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Post-Election Musings on Politics and Baseball + TCM Tips

Wherever you may be as you read this blog, I hope your spirits are good.  We'll

need every bit of inner resolve to meet the challenges ahead politically, socially, and as sports fans banned from attending any crowded events in near future.


Shortly before 1130AM Eastern Standard Time on Saturday November 8th, horn-honking jubilation broke out in NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago and other blue enclaves, mainly urban, around the country.   


I was seated at my desk where I am typing right now.  Don't have a window facing the street which accounts for the lovely quiet isolation of this apartment. 

I received a call from my significant other dear Maria with the good news.

 
I found out later that just a few blocks from me - above Lenny's Bagel shop

on the northwest corner of 98th Street and Broadway - musical comedy star Brian Stokes-Mitchell raised his window and started to serenade the crowd

with "America the Beautiful" and maybe two other numbers. 


Of course, we must endure Trump's Presidency until January 20th.  His better-than-expected electoral showing has emboldened his refusal to concede.  So as broadcaster Bob Murphy advised in late innings of a tight Mets game, "Fasten your seat belts."  


Speaking of the Mets, new owner Steve Cohen "won" his press conference on Tuesday the 11th with a pledge to make the team he always has rooted for, "iconic". That means constant contention and a World Series title within 3 to 5 years or else he'll be very "disappointed."   


To his credit Cohen has already pledged to hire back at full salary Mets employees who were furloughed or cut back during the early stages of the pandemic. 

 
New president Sandy Anderson, back for a second tour as a top executive in Queens, added to the good will by saying it was "highly likely" that rookie manager Luis Rojas will return as skipper in 2021. 


I think it was Alderson who promised a new "collaborative culture" for the Mets.

With no game results until next April - at the earliest given the accelerating pandemic - I call this the silly season of words and promises that always sound nice but can they be believed?

 

I cross fingers that Cohen will not be like most owners who enter baseball with humility saying they will leave it to experts who know the business.  Six months later though they know everything.  See under Steinbrenner, George.  

 

I just hope there is a semblance of a regular season on all levels.  Too

early to tell with the second wave of the virus sweeping into NYC and almost every state of the union.  

 
I continue to find solace in the old black and white movies on TCM - Turner Classic Movies.  Saw one I never heard of last week - "The Sport Parade" (1932)

embarrassingly once known as "Free, White, and Twenty-One."

 

Rising star producer David Selznick received a major credit for this film. It is a

curiosity not a great work but has some merit. 

 
Underrated Joel McCrea plays a star Dartmouth football end who instead of going into journalism with his quarterback (William Gargan) turns to pro football.  He 

flops at it and does turn to journalism for a while. 

 
Then he is coaxed by his blustery agent (Walter Catlett) into becoming a pro wrestler.  Of course since this is Hollywood, there is a love triangle involved, Marian Marsh being the wooed young woman. 

 
An amusing feature of the film are three short sports announcing segments delivered by the always wry and hilarious Robert Benchley. 

 
I couldn't find many upcoming sports-themed films on TCM except that "Woman of the Year" (1942) returns on Sun afternoon Nov 22 at 1:45p EST. 

 

An opening scene with sportswriter Spencer Tracy in the press box sets the stage nicely for the conflict between Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, playing an internationally-famous journalist, a role patterned after Dorothy Thompson.

 

"Woman of the Year" was the first Tracy-Hepburn film.  It also features in a small role Minor Watson as Hepburn's father.  Eight years later Watson did a creditable job as Branch Rickey in "The Jackie Robinson Story".

 
Other films of great value include (all times EST):

Sat Nov 14 2p "In A Lonely Place" (1950) perhaps best film about a writer if a very flawed one starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, Nicholas Ray dir.   

 

Later on Nov 14 at 8p  "Ball of Fire" (1942) Gary Cooper as staid linguist falls for

Barbara Stanwyck with Dana Andrews as her other guy. 

 
Midnight - repeated Sun at 10A - Noir Alley presents "Fear" (1946) a 54-minute take on "Crime and Punishment" - 1946 considered by many best year ever for movies in USA. 

 
M Nov 16 8p "Diary of Anne Frank" (1959) - part of Shelley Winters Mondays in Nov.

11:15p "Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959) best jazz-themed film, set in NYC.

 
Tu Nov 17 back-to-back-to-back in afternoon three 40s classics

1p "Maltese Falcon" 1941,  3p "The Big Sleep", 5p "Treasure of Sierra Madre"

Home runs and championships are not the only things that can be back-to-back!


Wed Nov 18 8p "Body and Soul" 1947 - one of the great boxing movies with

John Garfield and the gorgeous talented Lilli Palmer


Th Nov 19 two American films about racial issues from the late 1940s that I've never seen:

8p "Lost Boundaries"

10p "Home of the Brave"  


F Nov 20 8p Elia Kazan's circus movie "Man On A Tightrope" (1953) with Gloria Grahame and Terry Moore (the actress not the Cardinals outfielder)

 
Sa Nov 21 8p "2001" this week's Essential 

Midnight/repeated at 10A Sun - "Kiss Me Deadly" 1955 - Robert Aldrich directs this Mickey Spillane story with Albert Dekker/Juano Hernandez (so unforgivably forgotten)/Paul Stewart

 

Later on Nov 22p

1:45p "Woman of the Year"


8p Woody Allen's "Bananas"  followed by 945p Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup" 1933 

 

More than ever, Take it easy but take it!"

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Pre-Thanksgiving Reflections on An Unprecedented Year (Not Just In Sports)

I find it amazing that to the best of my knowledge no one has noticed that 2016 marks the first time in the long history of Major League Baseball and the shorter history of the National Basketball Association that each champion was crowned after coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit in the final series.

Not only that but both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Cubs won their titles on the road - over the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Indians, respectively. It was a volatile year in sports, and the upset tide spilled over to politics with Donald Trump’s wholly unpredicted triumph over Hillary Clinton.

As usual the results in sports were clear-cut and indisputable unlike the very unsettling Trump electoral college victory that finds him the loser in the popular vote by at last count over one and a half million votes.

Hardly a mandate for alt-right foreign and domestic policies but that seems to be the direction the Trump administration will be going.

Roger Simon in the November 16 politico.com quoted a Leonard Cohen poem to provide the solace for those upset by the election result. Cohen, who died a day before 11/8/16, once wrote:

Ring the bells that can still ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

RETURNING TO BASEBALL . . .
For those who love the triumph of underdogs, the World Series was a no-lose affair except, of course, for fans of Cleveland who will now have to wait until next year for the chance to win their first World Series since 1948.

The Indians have a young core of players not too close to free agency like shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis plus their formidable mound staff. So they surely have a fighting chance to return to the Series as early as 2017.

Though the Cubs had not won a world series since 1908, they were prohibitive favorites from the first day of spring training. It is not easy to deal with that pressure but master psychologist-manager Joe Maddon had the team embrace the challenge from day one.

At the same time, he tried to downplay the expectations with another one of his famous T-shirts, “Try Not To Suck.” His first T-shirt may have been his best.

Before the 2008 season of the Tampa Bay Rays, he handed out “9=8” shirts. It meant nine players working as a team can make one of the eight playoff spots. Sure enough Tampa Bay, a chronic non-contender before Maddon's arrival, made the playoffs though lost a rain-plagued World Series in five games to the Phillies.

The 2016 Cubs won their division going away with 103 wins. But October and early November baseball is another animal.

The Cubs showed their mettle by coming from behind in their last two playoff series. Not only in the Fall Classic over the Indians, but in beating the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series after falling behind two games to one.

Now the silly season of free agency is upon us. Part of me wishes that the first years of free agency could be restored. When the first Basic Agreement without the perpetual reserve clause was signed before the 1976 season, there was a limit to how many free agents could be signed by any club.

It’s unrealistic to think that will happen as every year there seem to be more and more free agents on the market. Some are very good, some not so good at all. It depends on smart management to decide what will work for one’s team and what won’t.

I just hope that players make sane judgments themselves and don’t allow their agents to make the choices for them.

That’s all for now. More thoughts on the hot stove league next month.

And always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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