Genovese family boss Matthew Ianniello, aka “Matt The Horse”, shuffled off this mortal coil some eleven days ago at the age of 92. It took the New York Times’ Paul Vitello an entire week to note the passing of one of the more crucial figures in U.S. porn history. Conversely, I’m only 4 days later in cutting and pasting portions of Vitello’s obit.
Mr. Ianniello — whose mob name derived from his powerful physique and his early career as an enforcer — served only two significant prison terms during his life: a nine-year term for racketeering and tax evasion involving Midtown topless bars that he owned, which he served from 1986 to 1995; and an 18-month sentence for his role in illegally controlling garbage-hauling companies in Connecticut, which he completed in 2009, at 89.
Yet federal prosecutors considered him the mastermind of one of organized crime’s most lucrative profit centers in New York — the topless bar scene and pornography shops of Manhattan.
Some establishments were owned outright by Mr. Ianniello’s organization. In most cases, though, the profit came in the form of payments for “protection,” which establishment owners paid as supposed insurance against police raids, union demands for higher wages or, explicitly or not, visits from goons with tire irons.
Similar protection incentives made Mr. Ianniello, in effect, one of the biggest operators of Manhattan’s discos and gay bars during the ’70s. Among them were several that were considered landmarks of gay night life, like the Gilded Grape and the Hay Market.
Mr. Ianniello was involved in more than 80 restaurants and bars at the peak of his operation, which prosecutors described as a “smut cartel,” with a network of holding companies offering an array of services for his bar and disco clients: money lending, interior decorating, garbage collection and vending-machine leasing; one was the talent agency providing topless dancers for the bars. By laundering protection payments through the various service providers, Mr. Ianniello protected himself for many years from the notice of law enforcement.
Over the past few years there’s been talk of the Kings leaving Sacramento for Las Vegas, Anaheim and most recently, Virginia Beach. Perhaps fashioning fonder memories for Bryant “Big Country” Reeves’ NBA tenure than any sane person should allow, a published report from the Conference Board Of Canada proposes Vancouver, B.C. as a prime spot for an NBA franchise-on-the-move (link swiped from Canada.com’s Hasan Alanam :
Vancouver, like Montréal, is projected to see a population increase of over 1 million over the next 25 years, and it should attract more corporate headquarters. Most of the population increase will be due to immigration, much of which will come from Asia, where the popularity of basketball has grown rapidly. Vancouver demonstrated its appetite for basketball with the Grizzlies, and that appetite should continue to grow. Although the Grizzlies left Vancouver following the 2000–01 season, the population of the Vancouver CMA at that time was barely 2 million and the Canadian dollar was sinking. Those conditions have now changed. The NBA could return to Vancouver one day and be successful there, especially if the Canadian dollar remains strong. With a population of 3.5 million in 2035, the Vancouver market will be large enough to sustain franchises in the NHL, Canadian Football League (CFL), Major League Soccer, and the NBA—but not MLB.
The professional sports scene in Canada will continue to expand over the next 25 years. The conditions for growth are right—the Canadian dollar will likely remain strong and the taxation gap with the U.S. is expected to continue to narrow. This will allow existing franchises to prosper, and offer a better chance for new franchises to succeed. Canada could be home to 10 NHL teams, with new franchises in Québec City and Hamilton, and a second team in the Toronto CMA. If the league conditions are right and the city gets a new stadium, Montréal could once again be home to a Major League Baseball team. And with its continuing rise in population, Vancouver should be in a position to get a second chance at a National Basketball Association franchise.
…here’s a home run by our old friendLastings Milledge hit a few days ago. He should be halfway to 2nd base by sometime tomorrow afternoon. Back to matters on our own shores, however, with tonight’s 3-1 loss to Houston (a club a mere 46 games under .500), the Mets have now scored 6 runs in their last 45 innings, while facing the NL’s two worst pitching staffs. At home. So with that in mind, I look forward to Sandy Alderson’s December announcement they’ll be moving Citi Field’s outfield fences in an additional 300 feet.
Former Boston lefty Bill Lee took a no-hitter into the 5th inning last night for the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North Atlantic League, ultimately hanging around for a complete game, 9-4 victory over the Maui Na Koa Ikaika last night. “Lee did not take the Albert Field mound wearing a gas mask, a Daniel Boone cap or a beanie with a propeller,” writes a somewhat disappointed Daniel Brown of the Contra Costa Times, also adding the Spaceman claims to have flipped off a Yankee fan en route to Johnny Pesky’s funeral.
In those days, as now, Lee threw a baffling assortment of junkballs — an appropriate repertoire, given his personality type. Lee said a high school knee injury, combined with an already weird body type — “sway back, big ass,” is how he put it — allowed him to put a natural sink on the ball.
Lee’s only handicap Thursday was that both his sway back and ample backside were sore. He never stopped trying to stretch out, bending and twisting as he spoke. As the Pacifics gathered ’round to listen to Lee in the bullpen before the game, he offered this bit of gray-haired wisdom: “For you guys out looking for dates tonight, find a massage therapist.”
The late Reggie White was as verbally and demonstratively religious as Tim Tebow. White was praised for it, admired for it, respected for it. He was never, ever mocked for it, not even after he created a brief tempest when he condemned homosexuality from a pulpit. Yet Tebow’s religiosity is relentlessly ridiculed by fans, media, NFL opponents and late-night TV show hosts. Why the radical difference in treatment?
Y’know, if I’m ever inclined to wake up some morning feeling glum about how few newspaper columnists are ready to defend the white race against double standards, at least I can face the day knowing Phil Mushnick is always on the case. And it would help matters considerably if I chose to ignore some pretty basic facts. Like for instance, the late Reggie White — however bigoted against homosexuals he might’ve been — was pretty respected as professional football player. White went to the Pro Bowl thirteen times. He was the NFC Defense Player Of The Year on three occasions. His number was retired by the Eagles and the Packers, and White was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Despite all these achievements, CBS still saw fit to tear up a $6 million contract for White’s TV analysis after he publicly blamed homosexuals for a litany of society’s ills. Perhaps Phil doesn’t think that’s nearly as bad as being widely ridiculed, but it’s a pretty fair bet had White and his statements survived into the era of sports blogs and Twitter, he’d have been a far bigger target than Tebow.
As for the 25 Year Old Virgin, he’s pretty fucking easy to ridicule. And much of that mockery stems not simply from his “religiosity”, but from Tebow’s proselytizing and anti-abortion advocacy. Had Reggie White appeared in a similar Super Bowl commerical alongside his mom, chances are very slim no one would’ve taken issue with it.
Of course, all sorts of things are tolerated when someone is very good at their job. For instance, Tebow’s current team once employed a former pill-popper who liked to send lewd text messages to women who weren’t his wife. The guy in question was far more adept at throwing a forward pass than Tebow, yet didn’t escape the wrath of the public or media. Given that Tim Tebow’s professional resume is pretty modest compared to Reggie White (and I’m being kind here), his non-football activities are going to prove tiresome for reasons that aren’t limited to religion or politics. Some folks are just plain sick of the guy.
“We are gluttons for punishment for allowing this man to hoodwink us after giving him a quarter of a billion dollars to renovate Kauffman Stadium so he can make additional millions. And we get nothing but bad baseball in return.”
It’s pretty tempting to buy a similar ad in a New York paper encouraging Fred & Jeff Wilpon to end their serial neglect of the town’s other (alleged) MLB franchise. Until I remember that a) they’ll pay no mind, and b) placing such an ad would only serve to enrich Rupert Murdoch, Mortimer Zuckerman or James Dolan. Some choice.
There’s no name more damning in the NYC sports lexicon than that of Rich Kotite (well, other than Sid Rosenberg). After the Mets scored 5 runs in 36 innings against the Rockies’ horrible pitching staff, I suppose WFAN’s Mike Francesa can be excused for well, telling the truth. Fred and Jeff Wilpon “oughta be ashamed to show their faces in public”, protests Mike, though they’ve been pretty invisible for a while.
I’d love to blame Francesa for taking all the shine off Colin McHugh’s major league debut, but the latter’s teammates are more guilty of that.
Hey, no offense, F.P., but I was just trying to come up with the single most prominent ballplayer from a prior generation of Oakland/SF vets who were associated with performance enhancing drugs. Since I can’t quite remember any of the others, let’s instead turn to the matter of A’s starter Bartolo Colon, suspended yesterday for 50 after testing positive for testosterone (and not, as Matthew Callan suggested, “for gravy”). El Barto’s bust comes shortly on the heels of the Giants’ Melky Cabrera’s 50 game banishment, a coincidence that ESPN’s Buster Olney insists is just that. “There is no such thing as a Giants PED problem, or a Yankees or Athletics PED problem,” declared Olney, however, closer to the scene of the crime, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tim Kawakami argues, “The Bay Area is the Hometown of Steroids…and that’s both frustrating and incredibly devastating for the credibility of the two teams’ achievements this season.”
In Bay Area baseball, too-good-to-be-true almost always turns out to be chemically aided and soon-to-be-an-embarrassment. At this point, nobody in the Bay Area can be blindsided by anything like this anymore.
We all just go into automatic mode now: Absorb the news, wait for the player’s public statement, try to figure out how the team will deal with it.
But the A’s have lost credibility with this, as all teams lose credibility when they win games with players who are proven cheaters. They won 14 games that Colon started, including five of his last six starts. If the A’s fail to make the playoffs, they can point to the loss of Colon at this crucial period. If they do make the postseason, the 14 victories he helped get will be a part of it.
And it all makes 2012 unclean, tainted, and a perfect reflection of Bay Area baseball, the cradle and largest current purveyor of steroid use.