NYPH Lead Paint Inquiry Old Stuff Says Hospital. Timing Questioned.

WPCNR Evening City Star Reporter. By John F. Bailey. October 21, 2002: New York Presbyterian Hospital has released a statement noting that a Environmental Protection Agency fine of $324,060 for failing to disclose presence of lead paint in their on-campus housing for hospital workers is a condition that they have corrected.

Hospital sources questioned the timing of the release of news of the EPA fine, one month before New York State Supreme Court is to take up an Article 78 suit brought by Concerned Citizens for Open Space on November 18 against the City of White Plains for approving the NYPH proton accelerator and biomedical facility in August.
According to the statement released by the hospital,

When New York Presbyterian Hospital became aware of this issue in the spring of 2000, we immediately began an extensive series of actions that meet with EPA standards, to seal and secure lead paint in our housing units, including all units in which children under six are living. Additionally, any housing unit that is vacated, whether or not children will be living there in the future, is now made lead secure before it is reoccupied.

This is a matter that we take very seriously and we have been cooperating with the EPA for more than two years with regard to the lead paint contained in pre-1977 housing units on our Westchester Division campus.

The issue that has been raised by the EPA relates to notification of the presence of lead paint, and is not related to any medical conditions.

The residents of the on-site housing are all employees and staff with whom the Hospital traditionally had informal housing agreements. All residents of this housing are now notified of the presence of lead paint at the time new agreements are signed, and lead paint disclosure forms have been provided to all existing residents.

After the issue of notification was called to our attention in the spring of 2000, we brought physicians on campus to discuss and provide practical information to all staff about lead paint. At the same time we began on-going work with an environmental consultant to test all residential units and to undertake an appropriate remediation program.

Timing of Fine Release Questioned.

Hospital-connected officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the timing of the EPA announcement of the fine was suspicious, suggesting it might influence Supreme Court Judge Richard Molea now reviewing the Concerned Citizens for Open Space Article 78 action. Their thinking is that the environmental fine might cast a shadow of doubt over White Plains officials’ review of the project.

Medical Center Chairman’s legal partner represents CCOS in the suit against city.

WPCNR in backgrounding this story has learned that Thomas Whyatt, attorney for Concerned Citizens for Open Space, is a legal partner of Mark Tulis, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Westchester County Medical Center. According to the Medical Center website, Mr. Tulis is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Westchester County Health Care Corporation which oversees the Medical Center.

Whyatt and Tulis are partners in the law firm of Oxman, Tulis, Kirkpatrick, Whyatt and Geiger, 120 Bloomingdale Road, White Plains, which is representing Concerned Citizens for Open Space in their Article 78 action.

That Whyatt, a Tulis partner, would manage a lawsuit that could conceivably benefit the Westchester Counting Medical Center when his partner is connected with Westchester County Medical Center is a coincidence, considering the Medical Center is an organization in competition with New York Presbyterian Hospital for biomedical research funds from a very budget-sensitive New York State.

Governor Spreads Manna Upstate

Governor George Pataki is now rapidly dispersing millions of biomedical research dollars upstate, leaving less money available for medical facility development in the Westchester-Hudson Valley region. The stakes in the race for state funds for biotech between the two hospital giants, Westchester County Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital are getting higher and the availability of money to the two giants, lower with each Pataki grant.

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Pilloring Pirro: Autupsy of Castro-Pirro Beats “Sopranos”

WPCNR White Plains Variety. Book Review By John F. Bailey. October 20, 2002. Updated. The Jeanine Machine was delivered in plain white box from Hudson House, (ViviSphere Publishing, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 158 hot steaming pages), to WPCNR Friday, within one day after WPCNR purchased it by phone. It was left by an unidentified courier who somehow eluded the countywide dragnet to intercept shipments of this book.

Photo by WPCNR News

This lift-you-right-out-of-your chair book rivets the reader by naming sources and telling all about how, in S. Richard Blassberg’s opinion, Tony Castro lost the 2001 election for District Attorney to Jeanine Pirro.
The Jeanine Machine is a white heat of indignant resentment written in the searing humiliation of defeat. It bristles, bleeds, festers with personal invective and character judgments of county officials, politicians and his primary target. Blassberg is in a fine rage. There is no attempt at genteel, literary style. He slices, dices and filets reputations. He fires in a staccato style like a Sergeant Joe Friday, relentless in his prosecution of Westchester’s top prosecutor.

He has Jeanine Pirro and the Westchester power brokers, whom he calls “The Cabal” for lunch here. It’s a book of an individual who feels he and his man Castro were wronged by a rigged system. It’s made sobering by a marshaling of incidents, coincidences and accounts of Ms. Pirro’s alleged actions during the campaign which are not comfortable to read, and raise questions about her motives and her use of District Attorney powers.

Upton Sinclair returns.

If you remember the relentless cadence of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, you will recognize the uncompromising attack style affected by S. Richard Blassberg, former Campaign Manager for Tony Castro.

S. Richard Blassberg
Photo from Book Jacket by WPCNR

Ms. Pirro defeated Mr. Castro by 52% to 48%, a closer-than-expected race, that Blasberg says cost her nomination for Lieutenant Governor with George Pataki on this year’s ticket.

Blasberg tells, in a fascinating countdown of the ill-fated campaign, how he feels his man, Tony Castro, was defeated by Ms. Pirro’s alleged behind-the-scenes maneuvers. He charges she perceived favored treatment of her candidacy by The Journal News which calls her “public relations arm.” Rarely have I ever read such a direct attack on major media outlet news judgment.

If you admire Jeanine Pirro, don’t open this book.

From the former attorney’s first sentence in the preface, (“I come to the task of producing this manuscript with several objectives, the most compelling of which is to expose finally to the full light of public scrutiny the oppressive, malicious, and criminal regime that is the Jeanine Machine,” ) to the last, (“Thus, the removal of Jeanine Pirro from the District Attorney’s Office, by whatever lawful means, at whatever moment, will bring a new and brighter day to the people of Westchester County.”) Blassberg pulls together in one place a documentation of Ms. Pirro’s perceived transgressions since emerging in the public eye in 1994.

Reminiscent of Hell to Pay, the “inside” story of Hillary Clinton, this book is shorter, punchier, and reads with the reckless abandon of a Walter Winchell broadcast, without the “Commentary” key slide disclaimer.


The scholarly thoroughness of these events and his observations of them, we have to take his word, and the word of the persons he quotes by name and attributes to, with 32 footnotes. At any rate, if he is ever sued for libel by Ms. Pirro it should be a dandy trial requiring 24-hour coverage, with a parade of witnesses everybody knows. He quotes and names and describes who did what to whom, and how he thinks they did it. Ronnie Brokaw, spokesman for ViviSphere Publishing said the manuscript and its documentation had been screened by the firm’s lawyers. WPCNR hopes they are good ones.

The Pirro Affair and a Cast of 95

There are 95 real people appearing in this book: all familiar personalities you read and hear about daily in the media: every Spano you can think of, Larry Schwartz, Reginald Lafayette, Dennis Wedra, Jay Hashmall, Robbie Schlaff, John Spencer, Al Pirro, Anthony Mangone, Mike Edelman, Dr. Giullio Cavallo, Kieran and Sarah Gaffney Mahoney, Gary Sherlock, and some of your favorite attorneys, too.

The book provides a one-sided view and critique of Ms. Pirro’s public position during the course of her husband Albert Pirro’s tax case, and his Peekskill Hospital conflict of interest affair. After documenting the findings of the tax case, Blassberg goes on to the far more juicy Jeanine Pirro-Tony Castro contest. He details the events leading up to Castro’s nomination, and the six months of the Castro campaign, where it went wrong. If you are looking for a balanced view of Ms. Pirro, this is not it.


In Chapter One, Blassberg tells how he became acquainted with “Westchester Law,” Jeanine Pirro style, in 2000. He picks apart as “demoralizing” the way in which the Pirro D.A.’s office drags out court proceedings, calling for multiple postponements, and filling up court calendars, he alleges, abusing the rights of defendants. The effect, he charges is to demoralize defendents into copping pleas to lesser charges to up the D.A.’s conviction rate.

He first learns of the Pirro prosecutorial style in a case he describes about an indigent, mildly retarded man he defended in 2000. He found that Ms. Pirro’s office withheld exculpatory (exonerating) evidence extending the criminal proceding to attempt to obtain a conviction.


Just warming up, Blassberg refreshes the federal income tax fraud case against Ms. Pirro’s busband, Albert Pirro, pointing out federal evidence which he feels shows Ms. Pirro knew the tax frauds Mr. Pirro was orchestrating.

He is at his best in making his case for Ms. Pirro’s using her power as District Attorney to first punish, in his opinion, Andy Spano for allowing a strong candidate (Mr. Castro) to run against her in 2001, in violation of the Spano style of pursuing apparent non-aggression pact with the Republicans.

Blassberg charges that Pirro was irritated that Jay Hashmall , the Deputy County Executive and Robi Schlaff, his assistant, both Democrats were working hard for Mr. Castro, a Democrat. The way Blassberg tells it, Pirro used the power of her office to punish Hashmall for his work on behalf of Castro, by leaking to The Journal News a story, alleging improprieties in Hashmall’s awarding four no-bid contracts while Spano was unavailable to sign off on the contracts. Hashmall was not prosecuted. Blassberg charges that the threats of a Grand Jury involving Hashmall were trumped up and could not have taken place in the time interval from when Pirro announced them and The Journal News reported them.

Pirro Media Pressure?

Blassberg charges that Pirro’s influence squashed a Castro policy statement scheduled to appear in the New York Law Journal involving the reporter, Lori Tripoli, that was to carry Castro’s “perspective” of what happened to Hashmell. The Law Journal even plugged the fact that Castro, “promising Tony’s (Castro) response.” And, it did not. Blassberg says, “within 24 hours, Tony was called and was told that once Jeanine got wind of the fact that there would be a forthcoming article, she contacted someone very high in management, and quashed the piece.”

After the Law Journal “stuff,” Blassberg adds to that coincidence, with a report of a New York Times reporter, Dorothy Samuels, who was instrumental in interviewing Mr. Castro which lead to the Times endorsement of him over Pirro, strange behavior:

“Immediately, upon learning of the New York Law Journal’s knuckling-under to Jeanine’s pressure I attempted to contact Dorothy Samuels of the New York Times, the editor who had interviewed Tony prior to his receiving their endorsement. She couldn’t get off the phone fast enough. I was left with a sick feeling.”

Blassberg shares his feeling that “Jeanine had reached them, too. My fears were fueled by the fact that, although Tony had received the prized Times endorsement following a 90 minute interview, which I had attended, that endorsement was eight days in coming. Further, it appeared just three days before election, leaving us little time or opportunity to capitalize on it.”

The Independence Party Endorsement that Never Happened.

Another intriguing matter is Blassberg’s story of how he feels Ms. Pirro used her power to prosecute to scare Dr. Giullio Cavallo of the Independence Party to switch that party’s endorsement to herself.

Blassberg charges Pirro threatened Cavallo with prosecution over doctored absentee ballots in the Dennis Wedra case. Blassberg says this is the story Cavallo told him to explain why he switched the Independence Party’s endorsement to Pirro. Cavallo has later denied making this statement, according to the book.

The Independence Party line gave Ms. Pirro the election, delivering 7,821 votes, which would if they were votes for Mr. Castro, have given him the election by some 3,000 votes.

Ridicule, Invective Weaken Narrative.

Mr. Blassberg’s anger at the all-too-real events he describes, leads him astray from his compelling story of the campaign. He makes value judgments about Ms. Pirro’s public appearances, fashion sense, motives, and lapses too frequently into insult: (“She suffers from the malady known as being a legend in your own mind.”)

Questioning Ms. Pirro’s appearance in court, for example, is a petty recurrence, referring to her penchant for wearing miniskirts, patterned stockings and 4-inch stiletto heels.

His interpretations of Ms. Pirro’s actions in public are unflattering, based on his observations and those of others at the events he describes. He names persons who saw the behavior to corroborate. Can we really believe Ms. Pirro, “with veins in her neck popping, she screamed into the camera, “I’ll debate Mr. Castro, anytime, anywhere!” This was supposedly on televison, so you could probably check it.

Tricks. Acting. Alleged Media Manipulation.

Political buffs will feast on the inside story of Castro’s fundraising, and Mr. Blassberg’s uncompromising charge that the Journal News was not printing his candidate’s press releases because they favored Pirro. Now, on this matter I, as one who receives press releases from candidates, do not print them verbatim, unless I think they are news worthy or have a news angle, so I don’t buy that. Every campaign writer thinks their releases are works of art and very compelling. But, I have to tell you, most are not. Blassberg gives you numerous examples on how he feels The Journal News slanted campaign reporting in Pirro’s favor.

The charge of Ms. Pirro leaking stories to the Journal News regularly during the campaign seems plausible based on his documentation in the book of how the stories appeared, and what stories were covered and which were not. But, it is circumstantial. You be the judge.

Serious allegations about Pirro being soft on organized crime.

Perhaps the most disturbing indictment Blassberg makes is what he calls Pirro’s failure to prosecute cases against organized crime, and makes an intriguing case for it, which should raise eyebrows.

His principle evidence for her “softness” is the string of prosecutions initiated against alleged mob-influenced construction deals in Westchester by the U.S. Attorney, Mary Jo White.

He feels she manipulates the District Attorney’s Office to promote her own career, of which he notes a number of examples. He charges that her internet sting operation was created to get the public’s mind off her husband’s tax conviction and the public’s perception of her knowing of the frauds being committed. And, there’s more.

D.A.’s Office a little empire?

Blassberg reserves serious criticism for the way Ms. Pirro operates the District Attorney’s office. He writes, “One need only speak with respected members of the Defense Bar to grasp the functional burden Jeanine’s persona has imposed upon the criminal justice system in Westchester. She refuses to entrust ultimate decision making authority to anyone other than herself, irrespective of how serious or mundane a case may be. Her objective is always the same, to obtain a conviction, and thus enhance her record and public image.”

He draws a series of circumstantial examples to illustrate this: the internet sting operation, her pursuits of high profile murder cases, the Hashmill case, and issuing supeonas as a weapon to get her way and create an impression. However, there is no identification of any individuals or attributions documenting this opinion of D.A. office operations. His criticism of her conduct of the D.A. office operations is weak, because of this troubling lack of documentation and attribution. He offers his opinion only, and the results he perceives. Of course, getting a person to speak out against the person he or she works for, or represents clients to, in litigation is next to impossible, as a reporter, no one wants to go on record as being critical of anybody in power.

The Janine Machine draws a disturbing picture. He closes by suggesting several ways Ms. Pirro can be removed from her stronghold of power: 1.) Defeat in 2005. 2.) Appointment to higher office (by Governor Pataki), or 3.) a Federal Investigation.

Not Benefit-Chic

This is no cute, tasteful, palatable, scholarly, cleared-by-a-battery-of-$500-Dollar-an-Hour-Libel-Attorneys- weekly news magazine expose that puts you to sleep.

Blassberg shakes you up. The Janine Machine is a tough in-your-face muckrake. It is not boring. What it means for residents of Westchester County raises more questions than it answers. You will be scared reading this one and you will read it in one night. It takes your breath away.

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Historian to Retell Battle of New York at Miller House Nov 2

WPCNR WHITE PLAINS VARIETY. From Westchester County Department of Communications October 25,2002:Find out why New York City and Westchester were so important to victory in the American Revolution during a presentation by historian and author Barnet Schecter on Saturday, November 2, 1 p.m., at the Miller House Farm House (Washington’s Headquarters Museum) in North White Plains.
Schecter’s talk will describe the invasion of New York City, paying special attention to Westchester’s critical role in the winning of American independence. His presentation will include the landing of British forces at Throg’s Neck, the Battle of Pelham Bay, the Battle of White Plains, and the protection offered to Washington’s army by the hills of North White Plains after the battle. The presentation will be preceded by a self-guided tour of the historic Miller House and it will conclude with a walk to Miller Hill, where Schecter will discuss its strategic importance.

On September 15, 1776, the British army under General William Howe invaded Manhattan Island. George Washington’s Continental Army had by then retreated north to Harlem Heights, leaving New York in British hands. Control of the city was Howe’s primary objective; located at the mouth of the strategically vital Hudson River, it had become the centerpiece of England’s strategy for putting down the American rebellion. However, as Schecter will reveal, far from furnishing a key to the colonies, New York proved to be the fatal albatross that strangled the British.

Schecter is a Manhattan-based writer, historian and sculptor, who recently authored The Battle for New York, which tells the story of how the city became the pivot on which the American Revolution turned
Parking is free. There is a suggested donation of $3 per person. Pre-registration is required. Please call 914-864-7177.

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Governor Creates Amy Paulin’s “Peace at Home” License Plate.

WPCNR NEWSREEL. From Assemblyperson Amy Paulin’s Office. (EDITED) October 21, 2002:Legislation sponsored by State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin has been signed into law by the Governor, creating a new Peace at Home New York State Automobile License Plate, now available to purchasers for $25 to help combat domestic violence by funding information programs. It is the newest in the Assemblywoman’s two-year crusade to deter and increase awareness of domestic violence.

Paulin noted that the $25 annual fee for those who choose the new license plate will go directly to a new domestic violence awareness fund to pay for education and prevention programs.

“The need exists for programs that help enlighten people about this crime, and to let victims know there are places to go for help,” Paulin said. “Domestic violence devastates families and ruins lives, this program will increase awareness and fund programs designed to prevent domestic violence, which is occurring far too often and in too many homes.”

The measure is the newest achievement in Ms. Paulin’s legislative initiatives to curb domestic violence. In her 22 months as Assemblywoman, Ms. Paulin, former director of My Sister’s Place, has written two laws expanding victims’ protection.

The first provides greater latitude in prosecuting abusers who make threats over the telephone by extending jurisdiction to anyone who makes a threat over the telephone regardless of whether they initiated the call. She has has also authored a law which went into effect this year empowering the courts to suspend, revoke or deny a firearms license, or conviscate a gun from women abusers.

Ms. Paulin is now sponsoring a bill to increase the length of court orders of protection, currently 3 years in Family Court, and 5 years in Criminal Court.

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Tigers Roll, 40-14. Will Meet Ramapo Next Week.

WPCNR PRESSBOX. October 20, 2002: The White Plains Tigers behind the hard-running Spencer Ridenhour and the laser arm of quarterback Mike Devere defeated Roosevelt in Yonkers Saturday afternoon to qualifty for the League 1-A Playoffs and the dubious honor of taking on Ramapo, the top-seeded team.

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Meeting Addresses Indian Point Hot Fuel Rod Dilemma

WPCNR NEWSREEL. From Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor. October 19, 2002: On Monday October 2l at 7:l5 PM at the Community Unitarian Church, Rosedale Ave, White Plains there will be an important meeting to discuss what to do with on site storage of spent fuel rods at Indian Point.C
Gordon Thompson, a nationally recognized expert, will speak to help identify designs that can reduce the potential for hazards. Directions: exit 25 North Sreet from Hutch. Head towards White Plains. Left onto Rosedale. Church is one block to the right

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New Book Takes on Westchester’s District Attorney

WPCNR White Plains Variety. October 16, 2002: Jeanine Pirro, Westchester’s District Attorney is the subject of an unflattering expose by S. Richard Blassberg that will be in bookstores within the next two weeks. Mr. Blassberg was the Campaign Manager for Tony Castro, Ms. Pirro’s Democrat opponent in the 2001 election.

According to the advanced publicity for The Jeanine Machine, released by the book’s publisher, (ViviSphere Publishing, Poughkeepsie, NY) “Jeanine Pirro is very likely the most recognizable district attorney in America. Her countless appearances on broadcast and in print media, nationally, for many years have projected an image of an articulate, tough crime fighter.” The book paints an entirely different picture.

The book purports to reveal the alleged details of the District Attorney’s role in the preparation of the joint tax returns which sent her husband to prison, and goes on to detail questionable activities that the author claims have taken place in her tenure as Westchester’s prosecutor.

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County Exec Signs Sale and Lease of Silver Lake Park to White Plains

WPCNR County Clarion-Ledger. From Westchester County Department of Communications. (EDITED) October 16, 2002:County Executive Andy Spano today signed legislation that preserves open space and creates White Plains’ first waterfront park and allows for construction of at least 17 units of affordable housing.

COUNTY TURNS OVER SILVER LAKEFRONT TO WHITE PLAINS: A portion of Silver Lake’s western shore (seen from the Harrison shore), that will become a waterfront park under county legislation signed Wednesday.
Photo by WPCNR News

Under the two-way Deal, he county will lease to the city for 30 years almost 2 acres of nearby land on Silver Lake, to provide the city with waterfront land and an entryway to the county-owned Silver Lake Preserve. The property, formerly owned by Dellwood Dairy, was purchased by the county more than a decade ago. The lease provides that the property be opened to all county residents.

THE DELLWOOD PROPERTY, to be leased to White Plains that includes about 18 acres underwater (western shore of Silver Lake). The city plans extensive forestry work on the site, including trails, and benches to turn it into a “passive” recreation park where boats can be sailed on the lake. Uses of the site will be determined by meetings between the city, the neighborhood, and the Recreation Advisory Committee in future weeks.
Photo by WPCNR News

Affordable Housing on Way.

Under a package approved last week by the Board of Legislators, Westchester will purchase just over 10 acres of undeveloped land on Lake Street in the Silver Lake section of the city for $950,000 from the estate of Emilio Pettinicchi and Antonietta Verano.

FORMER REVOLUTIONARY WAR SAWMILL, PART OF PETTINICCHI PROPERTY, will be preserved, and the affordable housing units built to the right of the mill, alongside Lake Street, slightly south of the headwaters of Silver Lake.
Photo by WPCNR News

Approximately 1.65 acres will be sold to a developer for $1, who will construct affordable townhouses. (The county will issue requests for proposals to select a developer.)

SITE OF WHERE TOWN HOUSES WILL BE BUILT: The Pettinnicchi Saw Mill is the white building to the left of the shot. The entrance to White Plains new waterfront park is at the blue sign.
Photo by WPCNR News

Once built, these units will be sold to households whose incomes do not exceed 80 percent of the county’s median income – or $70,000 for a family of four. The rest of the property will be preserved as open space.

Said Spano, “This is another example of what we can accomplish by working together with local governments. With these projects, we provide for the construction of much-needed affordable housing and preservation of scarce open space in our cities and help White Plains create its first-ever waterfront park.”

White Plains Mayor Joseph Delfino praised the action, saying, “Creating a lakefront park for White Plains has been a top priority of mine since I became mayor, and I am thrilled that this dream has become a reality.”

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The Upper Deck Guy: Wild Cards in Fall Classic Mock 162-Game Season

WPCNR Press Box. THE UPPER DECK GUY By John Baseball Bailey. October 15, 2002: The laughing stock of baseball is about to begin. The losers will be playing for the World Championship as the San Francisco Giants and the Anaheim Angels, the two teams who finished second in their respective divisions in baseball ambushed the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, and the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, respectively to make it to the World Series.

Photo of Wrigley Field by WPCNR Sports

The Fall Classic is about to become the Fall Basic, and establishment, politically correct sports authorities are touting this as good for the game.

I don’t think so.

The New York Times and the executives of baseball are already trotting out the virtues of the Wild Card, giving us those bromides today’s society uses to excuse poor performance, bad behavior, less than satisfactory standards. We are already hearing that the Wild Card is good for baseball because “It gives more teams a chance,” “It shows that low payroll teams can win,” “It’s good to see some new teams in there for a change.”

I say, “Bush!”

The results of the last two weeks show conclusively why baseball must contract to an even number of divisions, so only first place teams play to get in the series. For integrity’s sake.

Anything can happen in a short series.

And, what happened? You saw the Angels cannonade a Yankee pitching staff that either was given an overconfident scouting report on the Angels hitters, or could not execute when they had too. Why? Perhaps the Yankee management was overconfident. Though the Angels blasted Yankee pitching in the regular season, too. Not a good matchup.

However, this was also the same Angel team that kept pace with the Oakland A’s dramatically, but still fell short of the Oakland A’s pace in their own division, while winning just enough to hold off Seattle for the Wild Card.

Did the Bombers underestimate the Angels, or underscout them? But, the Angels should not have had a shot at the Bombers in the first place.

First Place Means Nothing in a Wild Card Setup.

The Bombers on the other hand made the major effort to oust the Boston Red Sox and win their own division. The Angels though keeping pace with the A’s, could not beat them head-to-head, to take the West Division of the American League. They should be out of there . But they are not, thanks to the notorious wild card.

Lest we take the Angel run as a great testimony to their worthiness, I suggest they were simply assuring themselves of the Wild Card over the Red Sox, and Seattle, not trying to overtake the A’s. They were trying to stay ahead of the Mariners.

And it did.

The same, “win just enough to get in” philosophy, applies to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants won just enough to overtake the Dodgers, who faltered miserably in the stretch, with the Giants not being able to handle the bigger challenge of overtaking the Diamondbacks, who though without Luis Gonzalez, and Greg Counsell (read, if they were the Yankees, Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano, comparable losses), held on to win first, because they thought it was meaningful.

The Wild Card gives teams an excuse not to leave it on the field.

Nature of Baseball and Softball: Form is Very Hard to Establish.

Now we have the prospect of watching a series between teams that finished second, whose management and players were not good enough to out-general-manage clubs that could be the best over a long haul, but are good enough and dangerous enough to give better teams trouble in one series.

The Giants and Angels could be accused of “backing in” to the Wild Card, because they knew all they had to do to reach postseason was to beat out the Dodgers and Mariners-Red Sox, respectively.

Getting the Wild Card is no big deal or great achievement. You just have to do well enough to finish second. The regular season performance becomes a joke.

Just as the Florida Marlins stole a trip to the series in 1997 by ousting the Atlanta Braves, as did the Mets in 1999, thanks to dumb managing of the Arizona Diamondbacks by Buck Showalter in Game 3, the maddening inconsistency of playing baseball illustrates why you simply cannot have a wild card system.

Last Hurrahs for Bravos and Bombers.

What the last two weeks also showed, was the fatal flaws in the Atlanta Braves, who put out the best pitching staff and best starting lineup in baseball year-in, year-out, but fail to get a good bench together to put up that strong pinch hitter up in the lates.

The end of the New York Yankees run: The Yankee pitching staff showed its flaws. It is old, and not as fast and effective as it used to be. The club forgot to play “D.”

All season, we saw a Yankee defense compromised by a slow moving outfield and a first baseman who cannot move to his left or right. We should also not forget that the Red Sox did not have Pedro Martinez the entire season.

This year’s Yankees looked vaguely like the 1964 Yankees on their last run before fading to oblivion for some time to come.

Congratulations to the Wild Cards.

The Giants and Angels sucked it up and played over their heads for 10 games and outperformed their opponents head-to-head, something they could not do during the regular season. Any team can do that, to borrow the NFL’s bromide, “on any given day.”

The results the last two weeks are very reminiscent of the Chicago White Sox (“The Hitless Wonders”of 1906), who beat the winningest major league team ever (116 wins), the Chicago Cubs in six games. It is tough to beat a team playing over their heads once you have already beaten them.

Bonds no Aaron or Ruth or Musial.

I resent the deification of Barry Bonds as another Babe Ruth. Bonds, a .292 lifetime hitter, Sammy Sosa, a .277 hitter and a host of .250 hitters are jacking homeruns off juiced-up baseballs and raw pitching.

Ruth hit .342 lifetime. Aaron hit .306 lifetime. Stan the Man hit .331 lifetime.

We should also not forget that Barry is a free agent attracted to San Francisco for the money, so much for the poor teams getting a chance.

The Angels and Giants are two of the richer franchises, though the Angels do have a lower payroll.

Can More Wild Cards Be Coming?

Bet on it.

America’s penchant for giving second chances just makes sense. This year, I’m sure New England Fans would have liked the Red Sox to have a Shot, and how about those sadsack Montreal Expos. Soon, the “competition” committee will have the first two clubs in each division make the postseason, I will bet, after the interest in this “Season of the Wild Card.”

Then how about the third place team with the best record in each league?

It will be an excellent solution to leveling payrolls. If all you have to do is finish at .500 to make the playoffs, why spend to improve? Why spend money on scouting to set up a good farm system?

Remember, the main interest now in the baseball season, is not who is going to finish first, but what teams are going to be the wild cards. A very similar situation exists in the National Football League.

Pretty soon, we may even see the handicapping schedule, an insidious device invented by the National Football League that allows lousy managed football teams like the New York Football Giants and the New York Jets to continue to have one good year, one bad year, and still give fans hope each year that they can win the super bowl.

When the Giants and Jets get the loser’s schedule, they finish over .500 and make the playoffs. When the next year the Giants play the winner’s schedule, they LOSE A LOT. But, that’s another column. Look for baseball to consider this.

The Roman Empire Syndrome

As baseball’s moguls and businessmen make baseball more like the other sports, pro basketball, pro football, and pro hockey, with everyone having a chance to win, they discourage the pursuit of excellence. The fact that the owner of the Minnesota Twins wanted to fold his team, which actually won its division this year, shows you just how much baseball owners care about the fans, great baseball, or doing what it takes to win.

The overwhelming majority of owners do the least amount possible, especially their commissioner, who since he took over the Milwaukee Brewers as provided that city with the flat beer of mediocrity, which is what we can expect to see in the next two weeks. Mediocrity on display: The greatest of the mediocre, to be sure.

I for one, will not watch one pitch of it.

Remember, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the Yankees 4 out of 6 in the last two weeks of the season. Perhaps the Devil Rays were just making their stretch run, and maybe deserve a crack at the Giants or the Angels.

Believe me, some owner in the major leagues is going to read this last paragraph and take me seriously.

Photo of Comiskey Park by WPCNR Sports

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Atlantic Coast Football League Forming for 18s and Overs.

WPCNR PRESS BOX. From ACFL Media Relations.October 15, 2002: The Atlantic Coast Football League is holding registration for the winter men’s 2002 season. The league is offering players 18 and over both flag and 2-hand touch football. In flag, there will be an 8-on-8 two-count league and an 8-on-8 no-count league. In 2-hand touch there will be a 7-on-7 ‘A’ league and a 6-on-6 ‘B’ league. Both teams and individual players are welcome.

In flag, there will be an 8-on-8 two-count league and an 8-on-8 no-count league. In 2-hand touch there will be a 7-on-7 ‘A’ league and a 6-on-6 ‘B’ league. Both teams and individual players are welcome.

Games will be played on local fields including: Westchester Community College in Valhalla, Trinity Field in New Rochelle and Croton-on-Hudson Park. The league begins on Sunday, December 8, 2002. For further information visit the Football Page at www.onscore.com or call Mark at 1-877-ONSCORE.

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