Friday, June 29, 2007

A Proposed Trade - Off The Bench For Odds and Sods

As we hit the heavy trading season in baseball, I figured I would look to shake things up here on the Exit 55 team by sending Off the Bench to Sean Kilkelly's Rangers Lead The Way in exchange for Odds and Sods, but Sean is too savvy and knows how much I wanted Odds (and by extension, Sods) so he will no doubt hold me hostage. Then I doubt Off the Bench would pass the physical. Therefore, we continue with Off the Bench.

We'll start with the good in baseball. Congratulations to Craig Biggio. who became the 27th member of the 3000 hit club last night in Houston against the Rockies. Biggio is a somewhat local guy, born in Smithtown on Long Island and attended college at Seton Hall.

Then there's Frank Thomas, a player whom I have always liked but has a reputation for being occasionally prickly. Regardless "The Big Hurt" hit career homer number 500 last night for the Blue Jays on the road against the Twins. The fan who caught the ball returned it to Thomas, and the Twins fans gave Thomas a nice ovation.

Then Thomas got ejected for arguing balls and strikes during his next at-bat. Funny.

Congratulations to these two future Hall of Famers.

Then there's the bad in baseball. Why not start with Paul Lo Duca, who is making friends in the Mets locker room. This arse clown decided that he is tired of being the team's spokesperson and called out the Latino ballplayers for not talking to the media. This is from Peter Botte in the Daily News:

"I'll do this (interview), but you need to start talking to other players," Lo Duca announced loudly after he was approached by a radio reporter after the Mets-Cardinals series finale was washed out by rain. "It's the same three or four people every day. Nobody else wants to talk. Some of these guys have to start talking. They speak English, believe me."

Way to represent, Paulie.

Sounds like the Yankees got a huge break last night in Baltimore because Noah's Ark was floating around Camden Yards as the Yanks took the lead in the top of the eighth before the umpires brought called for the tarp. Because of that, the game is now suspended and will be resumed on July 27th. Had that inning not started, the game would have been called and the Orioles would have won.

Sure do hate it when bad things happen to Peter Angelos.

I had bad info on Imus appearing on WFAN this morning. He didn't appear live but there sure were a lot of memories for four hours.

A few weeks ago I was at Yankee Stadium for the game against the Pirates. Before the game the Rutgers women's basketball team was honored with flowery speeches, pictures and so on. Obviously they can thank a certain radio host for that publicity, but they have somebody else to thank - Al Sharpton. Why? Because for the rest of their lives, these wonderful young women will be known as one thing:

Nappy-headed Ho's.

Don't believe me? If the Imus thing doesn't get blown out of proportion for being what it was - parody and satire - then it just goes away. Then King Al gets involved and it all explodes. Now, instead of being known as a good basketball team, they're known by the above term.

Don't believe me? I was in the Stadium, and that's all I heard. I also heard chants of "bring back Imus."

So thanks, Al.

The Chris Benoit story (while not a sports story, but an entertainment story) gets sadder and weirder as it develops. I'm not one of those who is going to hold Vince McMahon's feet to the fire, but this is not good for WWE.

Critics have ripped McMahon for airing the tribute to Benoit on Monday night but as far as I know, the details had not come to light by that point. Yet there's some conflicting info concerning Benoit's entry on Wikipedia, stating that it was updated on Sunday from a computer in Stamford, CT - home of the WWE.

You know how this goes - stay tuned.

Also condolences to those closest to Rod Beck - the bushy-mustached reliever who passed away last Saturday at the age of 38. The cause of death has not been determined.

Any guy who parked his RV in the parking lot of a minor league stadium where he was playing and shared beer and fun times with fans is OK with me. Still he had his demons. Here's hoping those demons didn't cause his demise.

I wish I could go to Paris. Maybe I'd stay at the Hilton.

That, friends, is the only way I'm getting those two words into this edition of Exit 55. Otherwise it's a non-story, featuring a non-person.

The Knicks picked up Zach Randolph from the Trail Blazers, along with Fred Jones and Dan Dickau in exchange for Steve Francis and Channing Frye. The NYPD is rejoicing.

Mr. Randolph has a slight history of off-the-court troubles. Just what the Knicks needed.

The Hockey Hall of Fame opened its doors yesterday for Mark Messier ("The Messiah"), along with Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens, and executive Jim Gregory. I saw all of those players and they all deserve the honor, in my opinion.

Messier, of course, if the no-brainer of no-brainers. I've never been to the Hockey Hall of Fame - it's on my to-do list - but apparently players don't have to designate what team they will represent (a la baseball). I can imagine for Messier, that would be very tough. My heart would want him to pick the Rangers, but would understand if chose the Oilers. The guy only played 12 years and won five Stanley Cups there, compared with 10 seasons and one Cup win in New York.

But oh what a win it was.

I'm just not seeing the need for an iPhone.

I haven't said much on the job front, but I've been active. Twenty resumes went flying off this computer the past couple of days, but apparently my phone is off the hook. Or something.

A Libertarian think tank ranked New York's roads at 48th in the country. The study took into account things like road condition, tolls, maintenance and so on. Take heart though, New Yorker's.

New Jersey was dead last.

I should start a "NIMBY" watch, because I see somebody whining at least once a day in the paper. Yesterday it was a person who lives near an area where new ballfields will be built in Yorktown. Today, it's continued bitching about a proposed museum for Sing Sing in Ossining. It would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic.

Incidentally I think the museum would be fascinating.

Of course, virtually everyday I see something related to the Patterson Crossing project.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Top 20

I told you in my last post about WFAN's Top 20 moments of the past 20 years, and they have been revealed. Mike and the Mad Dog did the countdown during their show on Thursday, with many guests, though not one for each moment. Anyway, let's go through them here...and get ready for some fireworks.

#20) WFAN goes on the air (1987)
This one seemed very sketchy to me. This "sneaking" in at number 20 stinks of a little "home cooking" to pat themselves on the back. Check for some hanging chads.

#19) David Cone's perfect game (1999)
There have been two perfect games in New York since 1987 - Cone and David Wells. What made one better than the other?

#18) Buster Douglas beats Mike Tyson (1990)
This was a major story at the time, but I find it hard to believe that this was more important than the many other stories that impacted New York during the last 20 years. At least a Knicks'll understand why eventually.

#17) Mark Messier traded to the Rangers
I get it - it changed the face of the franchise, and even I thought it was huge, but I'm not big on promoting things like this as major moments. Still, he's The Messiah, and you could feel the change in the Rangers the minute this trade was made.

#16) Endy Chavez catch vs Cardinals - Game 7, 2007 NLCS
And here we Mets fans might want to not read on. I know it was a wonderful catch - one of the best you'll ever see. But Willie Mays made a legendary catch in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series that is still remembered because the Giants won A) that game and B) the Series. The Mets did neither.

#15) Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played (1995)
I love when Chris Russo waxes poetic about this saving baseball. Puh-leeze. This is still tainted in my mind because of the strike, and the fact that the Orioles wouldn't field a team of replacements because it could impact Cal's streak. The game is the thing. The Mariners racing out of nowhere to win the AL West in '95 - that's a "game-saving" moment, not the somewhat selfish efforts of one player.

#14) Roger Clemens vs. Mike Piazza - Game 2, 2000 World Series
I've long been critical of Piazza over this. I never felt he handled himself well over this whole thing (despite Russo's verbal fellatio). Yet today I heard Piazza finally concede that the whole thing was the heat of the battle; that Clemens didn't intend to throw the bat at him. It got laughed about and finally, I felt at peace with Piazza. That's the guy I always wanted to like and respect.

#13) Robin Ventura's Grand Slam Single - Game 5, 1999 NLCS
Cool moment for sure, in the midst of a fun series. How did Kenny Rogers walking in the NLCS winning run in the same series get left off this list?

#12) Mets win 2000 NLCS
This is a funny one. So by this rationale, shouldn't we include every league championship win? That would mean the Giants beating the Niners before Suepr Bowl XXV, the Knicks two Eastern Conference wins, the Devils...a number of times, and the Yankees in '96, '98, '99, '00, '01, and '03.

Oh, I forgot. The other teams worry about winning championships. The Mets celebrate little things - like painting "Wild Card Champions" on the grass at Shea, or campaigning for Paul LoDuca to be elected to the All-Star Game.

#11) Mets sign Pedro Martinez (following 2004 season)
This is where I literally vomited in my mouth, then considered smashing the radio. Exactly what has Mr. Head Hunter done since being in New York? Other than the fact that I'm still "his daddy."

#10) Mike Piazza gets traded to the Mets (1998)
Sheez, this is exhausting. Let's see, exactly how many rings did Mike get while in New York? At least one, right? No? Then I don't get it.

#9) Derek Jeter Flip Play - Game 4, 2001 ALDS
Now before you say "the Yankees didn't win", just stop, 'cause you'll be wrong. The Yankees A) won that game and B) won that series. Then they won the next series. Then they were three lousy fooking outs from winning...oh, never mind. It's an iconic play.

#8) Yanks win 2000 World Series
The least joyous five games of my life. The Yankees seemed like they didn't have much fun either until it was over. This was the first series I had ever seen where the winning team really couldn't win.

#7) Aaron Boone HR - Game 7, 2003 ALCS
Only one thing tempers the legend of this one: they didn't win the World Series. The end to a crazy night in the Bronx.

#6) Stephane Matteau goal - Game 7, 1994 Eastern Conf Final
Legendary. Talk about crazy nights? This one was nuts. The Rangers were ready to move on, but the Devils scored right before the end of regulation. Then overtime came. This is what hockey desperately needs again - a crazy nail-biting series that gets some press for the NHL, and gets people talking and watching.

#5) Mike Piazza HR after 9/11 (2001)
By this rationale, we should then see the Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, and Scott Brosius home runs from the World Series are numbers four, three, and two - right?

No doubt that Piazza hitting the home run off Steve Karsay was huge due to the return of baseball to New York and the heat of the pennant race, but are you going to try to tell me that this REGULAR SEASON home run was more important than home runs on back to back nights in games four and five of the WORLD SERIES with two outs in the bottom of the ninth?

But...the Yankees lost the series in seven, so I keep these moments in perspective. I suggest everyone do the same.

#4) Red Sox lift The Curse (2004)
An important moment in sports history but I find it hard to believe that New Yorkers put this fourth. Who exactly voted for this? I didn't, that's for sure.

#3) Yankees win the World Series in 1996
After 18 long years, order was restored to the world. Frank Torre had his new heart. The Bombers (who didn't bomb much that year) rebounded from an 0-2 World Series drubbing. Joe Torre finally gets to the big dance after some 40 years in baseball. It was a magic carpet ride. The toughest of the four Torre-era rings to earn.

#2) Giants win Super Bowl XXV (1991)
Finally a little love for Big Blue. As we're at the number two moment, you notice that the Knicks, Jets, Islanders, and Devils have all been woefully missing. Somewhere within these moments should have been a Knick moment - the LJ four-point play, Starks, Ewing...something. No respect for these franchises which shows me that New York is a baseball town and that WFAN is a baseball (and Mets) station.

Anyway, I disagree with Russo when he calls this the greatest Super Bowl ever. I still like Super Bowl XIII (Steelers-Cowboys), XXXII (Broncos-Packers...sorry Zach Fisher), or the nail-biters with the Pats and Rams and the Rams and Titans. I actually nodded off at one point during Super Bowl XXV, but I'll grant you that I was working overnight at the time. Still it was a great game with unique circumstances. We were a nation at war and patriotism was high. So was security. But the game was the star. OJ Anderson running like a horse. Jeff Hostetler running a perfect ball-control offense. Bill Parcells heading up an awesome coaching staff (Belichick, and on and on). Jim Kelly and the "K Gun" offense getting slowed to a crawl. Thurman Thomas getting ready to win the MVP...if only the kick went through the uprights.

After years of fairly dreadful Super Bowls, there was a great one, and a win for some of sports best fans.

#1) Rangers win the Cup (1994)
Only Rangers fans can possibly be more passionate than Giants fans. New York was perhaps never more intoxicated about a run than this one. People who weren't even hockey fans jumped on the bandwagon, which I'm never a fan of, but since hockey needs every fan it can find, it wasn't a bad thing. For those of us who enjoyed it, we know what Boston went through when their turn came in 2004 (I'm still in denial). The entire series was hockey at its best, with a penalty shot and back and forth play, and one team (the Rangers) unable to lock up the Cup until the fateful Game 7. And when it was over, nothing fell from the rafters except the echoes of pure joy; one collective cry of insanity. It was sports as it should be, most personified by the sign that was seen in the Garden that night:

"Now I Can Die In Peace"

Oh, listen closely today to "Fatso and Fruit Loops" because as I alluded to yesterday, the I-man will join the boys.

The FAN is Turning 20

This weekend, WFAN, the groundbreaking sports-talk radio station that many thought wouldn't last, will celebrate their 20th anniversary. The station debuted on July 1, 1987 at 1050 on the AM dial. If I recall correctly, the station debuted at 3:00 PM, replacing the former 1050 WHN, a country-music station. I know for a fact that the first voice heard was that of Suzyn Waldman (yes, "Oh my goodness gracious", the same one), who did a sports update. Then - again, if I'm recalling correctly - Jim Lampley was the first show host. The station would move to 660 AM on October 7, 1988 at 5:30 in the afternoon and in the process acquired a program named "Imus in the Morning." The station became the most successful in the country (financially, that is).

Nostalgia will be king this weekend, beginning today, as the Mike and Mad Dog radio program will play the top 20 sports moments in the past 20 years. They will have guests related to each of those moments, along with key audio from each. Expect the spring of 1994, when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup and the Knicks were a shot away from winning the NBA Finals, to be the number one moment. I've heard the Giants Super Bowl XXV win will be number two, and the Yankees 1996 World Series run to be third.

(Incidentally, Suzyn Waldman's opening sports report, and many other highlights, are located here.

Mike and Chris will be back tomorrow morning (from 6:00-10:00 AM) and they will feature highlights from the Imus show. Rumor has it that a deposed cowboy will join them live for the first time since being fired back in April. It wouldn't surprise me if that leads to the announcement that the I-man is coming back - but that is purely a guess on my part.

Come Saturday, WFAN will feature an "old timer's" roster (that is, when the Mets aren't spoiling things by breaking up the schedule). Suzyn Waldman will do an hour, as will Bill Mazer (the only time I ever appeared on 'FAN was during Mazer's show, in 1989), Russ Salzberg, Jim Lampley, and more. Many other 'FAN alums will call in as well.

While on the subject of The FAN's roster, boss-man Mark Chernoff has added a female voice who critics are ga-ga about early on, Lori Rubinson. I have not heard her yet, other than a cut here or there as played by Mike Francesa. In the one piece I heard, Ms. Rubinson said that, "in the interest of full disclosure" that she is a Mets fan. I'll be damned! A Mets fan at WFAN? I'll leave the statement at that.

To finish, Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti posted his thoughts about what life was like on July 1, 1987. You can read his thoughts here, including what the starting lineups were for the Yanks and Mets on that day.

Happy Birthday, WFAN - an important piece of the history of radio. We have had many battles, but it's still probably my favorite frequency on the dial. That is, when I'm not on 1490.

Oh, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that for the first time since DECEMBER (!!), I will be on 1490 (that's WGCH, friends) filling-in for morning man Tony Savino. I will do the news next Thursday and Friday from 6:00 to 9:00 AM and again from 12:00 to 12:30 PM.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Life in Music Titles

The other day I was checking my MySpace page when I saw a bulletin - which is basically some announcement that an individual wants all their "friends" to read. It can be one of those lame jokes, or a poll, or a quiz, or something like that - or it can be an announcement. You get the idea. Anyway, an old friend posted a "MySpace Song Thing" which allowed you to answer questions with song titles from one artist only. So I thought about it for maybe .01 seconds and started working on it. My entry is below. I've added a few witty comments to explain my logic...

Here we go... copy, paste, post again w/your answers.

Answer the questions using song titles from only one artist.

Pick an artist: Huey Lewis and the News (What were you expecting? 50 Cent? Bad Brains? John Mellancamp? Honestly, I could have used anybody - Bruce, Sinatra, The Beatles, The Eagles - but I would have let many down if I didn't go with the boys from HLN)

1.) Are you a male or female?
60 Minute Man (This was tough. "60 Minute Man" isn't a real HLN recording, but I didn't feel comfortable using "He Don't Know" as an answer. I have a live version of the boys doing "60 Minute Man" so that won.)

2.) Describe yourself:
Hip To Be Square (Uh-huh. Too easy)

3.) Describe your day?
Some of My Lies Are True (A little silly but I liked it)

4.) Describe where you currently live:
Once Upon a Time in New York City (Not really, and also not a real HLN song. Huey recorded this for the Disney movie, Oliver and Friends. I've never lived in NYC but it's close enough, right?)

5.) If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
Old Antone’s (I could have used this or "The Rhythm Ranch." Both are about destinations with great music and atmosphere)

6.) Your best friend is:
The Heart of Rock and Roll (No other best friend seemed to fit)

7.) Your favorite color is:
Blue Monday (Not originally by HLN - by Fats Domino, to be exact - but the boys covered it)

8.) You know that:
It’s Alright (Well I hope it's alright but I think we have a long way to go. Moving on...)

9.) What's the weather like?:
Trouble in Paradise (It's hot today, but we could have thunderstorms tomorrow. Could also be used to describe my life right now. Again, moving on...)

10.) If your life was a television show, what would it be called?:
I Know What I Like (I do know what I like. I have a pithy line to add here, but why do it?)

11.) What is life to you?:
Walking on a Thin Line (Sometimes more than ever...)

12.) What is the best advice you have to give?:
We’re Not Here For a Long Time (We’re Here For a Good Time) (If this is true, then we am I not having too much fun? I mean, I am having fun, but I can't seem to get all of the pieces together. Oh hell - this is too philosophical. Discuss!)

13.) Describe your ex (if you have one)?:
So Little Kindness (If I had an ex...I said IF...I guess this would be the right thing to say. Or maybe "Do You Believe in Love" or "Is It Me.")

14.) Your current love interest is?:
(She’s) Some Kind of Wonderful (That she is. But the goofy side of me had about 10 different answers for this one...I suggest you ask offline for what those songs would be)

15.) What's your favorite hobby?
Whole Lotta Lovin’ (Couldn't find any other thing to fit. Nothing wrong with a little lovin', right?)

16.) When you think of your friends you think?:
You Crack Me Up (Yep)

17.) What do your friends think of you?:
Bad is Bad (Or "You Crack Me Up" or "Hip To Be Square" but I already used that)

18.) What does your current love interest think of you?:
I Ain’t Perfect (Nope...I'm not perfect, but the next line in that song is "but I'm perfect for you." I'd like to think so)

19.) You always travel with?:
Walking With The Kid (The Son! Of course!)

20.) The best way to end a long day?:
Buzz Buzz Buzz (Come on! How could I possibly use "I Want A New Drug?" I know what you'd all think! So let's put the tongue in cheek and imply a cool frosty beverage to end a long day.)

Oh the titles that I wanted to use!! Some I've already mentioned - "I Want A New Drug", "Do You Believe In Love" - but what about "The Power of Love", "Change of Heart", "Plan B", "Workin For a Livin'", and "Who Cares" among many others?

OK, now it's your turn. Either put them in the comments, or send me an email (Assuming you have an address for me)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Oh My Goodness Gracious!

I know, that's another hideous reference to Suzyn Waldman's meltdown a while back.

Anywho, it's time to reveal the results of Neil Best's sportscasters poll conducted over at Mets...caught myself that time...Newsday.

I know many of you read this and yawn but whatever. I enjoy it. (My thoughts are after each batch of results, and my original thoughts on this poll are here)

Who is your favorite sports talk personality? (6339 total responses)
23.7% - Joe Benigno (1502 responses)
13.5% - Mike Francesa (856 responses)
7.4% - Michael Kay (470 responses)
3.5% - Max Kellerman (222 responses)
5.3% - Richard Neer (335 responses)
10.8% - Evan Roberts (683 responses)
7.9% - Chris Russo (498 responses)
2.7% - Stephen A. Smith (174 responses)
22.9% - Steve Somers (1453 responses)
2.3% - Brandon Tierney (146 responses)

Are the drugs you're taking that good when you're voting for Benigno? Have you really listened to him? His voice makes Russo's or Francesa's sound like Pavarotti. Plus he has some of the worst biases going. (My vote went to Mike Francesa)

Who is your least favorite sports talk personality? (7359 total responses)
1.7% - Joe Benigno (127 responses)
19.6% - Mike Francesa (1443 responses)
19.7% - Michael Kay (1450 responses)
4.2% - Max Kellerman (307 responses)
2.1% - Richard Neer (152 responses)
23.4% - Evan Roberts (1720 responses)
10.3% - Chris Russo (756 responses)
14.1% - Stephen A. Smith (1040 responses)
3.5% - Steve Somers (256 responses)
1.5% - Brandon Tierney (108 responses)

I get it - Francesa is arrogant. He's a know-it-all. He (and Russo) don't let callers finish their thoughts. Guess what - that's all true and they don't care! They have to get through calls because they have so many friggin calls to take! It's tough to be the best, and that's what Mike and Doggy are. Oh and Evan Roberts - at least some people understand that you're in over your head. Try working in, say, Fairbanks, Alaska first, then come back to the big town. By then you might have a clue. (I voted for Benigno)

Who is your favorite play-by-play announcer? (5477 total responses)
7.1% - Mike Breen (390 responses)
47.2% - Gary Cohen (2584 responses)
6.6% - Michael Kay (364 responses)
1.9% - Tom McCarthy (102 responses)
2.7% - Bob Papa (148 responses)
20.3% - Howie Rose (1110 responses)
6.9% - Sam Rosen (377 responses)
5.5% - John Sterling (299 responses)
0.7% - Suzyn Waldman (38 responses)
1.2% - Bob Wischusen (65 responses)

Now we begin to see the Metsy-based voting. Cohen comes in first, followed by Howie Rose before we come to Mike Breen (Mets fan by the way). Cohen might be play-by-play's version of Francesa - arrgoant, know-it-all and so on. Personally I wish he was "OUTTA HERE" (his lame home run call). I think Tom McCarthy is much underrated. He's Cohen without the obnoxiousness. (I voted for Mike Breen)

Who is your least favorite play-by-play announcer? (5246 total responses)
1.0% - Mike Breen (55 responses)
4.5% - Gary Cohen (238 responses)
18.3% - Michael Kay (961 responses)
1.5% - Tom McCarthy (79 responses)
2.8% - Bob Papa (146 responses)
3.9% - Howie Rose (205 responses)
3.4% - Sam Rosen (178 responses)
29.5% - John Sterling (1547 responses)
33.2% - Suzyn Waldman (1744 responses)
1.8% - Bob Wischusen (93 responses)

Oh my goodness gracious! Yankees win...theeeeeeee Yankees win! Are you shocked? Personally as I've said before, I've come to grips with John Sterling but would hate him if he was with any other team. I can't argue with those who placed Suzyn, Sterling, and Kay in that order though. (My vote went to Gary Cohen)

Who is your favorite game analyst? (5340 total responses)
38.2% - Ron Darling (2038 responses)
6.8% - Walt Frazier (361 responses)
28.6% - Keith Hernandez (1527 responses)
3.2% - Billy Jaffe (171 responses)
3.3% - Dave Jennings (174 responses)
1.1% - Dick Lynch (58 responses)
1.0% - Marty Lyons (53 responses)
3.1% - Joe Micheletti (166 responses)
8.6% - Bobby Murcer (457 responses)
6.3% - Ken Singleton (335 responses)

I said I had a bias. Bobby Murcer, along with Terry Bradshaw, gave me the idea to get into sports broadcasting in the first place. The Mets fans win again though. I'll give you this - Darling is good, and Keith isn't bad, but his claim to fame for me will always be Seinfeld. (I picked Bobby Murcer)

Who is your least favorite game analyst? (4760 total responses)
2.8% - Ron Darling (132 responses)
14.3% - Walt Frazier (680 responses)
11.7% - Keith Hernandez (559 responses)
7.2% - Billy Jaffe (343 responses)
5.9% - Dave Jennings (281 responses)
9.7% - Dick Lynch (461 responses)
8.5% - Marty Lyons (405 responses)
9.3% - Joe Micheletti (445 responses)
11.6% - Bobby Murcer (552 responses)
18.9% - Ken Singleton (902 responses)

This is a joke, right? Ken Singleton is quite good. Certainly better than some of these other guys. I've got nothing now - I'm feeling sick. (I picked Dick Lynch)

Who is your favorite living former NY sports announcer? (5272 total responses)
23.1% - Marv Albert (1217 responses)
9.1% - John Davidson (480 responses)
2.0% - Fran Healy (104 responses)
5.3% - Jim Kaat (281 responses)
22.6% - Ralph Kiner (1189 responses)
6.7% - Jiggs McDonald (355 responses)
13.8% - Phil Rizzuto (729 responses)
15.2% - Vin Scully (801 responses)
1.4% - Ed Westfall (75 responses)
0.8% - Bob Wolff (41 responses)

You must all be too old to remember that the great Scully was once a Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster, from 1950 to 1957. He's been the best all along. Too many of you must hold a grudge because he is so identified now with the LA Dodgers. Oh and too few of you know how great Bob Wolff still is. Shame on you. (I voted for Vin Scully)

Who is your least favorite living former NY sports announcer? (5156 total responses)
9.2% - Marv Albert (476 responses)
6.5% - John Davidson (333 responses)
50.4% - Fran Healy (2601 responses)
5.0% - Jim Kaat (256 responses)
5.1% - Ralph Kiner (265 responses)
4.5% - Jiggs McDonald (230 responses)
8.1% - Phil Rizzuto (420 responses)
2.9% - Vin Scully (148 responses)
4.2% - Ed Westfall (215 responses)
4.1% - Bob Wolff (212 responses)

Yeah, this was a slam dunk. Yankees fans, Mets fans, all sports fans agreed on this one. I don't even know how any of you could vote for anyone other than Fran Healy who for some reason, became a broadcaster following the end of his career with the Yankees, and started on Yankees broadcasts before they had the brains to get rid of him. It took the Mets a little longer. (I voted for Fran Healy)

Oh and I almost forgot, in the Greenwich sportscasting poll, Ian Handwerger won for favorite play-by-play announcer. Ian was the one who once pronounced a score as "two to fifteen, favoring the Cardinals" and called former big-leaguer Duffy Dyer "Dyer Duffy." Other titles were won by Sean Kilkelly (best at bringing his "a" game during blowouts), Mark Rosen (best impression of station owner, along with many other non-family friendly titles), Ricky Fritsch (best fourth-quarter analyst when the game was a blowout), Zach Fisher (most frustrated Packers fan during GYFL broadcasts) and Nick Angotto (best announcer that was a former Cardinal football player).

I won for all of the least favorites. Congratulations to the big winners!

And You Might Ask, "Where Does That Highway Go To?"

More road goodies for you to review and ponder!

I've kind of hinted to you about the vast "road culture" that exists on the Internet, and it seems like it's growing. There are several sites that I highly recommend to you for information, history, pictures and more, but today - I'm hitting you with a few videos.

From YouTube, have a look at the following videos, courtesy of FreewayJim.

First up, let us take a drive around New Orleans on Interstate 10 and the Business 90 Expressway (more commonly known as the Pontchartrain and Westbank Expressways):

Incidentally, I asked Jim if he used "Gimme Shelter" on purpose and yes, the tongue was definitely in cheek on that selection, but it also fit the beat of the video.

Next, a trip through The Burgh (and don't ask "what 'Burgh"). Jim takes a quick trip around parts of the Steel City.

What's not to love about the use of the classic 70's tune "Driver's Seat" by the immortal Sniff 'n The Tears (bonus points for knowing that)?

He has lots more, and I admit that I chose those two videos since they're places I've been and have driven. Plenty of other videos like that to be found on the 'net, if you care about such things!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Beep Beep! (Or, a Humorous Way To Start The Week)

Once upon a time, life was so simple. The Wife and I could be identified by cartoon characters - me as the rascally Bugs Bunny, her as the quiet, innocent yet mischievous Road Runner.

In that spirit, I give you a little discovery I found while trolling on YouTube. This is the moment that the poor suffering Wile E. Coyote finally catches his longtime rival. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

All-Star Voting

I've placed my votes for the 2007 All Star Game - even though it has become a full-on farce (you know - "this one counts"). I'm not one to stuff ballot boxes for my favorite Yankees, as you will see. Yes, I did vote for three of them, but tell me who is more deserving at their positions than Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada. You can try to tell me who is more deserving, but you'd be wrong.

Anyway, here are my 2007 All-Stars (Stats as of this morning):

American League
1st Base: David Ortiz (Red Sox - .326,13,46)
2nd Base: Aaron Hill (Blue Jays - .274,9,43)
3rd Base: Alex Rodriguez (Yankees - .326,27,75)
Shortstop: Derek Jeter (Yankees - .345,5,35)
Catcher: Jorge Posada (Yankees - .339,9,43)
Outfielder: Vladamir Guerrero (Angels - .324,13,66)
Outfielder: Magglio Ordonez (Tigers - .381,13,68)
Outfielder: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners - .358,5,37)

National League
1st Base: Albert Pujols (Cardinals - .303,16,47)
2nd Base: Chase Utley (Phillies - .322,12,58)
3rd Base: Miguel Cabrera (Marlins - .331,16,53)
Shortstop: Jimmie Rollins (Phillies - .283,13,45)
Catcher: Benjie Molina (Giants - .293,7,38)
Outfielder: Ken Griffey Jr. (Reds - .283,19,44)
Outfielder: Matt Holliday (Rockies - .359,13,59)
Outfielder: Aaron Rowand (Phillies - .315,10,39)

OK, I'll admit to one mistake - I should have voted for Jose Reyes. Maybe it's that stupid "Jose" song that Mets fans sing that made me ignore him. Either way, my bad on that one. I just looked at the ballot, forgot about Reyes, and decided that I liked Rollins. I was wrong on that.

As for catcher, anytime I hear about a team trying to get fans to stuff the boxes, it hits me wrong. I like to vote based on who deserves to go. If Paul LoDuca was a no-brainer, I'd vote for him. I looked things over, and decided that I'd prefer seeing Benjie Molina instead. That's where opinions come in. I think LoDuca's an ass-clown, so when all things are considered (cheesy Shea Stadium voting campaign, stats comparable to Molina, and Molina's better defensively), well...we have a winner.

Oh, and I was not going to vote for Mr. Bonds...unless they're going to be handing out free needles at the game. He might make it anyway since it's in his own ballpark, but he's not getting my vote. His attitude and other things makes him the wrong guy.

A Quickie - New Internet Radio Show

I dropped by Sean Kilkelly's website today, and discovered that Sean and Tommy Dee will be hosting a blog radio talk show here. They'll be talking some hoops and other stuff tomorrow night at 6:00 with a good roster of guests for their first show. If I'm around, I will check them out, and maybe even call in. Nothing like being a "first time caller, long time listener."

They're both good guys, and I'm happy to say that I've worked on numerous talk shows with them. Check them out.

PS - don't be surprised if I head to this format eventually. I miss doing a talk show, and am ready jump back into it. The internet is a good way to do this, and I've chatted with Don Boyle at SportingNewsCT about this very thing. I have a very strong idea for a show...

Good luck to the guys!

Friday, June 22, 2007

That's Life!

We start the day with happy news from the Pacific Northwest. Just after 2:00 this morning, The Wife's brother's wife gave birth to Eleanor (I'll fix the spelling if necessary - my father-in-law gave me the news over the phone). I will of course forever call my newest niece "Eleanor Rigby" (you lose points if you don't get that reference) but that's besides the point.

Mother (Gretchen) and baby are both fine. Eleanor weighed in at six pounds, seven ounces and was 19 inches long at birth. Happy dad (Michael) will be sending pictures along soon.

Congratulations to all - including The Son, who is no longer the baby of the family!

For the wife and I, that makes our 10th niece or nephew (for the record, it's six girls and four boys).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Internet Radio Revolt

From Radio

Webcasters To Air Sound Of Silence

In response to a impending royalty rate increase that, if implemented, could lead to the virtual shutdown of Internet radio in the US, thousands of webcasters plan to go silent next Tuesday, June 26, to draw attention to their industry's plight.

This "Day of Silence" is an encore of a media event that small webcasters organized on May 1, 2002 in response to a similarly royalty rate ruling from a Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel five years ago. That event garnered national attention and was subsequently followed by a rate cut by the Librarian of Congress and the passage of the Small Webcaster Settlement Act for the period 1998-2005.

Webcasters will be alerting their listeners that "silence" is what Internet radio may sound like on or shortly after July 15th, the day on which 17 months' worth of retroactive royalty increase payments are due to the SoundExchange collection organization under the terms of a recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision.

It will probably do nothing for their cause, but it's worth a try.

Graduation, T-Ball and So On

Your 2007 Carmel T-ball Giants. Front Row, from left to right: "Little" Sean and Troy. Back Row, from left to right: Casey Stengel, Michael, Zach, "Big" Sean, JP, Ethan, and Coach Dave. Missing: Gabriel, Joseph, and Ryan. (Photo credit - Sportography 877-792-9257)

I'm so jealous - The Son's baseball card (Photo credit - Sportography 877-792-9257)

"The Seans" after the trophy ceremony (Photo credit - me)

That should pretty much put a wrap on the 2007 T-ball experience. I'm very proud of each of these young boys and hope they keep playing. America needs baseball players and I'm glad each of them tried their hardest. Some were tougher to coach than others, but they were all fun to be with. I won't deny that I had a few favorites, but I treated them all the same. For those who worried about coaching The Son (that would include The Wife), those fears were unfounded. If anything, we grew closer as Sean was one of only two players that I can think of who made every practice and game. He seemed to enjoy working with me and any other coach (thanks to Coach Dave and Coach John). He always tried, and I didn't push him. He was an exceptional teammate, and the team's best landscaper. It was a great experience.

I have been asked if I will be back to coach in 2008 and my answer is "why not?" I had a blast and so long as it fits in my schedule, I will be there.

Last night, I attended the graduation of my nephew Michael - the first of my sisters children to come out of high school. My brother, mother, sister and two of her other children also attended the ceremony at Fairfield Warde High School. I have a few beefs how things were run, but when you can get through a graduation ceremony in just over an hour, then you're doing something right.

That said, it's a good idea to have somebody say "Would you please rise for the singing of 'America The Beautiful'? That will be followed by the reading of the Pledge of Allegiance." Just a thought.

Oh, and introduce the speakers. They deserve that moment.

Anyway, Michael is one of the really good people in this world but has a lot on his mind. Then again, who doesn't? If he can keep his head about him, he'll be OK. I'm extremely proud of him. He has a wonderful grace - even pulling me aside to make sure that I tell The Wife that he wished he could have invited her. I know she appreciated those thoughts.

I always enjoy being with my family - my niece Katie is great fun and my sister is one of my best friends in the world. My brother and I don't talk as often (we're not great at the "phone" thing) but when we do get together, it's best if you run and hide. No target gets away from us. Poor Katie - we apologize for the abuse we heaped on you regarding your boyfriend. We like him a lot. Honest.

Unfortunately I can't reveal too much of what the brothers were saying but if you know men at all, then you have a good idea. We find ways to amuse ourselves at such events.

For a little more on the graduation, pop over and read Tim Parry's thoughts. Why? Because as my family and I were waiting for the ceremony to begin, I looked up and there was Tim, covering the event for the Fairfield Citizen-News. Tim will have an article on it in the upcoming issue.

All of this made it easier to accept that the Yankees have lost two in a row to the Rockies.

Incidentally, it looks like we (WGCH, that is) goofed. I had told the station a while back when the Red and White Football Game would be at Cardinal Stadium. Wires seem to have gotten crossed and the long story-short is that we didn't cover the game. We apologize for any inconvenience. That being said, I wouldn't have been there anyway. I had a conflict with the Carmel Sports Association picnic and I belonged with my family (there's a subject for another day because I think some people need to rethink their priorities on that subject. Families are supposed to do things together. Then again, I'm old-fashioned). Anyway we'll be back for the coverage of GHS football - probably with a scrimmage - in the fall.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Spring Football Games

I'd be remiss if I didn't let you know that Tim Parry is back in action at the FCIAC Football Blog, and he is madly writing about the spring football games. I did not go to the Greenwich game since I had a commitment (yes, I will choose to be a dad over a broadcaster), but Tim has got all the info on the game and a new long-rumored wrinkle to the Cardinals offense - the spread passing game formation. Tim's the best - go check him out!

Quickie Poll Time!

OK, fans of irrelevant junk, polls, lists, and other minutiae, it's time to vote on local broadcasters. Neil Best from Metsday...oops, I did it again...Newsday, has put a poll about who is your favorite sports voices of the past and present. No, I'm not mentioned - which is just fine with me (besides, how would he even know me?).

So check it out here and make your voice heard!

The questions by the way are:
1) Who is your favorite sports talk personality?
I picked Mike Francesa. Maybe I should have gone with Steve Somers.

2) Who is your least favorite sports talk personality?
A no-brainer - Joe Benigno. Francesa will win this title, but Joe is my choice. Jesus what a stooge.

3) Who is your favorite play-by-play announcer?
I didn't love the choices, but I am a fan of Mike Breen, so he got my vote. I'm betting Gary Cohen will win since this is Metsday after all.

4) Who is your least favorite play-by-play announcer?
John Sterling or Suzyn Waldman will win (or lose), hands down. But for me, I'm picking Gary Cohen. He's much more obnoxious, arrogant, and a pom-pom waver than people realize. Sterling and Waldman are easy targets. It takes guts to dare to knock the mighty Cohen. Consider it OUTTA HERE!

5) Who is your favorite game analyst?
Perhaps I should have picked Ken Singleton. Jim Kaat is no longer doing games, and he would have likely been my choice. Fine - you can say I have a bias here, since I voted for Bobby Murcer.

6) Who is your least favorite game analyst?
A tough call, based on the choices. I picked Dick Lynch, since he just sounds like time has passed him by. Again, a tough call. To pick either Keith Hernandez or Ron Darling would have simply been unfair.

7) Who is your favorite living former NY sports announcer?
Hmmm...let's see. I could pick Vin Scully, or Vin Scully, or Vin Scully. In the end I went with Vin Scully. It was tough. I'm guessing it will come down to between Marv Albert, Phil Rizzuto, and the great Scully. To be fair, Vin last called a game as a New York announcer in 1958. However, since Marv is working for YES calling Nets games, I think this one might be bogus.

8) Who is your least favorite living former NY sports announcer?
Other than my votes for Scully and Benigno, this was the easiest one to call - and apparently the easiest for everyone. The overwhelming call is for the abysmal Fran Healy.

By the way, you do not have an option to write in any votes. I'm sure Neil will eventually do a poll on Greenwich announcers. I'll let you know when that's up.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Return of Off The Bench

...from Nooooo guard...six-six...OFF THE BENCH!!

A little nod to Sean Kilkelly's Odds and Sods, via Ray Clay and the once-awesome Chicago Bulls player introductions that now everybody does, and they're lame now. Back then it was original.

For a little reminder of the insanity that reigned over the United Center during the Bulls' run, have a look at this You Tube video (I especially enjoyed the SAP scroll) :

Oh don't get me wrong, there's nothing like stoic professional Bob Sheppard at Yankee Stadium, but if you want to add a little funk (with an "n") then this was the way to go.

Speaking of basketball, will somebody let me know when the Finals start? I'd like to watch, especially since Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy might be the best broadcast team working right now in hoops.

Baseball, you say? The Yankees? Yeah, I'm aware that they've kind of heated up but let's all calm down. They didn't exactly knock off world beaters during this nine-game winning streak. You see, they must now play the immortals...the owners of the big town...the Sports Illustrated cover boys (journalistic fellatio all over Omar Minaya at its finest)...the Amazins...the Mets.

I know - the Mets are struggling, but the Yankees come in with little ol' Roger Clemens. I don't like their chances this weekend.

Seriously I refuse to go back and tell you that the Yankees aren't done. Granted things look much better (are you sweating yet in Boston?) but I'm a Missouri kind of guy.

Show me!

Oh and spare me the "we own the town" crap. I don't care what anyone says - this has been the Yankees' town since The Babe arrived in 1920. Or those 26 rings mean nothing? The pendulum swings once in a while (mid to late 80's during the Mets dynasty...I kid).

Somebody actually wrote that the Spurs are better than Bird's Celtics or Kobe's Lakers. I laughed.

So it's senior prank time around the local high schools. At Hendrick Hudson in Buchanan, the students placed little alarm clocks and had them duck taped. Then they programmed them to go off at the same time. To me, that's funny right there. To the police and the administration, they don't see the humor. The students in question got in a lot of trouble, and will not be allowed to graduate with their fellow classmates.

Lighten up, Francis!

Oh and we haven't thanked Mr. Bin Laden recently for causing all of this shite. That's why I don't go to the Stadium with a backpack anymore. That's why roughly 19 students are in deep doo doo for putting cheap alarm clocks around Hendrick Hudson High School on the off chance that they look like alarm clocks.

Don't tell me that this has to do with Columbine or Virginia Tech or any other school violence. This has to do with the grownups being panic-stricken in our terrorist -threatened world. And THAT friends, is reason enough to stop worrying about oil in Iraq and go find Arse-face in the cave along the Pakistani-Afghan border.

Here ends the politics for the day.

Mike Keenan is back in coaching but as with the rest of hockey, the public is yawning. I'm interested to see Coach Keenan back - this time in Calgary. I fully recognize that there was a near-mutiny in 1994 as the Rangers collectively shut down on Coach Keenan and that the leadership of the Blueshirts captains (led by The Messiah, natch) rescued them, but Keenan was still the man who was at the helm when hockey was just about king of New York.

In New York at that time, coaches and managers included Keenan, Pat Riley, and Buck Showalter. One won a title and two came damn close. How different things might have been around here.

By the way, our friends at WFAN are running a poll about what sports moment was the best of the past 20 years. The FAN is about to turn 20 (on July 1st) so head over to WFAN and let your mouse be heard!

No surprise - the Yankees in '96 was my top pick. I'd put the Spring of '94 second (with the Rangers and Knicks, when every night was heart-stopping). I can see '94 winning but my bias is clear here.

I still can't believe it's actually going to happen, but allow me to tell you that WGCH will be going to Naples, Florida for the big Greenwich-Naples football game on November 9th. Now I'll actually believe it when I'm on the plane (or in the van - which wouldn't surprise me) but it's exciting to know that the station is planning on sending me. That's all I know for now.

Many thanks to the Greenwich Quarterback Club for their usually fantastic golf tournament this past Monday. The WGCH team was chaotic as usual, as I was told at the last minute that one of our players would be late, and that we didn't have a fourth player. A quick phone call got Zach Fisher to join us. We had to stop after 14 holes due to thunder and lightning, but I think a grand time was had. I still think there are few nicer municipal courses than "The Griff." The food was outstanding as well and everyone knows how to run a great tournament.

We didn't play that badly either - I think we were four or five over par when I turned in our card. For us, that's not terrible. Believe me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The DOT Responds

So I guess I've become "one of those people." I sent the following email to the New York State Region 8 DOT out of pure curiosity:

I've been noticing the replacement of several signs along US 202, primarily within Somers, at its intersection with NY 118, but also sporadically throughout the area of Yorktown Heights as well. In the case of each sign, the US shield is being replaced with a New York shield. I'm guessing this is just an error (and one that I'm seeing with more frequency - along US 9 and US 6) but I was just curious as to what is going on.

Many thanks,
Rob Adams

Here's the problem:Above: The right way - US 202
Above: The wrong way - not NY 202

Photos taken by Rob Adams. Copyright, 2007 and all that legal-ease stuff.

Maybe a little more explanation is necessary. US 202 is a strange road that, for much of its route, is "multiplexed" with other route numbers. That means it has another route number attached. In New York, for instance, it starts alone coming out of New Jersey in Suffern before NY 59 joins it. Then it rides alone to Haverstraw to join US 9W to the Bear Mountain Bridge where 9W leaves but US 6 joins. They ride together to Peekskill and have NY 35 jump on board (US 6 soon departs for Mahopac, Carmel and Brewster - we'll be there soon). Stay with me now, as 202 and 35 (commonly known as just "202") ride from Peekskill to Yorktown Heights. NY 118 forms a triplex there. US 202 and NY 118 lose NY 35 at Amawalk and ride to Granite Springs (which is where the above pictures were taken). The route then goes to Somers, where it used to have a multiplex with NY 100, but that ended about 15 years ago. At Croton Falls, 202 hooks up with NY 22 and continues to Brewster where it's joined by...sing along, people!...US 6. NY 22 drops out and US 6 and 202 ride off into Connecticut together.

I promise I will not break down route 202's "partners" in Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Maine. Let's just say they're plentiful.

In other words, it wouldn't have surprised me if somebody decided to "demote" our friend 202. But not so, says my new friends at the DOT:

Dear Rob,

The difference in the shields you've seen on the signs you wrote about don't indicate any kind of re-designation of the roadways -- the NY shields on those signs are a mistake. I appreciate you pointing it out. Our sign people have been notified of the problem and will review the situation and correct it as the opportunity presents itself.

Thank you for sharing your concern with us.

So I have indeed become "one of those people." I was just curious and now because of my big freaking mouth (or keyboard, in this case), the signs will be fixed. All "thanks" to me. Oh well - no harm was intended and for most part, I have found that none of you even notice these things.

Plenty more to talk about and I'll try to catch up if I think it's necessary and relevant. As usual, there's plenty of stuff that I can't talk about. Let's just say it's not a really happy time for me, but I'm trying hard to get through it and move on. I'm becoming more private and even less "talking about the past" than ever before, because I need to simply move forward. Oh, and forget about that last job interview thing that I mentioned. I think I wasn't uptight enough for them, and I don't think they liked the way I did their Excel test. Let me tell you that I can do Excel stuff in my sleep, but the reality was that I wasn't going to be moving to Maine for a job, even if it was with a company that I would love to work for.

Or shall I say that I would have been moving to Maine...alone.

Gee, ain't life grand?

The Graduate

There will be no references to Mrs. Robinson here, as we are talking about the graduation of The Son. He received his diploma from Pine Grove Country Day School last night, and I couldn't be prouder. He and his class sang songs, walked across the stage in caps and gowns (The Son didn't like the gown), and even danced - tap, no less! They were also each asked what they want to be when they grow up. I had a clue what Sean would say when his turn came, as he had hinted something about that to me recently. After telling us that he wanted to drive heavy machinery, or be a fireman, or something like that, he had recently changed his mind and told the entire audience that he wanted to be...

A baseball player.

That and a few other moments produced some near tears for me. The night was priceless.

This is before the ceremony, and I hope I'm not offending any parents by putting this picture up of their kids. From left to right - Sean, Aidan, Christian, and Ryan. Ryan is the son of a childhood friend of mine from my old neighborhood, while Christian and Aidan form, with Sean, the tightest trio of friends that their teacher has ever seen in over 20 years of teaching. They will each go to different schools in the fall, so we're all hopeful we can keep their friendship alive.

Before we move on, I have to give you some video of the now baseball prodigy. This is The Son's last at-bat of the 2007 season. I had the idea that each player should be allowed to end on a home run, thinking that every kid should know what that feels like because many might never know it. This is The Son's moment.

We will celebrate the season at the league picnic this Saturday.

Monday, June 11, 2007

NCAA = Clueless?

Just read. As a blogger, reporter, and broadcaster, I find their stance to be BS. I see this style of reporting go on all the time at every level. What next - discussion boards that do this same thing will get shut down by the NCAA?


Like A Ricotta Pie To The Face

"The Sopranos" ended their brilliant run last night with an episode that made me (and most viewers) say the following:

"That's it?"

Adding to the long line of series enders, the finale was nothing short of disappointing. I'm talking about the farewells for "MASH", "Seinfeld", "Cheers" and others. Very few ever get it right (perhaps "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"). Feel free to remind me in the comments of finales that were satisfying to you.

I don't have time to write much more right now. Job hunting, cleaning the yard, and going to the Greenwich High School football golf outing take precedence today.

Before I run, apparently not everybody thinks the finale was lame. An unnamed writer with AP feels it was "brilliant."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Emails and Stuff

UPDATE!! I had a nice exchange via email with two reps from XM - Music Director Bob Moke and "Station Master" Marlin Taylor. They each explained to me that XM didn't have the online rights to the D-Day audio from NBC Radio, and as Bob said,
"I’m not at liberty to discuss any of the why’s, when’s and wherefore’s (which you may understand)."

I absolutely do and while I'm bummed at the way their website handled it, I appreciated their professionalism. It's too bad that these online rights are so stupid, especially since we're talking about recorded history from a very important day in the 20th Century.

In case you're wondering how CBS handled that day, check this out.

I'm also having an email exchange with somebody from the New York State Department of Transportation on a road subject that I was curious about. Guess I'm getting bold and inquisitive in my old age. Anyway it's not something that any of you will care about but I wanted to know why the various contractors are screwing signs up lately. For instance all over the area of Somers and Yorktown, I'm seeing the wrong shields used for a particular route. I wondered why - not uncommon among road geeks.

Allow me to show you what I mean:
The sign on the left is wrong. The route 6 shield should be a US shield, not a New York shield.
This is correct. Incidentally both pictures were taken by me.

When you mock me, be kind. This is my hobby and it's unique but I'm not hurting anybody, right?

Oh, and thanks to Mick and Sean for their comments. Please go tell Mick that he doesn't have to post only on Thursday's - despite the name of his blog. It's "gangsta" to do something out of sequence!

Speaking of, here's a refresher of The Sopranos up until this season began. This should load you up for the finale on Sunday night. Lots of wild theories floating around.

D-Day...Just Not Online

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army's First Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach.

The other day I told you about XM Radio's channel 4 planning to play back the original audio of the D-Day invasion, as it happened on NBC Radio in 1944. I was so excited that I set up my little recording system just after midnight this morning so I could hear it and continue listening during the day. After listening to some of it, I could tell that something was wrong. Finally I heard a voice say that the broadcast could ONLY be heard on a satellite radio, and NOT on their online service.


This would be acceptable if they had made that clear on their website, but they did not. Bad form, XM. I honestly think I would have gone out to my car and tried to hear some of it had I known.

Anyway, that's a loss for an historical radio nut like me, but it doesn't dim the image I have of the brave souls who knew they were fighting the fight of fights that morning in France. See Saving Private Ryan for the best example of how bloody and brutal D-Day was. If you want a history lesson about it, start here, or Google away!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Thoughts While Driving

I'm kind of bored with the "Off the Bench" moniker, so it's taking a break.

Right off the bat, let's go to "The Sopranos." I hate Instant Classics, but that episode was awfully close. SPOILER ALERT...Down goes Bobby, down goes Sil, Tony's hiding in a bedroom with a rifle, AJ is acting like Fredo, Melfi gets medieval. Is that everything? Not even close.

How exactly does Paulie fit into the finale? BADA BING!

PS - Never disprespect the Bing.

So basically A-Rod told Boston, "mock me if you want, but I got your blonde wigs right here."

Then he hit one to the Prudential Center to help the Yankees win two of three. It could have been a sweep but the Yankees decided to play worse than the Carmel T-Ball Giants on Saturday.

Then, as they have done time after time during this putrid season, they take whatever momentum they build and prove the old axiom that momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher. Matt DeSalvo was dreadful and the Yanks lost to a reeling White Sox team. So I will say it now:

It is over. This team is done. Joe Torre will manage the rest of the year, the Yankees will miss the playoffs, and sweeping changes will come for '08. I see nothing positive with this team.

This is not a knee-slap reaction. This is logical, rational thinking.

I'm not known for being an animal person, but this story bugged me. Look, I love horses, and am fond of dogs, and have owned cats for as long as I can remember. But what's most troubling to me about this story - where this arse clown in London eats dog meatballs - is that it's the meat of a Corgi. I know a corgi, and we're very good friends.

Of course, Yoko Ono was there and she ate some of the dog meat also. Um...OK.

I have a Yoko comment, but nothing good will come from it. Moving on...

Paul McCartney is supposedly a little frisky in the latest edition of The New Yorker. Haven't read it yet but have heard some of the rhetoric, where Macca takes some shots - including at Oasis, Coldplay, and U2. So to answer the question, Sir Paul will be angry when he's 64.

I read a lot of media critics - especially sports media critics. I admit that I have read Bob Raissman for as long as I can remember. Most of the time I think he's dead wrong and as I have said, he has a flat out bias. He has long mocked Mike and the Mad Dog, Suzyn Waldman, John Sterling and others. This past Sunday he put a whole new spin on his own form of hypocrisy. He defended Ms. Waldman - whom I have also defended at times - in the face of criticism from, you guessed it, Mssrs. Russo and Francesa for picking on Suzyn after her Roger Clemens meltdown. This from a guy who has called her "Ma Pinstripe" for years.

Laughable, Bob. The best part was Francesa calling out Raissman and Michael Kay, both of whom were called "jerks", and ripping on 1050 ESPN's ratings.

I read Raissman because he frankly pisses me off most of the time, but I'm starting to find that Neil Best is, well, best of the critics out there. He doesn't seem to have a bias, and that's refreshing. Plus his blog is interesting. Go read him in Newsday - which I admit I would not read if it wasn't online, because it's too much of Metsday for me.

The Journal News really could use a media critic again - especially a sports media critic. They had one (Jane McManus) but I often felt she was flying so high being a feminist sports media critic that her opinions were often skewed.

I would be open to the job for a fair salary...since the "Rob in New Ro" era ends this Friday. Perhaps more about that later.

Many thanks to JoJo for her fun-filled party in her new abode. She definitely put the "warm" into "housewarming."

I don't care how hot it was in that apartment - good food, people, and laughs will get you through anything.

History alert! For those who have XM Radio, their "40's on 4" channel will be running the actual audio, as it happened, from NBC Radio's coverage of the D-Day Invasion. Now think about this - reports that were coming in from 1944 when radio was all that we had for up-to-the-minute info. The bad news is that the rebroadcast starts at 12:41 tomorrow morning. The good news is that it runs through 5:45 tomorrow night.

I really get into these "as it happened" types of things (think September 11th, 2001, and the JFK assassination), so I'm going to try to hear at least some of it.

Charles Nelson Reilly died on May 25th, and I just found that out. If you do not know who CNR was, then I feel badly for you.

Two words: Match Game. (Could be Match Game '74, '75, etc, but it makes no difference). He, Brett Somers Richard Dawson, and Gene Reyburn MADE the Match Game what it was, and it was often hysterical.

It would be too easy to pick on Billy Donovan for his flip-flopping on the Orlando Magic job. He had a change of heart. Why in the world would the Magic want him to stay, or make him miserable? They're feeling like they've been stiffed, and they have, but the bottom line is that nobody looks worse than Donovan himself.

That's why it's too easy to pick on him. He did it to himself.

I guess David Beckham is having second thoughts as well. What, you didn't know that arguably the most popular soccer player is supposed to be with the team in LA. Then he discovered that money can't buy everything.

Let's finish with some video, shall we? Want to go from LA to Richmond, VA and not leave your seat, all within 3:55? It's well-edited and kind of funny, plus the music is cool. Oh, but you're going to have to look at a few more toilets than you might want to. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, June 01, 2007

More Music Madness

As I listen to Sgt. Pepper, I must note that today is the today the record was released in the UK. The 40th anniversary of the US release is tomorrow (June 2). There will be multiple tributes throughout the weekend, including an all-star live re-recording on BBC2.

Incidentally, it seems not everybody was thrilled with The Police's opening show. Specifically - drummer Stewart Copeland. It's refreshingly funny. He, by the way, is the one who I heard refer to the lead singer of his band as "Stingo" and the name stuck with me. Read his take on the concert here.

Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't invite your input on Sgt. Pepper and what you think is the greatest album ever. That's the beauty, as always - there's no right answer. I'm not asking for your favorite album (I've already told you which Beatles album is my favorite, and I'm quite honest when I say that Huey Lewis and the News's Sports is my all-time favorite). I'm asking for an unbiased take on what album is the best - whether you like it or not.

Here is Rolling Stone's take on their top 20 (go to the link to see the rest of their...gulp!...500)
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
2. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
3. Revolver, The Beatles
4. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
5. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
6. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
7. Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones
8. London Calling, The Clash
9. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan
10. The Beatles ("The White Album"), The Beatles
11. The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley
12. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
13. Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground
14. Abbey Road, The Beatles
15. Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
16. Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan
17. Nevermind, Nirvana
18. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
19. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
20. Thriller, Michael Jackson

Kind of hard to argue with it, but I'll try. I think both War (#221) and Boy (#411)are the two best U2 albums, yet they are ranked far below The Joshua Tree (25), Achtung Baby (62), and All That You Can't Leave Behind (139). As usual, this is all symbolic of nothing, except that I sometimes have no life and love to dig into this stuff.

Besides it beats arguing about A-Rod screaming into some infielders ear. Despite the idea of sportsmanship, there's also gamesmanship, as with the infamous ball slap in the 2004 ALCS. It wouldn't matter if it wasn't A-Rod. Ugh...I'm getting annoyed just thinking about it.

Oh well, rock on!

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

June 1, 1967. It was the dawn of the Summer of Love. Things were simpler - sort of. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House. The Vietnam War was in full swing. The St. Louis Cardinals were on their way to the World Series, where they would take on the Boston Red Sox, in the midst of their "Impossible Dream." The Green Bay Packers had won Super Bowl I earlier in '68 - but it wasn't called "The Super Bowl" yet. My parents were enjoying life the home that they had bought just three and a half years earlier. They had one daughter and one son...and I was still about 17 months away from joining the world.

And the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The debate will always rage. Is it the greatest album ever? Some prefer Pet Sounds, or Nevermind, or The Joshua Tree. Some will say that it's not The Beatles best album, choosing the "White Album", or Revolver.

Personally, I'm a "White Album" guy, just because I think it's often too easy to pick good old Sgt. Pepper. So yeah, my favorite Beatles album is probably the "White Album" but when you come right down to it, Sgt. Pepper is the greatest album ever.

It had everything, and was ahead of its time. Brilliant album cover art? Check. Lyrics on the back? Check. A gate-fold with a picture of the band? Check. Even (in the right editions) cut out art? Check!

Of course, this is just the appetizer. Look at the cover.

Had anything like that EVER been seen before it? We won't even delve into the "Paul is dead" clues that are littered all over it. Just the sheer magnitude of it - the cut out pictures surrounding the band, flowers - the color! Little known fact: John Lennon wanted a cutout of Hitler to be in the picture, but was vetoed. Probably a good call.

Now, pick up that vinyl thing. You know - the record. Yes, it's a CD now, but it didn't initially have all of the songs in one shot. Of course, you had to turn over the record, or cassette. Here's the album order (each link opens up the songs' entry on Wikipedia):

Side One
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" – 2:04
"With a Little Help from My Friends" – 2:46
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" – 3:30
"Getting Better" – 2:49
"Fixing a Hole" – 2:38
"She's Leaving Home" – 3:37
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" – 2:39

Side Two
"Within You Without You" – 5:07
"When I'm Sixty-Four" – 2:37
"Lovely Rita" – 2:44
"Good Morning Good Morning" – 2:43
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" – 1:20
"A Day in the Life" – 5:33

(All songs written by John Lennon/Paul McCartney, except "Within You Without You", which was written by George Harrison)

Imagine you've put the needle on that record for the first time. Right off the bat, you're mesmerized by the title track, with its crowd noise, horns, and acoustics, it's like few things ever heard. Here is this fictional band that you will be spending the next stretch of time with, and they will be glad to entertain you. Soon you hear perhaps the dawn of psychedelia with "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Check out "She's Leaving Home" with its plucking strings and harp. Then finish the first side with a trip to the circus. Unreal.

Side two kicks off with Harrison's "Within You Without You", a strange rock song for the time drawing on George's fascination with Indian themes and instruments. From that we turn to McCartney's sweet "When I'm Sixty-Four." Then following a reprise of the title track, we're smacked right in the solar plexus by the opus "A Day in the Life", which upon further study reveals that it is truly two songs - one by Lennon and the midsection by Macca. To top it off, the listener gets the remarkable combo of the orchestral noise and that final E-major chord, played on three different pianos.

In fact, if you are so inclined, read about the entire album at Wikipedia. Wikipedia has its flaws but I think you'll find hours of fascinating reading.

The album's impact on pop culture has just been amazing. Many lines from the songs are often stated today and are quite memorable. For me, I can't say the name "Rita" without that person being "lovely" or a "meter maid." Consider some others:

"I read the news today...oh boy"
"It was 20 years ago today."
"I get by with a little help from my friends"

The album has been parodied, mocked, criticized, and adored. Still everybody knows it, and when it finally hits the digital age (and it's coming soon), it will move into another generation.

Like so many other things in our culture, we take it for granted. Sometimes we have to step away and hear or see or read things as fresh as possible, thus giving them another chance. I've had to listen to The Joshua Tree again and get rid of my past feelings about it to finally appreciate it. Elton John had become a cartoon to me, but a review of his 60th birthday concert a few weeks back reminded me of his greatness - especially pre-1980. I'm sure you have examples of the same kind of thing where you had a bias, or just didn't like something for whatever reason. For many, they hate The Beatles, and Sgt. Pepper. I implore you, as we sit here on the 40th anniversary of its release, to give it a fresh listen. At that point, with a free mind, you might understand what we've all been amazed by. Even I need to hear it again from time to time because, like I said, we take it for granted.

It's going to get another listen from me today.

Happy Birthday, Sarge.