ELIE WIESEL

ELIE WIESEL

Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and author, made some of the more salient points I’ve heard today about the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to President Barack Obama. Wiesel was interviewed by Steve Inskeep on National Public Radio. The core of the interview, from the NPR web page, was as follows:

Mr. WIESEL: I’ll tell you. First of all, it’s strange for me to think of him now as my fellow Nobel laureate. … After all, he’s the president of the United States. But at the same time, seriously, he made history by allowing the American people to correct its own old racial injustices. After all, he’s the first black person to have been elected to that high office, and in doing so he did bring hope and dignity to the fact, to the very position. And therefore I think he gave something to the Nobel Prize.

INSKEEP: He added to the Nobel Prize rather than the other way around.

Mr. WIESEL: It goes both ways. But in this case, really, for the president of the United States, a sitting president, who is nine months in office, it’s true that he tries and tries – I’m sure he tries in many areas to do the right thing, and he will succeed, but in this case the prize will add or increase his moral authority.

INSKEEP: Moral authority. Well, let’s talk about that. Because this is a president who has begun many efforts around the world and the Nobel committee cited them, from reducing the threat of nuclear weapons to reducing nuclear arms stockpiles, efforts to bring peace in different parts of the world. But it’s been widely noted this morning that although many efforts have begun, none have really been concluded. Do you think it will make a big difference in those efforts that the peace prize goes to the president?

Mr. WIESEL: First of all, I think he is being recognized for his efforts and his beginnings, as you say. But I am a person who loves beginnings, I love beginnings. The mystery of beginnings is part of Jewish mysticism. And in this case, in politics, of course, because it’s also – it’s also politics – it is a good thing, it’s a promise. The Nobel committee says that he represents a promise and I’m sure that he will try to fulfill it.

INSKEEP: And they do say that they want to encourage him on his way. Is that normal for the Nobel Prize to be used to encourage rather than just reward people?

Mr. WIESEL: Not really. But the Nobel Prize committee has its own rules, and they may decide anything they want. They may decide that encouragement is part of the experiment.

JOHN STERLING

JOHN STERLING

I was amused to read an Associated Press story today by a writer who had the naivete to suggest that John Sterling is a successor to Mel Allen. It is true that Sterling has a job analogous to Mel’s old job, but he’s about as much a successor to Mel as I am a successor to St. Stephen.

The writer refers to Sterling as “the voice of the Yankees,” which is what Suzan Waldman calls Sterling when she introduces him on the radio broadcasts. Frank Messer, who took over when Mel was inexplicably fired, had the grace to always introduce Mel as “the only real voice of the Yankees.”

Sterling and some other baseball broadcasters today are like carnival barkers. I had to laugh the other night when he was making his usual complaints about all the noise in the Blue Jays stadium. What about the noise he makes on the air during every game? Every home run is “high” and “far” whether it’s high and far or not …. and some fly balls are “high” and “far” that aren’t home runs at all. Anyone can find an old Yankee broadcast on the Internet and hear the difference between that and Mel’s mellow “going, going, gone.” And that’s to say nothing about the contrast between Mel’s “and the ballgame is over” and Sterling’s “theeeeeeeee Yankees win!!!!!!” Whenever I hear that I chuckle about the critics who used to call Mel a “homer” — meaning a Yankee partisan.

MEL ALLEN

MEL ALLEN

The quality of baseball broadcasts isn’t helped any, of course, by the fact that almost every word that comes out of the announcers’ mouths is commercialized. The fifteenth out is sold, the call to the bullpen is sold. It won’t be long before there’s a sponsor for every time Nick Swisher looks up at the sky to make sure God is still there. “This look to the heavens is brought to you by ….” Announcers like Mel and Red Barber had it easier; they could talk about baseball for whole half innings at a time. But frankly, I’d rather hear Mel pitching White Owl cigars or Ballantine ale then listen to Sterling shrieking,  “the Melkman delivers … that’s the Melky way!”

The AP report says Swisher likes that stuff.

He would.

The AP story is at the following link: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jUoeWQsFlz_CsbkUuN-rVb6x3AGgD9B72ASG2

nyc080106_199