AND THEY CALL IT PUPPY LOVE
Did you ever have something pop into your mind for no good reason? Something that happened long ago, that you hadn't thought of in years, if not decades? Well, that happened to me yesterday morning, and I don't know why. I woke up from sleeping, tried to get back to sleep and BAM, for no real reason, I started thinking about an event in my life that happened way back in the summer of 1980, 31 years ago. It was so obscure, that I didn't even think about it when it was the 30th anniversary of this event, or the 25th, or even the 20th. I'm speaking of my 8th grade school field trip to Washington, D.C.
Now I should warn you sports fans....this entire blog has very little to do with sports, so if you came here for a strong take on a sports topic, you might want to back out and go about your day. Thing is, I have had a lot of people tell me that they like reading my blog sometimes when it's NOT about sports. So to keep those people happy, I wanted to share my memories about this story. If you liked the TV show, the Wonder Years, keep on reading.
31 years ago this past June, I graduated from 8th grade and the hallowed halls of Rogers middle school. Our social studies teacher, Mr (Mike) Seeley had planned a school field trip to Washington D.C. for the graduating 8th graders. My parents saved up some coin and paid for me to go.
Now that I am an adult, I still am amazed that Mr Seeley and the school took on this monstrous task. Can you imagine how hard it had to be to organize something like this. Getting permission slips signed, money collected, reservations made with hotels, tour bus company's and restaurants. Truly a monumental task, and I tip my hat to Mr. Seeley and company 31 years too late for taking it on.
The first thing about the trip was that this was going to be the first time I had ever actually ridden in an airplane. I remember the apprehension about that. Wondering if I was going to get sick. If I needed to take Dramamine. How scary it was going to be. It helped that I had my good friends Chris Bole and John Kalb with me for the trip, and I calmed myself down enough, telling myself it was going to be an exciting adventure and I would enjoy it.
As the plane taxi'd down the runway and built up speed, I remember thinking and maybe even saying out loud, "Wow, this is cool...lets just stay this speed and stay on the ground. We'll get there in no time!" But the plane did indeed take off, and I was lucky enough to have the window seat. My thoughts have always been, "if we are going down, at least I want to see it."
I remember the amazement of seeing houses and large buildings and cars getting smaller and smaller. Going through the cloud cover for the first time and then reaching altitude, seeing the curvature of the earth, and realizing I was not going to be sick. I actually loved flying! What a relief that was.
We flew into Philadelphia, and as we descended, the plane banked right and I remember being very excited flying right over Veterans stadium, and seeing that huge, empty stadium below me on a sunny day. It was breathtaking. Then of course seeing all the other tall buildings in the heart of downtown of the city of brotherly love, realizing how small Rochester actually was compared to other large metropolitan cities.
We got to D.C. after changing planes and immediately started the historical tour of the city. The 40 or so of us kids and teachers all piled onto a tour bus and got comfortable. Chris Bole and I sat strategically across the aisle from Lauren Cessna and Karen Bamann.
Karen, Lauren and Rita Glossner were like the "Charlies Angels" of the trip. They hung out together just like John, Chris and I, and were the cutest chicks on the whole field trip. I had had a crush on Karen since 7th grade, but of course I kept it to myself. Crushes were meant to be things you talked about with your guy friends in my world, never to really be actually ACTED UPON.
I have had six crushes my whole life. Kindergarten through 2nd grade it was Caroline Gentile. I never even talked to her. It was just puppy love from afar. From 3rd to 5th or 6th grade, I had a crush on Donna Walkowicz. Donna was the cute tomboy in my class. Whenever I see the movie Bad News Bears and Tatum O'Neal's character, I think of Donna. We hung out with the same crowd...the Ackerman boys, Mark Kowalski, Joe Micali and so on, but of course I never let on. In fact, we recently caught up on Facebook and I think she reads my blog regularly, so this will probably be news to her. All throughout high school, it was Kim Briddon, a beautiful cheerleader who I'm sure didn't even know I existed. After high school, when I was in college, my crush was on Sandy Butwid, who I actually talked to and became my first serious girlfriend. And finally, my final crush was on my lovely wife Michelle. But in 8th grade, it was Karen Bamann.
On the tour bus riding to see Ford's theater, Lauren Cessna leans across the aisle and whispers to me, "Craig....Craig...hey do you like Karen?" To this day I still have no idea how they knew. I'm guessing my buddy Chris must have said something sometime, but I have never found out. Maybe they caught me making too many glances at her, I don't know, but I was flabbergasted! The girls all giggled at my reaction and my face must have turned as red as an old fire hydrant.
Karen was a beautiful girl, with sandy blond hair and quite precocious for an eighth grader, and yeah I thought she was hot. She was kind of a "bad girl" though, at least I thought. Ee-gads, I think she even SMOKED! But I would have LOVED to get to know her better, so when Lauren asked me that and my face started returning to a semi-normal color, I stammered, "Uhhh, I dunno".
This of course made them giggle even more, but eventually Lauren said, "well, she likes you. Do you wanna switch seats so you can sit next to her?" Are you kidding?! I wanted to sit under her, on her, above her, below her next to her, sure any of those would do, so of course I said, "ummm, welllll....I guess".
That would be the beginning of the most exciting two days in my young life until that point. A girl I actually had a crush on for two years actually liked me and wanted me to sit next to her! My wildest dreams come true! It was unreal. It was dreamlike. We sat next to each other on that tour bus the rest of the time, and I wished the tour bus would drive from D.C. to Gettysburg and then to Philadelphia and then Boston and every other historical site in the country for the next few months. Alas, it would only be those two days.
We walked around the historical sites together. I think Karen and I even held hands a couple of times. The electricity of that touch was so thrilling. Once my heartbeat got back down under 200 beats a minute and I calmed down and was able to be myself, I actually thought I was quite charming and funny with her.
At the hotel, Chris, John and I were in our room that night after the touring was done. I remember amazing them that I could look out our 15th story window and tell them what businesses were miles down the street. "That's a KFC. That's an Arby's" and so on. It's amazing I am legally blind now, because then I had fighter pilot-like vision. Oh. how things have changed.
I remember Chris telling me, "dude, go to her room!" I would tell him I don't even know what room she's in, but he would say, "c'mon, you will never have another chance like this!". There was a security guard right in our hallway though--I could see him right out of our peephole, so I would tell Chris, "Chris, how the hell am I supposed to find her room and evade the security guard standing ten feet away???" What, am I going to attempt to bribe him with some bubblicious? No, wasn't going to happen, and Chris would be proven right eventually. I would never again get a chance like that.
We would go to bed. I had to share a double bed with Chris, who wasn't happy with me. I still remember him yelling, "Jeez Craig c'mon...you're taking up half the damn bed!" I said, "well how much of it do you WANT me to take up? I thought half was about right!", which made John laugh. After this trip, John and I would see less and less of each other. When we got to high school the next year, we would each take on a different set of friends, and our paths would rarely cross. Sadly, we would lose John Kalb suddenly, to a brain aneurysm just last fall at age 44.
Anyways, the next and final day, Karen and I would again sit next to each other and continue the romance, touring the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial and seeing the capitol and the halls of congress. I remember our state senator, Frank Horton, meeting the group of us to give us a personal tour.
It was a great trip, but would eventually come to an end. We would fly back to Rochester, and I would not get to sit next to Karen on the plane. We landed and rode a bus back to Rogers school, where all of our parents would meet us. I got a chance to say a quick goodbye to Karen, telling her "I had a great time, thanks. Umm, I guess I will see you this fall". Yeah, I know. I didn't even think to ask her for her number or if she wanted to go out again. We were in EIGHTH GRADE!!! I had baseball games, and cookouts to attend, and swimming in my friends pools to do.
I don't think I even thought about dating back then. It was never even a consideration. I always wondered if I disappointed her, that I didn't do more or pursue her or even ask if she wanted to go out again. We would get to high school and I don't think Karen and I even talked to each other again. Maybe a cursory "hi" as we passed each other in the halls, but that was about it. Our lives went on without each other, and sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her. Either way, the one thing I can say about that trip is that it surely was a magical couple of days, and a real nice memory.
NATIONAL PUIG ALL-STAR
One of the greatest baseball travesties of the 21st century could be about to happen. Nothing against Freddie Freeman personally, but currently, he leads Yasiel Puig in fan voting for the final fan choice for all-star reserves in the National league.
Freeman is a nice player, and is having a great year, but outside of Atlanta, there really is not a huge outcry to see him play in the all-star game is there? Well, on second thought, he currently leads the fan vote so he must have some support. Really though, most baseball fans want to see Puig in the summer classic.
The problem that many players and series fans of the game, like those geeks, errrr, I mean Sabrematricians say that Puig just hasn't had the time to prove himself. He just hasn't played enough. They say Freeman has played the whole year, is batting .305 with nine home runs and 56 RBI, while Puig has only played a month.
Oh but what a month it's been!
Since the Cuban defector was called up to the show on June 3rd, Puig has had 132 at bats. In those at bats, he has hit eight homers, batted .409, stolen five bases and driven in 19, and scored 26 runs. His on-base percentage is a Ted Williams-like .442, and his slugging percentage is a Ruthian .662. No one. I said NO ONE other than Joe DiMaggio has put up numbers like that in his first month in the majors!
Puig is the perfect example of the reason that fan vote was instituted. The fan vote for the final spot in each league was developed for guys who the fans wanted to see in the all-star game. It is for guys who are not on the ballot when the year began, or for special pitchers who are having spectacular years that the managers didn't pick. Puig fills every one of those criteria for hitters. He came on the scene late and has been an uber-phenom. He has been beyond spectacular, hitting balls like he's in the cage, running the bases with more abandon than anyone we've seen since Willie Mays or Rickey Henderson, and playing eye popping defense. The kid simply does it all!
I'm not saying Puig will be a hall of famer, or even one of the games greatest players. I remember Joe Charbonneau. What I am saying is that Puig is the biggest thing going in a sport that is DESPERATE for great things. He is water cooler talk. He is an automatic cut-in for every at bat on the MLB network. He is what everyone is talking about. He is on every sports fans lips. He's Puigilicious. He's Puigtacular. He needs to be playing next Tuesday night.
Why is Puig trailing in the official vote then? Well, all I can say is it's gotta be a fluke--like how Barack Obama has won two terms. The majority of fans who want to see Puig make the all-star game must be too busy to get online and vote. Maybe they don't have computers. Like American Idol voting, everyone just assumes Puig will eventually win the vote because "how can he not???"
That may not happen folks. I'm here to tell you--the time is running thin. As of this writing, there are just 41 hours remaining before the 4 pm EST fan voting deadline on Thursday. I urge everyone--whether you are a National League fan or an American League fan, go to MLB.com and vote. Vote often. Vote for Yasiel Puig.
In a sport that is looking for a savior, a guy like Puig needs to be showcased as much and as prominantly as possible.
SUPERMAN ROCKETING INTO HOUSTON IS NO GUARANTEE OF SUCCESS
I read with amusement all the articles and talk about the Houston Rockets being favored to win the NBA's Western conference, now that Dwight Howard is there, or will be soon if you believe his twitter feed.
NBA titles are not won in July. Sometimes, it only seems that they are. This is one of those times.
The overreaction of Howard deciding to take his talents to Houston has been swift and decisive. It seems that everyone--fans, experts, even Barack Obama (who loves to weigh in on every sports topic like a wannabe sports talk show host) think the Rockets are now the favorites out west.
I don't see it that way, at least yet.
The Rockets are a nice team, don't get me wrong. They have a nice blend of size, perimeter shpoters and of course James Harden, who has become one the NBA's best in his first opportunity to be a team's franchise player. I just don't see "automatic title" when I look at their roster.
They are trying to improve it though, so by the time all is said and done, who knows. As of now though, Howard's arrival makes them a competitor for the Western conference crown, but by no means, the favorite.
There are a number of reasons I say that. First of all, there is recent history. Look at last year, when the Lakers acquired Howard and Steve Nash to team up with Kobe. Fans, experts and Obama all said the Lakers couldn't lose. The L.A. city council had an emergency meeting to plan the victory parade route. Kobe Bryant was seen in jewelry shops getting his pinkie finger measured. "How could anyone beat the Lakers in the conference?", everyone said.
Well, we all know how that worked out now, don't we? Injuries and chemistry issues led to a disappointing season in tinseltown, and the Lakers were one-and-done in the playoffs. There weren't enough balls to go around, and Howard couldn't integrate himself into the offensive scheme.
In Houston, you have a similar situation. Harden is a Kobe-clone. He has never met a shot he didn't like, likes to dribble-drive and Howard may just get in his way. Jeremy Lin is a similar player to Steve Nash. A poor man's, younger version of Nash. Chandler Parsons=Metta World Peace, and so on. The supporting casts are interchangeable. Now, the Rockets play a different offense than the Lakers, being more isolation oriented than the Lakers triangle, but I still see potential problems with chemistry.
Secondly, Howard can't make free throws. After shooting a still pretty gnarley 59.2 percent over his first seven years in the league, he has gotten worse the last two years--49.1 and 49.2 the last two years. When yor best player goes to the line A LOT and has a 50-50 chance of making them, it is not good for your team, eespecially at crunch time. You can't afford to pull your best rebounder and interior defender off the floor in the closing minutes and expect to be a great team!
Bottom line is Dwight Howard is not a guy you want on your team if you want to win it all. He couldn't do it in Orlando, where he was the main big man in a system of perimeter shooters. He couldn't do it in L.A. in a triangle based system with two other great players. I don't think he is going to do it in Houston in an isolation/motion system either. I heard a rumor that Howard could be going to my Bulls for Joaguim Noah in a"sign and trade". I wouldn't want him. I think Noah brings more to the table. As for Houston though, it is early in free agency, and more moves can be made though.
With Howard in Houston, Omar Asik suddenly becomes expendable. The Rockets and Pelicans are reportedly discussing an Osik for Ryan Anderson swap. Anderson is a true stretch four, who averaged 16.2 ppg and 6.4 rpg last year, and would fit in well. The Rockets had also discussed a sign and trade deal to bring Josh Smith from the ATL, but Yahoo sports reports that Smith is on his way to Detroit for a new four year deal.
If Smith didn't work out and the Anderson deal falls through as well, there is also Paul Millsap from Utah on the market. If not Millsap, a cheaper alternative could be Carl Landry or J.J. Hickson. Still, none of them say "automatic title" to me. I still think Oklahoma City, with Durant and Westbrook, are a stronger combination, especially if they can bring in or develop a third scoring option.
Any way you slice the Howard thing though, even if it might not make champions out of the Rockets, it sure is a heckuva punch to the gut of the Lakers.
GANGBANGER CULTURE IS HURTING THE NFL
Aaron Hernandez arrest on murder charges is the latest black eye for the NFL, and the players who play in the league. The big question lately seems to be, "Is the level of law breaking and criminality in the NFL more than it is in the rest of society?"
I would have to say the answer to that query is an unquestioned "YES".
The stats don't show it and the data is really not there to back it up, but in my opinion, there are far more criminals and ne'er do wells in the NFL than the rest of society.
Not only has Hernandez been charged with murder in the death of semi pro football player Odin Lloyd, but word is that he is also being investigated in a drive-by murder last year, a bar fight in 2007 when still in college, and in numerous other crimes. This is obviously not a sweet guy.
It is truly amazing to me that all these pampered athletes, playing a game for a living and living out their dream on multi-million dollar contracts can be so foolish. The question is "Why?". Why are so many of these athletes so immature, unthinking and stupid? The way I see it, the answer is--it's the culture. The culture of gangbanging, in-your-face, inner city, gangland, "don't you dis respect me", punkery.
I'm certainly not the only one who thinks this. Journalist Geraldo Rivera recently weighed in on the Hernandez arrest, and the rest of the punks in the NFL.
Rivera, speaking on Fox News, says the NFL has a gang culture:
"[Hernandez's] got the gang tattoos all over him," Rivera said. "[The killing of Odin Lloyd] wasn't even in the heat of passion. It wasn't a beef over a girlfriend. What it was is, 'You have offended my macho pride. Now I'm going to, y'know, do this kind of, jungle ethos. I'm gonna hunt you down; I'm gonna kill you. How dare you disrespect me.'"
Rivera continued: "I don't know why the league ... doesn't have minders, how the agents who are collecting 10 percent of $40 million ... Where are they in all of this? Why aren't they mentoring these young men ... Ray Lewis and all of the rest. Michael Vick. You can count them. There's a ton of them. They sign them because they're superb athletes and doing nothing to preserve their character and put them on the right road."
I couldn't agree with Geraldo more. The sad thing is, there is little to nothing the NFL can do about it, "minders" or not.
Football is a violent sport, and most of the participants are violent individuals. Most are not suburban, white bread, nice, pleasant, "boys next door" type guys. For the most part, they are blue collar kids from farms or ghettos. They have been brought up in a culture of violence. It is a culture of tattoos, treating women as property, and dealing with conflicts with your fists, instead of your mind. This is not just an NFL issue though. It's an issue for the entire culture.
Many players have had mental problems (Lawrence Phillps, Barrett Robbins, Jovan Belcher). Many have had issues with steroids (John Matuszak, Lyle Alzado, Bill Romanowski). Some have committed suicide (Junior Seau, Belcher, Dave Duerson). Finally, many others have had much publicized issues of driving drunk, drugs or domestic violence (Chad Johnson, Leonard Little, Travis Henry, Pacman Jones, Titus Young).
This is not just a trend. This is becoming a way of life.
When will it end? Sadly, I don't think it will. As long as a player has size, speed or talent, there is going to be a team willing to sign him. The NFL has tried, and no doubt will continue to try to reduce the "gang element" in the game. Remember a few years back when the NFL outlawed that "throat slash" gesture after touchdowns or big plays? There is only so much the league can do though.
This is a problem that starts in early childhood. In today's day and age of high divorce rates, single family households, and children at home with little to no supervision and no male role models, it will continue to perpetuate itself. So many of these kids, who will grow up to be professional athletes, will continue to grow up on their own, doing whatever they want to do, without anyone to tell them it's wrong.
Aaron Hernandez will not just be a cautionary tale. I think it may eventually be just the tip of the iceberg.
A BALANCING ACT OF GREAT PROPORTIONS...YAWN
Nik Wallenda is once again in the limelight. The grand limelight that is, after his recent conquest of becoming the first human being to walk across the Grand Canyon.
Much like when Wallenda also became the first person to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls just over a year ago, Wallenda again raised eyebrows and the hairs on the back of the necks of millions of television viewers nationwide and worldwide. Everyone was on the edge of their seat as Wallenda walked the 1,400 feet across the canyon on a two inch steel cable that traversed the Grand Canyon over the Colorado river. All along, Wallenda performed the walk without a harness or safety net.
It was a made for TV event, much like the walk over the Falls. It was televised with breathless announcers talking in hushed tones and espousing nerve wracking rabble about what could go wrong or "worst case scenarios". In my opinion, it is also a complete sham.
I heard a national sports talk show host yesterday talking about how Nik Wallenda's walk over the Canyon is the greatest sports feat of all time. Bigger than any triple crown or rushing record or Olympic decathlon gold medal or ANYTHING. Really?
This host's rationale is that it is something that no other athlete in the world can do. There are hundreds of great players in each sport and dozens of great Olympians and so on, but Wallenda is the only person in the world who is able to perform feats like these.
THERE IS A REASON FOR THAT.
Most of these athletes don't bother wasting their time learning to walk a tightrope over natural wonders of the world. It's pure folly. I don't even feel like it has anything to do with sport.
Sure, Wallenda has to be in great shape and have amazing and precise balance, as well as superhuman endurance. I will give him that. But you will have a hard time convincing me that tightrope walking is a SPORT! What Wallenda did is an individual accomplishment, a spectacular feat. It is not a sport. There is a big difference between competing in the balance beam and tightrope walking across anything.
Plus, how amazing an accomplishment is it really? Wallenda simply walked. Fourteen hundred feet. Suspended fifteen hundred feet above the Colorado river. Scary? Of course. I certainly would never consider trying something like that, nor would anyone else. Why? Well, the risk is far greater than the reward for the rest of us. For Wallenda though, it is something he has been doing his entire life. He could probably accomplish the feat blindfolded. He knew the chances of encountering any major problem on his walk was so low, that he had nothing to worry about. It's like anything else...you do it enough, it becomes second nature, and I'm just not that impressed anymore.
I have nothing against Nik Wallenda personally. He is a good christian, who is very good at what he does. He has an amazing intestinal fortitude, and wants to show everyone that they can do whatever they put their mind to. It is very honorable, but by now, I think we all get it. We get the message already, now it is time to just go away. Anything more and I think the public will see that it is just self-aggrandizing and pure publicity for Wallenda.
I hope for the sake of himself and everyone else, Nik Wallenda will now choose to tightrope walk into the sunset.
KING JAMES CROWNED AGAIN
Lebron James has now officially joined the discussion. You know the discussion I am talking about. The one you have around the water coolers, and in sports bars with your buddies over a few beers. The one about "who is the greatest basketball player to ever lave up the Chuck Taylor's--living or dead."
That rarified air was once the sole domain of Michael Jordan, with Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and maybe Magic Johnson and Larry Bird getting some play. For a few years there, Kobe Bryant was added to the discussion based on potential, but that potential doesn't appear to be realized, and now Kobe's achilles injury should take away any chances he had of rejoining the discussion.
Now though, for many, including myself, there are only two--M.J. and King James, and James is getting closer and closer to grabbing that title all to himself. Jordan can't actually DO anything more to improve his standing, but Lebron can and almost surely will. Jordan won six NBA titles, but James could very well win six titles in a row.
One thing that made Jordan Jordan was his ability to take over and be greatest when it counted the most. Last night, James almost out-Jordaned Jordan. James performance in a huge game seven against the Spurs will go down as being legendary.
In a must win game six, James took over in the 4th quarter and overtime, hitting key shot after key shot, including a three pointer in the final 30 seconds to help erase a five point deficit with a half a minute left. In game seven, James outdid even his game six effort with a game high 37 points, including five three pointers, and added 12 rebounds with only two turnovers and two fouls.
Not since Jordan has anyone seen the most dominant player in the game being this dominant at the most crucial of times, putting his team on his back, and leading them...willing them really, to a victory, and a 2nd championship. Performances don't get much better than Lebron James performance last night.
As for the teams, the Spurs failed to win their fifth championship since 1999, and first since 2007. As good as San Antonio has been, sadly, no one will ever think of them as a dynasty. Their four titles were too spaced out, and even though they have been a top notch playoff team nearly every year for the past 15 years, I think they fall short of the dynasty catagory. They are a very good team, but their ceiling was just not as high as Miami's. San Anotonio had to play a nearly perfect game to beat the Heat, and they did three times. It's just too tough when the best player in the game is on the floor and he isn't on your team.
As for the Heat, only time will tell where they will eventually be viewed in the lexicon of the game, but they are well on their way to being the game's next great dynasty. Much of that will depend on the health of Dwyane Wade, whose much chronicled knees are on unsteady ground almost every year. It will also depend on the consistency of Chris Bosh, and what the Heat and Pat Riley decide to do with Ray Allen, who showed signs of looking like a bottle on a beach...washed up.
The one thing we do know is that the Heat will continue to be favorites every year as long as they have Lebron James wearing their uniform. By the time it's all over, I will be shocked if the discussion for "best ever" doesn't begin and end with King James.
OUT HERE ON MY OWN
Well folks, here I am, out of the Penalty Box, and on my own. What a week it's been!
One week ago today, I wrote a blog that changed my life. A blog that made me famous, or perhaps infamous is the better term. When I wrote it, I knew it was on the line of being controversial, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened.
Now, I am suddenly a "controversial figure" nationally. I am reviled by many as a "racist pig", bigoted scumbag who deserved to be fired. At the same time I am saluted by seemingly just as many as a free speech advocate who didn't give in to the political correctness police.
All of this controversy of course led to my firing from the radio station I had worked at since 1997. Sixteen years and I got fired for things I wrote in a blog that I had written for over two years that maybe 50 people read each week. It was a blog that I did on my own, that was not part of my job description. It was a blog that I did to help the station get maybe a few more "unique visitors and page views that they might not have without me. I wanted to try to build a following, and work on my writing style in case I wanted to go into that field sometime in the future.
I thought I was a pretty good writer. I was learning how to twist a phrase and word things in a powerful way. I was developing a writing style. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how powerful the written word was. It is way more powerful than the spoken word. As a lifelong radio guy who was trying to become a writer, that is something that I didn't recognize.
When I wrote the column about the Asian golfers on the LPGA tour, and how their overabundance was hurting the tour, I thought it was a valid point. It had nothing to do with racism against Asian golfers. Folks, I swear to you and to God that it didn't. I said in my column that it might SOUND that way, but I can tell you it wasn't MEANT that way.
I would have said the same thing about Swedes if there were two dozen Swedish golfers in the top 50 on the money list. Does that make me racist against Swedes? It shouldn't. I was simply trying to make the point that the LPGA tour isn't as much fun to watch now as it used to be for me, and I presumed for a majority of others. It was a presumption that I guess I shouldn't have made. Those who were offended by my premise didn't like being lumped in with my presumption. I am sorry I made you folks feel that way. I am truly sorry to have angered and offended so many people with my words., but I have to stand by my basic premise, even after losing my job for it. Let me try to put it another way....
When you watch the Olympics, do you cheer for the US athletes when watching the coverage? At least more than the other counties athletes? While I am sure that many of the same people who assailed me will say "oh yes Craig, of course we would. We cheer for the thrill of the competition, and it is fine with us if a US athlete didn't win a medal as long as they gave it their best", I will again presume that most people will agree with me. You bet your ass you cheer for the Americans! That's why most of the coverage on the TV networks focus on US competitors. If there isn't an American swimmer in a swimming final, people tune out and turn the channel in droves.
That is what I am seeing with the LPGA tour. That makes me a racist? BULL! That makes me ethno-centric yes, but not a racist. I am so sorry that so many people took what I said to mean that I am anti-Korean or anti-Asian. Whatever you want to think, I know I am not. I have a Korean American cousin that I love very much. I have an Asian eye doctor at the Flaum eye institute who I am highly counting on in my battle against my blindness. I would never say "there are just too gosh darn many Asian doctors." It is a different argument.
What I should have done, was write a column saying that there are just not enough American golfers doing well on the LPGA tour and it is hurting the popularity of the tour in the US. If I say that, there is no controversy and I still have a job. I know that now. Thing is, it's the same thing. It's the same argument, the same point. Singling out a specific culture or country is where I got myself in hot water. It wasn't "politically correct" That is the big problem really. Isn't it?
Say what you want, but this is all about our society of political correctness. My line about "pots and pans banging together" was a stupid thing for me to say, I admit. It was crass. It was classless. It also would have gotten big laughs from the studio audience if Archie Bunker said it in the 70's. When I wrote that, I was trying to make an Archie Bunker-like comment to be funny while at the same time, backing up my point. It was a bad idea. Again, I apologize to anyone I offended with this stupid remark.
My new point following the whole thing, is that "political correctness" is ruining this country. And it's not consistent. Charles Barkley can say that "white guys can't jump" as much as he wants, but God forbid any white writer like myself says anything about black athletes and all hell will break loose. I know. A similar thing happened to me.
I am not going away folks. I will tell all the people who called me every vile name in the book, that I will not be beaten down. I am going to continuye to keep fighting for freedom of speech, no matter how rotten that speech may be.
The P.C. police would love nothing more than to see a country of robotic people who all think and say the exact same things. I am going to do what I can to try to make sure that doesn't happen. Join me for the ride, tell your friends about craigschaller.com, and keep on coming back. I will try to keep giving you interesting things to read.