Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Home of the Braves

Coach Rob here, to tell you that the 2008 Carmel Sports Association Soft Toss season is off and running, and our beloved Braves are UNBEATEN! That's right, due to my incredibly savvy coaching (shades of a combination of Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, and my boyhood Mahopac Sports Association coach) the Braves haven't lost a game.

The Braves haven't won a game either. We don't keep score.


Anyway, once again it's a blast for me, and I hope for the team as well. It's a good group, and I can begin to see some really good skills coming together. My own beloved Sean is a work in progress, and that's OK - if he's having fun then I don't care. That's my first goal with these kids. My next goal is to teach them a love for the game of baseball. From there it's the teamwork and sportsmanship aspect. After that, we'll worry about the intricacies. Oh there are a few tough nuts to crack - making sure that the boys (no girls on the roster) focus on paying attention and not on the dirt below their feet. Then I make sure that they are worried about baseball, and not their families or goofing around with other players, and so on.

It's easier said than done, of course.

Naturally, Coach Rob is considered the big meanie by The Son, who still shares the same abode with him. That's because I don't always let him hit first, or get him every ball and stuff like that. Instead I play very fair, and I have my rules (oh, you want to be up? Don't ASK if you can be up!).

Coach Daddy was especially in big trouble last Saturday. Top of the second...we're in the field...and it is slightly chilly. Sean is asking when we'll be done. Move to the bottom of the second, as we're batting. Sean is up and I'm ready to pitch to him (we pitch to our own team). So I run a fastball in on his hands...

OK, just kidding. I pitch underhand and I'm lucky if a radar gun would even pick up the speed. It's that s-l-o-w. Anywho...the pitch does run in on Sean, and it hits his left hand as he swings. No biggie, or so I thought. Other kids have had it happen, so I just keep on pitching.

The molehill though turns into a mountain. Think Everest.

Sean is missing literally every pitch. Right now, he doesn't even look at the ball - he just swings and hopes to make contact. So compound the chill in the air with the sore hand and the swinging and missing and the fact that he's basically done playing, and we have a situation on A shoulder-shaking, waterworks-producing cry explodes out of him and now I balance that fine line of coach...and daddy. I hugged him and tried to keep him focused. That's where I needed Coach Dave to step in and finish pitching to him, with me helping Sean swing. When he finally hit one, I had to pick him up and help him run. It was to no avail. He was done.

Again, sigh.

This is where others need to step up around me (and yes, Sandi did just that). You see, if I push him to play, then I'm big-mean-monster-uber sports dad! But Sandi and I quickly marshaled our forces to agree that he has made a commitment to play and quitting will not be allowed.

Quitting is not something I'm a fan of. But I digress.

Thankfully it wasn't an issue, and Sean was back to being himself by Saturday afternoon, and he was a solid participant at practice last night. So we've dodged the bullet for now.

I won't name the other kids on the team because parents can sometimes get offended by such things. In fact somebody recently said to me that I shouldn't even touch them (high fives, pats on the head and the like) for that very reason. I know that's the reality of our crazy world but come on!

Sad. Very sad.

Anyway, I've put some pictures up on my Flickr site. Have a look and enjoy. Comments, as always, are welcome.

Oh and I'm pleased to say that, if only for a couple of weeks, I was back with the T-ball Giants again. One of my close friends is one of their coaches, and he needed a little assistance, so I jumped in, and will do so again whenever needed. The irony is that at last Saturday's game, neither of us had a child either in the game or even at the game site. What more needs to be said about love of the game and the commitment that we make to it?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Huey Lewis and the Foos!

I mean, what more can be said? Rock Royalty recognizing the greatness and genius that is Huey Lewis. Don't look now - those of you who scoff - but there's lots of love for the boys.

I'd rather talk about stuff like this than real life. It's nicer, and it's such a lousy day here in the northeast.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yes, Some People DO Get It

Athletes typically don't have the best reputations these days. From Pacman Jones on down, there are some pretty bad guys, or guys with really bad judgment. Yet every once in a while, something reminds me that there are some really terrific people in sports.

Like Curtis Granderson.

Granderson is the center fielder for the Detroit Tigers. At 27, he was expected to continue his rise to the top of the elite players in the American League. In 2007, he hit .302 with 23 homers 74 RBI's, and 122 runs scored.

OK, he struck out 141 times (and 174 in 2006), so he's not quite elite yet.

Anyway, Granderson's 2008 - much like the rest of the Tigers - got off to a rough start when he broke his hand. After the hand had healed, Granderson went to a rehab assignment, for the West Michigan Whitecaps in Grand Rapids.

So far, this story is pretty basic, no?

This is where it gets cool. Granderson is from a family of teachers - both his parents and his sister are educators. So when Granderson hit Grand Rapids, he figured he could use his time there to do some good. Let Dave Murray of the Grand Rapids Press take it from here (and thanks to Awful Announcing for the tip).
Granderson is in town to play some rehabilitation games with the West Michigan Whitecaps as he recovers from a broken hand. With some time on his mending hands, he called Grand Rapids Public Schools and offered to spend some time with students.
Riverside Middle School was the lucky place, and if you read the article, it sounds like everyone had a blast.

So the next time Granderson burns your team (like, say, the Yankees) with a big hit or catch, remember this story. It might make the sting just a little easier.

John Sullivan is a Viking

John Sullivan, one of the best players in Greenwich High School football history (along with Ken Bell and some guy named Steve Young and others) has made the big leap into the NFL. A two-way lineman who dominated the FCIAC and the state of Connecticut, Big John was drafted today by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round - the 187th overall pick.

Analysis can be harsh, and the word on Sullivan was not the praise that one might have expected when he left Greenwich for Notre Dame following the 2002 season. Coming into the draft, said:
Sullivan has short arms, which is not ideal for a center, and he may lack some toughness, but he has smarts and is adept at knowing the offense. He was the leader of a Notre Dame offensive line that struggled mightily and he needs to show more tenacity.
To me, there's no doubting his smarts. Having called every single one of his games from 2000 to 2002, I got to know John and his family a little, and they're quality people. John joined me on WGCH on Thanksgiving Day in 2002 for a quarter and he was fun to talk with.

I'm no draft guru, but I've always thought that if he came out of school following his junior season, he would have been a high second round pick. John showed tremendous durability, starting 31 straight games until a knee sprain put him on the sideline in 2007. Of course the Irish also had, shall we say, a rather disappointing year in '07 - and that's putting it mildly. Those factors saw Sullivan's stock fall.

So congratulations to John Sullivan. All of Greenwich takes pride in seeing a good guy make it to the NFL, though I don't think anybody is surprised.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cosell Meets Lennon

Howard Cosell died 13 years ago today. With that in mind, enjoy one of the truly classic Monday Night Football interviews, as the big mouth visits with John Lennon, and gives us perhaps the first indication that The Beatles might have eventually gotten back together.

I stand firm in my belief that it would have happened - if not before 1985, then by the time Live Aid took place (in July of '85). Sadly, we lost John Lennon in December of 1980, and all hope went with him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Retired Number Debate...Again

Once again, the topic of retired numbers came up and after having some time to think it over, I decided to weigh in.

For those out of the loop, the Yankees had not issued Paul O'Neill's number 21 since "The Warrior" (yes, I'm calling him that. Sue me.) retired after the 2001 season. Finally, Morgan Ensberg was given the number this spring. Early on there was a buzz about anybody daring to wear a number that had come to be so strongly identified with somebody else. When Ensberg made the team, he opted to switch to 11 - feeling that he wasn't worthy of wearing 21.

Enter LaTroy Hawkins. By all accounts, Hawkins is a great guy - the kind you want as a teammate. The rub is that he is a middling reliever; one whom critics thought shouldn't have been signed in the first place. Hawkins' heart was in the right place - he wanted to honor Roberto Clemente, who wore 21 with the Pirates. Yet as soon as he was introduced on Opening Night, the boos began. A few nights later Hawkins got lit up and the chants began.

"Paul O'Neill!" Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap "Paul O'Neill!"

I was there and as usual, I was mortified. The guy meant no harm, yet the damage was done. It took a few weeks but finally, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter - the holdovers from the O'Neill years - told Hawkins that the number wasn't worth the pain. Hawkins gave in and changed his number to 22.

Incidentally, Hawkins has worn 32 in some of his other career stops. Thirty-two is retired for the late Elston Howard.

So here we are again, faced with the discussion of retired numbers. Only the Boston Celtics are as over-the-top on this issue (22 numbers to the Yankees current 16). The Yankees have overdone it, and some have even suggested un-retiring some numbers.

Dumb. In fact, stupid. I wouldn't agree with that.

Others have said that there needs to be standards (Hall of Famer and so on). Again, I don't agree. Sometimes a player just hits the right note (Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly).

So let's look at it again. First - I don't think O'Neill's number should be retired, yet I liked that it hadn't been issued since Paulie left. It was only a matter of time before somebody else would get it, yet my thinking was that it would be somebody of some standing. That's no disrespect to to either Ensberg or Hawkins, but that somebody needed to be a star player with "the onions" to withstand the possible abuse of wearing 21.

Let's do it this way: there are the no-brainers (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 16). I think we can assume that number 2 (Derek Jeter) will be a no-brainer. He will be, if not already is, the best shortstop in team history.

I think we're OK so far.

Next up are the people's choices and sympathy votes (1, 9, 23, 32, 37, 44, 49). Face it, Billy Martin (1) was a note of "I'm sorry" by George Steinbrenner for the idiocy that occurred during the Billy years. Roger Maris (9) was put aside to make up for the poor treatment that Raj received from the press, fans, and the team during his epic 61 in '61 and after. Twenty-three is Donnie Baseball. Not a Hall of Famer but aguy who struck a Mantle-like note in popularity. Elston Howard's 32 is as much about politics as anything else. I get it. Casey Stengel (37) was a great manager who was fired for borderline age-discrimination. Retiring his number was to make peace, and bring him back from the Mets, who also retired his number (though I'm not sure why).

Anyway, don't get me started on Reggie Jackson (44), and while I love Ron Guidry (49), I'm still baffled why his number was retired.

That leaves the one number retired due to death (15 for Thurman Muunson). Honestly, and this will hurt, but his number doesn't get retired without his sad passing on August 2, 1979. Don't get me wrong - I loved him also as a player.

Then there's the up-and-comers. I've already mentioned 2 for Jeter. What about Joe Torre's 6, Jorge Posada's 20, Bernie Williams' 51, and Mariano Rivera's 42? Rivera's out of the conversation, thanks to the still-idiotic-in-my-opinion retiring of Jackie Robinson's 42 league-wide in 1997.

Again, is Babe Ruth's number three retired league-wide? Didn't think so. Next argument. So with the retiring of 42 to Robinson, I have no leg to stand on with 32 for Elston Howard. I wouldn't retire it, but I get the socio-political ramifications here.

Back to the numbers that are expected to go. I already said I wouldn't retire 21. So...I'm not retiring 20 for Posada and (sorry, gang...take a deep breath), I am not retiring Bernie's 51. This franchise was reborn when O'Neill came along in 1992. If I'm not hanging up 21, then I'm not giving in on 51.

Again, sue me.

So in my world, here are my Yankees retired numbers:

* Babe Ruth - 3
* Derek Jeter - 2 (let's assume)
* Lou Gehrig - 4
* Joe DiMaggio - 5
* Mickey Mantle - 7
* Yogi Berra - 8
* Bill Dickey - 8
* Roger Maris - 9 (a special case)
* Thurman Munson - 15 (the guy was the Yankees' heart and soul. Again, special case)
* Whitey Ford - 16
* Don Mattingly - 23 (tough choice, but I know what he meant when there was so little to cheer about)
* Elston Howard - 32 (politics. I understand)
* Mariano Rivera - 42

There you go. You may call me crazy, those of you who love Billy Martin, Joe Torre, Phil Rizzuto, Casey Stengel (no Torre? No Old Professor), Reggie Jackson, and Ron Guidry. This is why there is a Monument Park, and I often think that it's under-utilized. That's where I hope Bobby Murcer will get honored, but would I ever - EVER - think of retiring his number? Good God, no!

Here ends the discussion. For now.

Rioting...After the FIRST ROUND?!?

OK, I've heard of the riots after the Tigers won the '84 World Series. Chicago had its share of problems during the Bulls' run. Even Boston has had a few issues as well. It happens; it's not acceptable, but at least those moments occurred after their team's had won the whole shooting gallery. You know, the title, the Championship, the Super Bowl, the ring!

But not the first round!

Well that's what happened in Montreal last night, after Les Habs eliminated the Boston Bruins for - what? - the 35th time in the playoffs?
Some 10 businesses were damaged as well as 16 cars. Some police vehicles were set ablaze during the incident and police estimate damages to their cars at about $500,000.
Way to go, Montreal.

Again, let me stress, rioting, really for anything, is NOT COOL. Especially for a sporting event.

The Mick Hits One Out on TV

Please indulge me for three minutes and twenty-one seconds. I've told you about how broadcasts used to be - well here's a prime example. Neil Best posted this at Watchdog, and it's worth a look. In case you need to know, it's Mel Allen on the call - working solo on NBC (Red Barber likely worked the first half of the game, but they didn't share the booth).

So look closely - no "Fox Box", no scroll, no insane promotions for "Frank TV", no embedded logo - just a black and white picture and only a few camera angles. It's gorgeous.

Mets/Phillies...Let's Get it ON! (The In the Stands Version)

Perhaps it's because I know that Yankees fans can be quite the asshats that it does my heart good to read about boorish behavior in other places. Not surprisingly, this comes from Philly - a town that's also known for bad.

By the way, Boston, you don't get off easy either, but I'm not here to knock you. Just a quick note - the Bruins lost last night. I'm not sure hockey fever has gripped the Hub, but I know of at least two TV's that watched the game in NEW YORK. For the record, I like the B's and wanted them to win. Alas, no.

Anywho, back to the issue at hand. Overall I don't think that Mets fans' behavoir is that bad normally...just...(oh stop it, Rob. Please be more positive).

So read the musings of those over at Deadspin and, by extension, the 700 Level for more.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Few Quick Yankees Thoughts

Another April, another brutal performance by the Bombers. Middling around .500, they're giving me no reason to believe that they will make the playoffs for the 14th straight year (it would be 15 if we could count 1994...nice work by those greedy SOB's).

So Kyle Farnsworth throws behind Manny Ramirez's back the other night and I'm thinking, Uh oh...that's going to p*ss Manny off." On YES, Al Leiter and John Flaherty make it clear that there was a purpose behind the pitch, and that while it's dangerous, a pitcher needs to establish the inside of the plate. With Nuke Laloosh Farnsworth, one never knows where the ball is going. But Manny doesn't seem bothered and the whole thing seems to go away.

Not so fast. Bob Watson, Vice President of On-Field Operations for Major League Baseball (which is akin to being a schoolyard monitor) takes matters into his own hands and suspends Farnsworth for three games.

Now, was it a purpose pitch? Hell yeah! Did he throw behind him - yup, and that's probably where he meant to put it. But if the umpires didn't eject him, and Manny's not freaking out, then let it go!

Never did like Watson anyway. Didn't like him as a player, and though he presided over the '96 World Champion Yankees, I wasn't a big fan of him there either. So it doesn't hurt me an ounce to say that he's gutless, and clearly forgets that he was once a player...and a player during the time in which PITCHERS THREW AT HITTERS. Perhaps if this was Bob GIBSON dishing out the suspensions, I'd be more understanding.

Memo to clueless Bob - Let the players resolve the matter on the field. The umpires (you know, those arbiters who often have a little too much to say on the field as well) didn't eject anybody, so it shouldn't be up to you either. I'd like to see you step back into a batters box again.

At least Mr. Watson didn't create a new rule...mid-playoffs. Colin Campbell...COME ON DOWN!

Oh, back to the Bombers. The offense is putrid and the rookie pitching ain't exactly clicking. So yes, the "why the hell didn't they get Johan Santana" watch is officially on. I stand by the decision to not trade for him, even if the rooks struggle all year.

Away from the Yankees (but from Pete Abraham, Yankees beat writer for The Journal News), I'm sorry to say that the lights on E Street are dimmed due to the passing of longtime keyboardist Danny Federici. If you're a Springsteen fan (and most of us are purely nuts...not just fans), then your heart hurts just a little today.

I know, many are sick of the hype that surrounds Yankees-Red Sox. But have a lookie at this new proposed commercial from thing that Worldwide Leader does right is their spots. This is just plain funny.

By the way, I'm not Catholic, and I'm hardly religious, but I'm watching some of the coverage of the Pope at Yankee Stadium, and it's pretty cool. Shea has The Beatles (yes, I'm jealous) but the House has hosted the Pope three times - 1965, 1977, and 2008. I'd have to be inhuman to not appreciate this fact. Just one more reason why I love the great building.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Get Your "Local Sports Feed!"

Tim Parry has been hinting at a major announcement for some time now, and it appears that he has achieved that goal. For those who love sports in Fairfield County, please welcome (and set your browsers to)...


Local Sports Feed will serve as a catch-all for Fairfield County Sports, but knowing Tim, it won't be only FCIAC-driven. Expect to see mentions of the SWC and even prep schools (he assured me that Brunswick can have their fair share of attention).

Will I play a role? Tim has already set me up with a user name and password, so now I just have to start writing some things there. I'll probably add some of my exploits with the Greenwich Cardinals baseball team (who have welcomed me with open arms), for instance. As I've done in the past, I'll probably cross-post things between here and there.

What does this mean for Tim's beloved FCIAC Football Blog? Well, to quote Tim (hope you don't mind me quoting ya'):
With a little luck and time, the FCIAC Football Blog as you know it will not die. But LocalSportsFeed gives me a chance to fulfill my dream, which is to provide some alternative high school sports coverage to Fairfield County. Football will be a main focus, but I also want to give credit to some of the underserved sports and teams within the market.

Tim is a very driven, hard-working guy who has quickly become a very close friend of mine. I'll do whatever I can to help him. What this proves to me again is how much I admire his wife, Ursula, who seems to support him implicitly in all of these efforts.

Now one of theses days, I'll get my own play-by-play website up and running!

A Little Hooky Dookie for Ya

The Internet, in case you haven't heard, is a wonderful thing. Thanks to the magic of streaming audio, great radio stations and concepts can be heard once again. Several friends and outlets, including my friend Mick alerted me to the return of WNEW, the groundbreaking FM radio station whose slogan was "Where Rock Lives."

They're back, but they're only back online. Frankly I haven't listened to it yet, but it's like having an old friend back. Check them out here. They also seem to be running a blog on the homepage, and among the entries is their list of the "Top Fifty Guitar Riffs of All Time." Let's have a lookie at the Top 10, eh?

1. Back In Black - AC/DC
2. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple
3. Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix Experience
4. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
5. Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison
6. Barracuda - Heart
7. Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
8. Natural Born Stepson - Sonny Landreth
9. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
10. Cocaine - Eric Clapton
I like "Smoke on the Water" better than Back in Black as a riff, but that's just nit-picking. I'm sure many will be angry that the mightily overplayed "Satisfaction" isn't number one (I'm sure you can hear the wimpering of Caroline Corley from 107.1 The Peak). I like the boldness of choices like "Barracuda" (I think I was eight when I bought that album), but thought they dropped the ball by leaving "Sunshine of Your Love" (by Cream, in case you don't know) out of the top 10 (it's at number 11).

So what say you? Go through the rest of the list and I'm sure you'll find something that you higher or lower, on the list or off. For instance, where's "Born to Run" by Bruce? That riff just screams warm weather to me!

Oh, and if you don't get the title of this post, "a little hooky dookie" was one of many memorable things spoken by perhaps 'NEW's most famous DJ of 'em all - "Fats", "Scottso", "The Professor", the late Scott Muni.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Off The Bench (The "Jesus, I Haven't Posted in Over a Week" Edition)

OK, I've been out of touch. That's what happens sometimes. I think I'd be more diligent if your beloved "Exit 55" was sponsored. Then I'd really feel a responsibility.

Then again, this could be a dormant blog...hint hint to those who are guilty.

Initially I was going to go "rip city" on the Yankees for the whole buried jersey curse thing. It seemed pretty lame of the Bombers to dig it up, and Randy Levine was going to be the subject of my wrath for saying his usual asinine things. I mean, really, who promoted this clown to Yankees god?

In fact, I found the curse thing humorous. Then I heard the ass clown who buried the jersey speak and my mind was quickly changed. Not only am I glad they dug the damn thing up, but I hope they do prosecute him or make him overall miserable. Besides, as I read somewhere, what if the Yankees didn't dig it up? Then we'd spend the next "X" number of years listening to the talking heads (me, inclcuded) talk about the curse of the stupid jersey.

So we can stop all of that talk about Tiger winning a Grand Slam now, right?

Kudos to those who put on the Carmel Sports Association opening day ceremonies on Sunday. It's not easy to organize such a thing - especially when it turns out that the site was double-booked - but the kids seemed to have a blast.

That's what matters. I also had a blast. That doesn't matter, quite honestly.

I hate office drama and soap operas.

In case you were wondering.

I was going to write a lengthy tribute to Pat Summit last week, but got detoured, so I'll some it up this way: that woman can coach. Sorry, Uconn fans, but I like and respect her a lot.

I don't agree with her canceling the annual meeting with the Huskies, but that's for another time. She's won eight titles. She's good.

A guy goes to Shea Stadium with his two young daughters and other family members. He has watched the Mets win, and is on his way down an escalator that isn't moving when he loses his balance and falls to his death.

There is no joke here. There are only condolences.

You just never know in life, do you?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Kids Dreams Come True

In some way, what you are going to read her might be construed as an elaborate joke. View it however you wish. Personally I would have thought this was one of the most awesome things ever.

Go here to read the details. Incidentally, these are the same people who organized the amazing Frozen Grand Central effort. If you haven't seen that, watch this.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Consider Yourself Rickrolled

Since I haven't checked in recently, I figured I had to give you something. So here - you've been rickrolled. Now, I didn't exactly do it correctly (I'm supposed to link something else here that spams you to go to the YouTbue video), but hey! How often can you put Rick Astley on your blog without VIMMing (that's Vomit In My Mouth)?

Yet since I can't find a version of the video that I can embed, play along with me here and go to this proof of unconfirmed gaming news or trailers (well that's what Rickrolling is supposed to be).

Don't thank me now.

I'll be back in better blogging shape soon. Just too much going on these days - you know, real life stuff like work and so on.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


This is one of the many reasons why I love baseball. There's nothing like this in sports - the Cubs should be dead. Scoreless through eight innings with the Brewers, Milwaukee tacks on three in the top of the ninth. So here are the Cubbies, down 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth. They bring the tying run to the plate in newcomer Kosuke Fukudome (pronounced KOH-skay foo-koo-DOH-me). Let Brent Musberger and Orel Hershiser bring you the rest...

Ah, but alas, just when you think the big Mo (that's momentum, people) is on the side of the Cubbies, one thing must

These are the CUBS!

The Brew Crew tacked on a run in the top of the 10th, and they went on to win 4-3. Folks, I've said it before, and I'll say it now - these are the games that you can not lose. When you've ripped victory away from the other team, you have to go for the kill. I think it is essential that you get the win.

Welcome back, baseball. Thanks to Mother Nature (who once told us that it's nice to fool with her), the Yankees will try again tonight.