Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yeah, Football...Nooooo...

As the "October Noreaster" began heading towards us, I feared for the impact it would have on our weekend.

Answer: not...good.

Sean and I headed off to Greenwich this morning, armed with the knowledge that the weather would be bad, and our day would be long. I packed as if we might not make it home - a shovel, sleeping bags, some food, and so on. We reached Greenwich around 10:30, just as the rain/snow began to fall.

Cardinal Stadium did not reveal a happy scene. A Greenwich/Darien soccer game was going on (GHS won, 1-0) but the snow got heavier and, worse, it began to stick.

In the booth, Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin and I set up shop, and Sean Kilkelly joined us later. With a 1:15 PM air time, we were comfortably prepared. The problem was that nobody else seemed to be showing up.  The stands were empty, but everyone still prepared as if there would still be a game.

Just before 1:00, our friend and GHS all-world operations guru Brian Kennedy gave us a "thumbs down" from the bottom of the grandstand. The game was off; postponed until Monday at 2:00.

From what a few people told us, it appears that Greenwich tried to move the game to Friday night at 7:00 PM, thus avoiding the weather problems, but the school has already used its allotted number of nights.

It seems a certain GHS neighbor (the man who so vocally complained about the installation of lights) would rather have people on the roads in a heavy snowstorm than have him be inconvenienced with some noise and light glare.

So Sean (my son) and I hit the road, thinking we could get home without incident (but thanks to both Chris Kaelin and Chris Erway for offering us a place to stay). We made it out of Cardinal Stadium and back to our WGCH offices before starting our trip back to Mahopac. Early on, all seemed great. We were moving well along Interstates 95 and 287. But if you haven't heard, meteorologists often use 287 as the dividing line of a storm. Accurately in this case.

We pushed through North White Plains as the situation deteriorated. It got worse along the Taconic State Parkway, as the road was dotted with busted tree branches that blocked lanes. South of Millwoood, Sean spotted a branch tumbling down.

North of Millwood, our trip almost crashed to an end. I moved into the left lane to get around a car that was just a touch too cautious on an incline, and I needed to build up a little speed for the climb. Unfortunately my tires didn't grab the roadway (this was just past a Camaro that was trying to BACK DOWN the road) and we narrowly avoided a guard rail. I used the moment to teach Sean about how to steer when slipping.

Somewhere around this point is when the windshield wiper blade in front of me began to break.  It never impacted my vision for the rest of the trip, but it was just one more thing to think about.

We made it through our next set of hazards: the steep drop before the Croton Reservoir bridge, the small climbs and descents, and even dead stoppage at the US 202/NY 35 exit, which marks the beginning of another decline, before having to climb again to get to US 6 at Jefferson Valley.

That's where I made a fateful decision.

I saw the brake lights on the Taconic, yet chose to stay the course. I found out later on that using US 6 (and thus NY 6N) would be no walk in the park either. Yet the reality was, the traffic slowed to a crawl as cars were struggling to climb a gradual incline. A couple of vehicles spun terribly, and I could do nothing but stop.

At that point, my tires could take no more.

I tried the right lane, where I noticed a few cars had created a new path. No dice. My only answer was to get off the road and wait - hopefully - for a plow.

Sean, bless him, was calm as could be. He read one of his "Wimpy Kid" books while I cleaned the car off, and I chatted with occasional passers-by.

One note: not everyone is heartless. Several motorists stopped to ask if we were OK. One went so far as to ask if we needed a ride. Very cool - thank you.

Eventually, I helped push a car or two. In total, the wait was close to an hour, when a couple of guys appeared up the road to push one of the cars still sitting (this one in the middle of the road). I helped them push another car before they came down and got me loose.

Oh, what a scene it was! A car heading southbound slammed into the center guardrail at one point, and after a while, picked up his detached bumper and drove away! I also heard the sound of creaking, cracking trees, just ready to fall. Fortunately I felt we were out of harm's way.

I thought we were in a fairly safe spot.

I still don't know who those two men were, and they weren't looking for money, but they did get Sean and I out of there. That was the good news.

The bad news was the northbound Taconic State Parkway was like an old ice hockey surface: very slippery, choppy and dangerous.

By the way, a big FAIL to New York State for not getting a plow on the Taconic. It's only a very main road.

Still I was able to reach Bryant Pond Road and exit safely, to discover that the road had been plowed. hadn't been salted. Or sanded.

I slipped as soon as we got on it.

I knew we had two more hills to deal with - one down and one up. We started down the first hill, and as soon as I hit tapped the brakes, I knew we were in trouble.

The car wouldn't stop. Our saving grace was a landing at the bottom of this portion of the hill before we hit the big drop. I got the car under control and quickly decided to turn into the lot of a former gas station that neighbors use for parking.

At that point, I was finished, and I wasn't sure I could move the car any more.

Sean and I walked from there, carrying some of our stuff and safely hiking it the last half-mile or so to safety.

The moral of the story? I need new tires.

We're both safe, sound, and dry.

The car will be there when I go back in the morning.

Oh one last note - Connecticut held their Cross Country finals today. Greenwich came in 7th, with friend Kathryn Bernstein on the team. Twin brother Mark plays on the football team. Of course, no sport gets the attention that football does, but I wanted to make sure we recognized it here. Congrats on a fine effort!

Adios, Baseball

The season is over.

The Cardinals won. I have nothing more to say.

I have a different group of Cardinals to deal with later today, as Greenwich hosts Westhill on Homecoming Day. Weather will be a huge factor, with rain and snow expected. Yet as of now, it's game on.

The Playmakers and I will be on the air at 1:15 PM. You know where: WGCH.

Friday, October 28, 2011

We Will See You Tomorrow Night!

Well, actually, it will be later on tonight.

Any instant classic is over in St. Louis. Among the best World Series games I have ever seen. I am wide awake. Damn them!

Twice I was one Twitter, and had written a congratulatory tweet to the Rangers. Each time I sat and waited for the final out. Twice I erased what I wrote.

Joe Buck's call echoed his dad*, who used this when he called Kirby Puckett's Game 6 walk-off in 1991.

*OK, to be fair, Buck used a similar version of the line in the 2004 ALCS (which I disregard as having actually been played). But I believe what he said was, "We'll see you later tonight."

Maybe it's the father/son thing tugging at me, but I really liked it. It was fitting, and well-done by Buck, Tim McCarver and the FOX team for letting the pictures tell the story. I especially liked McCarver's line after the home run:

"How did this happen?"

We'd all like to know that.

Game 7, for the first time since 2002, is later tonight.

By the way, I'm no fan of his, but kudos to Tony LaRussa for ripping the whole "Moneyball" thing.

Really well-said.

Baseball Fever!

Didn't we have this chat about a month ago? I think so - right here.

I watched hockey tonight. Best to not get into how bad a night it was at Madison Square Garden (Chanting for Sean Avery? Really?).

Yet I kept my eye on the World Series - Game 6 between the Rangers and Cardinals. Once hockey was over, it had my complete attention.

This game has been insane. Twice the Cardinals were down to their last strike. Twice they've tied the game.

It's 9-9 in the Top of the 11th as I write.

Insane. The beauty of it is, I really don't care who wins. Oh, I'm sticking to my preference that the winner be the visiting team and, as such, that means the Rangers (plus I'm an American League guy), but I'll lose no sleep over it.

Trust me, if the Yankees were involved, I'd need an ambulance parked outside.

Once again, we see baseball at its best. Oh, don't get me wrong, this game has been ugly, but it's also been riveting. We once again see that baseball has no clock. You can't play a four corners defense. You can't take a knee. You can't skate around with the puck or play keep-away. You've got to throw the pitch. Down one or 10, there's always a chance.

Damn I love this game.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Original Six Arenas

I was looking at a little earlier when I came across a poll, asking for the "most iconic Original Six Arena."


The choices, of course, are Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium, Detroit Olympia, Madison Square Garden, Maple Leaf Gardens and Montreal Forum.

Well, now, I think we have to be more specific here, don't we? Any fan worth their sweater (hockey talk, people!) knows that your fancy New York Rangers played in two different versions of MSG - at 8th Ave and 49th St, and the Penn Station-destroyer that they're playing in now. Now, no offense to the current building (because I happen to like it a lot, maybe for sentimental reasons), but I just imagine the old place was more of a "hockey barn", much like the other five arenas.

So if that's what we're talking about, I'll vote for MSG, though to be honest, I also saw the Boston Garden, and liked that quite a bit also.

Anyway, who would you vote for - assuming all things are equal?

Oh, and the Rangers are playing tonight on Opening Night at World's Most Famous Refurbished Arena.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Charlie Hayes Might Have a Play...He's Got It!

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

That's how Vin Scully called it on CBS Radio 15 years ago tonight. The magic moment happened at 10:55 PM Eastern. I chose to watch it with friends in Yonkers, right at The Bronx line.

To a Yankees fan, 18 years is an eternity. I had watched the Rangers win the Cup in '94 and though I enjoyed it, I still hungered for a Yankees title.

No World Series has brought me anything like it. I literally couldn't wait for each game. I smuggled a radio into my photography class at Western Connecticut for Game 4, and raced home, hoping that the Yankees could somehow erase a 6-0 deficit (they did, of course).

Then came that Saturday night. The moment...seriously...that I had been waiting a long...long time for.

After hugging the fellow fans that I was with, I needed to step outside and have a moment to myself, exhorting "YES!" in the streets of Yonkers. I needed a moment to share with those I missed. I wondered what it would be like to talk with my dad about it, but sadly those moments aren't meant to be.

I floated home - quite sober, mind you - riding in Kevin Jaffe's Mazda Miata, with the top down, listening to all of the post-game talk on the radio. Though chilly, it was a amazing night, and all was right in my world.

The next day, I was on WREF radio in Ridgefield, CT. You better believe that, between the classic hits of Sinatra and others, there was plenty of baseball talk.

Fifteen years. Time marches on.

It's funny. That wasn't my first Yankees championship. I remember watching both 1977 and 1978, and am pretty sure I still have a scorecard I kept from the latter one. I treasure 1998, 1999 (I was at the clincher), 2000 (beating the Mets? Yes!), and 2009. I love them all equally, but there was something completely different about 1996.

Something amazing.

Something I will never forget.

Friday, October 21, 2011

From Richmond: A HoJo Flashback

I can't help but wonder if our good friend Jon from R-VA posts pictures on his blog and says to himself, "I bet Rob will use this on 'Exit 55'."

Well, yeah, this one was a near no-brainer.

It's got I-95 in its magnificent, mid-70's glory. It's also got Main Street Station, the last big landmark heading south before South of the Border. At least for a kid my age at the time.

But the picture also has a billboard for Howard Johnson's - a mere 13 miles away at Exit 6 back in the day on the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike (then a toll road). I ate many times in that HoJo's, though we never stayed at the adjacent hotel. The Richmond area was, normally, a lunchtime stop on day one of our trips to Florida.

So you put all of these things together, and you have a picture that I quite enjoy.

A Hot Wheels Track That My Son Would Love!

I'm debating whether or not I will ever show this video to Sean, because he will want this.

I'm just speechless. A huge Hot Wheels track, created for charity.

Thanks to Co-Exec Producer Mick for this hat-tip. I should have known that when I told him I had a little touch of writer's block (along with not a lot of time to write lately), he would come up with something. He didn't disappoint.

I could have seen my cousin and I trying to build something like this, but getting denied by our parents!

The link is from Yahoo! The video link is here.

The Red Sox Collapse, Animation Style!

Via Masshole Sports, with a hat tip to our "Executive Producer" Harold (and co-Exec Producer Mick has a contribution of his own coming up), we have some video from a company called Next Media Animation. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the laugh!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It's cliche. It's a total desecration of the book. It's an over-the-top fantasy.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2011 World Series

So the World Series starts tonight. The anticipation is...


Let's be honest. Outside of St. Louis and Texas, nobody seems to care. Now don't get me wrong, I've watched the World Series for as long as I can remember, so I will be in front of the TV (or next to a radio) for the games, but I can't remember a Series that nobody seems to be excited about.

For me, it's a no-win. I don't like anything from Texas (Cowboys, Hook 'em Horns, Astros, Stars, and on and on). I don't like the Cardinals...or Tony LaRussa. I get sick of hearing about everything being bigger in Texas...and that St. Louis fans are the best baseball fans in the baseball town in the best baseball world!


So here's what I gave decided. While I think it would be novel of me to root for the Cardinals (get it? Cardinals?), I am going to root for the winning team to do so in the opposing ballpark. That's it. Let the home fans suffer, so that we don't have to watch some insufferable home team celebration (and they've all become that).

That's the best I can give you. There have been other, less-celebrated Series that have turned out really well. I can remember not being excited at all for (don't read this, Tim Parry!) 1997, between the Indians and Marlins. But that went seven games, and ended on a walkoff hit. The Braves and Twins didn't excite either, but that was one of the best I've ever seen.

There's always hope. Let the best team win.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

I finally got to see Martin Scorsese's George Harrison: Living in the Material World, and I agree with those who gave the documentary such high ratings. It is a wonderful, vivid account of the life of a complex, interesting soul. The two living Beatles are heard from, but not overwhelmingly. For while George was a Beatle, that wasn't his life. Heck, that was the very point of his life.

Still, let's hear from Ringo (and Eric Clapton) discussing "Here Comes the Sun."

What I got out of it was that Olivia Harrison was, perhaps, the most ordinary, yet graceful of the "Beatle wives" (meaning Harrison, Linda McCartney, Yoko Ono, and Maureen Starr). Scorsese left few stones unturned, talking with Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, Ray Cooper, Jim Keltner, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Yoko Ono, Dhani Harrison, Pattie Boyd (yes, "Layla"), Phil Spector (looking freaky as always), and even Jackie Stewart (yes, the Formula One driver).

But at the end of the day, it's Harrison himself (via archive footage) along with McCartney and Starr who steal the show. Ringo chokes up revealing the contents of the last conversation he had with George, wiping away a tear before exclaiming, "It's like Barbara (bleeping) Walters in here, isn't it?!"

George was famous, in his later years, for not enjoying touring and performing live, but here he is playing with Elton John, Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, and Phil Collins (along with Ringo) on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". This is from the 1987 Prince's Trust Concert.

If it's possible to be a Beatle and be underrated, George Harrison was it.

Break In

So that gives you a rough idea of how Carrie and I started our day yesterday. The look on her face when she discovered the busted out window was enough for me.

Sometime Monday night, someone broke into my car. They stole my GPS and a phone charger.

I just got the window fixed (though that revealed a deeper problem with shoddy workmanship from a previous incident). So let's be honest: it wasn't that bad. Yes, one feels violated, and it's a nuisance on a few levels, but the losses are minimal (and it's just "stuff").

So that's it. I'm having dinner with Sean tonight. Then I'll watch the World Series.

Life, as always, moves on.

Friday, October 07, 2011


The Tigers just won the Division Series. They earned it, with better pitching and clutch hitting. The Yankees didn't have that.

Congrats to the Tigers and Jim Leyland. Great manager, solid team. I'll root for them against Texas.

Side note: is it me, or is it perfect that the Yankees season ended tonight, and the Rangers (hockey, people) begin tomorrow? Of course I'll pay attention to the rest of the baseball playoffs, and naturally the NFL, but now the NHL is back. That's a good thing.

Personally I thought Joe Girardi horrifically over-managed this game. The CC Sabathia move didn't work. To be blunt, that was the difference in the game. Oh yeah, and third base coach Rob Thompson holding A-Rod at third wasn't exactly a great move.

But that's the way it goes. Some years, you get the big hit. The big break. The big catch, strikeout, etc. This year, it didn't happen. I didn't think it was going to happen either. I just never had that feeling this year.

Admittedly, I let a four-letter word fly - loudly - when Jeter's drive to right was caught. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

To be honest, I'm a fan with big expectations. When it comes to my teams - probably, most specifically, the Steelers and of course the Yankees - I don't "just" want to make the playoffs. It's World Series/Super Bowl, and win. Otherwise, no thank you.

I'm rambling. Best to say no more.

Go read Jeff Pearlman's book on Walter Payton.

Good night.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

YouTube Wonders (Yankees Edition)

While looking for the video that I used in the previous post to honor Roger Maris, I came across some other goodies.

Oh baby, how I remember this. It was Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS. I went to Game 1, psyched to see my first playoff game, and to see Donnie Baseball play in October. One night later, he sent the old building into orbit (Gary Thorne on the call). Check out a very young Derek Jeter, invited to sit on the bench as a non-roster player, and Jorge Posada, used mostly as a pinch-runner(!) in that series. This happened just after a Ruber Sierra home run (John Sterling went for the "back-to-back and a belly-to-belly" call). The place went so bonkers that Mariners' manager Lou Piniella pulled his team off the field until things calmed down.

I was in the House for Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. It was my first Fall Classic game in person. The Yankees trailed the Padres 5-2 before Chuck Knoblauch tied it with a 7th inning three-run shot. All was well at that point. Then Tino Martinez strolled to the plate. For the first time, I felt Yankee Stadium shake (Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Bob Brenley on the call).

Let's hear the new place sound like that.

I'm not trying to turn this into an "I was there" post, but...yeah, the building shook...again. You know the story: 2001, New York is emotionally shot, the Yankees looked old early in the World Series, then win games 3 and 4 (dramatically, Tino and Mr. November). They're down two in the ninth. We've already saluted Paul O'Neil (too emotional for me), knowing it's his last game. They can't possibly come back again...can they?

Oh yeah. Here's Scott Brosius (as called by Joe and Tim, with Brenley in the Diamondbacks' dugout).

They won it later, and lost it in Game 7.

How about a non-Yankee moment by a former and future Yankee? This is Bobby Murcer at Wrigley Field in 1979, playing for the Cubs (wearing number seven in honor of Mickey Mantle). Bobby Ray left the Yankees in a trade for Bobby Bonds after the 1974 season. He would be traded back to the Yankees later in the '79 season. On this day, he singled in the bottom of the 7th of a game that the Phillies would win 23-22 in 10 innings. Dave Kingman would hit three homers for Chcago, and Mike Schmidt hit two, including the go-ahead shot in the 10th for Philadelphia.

This is a sad, yet interesting video. It comes from CNN on the day Mickey Mantle died in 1995. Funny because it features a young Nancy Newman (now of the YES Network). Sad of course, because it pays tribute to the passing of the great, yet flawed Mantle. Sadder, because I can't embed the video here. But I can embed this video of Mantle hitting a home run off of Whitey Ford in 1973 on Old Timer's Day (Mel Allen intros the video outside of the remodeled house).

I leave you with this: color footage of the 1939 World Series (the Yankees swept the Reds). The glorious old building looks like a painting in this. Back then, as you'll see, fans were allowed to exit via the field.

Plenty more to be found on YouTube and elsewhere.

Roger Maris Hit an Historic Home Run 50 Years Ago Today

Roger Maris made baseball history on October 1st, 1961 at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. His 61st home run passed Babe Ruth for the most in a single season. It was a year in which the stars aligned for Maris, one that he sometimes wished had never happened. It wasn't until later that he appreciated it a lot more.

I'm not sure I've ever seen this video, taken from the broadcast on channel 11 (WPIX). Red Barber makes the professional, low-key call (joined by Mel Allen at the end, not a common thing at the time given that analysts weren't common yet). Of course we've all heard Phil Rizzuto's radio call ("Holy cow! Sixty-one for Maris!"). It's very cool to see the TV broadcast.

Maris was a classy, wonderful man, who died far-too-young, in 1985.

Congratulations, Roger, 50 years later.