Saturday, April 30, 2011

NHL History Madness

The NHL is using a bracket-steyle tournament to determine their single greatest moment in Stanley Cup Playoff history.  Go here to follow along and vote.  I've stepped in a little late, so I missed some of the early voting.

It's hard - for me - to think there's any better moment than the one above.  Of course, that's Bobby Orr scoring against the Blues in the Boston Garden in 1970.  It is the single most iconic moment, arguably in the history of the sport.  It was scored by the greatest (or second greatest) player in the history of the NHL.

Yet, if you'll excuse me, it's also a touch overrated.  The truth, as many know, is that the goal was scored to wrap up a sweep of the series.  But it was in overtime, so it was a true game-winner, and he was propelled into the air (a wonderful individual effort).  Still, Dan Kelly's legendary call on CBS, and and the image, photographed by Ray Lussier, helps add to the luster.

Don't get me wrong - it's still hockey's most famous goal, but the Bruins still had plenty of time to win that Series.

Other moments that should be in the mix include Marc-Andre Fleury's insane goaltending at the end of Game 7 of the Finals in 2009, Bobby Nystrom's overtime-winner to the give the Islanders their first Cup, Mark Messiers' guarantee (along with Matteau Matteau Matteau!) in 1994, Ray Borque lifting the Cup, and others too numerous to mention.  It should be fun to watch and particpate in this.

By the way, the NHL picked four "experts" to make picks. Matthew Barnaby went with Maurice Richard's five-goal performance against Toronto in 1944 in Game 2 of the Semi-Finals.  "Rocket" won all three-stars for the night.  Bob McKenzie of TSN went with Bob Bourne's performance in the 1964 Cup Final, as the Leafs' defenseman broke his ankle, scored the overtime winner in Game 6.  Elliott Friedman of CBC selected Bobby Nystroms' goal.  Lastly, Keith Jones of Versus chose the Bobby Orr goal.

We'll see how it plays out.

Game One to the B's

Many fans quickly walk away from a sport when their team is done.  Yet the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are very much alive to me, despite the Rangers' misfortune (I'm being kind) against Washington.

The Boston Bruins are on a quest to win their first Cup since Bobby Orr was healthy and skating.  They've waited for a title as long as the New York Knicks have (awkward way of putting it, but true).

Plus they gave Boston a reminder that it stinks to be up three games to none and lose the series, as the B's did against the Flyers last year.

They started their rematch today in Philly - in the Easter Conference semis.  Game one was overall a Boston affair, as the Bruins dominated to the tune of 7-3.  The Bruins' brilliant goaltender (and my choice for the Vezina Trophy), Tim Thomas, wass stellar in goal, making 31 saves.

The playoffs continue tonight and tomorrow - good matchups overall.

Screw the NFL

I'm not going to beat around the bush about this.  The NFL has irritated me with the whole lockout thing since the end of the very disappointing Super Bowl that I still don't like talking about.

But "Emperor" Roger Goodell and his merry band of idiots had the chance to begin fresh with the NFL Draft, an event that has moments of feeling like root canal.  The fans at Radio City Music Hall in New York were more than happy to let the fine Emperor have it with a chorus of boos (along with the questionable top pick Cam Newton).

The fans - we fans (even those of us who moonlight in the media) pay their bills - remember?  If "WE" don't buy the product, "THEY" don't get the bucks.  Seems simple, no?

So with the lockout apparently over earlier this week, fans gave Goodell their two cents worth, but still it seemed like we would all move along, like the fine little lemmings that we fans are.  We'll passionately discuss the draft, make projections, fill up the sports talk phone lines, and get ourselves ready for NFL '11.

Then the lockout was put back into action.

Thus, I go back to exactly what I was thinking when the lockout first began.

Screw them.  Seriously.  I had a vague interest at best and, frankly, watched more of Kate and William then I did Roger & Cam.  I'll not deny that I paid attention to whom the Steelers picked (impressive first-rounder with DE Cameron Heyward out of THE Ohio State University).  Yet I really didn't care a whole lot otherwise.

If the NFL kicks off on time in September, will I care?  Will I come back?  Sadly, I probably will, and of course that's what the Emperor is counting on.  So of course, I have nobody to blame but myself. 

At this moment, to me, the NFL is on life support.  But a simple resolution to all of this will quickly bring us back.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Honestly, What's the Harm?

You may have heard of the two people in the above photo.  Their a cute couple, aren't they?  Two attractive "kids" getting ready to walk down the aisle.

In front of the entire freaking world.

In some circles, the Royal Wedding is being viewed with a big ol' "who cares?", while others are on pins and needles waiting for the joyous nuptials to commence.  To be sure, I can't justify getting up at four in the morning (New York time) to watch the "pre-wedding show", but I would say there's a fair chance that I'll have it on in the background in one form or another as my Friday gets underway around six (it might be as Mr. Imus and company are mocking it, but there you go).

After all, I appear Friday mornings with Tony Savino on WGCH's NewsCenter at 6:50.  Plus, I've been to England.  I've been to London.  I've been inside Westminster Abbey - one of the most fascinating buildings that I've ever stepped foot in.

But why such outrage over the wedding?  Why make such a big deal about NOT watching it?  In short, who cares one way or another?

Look, this is all about pomp and circumstance, but it's also about - if I dare say, to be trite - the simple charm of a young couple getting married.  Dare I say, it's about romance.  Yes, it's also about our fascination with royalty (how desperate was this country to turn the Obama's into "Camelot 2?").  So who is being hurt by it?  Honestly, how is it any different than some of the orgies we put on in this country - a country that is overwhelmed by excess at times.  We talk lots of sports here so I think it's fair to say that we know a thing or two.  Well?  What about the Super Bowl?  How is this any different than that?

So, really, what's the harm?

More Queen Albums Remastered

In this day and age, bands keep their names alive by remastering their previous work.  Yes, that would include the lads from Liverpool, who haven't released an album since 1970.  So it goes with Queen, who hasn't really been Queen since Freddie Mercury died.  Their website released this video highlighting the tracks from the second batch of albums to be remastered.  Among the works are News of the World (which was one of my first big album purchases) and The Game which admittedly announced their departure as a true harder rock band and leaned more towards success on the US pop chart.

Still great work though.


I mentioned Weather Chanel weather dude Jim Cantore in my last post. He is too funny for words at times, like during thunder snow!

Cantore has a Twitter account as well, and one of his most recent tweets was quite jarring.  He linked to a picture from of a family surrounded by the devastation in Alabama.  Wow.

And now...more thunder snow!

Mother Nature Still Appears to Be Pretty Angry

Several Facebook friends posted this video today.  Ho...lee...Cow.

Beyond stunning. Our thoughts go out to those who are dealing with this.

There is a part of me that would love to do the whole "weather chasing" thing. I find weather fascinating. I get really into watching a good thunderstorm. I'm no Jim Cantore (and not that into science) but I can watch The Weather Channel for hours, especially during a big event.

All of that being said, there's something about this video that's just a wee bit too dangerous for my taste. I can deal with a horror/disaster movie - it's fiction, mostly - but this was real life that this guy was playing with.

The devastation in Alabama and elsewhere is incredible. At last check, over 250 people are dead. We'd probably be best to focus on that and not Barack Obama's birth certificate, or the Royal Wedding (which I will probably glance at tomorrow), or some other insignificant thing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Laughter is the Best Thing

It's time to laugh.  Sean and I were talking about this one tonight as we drove back from baseball practice.

Here's more from that same episode.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fifty Years Ago: Roger Maris Began the Chase for 60

Roger Maris was a simple guy, and a fine ballplayer.  A good bat, excellent defensively, and one of the best at breaking up a double play, he won the 1960 American League Most Valuable Player award but began 1961 on a homerless streak that stretched to today, April 26th.

Marty Noble takes us through that day via

Most of you know the rest of the story.  Maris hit 61 home runs during that season, while Mickey Mantle (the people's choice) fell out of the race with an injury that limited him to 54 dingers.

If you've seen Billy Crystal's movie (61*), or have read enough about it, you know that Mantle was the popular guy while Maris was seen as aloof and shy.  A very difficult guy to get a quote from.

Roger would stay with the Yankees through the end of 1966 and was traded to the Cardinals for Charley Smith (which was like essentially sending him away in exchange for a bucket of balls).  For the next decade, Maris would go about his life, but not with any fondness when it came to his time in New York.  George Steinbrenner had a lot to do with resolving that, asking Maris and Mantle to raise the 1977 World Series banner.  Eventually, Steinbrenner would move to have Maris's uniform number nine retired in 1984.

Time has been kind to Roger Maris.  A man who initially wasn't viewed well is now seen - in the eyes of many - as being the true single season home run king.  It's funny to think about that, since then-commissioner Ford Frick regarded the 61 home runs as a fraud, since Maris didn't reach 60 home runs in 154 games - the amount of time that it took Babe Ruth in 1927.

Roger Maris's odyssey began on this day in 1961.  He died in 1985 at the age of 51.

Rest Areas

Chesapeake House Travel Plaza, 6/26/09 (Photo by Rob "Don't Call Me Ansel" Adams)
I've been seeing some news from the road world about Connecticut improving their highway rest areas.  I have to admit that there's a part of me that wonders: why?

The Greenwich Time has an article from Neil Vigdor about the construction to be done on the Merritt Parkways' stops.  Those rest areas have a few gas pumps and a small convenience store.  Once completed, the renovations will add more pumps, a Dunkin Donuts, and a Subway.

But again, why?

I mean - I know why.  Dollar signs, etc.  But I wonder about the modern-day rest area/service area.  It was only about a year or two ago that Virginia was shutting down some of their rest areas (and I don't mean the kind with stores and restaurants).  Yet in Delaware, they have opened a large, brand-new, state of the art one (I haven't checked that one out yet).

No doubt service areas in Connecticut leave a lot to be desired.  Many years ago (I'm talking back in the 60's and 70's), the stops on I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike) were slices of heaven that included Howard Johnson's (waaahoo!), with gas pumps and free maps!  Then they were all replaced with McDonald's and other fanciful food by the end of the 1980's.  Many service areas (not just in Connecticut) have become stale brand-name stops.

To me, they became dispensable when the Connecticut Turnpike removed their tolls. Therefore, stopping at the exit to find more options and cheaper prices was more acceptable, as opposed to paying a toll to get off the highway.

I think they make more sense on the New Jersey Turnpike, New York State Thruway, Pennsylvania Turnpike, Mass Pike and so on. Those prey on ones laziness - not having to deal with the tolls, so they lock you into stopping, paying higher rates for food and fuel, and giving you a restroom. Some also have other conveniences as well. All good, I guess.

Let me just add though that somne of these stops can also be, er, unattractive and sketchy.  The Bedford rest area on I-684 here in New York gives me the chills.  I stopped there twice and that was enough.  Understand though that places like that are generally not staffed all the time.

Also, to be clear, this is not to say that I don't stop at service areas and rest areas.  The Cheasapeake House on Interstate 95 in Maryland (where I took the picture above) has been a frequent stop for my family since the it opened in 1975.  To this day, I use it as a stopping point (if I haven't already stopped by then).  It's right around the 3:30 mark in any drive on my way to Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and points south.  It, and others, gives me a chance to stretch, use the facilities and, in the case of Chesapeake House, load up on maps and such (at least until Maryland closed the tourist info center in 2010, according to this Wikipedia page).  That being said, I generally don't buy anything there.  I'm smart enough to know that services are a few miles away (although not all service areas are that close to "civilization").

The larger service areas are a money-making operation, and it's all good, I suppose, and no harm.

I guess I just found myself wondering if they're really worth it in this day and age of the GPS, SmartPhones and so on.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rangers Win...Please?

I know it's a long shot, but hope springs eternal when the score is 0-0.  Yes, Wednesday night's loss was - beyond a doubt - stunning.  The Rangers were flying, with the Garden rocking to the levels of "Who's your Daddy?"  They couldn't possibly blow a three-goal lead, right?

Ever heard of the dreaded three goal lead?  Yeah, that.

Henrik Lundqvist was out of his mind, playing brilliantly (despite his season, he is not a finalist for the Vezina Trophy), but it was a simple defensive zone miscue - a breakdown in communication between Marion Gaboirk and his goalie, that allowed the losing goal.  Gaborik is generally being viewed as the villain, though I don't think that's fair, just as Bill Buckner shouldn't have been the bad guy in 1986, or Steve Bartman in 2003.  This was a TEAM meltdown.  No one was immune to the complete collapse.

Today's a new day.  A new game.  This is a scrappy team.  I expect - fully - that this team will find a way to get the series back to MSG for Game 6.  Hopefully Gaborik finds a way to make up for the mistake in Game 4.

Let's go Rangers!  Keep the golf clubs in the closet for a few more days!  Now if they could just show the Knicks how to play...

The NHL Stays in the NBC Family

The NHL and NBC announced that they will be staying together for the next ten years (Stu Hackel via  At first glance, I wasn't thrilled with this decision, but I felt that I should give it a few days to let it sink in.

Mike Reynolds on Multichannel News has more.

In the end, I think this is actually the best move the league could make.

Many, including me, thought that perhaps hockey should go back to the World Wide Leader, but the reality is, that with ESPN's desire to rule the world, they are oversaturated.  As such, hockey would have remained buried, with games showing up on ESPN 2 and highlights being an afterthought on SportsCenter.  Yet for NBC and Versus (soon to be rebranded) to make it work, they had to present a better product.  It appears that this deal will be good for the NHL in that regard.

NBC deserves a lot of credit for the creation of the Winter Classic, a ratings bonanza that has done very well.  Again, there's a fear that it will wear out its welcome, especially since outdoor hockey games are creeping up (including a second NHL game this past season).  Now it looks like NBC will push for more - including a November game on "Black Friday."  That's all well and la-dee-da, but the bottom line is that more games need to be on at a network level.  To that end, Versus is slated to add more games (though I'd still like to see the mother ship - NBC - do more).

For me, one of the biggest things I want to see is for NBC to put all of the Stanley Cup Final games on their air, as opposed to burying them on Versus (or whatever it is called).  Sadly, NBC will air Games 1, 2, and everything after Game 4.  Versus will show Games 3 and 4.  In fact, a large majority of the playoffs (the last three rounds specifically) will air on Versus (with some falling to NBC) - and that is a very good thing.  I'd like to see more of that in the first round, as it can be difficult to find a game outside of ones "home market."  For instance, my friend Phil Soto-Ortiz had to drive to find a place to watch the New York Rangers in action against Washington.  It certainly would never be like that with the NFL (who is currently on life support as far as I'm concerned).

Hopefully this is a positive step for the NHL, a move that brings more eyes to the TV and helps build interest.  It frankly infuriates me when I see people try to drop hockey to being the fifth (or lower) sport in this country.  That is a shame to me, but most people simply don't know what they're missing (and we've discussed that many times here on the ol' bloggo).  Hockey, simply put, has the best championship tournament (though the cost of that is a regular season that doesn't quite draw one in as much), the best, fan-friendly personnel (sometimes to the points of true cheese), and some of the most loyal, rabid fans.

For me, if there's a best reason that I'm happy about the continuation of the NHL/NBC marriage, it's that it means (hopefully) more of Doc Emrick and Ed Olczyk.  The duo has become, perhaps, the best one-two punch in play-by-play, certainly at the national level.  Doc is excitable and full of great stories and facts (he is hockey's Scully).  Edzo is straight forward and alaytical.  He has no desire to be a Dick Vitale, for instance.

Think about the top tandems in sports - Baseball on Fox has Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.  ESPN uses Dan Schulman, Orel Hersheiser, and Bobby Valentine.  The top football broadcast teams are Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (Fox), Jim Nantz ("mmm hello friends") and Phil Simms (CBS), Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth (NBC), and Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and John Gruden (ESPN).  The NBA's top team is generally Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson (ESPN/ABC) and Marv Albert and Steve Kerr (TNT).  I could continue with college hoops (Nantz/Clark Kellogg/Kerr) and football (Brent Musberger/Kirk Herbstreit), but I think you get the point: Doc and Edzo are as good, if not better than any of these teams.

And thankfully, Gus Johnson doesn't call hockey.  Thankfully.

NBC would be well-served to find some other personalities though.  Things have improved even just in the past few months, but it can get better.  Mike Milbury doesn't work for all (I'm OK with him), but Pierre McGuire has lost me (I used to like him more).

Still the product isn't bad, so I think this is a good thing for the NHL.  Hopefully it only gets better.

Please Bud...Don't

Baseball has existed for almost 200 years now (give or take, since the true genesis of the game hasn't been conclusively determined).  The World Series, baseball's grandest event, began in Nineteen-aught-three when Boston (then the Americans) beat Pittsburgh (then, as now, the Pirates).

Major League Baseball survived the scandal of gambling (there's new evidence that the 1918 World Series was tainted, a year before the famed "Black Sox"), the dark clouds of war and the hideous nature of the color barrier.  It expanded and moved, and eventually, broke into divisions in 1969.  That brought on the League Championship Series, which was originally a best three-out-of-five affair.  That grew to four-out-of-seven in 1985.  Baseball further expanded with the addition of more divisions and a wild card, beginning in 1995.

And now?  It looks like Commissioner Bud Selig is pushing towards the addition of more playoff teams in 2012 (Mark Feinsand - Blogging the Bombers).

I hate, hate, hate this idea.  Consider this the further watering down of the regular season, to where soon baseball will be like hockey or basketball - where no one truly pays attention until the post-season starts.

Baseball is not doing great right now.  The game isn't getting the attendance numbers (I'm seeing plenty of empty seats - even at Yankee Stadium).  Ratings aren't great, blah blah blah.  So is this just a band aid?  Is it a reason to try to excite people?

I know, I know - "Rob's a traditionalist", and yes, that is true (I still hate interleague play).  I didn't love the wild card, but I quickly adjusted.  It didn't seem like a terrible idea.  Yet this just seems to further water the sport down, and adds another questionable piece to an already dicey legacy for Selig, who I believe loves the sport every bit as much as I do.

It just doesn't seem necessary to me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just Saying Hi

As you've no doubt read here from time to time, I hit the occasional wall where I question the blog and it's author (ah, that would be me).  Why do I do it?  Who is reading?  Is my writing impactful?  Do I write things that are just stupid?  Am I a good writer?  Does anyone care?

Now to be clear, the answers are "because I like doing it", "not my family, but apparently somebody is, according to Google Analytics", "I guess that is up to those reading", "ditto, but occasionally", "I guess I have my moments", and..."I don't really know."

I suppose that last one stems from spotting what I thought was a topic for a good post, when I was asked  if anyone would really want to read about it.  I thought the answer was "yes" but, of course, I began to question myself.

Then I go through these moments where I've got topics - solid, fundamentally decent topics about anything and everything - that I can't get out of the gate.  There are varying and sundry reasons for this (I just like saying "sundry").  Sometimes it's the Jack Nicholson reason:

That means I have what might be a strong opinion that will, frankly, cause me grief if I let it fly. 

Or it simply could be something about a subject so mundane yet it causes distress upon discussing it (the "toxic topics").  So I often shelve those discussion.

Along the same idea are the topics that can't or shouldn't be discussed.  This generally refers to delving too deeply into politics, work, legal matters, money, religion (I had the most wonderful chat with somebody about it last night and it was almost an eye-opener for me, but I don't know if I should go with it).

That leads me to the matter of my own cranium.  Ah yes, the dreaded "writer's block."  Plus that inner voice saying, "you might want to think twice about this one."  At the same time, there's the "I don't really have the time and, hell, let's face it, I don't get paid to do this" reason.  Pretty sound and solid, I tell ya.

I like that I question my writing - it's a good sanity check for me.  Yet when I get too deep, I lay low.

So in short, I just stopped by to to say hi.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Say It Ain't So, Chuck!

Charles McCord in the 80's
The "Imus in the Morning" program changed forever with the Nappy Headed Ho incident in 2007.  Yet "the I-Man" and company came back, and some have said that they are stronger and better than they were before the moment that Imus and Bernard McGuirk made fun of the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Effective at the end of the show on May 6th, the show will be irrevocably changed.

Charles McCord, the straight man to Imus, the news man, the side kick, the one who (truth be known) did most of the comedy writing during the halcyon days on WNBC (later WFAN), is retiring (David Hinckley in the New York Daily News).

I imagine, deep down, John Donald Imus is frankly devastated at the departure of his friend, whom he first worked with in 1971.  I'm sure Imus believes that the show will march along with somebody else playing the Chucksters' old role.  Hinckley's article confirms that Connell McShane of Fox Business News will replace McCord (I would have considered Dagen McDowell).

It will never be the same without Charles.

Here is a classic moment, perhaps Chucks' best: this is the day that, after what seemed like months of Imus's obsession with the Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss story (a result of Sam Tanenhaus's 1997 biography of Chambers), Chuck went off.

This was a good one also.  This is when Imus confronted Chuck about his hair...

Here's another Chuck moment:

One more!

Good times.  We're going to miss you, Chuck.

Sacramento Kings Fans Mourn

The Sacramento Kings likely played their last game the other night.  It seems almost a done deal that the team will relocate to Anaheim next season.  Thus it was a rather emotional night.  Tom Ziller writes about it for SB Nation, and adds video of the sad sendoff, including the conclusion of that nights TV broadcast.

Chris Carrino

Chris Carrino is the play-by-play voice of the New Jersey Nets and a really solid guy.  We had him on the old "Press Box" on WGCH years ago.  In fact, he was on just after Sean was born, and took the time to congratulate me.  A seriously nice guy who does his alma mater Fordham proud.  He not only calls the Nets but also NFL games as well on the radio.

Earlier this week, I read a piece from Tom Hoffarth on his blog about Carrino, who recently announced that he has a form of muscular dystrophy.  Carrino specifically has facioscapulohumeral dystrophy.  Tom explains more about Carrino and the foundation that he has begun.

This is a very worthy read.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Amazing. Purely Amazing.

Check out this piece of brilliance.  No, not the French-language commentary, but the play-by-play in the background, most specifically at :32.

His name is D.J. Abisalih and he must be Gus Johnson's brother or something.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Bandwagon Fan

We've all seen them.  We know one.

They're the bandwagon fan.  Urban Dictionary denies the term as (and I'm not kidding...check this link):
Someone who becam (sic) a fan of the Boston Redsox (sic) after the 2004 world series.
Yet the problem has existed for many years (see: 1986 Mets, New York).

Earlier today, Paul Silverfarb, esteemed Sports Editor of the Greenwich Post and non-blog writer, sent me the following on Facebook:
I was talking to someone who was wearing a Rangers jersey in Starbucks yesterday. I asked if he was excited for the postseason and he said: "Oh yeah...I love the Rangers. Lifelong fan." So I asked him if he thought this year's Rangers have a little 1994 in them and he looked puzzled. Then I said "You know, the year they won the Cup." and he said: "Oh yeah...that was a great time." Then I asked if he thought Kevin Dineen was a great goalie for the Rangers in 1994 to which he responded: "Oh yeah, without Dineen they wouldn't have gone as far as they did." So I kept it going....I asked "Who was more clutch for the Rangers: Sean Burke or Jeff Brown?" He said he ."..couldn't tell which one was better...they were both awesome!" *sigh*
**Reprinted by permission of Paul Silverfarb. Copyright 2011, Connor and Lucas, Inc. All rights reserved.**

As "lifelong fans" go, that's pathetic.

Here's the thing about the "evil" bandwagon fan: they have to get on sometime, don't they?  How does one become a fan, exactly?  I'll readily admit - in bold letters, if need be - that I was in the right place at the right time to become a Steelers' fan.  It was 1979 and the Steelers were getting ready to play in Super Bowl XIII and I hated the Cowboys.  A classmate bet me on the game.  That was it.  I've been a loyal Steelers' fan ever since.

Now isn't that the point?  Something has to happen for us to become fans in the first place and not everyone gets it from birth.  My son (Mr. Sean Adams) has had the Steelers/Yankees and Rangers drilled into him for nine years now.  I tried with the Knicks but he likes the Nets because he went to a Nets game once.  That also works.

Some don't find a sport until later on.  Perhaps they have a partner and they start liking a team or sport due to him or her.  Some jump on due to friends.  I had hockey-mad friends in the late-70's, and that did it for me.

The key, as I stated in the Steelers example, is loyalty.  You have to jump on the bandwagon somehow, but you can't jump off (a big criticism of mine with the in-between New York baseball fan).

I get the criticism of those who do jump on when a team is winning (and thus we go back to 1979).  At the same time, again, so long as you hop on and stay loyal, why does it matter?  Not everyone just looks at their local team and says "Hey!  I'm a Royals fan for life!"  Should they?  Maybe.  But that's not always what influences us.

You bought a Derek Jeter jersey in 1999?  Great - are you still a fan?  Perfect.

There's plenty of room.  Stick around.

It's a topic that I frankly get bored with and sick of arguing about, but I've wanted to address this.

Let Us Not Forget About The Knicks!

Despite our obvious excitement over the fancy New York Rangers (in Seven), I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that both occupants of the World's Most Famous Arena have advanced to the playoffs.  The New York Knickerbockers have a date with the Boston Celtics.

Believe it or not, the Knicks and Celtics are even in playoff matchups.  One would assume that the C's would have the better of it, since they've won so many titles (but not as many as that certain baseball team.  What?).  Yet the two teams have met twelve times, beginning in 1951, and through their last showdown (in 1990), each team has won six times.

The Knicks are after their first title since 1973.   Yes, that's correct.

So yes, I'm looking forward to that also.  It could be a great spring for sports fans in New York.

Flooding in North Dakota and Minnesota

MPR Photo/Ann Arbor Miller

I saw video like this last night on the Weather Channel. Ho...lee...cow.

The Red River has overflowed.  Best wishes to everyone in North Dakota and Minnesota. Stunning imagery from Minnesota Public Radio brings it all to life.

Getting Chills

June 14, 1994.

That's only the opening of the broadcast, and I got chills watching it. Just as I was amped up for last Saturday's showdown against the Devils at the Garden, I'm ready to drop the puck tomorrow night in Washington.

Just in case you've forgotten how that night turned out in '94:
Holy cow, what a great series that was. The Canucks deserved it just as much, but it was the Rangers' year. Brian Leetch won the Conn Smythe Award but would anyone have complained if it went to Mike Richter, who was as sharp as any goalie I've ever seen?

Wow. Of course I'll be flipping between the Yankees and Rangers, but it's all good.

Linda Cohn Plays Captain Obvious For Us

Linda Cohn is, by accounts, an extremely nice and likable woman. I've never spoken to her, but she comes across as decent on TV. I can't say I ever really had a strong opinion on her. Sure, I'm down on her for being a Mets fan, but that's her problem. On the other hand, she's a serious Rangers fan.


Probably a fun person to have a beer with to chat sports with (I'm just guessing).

Anyway, Cohn recorded her thoughts on the upcoming Rangers/Caps first-round playoff series.

Lots of obvious thoughts there, and that's OK. She's pretty much spot-on. Hello? Mr. Gaborik? It's time to wake up! I like the idea of having Boyle create havoc on the power play (which has been, dare I say, powerless). But to me, it's playoff time, and the playoffs sit on the shoulder of one position.

Between the pipes.

The King has been exceptional. He's going to need to be better than that now. Like a Super Bowl quarterback in football, most Stanley Cup goalies are nothing short of legendary (yes, there are exceptions). I expect Lundqvist to play like the guy that's in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy (even though Tim Thomas, Carey Price and Roberto Luongo are the faves). If he plays tired, or like the guy who had many chanting for Martin Biron, then the Blueshirts can begin to dust off the golf clubs.

Let me be clear: it's not all on the Royal One. Plenty of others must step up, but goaltending is beyond crucial in the tournament.

I think the Rangers can win this series. I don't have a lot of faith in Ovechkin and company, who looked anemic at times versus New York. The question is: which Caps team will show? The one who I saw lose to the Rangers 7-0, or the one that is the number one seed?

Hopefully, this is not the beginning of the end for the Rangers. It's been, for me, the most fun year I've had around hockey. The reasons (or reason) is obvious. Having someone to talk about the game with. To debate things with. To cheer with. I mean, where would I be without Paul Silverfarb?

HA! I kid! Of course I'm talking about Carrie.

Many others, including Chris Kaelin, Richie Spezzano, Phil Soto-Ortiz, Sean Kilkelly (who would make a better video than Ms. Cohn), John Monteforte, The Graying Mantis from The Dark Ranger, Tony Savino, and my old buddy going back to seventh grade, Scott Wilson, helped make this a season to remember.

Hockey fans are still alive, folks. We're out here. Just remember that hockey is more important than life itself in Canada.

And happy birthday to the awesome Matt Brown (Bruins fan).

Now the Rangers begin the work. Those of us who have listened to Steve Somers (he's on Twitter already. What?) over the years on WFAN know our mantra: RANGERS IN SEVEN!

More Joe Buck Bashing

It's painful. Seriously.

It seems Joe Buck can't do anything right, except morph into Screaming GuJo. Last Saturday, Buck called the Yankees/Red Sox game, and his level of excitement, most notably on a home run by Curtis Granderson, was on the flat line scale.

Sports Grid has the story, and the simple reason, along with audio of his home run call..

That's right. A virus. I give Buck credit for toughing it out, personally, having called a few games in my life while battling one ailment or another. I clearly recall the hockey game in Middletown, CT when my voice began to die during the second period. But that's what we all do - we make the best of it.

Listen to him call the Granderson home run. It's obvious - painfully so - that his voice is shot, and to climb the vocal ladder would not be good.

It's amazing. Joe Buck uses the style the I prefer - low-key, humorous. A story teller. It's the same style employed be...oh, that's right: VIN SCULLY! So why does everyone love Vin and rip Joe Buck?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yes, Sir!

Charl Schwartzel has won the 2011 Masters (Jay Busbee via Yahoo!).  Yet 25 years ago, sports fans sat glued watching Jack Nicklaus beat Father Time.

Great call by Verne Lundquist.  Few words were needed, except "Maybe.  Yes, sir!"  My WGCH colleague, Tony Savino, and I often talk about this one - a favorite.  It's included in this short ESPN piece, discussing why Jack wore a yellow shirt that day in 1986.

Some moments can still give me chills, especially when paired with the right call.  This one did.

The Rangers winning yesterday?  That one gave me chills also.  Good times (and the most fun I've had with Carrie at a far).  The Reason?  We talked about the game.  We laughed.  We smiled.  All good stuff.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Farewell, Manny B Manny

Papi and Manny
By now, you should all know that Manny Ramirez has retired, rather than face more suspensions as a result of another failed drug test.  The news caps a long, strange career that began with a thin but strong New Yorker who went to the Cleveland Indians and took the big bucks to be in Boston, then turned LA into Mannywood.  There, with David Ortiz, he worked on terrifying baseball (and particularly, the Yankees) to the greatest heights that The Hub has ever known.

Today, any smart Sawx fan feels further cheated.  They're not going to give the rings back - nor should they - but there's a touch of hurt.  Yesterday's news reminds them of that.  It reminds them that Manny probably isn't heading into Cooperstown any time soon, and the Boston logo won't be on his plaque (it will be when he does get in...or if).  Let me be clear though, Red Sox fans should be proud of their championships.  They earned them.  That was simply the era.

They should be angry or sickened or something.  Manny became their guy.  Indeed, he failed this most recent test as a Ray, and boy, didn't Manny leave them hanging.  All class, Manny was.  You know, just "Manny being Manny."  Now he is gone, in a blaze of glory (or a cloud of shame) that tops off all of the bizarre stories that surrounded his career.

Even as a Yankees fan, I couldn't help but admire him (and fear him).  The swing.  The sheer power.  The outfield antics (always an adventure).  The way he stood and watched his home runs (oh how I miss Bob Gibson at those moments).  You couldn't help but laugh when he took a potty break - mid-game - inside the Green Monster. 

Today, all of that seems small.  Trite.

He had the nerve to say that he's "at ease."  At ease with being a cheater.  At ease with being a quitter (on the Rays).

It's not a good day for baseball.

Parenting - Baseball Fan Style

I don't even know what to say about this.

I get it.  I wouldn't want Sean to root for the Mets or Red Sox.  But make him cry?  Um, no.

Rangers Season Dangling

No, I don't think Carrie has a pair of these...

So here we are. Game number 82. The Rangers hanging on the edge of a collapse for a second straight year. It didn't seem possible that long ago - the playoffs seemed probable - but here we are.

Mike Mazzeo at ESPN New York breaks it all down for you.  The simple bottom line is this - win, then hope Carolina falters.

I'll be there today, at the World's Most Famous, and I'm going to make this clear.  Yes, they're my team, but I'm not going in there with a happy-slappy attitude.  This team has put themselves in this place, and there are a lot of reasons for it.  Bad offense...defense...and so on.  Yet Monday night, everyone (except me) yelled and screamed joyously to the silly stick salute and clapped along to the foolish goal song.  Truly a great win, capping off a comeback from down 3-0.

I just smiled...and walked away as the sticks went up.

Come Thursday night, the Blueshirts spit the proverbial bit bit badly against an Atlanta team that Carolina went out and waxed last night in Georgia.

So even with a win, don't expect me to wax poetic.  Let me see this team back into the playoffs.  Then we'll talk.

And if they lose?  If Martin Brodeur and company find a way to end the season for New York?  Oh boy...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Top 10 Sports Broadcast Calls of All Time

RealClearSports put together a list on Yahoo! for the top-10 calls.  It's a pretty basic list with a lot of the usual suspects.  I'll give them points for not including Gus Johnson, which is surprising because several of these calls are over-the-top drool fests (Russ Hodges, Joe Starkey, Johnny Most, etc).

It will come as no surprise what I think number one should be.  Eight minutes and forty-three seconds of utter perfection, on the field and on the radio.

As for the rest, I don't love Michaels' "miracle" but I get it's place in history, and I would leave it in the top-10.  Most of the rest of the top-10 does little for me (I've never been a fan of Hodges' "Giants win the pennant!") but again, I get it.  The Jack Buck call of Gibson's home run isn't quite as good as his "Go crazy, folks" call in the 1985 NLCS.  Of course, Vin Scully had the TV call of both Gibson and Ozzie Smith's home runs.

Again, as lists go, it's not bad.

Linky Dinks

Much to catch up on, so let's roll through them...

Joe Posnanski continues to cover a sad story: the finals days of the life of sports broadcaster Nick Charles, who is dying from bladder cancer.  It was Posnanski's SI piece that got Charles a chance to broadcast a final fight.

Bill White was one of the voices of my youth, as part of the seminal Yankees broadcast team with Frank Messer and Phil Rizzuto.  White has written a book about his years in baseball.  He speaks honestly about why he wouldn't accept an offer to be GM of the Yankees, racism, and more.  Tom Hoffarth writes a review of the book, which included this passage; it's an indictment of ALL sports today:
He also says that he doesn't wish to attend games today because the "entertainment" factor seems to override the competitive aspect of the game he thought was more important.

Sean Kilkelly is on a roll.  Lots of good music to be found on Who Zeppelin and Rangers Lead the Way.  He posted a version of Noel Gallagher performing "Don't Look Back in Anger" that is stunning (click on the above link).

Don LaGreca says Rangers fans shouldn't jump off the proverbial bridge yet just because Ryan Callahan is out indefinitely.  I agree because there is talent on this team, but Callahan is the heart and soul of this team.

UPDATE: From CBS New York comes word that Callahan a) doesn't need surgery on his broken right ankle and b) thinks that he could return if the Rangers heat up in the playoffs.

From the WNEW blog comes "Five Things About..." a collection of notes about a particular song.  This one is about "Bohemian Rhapsody."

WNEW also brings us a "Roch Flashback" about "We Are the World."

In Richmond, VA, they're moving on from the disappointment of VCU losing in the Final Four.  The good news is that, among myriad other things, they have my friend Jon who continues to chronicle Vintage Richmond.  Jon has a stunning "then and now" of two houses.

Via Stuck in the 80's...well...let's just say I wouldn't be thrilled if the Steinbrenner's decided to put a statue of Michael Jackson outside of the new Yankee Stadium.

Jeff Pearlman discovered that an old Mahopac High classmate and his wife appeared on a Bravo show to have a panel of "experts" pick a name for their child so that the kid could attend an Ivy League school.  Yep.  You read that correctly.

Ross at NYY Stadium Insider says that the Bombers are seeing record low crowds in the Greed House.

And the beloved, historical facility that Giuliani, Bloomberg, the Steinbrenners and Brandon Steiner tore down is sitting across the street as a vacant lot.  The neighborhood would like to get the fields that they were promised.

Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone offers 15 baseball songs that are better than "Centerfield."  Put me in, Coach!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

At the End of Year One

It was April 3, 2010, when good friends Mick and Gretchen asked me to meet them in New York City at a bar called The Long Room for a night of laughter and merriment and such.  Since I wasn't getting out a whole lot at that time, and I hadn't seen them for a few weeks (or whatever it had been), it seemed like a good idea.

Then Mick hit me with the truth.  The gathering was for a "cousin" (his words; actually it was a friend with the same last name).  It was her 40th birthday party.  I nearly backed out of the evening right there - as he told me while I drove on New York Route 6N (along beautiful Lake Mahopac).  Yet I decided that, since it was a "Sean-free" weekend, I would go in - take the trip into the city, have a drink - TWO TOPS - and head right back out.  That way, all was well.

Oh what to wear?  Most of my clothes had been moved out of the house, so I grabbed the shirt you see in the picture above (after all, it had been a warm day in the 'Pac), jeans, and sneakers (not my normal look, but I went with it).  By the way, I froze that night, as the temps in Manhattan were decidedly chillier.

You can probably guess where the rest of this is going.  I wrote about that night, although rather vaguely, in this post.  That was the first time that I mentioned this wonderful person named Carrie.  This person whose appearance made me sit up in my chair as she walked into The Long Room that night.  The one who completely caught my eye.  The one who I who I met for a first date 11 days later.  The one who bowled me over with kindness, sweetness, looks, honesty, and sincerity.  The one who blew me away because she really seemed to like me.

The one who inspired me to write this, among many other words.

Sometimes words are all that we have.  Sometimes it's the best gift I can offer, and I know to her that little things mean a lot.  We've seen so much already - road trips, ballgames, hockey games, the Lady Antebellum show (at six in the morning, no less), San Diego, Los Angeles, Maryland and, this weekend, Philadelphia.  She's shown me New York in a whole new way.  She's become a huge part of my family, and I'd like to think that I'm doing OK with hers as well.

Without listing the many things that I love her (smile, eyes, her ability to catch me off guard and make me laugh out loud...LOL! and so on), let me say that she has inspired me.  I believe good things when I'm around her, and the bad moments fade quickly.  I'm always amazed by her unfailing belief in me.

She's embraced - and brought out in me - a spirit of adventure.  Try new things!

The future holds so much promise, if we can just get a few things squared away (you know, that job thing being first and foremost).

Oh there's so many things - just too many.

To write more would be to keep me from getting to her.  It's Friday - Fun Fun Fun Fun - as I write this, and I need to head into Brooklyn to get our weekend started.

It's been a year.  I'm looking forward to more.