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Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 1999/10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

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Bosox in 2000
Duquette: Buy a Slugger


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- ON SUNDAY, I began to sort out all the rubbish that The New York Times has printed in the past week, especially about the failed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and more propaganda about their candidate for president, Al Gore. (The Times is getting worse than New Republic czar Marty Peretz on the subject of the new-persona-a-day Gore.)

I trudged through the November issue of Brill’s Content (which is actually more readable these days, if still mostly dumb, and far short of the 500,000 circulation that editor-in-chief Steve Brill desires), drawn in by the headline: “The Influence List: 25 People Whose Behind-the-Scenes Decisions Shape Our Media (And You’ve Never Heard of Most of Them).” Well, maybe Brill has succeeded in getting airline pilots and undertakers on his subscription list, but I have a hunch it’s mostly people in the media and the list of 25 isn’t too surprising. Is Brill really this condescending, to think that his readers have never heard of: Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld; CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour; Today producer Jeff Zucker; conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh; Meet the Press’ Tim Russert; Times reporter Jason DeParle; Time magazine’s managing editor, Walter Isaacson; Fairchild Publications’ Patrick McCarthy; “Page Six”’s Richard Johnson; The New York Times’ personal servant to Bill Clinton, Richard Berke; Simon & Schuster’s Alice Mayhew; Oprah Winfrey; Maxim’s Felix Dennis; and Martha Stewart?

And what a surprise; for the blurb on the administration toady, Brill’s assigned Gay Jervey, one of their worst writers, to the chore. “Berke does have a knack for being at the right place at the right time,” Jervey notes, omitting the fact that most often it’s at Clinton’s feet.

She continues: “He even made a splash as a high school senior when he and a partner reported in the Walt Whitman High school paper that President Richard Nixon had been exposed to microwave radiation during the 1959 kitchen debates in Moscow. ‘The wire services interviewed us after that story broke,’ Berke notes. ‘They were calling us the young Woodward and Bernstein.’”

Another example of what havoc the Washington Post duo wreaked on journalism and the United States at large with their once-in-a-lifetime story: the likes of Richard Berke! Those jerks.

I also leafed through the double issue of The New Yorker (“The Next Generation”) and although Dave Eggers’ excerpt of his upcoming book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was a fine piece of writing about the brother he raised when his parents died within a month of each other, it was overshadowed by one of most atrocious stories I’ve read in months. Meghan Daum, in “My Misspent Youth,” details her desire to live in New York City from the time she was a teenager—specifically the Upper West Side—her attainment of that goal after college, her work as a gofer in the publishing business and freelance writer, and the difficulties of making ends meet in Manhattan. It’s an article that’s been done all too frequently: affluent college student gets sucked into the media world, living on ramen noodles, progressing to martinis and celebrity-studded junkets, and racking up enormous bills.

She then describes her trials with credit card companies, utility functionaries, landlords, the IRS and drinking too much to forget it all. Through all this she couldn’t live without cut flowers. But of course. The most nauseating passage is this: “Most heartbreaking of all, my accountant determined that my sixty-dollar pledge to WNYC—my Upper West Side tableau couldn’t possibly be complete without the National Public Radio coffee mug—was not entirely tax deductible.”

Finally, Daum moved to Nebraska, where she found people who also listen to NPR “and there are even places to live in Lincoln that have oak floors.” Mazel tov, Meghan: Stay put.

Martinez
Mercifully, it was time for the Bosox-Yanks game, in which Pedro Martinez, so stunning five days earlier in shutting down the Indians with six innings of no-hit relief to win those preliminaries, matched up against Roger Clemens, once the dominant pitcher in baseball and a Sox legend. On Friday morning, Junior, upon hearing that the Yanks had won another close game at the Stadium the night before, putting Boston two games behind, said: “Don’t worry, Dad. There’s a pattern emerging. We lost the first two in Cleveland and then won in Fenway. The same thing will happen with those darn Yankees.” Then, making sure his mother was out of earshot, he added, “Because they suck, dude!”

The pitchers’ duel on Saturday never materialized, which didn’t bother Junior and me a bit. Just seeing the Sox knock ball after ball off that Green Monster was good enough for us. No, it didn’t make up for Bucky Dent in ’78, or, for that matter, any of the humiliations the Yanks have smothered the Sox with, but seeing the Ks go up on the wall in Fenway, and hearing the fans chant, “Cy Young, Cy Old,” and “Pedro for MVP,” it did seem like a new era starting for the plagued team.

But there I go, wandering toward Roger Angell-land. Junior’s been a real fan during the off-season, sitting in “lucky” couches and ticking off balls and strikes. He’s just learning the rules of the game—beyond t-ball—so it’s fun telling him the history I’ve acquired in 44 years. In the cab on the way to school last week, I was listing the original 16 teams in the Major League—he couldn’t believe there were no clubs in California: I told him to call Jack Newfield on that one—and fell two short. That night one of my brothers came over for dinner and he supplied the ones I forgot: the Redlegs and Tigers. Junior also couldn’t fathom that there were teams called the Boston Braves, New York Giants, St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics.

Sunday night’s game was a bust and I went to bed in the seventh smelling defeat and the fizzling of any momentum caused by Pedro and Nomar Garciaparra on Saturday. I missed the ninth-inning ugliness by Boston fans and am glad I did (especially happy that Junior was asleep and didn’t see this unforgivable barrage of bad sportsmanship). Look, the umps have been awful in this series—they ought to be replaced by robots, the kind you imagined from the ’64 World’s Fair in Flushing, with automatic replays—but there’s no reason to intentionally try to hurt opposing players. Even the Yanks.

Steinbrenner
I think George Steinbrenner was off base when he made the following comments to Fox-TV: “It could happen anywhere and I’m just sorry it happened here because we’ve been treated well here. Their manager [Jimy Williams] was my candidate for manager of the year until tonight when he really invoked it. He incited it, I should say.”

C’mon. If Joe Torre was consistently sabotaged by the umps, he’d protest too. And Yankee fans would probably react at the Stadium the same way Bostonians did at Fenway. I have little hope for tonight. Here’s hoping the Mets play the Yanks in a subway series and sweep one-two-three-four. Which reminds me: Don’t you love how Hillary Clinton hasn’t gone to Yankee Stadium to watch her favorite American League team?


JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and publisher of New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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©1999, Russ Smith