Sunday, August 31, 2014

I'm Not the Voice of the Cardinals Anymore

Interviewing Peter Salvatore after the 2002 FCIAC Championship Game
"All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves." - Amelia Barr
I have to write this: I will no longer be calling Greenwich football on WGCH.

I probably needed to write this about a month ago. Then, suddenly, I didn't. So I began to relax and forget about it. In fact, yesterday I told you (my trusty reader) to forget about the whole thing.

Moments later, my various means of communication began to light up.

Now, I'm back, needing to say it out loud.

After 14 years and 161 games (give or take), two state championships, five FCIAC titles, and countless other moments, I'm done.

I was first a part of GHS football for a playoff game in 1999 as a sideline reporter and analyst at Boyle Stadium, as the Cardinals beat Fairfield Prep to move onto the state championship game. When Sports Director John Connelly stepped down the following summer, I ascended to the lead role.

I worked with great people. People who became friends. The staff at GHS, through three athletic directors, have been phenomenal. The great Brian Kennedy, who set me up time after time with anything I needed, is a true pro and a friend. The same can be said for the coaches, from Rich Albonizio through Wayne Gioffre and TJ Ostruzka. They, among so many other coaches, all made me feel welcome and trusted me with information. I thank them all.

Of course, it's the players who make it all work. From the Longo boys to the Jones brothers to Pat Wilson, Ricky Riscica, Justin Gaccione, Jeff DeVico, Peter Salvatore, Mike Lefflbine and beyond, I've been blessed to broadcast them, and I can't possibly name them all. Many of them are now friends. Beyond that, I watched John Sullivan go from being a high school great to a Viking.

I also got to know their parents. Whether it is Susy Bawol, Alyce Kavanagh, Roe Lefflbine, the Riscicas, the DeVicos, the Hahns, Cindy Poletsky or anyone else, I've loved you all for allowing me to know your kids and for your kindness. You invited me to join you for the captain's breakfast, or tailgates, or even postgame beverages.

The Chelwicks, Dick Leonard, the late Bob Darula, Evan Dubin, Avery Belicka, and too many other people to name...just all the best. The backbone of the GHS football family. We laughed in the booth too many times to count. Or on the field. Or at film night.

My fellow reporters, from Dave Fierro and Tim Parry to Jesse Quinlan through Paul Silverfarb. We all seemed to get that the right thing was to cooperate with each other. That will continue, regardless.

For the listeners, many of you didn't always like me. Maybe it was my sense of humor, or you wanted more, or you didn't like me getting excited when another team scored, or whatever. The criticism helped - both positive and negative.

Lastly, the WGCH team that was assembled over the years was remarkable. In the beginning, it was just Sean Kilkelly and I. It evolved through Mark Rosen and Ian Handwerger. It added Tommy Dee, Tom Polina, Tom Kane, Ricky Fritsch, Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin, Ryan DeMaria, Jason Intrieri, Nick Angotto, Matt Hamilton, Tom Prizeman, Max Barefoot, Nick Fox, Rob Crowley, Zach Fisher, John Collins, Amanda Romaniello, and a few others. I've tried to name you all and have likely failed.

It's been a remarkable run. I'm told that I called more games than anyone else in GHS/WGCH history, and I'm honored if that's true. I've tried to give you my best while being honest and fair. I wanted to stay a lot longer than I did.

I guess that comes around to the simple question of what happened...

I heard back in the mid-summer that another broadcaster was going to come aboard with promises of sponsor money and maybe even a big-name analyst. Assuming he could, I was likely out. While I tried to hold out hope, I also had to get my own fall schedule in order, including my list of games for HAN Radio.

Last week, I heard various things disputing the above, but it was soon discovered that, with some work and cooperation, I'd be back. I began to prepare for year number 15 at the microphone, with the task of finding other play-by-play voices to jump in on HAN.

Yes, calling Greenwich games meant that much to me. It often took precedence over my real job, or my personal life. So, as I've done before, I crafted out a game plan to get me on the WGCH call. I passed it along to the management of both WGCH and HAN. Marty Hersam at HAN was on-board. It seemed, at first, that WGCH was as well.

I found out yesterday that I was out, when friends reached out to me. I have yet to hear anything official from my radio home since 1997, but I'm a fairly bright guy.

I don't know if this means I'm totally done at WGCH (some want me to walk out now, but that's not how I am). There is certainly some anger at how this was handled. If it is, I was honored to do this for as long as I did. Nothing lasts forever.

If it is, my thanks climbs immeasurably to Bill Brehm, Mike Mora, John Spang, Mark Smallwood, John Connelly, and so...so...many others. Owners. Management. Salespeople. Lindsey Romeo, Joy Marshall, John Iannuzzi, Jim Thompson. Other show hosts. Man...the list is endless.

What you learn is nobody owes anyone a thing. You can do a show for free for two years and it means nothing. You can give and give and give. It just doesn't matter. It's business. Nothing personal.

I'll still be around Greenwich with HAN Radio (we have at least three football games lined up for this year). Except now, more than ever, I have to treat Big Red like just another team.

Sean Kilkelly, the first person I called when I became Sports Director, and my friend, will now be the voice of the Cardinals on WGCH. I wish him good voice and good games. I also understand that it's an opportunity. Take it and run.

I hope you'll all come find me over at HANRadio.com.

So thanks, Greenwich. Thanks for these wonderful football memories. Thanks for everything. It's been an amazing honor.

To better days...

The Number

My Lehigh Valley IronPigs jersey.
I've told this story before, so feel free to tune me out. For you newbies, how exactly did we get to this 55 thing? And the exit, and so on?

I agonized over naming the blog back in 2006, before I found a way to combine two things: roads and my number.

I've been a passionate road nut since I was a baby, when my parents would beg me to go sleep on our long road trips. The rhythm of the road, combined with the fascination of what I was seeing out the window, just sucked me into something I still enjoy. Some think this is nuts, others shrug, others like it.

What thrilled me was when I discovered a culture of fellow road peeps in the late 1990s. Some of them are friends, even if only via social media.

That, of course, is where the "Exit" comes from. Now, I felt I needed a number. I thought about Exit 59, which when I was a kid, was what we used to leave Interstate 75 in Florida to drive across the upper reaches of Pasco County to reach my grandparents' house in Holiday.

That exit is now Exit 285, part of a great renumbering to mileage-based exits. So the poem/song I wrote in 1986 (give or take) is now irrelevant.

Don't ask.

I've always been a numerologist, and the roads have given me 95 (too many trips between Maine and Florida to count), 6 (have lived near it my entire life), and 19 (again, back to my grandparents' place in Florida).

Sports is where most of numbers come from, of course. I'll memorize something off of who wore it ( a license plate might include 5473, but that's DiMaggio/Gehrig/Mantle/Ruth to me, or two non-World Series years for the Yankees).

Yep. Me.

My first favorite number was four. Why? I was four years old. So when I turned five, I switched to that. (Yes, a bandwagon number-jumper. I'm sure I'll catch flack for that)

Alas, I felt compelled to stick with the smiley-looking nickle. It was also around that time that I knew - just knew - that I was destined to be a New York Yankee. Hey, I couldn't field and I couldn't hit. So I was perfect!

I was at a neighbor's house one day and he had one of those numbers that used to get put on ones varsity jacket to recognize the year they graduated. He gave it to me - a five, for 1975. We would put it on the back of a little Yankees jersey that I owned (and still have it). I told him of my plan to wear the number on the Yankees.

Except...well...no. The number had been retired in honor of Joe DiMaggio in 1952.

Now my memory is foggy about the next part, but either he suggested 55 or I came up with it myself. Either way, the legend of 55 was born.

Funny thing: I almost never wore five after that, either getting whatever number was handed to me, or picking two due to a certain Yankees outfielder named Murcer, who wore that from 1979-1983. As I got older, it was always 55 whenever I could pick it.

This blog had to be called Exit 55. It stuck.

The number has been so identified with me that HAN Radio's call-in number has 55 in it.

And if you don't know, now you know.*

*When I'm quoting Biggie, you know it's a sign of the Apocalypse.

The Face of Misery

I stayed at Lisa's the other night, and got up the next morning with a hunger for some breakfast. I went to the deli about a mile or so away, where they make a pretty decent egg and cheese wrap.

It's a local kind of haunt, and they certainly have their regulars. I am not one of them.

Behind the counter stood a young woman, maybe mid-20s, though I'm not sure because I'm awful at guessing ages (especially females).

Her: "Help you?"

RA: "Ham, egg, and cheese wrap please?"

Her: "What kind of wrap?"

RA: "Plain*" (* Yes, I am uber-Vanilla. Probably always will be.)

Her: "Anything else?"

RA: "No, thank you." (Insert Robbie-esque smile, an attempt to elicit anything)

She turned and went about her business. In the process, I couldn't sense whether she had a personality. To be honest, I wasn't sure she had any emotions. Her face was stone cold.

I was fascinated. Watching her work, it was clear that she simply deplored what she was doing. In a quick analysis, it seemed sad.

It could be that she really hated her job. Maybe she hates her life. Hates being in Dutchess County, NY.

Then again, given my nature of wanting to know the full story and not judge too quickly, it could be that she hated who she was working with. Or her boss had given her a hard time. Or a customer. Or she broke up with her boyfriend.

I guess the point is: who knows?

She might have simply been having a bad day.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stunning

There. Are. No. Words. Just watch.


Sad that there are people who really feel like that.

The Growing Boy

Sean, from last week at South of the Border
Sitting around the house today when Sean stopped in for a minute before returning to cartoons and games.

As we spent a pleasant father/son moment (cherish them while you can), I proposed getting some dinner.

Sean declined, saying he had just had some cookies.

Sigh...OK...time to find something to eat.

Voila! A leftover plate of pasta was in the fridge!

"Cool!" I exclaimed.

Sean wanted to know what I was so happy about. I told him I found the pasta...

...and...

He told me he wanted some.

I microwaved the plate and gave it to him, and resumed looking for something to eat.

Saturday Stuff (It's Off the Bench!)

I just like quotes. That is all.
First of all, I'm feeling the urge to write again, and that really thrills me. There are a ton of topics rolling around in that danger zone known as the lump three feet above my ass.

- Sometimes I think I feel a little intimidated by working with such a smart, well-read group of writers like my colleagues at Hersam Acorn. They're quite awesome. If anything, I feel like I have regressed by working with them. But they do inspire me.

- OK, so Michael Sam has been cut by the St. Louis Rams, and I'm pleased. Stay with me here before you attack. The reason I say that is because Jeff Fisher, a man of character, didn't keep Sam around because he wanted to put the first openly gay man on his football team. He dropped him because, succinctly, he didn't think there was a fit on his football team for him.

I want Michael Sam to succeed. Because he's a football player. I don't care about his shower habits. I don't care who he is dating. I don't care about anything other than if he's a good football player. Sure, I care if he's a good man, but in the bottom line of sports, I want him to succeed or fail on the pure merits of his football ability.

The rest of it isn't for me to concern myself with.

- I don't care how close the Yankees are to the wild card, or even the division, I just don't think they're good enough to make the playoffs.

- I paused today to watch Derek Jeter hit (full disclosure: he took a called third strike) and felt a tinge of sadness that a great career is just about a month from ending.

If he's not the greatest shortstop of all-time, then he's in the top three, with Honus Wagner and Cal Ripken Jr. A-Rod would have been there at one time. He's not.

- I had a blast talking about things various and sundry yesterday during The Open Hour (Fridays at 10am) on HANRadio.com. It might not be the most compelling hour that we broadcast, but I still enjoy it. It reminds me of the old days of my eponymous show on WGCH.

- Yeah, so about WGCH...remember a few weeks back I said I had a pretty big announcement I was holding off on telling you? Ummm...forget it. At least it seems unnecessary now, but we'll see. Stories change all the time.

UPDATE: Yup, stories change all the time. I'll explain later.

- Oh, back to The Open Hour. I rambled on about a lot of things. I found myself feeling quite musical, and was thinking about how some of my tastes have changed over the years. Some things that I listened to so much just seven years ago are now on the fringe. Strange how life can impact that.

For instance, I don't find myself quite into U2 or The Police anymore. I suppose the feeling could return.

I also found myself railing about bullying - real and not real. For instance, I watch, read, and listen to criticism that some of my HAN colleagues take from these keyboard yahoos in their towns. I mean, really? Isn't there something else they should be doing?

I get it. Criticism is necessary. I got some a week or so ago that really - really - troubled me. The who and what and so on aren't necessary, and it's now in the rear view mirror. But...yeah.

But sometimes, criticism just becomes a vehicle for garbage.

If you're so inclined, please check out yesterday's Open Hour.


- Sean Adams, he of the near-teenager/seventh grader, wants to get some ice poured on his head. Not because he got pressured. But because in his heart he wants to.

And he'll donate (via me).

- I love quotes of all kinds (thus the Oscar Wilde one at top). It's the reason I'll randomly post a song lyric if I hear one. I just like quotes. Sometimes I don't even have a purpose as to why I'm posting it. I just might like it. It doesn't necessarily have to have an intended message for anyone or anything.

Sometimes it's fun to post a lyric and see if others can pick up on it.

- It's the beginning of the college football season, and once again, I want to embrace it. I want to watch it. But I feel overwhelmed with games and overwhelmed with other things going on in life.

And overwhelmed with the large amount of high school football games I will be broadcasting.

The first is next Saturday (St Luke's/Cardinal Spellman) on H-A-N Radio...dot com.

- Roger Goodell thinks he's God. I'm convinced of that. Thus he's the Emperor. I know NFL players need to be accountable for their off the field behavior, but I love where the Emperor just throws himself into the midst of people's lives.

- I just saw a bit on Pro Hockey Talk saying that fans voted Bobby Orr as the greatest Boston Bruin of all time. Wow. I'm relieved we got that result.

In a related story, Babe Ruth - just might - be the greatest Yankee.

- The Hudson Valley Renegades are playoff-bound. Good for them. Would I love to be calling the games? Sure. I do wish, however, that Tom Prizeman could get back here to do it. Far be it for me to say how they should run their broadcast booth, and Tom is at college anyway. But they need some life in the booth.

Somewhere along the line, the young broadcaster became all about numbers and less about keeping listeners interested. Not screaming like Gus Johnson. Not boring them. Just telling stories, finding enthusiasm. Maybe even laughing.

I used to think doing play-by-play really wasn't anything special. I almost felt anyone could do it.

I was wrong.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Carolina on My Mind

H. Lou Gehrig. We'll come back to him.
So I'm back from a pretty cool vacation.

I hatched the plan a month or so ago (maybe less, hard to say) but had wanted to do it for some time. The bottom line is that things came together where my niece, Kristy, her husband, Hector, and their three kids (Evelyn, Eleanor, and Isabel) welcomed us (me, my mom, and Sean) to their home in North Carolina. Sprinkle in my niece Laura, her boyfriend, and a cameo by her two kids (Kendall and Emma) and it was a Fayetteville Family Fest!

Let's call this "Three Soldiers." At the Airborne and Special Ops Museum, Fayetteville, NC
It can be easy to get really stressed when family comes together (ooooohhhhhh yeah) but this was five days of peace and harmony. For Sean, mom, and I, roughly 12 hours in a car can threaten ones sanity, but we survived.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love to drive? Yeah, probably.

Pure. Evil.
I've created a monster, by the way. Not only has Sean picked up the love of Waffle House, but he is now obsessing over Golden Corral. I mean...seriously. It's the reason we stopped there in Colonial Heights, Virginia, and not too far from Baltimore, as well as near Fayetteville.

Looking into South Carolina on the state line at South of the Border.
I was worried as we arrived at South of the Border. Yes, it seems it gets a touch more dilapidated with each visit, but I worried Sean would find it boring. Plus I worried that it was even open at all, given that I didn't see a SOB billboard until we were within roughly 100 miles. Then we stepped into the base of the sombrero tower - the ONE THING the kids were excited about - to find out it was closed.

In fact, only the shops and restaurants were open. No rides. No mini golf. A few arcade games.

Yet. They. Loved. It.

"Daddy," said Sean. "Now I see why you LOVE it here!"

Big sigh of relief for the guy sweating in the 98 degree* heat.

*That reminds me of the godawful trend of boy bands we had at one time. Yes, I know, One Direction makes our ears hurt, but there was a proliferation of utter dreck. Now the dreck is in other genres (and every song still sounds the same.

Given the military presence in Fayetteville, it seems fitting that America's Dog lives there.

Fayetteville, NC is never going to be known as a destination town. It's a good stopping point, and a fine place to live. They've got shopping, restaurants, the major brands, and a few points of interest. The Airborne and Special Ops Museum is a must-see, for instance. For a baseball geek like me, the Babe Ruth plaque at the corner of Gillespie and Southern was a quick diversion.
Easy to find and near a highway office!
There is more I'd like to go back and see. Apparently Fort Bragg has a museum worth checking out. Plus I dig just seeing how a city/town/place gets by. I like going into a grocery store to see what's on the shelves. You learn things that way. Just strolling through the Target was interesting to get a feel, believe it or not.

The drive reminded me of just two years ago, when I went to and from Charleston, SC. This one was pretty good as well, despite a false start to go retrieve a DVD player that was left at home. Otherwise, it was basically a 12-hour jaunt south that could have been significantly less if I didn't stop at the aforementioned Golden Corral (and a stop in Arlington, VA). But I don't push my travelers like that, so we made sure to make good time while being leisurely about it.

The drive home...well, lesson learned. Don't travel on a Sunday unless you have a good alternate to Interstate 95. Of course, I had a backup plan but got lulled into not using it. Shame on me, I guess.

We also made sure to enjoy ourselves with a group dinner in honor of Gabriel Hernandez, who would have been five on Saturday (the same day as my brother - his grandfather). I wish we could have all met him.

Oh, so why is Lou Gehrig at the top of this post? Well I initially had some more thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge, but they seemed clumsy and, well, I've probably said all I need to say about it. But I found that great picture of him and wanted to use it. So I did. Again, somebody will need to explain to me how it's cyber bullying**, or how it is so bad when $60 million has been raised.

Like I said, I've probably said enough about it.

** OK, last thing (for now): I challenged four people. I don't know that any of them did a single thing. I'm not aware of them getting ice or writing a check. I was challenged with three other people. To my knowledge, I'm the only one that did a thing. Here's the thing: I genuinely don't care one way or another. If that's bullying, then I need a new dictionary. Just know that his thing is very personal to me, and will remain that way.

Oh, and Richmond still rocks.
Looking towards downtown Richmond, VA.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A New Look

I'm going there later this week. That has nothing to do with this post. I needed a picture.

You'll notice I've slapped a fresh coat of paint here. Perhaps.

I had the previous theme, with the road picture, for some time. Tonight I embedded a picture I shot from the radio booth at Dodd Stadium in Norwich back in April. I love that picture. I love most pictures from a press box when I'm broadcasting.
Except for my headset, it's all there.
My score card, defensive alignment, ipad, MacBook, a pencil, binoculars, and a lineup card are all there. Just missing my headset and the mixer (maybe a pen and a bottle of water or candy also).

I digress.

Anywho here's the new look. Have at it.

That view will be of various football fields soon.

The picture at the top of the post is my South of the Border mug. I will be there later this week. Sean may love it. He may hate it. Either way, I want him to see it.

#IceBucketChallenge

video
Sure, I was slightly conflicted about the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at first. In some ways it seemed like many pursuits on social media. It seemed like a form of cyber pressure, meant to get people to donate money.

In general, it is. Sort of.

It's not cyber bullying. There's no shame in NOT doing it. Best as I can tell, it's a free country, so you do what you want with your time, your money, your ice, your water.

In the end, seriously, what's the big deal? I was honored to be asked by John Kovach, and I really believe in supporting ALS research (aka Lou Gehrig's disease).

I'll donate, and I did the challenge. Why? Because it was kind of fun. It was cold for a moment. Really, briefly. It made my son's day (he was asking all weekend "when can we do it?").

To be honest, you're supposed to nominate three people. I nominated four (Ryan DeMaria, Chris Kaelin, Kris Adams, and Lisa Slocum). I would have also nominated Mick McGowan but he's not on social media (though Mick on Twitter would be hysterical). I could have nominated a lot of other people (and you probably know who you are). Some of my choices already got nominated (Harold and Paul are two, and they were both prepared to nominate me in return).

Anyway, I did it. There are always contrarians who insist on not doing things just...because. There are others who have to make it about themselves in the process of kicking their feet and saying "Hell no. No H20!" This is to raise money, which it is doing, in large quantities. This is to raise awareness, which it is doing. This is a phenomenon.

This is an honor. I was happy to do it.


Eight Years

Yogi and Bill Dickey both wore 8 in The Bronx.

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes." - John Wooden
The history is simple. Eight years ago, after feeling the pressure of other writers who stepped into the world of blogging, I took the plunge. Many of them have come and gone, and I'm sorry they haven't returned (and I, at times, out of nowhere, will remind them of this. I'm like that).

I didn't want to do Exit 55 unless I did it right. I didn't want to write for a few months and walk away. I needed a name, and it hit me just before I began our efforts here. I wanted it to be topical, sometimes personal, and create conversation. Sometimes, the goals have been met.

I got more at times. I made friends as a result. I ticked people off. The readership numbers have never been great, and while I didn't write for the readers, it sometimes made me wonder why I should keep doing it.

Kind of like radio in that way where you just keep plugging along with the hope that someone is interested.

Yet here we are. A lot has happened in eight years, and those who have been around know this. My life has changed so drastically from August 17, 2006, and you all know it. I think, in a lot of ways, I have changed. In many ways I'm still the same, but I really think if you knew me then and now, you would say the shell is still the same, the heart and soul are still the same, but that there are differences.

I'd like to think I'm a better person today. I don't really know who can judge that.

It's been fun, and I still lament that I don't write enough. Most of the time, I have a story I want to tell but finding the time/energy/words isn't always easy. There are still a few who tap me on the shoulder and say "you need to write more" and I'll put Mick at the top of the list for that. I know a few others who, best to my knowledge, still read all of it. I think Jon is always there, and Harold, and have picked up Paul and John and some others along the way. I can't thank you enough. I like to write. Sometimes I didn't care if anyone read it. In reality, I think that's false. I care.

I'm sure I've lost some along the way also. Sometimes members of my family read, and sometimes they don't. To be honest, I don't really know for sure. Overall, I don't know who is reading.

The journey has been like all journeys. It's been sad, spectacular, thought-provoking, angry, bewildered, and more.

We've seen hurricanes and Super Bowls. Births and deaths. Broadcasts and World Series. We've talked about Blue Knights, Renegades, Cardinals, Rams, Blue Wave, Tigers, Bluefish, and Sound Tigers. We've covered the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Steelers, Devils, Giants, and so on. You get the point.

We've been to Aberdeen, Boston, San Diego, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, Key West,  Las Vegas, Washington DC, Tampa/St. Pete, Oneonta, Albany, Charleston, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Scranton, and of course, Richmond. I'll likely pass through Richmond on Wednesday on my way to Fayetteville, NC.

Which brings to me Waffle House. Krispy Kreme. Wawa. Yacco's hot dogs. Too many roadside stops on too many roads.

I've taken you to too many press boxes, and a Press Box. We've been to WGCH, WBNR, WLNA, and HAN Radio. There are new horizons and big changes in my radio life to come...

I've perhaps said the names Bobby Murcer, Vin Scully, Huey, Lewis, Sean, Lisa and a few more way too many times. Maybe that pushed you away. Maybe that endeared you.

I've enacted Rule 55 a bunch of times also, when I just really wanted to say something, but couldn't.

I've had to explain the words written here, or on social media probably more than I ever really wanted to. Sometimes it was because I was too vague. Sometimes it was because I was too blunt. Sometimes it was because of an error in judgement.

I've introduced you to friends and writers who have come and gone.

At best, I've been loyal to those same friends, no matter who they might be. If they've walked into my life, I likely haven't dropped them.

At worst, I've been loyal to those same friends, no matter who they might be. If they've walked into my life, I likely haven't dropped them.

The last two sentences are the same, all based on perception, but it's just part of being me.

To quote a wise man (Popeye), "I yam what I yam."

That still couldn't get me to eat spinach.

As we start year nine, I make no predictions about writing more, and I realize I don't need to. I'm not paid to do this, but I remain committed to it, no matter how many times I've plotted my farewell post (to go along with shutting down my Facebook and Twitter accounts).

But I'm still here. Lisa is along for the ride. Sean, the most wonderfully unique and loving child/young man, is still the co-pilot. I'm trying to simply enjoy these days as I can.

I know my life isn't perfect. I'm not perfect. Yet all I can do is go a day at a time. I learned that a long time ago. Just keep moving forward.

So we will.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Playing the Game I Love

From left: me, Rocco Valluzzo, and Martin V Hersam. It looked like Marty's play, so I pulled up. You can see the potentially disastrous result. Error on the pitcher. (Thanks, Joshua Fisher, for the great photo)
I wasn't going to play. Honest. When I played in the 74th annual (give or take) Hersam Acorn Newspapers softball game last year, I pulled a charley horse and was using my dad's cane the next day. My shoulder hurt. My elbow hurt. I couldn't throw. My bat felt particularly slow.

I wondered if it was just time to be a broadcaster or a spectator.

We needed players this year, so I decided I could use some laughs. Keeping my expectations low, I made my way to the field in Branchville.

Let's get this out of the way: we lost. We were down 9-0 after a half inning. My pitcher (and boss) Marty Hersam, has never - NEVER - won a game. Could we have stacked our defense better? It's possible. Adjusted the lineup? Perhaps. Could we maybe pick teams by NOT pulling names?

Here's another thing: I probably should have played the outfield, save for the achy legs and knees and, most notably, my arm being shot. It's depressing, but my shoulder barked at me every time I tried to uncork a throw. So I played second base and had one ball hit to me.

At the plate, well, I'm not embarrassed. I'll save you the "glory days" recap and say that I was able to find a little youth with a triple to right center field. In fact, I had two triples. I shouldn't have, but I did.

But here's the thing: I laughed. I played hard. I made other people laugh. I was laying on the grass at one point in mock disgust. Yet I loved seeing people who work so hard really letting their hair down and having fun. The camaraderie was a huge part of the day.

Plus I was back at the site where I hatched HAN Radio, and I don't forget that. Marty and I had a few laughs at that.

I'm no player. Never really have been. But I still love this game. The pain I feel today is beyond worth it and makes want to play again. It is great to be active.

Just let my body heal first.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson

AP Photo/Jeff Roberso
I was reading Twitter last night when I came across more details of the situation in Ferguson, MO.

It's awful and disgusting and really, really bad. When looting is going on...when police and citizens are at such odds...when tear gas and rubber bullets are being fired...I mean, really? In Ferguson, MO. In the United States?

As they say, "Merikuh!"

Sigh.

Most awful, of course, is an 18-year-old man is dead. A life that was just getting interesting is over. He was unarmed. He apparently had no criminal background. He, in short, had no reason to be shot.

But he was shot. By police. In a town of mixed races and mixed economics. The police won't release the name of the officer who shot Brown, and of course, they are defending one another.

Oh, did I mention Michael Brown was black? Ferguson is two-thirds black, which is a stark change from just 15 years ago. The police force is predominantly white. Now add in lingering Trayvon Martin outrage and let's play the feud!

Again. Sigh.

The fact that Michael Brown is black is relevant and, yet, I wish it wasn't. But he is, and it is. I'll leave that right there for those of you smarter than I to analyze. What's bothering me more is a man is dead and there is chaos between police and people.

And the media. Wait, what?

Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post, and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, were working in a nearby McDonald's, taking advantage of wifi and power outlets, when SWAT officers decided that they were going to kick everyone out. Lowery decided to film the exchange, which initially caught him grief (this is not illegal, by the way). The bottom line is that the police felt the two, who had never met before yesterday, weren't moving fast enough.

They were handcuffed, arrested, taken to jail, booked...and released with no paper trail or reason as to why they were arrested.

This is what Lowery remembers of it all.

Later in the evening, Ferguson police were demanding all cameras be turned off. Yes, TV cameras included. Which is, ya know, illegal and all.

What's got me is that, where I'm used to seeing 24 hours of blathering over things like this, I'm seeing nothing. When the LA riots occurred, I remember watching plenty of live coverage. Last night, I saw Iraq...Lauren Bacall (yes, I know how to whistle, RIP)...Robin Williams (Nanu Nanu, RIP)...and a little Ferguson. I'm more confused than anything else over this.

Again. Staying focused, a young life is over. I think what people want is an answer. Answers. Who was the officer? Why was Michael Brown killed? Why were those reporters arrested? Why did this whole thing evolve into this?

What's going on?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

From the Press Box

Broadcasting in Ridgefield in July. (Rob photo)
On occasion, I pop onto the HAN Radio site and throw a few thoughts of my own into the mix. In fact, I just posted one now.

Oh, Paul Silverfarb and I had a chance to talk to John Sullivan, he of the Minnesota Vikings and Greenwich Cardinals. It was nice catching up with him.

That will also be on the website at hanradio.com, on iTunes (search for Hersam Radio in the store!) and on Soundcloud.