Sunday, January 08, 2017

Snowy Saturday Basketball Special Part 2

Things to do in Middlebury when you're stuck.
I kept telling myself that I was in the safest place I could be.

I kept telling myself that I was prepared.

I had packed a sleeping bag. An air mattress. A change of clothes. Hats. Gloves.

I had food. Water.

It wasn't like I was in the middle of nowhere.

The point is, that if I went to Post to call the doubleheader, and the snow was as bad as they suggested, that due to my car, and I could just stay at the school.

That's what I did.

I was back at my car around 5 p.m. I cleaned it all off, warmed it up, and then went back into the gym to be indoors. It was clear though that security was getting ready to lock up.

So I went back to the car. I sat there and watched as Georgian Court got on the bus to leave.

A Mobil station with a Dunkin Donuts sat about a hundred yards in front of me. A Subway restaurant was also nearby.

We could do this. It wouldn't exactly be a game of Survivor.

I decided coffee would be great, so I walked to Dunkin Donuts. GCU's bus had moved down there to get food.

Sadly, the DD didn't have a seating area, so there would be no hanging out there. I went back to the car.

This would become the routine. Run the engine. Warm up. Pull out the sleeping bag, and cover up. Then I would turn off the car. Then I would get cold. Repeat.

I walked to a nearby shopping center/professional building. There was a restaurant there.

Which was closed. Of course.

In the meantime, the GCU bus was still at Subway. The line was too long. OK, what else to do?

I knew there was a Maggie McFly's nearby. Maybe a mile away. The road looked flat, but of course it was snow-covered. There's inherent danger in all of that, no?

Oh what the heck. You only live once.

Away I went.

Again, let's be very clear. This wasn't exactly traipsing through a blizzard.
No, I did not have a French Dip.
I ate. I drank. I watched the Texans beat the Raiders. I could have hung out there a lot longer but a) I got bored, and b) I didn't feel like dealing with people with beer muscles.

I walked back to the car. I event drifted into a light sleep at one point.

All along, I had people watching out for me, and texting me to make sure I was OK. There were those who wanted me to get a hotel room, I found that prohibitive due to a) price, and b) I'd have to drive there. (Yes, I did consider getting an Uber).
My parking spot was just to right, and above the Mobil.
After roughly five hours of all of this (and GCU's bus did finally head back towards New Jersey), the Post Hockey team bus appeared. That made me think it was time to try to drive. So I made my way out of the parking lot and turned right on Connecticut Route 63.

The road was still somewhere snow-covered, but definitely passable (for those confident in their vehicle). I tapped my brakes to make the left onto 84 West.

Nope.

Remembering the car that I saw do a "360" in front of me as I walked to Maggie McFly's, I went back and found a new parking lot to sit in.

Moments later, a Middlebury police officer stopped by to check on me. He smiled as I said I was playing it safe, and wished me well.

Finally, two plows passed by on 63. Once going south, once going north. Blacktop began to appear.

I thought maybe this was the time, but I also spun my wheels as I attempted to turn back onto 63.

OK, now it was my chance to get on Interstate 84, and deal with the hills on my way to Danbury. The ramp wasn't in great shape, but it wasn't bad, and I proceeded onto the carriageway without incident. Soon, as I suspected I might, I was doing highway speed towards Southbury.

The road wasn't perfect. At times, I could feel the give of a small patch of ice, and there were plenty of snow-covered patches between Southbury and Newtown, and especially between Exits 10 and 9. I reached Danbury and felt good about things as I crossed into New York.

My next concern was the ramp from Interstate 84 to 684, but I rolled through that without incident. So was I home free? No. Not yet.

The right lane before Exit 8 -- Hardscrabble Road (my exit) -- was quite snowy, and I felt my trusty TARDIS (yes, that's what Sean and I call the car) begin to wander slightly. Not badly, mind you, but I definitely had to slow down significantly. The ramp wasn't in good shape, and my preparation for all of this had served me well.

Once onto the streets of Croton Falls (and eventually Carmel and Mahopac), I got home without incident.

It was quite the day. With more confidence in my car, it wouldn't have been so bad. But I have a story to tell, for sure.

That's why we write and broadcast. To tell stories.

AJ Szymanowski had told me to not be a hero when he decided to not go. In some ways, I suppose I am guilty of being one because of my dedication to calling the games and getting the job done. Conversely, not driving and being cautious to a fault was the best decision I could have made.

I slept well. In my own bed.

I'm grateful to everyone who made sure I would do so.

Snowy Saturday Basketball Special Part 1


I called my first college basketball game since 2010, and it was exciting to be back. As events go, it wasn't easy, but it was memorable.

The last time I called college hoops was when I was with Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY. Those days were quite fun, and I miss them.

Anyway, through the excellent Kevin Halpenny, I connected with Kyle Crooks, the "voice" of Georgian Court University basketball. Kyle needed a fill-in for yesterday's GCU doubleheader at Post University, just outside of Waterbury, CT.

I was back in the college game.

I enlisted AJ Szymanowski and Shawn Sailer to join me for a day of hoops, food, and fun.

As the week progressed, there were rumblings of a storm churning into the area. At one point, we'd get a dusting. No big deal. Then we'd get a little more. Then it became a winter storm warning.

By yesterday morning, within minutes of each other, AJ and Shawn both said they would be staying home. Now it was up to me to decide if I would risk it.

Oh, have I mentioned my car, er, isn't great in snow?

Well, I've given it away. You know I went. I mean, you know me, right?

I was at Post within an hour. The snow was imminent, and began to fall just as I got out of the car. As setups go, well, Post isn't used to have broadcasts. I was nice and early (about 2.5 hours early, to be exact), but not everyone was on-site yet. Kyle said the team would be bringing me his broadcast equipment.

So first, Post had to figure out where to set me up. This took time, but they could have been more accommodating. They were wonderful, to be exact. I got a small table next to scorer's table. The gym, in fact, isn't very big to begin with.

GCU showed up around 11:45 (tip off was scheduled for 1 p.m.). An assistant coach introduced himself and said he'd get the equipment to me. I watched as a team member brought over what looked like a first aid kit.

I waited.

I bought a small bag of pretzels (starving, of course).

I waited some more.

I finally decided I would go get my equipment and set up. No big deal. The team has better things to do than worry about a substitute broadcaster. I had everything ready, with minor hiccups that wouldn't be noticeable to the listener. At first, I couldn't get the broadcast online, but there mifis and other options ready.

Seriously, Post was wonderful. If they ever need a broadcaster...

I began to get nervous as time was ticking down. First college hoops game in nearly seven years. First basketball broadcast in ten months. Flying solo (that doesn't really bother me). Strange place, names, teams I just met. Plus I needed to find Kyle's equipment, if only so I had his iPod to play music, commercials, etc.

I looked back at the assistant with about fifteen minutes to go before gametime.

"Where's the equipment?"

"What equipment?"

"The broadcast stuff."

He pointed. To what I thought was the first aid stuff.

I could have banged my head on the wall.

Again. Nobody knew the difference.

OK, from there it was just basketball. Don't try to reinvent the wheel.

I fumbled with getting used to Kyle's iPod as a way to play audio elements, but eventually pulled it together.

I know I messed up names. I know my call was off.

I know that AJ and Shawn and others listened, and their reviews were kind.

I know me. I'm better than that, but I'll take it.

The GCU women won by 10. Things didn't go so well for the men.

I hoped the broadcasts sounded passable at the very least as I packed up.

Hanging out at the gym wasn't an option.

I continued to watch the snow fall.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

1/1/17

Bobby Murcer, Billy Joel, Jim Spencer, Ron Guidry.
And here we are.

I'd like a do-over already, but no dice.

It's a day of football, hockey, and maybe a little relaxing.

Also a day of prepping for college basketball next Saturday, as AJ Szymanowski and I call a double-header between Georgian Court University and Post University in Waterbury, CT. I'm trying to get Shawn Sailer to round out our crew for the day.

We'll laugh. We'll talk hoops. Then we'll hopefully have dinner.

I'm excited.

And a little nervous.

Incidentally, is there anything more glorious than watching Mariah Carey...well...whatever it was that she did?

Just saying. Bad things happening to good people and all.

These NFL games today are sleepers. Pack and Lions tonight. I'll wait for that (so will the aforementioned Mssrs. Szymanowski and Sailer -- both Packers fans).

Oh, so why are Bobby Murcer, Billy Joel, Jim Spencer, and Bobby Murcer in a picture together? Apparently the story is that Joel was presented with a Golden Ticket Award at Madison Square Garden in 1980. That doesn't entirely explain why the three Yankees were on-hand. Paul Simon was also there, and Joel and Simon are Yankees fans, so maybe that explains it.

So why am I using it on this post? Well Bobby Murcer wore uniform number 17 as a rookie (1965-66). I Googled that, looking for a picture of Bobby Ray in his number 17 jersey and found this.

In the end, this was the best I could find (and you can barely see that's a 7).

Anyway. There's that.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Man of the Year (and goodnight, 2016)


Honestly, in my world, who else could it be? The sweetest swan song of all.

Thanks, Vin Scully, for everything you taught me, and for demonstrating grace. Long may you live and may a microphone wind up in your hand again.

We'll see you in 2017...wherever you may be.


It's Just Another Day

Onto '17 we go (Charleston, SC. 2012)
We've dealt with our hatred of this night many times, so no point in dwelling.

There's also no point in dwelling on 2016. It had highs. It had lows.

I mean, that's simply life.

I'm saddened that I only posted 44 times this year, but all I can do is just move on.

I'd rather just look forward. To that end, I have a resolution!

I'm going to wake up tomorrow.

That's probably the best approach.

When you get right down to it, this is a similar post to what I wrote a year ago tonight.

In a lot of ways, not a thing changed. In others, they most certainly did. I wish for the same things that I've been wishing for some time. I wished the same when I blew out the candle on my 48th birthday cake in November (of which I was touched by).

But I learned more about myself. I learned more about how I have to be in certain ways.

It was an eye-opening year. It is what it is, as the saying goes.

I'll endeavor to keep waking up every day. Simply put, as always, to keep moving forward.

We need unity. We need peace. I'm quite doubtful we'll find either, so getting excited and optimistic about the flip of the calendar is sort of difficult.

My apologies for the cynicism, but I'm a realist.

Sean and I wish you well - tomorrow and each ensuing tomorrow.

I'd like 2017 to be a big year.

Beyond that, it's just another day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Celebrities and Grief (RIP, Carrie Fisher)

Tough but tender. Princess Leia. Though there was that "kiss her brother" thing.

We don't know these people. I know that.

Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia of my youth, died today at the age of 60, after suffering a heart attack last week.

And we grieve for these people. Many don't understand why.

Look, I get seriously tired of the martyrdom for Prince, George Michael, etc.

But I get why it happens. I get why there are those who mourn.

Because it's a loss of our innocence. It's a reminder of our past, to a large degree.

For me, Carrie Fisher takes me back to bring a kid. It takes me back to the first move I ever saw twice -- called Star Wars (not "Episode IV" or "A New Hope" or whatever). It reminds me of driving down the Taconic Parkway with my cousins -- me, the oldest of the kids in the car -- as my dad teased us about the names of the Star Wars characters.

Princess Leia was Princess Lulu.

This is why we mourn. Not because we think we know them. We don't. I'm somewhat certain I've never been in the same zip code as Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, or Carrie Fisher.

But I think my point is clear.

Anyway, I'm babbling.

Without being cheesy, may the force be with Ms. Fisher.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mel Stottlemyre is 'Fighting For His Life'


Off the news of Carrie Fisher having a massive heart attack (USA Today) comes word that Mel Stottlemyre, once the heart and soul of the Yankees' late-60's/early 70's pitching staff is "fighting for his life."

Mel's son, Todd Stottlemyre, passed along the news early today on social media (ESPN).

Mel came to the Yankees in 1964 and went 9-3 before losing to Bob Gibson (hardly a crime) in game 7 of the World Series. Gibson pitched on two-days rest and went the distance. Different times. Stottlemyre threw a complete effort to win game 2, beating Gibson 8-3.

Sadly that would be Mel's only postseason, as the Yankees faded badly over the next decade.

Mel would remain the ace of the staff, and become a five-time All-Star. In 11 seasons, he pitched to a 2.97 ERA, while winning 164 games. Unfortunately, he led the league in losses twice (1966, when he dropped 20 decisions, and 1972, when he lost 18).

His best years were clearly 1968 (the year of the pitcher), when he went 21-12 with a 2.45 ERA. But 1969, with the change in mound height, was his absolute best. Mel went 20-14 with a 2.82 ERA and a league-high 24 complete games.

Mel had arm problems that ended his career at just 33. He was released in early 1975, and eventually reemerged as one of the best pitching coaches in the game. It was Stottlemyre who was alongside Davey Johnson as the Mets won it all in '86. Then Mel went to the Astros and before he rejoined the Yankees. There, with Joe Torre, the Yankees had one of their best runs in history, grasping four more rings between 1996 and 2000.

Mel was a favorite of mine, along with that Murcer guy in the early 70's.
Mel and Bobby Murcer, Old Timer's Day.

I don't have words without being trite, other than best wishes. I wish I had more.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Public Service Announcement

The County Line (courtesy Google)
The intersection of US 6, Baldwin Place Road, and NY Route 118 at the Westchester/Putnam County line has evolved over the years.

I can remember - barely - when there weren't traffic lights there. That would be in the early 1970's. Then they put lights up, and the movement meant leaving Baldwin Place Road, making a left onto US 6, and then bearing right onto NY 118.

That's just an example, and this stayed as so for a long time. Minor adjustments were made over the years, but the problems remained.

I remember the family friend who got knocked off his motorcycle in an accident there.

Of course, commerce necessitated the measures to keep things safe. Our "mall," THE Baldwin Place Mall was right there. Our McDonald's was there. The Mobil station that, so long as your horn worked, you passed your NY state inspection (minor exaggeration, but not by much). The County Line Pub (now PJ's) was nearby. Kinney Shoes, Robert Hall, Sears (the catalog store!), Book and Record, Studio Deli, Embassy, ah...the memories!

Up the road was another shopping center, with Shopwell, Arthur Treacher's, King's (a brief Caldor-type knockoff), and more.

The shopping centers are all still around, but things have changed.

And so has the corner of Baldwin Place/6/118.

Including the pattern of the traffic lights.

The intersection was reconstructed over the summer, eliminating the necessity to make the left from Baldwin Place Road before turning onto NY 118. It's now a straight movement. New traffic lights were installed.

And a new traffic light pattern was put in place last Monday.

So as I'm driving to Greenwich this morning, I moved along Baldwin Place Road, and had the foresight to recognize that not everyone got the traffic light change memo.

It's a simple concept: for you to turn left on US 6 West (from 118), you need an arrow. Or no oncoming traffic.

Like me.

Had I not been at least a little smart, a young lady driving a small SUV would have given me a holiday gift. The sound of my horn (a rarity) did nothing to deter her.

I growled and moved on.

She's undoubtedly impervious to her utter stupidity.

Thankfully, all is well.

But look out, should you travel through the area.

The preceding has been a public service announcement.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Embarrassing Admission


Thanks to the snow, freezing rain, and anything else hitting the Pac, I'm chilling out.

I've shoveled the snow, and I can hear the ramblings of Sean and his friend Will, who are playing some computer game...and have been since yesterday.

With Sean and Will both here, I decided to give my up room to them. So that has me in a room of a distant lifetime. Or a glass case of emotion.

With no TV, but of course, in modern-day times, if one has technology, one can survive nicely.

(Or read a book, but let's not lose the point.)

OK, I'm burying the lede (or lead - your call).

So onto Netflix I went. I looked around and came across a classic.

Jaws.

Which I've never totally seen.

And that embarrasses me.

I thought about why. For one, horror never did a thing for me. Until I read the great works of Susan whats-her-name, horror wasn't something I'd read. Like. Ever. It normally took friends to get me to watch a horror flick. So, sure. I've seen Freddie and Jason, etc. I remember having a sleepover at Jeff Terranova's house, circa 1984, and we watched...something.

We also watched Scarface. "Say hello to my little friend," indeed!

More than that, the movie came out in 1975. My siblings, assuming they saw it, were both teenagers, and they wouldn't have dragged their dopey little (six-year-old) brother.

Therefore, a combo of circumstances led us to this.

So let's grab out bigger boat, and jump in the water while listening to Olivia Newtown-John sing "I Honestly Love You!"

Incidentally, I did have the 45 (and still do) of Mr. Jaws. So I've got that.