Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Dope Nonetheless

So TigerBlog missed the big story the other day when Governor Christie was on WFAN's morning show.

That's okay. The story just keeps getting better. All the way to a quote yesterday from the Governor, as he was talking about Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, who had his own appearance on WFAN yesterday, on the "Benigno and Roberts Show."

Maureen Dowd, of all people, apparently came to Mehta's defense in a column, one that TB can't find an actual link to, so he'll have to take the word of a bunch of other stories he read about it. Dowd actually was more taking shots at the Governor (not shocking) than she was defending Mehta, but still, here was Manish in a Maureen Dowd column.

Then Governor Christie responded as only he can, basically saying that he didn't care in the least what Maureen Dowd said. And then he did something that nobody else in politics would ever dream of, which is part of why Christie has such wide appeal.

Rather than doing what everyone else would have done, which is saying something along the lines of "I'd like to apologize to the reporter and to anyone else who might have been offended by my words," Christie instead said this about Manish:

"So, you know, I thought a particular reporter was a dope, I said so, and I heard him on the radio today … and he seems like a very nice young man, a dope nonetheless, but a nice young man.”

That's classic.

So yes, Manish may be a dope, but at least he's Princeton's dope. And one of TB's favorite people. But TB will get back to that shortly.

First there's the little matter of what everyone said about Manish. Forget the Governor. Let's go to Keith Olbermann, who is a way bigger dope than Manish ever has been at his dopiest and most assuredly not one of TB's favorite people.

The only reason that Olbermann is back on ESPN, TB surmises, is that there are still some people out there who don't completely hate him, so he's trying to reach them too. How else to explain it?

And here's a little background.

Manish covers the NFL for the New York Daily News and has spent as much time around the Jets as any other media member. The Jets, and particularly Rex Ryan, messed up a preseason game as much as  a preseason game can be messed up last Saturday night.

Geno Smith, the rookie that the Jets were desperately hoping would be able to duplicate what the great rookie quarterbacks of last year were able to do in rejuvenating franchises like the Redskins, Colts and Seahawks, has shown that basically he's not ready to do that yet. His last chance to prove otherwise was Saturday's game against the Giants, and he came out and threw three interceptions while clearly showing he's not an NFL starting QB yet.

The Jets fallback plan is Mark Sanchez, who isn't exactly an elite NFL quarterback either but at least has some experience and isn't the national joke he's made out to be either. And if nothing else, right now, today, he's clearly better than Smith.

So what happens? Ryan puts Sanchez in the fourth quarter with the guys trying to make the team, and of course Sanchez hurts his shoulder, putting into question whether or not he'll even be ready for Week 1.

Manish then tweeted that Ryan SHOULD be fired for making that decision. Not WOULD be fired. SHOULD be fired.

Maybe that was strong, but it wasn't like he was referring to sources he'd heard in the organization saying that Ryan was on his way out because of this decision. Manish was simply saying that he SHOULD be fired for doing something that dumb.

Ryan then didn't help his cause in his press conference, which if you saw it you know how odd it was. Ryan's assertion that he put Sanchez in because the were competing and trying to win was even dumber than the actual move of putting Sanchez in, because who cares if the Jets won that game? What does the third preseason game mean? Nothing. Keeping your best QB option healthy is slightly bigger.

Then Manish wrote a column saying that the decision to put Sanchez in could ultimately lead to Ryan's firing. Not because someone in the organization said that, but because it's obvious.

Of course Olbermann jumped on Manish with an embarrassing rant in which he misrepresented everything about what Manish had done, suggesting that he had invented sources to make it seem like Ryan would be fired after the game or before the season started, something Manish never remotely said.

And Governor Christie was being, well, Governor Christie.

So what's come of it?

Well, Manish has been the subject of some ridiculous comments readers have made under a few of the stories that TB has read. At the same time, everybody has heard of Manish Mehta by now.

Around here, his name was hardly unknown.

Long before he was covering the Jets, Manish was an intern here in the Office of Athletic Communications.

He covered Princeton women's basketball during the Maggie Langlas/Kate Thirolf days and was the men's volleyball contact when the team went to the NCAA Final Four in Hawaii. When he looked at the video of where some of the men's volleyball alums are in their careers and saw that Scott Birdwell was the first one interviewed, TB's first thought was "that was Manish's favorite."

Despite sharing an alma mater with TigerBlog, Manish became a huge fan of Princeton men's basketball in the mid-to-late 1990s. He was a staple of lunchtime basketball at Jadwin during those years.

Among those who are huge fans of the guy are Gary Walters, Bill Carmody, Joe Scott and John Thompson, who would purposely call him "muh-NISH" instead of "muh-NEESH."

Former men's volleyball coach Glenn Nelson was a huge fan too. In fact, in one match, Nelson called a timeout - just so Manish could catch up after falling behind on stats.

And now Manish is in national headlines.

He's actually a thorough professional, one that the frauds on TV and the radio who rip this guy and rip that guy and then wouldn't have 1/100th of Manish's courage to go back into the lockerroom again the next day and go face-to-face with them could actually learn a lot from. In many ways, Manish is one the last reminders of what sportswriting used to be, when it was more important to develop sources through hard work and creating relationships than it was to sit in a studio and say whatever comes to mind - or read what people like Manish write in the newspaper and pretend that you came up with it.

As for Manish, he's not a dope.

Maybe a bit dopey at times, but not a dope.

No comments: