Monday, November 19, 2018

Be Kind

Kindergarten. 1972
So I turn 50 this week.

That's not a plea for gifts or birthday wishes or whatever.

This birthday -- more than any other -- has befuddled me.

The date in question is this Thursday.

Thanksgiving.

I'll call the Staples/Greenwich football game in the morning, and I'm looking forward to hosting the senior day ceremony, as well as eating a lot at the tailgate, because my Thanksgiving plans are...er...unsettled.

Yes. That's the word I'll use.

Trip number 50 around the Sun for me has been quite the thing. It could be its own blog post, and I could settle a whole lot of scores. For now? No. Let's not do that.

Instead, let's find the positive.

I want something*, but nothing material.

(*Yes, there are things that I want, but this is different.)

You see, many people -- far more benevolent that I -- have begun using social media, and Facebook specifically, to ask users to donate to a charity. It's a noble thing, and I applaud those who do it. Then we get notifications on Facebook to donate.

I don't want to do that to you. By all means, please donate to something because you want to, but not because I've given you a Facebook notification. This is basically the same philosophy I used for the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014. Do it if you want.

**But, please feel donate to Arthritis Foundation, in honor of my dad. Or any myriad causes that will eradicate us of cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), and heart disease. Or give to Big Brothers/Big Sisters or Boys and Girls Club.**

There are many places that deserve your money or time. I don't want to hit you up for any of that, mostly because I can't afford to do it myself, and it hurts me more than you know. I'm practically a charity unto myself (again, a whole different blog post).

No, what I want, is goodness. Seems phony, I know. Trite, even.

But as I thought about my 50th birthday, and the negative feelings I've had about it (I don't personally care about the number), I felt the best thing everyone could do is simple.

Be Kind.

I thought of the departing words of the Twelfth Doctor, as portrayed by Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who. This is the speech he gave before he regenerated into the wonderful Jodi Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.


"You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first.
"Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish…and love, is always wise.
"Always try to be nice, and never fail to be kind."
(Moving forward, after he talks about never telling anyone, except children, what his real name is)
"Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.
"Doctor – I let you go."
That's all I want, friends. There is so much sadness. There is so much bad.

But, if we occasionally take a moment and look, it's not as bad as we think. We just see the bad more than ever, and maybe we can rise above it all anyway.

We can -- and should -- have healthy debates, but at the end of the day, let's love each other.

We should debate Bon Jovi's place in music history, and...for the love of God...John Mellencamp. I mean, why?

We should debate Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez, or Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Or Jordan and LeBron.

We should never debate Babe Ruth. Well, you're welcome to try.

We should debate politics. In a healthy way. Because we all love our country (well...maybe not. I've lost some faith on that last point).

But we should hear and try to understand the other side. No matter how hard.

We should shake hands and be well at the end of the day.

Stop and help the person in need.

Hold a door -- even if they don't say thank you. That's their problem. You did the right thing.

Help a friend who needs it. Sometimes they just need to be heard, but honesty and a kind word always help.

Sometimes, simply asking if someone needs help is enough. Sometimes, just help.

Do it. There's no playbook for it.

Don't just do it for my birthday. Do it every day.

As for me, I'm going to hope the 51st year is much better. Because it will be.

"The best is yet to come," Mr. Sinatra once crooned. "And babe, won't it be fine.

"The best is yet to come. Come the day you're mine.

"And you're gonna be mine."

Forties -- I release you.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Brunswick Ends Their Season

Choate celebrates their win over Brunswick.
I just uploaded the final audio of the Brunswick football season.

Sadly, for Bruins fans, the result wasn't the desired one: Choate 25, Brunswick 8. I'm incredibly grateful to AJ Szymanowski for driving down from Cambridge, MA to join me for the call, and to Shawn Sailer for producing (aka, "keeping us company"). Also thanks to Local Live and Gus, the tremendous cameraman who ably keeps things moving.

But oh what a ride it was. This was a team that was "thought" to win maybe four to six games.

The point is nobody knew.

They found a QB, worked out a running game, and created a wonderful defense.

They played their hearts out.

They had two stellar captains in Cornelius Johnson and Nick Villis. Both will be heard from after they leave Wick.

In fact, all of these players will, and they'll figure things out for 2019.

Yes, the loss stinks. I'm sure there's regret for the loss yesterday (they finished at 8-2).

There should be no regret for the effort and pride they demonstrated.

I'm only sorry I wasn't there for all ten games.

Not many know that I've been around Brunswick athletics for roughly 20 years, and have called so many games.

Yet now -- more than ever -- I've made friends.

I'm excited for hockey and basketball at Wick, as well as the finish of Greenwich football (Thursday, 9:50 am -- WGCH). The playoffs follow.

Oh and Mahopac wants me to join them for some hockey. I'd love to see more games everywhere. Just watching the machine my friend Travis Jackson is building whets my appetite.

Anyway, I'm getting off-topic here.

Thanks again, Brunswick football. Come back soon.

AJ and I call the action (Shawn Sailer photo)


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Xavier/Greenwich Football Broadcast Notes

An opening day view from September against Trumbull.
No fancy lede (or lead, your call) is needed here. Let's get to the facts.

Greenwich and Xavier (of Middletown, CT) were scheduled to play in a neutral site game on Thursday at 7 p.m. But snow is on the way.

So the game is now scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich (by definition, the game is a Greenwich home affair).

After some thinking, WGCH (including me) have come up with this plan:

-- The live audio will air on Robcasting at http://mixlr.com/robcasting-radio/ (there's also a widget on the right side of this page). Or listen right here!
Robcasting Radio is on Mixlr


-- On WGCH, regular programming will continue, including The Clubhouse at 7pm. Mark Jeffers and Dave Torromeo will carry on without me (I'll be back for the season-ender on Dec. 5).

-- At 8 p.m. on WGCH (wgch.com...anywhere), we will air the game on tape-delay (to my knowledge, only one of three times that Greenwich football aired on tape since I've been here).

-- Over on YouTube, the game will stream live through the capable hands of DJ Furano and company, with my play-by-play (and Paul Silverfarb's analysis). The stream will be here (or watch below). 

The audio will be archived after the broadcast on Mixlr, Mixcloud, and Archive.org.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Morning After the Election

Bill on Capitol Hill is exhausted after last night.

I heard the word "douche" last night in a concession speech. I've actually got it recorded.

The name of the person isn't important, I suppose. I doubt it will be reported.

So it's all over. America is mad, crazy, whatever.

The midterms, baby. The sea was angry that day, my friends.

Like you, I have opinions about the elections.

But I'm a journalist (at least one or two people actually believe that), so I don't think I should offer those opinions.

Oh I'm like anyone else. I'll drop the ball on occasion and perhaps tweet one thing or another.

A rare blog item here and there also.

Yet it's not a habit, where you know my stance, to the point where you might question my ethics and my professionalism.

In fact, those who think they know me (or maybe knew me "back in the day") might be surprised on where I stand.

The point is: you don't know (unless you know me well, and even then).

Because I think it looks bad in my position -- especially the one night of the year that I'm actually a political reporter.

We talked about this around the campfire at WGCH last night before we went on the air. The opinion of being a journalist and keeping your political leanings offline was unanimous.

I have no idea, for instance, which way WGCH news director Tony Savino leans.

We should report, and that's that.

Look, I'm a sports broadcaster, and I have been for a long time. I've been "The Voice of the Greenwich Cardinals" (except hockey, or whatever) since the late 90s in one form or another.

But I'm telling you right now: I don't root for Greenwich. I can't. Sure, I like families and athletes to do well, but I can't cloud my judgement by having a rooting interest. Yes, the more GHS wins, the more coverage I'm able to provide, but I'm not a Greenwich Cardinal. It's never "we."

Ever.

I'm so proud to know journalists like Susan Shultz, the esteemed editor of the Darien Times, who doggedly works her tail off, and was up near midnight still cranking away at results, turnout, minutiae. She feels her election coverage is one of the most important things she does in a given year.

She prides herself on it. Go ahead, accuse her of bias. You'd be impressively wrong (can I name names?).

Whatever I know of her politics comes from my knowing her. Off social media.

Like me, she'll fumble once in a while (and deletes the post shortly after).

But she's the best, most honest and honorable journalist I know (I specifically did NOT use an Oxford comma here because we differ on that topic).

I wish everyone could be that way.

Oh, and one other thing: she knows I'm no phony, but I've got her back.

To sum it up, like I said Monday night, play nice.

Maybe don't publicly use the word "douche."

We're already off to a rough start.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Just Vote


The truth is: you don't need what I'm going to say. Taylor Swift told you. Your neighbors have done it.

Social media has spread it.

It's been on TV and radio.

It's been on your phone and in your mail.

It's one word: VOTE.

It's a message I fully support.

But after years of this (especially since Nov. 2016), it's time to speak up on this eve of Election Day.

I'm sick of hearing "vote red" or "vote blue."

I'm sick of liberals and conservatives.

I'm sick of people who vote SOLELY on party lines.

Sick.

Of.

It.

Want to be bold? Want to make your vote matter?

Vote with your head.

I've read enough of it. There are those who make every. Single. Word about...well...you know who.

It's obsessive.

I've watched friendships get destroyed over this.

This message isn't that profound. Simply put: go vote tomorrow, if you haven't already.

But vote with your brain. Don't vote for a color or a line or a party.

If you choose to not vote out of protest, OK. That's your call. But don't go just because you're lazy, you forgot, or some other reason.

You're better served writing in "Babe Ruth" or "Laurie Strode."

However you do it, vote. Go to your polling place and be done.

I'm going up to the local community house, filling out my ballot, and leaving. It's that easy.

Then play nice (and listen to me on Doubleheader at 3 p.m. and for  Election Night coverage at 8 p.m. on WGCH)

Vote.

Monday, October 01, 2018

61

A Roger Maris 1959 Topps baseball card. Yes, it's mine.
It's October 1.

There are numerous ways that I can think of today. Some aren't pretty.

I'll always think of Roger Eugene Maris. The pride of Fargo, North Dakota (long before Frances McDormand), Roger was a baseball and football star who made good. He met his wife Pat there, and wanted to be the best ballplayer he could be.

Raj would make the Cleveland Indians in 1957 before being traded to the Kansas City A's in 1958.

In December 1959, Maris was traded to the New York Yankees, and his life would never be the same.

Maris bloomed into a full-blown star in 1960, hitting 39 home runs, winning the American League MVP and leading the star-laden Bronx Bombers to the World Series, where they would lose in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs won the title on a ninth inning home run in Game 7 by Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski.

With manager Casey Stengel jettisoned at the age of 70 following 1960, Maris, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Blanchard, Elston Howard, Bill "Moose" Skowron, and Yogi Berra led a barrage of home runs as the Bombers launched 240 in 1961. New manager Ralph Houk used ace Whitey Ford to perfection, and "The Chairman of the Board" responded with a 25-4 Cy Young-winning year.

The Yankees would win 109 games and steamroll the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Honestly, that was an afterthought.

This year was all about 61 in '61.

Mantle, the golden boy in his tenth year in New York, hit 54 home runs in that magical year, and was seen as the popular choice to break the mythical record of 60, established by one Mr. George Herman Ruth in 1927.

Maris, the quiet guy from Fargo -- the man whose hair would fall out as the pressure increased -- the man so unlikely to break the record of Babe Ruth, did just that.
"I don't want to be Babe Ruth. He was a great ballplayer. I'm not trying to replace him. The record is there and damn right I want to break it, but that isn't replacing Babe Ruth."
Maris answered every question that year (and after) but he wasn't glib. He was a largely simple midwestern man. Mantle, Ford, and other Yankees were more fit for that life.

Roger, somehow, made it work.

Even the commissioner, Ford Frick, was anti-Maris. Frick (yes, the very same man who the Hall of Fame broadcasting excellence award is named after) was a ghostwriter for -- wait for it -- Ruth. Thus, the commissioner set the rule that if Maris (or anyone else) didn't reach 61 home runs within 154 games (the number that Ruth set the record in), then it would exist in a separate category.

That's where the mythical asterisk came in (which never truly existed). To that extent, Billy Crystal made a movie about it.


(Damn good movie by the way. Historical inaccuracies aside, the film is gorgeous.)

Mantle would fade due to an injury in September, leaving Roger to carry the torch. Rumors existed that the two feuded through '61, though that was false.

Maris missed the magic 61 in 154 games, but tied the record with his 60th on September 26th against Jack Fisher of the Orioles. The great Mel Allen, once and forever "The Voice of the Yankees" was on the call.


That brings us to October 1. It was the last day of the season.

A mere 23,154 fans were at cavernous Yankee Stadium on that Sunday afternoon. It was 71 degrees, and most fans filed into the right field seats, hoping to catch the magic 61st home run. Sam Gordon, a restauranteur from Sacramento, CA offered $5,000 to the fan who secured the magic ball.

Sal Durante, a truck driver from Staten Island, was the lucky man. Mr. Durante, who attended the game with his fiancee, paid $2.50 for his ticket.

The Yankees broadcast was carried, as always, on WPIX TV (channel 11) with Red Barber (mentor of one Vincent Edward Scully) on the call. Yankees legend Phil Rizzuto -- the 1950 MVP and former shortstop -- was on the radio side on WCBS (880).

The opponent? The Boston Red Sox, on their way to finishing 76-86 and drawing under 900,000 fans to Fenway Park. Tracy Stallard, a 23-year-old who would lost 20 games with the Mets in 1964, was the pitcher.

The final score was 1-0. Obviously the Yankees won, and won on the 61st home run hit by Roger Eugene Maris.

YouTube user "YankeesAtShea" paired the WPIX video with the famous radio call by Rizzuto.



The full radio broadcast is here. Barber, who seems to not be as regarded as he should be in this era, has his call here, where Allen joins him (color analysts weren't as prominent). To be sure, Red was a stern taskmaster, and his call, while exciting, lacks the elation of Rizzuto. Still, it's the basic difference between a TV and radio call.

On a personal level, it's one of my favorite Yankees/baseball history moments. Maris was horribly underrated, known primarily for the 61 home runs. Obviously that was a lofty number that he would never come close to approaching again. Roger would "only" hit 33 in 1962, leading the Yankees to a second-straight Series title (part of a run of five-straight appearances in the Fall Classic).

Maris was a brilliant defender, extraordinary baserunner, and fine hitter. Things came together for him in 1961, as he took advantage of hitting in front of Mantle, as well as substandard pitching.

Still, fans were horrible to Maris, as he could never live up to 61 in '61.

Maris would head to St. Louis following 1965, where he was a part of two appearances for the Cardinals in the World Series, winning it all in 1967.

It was there where Maris rediscovered his love of baseball, before retiring after 1968. He would run a beer distributorship in Gainesville, Fl (a byproduct of him playing for the Cardinals, owned by the Busch family).

Thanks to George Steinbrenner, Maris would return to the Yankees family in the late 1970s, appearing at Old Timers Day and other ceremonial moments. Steinbrenner retired his number nine in 1984.

Just over a year later, Maris died of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma on December 14, 1985.

He was only 51.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Keep Grinding


I have to be quick here.

There are days when this business -- and certainly any business -- will eat you alive.

I've dealt with myriad politics in media.

I've been pushed aside thanks to people with money, power-hungry people, old boys clubs, and more.

Don't think I've just hung on at WGCH for 21 years. There are times I've had to fight to be seen and heard.

Sometimes, I still do.

The politics of this business stinks -- even now, as a veteran of nearly three decades.

Everyone wants your job.

Many hate you or blacklist you.

There are stories. Oh yes.

Then there's the low pay, when being nearly 50 means finding work can be brutal (heck, I'll take an office job and broadcast on the side), but the child support bill must be paid.

How do I pay the bills?

How do I survive?

How do get my (insert term here) off my back?

How?

You don't know the full story, and you probably never will.

Power struggles stink.

I've been through and seen it all.

So when I get this, it means a whole lot.

That came out of nowhere. It wasn't a ringer, and she wasn't a friend. 

Honestly, that's all I have to add. The kind words are a good reminder.

Don't quit. 

Don't.

Keep moving forward.

See you at 3:30 for Brunswick and Hotchkiss.