Sunday, January 31, 2010

Learn How to Report the News! (With VIDEO)

It's this easy, according to Charlie Brooker.

Hat tip to my fellow Pamal Broadcasting (and Facebook) mate, Bruce Figler (he of 107.1 The Peak) for passing this along.  Purely hysterical.

Plus it's British humor.  That gets bonus points.

Oh, and it's also (briefly) NSFW.  Just turn the volume down a tad.

Should you need a link to click on, then point your browser here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oneonta? Meet Norwich!

Back on January 8th, I wrote this, based on rumblings that I had heard for a good year or more.

Now it's happening.  The New York-Penn League entry in central New York is no more.  They had been there since 1966.  I visited Oneonta as a broadcaster in 2008.

I also realized I was part of the broadcast team for the last-ever Oneonta Tigers game, at Dutchess Stadium against the Renegades.  The Tigers won that game 2-0 last September.

So long, Oneonta.  I hope the small city finds a way to put another team in there because there's a real charm to the place.

As for Norwich, it can be reached, so assuming I'm calling Gades games in 2010 (and it's looking that way...but more about that at another time), then I would say that it's quite likely I will get there for a game.

The Gades are scheduled to visit eastern Connecticut August 4-6 (that's a Wednesday-Friday).  Could be dicey but we'll see!

Monday, January 25, 2010

What's Wrong with the Saints Being in the Super Bowl?

I'm not sure I get this post from Jeff Pearlman on his blog. Why does he care that we'll have two weeks of mindless Saints coverage? Now he's not entirely wrong, but would he have preferred two weeks of mindless FAVRE coverage? Instead we're going to have plenty of Manning (Archie played for the 'aints, and Peyton plays for the Colts...blah blah blah). We're going to have reaction shots of Eli, Archie, Olivia (Mama Manning), Cooper (the older brother), and so on.

As I alluded to last night, maybe the Saints being in the Super Bowl will put some attention back on the city of New Orleans and their recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Yet I would prefer that the media doesn't only go...
searching for any face (preferably a downtrodden-looking African-American male) to tell the camera/mic/tape recorder how horrible life has been, what with the ruin, the poverty, the lack of federal interest, the ongoing health issues. (from Jeff Pearlman)
It would be nice if they search for faces of all races. Don't just show me the Lower 9th Ward. Show me Gretna, Metarie, Algiers and Kenner. Take your cameras to Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi. Take a ride on Louisiana route 23 (some of which I got to drive). Show us if life is improving, and where and, if not, why?

Try to think outside the proverbial box. Otherwise, I won't pay attention.

Jeff doesn't really say why he's so wrapped up with the New Orleans thing and, to be honest, he seems almost bitter about the Saints being there. Yet a few posts earlier, he's all "rah rah" about the Jets (his team) - almost as if it was a moral victory. I'm baffled, as that doesn't seem to be his style.

Ah. Such is the madness that is the Super Bowl. And such is the reason I wish the NFL would just play the darn thing and get it over with.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Drew Brees and Peyton Manning will make for a terrific quarterback showdown in two weeks. Congratulations to two outstanding football teams, as they advance to Super Bowl XLIV.

Earlier in the day, the Colts and Jets played a snoozer, but the Saints and Vikings went to OT before NOLA won it with a field goal. It was fun but day-um! The Vikings sure know how to break the hearts of their fans. The overtime NFC Championship loss to the dirty bird Falcons. The NFC Championship loss to the Giants. And of course...losses to the Chiefs (IV), Dolphnis (VIII), Steelers (IX), and Raiders (XI) in the "big game."

By the way, I get it: there are fans who hate Brett Favre. You know what? You look like an ass when you act that way (I'm reading the tweets and Facebook comments). I get that he dumped on Green Bay, but he also took them to two Super Bowls and set...every...record. Should he have retired as a Packer? Sure, but he didn't. He had a hunger to play. I get that he wasn't exactly perfect in New York, but he did also have them at 8-3 at one point.

Then he went to Minnesota and had them oh so close to the Super Bowl. It didn't happen, but you know what? He's great for football. I hope he comes back next year.

Of course, then there's the great Peyton Manning. He's the second best quarterback I've ever seen, in back of Dan Marino.

Congratulations to the Jets on a great season. To me, getting to the AFC Championship Game wouldn't be enough but if they can keep what they're doing, they will be a force.

And that leaves us with New Orleans. I know, I picked them when the season began but I'm not into gloating. The blind squirrel finds the nut occasionally. More importantly, a once terrible franchise has finally made it to the Super Bowl.

The Saints are so tightly associated with their city that people are talking about New Orleans again, and that's good.

Saints/Colts. It should be a great game in two weeks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Conference Championship Picks

Ken McMillan asked for my football picks for the third straight week. For the record, I'm 6-2.

Ultimately, I'm fine with whomever heads to Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro Player Park/Pro Player Stadium/Dolphins Stadium/Dolphin Stadium/Land Shark Stadium/Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl.

My dad was a Jets fan. I think my brother still is, though he doesn't wear it on his sleeve. While they play in New Jersey, they are still, technically, a New York team, even if it's a regional thing. Yet I have the utmost respect for Peyton Manning.

On the other side, Greenwich's John Sullivan is a Viking but I like the Saints also.

I'm rooting for good games.

So I've made my picks (Colts/Saints). Whatever - may the best teams win.

Never Wanted to See One of These Again

I watched every last minute of the "Tribute to Heroes" telethon in 2001. As the title of this post says, I never wanted to see one of these again. The agony of it all - the images, the words - was terrible, though the music was amazing.

I know there was the infamous one in 2005 when Kanye West said what he said about George Bush, but I was occupied that evening.

Tonight, Sean and I were in the house, and I flipped it on. It was time to explain to him what had happened (I am somewhat surprised that he didn't hear about it in school). He was stunned to hear about it.

We could talk about the "pretty people" on this telethon. We could break down the performances. We could say some pithy things. Yet I don't want to.

Not tonight.

There just aren't the right words to write tonight with regard to Haiti, and I'm not going to try.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Example of Jason Whitlock Being a Clown

From his column today on Fox Spots:
It's mind blowing that ESPN's Mike Greenberg could accidently say "Martin Luther Coon" on national radio and TV on Martin Luther King's national holiday and ESPN take no punitive action.

I don't have any doubt that Greenberg regrets his mistake. I don't think his error necessarily paints Greenberg as a bigot. I don't think Greenberg should lose his job. But he should be required to do more than offer up a weak written apology. A short, paid suspension was warranted.

My tongue slips all the time. It's hard for me to fathom the King to Coon slip. King to Queen, King to Ding, King to Bling and King to Ring I totally get. King to Coon is off the table.

Greenberg has no discernible talent as a radio talk show host. ESPN pays him to say nothing and keep the "Mike and Mike" brand as non-controversial as humanly possible. He screwed up.
Far be it for me to defend Mike Greenberg, but come on. Let's analyze: the title of the holiday is "Martin Luther King Junior Day." OK, now dig deeper: "King...Junior."

Say the two fast.

There you go.

Even Whitlock, who's just always trying to stir up stuff, said that he thought Greenberg made a silly mistake and isn't a racist. So why then should Greenberg be suspended? Give me a break.

That last part about Greenberg having essentially no talent (and I've heard that one before) is gratuitous. It's also a case where Jason Whitlock should look in the mirror.

Many have said the same about him.

Hoops Tonight

Christine and I are back at the Kaplan Center tonight as the Blue Knights men's team hosts Purchase College at 7:00 PM.  Pregame coverage kicks off at 6:50 PM.

Then we have a double header Saturday at the Kaplan Center as both the men's and the women's teams take on St. Joseph's College.  The ladies play first, and our pregame show begins at 12:50.

Listen live!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Football Picks

Ken McMillan asked for my picks again.


3-1.  Not bad.

Off to bed.  Gotta get up at 3:00 to do the news tomorrow.

Yes, 3:00 AM.

Good night.

A Good Day With the Knights

It was my weekend to be with Sean.  I was scheduled to call the Mount Saint Mary double header on Saturday at Farmingdale State.  In the past I've been hesitant to bring him to games with me without a babysitter (usually my mom).  But I've started letting him tag along to a few games at The Mount and so far, so good.

Men's head coach Ryan Kadlubowski had suggested letting him ride with us on the bus to a road game and it was something I wanted to make happen, knowing how much Sean would enjoy it.  I could have let Sean stay at my mom's, I guess.  Staying with my niece wasn't an option, as Laura needed to go to Baltimore to pick up her husband, Steve, home from GitMo for a few weeks. 

It made sense.  Let Sean ride with me and the team.

Still I try so hard to be somewhat invisible.  I don't want to ruffle feathers.  That would be two seats being taken on a very crowded bus.  Everyone trying to censor themselves and not use bad language (not something I ask them to do).  How would everyone react to him?

Initially I sensed some looks, but nothing resentful.  If anything, he was either ignored or looked at as comic relief or even a mascot.  Of all things, we watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs heading to Long Island, and Sean had nothing to do with it.  It was one of the players who brought it!

At Farmingdale, Sean stayed mostly in his own world.  I gave him plenty of room to run around the gym (more like a warehouse) before the fans arrived.  Once it was game time, he had to stay near Christine Baker and I, and though I wanted him to stay off the partially-opened (but empty) bleachers behind us, he still got up there, and I just let it go.  He was so well-behaved (other than trying to talk to me while we were on the air - just once).  He watched the games to an extent, and played with his cars and Hess racer, sometimes drawing on his Magna Doodle. 

The women lost the first game, and that's newsworthy - they've only lost FIVE games in their conference dating back over 10 years.  The men's game went no better.  At halftime, Sean said to me, "it's just not our day, Daddy."

On the court, yes, he was right.  But for father and son, it was our day.

Towards the end of the men's game, Christine and I brought Sean on the air to serve as an "analyst."  Typical stuff, and all funny.

We jumped back on the bus to return to Newburgh.  Sean and I would eventually sit with Kevin McDonald, Dylan McCann, and Chuck Magos.  The guys talked with him about favorite TV shows, music, and sports.  He was so excited to be welcomed like that.

Ask Sean his favorite parts of the day, and he'll tell you about the bus (it had a BATHROOM on it!) and the players talking to him.  He liked watching the movie.  The games were almost secondary to him.

We capped it off with dinner at Sonic.  I thought it was a nice reward for being so good.

Coach Kadlubowski wondered when he would be back on the bus again.

Amazing. That's all I've Got (With Video)

The Lane Kiffin situation is fairly dirty (bolting Tennessee for Southern Cal after one year), but not new and not all that shocking.  Still, folks in Knoxville are furious and I can't disagree with their anger.

Now watch the media in action as they get ready for Kiffin's press conference announcing his departure.  Slimy and ridiculous.  There's really nobody here that I feel is right, but of course, it's the TV people who are the ones getting their noses most out of joint.

Watch here if you need a link.

Always Good to See Who is Listening

Photo courtesy, Life.

Jesse Quinlan wrote a nice piece catching up with Greenwich High football legend (yeah, that's the right word), John Sullivan.  John moved on from GHS to Notre Dame during some turbulent times within the Fighting Irish program.  He was recruited by Ty Willingham and also played for Charlie Weiss as the starting center.

Soon the NFL came calling, and the Vikings made him a sixth round draft pick in 2008.  When Matt Birk departed Minnesota for Baltimore, head coach Brad Childress named Sullivan the starting center, snapping the ball to a guy named Brett Favre.

John also keeps in touch with Greenwich High and his old coach, Rich Albonizio.  Jesse Quinlan's article confirmed what I have often wondered: does John Sullivan ever listen to games?  Answer?  Yes.
As for his high school, Sullivan listened to the broadcast of Greenwich's epic 35-34 loss to New Canaan last season. It brought him back to his senior year when the Cardinals battled the Rams to a scoreless tie in the regular season, then won the rematch in the FCIAC Championship.
I know many alums tune in - we're like old friends; the easiest way to keep in touch.  Still when you hear that John Sullivan, NFL center is listening, well, it's pretty cool.

By the way, our friend Paul Silverfarb at the Greenwich Post also has a piece on Big John.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mount Saint Mary Basketball on Saturday

(Photo: Not sure of the photographers name, so I'll just say this is courtesy of Mount Saint Mary College...all rights reserved, yada yada yada...)

 On the left, Tim Morris skies for a rebound, while on the right, Lenny Ragaglia is driving towards the basket.  In the right picture, look to the left of the official.  Now go two people to the left (in the black sweatshirt).  That would be Christine Baker, my esteemed color commentator, and yes, that is indeed Mike Breen to the left of her.  Or me.  Your choice.

Fortunately, I'm not blowing my nose in that picture, and that's all I have to say about that.

The Mount has a double-header on Saturday at Farmingdale State College (ugh...enough with the Long Island road trips!).  Our pregame coverage begins at 12:50 PM.  The women's game tips at 1:00, and I'm warning you to listen.  This will be a showdown.  The Blue Knights are 11-3, 8-0 in the Skyline Conference.  The Rams of Farmingdale are 12-0, 7-0.  The Knights will have their hands full.

The same can be said of the men's game at 3:30, as MSMC (6-8, 5-4) take on the Rams (5-7, 5-2).

A full day of hoops.  Looking forward to it.  So long as my voice holds out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another Idea to Donate to Haiti

I saw this on Twitter from, of all people, John Mayer.  Simply text "Haiti" to 90999 and you can donate $10 to the relief efforts.  It seems like a very good idea.

CNN has some more details in this article.

The point is that there are a lot of things people can do.  As for those who do nothing, there could be some very good reasons (or not so good reasons).  I'm not going to judge.  Everybody has their priorities, misguided or otherwise.

Still it doesn't seem to take a lot to go to a website, donate blood, volunteer time, text $10, and the other ideas that can help those in need.  I'd like to believe that everybody will do something, but let's face it - there are very real factors that make people bury their heads in the sand.

I hope everyone does their part.  These are lives we're talking about.

Back to the Mount Tonight

(courtesy Justin Satkowski/MSMC)

"The Press Box" will be along at 2:00 PM Eastern, then I'm off to Newburgh as the Blue Knights of Mount Saint Mary College take on the Fighting Blue Jays from Polytchnic Institute of NYU.

What a mouthful!

Christine Baker and I hit the air tonight at 6:50 PM.  Listen live as the Knights need to pick up a win in the Skyline Conference.  I'll also probably have Mr. Sean Adams with me.

Our broadcasts are going to grow over the next few weeks, as Ryan DeMaria, Chris Kaelin and Chris Erway are hopefully going to join Christine and I to help with interviews and bench reports.  So the team may get some depth from The Press Box Playmakers!

Just Saying Thanks

I recently added a new program that tells me who is reading the bloggo, and where you're reading from. Now what it doesn't tell me is who sees it on Facebook, but since I've got a lot of friends there, I can assume a small percentage of them reads "Exit 55" as well.

Plus, to be honest, I guess I have to use such a tool in case anything unsavory happens - if I need an IP address.  I haven't had to do this, and I hope I never have to.

We don't have a big audience but I'm OK with it. Since I never saw this as a money-making enterprise, I don't mind.

I'm always interested to see where the blog is being read - be it in Fairfield County (we're big in Norwalk and Greenwich) to New York City to Westchester County (Yorktown Heights and Briarcliff Manor) to Dutchess County (Fishkill and Beacon) to places cities in Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas.

Among many others.

Tack on the Facebook places and we have a diverse audience. I'm glad you choose to spend a few minutes here.

Thanks for doing so.

On Haiti, Charity and Rock and Roll

In my heart, I'm a charitable person. Often though, I lack the time and - of course - the money to donate. Yet I'm seeing a big push, and an enormous amount of guilt (from no one particular party but several) being thrown towards pushing people to donate for recovery efforts in Haiti (among other things).

Now let's be clear. The earthquake is obviously devastating. Who is to argue? There may be upwards of 100,000 dead. Of course, I'm also big on believing we need to help ourselves here at home. Unemployment rates are where? Still high, folks. Gas prices are what? Yep, high again. Homeless issues, health care troubles, blah blah blah.

How are things in New Orleans? Rebuilt, or swept under the rug? Heck of a job.

You get the idea. And this is NOT to minimize the problems in Haiti, so please spare me. Further, this is being written with no political agenda - at all. Again, save your breath, and my blood pressure.

I'm just saying, people have priorities, and times are still tough. Go easy.

I take the guilt very seriously. Often it's not directed at me, but just the same, I read it or hear it and it strikes me. Now some of that is my own issue, and best for another day. And I understand that there are many "fat cats" out there that can open their wallets, but choose not to for whatever reasons. Karma will deal with them.

Sometimes, all one has is their prayers (or as I say, "thoughts"). To many, that's an excuse for laziness. Point taken, and understood. We're also not going down some deep philosophical highway here.

Again, read all of this carefully because reading is fundamental. "RIF", as our Saturday morning cartoons used to tell us. I'm not - repeat NOT - minimizing Haiti. I'm simply asking all to stop and think before they run around imposing their vibe on others.

So what can we do? Read this wonderful piece from Gabrielle Medecki at the Wolfgang's Vault Blog. If you don't know,
Wolfgang's Vault is the best place on the web to experience live music. We stream (for free!) concerts from the biggest names in music from the 1960s through today; many of the concerts are also available for download. - from the "About" portion of their blog
Now, you're asking, "what does a music blog have to do with Haiti?" And I'm going to say, "RIF!" Did you read the blog piece? Let's look at this:
...effective immediately, 25% of all sales on Wolfgang’s Vault over this next week will be donated directly and immediately to the Red Cross for Haitian Relief.
Well played. If you wish to buy some great classic concerts and other goodies, they'll donate some bucks. But it's this piece that I thought was so amazing:
Additionally, we know many people are suffering their own financial hardships at this time, and the purchase of an item this week that automatically provides the 25% in proceeds to the cause may not be feasible. And since we greatly value and appreciate every one of our members and friends, we have also decided to make a donation on behalf of every site visitors for this week.

For every visitor who spends an hour at a time on Wolfgang’s Vault in the coming week, we will donate 5 cents to the same Haitian Earthquake Relief fund — applicable to up to 5 visits per person for the week. (Because this is something we haven’t tried before, we are trying with these limitations to make sure it doesn’t attract hackers and spammers.) It’s intended as a good faith plan on behalf of our friends and customers to donate as much money as possible.
Brilliant! Even those of us who lack the necessities can now do some good. I can point my browser to Wolfgang's Vault and listen to any number of concerts and feel like I'm donating.

And yes, for those asking, they do have some Huey Lewis, including when he was in a band called Clover.

Sometimes it just takes a little thought. Walking with Tim Parry a few months back for Diabetes was a very good thing. Pointing a browser to a web site is as easy as it gets.

Rock and Roll has always been charitable. Hey - Live Aid happened 25 years ago this year, and spurred the creation of Farm Aid. So get listening, and rock on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Linky Dinks" Meets "Off the Bench"

This had to happen eventually. "Linky Dinks", or "Linkage", our occasional collection of links that I found of interest, had almost replaced "Off the Bench", my homage to Mike Lupica's "Shooting From the Lip." Yet as when the peanut butter met the chocolate, these two great forces have come together to join as one super blog power!

There's nothing nice about this. Haiti is in peril following a 7.0 quake, and CNN has footage of the aftermath. It's harrowing.

For the hand-wringers, let's see if we can do this better than New Orleans, 2005.

Then again, why couldn't that same attention be paid then?

Boy, good ol' Pat Robertson just continues to make friends, no? I remember telling an ex-girlfriends father that I would move to Canada if he was ever elected President.

You/we rip the New York Yankees, yet the Bombers just donated a half-million to the relief effort (via Chad Jennings of The Journal News).

Go ahead, let's hear the snarky comments.

Honestly, I wish they would keep it quiet that they donated, as with their post-September 11 efforts. No need to be flashy but then again, if they don't mention it, people will complain.

Then again, they always complain. Nothing is ever good enough.

In that same post from Chad's LoHud blog, he says Carlos Beltran is having knee surgery. I've heard that he could miss up to eight week.

Wow. I don't blame you if you want to follow another team. Come to the dark side.

Tim Parry writes that MaxPreps is demanding that schools post stats on their site. Oh baby. I can't wait to see how this one plays out. Good luck there.

Rick Reilly often boggles my mind. He was one of the things that drove me crazy about Sports Illustrated. Yet the guy can write when he plays it straight.

So Lane Kiffin, did you ever bother to unpack in Knoxville?

I want a recommendation on LinkedIn.

I'll just say it: I haven't seen "Avatar", nor do I have plans to. It goes into the box along with "Lord of the Rings" and "The Matrix", among others.

I'll go if there's a date involved.

Conan O'Brien got a raw deal. I wasn't down with Leno when he was battling Letterman nearly - GASP! - 20 years ago.

I still love Facebook. Tonight I found a friend I haven't spoken to since just after we graduated from high school. Yes, she approved my friend request.

There's one person that didn't approve my request that bothers me - only because I don't get why. I tried twice then stopped. Still don't get it.

Otherwise, I don't worry about it.

I taught at Connecticut School of Broadcasting last night, and had to take the old drive home via route 25. I needed music. New Haven's WPLR pulled a dandy and played "Still of the Night" by Whitesnake.


Think about it. We so often hear "Is This Love" or "Hear I Go Again" and are taken back to the glam side of the 80's metal scene. Yet here's a song that simply rocked.

It was cool to hear it.

I need to sleep. I've got the Mount taking on NYU Poly tomorrow night at 6:50.

Best-Selling Album of the Decade (With VIDEO)

So with 2010 off and running, there is plenty of time and reason to look back at the decade that just ended.

For instance, what album was tops in terms of sales? Not, I'm talking about the opinion of best album, or who had the most critically acclaimed. Who sold the most?

Come on...take a stab. Coldplay? Beyonce? Eminem? Nickelback?, no, no, and dear God people have better taste than THAT!

Maybe it was one of the "American Idol" types. Clay or Carrie or Kelly? And that's no on all three?

U2? Nope.

Some hip hop, perhaps? Kanye or Jay-Z? No, dawg.

I guess there's only one thing to say.

Ladies and gentleman,

(Wait for it)

The Beatles!

A fine analysis is here from Katherine York on Wolfgang Vault's blog.

It's a testament to their greatness that if you asked Sean who his favorite musical act is, he will say The Beatles. I have no doubt about that.

And if you need a reminder,!

End of An Era

(Rob and Kris - Sept, 2008. Believe it or not, I don't have a picture of all of the Section Five Crew)

Renewal time came and went for the group I've come to call "Section 5 Forever."  With it went not a dime.  No cash, check, or credit cards were used.  Kelly, Mick, Steve, Eddie, J-Man, Kris and I said "See ya!" to our tickets.

It's over.

I was the first.  Disappointed over not being able to attend the 1996 World Series, I made sure I would get a chance if (or more like when) the Yankees made it back.  I thought about doing it in 1997 but couldn't pull the trigger.  I became a partial season ticket holder in 1998, with the promise and understanding that I would receive an invoice for post-season tickets.  This arrangement caused me to attend four World Series games (it would have been five had my brother not gotten married when I had tickets in 2003).

I'm sure I've written it before, but OK, let's do it again.  The Tino Martinez grand slam, the 1999 Series clincher, the 2000 Subway Series opener, and the Paul O'Neill farewell (also known as the "Scott Brosius game") - I saw them in person, all thanks to my ticket package. 

I made friends - family, really.  My love for Kelly, Mick, Eddie, and Steve are the foundation.  Kris is my cousin - hell, as close to my brother without actually being my brother - so I don't think I need to define that.  We had the people who were surrounding us - Chris, Kennedy and Liz, and so on.  Kelly's dad was one of us.

I can't possibly begin to name everyone that I took to games over the years.  My friend Mike went with me for a long time.  I feel like I got almost all of my nieces and nephews there eventually (not quite, but close).  I even got my mom - once.  Stephanie went many times.  Lauren was always a blast (and loved by the crew).  Sandi went a few times, of course in happier times.  I even came close to bringing a professional golfer one time (Chris Smith) who loved the Cardinals and would have been a blast to bring along.  Unfortunately that was the night Mr. Clemens won his 300th and struck out his 4000th, and the ticket was taken.

Too many friends, family and acquaintances to try to name.

And of course I took Sean.  No need to say how much that meant to me.

It's not like we're never going to games again.  I'm sure we'll find a way and let's face it - I'm sort of a member of the media, so I think the chances of me getting a credential are pretty solid.  And yes, I abide by the rules of no autographs and no cheering.  It's amazing how I can turn that switch off.

As for my friends, well I just spent part of the weekend with Mick and Gretchen (who is still sadly a Red Sox fan, and a Pats fan as well).  Steve's wife just gave birth to a girl.  Eddie is getting married.  We have things to celebrate, so we'll find ways to get together and maybe hit a few games as a group.

In the end, that's what did us in with the Yankees.  They made literally no effort to keep us together as a group.  Sure, they made sure to keep that sycophant Marlboro Man and his band of whatevers, but the loyal Section Fivers got displaced.  I didn't like the people sitting around me in Section 420 C, so Kris and I would often stand in the left field corner of the upper deck, talk with the cops and security, and watch the game.  We'd go visit Mick, Steve, Eddie, and Jeremiah and wait for someone to kick us out.  We'd try to catch up with Kelly.

It wasn't the same.  Of course, the economy didn't help either, and when the Bombers moved to the new digs, my grandfathered playoff rights were revoked.  So why keep the tickets?

Don't fret for us.  We'll be fine.  There's an upside to it all.  No more battling traffic, and running crazy to make game time.  No more adjustments to the calendar, or that feeling of missing a Yankees game because I had to call a Greenwich game (or a Renegades game).  It's all good.

Oh but there will be countless missed good times.  Meeting at Stew's for dinner.  Grabbing a few beers with Mick and the boys pregame.  Mocking those who deserved it (Marlboro Man).  Laughing.  A lot.

We're all still loyal Yankees fans, who can watch from the comfort of our homes.

It's just the end of an era. That's all.

Everybody's Scene

The Exit 55 Book Club is open for business, and has a recommendation for you (even though I have yet to actually read it).

The book is called Everbody’s Scene: The Story of Connecticut's Anthrax Club, written by Chris Daily. The Anthrax was what can be best described as a haven for the straight edge hardcore music scene of the late 1980's. What I can also tell you is that I - yes, Mr. Vanilla Lame himself...owner of virtually everything Huey Lewis has ever recorded - once stepped foot inside the Anthrax.

I would do anything for my friend Jon from R-Va, who was still Jon from Mahopac back then. Jon was (and still is) the guitarist for Up Front, a truly legendary band on the hardcore front. He asked me and our mutual coworker Ed to go watch them play. So we went, and as I recall, Ed thought he was going to die, and was terrified to see people with piercings that were a touch unusual at that time.

Yet we didn't die, watched people stage dive and hit the mosh pit, wondered if bodies were going to land on us, and listened to the music. We stayed to see Jon and Up Front (which included Jeff Terranova, a high school friend of mine), and went home - in one piece.

The coolest thing for me about Everybody's Scene is that Jon (yes, Jon from R-Va) did the layout for the book. In fact, he came up to New York for a weekend last year to work on the book in Moby's apartment (yes, that Moby).  Moby wrote the foreword, and Jon said he's as regular as he seems.

The book received a terrific review here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Roger That (With VIDEO)

History won't change the books based on Mark McGwire's admission yesterday, but for a little purity, let us return to October 1, 1961 - the day the home run record was set.

For Roger Maris, no steroids were involved. Just bad pitching on expansion teams.
Your link is here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Joy In Baseball

So the cat is out of the bag. Mark McGwire finally admitted that he used steroids for a chunk of his career - including his epic 70 home run orgy in 1998. You know, the one that "saved baseball."

Amazing. Every once in a while, I'll hear that Cal Ripken "saved baseball" with his streak in 1995 (another topic, another time). Never do I hear about a team saving baseball from the selfishness that can be the Major Leagues. Who won the World Series in 1998?

Oh. Yeah, them. One hundred twenty-five wins. Yawn.

Anyway, we had Chad Jennings on "The Press Box" today, so let him give you the details about McGwire. Then follow that up with his thoughts.

My first reaction was that of shock. Shocked that he had the balls to come clean once and for all (Roger Clemens, it's your turn...along with a few others). Then it all came together. McGwire wants back into the game, so he'll make nice.

Yet within a few minutes, all I felt was...nothing. What good is there? He can start making a Hall of Fame case? He can clear his conscience? That's not to say that he shouldn't have admitted - hell, we ALL knew it, and knew it years ago. He should have admitted it, but it doesn't make the queasy feeling go away.

It's sickening and as I've said before: we're not done. No way. There are those walking around saying that they are innocent, and there are those who the rumors persist about. But we'll get more names. Lots of them.

And then what? See? What good is it? I want to know, but it's not like it's good for the sport. Did I really feel vindicated when David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were "outed?" Not really. Sure, it gives a Yankees fan ammunition to shut up the Red Sox fans who harp on the Pettitte/Clemens/A-Rod steroids stuff. Same with the Mets who have and will eventually be forced to admit their wrongdoing.

Sorry. There's just nothing positive that can come of this. Except for the fact that it's now out. Maybe now we can see that indeed almost everyone was doing it, and see players for who they are.

As for the Hall of Fame argument, please spare me the sanctimonious crap. Once again, take a look around at the cheaters and non-Boy Scouts in the gallery. Ruth (drinking/womanizing)...Cobb (personality disaster)...Mantle (drinking)...Gaylord Perry (cheating)...Fergie Jenkins (cocaine). Shall we now find the racists, the anti-Semites, the other cheaters, and so on?

It's just so flawed, as much as I love it.

Let the players who dominated in, and let their plaques tell the story. Stop making it so flowery. Roger Clemens was a Hall of Famer. So was Barry Bonds. I can make a better case against McGwire, but if the committee eventually elects him, then note that he admitted to steroid use in 2009. And most of all, let the parents, who will walk their kids past those plaques, tell them the truth. Our court of public is normally the best way to go.

And let's move on, but never forget.

So now, how do we paint the beautiful picture here? I mean, we hold a Jackie Robinson night every year now to over-saturate and over-PC the race issue. There is a Civil Rights Game. The sport has retired number 42. What should we do to right this? Hold an annual "Just Say No" game outside the Betty Ford Clinic? Have all players wear a syringe for a night instead of a uniform number? How are we going to dress up this pig?

This, as my friend Sean Kilkelly says, is bowling shoe ugly. For baseball. For fans.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Oneonta Tigers - Rumor Becomes Reality?

When new ownership came in to take over the Oneonta Tigers, the talk began for how much longer the team would remain at Damaschke Field. That talk exploded when the Connecticut Defenders bolted Norwich for Richmond, VA to become the Flying Squirrels last fall.

It made sense. Oneonta, maybe Jamestown, but definitely one team would head to Dodd Stadium to bring the New York-Penn League (home of your Hudson Valley Renegades) to Connecticut.

Ballpark Digest says it just might be the Tigers.

We'll continue to watch.

Ask For My Picks, You Shall Receive

Ken McMillan is the sports media maven for the Times Herald-Record out of Orange County, NY. That would put him in Blue Knights territory. Yesterday, he was nice enough to ask for my Super Bowl pick and my predictions for this weekends' wild card games.

They're all here.

I'm among a group of broadcasters with ties to the Hudson Valley that includes Mia Harris and John Minko of WFAN (Minko is the radio "voice" of Army football), "Fast" Freddie Coleman, Jay Reynolds and JW Stewart of the Worldwide Leader (OK, ESPN), Don LaGreca of 1050 ESPN, Chris Wragge of CBS-2, and Mike Ferraro from Marist College (who also served as the official scorer at Dutchess Stadium, which is where I met him).

It was nice to be asked, and I'm happy to oblige. I don't take these things lightly.

Maybe more are to come, including Mr. Geoff Brault, who is now tweeting. I'm still dealing with the shock of that.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Andre Dawson...and ONLY Andre Dawson

So Andre Dawson is the newest Hall of Famer, joining Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey in July. Veteran New York Daily News writer Bill Madden was named the winner of the Spink Award, and we'll learn who won the Frick Award in February.

Congratulations to one and all.

But...only Andre Dawson? I mean, don't get me wrong, I like "The Hawk" and he was a fine ballplayer, but that's the best the writers could come up with? A career .279 hitter? He was an all-star, brilliant defensively, but did he dominate? Is this what the Hall has come to?

Still he was one of the hallmark players of the 1980's, winning the NL MVP with the last place Cubs in 1987.

OK, so fine. I'm content to have Dawson in. But how...HOW...did Roberto Alomar not make it? If one person - ONE - gives me that "spitting" crap about Alomar, they should be destined to a life of listening to something. I'm struggling to come up with a proper punishment.

The world must be spinning weirdly when I'm defending Robbie Alomar!

I'm not in that solid Bert Blyleven camp, but you knew that. I'd almost be content to see both he and Jack Morris go in together, or not at all. And I'd also be just fine if they - and Curt Schilling - never got in. As we all know, this is not the Hall of Really Good to Arguably Great. These players should be icons - legends - and we - no - the writers and the vets committee, have watered down the greatness.

What we've come to know is personality goes a long way (see Puckett, Kirby). So does longevity - bringing us to the likes of Carlton Fisk (ducks out of the way of Bostonians trying to stampede) and, of course, Don Sutton.

Yet I look at Blyleven's strikeout total (3701) and his similarity score from Baseball Reference and it sways me. Who does Blyleven compare the closest to? Don Sutton! I can't deny that the among the 10 pitchers he compares to, eight of them are in the Hall, and other two (Tommy John and Jim Kaat) aren't exactly slouches.

You can make the argument, and goodness knows we all have, that Thurman Munson was as good if not better than Fisk. Yet Fisk hits the big, famous home run in '75 and outlives Munson. I mean, let's be honest! All ol' Thurm did was win an MVP in '76, have the undying respect of the Big Red Machine for his performance in the '76 series, hit a home run in the '77 ALCS that might have just landed, and sadly die in 1979 at the age of 32.

And thus, no Hall of Fame.

Since I've brought up Kirby Puckett, you might think I will head down Mattingly Lane. We went there on "The Press Box" today. Their numbers are scary similar. Puckett was Mr. Sunshine and won two rings. "Donnie Baseball" was a Yankee with a bum back who hit over .400 in his only postseason appearance, and has no rings.

It's that easy.

So back to the class of 2010, or lack thereof. I believe in the sanctity of the First Ballot Hall of Famer, and think Roberto Alomar was worthy of that. Even Barry Larkin would have been a fine choice. But the voters remain unswayed. That's their call, of course.

Oh, and what's the deal with the lack of the respect for Tim Raines? I'd like an answer on that one as well.

The good news is that the 2011 candidates don't look that great, so maybe Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, Raines, and others will get their shot next year.

Briefly, a moment on the Fick Award. From the Hall of Fame's website:
The 10 finalists for the 2010 Frick Award are: Billy Berroa, Skip Caray, Tom Cheek, Jacques Doucet, Lanny Frattare, Graham McNamee, Jon Miller, Joe Nuxhall, Herb Score and Dave Van Horne. The winner of the 2010 Frick Award will be announced Feb. 1 and honored during the July 23-26 Hall of Fame Induction Weekend in Cooperstown.
My choice would be Graham McNamee. He was the first superstar of sports play-by-play for NBC in the 20's and 30's. He won't win it, but he is my choice.

I think it might be Tom Cheek, the late "voice" of the Blue Jays. Maybe there's a big push for Skip Caray, that would be Chip's father. We will find out soon enough.

Ladies and Gentleman, DAVE ROTHENBERG!

My friend and old colleague at WGCH, Dave Rothenberg, has joined the wild and wacky world of blogging. Mock the blogosphere if you wish, and believe me there's some really odious junk out here, but I think I've been a pretty good judge of passing along some good things to read.

So go read Dave. NOW.

Dave has opinions and isn't afraid to share them. Many of them are in line with me, and some aren't - just the nature of the beast. But he and I have always enjoyed a good debate, and I imagine you will also.

He's a Giants fan, bleeding Big Blue. Serious Big Blue. He mocked the Yankees when they won number 27 (OK, that got under my skin). These two things should have Tim Parry bookmarking him!

He's smart and funny. From the early postings, he has shown a penchant for driving the blog to the sports aisle, but keep a sharp eye open for some pop culture of all kinds, and mentions of his son.

Hmmm...where have I heard this formula before?

Oh, and Dave? I know you're reading. I hate the Rooney Rule. I love Mr. Rooney (no, not Ed Rooney, but Dan Rooney, Steelers owner), but the Rooney Rule is a farce.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Joe Posnanski Acknowledges Bobby Ray

Joe Posnanski writes long posts. He's proud of that fact (the subtitle of his blog is "Curiously Long Posts"). Yet I at least scan through every one of them. He has just posted a column about the best players in baseball, as he writes:
I was doing my usual investigative mayhem to get a better feel for the Hall of Fame ballot, and I thought it would be worthwhile to come up with the best players in baseball since, say, 1970. I don’t mean the overall best players — I mean, who were the best players in baseball at any given time.
He was doing this in advance of his Hall of Fame ballot (which will include Bert Blyleven, because he's adamant about that).

Incidentally, I'm not in the Blyleven camp. He's a little too "Don Sutton" for my taste.

Anyway, Joe starts his analysis in 1970, and writes this:
1970-74: Joe Morgan
Close: Pete Rose, Johnny Bench.
In the discussion: Bobby Murcer, Willie Stargell, Bobby Bonds.
Of course, he's right. Bobby Ray should be in the discussion because, around this time, he was one of the five best players in baseball. With the exception of raw rookie Thurman Munson and veteran Roy White, Murcer was all the Bombers had at this time (with Mel Stottlemyre pitching).

Onto his next entry, where Joe writes:
1971-75: Joe Morgan
Close: Nobody
In the discussion: Rose, Stargell, Jackson, Bench, Murcer.

Comment: Even moderate Joe Morgan fans probably do not appreciate just how good he was from 1970-78. He was the best player in baseball all five periods, and nobody was especially most of those years. Notice Bobby Murcer is on the list again — he’s one of the more underrated players in baseball history.
The italics are mine. The words are Joe's.

I'm glad Joe Posnanski recognizes that. Few unfortunately do, as they're so hung up on how Bobby Murcer wasn't Mickey Mantle (well, duh). They all think he was just a bumpkin from Oklahoma who said funny things on TV.

Yeah, OK. Bobby Murcer, if you don't know, was one of the best - yes, one of the best ever - athletes to come out of the state of Oklahoma.

Incidentally, in that four-year stretch of 1971-1974, Murcer averaged .299 with 22 home runs (damn you, 1974 and Shea Stadium), with 27 doubles, 93 RBI's and 87 runs scored. Not too shabby.

Yeah, About That Boise State Cowbell Girl

A few minutes ago, I posted video of a girl playing the cowbell last night in the Fiesta Bowl. She looked, well, not very enthusiastic about her job. As a result, it became an internet sensation, with YouTube goodness for everyone.

Then it turned out that she is blind. Fail on all of us. I deleted my post, not that it was mean but it was snarky and unnecessary to keep up.

Believe it or not, the fact that she is blind is funnier to some (look at some of the comments and you will see what I mean). Sorry, I'm not laughing now.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Legends Classic

There are things that I have come to accept; things that are just not financially prudent. It's with that knowledge that I didn't even attempt to get tickets for the Winter Classic in Boston at Fenway Park. I figured I'd watch it on TV.

Enter Harold. He had another idea.

Harold is a Boston Bruins fan. Monstrous. Passionate. Knowledgeable. I will never question it. I knew how badly he wanted to go the Classic but he's smart enough to know that the money might not be wisely spent that way. What he did find was another way to see Fenway Park set up as a hockey site. He found that there would be a charity game, featuring Bruins and hockey legends, along with some entertainers.

The AT&T Legends Classic.

Yet after being in Fenway as a play-by-play broadcaster for the Renegades and Spinners in 2008, with Harold as our trusty "producer", wasn't it worth seeing if we could score a couple of media credentials? Well it was and with a little dedication, Kelly Mohr in the Bruins office confirmed that we were in.

We set out in a light snowstorm at 6:30 Saturday morning, in advance of the 2:00 faceoff at Fenway. Traffic was moderate and the roads started out OK. That is, until we left Hartford on Interstate 84. If ever I needed another reason to hate that road, I had it. Still we were in Boston by 10:00, and were even able to park extremely close to the park.

We were, however, placed in the penalty box for one hour for early arrival. The Bruins media staff was not ready for us yet. So we shopped, took pictures, and stayed warm before returning to the media credential window at 11:00.

My only knock on the whole day was how disorganized it was. No assigned seating. Very few notes. No bios of the players until just before the game began. Nobody had answers to anything. Was there a pregame interview session? Yes, but we didn't know about it. I imagine folks were still hungover and worn out from the Winter Classic, won by the Bruins 2-1 in overtime.

So we walked. We checked out the ice. We went to the Monster seats. I could tell they would be open, but it didn't seem like they were accessible. Yet we got there. It cost me a quarter, since Harold bet me we would get up there.

Even lunch was a little screwy. I spied a sign that said a pregame meal would take place in the State Street Pavilion, yet what did it mean? The media dining room was open as well. Harold and I ate there in 2008 (cost: $5) so I was skeptical. We chose to try the State Street Pavilion and that was the right choice. Never mind the food (good - pasta and chicken and chocolate chip bread pudding, though the clam chowder was awful) and the cost (FREE!). What made this incredible was shaking hands with an older gentleman as he walked by. I felt confident who he was, but Harold confirmed it: Milt Schmidt, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, whose number 15 is retired by the Bruins.

We also spotted actor Neal McDonough, who portrayed Buck Compton in the classic TV series "Band of Brothers." A few others, like Derek "Turk" Sanderson wandered through.

Back to the press box, we thought about where to watch the game. Hmmm...why not just go down to the ice? So long as we weren't doing anything wrong, what would the harm be?

That's where we spent the game. Now, granted, the press box would have been warm, but the experience of spending two hours or so on the field at Fenway Park, watching a hockey game, hanging with legends would be worth the potential for frost bite, and being soaked from snow.

We stood within reach of the players as they were introduced. We listened to the roar of the 33,000 in attendance. We sat right next to the rink, sometimes making eye contact with the participants. Bobby Farrelly (the director) gave me a nod after his white team scored a goal. Of course, he was probably sipping on his Budweisers from the cans attached to his helmet. Referee Paul Stewart opened the rink door to chide linesman Don Garcia for not having gloves. "Rookie", he said to Harold and I, as we laughed.

For Harold, he got to see the players that he admired up close, specifically Rick Middleton and Cam Neely. Privately, I held a goal that I was going to get him to meet Middleton, his equivalent to Bobby Murcer for me. I would accomplish that later.

Between periods (they only played two), we warmed up by popping into the Red Sox dugout and standing near their batting cage. It was funny to me how, despite my being a Yankees fan/baseball guy, and Fenway Park is obviously geared to baseball, I thought almost exclusively of hockey all day.

Oh, but baseball wasn't far away. During occasional breaks in the action, some of the participants were interviewed. Tim Robbins, a fine actor and a Mets fan, decided to curry favor with the Boston faithful by firing up a "Yankees suck" chant. I won't tell you my reaction to it but it involved spicy language and Susan Sarandon.

Maybe Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) could have taken care of him for me. Still all I could do was laugh, with the knowledge that the same might happen when it takes place in New York.

Following the game, the players gathered for a group picture. Sensing an opportunity, Harold and I both stepped onto the ice for some pictures. A priceless moment for both of us. We then made our way into the Bruins/Red Sox locker room for interviews.

It was almost too easy, and had there been more time, we could have interviewed a lot of people. Cam Neely, Dennis Leary, and Bruins coach Claude Julien were the most popular in the room, yet I felt that if we were vigilant, we could make it happen. As it was, we got general sound from Neely, and short, personal interviews with Brian Leetch, Rick Middleton, and Neal McDonough. We also chatted informally with Pat LaFontaine.

The Middleton interview was important to me. I saw him sitting at his locker, turned to Harold and said "follow me." I talked with Middleton (GREAT guy), stopped the recorder, and said to him, "Can I tell you something off the record?"

"Sure", he said.

"This guy", pointing to Harold, "loved watching you play."

That gave them a chance to talk. Look, I met Bobby Murcer and he was wonderful though I never had the chance to interview him. So to give my friend this opportunity meant so much to me.

Oh and every person in this room was ultra-classy and nice. Pat LaFontaine was so willing to just talk, showing us special sweaters (this is hockey, folks) that he made up for he and his son, each with "LAFFER" and the nmber 16 on the back. He actually pulled them out of his duffel bag. He told me, with a wink, how New York is in good shape to get the Winter Classic.

Now there were moments when you needed to remind yourself that you were in a locker room, like Tim Robbins walking by me in close proximity, wearing only a towel. A nude Cleon Daskalakis will scar me for life!

I'm missing pieces of the day for sure. There was so much to tell you about.

It snowed all day, but we made it back to New York in a little over three hours, with a stop for dinner thrown in, capped off with a cup of Tim Horton's coffee.

It was a true hockey day, after all.

The Legends Classic Pictures

I uploaded my pictures (and one video) from Fenway Park on Flickr.

Have a look.

This is the video that I posted - Cam Neely being introduced to the crowd of 33,000.

If Harold gives me his "okey dokie" I will post a link or add his pictures to the Flickr page.

The Legends Classic Begins (with VIDEO)

I will give you the full report later on a special day spent at Fenway Park for the Legends Classic, not to be confused with the Winter Classic. The Winter Classic, of course, was between the Bruins and Flyers on January 1st. On Saturday, entertainment and hockey names of note took to the ice for charity.

Harold and I had media credentials (and our audio will be played on Monday's "Press Box"...what little we got). Yet instead of staying in the warmth of the Fenway press box, we went down to the ice for the game.

What you learn after a day like this is how you wind up on the big screens as the action goes on. You find you might end up in pictures (though I haven't found any yet). But yes, you can be in videos. On YouTube.

The B's brought Rene Rancourt to do his classic version of the National Anthem - tuxedo and all. Somebody standing on first base side recorded it. Look at the two guys framing Rancourt in the foreground. Yep...Harold and me.

Your link is here.

I did nothing to embarrass myself, thankfully. I have to admit, and you can see it - I'm so taken by this spectacle that I actually took my eyes off the flag a few times to glance at Rene Rancourt. Too awesome. Yet, in my usual style, I'm proud to say that my body does not break from standing at attention until AFTER the final note of "home of the brave." And I will admit one little thing: watch me after that note...I gently take my right pointer finger and point to the sky. It's a silent tribute to my father, who taught me to stand at attention for "The Star Spangled Banner" until the very end.