Monday, July 23, 2018

Becker, Fagen, and Lore-Eye


The text hit mean between the eyes:

"I have some sad news..."

My heart sank.

It was Jon from R-Va, and indeed the news was sad. In fact, it was awful.

In short, our friend Lori had gone to dinner with her boyfriend when something went terribly wrong.

By Wednesday, her family had removed her from life support, and she was dead at the age of 45.

Her obituary is here.

Forty-five.

*****
I met Lori in 2009. Jon introduced us (and Sean, as we were there on vacation) at his CarMax office. I was struck with her humor, and the fact that we were both products of damaged marriages didn't hurt.

We hit it off. We'd soon text and chat and, for a brief stretch, would talk a lot.

The truth is that, in a Facebook world filled with remarkable remembrances of a beautiful soul gone too soon, I'm probably the least-qualified person to talk about her. I mean, to those who knew her, who is this clown from New York?

Yet, I knew her. Even without knowing her.

I knew her love of Steely Dan, and we talked about the album Katy Lied. That, she said, led to the her naming her daughter Katie.

Much as my Sean is my everything, Katie was Lori's world.

But back to Steely Dan. For Lori at that time had two cats and, you guessed it, their names were Becker and Fagen, as in Walter and Donald -- the two key members (with Michael McDonald singing background vocals).

Lori loved her cats. She loved to laugh. She loved to quote movies. She loved sarcasm.

She loved to love.

Through it all, as damaged as love can make us, she seemed to have finally found what she needed in her boyfriend Dan. My heart has been as ripped apart for him as it has been for Katie in the past week.

None of this makes sense, and it never will.

Forty-five.

After the summer of '09, Lori and I communicated occasionally. The random "happy birthday" text or Facebook message would suffice.

She surprised me with a phone call one Christmas, while she was away on the Carolina coast with Katie.

I'd try to call once in a while, but I knew it wouldn't be returned, and that was OK. Life isn't easy.

Yet I knew we had this bond. It's hard to explain.

Yet I never mentioned her here on the blog, and we never took a picture together. She was shy in that way. (This post was about driving down to Richmond)

Without talking all of the time, we knew each other. It wasn't hard.

*****
She left us a gift, my friend Lore-Eye did (she said that was something that I could call her).

What she would want is for friends to laugh.

What she gave us was a harsh, awful reminder that life is far too short.

And that brings me back to Jon.

I haven't been back for an extended visit to my beloved Richmond, Virginia since that weekend in 2009. However, I stopped by in 2012 for lunch at CarMax as I was passing through the area. Besides joining Jon, guess who else I sat with?

You bet -- the life of the preppy party.

I was there for 90 minutes in their cafeteria, and it hurt to leave them. For Lori, Jon, Kevin, and the other people who welcomed the stranger off of I-95 (and 64, as they all know my strange fascination with roads) made me want to stay longer.

That's what Lori would want, despite the awful cliche that saying can be. She'd want her friends to get together and forge the bonds that they've had.

In my case with Jon, that's a friend that dates back through over 30 years of marriage, divorce (me), three kids, numerous pets, cars, music, movies, sports, terrible politicians, and life.

She'd want that. She'd wants us to keep an eye on our kids.

And she'd want this world to make sure Katie is OK.

And Dan.

We'll try, Jon and I. I sadly pass through R-Va a few times a year, wishing I could stay longer, and actually shedding a tear each time I hit the city limits (right near Exit 79), reminded of the times I spent with all of these good people.

Lori was Virginia -- despite being born in South Carolina -- from talking football with me about Virginia Tech (I once got her to watch Yankees/Red Sox with me) to Abingdon, Richmond and beyond.

And as I write this, Steely Dan mysteriously plays on the sound system.

Randomly.

Life is so weird.

*****
When I heard she had passed, I thought of what so many did: Mich Ultra.

I stopped and grabbed one on the way home from calling a baseball broadcast. A toast to a friend.

She'd have it no other way.

She had her organs donated. Of course she did. That's the spirit we'll remember.

Rest well, Lori.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Lou Gehrig Day


Happy Fourth of July or Independence Day. Whatever term you choose, please be safe and happy and enjoy the very freedoms that a whole of people fought for.

No political thoughts are intended in that sentence.

However, I'd also like it if you took a moment to think of Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig, or Henry Louis Gehrig.

You've no doubt heard the name. If you know sports, you know who Lou Gehrig is. He hit 493 home runs when that was still a really big deal. He played 2130 consecutive games (no further comment on the breaking of that record, which deserved to stand for all-time). He was number four to Babe Ruth's number three. There were MVP's, a triple crown, and World's Championships in 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, and 1938.

He had a cup of coffee in 1923, and finished his career in early 1939 -- both also championship years for the New York Yankees.

In fact, Gehrig only lost one world series, in 1926, when Ruth was caught stealing to end Game 7. I can't even imagine what sports talk radio would have been like.

Gehrig was The Pride of the Yankees. He was The Iron Horse.

He also died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.

We have come to know ALS as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."

But it was on July 4, 1939, just a few weeks after the news had broken that Lou was retiring from baseball, that he left his truly indelible mark on the world.

A reported 61,808 filled Yankee Stadium on that Tuesday afternoon to see the Washington Senators beat the Bombers in game one of a doubleheader, 3-2. Between games, a microphone was set up for the ceremony to honor Gehrig. Members of the 1927 "Murderers Row" team were on hand, and both teams lined the sides of the path between home plate and the pitchers mound.

(AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Gehrig didn't intend to speak. In his book, The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic, Richard Sandomir offers that Eleanor Gehrig might have worked on a speech with her husband, feeling that Lou should offer the fans something. Eleanor, who was a lot spunkier (and maybe even more controlling) than the way Teresa Wright portrayed her in the movie three years later, also didn't want Babe Ruth to steal the spotlight from her husband.

Overcome with emotion by the gifts and offerings of kindness, Gehrig waved off master of ceremonies Sid Mercer. But the crowd chanted his name. Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, who was worried that the frail Gehrig would fall over in the July heat, gently ushered the 36-year-old to the microphone.

You all know what happened next. Sort of. One of the sad parts of the story is that there are only a few portions of the actually speech. No full recording exists -- either on radio or film. Nobody transcribed it. Jonathan Eig, in his book Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig (and still the finest biography I've ever written), has the closest to the actual text.

Still, we know the words: "For the past two weeks, you've been reading about a bad break."

"Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."

He emphasized those words: "luckiest man." He went on to explain why. He had an amazing wife. Parents. Fans. Opponents. Teammates. But more than that, he highlighted the groundskeepers, office staff, and concessionaires.

He packed all into a fairly short speech.

Sixty-one thousand listened in silence. Journalists choked back tears. It was -- as has been written by Sandomir and others -- a baseball funeral.

"That I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you."
Moments after the speech, the authors of 107 home runs in 1927 embrace.
Ruth broke the tension by wrapping him in a bear hug. The Yankees of the day proceeded to wipe out the Senators in the second game, 11-1. Joe DiMaggio had three hits and Joe Gordon drove in four runs. A pitcher named Steve Sundra pitched a six-hitter.

Yankees games had just begun to be carried on the radio in 1939 (there was a silly agreement in New York that radio was bad for attendance prior to that), but John Sterling was not the broadcaster. There is no known audio of that day, and we can only imagine what it sounded like.

That was 1939. In the 79 years since, we've made some strides against ALS, but we're not close enough. Just four short years ago -- in 2014 -- ice buckets rained down on many, including me, in an effort to raise awareness. It brought ALS back into the forefront, and that was a great thing. We're talking about ALS more than ever.


Those same ice buckets hit people who didn't really know Lou Gehrig. But they cared about this disease.

It's not enough. We have much work to do on such an awful disease.

That's why I'm asking you to think of Lou Gehrig today. With no disrespect ever intended to the great Jim Valvano, Gehrig's speech is still our Gettysburg Address of sports. For Lou Gehrig -- a shy gentleman not known for making speeches -- to put together such strength and grace? It's almost unthinkable.

Valvano's speech was magical, but what else would you expect from "V?"

But those words of Lou Gehrig, the only surviving child of immigrants (whose parents, sadly, outlived him) still ring, and not just because Hollywood rewrote them for Gary Cooper in 1942.

You've heard them..."luckist man"...you've said them, no doubt with a fake echo..."Today today today today, I consider myself elf elf."

Let them ring loudly today. Like a firecracker in silence.

July 4th.

Independence Day.

Lou Gehrig Day.

Monday, June 11, 2018

It Doesn't Have To End Like This

Photo: David Scott Holloway/CNN
You know by now that Anthony Bourdain has died.

Let's be clear. He killed himself, and with the suicide earlier in the same week of designer Kate Spade, we've seen two high profile individuals choose to end their own lives.

Should you want more details, there are plenty of other places for that. We'll pass here.

I liked Bourdain, as the brusque titular member of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on The Travel Channel. What you saw on that show was clearly him.

Now, I'm not going to tell you that I'm in to the whole celebrity chef thing. To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth. Yet Bourdain -- Anthony, Tony -- was more. Sure, he knew food (remember, my pallet isn't exactly highfalutin), but he also traveled, and he went to places I'd never go to.

So he was eating food that I'd never eat and in a lot of places I'd never visit. Normally, that's not a combination I'd embrace. But the guy found a way to put a story together that roped me in.

That, of course, is not why we're writing today. We have a big problem on our hands and, at least for me, Anthony Bourdain was a bit earth-shaking.

I don't have answers. Like anyone else, I have struggles. I saw a dear friend open their heart and mind up online after Bourdan's death, and I thought what was written was brave and profound. It's their private thoughts, but again, it had a big impact on me.

Again, we don't have answers.

There is that belief that suicide is cowardly. To a degree, I get it.

But nobody is in that persons' brain at that moment.

I know despair. I know horrible sadness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and angst at three in the morning, when I can't sleep over fear about money, my son, my career (or utter lack thereof), my health.

I know the horror of the holidays. No, really, any holiday. Three-day weekends are rough. Thanksgiving to January 2nd? I'd rather be on an island. Any island. Gilligan's Island.

I've had a post written in my drafts here for nearly three years on how awful the holidays are. I was encouraged to keep it tucked away, and it will stay there, but now you have a sense of it.

I know. Me. Me. Me. That's not what this is about, but I guess that, too, adds to the demons I chat with.

This post is about our problems with mental health. How we just don't know. People smile all the time. They tell you they're fine. They see the social media posts.

"Wow, you're staying busy," they say. "I can tell you're doing great!"

No. No they're really not doing great. Call it "The Tears of a Clown," if you know what I mean.

Some are blatantly asking -- crying -- for help. Yet for reasons, including bureaucracy, they don't get that help.

Bourdain looked like he had conquered his demons. The drug abuse appeared to be gone, and I thought I even read he was kicking or had kicked smoking. He seemed to still drink, but it looked like -- there are those words: "looked like" -- he was OK. He had a child and a partner. The focus was on living.

So we thought. So it "seemed." So it "looked like."

Nobody knows what happened in that Paris hotel room. We might never know.

If you get the chance to read about Robin Williams, well, yeah. There's another sad story.

We need help. We need to get people help, and it's more than just telling someone to go get therapy. They have to get TO therapy. Short of actually driving someone there and placing them in the office, it's sort of difficult.

In some cases, there are many without healthcare (HI!). Kind of hard to get help when you can't afford it.

Then there is fear. Despite FDR's famed words in 1933, fear is a factor. Fear...Factor, indeed.

I know of a story of someone who was in therapy during a time of upheaval. One of the things they were there to talk about was money. Guess what they got asked each time they walked in the office? Did they have the -- wait for it! -- money to pay the bill!

Vicious circle, right? They stopped going to therapy then and there.

I see people who are mad at Bourdain and Spade. I get it, but I don't. Again, you're not there. They know -- we know -- that they have reasons to live. Kids, spouses, partners, friends.

Yet it can all just be too much. The pain -- whatever that pain is. The imbalance of whatever it might be. The meds help but it's possible they aren't enough or can't be purchased.

People in these states of mind see themselves as a burden. "It will just be easier if I'm not here," is the mantra.

There is no way to defend the actions of a person who takes their life, but there's no true way to indict them either. I'm sorry these people killed themselves, and I wish I could understand why they did.

We have to find how to prevent it, and I'm not smart to figure out how.

But I want to help.

It doesn't have to end this way.

Sure, everyone posts the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), but does that help? It hardly seems like enough.

I wish I had more. This feels like a lot of words for nothing.

I recited the opening of Free Bird at my dad's funeral in 1989 (copyright, 1973, words by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant).

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain and Robin Williams and, sadly, too many others couldn't take more pain. They couldn't take more sadness. They wanted out - for whatever reason. That doesn't make them heroic or criminals or pathetic or weak.

It just means they were done, and nobody could help them.

There were too many places they had to see.

Thanks, Tony. See you at Waffle House.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

The CIAC Airwaves Are Quiet

Notre Dame of West Haven and Masuk lineup before the Class L Championship at Palmer Field in 2014. (My photo)

OK, that title is somewhat-misleading, and I'll own that.

It's Championship Weekend in the Connecticut, as the CIAC is handing out titles in baseball, softball, and lacrosse.

I attended some of the baseball action back in 2016 because I had nothing going on, and I wanted to watch. I grabbed a media credential and sat with Shawn Sailer at Palmer Field in Middletown. We had a blast, despite the raindrops and delays.

I decided to stay away this year and get some stuff done around Robcasting Headquarters. As I was thinking about working the yard, it occurred to me how great it would be to listen to the action.

That's overall not an option.

Yes, I'm aware that (for a nominal fee), you can watch games via NFHS. That's certainly a worthy option, though buyer-beware in terms of some of the quality, to be honest. I'd be a wee annoyed to spend money and not be happy with it.

So you might say I could just pay the money and listen. Er...no, and here's why:

- I, like you, have a data plan. Mine is not unlimited. Video from NFHS eats data, and my wifi doesn't necessarily make it into all parts of my yard as I'm mowing the lawn.
- I don't want to spend the money (and can't really afford it!)
- Not every broadcaster calls a game with the necessarily level of detail for a listener.

This last one is a big one for me. There are reasons that, despite calling numerous video webcast and TV games, I still largely do a descriptive radio call. Often I'm working with a limited number of cameras that can't pick up every angle, for instance, so my voice is needed to fill in the gaps.

But I also know -- and have been told by many -- that even when they do watch, they're not watching. They're doing something else.

So I describe and describe and describe.

And thankfully, by working either on just WGCH or with Local Live and Brunswick, I can put that skill to use. Plus Local Live and Brunswick have graciously allowed me to use the Robcasting platform to give people a listening option.

That's where I'd like to see the CIAC also go. The truth is, I would have done baseball for free today.

** See, here's the thing: I need to make money. Sure, that's true. But I also like calling games, and if there's a meal, maybe gas money, and hopefully a place to lay my head down (and a shower), I'm fine. A conversation for another time, of course. The point is, yes, I need to pay my bills, but there's a balance to all of this. Anyway, I'm babbling. Back to our story.**

Now, I'm aware that George DeMaio is doing softball on ESPN Radio 1300 (and, curiously, online, which the CIAC is always grumbling at WGCH about anytime we're there). So that's great.

But as I type, Ridgefield and Cheshire are in a great baseball dual in Middletown. Plus there's zero radio coverage of lacrosse (boys or girls).

The thing is, if Greenwich is involved, I'm always rattling cages to get the game on WGCH, and to that end we did cover the football and hockey title games. I'm no "VOICE" of anything, but who is?

If Staples is involved, you get their wonderful WWPT. These students produce a remarkable broadcast that is wholly unbiased. Not many on the local level can say that.

Darien might bring their DAF Media group to various state final games, but that's also a video-based broadcast, and the CIAC tends to shoo anyone away that might get in the way of NFHS.

(Side note, when HAN Radio was...er...just radio, NFHS and the CIAC blocked us from radio coverage of both hockey and basketball in 2015 because we were an online station. That's after we did a full schedule in 2014, which was, of course, nirvana for me. They relented and let us do hockey only, yet other online stations show up at various state games, such as WCNX.)

I'm quite positive more schools will be trying the media concepts, but I'll still preach an audio-only element.

You know, like Robcasting.

Anyway, I'm not trying to get on a rant or stir up trouble. If it makes people think about other approaches to how the CIAC (and, yes, you too New York State) covers these games, then I think that's a worthwhile conversation to have.

There are myriad reporters doing a phenomenal job covering these games in print and via social media. GametimeCT is leading the way, and has really kicked things up with the addition of Pete Paguaga. He's not Petey Pageviews for nothing!

I know. It's a business. Business, however, doesn't often serve the fans. That's the problem.

*****
Things are different in Middletown today, as Jim Bransfield's spot in the Palmer Field press box was taken by Joe D'Ambrosio, the now-former UConn play-by-play announcer for football and men's basketball. There are two thoughts here: 1) UConn dropped the ball. Big time. I don't know Joe D, but I've listened to him. He's a wonderful play-by-play voice. 2) Everyone is missing Mr. Bransfield in Middletown. That being said, having Joe D there is an inspired choice. Well done.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Off The Bench In An Empty Radio Station


I'm in the offices of WGCH Radio, and things are quiet.

Save for the on air signal.

Josh Somma -- solid guy, and producer of the 4-6 pm show -- took off about a half-hour ago, leaving me here alone.

Trust me, you don't want to be in a radio station without an air signal playing. Recall that I once spent the night here following Superstorm Sandy (nobody should have to deal with that). Once we were knocked off the air, the silence was eerie.

I should go home, but I love an empty office. Sometimes, my head just gets a chance to clear out, and I just might do my best work of the day.

But right now, I'm writing. How about that?

******
I'm still pretty horrified over the Fairfield Prep/Staples lacrosse story from last week, in which members of Prep's "Bomb Squad" cheering section apparently said anti-semitic things. To be sure, it's unacceptable if true. (GameTime CT has the pertinent info)

However, I was alerted to a rant posted on Facebook from a Staples student. Somehow, that wasn't reported anywhere. Why?

I addressed it (and more) on Doubleheader today. Mick McGowan joined the fun.

You can catch Doubleheader weekdays (almost) from 3-4 pm on WGCH Radio (and wgch.com...sigh...anywhere).

You can also catch The Clubhouse on various Wednesday nights (like this upcoming one) from 7-8 pm.

*****
Incidentally -- and I haven't addressed it yet -- I need to thank everyone for making year one of "Robcasting" so great. The past two years...er...haven't worked out exactly as planned. Or maybe they did.

Let me be quite clear: Robcasting is a concept. I don't know if it will morph into something more. It's not a money-maker, and I'm on the hunt for that. No matter what, I'd like to keep my toes in broadcasting, as I still think I have a voice worth offering. But as I've told many people, I'm actually a free agent. What would that mean for Doubleheader and everything else? Stay tuned, I guess.

If I can just have fun with games, and still pay my bills, that would be simply lovely.

But there's no question that I'm so indebted to Jake Zimmer, Dan Gardella, Shawn Sailer, AJ Szymanowski, Joe Early, Nelson Santos, Harold Turk, Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin, Ian Barto, Paul Silverfarb, Chris Lucey, Mike Richter (yes, really), Mick McGowan, Chris Lucey, Josh Somma, Kevin Devaney Jr, Tim Parry, and Jim Walsh -- along with Jay Allen, Eric Scholl, Leo Redgate, and the coaches, athletes, and supporters.

And, as always, I've missed someone.

In the past year -- between WGCH, Local Live, and Robcasting -- we've put 111 games on the air. I'm not going to lie. That's pretty cool.

So what's next? I currently have no idea. American Legion baseball? Maybe. A baseball tourney? I hope so (I had a blast in Trumbull last year, and Dave Laffey once talked about bringing me up to Waterford).

The Red and White Game at Greenwich High School on June 16 at 5 pm is definitely on the schedule.

Then we'll get back to it with Brunswick football and my 20th year as part of Greenwich High School football.

*****
OK, so I saw "Solo" over the weekend. The short version of my review is that Sean liked it. As for me, I tolerated it. I thought they tried too hard, and don't get me going on how Han got his name. The whole thing is contrived.

I've said before that I have a bit of a love/hate with Disney. They can evoke enormous nostalgia in me, but they can also confound me.

*****
The cleaning crew has come and gone. They were startled to see me.

It is probably time to go home.

Today didn't start great -- some days are better than others -- but it finished quite well.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Royal "Off The Bench" Thoughts

"You look amazing, said Harry. "I'm so lucky." (Photo: WPA Pool, Getty Images)

I had no intention of watching the Royal Wedding yesterday morning. I mean, I have nothing against the House of Windsor, and sort of admired Diana, and think Harry and William seem fine, and yet? Nah. I didn't think I'd watch.

I was wrong. I woke up around five, not planning to watch it, but the tweets sucked me in, and soon I has CBS on.

First mistake.

Went to NBC next. It was OK, but no.

I decided on "the beeb," aka the BBC, and it was perfect. They didn't fawn (OK, maybe a little) and it became perfectly fine in the background as I woke up and began prepping for a lacrosse game later in the day.

On social media, many denounced the event as unnecessary and made references to us gaining our independence over 200 years ago.

Look, I can be as snarky as anyone. For instance, I'd rather silence than the Billboard Music Awards or American Idol or The Voice or whatever other dreck is on.

That being said, what was the harm of the wedding? Yes, you didn't watch it. Great. There are a lot of things I don't get the appeal of.

Still, despite the tweets and Facebook comments, the one thing I couldn't get was why not embrace it or just let it go?

Think about it: just Friday -- the day before the wedding -- we had another awful school shooting. Ten are dead. Around here, we had a pretty horrific school bus crash in New Jersey and a series of bad storms, with a tornado thrown in. Both of those events featured loss of life, plus my friends and family actually watched the tornado go by.

See what I'm driving at? We could use a little good old-fashioned romance.

I realize there were a bunch of phonies at the affair, but I smiled at thought of true love. The skeptic in me -- the snarkado in me -- took the day off.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Tweet what you want, of course.

It was a benign fairy tale, given so much bad in the world.

*****
The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup Final, and it's pretty cool.

As someone who loves a good story, Vegas being four wins away from the Cup works.

I would have been fine with the Winnipeg Jets advancing, given a Canadian team hasn't won the magic chalice since 1993. Yes. That's correct.

I'm sort of hoping the Washington Capitals could make it, so that Alex Ovechkin (The Great Eight) can play for his first Cup, but with all of the former New York Rangers on the Tampa Bay Lightning, I can't complain.

Oh, and Doc Emrick calls the Finals. So let's make it seven and we all win.

But...there's a belief that the NHL has rigged it so that Vegas -- a first-year expansion team -- can get to the Finals.

Um. What?

My man Mike Hirn -- Ohio's finest -- was just as baffled as I was at the idea of the fix being in.

Want a fix? Get the New York Rangers to the Finals. Then the NHL can market all day!

But the idea of the NHL being fixed for Vegas is just wrong.

*****
I've long thought about ranking all play-by-play announcers in Yankees history. The thing is, I think I know the bottom two, and have a sense of the top five. It's the in-between that makes it tough.

*****
Biting my tongue has never been my strong suit. But please know that I'm trying. Really trying.

And I'll often fail.

*****
There are a variety of sports broadcasting tidbits to get to, such as how much I enjoyed being in Waterbury a few weeks ago with Tim Parry. We called Nonnewaug and Gilbert baseball at Municipal Stadium.

Tim operates his exceptional Just Woodbury site, and it should be a go-to for your news needs in that area (and beyond).

We need people who bring integrity to reporting. Integrity is questioned more than ever. I've said for too long that Susan and company at Darien Times should be your stop there.

Again. Integrity. And that brings respect.

*****
I can't say with enough certainty how much I've enjoyed covering Brunswick School sports this year. Football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse.

Lacrosse, you say? Why yes -- at last check, the third best lacrosse team. Period. Not regionally. Not in a conference. Not even in the United States.

Third best. That's it.

After covering Wick for 20 years, I'm actually known around there, and it's a great joy.

I'll finish with the Brunswick baseball team in the FAA Championship tomorrow. Few coaches treat me better than Johnny Montanez.

Which calls to mind another point: the amount of great coaches I work with (and have worked with). Right now, it's Ron Van Belle and Steve Juricek and Montanez and Jared Shine and John Marinelli and Chris Rurak. As a sample.

And Leo Redgate at Fairfield Prep was great to me. Sorry to see him out of there. That's one sharp basketball mind.

Also the Mahopac High School baseball crew, including Myckie Lugbauer, Shaun McGee and Anthony Nappi.

Speaking of baseball coaches, Mike Mora is working his magic again at Greenwich High, as the Cardinals have made the FCIAC playoffs.

There are so many coaches to highlight. They do a great job.

Note to parents: Let them do that job.

*****
I've actually started looking at the football schedules. I'm proud that at least five teams are interested in having me around to call their play-by-play. It's humbling, to say the least.

My schedule could start in August, but that doesn't mean I'll be quiet in the summer.

So...who wants some broadcasts?

*****
Happy 72nd birthday, Bobby Ray Murcer. The Yankees treat you like a forgotten name, and you don't deserve that. If only they had this place to honor great players, broadcasters, executives and so on to recognize your years in the organization.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Anyone Can Do It

The Robcasting Radio banner hanging at a recent Mahopac High School game. (Not representative of the story I'm telling)

I recently called a high school game.

The site isn't important. Nor is the sport. To protect certain things, I won't give too much detail.

But holy cow, it's a cautionary tale.

Perched on the roof of a press box, I prepared to broadcast the game in question. Thanks to traffic, my arrival was much later than I would have preferred, but I didn't panic, and set about getting ready. Though I lacked a roster for one of the teams, I knew I could make it all work.

** Quick side note: We are literally begging for accurate rosters to be made available. Twice in the past week, I've had to fudge my way through a game where details weren't available and only had last names. In this era, that is simply unacceptable. In this game, I asked in the press box for a roster. Nothing. I looked around. Nada. Nobody was willing to help. I walked to the scorers table, where I took a picture of the scorebook, and worked off what I had. It was better than nothing, and I relied on what I could overhear for the rest of the details. Accurate (keyword) rosters in numerical order shouldn't be this difficult. In fact, it should be mandated.

Keep the roster thing in mind through the balance of this story.

Standing a few feet away from me were a few student broadcasters. OK, I'm all for that, and always happy to help. But in this case, I had to hurry to even get on the air. After dashing to the field to get any semblance of a roster, I literally started the game out of breath, and let the action on the video speak for itself.

I could overhear the young broadcasters nearby.

"Number eight to number 23 to number two."

Ugh.

Still I concentrated on my own call and got to a break.

With the students was an advisor/teacher who was clearly in charge. She stayed positioned in the booth while her young charges exploded out to do whatever they needed to get to.

"Would they like a roster," I asked?

"They would love one," came the reply.

Silly me, I felt that there would be a sharing of information -- the same thing I've done with countless other play-by-play "voices." Matt Levine, Don Boyle, George DeMaio, and numerous others know exactly what I'm taking about. You're happy to share. You talk about strengths and weaknesses of teams. Maybe little notes. Pronunciations. Anything.

Nope.

As they returned to the booth, I offered to help.

"Who's the play-by-play voice?"

A hand went up. Didn't even look at me.

"Do you want a roster?"

"Nope. I'm good."

Wow.

Entitlement aside, do you suppose, if you really want to do this professionally, that you might want to have accurate information, or is it just about your school, and accuracy be damned?

Where in the name of Marty Glickman was integrity?

I was astounded, annoyed, and frustrated. I would have felt worse if I were their advisor.

There is this belief, in our modern information age, that "anyone" can do "anything." You can be a writer -- thus, a blog (and I'm 100% guilty but have tried so hard to do this honorably). You can be a broadcaster -- go to any one of a number of outlets for that. Hell, with a do-it-yourself video, you can be an auto mechanic, or something else.

Still there's something to be said for training, preparation (I do far more than believed, cha cha), and...well...pride, as well as the aforementioned integrity. Have some. Anything less than what I expect sends me into fits, and giving my absolute best exhausts me**.

** Another side note: Many times, after a game, I stand in a parking lot and talk to colleagues and friends, and here's why. It's not a "gripe" session, as has often been believed. Sure, there is an airing of grievances, but it's mostly because I'm so worn out that I'm trying to find the energy to drive home. That's all there is to it. Often, it's a sign that I don't want the night to end, and I also don't want to be sleeping in a parking lot to find said energy to drive home. Do you know how many times I've stayed in a stadium/arena/field to soak it in and summon the will to drive? Too many to count.

So, to recap, while you, young plebe, just climbs down from the press box post-game in search of the free food or the cute girl, I'm climbing back into my car for a drive that normally includes a loss of all adrenaline.

And replaying literally every moment of that broadcast. And telling my friends how much I sucked.

Ask me about the aftermath of Salisbury and Brunswick last Friday. With two of the top three lacrosse teams in the world in front of me, a large audience, and a great production crew, I felt a ton of pressure to have a great call. I gave it all I had, and despite a few goofs, I drove home completely worn out (and, rarely, slightly satisfied). A 90-minute ride through Litchfield and Dutchess counties made for a long trip.

But I slept knowing that I did my best. That I cared. That I had the utmost integrity.

You think anyone can do it.

I used to think that.

You're wrong.