Sunday, October 22, 2017

Seasons Change


It's the little things sometimes.

With the Yankees' loss to the Astros last night, I knew it was time for the change of flags.

It used to be a thing for Sean and I. Every March and October (roughly), we'd head to the flag holder, make the change, and then actually recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Normally it would end with a "Go Yankees" and "Go Steelers."

I know. You had to be there to get it.

I just did the change of the flags myself, and made this little video. It all came off my phone, and I know I shot it vertically. Scorsese, I am not.

Anyway, small stuff. Dumb to you, perhaps.

Meaningful to me.

Time marches on.

It's Not What You Want (#INWYW)

Aaron Judge will provide plenty of thrills in 2018. (TROY TAORMINA/USA TODAY SPORTS)
I could have written this post in 1976.

Or 1980.

Or 1981.

I certainly could have written it in 1995.

Yes, 1997 also, as well as 2001 (ugh), 2002, 2003, 2004 (let's not talk about it), 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015...

and now.

That's just the Yankees' history (in my lifetime) of playoff losses, flameouts, and heartbreaks. We could talk about other teams, but this will do.

There were limited expectations for the "rebuilding" Baby Bombers. Maybe they'd win 85 games. They'd contend for the Wild Card, but fade. They wouldn't go to within one game of the World Series.

Sports hurts. This hurts.

The other day, I was asked if I would be content to see the Yankees make it to Game 7 of the ALCS. Would I be able to absorb it if they lost to the Houston Astros?

I knew the answer. The answer was confirmed moments ago.

No.

We put our souls into sports. We live and die with the teams that we choose. Oh I don't mean the team that looked sort of cool so let's see how they do in the World Series and forget they ever existed the next year.

I mean the team you fall for and never leave. The one who leaves you in tears. They one whose gear you wear and cards you collect.

No, I'm not fine with the Yankees losing in Game 7, as if it's all good since there were no expectations for the 2017 Bombers.

I'm not "just happy to get there."

I'm the type of fan who prefers to be blown out. Down big early in Game 7 in 2004, the stress was reduced. Down 4-0 in the middle innings tonight, I chatted with friends online.

Yet with the final out, ugh. Just ugh.

We don't play for the team. We don't earn the money. In fact, we pay it.

Yet it still hurts.

This team thrilled us. Aaron Judge will likely come in second for the MVP, but will run away with the Rookie the Year. Anyone remember when Andrew Benintendi was going to win ROY? That was cute, wasn't it?

The Yankees went to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. They were one of the final four standing in baseball.

But despite that moral victory garbage, the truth is it was still five wins short of the mission.

That's what we've been taught since the first time we glanced at the pinstripes. Making it isn't enough.

Winning it all is the goal. To be honest, I feel that way about each of the teams I root for.

I'm not the type of fan who felt good that the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014. No -- I wanted the Cup. The two Steelers Super Bowl losses (both of which I expected)? Bad.

I can't even deal with the Knicks.

So while I was prepared to deal with a Yankees loss tonight (and predicted it), I still found myself fairly glum when it was all over.

Sports will do that to us. It will hurt like a punch to the gut, and we'll question why we do this to ourselves, and sometimes even wish that our teams don't make the playoffs (it's just easier, though not realistic).

Then the eternal optimism takes over on Opening Day.

But tonight? No.

It stinks.

Yankees fans know heartbreak. Of all of the losses listed above, 1995 and 2001 (OK, and '04) stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Sleep will be lost.

And life will go on.

For the record, I will watch the World Series. I've seen them all since 1975 (some more, some less). I always watch. I'm a sports reporter and a sports fan.

I'll watch.

(Note on the title: Joe Girardi says "It's not what you want" a lot. This loss isn't his fault. He's a wonderful manager.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Donut



I find that staying occupied during stressful sports events that I'm not broadcasting is the best way to handle things. The Yankees lead the Astros 4-0 in Game 5 of the ALCS. So have a blog post.

*****
I got a strange text today from Sean. He said he wanted a Krispy Kreme donut (apparently they have them at school).

Ironically, the nearest Krispy Kreme shop is in lower Manhattan (basically, it's a stand in Penn Station), or the full shop at Mohegan Sun -- 120 miles away.

"I have no money," he texted. "This is torture!"

Sigh. Well, OK. I told him I understood his pain but that there was virtually nothing I could do.

Still it was nice to hear from his at 10:52 in the morning. It was unusual, but I carried on with my day.

Later on while sitting at WGCH, my phone rang. It was Sean. He left me a message in which he said that he missed the bus and that I was "his last hope."

I don't care if he's 15 or 50. When your child needs help and you can't help, it hurts. It doesn't really matter why.

The reality was that I couldn't get to him for at least an hour (probably more, since I had two shows to cover), so I suggested his grandmother (my mom).

If mom couldn't help, well then it would be quite some time that he'd be sitting at school, and apparently he can't just get on a late bus if he missed his actual bus (OK, whatever).

Bingo. She picked him up.

"The reason I missed the bus is ironic," he texted me.

"I missed the bus because I stood on line to buy a box of donuts."

Later, he texted me to say that he was home (thanks to Granny). But there was more.

"I sent you a present."

Yep. A donut.

Sean looks out for his dad, just as I try to look out for him, and always be receptive to whatever is going on.

When he texts or calls, I respond.

Sometimes we need to count whatever blessings we have. We often need to see the positive, while being realistic.

I know I need to do that.

A donut -- a small gesture -- allows for some perspective.

Back to the Yankees.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Anatomy of a Blown Call

The banner I went and retrieved in the dark after Saturday's game
I messed up a call on Saturday.

The most pivotal moment in the most pivotal game of this (possibly) special Greenwich football season, and I called the wrong name.

The Cardinals led the New Canaan Rams 29-21 late in the fourth quarter at Cardinal Stadium.

The Rams, if you don't know, are coached by Lou Marinelli. Lou is the winningest coach in Connecticut history.

The Cardinals are coached by John Marinelli. Lou's son.

This was the third time the two had met, although for me, that whole "Marinelli Bowl" thing was in the past. I'd had enough of it after the first meeting (2015). The Rams won the first two Lou/John showdowns.

This time, the Cardinals built up a 22-0 lead on the strength of their outstanding junior quarterback, Gavin Muir, and his collection of excellent receivers. Senior Jael Negron had snagged two touchdowns as Greenwich extended the lead to 29-14 with 10:27 to go.

Tysen Comizio, the Cardinals bruising back, had done his part, though the stat sheet wouldn't show it. He rumbled for 72 yards on 16 carries.

The Rams were led by their super sophomore quarterback, Drew Pyne, who threw for 280 yards, and running back Owen Shinn, who ran for 123 yards.

Pyne got the Rams close again with 2:08 to go on a quick drive that resulted in a JR Moore touchdown. It was now 29-21, and the Cardinals were looking to run out the clock. New Canaan, of course, had other ideas.

Up in the booth, Chris Erway and I were on the play-by-play. Ian Barto and Chris Kaelin were patrolling the sidelines. Sean Kilkelly was in the studio. It was the most complete broadcast we've had on WGCH in some time.

I'm proud of the whole thing.

But oh God. I blew it, and I'm not afraid to say so.

The ball was at the Greenwich 28 yard line.



This is where having a great partner makes all the difference.

Clearly, Comizio, as I said (three times) did NOT run down the left sideline. Muir took the snap and faked a handoff to Comizio. Tysen did his part -- running to his right, towards the line -- while Gavin escaped to the left.

The fake worked. On me.

Chris Erway pointed to Muir. No panic. No tapping my shoulder. Just a point. I quickly picked Muir up on the sideline, but sadly my brain and mouth didn't work in concert. I kept saying "Comizio."

It's otherwise an OK call. Exciting and, as always, I wish there was more. More detail and, in this case, more accuracy.

Chris, without missing a beat, waited for the crowd to subside a bit before jumping in. He didn't got for the embarrassment. He instead said "And Gavin Muir! We talked about the read option the entire time..."

I screwed up. He let it go, didn't embarrass me, and carried on.

The Cardinals went on to win 36-21 (this is my story on the Greenwich Sentinel).

When I cut the highlights up later, I was mortified, but grateful.

As I'm often told, I'm way too hard on myself. So it goes.

All I can do is acknowledge it and move on. So I will.

Westhill comes to Greenwich Saturday at 3pm, and the game will be live on WGCH (and wgch.com).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Harvey

Him. That's all.
We've had just about enough of Harvey in 2017.

First we had the hurricane that took over 70 lives and roughly $70 billion in damage.

Now we have a different kind of storm.

Harvey Weinstein was -- yes, was -- one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. With his film company, Miramax, Weinstein became perhaps the most aggressive person in the business, actively shilling for his films to receive award consideration.

Especially the Academy Awards.

It worked, most notably with Shakespeare in Love, a film that, years later, some critics have said doesn't stand up in terms of the awards. Let's look at the nominees from 1998 for Best Picture:

Shakespeare in Love
Elizabeth
Life is Beautiful
Saving Private Ryan
The Thin Red Line
Short answer: Shakespeare in Love might rank fifth in that list.

The film also garnered a Best Actress nod for Gwyneth Paltrow, who consciously coupled herself to the statuette, winning over the likes of Cate Blanchett, who was a tour de force in Elizabeth.

In short, Harvey was celebrated as being "The Man," despite all kinds of rumors that he was one of the biggest jerks in Hollywood.

In the past week, Weinstein joined the ranks of Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and -- yes -- Presidents William J. Clinton and Donald J. Trump. Not for what they've done in their respective industries, but for being a pervert.

The charges -- which are numerous -- include lurid tales of him pressuring women into sexual encounters.

All in the name of their careers.

You know these actresses: Mira Sorvino, Paltrow, Angelina Jolie. They each have (finally) spoken out about various forms of harassment.

Then there are the stories (The New Yorker). Not only of harassment, but of rape.

Rape.

In any form, there's no good way to say that.

Nobody should be harassed to keep a career alive. Nobody should be harassed. Period.
So we know what Harvey is, and he's now paying a price, but there are those so complicit in their silence.

Meryl Streep, for instance. She -- among the most powerful people in Hollywood, let alone women -- said in a statement to HuffPost: "One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew."

Not everyone knew about Santa Claus either, Meryl. Come on.

There were whispers all over Hollywood that he was a scumbag. 

There was (apparently) a story in the works in 2004 about Weinstein's behavior by Sharon Waxman. Matt Damon -- so the rumor goes -- worked behind the scenes to have it whacked. Damon has denied the charges (Deadline.com).

Incidentally, has the glass ceiling sealed back up, or is Hillary Clinton walking her dog in the woods of Chappaqua, NY? Why did it take her until today to comment (CNN) -- five days AFTER the story broke?

Shameful.

To the point: Where was anyone on this? Paltrow -- from a showbiz family -- says "she was a kid," when it happened. Brad Pitt (her then-boyfriend) threatened Harvey in 1995 (People). But Paltrow won her Oscar a few years later. At that point, she was loaded with power.

And she did nothing.

Let's focus on the good: the amazingly brave women who told their stories, at great risk. The journalists (Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times) who worked tirelessly to get the story told.

There are others, but that's a start. More brave women are coming forward.

It's 2017, folks. Women should do whatever they want. They should make as much as they can. It should be about talent. It should be equal.

A woman will be the 13th Doctor on Doctor Who. To be sure, my son was not happy, but despite what people think (and I took a load of crap for it), it wasn't due to gender. Sean felt there was an agenda -- one the showrunner didn't deny.

“I always knew I wanted the 13th Doctor to be a woman," Chris Chibnall told the BBC.

Not always the best approach for a new hire, as opposed to the best person. 

Sean and I -- for the record -- will still be watching when Jodi Whittaker debuts, and I hope it's great.

I know there are still issues and flaws. Look around. There are issues for both genders, but who at the end of the day has it worse? 

Women. Come on. Admit it.

I've long believed in people. Not race. Not gender. Not religion, etc. People. I want good people around me.

I don't get why this is a difficult concept.

Fortunately Harvey has finally been exposed and he's out of his namesake company. Only time will dictate his fate.

But the "system" failed these women. The "activists" stayed quiet and seated, too hung up on whatever other agenda they could run up the flag pole.

It's amazing hypocrisy.

Just listen to that audio posted in the story by Ronan Farrow (yep) in The New Yorker.

(Go here to listen to it, and prepare yourself.)


More from the New York Daily News.

If that doesn't make you sick and/or angry, I don't know what to tell you.

We're in a time of action. We're so hung up on other debates that we're losing focus.

The scary thing is, there are others like Weinstein. It needs to stop.

And those in power need to make it stop.

Go get 'em Meryl. Now is the time.

The future -- for girls, teens, and women of all ages -- is depending on the likes of you.

Hurt these pigs -- like Harvey -- where they deserve to be hurt.

I'll let you decide where.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Sad Anniversary

Heading towards the Brooklyn Bridge, Sep 11, 2001 (Associated Press photo)
I'll just go ahead and say it.

I don't know what to do with September 11 anymore.

Around here (metro NYC), it's still obviously a big deal.

We've noted it every year in this corner. You can find the posts if you so choose to.

But does the day register so much as a ripple outside of the northeast?

I know it means something in New York, Washington, and near Pittsburgh.

I guess I'm babbling.

Tomorrow, as usual, I'll remember. I'll play the audio. I'll watch the images.

But the routine has changed, and after looking at the archive, I realize I felt the same way last year.

I'm not one to go to ceremonies. They seem -- I don't know.

I think part of what's going on in my brain can also be explained in the hurricane(s) that are ravaging parts of the country right now.

I see it in, sadly, too many other events.

It's the need to enter politics into it.

A massive hurricane is beating on Florida as I type (Irma). I've worried for friends and extended family. I was helping make arrangements for family elsewhere (that wound up being unnecessary).

Yet somehow this becomes Donald Trumps' fault. Or Republicans. Or whatever.

Stop. No, seriously, stop.

Because, sadly, nobody has the balls to discuss these things rationally, I will stop.

Yet tomorrow, we'll watch (insert politician's name here*) pontificate.

*Except Fred Camillo. Fred is my friend. Plus he's a WGCH guy. Oh and he's a fan of the Steelers and Yankees. I've got to keep this somewhat light.

No. I don't need ceremonies. I don't need to be seen. I don't care if my picture gets in the paper.

I'll listen. I'll share stories. I'll probably discuss some of it on Doubleheader.

But I still don't know what to do with September 11.

Other than remember.

And never forget.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

GHS Football Begins Today



Later today, at 2:20 pm, WGCH will begin its 54th year covering Greenwich High School football.

For me, it will be the start of my 16th year doing the play-by-play, and my 19th year around Big Red.

Having spoken with GHS head coach John Marinelli earlier this week, I can tell you I like this group a lot, but they open with a good test against Trumbull.

(Please read my preview of the 2017 Cardinals for the Greenwich Sentinel)

Our broadcast will only be on the radio today (and next Saturday, at Trinity Catholic as well), but fear not. If you want to hear how we call it, you will have your chance. We will archive it and replay. I'm thinking we'll air it in the two-hour window of 2-4 pm on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

As late as Tuesday, I had no crew. Chris Erway is on baby watch. Chris Kaelin is training for another gig. I need to compile a list of people who would be willing to join me.

Anyway, Paul Silverfarb has come on board, and will be on the sideline. Next up, WGCH (with an assist from me), recruited Josh Somma to do color. Then Ian Barto said he'd love to be back. Finally, Shawn Sailer said "sure. Happy to be there."

So from one to five.

We're live around 2:20, as I said. Kickoff is set for 2:30 at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

Hope you join us.

Oh yeah, this is the 52nd anniversary of complete and total perfection -- on the air and on the field.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sort of Like Going Home

I was always happy there: Dutchess Stadium, September, 2009.
I wouldn't go in. I'd drive by it, but I couldn't bring myself to go through the gates.

You can see it from Interstate 84. The entrance is on New York Route 9D.

I haven't been there in roughly eight years, but I'm returning soon.

I'm going back to Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, NY. I've been asked to call two Hudson Valley Renegades baseball games, on September 1-2.

The Gades, are the short-season Class A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays and play in the New York-Penn League. I called games for them stretched out over 10 seasons, from 2001-2010.

A few days ago, out of the blue, my friend Jay Verzi sent me a message. Jay -- like me -- is a radio guy. A broadcasting guy. We've shared stories of the various things that go on the biz.

Jay asked if I was still doing play-by-play, and would I be interested in a possible fill-in gig with the Gades.

It took me literally zero time to answer.

He said he'd let the team know, and that was that. Then silence took over, and I began to assume that it just wasn't going to happen. I told almost nobody, and held it in.

But I kept thinking about it. Then again, I'm always thinking about gigs.

On Saturday, I was making dinner and pondering various and sundry (money, life, money, repeat).

Long story.

My cellphone rang. Jeez, another telemarketer? We've been getting a rash of them lately.

This one left a voicemail. I recognized the area code, but that was it.

I hit play. Then I hit the ceiling.

It was Josh Caray (yes - let's get it out of the way - that Caray, as in Harry and Skip), the current lead voice of the Gades, asking if I wanted to fill-in. He said they couldn't give me housing, but then again, he didn't know that I only live about 25 minutes from the ballpark.

The last Hudson Valley Renegades game I did was in Brooklyn. The day before, I called one (in? on?) Staten Island. It was 2010.

Watching people come through the gates at Dutchess Stadium, 2009. I enjoyed that time.
I reached out a few times to ask if any help was needed (the teams and subsequent broadcasters were always receptive), but eventually, I just stopped. I figured my time had passed, and with the proliferation of younger play-by-play guys, I felt old.

I didn't want to be a nag, so I let it go. But the truth is, the Gades were never out of my system. I thought of a lot of fun days and nights.

Just search this blog for mentions of the Gades and you can see some of the stories for yourself.

My mantra, "Have headset. Will travel," began while I was with the Gades, because I loved the trips.

I went to Aberdeen (Maryland) twice and Oneonta (New York -- there isn't even a team there anymore). There were games against Pittsfield, Jamestown, and New Jersey (also all no longer in the NY-Penn League).
In Brooklyn, 2009. That's Geoff Brault beyond me. (Tim Parry photo)
There were the trips to Troy (NY), Brooklyn and Staten Island. Tim Parry, Jason Intrieri and I still laugh about that night in Brooklyn. Short version: I got a text that said, "Look to your left," and sure enough, there they were. They crashed a party suite.

Then there was the weekend of Boston (Blog posts 1 and 2) and Lowell. The best of times (and let's focus on that, or enact "Rule 55").

Among the great people I worked with were Nick Gagalis and Geoff Brault -- each graciously allowing me to visit their booth.

And there was Sean Ford. The one and only. The guy who -- after having met me in person only minutes earlier -- told me, "If you're going to be on the broadcast, you're going to need to put that headset on." The guy who, three innings later, allowed me to call a minor league baseball game for the first time.

The guy who invited me to call baseball at Fenway Park.

Patient and kind. Always. It was tough to see him go, and I know it hurt him. He's in North Dakota now, but I'll be thinking of him on September 1 and 2. The truth is, we didn't work nearly enough games together in our time (2001-2008).
Sean Ford and I call the action at Dutchess Stadium in 2008.
The team arrived in Fishkill, NY in 1994 as part of the Texas Rangers organization, before switching their affiliation to Tampa Bay in 1996. I always thought it would be great to be a broadcaster there, for the team in my own area.

I made a number of friends and acquaintances there.

Josh Hamilton, James Shields, Wade Davis, and Evan Longoria are among the names that passed through Dutchess Stadium on their way to the big leagues (though I missed each of them). I personally called Carlos Beltran on a rehab assignment against the Gades when he played for Brooklyn.
I joined Sean Ford at Fenway Park for the Gades-Spinners game in 2008. 
Freddie Coleman -- he of ESPN Radio (and a great guy) -- and I used to talk all the time at the ballpark.

It's a turf field now. I've never seen it.

The uniforms have changed. The maroon and green are long gone. The blue and red are also a thing of the past.

I have much to catch up on.

Oh and Bill Murray is a part-owner.

One last thing. In each previous game I called for the Gades, there was always a lead voice. For Sean, Geoff, Nick (and everyone else) it was their booth. I always took that seriously.

It's Josh Caray's booth now. But for two nights, Josh won't be there. So it's up to me.

The games will air on TuneIn Radio (download the app to listen on your smart device). The Saturday game will air on the radio also. Lots more can be found at the Gades website.

I know. It's two games. Big deal.

To me, it's a very big deal.

Maybe this kid will come back with me. Sean, of course, at Dutchess Stadium, 2008.