(from 2008 –
The Shroud Of Kevin Slaten Toast)
St. Louis sport talk fixture Kevin Slaten has made the CSTB ‘s Rogue’s Gallery a few times before , however, based on recent events, he might finally have assembled enough of a curriculum vitae to be considered for a weeknight spot on Mad Dog Radio. Slaten was removed from his KFNS afternoon show 15 days ago after declaring racism was responsible for Barack Obama’s overwhelming support amongst African-Americans (“the next time someone tells me that the black voters are not bigoted, stick it in the trash can because black voters are bigoted — ninety-three percent (of the black vote went) for Obama, six percent for (Mitt) Romney — you’re bigots,’’). At the time, the circumstances surrounding Slaten’s exit were described as, “volatile”, but a Friday report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Holleman provides greater detail.
The alleged incident occurred when Slaten was told by officials at the sports radio station they would no longer broadcast his show. Slaten was an independent contractor for the station, whose studios are at 8045 Big Bend Boulevard in Webster Groves.
According to Lt. Andy Miller of the Webster Groves police, police responded to a “keep the peace” call from the station about 2 p.m. Nov. 12. Miller said the complaint alleges that “after (Slaten’s) termination of employment, there was a flare of tempers that led to verbal threats, profane language, and the allegation that (KFNS technical director Scott Stout) was spit on.”
Miller said that if convicted, Slaten faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. He added that convictions on such charges often require that the defendant attend anger management classes.
On more than one occasion during CSTB’s near decade of operation, I’ve attempted to pay homage to WFAN veteran Steve Somers, whose Captain Midnight routine has aged like fine wine over the last quarter century. In stark contrast to the bellowing narcissist who follows Somers’ former WFAN colleague Chris Russo, Somers remains the consummate entertainer. The inspired banter between Somers and a revolving cast of night-owls, Mets/Knicks/Rangers/Yankees/Jets/Giants obsessives and other sports degenerates represents an oasis amidst the generic sports yack pontificating that WFAN popularized if not pioneered. On Friday, the New York Times’ Charles McGrath paid homage to the San Francisco native, calling Somers’ cadence and methodology, “ideally suited to the nighttime.”
Somers likes to say that he and his listeners are a family, and even in the passionate, eccentric and highly opinionated world of sports radio, his family is an unusual and capacious one. Its members include, or included, such beloved regulars as Doris from Rego Park, stuttering and coughing but phoning in faithfully, and Jerome from Manhattan, whose sputtering, apoplectic anti-Yankee rants caused Somers to play the “Twilight Zone” theme while a voice said: “His is a dimension of sight, of sound, but of no mind. There’s a rubber room up ahead. You’re entering the Jerome Zone.” But Somers’s fans also include the critic Gene Shalit, the actors Charles Grodin and Tony Roberts, the comedian Steven Wright and, most famously, Jerry Seinfeld, who calls in as Jerry from Queens, though in fact he comes from Massapequa.
They admire Somers’s wit and intelligence, the little set pieces he delivers at the beginning of each show, full of wordplay and alliteration. Somers writes them out beforehand on yellow legal pads, capitalizing most of the nouns, adjectives and verbs as a scribe might if copying a royal proclamation. He writes for the ear, not the eye, Somers says. A meditation on the theme of Alex Rodriguez’s collapse last fall looked like this: “The Lightning Rod only Wants to Be happy, and knows it’s very Simple to Be happy, But it’s very Difficult for Him to Be Simple. The Yankees Haven’t Been Doing Much, and Doing Nothing is Very Hard to Do, Because You Never Know when You’re Finished.”
Of Gregg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green home rather than face Miami last night, the Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman called it “an embarrassment”. Sirius/XM’s Chris Russo spent the better part of two shows howling about Popovich’s disrespect for a league that had made him rich and suggested earlier today that Tim Duncan was lazier than Michael Jordan or Larry Bird (after which, Russo — he of the $3 million salary — left his program an hour early). That a San Antonio columnist would stand up for Popovich is hardly a shock, but the Express-News’ Buck Harvey is entirely on the mark in stating “David Stern can’t tell Popovich who to play and when to play them, anymore than he can dictate minutes.”
Stern said he wanted to “apologize to all NBA fans,” and that was a start. Someone needed to be contrite about a schedule that matched the most rested vs. the most tired for a national television audience. But Stern has never apologized for a crushing schedule. He cares about marketing and television, which is why he decided to get into the business of coaching Thursday night.
Gregg Popovich has gutted his roster before on behalf of the larger goal, and those who have disagreed with him in the past still have an argument. Other teams face similar schedule pinches, after all, and they have kept playing.
Then there’s the point that Popovich has made in the past and did again Thursday. “If I was taking my 6-year-old son or daughter to the game,” he said, “I’d want him or her to see everybody. And if they weren’t there, I’d be disappointed. So I understand that perspective.” But he quickly added he hopes others would see his perspective, too, that it’s his job to take care of his team. And that’s why he reacted as he did. “It’s pretty logical,” he said.
Popovich has also been consistent over the years, and now Stern isn’t. He will fine the Spurs not because of what they did, but when they did it. On TNT.
Lost amidst some of the debate is that the 9-man Spurs, sans their superstars, nearly beat the defending champs on their home court. Next time this happens, if Pop sends Matt Bonner home on a commercial flight, you’ll know for certain he’s tanking.
I realize we’re talking historic levels of ill-advised, but keep in mind free agent C Russell Martin’s 2-year, $17 million pact with the Pirates is the most they’ve lavished on a free agent in the club’s existence. More annoyingly, as the Pittsburgh Tribune’s Dejan Kovacevic notes, Martin simply isn’t very good, calling the former Yankee catcher’s acquisition, “an overpriced desperation move that’s going to hurt the in more ways than one.”
Martin batted .211/.311.403 last season for the Yankees, despite playing at a hitter-friendly ballpark, and he experienced a sixth consecutive year of offensive decline. He batted 18 points lower than Clint Barmes, just five points better than Rod Barajas.
To point out that Martin is a defensive upgrade over Barajas is an insult to the concept of upgrades. Martin is good, not great, behind the plate. Barajas was good at game-calling and receiving, horrific at throwing out baserunners.
Marlins reliever Tom Koehler — he of the glittering MLB resume that consists of a whopping 13.1 innings in a Miami uniform — has organized a “Pitch For Relief” baseball camp to raise funds for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. As of Tuesday night, only 5 persons had signed up for the camp, and Koehler tells the Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi he suspects local sentiment towards the salary-dumping Marlins has something to do with the modest response. As opposed to, y’know, hardly anyone knowing or caring who Tom Koehler is. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
“I don’t know if people are really that aggravated that they’re going to take it to that extent. It’s a shame if they are,’’ said Koehler, who made eight appearances for the Marlins after a September call-up from Class AAA New Orleans.
“Hopefully people realize they have an opportunity to do something really good for a lot of people. There are people up in the Northeast, it’s winter now, so it’s cold and they’re still without power.’’
Outfielder Juan Pierre and retired All-Star Jeff Conine are among the instructors.
Sixers C Kwame Brown has won praise of late from Doug Collins for the former’s solid contributions, though not everyone is sold on the former no. 1 overall pick. “He hasn’t actually done so much as blown his nose since he got to Philly…Kwame has the highest gravitational pull of any human I’ve ever seen play basketball. There’s a Space Jam-sized magnet underneath him at all times, yanking him to the floor”, bemoans Liberty Ballers’ Michael Levin). Undeterred by such criticism is Brown himself, embracing his role player status and telling the Philadelphia Daily News’ John N. Mitchell, “You don’t survive 12 years” in the NBA worrying about such things.
“I realized that I had outlived guys that were high picks. There were 50th picks that came in that were just solid. So I just modeled myself after the guys with longevity, and that’s what I wanted to do. To be in this business, you’ve got to know your role and what you want to do.
“Forget a pick. Forget expectations. You’ve just got to go out and do a job.”
…you know it’s time for the Sultan Of Surly to devour marshmallows disguised as questions. Barry Bonds (above, left) seems a longshot for first ballot election to the Baseball Hall Of Fame, but you won’t catch the game’s all-time HR leader begging for forgiveness. “I want to be part of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame, but I don’t want to be part of the kind of Hall of Fame that’s based on voters’ beliefs and assumptions,” asserts Bonds, not even mentioning that Bloom gives an excellent foot massage. From MLB.com :
“I don’t even know how to explain it. The world has become so negative,” Bonds said. “One day, I’ll be able to say things the right way. But it’s tough when you have so many people out there who don’t want to turn the page and want to be angry at you forever. I don’t understand why it continues on. What am I doing wrong?
“I can sit here and say, ‘You know what? Baseball is great. I love it.’ I can sit here and say in a very kind way that I’m sorry about the way things ended. I can sit here and say that I respect the Hall of Fame, which I do. But I don’t understand all the controversy we’re having about it. For what reason? What’s there to be gained by all of this? What’s the point?”
“If you believe I’m a bad person, if you believe I’m a drug person, then I don’t need to be a part of it. If you don’t want to put me in for those reasons then that’s fine. No worries. I’m OK with it. If you want to put me in for what I did as a player, that would be great. I’d love to be in there with everyone else who deserves it.”
Listeners to Dino Costa‘s Tuesday evening Mad Dog Radio program heard the self-obsessed host holler, “good riddance” while noting the passing of former Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Marvin Miller. Miller, The Yonkers Cowboy declared, was the individual most responsible for baseball’s obscene ticket prices, competitive imbalance and destruction of a grand old game he presumably held dear when Charles Comiskey owned a team. There’s some deep hypocrisy in Costa railing against free agency during the same week he’s openly lobbying for /fantasizing about an HBO TV gig, much as the charge that free agency has ‘ruined” professional sports is laughably simplistic. Since the advent of free agency, it’s not only players and owners who’ve prospered ; the entire sports media industry has grown exponentially. I don’t mean to speak ill of the recently deceased, but you could make a case that were it not for the efforts of Marvin Miller, the likes of Chris Russo and Dino Costa would have to do something else to earn a living.
While the union-hating Costa clings to the knee-jerk notion that higher player salaries have damaged baseball, Keith Olbermann prefers to trade in facts.
You can argue that the pendulum Marvin unleashed from its artificial restraint has swung too far to the other side (and you’d be wrong – who is about to sign a six billion dollar contract? The new Dodgers owners, or Evan Longoria?) You can argue that what Marvin wrought has destroyed competitive balance and especially the small markets (and you’d be wrong – in the 18 seasons before his ascent, the Yankees had won 15 pennants and the Dodgers had won nine, and the team then in Kansas City had finished last or in the bottom four 13 times). You can argue that the freedom Marvin enabled has destroyed the continuity of players and made the one-team player nearly extinct (and you’d be wrong – there are 41 Hall of Famers who played for only one team, and a disproportionate number, 11, are from the Free Agent era. The only thing that’s changed is that the players can now initiate their own jarring relocation, not just the owners).
Marvin Miller’s original goal as the head of the players’ union was freedom – to eliminate the nonsensical conclusion (improbably upheld by the Supreme Court) that because baseball players “played,” their bosses were not truly running interstate commerce. And thus, a 17-year old kid who signed a one-year contract with, say, the Philadelphia Phillies, was actually signing a 25-year contract. Each “one-year” agreement had a proviso allowing the owners to “renew” the contract for another year. And in the renewal year, the proviso re-set, and the contract could be “renewed” again.
It wasn’t actually slavery, but it sure as hell wasn’t freedom.
“I used to fantasize about how cool it would be to write about the exquisite relief of the Raptors finally winning an NBA championship,” mused Raptorblog’s Scott Carefoot in last Friday’s farewell post. “I now recognize what a sad and unrealistic fantasy that was.” Departing after a decade in order to take a full time position supervising The Hockey News and Decor At Home (presumably the latter is a busier beat these days), Carefoot (above) tells The Star’s Raju Mudhar, “ I really do feel nothing walking away from it.”
“I’m looking forward to being a sports fan again,” he said during a phone interview on Monday. “I started it as a way to break into sports media and in my own convoluted way I ended up doing that, so I’m not going to continue punishing myself by covering that team.”
Carefoot says he will still peek in on the team occasionally, as opposed to living and dying with it.
“I’m not saying I’m completely boycotting the Raptors, what I’ll do is pay attention to the score, and if it looks like it’s a close game in the fourth quarter, and I’m near at TV, I’ll turn it on, but I’m not going to invest all the time I’ve spent watching an entire game and writing about it any more. Because they don’t deserve it, and they don’t deserve it from fans any more.”
Of today’s announcement that Colin Kaepernick will remain San Francisco’s starting QB, despite Alex Smith (above) having recovered from his recent concussion, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh simply called the move, “going with the hot hand”. Putting aside for a moment whether or not Smith should’ve pretended his brains weren’t scrambled, the SF Chronicle’s Eric Branch points out there’s some statistical reason beyond Harbaugh’s faith in momentum.
In terms your toddler could understand, the 49ers have fewer really bad plays – and more really good plays – with Kaepernick at the controls, which is a nod to the second-year quarterback’s strong arm and fast feet.
In his two starts, Kaepernick has been sacked just once, despite being under constant pressure Sunday against the Saints. In contrast, Smith was sacked 22 times in his eight full games this season. In addtion, Kaepernick had 10 pass completions of 20 yards or more in his two starts. In his eight full games, Smith had 22.
Tight end Delanie Walker acknowledged Kaepernick is more willing to throw risky passes downfield, which is perfectly acceptable since Kaepernick has also thrown just one interception in two starts.
“That’s just Kaep being young so he takes more chances,” Walker said. “Alex is the more ready quarterback, controlling the offense, making sure we get another down. Kaep, he will take a chance and go for the big play.”