THE BLACK ATHLETE REVISITED

Today marks the fourth anniversary of my “Silva Linings Playbook” column. To celebrate this anniversary, I will revisit the state of the Black Athlete, the subject of my very first column.

Four years ago, I heavily criticized Black athletes for not speaking out on issues that affected the Black community. Today, no longer are Black athletes sitting on the sidelines just collecting a paycheck while young Black men are being targeted by the powers that be. Beginning with Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem at the start of the 2016 NFL season, Black athletes such as Michael Bennett, LeBron James, Malcolm Jenkins and Eric Reid have spoken up against racial injustice and give their support to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Not since Muhammad Ali’s stance against the Vietnam War over 50 years ago has a Black athlete been both ostracized and blackballed by the media and the powers that be. The reason for his refusal to stand for the anthem was eloquently system by Kaepernick in August of 2016. Kaepernick wanted to shed light on the growing injustices against Black people in America, especially young Black men that continue to be unjustly murdered by the police. As he put it, he wanted to “use his voice to speak for the voiceless.” What followed were conservative politicians and members of the media criticizing Kaepernick non stop.

During the midst of his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump suggested that if Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem, he “should try another country.” Kaepernick’s response? “He always says make America great again. Well America has never been great for people of color. That’s something that needs to be addressed. Let’s make America great for the first time.” As we all know, Trump went on to win the presidency and since winning, he has upped his bigotry and ignorance. He ripped NBA star Stephen Curry for refusing the customary tradition of the NBA champions to visit the President at the White House. To save face, Trump rescinded his invitation to the Golden State Warriors. The fact remains, Curry and his Warriors had no intention of visiting.

Kaepernick‘s political stance has been the catalyst for several athletes, both Black and White, to speak out against racial injustice, including the biggest American sports star today, LeBron James. James has consistently used his superstar status to call Trump on the carpet for the way he attempts to divide the country and scapegoat immigrants and people of color. Laura Ingraham of The Fox News Channel, an ultra conservative and champion of everything Trump, used her show on the network to tell James to “just shut up and dribble.” New York’s sports radio station WFAN two most widely listened two shows had the host of both shows, Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa blasted Kaepernick‘s refusal to stand for the anthem. Boomer called Kaepernick’s actions “unpatriotic and a slap in the face to the men and women serving in our military.” Francesa felt that NFL teams shouldn’t sign Kaepernick because he “wasn’t worth the headache.” None of the aforementioned members of the media understand the everyday struggle of being oppressed and/or being discriminated because of the color of their skins. Yet, that is no excuse. The last two years, two of the most prominent coaches in NBA history who happen to be White, Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich, have supported political protests by athletes of color. Kerr is the coach of the Golden State Warriors and he supported not visiting the White House and Trump. He was extremely critical of Trump last fall when Trump called any NFL players who refused to stand for the anthem “sons of bitches.” Kerr’s response? “He used the words ‘sons of (expletive)’ to talk about NFL players who have made it clear they’re protesting racial inequality and police brutality,” Kerr said. “Those are sons of (expletive)? Really? You’re the President of the United States and you’re going to call them sons of (expletive)? And you’re going to call (Colin) Kaepernick out for non-violent protests, a staple of American democracy? That’s really hard to deal with.”

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, a middle age White man who served in the military, is the most poignant in his comments regarding Trump and his divisiveness,”Obviously, race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly, it’s not going to get better. ‘Oh, they’re talking about that again. They pulled the race card again. Why do we have to talk about that?’ Well, because it’s uncomfortable. There has to be an uncomfortable element in the discourse for anything to change, whether it’s the LGBT movement, or women’s suffrage, race, it doesn’t matter. People have to be made to feel uncomfortable, and especially white people, because we’re comfortable. We still have no clue what being born white means. And if you read some of the recent literature, you realize there really is no such thing as whiteness. We kind of made it up. That’s not my original thought, but it’s true.” What is also true is that Trump, who’s quick to verbally assault any prominent persons of color, has never responded to the criticisms and concerns raised by Kerr and Popovich. He has always been a racist coward. Google “Trump and The Central Park Five” and see for yourself.

Since becoming a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, Kaepernick has yet to be signed by a NFL team despite the fact that he has been an all star and led a team to the Super Bowl. He is only 30 years old and considerably better than the majority of quarterbacks in the NFL. He has been unofficially blackballed. Despite the inability to ply his God given talent, Kaepernick remains steadfast and strong. He has donated over one million dollars to charities that are invested in helping the oppressed. Prominent Black athletes such as Curry, Kevin Durant and Serena Williams have donated over $10,000 each to those same charities. Last week, Kaepernick was awarded Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award, an award given to him for his public protest against social and racial injustice. Despite losing millions of dollars in endorsement and NFL deals, Kaepernick has made a monumental difference for Blacks in America. He has continued the struggle against injustice in the tradition of Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson,Muhammad ALI, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. There is no athlete I admire more in sports today. In the long run, the truth will win out.

Logan’s Movie Reviews: To Live and Die in LA, 1985

When his longtime partner on the force is killed, reckless U.S. Secret Service agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen) vows revenge, setting out to nab dangerous counterfeit artist Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe). Along with his new, straitlaced partner, John Vukovich (John Pankow), Chance sets up a scheme to entrap Masters, resulting in the accidental death of an undercover officer. As Chance’s desire for justice becomes an obsession, Vukovich questions the lawless methods he employs.

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World Championship Boxing – Greatest Performances #91: VICENTE SALDIVAR

World Championship boxing is back! And in this episode we talk about VICENTE SALDIVAR and three of his greatest performances.

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Fight vids posted below. More

World Championship Boxing: Fight Recap Show, 4-1-18: Joshua vs. Parker

World Championship Boxing is back! And in this episode we discuss the recent heavyweight unification fight between Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker.

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Logan’s Movie Reviews: Roxanne Roxanne, 2017

In the early 1980s, the most feared battle MC in Queens, New York, was a fierce teenage girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. At the age of 14, Lolita “Roxanne Shanté” Gooden was well on her way to becoming a hip-hop legend as she hustled to provide for her family while defending herself from the dangers of the streets of the Queensbridge Projects in NYC.

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ALL TIME NEW YORK METS TEAM: KEITH HERNANDEZ

Boys tend to follow the same teams and athletes that their fathers followed. My father was a diehard boxing and New York Mets fan. I would inherit these passions of my father. Today, a month shy of my 50th birthday, boxing and the Mets continue to be my biggest passions in life. This is the 42nd year of my Met fandom. I will celebrate this fandom by doing a bio on the Mets all time team by position. I will start with the greatest first baseman in Mets history: Keith Hernandez.

On June 15, 1983, the New York Mets acquired Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals in what would amount to highway robbery. The Mets gave up their erratic closer Neil Allen and an unknown minor league prospect Rick Ownbey for a gold glove first baseman and former National League Most Valuable Player. When the trade occurred, my father surmised that something was up. There was no way in the world that the Mets could get a star of Hernandez’s magnitude without something fishy going on. My father was right, as two years later, it was revealed that Hernandez was not only having issues with Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, he was also dealing with an addiction to cocaine.

Hernandez overcame his cocaine addiction and became the leader of a Mets team that had been a terrible losing team for seven years. Beginning in 1984, the Mets would go on to seven consecutive seasons of playing winning baseball. In that period, twice they finished first in the National League East and second five times. In 1984, Hernandez batted .311 with 15 home runs and 94 RBI’s, resulting in Hernandez finishing second in the NL MVP voting. He also won the seventh of a still record eleven gold gloves for a first baseman.

Hernandez continued his great fielding and hitting in 1985. He batted .309 with 10 home runs and 91 RBI’s. He also was given additional help on offense with the acquisition of superstar catcher Gary Carter and the maturation of outfield slugger Darryl Strawberry. Mets pitching ace Doc Gooden had one of the most incredible years ever for a pitcher. All of this resulted in the Mets wining 98 games but falling short to the division winning Cardinals. Going into 1986, my father and I knew it would be the year of the Mets. It would be the greatest season in the history of our beloved franchise.

A great player is nothing but consistent. In 1986, Hernandez batted .310 with 13 home runs and 83 RBI’s while again playing stellar defense at first base. Hernandez was complemented offensively by great seasons from Carter and Strawberry. The Mets also had an incredible pitching staff with four pitchers winning 15 or more games. The Mets would go on to win 108 games and the National League East by an astronomical 21 1/2 games. The Mets would win an epic NLCS over the Houston Astros and a legendary World Series over the Boston Red Sox to win their second championship. My father and I thought this would be the beginning of a Mets dynasty. It’s still the last time the Mets won it all.

The Mets fell short the following season because of several injuries and the 60 day suspension Gooden received for cocaine use. Hernandez had another solid season, batting .290 with 18 home runs and 89 RBI’s. Despite Hernandez only playing in 95 games because of nagging injuries, the Mets, on the strength of their incredible pitching staff and a breakout year by Strawberry, won 100 games and the National League East. Unfortunately, the Mets would be defeated in seven games by the Los Angeles Dodgers. This series loss was even more painful as during the regular season, the Mets had beaten the Dodgers in 10 out of the 11 games they played him. Injuries forced Hernandez to miss even more games in 1989. He batted a paltry .233 and for the first time since 1977 did not win a gold glove. The Mets didn’t offer Hernandez a new contract as he was a free agent after the conclusion of the 1989 season. After another injury plague 1990 season with the Cleveland Indians, Hernandez announced his retirement.

Hernandez brought a professionalism and stardom that the Mets were in desperate need of during their dark days of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Along with Gary Carter, Hernandez led and mentored young Mets such as Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Lenny Dykstra and Howard Johnson during the greatest era in Mets history. Today, Hernandez is part of the best broadcasting team in sports today. Alongside Gary Cohen and former teammate Ron Darling, this trio gives you the most unbiased and informative analysis in baseball today. Just like he did in his days as captain of the Mets, Hernandez serves as a calm voice of reason in the broadcast booth. A leader both on and off the field.

Logan’s Movie Reviews: The Black Panther, 2018


“Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.

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WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING – FIGHT RECAP SHOW, 3-4-18: WILDER-ORTIZ; KOVALEV-MIKHLAKIN

World Championship boxing is back. And in this episode we talk about four fights that happened March 3rd, 2018 on HBO and Showtime.

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GREATEST ICONIC FIGURES IN SITCOM HISTORY


Throughout the history of television, there have been many legendary comedic legends that starred on groundbreaking sitcoms. Such legends included Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy”: Andy Griffith on “The Andy Griffith Show”: Dick Van Dyke on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”: Freddie Prinze on “Chico and The Man”: Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show”: Jerry Seinfeld on “Seinfeld.” As great as these actors were in portraying their characters on their shows, there were three actors who’s portrayal of their characters trumps the aforementioned ones. I will explain why Jackie Gleason, Carroll O’Connor and Redd Foxx and the characters they played stand alone as the three greatest iconic comedic figures in television history.

One of the early superstars doing the infancy of television was Jackie Gleason. In the early 1950’s, Gleason hosted a highly rated variety show named after himself on CBS. “The Jackie Gleason Show” centered on Gleason and his cast of actors in multiple comedy skits. The most popular of these skits were centered around a Brooklyn bus driver, played by Gleason, and his interactions with his wife and best friend. In the fall of 1955, that popular skit became a stand alone, weekly sitcom. “The Honeymooners” premiered on October 1, 1955. It set the standard for a comedic leading man.

Gleason played Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden. Kramden was a bombastic, overbearing man who always got involved with his best friend and neighbor Ed Norton in one hair brained scheme after another. On several occasions, Kramden and Norton would attempt get rich money schemes. Each time, they would fail. Kramden would explode in anger towards Norton and then have to explain to his wife how he blew the little money they had on one bad investment after another. Art Carney as Ed Norton and Audrey Meadows as Ralph’s wife Alice perfectly complimented Gleason’s Kramden in their interplay with him. Carney as the bumbling Norton was a naïve man with good intentions. Meadows as Alice was a woman who time and time again would be disappointed by Ralph, yet their love was so strong that she always forgave him. Almost every episode ended with Ralph apologizing to Alice for letting her down and her lovingly forgiving him. Although the show only lasted 39 episodes because of Gleason’s extremely busy schedule, the show set a standard with the comedic timing between Carney and Gleason. Gleason’s Kramden was the overbearing comedic lead that became a staple of sitcoms to this day. Ralph Kramden was such an iconic figure that in 2000, a statue of Kramden was unveiled outside New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square.

When speaking of overbearing comedic leads, Carroll O’Connor’s iconic Archie Bunker was the most overbearing of them all. “All in the Family” was the very first sitcom to tackle sensitive social issues with O’Connor portraying a racist, sexist and insensitive Queens cabdriver. A sitcom based around a racist, ignorant middle aged man sounded like a recipe for disaster. The reason it became a legendary show was the way O’Connor portrayed Bunker. O’Connor brought to life just how ignorant Bunker was in the way he delivered his racist views. Whether it was calling Blacks “colored” or his liberal Polish-American son-in-law a “Polack,” the viewers saw just how incredibly stupid Archie Bunker really was. Also, his character being the way he was would shed a light politically on such issues as racism, the Vietnam War, segregation and immigration. No television show had ever broached such subject matter. The biggest irony of O’Connor’s portrayal of Archie Bunker was the fact that in real life, O’Connor was a liberal Democrat, the exact opposite of Bunker’s conservative Republican. O’Connor knew that by playing Bunker the way he did, issues that he needed addressed would be addressed in front of millions of people each week.

“All in the Family” premiered on CBS January 12, 1971. It ran for nine seasons before being renamed “Archie Bunker’s Place” and ran another four seasons. In the 13 seasons that the character Archie Bunker was on television, viewers saw his character evolve from a racist, ignorant bigot to a man who began to see the errors of his way. He stopped ordering his doting wife, played by the incredible Jean Stapleton, Edith around like she was his slave. He began to respect his son-in-law Mike, played with intense passion by future legendary director Rob Reiner, and his political views. He adopted his Jewish niece, became business partners with a Jewish man, and defended his Black maid against a group of racists. Throughout the 1970’s, the only other character in a network sitcom that was on that level was the single, greatest African-American character of all time: Redd Foxx’s Fred Sanford.

Redd Foxx was a legendary comedian who many felt would be too raw for television. He was one of the innovators of raunchy, sexually explicit comedy. Norman Lear, the creator of “All in the Family,” wanted a Black version of Archie Bunker and felt Foxx was the perfect actor to bring such a character to the screen. Redd Foxx real name was John Sanford and as a tribute to his deceased brother had his character on “Sanford and Son” Fred Sanford named after him. Fred Sanford, like Ralph Kramden and Archie Bunker, was an overbearing man who constantly yelled and insulted his friends and family. Like Bunker, he harbored prejudicial views about other ethnicities. Fred Sanford was also similar to Ralph Kramden when it came to getting involved in get rich quick schemes. These schemes would be in concert with his bumbling friends Grady and/or Bubba. Sanford owned a junkyard outside his house in South Central Los Angeles that he ran with his son Lamont. Lamont, played by Demond Wilson, was a kind man who more often than not had to bail his father out of trouble. Like Ralph Kramden’s wife Alice or Archie Bunker’s wife Edith, Lamont was the one person who was able to calm his volatile father down with love and reasoning. Foxx was the first actor in a sitcom to ad-lib many of his lines. The reason he did this so often was because most of the writing staff were Jewish writers who had no concept of Black life in South Central Los Angeles. Eventually, he was able to bring in legendary comedians Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney to write for the show. “Sanford and Son“ debuted on January 14, 1972, and was NBC’s biggest hit until Foxx left the show in 1977.

Like Bunker with his son-in-law Mike, Sanford had a comedic foil who he was always at odds with in his sister-in-law played by Lawanda Paige, Aunt Esther. Sanford called her several derrogatory names such as “Barricuda” and “Ugly Gorilla.” One of the single, funniest moments on the show occurred with an ad-lib out of nowhere. In the very last scene of the episode entitled “There Will Be Some Change Made,” Foxx swiped Paige’s wig off her head and ran off the set. Paige was visibly upset as she took chase after the mischievous Foxx. As soon as the wig came off, Wilson began laughing uncontrollably. Years later, Paige was asked if she felt insulted and violated by Foxx’s spontaneity in that scene. She started crying. Not because she was offended, she was crying because of the deep love she had for Foxx.

There were many similarities shared by Gleason, O’Connor, and Foxx. All three were in their late 40’s when they began their iconic runs. All three played overbearing, cantankerous characters who became beloved by television audiences because of the vulnerability shown by each actor in their characters. All three, despite their angry demeanors, loved their wives unconditionally(Sanford’s wife died when their son Lamont was a young boy. Whenever Sanford needed to get out of a lie he told Lamont, he’d feint a heart attack and say his most famous line “Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you!”). In the over 70 years of network television, no other sitcom characters come close to the impact that these actors portrayed.