I have been under the weather the past couple of days, so just a handful of brief items.
1) On a personal, non-sports note, just thought I'd mention that my original blogging home, the Gadflyer, has shut its metaphorical doors today. Since I started this blog, I've had far less time and energy for political blogging, but I am a little sad, and nostalgic. The site gave me my first access to a non-academic audience, and produced some terrific content by really smart people, like Paul Waldman, Tom Schaller, Joshua Holland and Sarah Posner. I have been offered some opportunities to do some political blogging at a couple of sites that I like a lot and, whenever I do that, I'll update my profile here.
2) I mentioned on Friday that Chris Russo was especially angry about the shooting in Las Vegas which left a security guard, Tom Urbanski, paralyzed from the waist down and fighting for his life. A central figure in the events leading up to the shooting is Pacman Jones, the Tennessee Titans' defensive back. Mike and the Mad Dog have continued to make it a cause on their show. Today they interviewed Urbanski's wife, Kathleen. Urbanski is now in guarded condition, but can't speak or really move at all and it's horrifying to hear the state he's in, and what his family is going through. Mike and Chris really were especially annoyed by the fact that no one from the NFL has called the Urbanski family to offer sympathy. Russo opined:
"i know this doesn;t involve billion dollar contracts, and I know this doesn't involve the Jets or the Giants getting a new stadium, but it's human and you'd think someone would have the guts to pick up the phone and call."
I am not a lawyer, but I am guessing that the league will not call the family because to do so would suggest that Pacman Jones might have been involved, when that has not yet been legally established (there are, apparently, additional eyewitnesses who contradict Jones' assertion that he did not know the man believed responsible for the shootings). And, Russo, in particular, has no patience for legalistic explanations of what seem to him to be cut and dry, black and white situations.
I am curious to see how this incident might affect the pair's coverage of the NFL. They're both huge NFL fans and really know the sport. Francesa is buddy-buddy with Bill Parcells. I don't know how they reacted after the Ray Lewis-related shootings in Atlanta a few years ago, but as I mentioned Friday, I have never heard Russo that upset and bitter. It's only been a few days, and people have short memories, but this has the feel of a really disillusioning moment, especially for Russo.
3) This blog has had a pretty small, but growing readership. On a typical day, about 150 people read it. A couple of posts, if they've made their way over to Deadspin, will get more traffic. My Shaughnessy post, which mostly reproduced the little media war going on between Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and Curt Schilling, found its way to a couple of high traffic boston sites, notably Boston Dirt Dogs. The result: well over 6,000 people have stopped by this site today. So, thanks to all you Red Sox fans for stopping by.
4) Finally - one, two, three, four, I declare a media war: or at least the beginnings of one. Dave Zirin, of Edge of Sports and The Nation (and a kindred spirit in some ways), has gone on the offensive against AOL's Jason Whitlock, aka The Big Sexy, whose arguably Janus-faced approach to the NBA all-star weekend in Vegas I mentioned last week.
But your recent work on the NBA's All Star weekend in Vegas is just beyond the pale. When you have the unholy arrogance to compare your crusade against "ghetto acting" black people to the actions of Rosa Parks, when you call young African American kids "the Black KKK", and when you liken walking the Vegas strip to being in "the yard at a maximum security prison", it's simply time to say, "enough."
In your own words, "Instead of wearing white robes and white hoods, the new KKK has now taken to wearing white Ts and calling themselves gangsta rappers, gangbangers and posse members. Just like the White KKK of the 1940s and '50s, we fear them, keep our eyes lowered, shut our mouths and pray they don't bother us."
Please, please, please take a moment to listen to yourself. The Klan at its peak had 4.5 million members. They organized campaigns of lynching and terror to keep people of color from voting, holding jobs, or even existing in peace. To compare an NBA player's entourage with this bloody nightmare makes you sound scared, small, and simple.
But we're all aware you are anything but simple. You know there are far more fights in hockey and football than basketball with nowhere near the hysteria. You know there are more brawls at NASCAR events than at Madison Square Garden. You must realize that there is zero proof the friends and family of NBA players are any more violent than anyone else. But you bleat redundantly for "a new civil rights movement" to drive them out.
And, Zirin delivers a real boo-yah to Whitlock, complete with apt reference to Martin Luther King:
Jason: it's time for you and your sports writing brethren, all hot and bothered over All Star Weekend, to take a long overdue reality check. You rail against the violence of NBA "posses" yet turn your back to the fact that this is one of the most violent nations on earth. This is a country that imprisons 2 million of its citizens. This is a nation that spends 1.7 billion dollars a day on the military. This is the country that started an unnecessary war in Iraq that's killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 3,000 troops. Surely a fan of Rosa Parks like yourself is familiar with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."
Whitlock's always struck me as a very bright guy with a more sophisticated perspective on sports-related issues than many of his peers. But, I've noticed the change Zirin describes, too, and wonder whether Whitlock's spent too long inside the sports media bubble to think outside of it.