COVID-19 has ravaged all parts of society. The pandemic took a toll on the New York Post’s sports section last week as two of its longtime and very respected columnists, George Willis and Kevin Kernan, announced on social media that their positions were eliminated.
Since there are no sports being played it was inevitable that numerous sportswriters from all outlets would be either dismissed or furloughed.
It’s no secret that the daily newspapers had been letting sportswriters go well before the arrival of COVID-19. The Daily News infamously axed most of its longtime sports scribes in July 2018, a story that has been repeated throughout the nation.
The departures of Willis and Kernan are blows for those who enjoy reading intelligent takes on the games people play. Willis knows the fight game better than almost anyone while Kernan has never been afraid to call out bad strategy, effort or execution in baseball.
I will miss seeing Kernan in the press box if live sports ever comes back. He has a razor- sharp humor and created a tongue-in-cheek initials moniker, AMBS, that caught on with his colleagues. It stands for “America’s most beloved sportswriter.” He laughed when I told him I would be happy just to be thought of as QMBS!
This past weekend Bob Ford, who was a must-read sports columnist for the past 32 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer, announced he was accepting a buyout. When a sportswriter accepts a buyout from a newspaper it’s generally because he or she knows the axe will fall in the not too distant future and the economic package, if there is one, will be far less generous then.
It’s hard to fault the management of the Inquirer given the grim realities of the times. In this past Sunday’s sports section there wasn’t one article on the Philadelphia Phillies even though it was the first weekend of May. Practically every piece delved into obsessive detail over each selection the Philadelphia Eagles had made in last week’s NFL Draft.
Last spring Mark Herrmann, whose byline was familiar to Newsday readers, accepted a buyout. Herrmann was the paper’s golf expert and it’s unsurprising that he’s contributing articles to the bimonthly magazine of the Metropolitan Golf Association, the Met Golfer.
Newsday would be wise to bring him back as a freelancer to write his humorous column, The Windup, which used to brighten their Sunday edition. We could use it now more than ever.
Best of luck to Astoria native and longtime Mets visiting clubhouse manager Tony Carullo, who announced his retirement after working 51 years for the team.
See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.
Budweiser has relaunched its old “Whassup” commercials. Starring in this iteration are former NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well as WNBA All-Star Candace Parker. The purpose behind the humorous ad is to remind people to keep in touch with as many as possible, especially those who are living alone.
Life and style
The COVID-19 crisis has forced the closure of hair salons and barber shops, so self-grooming has become more important than ever. Manscaped (manscaped.com) has achieved significant buzz with its humorous social media campaigns to promote its myriad of products for guys that are designed to be used, shall we say, below the waist.
Manscaped is “raising its sights” with its newest trimmer which is designed for those pesky nasal and ear hairs. In keeping with the company’s lighthearted corporate image, Manscaped is calling it the “Weed Whacker” and it retails for around $40. It makes for a good Father’s Day gag gift and it’s actually useful.
Here is an idea that is so simple you have to wonder why others haven’t done it. Steeped Coffee (steepedcoffee.com) based in Santa Cruz, Calif., has put out a diverse line of coffee blends that come in a tea bag. You don’t need a grinder or any kind of brewing machine. You just need to boil water and dip in your tea bag, or perhaps I should say “coffee bag.” This is far better for the environment than plastic pods are.
We are all looking for creative ways to spend time during this stressful shelter-at-home time. Ricky Rosen’s “Nervous Habits” podcast on Apple Podcasts, is one. Rosen, a former standup comic and currently a Georgetown University law student, nicely touches upon both the big issues that everyone talks about and the little ones that keep us from falling asleep at night with a Seinfeld-like attitude. He also has interesting guests who, while they may not be famous, know how to make us feel like we are part of the conversation.
One of my favorite magazine columnists back in the 1980s was Stanley Bing, who wrote in a very laugh-out-loud way about corporate culture in Esquire and later in Fortune.
It turns out that Stanley Bing was a pseudonym for Gil Schwartz whose day job was senior vice president for communications for CBS.
In spite of that lofty title, Gil was one of the most approachable people I have ever met in the media business. He had an ability to make you feel as if you were his best friend.
Gil retired from CBS in 2018 in the wake of the MeToo scandal, which sacked its charismatic CEO Leslie Moonves. He had no idea about his boss’ bad deeds but because he was so identified with Moonves he was forced to leave as well. I don’t think he was ever the same.
On Sunday the various entertainment trade magazines announced that Schwartz had succumbed to a heart attack three weeks short of his 69th birthday. He will be missed by all who knew him.