Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Opposite of Freddy Mercury

Last week, I railed against the ridiculousness of Queen using Adam Lambert in place of the late Freddie Mercury, the greatest frontman of them all. Beyond Freddie, I think we could agree with people like Bruce Springsteen (you're just not paying attention if you don't agree), Mick Jagger, Bono, Roger Daltrey, Jim Morrison, Michael Hutchence, Robert Plant, Joey Ramone, David Lee Roth, and Steven Tyler (with Debbie Harry, Gwen Stefani, and Chrissie Hynde bringing some female growl into the mix).

So you might wonder, who are the worst? I mean, who flat out sucks?

For once, you don't need to hear it from me.

Let this brilliant post from Alex Young at WNEW be your guide to the odious, the obnoxious, and the just plain lame.

Well done, Alex.

For me, a great show will never be about stage design or effects. It's about energy and voice, and interaction and most of all...THE MUSIC.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Citi Field Review

OK, let's get this out of the way, right off the bat. I will not, under any circumstances, compare Yankee Stadium to Citi Field. They are apples and oranges. Yankees Stadium is vast; a stadium befitting the Evil Empire. Citi Field is much more quaint, in that "retro ballpark" style that has been the rage since Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore opened in 1992.

So with that said, it's fair to compare Citi Field to Camden Yards, PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Citizen Bank Ballpark (Philadelphia), Progressive Field in Cleveland, and so on (San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Cincinnati, Houston, Arlington, etc). Specifically, I've been in or around Camden Yards, Progressive Field, and PNC Park.

Citi Field would come in fourth in that group.

It's a nice place - there's no doubt about it, and I'll go watch a game there anytime. And I should mention that it was thanks to my extended family from the radio networks (Business Talk and Lifestyle) and Spongetech that I was able to attend.

We had a suite for the evening, and it was great. I can't say enough about the staff - literally every person I talked to was polite and professional. The gentleman who tended to our room was super-attentive. The fridge stayed well-stocked with soda and water (sorry, no alcohol unless you went and bought some). The food was so-so - dogs, burgers, and chicken, with potato salad. There were desserts also. The chocolate chip cookie seemed a little hard, and I've had better tiramisu.

The suite was comfortable - every bit like ones that I've been in in Fishkill and Bridgeport, but more luxurious, with leather seats and outdoor seating with overhead heaters.

The picture at top is from the left field seats in the upper deck. My cousin Kris sat there earlier in the season and he wanted to show me the perspective. People have complained about the obstructed views in the Bronx, and these are equally bad. The left and center fielders are just rumors.

So here we are, in the famed Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Apparently this massive 42 is a photo stop. I especially enjoyed the Mets fans who lined up to have their picture taken, pulling on their Mets logos with pride.

Because, of course, Robinson played for the Mets, right? He broke the color barrier with the Amazin's, no?

That would be no. I see Junior Gilliam, Pee Wee Reese, Chuck Dressen, Duke Snider, and Jackie Robinson - Dodgers all. Snider (The "Duke of Flatbush", Brooklyn) played for the Mets in the Polo Manhattan.

It's all very confusing.

Anyway, having now seen the Rotunda, I can tell you that my blood boiled, and I would have been equally angry if I was a Mets fan (and I did hear some comments from them). What in the name of Ed Kranepool does this have to do with the Mets?

So yeah, it's a really bad job by the Wilpons. Robinson played his entire career for the Dodgers and refused a trade to the Giants. Leave the social impact to be built at Dodger Stadium.

Of course, it's bad enough that this is supposed to be Ebbets Field. Old Giants fans must be thrilled.

The bullpen entrance was by far my favorite part of Citi Field.

I loved the inclusion of this bridge. New Yorker's know all too well that bridges (and tunnels) play a large part of almost any commute. This area was also the one part of the park that said "home of the Mets"

Love it or not (I think it goes along with the Mets cheesy minor league image), the apple is part of their deal. This is the one that was at Shea Stadium - they've installed a new one in center field.

Staying on point, it's Mr. Met. Still, what's not to like about Mr. Met?

You want more cheese? How about the old neon and flashing lights from the top of the old Shea scoreboard?


Yet that's the Mets for ya. They can't come up with their own singalong song (they use "Sweet Caroline" and while it's painful to hear Red Sox fans warble it, at least they sing with some conviction). The Mets also shoot off T-shirts from cannons. These are things I expect to see and hear at a Renegades game, and further proliferates the notion that the team does not have an identity.

Beyond the center field scoreboard, there's a concourse area with games - mostly aimed at kids. That's a really nice touch, though you might see much of the game in person if you're a parent.

On the field, I saw just how bad the Washington Nationals really are. The Mets fielded a team without Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes (now on the DL) and they still cruised to a 6-1 win. Gary Sheffield lined a home run to left.

You might think this bothered me, but really, why? I got to visit a nice new ballpark, be with good friends and my cousin, share some laughs, have some dinner, and what else? Oh yeah, meet Straw!

For the record, when I walked over, Darryl took note of my Steelers jacket (he's a Cowboys fan) and I made sure to tell him that I am a BIG Yankees fan, and how much I enjoyed watching him play in the Bronx. He told me he enjoyed his time there.

Some were horrified that I would say such a thing. My cousin thought it was appropriate. It's not like we're talking about a guy who had a cup of coffee with the Bombers.

Oh, and I wore the Steelers jacket because my other option was a Yankees one. Not that I didn't represent...I had a Yankees Universe T-shirt on underneath!

Finally, I got to see the press box area. I glanced into the working media section (those are the beat writers and electronic reporters). I also got a view of one of the radio press boxes. While nice (and better than most places I've ever worked in), it looked smaller than the booth we used at Fenway Park last August.

So to wrap up, I'm not bashing Citi Field - honestly. I like it. It's clean, it's well-maintained, the staff is very professional, and once they build some history, it will really be the home of the Mets. Right now, it could be the home of anybody. It just needs an identity.

Amazing that the Mets really don't have much of a history, considering they've existed since 1962. Of course, I think they do have a history, but shame on the Wilpons for thinking otherwise.

If you have a chance to go, but all means do so. You'll enjoy the experience, but I'm not sure it's any better than any of the other places that I mentioned. I'd still rather go to Baltimore, walk in via Eutaw Street, grab some Boog's Bar-B-Q, and take in an Orioles game, despite their stupid national anthem tradition (OH!).

But that's for another time.

A Good Way To Pass Some Time

I'm sitting home on this Wednesday night, without child, but cat nearby. He's not much for conversation though (much like the money you could be saving with Geico). Since I'm still fighting this nasty cold, I decided I was going to pass on reading and went with flipping the dial. That led me to my DVR and the broadcast of Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. Any semi-baseball historian knows that was the game in which Don Larsen was perfect.

I hadn't watched the broadcast from the beginning, and wasn't intending to watch as much as I did, but it's so utterly freaking brilliant that I can't stop.

A few observations:

- Bob Costas notes that there were 15 Hall of Famers involved in this game in one form or another. That includes players, managers, coaches, and broadcasters.
- The graphics are hysterical. For each player's first appearance, a picture of the player and their name are placed in a split screen. Later on, it's just the player's name superimposed.
- There are the obvious differences from what we see now. No closeups, no center field camera, no instant replay and, obvious, nothing in color. Almost no reaction shots, though there are some crowd shots.
- The ads are virtually all for the same sponsor - Gillette. Buy their blades and get a "vest size" version of the Baseball Encyclopedia.
- That encyclopedia gets mentioned at every turn. Mel Allen called the first four and a half innings and works the encyclopedia into a brief interview with Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell. He also mentions it after Mickey Mantle gets the first hit of the day for either team - a fourth inning home run.
- Ah yes, the broadcasters. They were selected back then based on the teams that participated in the Series. Thus, the Yankees always sent Allen, even though the legendary Red Barber also worked for the Bombers. Mel, of course, is still known as the "Voice of the Yankees." Allen and Barber, just as an FYI, were so good that they won the Ford C. Frick Award (the broadcaster's equivalent of Hall of Fame immortality) together in 1978 - the first two selected and the only pair.
- So you have Allen representing the Yankees. Thanks to Barber departing Brooklyn following the 1953 season, the Ol' Redhead had called his last Series. Thus his young protegee from the Dodgers was at the mic on this day. Kid named Scully. He's not bad - just a mere 28 years old.

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!! I look to my right and see a book called Pull Up a Chair: The Vin Scully Story, written by Curt Smith. Once we work out the details, Mr. Smith will join me on "The Press Box" for what I hope will be a very special show. As the man who has chronicled baseball broadcasting, beginning with Voices of the Game, I look forward to picking his brain. So I have to get better and start reading!

- As of 1956, there is no analyst, so while Allen mentions Scully playing baseball at Fordham (CHUCK COSTELLO!!), you never hear from Scully. In fact, Allen and Scully interact just twice to my knowledge - when Mel hands the play-by-play to Vin in the bottom of the fifth, and just after the final out.
- Both "voices" are brilliant at letting what is an albeit poor picture tell the story. They don't talk superfluously. There are a few little tidbits thrown in, and some ad mentions (not as prevalent once Scully takes over, due to Allen being the Gillette mouthpiece) and they do discuss things that the viewer can't necessarily see. Otherwise, they do their jobs.
- I don't think Scully ever uses the words "no hitter" or "perfect game" until it is over, but he does mention the number of consecutive outs. There's no doubt that the viewer knows that is going on. In fact, Larsen knew he was throwing a no-hitter but had no knowledge that he was throwing a perfect game, or even knew what one was! Larsen's would be the first one since 1922, when Charlie Robertson of the White Sox blanked the Tigers. A complete list is here.
- The commercial in the middle of the sixth, featuring Allen, Casey Stengel, and Jerry Coleman is just great - followed with a live tag by Scully, the one time that he's on camera all day. Allen shows up twice and each time, he's got a fedora on.
- In case you're wondering, the game is on NBC, but you wouldn't know it. There are no station ID's, no logos superimposed and most notably, no show promos. Thus no mention of "The Perry Como Show", NBC's highest-rated program for the 1956-1957 season. (Worthless note: The Como show was seventh - the top six were all on CBS, led by "I Love Lucy" and "The Ed Sullivan Show.")
- The action moves along quickly (that's no secret). Players don't adjust equipment after every pitch, and there are few visits to the mound and virtually no pitching changes. Imagine that! Pitchers work out of trouble and there are NO PITCH COUNTS!
- There's nothing maudlin in the broadcast. No forced stories - even in the early innings. Sure Jackie Robinson is there, but not once did I hear the words "breaking the color barrier." He's just a respected ballplayer by this point, along with Campy, Junior Gilliam, Elston Howard, and anybody that I'm not thinking of. Robinson was three games away from retirement when the day began.
- Scully, ever the master, gets the final innings (which no doubt killed the gregarious Allen). Scully maintains his cool (how would Joe Buck do today?), even going so far as to say, "Let's all take a deep breath" before the ninth inning. Perhaps my favorite line is, "Yankee Stadium. Shivering in its concrete foundation." Following the final out, his words are perfect: "Got him! the greatest game ever pitched in baseball history by Don Larsen."
- To me, you can't even tell that Scully is the "voice" of the Dodgers in this broadcast. That's the way Red Barber taught him.
- A quick postscript: I love watching the fans stream out of the stands onto the field to exit via the center field gate. Nobody is tearing the field up. That's the way it used to be. Sad we can't do that now.
- Scully and Allen in the final moments of the call, discuss how they will likely never see such a thing again. They're correct - 53 years later, no one has come close to pitching a perfect game in the World Series or playoffs (Jim Longborg retired 19 straight Cardinals in the 1967 Classic). Allen is gone now, having passed away in 1995 (I'm pleased to say I met him once - in 1991. It was an honor and he was most gracious). Scully is still broadcasting the Dodgers.
- To that point, many of the participants are dead. Jackie Robinson, Walter Alston, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella (I met him once - 1978 or so), and Sal Maglie are among some of those who have passed on from the Dodgers. Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, Hank Bauer, Casey Stengel, are among the Yankees we have lost. In fact, among the Yankees lineup, only Yogi Berra, Don Larsen, Andy Carey, and Gil McDougald are still alive, while Duke Snider is the only living Dodger. Incidentally, there were no subs for New York on that day and the Dodgers only used Dale Mithcell - the last out of the game - as a pinch-hitter.

I can't even imagine what it must have been like and remember: it was all played during the day. So work, school, and other responsibilities would have seemed trite that day.

This all probably confirms to many of the youngins that I have no life and am fairly pathetic. Yet it proves why I loved the original Classic Sports Network before ESPN got their hands on it and ruined it. Just as an aside, today, ESPN Classic ran the soccer match between Man U and Barcelona...a game that had JUST ENDED. Tell me how that is classic?

What I watched tonight was classic. Brilliant, gorgeous, and proof that there is nothing like the grand American Pastime.

Couple of Links

I wrote about Memorial Day earlier this week, and Greenwich Roundup was kind enough to name it as its Featured Blog Post.

Also, Sean Kilkelly breaks down the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Vets Day, in my mind, never gets the respect that it deserves. For one thing, many offices don't close in honor of the day, something the United States has become woeful at. No wonder those who still have jobs are overworked.

Charles Costello returned to "The Press Box" yesterday and posted a note about it on his very fine blog.

Can I buy Cameron Frye's House?

I went to Citi Field last night, and owe you a post about it. Frankly, I feel like garbage today, so I'll post something when I think I'm capable of writing something coherent. I wouldn't even host "The Press Box" today if I could get away with taking the day off.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I'm all for enjoying Memorial Day - the Indy 500, baseball, picnics, hot dogs, burgers, beer, and even shopping and sales.

I will surely partake in some of this, particularly some eats, and perhaps hang out on a beach or in a park.

I will also attend the annual Memorial Day parade in Fairfield, CT.

And I will definitely take a moment somewhere during the day to remember our fallen veterans.

I ask all the readers of Exit 55 to do the same. Don't be maudlin or fake. "Bandwagon patriotism" drives me insane. So just pause somewhere and remember them. Chances are, you know somebody who died in the service. Honor them.

Then play Springsteen's "Born to Run" and carry on.

God Save (the) Queen

Rumors continue to swirl around the Web that American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert could be Queen's top pick as their next lead singer.
It was bad enough that the surviving members of Queen hit the road with Paul Rodgers, but now possibly Adam Lambert, or somebody else?

You see, it's not like you're replacing Steve Perry or Michael Hutchence (both of whose respective bands have soldiered on with somebody else at the helm). Perry, Hutchence and others were great frontmen, but none of them could compare to the legendary Freddie Mercury, who I say is the greatest leader in the history of rock and roll.

It's not unusual for bands to move on - see Who, The for examples, as Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend have continued to perform after the deaths of both Keith Moon and John Entwistle. Even The Doors gave it a go, sort of, after the passing of Jim Morrison. Bad idea, in my opinion.

Many more called it a day. Rumors carried on for years about The Beatles getting back together, but that essentially came to an end after John Lennon's murder in 1980. No, I'm not forgetting about the re-recordings of two songs for the Anthology series in the mid-90's. At least they used Lennon's voice.

Queen had four tremendous musicians, and there wasn't a weak link in the band, but the fact is that Freddie Mercury was their personality. He was their identity. Brian May is as good a guitarist as you'll ever see or hear, and John Deacon and Roger Taylor carried the rhythm section. But replace Freddie, perhaps the best showman of them all?

They once sang "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." This is one crazy little thing that should bite the dust.

Cavs Lose...Wait, WHAT?

It's OK. We're all allowed a moment like this. I'm sure it was like a morgue on the set of news stations in Orlando.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Message for Cocky Phillies Phans Everywhere

So I was at the Stadium last night with little ol' Sean (who enjoyed the A-Bomb from Mr. Rodriguez and nagged me incessantly for popcorn) and the supporters of the National League team from Philadelphia were, shall we say, rather arrogant and obnoxious. OK - takes one to know one, and to the victor goes the spoils (they are, after all, the defending world champs).

Yet a few minutes ago, the aforementioned Mr. Rodgriguez blasted a game-tying home run off the once impenetrable Brad Lidge. Hmmmm...isn't A-Rod the one who is never clutch? Strange because, down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, you would expect the former Madonna man-pal to fold up, no?

Thus we had a tie game. A few moments later, Robbie Cano (don't ya know) and the Melkman delivered. Suddenly, Mystique and Aura were back in the Bronx, a bad Friday night is forgotten, and all is well.

So Phils Phans, thanks for playing. That's nicer than what I was originally going to write.

Oh, and I do apologize for the lack of blogging. I informed Verizon of the problems with my internet service, and they told me that I would receive a phone call before 2:00 PM to discuss the matter. What I got was a phone call at 1:59 PM from a repairman who was at my house. As you probably all know, I'm sitting at a microphone at 1:59 PM in Greenwich. So now, they won't be back until as early as 8:00 AM on Tuesday morning.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Voice of the Yankees: Vin Scully

Wait, what?

It could have been. If only.

Let Keith Olbermann explain.


Happy Monday

Not too much to say on this Monday morning. Sean ("The Son") is staying home with some kind of illness. I'm still having computer problems - one seems to have a virus of some sort while my internet connection is lousy, thus impacting the other.

So we drop a few quickies on you today.

In case you missed it, I firmly believe that, after months of trying to decide, Mystique and Aura showed up at the new Yankee Stadium. Maybe they didn't have tickets. I mean, if Freddie "Sez" had to struggle to get a ticket, M&A might have been struggling to come up with the scratch for a few ducats. Yet I'm sure they were there Friday night, as the Bombers came back to beat the Twins, 5-4. The new Stadium finally made some great noise (I would know - I was there). Too much has been said about it but let me add that I finally sat in my new season ticket seats, and they would be fine, except for the people around me. When I sat back in my seat, the field disappeared thanks to the stereotypical NOO YAWKER in front of me. And don't get me started on the hulk sitting to my left.

By the bottom of the second, Kris and I left and moved to sit with Mick, Steve, Eddit, and J-man. We stayed there the rest of the night - SECTION FIVE REUNITE! I would have gone over to see Kelly and her dad but they were gone before I could get there.

I have tickets for this Friday's game against the defending world champion Phillies. Mr. Sean Adams is going to attend with me, and has pledged his allegiance to the Yankees.

Now to some linkage! I'm never one to suggest that people lose their jobs, but something has got to give in the inner workings of the New York Yankees. The rumor mill is hot that perhaps both Randy Levine and Lonn Trost may be shown the exit from Yankee Stadium (thanks, New Stadium Insider). Considering the behavior of the franchise as a whole, I want a pound of flesh (goes against my style, but this has been so egregious that I can't take it anymore).

I'm late with this one. Chuck Costello posted his appearance on "The Press Box." He'll be back on a lot. Between Chuck, Sean Kilkelly, Dan Arturi, Nick Fox, and others, we're building a great thing. Spread the word, peeps!

High school sports in Connecticut is slowly becoming Sean Patrick Bowley's world, and we're all just happy to live in it. Congratulations, SPB.

Incidentally, I'm proud to say that I will be the Master of Ceremonies for Greenwich High School Baseball's Senior Day this Thursday. I enjoy doing that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

So Much Time, So Little To Do

Wait...strike that, reverse it.

Between a crashing computer and bad internet service, I have been a non-factor on the ol' bloggo (by Ronco). There was no Press Box yesterday due to circumstances beyond my control. Everything is supposed to be okey-dokie today.

If you have the vaguest interest in the Yankees and the new Stadium, then you have to keep reading ROSS (I wrote "Russ" accidentally the last time I discussed him) over at New Stadium Insider. This time around, he not only breaks down the upcoming homestead but discusses all the idiocy and lunacy provided by Mr. Lonn Trost and the rest of the 26-time World Champions.

By the way, yes the Yankees changed their batting practice policy, but it's not enough. It's still exclusionary and just plain wrong. I get closer and closer all the time to saying that it's just not worth the aggravation any longer.

That's about all I have time for today. Gotta show to do! Other stuff will wait.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank You Long Island!

I admit that I must confuse people. I mean, here I am - radio guy, supposedly outgoing and garrulous.

And sometimes painfully shy.

Among the many people who have been looking out for me has been my once and forever Section 5 compadre Mick. He reached out to me a few days back to invite me to a friend's party. Intrigued, and in need of a night out like that, I accepted. With the party's theme being a luau, I even donned a Hawaiian shirt. I tried to not think about going to this strange land where I would know exactly two people - Mick and his wife, Gretchen.

The party was already rolling when we pulled up around 7:00 PM. Mick was gracious in introducing this strange character to all of their assembled friends. The houses owner, James, has quite the collection of "man toys", most notably a completely refurbished arcade game machine, loaded with some 3000 games. This was clearly the place for the guys to be.

That is, until Rock Band came out.

You know by now what a music nut I am, and I've been intrigued by Rock Band and Guitar Hero for some time. So the chance to watch everyone play it was cool. But I knew, eventually, the question would come up.

"Why don't you play?"

I wasn't up to trying the guitar or drums. Not yet - maybe some other time. The third option was to sing, but while I like to believe that I have a decent voice, I didn't want anyone to hear it. Plus most of the songs that I would consider belting out had already been done.

Mick was persistent. I know he would have let up if I said to, and I must admit that my eyes were really dry (a long day of contact lens wearing), so seeing the TV screen was a semi-chore.

It was time to make a decision. Could the tired, quiet stranger from the northern suburbs bring himself to step out his shell and rock out with his dignity out? I took the microphone and the Wii controller and began to scan the songs. The truth is, I had already been considering what song I would do and was pretty sure of my choice. I had been rehearsing the lyrics in my brain and wondering what potential notes might get me. One last decision: would I go "all-in?" That is, would I sing, or would I sound like every other tone deaf person? Would I try to carry a tune?

I made my choice, took a deep breath, tried to ignore my now racing heart, and sang the first verse...
Ever since I was a young boy
I've played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball
I was a "Pinball Wizard."

I wondered how pained Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend might be. I feared the ghosts of Keith Moon and John Entwistle.

I tried to stay ahead of the game - prepping mentally for "How do you think he does it", one of the song's higher notes...that is until, "Even at my favorite table, he can't beat my best." I didn't want to go all "Peter Brady" on the crowd.

In the end, only a few people actually listened. In truth, nobody cared. I got a favorable review from Mick and it was over. Had there been another song to my liking, I would have done another. But alas, it was time for the concert after-party. You know - groupies, libations, herbal refreshments. I'm sure one of the attractive ladies at the party wanted my company, right? Mick, Gretchen, and I soon left. My backstage pass was the set of car keys in my pocket.

The glamorous life of Rob Adams, rock star, included a brief nap at the park and ride off Exit 4 of Interstate 684 (nope - no tour bus for me). I arrived home at 3:00 AM.

Onto Sunday. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I Said What Needed to be Said

First, let's offer warm thoughts to former Red Sox player and current announcer Jerry Remy, as he recovers from lung cancer surgery. Sox fans love him - best wishes "Remdawg!"

During today's show, I got some Yankee-ranting off my chest. This team - from top to bottom - is currently an embarrassment. They've lost track of who their real fans are (and are as loyal as any group of fans in sports). They cater to the rich and have a Gestapo-like way of treating fans and media. Of course, they have this HUGE (and arguably unnecessary) new palace of a Stadium, replacing the most hallowed place in all of sports. The security staff (while they have been polite and decent with me) is strong-arming folks at every turn. I mean, seriously, do you really need to check people's tickets in the bleachers? Sometimes, that's the the interpretation of bad rules made from above, but it can also be from people with a "God" complex. Add in the rather pathetic showing on the field - injuries or not - and the situation becomes even worse.

Of course, much has been made about fans not being able to watch batting practice down the lines. That's a crime - one of the great ways to spend time before a game was the pursuit of the elusive autograph and ball, plus it was a great way to get to see what the good seats were like.

And of course we have Randy Levine and Lonn Trost. Right.

I think Ross at New Stadium Insider has been - by far - the fairest in assessing the situation and he does a nice job of compiling the complaints. In this post, he wonders if it might be time for "we the fans" to stand up and go all "Howard Beale" on them...

Off-topic: Wow...this really applies to so much right now, doesn't it?

Back on topic.

Some of the complaints are silly. I even read someone complain about new PA announcer Paul Olden, calling him "bland." Oh, really? And Bob Sheppard was Mr. Excitement? And complaining about the ads? Come on - do you think they'd have the payroll without things like ads?

I've been a supporter of this team for as long as I can remember but, believe it or not, I don't live with navy pinstripe-colored glasses. I'm fair, and that's why I had to say what I said on the air today. The Yankees are always in the cross-hairs, and the vultures are constantly circling for meat. The team (and sometimes the fans) makes it too easy for them to laugh, and that laughter often goes worldwide.

The audio of today's show will be here for two weeks. The specific file is this one (try to right click and save) and most of the Yankees stuff begins around 16 minutes into the show.

Look, the way of the "old George" isn't the answer. The Boss could embarrass just as easily. There needs to be a balance and there's no question some heads should roll (let's be clear - I'm not looking to fire people - but some folks need to be accountable). The $1.5 billion palace is ours - like it or not. Now it needs to get fixed, along with the ways of this organization at literally ever single level.

The current situation is not working though, and it's making it too easy for the haters (read: critics). It's time to start acting like the Yankees again.


I'm "Gone"

If you haven't seen this, it's worth a viewing. Sean Kilkelly's got it on his blog - Columbia University professor David Buckner collapsing on the Glenn Beck show.

Don't hate me, but I think this is hysterical, especially since Professor Buckner is fine.

A Good Read

Matt Hamilton, occasional WGCH staffer, potential member of "The Press Box" crew, and soon-to-be Mizzou alum, has taken an intern writing spot on Tonic. His first effort is here.

Pretty good, right? He once wrote a blog, helping to inspire me to start "Exit 55" almost three years ago (he and Sean Kilkelly get that honor). I hope keeps up the writing!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Twitter Me

So there it is...bottom part of the right hand column: a feed from my Twitter (or is it a collection of my tweets?).

I haven't really caught the bug but I'm giving it a try. So it will stay there for a while and we'll see how it goes.

With this, I now have a whole new interesting cross-section of people that I follow and for some reason are following me. Don't judge.

So that's that.

Monday, May 04, 2009

My Essential Musical Artists

This is actually a few years old (I think it's from 2007) but I think it still holds up. The fabulous WFUV Blog asked their staff to come up with the musical artists that are essential, underrated, overrated, and the essential new artist. Read it all here. From what I can tell, 10 seemed to be the number for essential artists, so that's what I'll go with. And remember, before you feign outrage, these are MY essential artists. Your mileage may vary.

Reader comments are also available as to who is overrated and underrated. Everybody has a point (for the most part).

I will tell you that, out of the mainstream, virtually every person that I know that has ever performed or played in a band has been underrated (thus taking care of Montgomery Delaney, Jon Field and Up Front, Grip, and Dayspring, and Scott Wilson and his various bands, John Aita and the Mondays, along with others that I forgot to mention).

Now onto my 10 essential artists.

* The Beatles - It all starts here. Everything. Rock and Roll as we know it (I know they were heavily influenced by Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and American rock, but they took it and recreated it). No act, band, or personality will ever do what they did, in terms of cultural and musical impact. It's why they blow The Rolling Stones away.

* Frank Sinatra - Quite simply, the greatest singer ever. Nobody could take a song and interpret it like him. Again, his impact to this day can't be matched, and his ability to cross into acting - some great, some not so much - can't be overlooked for pop culture purposes.

* Bruce Springsteen - Some think he's overrated, but here he is - nearly 40 years after his first record, still blowing listeners away with great albums and amazing performances (Super Bowl XLIII, for instance). His ability to take Woody Guthrie and early Dylan and make them relevant is beyond comprehension.

* Billy Joel - There's no doubt that Billy Joel wanted to be The Beatles, and probably Paul McCartney, and yeah, some of the songs haven't stood the test of time, but the hooks are there. For me, it's almost impossible to be alone in the car, hear "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" and not turn it up to 11 (thank you, Spinal Tap) and sing along. It's nostalgia. It's 1979 and I'm 10 or 11. And life is very simple.

* Eagles (and Don Henely) - They're still essential to me, but it's different now. I loved them from the first spin of Hotel California, and they're music was like a soundtrack to dating days - two Don Henley concerts, and an reunion tour show in 1994. Their music provided for a first dance in a marriage, and I feel like I'm living out the thoughts in Henley's "The Heart of the Matter." Yet music, while it can be discarded (and some has or will be), can't be erased completely (I'm still struggling with The Police, for instance). In this case, I had to choose whether to cast them off or carry on. But you can't hide your "Lying Eyes" though I gave you the "Best of My Love." They were there before; they're still here now.

For the record, I almost never get rid of music. I'll burn it to CD so that I can delete it from my iTunes. This, friends, is a whole different blog post.

* Led Zeppelin - I lose sight of them at times, because of what so-called "rock" radio has done to them. That's why it's a pleasure to rediscover them (this would also apply to Pink Floyd. My brother gave me the mighty Zep when we shared a bedroom in the 70's. While I won't spin "Stairway" without a Congressional order these days, I can still be found rocking with any one of a number of great songs. As for Pink Floyd, they are still mind-blowing, even though I'm probably the only person alive who loved their music without ever lighting up. Perhaps I would have become a Grateful Dead fan if I had lit up. It would take herbal refreshments to get me to ever embrace some other garbage but let's get back on track.

* Miles Davis - How does one represent an entire genre? I needed someone for my jazz fix, and thought about Dave Brubeck, but went with Miles because, when all else fails, put of Kind of Blue. And most agree that it is the essential jazz CD. Still I couldn't go wrong with Brubeck, Monk, Parker, Satchmo, Coltrane and others, not to mention Glenn Miller to represent the Big Band sound.

* Radiohead - One of my few modern entries. I had heard how I needed to listen to OK Computer for years and somebody made me a copy. Yep, I listened. And listened. And listened. Then I got The Bends, and I listened to that too. Incredible. Still.

Sheesh, now it gets tough. Sheryl Crow? The Stones? Eric Clapton? The Clash? Elvis Costello? Ben Folds ? (oh, we'll return to him). U2? (ditto) All have had an enormous impact on me, and each one might be on here in a different year/era. Yet for tonight, I'm feeling like...

* Queen - I don't own every album (at least as of this minute). Yet when I remember buying my first record albums (big vinyl things, kids), two come to mind: Heart's Little Queen, and News of the World by Queen. Yes, that's the one with "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions", but way before they became obnoxious sports anthems. There's so much about this band and their music that I still enjoy, and I guarantee that you will never find me a better front man than Freddie Mercury. Try...and you will fail. Queen did not need idiotic effects for their music. They had the showmanship of Mercury - the most grandiose thing in their show was normally when Freddie donned a cape for "God Save The Queen." Tell me about Live Aid and while some will say they remember U2, ALL remember Queen.

And you've been waiting for the obvious. So...

* Huey Lewis and the News - OK, so you're in shock that it took me this far to name them. I went the dramatic route and saved the best for last. As the 80's moved along and I was working on finding what kind of teenager I was, bands were coming and going. Billy Joel had moved onto the pop sound of An Innocent Man (a nostalgic album, for sure). Bruce was doing Born in the USA (other than "Bobby Jean", not my favorite album). And this little bar band from the San Francisco area exploded with a CD called "Sports." I felt like I had seen the light! Nobody had any influence on me here. This was to be my band, and they have been ever since, through 10 concerts, every last scrap of music that I can find (even the few rarities) and loves found and lost, HLN has been there. Sports is still, to this day, my favorite album. Their music plays in my soundtrack - every bit as much as The Beatles or Springsteen - and probably more. I mourn the fact that, to me, they are so underrated, but love the fact that here they are, down two members from their original six (and they visit occasionally) and continue to tour. I love that they've been so accessible. I love how I can be transplanted from the dregs of sadness at times in 2009, to 1984, when I was listening to "The Heart of Rock and Roll" in my FM Walkman while on my school trip in Washington DC; or the way I felt in '86, when I went to Record Town in the JV Mall to pick up my first copy of FORE! I wouldn't want to freeze time, but it's nice to visit.

This is my band. My favorite band. Ever. They're like my friends, though I've barely met them (and yes, I havemet some of them). Look in my 1987 Mahopac High School yearbook and there's the nickname: "Huey." They're my essential band.

Mock me if you wish. I'm OK with it.

As for underrated, that's where Ben Folds comes in. He's essential to me also, but I popped him here because his music is catchy, deep, melodic, driving, moody, smart-ass, and unknown after "Brick" with the Ben Folds Five. Great in concert and always fun and evolving.

For overrated, I'm going with U2. They became overrated the day that Rolling Stone anointed them "Band of the 80's" - in 1985! So began a roughly 15-year hatred of them from me. Sure, I got over it, but since then, other than Achtung Baby, which album of theirs has really stood up? I still love them, but I sometimes wonder if we've just overdone it with them. That's the deal with being overrated - it doesn't automatically mean something or someone is bad - hell I think we can overrate The Beatles and Derek Jeter, for that matter!

Then there's the question of Essential New Artist (or maybe "newer artist") and I'm not sure I have a definitive answer for you. Depends on who's new or newer. I like a lot of artists that have been around since the late 90's and the early part of this century, but are only now getting to be known (Death Cab for Cutie is a good examples). I'm going to give the nod to Martha Wainwright, since I like her music a lot and nobody else is jumping out at me. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement but it is. Trust me - considering the way I feel about the current state of mainstream music - those who think they evoke a certain time but whose music sounds all the same and whose shows are full of effect and little substance.

Again, a different post for another time.

More Low-Rent Celebrating of Newspaper's Potential Demise

Howie Carr. What a guy.

Read on.

You stay classy, Boston.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Saturday Night's Alright for Blogging

The Son is with me tonight (and he's getting ready to go to sleep). We had a full day of baseball, our friend Olivia's ice skating recital, lunch, the Kentucky Derby (WOW!), playing in the park, ice cream, and are watching the Celtics and Bulls play game seven of their epic playoff series.

Why, oh why, with Marv Albert on their broadcast roster, is TNT going with Kevin Harlan for game seven? I'm sure there's a perfectly legit reason.

Holy bleep, I just heard Harlan refer to this game as "a dynamite game seven." The Celtics lead by the third...hardly dynamite to me.

I'm still having trouble dealing with seeing Vinny Del Negro as a coach. I'll get over it.

So I'm trying to figure this one out. Greenwich Roundup has hired a special correspondent. That's cool. What I can't quite get is why they then proceed to list the educational background of every major media outlet, before finishing with this:
Did You Ever Notice That The Greenwich Time, Greenwich Post, Greenwich Citizen Never Tells You The Backgrounds Of It's Reporters , Columnists And Editors?
Hmm...what's the point? I know GR didn't mention WGCH by name, but for the record, here's the answer: I attended Westchester Community College where I graduated with an Associate in Arts Degree in Communications and Media. After that I went to Western Connecticut State University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications and Media Arts. I also proudly received a certificate from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.

Hope that clears everything up. Nothing grand in terms of name recognition, but they're my schools and I'm mighty proud of those pieces of paper.

It seems that several in the blogging community have had it in for the print folks in Greenwich. For the record, I know people from the Greenwich Post and Time and I get more than a little pissed off (yep, I wrote it) when various "scribes" and such not only rip those good people but OPENLY root for them to lose their jobs.

Not only do some need to show some class, but they need to get a life.

I've been holding that in for months. It happens.

Ross over at New Stadium Insider did me a big solid this week. Go ahead, look at those blogs...keep scrolling...and there it is, among the collection of those blogs "On The Google Reader" is "Exit 55." It made me smile.

As you all know, this is not a Yankee-specific blog. There are enough of those - some really good, some not-so-much, and some perhaps a touch too sabermetric for my taste. Then there are those that are written by uneducated fans. I'll leave that there.

Back to NSI, while you're there, read Russ's extremely fair take on a trip to the new Stadium.

While I'm handing out props for solids, another thanks to Sean Kilkelly for the mention. As a guest, he has made it into what Don Imus calls "heavy rotation."

Sorry, had to pause. There was a commercial for Popeye's fried chicken and biscuits. that made me hungry. Clearly blows KFC out of the coop.

The great Springsteen shows some love for Harry Kalas. Pretty cool.

I'll finish up with this - the A-Rod book hits Monday and there's already been too much said about it. My son told me again the other night that Rodriguez is still his favorite player; a stance that I admire him for. What are we learning from all of this? That Alex Rodriguez is a liar? That he's used tremendously bad judgment?

OK. And?

Can he still hit .330, smack 45 homers and drive in 140 runs (legitimately)? Then I think we know all we need to know.

But what of the pitch-tipping? It it's true, then it's bad. But as with steroids, are you going to tell me that this has never happened before? At this point, I've had it with 'roids. Let's just stop now. Clemens would have been a Hall of Famer without them; same for Bonds. Something tells me we will have to eventually accept that a lot of players used them, and we can't (or shouldn't) be judging like that. There are others that look fairly sketchy yet until there's proof, they will make the HOF.

So let it go, please.