Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ricky Riscica on "The Press Box"

Former Greenwich Cardinal Ricky Riscica was on the show Monday night.  Ricky spoke with us about being named the captain of the Keystone College baseball team, some Greenwich memories, his family, and more.  As always, Ricky was a great interview.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is Honesty Truly Best?

**MY NOTE: I started writing this back in early January, and I've never held onto a post this long (at least, not that I remember).  The subject of the post, Steve Hyder, and I have played phone tag, because I really want his thoughts.  As I told him when I reached out to him, I think there is a certain amount of shared experience between us (minimal, but if you know my story, then you'll get it).  I'm going to post this as is, but I still hope to talk with Steve in the future.

In my daily job search quest, one of my stops is always at STAA (Sportscasters Talent Agency of America).  I do a lot of reading there, as well as check out the job listings.  Jon Chelesnik does a good job of pulling together articles of interest (like the one about "The Press Box" by Paul Silverfarb!), as well as driving business for the agency.

Recently I came across an article linked from about former Pawtucket Red Sox announcer Steve Hyder.  It should be noted that the PawSox play-by-play job is prestigious in minor league baseball circles, as most of the guys who have worked there have climbed to the majors.   (And yes, I have applied to them before)  Hyder served as the "number 2" voice of the PawSox and never got the top spot with the team.  The most recent hire was 28-year-old Aaron Goldsmith.  Hyder isn't a kid.  Based on his Twitter account, he has two children, and some salt and pepper in his beard.

Therefore, he feels like he hasn't been "valued" by the PawSox.  He feels like he's done his time and earned more.  The quotes he gave in the article were very forthcoming, and I certainly can't fault him for his honesty.  It's refreshing.


On the other hand, one could whip up a lot of criticism here.  "Hey Steve", any of you might say, "be happy for what you have.  Rob Adams/Insert Name Here would die to have your job!"  If you were to say that, of course you would be right.  I would run - NOW - to Pawtucket, headset in hand.

But there's more.  This kind of honesty can sometimes be construed as "career suicide", or detrimental at the very least  A few of the comments on the page indicate a certain amount of ungratefulness.

Let's be clear.  I don't know Steve Hyder.  I am not ripping him.  In fact, he would be welcome on "The Press Box" to talk about this.

To be honest, I'm conflicted.  Like I said, I respect and admire his honesty.  On the other hand, it could come off as sour grapes.  Plus, there's the book factor that is mentioned in the article.  That also could be dicey if he wants to work in the biz again.  But hey, can you blame him for feeling overlooked and undervalued?

Yet, has he burned a bridge?

And then, of course, we have the "youngin" factor.  I don't know anything about Aaron Goldsmith at all, so I won't critique*.  There has been, however, a move towards the young bucks because they'll take low-pay (not that I wouldn't).  There is a belief that youth brings a lack of quality broadcasting (lack of experience, etc).  At 28, Goldsmith isn't straight out of college, and I have enough respect for the PawSox to believe that he's good.

*For whatever it's worth, another layer to the story has hit the proverbial fan, because Goldsmith is on his way to joining the Seattle Mariners.


I guess it all comes down to perspective.  Hyder's perspective seems to be that he's tired of the grind and let down because he clearly wanted more.  He wanted to be the lead dog.  He felt he had done his time.  This sounds all too familiar to me.  At the same time, Hyder's departure has broadcasters drooling at the prospect of jumping into his former position.

There are only so many of these jobs.

It's now a question of if his honesty was truly the best policy.

A Bulletin! It's Good News!

This is good news...but I don't mean these guys. (Huey Lewis and the News, photographed by Chester Simpson, circa 1982.)

It seems so self-serving.  Sure, I want to jump up and down, and scream it from rooftops.  Yet, believe it or not, I'm much more modest than that.  But I also know people want to hear these things.  So when I get news, I want to tell people,

And then...who?

Well the first person needed to be Lisa.  So I called her as soon as I knew.  Yes I needed to let Mom know.  Of course I did.  My siblings (Laura and Doug).  Paul Silverfarb was the one who helped line this up for me.  Had to call him.  Lindsey Romeo knew.  So did my Playmaker colleagues (Demer, Kato, CJ).  So, yeah, I reached out to each of them.

I emailed a few others, and more found out on online.

Of course, I could have called everyone, but I have this wonderful little vehicle called "the blogio."  So let me explain...

Paul Silverfarb reached out to a few weeks ago and said his company (of which the Greenwich Post is a part) might have an opening.  At first, we talked about being an editor in Stratford, but when I got the interview, it was mentioned that there was also an opening for a reporter in Wilton.

Big upside there?  Wilton (and the office in Ridgefield) is a lot closer than Stratford.  Yesterday, I went back and took a test to see just what kind of writer I really am.  Answer: good...not a great editor...not necessarily a great writer.  I'd say it's kind of what I expected.  I had to answer a few civics questions also (to see if I knew a thing or two about Connecticut).  I never liked tests, but I did OK.  I left my phone in the car, so I didn't cheat!

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I am now a news reporter at the Wilton Bulletin...
I'll write for the paper, the website, and probably on Twitter and Facebook as well.
I must stress that I will be a news reporter, as opposed to a sports reporter.  That doesn't mean I won't dabble or freelance in sports (especially when the esteemed Mr. Silverfarb needs a helping hand...hint...hint).  As for WGCH, well, I'll be around.  You're still stuck with me, Greenwich!  My position there is only a few hours per week anyway.  For one thing, I still love doing radio.  I enjoy "The Press Box" (Monday nights from 7-9).  I live to call games.  I should be able to keep doing both.

Many of you have told me that I should be writing professionally.  I'm glad - finally - that somebody out there agreed.  I have a strong feeling that my writing will get even better as I do this.

That leads me to the question of the blog.  In short, I'm planning on continuing to do this.  What I'm going to do at the Bulletin will be pure news - professional-style writing.  What I do here is fun.  This is where I can write like a columnist.  This has always been about writing opinions and about topics of interest to me.  All of this can exist in peaceful harmony!

I'm beyond thrilled to begin this new and exciting journey.

Writing Goofs

I just saw that my efforts have been published in the Times of Brunswick, a fine production from the private school in Greenwich.  I was very pleased to see my name in print, along with the words I wrote.

What didn't please me was that I saw an error.  My error.  Something that my eye didn't pick up when I was proofreading.


It happens here on the blog also.  I can reread something from three, four, five years ago and find a misspelled word, poor (or improper) phrasing and tense, etc.  So...damn...frustrating.  I expect more from myself.

But to find it in a publication?  Grumble.

You can say "what about an editor?  Shouldn't they have caught it?"  Maybe, but that's not the point.  I should have - it's on me.


PS, why this is bothering me more than perhaps usual will become clear very soon.  Perhaps in the next post...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Calling History

(Courtesy of The Journal News and  Photo by Frank Becerra, Jr)

I got to call another basketball game, as Pleasantville and Byram Hills locked up in a wonderful contest in Armonk.  Outside the snow was falling.  Inside, a packed gym watched as these two teams fought hard.  The Bobcats of Byram Hills eventually pulled away for a 10-point win (trust me, it was much closer than that), but early in the game, there was history on the line.

Jeff Lynch, a senior at Byram Hills, drained a three-pointer to enter the rarefied air of the 1000-point club.  The Journal News has the details of the game, written up by Josh Thompson.

Note, if you look at the picture (the one above) where Lynch is releasing his history-making shot, look in the background for Tom, Shane, CJ, and, yes, me.  I'm in the process of calling the moment. (Photo by Frank Becerra Jr)

Being a broadcaster with a shot at describing history can be dangerous.  It can be far too easy for one to go into screaming mode.  You hope that you make a call that can live in harmony with the moment.  You hope that your call can even be synonymous with it.  But at the same time, you don't want to overpower it.  Still, everyone knows "The Giants win the pennant" and "Do you believe in miracles?"  They are revered or reviled, depending on how you look at it (an example of this is "May Day").  Sports fans know "Matteau!"  We know "In the year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!", and recognize that it is the same as "I don't believe what I just saw!"  We can tell you "We'll see you tomorrow night" as well as we know "Behind the bag!  It gets through Buckner!"

We know our calls.  We can repeat them.  "Two and two to Harvey Kuenn", "Down goes Frazier!", "Deep to Left, Yastrzemski will not get's a home run!"

We know them.

The last thing, in my opinion, you ever want to do, is rehearse the call.  You want it to sound legit.  Spontaneous.  Excited.  I knew Lynch was eight points away when the night started.  We counted the points down.  So when Lynch got to 999 and had a breakaway chance, I was able to build up for it...

Then he missed.  Fail.

I've called state championship field goals.  No-hitters.  Other championships.  Other 1000-point moments (Tim Smallwood in Greenwich).  "Walk off" home runs.  Overtime hockey winners.  So it's not the first time I've been involved with that kind of beast.  The important thing is to stay in the moment, recognize the accomplishment, and move on.  Even if I ever become known for calling the achievement, guess what?  It wasn't about me.  I'm the reporter. 

So it was that Tom Prizeman and I called Jeff Lynch's 1000th point.

The only regret I have is that just maybe I should have let the crowd react more.  I'm OK with it otherwise.

Congratulations, Jeff.  Thanks for letting us be a part of it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Basketball on TV

If I haven't mentioned this, then allow me to do so now.  Along with my friend Tom Prizeman, I've been adding some commentary to the broadcasts of Pleasantville basketball on PCTV (Pleasantville Community Television).  It's been a nice way for me to get back to calling hoops (and doing analysis at times).  Tom, Shane, CJ, and others have been very receptive to having me around, and it's been great fun.

Sadly, only one game is currently online.  The boys basketball coach at Plesantville has not allowed us to stream their games due to scouting concerns.  The girls coach is fine with it, and so, behold the Pleasantville girls' game against Briarcliff from Friday, January 18th.  With the girls playing at 4:30, I had to run straight from picking up Sean to call this game.  Because of that, Tom did the opening himself (which I'm normally there for).  I arrived, set up my equipment, and did color commentary on the first half, before calling the play-by-play in the second half.  If you watch the end of the broadcast, you'll see Tom and I doing our closing comments.

This is not my first foray into TV, having, of course, been "the voice" of the Kraft/Philip Morris (Altria) Softball League (and more).  That's a big part of why I'm at WGCH today, calling all of the games that I have.

TV is a different animal to call than radio.  With just one camera, though, I primarily call the game as if it is a radio game.  That means more description in my call, but perhaps not quite as much.  Every pass isn't necessary to comment on, meaning the analyst gets more time to talk.  Tom and I are working on our own chemistry, and it's pretty solid.  Sure we still step on each others toes, but that's where I try to work as a conductor.  How do you think we make it happen with Chris Erway, Ryan DeMarian and Chris Kaelin at WGCH?

I'm hoping that, by working with Tom, I'm helping to mentor a bright young broadcaster with a great future.  And I'm enjoying doing this - enough so that I'm happy to do more for PCTV.  At this point, I can't help but wonder if this is how the broadcasting game is going to play out for me.

Plus, if Tom is doing the public address announcing (which he does for home games), then either I'll call the game solo (which I've already done), or add in the WGCH crew (trust me, that would be a true treat).

I look at it as a chance to keep my chops solid.  Tom and I are discussing covering hockey, baseball, and who knows what else?

I tried to do TV once years ago here in Mahopac.  Football games (and some other sports) were covered here on community TV (they might still be, though I'm not sure).  The commentary was fun, but, well, it was fun.  Jim McDonough, an extremely well-liked person here, was one of the voices.  Sadly, he passed several years at only 43 of cancer.  The press box at Mahopac High School now bears his name.

My idea, well-intentioned, was to harness the fun they were having and make the broadcast sound more professional.  I talked to a few people, and they thought the idea had merit.  Eventually, I got as far as talking to one of the two broadcasters (not Mr. McDonough, by the way), who flatly rejected the idea.  Up until then, the notion had gone over well.

Sigh...well, I tried.  But now, it's better late than never.  Who knows, maybe I could still call some games for my old school?

For now, I'm happy to be helping out around Pleasantville.

Friday, January 25, 2013

An Interview

Unless you're new around here, you know I love talking about the radio business, TV, sports broadcasting, and play-by-play.  Michael Hirn, an Ohio-based broadcaster for the Lima Warriors (among other things) has started a blog in which he interviews play-by-play "voices."  This week, he reached the bottom of the barrel.

Yes.  He interviewed me.  Side note: I'm thinking that, if I'm not careful, a certain Mr. Harold will want to get paid for the use of his picture that he took of me at Fenway Park in 2008, which Michael used.  I still like that picture.

I told a few of the thousands of stories that I have accumulated over the years, and gave some background about my time in the business.

It was my pleasure.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jefferson Valley Mall

There was once a sign near the corner of US 6 and Hill Blvd in the Jefferson Valley section of Yorktown, NY.  It said, in some words, that a new shopping center was coming, featuring Sears and a host of other brand names of the era.

It never seemed like it would happen, but the dirt was moved throughout 1982 in preparation for the largest shopping mall in the Northern Westchester/Putnam County region (and I'm proud to say, that my father delivered much of the plumbing to the site).  Read's Department Store was the first tenant to open, in the summer of 1983, with the rest of Jefferson Valley Mall opening by November.  The Service Merchandise store was supposed to be one "of the future" with the merchandise all behind glass, and the dreadful purchase process involving taking a catalog number up and waiting...and waiting...

Our shopping options had been the smallish Westchester Mall near Peekskill up until then, or the Bazaar Mall in Mount Kisco.  Before that, we took longer trips to White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Danbury.  I will never - ever - forget nibbling cashews with my dad at the Sears in White Plains, or eating in the cafeteria there.  But now, we had "JV."  We took our dates there.  We got jobs there.  It was our mall!

I worked in the Burger King (the old one - with its own seating area) for one day before my dad talked me out of it, and I went to work at the grocery store (Shopwell in Mahopac).  I filled in for a friend at the Swedish furniture store a few times (I liked that job).  Eventually, I would come back and work at Sears from 1986-1988.  I made friends that I'm still in contact with.  We spoke our own language there.  And, yes, in some ways, the foundation for Sean Adams was created there.  We all worked at Sears.

Truth be told, the Danbury Fair Mall would eventually blow JV out of the water by 1987, as far as we were all concerned.  We'd go to "the mall" for the necessities, but that was it.

I was heading home on the Taconic Parkway today, in need of a walk (just deep in thought), when I decided to pay a visit to the JV Mall.  It had been a few years, I think.

It was fairly depressing.

I walked through Sears, and while some things change, some things stayed the same.  Specifically, the bathrooms back near what used to be the offices. Apparently there are stories to be told from those walls.  That's what I've been told.  Maybe just urban legends.  Maybe Snopes knows.

I strolled past the children's department, where you would find me during those days in the 80's, although I mostly worked in the back.  The hijinks were normally in high demand back there, like this fine piece of photography...
While things have changed, I can still see Sarah in the photo studio, and Jon in shoes (as we would mock his boss, my boss, and anyone else)...
Jon - just hanging around in the shoe department.
Jon doing his "Huey Lewis" impression.
Jon's boss was named "Bob."  Quite the character.  So we had some fun with it.

John M. would come over to see if we wanted to go on break (while discussing "tuttlenecks" or keeping a bottle of soda with him on the pitchers mound in softball).  Maybe Shagger Dave would join us.  There was a whole group of us.  Mostly, it was guys talking about the girls we were going to date, or just being teenagers (into our early 20's).  Or punching in and going to the homecoming football game before returning.  Fun stuff.

The rest of the mall has the feeling of a ghost town.  Very little of the upstairs is the same.  The pet shop, Service Merchandise, Hot Topic, the photo studio - all gone (and have been for some time).  The food court, once a vibrant area with many questionable options, was down to only two or three tenants.  Mama Brava, with its overpriced pizza?  Gone.  Burger King?  Nope.  Chinese food, Baskin Robbins, the cookie place, the sandwich shop with the grape drink (hmmm?), or Arby's?  All long gone.

I missed Record World and Record Town, where so many of my - gulp - records, and cassettes, and eventually CD's were bought.  I missed Winners, where some of my early football jerseys came from.  Where was Chess King, the home of my skinny ties?  The CVS, to grab a soda, a snack, mind.

So much dead space.  Somehow it took my already pensive mood and darkened it.

Oh the Gap is still there, and Macy's (in the former Reads...Jordan Marsh...A&S).  But there's no movie theater, or Waldenbooks, or B Dalton.  The Disney Store is gone.  Even one of the Hallmark stores closed up (the one my former mother-in-law worked in).

I was out within 30 minutes, and on my way home.

We all moved on, all of us, in one way or another.

It is, as of now, a relic of another time.  Mostly just memories now.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ty Cobb Salad and the Passing of Greatness

Lisa and I often go to Eveready Diner, a nice place offering plenty of tasty options.  Indeed, it is a classic diner, that has been featured on TV, and has a few locations, including Brewster and Hyde Park.

The other night, in need of some "comfort food", the two of us visited the one just up the road from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's home on US 9.  I had already made up my mind (my two normals are the Cheesy Hash and the French Dip) and, tonight, I said "Oui."  For some reason, I had a suspicion of what Lisa would order.  I spied it, and awaited her response.

The (Ty) Cobb salad.

She said she had never had one, so it was a little spooky that I was sure she would choose that.  Nonetheless, I was further ready when she responded, "Cobb salad."

"The Ty Cobb Salad", I responded.


"Named after a baseball player."


Well, not really.  The Eveready version put "Ty" in front of it, perhaps for charm or trademark, or whatever.  The true Cobb salad was created at the Hollywood Brown Derby and was named in honor of owner Robert Howard Cobb.  At least, that's one version.

Anyway, with Lisa choosing the Ty Cobb, I went into full geek mode.  Tyrus Raymond Cobb.  The Georgia Peach.  Second most career hits.  Originally thought to have 4190 career hits, but was later corrected to 4191 (after Pete Rose had broken the record).  Some think he's in the top two players ever.  He and Ruth.  Others put Mays in.

Of course, I choose George Herman (Yes, Lisa knows that is Babe Ruth) every time.

Cobb was a complex man.  Thought of as nasty.  That is without argument, given his theatrics on the field of fighting with fans and umpires.  Perhaps he was nasty off the field, as he was considered racist.  He had a lot of character flaws, but there is no debating his talent.

He had no regard for home runs, and ascribed to the "dead ball" era of play, where doubles and triples were the way to go.  Stolen bases, running hard - spikes high.  He would do anything to play.

Yes, that was Ty Cobb.  As a player, as great as they came.  As a business man, he was extremely astute, smart enough to invest in Coca Cola before anybody knew what it was.  Also invested in General Motors.  As a man, he was flawed, but was also known for paying the medical bills of old teammates.

Before we leave this, allow me to pay my respects to both Earl Weaver, who dazzled as a manager and routinely beat the Yankees, and Stan Musial, also in that conversation for greatest players ever.  I can't quite get Musial into the top five, with Ruth, Cobb, Mays, Aaron and Gehrig already there (plus I can't forget pitchers like Johnson and Mathewson) but I do think he's right there.  As people go, nobody was better than Stan "The Man."

Back to Weaver, he too is among the best ever.  I don't know if he tops John McGraw or Casey Stengel or Joe McCarthy but he's right there along with Bobby Cox.

I'm saddened by their passing.  True greatness has been lost.

Politics Make Strange Friends

Boy, do I regret this.

For some reason, I felt a duty to watch President Obama take his unofficial second oath-of-office.  (If you don't know, by law, he took the real Oath of Office yesterday.)

To that end, I posted the following:   

I feel a responsibility to watch the POTUS get sworn in.  Congrats.  Now go save this great country.  Find people jobs.  Keep us safe.  Etc.

A friend followed-up with a perfect comment, saying that we would prefer to not see the country dip any lower.  That set off a near political fireball of accusations and so-on.  It seems to have been quickly squashed, by silence and a retort from a certain blogger/broadcaster.

I suggest the conversation stops.  Here.  Now.

And, no, I don't regret watching.  Or posting.

On this Martin Luther King Day, our political system put the current President back in office.  There are reasons for that, and they do not matter.  We are here, at this time, to celebrate the swearing-in, or simply ignore it.

I was prepared to do the former, but chose the latter.  I only wish I had skipped it only because of the presence of Senator Chuck Schumer, chief media scoundrel of the United States.  I've railed against him before, and will not go there now.

Look, if you're new, let me say it again.  I am not a party guy.  I am an American.  I am an independent.  I have not - and will not - vote on a party line.  But that is why we have the right to a vote: so that we can vote however the heck we wish.  If we wish to write in "Derek Jeter", we can.  If we choose to abstain from voting, well, that's your right also.  From there, it's all opinions.  It's my opinion that party lines are irresponsible, but I also feel the same way about not voting.  Then again, not voting can often send a message as well, like empty seats at a hockey game (that's a little levity, people).

On this day, it's not about President George W. Bush.  It's not about President George Washington.  It's about all of them, leading up to Barack Obama, whom we all hope finds the answers that we need to get jobs, lower gas prices, bring home our men and women from war, and help usher in prosperity.

THAT'S what it's about, people.  It's not much more difficult than that.

It's back to sports for me.  The Press Box is on at 7:00 tonight.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hockey is Back Indeed

One thing is for sure: Rangers fans still hate the Flyers.  But they're on my TV as I write this.

Like a good lemming, I've got the NHL on here in the Man Cave of Mahopac.  NBC is giving us the Penguins/Flyers game, and the guys from the 'Burgh have scored twice early on to take a 2-0 lead.

Doc Emrick is doing the play-by-play.  He carries Pierre McGuire along with him.

If you don't think Doc Emrick is among the best in the business (certainly the best hockey play-by-play voice), then I feel for you.  He's the best announcer not named "Scully."  I have mammoth respect for Al Michaels and Joe Buck and Jim Nantz, and on and on, but you're missing the boat if you don't include Doc in that conversation.

Or you just definitively hate hockey.  And to that, I say, shame on you.

I don't need to watch the game.  I'm working.  Cleaning.  Doing stuff.  Doc is keeping the action flowing along with word play that only Scully surpasses.

That's all.

Sean's First Band Concert

This one time, at band camp...

Let's just get the joke out of the way, OK.?

Charlie Parker.  John Coltrane.  Gerry Mulligan.  Stan Getz.  Paul Desmond.  Clarence Clemons.  Johnny Colla (from Huey Lewis and the News - didn't think I'd forget them, did you?).

And Sean Adams.

Great saxophone players all.

They all had to start out with rough versions of things like "Jingle Bells."

I had a good seat for Sean's debut Thursday night at John Jay High School.
But, when it came time for Sean to start his legendary ascent to playing the solo on "Born to Run" or "The Heart of Rock and Roll", he was a blur.
I promise, he's on the stage, basically straight behind his teacher...
No, seriously...
And so they played, finishing up their set with "Jingle Bells."
And then he became blurry again.
Sigh...oh well, at least he met the paparazzi afterwards.

 "Yes, Sean, that's right, over here!  Show me love!"

Anyway, of course I'm proud.  Happy to see him so happy.

By the way, I get it.  You've got multiple kids and one of yours is in the show.  So the whole brood comes.  Got it.  But...any chance you can keep the others under control?  One of them has a cough - a wheezing hack - and isn't covering his mouth while he's bouncing in his seat.  Now, where I'm from, my arse would have been planted.  Then again, I would only get a look.  That's all it took.  But, no, you basically ignore your little darling.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

DeDe Murcer Moffett on The Press Box

DeDe at Yankee Stadium.
Let's flash back to December 17 for just a moment.  If you recall, despite getting close to Christmas, it was not a particularly happy time in the northeast (or the US, for that matter).  The world got to know a place called Sandy Hook Elementary School just three days earlier.  By the 17th, we knew we would do "The Press Box."  We just had to figure out how.

To help us, we had Dave Rothenberg on from ESPN New York (98.7 FM).  Dave was nice enough to stay with us for an hour, and had a lot of laughs (some of it at my own expense).

Of course, we would play holiday tunes throughout the show, and that gave me an idea.

My friend DeDe Murcer Moffett had just begun making some Christmas music available online.  I had often wanted to have DeDe on the show, as she has become someone whom I enjoyed talking sports with (especially during the baseball season).  Her tweets and Facebook statuses encourage people to "Snap Out of It!"  DeDe is an inspirational and motivational speaker, as well as a singer.  More so, she is a survivor, having conquered alcoholism.

When I saw that she had released the holiday music, I felt she was a perfect fit for the show.  Now...would she say yes?

She did not hesitate.  We welcomed her in our second hour, and she charmed all of us.  Ryan DeMaria, Chris Kaelin and Max Barefoot listened along as Chris Erway and I spoke with DeDe.  We talked about her music, DeDe's one-woman show, her uncle Bobby, our "small world" friend Maureen Brogan Pruner (who grew up a few houses away from me), Newtown and more.  The total time is 17 minutes.

I promised I would put the interview online, but it took a while to get the audio.  Better late than never.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

You Will Get NOTHING and Like It!

The doors are closed for Clemens, Bonds, Piazza, etc.  They're all allowed in if they buy a ticket, just like Sean Adams.

The Hall of Fame votes are in.

Only those voted in via the Veteran's Committee will be honored in Cooperstown this summer with plaques.  Tom Cheek will receive the Ford Frick Award (posthumously).  Paul Hagen will receive the Spink Award.

And that, friends, is it.  Hagen is the only honoree still alive.  Jacob Ruppert, Hank O'Day, and Deacon White are the newest Hall of Famers - and all were dead before the end of 1939.

The full story, including the total number of votes, is here.

Want to see who voted for whom?  Look here.

Like I said, either vote for them all, or don't.  The writers said "nobody."  For Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Craig Biggio, these number have to be alarming.  Piazza, whom I thought was a shoo-in, fell nearly 100 votes shy.


Will they all get in next year?  Possibly.  The writers might have also been saying that there is still a sanctity to the notion of a "first ballot hall of famer."  Or they're suspicious of everyone.  Or the numbers simply weren't impressive, which seems a touch disappointing for Biggio, a member of the 3000 hit club.

So that's that.

It's going to be awfully quiet in Cooperstown this summer.

PS, Remember that bit I wrote (and talked about on "The Press Box") about character.  Yeah...that.  They might all get in eventually, but today is not that day.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Hall of Sham

Getty Images
I tried to to explain my Hall of Fame stance on last night's "Press Box."  Somehwere, it got off track.  I take responsibility for that, and my reaction was, well, asinine.  I basically was so fed up with the whole thing - the show, not being heard, the crappy equipment - that I threw a hissy fit.  I own it.

I realized later on that my explanation and rationale were too broad; too abstract.  I should have handled it better.  So I'll learn from it and move on.

But my point remains true.  If I had a vote for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which I don't, I would vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  My reasoning is that, since we've never seen all of the names on the infamous "lists" (and there are things about the Mitchell Report that still seem shaky), and there are a lot of guys who will go in under suspicion, then I can not keep everybody out.

Furthermore, we all cheered for these guys (I'm using "we" colloquially...I didn't cheer for Bonds or McGwire but I had different reasons).

Unrelated, but still worth discussing, is that there has long been a character clause; part of the rationale of letting players in.  This is sort of what I was trying to get at last night.  No doubt there are some guys who made it in despite their reputations (Ty Cobb immediately comes to mind), but their talent overrides that.  It's not the Hall of Boy Scouts, after all.  But still, there are guys that, because of their borderline numbers, get kept out by their borderline personalities and less-than-stellar relationship with the writers (who are, of course, the voters).

We have racists in the Hall.  Womanizers.  Drug addicts.  Drunks.  Pill poppers (especially amphetamines).  Cheaters of a lesser type that we consider them "charming."

Here's a guy for you: played 12 years.  Hit 381 home runs, including one season with 50, and and two more over 45.  For you stat guys, his OPS was 1.000 four times.  Never won an MVP (I wonder why), but came in second once, third twice, and seventh once, and eighth once.  Played in two World Series, but never a champion.  He compares favorably to Miguel Cabrera (on his way to the Hall of Fame), Ralph Kiner, and Hank Greenberg (both Hall of Famers).  But...there are a bunch of stigmas there.  Suspected of PED's (but never confirmed).  Brutal with reporters and fans.  Yet, you'd think maybe you could make a Hall of Fame case for him, given the other information.

Say hello to Albert Belle.  I'm not saying he's Hall of Fame-worthy, but you'd think perhaps you could talk about him.  But nobody does.  He got no more than 3.5% in his two tries on the ballot.  The detractor will tell you he didn't play long enough.  But his character was such that it would never curry favor with writers.  I'll tell you that, for a stretch, the guy was dominant.  At that point, I don't care about numbers.  Did the guy dominate?  Did he put fear in you as an opposing fan?  Then that's enough for me to at least entertain him.

Belle wasn't, oh, say Kirby Puckett.  Everyone loved Kirby.  How could you not?  Nobody knew about his issues off the field (and don't tell me they don't count for something, as I've just shown you).  But Kirby, who Baseball-Reference says compares favorably to one Hall of Famer (Kiki Cuyler), but compares more so to one Mr. Donald Arthur Mattingly of Evanville, Indiana, was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, very largely due to his larger-than-life smile and tugboat playing style.

Like I said, everybody loved Kirby.  Most still do.  Heck the Metrodome in Minneapolis (the former home of the Twins) is still next to Kirby Puckett Place.  I loved watching Kirby play ("And we'll see you...TOMORROW NIGHT!" - Jack Buck).

Don't tell me character doesn't play into voting.

Now, back to Clemens and Bonds.  I had a personal experience with the Rocket.  For the brief - very brief - stretch that I was around him, I liked him.  I liked the way he handled things.  And, come on, he reeked of old-time baseball as a player.  I loved watching him pitch with the Red Sox (and remember, I'm not exactly a fan of the Hub team).  Other reporters had bad experiences with him.  He certainly didn't handle himself well after the PED charges came out.  Bonds, on the other hand, was a miserable guy who teammates generally didn't like either.  But I have no personal experience beyond that, other than seeing him play in The Bronx once.  And you know what?  It was a thrill to see him in person.  Loved it.

They dominated the game.  Whether you liked them or not is irrelevant.

Every era had their issues.  This, sadly, was the Steroid Era.  Deal with it and move on.

Older Hall of Famers will tell you that they will not come to Cooperstown if these guys get in.  They're somewhat hypocritical.  There is a lot of info that suggests that players were using one form of "help" or another dating back to the days of Cobb.  Does that excuse the steroid guys?  Nope, but as I look at the ballot, if I'm going to vote for Mike Piazza (lots of whispers about PED's), for instance, than I have to vote for Bonds and Clemens.  Or I have to vote for none of them.

I'm not interested in a witch hunt.  I'm interested in greatness.  At the time that Clemens and Bonds (and a lot of others) were doing their thing, we were blind to what was going on.  Even though we all knew what Mark McGwire had in his locker was bad, we all smiled and said, hey great!  Chicks dig the long ball.

We knew they were Hall of Famers before any PED talk came up.  Others (Sammy Sosa, for instance) became HOF-caliber players due to PED's.  Big difference.

We lived by the sword.  We died by the sword.  Now, we've got to deal with the sword.  If they don't get in now, they will eventually.  Bet on it (sorry, that's an unfortunate reference, and I'll stay away from the Pete Rose/Shoeless Joe Jackson debate for tonight).  I used to think the "first ballot Hall of Famer" was a special honor.  It doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

There are plenty of opinions out there.  Here's Jon Heyman, who is going a totally different way with his ballot.  Ken Rosenthal says nobody might get in.  Peter Abraham had his say.  His might be the best that I've read.  Wallace Matthews and I don't agree. That's fine, and he based a lot of his feelings on the very thing I was trying to explain last night:
...none of those gentlemen can get past rule No. 5, which reads as follows: "Voting shall be based on the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."
Read that closely.  That's the character thing.  Thanks, Wally.  But his "cheaters don't belong" thing is specious because we have the oh-so-charming Gaylord Perry, who cheated as a pitcher for the bulk of his career.  It's OK for him to throw illegal pitches (spitballs, grease balls, etc)?  The dearly departed Bobby Murcer once said about Mr. Perry, "If the league president or commissioner had any guts, they'd ban the pitch (that Perry threw)."  But we'll just turn a blind eye to that, I guess.

To add to Matthews' hypocrisy, he has suspicions about Mike Piazza, but voted for him anyway.  Ummmm...hello?  He just made my point.  Cherry picking here is simply wrong.  Either vote for them all - or don't.

There are other articles out there.  So many worth reading.  There are voters who are turning in blanks.  Voters who are giving up their votes.  And on and on.

It's a deeply complex issue.  No doubt about that.

The NHL Is Back...Yay?

This man giveth.  This man taketh.
So hockey is coming back to the NHL.  I'm still conflicted over this piece of information.

See, the NHL had things looking pretty good.  A Stanley Cup in a city where the fan base (and the overall sports scene) is lukewarm and fickle at best (LA).  A Cup frontrunner in a City with a rabid fan base with many fake corporate fans in their building (New York).  The Winter Classic was set to be a celebration of hockey in "Hockeytown" (events in downtown Detroit, and the the actual Classic was to be played in Ann Arbor).  Momentum was building for a pretty good 2012-2013 season.

Then came greed.

To me, when there is a work stoppage, there's plenty of blame to go around.  Gary Bettman and the NHL owners started things.  They locked the doors.  They insisted multiple teams are in the red.  They put the concessionaires, front office people, parking attendants, ticket takers, broadcasters, and others  These people, generally, do not have million dollar salaries to lean back on.

But, on the other side, sat our old friend Donald Fehr.  With each offer the NHL put out, Mr. Destroy Sports rejected it.  And games, and the Winter Classic, and common sense, and all of the good of last season went poof!

I'll say this for Emperor Goodell: he got the NFL lockout resolved before the season was compromised.  Plus, while the replacement referee official situation was bad (OK, very bad), the Emperor got it done - admittedly after damage had been done.

So now the NHL is back, and we're all supposed to kiss and make up?  Many of the lemmings have vowed to return.  YAY!  The NHL is back!  Let's go (insert team here)!

When do fans say "enough is enough?"  Hockey has seen not one...not two...but three, YES, THREE lockouts under Gary Bettman since 1994.  But I know fans are fans and they are going to come back.

Here, I say, unless a team is hiring me, I'm not going to a game.  At least not in the NHL.  I'll go the AHL, or college, or high school.  The Rangers t-shits, etc, all will stay in a bin.  It's my own small protest.

Let's see the league win me back.

One more thing. I hear this all the time: "the commissioner works for the owners."  That being said, you can't fire the owners, can you (other than an occasional dumping of Marge Schott or Frank McCort)?  But you can go after the commissioner.  My point is, who are fans (and broadcasters) going to scream at when things like this happen?  That's right - Bud, the Emperor, Stern, and Bettman.  They're the mouthpieces, just as Fehr and others are for the players.  But, and never forget this, the commissioners (and players association heads) aren't just messengers.  They're also advisers.  They give opinions.  They are part of the machine.

And thus, they are also guilty.

Enough guilt to go around.  Hockey fans have every right to still be angry.  Or, at the very least, confused.

So game on.  I guess. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

Technology and Kids

So Sean finally got an iPad for Christmas.  But...there was a catch.

First, yes, it's my former iPad.  I got a new one.  I had asked him if he wanted mine for Christmas months ago, and his answer was "Yes!"  I asked around in the days leading up to Christmas, and the universal answer was that my idea was a good one.  He did get more than the iPad.  So he's happy.

Oh, kudos to my cousin Kris for the idea to hide the iPad under the idea of it being "broken."  And Lisa was a co-conspirator.  Thanks to them both.

Before it got handed over to Sean, I changed a bunch of settings.  He can't download apps.  Can't even update them without my OK.  I used common sense and the advice of many online regarding what settings to change.  I left some music on there for him (he's a Beatles fan, after all).  Up to a point, there is some trust involved, but that trust is for him, not people online.  Only an idiot doesn't know that there are too many predators out there.

I also set him up with an email account - that goes to me.  The reason behind that is so that he can and I can communicate via iMessage.  I wanted a direct way to reach out to him from time to time, and this seemed to be a good avenue.  It's worked so far, whether he is upstairs or 20 miles away.

Unfortunately, it's an first generation iPad, so there's no camera.  Therefore, there's no Face Time.

I've often wondered about a cell phone for Sean.  Now - to be sure - I still think he's a touch too young.  That's just my opinion, of course.  He told me a few of his friends have cell phones, but I'm not ready to make that leap yet.  Still, I was interested in this article I read this morning from a woman who gave her 13-year-old son an iPhone for Christmas (via Good Morning America).  It came with a set of rules and regulations.  I think it is very smart.

Sean will eventually get one.  One step at a time.

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Well, this happened.  The Stamford Advocate has an ad for a gun show on the same page as a story about Sandy Hook Elementary School kids returning to school.  A big oops, no doubt.  Appropriate wringing of hands can commence.  I will spare going to the outrage but it is a bad mistake.

From BuzzFeed
Hat tip to Paul Silverfarb for posting this.  Ugh.

UPDATE: An apology has been issued. Nothing else they could do except fess up, take steps to fix, and move on.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

One Step Up

Ever hear a song a million times, then hear it again only to hear it differently?

If it has happened to you, then you know what I'm talking about.

I was in the car listening to E Street Radio on Sirius XM.  For those who don't know, that's Bruce Springsteen's channel.  It's all-Bruce, all the time*.  Concerts, covers, duets, rarities, bootlegs and the album tracks.  You can hear it all.

* Why there isn't a Beatles channel is beyond puzzling.  There's Elvis, Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffet, and the Grateful Dead.  Even a very poorly run Frank Sinatra channel.  I mean...really?  No Beatles channel?

Today, perhaps in an all-too-pensive mood, I heard "One Step Up", a popular track from the Boss's 1987 effort Tunnel of Love.  I'd heard the song so many times, and I knew it had a lot to do with what was going on with Springsteen's collapsing marriage to actress Julianne Phillips.   There's a lot of deep stuff going on in those songs on the album.  I highlighted the title track once before.

It is easy to dismiss "One Step Up" due to its Adult Contemporary-friendly sound, but the lyrics are very powerful.  The depth of the metaphors for the narrator are quite striking.  The furnace isn't firing.  The Ford won't start.  The bird won't sing.  The church bells aren't ringing.  Should he cheat?  But he dreams about dancing with his wife.

It struck me today what an amazing song it is.  The depth of the collapse of his marriage, coupled with not liking what he sees in the mirror.

The ability to write these types of stories and create these types of characters is part of what makes Bruce Springsteen a truly national treasure in the legend of Woody Guthrie, and why he has so many fans.

And, yeah, count this as a "Rule 55."

Oh, before we step away from this, have a read of this post from Joe Posnanski.  It's about Bruce.  Sort of.  But also about shaves in Atlanta.  And giving the maximum effort.  Trust me on this one.  It's worth reading.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

So This is the New Year

Here's a great song from Death Cab for Cutie.  Kind of sums up the whole New Year thing.

We're off and running on 2013.