• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LEARNING ELSEWHERE

I've said for a long time racing people need to be open-minded enough to look beyond the garage area for ideas. Here are a few things I've noticed recently in other sports:

* I remember when Richard Petty caused a stir by placing tiny STP stickers on the lens of his sunglasses. Now, Stephon Marbury, of the New York Knicks, has had the logo of his sneaker line tattood on his temple. (!)

I hope Scott Speed didn't notice.

* I'm a baseball fan, but have no interest in whatever Alex Rodriguez has or hasn't been doing with Madonna. But A-Rod showed plenty of media savvy, and maybe a little egoism, during the run-up to last week's classic All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez came to his media day interview session -- in fact, he arrived early -- and fielded questions with a professional demeanor for 50 minutes. Not even the NYC tabloid columnists could complain. I assure you, if Alex had skipped, or blown-off questions, he would have been pounded in the tabs for days.

I hope Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch noticed.

* It's a baseball tradition: When a player is introduced, he tips his cap to the fans. During the fantastic pre-game ceremonies at The House That Ruth Built, I was saddened to observe several of the new generation of player didn't observe that gesture of respect. On the other hand, every one of the Hall of Famers did so.

This is an example of declining standards, which are especially dumb in this economy. I hope drivers who talk among themselves, instead of smiling and waving to the fans during pre-race laps, think about that fact.

* Baseball will have some on-field scuffles during the season. But you would never see a player from one team enter the opponent's dugout. Managers/coaches/players from both teams, as well as the umpires, would stop him.

That's the equivalent of what Danica Patrick is doing, invading a different team's pit area, no matter what side of the wall she occupies. This, among other things, represents a failure by team management (we've long ago passed the point of expecting the PR people to do the correct thing) and IRL officials. From the standpoint of PROFESSIONALISM, the question must be asked (again) in the aftermath of her "talk" with Milka Duno Saturday at Mid-Ohio: WHY was Danica ever allowed into another team's pit stall? (Monday night, Bill O'Reilly included Patrick in his "Pinhead" segment.)

* There's been plenty of talk if an asterisk should mark the home-run records set during baseball's "steriod era" -- or even next to last weekend's British Open results, since Tiger Woods wasn't playing. Those can be useful debates. Here's where, no doubt, an asterisk should be used:

With ALL NHRA nitro class results for EVERY race run to 1,000 feet. This is demanded by the imperative to keep a legitimate, accurate and meaningful historical record.
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REALITY CHECK: I was more than a bit amused by the political and journalism pundits shouting about last week's The New Yorker magazine cover. If you missed it, a cartoonist satirized political opponents of Barick and Michelle Obama by depicting the couple in an unpatriotic light.

At least that's what the magazine's editors called it -- satire. And, I'm sure, that was part of their thought process. Now, for a little truth telling: What it really was about was generating controversy -- media buzz -- to gin-up sales in a weak business environment. Oh so predictably, the modern media went for it.

That's a big reason why Katie Couric, Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson are going on Obama's international tour, too. Management at the ratings-challenged network news divisions figure it will attract an audience. That it showcases their favored Obama is a cherry on top of the ice cream.
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I can only hope that before Raygan Swan does her next NASCAR.com story, she researches the subject matter. Approximately 66.6 percent of last week's article on Cup team publicists represented some of the most naive Business of Racing writing I've ever seen. A good first step would have been to look up the meaning of "publicist" and then ask what the fundamentals are to do the job professionally -- and who does it. Hint: Visiting the media center, and introducing yourself to journalists you haven't met, are two basics.
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Joe Amato on a great racer's mindset about safety, and the current situation in NHRA, with some eye-opening quotes, in last Friday's Arizona Republic:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2008/07/17/20080717racingnb.html

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]