris took a 28-26 lead with about 5:00 left in the first half it was, "ROBERT MORRIS IS SHOWING THEY CAN PLAY WITH THE BIG GUYS! THEY'RE NOT AFRAID OF MICHIGAN STATE!", ETC. Now look, I know 15 seeds went into the weekend 4-92 all-time and I know it would have been a HUGE story had Robert Morris upset the Spartans. But, fuck off, Gus. You had to quiet down quite a bit after State outscored 'em 25-2 (including a 21-0 run which made me wonder what the record is for unanswered points) to take a 51-30 lead now didn't you?

Friday, March 6, 2009


I think the thing that pisses me off the most about The Current Economic Unpleasantness is that in every American History or Economics class I ever took in high school or college, and there were plenty of them, they told me that when it came to The Great Depression, it couldn't’t possibly happen again: That the lessons of the 1930’s had been learned; That safeguards had been put in place; That there would never again be a Wall Street Crash; That the banks were safe. If I heard it once I heard it 50 times. I wonder how many times I dutifully recorded this wisdom while I was hunched over a notebook. (I was not the best student ever, but I did take copious notes). And it was all bullshit, every single word of it.

Of course, it should be noted that when I was taking up a space in the “Ivy-covered halls” referred to in my schools lovely Alma Mater, the Glass-Steagall Act was still the law of the land. So maybe I have to cut those teachers, professors and graduate assistants some slack.

But it was galling nonetheless when I came across the following this morning:

“It has been 513 calendar days since the stock market peaked on Oct. 9, 2007. Since then, the S.&P. 500 is down 56 percent and the Dow is off 53 percent.

On Jan. 29, 1931 — the identical number of days after the 1929 market peak — the S.&P. 500 was down 49 percent and the Dow was down 56 percent. The 1929 crash got off to a much faster start, but we have now more or less caught up.”

Since I got the above off the internets (and we all know how that can go) and since I’m too lazy to Google it myself, I don’t know if the above is true or not but I do seem to recall a 13,000-point Dow and it seems to be it’s around 6,500 these days so the citation seems about right to me.

And now we learn that 651,000 more Americans lost their jobs last month. Fuck me. The national unemployment rate goes to 8.1 percent. At last report, here in Michigan the percentage was 11.6.

I told you last time out about playing hockey with those guys from Visteon, all of whom had either lost or were about to lose their jobs. Visteon was down to two cents/share yesterday before trading on their stock was stopped. GM reported they may have to file for bankruptcy after all.

I was in the waiting room at the chiropractors yesterday and the receptionist was talking about her 57-year-old husband being out of work and how COBRA was going to cost her $12,000 a year but she had found a Blue Cross plan that would only cost $7,500. Of course, it did not cover doctor visits or prescriptions. The woman she was talking to was out of work, too. So was her husband.

With that as a backdrop, I want you to watch this idiot:

It’s Friday and that means it’s time to go play hockey. It’s going to be a great skate. Somebody is going to take a shot from the point and it’s going to hit a stick or a skate on the way to the net and I’ll find myself reacting to the change in direction even before the thought has formed in my mind that I have to stick my leg out or shoot my glove hand in the air. That’s what I like best about it. I won’t be thinking about any of this crap and when I’m done my hockey underwear will be as wet as it would be if I’d jumped into a pool while wearing it and the endorphins will be pumping and I’ll feel terrific. And then I’m going to come home and write something about sports. Something great. See you then…

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This Is Not About Hockey

I did something stupid yesterday, not that that makes yesterday particularily remarkable.

I played hockey twice in the same day, something I cannot remember having done before, ever. I got a great workout at noon in our weekly Tuesday session in which 8 skaters and one goalie (me) showed up. A half-ice game was the result and a half-ice game means I never get a rest because the puck never goes down to the other end of the ice. On turnovers, all one team has to do is take the puck outside the blue line and bring it back into the offensive zone onside and the game continues. Since they played 3-on-3, one skater per side was on the bench so the skaters got a rest when they needed one and I stayed out there and when it was all over the tank was empty. Which was fine. I'm all about the workout. I'm playing for fun and to not die of fat and the heart attack it can cause.

Then I got an e-mail asking if I could sub in a league game that night and since it had been a couple of years since I'd played in a league game I wanted to give it a go. The game wasn't until ten and I figured I'd be able to bounce back and, besides, league games are different. There are referees and sometimes spectators and the games count for something and it can be fun. So I decided to play. I ate a light dinner and prepared myself mentally and all and I went out there and got lit up. 10-0, lit up. After the 8th goal, as the ref was collecting the puck from the net behind me, I asked, "What exactly do you have to do to get 'mercy-ruled' in this league, anyway?"

I didn't feel bad, by the way. Any time you give up ten you are, by definition, not playing well, but the game was a total mismatch. I figured had I played my best game, we would have lost 7-0. I think we only had one shot on their goal in the last two periods. I made a lot of good saves. There were just a lot of shots last night where there wasn't a damn thing I could do. It happens.

It turns out there was a reason I'd never played twice in one day. It's too much to ask of my body. Especially at my body's age. I've been trying to think of a lyric to mimic "living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine..." (which I'm thinking was by Country Joe and the Fish but probably wasn't), along the lines of, "living on 800 mg Ibuprofin, Vicadin and Aspirin..." but it hasn't quite come to me yet.

But, this isn't about that.

I got to the dressing room last night and while making introductions to the guys on the team I'd be playing with I learned they all worked for either some company I'd never heard of, or Visteon, an auto parts supplier. It turns out the other company makes brake pads. And it turns out that every one of those guys, all of them white-collar workers, had either lost or were about to lose their jobs. Most had been with their respective companies for 20+ years. The pregame talk was all about whether accepting a buy-out meant one could or could not recieve unemployment compensation. There was talk that COBRA might be less expensive due to President Obama's Recovery Act. Three of the regular players were not there because they were out of state looking for new jobs. One guy was talking to a friend about what he could do (and do fast) with the condo he could no longer afford.

Every guy in that room --there were a dozen of us --was out of work or days away from it. Including me. I felt sick. So many broken lives. I live in Detroit. We live and die with the auto industry here. I don't have to tell you that. But I'm not sure until last night I knew what that meant, exactly. Now, I do. And we are dying. It's not a recession here, friends. It's a depression.

That's what this was about.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Lunch with Dave Dombrowski

Every month I write a column for the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association newsletter and I have decided to share this month’s offering with Everybody….

One of the best things about being President of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association is the opportunity I get to sit at the same table with our luncheon guests – even if I never have time to actually eat because I always have to get our program underway while everybody else is still working their eating utensils so as to make sure our meetings don’t last until dinnertime. This, by the way, is seen as a good thing by my doctor who has told me, in passing of course, that I could afford to skip a lunch or two here or there.

Last month (and I hope you didn’t miss it) our guest was Tigers President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski. As we sat down I couldn’t help but tell him how much I enjoyed our annual chats, as they provide me with the chance to give him the guidance he needs to put a Championship squad on the field. He reminded me that my advice had not been much help last season. (You will recall that the Tigs were a slight disappointment in ‘08, what with their going 74-88 and finishing Dead Last in the American League Central and all). I thought, frankly, that his comment was a bit disingenuous inasmuch as he had failed to heed the advice I had given him prior to last season which was to sign Barry Bonds. “You’ll be doing baseball a great favor,” I told him. “If he hits 30 home runs it will clear up the whole steroid controversy because if a left-handed hitter can homer consistently at Comerica Park you know he’s on the juice!”

Undaunted, I was ready with more wisdom for Dave in time for the upcoming season.

You know what you ought to do right now?” Not waiting for an answer which may well have been a polite yet firm, “Who cares what you think?”, I plunged straight ahead. “You should sign Manny Ramirez. Great God Almighty, I’ve never seen a stadium react like Dodger Stadium did when he came to bat last season. They’d start going nuts when he came out into the on-deck circle. Then he’d get to the plate and hit a two-run dong or something and the place would go berserk. I’ve never seen anything like it. Do you know what he hit after the trade from Boston? I jotted it down:


56 242 198 37 76 14 0 18 56 37 17 40 3 0 4 6 2 0 .384 .479 .727 1.206

“He hit .384!”, I continued. “18 homers and 56 RBI in 56 games! Sign him and you can put me in the rotation and still win the division!”

Dave nodded in appreciation as he continued working on his delicious Hockeytown chicken breast, so I went on.

“Now, I’ve been thinking about the finances of the whole thing. I figure you’d be better off if you simply gave your pitchers, say, $600,000 every time they win a game. A guy wins twenty, that’s 12 mill. Fair enough, right? Besides, I’ve been listening to pitchers tell me the hitter is trying to take the food off his family’s table for twenty years now and it’s all b.s. The guy’s going to get his check whether he gives up seven earned in two-and-a-third or throws a perfect freaking game. Or….every time the team wins, open the clubhouse door and toss a million and a half dollars in and let the boys sort it out. If they win 100 games the cost to you is 150 mill. Again, a good deal, wouldn’t you say?”

Then it was time for me to get up and do the emcee bit, so I never Dave never really had the chance to respond to my thoughts on how to improve the game, but the look on his face said it all. He was either looking at me like he was in the presence of genius, or an alien from Mars. I couldn’t be sure. I’ll be sure to ask him which when I see him again at Tiger Day next year.