There was once a sports media critic in this town named Bob Raissman. He was a must-read, whether you agreed with him or not. I always felt he was more even-handed than the Post’s resident finger-pointer Phil Mushnick (still a great read, even though I agree with what he says about 2% of the time), while the current king of media watchdogs, Neil Best, didn’t start his Sportswatch column until 2005. So for me, it was Raissman and Mushnick, Mushnick and Raissman.
Raissman was never afraid to take on any subject, went out of his way to find and promote new talent, and was always willing to take on any opponent, even a powerful baseball owner:
Does anyone believe Wilpon, a successful businessman, did not make every attempt, work every angle, ask a slew of questions of all baseball sources at his disposal (not just Phillips), before opening his wallet to bring in a player like, well, let’s say, Mo Vaughn? Does anyone believe Phillips squashed the idea of Alex Rodriguez coming to the Mets without Wilpon’s input and approval? “Fred and I are only as good as the info we get,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon told the Daily News’ Adam Rubin. Hogwash. That’s not the issue. When the “info” was good, and the Mets went to the playoffs and World Series, Fred Wilpon shared in the credit. Now, ownership says recent “info” provided by Phillips was bad. Does that mean Wilpon should not share the blame? You can’t have it both ways.
Then, the Daily News became a sponsor of SportsNet NY, buying ad time on the partly-owned Wilpon network and producing the “Daily News Live” show, of which Raissman is a regular contributor.
Now, it is rare that any critical commentary of Fred Wilpon makes the Daily News period, let alone Raissman’s column. In fact, when Wilpon’s post-Madoff “Love Mer, Feel Sorry for Me” media campaign that blew up in his face, there was Raissman, defending the man he once mocked as “Skill Sets”:
“Wilpon can’t win. Face it, for years, in times of Mets turmoil, he’s been hammered for being PR’d up and carefully choosing his words. Now, when he flaps his yap, the heat comes down. In reality, Wilpon was just parroting what plenty of fans, and media types, have already said” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/24).
Then again, we’re talking about a guy who crossed the picket line during the 1991 strike at the NYDN, so having a conflict of interest isn’t anything new to Raissman.