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Johnny Ballgame: Sports radio savior?

I have for the greater part of two decades lamented the inexplicable sports radio wasteland that is Baker County.

But just lately I have detected, like the ghostly whisper of a distant AM station at night, the slight sound of optimism.

It’s called the Johnny Ballgame Show.

And it is, in the estimation of the Baker City and La Grande stations that broadcast it, “Eastern Oregon’s only live and local sports talk radio program.”

I have heard nothing that refutes this claim.

The program, hosted by John Mallory, airs weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 1490 AM in Baker City and 1450 AM in La Grande.

Mallory graduated from La Grande High School in 1998. He earned a degree in radio/TV digital media production from the University of Idaho, where he did radio play-by-play for the Vandals and started his talk show in 2007.

I’ve tuned in a handful of times, and listened to maybe 90 minutes of Mallory’s program.

It is what it purports to be.

And it’s rather better than I expected.


I pity the fool: Moviemakers mess with a hallowed tradition


Hollywood can plunder TV until the end of days for all I care, but when filmmakers taint the legacy of Mr. T. . . . well, every man has his breaking point.

And with the arrival on the big screen of “The A-Team,” my tolerance for the movie industry’s machinations has at last been exploded into jagged fragments.

Which, now that I think about it, was the inevitable fate that awaited the lair of every bunch of haplessly stumbling bullies whom the A-Team thwarted.

And there was at least one of those per episode.

You know the type of villains I mean.

They fired more ammunition in 40 minutes of broadcast time than a band of South American mercenaries goes through in a coup attempt, yet nobody ever suffered a bullet wound.


Publishing change proves a winner

Since June 1 of last year, the most frequent question I hear is, “How’s that three days a week working for you?”

In short, it’s working very well, thank you.

A year ago this month we reduced our publishing schedule from five days a week to three in order to cut our delivery and newsprint costs, but also retain our resources — our people — so as not to reduce the quantity or quality of local news or customer service to our subscribers.

And it’s working. Support of our subscribers and advertisers has been terrific. We have increased the page count in each of our issues and provide a two-section newspaper instead of a one-section paper each publishing day. That has given us more color pages, and added more advertising and inserts to every issue. Subscribers get three beefy issues now instead of five thinner ones.

We kept our subscription price affordable, the same price as in 1997, but increased the price of store and rack copies to 75 cents. Although simple economics would say that we should lose customers by raising the price, every single issue of our rack and store copies have sold more than the previous year.


Admitting my small role in the demise of the movie rental store

The demise of the movie rental shop is nearly complete, and for the consumer another minor thrill has been replaced by a few dull taps on a keyboard.

I lack any legitimate grounds for lamenting this trend, however.

In fact I am as complicit as anyone in the eradication of a business that once seemed ubiquitous.

I have a Netflix account.

I have not browsed the aisles of a rental store for at least a couple of years.

(Although in my defense, neither have I ever acquired a DVD from a large, inanimate box.)

The recent announcement that Movie Gallery is closing its Baker City rental store saddened me largely because it reminds me that I have lived long enough to experience a commercial and cultural trend from its infancy clear through to its current death throes.

It’s not that I feel old, exactly.

But I’m more aware that 40 years (almost) is a pretty fair spread of time.

I imagine people were afflicted by a similar twinge a century ago when Ford really started cranking out Model T’s and the dominance of the horse was clearly on the wane.


Reading about Adolf Eichmann during Israel’s latest turmoil

The Israeli commando team’s deadly raid on a flotilla delivering aid to Gaza happened, coincidentally, just a couple of days after I started reading a book which influenced my reaction to the tragedy.

The title of the book, by Neal Bascomb, is “Hunting Eichmann.”

In case the name Eichmann is not familiar, the subtitle explains the context: “How a band of survivors and a young spy agency chased down the world’s most notorious Nazi.”

That being Adolf Eichmann.

Although Eichmann did not conceive the Holocaust — that infamy belongs, of course, to a different Adolf — he was beyond question the most prolific practitioner of the Final Solution.

Eichmann was to genocide what Henry Ford was to the manufacture of automobiles.


Hoping for, but not expecting, a close race for governor


I’d like to believe that Chris Dudley can help to etch a couple more wrinkles on John Kitzhaber’s rugged face before Nov. 2.

It’s not that I’m rooting for Dudley.

I am in fact registered as an independent. My vote likely will remain in play until the cottonwoods have started to tinge yellow.

And anyway blowouts, whether in football or gubernatorial races, bore me.

Yet as much as I pine for a healthy tussle, I just can’t silence the interior voice which insists that Dudley, who couldn’t poll a majority from among his own party in the primary, has little chance to pull the monumental upset over Kitzhaber.

Maybe I could believe otherwise if the Democrats had gone for Bill Bradbury.

Or for anybody, come to that, except the denim-clad doctor who has a deft touch with a fly rod and who leaps to the aid of seizure-suffering debate watchers.

(Neither Karl Rove nor Rahm Emanuel has ever arranged a scene so serendipitous as the one that played out during a Kitzhaber-Bradbury debate in Eugene last month. Although I remain skeptical that somebody actually hollered, verbatim, “Is there a doctor in the house?” after a man in the audience fell ill.)

 


A distant warning from Tijuana

From 1981 to 1991 I served as Chief of Police in Coronado, California. The southern limits of that city were just one mile from the international border with Mexico. The problem of illegal immigration existed then, though it pales by comparison to what exists today.

Because my city was impacted by the downsides of illegal immigration we met regularly with Mexican officials, including the Tijuana, Mexico, police chief and Mexican federal officials to discuss the issue.

In the mid 1980s, Tijuana was blessed with a very well-educated, ethical and professional police chief who was quite knowledgeable concerning crime problems in his country, demographics, and what the future might hold in terms of the illegal alien problem. In our conversations he made a number of predictions, many of them dire, and most of which have come to pass over the years.


Fish and Wildlife takes a subtle dig at my hunting prowess

My futility as an elk hunter has finally attracted the attention of Oregon’s wildlife managers.

And if I may be so bold, belated attention it is.

Although I suppose they have wolves with a taste for mutton and veal to worry about, and those sea lions munching salmon, and the occasional coyote snatching suburban cats.

Still, the scale of my ineptitude in the pursuit of elk had some years back attained the status of legend, at least in my view, and so I can’t help but feel that the biologists have failed to give my constant failure the recognition it deserves.

I’m not talking about buck fever, either. Or bull fever, as the case may be.

Any hunter can miss an elk at 500 yards.

(And many have.)


A pleasant reminder that I might be the worst singer ever

I rated myself as a pretty fair singer right up to the indelible instant when I heard my naked voice, the protective filter of accompaniment by actual musicians stripped away.

For some years previous I had often amused myself, as I suspect most people do, by crooning along with the stereo while I was driving alone.

Which is about as realistic as playing Tiger Woods golf on a Wii.

Harmonizing with Lennon and McCartney, suffice it to say, ranks on the difficulty scale right beside bisecting the fairway with a 300-yard drive.

(Although Tiger isn’t staying on the short grass all that often these days, either.)

One day, for some reason I’ve forgotten (although a reason no doubt spawned by the same hormone that leads high school students to use Bunson burners for unorthodox purposes), I decided to try what you might call an experiment in a cappella.

What resulted was a sort of auditory shock treatment that cured my naivete, as regards my lyrical ability, instantly and irrevocably.

While I was belting out the chorus to some ’80s anthem — I think it was Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian,” although possibly it was “The Final Countdown” by Europe — I punched the radio’s “off” button.


Coming up with a fresh reason for walking across Oregon


Ted Carlin intends to walk clear across Oregon this month, and I’m jealous.

He also plans to spend a couple nights at the Sky Hook motel in Mitchell.

This guy is really trying to goad me.

Not intentionally, perhaps, seeing as how we’ve not met.

But I don’t care about that.

The Sky Hook is my favorite motel.

At least it’s my favorite motel that I’ve never stayed in.

There is, most obviously, that name.

I’ve driven past the Sky Hook probably half a hundred times, and whenever I see that neon sign I think briefly of Kareem, flicking the ball softly, just high enough to foil Walton or Gilmore or Lanier.

 


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