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Fear Not, Bob Raissman Will Protect Us From Lastings Milledge

Mike SteffanosWednesday, June 7, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


Is anyone else out there starting to think that the Daily News' Bob Raissman is starting to look as silly as the Mets officials he criticized last week? Don't get me wrong, the Mets came across as extremely foolish when a team official intimated that Adam Rubin might have left himself open to libel charges when he reported that Lastings Milledge was not popular among his International League peers. More than foolish -- this was emblematic of the type of bizarre organizational thinking that has handicapped this team for years.

But now Raissman is just coming across as someone who has a personal vendetta against a 21-year-old kid that he doesn't even know. As ridiculous as it was last Friday when Raissman took Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez to task for not being negative enough about Lastings Milledge in their telecasts last week, he was at it again in yesterday's Daily News:

During a recent Mets telecast, Keith Hernandez indicated he has little patience for players who bring excessive attention to themselves, which usually results in showing up an opponent. His comments were nothing new. Throughout his broadcasting career Hernandez has said showboating - or popping off in print - can put your team in a tough spot.

So, what did he think of Lastings Milledge's high-five trip down the right-field line in the 11th inning Sunday? You know, that particular stroll made by the Met rookie after hitting his first major league homer.

This celebration looked like something you might see following a game. Trouble was the Mets and Giants were tied 6-6 when Ch. 11's cameras focused on Milledge's slap-happy trip. The scene had Howie Rose, filling in for Gary Cohen (appendectomy), all gooey inside.

"He didn't take a curtain call, but he's making up for it now," Rose gushed. "'Hi, I'm Lastings Milledge, nice to know you.'"

Hernandez had nothing to say.

Since Raissman isn't a sportswriter, but rather a columnist who covers sports on the media, the only way he can justify bringing up constant criticism of Milledge is to criticize Mets broadcasters for not being more negative towards Milledge. The kid certainly has a lot to learn, and craves the white hot glare of the spotlight. If Raissman is lucky, he'll keep slipping up on minor things like the high-five incident and give Bob a chance to take pot shots at him and the Mets every few days. He can criticize a naïve 21-year-old for his foibles, while failing to notice that his own anti-Milledge agenda is coming across as petty and small. Nothing the kid has done so far has earned the personal attacks on his character that Raissman cleverly hides behind criticism of the Mets announcers.

My colleague Bob Sikes from Getting Paid to Watch, who has more than a little experience with the occasional vindictiveness of the New York media, had this to say about the coverage Milledge has been receiving:

First, Lastings Milledge. Bob Raissman has made it a personal crusade to bring Milledge's character into question and assert the entire Mets , organization is conspiring to spin. Aside from Steve Kline of the Giants, no players has been on record criticizing Milledge.

We constantly hear about how he wasn't liked in the International League. Naturally he's not popular with the Richmond club where he sparked a brawl after a hard slide. But this incident and other vague subjectives have taken on a life of its own among the writers who cover the team and is driving the manner in which they cover Milledge.

Sikes is fair, and criticizes the Mets organization for their failure to be "big boys about what's in the paper", but makes some valid points about the media in a piece well worth checking out.

Some accuse Mets fans like myself of blindly defending Milledge because we hope he'll become a star, but I feel as if I'm reacting to unfair and out-of-proportion criticism. Maybe Lastings Milledge will turn out to be every bit as bad as Bob Raissman and others would have you believe. So far, though, the "crimes" that writers like Bob have harped on seem to fairly mild in comparison to sensationalist journalism they have inspired. Milledge is a young kid with some talent and a big ego who has made some missteps. He's carrying some baggage that some wish to bring up every chance they get, overzealously pouncing on any slip-up. In my opinion, he hasn't earned this wildly overblown scrutiny from people like Bob Raissman who are old enough to know better.

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Comments (4)

I've been a fan of Bob Raismann ever since he came to the Daily News about 19 years ago. He's more fun than Phil Mushnick and is often on the money in his critiques of sports and media. I can even forgive his outdated slang (moo-lah-di, for one) and his penchant for forcing nicknames where none are necessary.

But this Milledge column from Tuesday was just weird. I didn't see the offending high-fives live since I was at the ballet of all places, but I did record one of the rebroadcasts since so much was made of the incident. To watch it unfold in real time, with Lastings taking a quick detour to acknowledge the fans, was jarring because you've never seen that before. But it was also incredibly innocent. And Howie's ad-lib ("how ya doing, good to meet ya") was most appropriate.

Raissman just sounded sour that somebody else won't take up his cause. "How dare Howie Rose and Keith Hernandez not be as pissed off about Lastings Milledge as I am?" It's sad when columnists for major metropolitan dailies turn their columns into echo chambers.

Yeah, Greg, I always liked Raissman, too, but I have a feeling this isn't the last time he gets really weird over Milledge.

I used to enjoy Raissman but have found that his column has become stale and boring. He basically writes about 4 or 5 topics and then just recycles them every other week.

1. Mike Francessa is arrogrant and Chris Russo is stupid
2. John Sterling Does not get his calls right and is more concerned with himself
3. James Dolan is a weasel
4. Michael Kay sucks.

It seems he just writes about the same things over and over and over. His column is tired.

Not to mention he avoids going after other columnists who appear on TV shows and say ridiculous things. For example, when Mike Lupica is on the "Sports Reporters" spouting some hairbrained thought, that if Mike Francessa would have said Raissman would be critizing, you won't hear a peep from Bob. Nope, Bob is supposed to be reporting on the media that appears in NY on TV and radio, but apparently that excludes critiquing certain people who Bob may have ties to professionally or otherwise. Hmm sounds like something he would be critizing someone else over.

Back to the point though. Maybe its worth a short paragraph or two, but Raissman wrote at least three articles about Milledge and his past that I can think of. Enough already we get the point. And I totally agree, three four, five years from now, Raissman will be dragging out the same story about Milledge.

I started to get the impression that he was getting a lot of mileage out of Milledge bashing -- like Mike and the Mad Dog with the Sandman b.s. -- and his reason to keep writing about Milledge was fairly cynical.

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