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Satanic Hacking 

What do you think about the Felipe Alou-KNBR brouhaha? Racism, or just a bunch of Caribbean slop? Take quiz, find out.

Wednesday, Aug 24 2005
Earlier this month, in the heat of a grueling Giants season that sees little hope of the team finishing with a winning record or making the playoffs, KNBR radio host Larry Krueger, speaking on his late-night post-game show after another dispiriting Giants loss to the Colorado Rockies, took the team -- and, more specifically, manager Felipe Alou -- to task. Although he first referred to Alou as a "brilliant tactician," Krueger then went on to say the 70-year-old manager's brain had turned to "Cream of Wheat" and made a disparaging remark about the team's Latin players. Alou was very public with his outrage, withdrawing his participation in the Felipe Alou Show that customarily precedes the radio broadcast of games on KNBR. While Krueger was suspended from his show, Alou appeared on ESPN's Outside the Lines, where he called Krueger a "messenger of Satan." A few days later, as pundits and players nationwide condemned the comments and debated the need for greater racial awareness in the sport, Krueger and two producers were fired by KNBR, the Giants' flagship station. Now that the dust has settled and all sides have had time to consider their words and actions, it's time to ask: Are you an apologist for the KNBR flap? Take our quiz and find out!

1) Here's what Larry Krueger said on the air: "I cannot watch this brand of baseball any longer. A truly awful, pathetic, old team that only promises to be worse two years from now. It's just awful and bad to watch. Brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly.'' What was your initial reaction to his statement?

A) "Slop nightly?" With that kind of eloquence, we know why Larry Krueger was working KNBR's coveted midnight slot.

B) I hate to tell you this, Larry, but they're gonna be bad three years from now too.

C) Oh, please. What does being Caribbean have to do with the fact that they suck?

2) In his first comments after hearing Krueger's spiteful attack, Alou expressed surprise that he and other Latin members of Major League Baseball were still fighting racial stereotypes, especially in a city with the progressive reputation of San Francisco. "I never heard of anything like that here," said an emotional Alou, who began his career in San Francisco in 1958. "I heard them in the South and some other cities, but not here. It tells me that a man like me and the Latin guys have to be aware it's not over yet, or it is coming back.'' How has the Krueger incident changed your perception of the issue?

A) Yes, Virginia, it's true. There is racism in San Francisco.

B) But racism in sports? I'd always considered professional teams' locker rooms to be hallowed inner sanctums of tolerance and understanding. Haven't the 49ers taught us that?

C) Well, you know, there is that old adage, "You can't walk off the island," referring to Latin players' decades-old deliberate strategy of swinging freely rather than exhibiting patience at the plate, a tactic that might be more likely to earn them notice from major-league scouts. But, it seems, you can be run out of KNBR.

3) During his playing career, Felipe Alou was a staunch advocate for the rights of Latin players, many of whom say they see the Krueger incident as indicative of latent racist stereotypes that still linger throughout baseball. As Alou's son and Giant outfielder Moises told reporters: "They blame steroids on Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I guarantee you can get steroids in the United States too." Your thoughts?

A) Oh, really? He can guarantee it, can he?

B) You know what this calls for? A meeting between the leadership of San Francisco's Latin community and the program directors of KNBR. Wouldn't that solve everything?

C) "Hi, Moises, this is Barry. Shhhh."

4) After weighing Krueger's comments for a week, KNBR eventually decided to fire him, in addition to Program Manager Bob Agnew and morning show producer Tony Rhien, who OK'd a bit following Alou's ESPN appearance that used South Park characters to mock the "messenger of Satan" remark. "KNBR deeply regrets the comments and actions of these individuals, which do not reflect our beliefs or values as an organization," said KNBR Senior Vice President and General Manager Tony Salvadore in a statement. Do you think they deserved to be fired, or do you think they were scapegoats?

A) C'mon. "Scapegoat" is kind of a racist term, isn't it?

B) They certainly deserved to be terminated. I don't care how many hours of late-night sports talk radio you have to kill, this is an enlightened society, and there's absolutely no excuse whatsoever -- none -- for calling the opposing pitching "slop."

C) I'm most mortified by the loss of the Felipe Alou Show. What will become of the dancing girls?

5) Informed of the firings, Felipe Alou expressed some regret but refused to back down from his stance or meet with Krueger to accept an apology, saying: "I know maybe I overreacted, but it was a reaction to what he said. I don't have to react anymore." Do you think that statement will help move the issue forward?

A) Of course. After all, this is a debate about choosing one's words carefully, and owning up to what you say.

B) Look, I respect Alou's decision not to talk to Krueger. His call-in audience didn't want to either.

C) Here's my question: When Larry Krueger dies (and I'm not saying, necessarily, that he should), can he be given a decent Christian burial? Or is that not done for a messenger of Satan?

6) The rhetoric surrounding the KNBR controversy escalated quickly. Besides the "Satan" remark, Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel drew a parallel between Krueger's comments and those of John Rocker, the relief pitcher who in 1999 told Sports Illustrated he'd never play in New York because of its minority, gay, and "foreign" populations. Meanwhile, Krueger's fellow talker, Rod Brooks, volunteered to "give an arm" if he could mediate between Alou and Krueger, while Gary Radnich, a KNBR host and KRON sportscaster, appeared visibly upset on television, saying of Krueger and his fired colleagues: "In this politically correct world, you don't get a second chance anymore." What did you think as you were watching the scandal unfold?

A) Wait. This is the college radio station and the university baseball team, right? Right?!?

B) Wow. I think KNBR could really be on to something with a "Rod Brooks the One-Armed Dimwit" show.

C) You know, if Larry Krueger's a messenger of Satan, that must make John Rocker, like, the devil's right-hand man. In that case, I can definitely see how God won.

7) When all the dust settles, who do you think wins and loses in the controversy?

A) San Francisco loses. When Gary Radnich is the closest thing you have to a sensible voice, your metropolis is deeply troubled.

B) No, KNBR gets stuck with the loss. How do you replace a personality like Larry Krueger? How?

C) The big winner: Barry Bonds. For a few weeks there, nobody was talking about how long it's taking him to come back from off-season knee surgery without the benefit of ... youth.

How to score:

Score zero points for every "A" answer, one point for every "B," and two points for every "C."

0-6 points: Hey, the next time a major leaguer says he'd refuse to play with a gay teammate, can we get Alou's take on that?

7-10 points: Can you be a "bicycle messenger of Satan?" 'Cause I almost got run over by one of them the other day.

11-14 points: Yes, all in all, a lovely little controversy. Dumb commentary leading to dumb commentary leading to mass firings and increased racial tension -- feel proud, San Francisco. Feel proud.

About The Author

Matt Palmquist


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