Monday, December 05, 2016

What a Picture Says

The meeting point of three states. Sort of. Not really. But go with it.
I'm in the WGCH nerve center (or broadcast center), finishing a few things up before I head for home.

My mother and sister wanted to do a shopping trip over the weekend in Pennsylvania, and as I enjoy such things (and like to drive), I was drafted as chauffeur. It's a good gig. Rounding out our foursome was the always-affable Sean Adams. Yes, a fourteen year-old boy enjoys such goofiness.

We went last year and had just a great time. We grabbed a hotel room at the last minute off of Priceline and made a weekend of it. To be honest, a repeat in 2016 looked unlikely, mostly due to the still-not-so-grand economy (yes, I understand the unemployment rate has dropped. That doesn't mean we're all rolling in money). To be honest, things are...well...that's not why you're here.

However, things improved enough to where, with some savvy budgeting, the trip could take place. We shopped, we Christkindlmarkted (if I can create such a word), we laughed, we ate.
Later in the day, one of us would be happen (answer: me)

We teased Sean. Lovingly.

My boy continues to grow and, truth be told, I suspect he will surpass me in height if there is a 2017 trip. To that end, I had to buy him no jeans to replace the ones that had become "capri-length."

We meandered a bit over the two days, going through a few different antique stores before moving back towards New York. For Sean, our beloved son, grandson, nephew, I made good on a tradition: visiting the old Erie Turntable in Port Jervis, NY.

It's a small thing, but something that train fans like. It costs nothing and sits in back of a Rite Aid, Burger King and (currently) abandoned plaza. But there's always hope!

To an extent, I think Sean liked playing tour guide to his aunt. He also wanted to check on his rock that he left outside of one of the old trains that sits on site (he's convinced it's still there, and I think he's right).


Then we moved over to Tri-States Monument, a spot where an honorary marker notes the meeting place of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

No, it's not the actual tri-state point (that would be in the Delaware River, but why ruin this with facts?). Still, after driving through a cemetery and parking underneath the dual bridges of Interstate 84, and weaving around the trash, can you blame us for wanting the monument to be THE point?

Anyway, I'm babbling along. I've taken Sean a few times to the point, and I've been there on my own as well. I find it enjoyable, especially when it's quiet. Laura wandered around, taking pictures, and Sean and I found ourselves in our own world.

In fact, I realized that I didn't take a picture of him "standing in all three states," as I did in previous trips, dating back to when he was quite young. So, a failure on Dad.

As Laura returned to the car to rejoin Mom, Sean and I stood on the edge of the Delaware, skimming stones. Sean struggled to find the arm angle, but instead of getting frustrated, he took some of my instructions and practiced.

Years of imitating Dan Quisenberry and Kent Tekulve paid off for me.

Unknown to us (until later), Laura took two pictures of us as we finished up by throwing larger rocks into the river. The goal, of course, was to have a large splash as we climbed back to the car (and reality).

The anatomy of the picture is basic: father hurls rock into river. Makes fool of himself (as usual) by mock-showboating for his son to further mock him. Thus the outstretched arms in the first photo, and the fully-victorious "touchdown" pose in the second. Also, the boy reaches for another rock in the second photo so that he may try to create his own splash (while saying "Kobe" as an exclamation point, even if he has no clue who Kobe is).


Oh but there's so much more. There's an entire father-son relationship in there. There's a bond of two "pals" (yes, we know that the one wearing number 84 is supposed to be the respected authority figure). This is, honestly, about the closest to athletics that we share between us here. But wait -- there is more. There's love and the enjoyment of the splash (visible in both photos). There is simplicity. There's no pressure here. It's nature, and it's natural. It's water and earth. There's the setting sun. You can't hear the trucks rumbling overhead.

It's the very essence of Sean and his proud/loving dad, with the hope that the sun isn't setting on anything.

Yet.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

300 Football Games


I will call my 300th football game later today, as Williston Northampton takes on Brunswick at Cosby Field in Greenwich. The game is available via the Brunswick School and Go Bleachers.

This actually means nothing, nor should it. It means something to me because I've tracked this stuff since 1999. It also means I'm 30 games away from 1000 total, between all sports (and yes, I'm including Cheerleading, so deal).

Anyway, it's always been kind of staggering to me that I've gotten here. As we might discuss when (or if) we reach 1000, I didn't call my first game as a professional broadcaster until I was 30. So I'm not exactly jaded. I'd love to have the opportunities that have presented themselves to the young broadcasters of today, but it just didn't happen that way for me. Again, another post for another time.

I wasn't necessarily sure I'd survive game 299 last night, as Greenwich fell to Ridgefield 30-21. The game time temp was 38 degrees at Tiger Hollow, and we weren't in a toasty press box. Chris Erway, Ian Barto, and I were outside. That's the way that it is at Ridgefield. The press box is simply too small for any media.

My back tightened up and, even today, I still feel pain. But obviously, we do what we love, so there's no complaining. Plus I can still taste that postgame chicken and rice soup from Orem's Diner in Wilton, so there's that.

Three hundred. A lot of partners. From Ron Lyons to Sean Kilkelly to Mark Rosen to Tom Kane to Ricky Fritsch to Chris Kaelin to Chris Erway to Ryan DeMaria to Paul Silverfarb to John Kovach to AJ Szymanowski.

Wait. There are more names. Ian Handwerger, Tommy Dee, Tom Pollina, Dave Rothenberg (yeah, that one from ESPN), Matt Hamilton, Ron Warzoha, John Collins, Amanda Romaniello, Nick Angotto, Zach Fisher, Tim Parry, Jason Intrieri, Rob Crowley, Nick Fox, Scott Gentile, Max Barefoot, Tom Prizeman, Eric Gendron, Mike Suppe, Phil Giubileo, Kevin Coleman, and Shawn Sailer.

I think - I hope - that's everyone. At least that's what my spreadsheet says (for football).

We've had countless special guests, from my own son to John Sullivan to Sam Rutigliano and many more. I remember interviewing the late David Theis on opening day in 2000 as they dedicated the Cardinal Stadium scoreboard.

To many, 300 isn't a big number. Nor will 1000 be eventually. To me, it's just a moment to reflect and say thanks to everyone who have supported the broadcasts, and gave me the opportunity to do the one thing I love (and am hopefully halfway good at).

We've gone from Cardinal Stadium to Staten Island to the Carrier Dome to Ken Strong Stadium to Arute Stadium to Boyle Stadium and to Naples, Florida.

And more.

As Shawn Sailer always reminds me, one of my favorite sayings is "Have headset. Will travel."

I have a game to call.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

It's Almost Over: Election 2016

Just having a little fun. Thanks to Shawn Sailer for the nomination.

I've been pondering a lot about writing, and whether or not to do an Election Day post. Well here we are.

About a month ago, I was scorned by a few* (and lauded by others) for reposting an article from another writer on Facebook. In it, the writer suggested that everyone just stop with the social media rhetoric.

* Those few were of one side of the aisle, for what it's worth (yes, we sports people like stats).

Let me elaborate. I like discussion and debate. Hell, as a sports broadcaster, and more so, as a sports talk show host, I have to welcome it. There are a lot of people that I politely bite my tongue with, and those who I like and respect (and can handle it) get my two cents. Thus if you tell me, for instance, that Game 7 of the 2016 World Series was "The Greatest Baseball Game of ALL TIME!," you're likely to get rebuked.

Game 6, 1975...Game 6, 2011...Game 7, 1960...almost any game in the 1991 World Series. Plus games in 1912 and 1924 and on and on. I mean...just...do...not.

With regard to the political stuff on Facebook, I frankly gritted my teeth a lot, ignored all, blocked some, and just kept pressing on. I would welcome the discussion, but few are willing to do so without it turning into mud-slinging. So I posted that and got slightly insulted in the process (you know, as in "you can't handle this, so here's a rainbow"). Ergo, point proven.

Let me tell ya something, nobody despises rainbows and unicorns more than I do. But you didn't ask. So we digress.

Anyway, that brings us back to Election Day. As I'm a broadcaster once again Election Night, I don't feel right telling you who I'm voting for or against. However I will tell that I'm with...

a person.

That's right. Although I could write in Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, or something else, when I vote, it will be for a person. Might be male or female. There will be none of that gender-driven agenda.

I'll vote - as always - with my conscience.

And yet, despite what you're seeing, voting is a choice. What I mean here is that, if you CHOOSE to not vote, then you have voted. If you're too lazy, well then we're done here.

What I'm saying is, if Trump or Clinton aren't what you want -  or Johnson or Stein - then you're doing your duty by saying, "None of the Above."


I'll be at Greenwich Democratic Headquarters tonight, with Shawn Sailer, watching it all unfold. Follow me all day on Twitter, Facebook, in the Greenwich Sentinel, and on WGCH.

In fact, I'll be on WGCH several times, including a Greenwich Sentinel Doubleheader at 3 p.m., visiting the Lisa Wexler Show sometime between 4-8 p.m., and as part of the Election Night coverage beginning at 8 p.m.

Let's keep it civil. Is that possible?

I'll see you in print and on the air.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Thank You, Vin



We're beginning to say our farewells in the final inning of Vin Scully's career. Tonight, the Dodgers held a ceremony to honor our hero in the fading twilight of the 67th year. We are now faced with oncoming reality of 1 A.V. (After Vin, of course).

For one thing, I won't be watching Dodgers games anymore, but I digress.

He's been everything. Mentor to too many broadcasters to count (that's me raising my hand). He's been friend to fans everywhere -- most of whom will never so much as be in the same room as him. He's been dad to those who have lost. Or grandfather. Or uncle.

We think he belongs to us, and we're not entirely wrong. From Brooklyn to Los Angeles and the transistor radios, he's been a part of the world of the Dodgers.

We nearly brought him back to New York in 1965 as a replacement for Mel Allen, but we were able to hear him on each of the major networks at one point or another. He showed up on NBC for a few World Series before becoming the lead baseball voice in the 1980s.

He was on CBS for golf (including the Masters). Check out this funkalicious bit from 1978.



He also did tennis on CBS (yes, tennis). Of course, he called football, including a little something called "The Catch." Incidentally, he's brilliant (duh) and has the great Hank Stram alongside of him.



It all turned out well, but his road nearly changed. If CBS didn't pair Pat Summerall with John Madden, it would have been Vin. Oh my indeed. But we were the lucky ones, and Vinny moved onto NBC.

The icon and legend grew.

Vin and I were once in the same ballpark. It was Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium in 1983, and wouldn't you know it - I found video of the opening of that broadcast!


Yes, young Rob was in there, in the right field seats, for Bobby Murcer's first Old Timer's Day (my first also), and for the Yankees and Rangers to meet in the regular game.

We didn't meet that day, though I did take a picture of the booth (yup, even then).
Joe Garagiola, Vin, Phil Rizzuto, Frank Messer, Bobby Murcer, John Gordon, and Bill White (RA photo).
Anyway, at this point I don't ever expect to meet him or interview him, but I am grateful to him. Grateful for everything he has taught me. In a time when we need heroes (however insignificant), this red-headed kid originally from The Bronx and then Washington Heights taught me the most about sculpting the narrative of a whole lot of sporting events for listeners and viewers.

But there's more to Vin.

He hosted a game show in the 1970s. Yes. A game show.


There was also a talk show. And later, on ABC (this was in the 90s) he was back to doing golf.

Oh wait. Did I mention the Tournament of Roses Parade?



Of course the top calls are being ranked. Shall we rank the work Oscar Wilde or Emily Dickinson or Stephen King? I suppose that's what we do. Most are going to say number one is the Kirk Gibson home run, and I don't blame them.



Oh it's brilliant, of course. Heck, the back story is that Scully himself unknowingly propelled Gibson to hit because the latter heard the former say that Gibson wouldn't play. There are a litany of great lines in it "Not a bad opening act," "You talk about a roll of the dice," and the best of all: "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

I love it. But for me, technically, it's simply not the best ever.

That, of course, is saved for "Twenty-nine thousand and a million butterflies."



"You can almost taste the pressure."

I've explained it to students. It's been reprinted verbatim. It's not a single moment like the Miacle on Ice or the The Shot Heard Round the World. But it is everything. It's perfect. Vin and Sandy - forever intertwined in that regard.

Oh my there are others. Hank Aaron's 715th. Fernando's no-hitter. The Twins walking off against the Braves in 1991. Larsen in '56. The comments following September 11th. Mookie Wilson in '86.

Countless moments -- big and small. The narration of a brawl or an argument with an umpire. The little moments of watching children in the stands. The meticulous preparation and the use of such things like explaining Socrates (the philosopher) while Socrates (Brito, the Diamondback) was at home plate.

Yet sometimes it's the brilliant subtlety, where nothing needs to be said. Until tonight, I've never heard his call of Joe Carter's World Series-winner in 1993.


"Home run!" Then silence. Wonderful.

Perhaps my favorite, past Koufax, is the last out of the 1996 World Series. The crowd noise. The utterly insane euphoria. Vin's inner-child saying "Is this something? I mean do you loooooove baseball? There's not a thing the Yankees can do. They can't the quarterback kneel down on the ground. They can't freeze the ball. Sooner or later, they've gotta throw it."

That's on my collection of highlights that I put on my archive page several years ago. That's how we'll finish here. Thanks, Vin.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016



Normally sometime on this date, as I've done every year for the last decade, I post some kind of thoughts about September 11 -- the date that rattled us like few ever have.

Normally I play my montage of audio that I pulled together from various news sources. I've posted it here.


After that, I normally play Bruce Springsteens' The Rising. It's the only time I play that album. It's not my favorite.

Nope. I just don't seem to have it in me this year.

Yes, I have MSNBC on (the only time in the year that I ever watch it) as they play NBC's coverage of September 11, 2001. As always, I want to relive it. So despite what Slate tells you, I want MSNBC to continue to play it. Every year.

Don't like it? Change the channel. It's Sunday. Watch the NFL preview shows (there are only about 30 of them). Or go do something else.

As for me? No. I don't have Springsteen in me this year. I don't even know that I have the energy to write a lengthy blog post.

A few days ago, Sean asked to interview me for my thoughts on September 11 as we reach the fifteenth anniversary. It reminded me that I wrote a letter to him, while still unborn, a few months after, and just a little over a month before his birth.

I just reread it, and was reminded of where I was in my own life. Yes, a lot changes in 15 years. You can read some of the obvious changes in my life in there.

We all #NeverForget. Good for us. Now how about we unite and make it all better, instead of being a bunch of flag-waving phonies who focus more on making our social media pictures all about what great patriots we are?

So I'm posting the link to Remembrances of September 11. I wrote it on January 14, 2002, and placed it on the blog on September 11, 2006.

Never forget, indeed.




Friday, August 26, 2016

#NationalDogDay

One of the best ways to wake up.
Full disclosure: I've never really owned a dog.

That's largely true. My mom briefly owned one after my dad died. My niece, Laura, brought two dogs when she moved in with me for a stretch in 2009-10. She brought Grim (fairly bratty little thing that still freaks out Sean at the mention of his name) and Roxy.

Roxy. In my lifetime, I can think of two dogs who have ever had such an impact. Not to say there aren't other dogs I adore (cousin Kris and wife Lori have Bailey, who is super cool, for instance), but Roxy and my dearly-departed friend Scrappy (he of the Harold/Tracy/Cameron/Katie household) are the two.
Scrappy.

I wrote about Scrappy once. We (and I'm not part of their family, but I feel comfortable saying "we" when it comes to Scrappitydoo) lost the sweetest corgi in 2011. Hard to explain, since I was just a visitor, but man we had a friendship. That dog was always thrilled to see me, and vice versa. I'd think "nah, just a coincidence," but I realized I had to give myself a little credit. He always had to show me the toys and then play with me, and god forbid if I didn't. The barking would commence. He'd flop right down on his side for me to pet him every time.

Roxy, as she lived with me, is a whole different story. Sean and I have a running gag, that when we go to Fayetteville to visit her (oh yeah, and our human family also), she'll bark furiously at us, the realize who she's barking at.

"Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Oh, it's you."
"America's Dog," Roxy
Roxy has visited us for sleepovers and hogged the bed and faithfully snuggled, and laid on my feet as I worked, and walked and peed and pooped and barked and played and done a whole lot of dog activities.

We once made up a breed for her when someone asked: A Red Heeler Hippadooda. OK, Red Heeler's are real. Hippadooda's aren't.

Then there's Harry The Wonder Dog (The Wonder Dog part is mine, trademark circa 2014) who died (we're journalists, so passed away is a short story in our world) late last year. He's still very much missed by his family.

I only knew him by his bark, but he was a faithful, adorable dog.

So whether it's Mason, Max, Diggy, Daisy, Elmo, Gracie, or some other four-legged canine pal, Happy National Dog Day. A little extra Chuck Wagon is yours tonight.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Moment of Bliss

North on I-95, preparing to cross the James into Richmond (My photo)
The photo above likely means nothing to you, unless you're a road nut.

To me, it represents sheer joy.

Let me explain.

We began the rather arduous drive home at the back end of another fun and fabulous time in Fayetteville (and Raleigh), North Carolina on Sunday. We left Raleigh at 7:30 that morning, with the stated goal of trying to reach Fishkill, NY by 6:00 to drop Sean off. My son, rising freshman, needed to be at Orientation at John Jay High School the following morning.

We coasted over to a Sheetz in Rocky Mount, NC for a break before hitting I-95. I promised Sean that this would be a long stretch without a break, though I tend to stick to breaking after approximately three hours. Yet I got on a roll, and had every intention of steamrolling past Washington, DC.

I did. We didn't stop until we hit Gettysburg, PA* on US 15 roughly four and a half hours later. Only the need for food and gasoline stopped me.

* Incidentally, we also stopped at Sheetz in Gettysburg for sandwiches. Don't get me wrong -- Sheetz is just fine and dandy -- but Wawa wins by a landslide.

North of Gettysburg (I took US 15 to get away from the coast and the beach bums heading home on Sunday), the ride became a quagmire of rain and slow cars. What looked like a possible 9.5 hour drive became 12.5 hours. I got Sean home just before 7:30 that night.

But back to the picture. My affection for Richmond, Virginia is quite obvious if you've read Exit 55 since the beginning. One of my closest friends, the great Jon (and Rebecca and their amazing daughters) live there, as do a few other friends. It's why I've long-considered it a place I would move to if the chance arose. It's comfortable.
Getting closer to the James River Bridge, with RVA in the background (My photo)
So now take that and add in the view beyond that sign. Crossing the James into downtown Richmond is truly one of my favorite entrances into any city. While it doesn't beat the WOW moment of emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel in Pittsburgh, there is something magnificent about how the city of Richmond just sits right in front of you.

Now cue the music. I still enjoy turning the dial to hear what local radio plays, and was doing just that when I found one of RVA's classic rock channels. While a lot of the usual stuff played, it was the sounds of "Come Together" by The Beatles that made this moment complete. It was the right groove for my 70 MPH drive through a favorite city, thinking about the friends I have there.

It was bliss.

That's rare.

(One last note: my road photos were used on a web page. Go here to see the work that Robert Malme put into making my pics of the Fayetteville Outer Loop look good.)