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8.06.2005

It's Cream of Wheat Weather, I Repeat 

For those who haven't heard, KNBR talk-show host Larry Krueger (motto: "Often wrong, seldom in doubt") went off on the Giants Wednesday night after two lackluster losses against the Rockies. He said Felipe Alou's brains had turned to Cream of Wheat, and he said the roster was full of "brain-dead Caribbean hitters" who hack at slop. He apparently had words for Giants' management, too, although I haven't seen any transcript.

Felipe is hopping mad, as are some of the Giants' Caribbean hitters whose brains are apparently alive enough to know an insult when it hits their auditory nerves.

Racism is one of the charges being leveled at Kreuger, although is calling someone from the Caribbean "brain-dead" an act of racism? Is calling someone from the United States "a moron" racism? It's certainly ignorant.

However, Krueger's only repeating in a much nastier way the old Dominican truism that "you don't walk off the island." Meaning, you swing the bat and hit el jonron. Scouts aren't impressed by a poor kid on a dirt field who sports a discerning eye at the plate. That's the stereotype, at least.

What's going to be lost in all this brouhaha over Krueger's brain-dead comments (listen to the guy a few nights, and you realize that he's certainly no brainier than your average jock) is the sliver of truth: the Giants don't particularly emphasize patience at the plate. It's not just the Hispanophone islanders Pedro Feliz and Deivi Cruz; non-Caribbeans Jason Ellison and Lance Niekro and Marquis Grissom and Mike Matheny are just as hacktastic. Omar Vizquel and Edgardo Alfonzo, two gentlemen who hail from Carib shores, are fairly discerning, Alfonzo particularly so. Moises Alou has come to Our Fair City and become Nuestro Señor de la Paciencia.

Sure, watching Feliz and Cruz set the trade winds in motion with their free-swinging ways can drive anyone to make rash on-air comments -- I just wish Krueger had been smart enough to include in his rant the entire Giants organization's failure to preach plate discipline. Perhaps he did. If anyone finds the full transcript, let's have at it.

As for his charge that Alou's head was full of Cream of Wheat, well, I grew up eating Cream of Wheat, and let me tell you something, it tastes a lot better than Felipe Alou's brains.

Calling a manager mush-brained is any sportsgeek's inalienable right. It's not nice, but it comes with the territory. The question that hasn't directly been raised, however, is whether Krueger was implying anything else.

To wit: the Cream of Wheat box features a black chef holding a steaming bowl, just one in a long line of pre-enlightenment images of happy blacks dishing up comfort food for white people. What Krueger meant by linking Felipe to Cream of Wheat is between Larry and his 50,000-watt God.

Interesting how the Giants have won three straight games since Krueger's on-air comments, and Alou isn't showing one shred of forgiveness. Sure, Krueger was insulting, stupid, and uncalled for, but I can't help but think Felipe's also pulling a motivational fast one. Krueger has lit a small fire under a few butts in the clubhouse; Alou's doing his best to fan the flames.

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