The New York Post, it is pretty much universally acknowledged, is a total rag.
Stories are made up out of whole cloth much of the time, their political slant is just to the right of Pat Buchanan, and even for a tabloid, their stories are often ridiculous and terribly-written.
The only redeeming qualities of the Post, for me at least, are the often-hilarious headlines (“Ka-Bullsye!” remains a favorite, from when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2002) and the constant “get off my lawn” carping of sportswriter Phil Mushnick, who hates everything and everybody that the sports world has turned into.
Still, every once in a while the Post will do a story to show they’re not totally worthless, and usually it comes from the pen of excellent columnist Mike Vaccaro.
I stumbled onto this terrific piece he did last weekend, about a Washington Heights (that’s the Bronx) Little League. It seems back in 1988, after police officer Michael J. Buczek was killed, his family, knowing what a baseball lover he was, decided to start a new youth league in his name.
But this league would be different in one big way: The 300 kids in the league all wear major league team names on the front, like so many leagues do.
But on the back, names of NYPD officers who had been killed in the line of duty would appear, honoring for that season a different brave man or woman who’d been struck down.
“You know the old saying, ‘You don’t play for the name on the back of the jersey, but for the name on the front of the jersey?’ We do it a little different,” said Sgt. John Moynihan, a friend of Buczek. “We really do play for the name on the back of the jersey.”
It’s a wonderful idea, and with the league now in its 27th year, one that has continued. Read Vaccaro’s piece here for more great insight on the family, and the league.
**Next up, we had an all-time classic angry rant by a sports figure Monday night. Bryan Price, the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, was upset with the media’s doing their job, specifically, reporting a certain player was unavailable to play the night before.
This led Price into an epic, and I mean, epic, profanity-laced rant about how the sportswriters aren’t helping his team (umm, they’re not supposed to) and how he tries so hard to help but he’s going to stop trying and, just listen to it. It’s definitely NSFW (the interesting stuff starts at the 1-minute mark), but fantastic audio.
Price is just one in a long, long line of sports figures who don’t understand that sportswriters aren’t there to help them, and apparently is pissed about it.
**Finally today, this story had particular resonance to me as an ex-newspaper writer who still feels passionately about the craft. The Pulitzer Prizes were given out Monday, and as usual, some incredible, important work was honored (here’s a look at all the winners, with links to their work).
One of the prizes went to the Torrance (CA) Daily Breeze, a small newspaper that won for a fantastic expose into a corrupt local district (I actually applied for a job at that paper when I first started out and was applying everywhere; I thought it had a cool name and who wouldn’t want to live in SoCal as a young adult? Alas, like hundreds of other papers, they rejected me.)
It’s always great to see tiny papers get rewarded with Pulitzers, so most journalists were happy to see it get recognized.
But then word came out that one of the three reporters who won, Rob Kuznia (middle person in photo), is no longer in journalism.
As he told the L.A. Observer, Kuznia had to leave the Daily Breeze this year because he could no longer afford to live in Southern California on a reporter’s salary. He’s now a publicist at USC.
I have mixed feelings on this; of course it’s wonderful Kuznia won, but when a journalist as talented as he is has to leave the business because the pay is so pitiful (and it’s bad everywhere now in these newspaper days), it’s really sad.
At least Kuznia went out with a bang.