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The [Friday] Papers

I was going to write this morning about how White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's latest tempest seemed to pass by without critical press scrutiny.

I guess I was just being impatient. Newspapers - the print versions - still need a day to report and write, and a night to send it to the printer, and a morning to get it delivered to your home.

So this morning, Ozzie Guillen's unhinged rip job of rookie pitcher Sean Tracey for failing to bean Texas Ranger veteran Hank Blalock in retaliation for White Sox bad boy A.J. Pierzynksi getting hit the previous inning, burst into full view.

The Sun-Times got the best of it, turning out columns by Jay Mariotti and Greg Couch, and follow-up stories by Joe Cowley.

It was Mariotti who nailed it.

"Using a baseball as a weapon is dangerous," Mariotti wrote. "Watching Ozzie Guillen order a kid pitcher to retaliate with a weapon is frightening. And when that kid pitcher fails to be a goon-on-demand, prompting Guillen to rip into a humiliated Sean Tracey, I am left to ponder three disturbing thoughts about the Blizzard of Oz.

"Has he officially lost his mind?

"Are his priorities in sufficient order to manage the White Sox to an encore title?

"And is he involved in so many rants and raves and headline-grabbing incidents, about two a week these days, that he's burning all of us out - including his players?"

I suspect the answers are yes, remains to be seen, and no.

To nice effect, the Sun-Times published a photo of Tony Conigliaro, whose career was famously cut short when he took a fastball to his cheekbone. His sight was never the same.

The Guillen story deserves a follow-up examining the age-old unwritten rules of baseball condoning retaliatory acts that off-the-field would be considered violent assaults worthy of arrest. And I suppose such a piece could be broadened to the culture at-large, and its unwritten rules that inevitably favor the cynical, the powerful, and the criminal.

I just hope we don't have to bear the kind of mawkish follow-up the Tribune is wont to put on its front page on Sunday.

To my way of thinking, the foremost focus ought to be on Guillen, a ticking time bomb whose outbursts and pattern of advocating violence will someday come to an ugly end.

Soaking In It
"Though musically the concert was hit and miss, in part because it was so heavily weighted with songs from her latest album, Confessions on a Dancefloor, she was never less than watchable," Tribune rock critic Greg Kot wrote in his review of Madonna's show here. "Though Madonna's voice still isn't anything special . . . "

That sounds about right. When it comes to Madonna, the music is an afterthought.

Madonna is also a royal phony.

"Madonna scripted her stage patter to include several eruptions of anger at non-boogieing fans," Sun-Times rock critic Jim DeRogatis reveals. "(Everything about the show is the same night from night to night.) She referred to paying customers in the nastiest of cuss words no fewer than three times. Listen, Maddy, for $350 a ticket plus service fees, you should really leave our moms out of it!"

Somehow, though, inexplicably, these guys like her.

But history, I suspect, will not treat her kindly - at least when it comes to assessing her songwriting, singing, and (lack of) musical vision. But yeah, she's a spectacle.

This Just In
Debra Pickett is pregnant!

This Just In
Debra Pickett is pregnant!

It Depends on the Meaning of Covert
"Fitzgerald doesn't even claim that Valerie Plame was a covert agent."

- Sun-Times editorial today (second item)

"But special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done 'covert work overseas' on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA 'was making specific efforts to conceal' her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge's opinion."

- Newsweek, February

Tower of Babble
The says Tribune Company's fumbling makes its moves the third dumbest thing on Wall Steet this week (the first two are Vonage's premature announcment that a Federal Trade Commission investigation had been closed; the second is more delays for Airbus's huge double-decker airliner).

"The tenderhearted folks at Tribune are under attack," The Street says.

"'Tribune's strategic missteps are now reflected in a market-valuation multiple that is well below its peers,' a Chandler filing says, noting the stock's 47% decline over two years leading up to the self-tender announcement. 'Management's self-tender is simply a financial device that increases the company's risk profile and undercuts the financial flexibility for necessary fundamental challenges. We believe that this sequencing - financial structure in advance of strategy - is backwards.'

"The Chandlers aren't alone in that view," The Street says. "Moody's became the latest agency to downgrade Tribune debt to junk Thursday, citing the buyback's balance sheet impact.

"Tribune continues to stand by its plan, but some of its remarks smack of typical boardroom buck-passing.

"After receiving recommendations from management and the board's outside financial and legal advisors," lead independent director William Osborn said in a statement late Wednesday, "all the directors except those representing the Chandler Trusts approved the tender offer as being in the best interest of all shareholders."

"Yes, only sound advice could have led to such a fine decision.

"Dumb-o-Meter score: 85. 'In a changing media environment, our commitment to quality journalism and service to our communities will continue to be a top priority,' FitzSimons adds, deftly changing the subject."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Shooting for an 86.


Posted on June 16, 2006

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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