Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Interview With Bill Gallo

Bill Gallo of the New York Daily News is a New York sports institution. His cartoons and columns have been part of the fabric of the New York sports scene since 1960. Bill's honors and awards are too numerous to list them all, so here's just a few:

*International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.
*James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association.
*Champions Award from the Downtown Athletic Club.
*Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cartoonist Society.
*20-time recipient of the Page One Journalism Award from the New York Newspaper Guild.
*10-time recipient of the National Cartoonist Society Sports Cartoon Award.

He's also a member of our country's "greatest generation". As a Marine, Bill fought in WWII and saw action at Iwo Jima.

Bill was kind enough to share some of his thoughts with me.

CBLL: Please take me through your typical work day.Bill Gallo: I get up at 7am and listen to Imus in the Morning. I listen to him until I’m finished shaving, then have breakfast with my wife while reading the papers. I continue reading the papers until I get to my office at 10:30. I usually muddle througn the papers some more, look at what press luncheons there are for that particular day (if they suit me for a cartoon idea or column, I attend). Once I'm back in the office, I know what cartoon I’ll be doing. I pencil it in and if I like it, I finish it, give it an overline and send it through for the edition. I then go to other sports functions, take notes and go home.

CBLL: Have your drawings ever offended anyone?

Bill Gallo: Yes, a few athletes have been offended with my drawings. Every time I heard about it, I’d go see the guy who was offended and we’d talk it over. I have never done anything in bad taste, I can say that honestly. Some young players have very thin skins, however, after we’d talk about the cartoon that made them angry, they would usually ask for the original.

CBLL: Did you draw as a child?Bill Gallo: Yes, all people who can draw usually start out very young.

CBLL: What sports figure or character do you most enjoy drawing?

Bill Gallo: I have three all-time favorites. Casey Stengel, Muhammed Ali, and General Von Steingrabber.

CBLL: George Steinbrenner actually likes the General Von Steingrabber character, right?Bill Gallo: Yes, George Steinbrenner loves Steingrabber, just ask him.

CBLL: When was the last time you spoke with George Steinbrenner?

Bill Gallo: I spoke to George last April at the Yankee Welcome Home Dinner. We spoke and he was fine. I hope to see him again at this year's dinner.

CBLL: What's the greatest fight you ever saw?Bill Gallo: Ali vs. Frazier I.

CBLL: Who's your favorite all-time fighter?

Bill Gallo: Sugar Ray Robinson.

CBLL: How do you see the Yankees doing this year?Bill Gallo: I think they will win the pennant, but lose in the World Series.

CBLL: I'm sure you're hoping they lose to the Cardinals, right?

Bill Gallo: Yes, I root for the Cards no matter who they play in the World Series.

CBLL: What made you become a Cardinals fan?

Bill Gallo: I became a Cardinal fan when I was very young after hearing about the ragamuffin gashouse gang. That kind of rough and ready bunch appealed to me. That was in the mid-thirties and I’ve never went to any other team, not even the Yankees, of course, what I’m mostly a fan of is baseball itself.

CBLL: How old were you when you attended your first Major League game?

Bill Gallo: I attended my first game when I was about nine. A gang of us sneaked into the Polo Grounds to see Mel Ott play.

CBLL: In your opinion, who was better, Mantle or Mays?Bill Gallo: I believe Mays was a more complete ballplayer than Mantle.

CBLL: How about a few random questions?Bill Gallo: Sure.

CBLL: Favorite all-time NYC bar?

Bill Gallo: For me, Toots Shoor.

CBLL: Favorite movie?Bill Gallo: All Quiet on the Western Front.

CBLL: Favorite actor?Bill Gallo: Paul Muni.

CBLL: Favorite actress?Bill Gallo: Bette Davis.

CBLL: You mentioned that you're a listener of Imus in the Morning. In your opinion, was his firing justified?Bill Gallo: It's a dicey question to answer. I did feel very bad for the ladies on the Rutgers basketball team, but, you get to know a person when you hear him or her on the radio every day, and I don’t see Imus as a man who would deliberately hurt anyone. Now, I don’t know him personally, having just met him once or twice with a nod and a hello, but my feeling is that he is a good and honorable man. I would not have fired him; suspended him, yes, but not fired him. He did apologize over and over again for his foolish statement (and I’m sure he wants to kick himself in the ass for even thinking about what he said) and after his meeting with the ladies, (as hurt as they were) they were willing to forgive him.In any event, the man is back at the mic, but I’m sure it’s still difficult for him to live this down. To be kind, you can file this one under, “everybody makes mistakes.”

CBLL: You've often written about losing your father at 11 years old, did losing him at such an early age make you a better father?Bill Gallo: Without a doubt, losing my father so young definitely made me a better father.

CBLL: Who is your favorite all-time Yankee?Bill Gallo: Joe DiMaggio.

CBLL: Who's your favorite among the current Yankees?Bill Gallo: Derek Jeter.

CBLL: Now the million dollar question; do you think he needs to move to another position?Bill Gallo: No. Jeter should stay at SS. In my opinion, the guy still has it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Mike & The Mad Max Show?

In what may ultimately end up being the best Italian-Jewish alliance since Bruce Springsteen added Max Weinberg to the E Street Band in 1974, rumors continue to swirl that Mike Francesa and Max Kellerman are planning on joining their considerable forces.

If true, this one could go either way. It could be a complete and utter train wreck (let's face it, both of these guys have tremendous egos), or it could prove to be a very interesting, insightful, and must-watch pairing.

Max is a big-time believer in all things saber (Mike, not so much). Max knows most of the minor league players in the Yankees system (Mike has heard of Austin Jackson). On the other hand, say what you want about Mike, but one does not become the top NYC sports radio voice (and stay on top for over 20 years) without a considerable amount of talent. A Francesa/Kellerman show could be a fascinating listen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Urgent Message To Author (and Yankee Fan) Jane Heller

Dear Jane,

As a fellow Yankee fan and Westchester native, I beg you, no more pictures of Oprah's cleavage!

Thanks, and best of luck to you on the success of your new book.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love In All The Wrong Places

According to published reports, Mickey Rourke is now "dating" Courtney Love.

One image immediately comes to mind.

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Interview With Chad Jennings

Chad Jennings (The Times-Tribune) is a beat writer for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (AAA affiliate of the NY Yankees). Chad's excellent blog is a must-read for any Yankee fan. His link can be found by scrolling down to the"Yankee-related sites" header on the lower right hand side of this page.

Chad was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on a variety of topics.

CBLL: As a beat writer for the SWB Yankees, please take us through your typical day.

Chad Jennings: Wake up. Shower. Check the Internet. Eat. That's my morning, in that order, and I keep checking certain sites every hour or so throughout the day. If something breaks, then I write from home or make a hurried, earlier-than-expected drive to the stadium. If not, I want to know as much as possible when I get to the park around 4:30, earlier if I know I have a lot to work on. The big league guys get to the park much earlier than I do, but they're obviously in a different situation. When I get to the stadium, I go to the clubhouse and make small talk. I'm not usually looking for quotes, just information. Is anyone banged up? Are there call-up rumors floating around? Does anything look or sound out of the ordinary? During the game I'm either blogging or writing notebooks and Sunday features for the paper. By the sixth or seventh inning, I want to have an angle decided and my gamer partially finished, knowing that if all goes well I'm going to delete most everything that's written. Coming back to a blank screen after postgame interviews is way out of the question. Gotta have a head start, even if I don't end up needing it. I get home around 11:30, hope for a rerun of Mythbusters, then go to bed way too late.

CBLL: When did you first decide to become a sportswriter?

Chad Jennings: I was 15 years old, had to write a paper in junior high school, and for whatever reason I really enjoyed writing it. Until that moment I wanted to take over the family farm, but I got this idea that I liked words and might want to be a reporter. Covering car accidents and city council meetings sounded dull, so I wound up in sports. As a kid I had a subscription to Baseball Digest and my favorite thing to do was go to the back of the magazine where the 40-man rosters were listed, and from those rosters, choose active rosters and lineups for each team. Maybe it really started back then, but I didn't get the sports writing idea until junior high. Then I went to the University of Missouri, moved to Scranton and started living those days described above.

CBLL: All reports indicate that the Yankees have no impact position players at the AAA level. Is there anybody that you feel might be flying under the radar?

Chad Jennings: That depends on your definition of impact. I still believe Brett Gardner could develop into an interesting everyday center fielder, and I think Juan Miranda can be a platoon first baseman who gets the bulk of the starts. Beyond that, I see most of these guys as major league role players. Justin Christian's speed and Shelley Duncan's power can play in the big leagues. Chris Stewart is a legitimate Chad Moeller type defensive catcher. (Might be better, actually) Matt Carson flew under the radar for a while, but I think now most fans see him as a possibly fourth or fifth outfielder in the big leagues.

CBLL: Have the Hughes and Kennedy struggles this year surprised you?

Chad Jennings: Yes, Hughes especially. He's going to be a very good major league starter, I just expected this to be the year it happened. Instead we'll have to wait until he's an old man. When he's 23 or so. Kennedy proved last year that his stuff can translate at the big league level, it just seems that after he struggled early this season his head started spinning and he got himself into a hole. For the most part, he's been just as good as last year the times I've seen him in Triple-A. Bottom line, they're very young and player development is about patience, not hype.

CBLL: Do you get a chance to regularly watch the (NY) Yankees on television?

Chad Jennings: Not really. The YES Network is usually on in the press box and I'll go over to the TV to watch key at-bats or to watch players make their debuts, but otherwise all of the Yankees games that I see are being played on Triple-A fields. Even if I'm home for a game, I flip back and forth.

CBLL: How often do you get to Yankee Stadium?

Chad Jennings: Ready for the shocker? I've never been. I didn't grow up out here so I never went as a kid, and after I moved to Pennsylvania, my job has kept me away more than it's allowed me to go. There have been a handful of games that I was going to cover at the Stadium, but something else has always popped up and kept me from going. My first time at the Stadium was supposed to be last year during the ALCS, but...

CBLL: What type of a manager is Dave Miley?

Chad Jennings: He's fond of saying he doesn't work with the hitters, doesn't work with the pitchers, doesn't work with the fielders. He manages the game and manages the clubhouse. He's a smart baseball man and I think the players like him. He knows when to come down hard on them and when to let them have fun. He gets to the park early in the morning and leaves late at night, both on the road and at home.

CBLL: Your blog recently listed the 2008 IL award winners. I noticed that two Red Sox farm hands were selected Most Valuable Player (Jeff Bailey) and Most Valuable Pitcher (Charlie Zink). Should Yankee fans be scared?

Chad Jennings: Not really. Bailey's a utility guy who can play the outfield and first base. Good tools across the board, but nothing overwhelming. He's a bench guy in the big leagues. Zink is a knuckleballer who wasn't nearly this good last season. He might be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but I can't see him being much more than that.

CBLL: Please give us a brief scouting report and big league projection for the following players:

CBLL: Alfredo Aceves.

Chad Jennings: Throws five or six pitches and commands them pretty well. Just a matter of experience and adjustment. Projection is tough based on what I've seen. He's gotten crushed and he's been unhitable.

CBLL: Phil Coke.

Chad Jennings: Low 90s fastball. Big time slider. OK changeup. I actually like him a lot as a left-handed specialist who could prove himself as more than a situational reliever. I think he's better out of the bullpen than the rotation.

CBLL: Mark Melancon.

Chad Jennings: What else can I say. He's a beast. Mid 90s fastball with movement. Hammer curve similar to David Robertson's. Very thoughtful and polite, and willing to work. Attacks hitters, which is why his pitch count is low and his total innings high. I believe the hype that he's a future closer.

CBLL: Juan Miranda.

Chad Jennings. Good gap hitter who showed a good eye earlier this season when he wasn't hitting. It was like he knew the bat wasn't there yet, so he took his walks. The power is starting to show. Defensively he's fine, not the butcher he's sometimes made out to be. Big league platoon.

CBLL: Chase Wright.

Chad Jennings: When he keeps his sinker and changeup down in the zone, he's very good. A lot of routine grounders and weak fly balls. Control is occasionally a problem, but it's been better this year. And his curveball has come a long way, which is key for him. He was a two-pitch pitcher last season. Could be a back of the rotation starter, but I have a hard time seeing him in the bullpen because lefties sometimes give him more trouble than they should, which he admits and which he's successfully worked hard to improve.

CBLL: J.B. Cox.

Chad Jennings: Sinker, slider reliever with a deceptive delivery. Has a changeup but he leans more on the fastball and slider. Absolutely has to command the strikezone because he's never going to sneak his 87 mph fastball by a hitter. But, when he does command the strikezone, he's very effective. The slider can be a strikeout pitch, but he's a groundball guy.

CBLL: Finally, the most important question. Have you ever seen Dwight Schrute at a SWB Yankees game?

Chad Jennings: No, but I used to cover Ryan Howard. In fact, every time I hear them use the name Ryan Howard on The Office in reference to the temp, it cracks me up. Why did they have to name that guy Ryan Howard? Is there another actor in Hollywood who looks less like THE Ryan Howard?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Some Thoughts - 8/24/08

A bit of a sloppy game today, but at this point in the season, a win is a win. Thank God for Mariano Rivera. Just watching him on the mound relaxes me. We're really going to miss him someday. Hopefully, that day is a long way away.

Carl Pavano has started 20 games for the Yankees. His contract is approximately 4o million. So, as of today, he's earned 2 million per start. Pretty cool, huh.

More Pavano numbers: He's earned $6,666,666.66 per win (scary), $343,938.09 per inning pitched, and $114, 646.03 per out.

I listened to a good part of this series in the car. John Sterling sure misses a lot of home run calls, doesn't he. I realize that's never been his forte, but he really seems to be getting worse. Nonetheless, I still love Big John.

Speaking of announcers, I watched the streaming video of the Men's Gold Medal Basketball game this morning at 2:30 (on my laptop). The video contained sound, but no announcers. It was very interesting. Years back, NBC broadcasted a Jets-Dolphins game with only sound and graphics. Last night (rather, early this morning) reminded me of that game.

Does anyone ever read Phil Mushnick in the Sunday New York Post? He always shows two people that "supposedly" look alike. Maybe it's just me, but they never look anything like one another. Today he had Johan Santana and Sinbad. Do they look alike?

Speaking of look-a-likes. The woman below looks very familiar. Can anyone help me out? Who is she?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is There Such A Thing As A "True Yankee"?

We always hear the term, "True Yankee". Does such a thing even exist? If yes, how does one become one? Do you need to win a championship? Must you play your entire career in pinstripes? Must you play most of your career in pinstripes? Do you need to exhibit class and grace? Do you need to perform well under pressure?

I think it's a very subjective thing. There's really no right or wrong answer. For me, it's purely a gut thing, but there are certain players that I do place in the "True Yankee" category.

Here's my "True Yankee" list from the past 35 years (I limited the listing to only players that I have watched in my lifetime). Did I miss anyone? Did I include anyone that's undeserving? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Ron Bloomberg, Scott Brosius, Chris Chambliss, Horace Clarke, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Joe Girardi, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Catfish Hunter, El Duque, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Key, Chuck Knoblaugh, Jim Leyritz, Sparky Lyle, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Don Mattingly, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Michael, Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles, Paul O'Neill, Andy Pettitte, Lou Piniella, Jorge Posada, Willie Randolph, Dave Righetti, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers, Luis Sojo, Mike Stanley, Mike Stanton, Mel Stottlemyre, Randy Velarde, Chien-Ming Wang, Bernie Williams, Roy White, David Wells, John Wetteland.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maybe The Tough Love Approach Will Work?

The Yankees had a closed door meeting in Toronto. It seems as if the meeting helped (at least for one night, anyway).

According to our sources, a friend of the Steinbrenner family was asked to address the team during the meeting. From what I hear, the guy is a real Larry Bowa-type, and really laid into everyone.

Supposedly, the guy's name is Blake. Other than that, nobody knows much about him.

CBLL was able to obtain this video of "Blake" from a few years back. Larry Bowa-type does not begin to describe him.

Warning: The language is a bit harsh.