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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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Kicking Cancer's Ass and Other Memorable Moments from the NYC Baseball Writers Dinner

The 94th annual dinner of the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America was held this past Saturday night January 21st at New York's Hilton Hotel. Last year’s dinner was canceled by a blizzard so there was a lot of pent-up enthusiasm for this year’s shindig.

The evening did not disappoint with a fine mixture of levity and serious comment.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson twitted the writers for the awkwardness of their group’s acronym BBWAA. “Don’t you know baseball is one word?” he asked.

Sandy obviously forgot that Base Ball for a long time in its early decades was indeed two words. But on a winter’s night with still three weeks to spring training, who expects exactitude?

Alderson accepted “The Toast of the Town” award for former Mets pitcher ageless Bartolo Colon who will play for the Atlanta Braves in 2017. He relived with relish Colon’s remarkable homer in San Diego off James Shields. “In front of the #7 line army,” he recalled about the ardent traveling group of Mets fans.

Indians manager Terry Francona presented two awards. One was to his reliever Andrew Miller who pitched remarkably after his July trade from the Yankees. “If you look closely, he’s still icing his left arm,” Francona quipped.

Francona, who everybody calls Tito in honor of his father a former player, also presented Cubs pitcher Jon Lester with the Babe Ruth award for his postseason MVP. Lester not only was a key cog helping Francona’s Bosox to win the 2004 and 2007 World Series, but “he kicked cancer’s ass,” his admiring manager added.

In accepting the award for NL Manager of the Year, LA Dodger rookie skipper Dave Roberts noted that he also had “kicked cancer’s ass.” He thanked Jed Hoyer, now president of the Cubs, for giving him his first job with the Padres organization in 2010 once his treatment was over.

You can see why Roberts has drawn universal praise from every realm of baseball. He walked up to the low dais and quipped, “I am the first person tonight who doesn’t have to bend down to the microphone.”

Turning serious, he said that the game “was in a good place” and will be as long as we remember that “we’re all stewards of the game.”

Retired Dodger first baseman Steve Garvey gave a warm introduction to sportswriter Claire Smith who will be inducted at the end of July into the writer’s wing in Cooperstown. When his 1984 Padres teammates refused to let Smith into their clubhouse, Garvey came out into the hallway and answered every question she asked.

“If I can’t stand up for a friend, who can I stand up for?” he said. In her gracious remarks, Smith reflected on her first year on the baseball beat - she covered the 1982 Yankees that under impetuous George Steinbrenner ran through 3 managers, 6 general managers, and 54 players. “You had to fight for everything you got,” she said, adding it was “the best journalism school you can get.”

By Valentine’s Day the greatest phrase in the English language will ring true again: “Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training.” So keep the faith, dear readers, and back to you next with a report on the 52nd annual NYC Pro Baseball Scouts dinner this Friday.

Until then, always: Take it easy but take it!
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