Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Onto 2014

Well...not quite, but any chance to post anything related to Calvin and Hobbes is OK with me.
So here we are. Another New Year's Eve.

For those celebrating, many blessings to you. For those choosing to lay low or not celebrate at all, you have my regards.

Personally, due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control, I'm at the homestead. Sean is with me tonight. My niece Stephanie is as well. We're all keeping an eye on Mom, who is getting stronger every day.

Lisa has to work tomorrow. So...bottom line...just lay low.

2013 was quite a year, wasn't it? And yet, can't we say that about every year? That's why this whole thing has always been so specious to me.

I saw triumphs - remarkable moments of happiness. I stepped back into the work world in a big way. A year ago tonight. I felt tremendous despair. I wasn't working full-time, and felt like my world was teetering. I also spent New Year's Eve almost entirely alone, save for my friend Brian and his kids on Skype.

But I found work at the Wilton Bulletin, and The Press Box soldiered on, and along came the Sound Tigers, and Hersam Acorn Radio, and Connecticut School of Broadcasting, and Wilton Continuing Education, and...

Sheesh. Be careful what you wish for.

But there was also sadness. Just in the past few days I've heard far too much to break a heart.

We saw it all, as usual. Boston ran the gamut of emotions, from the terror of the Marathon to the exultation of the Red Sox.

2013 was a lot of things. There was a bit of a renaissance for Mr. Huey Lewis. We made our way to Cape Cod, only for a few days. A long trip to both Virginia Beach, and Washington, DC. We passed through Richmond.

We didn't nearly travel enough.

The Yankees? Meh. The Steelers? Same. Rangers...Knicks...etc...

Of course, sports gave us thrills (Alabama/Auburn, LeBron, Wimbledon, etc). That's why we stay with them. They piss me off a lot, but it's still a big part of my life.

We will treasure Mariano Rivera. A true all-time great as a player and a man. We will remember 2013 for him.

I'm sorry, for those who have been loyal, that Exit 55 saw such a significant drop in material this year.  The output that I presented was by far the lowest full year since 2008. I can't say 2014 will be any better, but I'm not sure it will be any worse. As I've alluded to, there are big changes on the way.

I think I can speak on behalf of Lisa and Sean when I say that we wish you all a pleasant start to 2014. We hope that it brings you health and happiness, just as we hope for the same for ourselves.

(And, just as a PS, Vin Scully is the Grand Marshall of tomorrow's Rose Bowl Parade. Happy that I could help with that info.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Radio Bulletin

From our Thanksgiving Preview Show. (Christopher Burns photo)
Today marks the beginning of my final week as a reporter for the Wilton Bulletin.

I want to thank Jeannette Ross, the editor of Bulletin, along with my colleague Chris Burns (and a nod to my former colleague James Passeri) for their patience and support during my time here. We will remain colleagues and maybe I can actually sit down and have lunch with them occasionally (something I didn't do enough of).

By next Monday, I will be settling into my new position as...well, it doesn't really have a title, but I'll be the head of Hersam Acorn Radio. "Radio boss," "Radio GM," and a few others have been tossed around. It matters very little - the radio thing is mine to run.

I won't do it alone, but we're still figuring all of that out. All of the great people here will continue to support this effort in one form or another, and maybe we can bring some new faces on board as well.

But I could use a little help!

First, if you haven't already, start following us on Twitter! Next, please go to Facebook and give us a "like."

Our Hersam Acorn Radio Mixlr page is here.

Our SoundCloud archive page is here.

Our papers and websites are:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Gathering with Mom in Connecticut, 12/24/2013.
Despite my Grinch-like feelings of a few days ago, there is no choice but to plunge forward and grab a little spirit.

My Christmas Eve was spent with Sean, doing shopping (some for him, in fact). Target and Best Buy were my places of choice.

I don't mind shopping on Christmas Eve, although I would prefer to avoid the food stores (and I did).

Later, Sean and I saw Mom, and we were joined by my sister's family for some Christmas Eve pizza. It was simple and fun. With Mom in rehab, I just couldn't see myself anywhere else.

Laura, her kids, and Sean and I made a late run to the Setti's house in Norwalk (Google it if you ever want to see a big light and decoration display). I've missed going there only once in roughly a decade so I was glad we were able to keep the tradition alive.

As we parked to walk around, some snow flakes had become to fall. That would, eventually, lead to a full-blown white-out.

That only seemed to enhance the atmosphere in Norwalk, as Santa and Mrs. Claus visited with visitors. For me, it gave me pause about the drive back to the Pac.

Overall, our trip was fair - save for sliding down a hill in Pound Ridge. Sean, recognizing my tension, actually began to massage my shoulders.

"I think you need this," he said. What a kid. I played it cool and thanked him. I didn't want him to worry.

We made it home, where Sean (again, he's 11) remained true to his belief in Santa. He already had the cookies and milk lined up by the time I wandered upstairs to check on him. Soon his letter to Santa would follow.

"Where did the reindeer get their names?" he inquired. He was also curious if Santa liked Skylanders (a toy/game thing, for those not in the know). Lastly, he apologized for leaving water, instead of milk in previous years.

After that, he was in bed, excited over the thought of what tomorrow (now today) will bring. Unfortunately, he is currently in bed, expecting nothing from this house, as I had told him that my gift would not arrive in time for Christmas. But, no, it made it today, and was actually sitting outside the front door when we got home.

His day should be merry and bright.

I hope that for all of you. I know this isn't always the easiest time of year, and I know some of you who are feeling intense sadness for one reason or another. I know many of you who agreed with my "Bah humbug" take on the holiday season. It has, in short, been a rough one for many.

I hope today that you find some joy.

Sean and I will be up in a few hours, and we will enjoy our time together before he goes back to his mother. It will be a quiet, yet happy time for us.

Then it will be over. Then it will be 2014.

Back to 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Time is Here Again

The Beatles sent their fans a Christmas record every year from 1963 to 1969.

Arguably, their most famous creation was 1967's "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)," which was a heavily produced collage of Beatles silliness.

So, without interruption, here are The Beatles.


If you prefer the more conventional Christmas type of song, we can also accommodate that. First, here's John (and Yoko and others).


And, for equal time, here is Paul.


Consider this a retort to my "Bah Humbug" ways. Lest you think I lack holiday spirit.

Humbug, Bah

Yep, come o' ye faithful. Have a holly, jolly freaking Christmas.

Merry Xmas one and all.

OK, normally, I can rally around the ol' mistletoe.

But wow. This has been some holiday season.

I have one person shopped for - ONE. O-N-E. He happens to be 11, and is the biggest reason to still believe in the magic of the season. I can get past the crass commercialism, the "HEY! Start playing the holiday tunes in JULY!" and so on.

Then I ordered Sean's gift, and got the note that it would be delivered.

On December 30th.

Grrrrrrrrr.

We add that to a season in which (if you haven't heard) my mother is rehabbing from pretty major surgery (or, in her words, "I almost died." Lovely.),  I've been working, essentially,  two and half jobs, with minimal personal time, and so on. Stress? Nah.

Believe me, I understand there are people who have it worse, and everyone needs to have a perspective on what they can handle. So yeah, I'm fine. But add it all up, and it can make one, er, grumpy.

So looking at the egg nog as being half full, being busy is good, and Mom appears to be on the upswing.

It's a mixed bag, and it's fine. No, not that mom stuff (that was pretty serious), but hey - a year ago, I was largely unemployed. I was hoping for work. Those around me were hoping for work for me. Like it or not, I got it.

LOTS of it. As such, it took a huge personal toll.

What is that about "be careful what you wish for?"

So the simple bottom line is that I have a date with a store-to-be-determined tomorrow, Christmas Eve. Maybe I can find a few things for Sean to open, along with a few other loved ones.


It shouldn't be about the gifts. Yet, that's all I hear. All I hear about is money.

Yeah, greed is good. Blech.

For me, greed is wanting Mariano to finish off the 2001 World Series so we can have FOUR Yankees Championships in a row. It's about Neil O'Donnell NOT confusing Larry Brown for a Steelers receiver, or Rashard Mendenhall holding onto the ball so that the Black and Gold are 8-0 in the Super Bowl.

That's greed. Money? Meh.

I don't talk about money. I don't - simply put. With anyone. Don't ask me how much I make. Don't ask me about raises and such.

LET ME BOTTOM LINE IT FOR YOU: happiness. That. Is. It.

I once took a job for the money. How did THAT turn out?

Money. The root of all evil since forever.

The holidays should be about being together. It should be about family and loved ones. It should be about the kids. If you are the religious sort, it has a bigger meaning.

It shouldn't be about petty jealousies, who buys the biggest gifts, and other gluttonous ways.

I recently sat in the Danbury Mall, waiting out a snowstorm and working (naturally). I watched children climb into Santa's lap. I watched them smile. I watched them hug him. I saw the unbridled joy.

There, in that moment, I felt the warmth in my own heart.

We'll get through the season just fine in the end. Plenty of good times and bad times (you know I've had my share**). As we turn the page to 2014, there will be new horizons and ch-ch-changes (David Bowie, thanks).

And yes, that's a hint.

**It's been correctly pointed out to me by Dan Arturi (with an assist to Adam "Froggie" Froehlig) that I should have noted my quote of the MIGHTY Led Zeppelin. I did, indeed, quote "Good Times Bad Times" from Led Zeppelin (informally known as Led Zeppelin I). I felt that my mention of the song quote would have been obvious to you, the knowledgeable "Exit 55" reader, but I shouldn't assume. Plus, and let's be honest here, is it ever bad to work in a reference to Led Zeppelin?

Thus, we had a communication breakdown. Yeah. I went there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go work another 12-13 day, spread over the two and-a-half jobs (No "Press Box" tonight, by the way, as I'm sure some of you will delight in Hofstra basketball in our place).

On Hersam Acorn Radio (via GreenwichPost.com, NCAdvertiser.com, and FCIAC.net), you will hear the Greenwich Cardinals and New Canaan Rams in a fine hockey tilt. Chris Kaelin, John Kovach, Josh Fisher, and I will bring you the action.

Paul Silverfarb might also show. And maybe - just maybe - I won't suck.

"You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch..."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pearlman and Degl

Jeff Pearlman's work has been lauded around these parts before. Sure, we disagree on things, but he's topical, occasionally controversial, and so on. He always gets me thinking in one way or another.

His Quaz is almost universally outstanding, because he highlights people you may or may not have heard of. His visit with Dave Fleming, for instance, was a highlight for me, since I graduated with Dave from Mahopac High School.

That brings us to John Degl. John also came out of the 'Pac, a few years behind me. He was an tremendous wrestler, and, to me, a pretty good kid.

I know, because I would often come over and watch John, and his brother Greg, when his parents would go out. During the summer, it was not uncommon to find the three of us eating at Texas Taco or Red Rooster, followed up by mini golf or bowling.

We almost always had a blast. I can remember shooting hoops outside of John's house, and my own friends stopping by to join us, since it was in a neighborhood (Lake MacGregor) full of kids I went to school with.

For the most part, I didn't have problems with John. If I did, we addressed it and moved on. But, maybe because I was a few years older, he seemed to respect me. He didn't give me a hard time overall.

I found out, through Jeff's writing, that John was actually a bully to Jeff. You'll learn that, and John's reaction, as well as a lot more in Jeff's Quaz with John. As you can see, time has healed some wounds, and everyone has moved on.

They're both good guys.

It's a good read.

We'll Get 'em Again Today

I called the second period of last night's Bridgeport Sound Tigers game, at home, against the Manchester Monarchs.

It's an overall mixed review. The further I get away from it, the more down I get. It just wasn't up to my standard.

I was nervous. Behind the play at times. Blah blah blah. Blech.

Phil Giubileo called the first and third periods. His work is great, and it's why he'll be doing some fill-in on Islanders Radio in January, among myriad other things that he does. Just an outstanding pro.

These are the highlights, with both Phil and I on the call. I'll be back in the booth later today.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela once visited Yankee Stadium, in 1990. He was a free man by then, freed from person after spending 27 years locked because he opposed Apartheid.

Nelson Mandela was a hero.

Nelson Mandela died today at the age of 95.

Anybody who believes in freedom - in humanity - needs to tip their cap to the memory of Mr. Mandela.

Note to Self (aka I'm So Dizzy) and Other HAN Radio Notes


Back in August, I was driving to Lisa's house when I went to turn right off US 44 (goes from Plymouth, MA to Kerhonkson, NY) onto West Street in Pleasant Valley, NY. After making the turn, I began to feel a little lightheaded.

Within a mile, West Street became a spinning wheel.

I was dizzy.

I pulled into a nearby elementary school parking lot and got the car stopped. After a brief bout of nausea (sorry if that's "TMI"), I pulled back onto the road and went on with my day.

Today, while going over some things regarding Hersam Acorn Radio, it happened again.  I squashed it down.

And it happened again.

And again.

I was OK to drive (I promise) and got myself to a nearby Rite Aid. Nurse Lisa's suggestion was that I get some sugar in my system - STAT!

A Kit Kat, 100 Grand, pumpkin muffin and maple doughnut later (from Dunkin Donuts, along with a cup of coffee), I feel generally better.

The lesson here - as it was in August - was that I shouldn't be starving myself. Now, I didn't mean to do it, but it happened. I probably need some backup food at my desk (a granola bar will suffice, I suppose), but the point is that the lesson has been learned.

Now I'm sitting at a Wilton Board of Ed meeting. I like the people here, but ugh. I'd really like to be home and prepping for Saturday's Ridgefield/Southington football game.

Oh, and we'll do a half hour pregame show tomorrow at 4:00. All on your local Hersam Acorn Radio network station (aka, FCIAC.net, RidgefieldPress.com, etc).

As for Saturday, we have something really cool in store: live on-site updates of games from our reporters in the field.

And the following weekend might be the busiest broadcast weekend I've had in a long time.

And Joel Cookson was kind to ask me to be a guest on his CIAC podcast. When it's ready, it will be posted here.

There's more coming. It could be lots more. But I have to be patient. And eat.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

I'm very excited to say that I've joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a very small role, as an occasional color analyst, and backup play-by-play man to the "voice" of the Sound Tigers, Phil Giubileo.

Phil will have the call today, and I'll try to stay out of the way, as the Sound Tigers host the Manchester Monarchs at Wesbster Bank Arena. Game time is 3:00.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Assumption Leads to Disappointment

Staples Field, Westport, CT, a little after 7:00 am. Taken Nov. 28, 2013.
This is my own fault.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. For me, it's the 13th straight year that I've spent my turkey day morning at a football field, calling a game on WGCH. Over time, we've seen the Greenwich Thanksgiving game turn into an event, complete with a large tailgate. While I'm fine with turkey and the trimmings, my mouth waters thinking about the annual hot sausage, egg, cheese, and...oooohhh YES...chili sandwich.

I talked it up on The Press Box. Kato, CJ, Paul, and others were having visions of said food dancing in their heads.

****
I knew Thanksgiving, 2013 would be a busy day. Having to drive to Staples High School in Westport is not a pleasant thought so early in the morning on a very cold day. In fact, it might have been the coldest Thanksgiving I've covered, with the wind included in the mix. Yet with the knowledge of the tailgate, and an early HAN Radio pregame show before the WGCH coverage began, I set the alarm for 5:00 am.

I didn't make it, rising at 4:45. As much as I wanted some extra sleep, I passed, pulling myself together. I still had to print out my scorecard, and various game notes, along with getting the Staples roster off the CIAC website. (which was, in part, inaccurate, thank you very much).

I was on the road just after 6, with the equipment in the car, a chill in the air, and background noise on the radio. The news spoke of cold temperatures and possibly black ice.

Around Pound Ridge, NY, I heard a thump and listened as the sound of something dragging began. Muffler? Flat tire? The mind wandered. Of course, my trusty car is heading towards 240,000 miles, so any noise makes me shake.  I found a place to stop and got out. I knelt down. Nope. Nothing. Oh, wait.

A stick.  I pulled it out and motored on.

****
Chris Erway had said he would see me at 7:00, so I hustled to be there in time. Sure enough, I pulled off North Ave. in Westport at 6:59.

Surely, I'll say hello to the tailgating guys, maybe even grab a sandwich, and head down to the booth. Mike Zito, head of WWPT Wreckers Radio, and all around good guy, said the booth would be open by 7:30.

Wait. Nobody's in the parking lot. Well, no nobody, but close. No Cardinals flag. No tables. No grills. No eggs. No cheese.

NO CHILI.

I texted Mssrs. Erway, Kaelin, and Silverfarb: "Heads up. No tailgate."

Oh, by the way, can somebody bring me something to eat?

I left the house empty-handed.  No coffee or anything.

Later on, several people would say the same thing, but the truth is, nobody needed to tell anyone that the tailgate was off. The tailgate is done through tremendous generosity, and nobody - certainly not some radio guy - is owed an explanation.

Oh no, this is on me. I was the dummy who left the house without coffee. I was the dope who didn't at least have a bowl of cereal. They have the right to pull a tailgate without any prior notice.

It was bitter cold at Staples High. A few stragglers made their way in.

Staples is probably the hardest of the FCIAC schools to find, and Chris Erway's GPS failed him. So he called me for help.

He called me a second time when I was in the booth trying to set up the broadcast. Somebody had walked in, and chuckled as they heard me say, "Take 57 south. No, don't take 136 north. Go straight."

He was there by 7:45. Chris Kaelin, the hero of the story, showed up a little after 8:00 with a sack full of Sausage McMuffins from McDonald's.

And he threw my money back at me when I tried to pay him.

****
Football is a game that, like any other sport, can confound. I'm sure many didn't give the Big Red boys from Greenwich a great chance to win this game. Hell, some thought this Cardinals team would win only four or five games. Instead, after yesterday, they're 8-3 and can lament an October loss to Trumbull High School. A win there might have helped them into the Class LL playoffs.

Oh, but they took great pleasure in looking across the field and knocking off the Wreckers. Staples needed a win to advance to the playoffs. The Cardinals played their most complete game of the year in beating the Wreckers, soundly, 27-7.

In the booth -  a place I hadn't worked in at Staples since 2001, we stayed warmer than those in the crowd or on the field. We were solid on the air. We ended the 2013 season on a good note.

As with any year, the last broadcast brings trepidation. Will any of us be here when 2014 begins? Will we all be back? Our lives are all changing and evolving. New jobs, opportunities, and life events take us all in different paths. There will likely be changes of some kind.

What's next? Holy cow, I've been trying to get that question answered.

It was a lot to think about. It also was the end of a couple of supremely hectic weeks. HAN Radio, WGCH, Wilton Bulletin, etc. You get the idea. I was beginning to fall asleep by the time the turkey was hitting my mouth.

I got home, watched the end of a very disappointing Steelers/Ravens game, and was soon asleep.

Food coma? No. Just wiped out.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tune Your Browsers!

Thanksgiving is a big football time, and Hersam Acorn Radio will have plenty of football talk, beginning today at 2:00 with the Thanksgiving High School Football Pregame Show, live from The Lumberyard Pub in West Redding, CT.

I will host the show with Hersam Acorn sports editors Paul Silverfarb, Bill Bloxsum, Rocco Valluzzo, and maybe others.

Today's show will be available across the many HAN websites, but I'll point you to the Wilton Bulletin, just because.

Then tomorrow, the Chris Kaelin and Chris Erway will join Paul and I for a special Thanksgiving preview, live from Staples Field in Westport. We are planning on a 9:00 start time to preview the games. As soon as we're done calling the Greenwich/Staples game on WGCH, we will shift back to HAN Radio for a quick wrapup.

But WAIT! There's more! We are planning a state playoff preview show on Monday afternoon, and we will be out calling a game on Tuesday night.

So, of course, check your local listings, follow me on Twitter (@double5), and so on.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In Case You Haven't Heard It - The FCIAC Championship

Here is the audio of the 2013 FCIAC Football Championship, if you haven't heard it.

Overall, a very passable broadcast.


The FCIAC Championship Game

One of the four banners at Friday night's game.
I've had almost 48 hours to ponder our first game broadcast on Hersam Acorn Sports: the 2013 FCIAC Championship football game.

To be sure, it was a long, strenuous day. Despite my focus being on the game, I still have a paper to write for, and to that end had to make my presence known in Wilton (although not in the Ridgefield office). I'm working on a story about the upcoming toy train fair taking place at the Wilton Historical Society and trust me when I say that it will be very cool (the fair, not the story).

After that, I beat the traffic to the Fairfield area, where I treated myself to a birthday lunch of Moe's. Ah yes, true bliss. Nothing like a burrito to make me happy.

And queso. Must have queso.

With broadcast partner Paul Silverfarb living a few minutes from Moe's, what better place could there be to crash, use some wifi, do a little "Wilton Work", and decompress before the game?

Especially since my sister, who lives around the block, wasn't home (she was, in fact, with my son, ironically). Oh, and I caused Paul's wonderful wife, Beth, to have a slight heart attack, but after we used the paddles, she is back and fully functioning.

The short version is that Paul went and got his sons off the bus. I stayed in his place, continuing to work. In came Beth, having no idea I was sitting there. I tried to warn her but, alas, the plan failed.

After playing a quick game with the Silverfarb's (the kids make me feel like a star), I shot over to Trumbull's McDougall Stadium. The place was empty when I got there, but I set about putting the equipment together. I was ready to go in a reasonable amount of time, soon joined by Paul (wearing the same jacket as me, but a different brand), and Chris Kaelin.

We were ready. Except...

Damn you, Trumbull, and your amazingly inadequate cell phone service. Seriously, how can these conferences put these games in places like this? It really is a necessity in this era to have sufficient service for those trying to work, live tweet, send out stats, etc.

Ridgefield, I'm also looking at you, along with a few others. Hell, even Greenwich can be spotty at Cardinal Stadium.

I'd say get wifi, but let's not get crazy.

* Let me also say that, otherwise, Trumbull is a great facility with great people running it. The atmosphere in that booth was amazingly supportive and helpful. Everyone at Trumbull high ran a top-notch operation.

For me (be it with HAN Radio or WGCH), cell service (or wifi) is crucial. At times, I had one bar - ONE - on my phone. I stepped to the roof of the press box and saw three bars (but that dropped to one later). I worried. I tried Verizon (that's me), and AT&T (Paul and Marty Hersam).

We decided to go with my service.

At first, well, I think it was OK. But then I started seeing texts and iChat messages. Of course, me being me, I began to despair. When Marty Hersam appeared in the booth later in the second quarter, I wondered if we were done.

But not so fast.

Marty had Paul hold the phone in his hand. That seemed to work. Eventually, I watched as my phone got taped (!) to the window. The problem was resolved.

I'm told we had a fairly big audience and despite a few negative reviews due to the drop outs, we also had a lot of nice compliments.

Broadcast-wise, Kato was Kato. He brought good commentary, witty remarks, and worked hard to get interviews after the game.

Paul started out fantastically. He is still very new to the lead analyst chair and has already come a long way. I think Friday night was his third time serving as a lead game analyst.  He got tired later on because he hadn't eaten, and holding the phone out the window got a little exhausting. The energy will drain without some fuel.

Me? Meh. I started off very nervous. I felt like I couldn't mentally organize my thoughts. Initially, I felt like I couldn't identify players either. Overall, it was solid in the end, but of course I think I could be better.

We cranked out a broadcast that went past three and a half-hours. After two days of pure emotion and energy, I was drained. Paul and I grabbed a later dinner (a little after 11:00), and I was on the road by 12:30. Just as I thought, I began to nod off through New Canaan.  Feeling confident that I could take a break (and a nap) in Scotts Corners, I pulled into a parking lot around 1:00. Ten minutes later, I woke up to discover a Pound Ridge (NY) police officer looking at my car.

I explained that I was on my way home, very tired, and just paused to get myself together. He ran my license which, at first, seemed excessive, until I found out that there had been some recent robberies in the area.

"I applaud your taking a break," he said. "But you picked the wrong parking lot."

Satisfied with my tale, and my clean license, he wished me well. With that little episode, I was wide awake again and, finally, my long day ended back home after 2:00 am.

I took Saturday for myself.  Now, with football on in the background, I will again begin spitting out stories for Wilton.

The stress and this pace will take a toll eventually, and I'm sure something will have to give, but it's been an exhilarating stretch. Based on what I know from this week, this is only the beginning of Hersam Acorn Radio.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The First Broadcast

Rob Adams, Bill Bosxom, Dave Stewart (photo courtesy of Josh Fisher)
The first broadcast of Hersam Acorn Radio is in the books. I have to say, with all modesty, that I thought it went really well. Regardless of me, it surpassed our expectations.

An article with another picture is up on the New Canaan Advertiser.

So we're off and running.  You can listen to it here.

Ten Minutes to Launch

I'm sitting in our "studio" in the offices of the New Canaan Adveriser, a mere 10 minutes away from the first official broadcast on Hersam Acorn Radio.

After months of a roller coaster ride that culminated in a few hair-raising weeks of preparation, I'm now in the lull of waiting for the start.

It's almost show time.

Please join me at Noon with Dave Stewart of the Advertiser, Bill Bloxsom of the Trumbull Times, my broadcast partner Paul Silverfarb of the Greenwich Post, and possibly Chris Kaelin of WGCH Radio for the FCIAC Championship Game preview show.

You can listen to the show here.

The championship is tomorrow night. The pregame show is at 6:45.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Canaan vs. Ansonia? Yes, Please?

I was told about a news note in which New Canaan head coach Lou Marinelli said that his Rams would happily play Ansonia (they are the top two teams in the state currently) in a benefit game.

“We’ll give all the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project," Marinelli told Hearst Connecticut Media Group's high school football blog. "If we are still number one or number two  in the state and people are still torn,  let’s go to the Yale Bowl on December 21 and do it. Play the game and give the proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. Why not?”

I.

Couldn't.

Agree.

More.

Make this happen, CIAC. Be smart. You can do it. You would be doing something OFF THE CHARTS for Connecticut football.

Look, there's always been a clear bias in the polls towards the "I-91" teams, as I often call them. Ansonia could be 0-9 and they would still get votes to be the top team in the state. It's just the nature of the beast.

For me, it brings back memories of 2007, when voters made the Chargers the top team over a similarly high powered Greenwich team. I thought the Cardinals would beat the Chargers at that time, and I still do.

But that's an opinion, and it's irrelevant. Wouldn't a one-game deal be fantastic?

And I would be beating on the door of the right people to make sure you had a broadcast partner for the game.

Assuming these two teams are still the top two in a few weeks, make it happen, CIAC.  I think Connecticut football fans - who deserve something like this - would come out for it.

It's a great idea.

This idea will likely be bounced around on the FCIAC Preview Show Thursday at Noon on Hersam Acorn Radio.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Week

As I mentioned on Saturday morning, it's quite a time around here. The debut of Hersam Acorn Radio is coming on Thursday at Noon with the FCIAC Football Championship Pregame Show, followed by the Championship Game Friday night at 6:45.

But there is so much work to do. Pick the music, produce commercials, get rosters, write notes, and so on. Then there's the setup and breakdown. Engineering and everything else.

Now add in writing stories for the Wilton Bulletin and host The Press Box (tonight at 7).

I'm no complaining at all. Oh, no. It's a good time, but a stressful time.

It's going to be great. I just wish it would get here!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hersam Acorn Radio

Page 1 of this weeks New Canaan Advertister

I can keep a secret. Sometimes it's tough, but when sworn to secrecy, I can keep it to myself.

I've been keeping something quiet for over three months now. Finally, I can let it out.

A new project, Hersam Acorn Radio, will debut Thursday afternoon, with the grand opening on Friday night.

With the help of Paul Silverfarb, we began to craft an idea for an online radio channel. Once we had a fairly salient proposal, we passed it on to Marty Hersam, the "Hersam" in the company name. We didn't use a conference room. We didn't use email, or a memo.

We did it after a softball game.

He was intrigued. That was in August.

So began the journey. I met with Marty in the Ridgefield office and was told at that time to keep the idea quiet.

The plan seemed to lag after that. Everyone was busy and it even seemed that it might die. And then...

Paul suggested a site to host our audio, Mixlr, which has an app for the iPhone (as well as Android, though I'm told the results are shaky there at best, so we're still looking into options). We will embed our live broadcasts from Mixlr onto our sites, or people can just listen via Mixlr.

Next, I needed a mixer, preferably one with a USB hookup to take the audio to the computer. We purchased one, and we were on our way. I knew with my collection of equipment, we would be just fine.

We had to do some tests, and I played around with it on a personal site I created on Mixlr. You can hear the early results, including a few tests of just some talking, a talk show with my Wilton Continuing Ed class, and a full broadcast of the Brunswick/Berkshire football game that Paul and I called.

Among the tests was the day I disappeared into a room off to the side of our kitchen in the Ridgefield office and just talked online for almost an hour. Several people listened in to give us all feedback, while the web people did their work to try out a website embedding widget.

With the tests completed, the goal was set. While I wanted to get it going for the start of football season, once that passed, I turned my eyes towards the FCIAC football championship.

Friday, November 22.

From the New Canaan Advertiser
But first, we will begin with a preview show, on Thursday, November 21, at Noon. Paul Silverfarb (he of course of the Greenwich Post), Dave Stewart (of the New Canaan Advertiser, and the FCIAC.net guru), Bill Bloxsom (of the Trumbull Times, among others), and I will review the season and discuss the championship game. Then, on Friday, Paul and I will have the call as New Canaan plays the St. Joseph Cadets. Chris Kaelin - yes, from WGCH - will walk the sideline for us, and we hope to get input from Bill and Dave as well.

All of the broadcasts will be archived on Mixlr and SoundCloud.

Hersam Acorn Radio is an opportunity for us to expand our coverage and show off the amazing reporters we have in the company. We haven't quite determined what's next, and I'm still writing away at the Bulletin in the meantime, so it's definitely a time to stay tuned. Plus I'm still at WGCH, so make sure to catch our work there as well (we've got GYFL Championship Sunday at 11:00 on 11/17).

I'm nervously excited. At the same time, it is overwhelming.

You will be able to listen at the New Canaan Advertiser and the Trumbull Times, as well as at FCIAC.net.

We'll have more here as this project develops.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dave Brubeck

As you walk into the Wilton Library, the first door on the left leads you into a small hall, known as the Brubeck Room.

The picture of the bust, above, was taken in that room. It is of the namesake: the amazing Dave Brubeck.

Mr. Brubeck lived in Wilton until the day he died. To say he is a music icon is a very fair statement.

His 1959 album, Time Out, made with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, is one of the most important jazz pieces ever made. With the silky smooth Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass, and Joe Morello on drums, the album hit the pop charts, peaking at number two in 1961. The single, and signature tune, "Take Five," also reached the pop charts as well.

I really became a Brubeck fan in late 90's, so to be able to visit this room, and see this tribute to him, is an honor.

Here is the quartet playing Take Five.



Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Good Reminder


I was terrible last night. Just. Horrible.

I had the call, with Chris Erway in the booth, plus Tom Prizeman and Matt Bozzuto on the field, as well as Sean Kilkelly in the studio, of the Greenwich/Westhill football game. GHS won the mess, 40-7.

Holy heck, I wouldn't even hire me if I could.

I knew I didn't feel well, but a head cold really isn't a solid excuse. As my Friday progressed, I realized that I was working off a minimal breakfast and no lunch. Knowing that I didn't want to get to Cardinal Stadium with nothing in my system, I stopped at Dunkin Donus for a cup of coffee and a bagel.

It didn't help.

I set things up, and we were ready to go by 6:00, which is somewhat unusual this season. There hasn't been time, generally, for me to go to the field and chat with coaches, or find the tailgate and talk with the families.

Not there have been many tailgates this year. The parking lot at GHS is in a bit of a shambles due to construction.

The game started, and I just felt like I couldn't stay with the play. I was misspeaking also - making up words. Just destroying the language. It was alarming, at least to Chris Erway, who asked if I was OK when we were in a break.

Halftime arrived quickly, with the game at 14-0 in favor of Big Red. I grabbed a dinner of a wrap, a sliver of red velvet cake, made by a friend off public address announcer Dick Leonard, and a Kit Kat bar, courtesy of the great Nancy Chelwick, who always comes up to see us, even on a pretty cold November night.

Side note: her husband, George, is a friend of mine, and a wonderful man. Let's think good thoughts for my friend. Nothing too serious, but he just couldn't get to the game last night.

The food seemed to do the trick. My call was a little more crisp in the second half, and Erway said my description of Austin Longi's 80-yard scamper following a cluster-bleep of penalties was good. So I'll take it.

We survived and finished.

By the way, the officiating was just silly. Too many personal foul penalties to count. But I've never been a football official, so I will decline to criticize. Besides, plenty of other people in the crowd did.

So for those who listened last night, my apologies. I didn't feel right, and it was a good reminder to keep the system running. I'll try to right the ship next Friday at Danbury.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Team Sports and the Mahopac Sports Association

Me, MSA rookie, 1977 at Lakeview School in Mahopac, NY, in the days before they gave out uniform pants.
A few days ago, over on the blog at the Wall Street Journal, Jeff Pearlman wrote a fascinating piece called "Why I Don't Want My Kids to Play Team Sports." It broke down his frustration with the way his brother wast treated in the Mahopac Sports Association in 1982, and the overall culture of youth team sports.

I won't minimize his take at all. It sounds like his brother, while probably not a talented athlete, was mistreated by an unfortunate coach.  Yes indeed, sports (and literally anything else in life) can have a bad impact on confidence and self-esteem.

Now let me tell you about a no-glove, no-hit kid from those same streets, albeit from the other side of town. While talent was an issue, heart, they say, was not. He'd run through a wall for you. Tell him to squeeze? He'd gulp, say "Who? Me?" and then do it.

His confidence could also be as fragile as a floppy slice of pizza from any of Mahopac's fine establishments.

There were times when he, too, had to ride the pine, waiting for his appointed chance. But he showed up to every game. He made it to every practice. He loved the uniform. Loved getting his number.

He tried to wear 2 a lot because his boyhood idol wore that in his later years.

I mean, it's a layup (wrong sports metaphor) of course that I'm talking about me.

I played in MSA for 11 years and hold those memories very close to my heart. I can tell you the highs and lows. I can tell you about my colt league season (my second year in MSA) when I couldn't see the ball and hit a robust .000.

That's right. Then I got glasses and never had the problem again, with my father promising to buy me a custom-made T-shirt as soon as I got my first hit of the next year. He made good on it, too, taking me to Tom Kat in Mahopac (in the old Grand Union grocery store) and we made a fake Yankees road uniform with "New York" across the front and my number 55 across the back.

I still have my trophies, because everybody didn't get one back then.

I can tell you in that same hitless colt league season, I took a called third strike to end a game. In an utter flood of tears, I promised I would never let that happen again.

I didn't. I developed a better sense of the strike zone, which made me a good top of the lineup guy because I walked a lot.

In a total state of fear (not the best way to survive), I always found a way to not make the last out. And I certainly didn't take a called third strike.

Yes, I could regale you with other great and not-so-great memories. Stealing home to win a game. Throwing runners out from right field at third. Making scoop plays and falling in love with playing first base when we needed somebody at that position.

I could take you - in detail - through the 1986 championship game, and how I scored the winning run.

I could tell you about the great friends I made, and the athletes I played against (including eventual Seattle Mariner Dave Fleming).

I could go on about my undying love and respect for Lou D'Aliso, the coach who had me on his team for seven of those 11 years, and never had to keep me. I still talk to Mrs. D all the time, and am trying to get together with the great coach, who was often a mentor for me.

Letting him down was like failing my dad. Slamming my glove down after a season-opening error earned me a quick talking to, because Coach D expected me to be a leader.

It was devastating, and it didn't happen again.

It wasn't a perfect experience. Goodness, no. But I loved it enough that when it came time for Sean to give baseball a try, I jumped in feet first and coached him for five years in Carmel. We both loved it.

Maybe it's more about the love of the game with me, and that why my MSA experience was such a positive one.

I encourage children to play team sports. I know, there's a nasty, ugly side to youth sports, but at its core, it should be about learning sportsmanship and developing the skills to play the game. They should be led by good, honorable people with no agenda, but that's simply a myopic view. For every Coach D, there's also the guy that Jeff profiles in his story.

In reality, and I've said that too many times, it's the adults who ruin the kids' fun. A bad coach. An overzealous administrator. Parents. Fans.

Its not perfect. Heck, what is?

But let's put it this way: On my bookcase is a framed picture that was given to me back in 1986. It's a team picture of Mahopac Towing, in our royal blue T-shirts (I was number 7). We're standing in front of the side of what was then-known as Mahopac Junior High School (now Mahopac Middle School). I can't identify everyone, but in that picture are me, Frank Viggiano, Steve Adamec, Ralph D'Aliso, and a bunch of other friends and teammates.

I haven't seen many of them since we left school, but I still have that picture. I still have the trophies. I still have the memories.

I wasn't a good athlete. But I had a wonderful experience in MSA.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sandy...the Storm

The Saw Mill Parkway was closed. Then again, when is it not? (RA photo)
It was a year ago today that Hurricane and, eventually, Superstorm Sandy hit the metropolitan New York area.

I wrote about the experience here - a surreal day that left me largely unscathed and lucky.

By the way, don't bother following the the link in that post for the Simi Sara show. It no longer works. Ms. Sara still does a show there, and she was wonderful to talk to. I have the audio of those appearances in my collection.

What I remember about the day are bits and pieces. I remember seeing if the station needed me that night (and they thought my being there would be a good thing). It was, after all, a Monday, so I was ostensibly coming in to do The Press Box.

Kato, CJ, and Ryan all stayed home. I can't even imagine what the night would have been like had they all come in. As we found out hours later, travel was very much discouraged. Jim Fischer (Campbell) was told to not even bother to try to get to his house in Greenwich by a cop who stopped in around 11:30 that night.

I remember pulling my stuff together and stopping at Subway for lunch - other than a Nature Valley bar, it  was the last thing I would eat. The ladies in there said that they would be open for a little longer after I left. They also didn't seem very chatty.

Things were calm at WGCH when I first got there. Yes, the calm before the storm. Then Mary Anne DeFelice called to say that she wouldn't be doing her show at 3:00 that day.

I stepped in, and it was game on. At first I tried to do business as usual. Talk about general things.  The pendulum would swing as the day went along, and by the time Darby Cartun left at 6:00, we were into full storm mode.

I remember being chided after I got off the air for not saying that the storm had been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm (or superstorm) when I was on. I remember hearing that as Tony Savino, Bob Small, Jim, and I stood in a dark office just after the power went out.

I also remember that I did say that it was downgraded on the air. Such is life.

I remember phone calls - many of them. We took note of each outage that they reported. We reported as much as each caller passed along, and avoided rumors. We kept an eye on the power maps from the various companies.

I remember hearing about the big fire in Greenwich, near the water.

I remember not blowing up my air mattress, in part because I saw that Jim and Tony didn't have one, and I thought that would be obnoxious to me. Then, when we all called it a night, I couldn't blow mine up because power was out and batteries were dead.

I tossed and turned all night. The only thing still lit was a traffic light at the corner of Lewis and Mason Streets, just outside the studio. It ran on a backup for a short time until it, too, died.

I think, in the heart of the storm, I stepped outside once. I wanted to see what it was like. I'm sort of like that. I also wanted to make sure my car hadn't been damaged. I parked in a spot that kept it close to the building, and that was a conscious decision.

I sat around the office with Tony and Jim, and Bob eventually came in. I felt helpless and useless so I decided to head for home.

I remember a rumor that Dunkin Donuts was open on Putnam Ave (that's US 1, by the way). But indeed, that was a rumor.

Trees were down all over Greenwich as I started to drive home. Interstate 95 was technically closed, but nobody was stopped from entering the road. Best as I could tell, nobody was going to pull me over, but I kept my press credential handy in case. Traffic was very light.

The Saw Mill Parkway was closed at "the Hawthorne Circle," as old-timers still call it (it was once a traffic circle and was built into an interchange right around when I was born). Then again, the Saw Mill closes in a misty rain.

I remember there wasn't too much to clean in the yard when I got home. We were spared, and lucky. However, we had no power. Still, a very small price to pay.  I had enough battery power to keep the radios and flashlights going, and daylight gave me enough to keep things light.

I remember pacing in the yard as I spoke with Simi Sara on CKNW. Unless I'm sitting down, I tend to pace when I'm on the phone. Something about the movement, I guess.

I read. I'm pretty sure it was Marty Appel's pretty brilliant Pinstripe Empire. I might have finished it.

I remember telling myself that, if I needed to charge anything, I could jump in my car. Gas wasn't an issue...yet. We had some issues up our way but, ultimately, we got off easy, at least at first. I recall going to Lisa's eventually, and then seeing stations - even up near Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park, without gas. Still, it was nothing compared to other areas.

According to my post from last year, the power came back late in the night of October 30. Apparently around 11:00 or so. I remember doing what anyone does when power comes back: running around and fixing clocks, and turning off things that were left on.

Then I turned on the TV and looked at how lucky we were by comparison.

I remember there wasn't a football game to broadcast for a while. In fact, it was almost two weeks before high school football was played again in Connecticut.

In areas along the Hudson River, the Atlantic Ocean, and Long Island Sound, the destruction was intense. In lower Manhattan, there was flooding, especially down at the Battery. Places like Breezy Point and points along the Jersey Shore was devastated.

In New York City, the plan was to still hold the New York City Marathon, until smarter heads prevailed and realized that it was, simply, wrong.

Of course, there was loss of life as well.

I remember so much of it. Yet I can't say I remember it all.

Monday, October 28, 2013

1971 All-Star Game

The things you can find on YouTube are truly wonderful. Check this out from 1971: the opening of the broadcast on NBC. Watch and listen as Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, and Lindsey Nelson (all three Ford C. Frick Award winners) discuss the game.


The starting lineups are also introduced. Of particular interest to me is the part at 9:11. You see, that's where the public address announcer introduces Bobby Murcer. Here is Bobby Ray's first All-star intro, and it gets totally botched, right down to the lack of even showing him, or a graphic with his name on it. He trots out around 9:39. It takes until 13:52 to even see his face.

Oh, but the rest of this is pure gold. The headset that Lindsey Nelson wears, along with his godawful choice of blazer.  The zoom in and out on Gowdy and the way the shot of he and Kubek is laid over the background - first with Nelson, and then of just the field - are priceless.

This it pure 70's baseball at its finest.

And the National Anthem is fantastic. The whole crowd singing. Wonderful.

Not to be forgotten are the players. What an amazing collection. So many Hall of Famers assembled there.  Seaver, Mays, McCovey, Clemente, Killebrew, Carew, Yaz, Reggie, and on and on.

Plus two guys named Murcer and Munson.

And Joe Torre's amazing sideburns.

The full game broadcast is available also. Bobby Murcer comes up at 26:53 and collects his only All-Star hit. Of course, a bunch of homers were also hit that day, including a shot off the roof of old Tiger Stadium, hit by Reggie Jackson. The American League got the victory.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Some reading from Wilton and Greenwich

The program from Sunday's GHS HoF Banquet
On occasion, I like to highlight a few stories that I've worked on.

The first is in honor of Virginia "Ginny" Rico, the former principal of Cider Mill School in Wilton, who passed away back in June. I attended a memorial in her honor, and the story is here.

The second is from last week's Greenwich High School Hall of Fame Banquet. I wrote the story for the Greenwich Post. John Ferris Robben's fantastic pictures accompany the words.

That's all. Enjoy.

The Mall

Cloverleaf Mall, Richmond, VA. Photo courtesy of the fantastic, and currently inactive, Vintage Richmond website. I hope that the webmaster, a guy named "Jon" whom I  used to see in the mall a lot, gets back to doing his thing again soon.
There was a time when I loved that bastion of social activity known as "the mall." It didn't necessarily matter WHAT mall (although it sort of did*), but it had to be a mall.

*No, it did matter: you would take the Danbury Fair Mall over the Jefferson Valley Mall or - yikes - the Baldwin Place Mall. Or the Westchester Mall (and not the fancy Westchester that sits in White Plains, but the rag-tag one that was in Mohegan Lake).

Yet, still, it was the mall. It beat being at home.

So when I saw a friend post a link to this on the dreaded evil known as Facebook (such a double-edged saw FB is), I clicked with interest.

Pictures of mall...er...rats in the late 80's and early 90's? Oh yeah.

Let's face it: I was one. On Senior Cut Day (December 12, 1986), my crew and I gathered for breakfast. Then we went to Danbury. Of course, a guard asked if we were supposed to be in school and, I, as the oldest-looking and, generally, more mature of the group (scary as that sounds) replied: "They're with me. I'm in college."

"Where do you go?"

"Pittsburgh."

Such was life at the mall. We dated there. We made friends there. We had our own language. 

It was also fun to walk around malls - not just in my area, but in other areas. It was part of how I discovered what life was like. Sure there were a lot of the chains, but there was also a certain amount of local flavor to be found - stores that we didn't see back home.

I've walked so many, from Maine to Florida to Nevada to California.

This book, Malls Across America, looks pretty interesting.

Heck, I even worked in the retail publishing industry at one time, for two years, at Directory of Major Malls in the late-90's.

So, yeah.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Me, Chris Kaelin, Ryan DeMaria, in Danbury in 2011 (Paul Silverfarb photo)
This has been expected for some time. It needed to happen. It had to happen.

WGCH has been sold.

The early word is that my status, and the status of sports, is OK. I was told that I shouldn't be concerned about anything.

Of course, I haven't met the new owner yet, so all is speculation and on will be on a day-to-day basis.

We've upgraded our equipment, if you haven't heard. It is beyond clear, and beyond fantastic.

It gives me hope that new ownership will like what we do, and increase it.

Change is generally terrifying. But it can be good. It can be exciting.

I expect to be behind the mic tomorrow night when Greenwich plays at Trumbull (in what I'm told will be a crowded press box...oh I love high school football).

So, yeah, there's the news.

At the same time, the Business and Lifestyle Talk Radio Networks have been sold to a Dallas company. As I also worked for them (WGCH was owned by BTRN until Wednesday morning), the future there is a little more murky.

It's a time of transition. People leaving. New people coming.

And that's about all I can probably say about that.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Changing a Habit

Yep. Guilty (PS, Google came up with this. I normally abhor these dopey memes.)
When I took the position at the Bulletin, I knew my writing would be scrutinized like never before.

For the most part, I've been able to write in my voice. Reporting isn't what commenting is (I still think I make a better columnist) but that's not the gig.

So I report. I write with the professional voice. I use "Mr. Smith " instead of using the last name. I deal with the other format and grammatical things because that's the proper style.

I don't use "transported" and some of the other words that are like the proverbial fingernails on the blackboard to my editor. Of course if I do, they get deleted.

There's still one thing that I've had to change about my writing. The stupidest, smallest thing.

The number of spaces after a period.

I don't know why (who knows how these things happen?) but I was one to write with two spaces. Not so, says the editor, publisher, and even some online debate (yep, I Googled it). One is the loneliest number.

So, yes, even here, I'm trying to use one space between sentences. It will take some time (I still have to edit it in my professional writing) but I'm trying to get used to it.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Stopped

"If you start with 'it was a dark and stormy night,' you won't go wrong. It works for Snoopy." - Tim Parry, 10/8/13
Greetings.

Please don't be offended, but I'm using you, or more precisely, the bloggy.  You see, I'm trying to finish a story for the Wilton Bulletin - today is deadline day - and I'm stuck.  Something about this one has not inspired me.

It's not the subjects fault. Not even close. It's just that my audio is suspect and I can't seem to wrap my head around the topic.

Trust me when I say that it's not rocket science I'm writing about. No, hardly.  Not brain surgery.

So here we are - a little after 7:00 on this morning. 

I've been asked how I find the time to keep even a semblance of the blog alive, and the answer is that I often use it to generate my creative juices. So while I don't write here nearly enough, I squeeze a few minutes to throw something together, normally on Thursday or Friday. There's something about it - writing creatively and for the sheer hell of it - that seems to soothe me.

I would do it more while sitting at my desk, but well, no.  The truth is, while I'm currently sitting at home and stuck, I tend to write my best at the library, in Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or anywhere other than the office where I can get some wifi.

Now, off the bench...

There's no doubt I have little to no love for the Boston Red Sox, but I'll take anything that gives us drama.  So while I wanted the Rays to win, I mostly wanted that series to go the maximum number of games.

While we're at it: GO PIRATES.

I looked at the score...Sharks 9, Rangers 2. I looked again. Sheesh. It's just one game, of course, but wow.  Only three games into the season though.

Last night's League of Denial on PBS's Frontline was some of the most compelling sports-related television you will ever watch. Find a copy of it if you haven't seen it. It just might change the way you feel about football.

I think, ultimately, that football will find better equipment and safety precautions, but it's going to be touch-and-go for a while. We'll get close to being two-hand touch, but the NFL is just too powerful.

One other thing: the Steelers play a big part, directly and indirectly, in the documentary. Four players are featured, and there are other mitigating pieces. I'm not saying the Steelers are a blame in this - they're no worse than any other team - but it was still jarring.

Who looks the worst, besides owners? Many of the NFL doctors and, most of all, two men.

Paul Tagliabue and Emperor Roger Goodell.

Awful. A lot of (metaphorical) blood on their hands.

Shameful.

John Lennon would have been 73 years old today.

We still all shine on, but we could probably also use a Revolution.

The US government is an embarrassment. This shutdown just goes on. It's not "an Obama thing." It's a government thing. Republicans look really bad here. At the same time, I hold everyone accountable.

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

Oh, and it's Hump Day.

WHA WHAAAAAAAAT?  HUMP DAY...YEAH!

And with that, maybe I feel inspired again.


Friday, October 04, 2013

A Picture Says a Lot

While driving back from covering a story today in Wilton, I saw this sign at Weir Farm, a National Historic Site.

I'd post a link to their website, but that's shut down as well. (Have a look at what it says today - 10/4/13)

I can't even begin to express the rage that I feel. As a country, we should be pissed.  Absolutely furious.

Can you imagine traveling to Washington, DC, or the Statue of Liberty, or Yellowstone?  You're all set for a vacation and you pull up and see a sign like this.  Your vacation plans - the money - all shot down the tubes because of pettiness and brilliant incompetence.

The government isn't going to reimburse you for the your lost wages, or the time you took off from work.

Fire them all?  Of course, we've know it's not possible, but my god something has to be done.  We - THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - are looking like a joke to the outside world.

We can't get our junk together.  Instead we have Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) recite Green Eggs and HamWe've got this stooge berating a Park Ranger for doing her job - the job HE voted for (thanks, Sal).  We've got World War II vets saying "screw this" and pushing past the barricades.

How DARE they barricade us from the monuments and memorials?  I understand that buildings - the Smithsonian and so on - need to be closed (not that I agree, even remotely), but the World War II Memorial?  IT'S A MONUMENT.  Leave it open and get on with it.

I'll go one further - my sister is going to France.  She leaves tonight.  One of her goals - hell, one of MY goals - is to visit Normandy.  This is supposed to be her chance.

IT'S F**KING CLOSED.  Closed. Shut. Fermer (which is supposed to be "closed down or shut" in French)

Let that sink in again.  Think about it.

HOW.

EFFING (I really want to curse here but just can't bring myself to).

DARE.

THEY?

If that doesn't infuriate you then I'm not sure what else to say.

People aren't working.  They're either being furloughed or having their money "delayed."  Of course, the bills won't be delayed, but the government doesn't give Martin Van Buren's ass about that.

It's nuts.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Talking Heads - The Pittsburgh Pirates Edition

Last night, for the first time in 21 years, there was postseason baseball in a place called Pittsburgh.

You may have heard of it.  They have six gleaming Lombardi Trophies there, win by a team called the Steelers.

They once had a fairly proud baseball heritage, but not a whole lot of winning.  They have five World Series titles (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, 1979) and became, essentially, an embarrassment of a franchise.  After 1992, they didn't play above .500 until this year.

So you would think, given the excitement of seeing the 'Burgh reemerge as a baseball town, that TBS (broadcasting last night's wild card game against Cincinnati) would want to let you get a sense of how great it was.

No.

Instead, we get the continued tradition of worthless pregame banter by (no doubt) talented talking heads in a studio - or even on a set in the ballpark.

Who...the bleep...cares?

Seeing the introduction of these players helps allow us - the viewers - to meet them, especially if we've never seen them.  It allows us to get a sense of what it's like to be there.  Then the National Anthem, which was only sung by Pirates center field Andrew McCutcheon's MOTHER, brings the different emotions.  Then the ceremonial first pitch.

That's the pageantry.  The buildup.  The job that TV is supposed to play - to help us understand what it's like to be there.

It's been going on for years.  In countless postseason games at Yankee Stadium, we watched as the ceremonies took place before air time, god forbid Jeanne Zelasko or Matt Vasgersian might have some brilliant nugget that their producer wants to throw at us.

It's not their fault, of course, but somebody somewhere is making awful decisions.  They're forgetting what the fans want to see.

I guarantee you NOBODY in Pittsburgh (or Cincinnati) was in front of their TV going, "Great point, Keith! Can we have another one?"

It's ponderous.  The same goes for radio.  Crowd noise, with a public address announcer introducing each player, is wonderful.

You want your pregame? Change your start time.  Then babble all you want.

Incidentally, the brilliant Amanda Rykoff has more on this, including videos and tweets, over at Awful Announcing.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Roger and 61


It was on this day, October 1, in 1961, that Roger Maris did what some had tried to do but could not: break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record.

Maris, in more games than Ruth, passed the Babe with home run number 61, on a 2-0 fastball from Red Sox righty Tracy Stallard.  Of course, that earned him an "asterisk" that never really was next his record as was believed.  Eventually, it was cleared up by baseball that the record really was his, no matter how many games it took.  In light of steroids accusations, many believe the record still belongs to Maris.

It took years for Raj to ever get his fair share.  Just a quiet guy from North Dakota, he never wanted the spotlight, and couldn't win the fans over who wanted Mickey Mantle to break the record.  Roger needed Mickey, as a teammate to challenge him, and to help him in the lineup.

Mickey needed Roger, as a roommate to help calm down a little of #7's partying ways.

They were an unlikely, but perfect pair.

Few ever had a bad word to say about Roger.  He was a wonderful ballplayer, who got overlooked for hitting the 61 home runs.  He was more than that.  He was a two-time MVP, a brilliant base runner, and a special outfielder with a good arm.

Oh, Roger was much more than 61 in 61.  But it's nice that he has that legacy.  It's what keep people remembering him, for sure.  A curse, as much as a blessing.

He died, far too young, at 51 in 1985 of cancer.  Bob Costas, at the close of the NFL postgame on NBC that day, remembered him.


Motorcycle Mania

Something went really wrong in New York on Sunday.  A pack of motorcyclists had a confrontation with a father driving a Range Rover on the West Side Highway (aka, NY Route 9A) with his wife and child. 

From the YouTube video that has been posted, it appears they surround the SUV in what appears to be a confrontational manner.  One cuts in front of him and and slows down enough to have the SUV bump him.

What started it? I have no idea.  I don't know the full story.

Here's the story as written by the Daily News.  The YouTube video is included.

Crazy.  Slightly scary.  Pretty missed up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Classy Sunday

(Photo by Shanna)
With great thanks to Shanna for the best ticket upgrade of my life, Kris and I (and Shanna) enjoyed the incredible Mariano Rivera retirement ceremony on Sunday.  It was a day of pure class, from Metallica (yes, they were classy) to the guests: Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, John Wetteland, David Cone, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Joe Torre, Bernie, Williams, Jorge Posada, Rachel and Sharon Robinson, and the Rivera family.

Not to be forgotten was Andy Pettitte, who pitched his tail off, flirting with both a no-hitter and a perfect game, allowing two runs on two hits with one walk.

And he took the loss.  Ponderous.
(Shanna)
 Anyway, time (as usual) is short for me today, but I did want to throw a few pictures up.
The boys - Kris enjoys a rare beer (Shanna photo)

Metallica rocks The Bronx (Shanna)
Oh, and this guy made a video appearance.  Total class.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Andy Pettitte to Follow Mariano Rivera Into Retirement


The news is breaking from several sources - I'll give credit to WFAN, whom I saw tweet it earlier - that Andy Pettitte will announce his retirement today.

He is scheduled to start Sunday at Yankee Stadium, against the Giants.  That is also the same day as the farewell ceremony for Mariano Rivera. Pettitte will then start against the Astros in Houston and finish up a fine career.

It's the end of an era for sure.  The talk about Andy and the Hall of Fame has already begun.  To be certain, there are a few things: he was a wonderful big game pitcher.

He also used PED's, and owned up to it.

I guarantee that there are already PED users in the Hall, with more on the way.

So let's not be so myopic and say Pettitte isn't a Hall of Famer purely because of PED's.  Say he isn't an elite pitcher if you want.  That's your call.  There's no doubt that PED's will part of the narrative, but be fair about it at least, given that, as I said, there are already users in the Hall, with more on the way.

That's why the list of names should be released.  Once and for all.

Anyway, I'll enjoy watching Andy pitch Sunday, and saluting Mo at the same time.  It's going to be emotional in The Bronx.

With Jorge Posada have retired after 2011, and Andy and Mo leaving this year, the Core Four is down to one...