Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ernie Banks (1931-2015)


Baseball, sports, and America are a little sadder and darker tonight with the word that the beloved "Mr. Cub" has died.

Ernie Banks was 83.

He put the phrase "Let's play two!" into our national psyche, even if you never knew where that came from.

Baseball was, to him, a great game that brightened his always-sunny outlook.

He could play though. A two-time MVP, he hit 512 home runs, putting up offensive numbers that shortstops weren't supposed to.

He was only the eighth player to surpass 500 home runs.

He led often dreadful Cubs teams through day games at Wrigley Field with an attitude that was happy to be there, and that was a good thing as he would never know a playoff game.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame

Plus he was my Facebook friend. Yes. You read that correctly.

Find me someone who didn't like Ernie Banks. I'm not sure I'll want to know that person.

Watch him hit home runs number 498, 499, and 500. Such a graceful swing. He runs the bases with his head down. No showmanship.


Man. Somewhere it is a beautiful day. Let's play two, indeed.

I'm No Superman


I was called Superman yesterday. While I've always been more of a Batman fan from my upbringing of watching Adam West, I appreciated the sentiment.

Yet given I'm a out of shape, white, suburban guy who looks nothing like Christopher Reeve, have no powers of any magnitude (except perhaps for a voice that has a sore throat), and virtually everything is kryptonite to me, it's pretty safe to say that I'm far from the Man of Steel (do the Steelers count? Probably not.).

Oh the thought of swooping in and snagging my Lois Lane is delightful (although not Margot Kidder. Sounded like she had a few many packs of Lucky's back in the day.). Flying away to Metroplis with Sean behind us is a nice fantasy, isn't it? Don't worry, miss. I've got you.

Right.

Then she responds: "You've got me? Who's got you?"

Well we know the answer to that. I'll just go with, "I've got you, babe," mix my metaphors, and be done with the whole thing.

I'd love to be somebody's Superman...or, hell, just man. I'd love to be somebody's number one.

Alas.

This is the kind of thing that wakes me up at two in the morning. Whimsical. Parody. A shame that I even need to explain that.



And the beat goes on...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Championship Sunday


I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the teams in question. Maybe it's what the NFL has become. Maybe it's Roger Goodell.

Maybe it's none of the above, or all of the above.

Yet I can't remember ever being less interested in a Sunday of conference championship games.

Don't get me wrong. I'll watch. I care, of course.

Is it that I'm in a house of people who have ZERO interest in these games? Could be. I halfheartedly reached out to people to see if they wanted company and got tepid interest, or laughter*.

*I'm officially launching a campaign to see if anyone would enjoy watching the game that is known as being slightly super but could be called "Goodell's Folly" with me. I don't take up much space and will speak when spoken to.

There is something to be said about watching a game with friends and food, though the downside of that is the orgy that Super Bowl Sunday has become (are we allowed to say that?). Indeed that is now a day in which football is a foolish byproduct of Katy Perry, commercials, red carpets, and vapid celebrities**.

**I had a great follow-up comment written here about people fawning over celebs. I'm trying to keep things in the vault so I deleted it. Yay me.

There's no doubt that I'm down on the NFL due to the stupid passing rules and the fact that you can't breathe on a quarterback or receiver without drawing a yellow flag. I miss the balanced game of the 70s into the early 80s before Bill Walsh and the **yawn** "West Coast Offense" turned the game into Joe Montana threw the ball three yards to Jerry Rice, and Rice did the rest.

Still, the game was great through those years. You still had the balance of a great running back combined with, hopefully, a QB who had some guts (a Marino, Favre, Elway, and of course Bradshaw).

Further hurting the NFL (though not in the ratings) is the proliferation of "bad stories." Yeah you know who and what I mean. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, among others.

Before you think that my feelings about today has anything to do with the lack of a western-Pennsylvania-based team with three hypocycloids on only one side of their helmet, think again.

Ultimately, I think it's all of the above, combined with the teams participating.

Seattle Seahawks. I had a moment a few weeks ago, when a saw that a now-former Facebook friend made a snide remark about the Steelers losing. Yes, I said "former" friend. Not my finest spot. That being said, I'm sort of done with the 'Hawks. They're not Jim Zorn or Dave Krieg or Steve Largent. They're the whiny franchise who hasn't gotten over Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10 in Folly Game number 40, as they and others believe the striped shirts were out to steal the game from them. It's Richard Sherman running his mouth. It's the great Russell Wilson and "Go Hawks." It's not that I dislike them, or their 12th man. It's that we saw them last year. That's enough.

Green Bay Packers. Their are similarities between the Steelers, the Giants, and the Packers. Then there is the "best fans in the league" stuff. There is also the cheesehead and the Lambeau Leap. You can hear John Facenda's voice when you even think about them. Yet I can't get past early 2011. I can't get past the loss in Jerry World to Discount Double Check and company. No, they've had their time also. I could find myself pulling for them later, but I'm not invested. Shawn Sailer likes them. That doesn't hurt.

New England Patriots. Here's the thing. I love watching greatness, and Tom Brady is brilliant. Best quarterback ever? No, I'll take Johnny Unitas. I'll take Dan Marino. After that, we start talking about what era a player played in. Bill Belichick, love him or hate him, is amazing. He's not Vince Lombardi, but he's very high on he list of greats. Incidentally, I just heard Chris "Mad Dog" Russo give little respect to Chuck Noll. The less I say, the better, especially since I like the Doggie. Yet I think we can all agree we're past pulling for the Pats, if we ever pulled for them at all.

Indianapolis Colts. This, friends, is the closest I can come to jumping on a bandwagon. Andrew Luck is the man. Chuck Pagano? How can one not want to be "Chuckstrong?" They're the lesser of the evils. They are also the heaviest underdog in my mind.

So there you have it. I guess in the end, I'm going to hope for two compelling games, as well as a good super game (no trademark needed). I just don't have the passion for it. Maybe it will happen. For now, I'm happier watching Rangers/Penguins with the great Doc Emrick.

The Garbage Bag

There was once a true, honest-to-sports-loving-goodness outlet store in New Haven, CT. It was a Starter store (oh yeah, we are so talking the 90s) that had tons of off-price irregulars and out of date items.

In the world of sports, that means players that have retired or moved to another team.

I was in there with my sister and her kids when I came across a rack of Steelers jerseys. I mean, essentially, the real deal. Not a knock-off or "replica." This was right near the time that Reebok and Nike would begin to rule the NFL uniform contract. Starter wasn't quite the same after that.

There, on that rack, were a small selection of players, including Rod Woodson, the Hall of Fame defensive back who had just left the Steelers and would finish his career with the 49ers, Ravens, and Raiders.

The jersey, a white one, cost $20, a bargain even in the late 90s. I swooped in.

Back then, as now, I was pretty diligent at switching out clothes between the warm and cold weather. We would bag things up and put them into the attic (for the record, I use either a large suitcase or plastic tubs now).

I tended to not keep the football jerseys out in the warm weather, unless they were the mesh kind (which I'll wear to mow the law, thus justifying my creamsicle Tampa Bay Bucs Josh Freeman number five. Something has to justify it.).

So come spring, the gloves, winter hats, scarves, and heavier clothing would go into a bag. Sometimes those bags would sit at a small cutout near the front door of the apartment.

Sometimes, garbage bags would sit there -- a sign that I, the lazy husband, needed to take said garbage down to the dumpster.

One time, I grabbed a garbage bag and took the walk down to toss out the trash.

A few hours later (could be more, I don't remember now), Sean's mother (though this was pre-Sean) asked me about the garbage bag in question.

"I threw it out," I said, as a feeling of pride of a job well done combined with a quizzical pang ran through me.

She gasped and looked somewhat sick.

You know where this is going, right? I ran to the dumpster, knowing that it was gone. Indeed it was.

Yup. Goodbye hats. Gloves. Goodbye Vermont Flannel Company comfy pants that I bought at The Big E. Goodbye other items that I would wear during the cold months.

Goodbye number 26 Rod Woodson jersey, minus the 1994 "75th anniversary" patch that he is wearing in the picture below, above the "six."
Many of the other items got replaced. Not the jersey.

Damn.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Game Time CT Videos

A big shout out of thanks to Sean Patrick Bowley at GameTimeCt for including me (along with Chris Erway, and Chris Kaelin) in their All-State football team videos. I'm honored to be included.

Check them out. This is the defensive video. While you should watch the whole thing, you can hear me at 10:07, and Chris Erway and I are on at 11:18.



On the offensive side of the ball, I'm on at 1:33, and Chris "Kato" Kaelin appears at 4:57.


This is a great reminder of what has been created at HAN, and how proud I am of the quality of broadcasters that are assembled around me.

Last up, I can't forget the work of my HAN colleague Steve Buono, who posted this video at the Darien Times. Thanks, Steve. We are on the air at 3:50 today. I have to go get ready!

Just Here to Write


I have no agenda as I sit here.

Wait. That's not true. There's always something bubbling in my mind. Yet in my current state, I'm making the stronger effort to keep things in the cartoon bubble.

That's a nice way of saying that I'm not just going to say it. At least that's the goal. That doesn't mean I will succeed.

Oh that doesn't mean I'm some loose cannon. Sure I get on the air and pontificate and so on, and that's part of the gig. But I can't just say what's on my mind, even when well-intentioned.

Anyway, I'm just writing to write.  Just trying to stay active here.

What was I talking about?

Nothing much.

Move along. Move along.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Never Walk Alone

I'm laying low for a few days, but I got a good reminder that, truly, we never walk alone.

We should always remember that we have friends, family, coworkers, and more who are there for us. Sometimes we (I) get so damn lonely and lost that it's easy to forget.

I know. I've worn you out with Huey Lewis and the News over the years here. I'm doing it again. I keep having "Forest For the Trees," an album track that has a powerful message that's been in my head a lot recently. That might get posted here eventually. I noticed the HLN Facebook page put this video up of the boys doing "I Never Walk Alone," another track from Fore! (1986, in case you're wondering).

So here they are, from the Fore! tour (yes, I saw it - twice). This was the second song they did, after opening with "Jacob's Ladder."

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Yesterday Was a Great Day


I'd like to open with an apology.

Sorry that there's often a down feeling to what's written here. It's often raw, and believe me, more gets written and deleted. I never used to do that, but I do it now. The reasons are varied. The words might be too personal. They might hurt or cause confusion to others. The tone just comes off wrong.

This has been a problem for some time now.

So this morning, I want to tell you. No, I NEED to tell you: Yesterday was a great day.

It wasn't perfect. I was supposed to have dinner with Sean last night, and thanks to traffic and circumstances, I ran too late. It got canceled.

I have friends that are hurting or confused. Friends who lost loved ones. Yet I hope I helped them get through it.

There were small moments of smiles. Bigger moments of laughter. Boisterous laughter. Moments when my smile - the wonderful gift that my father bestowed on me - was just glowing.

There was Paul Silverfarb and I, reenacting a scene from Tuesday night at the Webster Bank Arena, when a clueless person just stared at us. The laughter coming from those who watched us as we recreated the moment was priceless.

People needed clarity. They needed smiles. They needed to roar.

On the radio, we had good programming. Coffee Break did its thing. We aired the inauguration of Governor Malloy of Connecticut. Then Paul and I did a whirlwind Nutmeg Sports.

There were moments with friends new and old. There were no fights. No big debates. No disputes, and limited stress.

It was cold, but to my knowledge, everyone is OK. Oh but it is cold.

There were stolen moments that can't have a price put on them.

There were texts exchanged with Sean, explaining to him things that are going on, and seeing his natural humor come through without trying to. Also his concern for friends and, of course, his dad.

It wasn't a perfect day. We didn't solve the problems of the world. We didn't cure cancer. We still have big issues, from the murder of innocent journalists at a satirical paper in France, to the continued unease in New York as the mayor continues to grapple with his police force.

All of it is real.

Yet for one day, I didn't feel like griping. I didn't need to tell you what grinds my gears.

I just wanted to tell you that it was a great day. Full of laughter, understanding, and more.

I want more days like it.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Stuart Scott


Sports has a sadness hanging over it today. Stuart Scott, the ESPN anchor, died early today at the age of 49.

Scott battled cancer three times. He leaves two daughters behind.

I'm struggling with this news today. To be blunt, and fair, I was never a fan of his work. But in reading everything this morning, and in everything I've heard about him in the past, he was a quality, great guy. He was the kind of guy I imagine I could have talked sports with for hours. I almost imagine he was the kind of guy who I could have had a great conversation with about broadcasting styles.

I admired the way the he fought cancer.

Forty-nine. Damn. Deadspin and ESPN have more.

The pillow, as cool as it might be, will have some tears on it tonight from a sports world saddened by this news.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Halftime

Sean, 2004.
It's playoff time here at Robcasting* Central, as the Steelers host the Ravens. The guys I root for are losing, 10-9.

*Robcasting was created by the great Kaitlin Bradshaw, my HAN colleague. I like such wordplay, nicknames, etc. She actually used it as a hashtag on Twitter, so #Robcasting it is.

I tend to be a bit more unleashed when I watch a game alone, and so it is here tonight. I'm dealing with a mix of disgust and WHAT THE **** as I'm watching. I'd rather be watching with friends.

A few peeps were texting and messaging me early on, but that has quieted down. So I try to occupy my brain by watching social media silliness, and taking the occasional Sean visit so that he can tell me some random fact about Pokemon.

He also informed me that he likes Lord of the Rings. That's a new one on me.

Yes, he's mini me, and yet not.

Lord of the Rings for him, Lord of the Super Bowl Rings for me. Similar in some regards.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm good at that. At least I'm not babbling with the things that reside in the deep crevices of my noodle. Makes for great, funny, snarky posts, but normally causes me trouble.

Second half begins...now...

PS - I just screamed at the TV as the ball was fumbled. So there's that.