It is a station such as KNBR who encourages its hosts to be edgy and probing, so that ratings will spike in the competitive Bay Area market. Its a business. I get it. To those readers who dont, please dont read any further as the following text will be way over your head, too.
But when the morning show which has sputtered through a myriad of hosts since the departure of longtime stalwart, Frank Dill, in 1997 dared to splice clips from South Park alongside sound bytes from Giants Manager Felipe Alous appearance on ESPN, the ax fell on everyone. The man in the middle of the fracas, evening talk show host Larry Krueger, was fired despite already receiving a public disciplining when KNBR handed him a one week suspension without pay. After all, Krueger made a grave error by bringing up race in any shape or form (especially in our ultra-sensitive, PC-driven culture) and the station needed to make a public gesture. One could say the actions of others, namely those of producer Tony Rhein and longtime KNBR program manager Bob Agnew, led to Kruegers sudden demise. But all their sophomoric hi-jinks accomplished was to provide high octane fuel for the holier-than-thou campaign waged by Giants manager Felipe Alou. Just as shameful were the actions and remarks of Alou who used Kruegers comments for his hollow pulpit and platform.
Alou was unabashed when proclaiming that Kruegers comments offended hundreds of millions, and even refused Krueger the chance to personally apologize. He then went on to say how one week without pay was too light of a sentence for Krueger. If Alou is such an advocate for the people of Caribbean descent across the globe, why then could he not take the higher road and at least hear Krueger out? Why quit his pregame show if he wants to have a real forum for telling fans everywhere what its like to be Felipe? Its amazing how quick the Giants, other Major Leaguers and KNBR were so quick to come down on Krueger and his colleagues, and then drop the opportunity to act like mature adults. Even the Pope John Paul II forgave his would-be assassin. Why couldnt Alou, with seven decades of wisdom and experience to his credit, at least listen to a guy who was sorry for deeply wounding his sense of heritage?
After the firings took place, Alou was sad to hear that people were fired as that was not his intent. What, then, was your intent Felipe? To get angry? To be heard by any one who was listening? Take the critical eyes of those who have watched your team fall apart and sink to the lower depths of the National League? Other than announcing your hurt feelings, what is it that you want? For people like Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and fellow Giant Omar Vizquel to get angry, I get that. I expect it. I find it sad, though, that an apology is not enough for Alou when given the opportunity to make this wrong into a right.
This controversy has once again cast the team back into a negative spotlight. In one instant, they are embroiled in the Balco scandal. In the next, they are having the foul funk of racism emanating from their every pore. If the team wants to move forward, evolve and put this ugly event far in the rear view mirror, they need to execute some moves of their own. Their one and a half percent owner, KNBR, did as much (or, right or wrong, at least tried).
In all fairness to the fans who have suffered through yet another lost season of championship-less baseball, the Giants should follow suit and clear out the cancers that have plagued the team this year. Jettison Alou and every high-priced free agent who have sucked the life out of this franchise. Clear the front office as well. Say thanks to General Manager Brian Sabean for getting them near the top and show him the door.
Its an unfortunate event such as the one that was created by Larry Kruegers terrible, terrible banter. But it is an event like this that can, and should, rattle a limping franchise into positive action. All eyes are on the San Francisco Giants for the wrong reason (again). Inactivity has cost this team the last two years. From a Giants fans perspective, something as ugly as the Krueger incident should serve as a catalyst for the teams overdue overhaul.
Keith Larson writes for SFDugout.com because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at email@example.com, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.
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