Monday, December 31, 2012


As we head off to 2013, let us remember the words of John Lennon.


I'll spare you my annual "I hate this night" rant.  Two thousand twelve is almost over.  Time marches on.  It's soo overrated.  Plus Carson Daly.  I mean, really?

But let's process this past year.  It was, at times, "a very good year" (Frank Sinatra, of course).  At other times, it wasn't.  But I mean, really, isn't every year like that?

I traveled a lot in this year.  I'll always remember that.  It started with

then Las Vegas (of which, I'm assuming, I will never get the rest of the pictures)...
then Cooperstown.  A quick weekend to Philadelphia for my niece's graduation followed, then came...
Tampa Bay (that's Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs above).  I wasn't done yet.  I went hiking and camping, and for the first time, I went to...
 Cape Cod.  The big trips dried up at that point, except for...
Florida. Again.

Yet, the naysayer can offer that I didn't go to Africa, or Europe, or Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.  But I have a hard time complaining.  Simply going to Florida (twice) and Cape Cod would have been enough for me.  I would have liked maybe some more long weekends and/or day trips, but all good.  I only went to Reading, PA (for Waffle House and outlets) twice in 2012.  Not complaining.  Just saying.

Personally and professionally, we saw it all.  We revived "The Press Box."  That was the good news.  We did Greenwich football, but have yet to call a hockey game.  I wrote more professionally than ever in 2012, and there's a calling for me to do more.  Some think I'm sort-of OK at this writing gig.  On the other hand, here on the "mother ship" I didn't pour out the volume that I wanted.

There's a reason for everything.  Some are more involved than others, but all of them are real and honest.

I started the year with questions.  I'm ending it the same way.  In between were highs and lows.  Fun and sorrow.  Stress and euphoria.

See what I mean?  ANY year can be seen as both good...and bad.

Look, we can go with the basics here.  I'm still alive.  That's a good start.  I still have Sean, and we're as close as ever.  So, OK, let's go with that.

One can always hope for better.  One should.  I do.

I hope for 2013.  Oh, how I hope.  But then again, I hope for tomorrow.  The next day.  The next minute.  So it goes.  But I hope for peace.  That's my hope every year.  We're so far from that.  I hope for prosperity.  We all deserve it.  I hope for love - unconditional.  Happiness.  Jeez, it's not that hard, is it?

I hope for continued recovery in Newtown, and Breezy Point, and the Jersey Shore.  I hope for our politicians to find a clue.

Selfishly, I hope for brighter days.  And work - lots of it.  And work for my friends who also aren't working.

This is on my mind today...

Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace, love, & understanding?
- Nick Lowe, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" (Most famously performed by Elvis Costello)

All the best for a great 2013.

The Cowboys Are Done

The Dallas Cowboys season just ended.

It ended in the same way as the Steelers, Jets, Giants and others.

Not.  In.  The.  Playoffs.

So...if your team isn't in, you're no different than Cowboys fans.  If you are a fan of the Broncos, Patriots, Texans, Bengals, Colts, Ravens, Falcons, Niners, Packers, Seahawks, Vikings, and Redskins, then to the victor goes the spoils.

Carry on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Joe Posnanski Baseball Card Story

I've kind of set it all up right there for you in the title of the post, no?  Fantastic baseball writer Joe Posnanski has a story that those of us who collected baseball cards in the 70's, and grew up in that decade, can absolutely relate to.  To be honest, this is one of those things that, even if you're not a sports fan, you can appreciate. 

Joe speaks of first memories of the Oakland A's.  For me, it's 1972, and it's Bobby Murcer doubling off of Jim Palmer at Yankee Stadium (my first game).  It's that first sight of the magnificence of the first Yankee Stadium - sadly, on its last legs before the John Lindsay renovation of 1974-75.  Then I so clearly recall the 1975 World Series and Pudge Fisk.  I can recall getting some baseball cards in 1974, and even more in '75.  But, like Joe, it's 1976 for me that things exploded.  I have total recall of standing on the front steps of my parents' home looking at the card above - the 1976 Thurman Munson.  There's the Captain, full of moodiness, posing in Fort Lauderdale (one-time spring home of the 1976 American League champions), with all the facial hair he can strike up, just to anger Mr. George M. Steinbrenner III.

Read Joe's post.  It was a fun ride down memory lane remembering the days before you could just as easily go buy the entire set of cards.  Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't put another 1976 card up, as strange-looking as it is (yes, it's still in my collection).
Oh, how that image hurts.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The "Announcer Snob" Has His Say

Yep, that's me.  Pat "T-Boone" Pickens has named me an announcer snob, to go along with the opinion of a few others.

Personally, I like the term "critic" but, hey, semantics and all.  It's OK.  I recently suggested that I would make a fine sports media critic in the style of Neil Best.

Or Richard Deitsch.

I noticed that Sports Illustrated is conducting an online poll for the best and worst in sports media in 2012.  Deitsch will have the results next week.  So...I'll weigh in.

First up! Best play-by-play announcer.  The nominees:

- Al Michaels
- Mike Breen
- Joe Buck
- Dan Shulman
- Mike Emrick
- Ian Eagle

I like each broadcaster.  Michaels is the dean of the NFL guys, while Breen has stepped near the head of the class for basketball.  I like Buck (sue me), and though I prefer Shulman on radio, he's still so solid on TV.  You know how I feel about Doc Emrick.  Ian Eagle is near the top of the NFL at this point.

But it shouldn't surprise you.  Doc Emrick gets my vote.

Mr. Scully, by the way, is still better than all of them.  That is said with no disrespect intended. analyst:
- Charles Barkley
- Kirk Herbstreit
- Jeff Van Gundy
- Cris Collinsworth
- Doris Burke
- Dan Fouts

All decent to good.  I think guys like Jon Gruden, Troy Aikmen (who does NOT hate the Giants), and Phil Simms are overlooked here.  But these are the nominees.  I struggle calling Barkley an analyst, but indeed he does analyze games mostly from the studio.  I tend to think of these announcers as game analysts.  Either way, my vote might be a small surprise.  I like Herbie - Kirk Herbstreit, with Van Gundy a very close second.

Best announcing team?
- Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth
- Mike Breen/Jeff Van Gundy
- Dan Shulman/Orel Hershiser/Terry Francona
- Mike Emrick/Ed Olczyk
- Brent Musberger/Kirk Herbstreit

Again, a solid collection.  But I'll keep my thoughts short.  Doc and Edzo are the cream of the crop.  They're smart at breaking a game down, know when to tighten things up, and also bring a little levity in.  Olczyk has become the marquee hockey analyst (so long as John Davidson isn't nearby).  Give me Emrick and Olczyk.

Somhow the team of Adams/Erway/DeMaria/Kaelin got overlooked.  An oversight, I'm sure.

Best studio show?
- Inside the NBA
- College GameDay
- Baseball Tonight
- Fox NFL Sunday
- Fantasy Football Now
- NFL Live

This came down to two for me.  Inside the NBA has the right mix of analysis and laughs.  But Fox NFL Sunday is the original.  They also have Terry Bradshaw.  They need to get the comedians out of the way though.

Most unlikable sports personality?
- Skip Bayless
- Tony Siragusa
- Stephen A. Smith
- Michael Irvin
- Colin Cowherd
- Deion Sanders

Tough choices!  But Skip Bayless has earned it.  His attempt to say Derek Jeter might have indulged in steroids was laughable.  That gave him this award for me.

Best place to watch sports in 2012
- Fox
- Turner

They had the Super Bowl.  The Olympics.  Sunday Night Football.  I chose NBC, mostly for the Olympics factor.

And had they said "LISTEN" to sports, well, then we know it would have been WGCH.

By the way, I don't think the voters agree with me.  Michaels was far ahead for best play-by-play, Collinsworth was leading for analyst, Michaels and Collinsworth for best team, College GameDay for best studio show, and ESPN for best place to watch.  Skip Bayless, on the other hand, well, yeah.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Perspective, Chapter Infinity

I was recently in a McDonald's in Pleasant Valley, NY.  Sure, we can debate my awful culinary choices, but it really wasn't about that.  I was there to get an ice tea for Lisa.

But it was happened after that that appalled me.

I stepped away from the counter and was preparing to leave when I heard another customer beginning to stir up a ruckus.  He berated the staff and management, ultimately asking for his money back.

The offense?  They forgot to give him some extra sweet and sour sauce.

I mean, seriously.

In the dining area, the noise was enough that not only could everyone hear it, but some got out of their seats to go see the person.  The reaction ranged from head-shaking to muttering.

A guy in a Steelers hat (fine human being, he) caught my eye.  All we could do was think of what went on a mere 50 miles or so away.

Of course, Newtown.

Let's be real here.  You're going to act like a straight-up ass, demand your money back, and say you're never going to eat there again over...sweet...and...sour...sauce?  Think about that.  You've embarrassed yourself.  Have you no ethics?  Scruples?  A clue?  Or are you just standing there, with your hat on backwards, Bluetooth in your ear, thinking that the fine people just trying to do a hard-day's work at McDonald's are there simply for your freaking McRib?  Shall they also serve it on fine China?

It's easy to understand and say the guy had a bad day.  Sure, we're all entitled to a brain cloud and go off the highway just a tad.  But there are limits.  To me - to anyone - he surpassed that limit.

I think the mere fact that we were all so shocked at his behavior kept each person there from accosting him.

In the days after what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, how could anyone not simply pause and grab reality?  I hated seeing the Steelers lose to the Cowboys Sunday night, but let's face it: I didn't play in the game.  I had no vested interest in it other than being a fan.  And given the circumstances, who freaking cares?  Even I could admit that it...was...a...GAME.

It's the holidays.  Hug a child.  A loved one.  Spend time with a friend.  Do charity work.  But do NOT go off on some poor person at McDonald's because you didn't get some extra condiment.

Just crawl back into your hole.  Now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zach Sobiech "Clouds"

I put this on my Facebook page yesterday with the following heading:
"Check this out, and please share. Zach Sobiech is terminally ill, and turned to music. His song is wonderful, and heartbreaking."
I'm not sure how many people went from the page to see the video, but I know I got two "likes."  I'd like as many people to see this as possible.  Therefore I am posting it here.

I know it's tough to see even more sadness right now.  I get it.  But for this young man, the views are worth it.

More on Zach's story can be found here.

The Asperger's Thing

***Honestly, I tried to find an appropriate picture to put at the top of this post.  There wasn't one.

In the days since the tragedy of Newtown at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a certain amount of attention has been given to Adam Lanza* having Asperger's Syndrome.  That, for many, seemed to be the short, simple answer.  "Oh, he did what he did because of Asperger's?  Makes' sense."

Except, simply, it doesn't.  Perhaps you knew that when you first heard that explanation.  Personally, it made no sense.  There's no connection.

*I saw where Anderson Cooper felt it was duty to not report the name of the killer.  He would only say the name once - twice, maybe!  Gee.  How noble.  What tough-guy journalism!  What a stand!  Blech.  I then turned the channel.

Without getting further off-topic, please (and I can't encourage you enough) read this column from Jeff Pearlman.  It's outstanding, and only a shame that Reader's Digest never ran it originally.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


It's been 48 hours since the tragedy in Newtown.  There is no blueprint.  There's no right answer for when it is OK to return to caring about frivolity.  I'm taking a stab at football today.

Super Bowl XIII.  The Pittsburgh Steelers played the Dallas Cowboys in the Orange Bowl in Miami.  It was a brilliant game, as the Stillers beat "America's Team" (ha ha ha) 35-31.  At home in Mahopac, a 10 year-old Rob Adams had found his love for the NFL, and his favorite team.

It was born because I had a classmate in fourth grade at Austin Road Elementary School, Pat Urell, who was a Cowboys fan.  We were pretty good friends, but he liked to talk smack (even if I didn't know what "smack" was).  He bet me a whopping 25 cents that Dallas would beat the three-time two-time Super Bowl champs.  The winning team would be the first to win three Lombardi Trophies.

I really hadn't settled on a team before that.  With multiple trips to Florida as a kid (pre-Tampa Bay Bucs), I liked the Dolphins.  Plus I had a cat named Morris, and the 'Phins had Mercury Morris*, who wore number 22, which was my birthday.  But my father and brother were both Jets fans.  But the Giants often used the interlocking NY on jackets and such, reminiscent of the Yankees (and they once played in Yankee Stadium).

*Mercury has since become known for being a little crazy, shall we say, with his sole reason for existing being the Dolphins 17-0 season in 1972.

I was confused.  But there was one thing we all agreed on.  We all hated the Dallas Cowboys.  Well, except for my father, who liked Tom Landry, but I'm not sure he cared otherwise.

But I was otherwise taught to detest Landry.  Tex Schramm.  Roger Staubach.  Tony Dorsett.  The star.  The hole in the roof of Texas Stadium.  I was taught to not care about the cheerleaders.  There are other women in the world.    Was there anything more delightful than watching Landry scream at his offense when they ran a bad play against the Redskins?  Anything better than watching the Cowboys lose?

Later on, how about that look of pain on Jerry Jones' face?  Shoving that "How 'bout dem Cowboys" crap right at them?  

Well, sometimes seeing the whine-and-cheese 49ers fall on their faces could be delightful.  Or the Raiders, with their lowest common denominator fans (and players).  And of course, the Browns, Bengals, and Ravens (aka, the "Old Browns").

But it was founded with the Cowboys.  And with Super Bowl XIII, I was hooked.  Since the Cowboys were playing, and Pat Urell was laying his 25 cents, I had just one question:

Who are they playing?

Here are the player introductions, broadcast on NBC in 1979.

By the way, I never officially won the bet.  Pat bailed because of the point spread.  Whatever.

Today, almost 34 years after that game, Big Ben and company head to Cowboys Stadium for the latest renewal of the rivalry.  It should be fun.  The dislike remains after all these years (remember, the two teams also met in Super Bowl X.  Rumor has it they played in Super Bowl XXX, but I guess I don't remember that one).

Both teams need it for the playoffs.

You know where my heart is.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown, CT

At The Flagpole in Newtown, CT (RA photo, July, 2004)
I know Newtown, CT.  Nice "New England" type of town, with a charming movie theater, general store, fairly quiet.  A bucolic place.

My sister lives in Fairfield, CT, and it wasn't uncommon for members of my family to drive to Newtown (at the flagpole, where US 6 and CT Route 25 meet).  We all know the town.  I've driven through it countless times.  A few miles away sits Route 34, which winds north and west from New Haven to Sandy Hook - an enclave of Newtown.  It's where US 6 used to meet 34 before Interstate 84 was built.  A charming little place, where "everybody knows everyone."

Just off route 34 came unspeakable tragedy.

Today, Newtown and Sandy Hook, reached a level of celebrity that nobody wants.  In the way that we know "Columbine", we will now speak of "Newtown and Sandy Hook."

If you don't know, earlier today, one of the most deadly mass murders in our country's history occurred in Newtown, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It's the second worst school massacre*, in back of Virginia Tech.  As of this writing, just after 6:00 PM, 20 schoolchildren area dead.  The total dead could be 28, or more.

I need to stress that the facts are still very raw, and there has already been a lot of misinformation.

*NOTE: Through a little further research, I've discovered that the Bath School Disaster, in Bath Township, Michigan on May 18, 1927, was the deadliest in history.  This fact matters so very little, but it is a fact, so I felt I must amend this.

As well as I know Newtown, I was miles away from there when I heard the news.  With Lisa, I got the early word from my "Press Box" colleagues.  Initially, there seemed to be minimal issues - a couple of people hurt, the wounded at Danbury Hospital.  Schools and the hospital were locked down, with good reason.  Lisa and I headed out for holiday shopping, in Kingston, NY.  While grabbing lunch, I checked my phone to see what Ryan, Kato, and CJ were talking about, when the numbers hit me.

Suddenly, I felt like I might burst into tears.  I was upset with the initial news, given that it's so close to "my home area" and, by extension, Sean.  But now, the whole thing exploded for me.  For the past six hours, every time I try to talk about Sean, I well up.  He's fine, folks, and I know that, but I just want to hug him.  I want to put the iPad in his hands, and listen to him giggle. 

I feel so deeply for the families tonight.  I am totally devastated for my friends in Connecticut - Newtown, Danbury, Bethel, and beyond.  Everyone is feeling the sadness.  This, we continue to learn, can happen to any of us.  That's where the fear comes in.

Lisa and I walked around, feeling almost numb.  The sound of Christmas music, to be honest, angered me.  To be further honest, the sound of rock music pouring out of the stations near Newtown struck me as insensitive.

Friends, for me, tonight isn't the time for the hand-wringing over gun control.  It's become obvious to me that if someone wants to attack, then they will somehow.  It strikes me that mental health needs to be deeply researched to understand what the hell is going on. 

But again, tonight is not the night for the debate.  It also is not the night for windbags like this guy who said God did nothing to stop this tragedy because He has been taken out of the classroom (Mediaite).  Tonight is the night for being sensitive.  ESPN has decided to be very prudent in their approach (Deadspin).

Tonight is about a big group hug.

If you haven't seen or heard the President, here's what he had to say today.

Over at The Onion, they pretty much said what I, and many others, are feeling tonight.

In parts of Connecticut, they're going to play sports tonight.  The Stamford/Bridgeport Central basketball game is on TV.  That, of course, is their choice.  If I had a game to call, I would.  It's my job, and I would approach it as such, but with a very heavy heart.  I might even chide the governing bodies for having played the game.  But it's their call.  Still, I think we would be best served to have a night off to hold each other.

At times, I have questioned myself as to if I'm being melodramatic.  The short answer is: no.

My heart breaks for Newtown and Sandy Hook.  I hope for them to find strength and to stay together.

There are no answers for the most unspeakable thing.  Little kids went to school today and aren't coming home.

Explain that to me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Doc Emrick

It has long been acknowledged that Mike "Doc" Emrick is the best voice in the NHL (on the American side).  Indeed, he is the best play-by-play voice in hockey.  Of course, one must also know that I consider him to be the best - period, if not the best ever.  There is no doubt that Doc has entered into the rarefied air of my favorite play-by-play announcers.  So we're talking in the stratosphere - right near Vin Scully.

Anyway, I'm working on a new opening to "The Press Box" that will feature well-known play-by-play calls and removes the Ryan Kelly interception return (called by me) that we've used since the shows inception.  The only reason I'm changing it (to be honest) is because that play happened over a year ago.  I could have gone - quite frankly - with the Austin Longi play from Thanksgiving.

Instead, I decided to mix it up.  Each guy got to pick a call.  As for what the final product will sound like, you'll have to listen.

But while looking for some Doc audio, I stumbled across this.  How did I miss it?  Deadspin, take it away!

And while we're at it, here are some of Doc's best.

I saw another video that was all about 10 broadcasters, essentially, losing their "stuff" on the air.  Then I heard it included Gus Johnson and that goawful "May Day" call, and I decided against posting it.  I value a certain friendship.

Yet I'm trying to be nicer and not be as harsh as I am on play-by-play announcers.  I don't think I can ease up on Gus - just not my style - but I'm trying to be kinder and gentler.  Plus I've been told that I'm, essentially, a hater.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back to Hoops

This is a basketball.
It is hard to believe that it's been almost three years since I last called a basketball game.  It was a doubleheader to end the regular season for Mount Saint Mary College on Hudson Valley Talk Radio, called by Chris Kaelin and I.

I shook the rust off last Saturday.

Tom Prizeman, a junior at Pleasantville High School (in Pleasantville, NY - not home to Reese Witherspoon) is working hard at becoming a sports broadcaster.  I first met him a few years ago when Ryan DeMaria and I were doing the national edition of "The Press Box."  He was eager and confident, to be sure, and definitely had the drive to make it.  He has grown since then, becoming the "voice" of the Panthers in various sports for their local TV broadcasts.

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to broadcast a national youth football tournament.  The uncertainty of the Greenwich Cardinals' playoff run made me feel like I would be holding the tournament organizer up*, and I didn't feel that was professional.  So I turned it open to my friends on the discussion boards at STAA.  Andy Towne was the first one to get in touch, and he got the position.

* Of course, we know now that Greenwich lost to Xavier, and I could have broadcast the tournament.  Instead - and hardly a consolation prize - I was offered the chance to be the public address announcer for a basketball tournament at Monroe College.  The college was willing to wait to see if my schedule opened.

In the process of all of this, I thought of Tom.  It would have been a good situation for him.  But Andy got to me first.  Tom reached out to me not long after.  The byproduct of this was that it opened up a dialogue between Tom and I.  Before long, I found out that Tom would be calling basketball this past weekend, and that I was welcome to join him.

Sean and I jumped in the car and drove to Rye High School (a place I'm familiar with) and joined Tom for the call of the Panthers and the Garnets.  My contribution to the event, besides serving as a mentor, was bringing some of my equipment (as old as it is!) to step the production value up just a notch.

Tom had not called basketball yet, so I took the first half and a brief stretch into the second half when I noticed that both Tom and I were doing play-by-play.  During a time out, we talked it over and decided that Tom should drive the bus from there.  He was fine, and my color was decent (I've never been a great color commentator, in my opinion), though I was prescient in the thought that the Panthers' emotional play might be their undoing, and indeed a technical foul late in the fourth quarter was the turning point of the game.  Rye would go onto the victory.

As for my play-by-play, Tom was kind in his praise of my work, but sheesh, I'm better than that.  I know - I only saw the roster minutes before we started, but that's my thing: always be my toughest critic.  I liked my energy, and most of my attention to detail, but the names weren't as sharp as I wanted.  Oh well, it's not initially like riding a bicycle.

Anyway, I've been asked to do more, and I just might.  I'm going to check into the schedule and see what fits.  It would be nice to get back to doing hoops (and hockey).

Just Remembering...

It happens a couple of times every year.  I take a moment - a small post - to remember my father.  I may weave a story into a post here and there, but there are two days annually that stand out more than any other:

St Patrick's Day, the day he died.

And today, December 10th, the day he was born.

And with each post, I fear I risk you, the faithful reader, rolling your eyes, as you might with endless posts about Sean, Yankee Stadium, the 50-point rule, Roger Goodell, life, and so on.  Yet I continue.

My dad was born on this day in 1929.  His mother, a fascinating woman named Daisy, was - get this - FIFTY when he was born.  His father worked for the telephone company as an executive.  His brother would also work for the telephone company, but in more of a "telephone man" way.

My dad would go into pure blue collar jobs.  He drove a truck for a plumbing supply company.  He married my mom and raised three kids.  He saw three grandchildren come into the world.  He missed out on the further extension of our family.

He was as liked as any person I've ever known.

I continue to learn things about him.  I didn't realize, for instance, that he and his family watched from an overpass on the Taconic Parkway as the King and Queen of England drove by to have hot dogs with FDR in Hyde Park in June, 1939.  Whether the story was accurate or not is immaterial to me.  It's new information.

So hang in there with me, as I take just a moment of your time to remember him.  One day, I hope to get some of the video that exists converted into a digital format.  Sadly, no trace of his voice exists that I know of, but if you've heard mine, then I think you have a pretty good idea.

Happy birthday to the old man.  I can't imagine him being 83.  That's what death does.  It freezes things in time.