Tag Archives: dodgers

Brooklyn offers urban cool in Democratic convention bid

Brooklyn, at long last out of the shadow of Manhattan, has become its own urban brand, emanating youthful energy, gritty cool and liberal politics, a combination backers hope will make it the edgy choice to host the 2016 Democratic convention.

Brooklyn’s rise as a national symbol of liberalism — embodied by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who calls the borough home — coincides with the revival of the left wing of the Democratic Party. And de Blasio’s decision to center his city’s bid in Brooklyn offers powerful political symbolism and risks for the party’s chosen candidate.

If the Democrats spurn a recent trend to have conventions in swing states and opt for deep-blue Brooklyn, the choice allows their eventual nominee to connect with the borough’s offbeat image and liberal values. And while that could produce a dynamic televised spectacle and energize the party’s base, it could also alienate some undecided voters.

“Brooklyn is really the heart of cool, has tons of cachet and would really fire up some Democrats,” said Tobe Berkovitz, media professor at Boston University. “But I’m not sure Brooklyn has much allure if you’re a suburban voter from outside Cincinnati.”

Brooklyn, home to 2.6 million people, was viewed for generations as merely a support system for its glamorous neighbor across the East River. Manhattan’s glitzy offices and culture were made possible by Brooklyn’s industrial infrastructure and low-lying brownstone neighborhoods that often housed new immigrants.

But Brooklyn is having a moment. Crime has fallen and rents have risen. As acclaimed restaurants and art galleries have opened, tour buses now frequent the borough’s thoroughfares. Brooklyn’s cultural touchstones have evolved from Ralph Kramden to Spike Lee, Jay Z and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

The city wants to harness that hipness as part of its bid to fire up the party faithful and the media. The convention would be centered at the Nets’ new home, the sparkling Barclays Center. De Blasio administration officials say the borough’s other trendy venues, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park, could also hold events and parties.

The other boroughs will also play a role, according to the proposal de Blasio’s administration will submit to the Democratic National Committee. One idea being floated, literally, is a media party that would start on the Staten Island ferry and continue in a minor league ballpark on the banks of New York Harbor. The administration will also target young voters by launching a crowd-sourcing campaign soon on social media websites to help select an unofficial logo and slogan for Brooklyn 2016.

“We believe it’s the perfect home,” said Peter Ragone, a senior adviser to the mayor. “We believe New York looks like what America is about to look like.”

The most recent convention in New York was in 2004, when Republicans gathered against the backdrop of Sept. 11. The last time the Democrats were in the city was 1992, when Bill Clinton was nominated at Madison Square Garden.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has a home in New York’s suburbs and represented the state in the U.S. Senate, is considered an early favorite to capture the 2016 nomination. Some pundits feel Clinton could benefit from the association with Brooklyn.

She was bested by Barack Obama in getting youth and liberal support in 2008; perhaps tellingly, the Clintons have appeared with de Blasio several times during his first months in office, including attending his inauguration. A spokesman for the former secretary of state didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Some of Brooklyn’s logistics could be challenging, however. Because the borough has only 3,500 hotel rooms (enough to house a tenth of the expected attendees), many convention-goers will likely stay in Manhattan, which could create a strain on the city’s mass transit system. But the de Blasio administration believes the city’s practice in hosting large events will lead to a seamless experience.

Some Brooklynites who live near the arena aren’t so sure.

“Add all the security to the traffic we already have and that’s not going to be fun at all,” said Cheryl Richards, 43.

But others believe the attention is only good for the ascendant borough.

“It’ll be all positive: It’ll create jobs, make money and bring attention to Brooklyn,” said Dan Cross, 41.

Five other cities — Philadelphia, Phoenix, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama — submitted bids for the convention, and the DNC is expected to make its pick by early next year. Although parties in recent years have opted for swing states (In 2012, Democrats went for Charlotte while Republicans picked Tampa), most pundits don’t think convention geography matters much on Election Day.

“There is little to no evidence in political science research that the location of a presidential nominating convention increases or decreases the party’s chances of winning the presidency,” said Wendy Schiller, political science professor at Brown University.

‘42’ – Here’s to you Jackie Robinson

There’s a scene in “42” in which Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, endures intolerably cruel racial slurs from the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager.

It’s early in the 1947 season. Each time the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman comes up to bat, manager Ben Chapman emerges from the dugout, stands on the field and taunts him with increasingly personal and vitriolic attacks. It’s a visible struggle, but No. 42 maintains his composure before a crowd of thousands.

As a viewer, it’s uncomfortable to watch – although as writer-director Brian Helgeland points out, “if anything, the language we have in that scene was cleaned up from what it was.”

Such hatred may seem archaic, an ugly episode in our nation’s history that we’d rather forget. But remembering Robinson’s accomplishments is more important than ever, say people involved with “42” and baseball historians alike. And because he was such an inspiring cultural figure, it’s more important than ever to get his story right.

Helgeland, an Oscar winner for his “L.A. Confidential” screenplay who previously directed “Payback” and “A Knight’s Tale,” said he felt “an enormous amount of pressure” to be faithful to Robinson’s story, both because of his significance and because his life had been written about so extensively. That included recreating games right from the box scores. So when Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) homers during a crucial pennant-race game off a pitcher who’d dinged him earlier in the year, it’s a dramatic moment, but it also actually happened.

“It’s always a tricky thing because it’s a movie, and even in this movie we’re trying to tell two years in two hours,” he said. “You’re obviously not seeing every moment, but the discipline I applied to the script was trying to make sure every moment was documented.”

Helgeland began working on the film two years ago, with the blessing of Robinson’s widow, Rachel, because he felt Robinson “deserves a great, big movie.” Robinson himself starred in the 1950 biography “The Jackie Robinson Story,” which also details how Brooklyn Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey (played here by a feisty Harrison Ford) had the courage to sign the fleet-footed Negro League player, despite receiving discouragement from around the league and death threats from fans.

“People would say to me, ‘You’re making another Jackie Robinson movie?’ and I’d say, ‘What was the other one you saw?’” Helgeland said. “(Racism is) always going to be a relevant thing. It’s not a thing that’s ever going to be eradicated. Society has to stay on guard about it and not get complacent about it.”

Boseman, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Robinson, grew up playing basketball but said he learned of Robinson’s importance around the same time he first learned of Martin Luther King Jr.’s crucial role in fighting for civil rights. Robinson’s uniform number has been retired throughout the league – only New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera still wears it, and he’s retiring after this season – but every year on April 15, everyone in baseball wears No. 42.

“The story is relevant because we still stand on his shoulders. He started something – I would even say maybe he didn’t even start it, it started before him. But he carried the torch. And he carried it alone for a period of time before other people could help him,” Boseman said.

Still, it’s a challenge to depict the life of someone who was so inspirational without deifying him. In “42,” which opens April 12, Robinson shows grace in the face of nearly incessant bigotry. That’s why Rickey chooses him of all the talented black baseball players at the time: He had the skills, but he also had the strength not to fight back.

“He would get his revenge on the base paths a little but he didn’t shy away from contact when he was barreling into the catcher, those kinds of things,” Helgeland said.

“You want to humanize him. The romance with the wife (played by Nicole Beharie) does that. The fact that he doesn’t quite get along with (journalist and guide) Wendell Smith does that, which I think was the case in real life,” he said. “You kind of need to go for this vibe: It’s the actor and the director trying to have a feel for what feels real and right in the moment.”

Baseball historian Howard Bryant, author and senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, said he understands that some changes occur in making a film with historical origins, as was the widely publicized case with several 2012 Oscar contenders, including best picture “Argo.” But he said Hollywood can’t take liberties with stories like Robinson’s.

“It would lose its credibility for me. I would lose respect for it if it were a Hollywood show,” said Bryant, whose books include “Shut Out,” about the role racism played in the Boston Red Sox’ struggles. “We have a special talent in this country for scrubbing history, and I’m hoping that’s not what happens to a story like Jackie Robinson’s.”

Bryant points out that Major League Baseball has been slow to diversify and still has a long way to go. In 2012, 8.8. percent of players were black, with only two black managers and two black general managers, according to the annual report by Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. 

“These stories are more important than ever as we throw around very loaded, misleading terms such as post-racial. I think it’s even more important in something like Jackie Robinson’s case because it wasn’t that long ago,” Bryant said. “Jackie Robinson died in ‘72 before the major leagues had integrated in the front office. Jackie Robinson died before there was a black major league manager.” (Frank Robinson became the first black manager of an American League team – Cleveland Indians in 1975 – and the first in the National League – San Francisco Giants in 1981).

“The four most important teams in baseball history – the Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals and Dodgers – in terms of history, in terms of success, none of them has ever had a black manager, Bryant said. “We’re not just talking about race. We’re not just talking about baseball. It’s an example of how far we’ve come and how far we need to go. There is this feeling that on April 15, 1947, everything was fine. It was just a start.”

Former major leaguer Dmitri Young, who played 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals and now coaches kids in suburban Los Angeles, thinks young people today have no idea what Robinson endured. He hopes a movie like “42” can change that, and can show black kids that baseball is a great game to play.

“I think most people know that on Jackie Robinson Day, everyone wears 42, but they don’t know the significance behind it. … MLB did it right when they let everyone wear 42 so they can experience that day. When I was playing, they’d pick one black player on each team and say, ‘That’s the guy,’” Young said. “When they let in all the races, that’s what America is all about.”

‘42’ – Here’s to you Jackie Robinson

There’s a scene in “42” in which Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, endures intolerably cruel racial slurs from the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager.

It’s early in the 1947 season. Each time the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman comes up to bat, manager Ben Chapman emerges from the dugout, stands on the field and taunts him with increasingly personal and vitriolic attacks. It’s a visible struggle, but No. 42 maintains his composure before a crowd of thousands.

As a viewer, it’s uncomfortable to watch – although as writer-director Brian Helgeland points out, “if anything, the language we have in that scene was cleaned up from what it was.”

Such hatred may seem archaic, an ugly episode in our nation’s history that we’d rather forget. But remembering Robinson’s accomplishments is more important than ever, say people involved with “42” and baseball historians alike. And because he was such an inspiring cultural figure, it’s more important than ever to get his story right.

Helgeland, an Oscar winner for his “L.A. Confidential” screenplay who previously directed “Payback” and “A Knight’s Tale,” said he felt “an enormous amount of pressure” to be faithful to Robinson’s story, both because of his significance and because his life had been written about so extensively. That included recreating games right from the box scores. So when Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) homers during a crucial pennant-race game off a pitcher who’d dinged him earlier in the year, it’s a dramatic moment, but it also actually happened.

“It’s always a tricky thing because it’s a movie, and even in this movie we’re trying to tell two years in two hours,” he said. “You’re obviously not seeing every moment, but the discipline I applied to the script was trying to make sure every moment was documented.”

Helgeland began working on the film two years ago, with the blessing of Robinson’s widow, Rachel, because he felt Robinson “deserves a great, big movie.” Robinson himself starred in the 1950 biography “The Jackie Robinson Story,” which also details how Brooklyn Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey (played here by a feisty Harrison Ford) had the courage to sign the fleet-footed Negro League player, despite receiving discouragement from around the league and death threats from fans.

“People would say to me, ‘You’re making another Jackie Robinson movie?’ and I’d say, ‘What was the other one you saw?’” Helgeland said. “(Racism is) always going to be a relevant thing. It’s not a thing that’s ever going to be eradicated. Society has to stay on guard about it and not get complacent about it.”

Boseman, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Robinson, grew up playing basketball but said he learned of Robinson’s importance around the same time he first learned of Martin Luther King Jr.’s crucial role in fighting for civil rights. Robinson’s uniform number has been retired throughout the league – only New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera still wears it, and he’s retiring after this season – but every year on April 15, everyone in baseball wears No. 42.

“The story is relevant because we still stand on his shoulders. He started something – I would even say maybe he didn’t even start it, it started before him. But he carried the torch. And he carried it alone for a period of time before other people could help him,” Boseman said.

Still, it’s a challenge to depict the life of someone who was so inspirational without deifying him. In “42,” which opens April 12, Robinson shows grace in the face of nearly incessant bigotry. That’s why Rickey chooses him of all the talented black baseball players at the time: He had the skills, but he also had the strength not to fight back.

“He would get his revenge on the base paths a little but he didn’t shy away from contact when he was barreling into the catcher, those kinds of things,” Helgeland said.

“You want to humanize him. The romance with the wife (played by Nicole Beharie) does that. The fact that he doesn’t quite get along with (journalist and guide) Wendell Smith does that, which I think was the case in real life,” he said. “You kind of need to go for this vibe: It’s the actor and the director trying to have a feel for what feels real and right in the moment.”

Baseball historian Howard Bryant, author and senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, said he understands that some changes occur in making a film with historical origins, as was the widely publicized case with several 2012 Oscar contenders, including best picture “Argo.” But he said Hollywood can’t take liberties with stories like Robinson’s.

“It would lose its credibility for me. I would lose respect for it if it were a Hollywood show,” said Bryant, whose books include “Shut Out,” about the role racism played in the Boston Red Sox’ struggles. “We have a special talent in this country for scrubbing history, and I’m hoping that’s not what happens to a story like Jackie Robinson’s.”

Bryant points out that Major League Baseball has been slow to diversify and still has a long way to go. In 2012, 8.8. percent of players were black, with only two black managers and two black general managers, according to the annual report by Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. 

“These stories are more important than ever as we throw around very loaded, misleading terms such as post-racial. I think it’s even more important in something like Jackie Robinson’s case because it wasn’t that long ago,” Bryant said. “Jackie Robinson died in ‘72 before the major leagues had integrated in the front office. Jackie Robinson died before there was a black major league manager.” (Frank Robinson became the first black manager of an American League team – Cleveland Indians in 1975 – and the first in the National League – San Francisco Giants in 1981).

“The four most important teams in baseball history – the Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals and Dodgers – in terms of history, in terms of success, none of them has ever had a black manager, Bryant said. “We’re not just talking about race. We’re not just talking about baseball. It’s an example of how far we’ve come and how far we need to go. There is this feeling that on April 15, 1947, everything was fine. It was just a start.”

Former major leaguer Dmitri Young, who played 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals and now coaches kids in suburban Los Angeles, thinks young people today have no idea what Robinson endured. He hopes a movie like “42” can change that, and can show black kids that baseball is a great game to play.

“I think most people know that on Jackie Robinson Day, everyone wears 42, but they don’t know the significance behind it. … MLB did it right when they let everyone wear 42 so they can experience that day. When I was playing, they’d pick one black player on each team and say, ‘That’s the guy,’” Young said. “When they let in all the races, that’s what America is all about.”

Petitioners want gay ballplayer honored at hall of fame

More than 15,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on the Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize Glenn Burke, MLB’s first openly gay player.

Burke, who died in 1995, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was out to his teammates and is believed to be the first openly gay player in the game.

“Glenn Burke came out to his teammates at a time when no one else was talking publicly about their sexual orientation, let alone athletes,” said baseball fan Jeremy Redlien, who started the Change.org petition. “We live in a world where the contributions of gay athletes to the history of sports is often overlooked. It’s time to recognize Burke’s bravery so that young people today can be inspired by this important figure in baseball.”



Burke also is credited with popularizing the high five. The story is that in a game late in the 1977 season, Dodger Dusty Baker – now the manager of the Reds – hit a homerun, and teammate Burke met him with a raised right hand at home plate. Baker, on impulse, smacked Burke’s hand. 

Redlien said Burke “popularized something that millions upon millions of people do, from T-ball players to professional athletes, whenever they want to celebrate a special moment.”

Redlien’s petition is at http://www.change.org/burke.

Download a PDF of the current issue of Wisconsin Gazette and join our Facebook community.