Friday, August 31, 2012

Off The Bench with Some Linky Dinks

I post links to all things Scully.  You know that by now.  The Great One (long before someone named "Gretzky" came to prominence) announced that he will be back at the microphone for the Dodgers next year.  So the title of "best baseball broadcaster" continues to be safely ensconced in the voice of a man that will be eighty-five when Opening Day, 2013 rolls around.

Mr. Scully was honored with a bobble head doll the other night and, of course, a rainbow appeared (via Deadspin).  Then he, er, lobbed the first pitch to a certain Mr. Donald Arthur Mattingly (via MLB).

Anytime we discuss Donnie Baseball on "The Press Box" (Mondays from 7-9 on WGCH), this comes up (skip to 2:22 unless you want to watch Ruben Sierra hit a bomb).

Like most fans of the era, I loved Don Mattingly.  Loved the way he carried himself.  Loved the way he played.  Loved, loved, loved watching him hit, and his defense at first base was incredible.  As good as anyone I ever saw (yes, including Keith Hernandez).  I went to the last regular season game he played at the Stadium in '95 (we just all had a feeling that it might be the end).  But damned if they didn't make the playoffs, winning the first-ever wild card.  So...I went to Game 1.  In...sane.  Nuts.  People falling on each other (including a guy who fell on me in the top of the ninth.  I wasn't pleased).  Bottles and more being thrown.  The animals were hungry for a title, and to see Don Mattingly - our guy - reach the promised land.

When he was introduced before Game 1, the place was loud.  When he got his first hit, it got louder.  Then he homered in Game 2.  I wasn't there, but it came through on TV, with Gary Thorne's excited call.

A few innings later, Paul O'Neil (who inherited the throne from Mattingly as "the great leader") hit a big shot.

Incidentally, there were no curtain calls.  And if you wondered how that game ended, well, ask Jim Leyritz.

A couple of things...did you notice the winning pitcher?  A rookie named Rivera.  And did you catch the number two in the Yankees dugout?  A kid named Jeter, who was just hanging with the team.  He wasn't on the roster.

And I have to be fair - as great as it all was, it was meaningless.  That game gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the best of five, but they lost the next three, including Game 5 on the winning double by Edgar Martinez.  And that's - by far - the most significant moment in Seattle baseball history.  It saved them.  It built them Safeco Field.  That is a fact.

But it hurt like hell for me back in New York.  Sigh.

While we are looking at great moments, the Mick joined the 500 Club 45 years ago this past May.  This is the original broadcast from WPIX (channel 11) with Jerry Coleman on the call.  Mantle homers and Coleman shuts up.  I love it.

OK, I'm way off track here.  Such is the beauty of this blog, I guess.  I'm sure Lisa stopped reading somewhere around the end of the first sentence.

Tom Hoffarth's blog is one of my go-to's for media notes (I think I should write a sports media blog - any paper want to pick me up?).  He posted a link to this video.  Springsteen?  Baseball?  Postseason?  YES, PLEASE!

My friend Dave Fierro filed a report from the Greenwich/Don Bosco scrimmage earlier this week.  Greenwich wasn't meant to win.  They were meant to learn what it takes to win.  Bosco is the very definition of a winning football program.  Mission accomplished?  We'll find out beginning two weeks from tonight on WGCH.

By the way, I like Dave and the good people at the Greenwich Time, but I've never even so much as seen my name in their esteemed paper.  So...I continue to be a Greenwich Post guy!

OK, I'm saying that tongue-in-cheek, of course.

Come on: sing along with me!  Black and yellow, black and yellow (if it works for Brian Fantana, then it works for me).

Back to the Greenwich Time for a moment, as Angela Tammaro has stepped down as the AD at Greenwich Academy.  I interviewed her once years ago (we're due for a return).  One of the truly great field hockey coaches ever.

Well, that's probably enough for now.  Oh, "The Press Box" will indeed be LIVE this Monday (no such as Labor Day in my life, unless "labor" means "working", at which point, yes, I will work).  And, as I mentioned, football season is two weeks away for us.  I'll have lots more on that soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In the Greenwich Post

Photo courtesy Paul Silverfarb/Greenwich Post
I'm in one of those stretches where time is tight, stress is high, and I'd probably write the wrong thing anyway.  So it's just been easier to lay low for a while.  I should write about our great hike to the top of Overlook Mountain outside of Woodstock, NY (man!) or about family camping (or maybe not).

I can't - under any circumstances - ignore the effort my friend Paul Silverfarb put forth when he visited us at "The Press Box" a week ago.  Paul had been wanting to do an article about the show and finally had the chance.  He stayed with us for the two hour show and interviewed us (and Sean Adams) after.

The finished article hit the stands last Thursday.  You can find it here.  Thanks to Paul for stopping by and putting this together.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Huey Setlist (and the Review)

Just in case you were wondering, this is what the boys played on a few weeks ago at Bethel Woods (to the best of my feeble memory):

The Heart of Rock and Roll
(She's) Some Kind of Wonderful
Respect Yourself
I Want a New Drug/Small World
Doing it All For My Baby
Jacob's Ladder
Little Bitty Pretty One
Perfect World
Heart and Soul
But It's Alright
We're Not Here For a Long Time, We're Here For a Good Time

The Power of Love
Working For a Living

As for the show, It's a different era, for sure.  When I went to my first HLN show, in 1985, I walked to the gate with a camera in my hand.  I got told to take it back to the car by security.

Now?  Come on in!  (So long as you don't have changeable lenses).  Heck, put them up online - we encourage it!

The band still has great energy and sound fantastic.  If you've never seen them, you should.  It's a fun show, even if it was only about an hour and a half.  The downside was that they can't play everything because, believe it or not, there are a lot of familiar songs. 

Joe Cocker was a pleasure to see.  He played his hits (some of them, of course, covers of The Beatles).  For me it was a thrill to see an original Woodstock performer doing the songs he played there in 1969.  By the way, he looked like this then...
Now, personally, after seeing Huey Lewis (who several felt should have been the latter act, but I digress), I could have left.  But Lisa firmly denied that we would be departing (of course, she didn't have to go to work the next day either!).  Still I'm glad I stayed.  Cocker was good, playing songs that we all know.  Granted, it was a different energy than Huey and News brought, but good music is still good music.

Bethel Woods has earned a reputation for being a beast to get out of, but Lisa and I moved swiftly to our car after Joe Cocker's awkward ending (it just didn't seem like the show should be over, with a lesser-known tune and a show that was only about an hour long).  We were soon out onto New York Route 17B and off and running.

Some have said they won't go back to Bethel Woods because of the traffic woes, but as far as we're concerned, we are two for two (having seen Lady Antebellum back in June).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Now a Moment to Pat Ourselves on the Back

Sean and his Daddy - two weeks after the blog began: August 31, 2006.  We're at Playland in Rye, NY.
Six years ago today, I started this enterprise.  Blogs sadly come and go (oh Tim Parry, Mick, and Matt Hamilton, we miss you...among others...and Sean Kilkelly, we need more!).  In the meantime, we carry on.

Some say blogs are dying.  Maybe so.  I still enjoy it.  I'm always thinking about things to write.  I might lack the time I once had (damn jobs getting in the way!) but I still look forward to doing this.  It hasn't made me famous, and goodness knows it really hasn't made me money, but I have made friends and broadened my world as a result.

I even have a person in my life who encourages me to keep writing (thanks, Lisa).

So here we are.  If you've never read post number one, well, here it is, as I wrote about a subject near and dear to my heart: the old Yankee Stadium.  I'm not sure I could pick a favorite post, but I have many that I'm proud of.  Still it would be hard to pick them all out.

I'm glad to still be doing this as the seventh year begins.

Let's do some links (a long-running standard, along with "Off the Bench")!

Vin Scully did a podcast with Jimmy Traina at Sports Illustrated.  I haven't even listened to it yet, but it's The Great Scully, and that's all that matters.

Under no (Stuck in the 80's).  There should not be A Christmas Story 2.  Not a single person from the original is in it.  Of course, it's going straight to video, and that's where it belongs.

My friend Charles Costello writes a really good blog via the Greenwich Time, and, in theory, it is supposed to be about education.  Yet on occasion, as is his wont, Chuck delves into things like sports, personal issues, even pets.  In other words, it's a blog about education but isn't STRICTLY about education.  I often think I want more comments on this blog to stimulate conversation and debate.  The problem is: be careful what you wish for.  In reading the comments on Chuck's page, I could feel my blood pressure spiking.  The comments were so foolish (especially when they come from the always-gutless "Anonymous") that it made my hair hurt.  Then there were the repeat posters that just seem to have an anti-Costello bias.

People.  Please.  Get...a...grip.

I've stayed out of the Chick-Fil-A thing, but Robert Ford, the Kansas City Royals broadcaster, has thrown his pennies in.  I have to say that Roberts' take is spot-on.  I'm very much in favor of gay marriage and respect Chick-Fil-A president and COO Dan Cathay's right to his opinion.  It's clear that the company is openly conservative, given their policy of being closed on Sundays and support of very Conservative causes.  Sure, one has the right to withhold supporting any business, and I'm all for that (heck, that's the American Way - or whatever).  Yet...I also like their food, and , as Robert said, "Every time I’ve visited a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, I’ve gotten what I’ve paid for and their employees have treated me and other customers respectfully."  And so...yeah.  That.

I'm not going out of my way to get there, and I can't stress enough that I don't believe in things Chick-Fil-A stands for.  But...I wonder how many companies there are that have questionable values that the media has not exposed?

Enough of that rant.

Anyway, thanks for reading and all of that good stuff.  It's amazing how different things are six years later.  Now it's time to begin year seven.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012

An Analysis of the Perfect Broadcast

I want one of these.
On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game for the Dodgers in Los Angeles against the Cubs.  Koufax was as perfect as a pitcher can be, striking out 14 - that last six in a row - as the former Bums beat the Cubs 1-0.

But he wasn't the only one who was perfect.  Up in the broadcast booth, with no TV that night, Vin Scully crafted a broadcast so incredible that the ninth inning has been transcribed (and a teacher at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting uses it in his lessons).

TJ Simers from the LA Times sat down with Scully to discuss it.

If you've never heard it...listen.  Wow.

Appreciation  Besides, Lisa isn't much for posting pictures of herself (even if I thought the picture of us at Sunday night's Huey Lewis concert was good).
In life, it is always healthy to get a grip.  You know, perception.  Sometimes, one can look at another situation that might not be so good but turn it positively and recognize how lucky they are to have a good thing.

Lisa and I are moving along quite nicely, thank you very much.  And while we don't need any reminders, it can still be nice to get one.

We're having a good time.  I mean, this is supposed to be fun, right?  And lacking drama, no?

I'm sitting in her house right now, as she is vacuuming down the hallway.  I'm stretched out on her couch, typing away and glancing out the picture window occasionally.*

*OK, before you say "get off your ass and help her clean", let's clear that one up.  Lisa likes to do things like that on her own.  When she wants my help, she will ask.  Trust me on this one.  Otherwise, I simply get in the way.  So she just wants me to do my thing: "go blog", she will sometimes say.  It's not like she doesn't want me around.

On occasion, you get a glance into the world of other couples, and other people.  It is right there when one (be it you, me, Lisa, etc) looks inside of themselves and realizes how happy they are.  Perhaps it's taking a negative and making it positive, but either way it's a good thing.

As a result, one takes everything into account, and hugs their mate a little tighter.  One might also go buy flowers.

So far, the only things Lisa and I seem to "argue" about are John Mellencamp, what to eat for dinner, and when I get in her way when I try to help out (see?).  On occasion, we delve into the deeper stuff: money, outside people and forces that might impact us (some people just do not get it), and whether or not the Patriots should have allowed the Giants to score in Super Bowl XLVI.

I'm not serious about one of those...

But if those are our only "problems", man I'll take it.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Checking the Stats

Every now and then, I check the stats on who is reading.  I especially like seeing what posts get the most hits, and seeing what areas the readers are from.  It's always interesting.

For instance, the single most read item here is the "Oniontown Ouch" post from 2008.  Even as I look now, it's second in reads over the last 24 hours, in back of the "Vertigo" post.  Among the intriguing items is the hits on the post "I'll Be Back", discussing my absence on the blog, from April of this year.  Written at a time of confusion and hurt, it was a way of pulling my head out of my arse and saying that I'm just refocusing.

The result of that refocus?  It set some things in motion, such as the Florida trip in May and, this post, announcing that Lisa and I are...well...Lisa and I.  That resonated with the expected sonic boom of hits, Facebook likes, and comments.  Let's call it a game-changer.

As for who's reading, the top five countries are the US (duh), Russia (?!), Germany, the UK, and Canada.  New York is consistently tops among cities and towns, and I'm assuming that encompasses the five boroughs for the most part.  Boston and Stamford (using a sample from July 1 to this morning), with Carmel and Mahopac rounding out the top five.

Now, granted, I live in Mahopac, but I feel like I'm not here that much, and especially feel like I don't really know anyone.  So I'm intrigued as to who is reading.  I can understand Carmel - I lived there when the blog started and was more active in that community, between Sean's school and baseball.  Stamford makes sense, because of my radio work (Greenwich also hits a lot), but...Boston?

After the top five comes a newer entry...Hyde Park...New York.  Hmmm...wonder why Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie have trended up?  White Plains, NY also hits a lot, along with Ashburn, VA.  Interesting.

Anyway, there's nothing to make of all of this.  I enjoy the numbers, but can't stress or over analyze them.  Just fun.

As always, thanks for reading.  Sometimes, I wonder (as you know), and occasionally, I get reminded that, yes indeed, you're all out there.  I'm grateful - it's why later this month we will finish up year six of "Exit 55."

Well, friends, I have a concert to get ready for.  Huey and the boys take the stage at 7:30.

And I just read the news of Eagles coach Andy Reid's son passing.  My condolences to the Reid's and the Eagles family.

The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

Ah, you know how it goes.  I love lists (as you might have read recently).  Can't get enough of them.  Love to break them down and debate them.

So here we go again.  Rolling Stone says these are the 500 greatest albums.

I haven't read the whole thing, but I have read the top 10.  They are...
10) The Beatles (The White Album) - The Beatles
9) Blonde on Blonde - Bob Dylan
8) London Calling - The Clash
7) Exile on Main Street - Rolling Stones
6) What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
5) Rubber Soul - The Beatles
4) Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
3) Revolver - The Beatles
2) Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys
1) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

I have a hard time arguing with that group.  My personal taste would lean towards Revolver over Sgt. Pepper, but I can understand how people look at the whole picture, and consider what an achievement Sgt. Pepper was (and is).  It is certainly among the most influential records ever, and that is what likely gets it the top spot.

I think the only album in that group that I don't own is What's Going On, which is not to say I don't like Marvin Gaye.  I do, and own other stuff of his.

This list does take other genres of  music into account, which is how Kind of Blue by Miles Davis is here.  Incidentally, Kind of Blue should be the first jazz album that you ever buy.  It is is Jazz 101.  Easy Listening (Frank Sinatra, people!), hip hop, Rap, R&B, country, blues, and a lot more are represented.

The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones place the most albums on the list, with 10 each.  Ahem...Bruce Springsteen is next, with eight, followed by The Who, with seven.  Huey Lewis and the News didn't have any, which must purely be an oversight, or there was the recognition that their work is so stellar that it wouldn't be fair to include them*.

*OK, I'm not being serious, but I do think they get overlooked quite often, and disregarded.  Sports and Fore! were among the most popular albums of the 1980's.  Now popularity doesn't speak to what's best, but still.  I think Sports is still a damn good album.  You mileage, of course, may vary.  That being said, I didn't expect to find any of their work in the top 500.

To me, I'm not sure there is much to debate after the top 10.  Is somebody being left out entirely?  Is the list too highbrow?  Is it just typical Rolling Stone bull spit?  Should hits collections be included?

I'm still breaking it all down, and there are no correct answers, but I don't find myself outraged.  That's highly unusual.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

"Vertigo" Wins Best Picture Ever

Last week, Sight & Sound released their latest poll of the greatest films of all time.  Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo tops the list, well ahead of Citizen Kane.  Christian Blauvelt at Entertainment Weekly (among others) breaks down the list here.

Citizen Kane had been the standard-bearer for 50 years, and while scholars agree that it is an incredible movie, most moviegoers normally say "meh" when talking about it.  Yet everything we see now comes from a movie like Kane.  Still, it is a movie I highly recommend seeing, and try seeing it recognizing that it is all new as it is being produced in 1941.

Vertigo is utterly...freaking...brilliant.  I've been beating this horse for years, beginning when I first saw it, in college, in 1987.  Yes, it's slow, but I discover something new every time I see it.  And it is Jimmy Stewart at his most desparate - even maniacal.  Plus it is a story of incredible depth.  I love it, and am thrilled to see it named as the best movie ever...but I'm surprised.

I figured Kane would be the winner.  Even The Godfather (which is personally high on my list, but didn't make the top 10 on the Sight and Sound list).  But...Vertigo?

To be honest, it is not a list of movies that most people have seen.  I've seen four of the top 10: Vertigo, Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Searchers.  I don't even think The Searchers is John Ford's best work, preferring Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (not to mention The Grapes of Wrath and The Quiet Man, but I'm not a voter.  I thought 2001 was, er, interesting, though it is perhaps Stanley Kubrick's crowning achievement.

Vertigo is deep, with Hitchcock in the midst of his finest period of pictures, including North by Northwest and Rear Window, with Psycho soon to come.  Kim Novak is fine as Madeline/Judy, but this is Stewart's film.  Trust me, this is not George Bailey.  This is Scottie Ferguson, former detective, full of psychological "stuff."

If you ever watch it (and I implore you to), you might dislike it.  You might even hate it.  But if you're open enough, and like the work of Stewart and Hitchcock, you will get into it.  Then...maybe a few hours later...or a few days'll go "whoa!" as the tale begins to wind around you.

It is the work of two masters at the top of their game.

HLN - "Trouble in Paradise"

To continue to get Lisa and I (and, by extension, you) pumped up for tomorrow night's big Huey Lewis and the News show (featuring Joe Cocker), I feel I must post a little old-school HLN.  I was able to see what the set list is looking like, and noticed that "Trouble in Paradise", a song featured on their debut album, might be played.

The original "Trouble in Paradise" has a new wave gloss to it (as much of Huey Lewis and the News does*).  By the time they did this in San Francisco at the Kabuki Theater in 1985, the song had been reworked with more soul.  In fact, the band considers themselves to be more of a soul band than either a rock or pop outfit (and certainly not that dreaded Adult Contemporary).

*Didn't we just cover that last night?  "Their early work was a little new wave for my taste", said Patrick Bateman.

This version has been released several times - first on the We Are The World charity album, and then on some HLN greatest hits efforts and so on.  Admittedly, I must have about four or five copies of it in my collection.  Plus, it was recorded for the Grammy-winning video The Heart of Rock and Roll Live.  Featuring horns from the Tower of it is!

If you're curious about the original...well...

Most of the original band is still together, with Chris Hayes and Mario Cipollina having departed (though both have stepped on stage with the band at one point or another).  Huey, Johnny Colla, Bill Gibson, and Sean Hopper have been joined by Stef Burns on guitar and John Pierce on bass, along with a killer horn section and backup singers.  Sadly, because they're opening, they won't be doing a their typically longer set.  Such is life...but no complaints.

Looking forward to it (and I think the seats are going to be pretty good too!).

Friday, August 03, 2012

A Little MTV Blast from the Past

With MTV's anniversary passing earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to post this recording of the network from 1983.  Of course, there's an anterior motive, and you can find that right around this 7:45 mark (just after Night Ranger).

You guessed it.  Huey Lewis and the News, doing "Heart and Soul." 

Now (spoken in my "Casey Kasem" voice), you might not know that Huey and the News weren't the first to record the song.  Indeed, the song was originally recorded by the band Exile, who had a huge hit with "Kiss You All Over", in 1978.  The band performed "Heart and Soul" from the album of the same name.  Their version seems to lack the rock edge that HLN added to it for the Sports album in 1983.  "Heart and Soul" peaked at number 102 on the Billboard chart in 1981 for Exile.

I might have mentioned that Lisa and I will be seeing HLN on Sunday night.  I have to admit that I'm getting pretty excited for my first show with the boys since 2005.

Which leaves me with just one question:

Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?

Little, tiny factual error.  Fore came out in 1986 and not in 1987.  But we digress.

Me and Huey - Together Again!

It's been seven years. long years.  But finally, thanks to my niece Stephanie, I'm going to see Huey Lewis and the News again.

Stephanie won the tickets from WHUD Radio and told them to give them to me.  I raised her and her sisters on the gospel of Huey back in the day.

Oh I've seen them before.  First in 1985, at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown, NY.  Then in 1987...twice...first at Madison Square Garden (yes, still my favorite show ever), then at Middletown again.  Then in 1989, playing as The Sports Section (trying out new tunes) at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY (I actually scalped tickets!).  Next was 1991 at Jones Beach in the pouring rain.  It was five years before the next show, at the Westbury Music Center on Long Island, then an intimate show in 1999 at the Charles Ives Center in Danbury, CT.  In 2001, I saw the boys at Jones Beach again.  The last show was in 2005 at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie.  My cousin Kris had some connections and got us backstage where we said hello to Huey and Bill Gibson, and took pictures with both Stef Burns and Johnny Colla.

Ah, that was a lifetime ago.

Anyway, Lisa and I will head to Bethel Woods for a good night of HLN and Joe Cocker this Sunday.  A big ol' thanks goes to Stephanie for looking out for her Uncle!

We need some music!  I honor of Lisa, who posted "I" as a Facebook status.  Among my responses was "I...want a new drug?"

Creepy to the Max

Max Headroom
Er...Um...Not Exactly Max Headroom
Each Friday morning, I join WGCH News Director Tony Savino for approximately eight minutes of sports talk.  I normally jump on my computer, troll around for a few nuggets, and wait to go on.  That sometimes means having a few minutes to check in on Facebook which can often produce a few interesting things.

Holy crap did it ever.

I vaguely remember this.  Let's flashback!

November 22, 1987 (hey, nice day...oh, right, it was my 19th birthday).  In Chicago, WGN was airing the Nine O'Clock News.  During the sports, anchored, by Dan Roan, something strange (and creepy happened)...

So here I am, watching this earlier today and, frankly, getting a little spooked!  But (as they say) WAIT!  There's more!

Holy Son of Sam!

Later that same night in 1987, WTTW was airing Doctor Who, when Max popped in again.  This time, he spoke (the video has subtitles).

Yikes - something about all of this gave me the shakes.   Credit goes to Mental Floss for the background info.  Max, by the way, has never been caught.  Come forward, Max!  The statute of limitations is up!

Not as concerning was the Captain Midnight incident on HBO.  Peter Jennings anchors our coverage.

Some of this makes me recognize what people must have felt with the "War of the Worlds" performance in 1938.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


It can still bring a tear to the eye.  He was one of ours; a hitting machine and a gruff SOB who was the very heart of three straight American League Champion and two World Champion teams.

And - just like that - he was gone, 33 years ago today.

Thurman Lee Munson.

It was a sports fans moment.  A moment you remember exactly.  The details, oh so fresh.  Plane crash.  Canton, Ohio.  Channel 5 (WNEW) from New York, breaking in with the news at about 4:30 in the afternoon.  A Thursday.  The rest of the story is quite familiar.  There were games to be played, and a funeral to attend, ending that night with Thurman's good friend, Bobby Murcer, homering and driving in five runs to beat the Orioles - the eventual American League Champions - 5-4.

The franchise took a long time to recover.  Yes, they won the AL East in 1980 and went to the World Series in 1981, but things were strange.  The 80's had a malaise hanging over them for the Yankees, until the euphoria of 1996, when a kid named Jeter (who won Rookie of the Year, just as Munson did in 1970) helped the team back to nirvana.

Munson's locker stayed in the locker room of the old Stadium - a place that I stood right next to once, but didn't dare go in.  Oh no.  And have no doubt that the team and players treated that as hallowed ground.

The Yankees moved it to the new Stadium in 2009, where it sits in the Yankees Museum.  When I first went in, there was no sign to explain to visitors.  To be honest, none was needed.  The older fan could tell the kid (or the newbie) who that stark white booth with the number "15" on it belonged to.

He only played 11 years.  There were rumors he wouldn't catch again, and that he would take his talents to Cleveland beginning in 1980.  Indeed, in his last game, at Chicago on August 1, 1979, he played first base.  I remember the game clearly - such a strange sight to see.  The Yankees won the game 9-1, and Munson went 0-1, with a strikeout in his final at-bat.  He left the game in the bottom of the third, replaced by Jim Spencer.

The inclusion of players like Ron Santo can help reopen the case of Munson for the Hall of Fame.  Many say that his time has passed; there's no hope for him to gain the recognition.  Certainly there are those that will carry his torch.  Remember that comparing a catcher to a player like Santo, who was a third baseman, isn't necessarily fair.  Catchers aren't - and shouldn't be - judged only on their offense.  Consider the backstops of the era, and Munson holds up just fine.  Who is going to say that Thurman Munson was no worse than the third best catcher of the 70's, behind Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk (both Hall of Famers)?  Take a look at this page.  Who is better?

Munson won the Rookie of the Year in 1970.  He won the 1976 American League MVP.  They say that Curt Schilling (a premier gasbag) is going to make the Hall of Fame based on his stellar postseason performance.  Well Munson hit .373 in three World Series, and .357 for his postseason career (of which he played 30 games).  His OPS (ugh) in those three World Series was .909.  Add in three Gold Gloves in the era he shared with Fisk.

Look, I'm not trying to make a plaque for him, but let's give him some proper credit and consideration.  That, to me, is what the inclusion of Ron Santo did.

Munson's number 15 hangs in Monument Park.  His presence still looms large.  Fans - now fathers and even grandfathers - remember and talk about him.  I posted that picture at the top of this post on my Facebook post, and within a half hour, there were seven likes and three comments.  We all still remember him and, truly, have a hard time coming up with a loss in baseball that hit us as hard - along with Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente, of course.  This is said with absolutely no disrespect to names like Lyman Bostock (murdered), Addie Joss (meningitis), Darryl Kile, and others.  Lastly, no disrespect to Ray Chapman, hit by a pitch in the temple in 1920 - still, the only major leaguer to die on a field.

But this is about Thurman Munson.  Our guy.  Our leader.

Our Captain.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Great Scully Embraces Twitter!

Well, not exactly.  Vin Scully barely knows how to operate a computer, from what I've heard, but he does his best to read this "twitt" on a recent Dodgers broadcast.

Ah the beauty of being the best sports broadcaster in history, and being charming at the age of 84.  Tomorrow, maybe Vin will wow us with his version of  "Call Me Maybe."

Quick Addendum to My Stadium Rant

Phil Soto-Ortiz (he's the one in the Rangers sweater)
My friend Phil Soto-Ortiz coincidentally wrote about the ESPN/Yankee Stadium topic that I tackled last night.  I would have initially linked to it had I seen it.  Phil's take puts the onus on Yankees fans for, essentially, lacking the passion that they (we) once had.

His thoughts are well-reasoned and it's a solid read as always.  That, of course, doesn't mean I have to agree with him!

I still think the Stadium was plenty loud right up until Brandon Steiner drove the wrecking ball in with dollar signs on it.  But that being said, winning breeds contempt, and it is easy for fans to become complacent.  There's no doubt that some of that happened.  He also makes New York "Metsland" in the 80's (an opinion that others, including Tim McCarver, has).  I don't think it was that cut and dried.  There were, at times, two really good teams in the 80's, and it isn't that easy to just say that attendance was the reason.  This was a two-team town (the Bombers were hardly irrelevant, as I pointed out).

One last thing - the 80's into the early 90's was George Steinbrenner at his worst.  Fans got sick of that act.  But, ultimately, the "safety" issues around the Stadium were a big reason for the empty seats.  I never bought into that.  It never stopped me from going.

Anyway, Phil's stuff is worth reading, and makes for a nice counterpoint to my rant.