Thick Skin?

by Michael Schultz on October 20, 2014

I was in Toronto this past weekend…lots of ‘John Tory for Mayor’ signs up in support of the upcoming municipal election that seems to have been going on since Mayor Rob Ford started his shenanigans a few years ago – we’ll all be happier when it’s over and Tory takes office and makes Toronto a saner place.

One reason many of us don’t go into politics is because of the hurt,adversary and mudslinging. He found the 2003 race and debates with David Miller ( who was elected) very respectful. However, even Tory’s mom has stopped watching the debates this year because they are so demeaning.

Tory admits he doesn’t like all the criticism even if he has developed a thicker  hide.

Says Tory, ” I just think oftentimes politicians aren’t honest when they say ‘none of that stuff bothers me’…what human would wake up to the newspaper in the morning, read some column containing some stuff that is diminishing your career personally, and not be concerned by that?”

His solution – “I just don’t bother to read it.”

Common (Ground) Beef

by Michael Schultz on October 19, 2014

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (and probably Prime Minister in about a year here in Canada) was in hot water again recently….as they say, the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Dad (Pierre Trudeau) was always controversial and had a tendency to speak his mind. He was always accused of ‘foot in mouth disease’.

Justin Trudeau’s autobiography Common Ground comes out this week and is much anticipated. Sure it’ll be part 1….and the proceeds go to the Red Cross.

I would venture to say that since 2001, Canada had been taken down that ‘slippery slope’ of hawkism that is so much a part of our revolutionary neighbours to the south. First, we followed them into Afghanistan after 2001, flew their flag in sympathy, designated the Hero Highway and plastered “Support Our Troops” decals on our bumpers.

Now it’s 2014 and we’re still following them. Trudeau’s comments about our decision ( thanks to a Conservative majority) in interview with Don Newman recently were considered a ‘glib blooper’ (Globe and Mail – October 18, 2014). His comments opposing Canadian combat activity in Iraq were captured in his warning to Canada that we should ot “whip out our CF-18s to show how big they are.” Even former Prime Minister Jean Chretien wrote a piece in last week’s Globe against military involvement in Iraq. ( once you’re in – you’re in)

Harper seems to think that everything is attributable to ‘globalization’…..ebola, Iraq, oil.

It’s not a popular position for conservatives in Canada to sit back and not use our military muscle to eradicate the ‘bad guys’. Liberals are proposing humanitarian aid as an alternative. This wouldn’t be such a bad way to show our ‘big boy pants.’ That said….I yearn for the Canada I knew that stood behind peaceful means. A threat to us you say? – sure, and so is ebola. So let’s get our act together on our own shores before we sail to someone else’s. There’s more than one way to be a ‘good guy’ and a hero. Meanwhile a Russian ship lists off the shore of BC with the potential to spill fuel on our shores and we have to herald a tug boat from the US to come to the rescue. This is where our military needs to act not in the Middle East. It’s the wrong ‘money pit’.

I’m OK with Trudeau’s comment about the CF 18s. It’s a heck of a heckle. Expect more – afterall you won’t catch him wearing those suits discarded by Stalin and playing “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Speaking from the ‘cuff’ does come with its hazards…thank goodness some politicians still have the guts to do it.

Whack Job

by Michael Schultz on October 18, 2014

Crowds can be brutal to athletes. Hockey players have to practice their self control as much as their slapshot these days.

The Bruins played the Habs in Montreal this past week. Boston forward Milan Lucic ( never heard of him before this incident) is shown getting a penalty for laying a check on a Montreal player. He is ushered to the penalty box. The Bell Centre fans were heckling him relentlessly. Lucic loses it and mimics a gesture of beating off to the fans. He also raises his arms – symbolic of victory or perhaps raising the cup. Usually it’s the fans making the gestures – in this case it’s the player. Players fight each other and even use their tongues or sticks in an offending manner but it is believed that there is no place in the game for these kinds of gestures. The bottom line? …there are kids in the stands.

In the final analysis, Lucic was fined $5,000.00. The hand raising was one thing – the ‘hand job’ quite another. The camera sees it all.

John Mulaney on Jimmy Fallon…..Gonged

by Michael Schultz on October 7, 2014

I learned of a young comedian by the name of John Mulaney – don’t really know much about him but seems to come from the Jerry Seinfeld school….dresses well, eloquent, not too animated. Mulaney is in his 30s and has spent some time writing and performing on SNL

Seems like he has paid his dues. He talks here with Jimmy Fallon about his best heckling story – which I think is part of the common bonds of public speakers everywhere…..facing the reaper known as the heckler.

Mulaney is at a small town gig when a guy from the back yells out during his performance:

“Excuse me sir, I think I speak for everyone here when I say we’d enjoy silence more than the sound of your voice.”

Tough crowd.


A Life and Then Some

by Michael Schultz on September 30, 2014

Gordon Sinclair was a prominent journalist and media celebrity in Canada and beyond in the last century. Scott Young’s book GORDON SINCLAIR – A LIFE AND THEN SOME ( Macmillan of Canada)  that came out in 1987 still holds up in terms of humour and interest.

Sinclair’s ‘damn the torpedoes’ style and his crusty nature both endeared and infuriated listeners on CFRB or in the the Toronto Star where he spent a large measure of his career in broadcasting.

To say he spoke his mind is an understatement. He was a contrarian and a jester. In fact, one story in the book stands out to illustrate that Sinclair didn’t mind heckling and saying what he thought.

One CFRB employee, Jill Loring, recounts the following story ( Page 213):

“I was at a movie once and Gordon was some rows ahead. Suddenly he stood up and shouted loudly, ‘That’s it! I’ve had enough of this garbage! Goodbye!’ And stomped up the aisle and out, to great laughter from the audience, who recognized him of course.”

I wish I knew what movie it was – the book doesn’t say. But it certainly tells you something about the man. He definitely followed his own tune.

Sinclair became even more notorious when he recorded a tribute to the United States defending them for their contribution to the world. It was a low point for the U.S. and they loved it….it was called “The Americans: A Canadian’s Opinion.” ( Let’s Hear it for the Americans). Here it is from 1973:

We could use a few more outspoken journalists like Sinclair….who plied his trade alongside the likes of Foster Hewitt, Ernest Hemingway and Pierre Berton to name a few. This piece might well be relevant today. The U.S. has lost even more of its lustre on the world stage but it is still right next door to us here in Canada even though Sinclair left us in the 1980s.


Umpire Ejects Unruly Heckler

by Michael Schultz on September 22, 2014

Washington was in Atlanta recently. The National’s Bryce Harper was at the plate. A fan proceeds to hurl some rather profane comments at him. The umpire turns and immediately tells ushers to get him out of the park. Well done Mr. Umpire.

Interestingly, the commentators mention that the usher is Walter Banks.When I was in Atlanta a few years back, I met Walter and was privileged to sit in the area he oversees. He’s a gem of a baseball guy and a legend at Turner Field. Walter has been commanding the area including the owner’s box for over 45 years. He even has a suite named after him at the park.

Walter has no doubt had to deal with many hecklers over the years. The broadcasters think Walter might need a hand with the heckler. I doubt it.



The Grandstanding Lollypops

by Michael Schultz on September 9, 2014

Every stadium has them – those hardcore, ardent fans who are always there and always creating a little noise. I’ve profiled a few at my site.

I learned recently of a gal by the name of Lolly Hopkins (Lillian) who was known as the little lady with the megaphone and who cheered on both the Boston Red Sox and the Braves in the last century. Lolly had a gaggle of gals and supporters who became known as the ‘lollypops’. Cute.

Lolly received a gold life-time pass from the Red Sox organization for her dedication. She often attended 3 games a week and might even be on the road to New York or Philly. As one site said Lolly ‘was a familiar figure urging the home forces on from a first row grandstand seat behind the Sox dugout’. Lolly had occupied a similar position when she attended games along first base with her dad as a youngster.

Story has it that a sporting good salesman gave her a number of megaphones after hearing her at the park. He thought these would help her broadcast her voice better and perhaps be more effective – it stuck….Lolly’s husband never said ‘boo’ since , as he put it, she made enough noise for two.

There are really no You Tube or audio clips I can find of her — just the following picture:

Those Royal Rooters

by Michael Schultz on September 8, 2014

As the lyrics in Take Me Out to the Ballgame say….’root, root, root for the home team…if they don’t win it’s a shame’.

I just finished Fenway Park The Centennial ( Saul Wisnia, St. Matrin’s Press, 2011). Fenway entered Boston baseball history in 1912. With it came a loyal band of supporters known as The Royal Rooters. They had been formed earlier in Red Sox history, but marched proudly to Fenway from opening day onward. Here’s a brief description from Wikipedia:

On game days the Royal Rooters marched in procession from the 3rd Base Saloon to the Huntington Avenue Grounds, which was the team’s home field before Fenway Park opened in 1912. The Rooters had a reserved section of seats along the third base line, close enough to the field to intimidate or distract opposing players with their insults and vicious taunts. The 1912 World Series went down in Rooter history. The Rooter’s seats on “Duffy’s Cliff” were sold to other fans and the Rooters became angry. Mounted police were called in to stop the riot.

In 2006, a film was done called Rooters: The Birth of the Red Sox Nation. Here’s the trailer:

These 2nd generation Irish Bostonians started a real tradition that lives on today.

Chipper off the old block…

by Michael Schultz on September 7, 2014

Chipper Jones retired in 2012 at age 40. The star third baseman packed it in after 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. I saw Jones play at Turner Field and I remember his athleticism and intensity. He managed 468 career homers and maintained a remarkable average (sounds like an oxymoron) of just over .300. He did win a World Series early in his career in 1995 and even took home the batting championship in 2008. Here’s a smattering of reflection:

Seems like Derek Jeter isn’t the only retiring baseball pro having retirement gifts bestowed upon him by other teams. Jones received a commemorative painting of Shea stadium at his final appearance in New York where the Braves beat the Mets 3-0. He received a few boos but mostly cheers. Folks were probably happy to see him go. When asked how he’d feel about himself if he were a Mets fan he said, “I would respect the body of work but I would hate his guts.” Personally, I would hire this guy as the PR manager for the Mets:

Chipper Jones has had his sweater retired – # 10….and he’ll be regarded as the Brave’s best third baseman of all time. In 2004, Jones even named his newborn “Shea” given the .314 average he maintained at their field. Next step  - the Hall of Fame?

Frank Udvari – A Stern Referee

by Michael Schultz on September 2, 2014

I grew up with the original six NHL teams in the 50s and 60s. We knew all the players by name. For some we knew all their stats. The refs were a different matter – we didn’t know much about them other than their names. But they were always out there doing what seemed an impossible job – much like teaching. Refereeing at any level means you won’t please all the people all the time.

I remember inviting NHL referee Bruce Hood to address our teacher group in the early 1990s. He made some great connections about fairness, dealing with people and passing sentence.

Former NHL referee and Hall of Famer Frank Udvari just passed away at the ripe old age of 90. There was a great picture of him in the paper hoisting himself off the ice by grabbing the top of the glass above the boards…..a signature move not everyone did or could do. Udvari retired after the 1965-66 season – I’m sure I saw him call a game live at the Gardens.

Udvari required a police escort from more than one arena for fear of loss of life or limb because of an unfavourable call. As described in The Globe and Mail obituary , a referee is perhaps ‘the only neutral observer amid a braying mob of partisans’. Not an easy assignment or career.

He was on duty in March 1955 in Boston for  a ruling against the famous Rocket Richard that later saw the Habs captain sit on the sidelines for a number of games including the playoffs (thanks to a ruling by Clarence Campbell he league President). Incensed Hab’s  fans took to the streets in protest in Montreal in what became known as the ‘Richard Riot’.While Udvari is not mentioned in this clip ( the Boston game is)- here is the significance of the event.

Montreal fans put the ‘fan’ in fanatic. Most agree Campbell shouldn’t have attended the game.

While facing the wrath of fans, players and coaches, referees usually do a great if not impossible job.