Sunday, August 31, 2008

Not Again!

Certain stories grip me, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was one of them. I sat riveted watching what was going on, partially because I had been to NOLA twice - first in 1975, then in 2003 (I've since been back - in early 2006), but also because my niece (who was eight months pregnant at the time) and her husband lived there.

As Hurricane Gustav gets ready to pound the Crescent City again, let us remember what happened in 2005 (and this is not the time to break it all down again), and think good thoughts about the good people there.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has said the city will enforce a mandatory evacuation, and other parts of the metro NOLA area must get out. New Orleans won't be the only area to be troubled by Hurricane Gustav (currently a category 4) but the sensitivity and sentimentality is strongest for them.

I'm sure many outlets will be covering it, but if you want the local angles, allow me to recommend with news from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and news radio coverage from the WWL - New Orleans flame throwing AM station (Free registration required)

Please, folks, go somewhere and be safe. And be strong!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Off to Oneonta

The beauty of my arrangement with the Renegades is such that I don't have to be at any games, unless I'm in the studio. Sean Ford and I know the deal - I can back out of these road games if something comes up.

I wasn't sure I was up to making the drive to and from Oneonta, New York on Saturday - part of the "Rob Adams New York-Penn League World Tour '08", but I decided I should have a day to myself.

We're working on the T-shirt. This is just a mock-up.

Again, it's just a mock up...and remove "Staten Island." It's not happening this year. Some may say that's a good thing.

So after getting the oil changed on my car, and grabbing a quick lunch (pizza - great road food), I was off. Now for you "road geeks" out there (go ahead, you can admit're among family) there is virtually no good way to get to Oneonta from the East/Southeast. I know this from years of driving to Cooperstown and encountering this problem. Your basic options are (from Carmel/Mahopac):

1) Interstate 84 to I-87 (New York State Thruway) to NY 28 at Kingston, then NY 28 all the way. This is the most popular option, and the Catskills are great, but it gets boring quickly. Plus two lane roads with minimal breaks to pass are brutal, especially through farm land, and watch out for those speed traps!

2) I-87 (or Taconic Parkway) to I-90 to I-88. This is fine if you don't mind the tolls on the Thruway (that's I-87/90). The Taconic should be for experienced drivers only (we'll revisit here later).

3) I-84 to NY 17 (the "Quickway") to I-88. The option with the most mileage.

(Yes I know there are other combinations that can be used, but I said the basic options)

I picked, option 4) - which is whatever Google told me to do. I had some time to drive, so why not make it an adventure? I started out from Baldwin Place (just south of Mahopac) on US 6 at 1:30 PM and jumped on the Taconic to I-84. Then I went to NY 17. I stopped a few times for cheaper gas and to clean my windows. OK so far?

I've driven NY 17 before (this will eventually be I-86). It's tedious from Middletown to Binghamton, but the other choices aren't much better, so I turned up my "Driving Songs" playlist on my iPod and drove on. I occupied my brain by thinking about my different choices. Google told me to go to Roscoe (home of the "famous" Roscoe Diner) and took NY 206 from there, before taking County Road 21 to NY 357 to I-88 (convoluted enough for you?). As drives go, it was OK. I made it in three hours, but it would have been less had I not stopped several times to do things like clean my windows, check maps and so on.

Damaschke Field in Oneonta is about as plain a ballpark as you'll find. A recent renovation has added more seating, new amenities, new clubhouses, and a new scoreboard, but this is all about small town charm. Currently there are no bells and whistles like on-field games. This is just about baseball. New ownership is in the process of taking over, so we'll see what 2009 brings to them. They've made the commitment to stay in Oneonta through 2010, so that's a good start.

The pressbox is reached by climbing a steep seet of stairs to a small two-room building perched atop the grandstands. The Tigers don't have radio (though that might change also) so the press box is largely quiet.

There are no fancy signs for concessions - in fact, they're handwritten! And media food? HA! If I wanted dinner, I got it myself, on my own dime. Yet I don't have a single complaint about this place. I stood on the field and watched the Gades take BP, chatting and laughing with many people - from my broadcast partner Sean Ford, to current Tigers owner Sam Nader (who showed me his 1996 Yankees World Series ring), to new Tigers GM Andy Weber, to the players and coaches. I just took it all in, and enjoyed ever minute of it, not even thinking about the drive home.

Damaschke Field pictures are here.

Sean Ford and I would enjoy a fun broadcast, and the Renegades would hang on to beat the Tigers. I spoke with some more people after the game and said my farewells to start the long trek back to Carmel. This time I was going to keep it simple - all highways, with no back roads. It was about 10:30 when I finally drove out of Oneonta and back onto I-88.

New York is not quite known for their availability of easy-off, easy-on highway stops. Near Cobleskill, I decided it was time for some coffee, so I exited I-88 only to find that the Dunkin Donuts was three miles away. I got back on the highway, and found a "DD" right near the New York State Thruway at I-88's last exit.

Traffic was primarily light as I entered the Thruway and pondered my next step. Feeling cheap, I opted to take "Free" Interstate 90 through Albany to the Taconic State Parkway. The upside? Fewer tolls. The downside? Less places to stop for gas (and maybe take a nap) and driving the Taconic is not kind to the sleepy.

Oh I made it all right, but not without staring a deer in the eyes as she stood in the middle of the TSP. I made it home, but had to stop in the parking lot of a Stewart's gas station/convenience store (which was closed) to stretch, try to wake up, myself. I made it home, using every one of my powers to try to stay awake.

I made it home at about 1:30. Yep - three hours.

Worth every minute of it.

No...I Haven't Forgotten About Football

With all the talk of doing Renegades baseball (speaking of which, I did the Oneonta roadtrip, and still have a few more games to call), I'm sure a few of you have thought that I've lost my zest for football. Not so! In fact, I come here with news this morning of our first pigskin broadcast on WGCH.

We'll open our coverage of the two-time defending FCIAC and Class LL Champions on Saturday, September 6th at 9:50 AM, as the Cardinals meet their crosstown rivals, the Brunswick Bruins. Kickoff at Robert L Cosby Field is at 10:00 AM.

Sean Kilkelly is back for another go-round in the booth as my sidekick and trusted consigliere. Sean's knowledge of the game is tremendous and he helps bring the lighthearted, community-based approach to our broadcasts that we've been preaching since 2000. Nick Fox is a former Cardinal and will walk the sideline for us, taking over for the departed Nick Angotto, who is now attending the University of Hawaii (Aloha!). Rob Crowley will take a stab at stats and various contributions, and Dom Romeo will keep us on the air from the corner of Lewis and Mason Streets.

As usual, we'll hopefully talk with the many friends that we've made over the years. And remember that Tim Parry will be back with the FCIAC football talk show "Live From the FC" (please note that the title may change). Jason Intrieri will be with TP as his co-host, and they both know that they have a place in the WGCH booth whenever they wish. Shameless plug - I often get to be a guest or even a host.

(Also don't forget about Matt Levine and company over on WSTC/WNLK.)

As for me, it's year number nine at the mic. I wasn't 100% positive that I'd be back but I'm ready to go, and looking forward to what should be a challenging season. I'll be burned out by December again!

The rest of our schedule has yet to be worked out. We know we're covering Cardinals Football again, but have yet to decide on more coverage of the Bruins, Rye Garnets, Harrison Huskies, and Port Chester Rams (or anybody else). We'll also be letting you know about carrying the annual Championship Sunday in the GYFL.

As usual, I'm greedy. I want to cover it all! "Have headset, will travel" has become my motto. More often than not it's a great way for me to get away from life. My passion for calling games is such that I will drive all the way to Oneonta, New York for nothing more than the fun. It's like a little vacation!

So the current schedule looks like this:

Saturday, September 6 - Greenwich at Brunswick - 10:00 AM
Friday, September 12 - Bridgeport Central at Greenwich - 7:00 PM
Saturday, September 20 - Greenwich at Darien - 1:30 PM
Friday, September 26 - Brien McMahon at Greenwich - 7:00 PM
Friday, October 3 - Greenwich at Danbury - 7:00 PM
Friday, October 10 - Greenwich at Ridgefield - 7:00 PM
Saturday, October 18 - Trumbull at Greenwich - 1:30PM (Homecoming)
Friday, October 24 - St. Joseph (NJ) at Greenwich - 7:00 PM
Friday, October 31 - Greenwich at Wilton - 6:00 PM
Friday, November 7 - Stamford at Greenwich - 7:00 PM
Saturday, November 15 - Greenwich at Westhill - 1:30 PM
Thursday, November 27 - Staples at Greenwich - 10:00 AM

There could also be an FCIAC Championship Game (on or about November 21), the Class LL Semis (December 2) and the Class LL Championship (December 6). As usual, expect the minimum 10 minute pregame show.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Save It, Please? Not a Chance.

I'm glad somebody did this. I've signed their petition, but there's no way that the City of New York is going to keep Yankee Stadium standing. I've believed all along that the House should survive as a museum, home for lower-level games, and other purposes.

I'm afraid this won't work, but it's worth a try.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Flags. MORE FUN!

Ladies and gentleman, meet my new girlfriend...Lola Bunny!

OK, maybe not.

It had been about 10 years since I was last at Great me...SIX FLAGS Great Adventure.

The Marketing department thanks me for the accuracy.

Anywho, GA (sorry, folks, it'll always be Great Adventure to me) has a special place in my heart, and as I visited there on Friday with Sean, Harold, Tracy, Cameron and Katie, I found myself waxing nostalgic at times. I first visited in May of '85 and have been back many times since - a lot during the days of dating. Lots of memories flooded my brain. Oh well, it's all good.

At least when my heart wasn't throbbing from one of the rides.

To be honest, I didn't know how many thrill rides I would experience. Thus I took the patented "Bull Durham" approach: "don't think." That seemed to work.

From the moment we walked into the park, it was extreme ride time. I walked onto Superman: Ultimate Flight and strapped in. A few minutes later, I had tightness in both hips from the shock of my first extreme coaster in a long time. Undaunted, I jumped right onto The Great American Scream Machine and I wasn't feeling quite as bold as I did when I was a wee lad in 1990 or so.

Then again, the line was much shorter than it was back then, when it was a top-of-the-line coaster.

Harold, Cameron and I did the thrill rides together, with me bowing out for just a couple. By the time we went to get on Nitro, I was experiencing some operating difficulties, no doubt a result of the...wait for it...ready, Sean?...chili dogs.

Quick aside - I'm getting a rep for talking about food a lot. Yet even when I was at my heaviest, I still honestly didn't eat a lot. I just ate a lot that was good for me. Yet even some of the Renegades players have taken to laughing about it. Most of the time, I do it for laughs.

OK then.

With my missing Nitro (not once, but twice), I also missed out on Batman: The Ride as well. I hated to do that, because now I feel weak. Totally wimpy. Oh, for the record, we also did not do Kingda Ka. Any ride that makes you wait over an hour just might not be worth the effort. We also didn't do The Dark Knight, and that bummed me out, but such is life.

We did, however, do El Toro. Although after riding that SOB, I think I might just call it El FREAKING Toro. Holy chihuahua, Batman! When we neared the top, I thought about just closing my eyes, but then thought of Sean Connery in "The Untouchables"
Oh, what the hell — you've gotta die of something!
Harold and Cameron rate the coasters that they've been on (something from my box of tricks - spreadsheet included!). They were quite high on El Toro, and I went to movie mode again, as in "These go to 11." It was the best coaster I had ever been on. The sheer feeling of coming out of my seat ("airtime", natch) was in-freaking-tense.

Oh, another aside here. You probably know that these theme parks take pictures of you on the rides for your to purchase (Merchandising!). So in every picture, there's me, looking like I want my mommy, while Cameron is smiling away. Then there was Harold. Now I know what it was like to go to a metal concert with him in the 80's. The only thing that was missing was the joint and the devil's horns.

Sadly, Rolling Thunder felt like a lame walk in the park. That was basically Cameron's review. He was bored. I enjoyed the ride. Again, it's nostalgia.

The theme of death carried onto Medusa. As we began our ascent, Harold began talking about dying on a coaster. It's his way to go, in case you're wondering. He furthered it by talking about heart attacks on roller coasters.

Let's pause here. This is me he's talking to. Son of a heart attack victim. Owner of a batting average cholesterol number. One who's doctor is begging him to visit. This might have not been the best time for this topic.

Oh, what the hell — you've gotta die of something!

For the record, I obviously survived.

I suppose I should brag for just a moment about my dumb luck. We walked past a game that involved sinking a 50-foot putt. It cost a dollar, and Harold implored me to do it. I lined up my first try, and left it way short - I might have hit it 25 feet. On the second try, I lined it all up, and whacked away...and it went in. I won this giant (aren't all prizes silly and oversized?) ball. I let Sean choose - and instead of going with one featuring the faces of the Looney Toons characters, he picked one with money on it.

There's something fitting about that. Because it's always about the money, right?

There was a a lot more. The younger kids enjoyed the various rides for their age. The Looney Tunes/American Idol-style show was a nice chance to sit down, and was cute (of course a certain rabbit won). There were plenty of character sightings. Sean enjoyed meeting Flash and Batman.

Sean even showed me his chivalry, when he defended Katie from a would-be bully. That's my boy!

Yes we had a blast. Sean worked up the nerve to go on the Saw Mill log Flume and the Runaway Mine Train and laughed (and talked) the whole time. That was a relief, considering that when we did the flight simulator Fly Me To The Moon 3D, he was the lone person in the theater NOT wearing the special glasses (at least until the very end). We had such a good time that not only were we there when the park opened, we were there when it closed. That was following their Glow in the Park parade, a somewhat cheesy affair featuring this song by a Celine Dion sound alike that got stuck in my head. Yet with Sean riding my shoulders as we watched the parade end, I felt my strongest emotions of the day. For here was my son - my life - watching this silly parade with Bugs Bunny closing it out (you were expecting Daffy Duck?) on a float that said - what else - "That's all Folks!"

It ended just as it should. With a dad, his son, and their great friends. And yes, to sound trite, some great memories.

Pictures are here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Sirius Mad Dog

From All Access comes news, and it's hardly a shock:
SIRIUS XM RADIO has inked former WFAN-A/NEW YORK afternoon "MIKE AND THE MAD DOG" co-host CHRIS "MAD DOG" RUSSO to a five-year deal that rebrands channels on both SIRIUS and XM as "MAD DOG RADIO," with RUSSO hosting afternoons.
Of course the question becomes, 'Is this enough to make you go for satellite radio?' My answer is no, as I'm not enough of a Doggie fan to jump to satellite. However, I've been thinking about adding a satellite radio for some time, so I can listen to any baseball, football, or hockey game via satellite. I'm waiting to see what the new Sirius XM offers before I make any decisions.

A Graph Jam Example

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Go to Graph Jam for some good laughs and remember...when wearing Sex Panther, 60% of the time it works every time.

UPDATE! And thanks to the one and only Tim Parry (and he truly is a one and only in his own right), we have the video of our guy Brian Fantana getting ready for the no-pants dance.

Personally I would have gone with London Gentleman. I mean, I really don't like smelling like Big Foot' know, or a diaper filled with Indian food. Seriously, it's quite pungent. Pure gasoline.

Man I love that movie.

Things You Don't Say to Your Wife

You probably shouldn't say these things to your girlfriend or significant other either. Since this is currently not a concern to me, I can just laugh at it and consider it to be good advice. I just have ol' Fred the Cat to worry about, and we have a simple relationship: he hates me, I hate him, and we hate...

Oh, never mind. I don't think there's actually any hate between Fredo and I. (And that's Fredo as in "Apollo 13", not in "The Godfather", though the thought of my cat out in the the lake on the rowboat is kind of funny)

Incidentally this should not be viewed as an invoking of Rule 55. Just so we're clear. This is just for fun.

So Ladies and Gents, Tim Hawkins!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Renegades-Spinners at Fenway Park - Part 3 (Well Actually, We're in Lowell Now)

It was a fairly pleasant Sunday morning in Billerica and after a nice breakfast in the hotel, Harold and I made our way to Edward A. LeLacheur Park in downtown Lowell for game two of the three-game weekend series between the Spinners and the Renegades.

We got to the park early - in fact, so early, that we beat the Gades, including my esteemed radio partner, Sean Ford. The Spinners' staff couldn't have been nicer though. Fearing I would have to pay to park, an usher quickly took care of that, giving me a pass to park in the on-site garage. Thus we entered the ballpark and made our way to the booth, before that same usher eventually found us again. He told us where we could go to get our credentials.

Having not made them aware that we were coming (my bad) I was concerned, but not nervous. Minutes later, we emerged from the team office, credentials around our neck, held on by Spinners Lanyards!

By now, Sean and the Gades had arrived. He warned us to get to the field and soak it all in, and to get back to enjoy some of the best food in the New York-Penn League.

Harold and I walked the perimeter of the field, enjoying the famous "More Cowbell" skit from "Saturday Night Live" on the screen in left center field. Gades coach Michael Johns joined us outside of the dugout to talk about the Fenway experience.

The fact that he knew me by name is still strange and cool. I just assume nobody knows me.

For the second day in a row, I drew the duty of interviewing Joe Alvarez, which was fun, especially since I had just met his wife a few minutes earlier. Before we went to interview Joe, we noticed that some fans had begun gathering for autographs (not unusual) and it looked like one young boy had wanted to talk to me as we headed into the dugout to interview Joe (VERY unusual).

After our interview, we returned to the field to head back to the booth. We walked along the third base side to climb back into the stands. A young girl caught my eye and, sure enough, asked me for an autograph.

Let's pause here. My attitude about autographs is this: so long as you understand that I am NOBODY (other than Sean's daddy), then I'll sign. I'm a broadcaster, and not a famous one at all. I'm a very regular guy who has a really cool job (or hobby). Yet if you ask and understand this, than who am I to say no? I have a problem with refusing, especially to kids.

Harold was laughing, and wishing he had a camera. Photographer Tim Saunders walked by, giving me grief about signing. Sean Ford would also abuse me upon hearing the story later. Yet I signed the girls' free glove that they were handing out (thanks - Harold and I brought them back to our kids). I promised Nicole from Billerica that I would even say "hi" to her on the air.

She was thrilled about our whole encounter. Honest.

Guess what? She made my day also.

Life kicked me square in the arse before we hit the air, to the horror of my broadcast friends, but I pushed it aside for the call. It's usually easy to block crap out when we're on the air, and that's what I did. Tyree Hayes was amazing - a four-hit complete game shutout, and the Gades won, 4-0. Kyeong Kang homered and I even called a sacrifice fly! Some offense during my middle three! We even coerced Harold to join me at one point, much to his semi-dismay.

Before all was said and done, I wanted a picture of my good friends.
Um...thanks, Sean...

The drive home would have been uneventful, except for a wall of water (rain) that we hit on Interstate 290 in Worcester, and a wall of cars that slowed us up on the Mass Pike (Interstate 90) from Auburn to Sturbridge (Exits 10 to 9). People! Think EZ Pass! Yet we were off and running back in Connecticut, and even stopped for coffee and donuts at Tim Hortons!

Who knew a Tim Hortons had opened in the Nutmeg State? I just found out there are actually 15. Of course, none West of Plainville.


It was an amazing weekend. Sorry, nothing could ruin it (nice try though). Uh oh...I sense a Rule 55 moment coming. I'll stop.

I got to call a ballgame in a major league ballpark. I got to hang out with great, loyal friend. I got to talk baseball, and laugh, and sign an autograph. I brought gifts home to my son (OK, he didn't really like them, but he's six). I brought home more memories that will last forever.

You can get a sense for it all by looking at the pictures here.

Renegades-Spinners at Fenway Park - Part 2 (The Game)

When we last left off, we were approaching gametime. I had suddenly had the realization that I was about to broadcast a game at Fenway Park. Nobody was coming to tell me to stop; this was for real.

At 11:45 AM, Nick Kalogris started the theme music, and as I've become the pre-game host, it was my job to open the broadcast. I don't normally do this, but I knew what I wanted to say:
"Words I never thought I'd say in my life, 'Live from Fenway Park, this is Hudson Valley Renegades Baseball.'"
I'm told that my opening was good in totality, and I guess it sounded OK when I heard it, but I was beginning to hyperventilate as I spoke. Sean Ford thought I was nuts, of course, but I don't take these opportunities lightly. I just didn't want to mess it up. There are times that I get when our audience will be a little larger than usual, or when the stakes are a little higher. This was one of those times.

Eventually it just became baseball. The Gades and Spinners would play a wonderful ballgame. Anthony Scelfo would homer into the bullpen in right center, and the Gades would need to play catchup in the ninth, as they tied the contest at three. I called the fourth through six innings and enjoyed every minute, despite the sleepy offensive performances by each team. That's become a running joke. There are no highlights when I'm behind the mic!

The Gades had their chance to take the lead in the ninth but came up short, and would eventually lose the game in the 12th, 4-3. Sean was gracious enough to let me call the 11th (I didn't know that was coming), and I was a strike away from taking the call for the 13th. Oh well.

We quickly finished up the postgame show so that Sean could catch the team bus back to Lowell (silly guy, he could have gotten a ride from us). Harold and I went downstairs to catch up with my family (cousin Ron and Kris, along with Shelby and Ana) then came back to the booth to watch some of the PawSox/Charlotte Knights game.

We both hated to leave, but it was getting late in the day and we needed to resolve our parking and get to the hotel. What we found out was that media parking would have been free (that would have been nice to know) but after a 20 minute walk, we were back at the garage, and our media credential was enough to get parking down to just $9. We couldn't complain.

We found our accommodations in Billerica to be more than accommodating (thank you, Courtyard by Marriott), and dinner at the Lowell Brew Works hit the spot. We talked about watching a movie in the room, but Harold and I were both out by 10:15.

So ended day one. Day two took us to LeLacheur Park in Lowell for the second meeting between the Gades and the Spinners. We'll carry on from here.

Number 13, Meet Number 13!

I called today's Renegades-Oneonta Tigers matinée at Dutchess Stadium, and took Sean and Mom along. Though warm, it was a wonderful day for baseball. As at Ripken Stadium, Sean got the full run of the place. This time, he got to join Sean Ford and I in the clubhouse as we interviewed Gades manager Joe Alvarez. Joe told him he could ask a question, and in the end, he asked two:

- Would number 13 (Robi Estrada) be playing? The answer was "no." Sean, if you don't know, wears number 13 because his favorite player is A-Rod. So 13 is now his favorite number.
- Would he autograph a ball for him? The answer was, "Since it's Sunday, sure." He was kidding - of course he would sign.

So we have to work on his interviewing skills...

Then he and my Mom enjoyed the game as Sean and I called the Gades 3-0 win.

After the final out, Sean (The Son) got down to the field and was allowed to run the bases - pretty cool, considering I was still on the air as he was out there, and I described it to a breathless audience (OK, probably not).

After that, I got Sean back down to the left field picnic area, where the players were signing autographs for a special group of fans. What did my wondering eye spy getting ready to leave, but number 13, Robi Estrada himself! He couldn't have been more accommodating. Sean was able to talk to him for just a minute. Then he caught up with Jason Corder, who also signed for him. That made me smile, as Jason's family was kind enough to send a pizza up to the booth for us on Friday night. We sometimes forget the impact we have on the families.

Oh but we matter to them, and for some reason, they like us.

It's great to see the players doing right by the fans. Sean will not soon forget the kindness of Corder, Estrada, and Alvarez, just as he won't forget Caleb Joseph in Aberdeen.

So the "Rob Adams New York-Penn League World Tour" (T-shirts coming soon) has made it to Brooklyn, Aberdeen, Boston, and Lowell. Oneonta might be next Saturday (I hope...but it's a looong day trip), and I'm going to try to get back to Brooklyn before seeing Staten Island for the first time. I consider all offers to ride shotgun with me!

Not bad for a "pathetic" career, eh?

Don't ask. I will then have to invoke "Rule 55."

Sean had a great baseball weekend. He went to Saturday's Yankees-Royals tilt at the Stadium (sadly, his first game without his Daddy, but that's cool), and now this. He might go with me next Saturday, and if he does, you can bet that Cooperstown will get a visit from him. we've gone and done it. Rule 55 in action! Enjoy this video of Lou Gehrig in the 1938 movie "Rawhide."

A Quickie on The Babe

It was 60 years ago yesterday that we lost Babe Ruth. The greatest baseball player of them all; we owe virtually everything in the sport to him. His personality was larger than life.

There's no doubt in my mind that his number should be retired all across baseball - bottom line. It would not be simply a politically correct move. It would honor the man who saved the game and wowed us by showing incredible skills on the field.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chris Russo Out at WFAN; Mike and the Mad Dog No More

Neil Best had it all along. He's been saying it all summer.

And now he writes that an era in New York radio is over.

My prediction is that they will not be successful apart.

More to come...

And there is more. Russo wasn't supposed to get a farewll, but Francesa nixed that and had Doggie on via phone. Today's opening was a must listen, as it was the final time we would hear the familiar opening that has become a part of our lives (Aaaaaannnnnnd...GOOD AFTERNOON EVERYBODY...HOW ARE YOU TODAY?). Hell, my son knows that song and opening.

Mike opened solo and spoke eloquently, in a way that I think people would appreciate hearing more of. Then he took a break and had the Doggie on. Dog spoke with an honesty about it being time to walk away and so on. Then...he broke down.

They would recover and talk like friends, and perhaps they may be going forward. We may never know, but what we do know is that the Mike and the Mad Dog show is over, and so is this era in radio. And as with Imus last year, I imagine my own listening habits have changed again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Renegades-Spinners at Fenway Park - Part 1 (Pregame)

(Sean Ford and Rob Adams - photo by Harold)

OK, let's get it out of the way. Here's the deal: I'm a baseball fan. No, I'm a Baseball Historian (the caps make it look more official). I'm a Yankees fan, for sure, but I'm a baseball fan (and Historian) first and foremost. While, by nature, I don't like the Red Sox, I appreciate their fans and history and most of all, their ballpark.

With all of that being said, I will go almost anywhere to call a game (just ask my WGCH colleagues about the places we've worked), and will do just about anything to get a game on the air (note to Ricky - remember the game at Hopkins...or Riverdale?). If I'm asked to call a game at Shea Stadium (God forbid), then I'll do it. Are we clear now?

OK...onto Fenway Park.

I picked up my good buddy Harold, who would be serving as my "producer" for the two-day excursion into New England and we set off on our three-hour drive to The Hub (aka Boston). In fact, we made such great time that, even with some traffic near Bristol Connecticut, a bathroom break, and walking the wrong way after parking, we were still at Fenway Park around 9:30 - just a mere 3:30 after leaving Lake Carmel.

Sean Ford met us at the Absolut Club (a special area for certain guests) and we set off to the booth with media credentials around our necks (don't you love it when a plan comes together?). After a few stumbles figuring out which booth was ours (Booth E) and hooking up the equipment, we were ready to broadcast the game between our own Hudson Valley Renegades and the Lowell Spinners. It was game one of "Futures at Fenway", an abolutely brilliant idea that should be embraced by other teams.

Then Harold got to see first-hand the magic of the media credential, as we asked how to get to the field, walked down thourhg the stands, and with a little "ready?" to him, opened the gate and stepped out onto the same turf that Babe Ruth won a World Series on in 1918. It had the same magic as the first time I stepped onto the field at Yankee Stadium in 2003. Yet before we could have fun, I had work to do. I met with Gades manager Joe Alvarez and interviewed him in the visitors' dugout.

Now, just pause for a moment here. I had never interviewed Joe, yet here I was. Talking with him. In the dugout. At Fenway Park. The same dugout that the Yankees use.

We're talking crazy stuff.

After our chat with Joe (who is just a world-class guy), we paused for a moment to take it all in. Was this for real? Were we really allowed to go into the Green Monster?
Yes, we were.

We walked everywhere. Through the Monster (where I found the 55 plate that is used on the scoreboard and had my picture take with it), around the warning track, past the Pesky Pole, back to the dugouts, up to the Monster Seats and Pavilion before working our way through the closed-off areas (behind the ropes) to the press box.

Remarkable, wild stuff.

We had lunch ($5 for unlimited hot dogs, Caesar salad, drinks and other goodies) and settled in for the call of the game. It seemed unreal to me that I was about call a game from Fenway Park, but the countdown was on.

We'll do this in a couple of parts. Up next...the game.

Catching Up With Old Friends

I joined Michael Breed as host of "Tee Time" on WGCH in 1999 and we immediately hit it off. Michael liked the fact that I was irreverent and, quite honestly, I was never a threat to him, especially after I butchered the name "Scott Hoch" during one of my early World Famous Scoreboard Updates (it rhymes with "yoke", not "scotch"). We quickly became fast friends, and he showed me things about golf that I never knew.

Michael and I took the show onto the Business Talk Radio Network and went national but we eventually bagged the show due to being on Sunday nights, where we weren't going to get any guests. That and I was doing the show for free.

Anyway, I haven't spoken to Michael in some time, but I always keep up on what he's doing. He's still one of the top teaching pros in the country (and he got me my first set of clubs). I miss his friendship, but am so happy for how well he has done.

My friends over at Greenwich Roundup found this article from the Journal News (by Sam "the freakin' Man" Weinman) about Breed. Michael continues to get great press. That never fails to amaze me.

By the way, Sam Weinman doesn't call himself "the freakin' Man." I just think he's a great writer, so I called him that...just now.

Oh, and I just discovered that Michael has a website. This does not surprise me.

While I'm playing catchup, allow me to mention Dave Rothenberg, who started on WGCH (and WVIP) with me in 1999, helping me as a studio host for football and eventually calling some games in various sports. Dave's a great guy, and he had recently moved to North Carolina to host "Inside the ACC" on 99.9 The Fan. Well Dave just got a promotion. He writes:
Brett Favre isn't the only one with big news. I, too, have an announcement to make, although without the tears.

Starting Monday, I will switch from my nightly duties of hosting Inside The ACC to MORNING DRIVE!! I now get to co-host The Fanatics from 6-9 AM. This means I need to get into bed right now, but if you want to listen on-line or podcast you can go to

BTW, Favre is now the 2nd best qb in GIANTS Stadium.
Dave's one of the good guys, and he never forgets where he's from. I'm really pleased for him.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Front Page Picture

Here it is (for now), the brand new Front Page Icon that will live in the upper right portion of the "Exit 55" site. It was taken last Saturday at Fenway Park, inside the Green Monster (yeah, ironic, I know).

The full Boston trip report is to follow.

Friday, August 08, 2008

So Long, Bobby Ray

(Andy Pettitte, left, and Derek Jeter were among those representing the Yankees at the memorial service for Bobby Murcer - photo by John Clanton/The Oklahoman, via Associated Press)

Some of the media coverage for the memorial service for Bobby Murcer, last week in Oklahoma City. Some nice stuff in here.
The Canadian Press

The New York Times

News, who also had word of the State of Oklahoma honoring their native son with a Bobby Murcer Day.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

So Let Me Get This Straight - Some Women Wear Inappropriate Stuff to Work?

You know where this is Erin Andrews, of course.
This is the now-infamous outfit that Ms. Andrews wore to one of the games during the Cubs-Brewers series in Milwaukee. Now let's face it - she's fairly attractive, no? Can she report with a brain? I've gathered that she can. OK, so we've established that. So now comes the tought part - is what she wore "inappropriate?"

See, I guess I'm kind of used to this stuff by now. Women bearing some of their goods when they go to work? Showing "the girls?" Maybe showing some leg?

Yes...yes...and yes.

Now do I think it's wrong? I'll leave that to you to decide. Depends on the situation. Who are we talking about? What's their job? Sometimes, yes, it is inappropriate. Sometimes I think there are people who push the envelope, and get their jollies by doing so. They'll keep doing it until somebody talks to them. Otherwise, they're happy to be the center of attention, and for the leering...until it crosses the line.

You see, unless you're new to the human race, then you probably know that women have been "working it" since the beginning of time. They know how to play men. I'm not saying Erin Andrews is doing that - let's be very clear. But, God bless her, she's got the goods and she's strutting it, and all seemed to be cool until Mike Nadel called her out. Then everybody began to get in on the act...

fellow sports reporter Trenni Kusnierek (ripping Andrews)...

Chief Chicago Asshat (and fellow ESPN colleague) Jay Mariotti (ripping Nadel)...

And a very smart take on it by David Whitley in the Sun-Sentinal...

Lastly, of course, is Andrews herself.

I don't think any of them are wrong, believe it or not. Nadel had his take, Andrews is disappointed in it. Let it go at that, I guess. Women dress like eye candy to be on TV? Come on, you're kidding!

'Twas once a time where women weren't allowed in the locker room. They didn't report on games - heavens, no! You see, I don't care. Are they smart? Are they accurate? OK then I don't care what they look like. Sadly though, you just can't be ugly (well...that might be in the eye of the beholder). Michelle Tafoya, Hannah Storm, Suzy Kolber, Melissa Stark, Pam Oliver, and Andrews are just a few who can hold their own in the male-dominated sports world. Are each of them attractive? I'm not going there. I'm just saying they can hang with us in the sports-broadcasting world.

What they wear, and how they look, does matter to many. I have yet to turn on a game because I knew Andrews, for instance, would be reporting. But this idea that because Erin Andrews was wearing a little sundress that looked pretty damn good on her is bad is just lame - because I see it all the time. In the workplace. On the street. Anywhere. Everywhere.

And so do you.

Now the rub is that her credibility is damaged, along with the cred of other women in sports (like Kusnierek). That sounds like a bit of sour apples to me, but I get her opinion, and it's not wrong. On TV, this look is neither shocking or wrong. You become a flirty woman with (hopefully) the chops to be a reporter. In a corporate office, you become the office tease.

Or worse.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Camping...Robbie Style!

The camping trip to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania was a much so that I'm planning on buying a bigger tent and doing it again next year. For four days and three nights, we were in the comfort of the great outdoors with family, friends and food. The weather was great (even cold at night - really cold one night) and the laughs were greater. It lived up to the hype.

This all being said, let me be very clear that I am never going to be confused with a master camper. I need my hot shower, my change of clothes, my good food (or I'll go off-site and get some), and pereferably, I need something fun to do. A pool. A tourist-friendly site (like the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway and The Old Jail). A place to go get a cup of coffee without waiting two hours for the damn thing to percolate (if I so choose).

But most of all (maybe) I need a comfy place to sleep. While I can sleep almost anywhere, my back is not a big fan of the aftermath. So for me to camp, I bought an air mattress. I tested it out a month or so back, and noticed that the air seemed to leak, but was led to believe that it might be normal. So I set up shop on our first night at the campsite and laid down. Within two hours I was wide awake...and much of the air in said air mattress was gone.

I spent the night wrapped up in a sleeping bag on the ground. Thank God I got the sleeping bag.

As I lay there on the ground, in the tent, I figured that I could just go to the Wal-Mart in Lehighton - about 20 minutes away - explain the situation, and that would be it. Simple, no?

No dice.

They told me they had a strict policy against airbed returns. No receipt? Nothing they could do. I walked away, furious. I found nieces Laura and Steph - both of whom came along and they encouraged me to find a manager. I tried the sporting goods department, figuring we could work things out back there. Nope - the stooge on duty said she couldn't help me. I needed to find a manager. I was told Brenda, the assistant store manager, could help.

I returned to the Customer Service desk where Brenda was getting ready to head onto the sales floor. Using my patented Honest All-American Good Guy approach, I explained the situation. Still, no go.

So let's see if we're straight here. I have an air bed that is clearly defective, but they have a policy that says they can't take defective air beds without a receipt. Makes sense?

The problem was, they were enforcing it incorrectly. Oh sure, there's a policy that says they won't take the air bed back without a receipt if I'm trying to get my money back, but the part about being defective didn't include anything about a receipt. Sadly, ol' Brenda had no interest in hearing that, and really never did answer me when I said, "So what you're telling me is that Wal-Mart doesn't support their products." She just stood there, dumbfounded.

I was just about to walk away and weigh my options when Laura walked in as if I had just high-fived her in a tag-team match. She slammed the policy right down in front of Brenda and repeated what I just said about receipts and defective air beds. Still, no go.

So we stormed away (calmly) and regained our composure (at this point, I'm calming Laura down). I decided that the only thing to do was to call Wal-Mart's coroporate office from outside the stoor.

I explained the situation to the rep that answered the phone. She said that I would need to speak to regional marketing manager regarding this...and I could feel my blood beginning to boil as if I was waging a fruitless battle. I could see my options would be: a) sleep on the ground or b) buy a new bed and try to return it back in New York.

Yet I persevered. I explained the situation calmly one more time to the marketing manager's office like this:

"I just bought an air bed in New York (it was acutally Danbury, CT) and was using it while camping in Jim Thorpe. It's clearly defective and I've brought it back to your store in Lehighton, but trusting your product, I foolishly didn't bring the receipt. Your assistant store manager, Brenda, won't take it back. To be honest with you, I'd be happy with a bed of lesser value at this point. I just want a decent night's sleep."

Her reaction?

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Adams. I don't understand why Brenda is being so difficult about the return of a defective product. She clearly isn't enforcing the policy correctly. Go right back into the store and I will call Brenda myself."

Though I didn't get the pleasure of facing Brenda again, I did get to see Cat, the Customer Service Rep who I first dealt with, and she just kind of snarled at me. I picked out a smaller bed - easier to put in our tent - and before Cat could say a word, I told her that I didn't care at this point. I just wanted to be done. So I got the bed, and a gift card for the difference (which I didn't expect).

Thanks to the people "up the line" in the Wal-Mart food chain for doing right by their customers. The funny thing is, I really don't like to shop there, and hadn't in a long time, but being fiscally responsible negates such pride.

Laura and I are now firmly a tag team, and reminded everybody of that back at the campground (oh, thanks Jim Thorpe Camping Resort for a comfortable and fun experience).

Sean learned to fish, I got to relax, and we had fun. We had major father-son time. Sean acted like a bratty six year-old at times, but I don't view him as being worse than any other kid. Sure he needs to toughen up, and he's been coddled a lot, but he could be worse.

Oh, and we named my new air bed. Brenda, of course.

Pictures from the experience are here. I shot a short video as we waited for the train ride to start.

For Love of the Game

I'm all about trying to make people love baseball, because despite the number of people going through the turnstiles, I still see plenty of evidence of our National Pastime struggling in many areas and demographics. I don't think as many kids are as passionate about the game, for instance, as I was when I was young.

But I'm also weird. Then again, that's been recognized.

Yet hopefully I helped strengthen Sean's love of baseball yesterday. I had promised myself that I would make a few Renegades road trips - gas prices be damned. One of the games I circled was the afternoon affair between the Gades and the Aberdeen Ironbirds at Ripken Stadium. Initially my plan was to go alone - I mean, after all, to and from a game in Maryland (from New York) in a day is a lot to ask of a six-year old with the attention span of a Bob Feller fastball. Yet when I saw how the weekend was lining up, I felt it was my duty to take Sean and give him a day he would perhaps never forget. So I lined up my mom (herself a big baseball fan learned at the knee of her father - a Yankees fan and semi-pro ballplayer), who was as excited to go as Sean was...if not more.

A quick call to the Ironbirds office allowed me to explain that while I'm one of the Gades radio broadcasters, I don't travel with the team and only make select games. For me to make this trip, I was bringing some people to keep me company and keep me awake (good call, as I had a sleepless Saturday night). So I provided the names of my accomplices and was told to go to Will Call on Sunday to get the tickets.

Easy, right?


We set off just after 8:00 in my mom's car (thank you, thank you, thank you) and, recognizing my passengers, made a few stops along the way - coffee, breakfast, bathroom (the usual). Though I know we could have made it from Mahopac to Aberdeen in about three-and-a-half hours, we were there in just over four. Ever the financially-cautious person that I am these days, imagine my thrill to discover that parking at Ripken Stadium is...ready?...FREE.

The parking lot was largely empty, and we strolled to the Will Call window where the passes were handed to us with barely a raised eyebrow. Next, we walked right into the stadium, even with backpacks (you didn't think I was going to let Sean go without things to occupy him, did you?). To make things even cooler, we were given Ironbirds hats!

We found Sean Ford in our booth (yes, two Sean's...see below...with me calling the game).
With our passes, I was able to get Sean down to the field, where I showed him around - yet I always get nervous that somebody will scold us. Instead, an usher asked if we'd like our picture taken with Ironbirds' starting catcher Caleb Joseph. Right there, being fan-friendly makes instant fans. It's that easy. For the record, Caleb had an infield hit and struck out twice, but is better than that.
We walked the entire length of the warning track - past the rotating ads in center field that got Sean's attention, and where I demonstrated how the outfield wall is padded (Adams leaps...and MAKES THE pretend CATCH!) to the bullpens. Now...I'll apologize in advance for doing this...but I took Sean into the Gades bullpen and found catcher Tyler Hauschild's helmet. I let Sean try it on and took a picture. was for the love of the game. Forgive me?

I was able to show things to Sean that a lot of kids don't get access to. Finally, a member of the grounds crew asked if we were with anybody, and after showing him our credentials, we were allowed to stay. They got it - and so did everybody else within the Ironbirds' family. Though it might have seemed different to have these two people following me around (a kid and his Granny), they understood that it was the opportunity to make a connection, and make it about family.

If the Ripken organization doesn't understand that, then nobody does. I can't possibly say a bad thing about our time in this wonderful facility. The food was good (jambalaya!), the facility was beautiful, and the staff was friendly. Ironbirds' radio voice Steve Lenox also had his family on hand, so it was "Broadcasters Take Your Son to Work Day!"

The Gades won the game, 6-4, and Sean was extremely well-behaved. It isn't easy to nurse kids through a nine-inning game, but it's a lot easier when you're not confined to a seat, and are allowed to spread toys out - be it in the air conditioning of the club level, or the great outdoors. Plus those blow-up bouncy things help. And mascots handing out little baseballs.

And, working quickly, I got Sean back down to the field where he was allowed to run the bases with other kids.

Our ride home was somewhat uneventful, despite the lousy Sunday night traffic. That lengthened our drive to about five hours (we stopped for dinner also). Sean slept most of the way home. I hope he went to camp today and bragged about his great experience. That would make it all worthwhile.

Next up for me is Fenway Park, followed by Lowell, Oneonta, and perhaps Brooklyn (again) and Staten Island.

The rest of the pictures from our day are here.

Baseball+father-son time=priceless. Add in a mom that loves baseball (sadly I can't take my dad) and it was a really great day.