Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Cannon’

The (not so) Sweet Mysteries of Life

Friday, February 16th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Life is full of mysteries. Too many to solve and some (Why did Mario Cuomo not get on the plane to New Hampshire?*) never to be fully resolved. Lately, there are too many to keep up with.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

 

     At such times, I lean on a tactic made famous by a favorite sports writer of mine from a half century ago or more, Jimmy Cannon. With a deep bow of respect:

  • Maybe it’s just me, but:  When the leading vocal critic of Vladimir Putin dies unexpectedly during a stroll at a prison in the Arctic and that critic, Alexei Navolny, is only 47 years old, is there any doubt that the Russian president, a well-known fan of poisoning his detractors, is behind it? The only mystery is what story the Kremlin will come up with to “explain” the death since there were no  10th-story windows for Navolny to fall out of.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: If I am the governor of the state that just witnessed its crowning glory celebration of another Super Bowl win turn into a bloody mass shooting with one dead and more than 20 injured, including many children, I might want to rethink my state’s gun laws. In fact, I might think about actually having some. No sign yet that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a rock-ribbed, pro-gun Republican if there ever was one, has had such a moment of clarity. Parson, who was at the Kansas City celebration of the Chiefs’ championship, along with his wife and thousands of other happy fans, revealed that his security detail had quickly moved him and his wife to safety. Others had no such protection. In fact, Parson as governor has squelched efforts by Kansas City and St. Louis officials to pass stronger laws because of an increase in shooting deaths in both cities. He also supported a state law that forbad local police from enforcing stricter federal gun laws. The courts overturned that. Missouri has no state licensing requirement for possession of a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor is any state permit required for purchase of those firearms, as per the NRA’s official site. It’s an open carry state. The shooting was reportedly the result of an argument among teenagers. The mystery: How do you live with yourself and your bloodied celebration just to get campaign donations from a corrupt organization?
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: When a former president, who has bankrupted several businesses, run a fraud university and phony charity, lied to banks and others about the value of his properties, been ordered by the court to pay $364 million in fines because of it, has routinely failed to pay lawyers and contractors and also showed a remarkable indifference to and ignorance of history and world affairs says he would be OK if Putin sent Russian troops against NATO countries who are behind on paying their dues, I don’t understand the so-called thinking of Americans who profess  patriotism, yet support such a man to be president of this country.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: The decision by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin not to launch an independent campaign for president under the No Labels Party — a rare wise decision by the retiring Democrat — should be enough to convince the phony baloney independent group to drop its efforts to field a spoiler in the 2024 presidential election. Manchin even said he didn’t want to play that role. The mystery here is, when the choice in November will be between democracy (Joe Biden) and fascism (Trump or another Republican wannabe Trump), why anyone would want to play that role.

*Mario Cuomo, the so-called “Hamlet on the Hudson,” was widely considered to be a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. He kept a plane on the runway with its motor running on the day to register for the New Hampshire primary, but never got on the plane. A lingering mystery.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Judge Needs 61 in 154 Games, or Less

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

(With a nod of respect and appreciation for the late, great Jimmy Cannon.)

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

— If Aaron Judge hits his 61st home run within the Yankees’ first 154 games, he is the undisputed, no asterisk necessary, single-season home run king of the American League. That makes him, to me at least, the record holder for all of baseball, because all those who hit more (National Leaguers Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire) did so while using steroids to enhance their performance. That’s cheating. Baseball says it doesn’t approve of cheating.

As for that asterisk, baseball used to put one next to Roger Maris’ name as home run king because he hit 61 in an expanded 162-game season in 1961. In the Yankees’ last game, in fact. That meant Babe Ruth’s magic 60 number (hit in a 154-game season) still stood. That asterisk now only exists in the minds of some older baseball fans. That’s why I say Judge can erase any doubts by getting to 61 or 62 in 154 games. But if he tops Maris in 162 games, he’ll still be the all-time single-season home run champ in my book … unless they catch him using steroids or some other performance enhancer. This may sound naive to some, but I don’t see how someone who cheats, however talented he or she may be, should be credited with any kind of athletic performance record. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping records?

— Maybe it’s just me, but: The judge granting Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the thousands of federal documents the FBI removed from his Mar-a-Lago home is no big victory for the ex-president. It’s a sign the judge is being careful in this precedent-setting case. Any claims by Republicans beyond that is just more smoke. It may slow the investigation down a bit, which is what Trump always tries to do, but don’t you think the FBI is already well aware of what’s in those documents they’ve been scouring for days? Bottom line: No legitimate reason for Trump to have them.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, or rather, how it was received by many Russians, has a lesson for Americans who think Trump and the MAGAs are no big deal here. Many Russians criticized, even hated, the author of glasnost (an open government policy) because they felt the end of the Soviet Union represented a huge loss of Russian standing as a world power, rather than a victory for freedom and equal rights for all citizens of the union. They preferred the projection of world power to the right to live as they chose, rather than as how the Communist Party dictated. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a product of the Soviet regime, has worked tirelessly at recreating that dynamic. He snubbed Gorbachev’s funeral. The former Russian president did not even get a state funeral. Only one foreign dignitary attended (from Hungary), because of Putin’s invasion and continuing war in Ukraine. Authoritarians and their followers, once they have a taste of power, do not give it up easily. That’s why the Jan. 6 congressional hearings and the FBI probe into Trump’s stash of secret and classified government documents at his home are important. It’s also why voting for any political candidate who doesn’t agree with that statement is a vote against glasnost.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Serena Williams deserves all the accolades she received on her retirement from tennis. A true champion in every way.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

No One’s Hitting in Baseball but Shohei

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Shohei Ohtani ... a unique ballplayer

Shohei Ohtani
… a unique ballplayer

  • Four … uh make that five, umm I mean six no-hitters in a month and a half of baseball.  
  • A pitcher kept in the game for his bat after pitching seven sterling innings. In the American League, no less.
  • That same pitcher leading the major leagues in home runs.
  • Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is released. Why’d he pick LA over the Bronx?
  • Kentucky Derby winner fails drug test. The horse, that is. 
  • The New York Knicks — the New York Knicks! — make the playoffs.
  • The New York Rangers fire everybody.
  • The Ghost of Jimmy Cannon to the rescue.

      As I slogged through the daily ritual of Republican lies and conspiracy theories that make up news reports these days, my eye kept catching a glimpse of other stories that were actual news, interesting, worth noting, especially for a former sports editor. Can I take a (much-needed) break from politics, I wondered. A few readers said go for it

     Then Jimmy Cannon popped up in the middle of a Woody Allen movie I’d never heard of. Well, not Jimmy Cannon himself, but a reference to him. In the middle of a scene in which two young brothers are discussing great writers, the younger brother says, “What about Cannon?“

       What about Cannon? I said, as my ears perked up. I knew instantly. It was my muse telling me in its own subtle way to do the damn sports column, forget politics for a day. Do a Jimmy Cannon style column.

        For those under 60, Jimmy Cannon was a sports columnist for the Journal-American in New York City. His trademark column (and the title of his book) was “Nobody Asked Me, But…“ This device allowed Cannon to write about anything he felt like writing about, including non-sports stories. He could knock off a bunch of topics in one column. I’ve stolen the approach a few times, using my own words, as a salute to the late sports writer.

        So,

  • Maybe it’s just me, but …: Six no hitters in less than two months of baseball may say more about the caliber of hitters than the caliber of pitchers. In this era of smash ball, batting averages are down, strikeouts are up and nobody knows the hit-and-run sign. Full disclosure, when I started writing this column there were only four no hitters in baseball. Overnight, a pitcher named Spencer Turnbull through a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers against the Seattle Mariners. Turnbull let the majors in losses a couple of years ago. For the Mariners, it was the second time in two weeks to go an entire game without getting a hit. The Cleveland Indians have also been no-hit twice this year. Foolishly, I didn’t finish the column and the Yankees’ Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter that night against the Detroit Tigers. Just for good measure, Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner actually threw a complete game no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves as well, but it won’t count officially as a no-hitter. That’s because it came in the second game of a doubleheader, which MLB now has shortened to seven-inning games. The game is official, but the no-hitter isn’t. Figure that one out. Anyway, my takeaway is that, while yes, a lot of pitchers are throwing harder, all the bashers in baseball are more concerned with the speed with which their home runs will be leaving the ballpark and less focused on actually hitting the ball more often. The record for most no hitters in a season is eight. We should hit that by June.
  • In this case, I think it’s not just me…: Shohei Ohtani is the most incredible player in baseball today. If he keeps it up, maybe of all time. That’s saying a lot, but the Los Angeles Angels star is doing a lot. Start with the fact that he’s a starting pitcher who is leading baseball in home runs hit (14), not allowed, this season. He has batted second in the lineup in a game in which he was the starting pitcher, something that hasn’t happened in more than a century in baseball. And forget that four days rest between starts – he has also been the leadoff batter in the lineup, as the DH, a day after being a starting pitcher. Again, more than a century since that’s happened. He recently pitched seven innings, striking out 10 batters and then was moved to right field for the rest of the game to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s batting .273, with 33 RBIs. He has also started six games on the mound and has a 1-0 record with a 2.37 ERA. He throws right-handed (and can top 100 mph) and hits left-handed. They call him Sho Time. If he keeps it up they may also call him MVP.
  • This column is already getting way too long. Let’s wrap it all up here. Maybe it’s just me, but… : Albert Pujols could’ve been a DH in the Bronx, but his personality is better suited to LA. … How do they let a Kentucky Derby winner taken down for failing a drug test, run in the Preakness two weeks later? By the way, he was beaten soundly in the Preakness. Just sayin’ ,,  The Knicks did something smart in signing Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose did something smart in signing with the playoff-bound Knicks. … James Dolan doesn’t like it when things are too quiet at Madison Square Garden, so firing all the Rangers’ bosses probably made sense to him. I actually forgot they were still playing hockey. 
  • Maybe it’s just me, but …: I’d love to see Ohtani pitch a no-hitter and win the game with a walk-off home run in the ninth-inning.

      OK, I feel better. That’s it on sports until next time.

(PS: The Woody Allen movie was “A Rainy Day in New York.“ It was like something he jotted down on notecards while waiting in his therapist’s outer office. A bit of a memoir, if you will. Allen-lite, but with all the usual Manhattan atmospherics . and great musical accompaniment. Maybe it’s just me, but maybe he just needed a paycheck.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Bob Gaydos

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

THE REPORT …

Vlad, Rudy, Meryl, Rand and Joe

   I started writing this report, which I intend to deliver on a fairly regular basis, a couple of weeks ago. It was my latest attempt to keep up with the news in the Era of Trump without being caught up in the daily chaos and without ignoring items of interest in the rest of the world, including my backyard and even my own mind. Mostly my own mind.

  072F2413-04EB-42B5-8BE1-B11114B646CD   It turns out, turning off Trump is harder than it sounds. As I was compiling my first non-Trump report, the Dotard went and made it all about him again by declaring that a lethal virus roaring through China was no threat to the U.S. and, indeed, was another Democratic “hoax” intended to make him look bad. So coronavirus took over the news and I scrapped my first report. 

    But now, while staying in place as much as possible and simultaneously trying to maintain sanity, I find it more necessary than ever to look for other items of interest — local, national, international, even personal — that might be worth sharing with whomever decides to read it. I guess it’s the newsman’s DNA circulating in my veins.

      So I’m giving it another shot. I’m also using an approach I’ve stolen before. An old-time sports writer favorite of mine, Jimmy Cannon, used to occasionally sum up his take on world events with his “Nobody asked me, but …” columns. It’s a handy writing device. Covers a lot of ground and keeps the writer from getting too wordy. While I’m stealing Cannon’s idea, I won’t steal his signature phrase. I do have some scruples.

     So, “By the way ….” 

     — Did anybody notice that, while the rest of the planet was hunkering down to control the coronavirus, Vladimir Putin was busy rewriting the Russian Constitution to allow himself to continue as the country’s leader until 2036? He got the whole parliament to resign, rewrite Russia’s constitution, got the top court to agree with the changes, and set a nationwide vote on the new constitution for April 22. With or without the coronavirus. He says it’s under control and there’s no reason to delay the vote. This vote bears watching for lots of reasons you can probably deduce for yourselves.

     — By the way, is Rudy Guliani in self-isolation? Ukraine? Asking for producers at Fox News.

     — By the way, the creative genius who came up with the title for Meryl Streep’s latest movie — “The Laundromat,” on Netflix — didn’t do Streep, the film or its subject any favor in my humble, non-movie-critic opinion. There’s no laundromat for starters. The movie is about a whistleblower who uncovers an epic legal off-shore money-laundering, tax evasion operation in Panama. Millions of files.  Lots of political names. True story. Streep plays a swindled widow who, in the movie, blows the whistle on the operation. The director’s come-along-and-we’ll-tell-you-a-story approach is clever, but it trivializes the magnitude of the worldwide con job known as the Panama Papers. A news story that didn’t last as long as Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. Movie’s still entertaining though.

       — By the way, Rand Paul, ain’t karma a bitch? After being the lone member of the U.S. Senate to vote against an aid bill that included free coronavirus tests for all Americans, he became the first senator to test positive for the virus. Of course, his test was free. And he admitted he had no symptoms. And he continued to go about his usual routine before his test results came back, including visiting the Senate gym. Now, typically, he’s criticizing the government system for testing, rather than acknowledging his own poor, individual choices. Apparently, his personal libertarian philosophy of individual freedom does not include individual responsibility. Putz. It’s Yiddish.

       — And finally, by the way, has anybody seen or heard from Joe Biden lately? Just asking for millions of Americans.

                                                        30

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Why Would They Throw Rocks?

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Occasionally, when the news has gotten away from me — too much, too fast to have reasonable, well-thought-out opinions on all of it — I borrow a device used to great effect by the late, great sports columnist Jimmy Cannon. Jimmy had opinions on lots of things and from time to time would tell readers, “Nobody asked me, but …”

I have found that this approach helps clear my mind and provides a touch of sanity. So …

— Maybe it’s just me, but why would they throw rocks? By “they,” I mean the unarmed members of the “caravan’’ of Central American asylum seekers that Drumpf sees as such a threat to national security he says he may send 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to protect us. The dotard-in-chief, who studiously avoided military service, says rocks will be answered with bullets. Well, first of all, no they won’t. Established procedure for such missions, which is outside the usual scope of the regular military, calls for troops to protect themselves and avoid responding if objects (like rocks) are thrown, unless their lives, or others’ lives are in danger. Then, deal with the situation. This is typical Trump tough talk to rile the bigot base. If you’re fleeing violence at home, looking for a safe haven for you and your family — and there are thousands of families in this “caravan” — why would you throw rocks at armed, trained troops at your chosen destination? Another thing. Not all the troops will be armed because, well, there’s no need and it helps avoid an unnecessary, tragic over-reaction. One report said a few migrants briefly scuffled with Mexican police at a border crossing — some rocks may have been thrown — but it was quickly resolved, no shots were fired and the migrants got in line and were quickly processed. But that story doesn’t get the bigot vote out.

 — Maybe it’s just me, 

Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi

but does anybody remember what that story was out of Saudi Arabia, or maybe it was Turkey? Something about a journalist who lived in Virginia because he wrote some stuff for the Washington Post that the royal poohbah prince of all princes didn’t like and the journalist was afraid to live in his homeland, which the prince was reportedly dragging out of medieval times but really wasn’t, and so the journalist went to the Saudi embassy in Turkey to get a document that verified he was divorced, which would enable him to marry his Turkish fiancée, but while he was in the embassy the paunchy, middle-aged journalist picked a fight with 18 Saudi goons who just wanted to ask him a few questions and it wound up with him being tortured and dismembered while still alive? I think it’s something like that. And the Saudis denied it and the Turks said we’ve got proof and then the Saudis said, well maybe it happened, but it was an accident and the prince had nothing to do with it and we will make sure these guys with the bone saws are punished, but don’t go threatening not to sell weapons to us, America, or we will stop buying condos in Trump properties and Trump said, at first, that he asked the prince about it and the kid denied it, and then Trump said, well, if he lied something “bad” would happen to the Saudis, but so far nobody knows where the body is and nothing bad has happened to anyone except the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and his fiancée. I think that’s it. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like kind of a big deal.

— And the bombs. A dozen, sent in the mail to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, CNN and a bunch of other public figures who have been critical of Trump‘s policies. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that a president who lies about everything, uses violent language at campaign rallies and refuses to condemn hate groups, might want to cool his rhetoric and assume some responsibility for the effect of his inflammatory words on people looking for any excuse to vent their anger and resentment at conveniently provided targets. Maybe not provide those targets. And maybe that same president might actually want to pick up the phone and call the targets of those mail bombs and express regret that someone who is clearly one of his followers is apparently responsible for them. Also, maybe say that he’s glad no one was hurt. Again, maybe it’s just me, but when asked if he’s going to make those phone calls, the president in question doesn’t say, “I think I’ll pass.”

— Speaking of passing, maybe it’s just me, but I think if I were an NBC-TV executive, I would’ve passed on the “opportunity” to hire Megyn Kelly away from Fox News and give her a morning chat show where she could not only demonstrate her outstanding inability to be chatty, but also remind NBC viewers what coffee-talk racism sounds like. Knowing that she smilingly told any kids watching her on Fox that Santa Claus was, without question, undeniably and proudly white, how could NBC execs be surprised to learn that she felt there was no problem with white kids going out on Halloween in black face? She said they did it all the time when she was a kid. Maybe in her neighborhood; not in mine. Maybe it’s just me, but I think people who do that at Fox aren’t faking it and the NBC folks were just hoping she wouldn’t revert to form.

— Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think any of the above is normal or acceptable.

— And finally, after a half century of informing the people to the best of my ability, I don’t like a pathological liar who praises a congressman for body-slamming a reporter calling me the enemy of the people. No maybe about it.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

The Jimmys: Murray, Cannon, Palmer

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

This column appeared first on Zest on Sept. 11, 2010. It is offered as a companion to Jeremiah Horrigan’s nostalgic piece on baseball, which also appears on Zest this week.

By Bob Gaydos

Jim Palmer ... handsome as ever

Jim Palmer … handsome as ever

At one point in my four-plus decades in newspapers, I was a sports editor. It was for a paper in Binghamton, but it was still a great job. I got to go to sports editor seminars where everybody talked sports, hung out, ate and drank. I got to cover some Yankee games. Jerry Izenberg, former columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger once lent me his typewriter (see Wikipedia) so I could file my story after a game because I had left my machine in Binghamton. I also once interviewed Baltimore Orioles ace pitcher Jim Palmer as he soothed his aching body in the whirlpool. Yes, au natural. And yes, the sonofagun was as handsome in person as he was on TV.

But the best part of being a sports editor was that I also got to write a column on whatever I pleased. The bosses preferred local topics, of course, but it was Binghamton so they let me wander off to professional sports. And when their travels brought them to the Southern Tier, I talked with the likes of Roger Staubach (polite, if dull), Rocky Graziano (the textbook image of a pug) and, too briefly, Jackie Robinson. All in all, it seemed like the best job in the world and I often wondered wistfully, as my career veered back to the hard news side, what life might have been like if I had pursued a career as a sports columnist.

Now I know and now I have no regrets. I found the answer in a discarded copy of Jim Murray’s autobiography, which I picked up for a buck at the Thrall Library used book store (still the best deal in town if you read without the aid of a Kindle). Murray, one of the founding fathers of Sports Illustrated, was also a nationally syndicated sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He covered everything from NASCAR to golf and his style was unique. Murray was not a numbers guy. He didn’t cover events so much as the people participating in them.

On Muhammad Ali: “He didn’t have fights, he gave recitals. The opponent was just the piano, the backdrop. All eyes were on Ali. He loved it. It was his stage, his life. He was like Bob Hope with a troop audience. Olivier at the Old Vic.”

And what of the column that won him a Pulitzer and made him famous? Murray: “(It) came into my life in 1961. And took it over. A column is more than a demanding mistress. It is a raging master. It consumes you. It is insatiable. It becomes more you than you. You are not a person, you are a publicly owned facility. Available on demand.

“It has a calamitous effect on family relations. It confuses the kids’ identities. It rearranges your priorities — and not for the better.

“Jimmy Cannon had the right idea. He apparently accepted the fact early that he was wedded to the column. And he lived alone in a midtown Manhattan hotel and devoted his whole life to it.”

Maybe it‘s just me, but it sounds like Jimmy Cannon (one of my other favorites) shortchanged himself on the whole “we only have one life to live” deal. I was thinking about the two Jimmys because I had just spent the weekend watching some of the most godawful professional football games that people were ever asked to fork over a couple of grand for. The kind of games that rekindle the romance of high school football Friday nights.

Take the Jets. “Please,” as Henny Youngman (whom I once met in an art gallery in Woodstock) famously said.

Maybe it’s just me, but if Mark Sanchez is ready for prime time, so is Jimmy Fallon. The Ravens’ best play was pass interference on third and long. But hey, don’t beat up on Sanchez too much. Tony Romo and Philip Rivers and Drew Brees and Bret Favre — established stars all — all stunk up the joint in their first games.

Maybe it’s just me, but when most opening games were comedies of errors and penalties (Washington vs. Dallas was almost unwatchable) and ex-con Michael Vick is your standout quarterback, if you’re the NFL you should think twice about cutting the preseason by two weeks and adding two games to the regular schedule.

And don’t get me started on Joe Girardi. He makes Keanu Reeves seem animated. Girardi doesn’t manage games so much as he scans actuarial reports. He has all the instincts of a computer. If he has the best job in baseball, how come he never smiles? Just asking.

One more thought before I get too carried away with this whole sports column thing: If, as some observers claim, Tiger Woods being unable to play golf at a high level is good for the game because it has opened the field to so many other unknown golfers to make their names, how come the golf writers keep writing only about Tiger’s struggles and we still don’t know the names of those other golfers?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the two Jims — Murray and Cannon — would have loved writing about Tiger. After all, he doesn’t just win in grand style, leaving the rest of the field in shambles, he loses in epic fashion, his life burning down around him like some tragic Greek hero out of Aeschylus. Win or lose, all eyes are on the Tiger. The score is secondary.

And I apologize for all the name-dropping.

(Editors note: For younger readers, a column is to newspapers what a blog is to a website.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com