Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Hockey Magic (and the Rangers Preseason Schedule)

I'm on a roll tonight! With the earlier post of The Messiah's hat trick against the Devils, I also found the brilliance of the moment when the Rangers found the cold day in hell...er...won the Stanley Cup (again, thanks to Paul Silverfarb). Sam Rosen and John Davidson were at the mic on MSG.

As I am psyched up hockey season, how about a look at the preseason schedule for the New York Rangers (thanks, ESPN New York)?
Day Date Opponent Site Time
Thu, Sept. 23 New Jersey Madison Square Garden 7 p.m.
Sat, Sept. 25 New Jersey Prudential Center 7 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 26 Detroit Joe Louis Arena 5 p.m.
Wed, Sept. 29 Detroit Madison Square Garden 7 p.m.
Fri, Oct. 1 Ottawa Madison Square Garden 7 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 2 Ottawa Scotiabank Place 7 p.m.

Remember, the Chicago Blackhawks are the defenders of Lord Stanley's chalice. Anyone remember that?

A Step Back In Time, Hockey Style (Or, The Night Messier Became The Messiah)

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

After all the talk about greatest announcers and such, Paul Silverfarb (he of the Greenwich Post) sent me this. Dock Emrick is at the mic for SportsChannel, and I remember this night oh so well.

This was his signature game. This was the night that Mark Messier became "The Messiah."

They look a little weird in this clip, wearing the blueshirts in New Jersey, and the white at the Garden, but ah, such good times!

An Enjoyable Springsteen Cover From Vampire Weekend

Nice work by Vampire Weekend on "I'm Goin' Down", from Born in the USA.

The Best (Sports) Announcers of All-Time?

Ken Fang recently posted his top five announcers for each sport (with some variations, like "Best Play By Play", "Best Analyst", "Best Local Team" and so on). The sports in question are baseball, boxing, college basketball, college football, NFL, NHL, and tennis.

What did I think? He's right...and nuts!

Ken's Baseball choices are:

Best Play-by-Play
1. Vin Scully - Los Angeles Dodgers/NBC Sports/CBS Radio
2. Ernie Harwell - Detroit Tigers/California Angels/CBS Radio
3. Curt Gowdy - Boston Red Sox/NBC Sports/CBS Radio
4. Jack Buck - St. Louis Cardinals/CBS Radio/CBS Sports
5. Jon Miller - Boston Red Sox/Baltimore Orioles/San Francisco Giants/ESPN/ESPN Radio

Um...no Red Barber, who taught Scully how to do it, and do it right? No Mel Allen? Sorry to Curt Gowdy and Jon Miller, but you both drop off, in favor of Barber (at my number two), and Allen (three). Oh and no Bob Costas?

Thankfully, he doesn't have Harry Caray here.

Best Analysts
1. Tony Kubek - NBC Sports/TSN/MSG Network
2. Don Drysdale - California Angels/ABC Sports
3. Jim Palmer - ABC Sports/MASN
4. Jerry Remy - NESN
5. Jim Kaat - CBS Sports/MSG Network/YES/MLB Network

I think Rem Dog is a stretch at three (Red Sox bias there), and I might put...GASP...Tim McCarver in. I'd go Kubek, Kaat, Drysdale, and then go from there.

Best Local TV/Radio Teams
1. Harry Kalas/Richie Ashburn/Andy Musser/Chris Wheeler - Philadelphia Phillies
2. Ned Martin/Jim Woods - Boston Red Sox
3. Skip Caray/Pete Van Wieren/Ernie Johnson, Sr./Don Sutton - Atlanta Braves
4. Ernie Harwell/Paul Carey - Detroit Tigers
5. Jon Miller/Fred Manfra - Baltimore Orioles
6. Sean McDonough/Jerry Remy - Boston Red Sox
7. Marty Brennaman/Joe Nuxhall - Cincinnati Reds
8. Chuck Thompson/Bill O'Donnell - Baltimore Orioles
9. Harry Caray/Steve Stone - Chicago Cubs
10. Dick Enberg/Don Drysdale - California Angels

I'm not going to get crazy here. I think to ignore the great local New York teams of the 60's and 70's is insane but OK. I'll take Frank Messer/Phil Rizzuto/Bill White at number one.

This could get long...OK, onto boxing.
1. Howard Cosell - ABC Sports
2. Jim Lampley - HBO Sports
3. Tim Ryan - CBS Sports
4. Marv Albert - NBC Sports
5. Bob Papa - HBO Sports/Versus/ESPN/NBC Sports

I think Ken is doing a disservice to Don Dunphy and Clem McCarthy but that's the historian in me. His five are pretty good. To college hoops!

Best Play-by-play
1. Dick Enberg - NBC Sports/CBS Sports
2. Brent Musberger - CBS Sports/ESPN
3. Curt Gowdy - NBC Sports
4. Jim Nantz - CBS Sports
5. Verne Lundquist - CBS Sports

No issue with Doctor Dick Enberg (he of the PhD) at number one. I'd drop Gowdy to five, put maybe Verne at two, Nantz at three, and Brent at four. A quick glance says no issue with these five otherwise.

Best Analyst
1. Billy Packer - Raycom/NBC Sports/CBS Sports
2. Al McGuire - NBC Sports/CBS Sports
3. Clark Kellogg - ESPN/CBS Sports
4. Quinn Buckner - CBS Sports/ESPN
5. Len Elmore - CBS Sports/ESPN

Again, no big argument with the five choices, I guess, though I would absolutely put some ONIONS in here, dropping someone in favor of Bill Raftery. And Al McGuire would be my number one - hands down.

I can't speak to Ken's choice of top local PBP guys, so I won't put them here, except that he left out the great team from Mount Saint Mary College. Goodness, but Adams and Baker (with Spang and Kaelin) made for some great radio. No, seriously!

Now college football:
Best Play-by-play
1. Keith Jackson - ABC Sports
2. Ron Franklin - ESPN
3. Brent Musburger - CBS Sports/ABC Sports/ESPN
4. Verne Lundquist - CBS Sports
5. Tom Hammond - NBC Sports

I'm not big on Brent. Heck, he only did one college game a year (the Rose Bowl) but I'd bring Dick Enberg to this list. Double heck, even Vin Scully did college football at one time. Oh well. I might push harder for the great Don Criqui though.

Best Analyst
1. Frank Broyles - ABC Sports
2. Pat Haden - CBS Sports/NBC Sports
3. Gary Danielson - ABC Sports/ESPN/CBS Sports
4. Dan Fouts - ESPN
5. Ara Parseghian - ABC Sports/CBS Sports

Again, hard to push for those who did one bowl game every year, so I won't.

Best Play-by-play
1. Marv Albert - NBC Sports/TNT
2. Dick Stockton - CBS Sports/TNT
3. Mike Gorman - Comcast SportsNet New England
4. Brent Musburger - CBS Sports
5. Mike Tirico - ESPN

No Mike Breen? I find Tirico to be boring. And Ken has serious Brent man-love. I'll take Marv at one, Breen at two, Marty Glickman at three, Chick Hearn fourth, and maybe Ian Eagle at five. Or Chris Schenkel.

Best Analyst
1. Doug Collins - NBC Sports/TNT
2. Hubie Brown - USA Network/CBS Sports/TNT/ESPN
3. Bill Walton - NBC Sports/ESPN
4. Charles Barkley - TNT/TBS
5. Kenny Smith - TNT/TBS

So be it. I always liked the "Czar" (Mike Fratello). I'm sure there are others that we can put here, and leave Collins and Hubie at the top.

Best play-by-play
1. Al Michaels - ABC Sports/NBC Sports
2. Dick Enberg - NBC Sports/CBS Sports
3. Pat Summerall - CBS Sports/Fox Sports
4. Charlie Jones - ABC Sports/NBC Sports
5. Don Criqui - NBC Sports/CBS Sports

I'd put Enberg on top. Then Summerall. Maybe bring in Curt Gowdy. Then Al Michaels and leave number five for a toss-up between Jones and the Criq-man.

Best Analyst
1. John Madden - CBS Sports/ABC Sports/NBC Sports
2. Hank Stram - CBS Sports/CBS Radio
3. Merlin Olsen - NBC Sports/CBS Sports
4. Dan Dierdorf - ABC Sports/CBS Sports
5. Phil Simms - ESPN/NBC Sports/CBS Sports

Ken asks "Seriously, could anyone be ranked over Madden?" To me, yes - Merlin Olsen. He's my number one. Madden can be second with Stram third. Never was a Dierdorf guy, so he's out. Simms can stay. After that, there are a host of fine analysts. John Brodie, Bob Trumpy, and other older-time announcers that aren't getting recognized.

Now, the NHL:

Best Play-by-play
1. Mike Emrick - ESPN/NBC Sports
2. Dan Kelly - CBS Sports/USA Network
3. Bob Cole - CBC
4. Chris Cuthbert - CBC/NBC Sports/TSN
5. Jiggs MacDonald - SportsChannel America

Doc! Yes! And Jiggsy! I'm in with this, although I might drop Cuthbert to six (sorry, Canada) and pop Gary Thorne in...and of course we're not giving Foster Hewitt has proper due.

Best Analyst
1. John Davidson - MSG Network/Fox Sports/ESPN/NBC Sports/Versus
2. Harry Neale - CBC
3. Ed Olcyzk - NBC Sports
4. Mickey Redmond - CBC/Fox Sports Detroit
5. Don Cherry - CBC

I probably do have an issue here, but I can't think of one. Although how Ken left both John Spang and Sean Kilkelly off (both of WGCH) is beyond me,

Ken also included the locals. He left Sam Rosen out (Rangers games on MSG) and that's an oversight to me.


Best Play-by-play
1. Dick Enberg - NBC Sports/CBS Sports/ESPN2
2. Jim Simpson - NBC Sports/ESPN
3. Tim Ryan - NBC Sports/CBS Sports
4. Cliff Drysdale - ESPN
5. Pat Summerall - CBS Sports

I don't have any qualms here. I think. Enberg is the best. Maybe a little respect for Ted Robinson?

Best Analyst
1. John McEnroe - USA Network/NBC Sports/CBS Sports/ESPN2/7 Network/BBC Sport
2. Mary Carillo - USA Network/CBS Sports/NBC Sports/ESPN2
3. Bud Collins - NBC Sports/ESPN2/Tennis Channel
4. Tracy Austin - USA Network/7 Network/BBC Sport
5. Tony Trabert - CBS Sports

Again, probably no issue, though I'm a big Bud Collins fan.

1. Bob Costas - NBC Sports/HBO Sports/MLB Network
2. Jim McKay - ABC Sports
3. Brent Musburger - CBS Sports/ABC Sports/ESPN
4. Ernie Johnson, Jr. - Turner Sports
5. James Brown - Fox Sports/CBS Sports
6. Howard Cosell - ABC Sports

This is where I thought Brent was at his best. Pat O'Brien was also quite good at this before he bolted for entertainment. To be fair, Bryant Gumbel was also a good host.

Fine work by Ken, because he opened things up for debate. Well done.

The Vin Links

I said I owed you them, and here they are. I'm way behind.

We'll start with something current. Awful Announcing is back, and they have an amazed Vin as he sees a beach ball get loose.

Many of the links will come from Tom Hoffarth. Like this, where the Great Scully calls Kirk Gibson's epic home run in the 1988 World Series. On Nintendo.

Check out this stunning collection of photographs from Sports Illustrated, featuring the master.

In case you missed Vin announcing he would return in 2011...

Tom Hoffarth reports on the happy news.

Here's Tom's reaction to Vin's press conference.

Tom collected other reactions to the news.

OK, we've caught up. Without getting all "Rule 55" on you (or too personal), I have a lot on my mind right now. Serious stuff. Inquiring minds know where to get hold of me.

I Can't Believe I Didn't See This...New HLN Album Coming Out Nov 2!

I hadn't stopped by the front page of HLN.org recently. I went this morning for a little "pick me up" and came across this from Deb P:
Grammy-Winners Pay Tribute to Memphis Soul on First Album in Nine Years

Posted by debP, HLN Today Co-Editor

Official Press Release

17 August 2010: Grammy-winners Huey Lewis and The News have confirmed the November 2 release of 'Soulsville,' their first album in nine years, to be released on W.O.W. Records. Recorded at historic Ardent Studios in Memphis, the album features 14 classic songs from the vault of Stax Records, including “Respect Yourself” and “Got To Get You Off My Mind”. Considered to be the preeminent soul music label in America, Stax was home to artists like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Booker T & The MG’s, and Isaac Hayes, and produced an astounding number of hit records throughout the 1960’s & 70’s. Ably paying tribute to the rich Stax legacy, Huey Lewis and The News, joined by their long time horn section, capture the energy and excitement of this important era.

'Soulsville' re-unites Huey Lewis and the News with co-producer Jim Gaines ('Sports,' 'Fore!') who worked at the Stax studios as a young man and was involved in many of the label's original recordings.

“We’re especially proud of the collection.” says Lewis, who has been previewing material from the album while on a critically acclaimed summer tour. “There should be a number of surprises for everyone.”

Formed from two rival Bay Area bands in 1979, Huey Lewis and The News play a brand of straight-ahead rock and roll that has outlasted countless trends, selling over 20 million albums and earning Grammy Awards along the way. The group still performs around 100 shows a year. Lewis has enjoyed recent success on screen and stage as well, acting on the hit television show “Hot in Cleveland”, and performing in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Chicago”.
The tracks on Soulsville will be:
Don’t Fight It
Got To Get You Off My Mind
Respect Yourself
Cry To Me
Just One More Day
Never Found a Girl
Little Sally Walker
I Want To (Do Everything For You)
Just The One (I’ve Been Looking For)
Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You
Never Like This Before
Grab This Thing

I knew that this album was in the works but had no idea that a release date had FINALLY been set. This album will be similar in concept to 1994's Four Chords and Several Years Ago, another collection of old tunes that the band covered. That CD included "(She's) Some Kind of Wonderful" and "But It's Alright", both having some success and earning acclaim in the band's catalog. At the same time, the band had already entered the depths of Adult Contemporary Hell.

Look, I get the deal here. Huey Lewis and the News know that their chart success is in the distant past. For the most part, they're a touring band that still draws well and puts on a great show (though I couldn't tell you, because it's been five freaking years since I saw them, and I blew TWO chances to see them this summer). Without the proper promotion (W.O.W. Records?), radio station support and such, it's difficult to get the notice. Fans are fickle.

Hard core fans are not.

And so, it will be on my calendar. Soulsville will jump into my collection around November 2nd. Even if I have to take up a collection to get it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lady Antebellum Rocks Central Park

(Photo by Carrie)

The country/pop crossover act Lady Antebellum (Wiki page here) appeared on ABC's "Good Morning American Summer Concert Series this past Friday, and Carrie and I were pleased to be a part of the crowd. A big nod of the chapeau to cousin Kris and wife Lori, along with friend Shanna and others for having us along.

Arriving in Central Park just before 6:00 (yes, AM), our crew checked in and made our way into the "VIP" area. The quotes are necessary; "VIP" means you get to stand closer to the stage. Beyond that, don't expect anything extra. There was no "GMA" swag. No breakfast. No interaction with the band. Nothing to complain about, of course. Personally I was happy just to be there.

For me, I loved watching the production process. I loved watching the band go through sound check, and how the whole event would be structured. How they would play as if they had been playing for us all along, when they only began performing - in the MIDDLE of a song - just as the broadcast went live.

Yet this morning was also about being "pretty." Unquestionably Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott are attractive people and had many fans in the audience. But for me, it's master musician Dave Haywood that is the brains and amazing talent. Oh take nothing away from Kelley and Scott. My goodness they can sing - gorgeous harmonies and such, but I fear that if they don't keep their heads together, their egos will take over. Scott loves doing her thing in five inch heels (of which we saw two different pairs), and Kelley was able to work the stage occasionally showing his boxer briefs off.

Impressive, I guess. Just play music, please. That's where Haywood comes in.

Please don't get me wrong. Scott and Kelley played to the crowd, and I spied Scott backstage chatting with some visitors, including a young person in a wheelchair. But what struck me about Haywood was that, besides being a good musician (and leading a very tight backing band), he seemed like the most genuinely nice person, even stopping to take a few pictures following the performance. He would have come back for more, had the security staff not shooed us all away.

Side note, and pardon the language, but is "be an asshole" part of the job description for security guards? I get it - you need (or want) us to leave. If no one is giving you problems, could you maybe not be obnoxious about it? Just saying.

Oh, and I'm not even sure who the two people that served as GMA's talent was (besides continuing in the "pretty" category) but perhaps you could come off as a little less phony and maybe even know how to pronounce Lady A's most recent smash album?

The warm up comedian (Tom Kelly) was decently funny.

Some video for ya. The band did a lot of practice on "Our Kind of Love" during sound check. This is the performance that aired live.

After the the live show ended, the band regrouped for a special webcast version of the gorgeous "Need You Now." I think we've all felt this at one time or another. Look for Carrie around 1:22. She is taking a picture behind a young girl who is singing. If you stop and look carefully, the side of my head appears.

The band did three songs in total - "Need You Now", "Our Kind of Love", and "I Run to You." I have to admit, their lyrics hit close to home, and I think Carrie would agree.

By the way, this band has got some rock chops, and that's why I'm not so quick to brand them as pure country. They are...wait for it...a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll (jeez that was just too easy). Check out this video of them from London doing Radiohead's "High and Dry."

To further the point, Charles Kelley spoke of the ink on his arm (aka, his tattoo). Now while I'm not into tatts, I have to say, you get my attention when you say it's a Beatles reference. A quick look at the setlist from that recent London show finds that the band closed the show with "Hey Jude."

I'm so glad Carrie and I went to this show after some considerable discussion. Overall it was an outstanding, and different experience for both of us, and time with Kris and company is always good. Plus, while I always favor "older" country to "newer" country, this does make me want to broaden my horizons just a little bit more. Moments like this are good for me. Sure, I'm a rock guy - first and foremost - but I love so many different types of music. This will really a big thrill.

I haven't loaded Carrie's pictures onto my Flickr page yet (I've yet to ask for her permission) but always feel free to visit the page for updates. I have more goodies to add anyway!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Linky Dinks

(Don't know where this came from, so I can't add attribution.  I like it though.)

Howdy, friends. I feel like I have a lot to catch up on but I don't have the energy to write about it all.

Tom Hoffarth writes on his blog (via the Los Angeles Daily News) that the Richmond Flying Squirrels had a little fan/player problem.

My good friend Christine Baker wrote an amazing list of things that she wants. I'm a big fan of two entries:
13. I want to pray to God in my own quiet way, and not be dictated how to worship by men who are as far away from God as I’ve ever seen. (Rob here. Amazingly well-said. Probably best to let this go at that. I have some strong opinions here and, well, not everyone can handle that topic.)

15. I want to feel passion that lasts, to feel undressed by someone’s eyes, feel the tingle in my toes from a kiss, the whisper on my lashes, the flipping in my stomach, thinking- wow, this is gonna be good. It’s gonna be sweaty and it’s gonna be good. (Rob again. Tell me we don't all feel this in one way or another? Besides, this is simply great writing.)
I don't know if anyone has read about the story of the late sportswriter Mike Penner, who was a transgendered male and transitioned into being Christine Daniels. Penner/Daniels eventually committed suicide. The story is heartbreaking and obviously tragic. Steve Friess writes more on the topic in LA Weekly.

New York City has a Transit Museum. I'd like to take Sean there one day (it's in Brooklyn). Roadside America has more on it.

Morgan Ensberg addresses questions, including the myth of the small market teams. These teams infuriate me even more with the revelation that organizations like the Pirates are MAKING MONEY.

I have a slew of links on the topic of Vin Scully returning for his 62nd season. I'll try to get to them soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Uh Oh...Top Ten Beatles Songs, According to Rolling Stone Magazine

Let the debate begin!

"I Wanna Hold Your Hand" at number two? WHAT?

I look forward to reading the rest of this.

High School Football is Back!

(Cardinal Stadium, Greenwich, 2001.  Photographer unknown.)

Connecticut has begun practice for the 2010 high school football season. Finally.

Let's do a couple of links!

Sean Patrick Bowley from the CT Post has five pressing questions for the FCIAC.

Jesse Quinlan from the Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time has a training camp primer for the Greenwich Cardinals.

This is enough to get us started! The first broadcast is scheduled for Thursday night, September 16th when the Cardinals visit Norwalk.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

So What Did Lou Gehrig Die Of?

If you believe the latest research, Lou Gehrig might not have died of the disease that was sort of named after him. Gehrig was believed to have died in 1941 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

The Boston Globe has more.

We will likely never know the truth because Gehrig was cremated. His remains are in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY - just a short drive from the burial site of his Murderers' Row brother, Babe Ruth.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RIP Bobby Thomson


The man who hit baseball's "shot heard 'round the world" has died.  Bobby Thomson was 86. For my money, there will never be a more dramatic home run hit, nor will there ever be a greater moment in sports.

Think about it.  Baseball was king of the world at that point.  The NFL was a distant second to college football.  The NBA was in its infancy, and the NHL was a niche.  Horse racing was still super-popular and boxing was huge but baseball was IT.  No other sports mattered (ah...what a wonderful world).

New York was the center of the baseball world in 1951.  The mighty Yankees awaited the winner of the three-game playoff between the Dodgers (of Brooklyn) and the Giants (of upper Manhattan).  The Giants were able to rally from a 13 game deficit in August to force the playoff with the Dodgers, the Boys of Summer, who had been cruising.

Of course, much evidence has come to light to indicate that the Giants had an elaborate cheating system, in which the team was stealing signs.  So a little gamesmanship was enforced?  Let's not let that get in the way of a great story.

But the Giants did force the playoff, and were on the verge of being eliminated in three games.  The Giants started that faithful ninth inning down 4-1.  Yet Don Newcombe was done - just finished, allowing singles to Alvin Dark and Don Mueller, and an RBI double to Whitey Lockman.  Dodgers manager Chuck Dressen brought on Ralph Branca to pitch to Thomson, and the two have been linked ever since.

Incidentally, it shouldn't surprise that I'm not a big fan of Russ Hodges' call that can be described "Gus Johnson-esque."  Still you can't top the enthusiasm of the moment.  There were four broadcasters on that day - October 3, 1951 - and I own three of them.  Hodges, of course, is the most famous.  Red Barber used his typical professional style, which would drive the modern-day fan nuts.  He was not excited by the moment.  Gordon McClendon, a DJ who started up the Liberty Network, did his call, and it was quite like Hodges, though not nearly as famous.  The fourth was the late Ernie Harwell, who did the call on NBC, and said that "only Mrs. Harwell knows what I said."  That's because the tape doesn't exist.

Oh, and if you don’t know what happened, well fate (and Karma) are often cruel and just.  The Giants may have won the pennant in 1951, but they got hammered by the Yankees in the World Series – the last hurrah for an old veteran named Joe DiMaggio, and the first Classic for a kid from Oklahoma named Mickey Mantle.

Some links for you - '>'>Joe Posnanski ranks the more famous home runs ever, and I like what he did.  He put Bill Mazeroski at number one, and put Thomson at HIGHER than number one!  I will put Thomson's Miracle at Coogan's Bluff at number one as well, with Mazeroski second.  We can go from there.  Joe Carter, Pudge Fisk, Kirk Gibson, Derek Jeter (or Tino Martinez or Scott Brosius), Kirby Puckett, and even the Great Bambino (and many others) fall well short of the magnitude and drama of the Thomson home run.

Kyle Rowland at Bleacher Report ranks the ten most dramatic play-by-play calls ever, with "The Shot" ranked at number four.  I'll spare you the buildup, as he puts Sean McDonough's call of the Sid Bream slide in the 92 NLCS at number one.  Yeah.  That’s about all I have to say about that.

Vin Scully was at the Polo Grounds in 1951, and Tom Hoffarth has his reaction and the reaction of others to Thomsons’ passing.

Lastly, the New York Daily News has the basic facts about Thomson, a very modest, seemingly nice man (I never personally met him) who handled his fame with great charm and class.

I'm out of here for a couple of days - off camping.  Looking forward to time with Sean, time with family, and anxiously waiting for Carrie to join us.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Five Fab Four Songs

When Don Imus has guests on his show, he asks the for their five favorite songs. Imus himself often picks five favorites for the week or day. In one case, it was five favorite Beatles songs.

To that end, our friend Coach, of Coach's Corner, picked his ten favorite Beatles songs.

So I asked Sean Adams, noted eight year-old Beatles fan, for his five. They were not really surprising:

- Yellow Submarine
- Octopus's Garden
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band
- Back in the U.S.S.R.
- Eleanor Rigby

Fairly typical, especially for him. As for his dad (on this day...they can easily change):

- Day Tripper - One of Paul's best rockers. Great guitar work by George.
- I Am the Walrus - John wanted to create a song of nonsense that couldn't be performed live. He succeeded.
- Got To Get You Into My Life (or I Should Have Known Better) - One of really about drugs. The other is pure love (which can be like a drug). Both are addicting. The line "I was alone, I took a ride, I didn't know what I would find..." from "Got to Get You Into My Life speaks to me of a ride I took a few months back that had nothing to do with drugs.
- Help - John regretted how this song of crying out turned so upbeat. I think it's some of his best work. It's like the Mona Lisa - serious and smiling.
- Helter Skelter - OK, so it's become associated with the Manson "family." Whatever. It can take a purely lame moment and make it rock.

That's what comes to my mind this morning. How about you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

KO Rod

Too easy to make fun of the Mets and the Francisco Rodriguez situation, but I will say this: for the team to suspend him for TWO GAMES is a joke. Just dumb.

He should be gone for at least a week. He embarrassed the team. He embarrassed the fans. He embarrassed the spot.

He was arrested and charged with assault. Ben Roethlisberger was never charged with a thing but will miss at least a quarter of the season and can't even practice with the team, yet this clown assaults his girlfriends' father IN THE STADIUM? Yet that only gets two games?

I don't care if he was standing up for his mother. Maybe everyone should have just stayed out of it and kept their mouths shut.

Sounds like a fun family to me.


MLB needs to step up. Fast.

The Press Box will be on at 2:00 PM Eastern.

This is a Joke, Right?

So this is supposed to be a funny, or something. UniWatch wants to know who has the best home uniform in baseball. The poll is linked here. I think the leader right now is the Cardinals, and the Dodgers are second, but you're really just not being fair if that's how you're voting. In other words, you truly hate the Yankees, because, let's be honest, no uniform is more iconic is ALL of sports than those pinstripes and the interlocking NY.

By the way, if you notice the NY on Lou Gehrig's jersey above, it's a bit different than the modern-day version, as seen on Mr. Jeter below.
 The point is that the 27-time World Champions could do a throwback uniform day, which I've long been in favor of.

Bruce and Ben

Two terrific musical notes (get it?) this morning?

1) This news has been brewing for a few weeks but it's building and getting better. Bruce Springsteen has a remastered version of Darkness on the Edge of Town coming out soon, along with a documentary about the making of. (Thanks, Rolling Stone Magazine)

If this is anything like the remastering of Born to Run, it will be amazing.

2) On a smaller scale, Ben Folds has a new album coming out soon. It's a project that he created with the help of the author Nick Hornby, called Lonely Avenue.

Good stuff. I'm looking forward to it.

Time to Face Reality

(Fred, 1998)

Three weeks ago, I was home doing some stuff when I saw Fred, my beloved misunderstood genius of a cat, sitting on the back porch, meowing. I stepped outside with some food and water, and he ate up. I petted him, we "talked", and he went back to lounging in the back yard.

That was the last time I saw him.

Fred had disappeared before, but this time is much different. He's 12 years old and his health hasn't been good for some time. I think it's realistic to face up to the fact that something has happened - be it the absolute worst, or that he's just lost. But if somebody isn't feeding him, well, it just doesn't look good.

Fred had the unenviable task of replacing Bandit, my cat of 17 years, who was as close to sainthood as an animal can get. Fred looked so much like him, except he had a fluffier tail, and a "spot" on his nose that we called his "brat mark."

I got Freddo from the Putnam Humane Society on a Saturday morning in August, 1998. His personality and his resemblance to Bandit were the winning factors. His original name at the Humane Society was "Sunday", and that just didn't fit him. Fred was never easy like Sunday morning. Fred was full of energy, and the idea of keeping him as an inside cat was a tough sell. He would escape the old Mahopac apartment at least three times - scaling the roof or the side of our second-floor home. By the time I got him back inside one time, he had burn marks on his paw pads from a scalding hot roof!

Another time, he got loose during game six of the American League Championship. That tempered the joy of the Yankees beating the Indians and my knowledge that I would see my first World Series game in person. I found him the next morning, in a neighboring garage, under a car.

He would eventually become an outside cat, and that was likely his undoing. I get to live with that knowledge.

He and Sean would form a bond, though it was difficult at times. Sean loved Fred, and telling him that we probably weren't going to get him back was a sad conversation. Sean keeps asking if he has returned.

This is both sad and hysterically funny to watch. Sean and his buddy Fred (the poor thing).

In the end, Fred wasn't Bandit, nor should he have been. He wasn't as loving and likely to curl up on my lap. Just wasn't his style. He was still enormous fun, and brought us much joy.

While we can hold out hope, it's best to say goodbye and move forward.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Roads, Pictures, Stuff

I've uploaded a whole lot of pictures to my Flickr page. Recent additions include our great day on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn Promenade, my friend Eddie's (he of Section 5) wedding to the lovely Evette, and our visit to the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees (Breakfast and Baseball 3).

Also out there for your viewing pleasure are plenty of new road snaps, including the above shot, taken in Brooklyn.

Enjoy. Comments are welcomed.

JoePo Wonders About Steroids

Joe Posnanski asked what I've been wondering for some time:

What is we have been wrong about steroids?

This is required reading, friends.

There has been an obvious rush to judgment on this and we continue to watch the fallout in front of our own eyes. Now with home runs and scoring down, ratings have dropped and attendance isn't where it was.

Chicks always did dig the long ball.

History is always the ultimate judge.

Plus what has bugged me - and continues to - is the speculation. ARod was outed. Manny, Papi, Pettitte, and others have also been brought to the forefront with only a few (like Pettitte and Rodriguez) willing to "man up." In Boston, Ortiz can still do no wrong. Hmmmm...

My point is to be consistent. Plus, who else is guilty? I know who I think is, and Mets and Red Sox fans won't like it. I can think of a few other names. Then there are those who get the complete and utter free pass. I can think of a name or 10 there as well.

As for the older players, spare me. Don't tell me some (if not many) of them had some form of help (greenies, anyone?). Don't tell me that they're not happy to reap the benefits of the current ballplayers. I love the old school player, and will always take their side, but don't be hypocritical either. I hate that just as much.

I hate phonies.

So what if we were wrong? Or should I say, what if we ARE wrong?

Pete Rozelle Award Winners

Among sports and football enthusiasts, much has been made of Chris Berman winning the 2010 Pete Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That got me to thinking: who are the previous winners?

* 1989 - Bill McPhail
* 1990 - Lindsey Nelson
* 1991 - Ed Sabol
* 1992 - Chris Schenkel
* 1993 - Curt Gowdy
* 1994 - Pat Summerall
* 1995 - Frank Gifford
* 1996 - Jack Buck
* 1997 - Charlie Jones
* 1998 - Val Pinchbeck
* 1999 - Dick Enberg
* 2000 - Ray Scott
* 2001 - Roone Arledge
* 2002 - John Madden
* 2003 - Don Criqui
* 2004 - Van Miller
* 2005 - Myron Cope
* 2006 - Lesley Visser
* 2007 - Don Meredith
* 2008 - Dan Dierdorf
* 2009 - Irv Cross
* 2010 - Chris Berman

The notable names missing are Al Michaels, Merlin Olsen, and Howard Cosell (off the top of my skull). Beyond that are likely local names and lesser thought of national folks. I can come up with Marty Glickman, who called the Giants and Jets for years around these parts, Jack Flemming, the longtime Steelers' voice, Gil Santos, who has called Pats games for years, and so on.

The point is, many were outraged that Berman won the award, and while it made me roll my eyes, I hadn't given it much further thought. Now, after having a chance to look at the list and further consider it, there's no doubt the Berman choice might be a tad misguided, and an effort at cronyism on the part of the NFL and the Hall of Fame.

That's nothing against Berman, who has been one of the signature NFL names for a long time, and who made "NFL Prime Time" required viewing during its halcyon days.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

"Get A Room"

Carrie and I went to Target here in Brooklyn yesterday to get some mundane items when we found ourselves walking among the frozen foods. For whatever reason, we shared a moment - a public display of affection. I can assure you that it wouldn't have made movie history. It was a simple peck, to be honest.

Still, it was nice. Yet as it happened - in that split-second, a woman came around the corner and said the following (out loud but under her breath): "OK...get a room."

I stood there, stunned and said the following as I walked away: "Oh no she did ent."

Yes, said with white-man-meets-the-hood emphasis.

Carrie unfortunately didn't hear it and I had to repeat it for her. She wished she had heard it because her "I don't care" antennae was up better than mine. My attitude was more of annoyance and shock than the sarcastic retort.

We've been laughing about it ever since. I love when Carrie has that attitude. One that shows she loves having me in her world and wants the world to know it. It's very good, and very refreshing, for me.

After all this time, I'd like to be somebody's number one. I sort of, kind of, just possibly think I've earned it. She deserves the same from me.

Oh, we had another good laugh later in the evening, as we were walking through her neighborhood. A young woman was in front of us with a friend of hers (at least they seemed friendly). The woman sneezed on herself - made no attempt to cover her mouth - then spit. On the sidewalk.

In front of us. We had to step around the loogie on the ground.

This, friends, is not representative of the wonderfully diverse neighborhood that Carrie lives in. It was just a momentary sign of classlessness. One that Carrie and I are still laughing about. And Carrie, who has the most wonderful laugh, was darn near breathless because she was laughing so hard.

This is why life is good these days.

Oh, and lady in Target, are you jealous?

America's Best Fans (According to Forbes)

Forbes has put together one of the dumber lists: the Best Sports fans in America.

Here is their methodology:
To make our list, we looked at every team in the “Big Four” U.S. professional sports leagues: football (NFL), basketball (NBA), baseball (MLB), and hockey (NHL). First, we measured their home and away game attendance, which indicates a team's drawing power in its home market and nationwide. Then we counted their merchandise sales. Finally, we ranked each team's in-market popularity, based on surveys. We ranked all of the teams, then took the top four from each of the four leagues.

Let's take a look:
16) Chicago Blackhawks
15) Philadelphia Phillies
14) New York Yankees
13) Cleveland Cavaliers
12) Los Angeles Lakers
11) Montreal Canadiens
10) St. Louis Cardinals
9) Dallas Cowboys
8) San Antonio Spurs
7) Boston Celtics
6) Pittsburgh Penguins
5) New England Patriots
4) Indianapolis Colts
3) Detroit Red Wings
2) Pittsburgh Steelers
1) Boston Red Sox

I think their methodology is remarkably flawed. I mean, come on. Where are the New York Giants? The Packers? The Chiefs? The New York Rangers? That's just off the top of my head.

OK, you want to put the Yankees so far down, go right ahead. All I know is visiting teams' attendance spikes when the pinstripes come to town, and they outsell the Red Sox in merchandise. The Patriots? Are you kidding me? What a front-running bunch that is. The Phillies also made me pull some hairs out. They're not even the top team in their own town (that's an Eagles town). Even the Spurs and Lakers made me laugh. And let's see what kind of fans the Cavs have now.

This one made my head spin.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Pondering in White Plains

Greetings from a Barnes and Noble in White Plains, NY, where I’m wasting some time as I wait to pick Carrie and friends up from LaGuardia Airport.

After I finished another fine edition of “The Press Box”, I needed to do something, and here, on this gorgeous Monday afternoon, I decided to come to the city where the bulk of my corporate career took place.  From 1989 to 1996, and again in 2007, I worked in around here.  I’ve watched this city evolve from when it was our main source of large shopping (nothing like Pop and I chowing on cashews at Sears!).  Then it became a corporate haven with a slice of crime before being “reimagined” as this upscale destination.

So I walked.  Walked from my parking spot in the municipal garage, into the City Center “mall” that houses Target, Barnes and Noble and a few others (this was a large Macy’s until they moved down the street to the urban renewal thing call The Galleria.  I made my way to The Westchester, an destination shopping location that includes many high-end merchants.  Eventually, I found myself walking through the…um, no nice words for it, hmmm…well I’ll just call it The Galleria and leave it at that.

The Galleria gave me a cheap thrill, as I watched a Slim Shady-esque hood being led through Macy’s in handcuffs.  Otherwise The Galleria – a primary stop for the 80’s shopping kings and queens – was not all that enjoyable.  I felt like I got some exercise, and that’s about it.

Outside, I passed a company that I briefly worked for in 2007 before they laid me off (said that they couldn’t afford me).  Well, they’re gone.  Nothing more to say.

Back at City Center, I watched a woman leave Target with a cart full of goods.  Nothing exciting there, until a guy in a Mets shirt (the poor thing) bumped into her.  I thought it was some goonery at work, until I discovered that the Mets guy was a member of Target security, and they whisked her into a side door and out of sight.

The woman looked sick.  Kind of helpless.

She was also incredibly foolish.  Well played by the folks at the red bullseye.  Their security is nothing to fool with.  I got a behind the scenes tour from them in 2007.  Very impressive.

I’m sitting here listening to some kind of symphonic rock and roll.  “Live and Let Die” was just on.  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was heard about a half-hour ago.  Kurt Cobain is rolling in his grave now.

I love some of the Facebook friends that I have made.  This morning I added Fran Tarkenton and I just noticed that Joseph R. Gannascoli accepted my friend request.

Come on!  Vito from “The Sopranos.”

Oh Lord.  We’ve moved on to symphonic “Kashmir.”

Ever type with a heavy heart?  Of course we’ve all done things while moving through sadness.  Sometimes we get hit with news that takes out breath away and we simply don’t have the words for.  Suddenly, the small things – life and such, get a different perspective.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

NOTE: I suppose I can say more, since I couldn’t post this from Barnes and Noble, and am finishing up on Tuesday morning (I wrote this on Monday night).  Tim Parry texted me, and announced on his Facebook page last night that his brother, Jim, passed away yesterday at the age of 55.  I can’t even tell you how sad I am for TIm and his family.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Remembering on August 2nd

I'm not too bad with dates. Ask me about April 3rd and I'll smile. Birthdays? Anniversaries? Pretty good with those.

Sadly, I know bad dates also. March 17th. Yep. It's St. Patty's Day but I always remember something else then.

And August 2nd.


Thirty-one years ago today, we lost Thurman Munson. In so many ways, for my generation, despite the winning of the last 14 years, Thurman's presence still hangs over the Yankees.

Go to the new Stadium (if you can find an affordable ticket) and visit the museum. There you will find Munson's locker, transferred from the House that Ruth Built. Virtually everyone pauses to look at it. Fathers teach their sons (from me to Sean), and we "older" guys (it's all relevant) pause and remember the Captain.

The first time I saw the locker was in its original place.  I was on the tour of the old Stadium and you couldn't go anywhere near it, but there it was on the left side of the locker room, past Derek Jeter.  I got to look at it a few months later when I had a credential to cover a September game against the Blue Jays.  It was a special moment.

It's still right there for me. Four thirty in the afternoon. Channel five. The newsflash. The shock. A night later, meaningless baseball. The following Monday: the funeral, the eulogies (Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer). That night: the nationally televised game against the first-place Orioles. The Bombers sleepwalking for six and a half innings, even with Ron Guidry on the mound.

The YES Network reminds us now what happened, and that's how current fans are learning. The Yankees win 5-4 thanks to Bobby Murcer, Thurman's dear friend. It's said that Tippy Martinez laid the ball in there for Bobby to get the game-winner. Whatever. For that night, things seemed to be righting themselves.

The 80's were rough though.  The Yankees did some winning, with a division title in 1980 and an American League pennant in 1981.  Then?  Nothing, and a lot of forgettable catchers as well. It took until 1993 before it appeared that the fog was lifting.

And good catching, in the person first of Joe Girardi (good, not great) and then Jorge Posada, who has become a fine addition to the line that ran from Bill Dickey to Yogi Berra to Elston Howard to Thurman Munson.

Munson was rough, as a player and as a teammate. Man he was good. I guess you could say three of his contemporaries are in the Hall of Fame (Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Gary Carter). I'll take Munson over Carter and Fisk, but Bench was a touch more complete so I'll put him first. Sadly, Thurman didn't quite hang around long enough to compile the numbers that the HOF voters want to see. He played only 12 years and, in reality, was probably going to be a DH (and perhaps the Indians' DH beginning in 1980).

Still, maybe one day the Veterans Committee will rethink it.

I can still see the mammoth home run against the Royals in the ALCS, and power was not his thing. The hitting machine against the Reds in the 76 World Series (that was the lone highlight for New York). The defense.

The player. The family man.

We pause here, August 2, 2010, to remember Thurman Munson.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

That Song In The AT&T Gates Commercial

Maybe you've seen it by now - that AT&T commercial with everything being covered in golden/orange curtains. It might seem vaguely familiar. Remember "The Gates", the art show in Central Park 2005?

(Holy cow, was that five years ago?)

Anyway, the commercial is so reminiscent of that event that it includes a disclaimer saying that the artists have nothing to do with it.

Yet it's not the imagery that grabbed me about that commercial. It's the music. A deep, melodic guitar-strumming tune, and I recognized the voice the minute I heard it.

Nick Drake.

Every once in a while Drake's songs are heard in pop culture. Take Garden State, for instance. Zach Braff's brilliant film includes "One of These Things First" from Bryter Later. Volkswagen used "Pink Moon" from the same album and his musical popularity increased.

Drake died in 1974 of an overdose and by all accounts didn't have the happiest of lives. His music lives on, of course, especially when commercials and movies give it some play (good luck finding it on the radio - not very often, for sure).

The words on his headstone read, "Now we rise/And we are everywhere" and they come from the last song on the album Pink Moon. The song is called "From the Morning" and it is the one that AT&T is using in their latest commercial. I couldn't find the spot on YouTube but I did find this video for the song.

Enjoy, and ponder.

Deep stuff to start a Sunday morning with. It matches my mood.