Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jeremy Spoke In Class Today (Sports and Football)

I have to be somewhat quick today, as it is Halloween and I will be shuttling The Son from place to place to show off his costume (I’ll put some pics up soon). First of, a big thanks to “Jeremy” (who is also known as “Jimmy from Port Chester”, according to Tim Parry) for touching base. It seems Jeremy wants Greenwich head coach Rich Albonizio and his staff to be removed from their positions. Apparently “Jeremy” has 250 signatures on a petition, and he’d like to discuss this with me. In fact, why don’t you all have a look-see at what my new friend has to say, in a comment that he left for me on Sunday? This is the comment, in its entirety, with minor edits to words that were inappropriate. It starts with a reference to the picture that I posted in my last entry…

Why don't you loosen up a little bit and take your own advice. I went by your station on Thursday and some b**ch said you don't work there during the week. So what kind of job is that anyway. I now have 250 signatures in support of getting rid of Coach Rich Albonizio and his staff. I have been going to Cardinals games for many years and have listened to you guys from time to time wich is how I foundd out about your blogger. Your broadcasts are very blazzei and you have what seems like 10 guys doing the game I can't really keep up with all the people. I know your buttbuddy pal Tim Parry has no guts how about you? Let's see if you have the guts to at least talk to me off the air about why I want to get rid of The Coach. I have some very legitimate reasons you see. I must add that there are many voices ready to be heard to get rid of this Coach. Are you going to hear us or are you going to prove to be another lackey of the Greenwich coaching staff. Balls in your court be a man or be a d*ckhead. I assume you will not post my comment whichh is why I gave you my emailaddress.
Good Farts,

OK, to start, “good farts” has become a catch phrase for all of us. Funny, when I want to be heard by somebody, I normally don’t take this kind of tone, but “Jeremy” has his own style, so whatever. Anyway, he says that he included an email address, which I looked for, and amazingly, Blogger says that the account has been deleted. I am more than willing to meet with Jeremy to discuss his concerns, but he has to know this – I can’t do a thing about getting Coach Al fired. We’re radio broadcasters. We do not work for the Greenwich school system. Besides, why would I want to have him fired? I have known Coach Al for several years now and he has been nothing but courteous, professional and classy to me. I know all of us at WGCH have nothing but decent things to say about him. I’ve had one disagreement with him – which happened in my first year calling Cardinals games, and we quickly squashed it, once he knew our side of the story. Am I one of his lackeys? No – I can disagree with him on coaching moves. Do I have to walk a very fine line with criticism? Heck yes.

Oh, by the way, Tim Parry and I have become friends. You might have inspired us to go out with our wives some night, have some dinner, maybe go to Sea World…

Just a reminder for everyone – these people are not professionals. They are all amateurs, so there’s a different standard to be had. Plus Rich Albonizio is heading towards 100 wins at Greenwich, and 200 for his career. From where I sit, that’s a pretty darn good record. Throw in three FCIAC titles, five Class LL championship game appearances, and the 1999 state title, and you’ve got a successful career. However there are always going to be critics. People say he plays favorites and runs up the score. As I’ve said before, we’ve talked about score control and I’ve always thought they’ve handled it well. The 50-point rule in Connecticut is not called “The Albonizio Rule”, is it?

As for our broadcasts, it’s not the first time we’ve been criticized. I take it all into consideration, and have received suggestions that I’ve put to use (mention the score more, and things like that). However the positive reviews outweigh the bad, so I’m OK with it. Are we blasé? I don’t think so, but when you’re constantly broadcasting blowouts, your tone is going to be different that it would be during a close, good game.

Unfortunately, “Jeremy” is the reason that I took away the option for anonymous postings. Perhaps the next time he posts something with his email address, I can put it up on the blog and you can all send him a note of thanks.

So “Jeremy”, the ball is now in your court. Ricky and I will be at Cardinal Stadium on Friday night. You can come talk to us there.

To the “Super Six.” Things stay the same:

1) Greenwich (7-0, Last Week – 1) – Norwalk was a tough out for Central and Staples. Against the Cardinals, they had a scoreless first quarter. From there, it was all Greenwich.
2) Staples (7-0, 2) – Playing at an extremely high level right now. Only New Canaan stands between them and a date at Cardinal Stadium for the regular season finale/FCIAC Championship. The way the Rams are playing, that’s not a done deal.
3) New Canaan (6-1, 3) – Also playing like they’re on fire. WGCH will be broadcasting the Brunswick/KLHT game at 3:00 on Saturday. Otherwise, I would want to have a seat at Staples Field. The big edge goes to the Wreckers simply because they haven’t lost at home since Nixon was in office. Or something like that. I have a feeling my cell phone will buzzing with results from that game via either Tim Parry or JR Bergman.
4) Wilton (5-2, 4) – It’s disconcerting that the Warriors allowed Harding to score 26 against them, but I won’t hold that against them. With McMahon losing to Ridgefield, and Central annihilating Warde, I’m content to keep the Warriors right here.
5) Central (5-2, 5) – No reason to drop them either. They won big against Warde.
6) McMahon (5-2, 6) – Yes, they lost to Ridgefield, but the Tigers have been so inconsistent that I can’t justify moving them up in favor of dropping the Senators.

Dropping out: Nobody. Status quo. Couldn’t find enough compelling reasons to shake things up. Ridgefield stays on the fringe, while everybody else falls into the pack.

We’ll be on the air Friday, as the Cardinals make a quick turnaround from the Norwalk win to play the Black Knights of Stamford at 7:00. The pregame show starts at 6:50, live from Cardinal Stadium, with me, Ricky Fritsch, Nick Angotto, Zach Fisher, Sean Kilkelly, Curt Gowdy, Jim Palmer, Tim McCarver, Mel Allen, Dick Enberg, Dick Vitale and Dr. Joyce Brothers. (Movie reference…where’s that one from??)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And for the first time...a picture! (General)

Sometimes, you just have to let your hair down, or in my case, put a bunch of gel in it and slick it back. My wife, sister-in-law and I decided to be Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn, and Roxie Hart from the movie (or play, your choice) "Chicago." We went to our favorite hangout - Molly Darcy's in Danbury, and had a great time, joined by some of our friends - people who had the guts to dress up. What the heck has happened to people though? So many others there didn't have costumes on. Hello!! It was a COSTUME PARTY!! I know from experience that it's tough to loosen up, so I get it. I was a very fun-loving kind of guy but things happened that made me withdraw and it took a talking-to from The Wife to get me to start thinking again. She said, quite simply, "What happened to you? I know you know how to have fun." It made me think, and I'm working on it.

I'd like to believe our friends had fun as well, but some folks just don't know how to remove the bug that crawled up their...oh never mind. Anyway, for the first time on Exit 55, I bring you a picture - The Wife is on the left, and The Sister-In-Law is on the right. I would eventually don a 30's-era hat but my hair was still wet when this picture was taken. I've got to tell ya, I'm a pretty lucky guy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Football - Postponed?? (Sports and Football)

Today's Greenwich-Norwalk football game, which was scheudled for 1:30 at Sam Testa Field in Norwalk and was to be broadcast on WGCH, has been postposed. The game will be played on Monday, October 30th at 5:00. If all goes to plan, the pregame show will start at 4:50. You know what they say - check your local listings!

Football games postponed? The almighty dollar wins out again! Crazy!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Football Comings and Goings (Sports and Football)

Another Monday means another round of high school football talk. On Saturday, WGCH was at Cardinal Stadium to see what we thought might be a good game, as Greenwich hosted Bridgeport Central. It’s interesting how the tone of a game can be set so early. In this case, the Cardinals’ Matt Piro intercepted Hilltopper quarterback Jamarl Hardison just after the kickoff and ran the ball back to the Central one yard-line. One play later, Jonathan Myers powered his way into the end zone. Before the benches at Cardinal Stadium were warm, the Greenwich Old-Timers Athletic Association scoreboard read “Home 7, Visitor 0.” Sidenote – I was asked years ago to try to mention the scoreboard name as much as possible. I forgot to do it that first week and got a phone call from a well-placed Greenwich mole who was less than happy with me.

While I’m on that rant, let me please reiterate something – when I’m at a football game, I’m either a spectator or a broadcaster. I’m almost never the public address announcer, and have NOTHING to do with the music being played over the loudspeaker. One unnamed Greenwich parent accused me of being responsible for the loud music coming from the press box. For one thing, Cardinal Stadium was trying out a new sound system that was donated to them by the Cardinal cheerleaders. It’s brand new, so of course there will be some bugs. Despite all the pregame tests (which I was a part of), the only way you will know about the sound levels is to try it once the stadium fills up. By that point, I’m getting the broadcast on the air. Sometimes people at these games crack me up.

I also had the chance to meet the guys from SportingNewsCT.com. This was their first FCIAC broadcast (they webcast many games in multiple sports throughout the New Haven area). I think they’re trying to break out into other parts of the state. Full disclosure – I hope to join them for some games eventually. I’ve gotta keep food on the table.

Anyway, not long after all of that fun and frivolity, the Cardinals demonstrated why they would remain number one in the FCIAC poll. The Hilltoppers got dominated to the tune of 37-6. The Cardinals now travel to Norwalk to play the Bears, who gave Staples a good scare before falling 34-20. By the way – set your radios/internet connections. The pregame show for Norwalk and Greenwich starts at 1:20 on Saturday.

Onto to The Super Six:

1) Greenwich (6-0, Last Week – 1) – Just takin’ care of business (Bachman Turner Overdrive, 1973). Their road to the FCIAC promise land is not easy, but if things fall right, they will be 9-0 in mid-November. They must not overlook any of those three games (Norwalk, Stamford, or Darien).
2) Staples (6-0, 2) –After using the high wire act to beat Central, they made the home crowd a little nervous as Norwalk gave them a tough time. RJ Marsilio helped ease the nerves with a fourth quarter TD run to break a 20-20 tie. In my mind, only New Canaan can stop them from a date with the Cardinals for the FCIAC title.
3) New Canaan (5-1, 4) – I now believe that the loss to Ridgefield was just one of those things. Admittedly, Stamford was pesky, keeping the outcome in doubt until the Rams recovered the onside kick with 1:55 to play. Dan Neelman is the latest player to look out for: he scored four times against Stamford and has nearly 700 yards rushing for the season. Keep an eye on the Rams in the FCIAC mix.
4) Wilton (4-2, NR) – Wilton had been on my radar since the preseason, and now their time has come. I said last week that a win against St. Joe’s would propel them, and I’m making good on my promise. Back to back wins against Darien and St. Joe’s gives them the nod to move here.
5) Central (4-2, 3) – I’m not ready to drop the Hilltoppers out…yet. They did look like deer in the headlights against Greenwich, but that was due to a tremendous defensive effort, led by Charles Williams and Jonathan Myers and company. Playing Staples and Greenwich in back to back weeks is not easy, and they still have my respect for the way they battled the Wreckers. They can still be 8-2 when all is said and done but have two interesting games against Danbury and McMahon.
6) Brien McMahon (5-1, NR) – I saw the Senators on September 21st and thought they looked dreadful. But they are in the top four of the FCIAC (in terms of record) and that counts for something. They lose points with me because of their strength of schedule, but you have to be doing something right to get to 5-1. They will be intriguing to watch if they can keep it going.

Dropping out: Darien. They can easily jump back in but their 32-0 loss to McMahon was not good. Couple that with a loss to Wilton, and they drop out for now. Also gone is St. Joseph. Again, they can easily jump back on with a win at home against New Canaan. Did I say “New Canaan” and “easy?” No, New Canaan will not be easy for the Cadets (or Hogs, if you wish).

Just missed – Besides the dropouts of Darien and St. Joseph, I really like what Danbury has done. They got whacked by Staples, but fought hard against Greenwich and have won their other games.

Blog notes – Don’t say I didn’t warn you, and I was suitably warned by Tim Parry. As soon as I somebody violated my rules about comments, I would turn off the anonymous option. Congratulations – it happened last week. The same things that were being said to Tim were said to me, with a threat and some racism thrown in to create an unhealthy stew. So that’s that. It’s a shame because all of you were otherwise fun to correspond with, but I just can’t allow that.

Speaking of Tim, I finally got to meet him in person. True to his word, he cam up with T-shirts for the WGCH sports team, and kept sideline reporter Nick Angotto informed of scores. Thanks to the guys at WWPT and WSTC/WNLK for keeping the chain alive. I guess that probably kills my idea of an “Anchorman” style rumble featuring my staff as the Channel 4 News Team (Zach Fisher takes the “Brick” role, by the way), with the WWPT guys as the Public News team, Matt Levine and company at ‘STC/’NLK as the Vince Vaughn-led Channel 9 Evening News Team , the WBLI guys as the Luke Wilson-led Channel 2 News , and the best I could offer the SportingNewsCT.com guys is the Spanish language group (led by Ben Stiller, who might have the best line in the segment – “como estan, bitches!”).

Sorry folks, I have too much time on my hands sometimes. You should the things I come up with away from my computer.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Creeping On (Sports)

Sometimes we (the media, fans, everyone) judge things way too quickly. This note from Peter Abraham in Sunday’s Journal News caught my eye:

“Albert Pujols is a creep, which is fine. Some players always are. But Tony La Russa should know better. Pujols showed Tom Glavine no respect on Thursday, saying the future Hall of Famer "wasn't that good'' when he threw seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLCS. La Russa managed to blame those who wrote those words down. "Now it gets blown up like he's some kind of disrespectful pro,'' La Russa said Friday night. "Somebody takes a guy, right after the competition. They're very vulnerable to say something.'' Told that Pujols should know better, La Russa started yelling. "No,'' he said. "You guys should know better than to make a big issue out of it. This guy's a great pro. That's what the answer is, use some common sense.'' Or not be a clown in the first place.”

Pujols, as Abraham alludes to, made some tough statements about Tom Glavine’s performance in Game One of the NLCS. Admittedly, while trying to put the blame on his own team for not capitalizing on opportunities, Pujols gave Glavine a major diss. Maybe it was frustration, or maybe it wasn’t well thought out. Maybe he really did mean it. Perhaps he was trying to be a leader by putting it in the media. Whatever the case, he probably shouldn’t have said it, and I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out when Glavine faces the Cardinals tonight in St. Louis. My beef, however, is with Abraham. Have you heard that Pujols is a creep? To be honest, I’ve heard nothing but praise for the guy – that he’s very charitable, is a great teammate, and plays the game “the way it should be played.” So then how the heck is he a creep, and who is Peter to judge him?

Here’s where many become hypocritical. Following the passing of Cory Lidle, many writers praised him for being a “good quote.” He was a guy who had more interests than just baseball, and would talk about anything – openly and honestly. Many writers called him “refreshing” because he would tell you what he thought. With that said, why is Albert Pujols now a “creep?”

Tom Glavine was a big spokesperson for the players in the 1994 strike. You know the one – it canceled the World Series for the first time since 1904. So as one of the people who denied fans a Fall Classic (one that had the Montreal Expos on target for their first World Series appearance – perhaps against the Yankees), can I then call Glavine a creep? I don’t think he is, by the way, but my point is that, as a very highly paid successful pitcher, and one of the leaders of a strike that put a big hurt (not Frank Thomas) in the hearts of fans everywhere, Glavine was a prime target for criticism. That said – I like Glavine, so the whole thing is invalid, but my point stands – calling him a creep wouldn’t be fair. Thus it’s not fair to call Pujols one. If there’s a mountain of evidence, then I’ll write a retraction.

Peter, I like your writing, but I think you’re baseless and unfair here. I need far more proof before I put Albert Pujols in the Barry Bonds stratosphere of creepness.

High School Football Happenings (Sports and Football)

In my last post, I gave a quick rundown of the exceptional football games that took place around the WGCH broadcast spectrum last weekend. To recap quickly, Staples rallied to beat Bridgeport Central, 17-14, and Rye came from behind to beat Harrison (as heard on WGCH), 19-18. On Friday, we broadcast the Cardinals beat win against Trumbull (41-0 - unspectacular). As I also said, the top three of my Super Six should be pretty easy to figure out. It’s the bottom three that’s got my head spinning.

1) Greenwich (5-0, Last Week – 1) – At this point, they are the best team. How they play against Central on Saturday (pre game show, 1:20 on WGCH) is anybody’s guess. After this, the Cardinals play at Norwalk, then host Stamford, then at Darien, then the FCIAC Championship date will hit, before they finish the regular season by hosting Staples. I’m sure a lot people want that game to be for all the marbles.
2) Staples (5-0, 2) – I don't know how to read the Central game. Yes the Wreckers won, but needed to come back to do so. To me, that shows lots of character and heart. But it also took a costly fumble by Central QB Jamarl Hardison to give the wreckers the chance to win. Still you’ve got to make the most of the opportunities that are handed to you (see – Harrison versus Rye), and the Wreckers did that. From the redemption is mine department, kudos to Staples junior Mike Samela for recovering the big Hardison fumble, then catching the winning score. This after dropping a sure touchdown late in the first half.
3) Central (4-1, 3) – Can we stop the discussion now about whether or not they're a Top 5 team? They took every blow from the mighty Wreckers, and led late into the fourth quarter. Their defense surprised me in holding Staples to 17 points. Unfortunately that was just enough to lose. I’m really looking forward to seeing them at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, in front of what should be a huge crowd (it’s Homecoming for Greenwich).
4) New Canaan (4-1, 5) – I’m convinced that New Canaan belongs right here. Despite the Ridgefield loss, the Rams are playing very well. They play Stamford at home on Friday night, before going to St. Joseph on October 28th. I’m hoping that will be a big game.
5) St. Joseph (4-1, NR) The Cadets success has been a pleasant surprise. An early season loss to Trinity Catholic made the Crusaders look like they could play, but their blasting of Ridgefield made me want to add them to the Super Six. But where to put them? I’m not sold on Wilton (yet), didn’t like what I saw of McMahon (or their schedule), and can’t put Darien here after losing to Wilton. So the Cadets sit here, for now. They play at home against Wilton on Saturday.
6) Darien (4-1, 4) – Here’s where the criticism is fair. Darien lost to Wilton so, in theory, shouldn’t the Warriors be here instead of the Blue Wave? In theory – yes. In my opinion – no. If Wilton goes out and beats St. Joseph (on the road), then my hat is off to them, and they will make a case for joining the fray next week. If not, then all is well.

Without a doubt, I’m broadcasting the game of the week this coming Saturday. Hope you tune in for all of the fun between Bridgeport Central and Greenwich.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Random Thoughts…or whatever (Sports)

I always wanted to call this “Odds and Sods”, due to my affection for the United Kingdom. But my friend Sean Kilkelly beat me to it, so while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, stealing is a whole different story. So should I call it “Random Thoughts”, “Hit and Run”, “Two-Minute Drill”, or something else? As usual, it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s just more clutter for my overworked brain (also know as “the vault”, for you “Seinfeld” fans).

Cory Lidle: A few days later, the Cory Lidle plane crash is still shocking. The reaction is also shocking. Look, I understand the sadness that two people lost their lives, but can we ease up on beatification? Cory Lidle was a Yankee for two months, and encountered some controversy along the way (saying that the Yankees weren’t prepared for their matchup against the Tigers, for instance). I belong to several discussion groups across all kinds of interests, and one of them is forums.nyyfans.com. What often worries me is the knucklehead fan; the clown who just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. In the discussion of Cory Lidle over the past few days, I read where there were reports that Bobby Abreu was on the plane (I don’t blame the poster for that, but I blame whatever reporter reported it), that the Yankees can turn the disaster into a positive (um…what?), that the Yankees should retire Lidle’s number 30, and I even saw a picture that turned Lidle into Osama bin Laden. Yes, I’m telling the truth. Of course, I also saw countless comparisons to Thurman Munson. I understand that, because they both died while piloting small planes, were both in their 30’s (Munson – 32; Lidle – 34), and were both Yankees.

I also have to laugh at those who are now referring to Lidle as a “Yankee for life.” What? I mean no disrespect to the man, but in the business of baseball, he had a 50-50 chance of being a Yankee in 2007, at best. But what I noticed the most was the outpouring of what a good guy he seemed to be. He was charitable, down-to-earth and pretty likeable.

Other unpleasantries about the Lidle tragedy – his father found out while watching the news, and his wife and son were on a plane from New York to California when the Cory Lidle’s plane crashed. A priest met them when they landed. I don’t like thinking about these things.

How did the media conduct themselves? So-so. I thought the toughest job was taken by Mike (Francesa) and the Mad Dog (Christopher Russo), who had just grilled Lidle for about 12 minutes earlier in the week on WFAN. They beat him up pretty badly, as Lidle tried to defend his comments after the Detroit debacle. Over at Fox, almost business as usual. Former teammate Eric Byrnes was in the studio, looking shell-shocked. Soon after, viewers were off to Oakland for Game Two of to ALCS. The irony is that New York-based viewers would not have seen the Oakland-Detroit game if not for rain in New York that canceled Game One of the ALCS between the Mets and Cardinals.

While I’m at it with Fox, can I just come out and call their coverage garbage? If there was a tribute in Oakland for Lidle (moment of silence, or whatever), I’ll never know it, because Fox never showed it. We, as viewers, get very little pomp and circumstance. No National Anthem, no player intros, no first pitch ceremony. Instead we get Jeanne Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy (and gee, what they have to say is sooo riveting). Then we get Thom Brennaman and Steve Lyons (along with Lou Piniella) on the game call. Stop the freakin’ madness. By Saturday, Lyons was a former employee, having been fired for saying something stupid.

On Larry King Live, Cory Lidle’s twin brother was on, along with Yankees pitching coach Ron Guidry, and writers and pundits. That was fairly well-done. Lidle’s brother was almost too calm, a sign to me that it hadn’t set it.

One last media note – on WGCH, during the Mary Anne Show, there was yours truly, doing what I felt was my duty: to report a major sports story (that started as a major news story). As Sports Director, I wish I could be called on more for things like that. I did the first report from my car, with The Son sitting in the backseat, quiet as a church mouse.

Blog Boasts: Exit 55 is getting some pub! First, it was Tim Parry’s FCIAC Football Blog, then the Staples Wreckers football website, and now The Bird’s Nest, a discussion board at Bird’s Eye Sports (birdseyesports.com), gave me a mention. To be exact, “Dan”, their “stat boy” and “immortal member” said: “Looks like it was just started but could be another good one...” And “bossf51” responded with: “Any guy who puts up a link to Huey Lewis and the News is OK in my book! IT'S HIP TO BE SQUARE!”

Thanks, guys – I really appreciate the kind words. I made a leap of faith when I started this, and still stick to my intentions that this will not be a sports-only blog, but I like the publicity. Still, that leads me to…

Where’s The Love? While lurking in The Bird’s Nest, I noticed that they put up info about the broadcast schedules for several Connecticut outlets (WATR, WSTC-WNLK, WELI, and WWCO). In particular was the praise for WATR from “bossf51”: “Your station has to be commended for its coverage of football and basketball over the years. No other station in the state does the job yours does in this arena (sorry WELI).”

Survey says?! BZZZZZZZZZZZ. If I may, WGCH has been covering Greenwich sports for a long time. Since I’ve been around, we have carried every Greenwich football game, and a large chunk of games for basketball, hockey, and baseball, along with some lacrosse, and even a softball game. I can throw in a Trinity Catholic state championship basketball game and a stack of Westchester (Rye/Harrison/Port Chester) football games, along with the addition of Brunswick football, hockey, and basketball. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention our coverage of the 2002 Babe Ruth World Series and Bridgeport Bluefish baseball. Lastly (I think) we’ve carried Championship Sunday for the GYFL (youth football) since 2002. I’m extremely proud of that coverage (as loyal readers will attest) and think we provide some of the most professional coverage – period! I’m not one to boast normally, but I often need to defend the efforts of my team, who works so hard in spite of a lot of factors (including our loving cell phone). The fact that nobody on The Bird’s Nest is mentioning us is partially my own fault – because I can’t afford the cash to join them (it’s not expensive, but when you’re not working full-time, you choose carefully).

It’s more than just that. Yesterday, WGCH carried the Rye-Harrison football rivalry. The Rye Football website gave us a mention, and the Syracuse.com high school football discussion board has long supported us. The Journal News, however, doesn’t see fit to. Now I have been a huge fan of writer Kevin Devaney Jr’s. work, and will continue to do so. But for the editors there – can you give us a nod? We’re a Greenwich (not Alaska) radio station, covering Westchester football. In fact, I read their scores no matter what game I’m covering.

Again, I recognize part of the blame sits with all of us at WGCH (and I only have so much power). Word of mouth, therefore, goes a long way.

Great football: As I mentioned, we had the privilege of being the only broadcasting outlet to carry the Rye-Harrison game live. And what a game it was. Rye won 19-18 on a fourth-quarter touchdown by quarterback Fran Archibold, then had to hold on for the win. Go to Kevin Devaney Jr’s blog for the full rundown, because I just don’t think I can give the game justice here. Remember how I said the recent Poly Prep-Brunswick game would go down as one of the best I’ve ever called? Rye-Harrison, 2006 style, will join that elite list. It was special.

Also special was Bridgeport Central and Staples. People scoffed when I put the Hilltoppers at number two in my FCIAC poll. Other said they didn’t belong in the top five at all. And now? Yes, they lost, but it took a bit of a miracle for the Wreckers to pull it off. So the Wreckers roll on, but the Hilltoppers earned MAJOR respect. They come to Cardinal Stadium on Saturday for homecoming. I hope it’s another good one for us to call (1:20 pregame show).

I’ll have my Super Six out tomorrow. The top three should be pretty obvious now…

One non-sports thought: After the Rye-Harrison game, it was time to blow off some steam. The night didn’t quite go as planned (don’t ask), but I saw a great band, at Molly Darcy’s in Danbury. Fans of U2 will love The Joshua Tree, who are a terrific tribute band. My criticisms are minimal – too much new stuff, not enough older stuff. Still they rocked with some lesser-known tracks and hit the highlights. I thought one of their weakest points was their try on “With or Without You” but they blew the doors off on things like “I Will Follow”, “Where the Streets Have No Name”, and “Bad.” In fact, I saw U2 in person in 2005 and it was probably the most disappointing show that I’ve ever attended. Certainly it couldn’t touch the incredible Bruce Springsteen show that I saw at Meadowlands several years ago. So what I’m saying is, dollar for dollar, I enjoyed The Joshua Tree’s show far more than I did U2’s, for what it’s worth.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


ESPN, Fox Sports, and several other sources have reported that Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was in a plane that crashed into a building in New York City. Lidle's passport was found on the ground at the scene and the sources are reporting that Lidle is dead. Not to be forgotten, three others are also reported dead.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not confirm the identities of the deceased.

Stay tuned for more...

8:00 PM Update - Cory Lidle's death has been confirmed, along with one other death (initially believed to be a total of four dead). He leaves behind a wife and six year-old son. Unbelievable. Thankfully, due to the rain in New York, Major League Baseball didn't have to deal with whether or not to cancel tonight's Mets-Cardinals NLCS Game 1. Mother Nature made it easy on Commissioner Bud Selig.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back to Reality (Baseball)

NOTE – Thanks to some of my recent posts about high school football, some folks think this is only a football blog; one dedicated to Connecticut’s FCIAC football conference. However I don’t just write about football. I write about everything, so please have a look around. The football stuff is here, but there are other things in my world. That’s why I put the category of my post in parenthesis within the title.

Finally, somebody in Yankeeland used their head. Joe Torre has just announced that he WILL be back for 2007, despite what the New York Daily News has been reporting, and several others have been speculating. Explain to me how Torre became so clueless after winning 97 games? While you’re at it, explain to me why Bobby Cox keeps his job after years of regular season success and playoff failures, but Joe Torre should be fired? Cox last won a World Series (his ONLY one, I might add) in 1995 – the year BEFORE the Yankees dynasty began.

Of course, I know the answer to the Cox question. Cox manages in Atlanta, sports version of nowhere-land. Fans don’t care, to say the least (empty seats at playoff games), and are more interested in NASCAR and Bulldog football than the, what are they called?, Braves.

All of this said – Torre no longer gets a free ride. Neither does Derek Jeter. Despite being a stand-up guy, the Captain now has to show some leadership. If Alex Rodriguez is a Yankee in 2007, Jeter has to embrace the entire team, and that includes his former friend. I like Jeter but remember this – A-Rod was arguably a better shortstop than the Captain, but he gave up the position to join the Yankees in 2004. Still, as much as I want A-Rod to stay and become a legend here (a good one), I think I’m going to have to explain to The Son why his first favorite player is a former Yankee. He has failed in ways that are remarkable, and become a soap opera unto himself. Laid-back Anaheim might be perfect for him. I’ve read rumors of him going to the Cubs, but I can’t see it. Chicago will probably eat him alive. He needs to go somewhere that has the money, but not the passion of New York. That sends him to Anaheim, in my mind. There he’ll hit 50 home runs again, probably win a ring or two, and life will go on.

Others leaving the Bronx have to include Cory Lidle, who is utterly clueless. What the hell was he doing on the radio with Mike and the Mad Dog yesterday? What an idiot. I’d let Mike Mussina come back, but at a bargain price, as a back of the rotation pitcher (where he can join Randy Johnson, if he’s healthy). I’m thinking Chien Ming Wang and Barry Zito would look awfully good at the front of the rotation, but Zito coming to New York just doesn’t seem likely. He’s just too much of a West Coast guy. The Yankees might be stuck with Carl (hey, remember me?) Pavano. This is my knee-jerk reaction, but we’ll see what develops. God forbid the Yankees actually let Philip Hughes come up and join the rotation in 2007! By the way, Jared Wright could be back as well.

There’s no way that first base will belong to Jason Giambi, but you never know. Still I want a guy who can play some defense and has pop in his bat. As much as I like him, Andy Philips is not that guy. Somebody like Sean Casey (Peter Abraham said this in the Journal News, and I won’t be accused of ripping anybody off). Robinson Cano is fine at second. He had a bad postseason, but I’m willing to forgive it. For now. Jeter is a lock at short. Now who plays third if A-Rod is gone? Is Aaron Boone available? Don’t laugh…stranger things have happened. Seriously, the free agent market is weak for third baseman. That’s where the A-Rod to the Cubs trade has some value, because Aramis Ramirez would look decent in New York.

To the outfield, where Hideki Matsui is staying in left, with Johnny Damon in center and Bobby Abreu in right. Melky Cabrera will find playing time filling in at whatever spot they need him. As for Bernie Williams? It’s been fun. Thanks for the memories.

I still think a trade for Jorge Posada is possible, but the problem is – who’s better? So Posada will be back, with a need for good backup. Sal Fasano? Not likely. For ha-ha’s…how about Mike Piazza? I could see it, but I don’t expect it.

In the bullpen, the Yankees have the great Mo. It also seems that they will be using Kyle Farnsworth to implode again in the process of getting the ball to Rivera. Mike Myers is under contract to be the lefty specialist. I’m intrigued by Brian Bruney, but only time will tell. Scott Proctor and Ron Villone fit well, if they’re not overused (are you listening, Jared Wright?).

Right now, this is the closest I can muster to interest in baseball. Good luck to the remaining four teams. It will be interesting to see if I can find any energy to watch these games. Baseball has long been my favorite sport, but right now, I’m just down about it. Thanks, Yanks.

Monday, October 09, 2006

I’ve Seen The Light (Sports and Football)

Time is short on this Monday morning, so I’ll get right to it. But before I get to the Super Six (or whatever you want to call it), I’ve got to tell you that Friday night’s Brunswick-Poly Prep matchup was one of the best football games I have ever seen, and certainly one of the five best I have ever broadcast. If the urge hits, I’ll talk about my top 10 in a future post. Bottom line – it was a game of high drama, with the Bruins winning 27-26 in double-overtime. Brunswick appeared more excited in winning that game than they were when they won the New England Prep School Championship last November (another incredible game).

On Saturday, I was at Harding High School as Greenwich played the Presidents. Just a thought about their fabulous PA announcer, Ernie Parker – he brings such energy and fun to the game, that he is one of my two favorite PA guys in the FCIAC. The other is Dick Leonard at Cardinal Stadium. Dick’s calls are clear and concise, with a little dry humor sprinkled in. In any event, too many people came up to Mr. Parker with corrections. Look, mistakes are made, and generally speaking, the players don’t care. So why bust the guy’s chops over whether or not he got a name right? I’m all for accuracy, but when most of these people are volunteers, is it worth it?

To the FCIAC Five (in which we pick six). Please say the following in a true Southern-Baptist voice… “I’ve seen the light. I have sinned against the mighty church of the Petroccio. I have been wrecked by the Wreckers. Please forgive me and save my soul…”

OK, enough. Last weeks rankings got me in hot water with Wrecker Nation for having the nerve, the temerity, to put the mighty Wreckers at number three, behind Greenwich and Central. By the way, unbeknownst to many of you was the fact that many of my fellow voters did the same. I spoke with several people about my rankings and while some may have agreed to disagree, this is the one thing we all agreed on: when you are Staples or Greenwich, you get held to a higher standard. That’s what I did, and that’s why Staples fell to third, and Greenwich nearly fell to second. A week later, I still believe that, but things have changed.

Before we hit the rankings, a note about notes…er…comments. First of all, thanks to everyone for keeping things clean and fair. I have no problem with the differences in opinion, but I won’t stand for personal attacks. Right now, I’m allowing people to comment anonymously, but my mind may change. Seems like some have changed the mind of Tim Parry, as you must now register to comment on the FCIAC Football blog. I’m leaning that way also, because I’m not a fan of anonymous postings. Lastly, thanks to the people at Staplesfootball.com. They linked up to this site, and I had a nice exchange with somebody at the site (I won’t name names since I don’t know if they want me to). I admire anybody who takes the time to do such a good site. More teams should do it and I know there are others (Stamford, off the top of my head, has a very good one as well).

And away we go:

1) Greenwich (Last Week – 1) – The Cardinals barely broke a sweat in a 42-7 blowout at Harding. The backs look good and the defensive line and linebackers look solid. Charles Williams is playing at a very high level right now. Let’s see how they handle Trumbull Friday night at Cardinal Stadium (on WGCH, beginning with the pregame show at 6:50).
2) Staples (3) – No, I wasn’t beaten into submission. I was impressed by the shutout against Trumbull. From Sean Patrick Bowley’s article in the Connecticut Post:

"'This was definitely a statement game,' said end Andrew Kennedy, who had a sack and two tackles for a loss to lead a defense that held Trumbull to 65 total yards, and a measly two in the second half. "

Well done, Wreckers. You made your statement.
3) Central (2) – What bothers me is the defense. Oh they can score (most points in the FCIAC), but they’ve also allowed 67 points, including 21 against Trumbull. Staples didn’t allow the Eagles on the scoreboard.
4) Darien (6) – The Blue Wave disposed of Ridgefield, and now must join the conversation. I know the opposition hasn’t been much yet, but beating Ridgefield sends a nice message. Their defense is very opportunistic. Wilton could help change my mind about the Wave this weekend.
5) New Canaan (NR) – There are teams that I hold to a higher standard, as you have learned. Greenwich, Staples, and New Canaan are those teams. It’s because of that reason that I put Darien at number four this week and not the Rams. Curtis Casali has been incredible.
6) Ridgefield (4) – I know, I know – they’re 2-2. But let’s look at the other 3-1 teams (besides New Canaan): McMahon has played Notre Dame of Fairfield (win), Greenwich (loss), Bassick (win) and Trinity (win); and St. Joseph has played Trinity (loss), Bassick (win), Ludlowe (win) and Brookfield (win). They’re both close, but I’m not convinced. The Tigers have played Wilton (win), Masuk (loss), New Canaan (BIG win), and Darien (tough loss). It’s not about wins and losses, but a feeling. It’s an opinion, and right now, I’ll take Ridgefield. The Tigers play St. Joe’s next at home, while McMahon plays Ludlowe at home. Things will shake out.
DROPPING OUT – Trinity Catholic. The bandwagon stopped long enough for me to jump off. I’d like to stay on it, but can’t after the loss to McMahon.

I wrote quickly today, since we’re up against the deadline. Before I say adios for this week, my sincere thanks to the New York Yankees. Great job, Bombers. The better team didn’t necessarily win, but the team with more heart, determination, grit, passion, and EXECUTION did win. Back to the drawing board, Mr. Cashman.

Good luck to the New York Mets, since they’re the team in New York that is still playing in October. I think most Yankees fans feel that they would rather go down in flames to the Tigers than lose to the Mets. That said, the Mets are now the odds-on favorite to win it all. Amazing, indeed. Just one thing – I was at an Oktoberfest in upstate New York yesterday, and saw many Mets fans. It’s their day to celebrate, so good for them. I also saw some Yankees fans, licking their wounds, but wearing their garb (present company and my party included). My question is – why do Mets fans feel like they have to go into hiding when the team stinks? That’s why I’m so hard on them. Be proud to be a fan of your team, no matter what. When the Yankees stunk in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was always wearing my hat, or whatever. Jets fans are very much like the Mets, but I think they show their pride much more. Come on, Amazin’ fans. Stay true. Your teams’ history is dubious at times, but that’s YOUR team. If you’re a fan, you have to be proud, no matter what. That goes for every fan.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Football Thoughts (Sports and Football)

It was a busy weekend for the WGCH broadcast team. We started by visiting Danbury High School on Friday night for Greenwich and Danbury. The Cardinals found themselves in an early battle with their longtime rivals, the Hatters. Joe Poletsky hit Steve Strazza with a beautiful touchdown pass, but that was immediately forgotten when Jeff Jordan ran the ensuing kickoff back for 81 yards and a touchdown. So the teams went to the half tied at seven in what I would call a surprise. The Cards, though sloppy, righted the ship in the third quarter and pulled away, winning 28-14. WGCH Newscenter anchor Tony Savino joined us in the booth for the third quarter.

Saturday was crazy day. Game one had Ricky, Zach and I at Port Chester High School as the Rams hosted the Nyack Indians. It almost looked like Nyack, a far-superior team, allowed the Rams to keep things close in the first half. The Rams held the Indians close, as it was 7-3 until late in the second quarter. A costly interception and a touchdown later, it was 14-3 Nyack. The game had changed. The Indians ran wild from there, and won 35-9. For the Rams, there were good things. They played hard, and scored their first points of the year. I hope they continue to build, as they once had a very proud football program there. Current Greenwich head coach Rich Albonizio is part of the Rams storied past.

The final game of the weekend took us to Brunswick’s’ Cosby Field, as the Bruins hosted rival Hopkins. The buzz was that this would be the best game of the weekend, but like all the others, it had little drama. The Bruins rolled behind the phenomenal Kevin Decker, who threw three touchdown passes in a 31-6 rout. The Hilltoppers never had a chance. The best part, for me, was an appearance by my friend and old broadcast partner Mark Rosen. Mark joined us for the sencond half.

I’ve been asked to join Tim Parry’s FCIAC Football Blog Media Poll – known as the FCIAC Football Five. First of all, after years of calling games, I’m honored to be part of such a thing. We so often toil in obscurity, and there is an inherent tension that exists between scribes and “voices.” I like the writers I come in contact with, but many writers resent us because all we do is swoop in, plug in some equipment, and call the game. We don’t have the ink on our hands. It’s a valid point, but if you listen to enough of my broadcasts, you will hear me often praising the work of the many fine writers in the area (Kevin Devaney Jr., Jesse Quinlan, Sean Patrick Bowley, and Tim, among many others). If they write it, and I use it, I mention them – plain and simple. I’d welcome them and many others in the booth as a guest anytime. Still, I can remember a hectic night at Greenwich’s Dorothy Hamill Rink for the Greenwich-Brunswick hockey Town Crown. I neglected to get the votes of a few writers for the MVP award (it was insane that night, but I guess that’s no excuse). We honestly goofed and gave the MVP to a kid who was misidentified as a goal-scorer. It was one of the darkest events of my broadcasting career, and I was humiliated by the whole thing. The Greenwich Time called us out the next day. They didn’t call me out by name, but they did mention WGCH. The fact that I’m relaying this story four years later indicates that it still bothers me. I also thought it made the Time look very shallow, truth be told. Have the courage to pull me aside and talk about it. Don’t just throw it in your paper in a “look at me, I’m a big shot sports editor” move. Believe it or not, I don’t hold a grudge. I just NEVER forget.

OK, let’s get onto my Super Six (I have to vote for six teams and Tim takes the top five). I thought long and hard about things, and thought it would be too easy to put Greenwich at number one, since I’m their so-called “voice.” I’d be viewed as a shill. I even said so during last night’s Wick-Hopkins tilt. I was all set to go with Central, who has been rolling over people. But as the dark of day hit (and what a god-awful day today is, weather-wise), I saw things differently. So…

1) Greenwich. There, I said it. Sometimes you need to take a few lumps to wake up. Danbury gave the Cards a solid punch, and Big Red responded. Jim Dunster and Jon Myers ran for over 100 yards each, and Nick Edwards will help that backfield, despite the absence of TJ Cameron. I’m concerned about the penalties, and the pass defense opened my eyes, but right now, I’m not sure who beats them in the FCIAC.
2) Bridgeport Central. They’ve beaten up on two OK teams (Trumbull and Norwalk), and demolished Bassick 56-0, making a cause célèbre of head coach Dave Cadelina, who was the first to challenge the CIAC’s “Jack Cochran” rule, with was supposed to control scoring and blowout games. (CIAC is Connecticut’s high school sports governing body – they can also be described as “clueless”, but I digress) Central’s 31-24 win over Norwalk convinced me that they’re not quite ready to be number one. Yet.
3) Staples. I can’t, in my right mind, put the perennial powerhouse any lower. Yes, they’re a different team than last year, and their schedule has been less than challenging, but they’re still a top-three team to me. I wish I could find a way to be at Kennedy Stadium for their October 14th tilt against Central. That’s when the big boys will start to beat each other up for a chance to play in the FCIAC Championship. (NOTE - I goofed. Staples and Central play at Staples on 10/14. Thanks to the anonymous poster who corrected me. --Rob 10/2)
4) Ridgefield. Something about a win against New Canaan catches my attention, and their 31-28 road win (their first in 24 years at NC) was special. I’ve read two accounts of Tigers’ QB Matt White’s game. In one, he passed for 262 yards. In another, he threw for 338. Either way, he threw for three scores and ran for a fourth. Wow – I’m impressed.
5) Trinity Catholic. Yes, I’m on the Crusaders’ bandwagon. After a team has been down for so long, it’s great to see them back. Despite a tough loss against Darien (who probably can make a big stink about not being ranked higher), the Crusaders whipped Westhill 46-20.
6) Darien. I could have taken New Canaan, but I need to see their response to the Ridgefield loss. They play Wilton next – a decent matchup. The Blue Wave’s schedule (despite Trinity) hasn’t impressed me yet.

There you have it. One last thing – one of the failures of the FCIAC Championship game is that it’s played on the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving. The problem? The risk is games that would have an impact on the championship participants might be played on Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, it’s too late at that point. Who plays on Turkey Day? Greenwich and Staples, that’s who. Possibly the two best teams (not according to me, right now) and they don’t get a chance to duke it out properly. Oh well – we can’t have everything.

Tune your radio’s, folks (or go to wgch.com)! Ricky, Nick and I will be at Cosby Field Friday night for Poly Prep and Brunswick. The pregame show starts at 6:50. Then we have Greenwich and Harding on Saturday from Bridgeport. Pregame show 1:20. ‘Nuff said.