Monday, June 30, 2008

Bobby Murcer Update

From the Yankees:
Bobby Murcer continues to recover from the effects of cancer and shingles, which caused him to cut short his broadcasting work and his book tour earlier this month. He has been under medical care in Oklahoma City.

The cancer treatment over the last 18 months has been intensive and has, as a side effect, somewhat compromised his immune system and made the fight all the more challenging. While he has shown some measured improvement in recent days, this is clearly a major battle, as all who have been through it understand.

Bobby remains hopeful that he will be able to resume his broadcasting work down the road, but for now, is appreciative of the thoughts and prayers of his fans, and wants them to know that he is aware that he is in their hearts, as they are in his.
Let's keep thinking good thoughts.

But Did His Apartment Smell of Rich Mahogany?

From Gawker comes the news that the real Ron Burgundy has passed away.

Cajun Boy has the scoop.

I raise my Glenlivet to you, good sir.

I Should Have Had a Hot Dog

KeySpan Park, Brooklyn - 6/29/08

The Renegades played the Cyclones in Brooklyn on Sunday. It was my first trip to Coney Island, and maybe my sixth trip or so to Brooklyn. I can tell you that, if you're a baseball fan, it is worth the trip - about 75 miles and a two-hour drive for me.

Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to stroll the boardwalk, or go to Nathan's for a few dogs. I believe that there will be a next time though!

And a big nod to my radio partner, who nudged me to move my car. I know it was safe on 22nd St, but Sean said he'd just feel better if I moved it into the actual stadium parking lot. OK by me.

The Gades beat the 'Clones 6-4, and despite awful weather, Sean and I had a good call. For some unknown reason, the "radio booth" at KeySpan Park is outdoors. Now many booths are open to the elements, but this is basically a two-tier terrace with an overhang that covers the upper tier. Normally Sean and the great Warner Fusselle (the voice of the Cyclones) work on the lower tier, but that was not possible with thunderstorms coming through. Yet even on the upper tier, you're still not protected when the rain is pouring in at an angle. We used towels and an umbrella that I brought to keep a laptop and our radio equipement dry.

It's always a thrill when somebody like Mr. Fusselle, who's been the voice of the Cyclones for their whole existance, and was well-known as the narrator on "This Week in Baseball" (with Mel Allen), takes the time to recognize you and say that he's heard about you. I think he even gave me a mention during his broadcast.

Whatever it is that I'm doing right, I'm not going to change it! There's something to this whole karma thing, no?

There's more news on the Gades/radio front, but I'm going to wait a little longer before I reveal it. Well, then again, let me just say I have a new talk show, and it's called "The Tailgaters." OK, that's enough.

And it will be on weeknights. Five nights a week. At least for the summer.

Like I said, I'm not going to reveal any info.

Or not.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Decent Grade

(The view from the home radio booth at Dutchess Stadium, as taken by me)

Well the first thing I'll say is that I wasn't awful for last night's game between the Yankees and Renegades at Dutchess Stadium. I might allow myself a "B" grade.

I arrived at the ballpark around 4:45, and was able to grab a free parking spot with four simple words:

"I'm broadcasting the game."

Hmmm...that was easy (hit the Staples button now). After parking close to the stadium entrance, I went to the lone open gate and said something identical to the young man who smiled and let me in without incident. He wondered if I was there for a birthday party. No, but that would be cool.

So up to the booth I went - no media credential, no real identification, but we were still well over two hours before first pitch.

I found my partner, Sean Ford (a cool article about him is here), and without a word, or even without turning around, he handed me the much-desired credential. Now I was (and am) official.

Oh how things have changed since I last did a Gades game in 2003. You used to have to wait for the lineups to be posted on a wipe off board in the small press box. Now you get a pre-printed scorecard, with the lineups and roster. That being said, even with the smallest handwriting, it's kind of tough to keep score on it. So thanks anyway...

While I had gotten there early, I probably wasn't early enough. Batting practice was already over, so there was no chance to mill around, meet players, and watch Sean do his interview with manager Joe Alvarez. So instead Sean and I talked, watched the crowd gather outside the gate (there's something really cool about being on the inside before anybody else), and did the things that we normally do (hey I can't reveal all of the trade secrets).

I wouldn't be a good dad if I hadn't at least looked in the Renegades' store, but I was unconvinced. I'd like to get a hat for myself, and maybe a T-shirt for The Son. They'll personalize one for you on-site.

So it was back to the booth to watch the crowd. The vantage point is on the upper level, and looks right down on the main gate, where the gang from K-104 (a sister station to the HV Radio Network) were entertaining the throng. Good times for all.

While watching the crowd file in, I saw that they were handing out free caps for the kids. That got me to wondering if I could get one for Sean (Adams, not Ford). So I strolled down to the gate, asked one of the people there what I needed to do, and the simple answer was, "Here you go."

(UPDATE - I later found out that the hat, which had a rival radio station on it, should have had the logo of one of our sister stations. There's more to that controversy, but that's all I'm going to say about it.)

Staples button, again please.

Of course, a broadcaster should never work on an empty stomach. Yet broadcasters are, by and large, cheap and broke. I'm not necessarily cheap. Anyway, free media food is the name of the game (except at Yankee Stadium) but that means you hope the food shows before air time.

Or, as we do at Cardinal Stadium, I take a bite and let my partner (Ricky, Sean, Nick, etc) talk. Then we switch. The food doesn't come up until halftime, so we just improvise.

On this night, the food came along at 6:30...fifteen minutes to air. Chicken fingers, ziti and meatballs, and french fries. Yep, PERFECT for a diet. It was still pretty good.

Onto the game. Sean and I have settled into a format, where I open the broadcast with a pregame comment, then Sean runs his interview. I return with a "Sports Blast" (an update), then Sean and I hopefully have time for the lineups. ball.

The first three innings went by without incident - we were scoreless. The top of the fourth came along, and after four years, it was time to see what I could do. I took over the call, and got along OK. I was at the mic for a great defensive play...

I also got to call the Renegades first runs of the night...

The Renegades would go onto win, 3-1. I'd have to say I felt good overall, and wasn't even as nervous as I thought I might be. I'm going to KeySpan Park in Brooklyn today to join Sean (yes, Ford) for the Gades and Cyclones. Hope you tune in.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Back Where I Belong (Hopefully)

(Me in the booth at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard - Bridgeport, 2002)

I'm not a overly-confident guy. Those of you who know me pretty well understand that. Thus when I speak with any kind of confidence, it's almost worth alerting the press.

That being said, I think I'm a good broadcaster. I believe this because I'm surrounded by outstanding broadcasters, be it Tony Savino in the mornings on WGCH, or The Killer and Nick Angotto, John Spang (and others) helping me call games. I learn from each of them, and hopefully teach a few things as well.

It might not surprise you to know that I keep a database of broadcasts. For the most part, I know when I've been on the air. Most significantly, I can pretty much find any game that I've called, dating back to my first one on the radio (April 10, 1999 - Greenwich vs. Port Chester in baseball). Since then, I've called many other games in all of the "big" sports - football, basketball, hockey, even lacrosse and softball. Yet all along, despite being the "voice of the Cardinals" (and no, I don't believe that) and probably being most closely associated with Cardinal football, I still believe I'm a baseball guy first.

It's the sport I've given my heart to. It's been with me for as long as I can remember. And it's the sport that I haven't called in over four years. My last game was Greenwich and Danbury in the CIAC Class LL Semi-final on June 8, 2004 at Muzzy Field in Bristol.

That changes tomorrow.

For four year, I begged and pleaded. I tried to get back to doing Renegades games (I called some from 2001-2003) yet I never seemed to have the right contact. I offered to do things on the Internet, and often said I'd work gratis. THAT'S how much I wanted to do baseball.

Now I'm finally back with the Gades, and I get to head out to the park to broadcast their Saturday evening contest with the Staten Island Yankees. When I met with Gades' voice Sean Ford a few weeks ago, I talked about joining him at Dutchess Stadium for a few games. He was cool with it, but he had one provision: "You're going to have to call the middle three innings." I guess I can live with it.

I believe I'm a good baseball broadcaster. A very good one. But it's been four years and I'm hoping it's just like riding a bicycle. So yeah, color me nervous.

Oh, and not only do they stream, but the games are archived. How cool is that?

I'd be pleased if you tune in. You can also hear us on the AM radio dial at 1420 in Peekskill (WLNA), 1260 in Beacon (WBNR), and 920 in Kingston (WGHQ).

Gary Cohen: No Animosity Here

I've been accused of Yankees bias/anit-Mets bias before, and it's all good. I think I'm harsh, but fair when the subject comes up. You're obviously entitled to your opinion; so be it.

That brings me to Mets broadcaster and Yankees hater Gary Cohen. It is no secret that he and Howie Rose (Mets radio voice) hate the Yankees with every ounce of vitriol they can muster. I've long thought that Cohen (and Rose for that matter) is an exceptional broadcaster, but have also long-criticized him for his amazingly lame home run call ("and it's OUTTA HERE"). To me, the truly greats don't have a shtick. Yet that's not why we're here tonight.

Neil Best has done the dirty work again
, noting that Cohen, calling today's Yankees-Mets debacle in the Bronx, said:
"Of course the thing that the Yankees never talk about is the fact that A-Rod is still twice the shortstop that Jeter is, but you're not allowed to say that here."
Of course, as I'm writing this, Jeter hits a monster RBI double to the base of the wall in right center. But he, ya know, sucks, right Gary? He's only to get perhaps 4000 hits, and is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Oh and those four rings are just candy, right?

How exactly do those sour grapes taste?

Let's be clear, before you get your David Wright Underoos in a bundle. I'm not saying Cohen is worse than, say, John Sterling. Hardly. I'm saying that while I appreciate Cohen's candor, he needs to be better than this. But then again, I guess he doesn't care, as he has the job he coveted his whole life (a la Michael Kay), and basically has carte blanche at the House that Minaya Wrecked.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dick Gregory Supports the I-Man

Legendary comedian and activist (Haysooz I hate that word) Dick Gregory was on with Don Imus, the morning following the I-Man's Pacman Jones incident. Mr. Gregory was initially going to be on to salute the life and legacy of George Carlin, who died of a heart attack on Sunday. Knowing he would be on, I held my breath waiting for Gregory to have his say regarding Imus, the so-called "racist." If anybody was likely to call Imus out, it would be him.

After discussing Carlin for a few minutes, Imus attempted to turn the discussion to Pacman...err...Adam Jones. Gregroy took over, "Wait, wait, wait, don’t do this. Let me say it first..." and off he went. Part of Gregory's point was that the critics are never going to believe that Don Imus - he of the "nappy headed ho's" - would ever be holding a discussion regarding racial profiling.

In other words, the critics were hosting a witch hunt. Hmmm...I think I might have said that just recently.

Gregory got what Imus was saying on Monday morning. He summed it up this way: "There’s some serious stuff out here and I’m satisfied.. I would be the first one to call it out if I thought it wrong, 'cause I don’t have to play nobody."

So, you were saying, Mr. Sharpton?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Imus Follow-up

We've been through this crap before, and clearly Don Imus isn't going to go through it again.

Blowhard Al Sharpton said the I-man's comments "plays into stereotypes", and will decide over the next few days whether or not to protest.

Bring it on, because guess what, Al?

This is a witch hunt. And Imus isn't going to take it again.

This morning, Imus came on the air and firmly defended what he said as sarcasm. This time, there are no apologies or appearances on Sharpton's show.

If any of you have been listening, you'd understand the drill. But you don't - you just all want to judge and assume without having a clue.

The other day, I called my brother "a son of a bitch." It was a joke and we were all laughing. Now, if that had been printed, or only used as a sound byte, you could infer that I was seriously chastising my idiot sibling. See the difference? The people around us knew that Doug and I were doing our usual routine - yet taken out of context, you can spin the whole thing into some kind of attack.

People want blood again, and this time, it isn't happening. Go away...nothing more to see here. I'm sure there's another ambulance to chase somewhere else.

Stephen Kaus provides a solid defense here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Here We Go Again

I like Awful Announcing, but some days, I think the guy is just being politically correct for the sake of being politically correct. So now let's watch and see how this develops...

So he's going on about Imus - obviously another person who once again has no clue. Then there was this regarding Dick Enberg, because Mr. Enberg used the word "slave." Haysooz Cristo...Dick Enberg is so freakin' smart and such a student of history that a) He wasn't saying anything racist, and B) He was making an historical reference.

GOD! Stop trying to stir up stuff simply because you write a pithy blog. You're better than that, but sometimes...

Oh I had such a rant written here, but I won't. Let's just say that I wonder how people believe they're qualified to be critics sometimes.

There, I feel better.

This HAD to Be Done

There's nothing I need to add to this.

If You Care About Such Things...

For those who read the blog and want to keep up on pictures and stuff, I have uploaded more to my Flickr site. I just put up the shots from this past weekend in Pennsylvania, but there's plenty of Sean's baseball and Kindergarten show pics to keep you occupied as well.

Of course, if none of this is of interest, then just keep moving along...

They're STILL Lollygaggers

Twenty years later, we now know what happened to Crash, Annie, Nuke, and the other characters from "Bull Durham." It's here - great stuff.

Well it made me laugh

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And This Is Why I Was Never a Fan of Junior

I listened to Yankees fans applauding for this clown the other night at the Stadium, and was OK with it, until I was reminded of just how much he seems to hate New York, the Yankees, and Yankee Stadium.

Read on, please.

For the record, I didn't boo him. I ignored him.

Mike and the Mad Done?

Uh oh...could perhaps the last reason that I listen to WFAN be gone?

Neil Best, take it away!

Some will be thrilled, as M&MD have long-been criticized for their usually obnoxious, arrogant ways (that would certainly be Mr. Francesa). Yet I remain a steadfast fan of the boys, whom I never enjoy apart.

It just seems the whole world is falling apart.

UPDATE: Well I don't know what to take of Chris Russo's opening monologue. He states that he and Mikey have contracts. He confirmed that there have been some squabbles of late, but that it's no different than the relationship between married people.

Whatever. I have my own radio situations and am happy.

Fun in the New York-Penn League

I'm the classic left-handed hitter, right-handed thrower. For goofs, I can switch-hit. I could never switch-throw. In fact, most people can't. Yet for the moment, in the New York-Penn League (home of the Hudson Valley Renegades), there is a pitcher for the Staten Island Yankees who can do just that. So what happens when a switch-hitter meats a switch-pitcher?

Read on.

UPDATE: If you have 8:14, here's the video.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lists, Lists, Lists

I have to put up a link to the latest doings by the AFI, that selected the top 10 movies in 10 different genres.

Here's the link from Yahoo! I can't take any more abuse from Sean Kilkelly.

It really wasn't abuse. It was funny.

So here they are. I don't have time right now to break it all down and analyze with too many comments, so read and discuss. Post comments...I dare ya.

2 PINOCCHIO (1940)
3 BAMBI (1942)
4 LION KING, THE (1994)
5 FANTASIA (1942)
6 TOY STORY (1995)
8 SHREK (2001)
10 FINDING NEMO (2003)

I like "Aladdin" a lot, but I won't quarrel with the list.

1 WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)
4 KING KONG (1933)
5 MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947)
7 HARVEY (1950)
10 BIG (1988)

I'm not a fan of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Sorry. Sue me. But I love "Harvey", "Field of Dreams" (this is fantasy and not a sports movie?), and "Big."

4 WHITE HEAT (1949)
10 SCARFACE (1983)

I bet I already know Sean's thought. He loves "The Godfather, Part II." No way would he put "Goodfellas" over it. I would, however. And "Pulp Fiction" is one of my all-time favorite movies.

1 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
7 ALIEN (1979)

Hold on just a minute there, Obi-Wan. Under no circumstances am I putting "2001" over "Star Wars" (and that's what we called it, not "A New Hope" or "Episode IV"). I do appreciate the nod for "Back to the Future" starring the immortal Huey Lewis, who should have won an Oscar.

2 HIGH NOON (1952)
3 SHANE (1953)
5 RED RIVER (1948)
6 WILD BUNCH, THE (1969)
10 CAT BALLOU (1965)

I like "High Noon", "Shane", and "Stagecoach." Where the hell is "The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance?"

1 RAGING BULL (1980)
2 ROCKY (1977)
4 HOOSIERS (1986)
5 BULL DURHAM (1988)
6 HUSTLER, THE (1961)

I'd put "Eight Men Out" up before I'd ever put the insipid "Jerry Maguire" here.

1 VERTIGO (1958)
2 CHINATOWN (1974)
3 REAR WINDOW (1954)
4 LAURA (1944)
5 THIRD MAN, THE (1950)
8 BLUE VELVET (1986)

Bingo! The great "Vertigo", featuring perhaps Jimmy Stewart's best performance. I'll also take "Rear Window", "The Maltese Falcon", "North By Northwest", and "The Usual Suspects", thank you very much. Is "Psycho" not considered a mystery? Oh, and "Blue Velvet" was bizzarre.

1 CITY LIGHTS (1931)
2 ANNIE HALL (1977)
7 ADAM'S RIB (1949)

I'm kind of cool with this, but I'd take "The Philadelphia Story" and stop. Stewart, Kate Hepburn and Cary Grant. Laughs galore. And, I'm a big fan of "You've Got Mail", a little more than "Sleepless in Seattle."

2 12 ANGRY MEN (1957)
4 VERDICT, THE (1982)
5 FEW GOOD MEN, A (1992)
8 IN COLD BLOOD (1967)
9 CRY IN THE DARK, A (1988)

Anybody saying anything other than "To Kill A Mockingbird" can turn in their credentials now.

2 BEN-HUR (1959)
5 SPARTACUS (1960)
6 TITANIC (1997)
9 REDS (1981)

Define "Epic." Ok, whatever. This list is tenuous at best. They're all large-budget monsters, I suppose.

Greenwich is Tops in Connecticut

Kudos to two friends of Exit 55 (and me, for that matter). First up is Dana, my friend who sent me an email this morning about things going on around our sports world. We started by chatting about Ricky Riscica, the Cardinals' slugging first baseman who is now playing for the Greenwich Cannons in American Legion baseball. Ricky hit a long home run the other day in Norwalk.

I'm thinking of checking out a game, so I can say "I knew him when."

Next Dana told me about an article in the Greenwich Post, by Paul Silverfarb, in which he discusses an article from Sports Illustrated that lists Greenwich as the number 1 athletic program in the state of Connecticut, and number seven in the country!

Paul's article is here. Sports Illustrated's coverage is here.

Congratulations to Athletic Director Gus Lindine, the staff, coaches and athletes at GHS. They are the best in the business, and they've been wonderful to me and everyone at WGCH for over 10 years.

Thanks to Dana for pointing it out to me, and to Paul for his fine writing.

Reds vs. Yankees

I'm off to the Stadium tonight to check out the surging Yankees against the Cincinnati Reds in Interleague play (which is still dumb). The last time the Redlegs (as they were once known) visited The Bronx was October 21, 1976. It was Game 4 of the 1976, World Series. Peter Abraham reminded readers of the lineup:

Pete Rose 3B
Ken Griffey RF (that's Senior, not Junior)
Joe Morgan 2B
Tony Perez 1B
Dan Driessen DH
George Foster LF
Johnny Bench C
Cesar Geronimo CF
Dave Concepcion SS

Yikes...three Hall of Famers, and one who should be. The Yankees stood no chance. Bench hit two bombs, and I HATED the Reds for years after.

I get to hang with my peeps in Section 5 tonight. Making fun of Marlboro Man (nice guy, but a he behaves like a huge asshat) and his band of idiots is a great way to pass the time between pitches.

You might not know who Marlboro Man (or Moron Man) is. He thinks you do, but probably don't. He's a legend in his own mind. So this next part might be of no interest to you, but at least Kris, Mick, Steph, and a few others will have a good laugh at this.

I'm reminded of one very important rule...don't TELL me I have to stand up and clap for a two strike pitch just because you have five nine-dollar beers in you already and you somehow think the whole Stadium should respond to you with your mullet and your guy-pal Gilligan. And as for Gilligan, he just strikes me as a hanger-on; a poor schlub whose whole existance is fulfilled by hanging with Marlboro Man. I see him stand up and try to get the crowd excited, and I suddenly find myself ANCHORED to my seat.

Of course then again, there's a game going on. I like to concentrate on that.

UPDATE: It's Sunday morning. Hello from Warminster, Pennsylvania. I still hate the Reds. Well maybe not hate. Or maybe I hate these inconsistent Yankees. The Reds beat the Bombers 4-2 on Friday night, and blasted them yesterday. Oh, and Marlboro Man and his little buddy were complete and utter asses.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Summer Just Gets More Exciting

So by now you've read about the Gades, and a hint about something at Fenway Park. I'm hoping to hit the road a few other times for possible baseball trips, and am still playing with the idea of a road meeting in Richmond (Virginia, in case you were wondering).

Yet what I haven't done is gone on a vacation. In a long time.

Yes, I got to Naples last year, but that was basically a business trip. Before that it was business trips to Chicago and Orlando. Even our March, 2006 visit to New Orleans was for a purpose, though we found time for leisure.

No, it's time for a real vacation. Some west and wee-waxation (as Elmer Fudd would say). Something that fits my personality, and will let Sean have some fun also.

And nothing says that like...camping?

Oh sure, because when you think of good ol' me, CAMPING is the first thing that comes to your mind, of course.

See, my family has gone camping for several years now. It was born out of my brother and his wife (my brother is also known to me as "Big King Chief Camping" or "The Czar of Camping" or...when he's pushing my buttons..."The Camping Ditcator), who had started pitching a tent (or popup camper, or whatever).

Eventally he invited other factions of the fam to go along. I stood in my mother's yard one day, ready to mow her lawn as I watched my brother, his wife, my mother, my sister, and roughly nine of my nieces and nephews caravan away to a distant campsite.

Never much for camping, I suddenly felt left out. Then I heard them raving about it. So Sandi and I gave it a try in 2005, in Sturbridge, Mass. Sadly it didn't go well, as it was humid and fairly miserable. Plus we lost points for not being tent campers. We used a cabin.

Baby steps here.

I was set to try again, but it was not to be as the layoffs and the slide down the mountain of life began. But as 2008 began, I knew that camping would be a fairly inexpensive way to get away. So armed with a tent that Steph gave me, and a brand new comfy air mattress (at least I hope it's comfy - I'll test it out in Pennsylvania this weekend), we're off to Jim Thorpe, PA next month.

Why Jim Thorpe, PA? Ask the Czar!

Seriously, he says it's nice there. Honestly it doesn't matter to me. While I might prefer to get a beach house, I'm just looking forward to having the opportunity to get away, chill out, and not feel like the outisder anymore.

Just Shaking My Head

I won't name names, but I'm listening to a baseball broadcast on the 'Net and what I'm hearing is...just...dreadful. The play-by-play guy is making John Sterling sound positively unbiased. His cadence is bad, and according to his bio, he's been calling games for more than 25 years with the same team.

How? It's making my head hurt.

Besides, I'm back in pro ball, so it's not nice to name names.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Off the Bench

Or...things to think about to not think about things in real life.

So, how did that epic NBA Finals series exactly turn out? I'm sure that Paul Pierce is now the spawn of Willis Reed (not...even...close). I do think that Pierce's return in Game One was big, but don't disrespect Willis like that.

You thought I was going to say "Whachyou talkinbout, Willis."

Kobe=Jordan? HAH! Laughable. Kobe's great, and I don't have a problem with him, but for the love of Bill Russell, don't make me laugh.

White 25, Red 13. You need to know these things to stay in touch with Greenwich, and GHS football. I saw some things I liked, including the play of Mike Lefflbine. I'll be honest - I had doubts. I don't anymore. I like him.

I talked with two of the Red coaches after the game and they were not pleased. That's all I will say. I don't want them mad at me also. Not that they said anything bad, but they're loyal readers. And pretty good guys.

Game one for the Renegades looked like this - Aberdeen 9, Gades 0...after one half inning.

The first inning of the year.

I'm pretty sure it can only get better.

To be fair, the Gades outscored the IronBirds 7-4 after that.

Fenway Park. August 9th. Just make a note of it, and return to that note when the time is right. Or ask me about it offline.

You didn't think the Mets would escape my wrath, did you? Let me count the words for the way Omar Minaya and the Wilpons handled Willie Randolph's firing:

Classless, bush league, ridiculous, and low-rent. Is that a start?

All I heard Minaya do yesterday was spin. He knew he looked bad. He knew he should not have fired Randolph after letting Willie and the team fly to Anaheim, then manage the team BEFORE firing him. He knew Jeff Wilpon (the quiet version of Hank Steinbrenner) wanted Willie gone.

Yet Minaya blames it on sources and the media. And he kept playing the race thing (about Willie being the first black manager in New York).

Here's the thing: Willie Randolph has been a ballplpayer and a manager for over 30 years. That's how I think of him. His race is of no importance. Neither is the fact that Omar Minaya is a Latino. Good for him. I'm glad it's a point of pride.

Yet in wins and losses, it's irrelevant.

The Mets mishandled this one. Badly. And a team that so much doesn't want to be regarded as the ugly stepchild in New York, as the second team, goes and does a stupid thing to a guy who's known mostly for his work with that OTHER team.

You can't expect to compete with that nasty OTHER team if you behave like this, unless you back it up by playing well. Last night was not a good start.

Oh, and despite a sore Wang (sorry, that one was easy), the Bombers are heating up. I'm still the skeptic.

I raved about Death Cab For Cutielast month. "I Will Possess Your Heart" had been in heavy rotation on the aPod (that's the Adams iPod, and I just made that up). Then I came home to a message from 101.9 RXP, telling me that I had won two tickets to see them in Brooklyn.

I couldn't go. Damn.

Yet I figured the least I could do, in lieu of that, was to buy the CD.

I did.

It's great.

I recommend it. Highly.

When exectly are gas prices going to come back down, or are we heading for a depression? 'Cause it's kind of already depressing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Raccoon Season Opens

I wasn't going to make a big deal about this on the ol' blog, but after thinking about it, I figured, why not?

Tonight, for the first time since 2003, I will be back with the broadcasts of the Hudson Valley Renegades (which I hinted at last week). I'll be in the sutdio most of the time, serving as co-host with "Voice of the Gades" Sean Ford. I'll do updates, interject into the game broadcast, and more. We'll see how it all develops. There's a lot of potential here.

Then I'm planning to join the team at Dutchess Stadium (for select games), and even on the road, as trips to Brooklyn, Staten Island, Oneonta, Lowell, and even Aberdeen aren't out of the question. Again, we'll see. I'd like to think that these road trips will keep me jumping throughout the summer. I'd even like to think I can bring The Son along - either in the studio or to some games. Likely? Not really, but it's at least something I'm thinking about.

I met with Sean (Ford, not Adams...or even Kilkelly) last night, along with our guru, Jay Verzi. Thankfully they're both Rob Adams fans (I need a few in life) and wanted me to be a part of the Gades again. In fact, they've been trying to get me back for a while. Not that I had gone anywhere...I was always available, but life (and radio) can be silly.

Sean and I picked up where we left off - telling stories and catching up. We even recorded an impromptu promo that turned out pretty well (if I may say so). Sean was very gracious with me the first time I worked with him on Gades broadcasts. He had never met me, yet put me on to call the middle three innings during our first game. I had assumed I was just there to watch and learn, but he looked at the headsets and said to me "you better put those on if you're going to do this." Then at the end of the second our first broadcast...he said off the air, "OK. You've got the middle three." And so it went from there (bloopers, blunders, nerves and all). Eventually he would even feel free to leave the booth at times - leaving me to call the action. It was like a dream.

I'm glad to back.

It all starts tonight. And it's all pretty cool. And it might get even better.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert

I can not say enough how sad the death of Tim Russert is, and just how strongly it hit me. Shock is the best word. For Russert to die of a heart attack at only 58 (my dad was 59) seems so unfair. Even his biggest critics had trouble disliking the guy.

I had been a big fan, and eventually became a critic, due to his lack of support for Don Imus during the Rutgers farce. The truth is, I wouldn't have known much about Russert without his appearances on the Imus show. So when he seemed to fold up like the proverbial two-dollar suitcase, I was genuinely disappointed. When Russert began appearing on the new Imus show this past winter, I was surprised. Many (the dynamic afternoon duo on WFAN included) were extremely critical of Imus, but something told me there was more than met the eye (or ear, in that case).

Imus Truth has their own take here
, and I'm inclined to agree. The most convincing argument is:
Unlike the people at Newsweek, or the David Gregorys and Andrea Mitchells of the world, Imus was willing to forgive Russert. Why? Clearly the real story of Russert's efforts on behalf of Imus would have caused problems for Russert at NBC. So now that Russert is gone, will Imus be able to finally tell the whole story?
The tributes are pouring in for Russert and deservedly so. It is most poignant to me that he passes on Father's Day weekend, as part of his legacy will be his relationship (and subsequent best-seller) with his father, Big Russ.

As a member of the media, a sports journalist, an occasional news journalist, a father, and a son, I mourn the loss of Tim Russert. May he be lining up one hell of a special "Meet the Press" somewhere.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

News and Notes

I'd like some more time to write, but in lieu of that (I'm trying to work here), I've got a quick announcement (or reminder) for you...

The Greenwich High School Football Red & White Game (that's spring football, y'all) is tomorrow night at 6:00 at Cardinal Stadium. WGCH will have live coverage beginning at 5:50pm. Sean Kilkelly is taking one for the team (or staying in the air conditioning) by running the controls from the studios. Nick Angotto (assuming he's cool with it) will handle the color commentary, and I guess I'll bring you the play-by-play. I mean, why not?

Oh, and it looks like I'll be working with the Hudson Valley Renegades again. Not directly for the team but if you know me, then you know what I'm talking about.

You might want to catch me "off line" for the 4-1-1 on that. I do wish I could say more, but then again, there are a lot of things that I wish I could say more about.

More later (or stay tuned).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This is Just Nuts!

No, this is not Mick's Nuts (that's for a future post). I thank With Leather for posting this. I had to avoid the urge to scream with laughter. Sorry. That's probably mean. Probably as vicious as the way Steph and I reacted to a situation last Saturday in which we called somebody out for overplaying emotions.

At least Mom though we were being vicious. Oh well. - Watch more free videos

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Just a Quick Note of Thanks

I attended the Greenwich baseball dinner tonight in Port Chester, and that alone is enough to be thankful for. It is one of the perks of covering games and getting close to a team. I know some who aren't fans of it; they're burnt out by the time dinners come around. I'm happy to attend for the free meal (I'm not going to lie!) but also for the chance to talk with the families, players and coaches. In a lot of ways, it's a chance for me to say thanks, and also network just a little (which I'm awful at).

I was privileged to sit at the coach's table with varsity head man Mike Mora and fellow coaches Frank Carbino, Paul Meyfohrt, and "Exit 55" loyal readers TJ Ostruzka (fellow Steelers fan!), Kerry Gavin and Phil Tarantino (well he'll become a loyal reader again if he can find the link here from Tim Parry). We were missing Tom Healy and Jarod Smith, but we were thinking of them as well.

The 2008 Cardinals finished at 8-13. They made the state playoffs and lost to Farmington. Don't let the record fool you - they were a good team made up of great people with great character. Following the introductions of the teams, co-captains Ricky Riscica and Jeff DeVico made some presentations and, to my surprise, one of them was to me. They gave a me a gift for my serving as statistician and being at every game.

The owe me nothing. They gave me more than I could ask for.

I took a moment and spoke to the assembled crowd, and I could feel my emotions building. The moment Coach Mora said "You're a part of the team" and invited me to be in the dugout with the team was one of the best things to happen. It was almost like a dream come true. You see, deep down, sports broadcasters and reporters do what we do because of our love of sports. In our souls, we're still fans; albeit jaded at times. I don't think I'm like that though. I still have a deep passion for the sports that I cover, yet I'm a professional on the air.

So when Rich Riscica (Ricky's father) gave me a team polo, I wondered if I was crossing a line. I questioned a fellow media person who put his faith in me that I would straddle that line well. Could I report and still criticize, if necessary? The answer was "yes", though to be fair, we cautiously criticize at this level. So I rolled with it and had a blast. I made sure never to coach the players, and to always know my role. I talked baseball, listened when they wanted to talk, talked about scorekeeping and broadcasting, told stories, and made myself feel like one of the team.

When Adam Franchella whipped the team into a frenzy at Ridgefield, I laughed like I've never laughed with a team before. Ryan Fazio and James Dillard found out that I had a Facebook page and became contacts. Matt Berdoff said he wanted his picture taken with me on Senior Day, after I served as their master-of-ceremonies. I can't name every player but I had a funny moment with each member of the team.

I even stood with a catchers glove on after a game and helped Coach Carbino as he hit grounders to Jonny Rogers and Andrew Coffey. I was still dressed business casual, having come from the office, but there was nothing I wanted to do more at that moment. I carried equipment or rearranged the helmets. Whatever they wanted me to do, I did. It allowed me to feel like I was a coach - something I'm finding that I really enjoy.

Yet I didn't cross the line. When it was time to do my radio job, I did it. Game over? Interview a player. It was all part of the gig.

Tonight, I admitted that the 2007-2008 school year was one in which life threw some big obstacles at me. I didn't do that to be self-serving. I did it as a way to thank the '08 Cardinals for welcoming me, and for giving me a few hours of relief and fun. That's what sports is supposed to be.

And I admitted that, for once, I decided to be a fan. For one game. Yes I did my reports with the same professionalism that I always display, but once off the phone, I was a fan.

This was my release. Don't judge me as some hack just because I let my guard down. I worked for the Cardinals and WGCH. The listener couldn't tell the difference, and that matters a lot.

By the end of the night, I had stronger bonds with the people of Greenwich than ever before. I've been asked to be the MC for the baseball golf tournament in August, and this closeness will translate into football season, which I think will make our broadcasts better.

What I'm trying to say is thanks again. Perhaps my words tonight indicated how much the team meant to me. I hope so, because I can never thank you enough.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What a Finish!

After you get done reading Rick Reilly's first piece for ESPN The Magazine, which is worth every word of it, simply because it lacks his usual arrogance and smugness (I'm not a big fan of the word "smug" tonight, but never mind), find the final seconds of tonight's Stanley Cup Final Game 6.

The Red Wings won the Cup - congratulations to them. Yet I want you to see the fever pitch at which this game came to a close, and just how near the Penguins came to tying the game, after being down two goals with under two minutes to play.

I actually reacted out loud - speaking only to myself, as nobody would hear me.

Incidentally, I've never seen a Conn Smythe trophy winner (that's the MVP, in case you didn't know) skate to his teammates with the hardware as Henrik Zetteberg did tonight. Good for him, but it was just strange. I remember Brian Leetch acting like the trophy barely existed when he won it in 1994. More often than not, players care about the Big Dog - the Cup. I love watching the roll call of who gets to skate with the Cup, and in what order. Of course, the Captain always gets the first touch. From there, it's up to him. When the Avalanche won in 2001, Captain Joe Sakic waited all of two seconds before handing the Cup to Ray Borque, who played 23 years before finally lifting it over his head. It's the most magnificent trophy ceremony in sports.

By the way, I've been thinking (sorry, it's scary). Hockey has Lord Stanley's Cup. Basketball has the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Football is of course the Lombardi Trophy. What is baseball's called? It doesn't have a name. I'd like to suggest one - the Yogi Berra Trophy. Yogi has been an ambassador for the game since coming to New York in 1947. He was in uniform until 1989 as a player, coach and manager. He holds numerous World Series records including games played and the most important one of all - most World Series Titles (10). Maybe you have a better name, but "World Series Trophy" doesn't cut it for me.

By the way, the Red Wings Wikipedia article already has the Cup title up, and they literally just won it. Impressive.

UPDATE: Have some video! Here are those final seconds of the game.

The Top 10 Worst Sportscasters

Fortunately, I'm not one of them. That's a start. Then again, Will Leitch has probably never heard of me. The czar of Deadspin offers his top 10 worst sportscasters (more specifically, play-by-play voices and analysts). I can't say I disagree, though I like Clyde Frazier.

My question though is the following: How did either John Sterling or Suzyn Waldman not get a mention. Normally the Yankees' radio duo gets an automatic demerit just for breathing.

The New SportsCenter

ESPN's SportsCenter has not been relevant for, oh, ten years or so. Truth be told, I'll watch ESPN News for 30 minutes and know all I need. So the Worldwide Leader had decided to revamp. Instead of running repeats, they will go with fresh shows.

As for their talent roster, here it is:

6-9 am: John Buccigross, Steve Berthiaume
9 am-12 pm: Hannah Storm, Josh Elliott
12-3 pm: Chris McKendry, Robert Flores
6 pm: Jay Harris, Brian Kenny
11 pm: Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, Neil Everett, Linda Cohn
1 am: John Anderson, Steve Levy

Well that's not exactly Dan Patrick/Keith Olbermann "Big Show" time, now is it? I like Hannah Storm - she's a Greenwich gal - and I hope she fits the SportsCenter mold nicely. That 11pm show is what I call "Adams/Kilkelly Hell." Stuart Scott and Linda Cohn? Can I get a YIKES? That being said, I would just put Scott Van Pelt and Neil Everett there and call it a day. That's the closest you'll have to to the Patrick/Olbermann (or even Kenny Mayne) team.

Geez, no Bob Ley, or the late Tom Mees, or a still fresh and funny Chris Berman, or Charley Steiner, or Trey Wingo (Greenwich High School grad), or Craig Kilborn, or Greg Gumbel (there are lots more. Not even Lee Leonard and Greorge Grande (they achored the first SportsCenter in 1979). Times have changed.

Rebuilding the Yankees

Don't let the title fool you. I'm not in meltdown because Joba struggled last night or because the Yankees have lost three in a row. I said before the season they wouldn't make the playoffs, and I'm sticking to it.

The reason for this post is to provide a link to the guys at River Ave. Blues, and Joseph P's breakdown of the ugly years - beginning in 1990. His analysis shows how the team went from being contenders (though that basically ended in 1989) through the cellar and back by 1994. It explains the key moves that the team made and didn't make. If anything, it's a fun, cringe-worthy stroll down memory lane.

The only move that he doesn't mention is the signing of Spike Owen. Now don't laugh (OK, laugh a little), but that move actually had more to do with off the field than on. Several players (specifically, Paul O'Neill) have cited Owen as being a crucial clubhouse guy and a great teammate during his one season in New York (1993). Stability was so necessary during these times, as George Steinbrenner had been thrown out of baseball for his behavior - specifically involving Dave Winfield. Gene Michael and Buck Showalter had a lot to do with restoring pride to the great franchise, but there still needed to be the right players. O'Neill (I loved the trade the, and it's the stuff of legend now), Jimmy Key, and Wade Boggs were integral in bringing the talent level to an acceptable level.

It just goes to generall show that team's aren't rebuilt overnight.

No Bobby Murcer At The Moment

Occasionally there are books that grab my attention. As sports director, that can sometimes lead to a review copy and an interview with the author. Well who just released a book a few weeks ago? None other than our guy Bobby Ray Murcer. He had even started to do some book signings. Yet when I went to the publisher's website, I noticed that their were no details on future appearances. I didn't think too much of it. I assumed that he was only going to do a couple of signings due to his commitments to YES.

Then Neil Best put this up on his blog today.
Bobby Murcer was forced to cancel the six scheduled studio appearances he was to make for YES early this month because he was not feeling well during his recent book tour.

For now, Murcer still is slated to work in the booth next weekend when the Yankees visit Houston, but that obviously is tentative based on his health.
Let's hope this is nothing more than being cautious, and continue to think good thoughts for our favorite here at Exit 55.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

PeteAbe Has a Wicked Sense of Humor

For your New Englanders, that should actually read "PeteAbe has a wicked sense of hum-ah", or something like that. He writes on his blog today about Big Papi's injury, the struggles of Beckett and Paperlbon, and a few other items. My favorite is this one:
High cost of gas cutting into beer purchases at Fenway. Fans now forced to stop at 17 cups.
A wicked good pissah, eh?

By the way, I keep hearing there's something going on tonight at Yankee Stadium. Best as I can tell, it's just the Yankees and the Blue Jays, with Roy Halladay pitching for the Jays. I'm not sure who's going for the Bronx boys. Some kid. They say he might be pretty good.

Oh, and time is flying on this Tuesday, but let me just say that last night's hockey game (the Red Wings and Penguins are playing for some large trophy) was one of the best games I've seen in a long time, if not ever. I didn't think the Penguins would come back after blowing a two-goal lead. Brilliantly played and shown on NBC.

They showed a shot of the trophy that the team would win. Nice cup, I guess. I'm sure the players would be happy to see it.

Whatever Happened To...?

I have seen several blogs list a link to a story regarding Joe Molloy, one-time Steinbrenner son-in-law, and former Yankees Managing Partner. Generally I had disregarded the story, but decided to read it this morning. For some reason, it struck a nerve with me. It's worth checking out.

Go here.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Roast Duck...with the Mango Salsa

I still love the Geico commercials. All of them. From the gecko to the that announcer guy from the movies ("In a world where both of our cars are totally under water") to even Joan Rivers ("I can't feel my face!") - these spots are brilliant (oh, sorry...that's Guinness). Yet this one never fails to bring a smile to my face

The Son was no more than three when he would say those magic words...

"I'll have the roast duck, with the mango salsa."

They've all had an impact, including this one.

"Take a train to Happytown!!" WOO WOO!!

This could be my new cheap blog post plan...Geico commercials!

Get Away Day

For the first time in recent memory, I found myself telling people I had not just a good weekend, but a GREAT weekend. It started with our beloved Carmel Sports Association soft-toss Braves game on Saturday morning, in which Sean got a couple of hits, and had fun. OK, he also got kicked in the eye, but after a bout of crying was back to his usual self.

Yeah, you read that correctly. He got kicked in the eye. Just like I try not to write about other things of a personal nature, and do dance moves that would make Gene Kelly proud, I'll do so here also. I enjoy the kids, and like a lot of the parents (I've grown very close to several of the families), so let's not take one incident and blow it out of proportion. I felt all parties acted appropriately (with a nod to John and Kim) to keep things calm.

The fact of the matter is that I will almost definitely not be living in Carmel next year, but I think I've made enough friends that I will look to keep coaching in Carmel. It's become a great love of mine, and I'd like to see how some of the players develop.

After blowing off some steam Saturday night, I jumped in the car and went to Albany yesterday. Hey, I know gas is over $4.00 per gallon, but Mom was into taking the ride, so she supplied the car and the gas, while I used my EZ Pass for the tolls. Now, "why Albany", you say? Well I would say "why not", but I won't. I've always liked the capital city of the great Empire State for many reasons - most notably the convenience of a two-hour drive from home. Plus it's great for shopping, and that was our goal yesterday. An LL Bean store at Colonie Center has opened, and I had some gift cards to use, so it was a perfect storm.

It's looking almost definite that I'm going to take Sean camping with a large chunk of my family next month, so where better to pick up some high-quality camping stuff than Bean? Some complain about prices, but as I said, it's QUALITY stuff. Incidentally, Dick's Sporting Goods is also a great option, along with Target, and perhaps even Wal-Mart (the bane of all). I'm sure there are others (don't get me going on Sports Authority).

Besides, you've just got to look out for bargains at the Bean retail stores and their outlets. I got a brand-new sleeping bag, marked down due to a discontinued pattern, for $29. Works for me. I know Steph found a bargain as well, so we were happy customers.

I saw very clear signs though that all is not well financially, especially over at the sprawling Crossgates Mall. A number of stores were empty and, even more dismaying, a couple of large anchor spaces as well. Probably most dismaying (Mr. Kilkelly, are you reading?) is that Hooters is gone.

Sigh. Oh well, Romano's Macaroni Grill gave us a very good dinner (Meatballs stuffed with smoked mozzarella?? WOW!), and the waitress seemed to like The Son.

Good times. This is my new life.