Playing great baseball through a gaunlet so far

Lost in the other news dominating some Giants fans thoughts lately, including mine, is the fact that the Giants are doing OK so far in facing a gaunlet of top pitchers. Not that they are in it after falling back to 7.5 games back with just 6 weeks or so left in the season, but I thought they would be shoved totally out of the way starting with the Houston series where they faced on successive games, Pettitte, Oswalt and Clemens. They surprised me, especially with the rotation up in the air with Rueter pushed out again and Tomko's foot in a boot and Moises Alou's hamstring ailing, by nearly sweeping the series, coming within a few innings of accomplishing that.

Then they faced Ramirez, Smoltz and Hudson of the Atlanta Braves in the next series. While they lost 2 of 3, they were playing the Braves tough for the two games against Smoltz and Hudson and with sightly better hitting, could have won those two games and the series.

Now they are facing the Marlins best starting three, Willis, Beckett, and Burnett, and won the game against Willis, despite getting only 1 run because of Lowry's and the bullpen's superlative pitching, combining for a shutout yesterday.

No matter how bad a team's season has gone thus far, or how far back you are, a baseball fan has got to enjoy a stretch like this where your team faces the best that the other team has got in starting pitchers and partly on the road, but has been able to battle them to a virtual standstill so far, going 4-3. Even if they lose the next two, they would still be 4-5 after facing a virtual Murderer's Row of starting pitchers, a win/loss record no one but the most optimistic fan could have expected if told before the Houston series which pitchers the Giants would be facing over the next 9 games (some literary license taken here, originally Davies was suppose the start the 2nd game and Smoltz the 3rd, but the Braves kindly took Davies out so that the Giants could face Hudson; nice guys :^).

Just because your team has stunk doesn't mean you don't root them on. I still think the Giants can still make a run at things if they could just get healthy and play the way they are capable. True, they would probably get run out of the first round, but if the starting pitching can get on a run (see the A's - sigh - for an example of that), you never know. With Schmidt and Lowry becoming a tough 1-2 punch, we just need Tomko or Hennessey to catch fire to have a nice run. Go Giants!


Some additional articles on the Krueger's racist utterance

These were additional media coverage on the controversy caused by Krueger's racist utterance, some backing my opinion, some expressing other and/or opposing views:

San Jose Mercury News/Ann Killion: KNBR firings were inevitable from a business perspective (good one)
San Jose Mercury News/David Pollak: Giants, KNBR: Station made call
San Francisco Chronicle/Scott Ostler: Everybody looks bad in Kruegergate
San Francisco Chronicle/Steve Kroner: Firings a hot topic/Station made the call

Oakland Tribute/Dave Newhouse?: Sabean deserves the ax, too (very different take)

Oakland Tribune/Carl Steward: Overreaction makes KNBR talk of the town (very different take)
Contra Costa Times/Jonathan Okanes: KNBR firings surprise Giants
Contra Costa Times/Jonathan Okanes: Angel was no Giant in Bay Area (scroll down to Burying Kruegergate)
Contra Costa Times/Neil Hayes: Krueger's critics missing context
Contra Costa Times/Gary Peterson: Talk is cheap, but toll of prejudice still costly (good one)

In addition, I would like to point out certain passages in the ones I consider good. Here are a few from Ann Killion's column:

  • For his stand, some have decided to make Alou the villain in this piece. But Alou doesn't have to justify his feelings, his experiences or his right to air his grievances. Words blathered on sports-talk radio can sting, and Alou wasn't afraid to say it.
  • But, despite that, and despite the clout they wield with KNBR, the Giants say they didn't demand the firings. Though they were irritated that their flagship station wasn't more proactive about damage control, they didn't want three people fired. Neither, it seems, did Alou, who said as much on ESPN on Monday. But he wasn't going to be quiet after more than 50 years of listening to such idiocy.
  • No, the firings were required by the corporate culture. This wasn't about right or wrong or hurt feelings. This was about damage control.
I in particular want to point out certain passages in Gary Peterson's column:
  • At which point l'affair Krueger will be decommissioned as an official flavor of the week and fade into a vague memory of an unsettling time. And we will have lost a terrific opportunity to turn one man's unfortunate turn o' the phrase into Everyman's enlightenment.
  • Why, 58 years after Jackie Robinson's rookie season, 51 years after Brown v. Board of Education and 42 years after Martin Luther King articulated his dream, are otherwise reasonable people suddenly inspired to malign a group based on its heritage?
  • How do we overcome such subconscious racism? Why don't we understand the relationship between causal attitudes and the institutional prejudice that still exists in our society? Why don't we acknowledge the power of words?
  • Why do we feel comfortable dictating to others what should offend them, and what should not? Look, unless you were with Alou in Louisiana half a century ago, you don't know what it was like, and you aren't in a position to define for him the parameters of offensive behavior.
  • But the bigger story is the destructive attitudes that course below the surface in our society, inspiring people to talk about certain brain-dead hitters, minorities who lack the necessities to manage in the major leagues, blacks who are expected (jokingly! Hey, it's a joke!) to serve collard greens at the Masters championship dinner. And on, and on, and on.
  • What we never seem to find is the time or the means to address is the root cause of these polarizing attitudes. Too bad. Fire a man for displaying symptoms of the disease, and all you teach him is how to find another job. Teach him true tolerance, and Larry Krueger might be taking his regular turn on KNBR tonight.

OK, lunch hour nearly over...

EDIT (8/13): One last good one from Bud Geracie of the San Jose Mercury: In the Wake of the Week. For those who still don't get it, in it he writes, "If you're having trouble grasping the severity of Larry Krueger's offense, remove 'Caribbean' from his statement and replace it with 'African-American.' Same thing."


Yeah But

OK, I can now allow that perhaps Krueger did not have malice in his intent (and I'm using my lunch hour to admit this). There was a nice column in the Contra Costa Times by Neil Hayes espousing what the commenter bacci40 was saying, that you have to take Krueger's comment in context.

What bacci did not note, which would have been pertinent and which Hayes did note, was that Krueger was actually trying to praise Alou in his rant but then said that his mind was "Cream of Wheat". A faux pas that appears to be, a "backhanded compliment" as Hayes put it, but it was a compliment on Alou's past, as Krueger saw it, and a dig on Alou's present, as Krueger now see it. Hayes also noted that he is a frequent guest on the show, so that means that he is not totally an objective bystander either, like any of Krueger's co-workers who have been essentially defending him but acknowledging the stupidity of the comment.

I was also listening to KNBR on the way to work this morning and Gary Radnich had a number of caller call in to contribute what they have heard. One noted that this was not Krueger's first insensitive comment, perhaps also racial in nature. One night there was a discussion of Chinese gymnasts (don't remember the sport exactly, I think it was gymnastics, but am certain it was some type of athletics) and he went on a rant about their looks and about how ugly they were. The caller noted that there were a lot of calls of protests to the station about that. Another guy called in to say that this isn't 1965, why don't people lighten up.

Another called to say that Krueger once devoted a whole show to racism, as he chastised two Montreal announcers for their racist take on some players. Lastly, Reggie Jackson called in and talked about his humiliating experiences when he was in the minors on a Southern team and how he was helped by a number of white players on his team - Joe Rudi, Dave Duncan, Rollie Fingers - and by his manager, John McNamara. He also talked about how he felt like many people - it appears to be an unfortunate mistake - but then saw Felipe Alou's face in interviews regarding this issue and he felt compelled to call into the Giants and let them know that he supports Alou totally in this. He asked all listeners to look at Felipe's face when Felipe is discussing this issue to see the pain in it and then they will understand. I would be interested to hear what others have heard in the past from Krueger, but OK, perhaps Krueger didn't have malice in his comments.

However, that does not flush away the pain it has caused. The common theme I am getting from all the apologist is "Yeah it was inappropriate, but..." But but but. BUT BUT BUT. BUT BUT BUT!!!

It isn't 1941 either BUT the genocide humanity witnessed as the Germans rounded up the Jewish for mass extermination was repeated about 50 years later in Bosnia and in Africa. There are now even people who claim that the German genocide of the Jewish never happened. It is not 1965 but there was that poor black man dragged to death behind a car not that long ago and we will recall Rodney King's horrific beating. And in a local shopping mall, because I had the effrontery to be shopping in a store with my wife but happen to be standing in her way, this woman told me, "why don't you go back to where you came from?" Maybe if the caller had a relative or friend killed in a massively horrible way or been treated abominably when you were not doing anything remotely wrong, then he will understand why people don't "lighten up."

This is not to say that we as a country haven't made massive strides forward in the past 40 years. However, there are still people who share these racist feelings, only they know now that it is not PC to expose their feelings out in public, so they keep their feelings deep, like cockroaches of their minds, coming out in the shadows of their actions. As the oft-quoted phrase noted, "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." And even mildly innocent comments like this, whether intended or not, pandered to people who share these feelings, and, more importantly, hurt good people's feelings.

I would liken this to an accidental shooting death between friends or relatives, perhaps even brothers. There may have been no malice involved. It may have been in the heat of the moment. It was an unfortunate mistake. And yet the results are very real and very hurtful.

Some will say this analogy is overboard, that you cannot compare a death with words. This is not kindergarten where sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you. If you haven't been the innocent victim of racism, sexism, ageism, any -ism there is, accused or hated for no other reason than something you were born with, then you really don't know how it feels when you are treated this way. Vigilence in combatting such insensitivity, inadverdent or not, unfortunate or with malice, is the key to stamping this out of our culture, out of our society, which I believe is the greatest in the history of the world.

That's partly why I feel so strongly about this. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the world, this time, this place. I feel privileged and thankful that my ancestors decided to take the huge risk to come to America, and not without loss, as we lost relatives in coming over, though luckily not as many as others. And, honestly, I never felt like anything but an American while growing up until reality stepped in and some kids decided to make my heritage a big thing. I was blissfully ignorant of such issues until I was double digit in age, which was lucky for me, others learn about reality at a much younger age.

America should be better than this, the ideals of our founding fathers espoused in their documents should be the goal, and people who say insensitive comments like this should be dragged across hot coals. I felt the sting when I looked at my mother's face while she told me about the racist things that happened to her and will never forget it. And so I try to my best to make sure no one else has to talk with their mom or dad and see the pain caused them by "insensitive" and "unfortunate" comments.

Lastly, haven't noted this yet but I agree with the sentiment that he should not be fired from his job for this. But really, all he got in punishment for his statement is a week's vacation essentially; basically a slap on the hand, as Felipe put it. And that is an insult to the pain that he has caused with his statements. And a sign that KNBR and Krueger don't really get it, don't understand the magnitude of it; perhaps, even worse, don't care. And because of this lack of understanding and lack of quick action, the issue is growing to the point where there may be no other alternative.