Sunday, August 30, 2015

How To Stay Awake On Sunday Night--Courtesy Of Cubs' Jake Arrieta, Who Pitches the First No-Hitter Of His Career In 2-0 Victory Over Los Angles Dodgers


Sunday Night  Baseball on ESPN turned into quite a spectacular show for Jake Arrieta of
Jake Arrieta
the Chicago Cubs. 

Arrieta pitched the first no-hitter of his career by slamming the door on the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-0, on one of baseball's biggest stages--Dodger Stadium.  

Frequently, I watch a few innings of the Sunday night game on ESPN, then go outdoors to take a walk so I can wake up. 

Not tonight.  

I watched every inning of a game that gave Arrieta a major league-leading 17th victory. 

I stayed awake, too. 

I didn't get my walk, but what the hell? 

No-hitters don't come around that often--especially by a Cubs pitcher. 

If not many people were regarding Arrieta as a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, they were very aware of it after the game. 

Arrieta allowed just two baserunners--one via an error by [who else?] fumble-fingered second baseman Starlin Castro, the other on a walk.  

"I thought it was a hit," Arrieta said in his televised postgame press session. "Tough play. Hernandez hit it well. Tough short hop for Castro. They scored it an error, thankfully so, and I was able to finish it off." 

Even though the Dodgers lead the National League's West Division, tonight's game marked the second in 10 days that they went without a hit.

The Cubs aren't exactly an offensive machine themselves. Their only two runs of the game came in the first inning when rookie Kris Bryant homered.

The victory gave the Cubs a none-too-impressive 2-4 record on a trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Arrieta was the winning pitcher in both games. 

Hey, the guy can pitch.



A few thoughts while pondering  the what-it-means-in-the-total-scheme-of-things importance of the headline on page 1 of the Sunday paper that told us  IOWA SLIPS IN BICYCLE RANKING:

It's no secret that I'm a big follower of the athletic program at Valley High School. I've lived in West Des Moines for 48 years, and my three sons and three of my six grandchildren own diplomas from the school. A fourth grandchild will graduate from Valley in two years.

I happen to think that Valley's Gary Swenson is the best high school football coach in the state, and one of the best anywhere. He has five state championships to prove it.

But I don't necessarily think the Tigers should be ranked No. 1 in the state by the paper at this stage of the season, even though they walloped Waukee, 44-13, Friday night.

As far as I'm concerned, Valley's opponent from a few miles down the road in West Des Moines--Dowling--should be on top of the class 4-A rankings.

Dowling won the 2014 state championship, and I know coach Tom Wilson has another standout team this season.

Wilson is a very good coach and he'll have his players sky-high when they tee it up Sept. 18  against Valley in a Dowling home game at Drake Stadium.

Until the Maroons lose, they're No. 1 in my book.


In reference to Dowling, I can't figure out why the Maroons' game at Xavier of Cedar Rapids wasn't played this weekend.

Because of lightning and hail Friday night in Cedar Rapids, the game was canceled. 

The game should have been rescheduled in Cedar Rapids for either Saturday afternoon or Saturday night.

"Distance" was the reason given in the paper for the cancellation.

I'm trying to figure out exactly what that means.

Motel rooms could have been rented to house Dowling's coaches and players Friday night in Cedar Rapids, or they could have ridden school buses back to West Des Moines Friday night, then back to Cedar Rapids Saturday for the game.

A lot of us want to know how Dowling and Xavier--two Catholic high schools with powerful athletic programs--would stack up against one another.

"Maybe neither team wanted a loss," a guy told me.

Maybe so.


Urbandale thumped Hoover of Des Moines, 68-7, on weekend 1 of the high school season.

I'm sure editorial writers at the paper are oiling up the keys on their computers so they can attach a thistle [in the roses-and-thistles segment of the opinion pages] next to Urbandale's name in the Central Iowa Metro League standings.

Well, maybe not.

Randy Evans has finally retired at the paper. 

Either that or he was told to retire.

When Evans headed the opinion department, he either wrote that Valley deserved a thistle--or told someone to write it--after the Tigers ran up 80 points or more against some pitiful team from Council Bluffs.

Evans knew nothing--absolutely nothing--about  football, or what took place in that particular game.
Gary Swenson

Valley coach Gary Swenson used everyone in the game except the student managers to try to hold down the score.

I mean, you can't tell some fourth-team halfback [who never gets to play except when his team leads by a half-dozen touchdowns] to fall on his knees in the fourth quarter when the score is already 75-0.

Whatever, I haven't seen a thistle sent in Urbandale's direction yet.

Maybe Valley got its thistle only because it's Valley.

Valley is, of course, the school everybody [well, most people] at the paper loves to hate.


All in all, the sports department did a pretty good job with its high school coverage this weekend.

I liked Chris Cuellar's "Take Five" column in
Chris Cuellar
Saturday's paper, and I liked it that most of page 1 in the sports section was devoted to high school games that were played Friday night

I think high school results should take up most of the room on page 1 of the sports section during every football season. I used  to say that today's high school students would be tomorrow's newspaper subscribers.

I no longer feel that way.  There's no way today's high school students will have any reason to read papers.  They''ll get their news elsewhere--probably their telephones, maybe TV.

The way things are going at the paper here, it'll be interesting to see if the high school football teams  are able to get an inch or two of page 1 coverage next Saturday morning in the sports section.

Iowa and Iowa State start their 2015 schedules next Saturday, of course.  So it'll be difficult finding any high school coverage until about page 5.


By the way, I have no idea who's calling the shots in the sports department of the paper these days.

Maybe a robot is in charge.

Evidently, the department head no longer has the title of sports editor.

Regardless of who's making the decisions, the high school coverage this weekend was the best it's been since Dave Witke was the sports editor in the 1990s.

I sure don't miss the Brubaker/Miller/Leistikow days.


One other thing.

I'm absolutely thrilled that Rekha Basu has decided things are getting better at Valley High School.
Rekha Basu

I've really been worried about that.

That's a joke.

Actually, I don't give a damn what Basu thinks about anything.
[Photos and illustrations courtesy of Google].

Friday, August 28, 2015

Old Newspaper Folks Have Targets On Their Backs


Gannett is at it again. 

The media company is coming at employees with another early-retirement package that targets those in the 55-and-over crowd.

The reason I'm making my readers aware of this, of course, is because the Des Moines Register and the Iowa City Press Citizen are both Gannett newspapers.

And both papers have been hit with savage attacks by the parent Gannett Co. in recent years.

Gannett's firings, layoffs and offers of retirement packages to workers 55 and older have brutally reduced the work forces at the Register, the Press Citizen and most other papers in the chain.

Some newspaper staffs are now so thin that papers can be published in a phone booth.

I know a number of 55-and-over employees at the Register. I'm sure all of 'em think the paper can't get along without them.  That's what a lot of other 55-and-overs thought in past years, of course. Some were given the chance to accept buyouts from Gannett, some weren't.

Indeed some were escorted to the door by security people. 

No retirement coffee. No retirement  cake baked by Hy-Vee, ex-Register food editor Jennifer Miller or anyone else. No chance to say goodbye to their colleagues.

They were simply told to leave the building alongside the security guy.

For some of those who thought the paper couldn't survive without them, the boss had different ideas.

Something like, "You'd better take that buyout, or the company will send you out the door without a buyout."

Courtesy of, here's yesterday's letter to Gannett Co. employes from CEO Bob Dickey:

Good Morning,

I wanted to let you know that today we are offering eligible, long-term Gannett employees within certain business segments and departments of our company the opportunity to take advantage of an early retirement program.

The employees who are receiving the offer all satisfy the criteria of being 55 years of age or older with at least 15 years of service as of October 12, 2015. This program provides an incentive for employees who voluntarily want to take advantage of retiring at this point in their career. This offer is completely voluntary and it is solely up to those eligible employees as to whether they wish to accept it. As with any retirement decision, we are encouraging eligible employees to speak with family and trusted advisers before accepting to assess their financial and lifestyle needs. We will finalize acceptances after the 45-day consideration period has closed, which ends Oct. 12, 2015.

The Early Retirement Opportunity Program also provides the company flexibility to reinvest in the key components of our three-year plan and better align our structure to become a next generation media company.

Taking this action provides a benefit to employees who wish to retire while allowing us to remain focused on operating as one company, providing exceptional, engaging content tailored to our readers’ interests and tastes. We also will continue to lead with digital, rapidly seizing the many opportunities presented by new and emerging technologies. And, importantly, we are working hard on ways to reinvest in our employees and the culture here we offer at Gannett.

We appreciate our colleagues’ outstanding efforts – their contributions have supported and strengthened the foundation of our company. We will keep the momentum strong as we continue to move forward with our ongoing strategy to create a New Gannett and a new future.

Best regards,

Bob Dickey


My sympathies to you if you believe any of that crap.

Gannett wants to get rid of more people, and the company is starting with the old folks [old meaning 55 and over], who supposedly are making the most money.

I've got several friends in that group. 

I wish them the best.

By the way, we usually meet every Wednesday afternoon for pie and coffee.

The pie is free. 

That makes it taste even better, whether you've accepted a buyout or not.

Jim Romenesko, owner of, followed up on his original story of the Gannett Co. buyout. He wrote:

What are the specifics of the offer, Gannett employees? Please email me the details.

UPDATE ON THE OFFER: “Two weeks pay per year for 25+ years, capped at one year. 1.5 weeks pay per year for all others being offered,” writes a Gannett employee who is eligible for the deal.


In reference to the above-mentioned pie, plus any other type of food, here's something from Iowa Free

Des Moines Register food columnist Jennifer Miller resigned from her position weeks after she admitted to lying in one of her articles.

Miller has been working at the Register since 1988, primarily covering topics related to food and beverages. In her May 5 column, Miller reported that she participated in a sauce-tasting event for Jethro’s restaurant on April 27. Shortly after the article was published, she confessed that she did not attend.
Jennifer Miller

As Miller writes in the opening paragraph of her May 11 column, “First, I need to tell you something. I lied.” According to her, she was on vacation the week before the tasting and “had to work ahead.” When she was done with work that Friday, she said she became ill and rested at home for the next four days.

“So I haven’t tasted the wing sauces,” Miller writes, “but I know they’re all delicious, because Jethro’s wings just are.”

--Iowa Free 
[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--I'm sorry this happened. I don't know Jennifer Miller, but I read some of her food stories and commentary. I liked them all.  I wish Jennifer Miller the best.]

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I was thinking about passing this on to Andrew Logue, who writes stuff for the paper about sports reporters, sportswriting and sports broadcasting. But then I remembered that Logue is probably busy these days checking reporters' tweets and doing preseason football stories. So I'll write it, and I know Andrew will read it here when he has time. What I'm referring to is the "Two Guys Named Jim" radio program that is no more. Two Guys Named Jim used to be Jim Zabel and Jim Walden. Zabel, who died a couple of years ago, was the longtime WHO radio and TV broadcaster. Indeed, "Z" was around so long he might have had something to do with inventing radio. Walden coached football at Iowa State and a few other places. They did the Two Guys Named Jim radio show on Sunday nights on WHO. I never heard it because I can't remember the last time I listened to anything on the radio on Sunday night. After Zabel died, Chuck Reed took over his spot on the show. Reed had experience in Des Moines radio and TV. He used to be a KCCI sportscaster, and lately he's been doing play-by-play radio for Drake football and women's basketball games. His women's basketball gig ended a few years ago. But the Sunday night show on WHO wasn't called One Guy Named Jim and One Guy Named Chuck. It was still called Two Guys Named Jim. Anyway, someone told me the other day on Free Pie Day at Village Inn that the show went off the air this summer. No reason was given for the cancellation, but my guess is that not enough people were listening to it or the show wasn't generating enough advertising money. Perhaps both. A guy at our table also said he thinks Reed won't be back to do Drake football play-by-play this season. But I'll let Logue do the digging on that one. I've got other stuff to do these days.

Chuck Reed. Photo courtesy of Twitter.